The Staff and Instructors of American Dance Institute

elizabeth chayer, director american dance institute
Elizabeth Chayer
Founder, Director, Instructor, Mentor

Elizabeth Chayer opened American Dance Institute in Seattle in 1989 and has served as Artistic Director for 26 years. She received her teaching certificate from the School of the Hartford Ballet in Connecticut. Elizabeth has taught for the University of Alaska, Alaska Pacific University and Anchorage Community College. She also taught and served as assistant director to Alice Sullivan at Alaska Dance Theatre, in Anchorage, Alaska for five years.

Dakota Crist
Teacher/Office Manager

Dakota Crist teaches dance and serves as the Shoreline Office Manager for American Dance Institute.

Dakota had her early training in Ballet, Jazz, Contemporary and Modern Dance at Diane’s Dance Works in Helena, Montana, then went on to study at Creative Arts Center in Helena, Ballet Montana Academy and Sacramento Ballet.

She holds a BFA in Dance from Cornish College of the Arts. Dakota is currently a company member of The Three Yells dance company and she has been teaching since 2009.

Rachel Perez Wallerstedt American Dance Institute
Rachel Perez Wallerstedt
Office Manager

Rachel Perez Wallerstedt serves as the Greenwood Office Manager for American Dance Institute.

Rachel is a communications professional with experience in arts and education administration. Her vocational focus is facilitating the pursuit of creative passions at every level.

As a proud resident of Seattle’s Greenwood neighborhood, Rachel is happy to bring high-quality instruction from engaging teachers to her neighbors with American Dance Institute.

She is excited to work with American Dance Institute as we grow to deliver our dance classes to a worldwide online audience.

Rachel graduated with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in History/Education from Knox College in Illinois.

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Kara Rochelle (Dominick) Burrows graduated Summa Cum Laude from the Cornish College of the Arts in 2006. Kara is in her ninth year of teaching ballet, pointe, and contemporary at American Dance Institute in Seattle, WA.

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Janelle Jones began Irish dancing at the wee age of 5 and competed on the West Coast and in Canada until the age of 13 at both the local and national level. In 1998 she rekindled her passion for competition and rejoined the Comerford School of Irish Dance.

Alyssa Brillinger, American Dance Institute

Alyssa has a BA in English from Hope College in Holland, Michigan where she minored Dance. While at Hope, she studied under instructors associated with the Ailey School, Alonzo King LINES training program, the Joffrey Ballet, Lehrer Dance, Rennie Harris Puremovement, Nikolais/Louis, and Pilobolus.

Rebecca Barney, ballet classes, ballet class, ballet School, ballet classes for adults, ballet class for beginners

Rebecca graduated from Cornish College of the Arts with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. She began her formal Ballet training at Southwest Washington Dance Center. She has completed summer intensives with Summer Dance Lab, Northwest Dance Intensive, Spectrum Dance Theater, and Strictly Seattle.

In 1991, at the age of 4 began dancing with American Dance Institute. She participated in and taught dance classes while she attended the University of Portland. She is now pursuing a Master of Arts in Teaching.

Margaret Behm, Modern dance instructor American Dance Institute

Originally from Fort Collins, CO, Margaret holds a BFA in Dance and a Minor in Women & Gender Studies from the University of Colorado Boulder. She has been a member of Louder than Words Dance Theatre in Denver, CO and most recently with Keshet Dance Company in Albuquerque, NM.

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Michaelene De La Serna

Michaelene De La Serna studied flamenco dance intensively for many years with Flamenco Chicago Artistic Director Ms. Rosetta Magdalen. She has also studied with flamenco greats Carmela Greco and Marija Temo. In addition to teaching adults, Michaelene was the Director of the Flamenco Kids Program at Flamenco Chicago. 

Emily Curtiss

Emily Curtiss holds a BFA in Dance from the University of Montana. She had her early training at Studio One and Allegro Dance Studio, both in Sandpoint, Idaho. She studied Ballet, Jazz and Modern and danced for 4 years on the Sandpoint High School Dance Team. Emily has extensive choreographic and performance experience and has been teaching since 2012.

Jazrelle Kellough

Jazrelle Kellough trained at the Pacific Northwest Ballet for 8 years as well as training with Alonzo Lines Ballet in San Francisco, Houston Ballet and Ballet Austin.

Emily Paul

Emily Paul earned a BFA in Dance and Theatre from Loyola University in Chicago. She trained in Ballet, Pointe, Jazz, Modern and Tap at the Dance Academy of Libertyville, Illinois.  She has worked extensively in Musical Theatre and been teaching dance since 2015.

Issana To

Issana holds a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction and Bachelor of Science in Conservation Biology - both from the University of Washington.

She has over 25 years of training in ballet, jazz, contemporary, hip-hop, modern, and tap, so you can expect a stylistically integrated approach to Issana's classes - frequently returning to dance foundations to improve technique. Always remember the basics! 

Morgan Thompson American Dance Institute Hip Hop Instructor

Morgan Thompson

Dancing has been an integral part of Morgan Thompson's life since he was 8 years old. He's studied ballet, contemporary, lyrical, jazz, and Hip-Hop.

It became clear that hip hop was his strength and he audition for and performed with Breaking Point Dance Company (BPDC) for five years. started teaching dance at the age of 16.

He attended and was graduated from Eckerd College with a degree in Arts for Theater. 


Monica Kerr

Originally from Orange County California, Monica has been training extensively in Modern, Jazz, Ballet and Tap since she was three years old. 

Her professional career began with pre-professional modern company, Leverage Dance where she was mentored by artistic director Tawny Chapman at the age of sixteen. 

Monica is a recent graduate from Cornish College of the Arts where she earned her BFA  in dance and a focus in community dance. 


Ranita Hollingshead

Ranita has been dancing for almost 10 years training primarily in hip hop. At the age of 12, Ranita started taking classes at Westlake Dance Center. She instantly knew that she found her passion in dance and later decided to join her high school dance team, Shorecrest Hip Hop at the age of 15. 

Aside from hip hop Ranita now trains in ballet, contemporary, jazzfunk, commercial dance and heels every so often. She is also apart of a brand new street dance company called Rythmetic Progressions put on by Massive Monkees where she trains in waaking, street hip hop, breaking and locking.

Casandra 'Cassie" Johnson

Cassie Johnson’s love for dance began at age five and continued to grow as she studied Ballet, Tap, Modern, Jazz and more.

Throughout the years, she has enjoyed performing in a variety of shows, attending master classes, and participating in summer intensives.

Cassie has studied under professionals such as David Wilcox, Patricia Barker, Gregory Dawson, and Alonzo King.

Robert Crocker American Dance Institute

Robert Crocker

Robert Crocker is an Administrative Assistant for American Dance Institute.

He has an extensive background in computer science, having worked for T-Mobile as a business analyst, and Samsung as a software test engineer.


Susan Sinclair

Susan Sinclair is an Administrative Assistant for American Dance Institute. 

Susan brings 10 plus years of office support experience in business, academic and dance organizations to American Dance Institute.

Steven Chayer

Steve Chayer is a principal owner of American Dance Institute and the Shoreline Music School. He supports founder/director Elizabeth's greater Seattle expansion efforts.

Steve's focus is the school's business development which includes marketing, promotion, web development, and SEO.

They moved to Seattle, Washington in 1989. Steve started Seattle Painting & Decorating Company and built the home improvement company to 60 employees and annual revenues of 1.8 million. 

American Dance Institute
Teachers Emeritus

Rubina Carmona

Rubina Carmona taught Flamenco Dance at American Dance Institute for 22 years. 

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Ines taught a multitude of children's classes Dance at American Dance Institute for 23 years. 

Moira Bugler teaches hip-hop dance classes for American Dance Institute in Seattle WA

Moira Bugler taught Hip Hop Dance at American Dance Institute for 17 years.