The Faculty and Administration Staff of The American Dance Institute
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.
Our Teachers and Administrative Team Members
Assistant Director & office manager
BALLET, MOMMY & ME & CREATIVE DANCE
Dakota Crist had her earlier, 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. Dakota relocated to Seattle in 2013 and holds a BFA in Dance from Cornish College of the Arts.
As a young dancer, she attended Joffrey South, American Academy of Ballet, and Ballet West's summer intensives. Her love of dance drove her train pre-professionally with Ballet Montana and as a company trainee with Sacramento Ballet.
After graduating from Cornish, Dakota shifted her focus to dance education. She has been teaching dance since 2009 and has taught for ADI since 2018.
Ballet, hip-hop, mommy & me & creative Dance
Ainsleigh Orwin has been dancing since she was 5 years old, beginning her training at Village Dance Arts in Claremont, CA studying modern, jazz, hip hop, and ballet.
Ballet & Irish
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.
In 1991, 4 year old Amy boldly announced to her mother that she was ready to be a dancer. Her mother obliged and Amy has been dancing with American Dance Institute ever since progressing through our Creative Dance, Pre-Ballet, Children’s Ballet, Junior Ballet and Teen/Adult Ballet programs.
She participated in and taught dance classes while she attended the University of Portland, but she pursued her passion for language, majoring in English and German. She is now pursuing a Master of Arts in Teaching.
She has always loved the welcoming atmosphere at ADI, and was thrilled to join the teaching staff at ADI in 2011. Amy teaches
Ria Llanto Martin
Hip-Hop & Jazz
Ria holds a teaching certificate from DeLa Salle University, a Masters Degree in Christian Leadership from Every Nation School of World Missions, a Graduate Diploma in Intercultural and Urban Studies from the Asian Theological Seminary, and is a Doctoral candidate from Western Seminary.
Ria grew up in the Philippines and began her dance studies when she was 7 years old. She trained in Ballet, Hip-Hop, and Jazz with Power Dance Company under the direction of Douglas Nierras. She then moved more into commercial dance attending multiple workshops with Hotlegs. Though Ria was invited to audition for the performing company, she did not see herself as a full-time performer. But her love for dance continued and she has had several opportunities to teach, perform and work backstage. She was the resident choreographer and dance teacher in a Philippine High School for three years before moving to Seattle in 2012. Ria is currently a dance instructor at the University of Washington.
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.
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 and worked as an Artist-in Residence/Flamenco Teacher for Ensemble Español Center for Spanish Dance and Music’s “Bailamos” Arts Education Residency Programs.
Ms. De La Serna is also extensively trained in Ballet, graduating from Boitsov Classical Ballet School in Chicago as both a professional dancer and teacher of the Vaganova Ballet syllabus. She has danced solo roles in Le Spectre de La Rose, Fountain of Bakhchiserai, Les Sylphides, as well as many variations from Swan Lake, Don Quixote, Raymonda and Sleeping Beauty.
Michaelene served as Associate Artistic Director of Boitsov Classical Ballet School & Company in Chicago for three years before relocating to Seattle. She joined American Dance Institute’s staff in 2017.
ballet & creative Dance
Victoria received her professional training at Academia de la Danza Mexicana INBA, where she graduated with a BFA in Classical and Contemporary Dance.
In 2007 she moved to Seattle where she continued her training with the International Ballet Academy.
Victoria has performed for various dance companies such as International Ballet Theater, Evergreen City Ballet, ARC Dance, City Opera Ballet, Olympic Ballet Theater and Katy Hagelin Dance Project.As a choreographer she has collaborated with the Seattle International Dance Festival, Katy Hagelin Dance Project, Bohemia, Drybones Artist Collective and Le Faux.
Victoria truly enjoys teaching and has been doing it since 2009 for numerous schools in Seattle.
Margaret has trained in the Vaganova and Cecchetti Methodologies and completed her major exam in the Royal Academy of Dance.
She has been a health and biology professor and bench scientist for many years in the Northern California bay area while supporting the development of performing arts communities for youth.
Recently, she returned to Seattle, retired from her role as Artistic Director of Benicia Ballet Theatre, and Managing Partner/Director of Benicia Ballet School, LLC.
While in California, she also co-founded the School of Valley Dance Theater in Livermore, CA, and initiated the dance program for the Community Youth Center in Concord, CA.
Currently she is the Director of Commercial Education at NanoString Technologies in South Lake Union. She fell in love with Seattle when she had the honor to train and perform with Pacific Northwest Ballet. From Seattle, Margaret went on to perform with Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, PA.
She returned to school to complete her degrees in Biology at UCLA and UC Riverside, and Doctorate in Education, Organizational Leadership, from Chapman University, Brandman Division.
She has two amazing young adult children and loves biking and hiking on her weekends.
Becky, a former child student of The American Dance Institute, has recently returned as a teacher and is thrilled to be passing along her love of Irish Step in the very same studio where it blossomed.
Becky started her Irish dancing career with the American Dance Institute as a young child in the late 90's after watching the highly acclaimed Riverdance performance over and over and over again on VHS.
Her fondness for Irish Step only grew from there and she remained an ADI student through high school.
In her down time Becky enjoys crocheting, playing board games, watching her husband barbeque, and reluctantly rooting on the Mariners. She works for a local non-profit that provides camps and programs for families impacted by childhood cancer.
Jay Tan’s love for dance and movement began at 15 years old, in Singapore, when he participated in a cultural festival that incorporated various art forms to promote peace. From there, he dabbled in both modern contemporary and hip hop for two years, before fully immersing himself in hip hop and its culture.
Jay found his first dance family with Singapore’s Soka Youth Dance Crew and has competed and performed internationally.
He became Artistic Director of NTU MJ Hip Hop and eventually produced and directed a 2-hour dance musical production involving 120 dancers in the company.
Jay’s other accomplishments include providing artistic direction for the opening ceremony of the first inaugural Youth Olympic Games, Artistic Director of Hip Hop Connxion Indiana, and founder/director of the ‘Jaywalkerz’ an Indiana based kids hip hop dance company.
He also had the opportunity under Boogiezone, to learn and perform alongside Napoleon and Tabitha (Nappytabs), Emmy Award-winning choreographers who are best known for their choreography on the television show So You Think You Can Dance.
Jay has mentored close to 150 dancers, using movement to instill positive values and life lessons. His classes focus on foundational techniques as well as choreography that fuses elements from different dance forms.
Jay believes that dance is more than just movement. It is an expression of the soul that needs to be seen and heard and a powerful tool that can instill positive change in our society.
When Jay is not dancing, he is either reading to expand his perspectives or exploring the beautiful outdoors in Washington and getting inspiration from his surroundings for his next creative endeavors."
CONTEMPORARY, Hula, AND HIP-HOP
Kalena Tadio joins the American Dance Institute's Shoreline studios, where she will teach hip-hop, hula, and contemporary dance toadults, teens, and children.
Kalena Tadio started dancing when she was five years old. She studied hip-hop, hula, ballet, jazz, tap, lyrical/contemporary, and modern dance. She received training at
Emma Rubbert, originally from Olympia, Washington, started training in ballet at Studio West Dance Academy. She has danced in many classical ballet productions, including the Nutcracker, Swan Lake, Giselle, Cinderella, and more.
Emma spent her summers training at ballet summer intensives around the country, such as Oregon Ballet Theatre, Ballet West, and Ballet Austin.
In March 2020, Emma began training with former Pacific Northwest Ballet...
principal dancers Lindsi Dec and Karel Cruz.
Emma has shifted her focus from pursuing professional ballet after being offered a ballet contract to teaching and attending school.
Emma attended the University of Washington, where she pursued a B.A. in political science and international security and a minor in international affairs in Russia, Eastern Europe, and Asia.
She is excited to teach for the American Dance Institute.
Emma enjoys traveling, hanging out with friends, attending football games, and chilling nights in front of a cozy fireplace.
Susan brings 10 plus years of office support experience in business, academic and dance organizations to American Dance Institute.
And she wears a completely different hat when not at American Dance Institute--or maybe it's a magic cloak...Susan is a professional intuitive reader, a Reiki Master, sound healer and "urban shaman."
Actually, Suzan is an entrepreneur in her own right and has been building her own business for the past ten years, alongside her work at ADI.
Check out her business, Graceflow Healing Arts
Madison (Madi) Au
Modern, Jazz, Contemporary, Ballet, and Hip-Hop
Madison (Madi) Au, is a recent graduate from Cal Poly with a Dance Minor. Madi has been dancing for over 20 years!
She has lived in California her whole life, and is new to the Seattle area.
She is also a Marketing Coordinator for Launch Pop, and enjoys many other art forms such as crochet, painting, drawing, and singing.
She look forward to getting to know everyone and spreading my love for dance!
ballet & tap
I am originally from Denver, Colorado and moved to Seattle to pursue my undergraduate degree. I graduated this last Spring, and now I'm looking forward to this new adventure of teaching. I have 15 years of dance experience within the styles of ballet, tap, jazz, lyrical, contemporary, and hip hop. My two favorite styles of dance are jazz and tap. Other than dancing, I enjoy rock climbing, reading, and hanging out with friends and family."
“I was raised in a tiny town called Athens, in Maine.
I moved to Utah for two years to study at SUU, then finished my bachelors degree in Maine at UMO.
I studied psychology, and adored it, but soon after school discovered my new passion for dancing, and decided to pursue that."
While it’s tough to find a career in dancing when you’re late in the game (I started dancing in my late twenties), I knew that I wanted to teach dance in some form.
I’m also currently a fine dining server at Daniel’s Broiler, and have been there over four years. I’m grateful for this job because it allows me to be financially stable while only working 3-4 days a week, which means more free time to dance.
If I’m not working, I’m almost always practicing dance—either hip hop, shuffling, or sensual dance/heels. If I’m not dancing, I’m going for a walk, riding my scooter, or hanging out with friends.
I also love to travel, or explore new neighborhoods. My most recent favorite place I’ve been has been Switzerland!”
ballet, tap & creative Dance
Since she started dancing at 2 years old, Elana has had many opportunities to follow her passion and grow as a dancer through her home studio and the Joffrey Ballet School.
She has attended many dance intensives, conventions, and competitions over the years to expand her dance training.
She loves sharing her education and passion for dance with young dancers. Elana is continuing her dance education as a dance major at the UW; taking classes and participating in many performance opportunities.
On top of dancing, Elana enjoys camping with friends, family, and her dog, spending time at the beach, and exploring the Pacific Northwest.
hip-hop & Creative Dance
Ivy Anderson has been dancing for 17 years, many of those years also serving as a teaching assistant and Instructor.
Hip-hop & Modern
In college as part of the Duke University Dance Program, Amber studied under Joffrey
Ballet principal dancers Julie and Tyler Walters and Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company member Andrea Woods Valdes. Also at this time, Amber began taking classes at the ADF Scripps Studio in Durham, NC and developed an interest in improvisational contemporary dance. Amber’s past teaching experience includes jazz and hip-hop at The Ballet School of
Chapel Hill, and she is thrilled to become a faculty member at The American Dance Institute.
Amber Johnson was born in Durham, NC and grew up dancing at The Ballet School of Chapel Hill in Chapel Hill, NC. Since age 10, she has studied ballet, modern, jazz, and tap, and had the opportunity to explore a variety of different disciplines through intensives at The Richmond Ballet, Orlando Ballet, the University of North Carolina School for the Arts, and American Dance Festival.
Outside of dance, Amber is a software engineer at a Seattle-based start-up and is passionate about education in STEM. During her free time, you will find her exploring the music scene in Seattle, experimenting with new recipes and ingredients, or thrifting for fashion and art pieces.
Whether it’s through dance, work, or being in a new city, Amber believes in continuing to learn from those around her and seeking out opportunities to grow as a person and artist.
Mommy & Me, Creative Dance, Pre-Ballet, and Adult Ballet.
Angie Ababurko began her dance adventure at the age of 5 in Port
Angeles, WA, studying ballet, gymnastics, and cheer.
She continued dancing through elementary, middle, and high school and was a member of the Rider Angels Dance Team, which focused on jazz and modern dance styles.
She moved to Seattle, continued her dance studies, and is currently a Koinonia Contemporary Performing Company member.
Angie says dance has healed her life in many ways, and her passion is to teach people how dance can create happiness in their everyday lives. Her goal is to make everybody feel welcome and free to express themselves and find themselves.
Aside from dancing, she considers herself a movie nerd in her free time. She also enjoys spending time with family, friends, and her three cats. When weather and time allow, he loves being on the Peninsula, in the woods, or near the ocean in California.
Mommy & Me, Creative Dance, and Pre-Ballet
Sharon started dancing when she was five years old at a studio in her hometown of Omaha, NE, where she studied ballet, jazz, and tap. During college at the University of Kansas, she also began studying modern dance and performed with the University Dance Company and other local dance groups.
She earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism with a minor in dance, and after graduation, she worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. She eventually attended law school and then moved in 1993 to Seattle, where she practiced law for more than 20 years.
Throughout her adult life, Sharon continued taking classes in modern, jazz, ballet, and - every now and then, just for fun - tap, Irish, African, shuffle, hip-hop, swing, salsa, or whatever other dance style might be available.
Sharon recently retired from her law practice and decided to participate in the American Dance Institute’s dance teacher training program. Sharon has started teaching Mommy & Me, Creative Dance, and Pre-Ballet classes for us and is thrilled to share her love of dance and movement with young children. Sharon is married and has two adult children. She and her husband, Jim, love to travel, hike, and cross-country ski.
Tap & jazz
Donny attended Coronado School of the Arts: Musical Theatre,
high school in San Diego, and he holds a BFA in Musical Theatre from the
Hartt School of Music in Connecticut
After college, he returned to San Diego and became the lead dance teacher for the Coronado School of the Arts-Musical Theatre High School, his alma mater.
Donny says his love for teaching is equal to his passion for dancing. All levels and all bodies, it brings him joy to get people moving!
We have evening and weekend classes, but we will add weekday morning classes in the Fall.
Emily Lindal is our new Administrative Assistant in the Shoreline office. Emily was a dance student and teaching assistant at All That Dance, for twelve years. She also worked as a fitness attendant at Western Washington University Gym,.
She hopes to bring her customer service skills and love of dance to foster a place where all students feel like they belong.
Ballet & Contemporary
Nalisha Rangel is completing our Teacher Training Certificate program and joins the American Dance Institute staff to teach ballet and contemporary dance.
Nalisha Rangel started dancing when she was six years old, studying ballet, tap, jazz, contemporary, and modern dance at Arizona's Tucson School of Ballet, under Linda and Leslie Walker. After graduating high school, Nalisha moved to Flagstaff, where she continued her training at Coconino Community College. After moving to Seattle, she trained under Marlo Martin.
Nalisha is also a self-taught, meditative ink illustrator and muralist, founder and Creative Director of Nalisha Estrellas. Check out her dance-related artwork(and more) at http://www.artbynalisha.com/. It is very lovely!
Brie has joined our Greenwood office admin team.
Brie is a Seattle local who started her career in retail management before double majoring at Central Washington University with degrees in Environmental Science and Psychology.
She has worked for several startup businesses and nonprofits building teams, restructuring operations and getting creative with marketing and web design.
She volunteers for a livestream music production group and loves hiking around the PNW. Brie is excited to bring her experience to the American Dance Institute and help us grow!