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
MOMMY & ME, CREATIVE DANCE, PRE-BALLET, BALLET, JAZZ and MODERN 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 holds a BFA in Dance from Cornish College of the Arts.
Dakota joined ADI staff in April of 2017 and teaches Ballet, Jazz, Modern Dance, Mommy & Me, Creative Dance and Pre-Ballet. In addition to teaching, Dakota is ADI's Assistant Director, as well as office manager for American Dance Institute Shoreline and Shoreline Music School.
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, Modern, jazz, mommy & me & creative Dance
Ainsleigh Orwin began dancing at the age of 5 at Village Dance Arts in Claremont, CA where she was trained in Royal Academy of Dance curriculum ballet, as well as modern, jazz, hip-hop, and tap. In 2017, Ainsleigh moved to Seattle to continue her education at the University of Washington. She currently holds a B.A. in Dance and B.S. in Biology (Physiology) from UW.
Ainsleigh has been teaching dance since she was 17, starting at her home studio and branching out to teach summer camps and outreach classes in elementary schools. Her passion for teaching and dance led her to American Dance Institute after graduating from UW in 2021.
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, modern & 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.
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."
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."
ballet, tap, Contemporary & 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.
Madison (Madi) Au
KPOP, Modern, Jazz, Contemporary, Ballet, & 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, & Hip-Hop
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."
Emily Lindal is our 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.
“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!”
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.
Ballet & Contemporary
Nalisha Rangel started dancing when she was 6 years old, studying Ballet,
Tap, Jazz, Contemporary and Modern Dance at Tucson School of Ballet,
under Linda Walker and Leslie Walker. After graduating high school,
Nalisha moved to Flagstaff, AZ where she continued her training at
Coconino Community College. After moving to Seattle, she trained under
Marlo Martin, and notable ADI staff Rebecca Greenfield Barney, Victoria Gutierrez Olson, Amy Beck and Margaret Behm.
In addition to dancing, Nalisha is a self-taught, meditative ink
illustrator and muralist, and is the founder and Creative Director of Nalisha
Estrellas. Check out her dance related (and more) art work at
https://www.artbynalisha.com/ Her work is awesome!
Nalisha Rangel holds a Teaching Certificate from the American Dance Institute and joined the American Dance Institute staff to teach ballet and contemporary dance in May of 2023.
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 https://www.artbynalisha.com/. It is very lovely!
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.
We are excited to announce Jazrelle Kellough, who took some time off to focus on school, is returning to teach at the American Dance Institute. Jazrelle will be teaching Hip-Hop on Mondays at our Shoreline studio starting October 30th. Welcome back Jaz! So good to have you back.
Ballet, Hip-HoP & modern
Sydney Skinner is so excited to come on staff at The American Dance Institute, and we are delighted to have her! Sydney joins our team teaching Hip-Hop and subbing for other various styles.
Sydney grew up on the east side of the state where she trained and studied in multiple styles of dance ranging from ballet to hip hop, jazz, contemporary, lyrical, and many more!
Sydney is a recent graduate from Gonzaga University, where she majored in Dance (with a Pedagogy concentration), as well as Public Relations. During her time at the University, she was a member of the Bomb Squad (the hip hop dance team) as well as the Repertory Dance Company!
Welcome aboard Sydney!