Raynor van der Merwe is the Founder and Artistic Director of Encore Performer and Encore Theatrical Arts Project. Ms van der Merwe has twenty-five years experience as a professional performer, director and choreographer. She has two teaching diplomas in Jazz and Tap from the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dance (London, U.K.). Born in South Africa, she has appeared in professional shows, television specials, commercials, movies, and industrials. Her credits include Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Joseph and his Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat, Brigadoon, Anything Goes, and Me & My Girl. Her success as a performer led to an opportunity for Ms van der Merwe to develop a one-hour show called Fast Forward that traveled to Namibia as well as Johannesburg, South Africa. This launched the second phase of her performing arts career as a director and choreographer, nurturing her command of all of the elements of live performance. The hallmark of her productions is her unwavering attention to every detail from lighting to sound design, costumes to sets and make up. In addition to teaching and managing the studio, and directing ETAP’s two annual productions, Ms van der Merwe has been guest choreographer for the Reston Community Players and the American Music Stage. In 2003, she received the WATCH (Washington Area Theatre Community Honors) Outstanding Choreography Award for her contribution to the American Music Stage production Crazy for You. In the spring of 2007, Ms van der Merwe was chosen to receive the distinguished CAM Women in the Arts Award. The Celebrating African Motherhood (CAM) organization honors outstanding women of African descent who have impacted the community artistically, socially, and politically.

Nicole is a seasoned dance instructor with over 10 years teaching and 20 years of experience training in Ballet, Tap, Jazz, Lyrical and Hip-Hop. For years, she has brought her talents to the studio classroom sharing her love of dance. As a member of the Strictly Rhythm Dance company, Nicole was an award winner regional and at the national level. Her noted performances include ESPN, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, and Walt Disney Magic Music Days. She was an instructor with the Fellowship of Christian Dancers and traveled across the country teaching children liturgical dance. Nicole continues to be a sought after choreographer in Virginia with numerous accolades and awards.

Nickolai began his study of ballet at the Kiev Academy of Ballet. Nickolai’s first professional position was with the National Ballet Usti Nad Labem in the Czech Republic, where he stayed for three years before touring with Ballet Classique of Paris and then moving to the Donestsk Ballet. In 1999, he moved to the United States and joined the Washington Ballet. He later danced with Ballet Theatre of Maryland and Ballet Internationale in Indianapolis, Indiana. He toured Seoul, South Korea with Universal Ballet and danced with Atlantic Southeast Ballet in Charleston, South Carolina. Nickolai was also a member of Manassas Dance Company and toured South America where he danced in Cinderella with Orlando City Ballet.

Vadim Bogomolov is an eight year graduate of the Vaganova Choreographic Institute of St. Petersburg, Russia (1984 class of Professor Yuri Omrikin). As a professional dancer with the National Ballet of Kazakhstan and the New Classical Ballet of Moscow, Vadim toured Europe and Asia dancing in ballets such as Paquita, Don Quixote and Nutcracker. After coming to the U.S. on the “Great Russian Nutcracker” tour, Vadim accepted positions as a principal dancer with Classical Ballet of California and Manassas Dance Theatre. In 2012 Vadim completed the program in ballet pedagogy at the Moscow State Choreographic Institute and was granted the title of “Ballet Master”. He lives in Fredericksburg, Virginia where he is co-director of Classical Ballet of Fredericksburg.

Jessica Dawson is thrilled to be joining the faculty of Encore Performers! She started dancing at the age of three and at the age of nine she was invited to join Encore Performer’s company, Encore Theatrical Arts Project (ETAP). She was honored to be a part of the company until she graduated in June 2014. Jessica has assisted many teachers at Encore Performers during her time in ETAP. While assisting, she realized that teaching was truly her passion. She is eager to begin pursuing her dream and sharing her love for dance with her students. She is currently working alongside Raynor van der Merwe to begin training and studying for her teaching diploma from the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dance (London, U.K.).

Lea Dawson has been dancing since the age of eight in the Northern Virginia area.  While competing as a member of her high school dance team she has not only become passionate about dancing herself but has fallen in love with teaching children the art of dance. She has been doing so for the past twenty years.  Lea is a certified dance teacher for children with special needs through the Rhythm Works Integrative Dance Program.  Her focus is on each child’s individual learning style enabling them to develop their dance skills in an empowering and motivational class which celebrates each student’s differences.  Her energy and passion for teaching ballet, tap, jazz, hip hop and mommy and me classes keeps young dancers moving and exploring dance in many imaginative, creative and fun ways.

Kimberly began her dance training in Heidelberg, Germany with Carolyn Carratini (RAD) and Henryk Szymczak performing with the Heidelberg Ballett. She continued her ballet studies in the U.S. with Priscilla Crommelin-Ball (Harkness Ballet), David Anderson (SF Ballet) and Don Steffy (ABT). She received her modern dance training at George Mason University (recipient of Excellence in Choreography Award) and on scholarship at the Ailey School. Kimberly has had the pleasure of working with teaching artists and choreographers Dan Joyce, Susan Shields, Buffy Price, Jan Erkert, Scott Rink, Kraig Patterson, Earl Moses, Ana Marie Forsythe, Elizabeth Roxas, Zvi Gotheiner, Danny Pelzig and Urban Bush Women.  She has performed professionally for Adrienne Clancy/Clancyworks and Helanius J. Wilkins in DC, the Montgomery Ballet in AL and Labco Dance and Pittsburgh Opera in PA. Her more recent endeavors include performing as a principal dancer for Sean Curran at NYC Opera (3 seasons), St Louis Opera Theatre, Minnesota Opera, Chicago Opera, and Portland Opera. While in NYC, Kimberly served as Artistic Director and Choreographer for Orquidea Dance creating works for the Williamsburg Arts Nexus, Duke Theater, Dance Space, DanceNOW NYC, HATCH, and the International Dance Festival. She is a member of the American Guild of Musical Artists (AGMA) and certified Instructor of Progressing Ballet Technique (PBT).  

Progressing Ballet Technique is an innovative program developed by Marie Walton-Mahon for students to understand the depth of training muscle memory in achieving their personal best in classical ballet.  This program has been met with outstanding success, improving students’ understanding of core stability, weight placement and alignment for many decades.

Olivia Landrum is from Fairfax, VA and began dancing at the age of three. She grew up competing in regional and national competitions and also was a member of her high school dance team before deciding to pursue dance as a career in college. Olivia graduated from James Madison University where she earned two Bachelor of Arts degrees in Dance and Corporate Communications. While attending JMU, Olivia was a member of the Dukettes Dance Team and the Virginia Repertory Dance Company. She has been in works by Ryan Corriston, Shane O’Hara, Stephanie Martinez, Scott Putman, Suzanne Miller-Corso, Tara Mullins, Alex Springer and Xan Burley, Karen Reedy, and Eluza Santos.  She has been fortunate to attend many intensives such as the American Dance Fesitval in both Durham, NC and NYC. Her choreography was selected to perform at the Route 11 Dance Festival in Lexington, VA and also chosen to open for the Trey McIntyre Project’s last show. She has choreographed for the Flint Hill School dance team as well as numerous works at JMU. Dance has taken her many places including  Richmond, New York, Washington, DC, and London, England where she has performed and studied.  She also worked for the Universal Dance Association, traveling around the country teaching summer dance camps. Olivia is excited for another great year at Encore Performers and hopes to continue inspiring many by spreading her love of dance.

Lorraine began performing in musicals at age 12. She studied dance at Coupé Theatre Studio in Nanuet, NY, where her teachers included Broadway dancers Diane Coupé Fankel, Robert Pagent, and Larry Ross. At NYU Tisch School of the Arts, she had the privilege of working on a special project with guest instructor and JAZZDANCE founder Danny Buraczeski. She later moved to DC, where she has been performing, directing, and choreographing for over 25 years. Her work has been recognized on multiple occasions by WATCH, ACT, the Ruby Griffith Awards, and, most recently, by DCMetro Theatre Arts, which included her on its Best of 2015 lists for Directing (Love, Loss and What I Wore) and Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play (Deathtrap). In addition to teaching acting and musical theater classes at Encore, Lorraine is the Casting Director at NextStop Theatre Company in Herndon, Virginia.

Courtney Moran is so excited to join the Encore Performers faculty! After taking her first ballet/tap combo class at the age of three, she was hooked. She began learning from Raynor van der Merwe when she was five years old, and danced at Encore Performers for over a decade (proud ETAP Alum 2008!). Courtney continued dancing in college at Penn State University, where she studied advertising and dance, and was a member of Tapestry Dance Company. Upon graduating, Courtney moved to New York City to pursue a career in musical theatre. She has performed regionally in A Chorus LineWhite Christmas, and Wizard of Oz, and was most recently seen in the national tour of 42nd Street

Elizabeth Spikes started her dance career in pampers at Regina’s Dance Studio in Albuquerque, New Mexico. After moving to Virginia at age eight she resumed her dance training at Swan Ballet Dance Schools and Russell School of Ballet, until finally finding a home with Encore Performers. After joining Encore Theatrical Arts Project (ETAP) in early 2000s, Elizabeth has traveled to China, Greece and South Africa with Encore’s International Stage. Elizabeth attended Virginia Tech where she continued to dance as a full company member of the Contemporary Dance Ensemble at Virginia Tech for four years. As of August 2015, Elizabeth volunteers with the Westfield High School Varsity Dance Team, in Fairfax Virginia, as an assistant coach. In pursuit of her own dance career, in July 2016 she starred as lead dance soloist in By Any Means Necessary, the first stage play written and directed by Omeeka Lucas out of Winston-Salem, North Carolina.