RAYNOR VAN DER MERWE
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.
Alia Artieda has been training in dance with Encore Performers since she was five years old and was a member of the studio’s company, Encore Theatrical Arts Project (ETAP), from 2006 until 2015. Through ETAP, Alia has been given many wonderful performance experiences, including performing over seas in both Spain and Greece, dancing as a back-up dancer in a local artist’s music video, performing live on Fox 5 multiple times, dancing in local fairs, etc. Alia has been assistant teaching dance since 2012. Along with teaching dance, Alia hopes to not only continue working towards becoming a professional performer, but she is also studying for a Bachelors degree in Elementary Education while minoring in Journalism. Alia is excited to begin her first year teaching at the studio she learned her love of dance, Encore Performers.
Yanelle Artieda began dancing at the age of seven studying at Encore Performers and the studio’s company, Encore Theatrical Arts Project (ETAP), where she graduated from in June of 2011. Throughout her years as a dancer for ETAP, she performed on Fox5, Wolf Trap’s International Children’s Festival, along with many other local fairs and festivals. Furthermore, Yanelle has had the opportunity to perform not only nationally, but internationally as well. In 2010 and 2012 she traveled to Spain and Greece with ETAP and performed multiple times in theaters, schools, children’s camps, colleges, and on a cruise ship through the Greek Islands. In 2008, at age 15, she began assisting with several teachers throughout the studio, and quickly learned that it was her passion. Along with teaching dance, she is currently working on earning her Bachelors degree in Integrative Studies with a concentration in International Studies from George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. Yanelle has taught dance at many local dance studios in addition to kids’ fitness classes at local gyms and coached the Rocky Run Middle School Dance Team. She is beyond excited to begin her fifth year as an instructor at Encore Performers, and looks forward to another great year.
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.).
While raising her four children, Lea Dawson has been teaching dance in the Northern Virginia community at several studios for the past eighteen years. With much love and imagination, she specializes in teaching two through six year olds ballet, tap and jazz through creative movement. Her passion and energy keep young dancers moving and exploring dance in many fun ways.
Jenna is an Encore Performers alumna who moved to New York City in 2004, and is an assistant Hip Hop, Jazz Funk and Video teacher at Broadway Dance Center. She currently teaches Hip Hop and Jazz in the Brooklyn school system and at Crunch Studios in NYC. Ms. Hide choreographed the Capital Movement Projects’ performance at Radio One’s 25th Anniversary Award Show in Washington, D.C., as well as for the Washington Redskin’s Jr. Redskinettes. Her work on the Madison High School Dance Team earned her the “Innovative Choreographer Award” at the 2006 National Dance Team Competition. Ms. Hide’s choreography has appeared in Hip Hop artist Sinatra’s debut music video, and she performed in a music video for Reggaeton artist NOVA. Ms. Hide also appeared in the Touchstone Movie Step Up (2006).
KIMBERLY HOPE JEWART
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).
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 Line, White Christmas, and Wizard of Oz, and was most recently seen in the national tour of 42nd Street.
Chris Nguyen, also known as Curt Rage, started dancing before the age of ten, mimicking Michael Jackson his family would show him. Chris discovered breaking in 2008 during middle school at age 12 and he was instantly hooked. He knew immediately that this was something he would do for the rest of his life. Originally from the DC metropolitan area but now based in Chicago, he represents HeavenZ crew and more recently The Elusives crew. Mentored from his elders in the scene DMV and Chicago scenes, Curt carries on the tradition of two regions’ styles while taking it to new heights with intricate patterns, a dynamic presence, and covering all aspects of the dance that has earned him recognition as one of the best up-and-comers in the scene today.
A true student of the dance, Chris constantly travels to learn more about the culture in order to elevate his dance. He still remains highly competitive, entering many competitions across the nation and going head to head with some of the best b-boys in the world. Chris has battled in competitions such as Red Bull BC One Washington D.C. Cypher, Freestyle Session New York (1st place) and Freestyle Session World Finals. As competitive and ambitious as Chris is in his dance, what drives him the most is exchanging and teaching others about the dance’s history and culture. As the lead breaking instructor at his university, Columbia College Chicago, Chris focuses on teaching and sharing the many joys breaking can offer and trying to get as many people involved as much as he can. While he still trains hard to maintain and perfect his craft, he believes helping others achieve their goals and extending the beauty of Hip-Hop Culture is just as important to him.
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.