It all started 27 years ago...
After choreographing her 100th dance of the 1996 competition season, Raynor van de Merwe was feeling less than fulfilled. She had moved to the United States following a professional performing career in South Africa, and began teaching at a competitive dance studio. Though the competition world was completely foreign to her, she had become the primary choreographer of the studio's dances. Sure, creating every type of dance under the sun put Raynor's creativity to the test, but it did not feed her soul.
Where was the artistry and passion to entertain? Why was the focus on winning 1st Place? Why were we breeding competitors when we could be cultivating a love of dance? The priorities were all wrong.
Searching for answers, Raynor dreamed of a way to bring the more meaningful elements of dance front and center. Through her extensive training as both a student and a teacher with the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing (ISTD), Raynor learned firsthand what it means to build strong, young artists. If she could find a way to combine her technical dance training with her performance experience in musical theatre, she knew her students would gain an elevated dance education and appreciation for the arts. In 1996, her dream became a reality!
Encore Performers came to life!
...in a sublease rental unit with no mirrors, no air conditioning, and no bathrooms. None of that mattered. Raynor's passion was contagious, and everyone who joined her that first season trusted that her dedication to the students would lead them to success.
They were right! The Encore Performers dancers blossomed from their well-rounded training, performance opportunities, and enriching experiences throughout the year. Alumni soon went on to join the Radio City Rockettes and Broadway shows! The word was out - Encore Performers was the place to dance.
Over the past 26+ years, Encore Performers has outgrown spaces, brought on additional teachers, introduced new dance programs and performance teams, but the heart of Encore remains the same. Raynor continues to lead with passion. Every teacher she brings on shares her values of positivity, professionalism, and dedication. Every decision that is made reflects Encore's mission of inspiring creativity and confidence through dance. Every dancer who comes through the doors receives high-quality training designed to bring out the best in them.
Dance is about so much more than competition. At Encore Performers, dance is about the journey and the joy it brings.
Raynor van de Merwe
Owner & Director
Jazz, Tap, Contemporary
Munchkins & Minis
Ballet, Contemporary, Jazz, Tap
Jazz & Tap
Liesl Rinke Balatsenko
Ballet & Contemporary
Hip Hop, Jazz, Tap
Contemporary, Hip Hop, Tap