Robyn Gardenhire is a Los Angeles native who began her dance training with former Los Angeles Ballet, with Irina Kovsmoska and Tatiana Lichine. Gardenhire continued her studies throughout her teenage years at the San Francisco Ballet School and in New York at the American Ballet Theatre School and New York City Ballet’s School of American Ballet (SAB). At age 16, Gardenhire became the youngest African-American to be offered a contract with Joffrey II where she performed at City Center and Jacobs Pillow. She later joined Cleveland Ballet under the direction of Dennis Nahat, and had original works created on her and performed principal roles such as “Choleric” in Balanchine’s Four Temperaments, “Arabian Princess” in The Nutcracker and “Russian Girl” in Serenade.
In an effort to expand her artistry, she joined the company of avant-garde choreographer Karole Armitage, touring all over Europe. Upon returning to the United States, Ms. Gardenhire was personally invited to join American Ballet Theatre by Mikhail Baryshnikov and later performed with his White Oak Project working with choreographers Lar Lubovitch and Mark Morris.
During her time at American Ballet Theatre, Ms. Gardenhire was the driving force behind the company’s diversity committee, which introduced minority children to classical dance through their “Build a Ballet” program. Ms. Gardenhire was instrumental in providing many scholarships that were given to minority students to study at the school. Its first student, Misty Copeland, became the first African American women principal dancer at ABT. Ms. Gardenhire is also an alumnus of SAB School of American Ballet (New York City Ballet) and is a founding member of its diversity committee and recipient of the New York City Ballet Fellowship Award.
Ms. Gardenhire has developed and overseen City Ballet of Los Angeles for the last twenty years and has created a dance institution that’s curriculum covers Classical Ballet, Modern, Theater and World Dance and oversees students ages 3yr. and up. Developing and allowing students to develop and grow into ambassadors of art and able to cross through any cultural barriers they may encounter.
Since retiring from New York City Ballet in 2002, Tracey has become an admired and dedicated teacher and arts advocate. She served as the Director of Boston Ballet School (BBS) from 2007–2021 and was profiled in a 2009 issue of Dance Teacher Magazine. During her tenure at BBS, Tracey drew upon her teaching experiences, studies in psychology, and ties to community clinicians to initiate a comprehensive Wellness Program at BBS. She also created the Next Generation, a year-end performance showcasing pre-professional students, which has become an annual highlight that spotlights BBS as a leader in local and regional arts education. Her stature in the dance world brought BBS extraordinary access to the Balanchine and Robbins repertoire, enhancing the training and performance experience for students. In addition, Tracey committed to commissioning underrepresented voices in choreography by amplifying the work of women and BIPOC choreographers such as Jill Johnson, Lia Cirio, and Ja’ Malik, among others. Tracey further distinguished BBS internationally by establishing exchange programs with Canada’s National Ballet School, Paris Opera Ballet School, the Royal Danish Ballet, and Dresden’s Semperoper Ballet. And under her leadership, BBS also became a partner school with the prestigious Prix de Lausanne international ballet competition.
Tracey continues to dedicate her efforts as a dance educator with a strong commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and access to champion change. She has served on panels for MoBBallet’s annual educational symposiums (2019, 2020, and 2022) and has worked with colleagues at Dance USA School Directors Affinity Group to share learning around culturally responsive teaching practices to better support faculty. Tracey’s work as an international arts educator continues as she serves on the organizing committee for World Ballet School Day (2020 and 2021), and the 2023 edition of Assemble Internationale; an Olympic-caliber gathering of pre-professional students and directors from schools around the globe empowering young artists to develop their voices, hosted by Canada’s National Ballet School.
Born in Pueblo, Colorado, Tracey began ballet studies with her mother, Nancy Tracey, at age six. In 1982, she was accepted as a student at the School of American Ballet (SAB), the official school of New York City Ballet (NYCB). At SAB, she was the recipient of an Atlantic Richfield Foundation scholarship (1982–85) as well as a Princess Grace Foundation award (1985–86) that cited her “exceptional promise and dedication to excellence.”
In 1986, Tracey joined the NYCB corps de ballet, launching a celebrated 16-year stage career. A principal dancer from 1991 until her retirement in 2002, she excelled in the Balanchine repertoire, appearing frequently in such core works as Apollo, Allegro Brilliante, Ballo della Regina, Concerto Barocco, Serenade, Square Dance, Symphony in C, Vienna Waltzes, Western Symphony, and Who Cares?, among others. She was also featured in a range of Robbins’ ballets, including Andantino, Afternoon of a Faun, The Four Seasons, and The Goldberg Variations, and created a role in the choreographer’s Ives, Songs (1988). She originated roles in works by William Forsythe, Richard Tanner, Ib Andersen, Trey McIntyre, and Peter Martins, including his Les Petit Riens, Fearful Symmetries, Zakouski, and his production of The Sleeping Beauty, in which she appeared both as Princess Aurora and Princess Florine. With NYCB, Tracey toured Europe and Asia, appeared in the PBS “Live from Lincoln Center” series, and danced the Marzipan Shepherdess in the 1993 film of Balanchine’s The Nutcracker.
As a Balanchine Repetiteur, Tracey has staged several of his works including, Concerto Barocco, Theme and Variations, Scotch Symphony, Raymonda Variations, and Divertimento #15, among others in both professional companies and schools. And in 2011 she was recognized with a Jerome Robbins Foundation award for her distinguished interpretation as a Robbins’ dancer.
Margaret joined the Colburn School in fall 2023 to assume the role of Dean of the Trudl Zipper Dance Institute overseeing the Dance Academy and the Youth and Adult Dance programs.
Originally from Washington D.C., Leo Manzari has headlined in the touring and Off-Broadway productions of Maurice Hines is Tappin’ Thru Life, featured Guest Star on So You Think You Can Dance, The Mo’nique Show, PBS News Hour, Jerry Lewis Telethon, ABC’s The View, PBS’ Kennedy Center’s 50th anniversary. He’s performed alongside Grammy Award® winning band “The Free Nationals” in various virtual events. He’s featured with multiple POPS orchestras across the world including The Philly POPS, The San Diego Symphony, The Florida Orchestra to name a few.
Leo is also featured in two documentaries available for streaming: Maurice Hines’ Bring Them Back, and Leonard Soloway’s “Broadway.” He’s appeared in the Late Late Show with James Corden and Ariana Grande. Manzari sold out his debut headline performance at The Cutting Room (450 cap) and he has performed his original music at prominent venues in Los Angeles: El Cid, The Sun Rose, The Study, and The Hollywood Majestic. Spotify has also supported Leo’s music with placements on their highly streamed editorial playlists. For more information, follow Leo’s socials @leomanzari and subscribe to his email list via his website www.leomanzari.com
A native of Cuba, Bertha danced professionally in principal roles for over 14 years with the Ballet de Camagüey and the Ballet Nacional de Cuba under the direction of both Fernando Alonso and Alicia Alonso, before defecting to the United States in 1994. Since arriving in the US, her career has been focused on performance and instruction, primarily through the operation of her southern California studio, The Blankenship Ballet Company. She also performed in Miami under the direction of the late Fernando Bujones. She teaches dance as an art form that comes from the heart, based on Russian and Cuban ballet principles.
Johnnie Hobbs III is a filmmaker and tap dance teacher. His directorial efforts include Pan African Film Festival Best Film Nominee Nostalgia, short film drama starring Dule Hill (The West Wing, Psych), Chloe Arnold (Syncopated Ladies) and Jason Samuels Smith. Winner of Best Short Film at The Cleveland Urban Film Festival, NOSTALGIA has been shown on Aspire TV, and SHORTS HD Channel. Johnnie has since directed and produced five other short content works. In addition, he has directed motion capture pre-visuals mocap company, House of Moves.
A long time tap dancer and performer from Alaska to Guatemala, Johnnie teaches as an Adjunct Dance Professor at AMDA LA, Hussian School, as well as the Colburn School and Edge Performing Arts Center in Los Angeles. He recently provided choreography for Kelly Marie Tran’s 2021 MISCAST performance for MCC Theatre, from The Book of Mormon. He’s been an Artist in Residence at University of Colorado, guest speaker at Broadway Dance Center, Temple University, Santa Monica College, and Art Institute of Philadelphia to name a few.
Janet is a California native with more than 30 years of performance, commercial, choreographic, and teaching experience. Trained by prominent teachers in Southern California, she received a teacher’s scholarship from the Anglo-American Ballet Foundation, which ignited her passion for teaching ballet to all ages and levels. She has partnered in creating several dance education programs for schools in the Los Angeles area. Many of her students have gone on to dance with prestigious dance companies throughout the United States.
In Seattle, Denise Scheerer founded and performed with That’s Jazz, a Seattle-based jazz dance company. The company performed at the Seattle Center Playhouse and Britt Music Festival. While in Seattle, Denise choreographed for Seattle Opera’s The Ballad of Baby Doe, Empty Space Theatre’s The Day They Came from Way Out There, Pioneer Square Theatre’s In a Pig’s Valise, Tacoma Civic Light Opera’s The Merry Widow, and Seattle Civic Light Opera’s West Side Story and Kiss Me Kate. She choreographed Los Angeles Youth Theatre’s Anything Goes and Oliver. And she choreographed and staged an original piece for Latin pop singer, Cristian Castro, for performances at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles.
Denise danced in Las Vegas at the MGM Grand Hotel in Hallelujah Hollywood for four years before moving to Seattle. She danced in the Albert Brooks film I’ll Do Anything, and was the featured dancer and choreographer for the Roy Clark Special “Especially Roy.”
Denise has performed with The Jazz Tap Ensemble. She studied and performed with tap legends Eddie Brown and Sam Weber. She and her daughter, Angel Pennington, performed as a mother-daughter act at the Four Queens Hotel in Las Vegas, The Jazz Bakery, John Anson Ford Amphitheatre in Los Angeles, and the Oregon Cabaret Theatre in Ashland. In 2008, they performed at Black Swan Theatre in Ashland, Oregon and at the 2008 LA Tap Festival. Denise also performed and choreographed for LA Ironworks under the direction of Steve Zee. She plays the drums and studied music with Jerry Kalaf, musical director of The Jazz Tap Ensemble, and incorporates this skill in her teaching.
Denise has taught workshops and master classes all over the Pacific Northwest and California, and was dance faculty at Loyola Marymount University for five years. She taught in New York City for a Tradition in Tap workshop that honored her husband, Robert Scheerer. And she has also taught for the St. Louis, Detroit, and Los Angeles Tap Festivals. Most recently, she taught and performed at the Oregon Center for the Arts at Southern Oregon University in 2019.
Denise teaches at the Colburn Community School of Performing Arts, and is currently chair of the tap and musical theater dance department.
Amy Schadt is an established dancer, choreographer, and teacher. She has been featured in various dance venues and worked extensively with Hama and the late Claude Thompson as their assistants, and was lead dancer in various Jazz Dance LA productions. She has choreographed for commercials, music videos, Jazz Dance LA, and summer intensives.
Amy has taught and created children’s dance programs throughout the Los Angeles area where she directed yearly recitals. From 2006-2011 she operated her own dance program. Amy was awarded a BA in Performing Arts (2015) from St. Mary’s College of California and currently teaches tap and musical theater dance classes at the Colburn School’s Trudl Zipper Dance Institute.
Tamsin Carlson is a graduate of the Arts Educational School, where she was awarded a college diploma, and London Contemporary Dance School, where she was awarded a diploma for her course work. She was then invited to be a member of Edge 4D, London Contemporary’s post-graduate performance company, for which she was awarded another diploma. Upon graduation, she toured England with the Toutes Femmes dance project, choreographed by Ellen Van Schylenburch, and performed in projects by choreographers Charmaine Seet, Moana Napier, and Lance Fuller.
In New York Tamsin was a faculty member of Merce Cunningham Dance Company, and a member of RUG (Repertory Understudy Group) for the Merce Cunningham Dance Company from 1996-1999. For the 1999/2000 season she toured Europe and New York with Lucinda Childs Dance Company, performing in the Lucinda Childs’ 25th Anniversary Concert.
In Los Angeles Tamsin has been a member of Rudy Perez Performance Ensemble since 2000, and was a Lester Horton Award nominee for her performance in The Art of Rudy Perez (2001) at the Luckman Fine Arts Complex. She has been performer and Associate Artistic Director of LA’s Vox Dance Theatre, and currently is part of the Chatting Bodies experimental Skype performances with the German-based Fabien Prioville Company with members of Pina Bausch’s dance company.
Tamsin has given numerous master classes, teaching the technique of Merce Cunningham, among others. She has been a guest teacher at Irvine Valley College; California State University Long Beach; California Institute of the Arts; LA Dance Project, and Pieter Studios. She was a faculty member of the Cunningham School in New York City from 1997-2002. Tamsin teaches modern dance at the Colburn School’s Trudl Zipper Dance Institute, where she is also chair of modern dance.