Brittany has danced since she was seven years old. She grew up dancing at the Academy of Dance and became part of the Civic Ballet Company. She was able to perform with a jazz company in China twice, Cuba and Russia. She played principle roles like Clara in the Nutcracker and Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland. She was offered scholarships to summer intensives at Joffrey Ballet, California Ballet, and Lines Ballet. She started her own Youth Contemporary Ballet Company, in which they performed with the SLO Symphony and all over California. She then auditioned and was one of the twenty dancers to get on scholarship at the Edge Performing Arts Center in Hollywood. She has since gone on to work with many of the top choreographers. She has been a principle dancer in commercials such as the Nip/Tuck, Big Lots, Sensa, Che Banca and Danskin. She was also on a season of Fashion Star. She has done stage shows for America’s Got Talent, Disney, Sexy Hair, and a Latin show for international star Charo. She has done award shows like Guy’s Choice Spike TV, the Grammy’s, and the American Music Awards. She has danced for artists like Katy Perry, Leona Lewis, and Ameriie. She has done promo tours all over the U.S. and internationally. She has been a featured in a film with Jessica Alba. She has done modeling for sportswear and dance articles as well. She has toured with Nuclear Cowboyz, a freestyle motocross show with dancers and acrobats. She has assisted, choreographed, taught and coached for various studios, ballets, and girl groups. She loves teaching and how every different project brings about an amazing new experience!!
began her training at The Academy of Dance at the age of six. Michelle’s training with Joffrey Ballet, New York, and her performing expertise makes her one of the most influential instructors at The Academy of Dance. Michelle offers the best in foundational training and imaginative choreography.
has been teaching at The Academy of Dance since 2000. She has earned her early childhood education credits and has inventive ways to introduce children to social interaction while building healthy bodies. Kasey currently dances with The Civic Ballet and San Luis Jazz Dancers.
Elena Lorton-Smith has a B.S. in Psychology and M.A. in Guidance and Counseling from Cal Poly State University. She is a Counselor at Morro Bay High and the Dance Director of the MBHS Fusion Dance Company. Elena began her training at the Academy of Dance at age four. After extensive training with the San Francisco Ballet, she has been a principal dancer with the Civic Ballet since 1984. Elena is an instructor and advisor to the Civic Ballet as well as a faculty member of The Academy of Dance. She takes pride in sharing her knowledge and enriching young dancers in the art of dance. Her classes emphasize refining technique, maintaining a healthy body so one can dance for a life time, and foremost enhancing one’s artistry to be shared beyond the dance studio.
Kelly Fidopiastis is thrilled to be joining the staff at The Academy of Dance! Originally from the east coast, Kelly holds a B.A. in Theatre from Binghamton University. In addition to her childhood dance education, she has received additional training in tap, jazz and ballet from Ithaca College, Skidmore College and Binghamton University as well as Broadway Dance Center (NYC). Prior to moving to CA, Kelly was the Director of Dance and Performing Arts for the Glens Falls Family YMCA in upstate NY. While there, she implemented a training program for dance, theatre and music for all ages and instructed many of the classes. Kelly was also the resident choreographer for Youtheatre (Lake George, NY) for 13 seasons. She has choreographed adults in NY, VT and CA totaling over 40 musicals. She is a choreographer and acting teacher for the San Luis Obispo Little Theatre’s ACT program. Additionally, she has taught dance in area school districts through Children’s Creative Project. Kelly has been seen locally performing with SLOLT in Gypsy, Rumors, Oklahoma, My Generation, Watergate and The Sound of Music.
Jackie Lee teaches classical ballet, jazz and tap at the Academy of Dance, and has been teaching with us for over 40 years now. She has seen the Civic Ballet of San Luis Obispo grow from it’s inception in 1978, as one of it’s few dancers, to become the successful, many faceted, Company that it is today. She now dances, choreographs, and helps train the other Company members as one of its ballet mistresses. Her own training began with Madam Collenette, protégé of Anna Pavlova, the world-renowned Russian trained ballerina. At this time she danced Bluebird with her first pas de due partner, Charles Maple, who went on to be a soloist with the American Ballet Theater and then open the Maple Conservatory of Dance. She then trained with George Zorich, famed star of the Ballets Russes de Monte Carlo, who had his training at the Imperial School in Russia. She went on to study with Patrick Franz, in Los Angeles, a former premier danseur with the Paris Opera Ballet. Then, moving up the coast of California, she was hired by Tamara Usher and the Santa Barbara Ballet Theater before making the Academy of Dance and Civic Ballet her home. While here she continued her training with Rec Russell, a Broadway and television performer and founder of the Rec Russell Jazz Dance Company and with Enrico Labayen, of Labayen Dance in San Francisco. Enrico and Jackie partnered in the lead rolls of our Company’s very first Nutcracker. The Academy has also provided her with the opportunity to train with Alonzo King, Alex Ketley, Alexander Godunov and many others during her teaching career. In her many seasons with San Luis Jazz and the Civic Ballet she has brought not only her technical expertise, but the excitement and passion of performance on to the stage in countless rolls. Her goal is to take technique to the level of artistry in her students!
Dana Lossing grew up dancing at the Academy of Dance. She trained under LoriLee Silvaggio and with the Civic Ballet of SLO. It was at the Academy of Dance that Dana began teaching and choreographing at age sixteen. Upon graduating from the University of California, San Diego in 2008, she was awarded the Senior Choreography Award along with her B.A. in Dance. Since then, Dana’s work has been presented in Central and Southern California as well as in North Carolina. As a dancer, Dana has attended intensive studies with Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, the Joffrey Ballet Company, and Alonzo King Lines Contemporary Ballet Company. In San Diego, Dana had the pleasure of dancing for choreographers such as Allyson Green and Yolande Snaith. Dana moved to North Carolina in 2012, where she danced professionally with Gaspard&Dancers of Durham and Ronald West's IAmBlackIrish dance company of Raleigh. She is so happy to be back on the Central Coast dancing with the Civic Ballet and teaching at The Academy of Dance!
holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. Drew has performed in many productions including A Chorus Line, Edmond, On the Town, Carousel, Weird Romance, and performed as a feature dancer for the Barrymore Awards as well as the Philadelphia Fringe Festival. Drew’s choreography as Artistic Director of the Civic Ballet of San Luis Obispo and owner/operator of the Academy of Dance has won National Recognition and community acclaim. His latest works: Alice in Wonderland, Sidewalk Stories, and the Slightest Movement, have all enjoyed critical acclaim. Drew has also choreographed for The San Luis Obispo Little Theater’s This is Rock and Roll, Our Generation, and Watergate the Musical. Drew has been seen locally performing with Deyo Dances, Variable Velocity and The Civic Ballet of San Luis Obispo.
Michelle Walter received her B.S. from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, where she was a member of the Orchesis Dance Company, and an M.A. in Dance Education from Stanford University, where she studied Art Education and Theory with Dr. Elliot Eisner, Music and Dance Movement with Inga Weiss (a student of Mary Wigman), Dance History with Dr. Janice Ross, and Dance Cultures with Dr. Susan Cashion. Michelle studied ballet under former Ballet Russes dancers Mara Lysova and Gilbert Reed and has been a member of the Civic Ballet of San Luis Obispo and the Gilbert Reed Ballet Company. While on Sabbatical in England she studied in London and Cambridge, performing at the Cambridge Arts Theatre and has recently been studying at Julio Bocca's studio in Buenos Aires. Michelle taught at Cuesta Community College for more than 20 years developing and writing the curriculum for the Dance Program and in 1994 founding Entourage Dance Company. She is currently on the faculty of Cal Poly Theatre and Dance teaching courses in all levels of ballet.