Co-Founder and Business Director, MBA (University of Toronto, Canada), BComm (McGill, Montreal, Canada)
Melanie has extensive experience in management, marketing and operations, having worked as a management consultant with global management consultancy, A.T. Kearney, New York. Prior to this she worked in both advertising and investment banking in her native Canada. She has also provided consulting services in Internet marketing and operations to small New York City businesses in the downtown area.
Melanie also has long-term experience in the dance school environment, having studied ballet at the Mount Royal Ballet Company in Montreal for thirteen years. She has lived in Tribeca since 2000 with her family, and her three kids have grown up dancing at Downtown Dance Factory. She brings her business experience and love of dance to her role as Business Director of Downtown Dance Factory!
Co-Founder and Artistic Director, BA (Hons – Music/Theatre), AISTD (Ballet), AATOD (Jazz), AMusA, LMusA
Downtown Dance Factory’s Artistic Director and Co-Founder, Hanne Larsen has brought her extensive training in classical ballet, jazz, contemporary, modern dance, theatrical dance, character dance, hip hop and gymnastics, as well as her expertise in theater and music, to thousands of students over the course her 30 year teaching career.
Hanne established her first studio, The Jazz Factory, in Sydney at the age of 22, seeing it become one of the city’s premier studios. She moved to New York in 2005, later establishing Downtown Dance Factory with fellow Tribeca mom and friend, Melanie Zrihen. Under Hanne’s tutelage, her students have become State & National champions, have qualified for prestigious performing arts high schools and college dance courses, and have danced professionally all over the world for such companies as: The Sydney Dance Company, Australian Dance Theatre, Bondi Ballet, TasDance, Norwegian Cruise Lines, Princess Cruises and Compania Nacional de Danza in Madrid, Spain.
Hanne oversees the artistic programming of Downtown Dance Factory, and also keeps up a full program of teaching. Hanne’s current classes include all the jazz companies and the jazz developmental program, as well as classes in jazz/hip hop, kindiballet and adult cardio fitness classes.
Hanne lives in Tribeca with her four children, all of whom dance at Downtown Dance Factory. She is proud to be raising her children in such a supportive community and loves seeing them and her other “ddf children” growing up and dancing through the years!
Amanda's dance training began in her home town of Tolland, CT at the age of two where she studied all genres of dance specializing in jazz, tap, hip hop and musical theater. She danced competitively in the tri-state area growing up winning many awards including Best Young Choreographer in 2009 with Dance America. Amanda, a true triple threat, is a musical theater performer and has performed in many shows locally and nationally. A few of her favorite theater credits include the national tour of Annie, Memphis (Ivoryton Playhouse), All Shook Up (Ivoryton), Angelina Ballerina the Very Merry Holiday Musical (NYC & first national tour), South Pacific (Ivoryton Playhouse) and Hairspray (Ivoryton Playhouse). Amanda received her Bachelors of Science in Liberal Arts from The New School with a concentration in Creative Arts Therapy. Amanda has been teaching in Connecticut and New York City since 2007 and is incredibly grateful for her Downtown Dance Factory family! www.amandaleighlupacchino.com
Norwegian-born Canadian, Ariel Seidman-Wright began her dance training at the age of 4, specializing in tap, jazz and hip hop. Ariel is also a Musical Theatre actor, and in 2008, moved to New York after receiving a scholarship to attend the American Musical and Dramatic Academy. Ariel has performed with a number of Dance and Theatre companies in New York City, and in 2013, she completed her BFA in Musical Theatre at The New School. As a Tap teacher, Ariel focuses on blending precise technique with rhythmic improvisation and musicality. She has been at Downtown Dance Factory since 2010, and is thrilled to be teaching such talented and vibrant young dancers.
Born and raised in Bloomington, Indiana, Ashley Stafford's love for the arts began at a very young age with the Indiana University pre-college ballet and music programs. She graduated with honors and received a bachelor's degree in Piano Performance, as well as a minor in Psychology, from Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky. Ashley is trained in all genres of dance, and specializes in jazz, lyrical, floorwork, and contemporary. Her passion for music and dance has brought her to the stage in many capacities throughout the Midwest, Northeast, Colorado, Canada, and Europe. She has appeared on MTV, Good Morning America, Telemundo, and The Dr. Oz Show, and has performed in shows at Symphony Space, The Tank, Peridance Capezio Center, the Highline Ballroom, and in The New York Jazz Choreography Project. Ashley has performed works by Sheila Barker, Mike Esperanza, Cat Cogliandro, and Ashlé Dawson to name a few, and her own choreography was recently showcased in the Brooklyn Dance Festival performance for emerging choreographers, the Chris Palacio Rooftop Showcase, and in Gotham Dance Theater's Emerge Choreographer's Showcase. She is fascinated by the power of the arts on the human experience, and in 2010 was awarded a full research grant to study the relationship between music and culture in Dakar, Senegal. Ashley aims to fuse together her diverse training, experiences, and passion for the arts to create a learning environment in which young artists feel comfortable exploring dance while challenging their minds and bodies.
Originally from California, Ashley moved to New York City and joined Downtown Dance Factory at the beginning of 2012. Ashley is well-known in the dance world, having been a finalist on the eighth season of the hit television show "So You Think You Can Dance"! Having trained as a child in all styles of dance, she continued her collegiate training at New York's famous Ailey School. Her teaching experience includes assisting world renowned choreographer Milton Myers at Juilliard while still a student at Ailey, and a full program teaching students aged two through teens at schools over the Bay Area since graduation. She has appeared in several music videos and has performed extensively. She is so excited to be a part of the Downtown Dance Factory family.
Our Street Hip Hop Teacher, J Lyn Thomas received a BA in Dance from the University of Colorado. She has taught extensively in Colorado and New York in dance schools and companies, as well as in public schools, charter schools and not-for-profit organizations. She is trained in and teaches a vast range of dance styles, but specializes in hip hop, breaking, locking and West African dance. Her extensive performance resume includes appearances in television, commercials, music videos, stage and film - including a DDF favorite Step Up 3D!
James A. Washington, a native of Rochester, NY, began his dance training at Dance 22. He graduated cum laude from the Conservatory at Point Park University, earning his Bachelor of Arts degree in dance. James has worked with and performed pieces by Robert Battle, David Parsons, Christopher Huggins, Kyle Abraham, Francesca Harper, Camille A. Brown, Sidra Bell, Darrell Grand Moultrie, Peter Chu, and many others. James was ranked Top Five at the 2012 International Choreography Competition at Giordano Jazz Dance World Congress. His choreography credits also include: Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, Slippery Rock University, Cleveland School of the Arts, Houston Met Too Youth Company, and Abby Lee Dance Company (Dance Moms, Lifetime). James was the 2013 male recipient of the “Brazzy Award,” given for outstanding achievement in the field of dance. James was a founding member of the August Wilson Center Dance Ensemble (“Top 25 to Watch” in 2012, Dance Magazine) under the direction of Greer Reed in Pittsburgh, PA. He has also performed as a guest artist with The Houston Metropolitan Dance Company in Houston, TX and is currently performing with Ballet Inc, Michael Susten and Co. and is represented by MSA talent agency in New York City.
Jasmine Ladiner was born in Cleveland and came to New York City by way of Pittsburgh, where she received her degree in Musical Theatre & Dance Performance from Point Park University. She has been dancing since age 4 and teaching since age 16, and hopes to continue sharing her passion for dance and performing for years to come. While in New York she helped start [the]movement initiative dance company, a bi coastal fitness and performing company. She feels lucky to be a part of the Downtown Dance Factory family and looks forward to dancing with all the amazing young dance stars who come through!
Jessica began dancing at three, and continued on to study at the New Jersey School of Ballet where she performed in numerous productions with the company. She moved to New York City at age 15 to attend the School of American Ballet in the Lincoln Center while simultaneously attending LaGuardia High School for the Performing Arts, where she studied modern dance and dance composition. Jessica was invited to join the New York City Ballet company as an apprentice in 2002, and quickly became a member of the corps de ballet. During her six seasons with the New York City Ballet, Jessica toured Russia, Japan, Denmark, and the U.S, and danced roles in over fifty ballets. Since her departure from the company, Jessica has taught ballet, art, and gym to children of all ages and spends her mornings teaching preschoolers. She is thrilled to be a part of Downtown Dance Factory.
Originally from Santa Fe, NM, Kara Harvey received a B.F.A. in Ballet Pedagogy from the University of Oklahoma where she graduated with Distinction. While at OU, Kara had the honor of working with artists such as Miguel Terekhov, Ginger Thatcher, Violette Veridy, Freddie Franklin, Steve Brule, Paul Sutherland, Donn Edwards, and Mary Margaret Holt. She also toured internationally, dancing in Shanghai and Ningbo, China. Kara has danced with Oklahoma Festival Ballet, Continental Ballet Company, Moving Arts Ensemble and American Repertory Ballet as well as numerous dance projects. Her favorite credits include "Serenade," "Rodeo," "Les Patineurs," "Les Sylphides," and "Raymonda Variations." Kara brings teaching experience from dance schools throughout the country, including the prestigious Princeton Ballet School. Moving to New York in 2011, she works as a Montessori preschool teacher and teaches dance in the Tri-State Area. Kara has been teaching at Downtown Dance Factory since 2010.
A native of New York, Katie has been singing and dancing since the age of 3. At 7 years old, she made her first professional theatre debut in New York City Opera’s La Boheme at Lincoln Center and has been performing professionally ever since! She has recently come off the National Tour of Saturday Night Fever where she served as dance captain, swing, and cover for all female lead roles. Katie has been teaching for several years and has been recognized for her choreography in regional and national dance competitions across the country. She is passionate about sharing her experiences and love of dance with her students and is thrilled to be teaching at Downtown Dance Factory this year!
Kelly Anne Wadler, Kelly graduated from Hofstra University with a BFA in Theater Performance and has been intensively and competitively trained in many forms of dance since age nine. Currently, she focuses her passion of theater and dance through educating and teaches all throughout the city and tri-state area. When she is not teaching, she can be found dancing for an entertainment company at Bar/Bat Mitzvahs and Weddings as well as acting in Off-Broadway shows. She is extremely pumped to be part of the DDF family teaching the Adult Zumba Classes! Get ready for a class where you can leave your worries at the door, get an amazing sweat and have an absolute blast!
Kevin Glasford is a New York native whose commercial dance career started in 2010. He is signed to Bloc Talent Agency and has worked with and learned from award winning choreographers including Adrien Wiltshire(Pharell/Ariana Grande) Rich and Tone (Mariah Carey/Janet Jackson/Chris Brown), and 3 time Tony Award winner Broadway Star Hinton Battle. In addition to his professional dancing, Kevin adores teaching. He joined Downtown Dance Factory in 2012, and teaches his students hip hop basics and fundamentals along with commercial choreography.
“We will perform like its our last show in life. It’s not an easy road but its ours and we will take it!”
Born and raised in Brooklyn, Major started dancing at the age of 8, exploring all styles from modern and ballet to tap and hip hop. He began breaking in 2006 and is now part of one of the top bboy crews in the United States, 5 Crew Dynasty. Major travels the country with his crew competing and performing at shows and events . Major has been with DDF since 2014 teaching Breaking and Hip-Hop to all ages. He is a full time dancer and student currently enrolled at Brooklyn College majoring in Kinesiology.
Meghann was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland where she started dancing at the age 3 at a competition studio. She danced competitively for 15 years winning regional and national titles. After graduating from Baltimore School for the Arts, Meghann went on to study at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia where she received a BFA in jazz dance performance. She then moved to the big apple to pursue her dance career and spread her knowledge of the art. Meghann's is beyond thrilled to be back at Downtown Dance Factory this year!
Molly began her dance training at the age of four at the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Performing Arts in Joppa, Maryland. She continued her dance training through high school at the Baltimore School for the Arts where she focused on ballet technique. Molly earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Ballet Performance from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. While at UArts, she performed works by Ronen Koresh, Douglas Becker, Anastasia Babayeva and Tommy Waheed-Evans. She received the UArts faculty award for "Outstanding Performance in all Styles." Now living in New York, Molly is working on her freelance dance career while spreading her love and passion of dance by teaching. Molly is so excited to be back at Downtown Dance Factory this year, both teaching and assisting!
Growing up in the Bay Area of CA, Tiana Hester has been dancing since the age of 6 years old. She started technically training in Hip-Hop, Jazz, Ballet, and Contemporary at 9 years old, and at 12 she danced competitively for competitions like KAR, Show Stoppers, Star Power, and more. Tiana has trained with well known Choreographers of the Bay Area like LaTonya Watts, Kim Sims-Battiste, and Corey Action. She has also been featured in music videos, for artist such as Zion-I, Mann, and John West. She has had the opportunity to dance for artists such as Sean Kingston, open up Kevin Hart's "Laugh at My Pain" comedy stand-up, and most recently she auditioned for and danced with Beyoncé. She is excited to be a part of the ddf family!
Vicki Reynolds is a native Texan who has trained in all aspects of performance. She has performed in such shows as Chicago, West Side Story, Death of a Salesman, Taming of the Shrew and Hair, to name a few. She has been seen in numerous showcases throughout the South & North East, including national television spots for ESPN and the Atlanta Olympics. Vicki's choreography has been seen throughout Texas and New York, most recently through the dance company she started in 2013, Sugarfoot Mafia. Vicki is always looking for opportunities to learn and grow as a teacher, attending conventions, seminars and workshops throughout the New York area. She adores sharing her passion with kids and instilling confidence in their ability to dance. Vicki is proud to be a part of the Downtown Dance Factory family and to call this studio her home!
Zack was born and raised on New York City's Lower East Side. Starting off as an underground B-boy, he later transitioned into all forms of dance, training at LaGuardia Performing Arts High School (the "Fame" school) and at the Luis Abrams Arts Center.
Zack's performance experience includes dancing with the Company of Dance Arts in New Jersey, as well as an apprentice with Urban Ballet Theater, featured as the Snow King in their "Nutcracker in the Lower". He performs regularly in showcases with his and other break dance crews throughout the city and beyond.
Currently Zack is working as a youth specialist and teaching artist with several non-profit organizations in downtown New York City. You may even recognize him from his work with the youth and preschool programs at Battery Park City Parks Conservancy!