Lisa Shapiro – Studio owner since 1988. Teaches classes (all levels) in jazz, tap, ballet, and pointe. Choreographer for high school musicals including: Cats, Damn Yankees, Back to the 80s, You're A Good Man Charlie Brown, Guys and Dolls, and Hello Dolly. Co-creator of an in-house Ballet Company for 18 years that performed original choreography in fairy tale themed shows including Beauty and The Beast, Cinderella, Snow White, The Little Mermaid, The Wiz of Oz, Anastasia, Alice in Wonderland, The Lion King, Oliver, Read Me A Story, The King and I, Annie, and The Wizard of Oz. Previous teaching experience includes team-teaching the dance program three years at a public high school. Joined her childhood dance teacher to run the after school dance program at Ferndale High School in 1979; took over the program in 1981.
Erin Goldsworthy – Graduate of Eastern Michigan University with a degrees in communications, economics and education. Trained for two years in the EMU Dance program in modern and ballet. Performance experience includes dancing with the Peter Sparling Dance Company in Ann Arbor. Co-director of an in-house Ballet Company for 8 years that performed original choreography in fairy tale themed shows including, Cinderella, The Little Mermaid, The Wiz of Oz, Anastasia, The Lion King, Oliver, Annie, and The Wizard of Oz. Currently responsible for the maintenance and development of the studio website. Assistant Artistic Director and Director of offsite programming. Dancing at Center Stage since 1994. Teaches: jazz, ballet, pointe, hip hop, and preschool.
Office Manager: Renee Siracusa
Systems Manager: Holly Tilton
Bookkeeper: Allie Waisanen
Allie Shapiro-Waisanen – Allie is a Center Stage Alum who works primarily as a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) at Michigan Medicine, having completed schooling at Grand Valley State University and Madonna University. Allie provides offsite support to the front office, functioning as the studio’s bookkeeper. Allie has the opportunity, on occasion, to sub in the classroom, and most enjoys tap. Allie’s son, Levi, is a third generation Center Stage dancer!
Heather Briggs – 5th grade teacher at Wooddale Elementary in Farmington Hills; graduate of Eastern Michigan University with a BS in elementary education with a focus in math and health education; dancing at Center Stage since 1989. Teaches: ballet and pointe.
Dami (a.k.a. Dammy) Ikwe – Dami started dancing at a young age training in contemporary and modern. While studying psychology at the University of Michigan, he danced with a branch of the international dance company Dance 2XS, eventually becoming one of the branches Co-Artistic Directors. He’s the former Creative Director of Next Level Dance Company, a youth and adult hip-hop dance company based in Detroit. Next Level competes across the Mid-West region and has taken 3rd place overall at World of Dance Chicago twice, as well as placing and winning at various other competitions across the Midwest and country. They have earned two invitations to compete at World of Dance International Finals L.A., once in 2015 and again in 2017. Dammy loves working with both adults and children and is always looking to push dancers to think outside of their box and find their personal style. Dami joined our staff in 2017.
Marie Jaster – Marie is a 2017 graduate of Northville High School and is currently enrolled at Schoolcraft College with plans to transfer to Eastern Michigan University to study Elementary Education. She has been dancing at Center Stage since 2012. She began assisting instructors in the classroom in 2015 and was also a member of the competitive TEAM for two years. Marie is excited for her first year as the lead teacher in a tap and jazz classroom along with assisting in ballet, dance acro, and TEAM classes.
Holly Tilton – Center Stage Alum and Graduate of Alma College with a BA in International Business and French including Diplome de Langue certificate. At Alma, she was an active member of the Alma College Dance Company. She participated in many ballets including Giselle, Swan Lake, Pas de Quatre, the Nutcracker and more. She assisted in choreographing and staging for Giselle including a fun wooden shoe "tap"-style dance. Additionally, Holly choreographed and staged several original tap pieces during the young choreographers and spring concerts. While mainly focused on ballet, pointe and tap in college, she also participated in jazz and some modern pieces thanks to guest choreographers from NY and CA. Also, during college, Holly worked at Center Stage helping run the summer dance program and co-choreographing the company ballet "Read Me A Story." After college, Holly moved to Chicago, IL, and then transferred to Atlanta, GA, working for McMaster-Carr Supply Company in both locations. Shortly after her son was born, Holly's family moved back to Michigan. Holly's daughter now dances at Center Stage. These days, Holly can be found behind the front desk at Center Stage or teaching ballet or tap.
Christine Sampier – Christine started dancing at the age of 4. She started with ballet and then began taking jazz and tap. Christine was a member of Community High Dance Body, where she learned modern dance and began choreographing all styles of dance for the group. She continued dancing at Washtenaw Community College with Noonie Anderson and Gayle Martin. Christine has had the pleasure of dancing with Ypsilanti Area Dancers, Patchwerk Dance Troupe, Dance 4 Unity and Factory Dance Co. She has taken master classes with Ed Kressley, Tony Randazzo, Peter Sparling, Peter Kentis and Bill DeYoung. She has performed in numerous Nutcracker performances, at Heritage Festivals, the Ann Arbor Art Fair and several showcases in Ypsilanti. Most recently she was a supernumerary for American Ballet Theater’s production of Sleeping Beauty. Currently Christine is directing and producing her fourth Nutcracker based out of Washtenaw Community College. She also choreographs for Randazzo Dance Company’s yearly production of The Nutcracker. Christine enjoys teaching all forms of dance and has begun working with groups to take to competition. Christine joined us in 2017.
Claire Varvatos – Claire is a 2019 graduate of Michigan State University with a degree in Supply Chain Management and a minor in Retail Management. She has danced at Center Stage since the age of three. She was a member of the competitive TEAM which included attending conventions and workshops where she was able to take class from professional dancers and choreographers from around the country. As a freshman in high school, she worked as an apprentice in the dance classroom and continued teaching through college. You can find Claire in the preschool, jazz, ballet and tap classrooms.
Lauren Nash – Lauren began dancing at Center Stage in the fall of 2000 at the age of three. She soon found a passion for dance and explored all the techniques that were offered, falling in love with tap and lyrical. She began working at CSDC as a studio assistant in the fall of 2011, and remained on staff throughout high school and now through college. She was a member of CSDC’s Dance Team, competing at local competitions with high regards. She is a graduate of Northville High School currently attending Purdue University majoring in Biological Engineering. She credits her work ethic and perseverance, learned as a dancer at CSDC, as instrumental in her successes at university.
Kelly Owens – Kelly is a 2016 graduate of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor with a BA in Communication Studies and Writing. During her time at the University of Michigan, she was a four-year member of EnCore Hip Hop team and RhythM Tap Ensemble, and held executive board positions for both groups during her junior and senior year. Kelly was also the lead events coordinator for Dance Mix, the largest student run dance performance on campus, during the 2015-2016 school year. This event culminates into a show with an audience of over 1,300 and over 200 performers. Kelly is currently a member of Next Level Dance Company, a professional hip hop crew out of Detroit, Michigan. She was previously a member of GLYDE (Great Lakes Youth Dance Ensemble), a youth tap ensemble for Michigan tap dancers started by Shelby Kaufman, and continues to work with Shelby today. She has been a three-time member of the Motor City Tap Festival’s Elite and Pre-Professional Crews, which has allowed her to work closely with instructors including Gregg Russell, Chloe Arnold, Sarah Reich, Jason Janas, Bril Barret, and Claudia Rahardjanoto. Kelly has been dancing at Center Stage since 2002. She continues her training by attending conventions and classes in Detroit, Chicago, Los Angeles and NYC. At the studio, Kelly teaches tap, hip hop, and jazz, with an additional focus on the competitive TEAM.
All Junior Faculty are high school students who have come up through our Apprentice Program. Their own dance backgrounds are extensive in both experience and exposure to a wide variety of techniques. All Junior Faculty take weekly classes in ballet, tap, jazz, pointe, hip hop, and lyrical. Our Junior teachers participate in intra-studio workshops for choreography, class management and people skills. Regular evaluations help them to improve their teaching and communication skills.
Based on maturity level and commitment to dance, upper-level students with leadership qualities may be invited to join our Studio Assistants program or our Apprentice Program. Studio Assistants and Apprentices assist teachers by helping to demonstrate steps, combinations and choreography during classes. They serve as role models for younger dancers and as representatives of our studio. It is considered an honor to be invited into this program.
Apprentice Program Mission Statement
- To teach senior level dancers the art and mechanics of operating a dance studio business including: dance instruction, choreography, communication skills, systems management, building management, and time management.
- To demonstrate the skills necessary to instruct, nurture and develop young dancers in their pursuit of technique, self-esteem and FUN!
- To enhance the instructional flow by providing each teacher with an assistant. In time, the apprentice will assume a co-teacher role. The effect of ‘team-teaching’ will be that of a better student-to-teacher ratio and in the absence of the primary instructor the apprentice will perpetuate the class routine.
- Minimum age of an apprentice is 14, or a freshman in high school. As our program has grown, the most typical entry age for an apprentice is 15, or a sophomore in high school.
- Apprentices are invited by the director to participate in the program. Considerations for invitation include: skill level, commitment, attitude, level of participation in studio activities, leadership qualities, and dependability.
- Apprentices are compensated by the hour. They are required to document their hours on a monthly basis for reimbursement. If they cannot come to work as scheduled, they must arrange for a substitute apprentice to work with the primary instructor.
- It is strongly impressed upon the apprentices that they represent our studio, its philosophy, and its reputation, but most importantly, that the younger dancers are always watching them. They must role model in the most positive of ways at all times.
- We have regular contact with most of our Alumni. Over the years, many of them have told us that the time they spent as an Apprentice proved to be invaluable to them as they moved forward in higher education and careers.
- The young people in the Apprentice Program are a wonder. They are incredibly talented, heart-warmingly loyal, and full of the desire to achieve. It is our distinct pleasure to have the chance to help them reach their greatest potential.