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Our Instructors + Staff


Valerie Dawn

Valerie Dawn's (she/her) passion for movement and music arts was ignited by an eccentric mover (Debi Dirks) at a young age. Her life has been filled with training, performing, competing, education in many dance styles, acting, musical theatre, acrobatics, modeling and child/adolescent development.  

Her passion for the performing arts, love for the youth and strong desire to influence, express, and create, symbiotically united and she began teaching, directing, and choreographing for schools, studios, recreation centers, churches, private events, and more. 

Valerie's ability to direct and cast vision has allowed her to launch four comprehensive dance and theatre programs at local centers for both preschool and adolescents. She has choreographed, performed and competed across the United Stated, produced more than 500 shows and directed/written 70+ musicals, while influencing and educating more than 200,000 youth in the last 37 years.

In 2000, Valerie launched two companies, Rhythm of my Heart Dance Academy & K.I.D.D.S. Musical Theatre Company. In 2011, circumstances arose that allowed Valerie's dream of owning her own performing arts brick and mortar to become a reality.  She folded up her two companies and opened ENCORE Performing Arts Center.

She has been and continues to be the owner and operator of ENCORE since 2011. 

Valerie is a Mom of three, cancer survivor and a continuous student of performing arts, self development, natural living and life. Her students are known to make their mark in the dance & musical theatre industry and/or develop into well-rounded humans that influence the world with confidence, acceptance of self and others, team skills, empathy, hard work and compassion. 

"Begets. War begets war. Love begets love. I seek to understand the human, love them where they are at while opening their mind to their potential." ~ Valerie Dawn


Liz Aguila

Originally from Portland, Oregon, Liz Aguila is a Filipina-American performing artist, choreographer, and movement mentor who comes from a background of exploration, connection, and communication. Her work aims to reflect these core motives, through multifaceted talents, to encapsulate what makes her, her! 


Credits include: Kanye West Coachella, Toni Braxton Live, Selena Gomez MV, Ruby Ibarra Live, and more! Acting credits: Co-starring in Code Black on CBS, guest starring in Family Reunion on Netflix, and being cast as a dancer in the movie Dance Camp on YouTube Red!


Grace Armstrong

Grace Armstrong is from Shoreline, Washington where she began training with Olympic Ballet School. As a student there, she competed in the Youth America Grand Prix and was awarded Top 12 in the semi-finals. After high school, Grace was accepted into Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music Ballet Department where she worked closely with world renowned professional dancers including Carla Korbes, Kyra Nichols, Michael Vernon, and Sarah Wroth. While at IU she performed notable roles in Jerome Robbins’ Antique Epigraphs, George Balanchine’s Walpurgisnacht and Antony Tudor’s Dark Elegies. Grace was a recipient of the Premier Young Artist Award through the Jacobs School of Music. In Spring 2020, she graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Ballet Performance with an Outside Field in Arts Management.


After graduation, she joined Oregon Ballet Theatre 2 where she performed alongside the company in George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker, Ben Stevenson's Dracula, and Christopher Stowell’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Grace started her teaching career in 2017 as an instructor for Indiana University’s Pre-College Ballet Program. Grace currently teaches at Oregon Ballet School, Oregon International Ballet Academy, Allegro Dance Studio and is thrilled to be part of the ENCORE Performing Arts staff!

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Todd “PopNTod” Breithaupt

Todd “PopNTod” Breithaupt, repping the legendary Soulbotics and Wave Gang crews, has been regarded as one of Southern California’s innovators in the dance form, popping, specializing in styles such as waving, robot, and animation. It was through spending innumerable hours street performing on Hollywood Blvd., subways under New York City, or in Portland, Oregon, that PopNTod was able to create his foundation with the robotic styles.


He has appeared in a number of commercials and other media including Chris Brown’s music video, “I Can Transform Ya”, which he co-choreographed. Todd has also performed for Carnival Cruise Lines, claimed victor to numerous dance competitions across the continent, & shared the stage with E-40, Ludacris, Common, etc, to name a few of his accolades. He has performed as a resident dancer with the company, iLuminate (3rd place finalists in America’s Got Talent season 6) throughout the world in the technological dance and light show and off-Broadway success, Artist of Light.


His current passion is mentoring his students with his online dance program, iLL SkiLLz Dance. 

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Eva Burton

Eva Burton was born in Los Angeles, where she received training from Patrick Frantz, followed by San Francisco Ballet School. In 2010, she joined OBT as a dancer in the corps de ballet; in 2016, she was promoted to soloist.


She cites OBT’s Giants program as especially significant: She performed in George Balanchine’s Serenade and William Forsythe’s In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated, and was promoted after the first show. By extension, favorite roles include the Waltz Girl from Balanchine’s Serenade, as well as Nutcracker’s Sugarplum Fairy.

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Melanie Buskin

Having spent much of their life in and around Chicago, Melanie (they/them) visited Portland, OR and - on a spontaneous decision - never left! They are jazzed to now be working in Admin at ENCORE. They have also worked as Stage Manager and ADA + Accessibility Specialist for Congruency Tap Dance Collective since 2023, co-run by ENCORE instructor Cas Majewski (they/she).

Proudly trans and on the Autism Spectrum, Melanie is keen on exploring the intersections of disability, gender and sexuality and how - while existing in a world that is not catered to non-dominant social identities - music serves as translator for these experiences. An aspiring filmmaker and writer, they're interested in employing musical and movement based expressions as a form of rhetoric to explore these spaces, both as an individual and within community. Their goal is to create a body of work that can not only demystify the experiences of intersectional disabled identities, but will also encourage people of all backgrounds and life experiences - especially adolescents - to be open to the full capacity of who they might be; to embrace the fluidity, uncontrollable nature of life, and enjoy the ride!

In their free time Melanie enjoys tap dancing, singing, going to the cinema, reading, musicological research, plant care, and running/hiking/driving as a means to discover new filming locations.

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Nicholas Christopher

An educator of over 10 years, Nicholas Octavius Christopher (He/Them) is a movement artist who’s training has been primarily in many Street Styles, specializing in Hip Hop, Popping, Street Style based choreography, and freestyle approach. He's additionally trained in Breaking, House, and a variety of other styles. As director of the Street Styles program, Nicholas focuses on cultivating space for styles, artists, and educators to foster a curriculum of diverse approaches. He seeks to give gratitude and recognition to the Black, Latinx, and LGBTQIA+ communities these styles were created and informed by, as well as the myriad of other cultures we partake in. 

Starting with local heros like Donna aka DonnaMation, Conrad “Icon Sleepy Tut”, Todd aka Pop'N Tod, and various other freestyle and choreography artists, Nick soon began traveling to Seattle, Colorado, LA, and Vancouver, BC to further his training. (Shout out to Massive Monkees Studio: The Beacon, Block 1750, Movement Lifestyle, Center Space and the PDX dance and battle community for holding it down for the culture and community.) He has further enriched himself by continually participating in various workshops held by both local and traveling artists. He's had the opportunity to learn from many street style and industry experts likes Mr.Wiggles, Pop'N Pete, Link Brian, Buddha Stretch, Bboy Storm, Franky J, Kapela, Jesse Sykes, Kosi, amongst other local and industry freestylists and choreographers. He was also a member of season one all Mens Blazer Dancers (2019), addtionally appearing on a Fox Sports commercial (2019). He and his students have both won and been finalists in various local battles and competitions. He considers his eclectic interests and constant studentship key to his approach. He's continues to train, travel, battle, compete, and create all while endeavoring to nurturing his students' and communities' growth.  

He attributes his teaching ability in large part to his mother, Valerie (the owner), who taught for 20+ years before opening ENCORE. He continues to demonstrate and develop a unique expression and exploration in movement arts in many forms with a visceral emphasis on diversity and foundation. On hiatus during the COVID-19 Pandemic, he was at and is intending to return to community college. An avid reader, academic and further education remains a priority.

 “My philosophy as a coach and instructor, especially of youth, is many fold but centers on empathy, honesty, strength and growth-mindset based technique. A core drive of mine is helping nurture the ability to be joyous and still seriously train in the same instance. This can be difficult, many sacrifice play for skill or diligence for recreation, when the two in fact go hand in hand.”

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Jeri Corbett

Jeri has a lifelong passion for performance arts. Having retired from a career in dance before having children, she was overjoyed to fill a role in the technical capacities of stagecraft with Village Home Education Center when her children were still young. Since then she has worked as a Production Manager and Stage Manager for community organizations in the Portland area, including The Portland Panto Players, Village Home Education Center and here at ENCORE Performing Arts Center.


She delights in the opportunities to connect with the dancers and parents of ENCORE through her administrative work at the studio, and cherishes every moment that she is able to LEAD WITH LOVE in this community.

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Bio Coming Soon!

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Marketa Duffin

Bio Coming Soon!

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Oscar Guerrero

Bio Coming Soon!


Mary Llyod

Mary Lloyd-Risitano was born and raised in Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania. She graduated from Anderson University in May 2019 with her bachelor’s degree in Dance Business.


Her dance training consists of ballet, modern, jazz, musical theatre, and improv. In April 2019, she performed in her first professional show with the world premiere of Gregory Hancock Dance Theatre’s production of Exodus, a modern adaptation of the Moses story. She previously performed in Cuchi Cuchi and Trail of Tears, two pieces featured at Anderson University that were also set by guest choreographer Gregory Hancock. She’s also performed in pieces choreographed by Christine Thacker, Cole Companion, Erich Yetter, and Shauna Steele. 

In November of 2018, Mary made her choreographic debut at AU’s “Fall Into Dance” with her piece Zerebethsra, a piece about a little girl who’s vivid imagination comes to life, finding herself sucked into the world that she created. Mary has also worked as a dance instructor/choreographer for the Creative and Performing Arts Academy of NEPA’s Playhouse Division at the Ritz Theater, and most recently as the ballet/jazz instructor for Ecclesia School of the Arts.


In June of 2021, she and her husband drove across the country to settle in Oregon after being married for less than a week.  In her free time, Mary loves  choreographing, drawing, writing, and going on walks in nature with her husband. 


Cas Majewski

cas (they/she) grew up as a groove-inclined kiddo in Pittsburgh; with roots as an instrumental musician, tap was a longtime favorite artform. cas attended undergraduate school at northwestern university to study journalism and global health. while there, they found much unlearning and healing in their work with Billy Siegenfeld of Jump Rhythm, Jenai Cutcher, Tonik Tap, and Sterling Harris.


In portland, after pursuing grad school and a career in public health, education, and equity, they have continued choreographing, teaching, and dancing tap—most recently co-founding tapfusion group congruency dance collective with their sibling, tess majewski.


cas continues dreaming and scheming towards a future of collaboration, education, and growth.


Ireland McNeill

Ireland loves teaching and is passionate about “the arts and education.” She holds a Master's of Arts in Teaching from the University of Portland. She's worked hard to fuse her academic self with her artistic self. She is a classically trained soprano with a music minor, and she recently joined the Light Opera of Portland as a company member.


When she isn't performing, teaching, or dancing for fun, you might find her reading or laughing at her own jokes. She is currently Education Program Manager at Village Home Education and Resource Center.


Juju Nikz

I was born and raised in Portland, Oregon. I have been dancing and traveling since 2013. Once I fell in love with dance the next step for me was to travel and see other dance communities. 


My first experience with Waacking is when I took a workshop from Kumari Suraj back in 2013 and from there she helped me to become a Waacker and most importantly taught me the history and the back ground of Waacking. Lorena V also helped me with my techniques and training to become a better Waacker as well. 


I do the following dance styles, Waacking, Vogue, House, Fem Hip Hop and Lyrical Hip Hop... In 2015 I won a Waacking category at the Jungle Space Ship Ball. Also, in 2018 I won a 7-to-smoke All Styles In Portland called Beautiful Street. I won the Vogue Category in Salt Lake City called SLAY,  won a Waacking category in LA called Strike With Force which the winner flys to Canada to compete in the top 8, and I was the only one to represent the USA. 


I’ve been teaching different dance styles all over the Pacific North West. I’ve done workshops and choreographed for many companies in the Pacific North West and outside of the Pacific North West as well. Such as 11:Dance.Co, Groove Nation, Steps PDX, Vega Dance Lab, VMAC, Element Dance Studio, MVP Dance Elite, Lyfe, and many more. 


I’ve been a part of many companies as well such as 11:Dance.Co, House of Ada, Groove Nation and their WOD company back in 2015, MVP Dance Elite, Lyfe Dance Company... I also have my own company called Mystical Creatures. 


Ramón Rodriguez

Ramón started his training in dance at age 17, immediately excelling in tumbling and contemporary dance. Ramón holds a Bachelor of Arts in Dance from Western Oregon University where he worked with a host of guest artists such as Lauren Edson of Juilliard and Brian Eno of Chicago. At WOU he developed and strengthened his technical and ballet skills and began to develop and hone in on a keen eye and mind for choreography.

In recent years, Ramón has performed with Disney’s Broadway caliber productions of Aladdin, Frozen and Believe. He has also toured Internationally with Rainbow Dance Theatre, lead by Directors/Choreographers Valerie Bergman and Darryl Thomas whose productions combine traditional dance movement and body integrated multi-media equipment.


Ramón has had the opportunity to Dance for and work with a number of notable Choreographers and Dance companies over the years, including Directors Dina Castelluccio & Karen Nerkowski of the New England Ballet Academy, and Danial  Shapiro & Joanie Smith whose Company focuses on breathtaking physicality embedded in story-driven performances.


Lisa Rose

Dance instructor, performer, choreographer, and Beaverton native Lisa Rose began dancing at the recreation centers as young as 2 years old.  Her dance and musical theatre training continued with dance company Fast 4Ward and musical theatre company K.I.D.D.S. (kids in dance, drama and song) performing, choreographing and being an assistant director in more than 250 shows.


Lisa fell in love with teaching when she began assisting younger classes at the recreation centers a few times a week. Her training continued at Arts and Communication Magnet Academy (ACMA) under the direction/instruction of Julane Stites, Felice Moskowitz, Jason and Michelle Davis, Kemba Shannon, Les Watanabe, and Terry Brock in the styles of ballet, tap, modern and jazz as well as being a part of the dance ensemble program. Outside of school, she trained at ENCORE Performing Arts Center under the direction of Gozde Vaught.  After graduating from ACMA with dance honors, and taking part in ENCORE's Dance & Ballet Companies, she now passes the knowledge to her students through her full time teaching career.


Lisa continues to teach, choreograph, mentor and motivate the dancers at Encore Performing Arts Center as she has for the last 6 years.


Melissa Rumsey

Melissa Rumsey began dancing at a late age and fell in love from the first moment. She has worked professionally with The Schiff Dance Collective, Evolving Doors Dance, Danca Nova Dance Company, Rouge Co. Dance Company, BRIAH Danse, Industrial Dance Alliance and had the honor of performing in Florence, Italy through Alambrado. While teaching and working with competition studios all through Colorado and Oregon she has been recognized by industry professionals for her “ground breaking” choreography and strives to instill a strong grasp of technique and a love for the artistry of dance in her students in a supportive environment.

Ms. Rumsey is a certified personal trainer and corrective exercise specialist with training in Embodied Awareness injury prevention and Progressing Ballet Technique.

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Piper Ryan

Piper Ryan (They/Them) began acting in community theatre at the age of fifteen, but had been performing long before that.  Given any opportunity, they would get up and sing or tell a joke to anyone with ears (not much has changed)! After acting in nearly a dozen community theatre shows over the next three years, Valerie Dawn recruited Piper as a volunteer stage hand and assistant student director.  Upon graduating college Valerie Dawn offered Piper a job at ENCORE and the rest, as they say, is history. 

Piper studied at Southern Oregon University, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and a minor in Musical Theatre.  They were involved with set design for several productions on the SOU Main Stage including Lucky Stiff and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, as well as performing in Musical Theatre Showcase as part of the SOU Fringe festival. 

Acting credits include community performances with K.I.D.D.S.; High School Musical 3, Wicked, Phantom of the Opera, Grease, Alice in Wonderland, Harry Potter the Musical, as well as the film adaptation of Stefanie Meyer’s classic novel, Twilight. When they're not teaching at ENCORE, Piper can be found at their full time job as a school registrar, baking delicious treats, or working on one of their many D&D campaigns.

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Jada Terry

Jada began her journey and love for dance 20 years ago at Central Washington Dance Academy. In high school she danced for Orchesis dance company at Central Washington University. Upon graduating, she danced professionally for State Street Ballet and Ballet Idaho.


She has performed in ballets such as Swan Lake, Le Corsaire, The Nutcracker, Cinderella, and several original works. She has several years of experience teaching ballet, pointe, stretch and strengthening classes, contemporary, PBT, and variations.


Jada is an ABT® Certified Teacher, who has successfully completed the ABT® Teacher Training Intensive in Pre-Primary through Level 3 of the ABT® National Training Curriculum, as well as being certified in Progressing Ballet Technique. Jada has a drive to always be learning and improving as a teacher, and is passionate about what she does. She is thrilled to be a part of the ENCORE family. 


Sara White

Sara White was raised in Portland and began taking ballet lessons at the age of 7.  Sara trained in ballet throughout her school years at Renoux Dance Studio in downtown Portland, under the direction of Christina Hintz.  As a young dancer, Sara performed in Ballet West’s production of The Nutcracker as well as Pacific Northwest Ballet’s productions of both The Nutcracker and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  Sara attended summer dance intensives voth at Whitman College in Washington and the University of Oregon.  In high school, Sara was a member of the Sunflares dance team at Sunset High School and her senior year the team was invited to perfrom at halftime of a Portland Trailblazers NBA playoff game.

Sara continued to study dance, including jazz and tap, at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.  Due to a knee dislocation and subsequent surgeris, Sara did not dance for several years until she was about to graduate from college.  At that time, Sara began training in tap with Sally Mack and also took classes from Terry Brock, both in the Portland area.  In 2001, Sara and her huband relocated to Bend, Oregon where Sara began dancing with Gotta Dance! Studio and Company.  Sara began teaching tap, ballet and jazz for Gotta Dance! In 2006 and also had the opportunity to compete in several competitions in the Pro-Am category including several years at the Hollywood Vibe Dance Convention and Competition.  Aara co-choreographed three platinum and first place award winning tap routines and also competed with the Gotta Dance! Hip Hop crew.  In 2010, Sara had the opportunity of her lifetime when she got to dance back up for her hero, Weird Al Yankovic, at his concert in Redmond, Oregon.

Sara, her husband, and son moved back to the Portland area in 2011 and Sara began teaching tap, ballet and jazz at local studios around the Beaverton area.  Sara contines to train when possible and greatly enjoys teaching her students and encouraging their growth as both dancers and individuals.

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