Valerie Dawns (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 for the past 10 years.
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
Summer Guest Workshop Instructor
Featured in the New York Times 2020 and named one of Vogue India’s “Top 50 Most Influential Global Indians” in 2019; Kumari Suraj is an artistic force, LGBTQ+ activist and cultural game changer who has influenced the entertainment industry from Hollywood to Bollywood!
Kumari’s performance work as a creative garners icon status in the realm of Waacking - a vintage disco dance form lauded by the elites. As the creator of Bollywaack and founder of the world’s first queer dance festival called Waackfest, the phenom has worked with legendary artists and powerful platforms.
Madonna, Mya, Jody Watley, Mickey Singh, World Of Dance, Buzzfeed, Star Plus, New York Times and So You Think You Can Dance to name a few.
Marisa has been a competitive choreographer for over 17 years; a graduate of the University of Miami, she was a member of both the Hurricanettes and Sunsations dance teams. Founding Intensity Dancers’Studio in 2002, she has helped develop many students into professionals, with alumni on NBA dance teams across the country, and touring with latin artists like Austin Mahone, Carol G, and Maluma. A seasoned instructor and judge, she’s worked throughout the US as a judge with Showbiz National Talent and StarSystems Talent for more than 10 years. Additionally, Marisa works as a consultant for regional high school dance teams, and choreographs private events for special clients.
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.
Brenna Calmer grew up in Beaverton, Oregon where she began her dance training at a local studio. Her love of dance developed at a young age while taking classes in ballet, jazz, tap, hip-hop, and acrobatics. Brenna attended high school at the Arts and Communication Magnet Academy and was a four-year member of the school’s pre-professional company Dance West. She then attended college at Pacific University, where she was a member of Pacific Dance Ensemble and graduated summa cum laude with a double major in Mathematics and Dance. Most recently, Brenna completed her masters degree in mathematics and will also be teaching college math classes this year. Brenna has participated in dance intensive programs with the University of the Arts, Portland Festival Ballet, Polaris Dance Theatre, Northwest Dance Project, David Dorfman Dance, PDX Contemporary Ballet, Bates Dance Festival, and Sarah Reich’s Tap Music Project. She has presented her choreography at the Galaxy Dance Festival and the American College Dance Association. Brenna is very passionate about teaching dance and is thrilled to work with the students at ENCORE Performing Arts Center.
An educator of 10 years now, 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. As well as having training in Breaking, House, and many others. As director of the Street Styles program, Nicholas focuses on cultivating space for styles, artists, and educators to foster a curriculum for these approaches as well as giving back with gratitude to the black, Latinx, LGBTQ+ and others cultures we take part 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 primarily 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.) as well as taking various workshops held locally by both local and traveling artists. Learning 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, not to mention many others and various local and industry freestyle and choreographers. He was also a member of season one all Mens Blazer Dancers (2019), on a Fox Sports commercial (2019), and he and his students won or were finalists in various local battles and competitions. He considers his eclectic interests and constant studentship key to his approach. He's continuing to train, travel, battle, compete, and create all well 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.”
Bridget Derville-Teer is a dancer, teacher, and choreographer who trained and performed around the greater Portland area before graduating in 2018. After graduating, she moved to New York City to pursue a career in dance and choreography. She was featured on season fifteen of So You Think You Can Dance, making it to the top forty dancers. She returned to the show for season sixteen and made it to the top fifty. In 2017, she earned a spot in the top twenty for the title of Senior Female Best Dancer at The Dance Awards. Bridget is currently in the contemporary company, MarInspired; The Storytellers, under the direction of Emmy award winning Marinda Davis. Bridget performed in her full length show, “UNbreakable” in 2019 for the annual “Dancing Under The Stars” summer performance at the Scera Theater. She also performed with MarInspired as the guest company at Young Choreographer’s Festival in New York City. Bridget has kept up her training by taking part in Broadway Dance Center’s Professional Semester program.
Bridget’s biggest dream is to choreograph for movies and television. She has been pursuing choreography since she was fifteen, setting pieces on soloists and groups at multiple studios for the last few years. Bridget is beyond excited to share her art with Encore Performing Arts Center and pass her knowledge along to the next generation of hard working dancers.
I was born and raised in Oregon. I started dancing latin styles at a young age, then transitioned into hiphop when I was 14. At the same time I was introduced to Tricking and Tumbling, going on to become a level 9 gymnast and a high level tricker. Now with over 10 plus years of experience and training, I’ve been fortunate enough to perform for the Portland Trail Blazers, Nike, Adidas, Widen and Kennedy along with many others.
Favorite quote “ Those who dance appear to be insane by those who can not hear the music”
Michael Jurica began dancing at Beaverton Dance Center (formally Billings Dance Center) at the age of 11. His early dance training consisted of a blend of Breakdance, Ballroom, Hip Hop, and Modern. At sixteen Michael got into Arts and Communications Magnet Academy where he focused his training to Ballet and Modern dance as well as honed his craft on the stage with Julane Stite’s performance company Dance West. Michael also attended The Portland Ballet under the directorship of Nancy Davis. Michael graduated with a B.F.A. in dance from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts under the directorship of Susan Jaffe, where he performed roles in Ethan Stiefel’s Nutcracker, Balanchine’s Allegro Brilliante, and Susan Jaffe’s staging of Raymonda to name a few. Following graduation Michael joined Rochester City Ballet under the directorship of David Palmer where he performed numerous roles in varied classical and contemporary repertoire.
Madisen began dancing at age 2 at her family’s dance studio in Clackamas. She studied ballet, tap, hip hop, jazz and musical theater. She was a recreational dancer and then joined the performing companies at age 7. She attended dance work shops including Tremaine, NYCDA, and Monsters. She learned from NappyTabs, Laurie Johnson, Tony Bellissimo, Tiffany Maher, and more. Madisen danced with the dance studio until high school. In high school she danced on Clackamas and Gladstone High school dance teams and attended Thunderbird Dance Camps.
She has most recently studied at Vega Dance Lab and due to Covid has been taking online classes. Madisen is currently enrolled at Portland Beauty School.
Madisen has been a preschool teacher and nanny and loves teaching kids of all ages. She provides a fun, energetic personality and is so excited to join the team at Encore Performing Arts Center.
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.
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 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.
Piper began acting in community theatre at the age of fifteen, but had been performing long before that. Given any opportunity, Piper 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 Univeristy, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and a minor in Musical Theatre. She was 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 she’s not teaching at ENCORE, Piper can be found at her full time job managing a call center, baking delicious treats, or binge-watching Netflix.
Maria Tucker began her love affair with the arts at the age of twelve, studying with and being mentored by Zetta (Shook) Alderman. After graduating from high school, she was awarded a dance merit scholarship to the Gus Giordano Dance Center in Evanston, IL. While living in the Chicago area, Ms. Tucker performed with production companies Double G Productions and X-treme Entertainment. She was also cast in Disney's Hercules' Summer Spectacular, at the renowned Chicago Theatre.
Maria received a dance scholarship to the University of Arizona in Tucson. As a dance major, she participated in benefits for Angel Charity for Children, Inc., performed with QuinnWilliams Jazz and Paul M. Powell Productions, and was a summer apprentice for the River North Chicago Dance Company. She has assisted many master teachers, including Bill Hastings and Ben Vereen.
After roles as a featured dancer and dance captain at Royal Caribbean Productions, she was asked to join the RCI shoreside team as a rehearsal choreographer/director. She has overseen audition tours and has assisted directors such as Harrison McEldowney, Jeremy Plummer, Loren Van Brenk and Sherry Zunker.
Maria has choreographed for Royal Caribbean Productions (The Gift), Busch Gardens (Gift of Harmony), Colorado Springs' Fine Arts Center (Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Sweet Charity and Cabaret) and Broadway Rose Theatre Company (Grease and Oklahoma!). Her choreography has been nominated for a Pike’s Peak Arts Council Award for Excellence. She was also a finalist for a 2016 Drammy Award and a 2017 and 2019 PAMTA nominee.
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.
Ann Johnson started Highland Dance lessons in Portland, Oregon when she was 7. Weekly lessons with a nod to her Scottish heritage developed into a life-long passion for Highland Dance. She is a Fellow member and Examiner for the Scottish Dance Teachers’ Alliance and member of the Royal Scottish Official Board of Highland Dance Adjudicators’ Panel. She has judged Highland Dance competitions and championships in the United States, Canada, Scotland and Australia and is one of five dance professionals who wrote Raising the Barre, a researched based guide to teaching Highland Dance.
Ann has had her own Highland Dance school in Portland for over 40 providing instruction to dancers of all ages. Some have had successful competitive careers that included winning the United States Inter Regional Championship, the North American Open Championship and qualifying to compete in the finals of the World Championship in Scotland. A retired career educator, her passion for Highland Dance allows her to continue teaching,
coaching and mentoring young people as they develop valuable life skills through dance.
Ann is excited to be part of ENCORE .