BEST DANCE STUDIO
7609 Steilacoom Blvd SW
Lakewood, WA 98498
Marisela Fleites is a Cuban born dancer of Spanish descent. She started dancing flamenco and Spanish dances at the age of 5, and has studied in Cuba, Spain, Mexico and the USA with masters like Olga Bustamante, Orlando Vargas, Stella Arauzo, Mari Carmen Guerrero, Oscar Nieto, Timo Lozano, Teo Morca, Citli Ocampo, Patricia Linares, Adriana Maresma, María Chacha Bermúdez and others. Ms. Fleites directs the performing group Tacoma Flamenca. She holds a Ph.D. in Romance Languages and Literature and teaches Spanish and Latin American Literature at Green River College. Ms. Fleites has been teaching flamenco at the Washington Contemporary Ballet Studio since 2001. Click here to go to the Flamenco page.
Mr. Merrill is the chair of the Department of Dance at Chapman University in California. Prior to this, he founded Spectrum Dance Theater in Seattle in 1987 where he served as Artistic Director for 15 years. He studied dance at the University of Utah and was one of the first to graduate from the University of Washington's MFA Dance Program. Mr. Merrill has over 16 years of choreographic credits including numerous original works, musical theater productions, and a recent Public Television Special, Voices Across America. Under his direction, Spectrum Dance Theatre has performed in Chicago, Washington D.C., and Europe. Mr. Merrill has a dynamic and charismatic teaching style with a wide range of experience in ballet and contemporary dance. Mr. Merrill has choreographed two works for WCB, including a tribute to the American Swing Movement, The Club.
Director, Ballet Instructor
Nathan Cook has studied dance for more than sixteen years including classical ballet, contemporary ballet, tap, jazz, modern and flamenco. He received his training from Spectrum Dance Theatre, Pacific Northwest Ballet and Washington Contemporary Ballet. Mr. Cook is sought after in the Pacific Northwest area as a guest dancer and instructor. His previous position as Ballet Master for Washington Contemporary Ballet included teaching classes, conducting rehearsals and creating choreography for the company. He has been on faculty at other area dance schools including Auburn Dance Academy and Studio West Dance Academy.
As a professional dancer and guest artist, Mr. Cook has worked for dance companies such as Ballet Bellevue and Studio West Dance Academy. At Ballet Bellevue he worked with many outstanding choreographers including Adam Miller, Jennifer Porter, and Stanko Milov, all former PNB company dancers. He was commissioned by the Universal Language Project to choreograph and perform several works. Major roles danced by Mr. Cook include Peter Pan, Nutcracker Prince, Cavalier, Prince Charming, Prince Ivan and Nick Bottom, to name a few.
Mr. Cook attended Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Summer Intensive on full merit scholarship for four summers. He also studied with The Academy at Spectrum Dance Theatre on scholarship. Over the years, he has studied under notable directors and instructors at Spectrum including Donald Byrd, Director, Eva Stone, Vicki Pulkinen (former PNB teacher who created the curriculum used by the PNB School) and Joel Meyers. At PNB he trained with Peter Boal, Director, Stanko Milov, Bruce Wells, Sonja Dawkins and Timothy Lynch. He also trained with Stephanie Wood (Studio West Dance Academy), Josie Johnson (Ballet NW), Danielle Wilkins (DASS), Kay Englert (WCB) and Ken Kaiser (WCB).
Mr. Cook has a unique dedication to the art of dance and strong focus on classical ballet, discipline and technique. His work with world renowned directors, choreographers and instructors brings valuable dance and performing experience to Washington Contemporary Ballet.
Sirena Rivera began her ballet training with Washington Contemporary Ballet's original founder, Kay Englert, at age four and became one of her teaching assistants by the age of thirteen. As a Principal dancer and Soloist, she performed leading roles in the Nutcracker, Alexander Nevsky, The Club, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and The Firebird. Miss Rivera has studied a variety of dance styles including classical ballet, jazz, irish, tap, flamenco and modern. She has also expanded her studies to include pilates, hatha and ashtanga vinyassa yoga. Miss Rivera was accepted and attended Evergreen City Ballet's and Boston Ballet Academy's Summer Intensive programs. She was also accepted to American Ballet Theatre's summer intensive program. She was a student of dance for 17 years and has enjoyed teaching for over 10 years. Miss Rivera earned a Bachelor of Arts in Communications with a Minor in Human Rights.
Ballet, Hip Hop, Jazz, Tap Instructor
Tori Sandate has trained in ballet, jazz, tap, lyrical, contemporary and hip hop dance for over fifteen years and has instructed dance classes for five years. Originally from Odessa, Texas, Miss Sandate began teaching at Tammie Locklar’s Dance Studio. In addition to teaching, she was also a choreographer for multiple dance organizations in Odessa where she created competitive routines for studios, high school dance teams and special occasions. Miss Sandate also participates in local theater productions as a choreographer and dancer. She is an instructor for the YMCA-Sumner where she teaches ballet, tap, and hip hop and is also a part of the Outreach Program at Point Defiance Elementary. Miss Sandate earned a BA in History from the University of Texas of the Permian Basin where she was a part of the Falcon Heat Dance Team for three years. Her choreography has won awards in dance competitions in multiple states and many of her students have been recognized for their achievements in dance. Above all, Miss Sandate believes that dance should always be fun and she aims to inspire creativeness in all of her students.
Adaptive Dance, Ballet, Modern Instructor
Megan Stutesman graduated cum laude from the University of Washington, Seattle with a Bachelor of Science in psychology and a Bachelor of Arts in dance. Beginning her dance training at Northwest Classical Ballet, she later became a member of their pre-professional company where she performed in numerous classical ballet and modern works. She has attended summer programs at Alonzo King’s Lines Ballet, Boston Ballet, Atlanta Ballet, the San Francisco Conservatory of Dance, and Bates Dance Festival. While at the University of Washington, Stutesman performed in MFA Concerts, Dance Majors Concerts, and Dance Faculty Concerts. She is the 2014 recipient of the Evelyn H. Green Endowed Scholarship for Artistic Merit and Promise as well as a 2015 Bates Dance Festival Merit Scholarship. Stutesman has performed with Seattle dance companies such as Chamber Dance Company, Karin Stevens Dance, and Collective Sigh Dance, as well as in the 2015 American Dance Guild Festival in New York. Stutesman also teaches in Seattle at the Ballard Academy of Music and Dance, and works as a behavior therapist with autistic youth.
Excellence Integrity Artistry Discipline Respect
Ballet, Pointe Instructor
Brenna Smelt began her dance training at Washington Contemporary Ballet over 19 years ago where she studied classical ballet, contemporary ballet, jazz, modern, and flamenco. Miss Smelt also began teaching at WCB 6 years ago and enjoys teaching ballet and pointe to all ages. Graduating magna cum laude in 2016 from Willamette University with a BA in psychology, Miss Smelt also studied aerial dance while a student there. Her aerial experience includes work on the aerial silks, lyra, aerial hammock, harness/wall dancing and was twice sponsored by arts grants to choreograph and perform new aerial works. Miss Smelt is excited to be teaching again at WCB and looks forward to bringing her expertise to the next generation of WCB dancers.