Sarah Padilla started her dance training at four years old and eventually received an artistic and academic scholarship to pursue dance at Southern Methodist University where she performed works by Adam Hougland, Joshua Peugh, and Millicent Johnnie and started developing her own choreographic voice. She graduated summa cum laude from SMU with a BFA in dance and a minor in Religious Studies in 2014. After college she was selected for a choreographic mentorship with Doug Varone which culminated in a performance of her original work at the 92Y in NYC. Sarah has trained with The Dallas Repertoire Ballet, Joffrey, Complexions, Dark Circles Contemporary Dance, and the Martha Graham School. Her performances include The Nutcracker, Kenny Loggins, the Dallas Cowboys Halftime Show, and BeautiControl. Sarah currently lives in McKinney, TX with her husband Kyle and son Kirk. She has been active in her community by choreographing several musicals for McKinney ISD schools, teaching and choreographing at various DFW studios, being a master teacher at the Southwest Committee of the Cecchetti Council of America, and volunteering for the McKinney based non-profit Embrace Texas.
Abby Cass is a Fort Worth-based teacher, writer, and artist with experience in ballet, jazz, and modern techniques, as well as theater dance, Pilates, improvisation, choreography, and dance production. Cass received her early training under the direction of Dian West, Julie Ballew, and Joy Bollinger, and began teaching and assisting ballet and creative dance at the age of seventeen. In May 2019, she graduated from Sam Houston State University (SHSU) with a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts degree in Dance, along with a Pilates Mat teaching certification through the university. While at SHSU, she performed in works by various artists, including Erin Reck, Dana Nicolay, and Rasika Borse. Most recently, she premiered her choreographic work “Facades” in Senior Studio: Almost Free. Most notably, she received the Dance Service Award honoring her time and efforts as the 2017-2018 President of Chi Tau Epsilon Dance Honor Society at SHSU, an award-winning organization that promotes the arts through community service and academic excellence. In the future, Cass aims to pursue a Master’s degree in Dance and certificate in Dance/Movement Therapy. She hopes to use her skills to establish a non-profit arts organization that advocates for the presence of dance in low-income
school districts as a means for healthy communication, expression, and overall
development in children.
Todd Baker is a Dallas native who discovered his passion for dance at the age of ten. He began his classical and modern dance training at Booker T. Washington HSPVA where he performed the repertoire of Aszure Barton, Lar Lubovitch, and Dwight Rhoden. He continued to develop his artistry at Dance Industry Performing Arts Center, performing works by Shannon Gillen, Jessica Hendricks, and Benoit-Swan Pouffer. Currently, Todd is training at The Juilliard School in New York, New York. Over the past two years he has performed a new work by Bryan Arias as well as Martha Graham’s Rite of Spring. The summer intensives that Todd has attended include Alonzo King LINES, Nederlands Dans Theater, and The School at Jacob’s Pillow Gaga Program. Todd was named a 2017 Presidential Scholar in the Arts, a 2016 YoungArts Finalist in Modern Dance, and a 2016 Texas Young Master in Dance.
Dallas native Shannon Oleson began dancing at a very young age. She attended Booker T. Washington High School for the Visual and Performing Arts preforming works by Complexions Contemporary Ballet, Andy Noble, and Takehiro Ueyama. Shannon moved to San Francisco to train with San Francisco Conservatory of Dance and then Lines Ballet, performing works by Alex Ketley, Sharon Eyal, Alonzo King, Sidra Bell, and David Harvey. She was offered an apprenticeship with Brucewood Dance Project working with Bryan Aries, and Kimi White (2015). She relocated to New York City in 2017 after being offered a company position with EsKay Arts and continued working and training in New York until moving to London to join Transitions Dance Company. She is currently touring works by Karole Armitage, Marina Collard and Hetain Petal and will receive her MFA from Trinity Laban Conservatory of Dance in 2020. She has also received her Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies from Texas Tech University.
Elizabeth Shupe is a Dallas native who received her pre-professional dance training at Academy of Dance Arts in Allen, Texas, and the Ballet Academy of Texas in Coppell, Texas, under the mentorship of Kathy Willsey, Shannon Watters, Lisa Slagle, and Jenny Johnson. Currently, Elizabeth is continuing her professional dance training at the SUNY Purchase Conservatory of Dance where she has performed in José Limón’s Psalms. During her summers, she has trained at Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Sidra Bell Dance New York’s MODULE, the San Francisco Conservatory of Dance, Moving Forward Dance Project, and Burklyn Ballet Theatre, where she was awarded the Young Choreographers Award and traveled with their company to perform at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland. Elizabeth was named a 2017 YoungArts Winner in Choreography.
Camille grew up in Houston at Houston Ballet Academy. She is currently pursuing degrees at SMU on a pre-med track; however, she remains connected to herself and the community through the arts. At SMU, she was selected as a 2019 Faith and Learning Scholar, serves as the Vice President of Students for New Learning, and is a recruitment chair for SMU Dance Marathon. Last summer, Camille enjoyed performing in Zion Dance Project’s Summer Series. She is a company member of Impluse Dance project and is grateful for the abundant opportunities the Dallas community provides.
Anna Valdman is a recent high school graduate. She has been dancing with KJ Dance in their
Pre-Pro Company and has had the opportunity to travel all over because of dance. She attended the Batsheva Dance Summer Intensive in Israel, as well as Camp Protege in Canada. She will be attending the University of Texas at Austin to major in Dance.