In 1996, Denele Sweet began teaching dance in a small garage in Seaside. Her classes grew rapidly and Encore Dance Studio was established. Denele began her dancing career at the tiny age of 2½. She grew up training with Portland’s best, Lynn Johnson-Wiltshire, Sally Mack, Vicki Mills, and Debbie Pierce. Denele was professionally educated and trained in Tap, Jazz, Ballet, Pointe, Hawaiian, Gymnastics, and Ballroom Dancing.
Competing and traveling is a large part of Denele’s dance life growing up. Denele began competitive ballroom dancing from the age of 8 taking her to all over the Northwest and Canada. Her ballet training and desire to be on stage landed a role with Ballet West and their presentation of the Nutcracker performed at the Keller Auditorium.
Judging Dance competitions is another aspect Denele’s professional dance career that she has enjoyed for several years traveling from Portland and Canada. Tap dancing has always been her love and led her to being a member of the Northwest Tap Consort. Constantly moving her feet and practically living at the dance studio rolled into a lifelong love of dance that will never go away.
Denele enjoyed being the Head Coach of the award winning Seaside Sapphire’s dance team 2012-2013 and founded the cheerleading program at Seaside High School in 2009 and volunteer coached until 2013. Denele produced the Miss Clatsop County Program and was the Contestant Choreographer for the Miss Oregon programs from 1996 to 2007. In 1992 she was crowned Miss Umatilla County. Denele’s past choreography credits include “The Wiz”, “Grease”, “Anything Goes” to name a few.
“It is with gratitude, everyday, that I get to do what I love and share a talent that makes me and so many others smile. I look forward to dancing with the students and teachers at Encore for many more years to come.” Thank you!
Tia Van Slyke discovered her love for dancing at age 7 when her mom enrolled her in her first ballet class. Wanting to grow and learn more about different dance styles she eventually added Jazz, Lyrical and Pointe classes to her weekly dance schedule. She also attended multiple summer intensive dance camps and began creating and performing her own choreography as a teenager.
Tia’s teaching path was sparked when she was 19 and began working with the children at Meridian Academy of Gymnastics near Boise, Idaho. There she was trained to coach tumbling to children of all ages. She also began teaching preschool curriculum in the Academy's daycare. Quickly, Tia’s responsibility’s at MAG grew into becoming the director of the school's dance program - teaching ballet, jazz, tap and creative movement.
Teaching children to dance and putting their dreams in the spotlight is a true passion of Tia’s. Since moving back to the area in 2005, she has enjoyed continuing and growing her career with the children at Encore. She has attended many continuing education conventions, classes and conferences including Tremaine, JUMP and Rhee Gold's Dance Teacher seminars every August in Arizona. Tia has judged for the competition Dance Magic and in 2012 launched a very successful performing arts program for preschoolers called “Born to Entertain” and was recently interviewed by Dance Studio Life magazine for her classroom ideas and preschool curriculum.
Miss Tia loves all things Disney and happily produces the studio's performance trip to Disneyland every other year with Denele. She lives in Seaside with her husband, Alex, 2 daughters, Irelynn and Cleo and their giant pound puppy, Hudson.
Krysti Ficker will make you work, and make you laugh! Her main focus in the classroom is balancing proper technique while encouraging individuality and character-play. Her students are pushed to entertain from the inside out, and she loves nothing more than witnessing those “ah-ha!” moments in both the studio, and on stage.
Miss Krysti has been dancing and choreographing routines since she could walk. It was an unexpected birthday present – tap shoes! – that finally got her into the studio, making her passion a reality. Growing up, she studied show Tap, traditional Jazz and classical Ballet, performed in The Nutcracker, as well as in a variety of musical theatre roles. Her dance and stage training fostered a strong drive in team athletics, and an overall love of fitness and movement.
Earning her Bachelors at Western Oregon University, Miss Krysti majored in Dance with concentrations in dance production, technology, and pedagogy. She performed in WOUDT’s annual Spring Concert throughout her collegiate career, concentrating on Tap, Hip-Hop, Modern/Contemporary, Partnering, Theatre, and Ballet. Minoring in health, she was also introduced to jazz aerobics and yoga.
The variety of disciplines studied have given Miss K an extensive dance vocabulary to play with, and play she does! Miss Krysti joined the Encore family in 2010. She is constantly seeking new ways of comingling her repertoire to meet the needs of her students within the ever-changing dance world. Working full time, she welcomes the release dancing with students of all ages inherently brings.
Trixie Leone grew up backstage and in the ballet studios and theatres of Los Angeles. She has been a teacher, director, choreographer, dramaturg, playwright, and performer of ballet, jazz, tap, modern, burlesque, singing, piano, comedy, and musical theatre.
Miss Trixie has enjoyed performing as an honorary Debbie Reynolds Scholarship Dancer, a Los Angeles Ballet Company member, a California Youth Theatre principal dancer, and several musical theatre roles with Civic Light Opera Houses in Southern California. Beginning her teaching career at age 14, her passion for inspiring others led her to the acquisition of a Master of Science degree in Education, Instruction & Curriculum. Though her roots are based in Classical Cecchetti Ballet, Trixie specializes in Broadway Jazz which focuses on a unique blend of technique, style, character work, and showmanship.
Studying regularly with some of the best and brightest minds in dance and theatre in Southern California and New York City, she inspires others to find joy in their own unique mind-body-spirit connection.
Proudly adding the job title of “mom” to her little boy Giovanni to her resume, Miss Trixie also enjoys encouraging Encore’s younger generation to explore the arts and nurturing their little imaginations.
For as long as she can remember, all Suzannah Hastings wanted to be was a dance teacher and a mommy.
At four years old, Suzannah started attending dance classes. She took Ballet, Tap and Jazz at Skagit Valley Academy of Dance. She loved going to class every week and it really helped her come out of her shell. Ballet was her favorite, because she felt like a graceful princess. At the age of 12, Suzannah starting attending Fidalgo Danceworks taking Ballet and Modern. She took dance for eight more years, being trained in Vaganova/Cecchetti and School of American Ballet styles. For Modern, she was trained in the Graham style as well as others. Her favorite dances to perform were the Spanish and Arabian solo dances from the Nutcracker.
Suzannah started assistant teaching dance at age 14, and substitute teaching by age 16. She loved to help build sets and make various costumes and accessories. Suzannah went to several summer ballet intensives, and taught a few at her studio as well. She loved to choreograph and improv. During her senior year, she was asked to teach her own classes. She enthusiastically agreed and she loved every minute of it.
She continued to teach during college, until she married the love of her life. After moving around the country for a few years due to his job, they have recently moved back to the area. And they now have two adorable children. Suzannah is thrilled to be able to pursue her passion of teaching dance. She is also very grateful to be able to fulfill her lifelong dreams of being a mommy as well as a dance teacher.
Courtney Bangs began her gymnastics career at the tiny age of 2. Courtney began competitive gymnastics at age 5 making competing and traveling a big part of Courtney’s gymnastics background. Courtney earned multiple awards throughout her career in Floor and Vaulting events (her favorite apparatuses). Her personal career ended but sparked a different passion, teaching and coaching.
Courtney began her coaching career at the age of 18 and has consistently coached competitive gymnastics, cheerleading, tumbling, and Miss Fitness contestants for the last 17 years. Courtney has earned her masters degree in agricultural education at Oregon State University and has taught high school for 7 years. Courtney recently has chosen to retire from teaching and pursue her status as a professional stay at home mom to her 3 beautiful children.
The love of her life, Derek, brought her to the beautiful NW coast and she is living her dream of raising her family while enjoying the ability to pursue one of her greatest passions, coaching gymnastics. She is excited and grateful to be a part of the Encore family!
Miss Courtney is safety certified by USA Gymnastics and is also First Aid Certified.
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Megan Sweet was raised in the dance studio world and started dancing as soon as she could walk. She started with tap and ballet, then quickly discovered her love for tumbling and going upside down!
Growing up in the studio, she became fond of helping in the classrooms and being an example for younger children. Her elementary and junior high years involved soccer, tumbling and North Coast Junior Cheer where she was able to performed in a Blazer pre-game show alongside the SHS cheer team. Megan appeared on ABC-TV with dancers from across the United States in Disneyland’s Christmas Day Parade. Megan has also assisted backstage at countless dance recitals and Miss Clatsop County pageants and is on staff with Dance Magic dance competition.
Megan began assisting Encore instructors at the age of 12, began substituting tumbling classes by 14, and was given her own classes last fall. She is first aid certified and also certified by USAGymanastics. She enjoys sparking the passion of dance in all of the students she works with. She loves to see what the kids can accomplish when she teaches, and the potential each child has.
Outside of the studio, Miss Megan's love for dogs allowed her to discover 4-H and she competed with her club for many years, earning the title of 2011 top dog and handler in Clatsop County.
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BSED/Elementary Education MAED/Special Education
Cheryl’s background in performing arts dates back to the early 1960’s. She has an extensive resume in dance and theatre garnering numerous awards for directing, choreography, vocal, and acting.
Cheryl is a special education teacher for the Ocean Beach School District.
She has worked in special education for nine years and taught dance for over 35 years.
Cheryl has directed over 100 productions and continues to perform in community theatre productions.
“I will always be part of bringing the love of performing arts and light it shines to our children!”
· Creator and Director of the Urban Theatre Project – Virginia Beach Juvenile Courts
· Awarded Volunteer of the Year for City of Virginia Beach
· High School Competition Theatre Director – Virginia Beach
· Summer Youth Theatre Director
· Multiple awards from Palm Desert Theatre Guild
· Artistic Director of Old Broads Way Performing Arts, High Desert Theatre
· Dance and Theatre teacher at Encore Dance Studio
· Choreographer for film, Last Chance, directed by Bryan Cranston
Erin Hofseth has loved moving her body for as long as she can remember. She was first enrolled in gymnastics as a preschooler and loved every little bit of it. She remembers getting an award for accomplishing the “longest headstand,” and she practiced one-handed-cartwheels in her living room at home.
In elementary school she took ballet classes with Leisure Quest Dance Studio here on the Oregon coast. She fell in love with the game of soccer around the sixth grade, and went on to play at George Fox University where she graduated with a BA in Sociology and Communication arts. She is currently earning her Master’s Degree through Arizona State University in Sociology, and as well as teaching FoxyFit classes at Encore, she works as the Teen Advocate at a local resource center.
Although soccer consumed most of Erin’s teenage years, she never forgot her dancing roots. She danced informally with friends throughout high school and college. She loved impromptu choreographing sessions with friends, breaking into dance parties in her dorm room, and hitting up any venue that had a dance floor and a DJ. She has always believed that dancing feeds the soul, and that everyone has their own unique beat, they just need to find it.
In 2013, Erin walked into her first Zumba class. She was swept up by the music, the energy, the freedom, and the fun. She was a student for about six months before she decided to officially combine her life-long love of both sport and dance, and she became a certified Zumba instructor under Zumba Superstar, Gina Grant.
Before coming to Encore, Erin taught Zumba classes locally for 2 years. For over a year she ran her own small dance fitness business in Seaside. Her clients, whom she loves so much, are like family to her still. During this time Erin worked on creating original choreography and a class style reflective of who she is. Her mantra is “no mistakes.” She believes, “You win the moment you decide to act on becoming a healthier you.”
Miss Michelle grew up in a large and loving family of 8 children. She traveled with her family to Greece and Germany because her father was a dentist in the Air Force. Her mother was a science teacher for many years. In 2003 Michelle followed in her mother's footsteps and earned her Bachelor's of Science in Elementary Education. She taught Kindergarten, First and Second graders for 5 years in Las Vegas, Nevada.
In 2012 Michelle, her husband Barry moved to Warrenton with their twin daughters Brenna and Chantrell. Michelle taught preschool at Coryell's Crossing for 3 years before taking a job at Gearhart Elementary school as an educational assistant. She continues to teach there every morning. She joined the Encore staff in 2015 as the afterschool supervisor and in 2016 took on the role of preschool teacher for Born to Entertain.
Our performing arts preschool is a wonderful program for children who love to dance, play, learn and make new friends. Michelle uses her knowledge in education to help our preschoolers get ready for kindergarten in a safe and fun learning environment. She especially loves singing songs and drawing pictures with the children. Outside of the classroom she enjoys vacations with her family, swimming, reading novels and exploring our beautiful Oregon Coast with her family's new rescue dog, Sheila.
Musical Theater Instructor
Miss Annie is originally from Minneapolis, MN, a city with a vibrant art, theater and dance community. She grew up very involved in dance, gymnastics and the performing arts from a young age and had many opportunities to perform onstage at sporting events and dance recitals. At the age of 14, Annie began working as an intern at a professional children's theater as a stage manager and fell in love with musical theater. She went on to study with many renowned teachers and mentors from her local community.
Miss Annie attended Lewis and Clark College in Portland, OR where she studied Theater and Political Science. After college she moved to Manzanita where she became involved in building an appreciation for the arts. She created the North Coast Children's Theater, a nonprofit organization where she currently serves as the atristic director.
Over the years, Miss Annie has choreographed and directed numerous full length musicals and plays. She thouroughly enjoys designing costumes, sets, props and lighting for her shows. Her theater arts background also includes instructing both voice lessons and playwriting.
In 2017 Annie joined the faculty at Encore, excited to share her extensive knowledge with our students. She believes every child deserves the same opportunities that she had, to have access to high quality dance and theater programs. She resides in Manzanita with her two wonderful children and partner.
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