Nadja Langenhorst-our professional ballet instructor- Studied ballet in Reno Nevada under Barbara Fox and Maggie Banks. Later, Nadja danced throughout Africa and Paris performing with several companies such as the Paris Opera, Rolland Petit, Jazz Art and others. Nadja has been teaching ballet for over twenty five years in Arizona. She currently teaches college students at Scottsdale Community College and has been an instructor there for the past 10 years. She has also been the ballet mistress at Ballet Etudes and the Company director at Word of Grace church. Nadja is known for her incredible knowledge and expertise and her ability to captivate the classroom. Last year Nadja received her degree in Exercise Science from ASU.
Nadja is one of the very BEST & highly sought after Ballet teachers in the valley! Come try one of her classes and you'll understand why everyone seeks after Nadja.
Carley Conder-our amazing ballet & technique teacher- is an Arizona native. She received a B.F.A. in Ballet and an M.F.A. in Modern Dance from the University of Utah . Carley has been a performing member with Arizona companies Semaphor Danceworks, Scorpius Dance Theater, Garner-Gutierrez Dance, Mary Fitzgerald Dance, and Los Angeles based company Keith Johnson/Dancers. Her choreographic work has been commissioned by many academic institutions and companies including University of California - Santa Barbara , Arizona State University, Brigham Young University , University of Utah , University of Texas – Pan American, Snow College , and Ballet Yuma. She is the Grand Prize Winner of the 2000 Palm Desert Choreography Competition, 2006 Professional Winner of the Arizona Choreography Competition, and a 2006 Project Tier Awardee through Regional Dance America . Carley has taught at Arizona State University and currently teaches at Scottsdale Community College . She and her husband Mike are the parents of Emma and Garrison, (and one more on the way!). She is the Founder and Artistic Director of CONDER/dance. More information about Carley can be viewed at www.conderdance.com
Michelle Taylor-our professional Company choreographer and technique instructor- started dancing in high school and continued dancing in college at Ricks College in Idaho. She toured with a contemporary dance company directed by Mel Claridge to England and Wales in 1996. Michelle has been teaching dance at various local dance studios for 13+ years and has had many opportunities to choreograph for local high schools as well. Most recently, she has been dancing with CONDER/dance for the past 6 years and she joins Dulce Dance Co. on special projects from time to time. In 2003 Michelle launched a new dance adventure by starting "taylor'd dancewear" a line of dance basics and performance costumes. check it out at http://www.taylorddance.com/. She is an active member of AzDEO (AZ Dance Educators Organization) and hosts a scholarship for AzDEO from taylor'd dance for high school seniors who are pursuing dance education in college. Michelle teaches a mixed martial arts cardio class and she has 3 beautiful girls - Emily, Macy and Avery, that keep her on my toes when she's not dancing! We're excited to have Michelle teaching levels II-IV this year!
Kim Johnson-our beautiful lyrical instructor & Company choreographer-is 23 years old and one of Higher Grounds first students! Kim has had a love and a passion for dance since she was little. She danced through high school and was on Mesa High's Dance Company "Euporea". Euporea really challenged her as a dancer and as a choreographer, and has brought her to where she is today! She received awards for her work and continues to present beautiful choreography. Kim specializes in lyrical and contemporary dancing. Kim’s modern and creative style of dance brings a unique and exciting new idea of dance into our studio.
Leah Stumpf-our Dynamic Juniors Company choreographer is very fun and spunky! She began dancing at age 11 and discovered her passion for dance right away. She began her training classically, specifically studying ballet under Aaron Gilbert. Leah has also been trained in jazz, tap, contemporary, lyrical and modern to name a few. Leah was on the Company dance team at Mountain Pointe High School as a freshman and had choreography in every concert while attending school. She has also been awarded scholarships at dance conventions that tour the country. Leah continues to study dance currently with talented instructors throughout the valley. Leah began assissting at the age of 13 and took on teaching roles as she progressed in her dancing. Leah has taught at Center Pointe Dance and Dance Baby Dance. Leah currently teaches for professional dancer Michelle Taylor and has taught all ages and many different genres of dance. She plans to continue to learn and grow as a person, dancer and instructor of the arts. We are lucky to have her as the newest addition to our Higher Ground staff!
Kaenan Williams-a.k.a. "Just Jamz" is our new Hip Hop instructor! He was born in New Orleans, Louisiana but was raised just about everywhere else. Because of his nomadic upbringing, as a kid he was exposed to all kinds of cultures and entertainment. Everything changed for him at age 12 when he attended YES College Preparatory School in South Houston, TX, where he joined the school's dance company there. "Jamz" was introduced to many styles of dance, such as breaking, locking, popping and housing. After four years of dancingJamz had become an acclaimed "freestylist" in Houston. He came to Mesa Arizona and auditioned for Epik Dance Company (a prestigious and professional adult fusion dance company) and was selected among many to be the companies first apprentice. Since then, Jamz has been all over, dancing, teaching; especially at schools around the valley. Jamz has had some incredible performance opportunities, such as; Arrested Development, pre-shows for Mary-J Blidge/Jay-Z Concert, Usher, the 2010 Phoenix Festival, and was also on television for "America's Got Talent". Jamz is also involved in many dance performance groups such as; Wikked Workz, The Elektrolytes, and WNBA's Mercury Hip Hop Squad. His favorite quote is "Follow your passion and success will follow you". He definately has proven that is true and we are excited for what "Jamz" will bring to our studio this year!
Whitney Ajeman-Our Baby and Toddler teacher-began her formal training at the Safford Dance Academy under many talented and professional instructors. In the years that she was part of SDA's company, she participated in several professional performances with various groups including the David Taylor Ballet Company, San Diego Ballet, and Paramount Parks. She was also a member of her school's award winning Show Choir under the director Dr. David Lunt. She went on to major in Dance Education at Arizona State University. She assisted Jenny Wright-Prince in her summer musical workshops, and currently teaches music and dance throughout the valley.