MEET THE RDC STAFF

 

 

Denise Smithhisler, Teacher
Jazz/Tap combo, Tap 2


Denise started dancing at the age of 7. At 23, she opened her own dance studio which she ran for 31 years. She taught Tap, Ballet, Pointe, Jazz, Lyrical, Acrobatics and Musical Theater to students ages 3 to 65. Her students have performed at Disneyland twice, a Seahawks half time, 3 Sonic’s games, Silverwood Theme Park and numerous community events. She has had the opportunity to study Tap with Tony award winners Henry LeTang and has attended numerous dance conventions. Mia Micheals is her all-time favorite instructor. Denise has been teaching at RDC since 2014.

Ellen Cooper, Teacher, Ballet and Creative Dance Program Director
Pre-Ballet, Ballet/Tap Combo

Ellen Cooper was born in Olympia, WA where she began her dance training in ballet, jazz and theatre dance. She received a BFA in Dance, Magna Cum Ladue, from Cornish College of the Arts in 2012. She has also studied with Mark Morris Dance Group and Joffrey Ballet School on scholarship. Ellen is a member of Khambatta Dance Company, where she performs modern and contemporary dance both locally and nationally. In addition to performing, Ellen loves working with youth of all ages. She teaches with Pacific Northwest Ballet in their DISCOVER DANCE program as well as teaching ballet and creative dance in several local studios. Ellen has been teaching at RDC since 2013.
Jenna Mitchell, Studio Owner, Dance Team Director, Jazz & Contemporary Program Director
Jazz 2, 3, 4, Contemporary 1, 2, 3, Musical Theater, Dance team Director

Jenna has been dancing for 35 years and teaching for 25. She began dancing and competing in Redlands, California and moved to Seattle in 1998. She completed her BFA in Dance at Cornish College of the Arts in 2007. She's danced with many award winning teachers and choreographers in the Los Angeles and Seattle areas, and has been teaching and choreographing in Seattle for more than 15 years. She started teaching at RDC in 2006 and took over as owner in 2012.

 

Shelby Kostelecky, Teacher
Acro 1 & 2


Shelby began doing gymnastics and dance at the age of 5. By 7, she started dancing at competitions across the west coast and found her passion for acrobatics above other genres. Shelby has competed routines choreographed by  Nappytabs and tWitch from So You Think You Can Dance. Her high school dance team, Tumwater won consecutive state and multiple national titles in Hip Hop, Pom and Jazz while Shelby was captain. After graduating from Washington State University in 2015 and moving to Seattle, this will be Shelby's first year teaching Acro at RDC. 

Cristen Klaja, Assistant Studio Director, Tap Program Director
Toddler/Caregiver Creative Dance, Ballet/Tap combo, Hip Hop/Acro Breakdance 1, Ballet 1, 2, 3, 3/4, Pre-Pointe, Tap 1, 3, 4, Jazz 1

​Cristen Klaja grew up dancing at her local studio in Vancouver, Washington, where as a teen she trained and began working as an instructor.  She moved to Seattle to attend the University of Washington and continued teaching at studios in the area. She graduated from UW with a BA in Dance in 2002.  In the years since, her life has been filled with dance, both in the classroom and the stage, family, and adventure. Cristen has been teaching at RDC since 2013.

 

Teianna Chenkovich, Teacher
Pre-Ballet, Ballet/Tap


Teianna was born and raised in Seattle, Washington where she began training at local studios and was introduced to teaching dance. She holds a B.A. in Dance and Anthropology, having graduated Magna Cum Laude and with Honors in Dance from Hobart and William Smith Colleges in 2018. Her training has included Ballet, Pointe, Jazz, Lyrical, Contemporary, Acrobatics, Tap, West African, and Caribbean styles, but her current passion is for Modern and Improvisational Dance. She loves traveling and has studied abroad in India, South Africa, and New Zealand. In the future she plans to return to South Africa to continue her research on how culture influences dance teaching methodologies and how apartheid protests are impacting contemporary choreography. 

Markeith Wiley, Teacher
Hip Hop 1, 2  & 3, Hip Hop Team Director


Markeith Wiley, hailing from Long Beach, CA is a dancer, choreographer and performer who easily moves between genres and the Artistic Director of The New Animals dance company. Markeith has been teaching Hip Hop for 13 yrs. and Contemporary, Ballet and Jazz for the past 9. He is a Cornish College of the Arts graduate and City Art Future Lister. Markeith has been teaching at RDC since 2015.

Melissa Sanderson, Teacher
Ballet 1, 2, 4, Pointe 


Melissa Sanderson holds a B.F.A. in Dance (2010) from San Diego State University and a M.F.A. in Dance (2014) from Texas Woman’s University. Her choreographies have been supported through the World Dance Alliance Global Summit in St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada, WDA’s International Young Choreographers Project in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, Austin Dance Festival, Texas Dance Improvisational Festival, American College Dance Association, Big Rig Dance Collective's Co-op, BOOST Dance Festival, and Full Tilt/Evoke Productions. As a performer she has worked with Coriolis Dance, Jordan Fuchs Company, Beth Terwilleger, and General Magic. This is Melissa’s first year at RDC! She also teaches at Bellevue College, Eastfield College, and Tarrant County College