man

David Braciak

FOUNDER

David Braciak grew up right here in Forest Hills Michigan. After attending Grand Rapids Ballet and Retters Dance Academy he moved to NYC to the school of American ballet on full scholarship for two years. This is where his love for Balanchine was developed, with training from the legendary Stanley Williams and Truman Finney and dancing his first Balanchine ballet in the Nutcracker. David moved to Seattle to dance with the Pacific Northwest Ballet school for two years. During this time David danced many ballets, including some of his favorites such as; Stars and Stripes, Allegro Brillante and Western Symphony.  The Director of PNB, Kent Stowell choreographed a piece for David. He received two offers from ballet companies; National Ballet of Canada and Kansas City Ballet. David chose Kansas City Ballet as it was initially under the direction of New York City ballets Todd Bolender and danced with them for two years.

David then joined Grand Rapids Ballet and that is when he realized how much he loved to teach and nurture young dancers. David’s students have gotten into the best ballet schools around the world, including School of American Ballet, Pacific Northwest ballet School and Miami City Ballet. David has won countless awards for best choreography from prestigious competitions like Jump & Tremaine, KAR, NYCDA, 24/7, Applause, Ash & VIP. David has choreographed Chinese, Marzipan, Russian and the Sugar Plum Pas De Deux and variations for the West Michigan Youth Ballet. This past year, David won best choreography award from the prestigious Youth American Grand Prix. That same piece was performed in NYC at the finals.

Christen Snyder

CONTEMPORARY/JAZZ INSTRUCTOR

Christen Snyder grew up in Detroit Michigan where she trained with Shelley’s Spotlight and Juliana’s Academy of Dance in the styles of Jazz, Contemporary, Lyrical, Hip Hop, Partnering, Ballet (Cechtti and Russian) Pointe and Musical Theater. Some of her work includes choreographing for the Vixen’s dance team (Predators), Macy’s Thanksgiving parade, Opener for local artists Stefano Garissi, Character performances at Meadow Brooke Music Hall, judging for Raw Energy Dance Competition and several Motorcity Movements.

Christen has worked with many studios in the U.S. teaching master classes and choreographing for competitive teams. Many of which have had several different awards ranging from choreography to technique and everything in between from some prestigious competitions such as KAR, VIP, Access Broadway, Termaine, NYCDA, and Hall of Fame. Christen has recently gotten her certification for Acro and tumbling and also enjoys modeling on the side. Some of her work includes modeling for Raw Energy Dance and promotional advertisements for Paul Mitchell and MGM Grand.

Christen is currently residing in Grand Rapids Michigan where she is excited to start working with DMS studios. She plans to continue teaching and helping young dancers grow in all aspects of life to help get their dance career started strong!

Emelia Koospen

Emelia Koospen

BALLET & TAP INSTRUCTOR

Emelia Koopsen was 4 years old when she started dancing at Ballet Arts in Kalamazoo, MI. She attended several years at Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp and was in their first International Ballet Ensemble. Emelia also spent a summer in the Cleveland San Jose Ballet program and Grand Rapids Ballet program. She started in the Western Michigan University Dance program as a senior in high school and continued there for her first two years of college. Emelia finished her Bachelor of Arts in Dance at Grand Valley State University.

Emelia has taught dance and gymnastics in the Kalamazoo, Grand Rapids, and Chicago areas for over 15 years. She recently finished an Associates in Physical Therapy Assistant from Owens Community in Toledo, OH. Emelia looks forward to working as a Physical Therapist Assistant and sharing her passion of dance with the students of David Matthews Studio.

Katie Aaberg

 BALLET INSTRUCTOR

Katie Aaberg, a West Michigan native and former student of David Braciak, currently dances with Grand Rapids Ballet. Katie started her dance training at age three with Grand Rapids Ballet, Ada Dance Academy, and West Michigan Youth Ballet.

She attended summer intensives at the Joffrey Academy of Dance in Chicago, Bolshoi Ballet Academy, Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, and Hubbard Street Dance Chicago. Apart from this, in 2014 she performed professionally with RPM Productions in the American Portrait, and in 2016 placed third for Classical Ballet Solos in the senior age division at Youth American Grand Prix.
In 2020, Katie graduated from Butler University with a Bachelors of Science. During her time at Butler she performed notable roles such as Dew Drop and Mirlitons demi-soloist in The Nutcracker, and Little Red Riding Hood in Sleeping Beauty. Katie is thrilled to be back in her hometown and to begin her first season as a professional dancer with Grand Rapids Ballet.

Erica Edwards

HIP HOP INSTRUCTOR

Erica Edwards knew dance was her lifelong passion at a very young age. Erica started competing at the age of 10 with the Center Stage Show Team in Battle Creek winning several National and Regional titles and working with great names such as Ray Leeper, Tony Testa, Sean Cheesman and Mia Michaels. Erica studied dance and concert performance at Western Michigan University and earned her BA in dance and communications. She was part of the Western Michigan Dance Team. After college, Erica taught at Center Stage Dance Studio in Battle Creek, won several choreography awards, developed hip hop programs and coached the Harper Creek High School Dance Team. She has also held several workshops and intensives with private schools and studios in and around the Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids area and was a judge for Primetime Dance Competition. Erica loves teaching and bringing out her student’s passion and love for dance.

 

Madison Weaver

LITTLES INSTRUCTOR

Madison studied at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in Los Angeles, California where she graduated early with a professional certificate in Dance Theatre. There she learned from and performed for working industry professionals and became well rounded in an array of styles including modern, contemporary ballet, broadway, tap, heels, jazz, and hip hop.  As a teacher and choreographer her students have won top honors at the regional and national level. She prides herself in nurturing her students’ individual artistry while building a strong work ethic that will translate beyond the studio.

 

Tyler Angell

GUEST BALLET/CONTEMPORARY INSTRUCTOR

Tyler Angell is an emerging dance artist and choreographer in Toronto. At the age of 14 he be- gan his intense dance training in his hometown of Kitchener, Ontario, where he trained in multiple disciplines of dance.

Tyler relocated to Toronto in 2013 to train with Courtnae Bowman at The School Of Cadence Ballet, where he developed a strong background in classical ballet, pas de deux, contemporary, and modern dance. Now an alumnus from Cadence’s Post-Secondary Training Program, he is now a leading faculty member for the school.

He has worked professionally with TranscenDance Project, Nostos Collectives, Little Pear Gar- den, Cadence Progressive Contemporary Company, Alysa Pires Dance Projects, Patrick Roberge Productions Inc, The Parahumans, Impromptu Movements, I/O Movement, Louis Laberge-Cotê, and Jeff Dimitriou.

Tyler’s strong passion for choreography began during his post-secondary years with Cadence. Since then, his unique stand-out choreography has been featured in shows with Nostos Collectives, Cadence Progressive Contemporary Company, Halifax Dance, New Blue Dance Festival, and The Parahumans. 

 

CHOREOGRAPHY!
“anaesthetic”, Nostos Collectives, Toronto, Ontario

“from Adam to Ashes”, Nostos Collectives, Toronto, Ontario

“Prometheus”, The School Of Cadence Ballet, Toronto, Ontario

“November”, WBAC Gala, Niagara Falls, Ontario

“People Always Leave”, Halifax Dance, Halifax, Nova Scotia

“Nowhere Familiar”, The Parahumans, Toronto, Ontario!

“How could I forget”, New Blue Dance Festival, Toronto, Ontario

Andrea Spiridonakos

GUEST BALLET INSTRUCTOR

Andrea was born and raised in small town Winsted, CT where she received her initial training under Sharon Dante at the Nutmeg Ballet. She then studied on full-scholarship at NYC’s School of American Ballet and performed a lead role in their annual Workshop. Chosen by Edward Villella, she was selected to join Miami City Ballet, where she was promoted to soloist. She also danced with Morphoses, under the direction of Christopher

Wheeldon. Andrea was fortunate to dance many principal and leading roles in Balanchine, contemporary & classical repertoire, on stages throughout the US and Europe. After originating a featured role in the National tour of “Flashdance, the Musical”, she has returned back to Miami where she teaches private ballet lessons and is launching her own fashion label.

Jessy Hendrickson

GUEST BALLET INSTRUCTOR

Jessy was born in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and began her ballet training with the Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet at the age of 4. She later studied at the School of American Ballet at where she received the Mae. L. Wein award. At 17, she joined the New York City Ballet (1995-2001), where she danced featured roles in ballets by George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins, Peter Martins, and Christopher Wheeldon, and toured in Europe, Asia, and Australia with the company. In 2003 Jessy joined the National Tour of The Phantom of the Opera, and for 6 years traveled across the U.S and Canada, and then joined the Broadway cast for five years working with legends Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber, Hal Prince, and Gillian Lynne. She performed in the revival of the Broadway musical, On Your Toes at City Center Encores!, directed and choreographed by Tony- award winner Warren Carlyle.

She assisted Balanchine teacher Suki Schorer in demonstrating the Balanchine technique on tours and lectures throughout Western Europe. Jessy taught and coached students at SAB, Longview Ballet Theater (TX), and Ballet Academy East (NYC), among others.She has been featured in Shape Magazine, O Magazine, ad campaign for Burberry, and has been featured on Late Night with David Letterman, CNN Presents, and in the Oscar nominated film, Black Swan with Natalie Portman. Jessy graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology with an Associates Degree in Fashion Design. She designs and constructs costumes for various ballets and private clients, and is currently a Technical Designer for the Women’s ready-to-wear collection at COACH.

Carlos dos Santos, Jr.

GUEST CONTEMPORARY INSTRUCTOR

Carlos dos Santos, Jr. is a recognized dancer, choreographer and teacher. He has performed as a principal dancer with major U.S. and Brazilian dance companies, including the Alvin Ailey Repertory Ensemble, Complexions Contemporary Ballet, Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble, and DanceBrazil (US); as well as Grupo Salto, Bale Folclorico da Bahia, and Bale Teatro Castro Alves (Brazil).

Mr. Dos Santos’ choreographic credits include works for Colorado Ballet, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Center, American Dance Festival, Cleo Parker Robinson Dance, DanceBrazil, New Jersey Dance Ensemble, Festival Ballet (CA), Cassiano Ricardo Foundation, and Sesi Minas Dance Company (Brazil), Cape town dance company (South Africa) Alvin Ailey 2, Joffrey Ballet 2, Houston ballet 2, CUNY residency choreographer, WKY University Residency choreographer, John Cranko School (Stuttgart Ballet school), Blake High School, Passo De Art(Brasil), Orlando Ballet School, Dallas Conservatory, National Ballet de Sodre(Uruguay) Dallas ballet School, with Dance Brasil he has created many projects, including his latest collaboration with award-winning composer, Tania Leon. 

Mr. Dos Santos has taught at dance schools, colleges and universities throughout the U.S. and abroad and has served as a jury member and resident choreographer of Youth America Grand Prix international student ballet competition, Cape town dance company (South Africa) Alvin Ailey 2, Joffrey Ballet 2, Houston ballet 2, CUNY residency choreographer, WKY University Residency choreographer, with Dance Brasil he has created many projects, including his latest collaboration with award-winning composer, Tania Leon. 

Mr. Dos Santos has taught at dance schools, colleges and universities throughout the U.S. and abroad and has served as a jury member and resident choreographer of Youth America Grand Prix international student ballet competition as well as his own solo performances around the world.  For many years Mr. Dos Santos has also been a resident choreographer of Youth America Grand Prix international student ballet and contemporary dance competition, staging works for YAGP alumni currently working with ABT and annual Grand Defilés featuring up to 350 dancers.

Mr. Dos Santos has been featured in numerous TV programs as an actor, dancer and model. His TV credits include appearances on PBS (US) and SBT TV (major Brazilian TV network), as well as coverage as a performer and choreographer in news programs around the world. His acting career included “Medea Materialis” for the New York Fringe Festival, “Dream on Monkey Mountain” with the Denter Center Theater Company, “Chaplin” with the Edison Souto Theatre Group, “Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands” with the Fernando Guerreiro Theatre Group, and “Yalorixa,” a popular Brazilian soap-opera.

Mr. Dos Santos has taught at dance festivals, schools and universities around the world, including the Alvin Ailey Repertory Ensemble, The Ailey School, Steps on Broadway, Cleo Parker Robinson Dance School and International Summer Institute, DanceBrazil, Academy of Colorado Ballet, Wells College, New Jersey Dance Ensemble, McAllen Ballet, “Open Look” Festival in St. Petersburg, Russia, and Youth America Grand Prix Student Ballet and Contemporary Dance Competition, as well as master classes in the U.S., Italy, Switzerland, Egypt, Israel, Turkey, Czech Republic, Argentina, Brazil, and Russia.

We can help develop your love for dance!

THROUGH CREATIVE IDEAS, INNOVATION & SHEER DETERMINATION

CONTACT US