April Garner-Hoose, BFA, Artistic Director (Jazz, Leaps & Turns, Tumbling, Lyrical & Ballet)
April Garner-Hoose (BFA) is the driving force behind Dance Force-1. Her passion for dance is visible through her innovative teaching styles and motivating classroom atmosphere. In addition, her high-energy classes incorporate theatrical elements to teach the importance of emotion in dance and stage presence.
April began dancing at the age of 5 in Connecticut. She was accepted in to the Greater Hartford Academy of Performing Art High School where she studied Jazz, Ballet, Tap, African and West Indian dance. While in high school, April was invited twice to perform for the Lord Mayor of Westminster in England. She furthered her dance education at Grossmont College and the University of Arizona receiving a BFA cum laude in Dance. Her comprehensive dance background includes working for Disney, Six Flags, and USA's television show Silk Stalkings. She has had the opportunity to train with renowned choreographers: Frank Hatchett, Luigi, Joe Tremaine, Gus Giordano, Laura Fremont, Mia Michaels and Mandy Moore, just to name a few.
April's true love is teaching children. She has been teaching the art of dance for almost 20 years throughout Connecticut, San Diego, and Tucson. Her students and choreography have won numerous national dance awards, including Overall Top Studio, Top Group, Top Duo/Trio, Top Soloist. She has also received awards for Overall Excellence in Jazz choreography and recently received the prestigious Teacher of the Year award. In addition to teaching, April enjoys taking classes at the EDGE Performing Arts Center in Hollywood, California. She believes it is important to keep up with the latest trends and dance styles. Dance Force-1 is a lifelong dream come true for April and she looks forward to developing the potential of each dancer and their love for dance, but most importantly, adding smiles to faces and passion to hearts.
As a teenager Ginny wrote a letter applying for a position at Apple USA Ltd. I had the incredible task of answering the Beatles fan mail for the state of New York. A dream come true but hard work, no pay and lots of hours spent handwriting answers to fan mail. The experience, inspired her to pursue a “behind the scenes” career in entertainment. In college she received a Bachelor of Arts in English and Theatre, Magna Cum Laude in 3 years.Eventually settleing in Las Vegas where she spent 30 years in the entertainment industry. Her responsibilities included: Manage, produce, and direct world famous Folies Bergere production show at the Tropicana Hotel. Recruitment of a variety of shows and performers including Bird Shows, Magic Shows, Comedy Revues, Headliners, Opening and Variety Acts, Bands, and Singers. Liaison with outside entertainment companies for access to and promotion of shows. Presentation, direction and implementation of appearances on: Regis Live; E! Entertainment; Travel Channel; Wayne Brady Show; Inside Edition; Emerald Live!; VH-1; CNBC Power Lunch; MSNBC; Discovery Channel; Telethons. Liaison with outside print media which included: LA times, New York Times, Vanity Fair, UK Marie Claire, Star Magazine, Vegas Magazine, San Francisco Chronicle Date book. Creative production design for sets, costumes, special effects and music. Establish strategies for marketing all entertainment and special events within corporate structure including Super Bowl Events, Rodeos, New Years Eve and Casino events. Casino Legends, Hall of Fame Celebrity Inductions annually. After bringing her grand daughter to dance classes at Dance Force-1 for several years, Ginny realized that she still had the passion for “behind the scenes” assistance to help the next generation to shine!
Jenna Johnson, BFA (Ballet & Pointe)
Jenna (BFA) graduated as a full scholarship student from Harid Conservatory for Dance. She attended Indiana University, also on scholarship, before joining Atlanta Ballet. In 1995, she left for Europe, fulfilling a desire to travel while pursuing her career in dance. Ms. Johnson was accepted as a soloist with the Romanian National Opera Ballet in Bucharest where she danced from 1995 to 1997. She then joined the Oleg Danovski Ballet Theater as a principal in 1997. During her tenure with ODBT, she performed throughout western Europe as Carmen, Scheherazade and Odette/Odile forming a successful partnership with her future husband, Daniel Precup. Ms. Johnson returned to the United States in 2003 to dance with Oakland Ballet. There, she received critical acclaim for her interpretation of Robert Moses’ Lone Woman and other contemporary works including Sightings by Margaret Jenkins and Trois Gymnopedies by Ron Guidi. Ms. Johnson joined Ballet Tucson in 2004. She has performed principal roles in the company’s productions of Giselle, Sleeping Beauty, Dracula, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Swan Lake, Cinderella and The Nutcracker. New works added to her repertoire include The More Things Change by Lawrence Pech and Pygmalion and Galatea by Jeffrey Graham Hughes.
Natalie Finley, (Jazz & Lyrical)!Natalie was born in Tucson Arizona and is 22 years old. She began dancing at the age of 5, and started dancing at Dance force-1 at age 13. She has studied under the direction of names like Mandy Moore, Joe Tremaine, Doug Caldwell, Denise Wall, and Stacey Tookey. Natalie's choreography has won many regional titles, special judges awards, and a national title. This is Natalie’s 6th Season teaching for DF-1. Natalie is a student at the U of A She likes to hang out with her 2 dogs in her free time. Natalie loves working with children and sharing her passion for dance!
Lauren Johnston is from Tucson, AZ where she began to study dance. Lauren’s dance training began at three years old in classical ballet, tap, and jazz, later expanding her training in pointe, lyrical, contemporary, hip hop, and musical theater. While being a member of Creative Dance Arts’ performing company, Lauren received numerous awards at competitions for both solo and group work in conventions such as New York City Dance Alliance, L.A. Dance Force, Showstoppers, Spotlight, L.A. Dance Magic, West Coast Dance Explosion, and more. Lauren has spent time studying dance throughout all of Arizona as well as in Michigan; performing in numerous showcases, benefits, and concerts along the way. She also served as the head of Pusch Christian Academy’s Dance department in 2007 and 2008. She was Creative Dance Arts’ award winning instructor and choreographer, teaching all styles of dance to all ages, specializing in jazz, hip hop, and lyrical. Lauren has a great love for dance and enjoys sharing her passion with others. Lauren is certified and currently teaching Pure Barre when she isn’t busy with her Dance family and Dance Force-1 where she continues to teach and inspire kids daily!
Heather Jenkins, (Lyrical & Jazz)
Heather began her competitive dance and gymnastics training in Columbus, Ohio. Dancing professionally in New York, Miami and Los Angeles. Heather attended CSULB with a major in Sports Nutrition. She continued on to dance under RCCL productions traveling the world for 7 years at sea, as well as shoreside for RCCL in Parker Playhouse Productions. Heather returned to the competitive dance circuit in Montreal and Toronto coaching on/off ice for Canadian pairs and ice dancers with concentration in ballet, ballroom and dance conditioning; winning multiple national teacher-choreography awards. Heather currently loves teaching and choreographing for her kids at DanceForce-1. When not at studio competitions, Heather’s passion is judging and emceeing around the country the amazing talent for MOVE productions. Though she keeps busy,her favorite pastime is her family, husband Chris and her two boys Arthur and Fletcher.
Aaron Smith earned a Bachelor of Science in Dance from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. Most recently, Aaron was the recipient of the School of Dance 2017 Graduate Creative Achievement Award at the University of Arizona where he received a Master of Fine Arts. Smith has danced for Ron De Jesús Dance in Chicago, Autumn Eckman Dance, Artlabj in Detroit, Squeeze and Release in Detroit, and Chicago Dance in the Parks. For the past six years, he was the Housing Director and assistant to the Program Director at the Complexions Detroit Summer Intensive. Aaron served as a choreographic assistant to River North Dance Chicago founding company member, Stephanie Martinez. Smith has created works for many professional companies and institutions including Joffrey Academy of Dance in Chicago, Dance Kaleidoscope, Island Moving Dance Company, Visceral Dance Chicago, and Virginia Commonwealth University. His choreography was presented at several American College Dance Association conferences, as well as the International Association of Blacks in Dance conference in 2015. Aaron is excited to share his many talents with us at Dance Force-1.
Chrissy Jones, (Tap)
Chrissy Raised in the Chicagoland area, Chrissy Jones currently resides at the University of Arizona in Tucson. Chrissy’s choreography has appeared in several Footprints' Tap Jam productions, National Tap Dance Day Windy City Rhythms 2008, Sounds of the Souls of the Southwest 2010, and at Chicago Human Rhythm Project’s Great American Youth Tap Ensembles concerts at Northwestern University and Loyola University. Chrissy appeared live on the WTTW (PBS) television production called “Center Stage: Arts Across Illinois,” as well as a Warner Brothers’ “Happy Feet” movie promotional, Savion Glover's "Bare Sounds" promotional, "Juba!" at the Jay Pritzker Pavillion and Museum of Contemporary Art, and numerous other professional venues. In 2007, the Peoples Republic of China funded her performances at the Beijing Exhibition Center in Beijing. Chrissy was a rehearsal director of Footprints Tap Ensemble for five years. She has been dancing since the age of two and has trained with Jason Samuels Smith, Dianne “Lady Di” Walker, Jimmy Slyde, Ayodele Casel and many other master tap dancers. Chrissy teaches tap improvisation workshops and is a member of the tap dance duo called The Jones Sisters. We are very lucky to have such a well rounded Tap artist and choreographer on staff here at DanceForce-1.
Nicole HaydenNicole Hayden was born and raised in San Diego, California and grew up dancing at Diane’s School of Dance/ Alpine Dance Academy for 18 years. Her favorite style of dance is ballet She started out as a junior assistant at Alpine Dance Academy in 2007 and has assisted as well as taught classes in beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels until moving to Tucson in 2015. Currently attending Pima Community College for Early Childhood Education.
Brendan Kellam is an up and coming tap phenom from Tucson, Arizona. He most recently performed at the Kennedy Center in New York City as the featured tap dancer with the Tucson Jazz Institute in a tribute to Bill Robinson. Brendan is a well-rounded dancer having trained in jazz, ballet, modern, hip-hop, and ballroom, but his heart lies with tap. He is an energetic tap dance performer and choreographer with a fresh modern style who has traveled all over the U.S. to study with many masters including Jason Samuels Smith, Gregg Russell, Logan Miller, Lady Di’ Walker, Bril Barrett, and the late Professor Robert L. Reed. Brendan has been seen performing with the Phoenix-based tap company, Tap 24.7. His work has been selected to be performed in the Big Apple Tap Festival in New York City and the Motor City Tap Festival in Detroit. He has choreographed for studios in various parts of the country producing top awards and accolades.
Mauricio Vergara was born in San Diego, CA and raised in Tijuana, Baja California, México. He began his training at Academia de Ballet Playas (Royal Academy of Dance) in Tijuana under the direction of Nicte-Ha Escobosa. He continued his ballet studies at the Centro de Arte y Ballet in México City where he received a full scholarship and was mentored by Jetzemani Velazco and Tita Ortega. Mauricio was also accepted in the Joffrey Ballet School in NYC. He was invited by Davis Robertson to be part of the Joffrey Concert Group where he performed new works by Africa Guzmán, Brian Mcsween, Dwight Rhoden, Larry Keigwin, Karol Armitage and Robert Joffrey’s version of The Nutcracker in the role of the Snow King. Mr. Vergara had the opportunity to dance in companies throughout México and the US including: Compañía de Danza de Baja California, Ballet Cámara de la Frontera and California Ballet Company, Montgomery Ballet and most currently Ballet Tucson. His repertoire includes: Spanish and Russian variations and Snow Pas de deux in The Nutcracker, Von Rothbart in Swan Lake, The Golden Fairy in pas de trois of Sleeping Beauty, Alain the Fool in La fille mal gardée, and El negrito bailarín in Cri Cri. Vergara was a company member of Ballet Tucson from 2014 until 2019, under the direction of Mary Beth Cabana, where he performed numerous leading role a such as Snow king and Arabian prince in Nutcracker, waltz boy in Balanchine’s Serenade, Donizetti variations, Dr.Jekyll in Jekyll and Hyde and as well as various contemporary repertory roles.
Ezra Masse-Maher (Tumbling)
Ezra was born and raised in Schenectady, N.Y. and had an extremely active childhood ranging from baton twirling, acrobatics and spring/platform diving (Still holding the High School record). He studied Human Biology and Dance at the University at Buffalo in western NY. He moved to L.A. when he was 21 years old and joined a dance company called Diavolo which gave him the chance to travel all over the world. Performing at concert theaters, festivals and commercial work including America's Got Talent as their Season 12 top 10 finalist. His experience in the industry has stretched from judging competitions, choreographing, teaching and even pulling the curtain ropes back stage as part of crew. Ezra is honored to have the opportunity to give back and offer all that he has learned right here at Dance Force 1.
Taylor has been doing ballet for over 24 years. She studied at Boston Ballet School, and later attended Indiana University where she earned her Bachelor of Science in Ballet. After graduation, she joined Ballet Tucson in 2014 where she performed both principal and soloist roles during her 5 seasons with the company. Now that her performing career has finished, she enjoys sharing her knowledge and passion for ballet to dancers of all levels and ages, and it thrilled to be a part of the Dance Force-1 family!
Ceci Cruz (Hip Hop)
Ceci Cruz started dancing at the age of 2 and trained on dance crews and in studio settings. She graduated from the University of Arizona in 2019 with degrees in B.A. in Relgious Studies & B.S. in Physiology. While attending, she was Choreographer Coordinator & worked on Public Relations for the U of A’s Black N’ Blue Crew. Since 2015, Ceci has been teaching all ages and levels in Hip Hop. Her main goal in teaching is to encourage growth & confidence. She is excited to share her love for hip hop with the students at DF-1.
Abigail Emery (Jazz, Hip Hop, Leaps & Turns)
Abigail started dancing at the age of 8. At age 14 she moved to Indianapolis, Indiana and began dancing at Expressenz Dance Center where she studied many syles of dance including jazz, ballet, modern, contemporary, lyrical, tap, hip-hop, and ballroom. While at Expressenz she was given the chance for numerous competitive and professional performance opportunities including performing on season 14 of America’s Got Talent, the 2018 and 2019 seasons of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra’s Yuletide Celebration, as well as the 2019 BeachBody Summit. Abigail graduated high school in 2020 and is now an undergraduate at the University of Arizona studying dance and nutritional sciences.
Alli Sherpa (Ballroom, Leaps & Turns)
Alli Serpa was raised in Gilbert Arizona and has been dancing since the age of 3. She grew up dancing at Dance Connection 2 and was trained in ballet, jazz, lyrical, contemporary, hip hop, tap, acro, and ballroom. Alli has danced competitively around the country since she was 9 years old and has worked with choreographers such as Lauren Adams, Erica Marr, Sarah Brinson, Hailey Hoffman, and many more. She has also had the privilege to take classes from many talented instructors over the years such as Travis Wall, Tessandra Chavez, Talia Favia and Mark Meismer. In 2015, Alli made it onto her high school dance company where she was voted Vice President and learned valuable choreography, teaching and music-cutting skills. Alli has received multiple awards and scholarships and has competed for several national titles. In 2017, she had the honor of competing in LA at the Capezio Ace Awards under ballroom choreographer Erica Marr with a specially selected group of dancers. Alli was also fortunate enough to teach ballroom classes and assist for several years at her old studio up until her high school graduation in 2019. Currently, Alli is studying at the University of Arizona where she is pursuing her BFA.
Maria began competitive training in Upstate New York at several local dance studios, as well as taking ballet technique classes with Hochstein School of Music And Dance and The Draper Center for Dance Education. She attended the University at Buffalo, where she graduated Summa Cum Lade with a BFA in Dance. Here, she trained heavily in tap, jazz, ballet, modern, ballroom, Pas de Deux, jazz technique, and musical theatre, while studying the extensive history of non-traditional forms of dance. In the fall of 2015, she was accepted into the Broadway Dance Center Professional Semester in New York City with a concentration in Contemporary and Theatre dance. While there, she worked and performed under elite artists including Ellenore Scott, Aaron Tolson, Germaine Salsburg, Ashlee Dawson, Ginger Cox, Matthew Powell, and various musical theatre experts including Al Blackstone, Nick Kenkel, and Billy Griffin. Maria worked in several notable dance companies over her time in NYC, including Gotham Dance Theatre under the direction of Marc Andrew Nunez. Maria has also worked and judged for StarQuest Dance Competition since January 2016. She has recently moved to Arizona and is excited to work with the talented students at Dance Force-1!