Ruth Arena - Ballet, Pointe, Modern
Ruth K. Arena is originally from Santa Fe, NM, where she began her dance training. She holds a BFA in Dance from the University of Arizona and a MA in Teaching Artistry from Wayne State University.  While in college Ruth performed in numerous ballet and modern works, including Paquita and The Nutcracker as well as originating roles in works by Sam Watson and Dr. John M. Wilson. Upon graduating Ruth moved to New York City where she studied on scholarship at the Paul Taylor Dance Company School, and performed with Dzul Dance. While in New York she attained a Pilates Mat certification and worked as a NASM Certified Personal Trainer.

Ruth is an Adjunct Lecturer at Le Moyne College and has worked with Syracuse City Ballet as a teacher and performer. Her choreography has been presented at the Syracuse Fringe Festival, in Le Moyne Theatre Department productions, and with The Ballet & Dance Center. Ruth loves teaching, learning, and dancing at The BDC.

Laurie Deyo - Modern

Laurie has taught, choreographed, and performed in the Syracuse area since 1984. She holds a Master’s Degree in Dance and Dance Education from NYU where she studied modern with members of the Limón, Graham, and Cunningham Modern Dance Companies. While in NYC she continued her ballet and jazz training at NYC studios with various teachers including David Howard, the Joffrey School faculty, and S.T. E P.’s, She also performed and traveled with the Kaleidoscope Dance Company, and NYU’s Student Dance Company.  She spent 15 years as Dance faculty at Syracuse University teaching modern, ballet, jazz, creative movement for the classroom, tap, and aerobic dance.

Laurie has been teaching at The BDC since 2010 and currently teaches all levels of modern.

Akiah Cage - Hip Hop

Akilah “LadyStylzs” Cage was born in Memphis, TN and lives in Syracuse, NY.  She is a graduate of Henninger High school, OCC, and Kaplan University.  Akilah has danced since she was a little girl and trained in California for many years.  At the age of 25 she received her Master Certification in Popping and Locking funk dance styles at the IUDMA (International Urban Dance Masters Association).  She opened YAT Hip Hop dance and culture in 2004 at the age of 23 in Syracuse, NY which eventually became a non-profit organization.  Throughout her many years of teaching dance she also worked in juvenile justice and probation.  She then joined the Syracuse City School district where she is now in her 19th year as a teacher.  “I am YAT” (Young and Talented) is a known phrase infused into young artist and dancers.  Akilah led YAT PAK to be the #1 Hip Hop dance company in Upstate NY.  Competing was a major part of her company and building students to be the best they could be in education and art. Akilah currently dances with Master Drummer David, a phenomenal West African dancer and drummer who leads the African dance ensemble Adanfo. She has danced this style for the past 14 years.  Akilah has trained in Jazz, Tap, Ballet, Funk, Acrobatics, Street Dance and much more. She and many of her dancers competed nationally and danced with major artists. She choreographed 1000’s of routines, performed on tours or with artist such as Justin Beiber, Rosie Perez, Missy Elliott, Michael J one of Michael Jackson’s choreographers and many others. She also interviewed with Oprah Winfrey a few years ago.  She has written and directed her own musicals during her summer dance and acting intensive, Camp BAM (Building Art Masters) for ages 5-adult.  These many productions were performed at the Paul Robenson Performing arts Company in Syracuse, NY as well as the Great New York State Fair.
Akilah’s new venture after she retired YAT PAK is ASCUAD Arts 315 (Akilah’s School of Cultural Urban Arts and Dance). Offering many class varieties such as Afro beats, Hip Hop, Funk, Contemporary, Acrobatics , Step/ Drill, and Reggae. Students can also learn many other things such as graffiti, rap, poetry, music history, etc. Akilah says, “Our students are the future.”  She is happy to meet like minds and is excited to bring her style of dance and art back to the community. 

Brandon Jones - Hip Hop

Brandon has been dancing and studying hip hop, musical theater and jazz for the past 13 years. He has choreographed and taught for The Ballet Dance Center, Dance Theater of Syracuse, Dominique's Dance Creations, Say Yes to Education, Peaceful Resolution, the Le Moyne Upper Bound Summer program and he has choreographed for several SCDC concerts and was part of the SSD faculty for ten years.

Barbara LaNeve - Tap

Barbara has studied ballet, musical theater, jazz, modern & tap locally and with Alvin Ailey, Martha Graham, Rennie Harris & Garth Fagen. She received her degree in Exercise Science & Dance at Syracuse University & has a NYS teaching certificate in Dance Education.

Kate Lemos Brown - Jazz
Katie Lemos Brown is overjoyed to bring what she’s learned from the magical world of dance and musical theatre to the students of The Ballet & Dance Center!

Kate is a graduate of Shenandoah University Conservatory, earning her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Musical Theatre, with a minor in dance. Her training is inclusive of ballet, jazz, modern, tap, hip-hop, flamenco, ballroom, choreography and various musical theater styles. Her performance resume is extensive, as she enjoyed her first career as a professional actress, traveling throughout the states from one regional theater to the next. While being back in the Syracuse area, she has contributed her performance, director and choreography skills to the local theatre and dance scene, including 10 years at Marcellus High School's All-School Show. As a jazz teacher, she enthusiastically challenges her students not only to the demanding technique and style needed to execute high-level jazz dance, but also the emotional power uniquely expressed through the performance experience. 

Helen Moore - Ballet
Along with having her Master's degree in education from Syracuse University, Helen has studied dane on Long Island at the LeRoy School of Dance & with Muriel Daks. She has also studied at Ballet Arts, New York School of Dance & Steps in Manhattan. 

Rachel Prizazsky - Contemporary
Rachel Prikazsky started dancing at the age of three with the Town of Onondaga Dance Program. At 14, Rachel trained in ballet, pointe, musical theater, hip hop, modern & jazz at Syracuse School of Dance. She earned a BFA in dance at SUNY Fredonia. At Fredonia, Rachel was in the SUNY Fredonia Dance Ensemble, the Jr. & Sr. Artistic Director of the Dance Ensemble, and performed & choreographed dances for the American College Dance Association. Rachel has choreographed world qualifying dances for dance competitions & choreographed for her high school’s musicals. She is also a national qualifying Irish dancer for the McDonald School of Irish dance, where she also assists with teaching.

Hanni Schwarzlander - Ballet, Zena Rommett Floor-Barre®
Hanni has worked as a professional dancer, director, choreographer, and teacher for over 25 years. Raised in Syracuse, she began her early training at the Syracuse Ballet Theatre and the Lorraine School of Dance. She danced her way through a BA at Oberlin College and Syracuse University, after which she spent several years performing extensively in Paris and throughout Europe in revues, on cruises, and for national television.

Back in the US she continued performing, primarily in musical theater, touring nationally with the Will Rogers Follies and working in both dance companies and regional theaters in the Northeast. Between shows, she returned to NYC to take classes with many notable teachers at Steps, Broadway Dance Center, Djoniba’s, and the David Howard Studio.

Hanni has done extensive work in Arts in Education programs in the region, working as a Teaching Artist for the Central New York Aesthetic Education Institute, teaching students in numerous schools, as well as training teachers to integrate creative arts into their curriculum.

A former faculty member of Manlius Pebble Hill School, she spent years helping grow the Performing Arts program under Baxter Ball, Headmaster. Through her teaching, directing, and choreographing, the Dance and Musical Theater programs expanded and flourished, and provided the springboard for numerous students to launch into successful careers in both fields.

As a dance educator, Hanni has taught master classes internationally, and currently teaches at Syracuse University, the Ballet and Dance Center, and the Dance Theater of Syracuse. In addition to her regular classes of ballet, jazz, musical theater, and tap, she is a certified Zena Rommett Floor-Barre ® Mentor, and is excited to bring this valuable technique to the Syracuse area. Hanni also holds local dance classes for the Parkinson’s community.

Passionate about her work, she creates environments and provides opportunities where individuals are empowered through creative expression, while simultaneously challenging themselves as they learn technique, discipline, and safe practices. Hanni is happy to be part The Ballet and Dance Center family, and to share her joy of dance with the wonderful students here!

Mary Pat Speno - Jazz, Ballet
After retiring from her position as Director of the Syracuse School of Dance and Artistic Director of the Syracuse Contemporary Dance, MaryPat is delighted and excited to now be a part of The Ballet & Dance Center’s faculty. She has performed in most of the Syracuse Contemporary Dance concerts and choreographed for all of them. MaryPat has performed in several musicals for Salt City Playhouse and Syracuse Musical Theater. She choreographed for the “Festival of Nations”, Jamesville-Dewitt Schools, was creator and director of the Dance Workshop Ensemble, and participated in the Baldwinsville’s “Arts in School” program. Mary Pat also has choreographed for figure skaters and has been part of the Litz Team Seminars in Lake Placid. She was a long-time student of Lorraine Hovercraft and Gus Giordano (Chicago), along with Le Ballet Jazz (Montreal) and Alvin Ailey (New York City). As a popular, talented, and energetic teacher, will continue to bring these attributes, and her love for teaching, to her students at The Ballet & Dance Center.

Haley Stuart - Jazz, Tap
Haley Stuart developed the love of dance during creative movement at the young age of three. At six years old she started her serious dance training as a competitive dancer. She soon realized she was destined to be on a team that was dedicated to succeed on the stage. Through her teens she studied ballet, tap, jazz, modern, acro and contemporary dance in the studio, as well as at workshops and conventions. She was also a teaching assistant in the beginner level classes. During this time, her mom Lisa was one of her inspirations and teachers.

Haley continued her dance journey at LeMoyne College. While at LeMoyne, Haley focused on extending her skills as a choreographer for several productions, as well as holding the titles of Head Choreographer for both the LeMoyne Dance Team and the LeMoyne Student Dance Company. In 2020, she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Theater Arts, and a minor in Dance and Arts Administration. During this time Haley started teaching at The Ballet & Dance Center. With 2020’s rough ending due to the pandemic, Haley returned to LeMoyne and in 2021 completed her Master of Science in Arts Administration. For her Masters program, Haley worked closely with Kathy Falcone in her internship and gained a new appreciation for the business aspect of the art. It was through this collaboration that the National Honor Society for Dance Arts was implemented at The Ballet & Dance Center. Haley is proud to have been the sponsor of this program to bring a new level of recognition forward to the lives of The BDC dancers. Haley also works alongside her mom as the assistant choreographer for the musical club at Cicero North Syracuse.

Through all of her experiences, Haley has developed her own unique teaching philosophy. Dance can be challenging but she wants students to develop a passion for moving and performing.
Technique can be challenging, however teaching should be encouraging. Her goal is to help dancers excel in their training by motivating dancers to achieve goals beyond what they think are
their limits, allowing opportunity for growth, and providing positive encouragement.

Lisa Stuart - Tap, Jazz, Ballet
Lisa began dancing at a young age in New Jersey learning technique through the Royal Academy of Dance Ballet Program, a Modern dance scholarship at the Princeton Ballet, and studying with Joe Villane, a former Martha Graham dancer. Living close to Manhattan, her parents exposed her to the magic of Broadway, and gave her the opportunity to take dance classes in the “Big Apple.” Lisa holds a B.A. from the University of New Hampshire - Anthropology Major, Minor in Dance; Teaching Assistant in Dance, Jean Mattox Dance Scholarship Award. After college, Lisa performed in Latin Fever Revue at the Condado Plaza Hotel in San Juan, PR, with Holland America Cruise Lines & Royal Caribbean Cruises (formerly Admiral Cruises), where she also held the title of Production Manager. Lisa has also danced in and held the position of dance captain in various musicals. Favorite performances include 42nd Street at the Jupiter Theater (Fla), Chicago at the Miami Shores Theater (Fla), Oklahoma at Buck County Playhouse.

Lisa has over 20 years of teaching experience in New Jersey and Upstate New York. She is the currently the choreographer at CNS High School.


Lexi Wilson - Creative Movement, Ballet, Modern
Lexi grew up in the DeWitt area and studied for 5 years at The Ballet & Dance Center. She also danced with Manlius Pebble Hill school and is now the elementary dance teacher for them. Lexi's favorite styles of movement are modern and improvisation, and her passion is to create love and the desire to move in young people. She will be teaching open classes, as well as preballet, creative movement and modern. She is very excited to come back to where her love of movement started!