Instructors

Pivot Dance Center Instructors

Elyssa C. Arias - Owner/Artistic Director

Originally from The Bronx, New York, Elyssa was introduced to the art of dance at the age of four. She started her training at Fancy Feet Dance Studio and then excelled in the renowned Broadway Dance Center in the heart of Manhattan. Elyssa is trained in Ballet, Pointe, Tap, Jazz, Hip hop, Modern, Contemporary, Street jazz, and Latin dance. Her unique style and unmatched talent has given her the chance to dance with the top choreographers in the country. She has performed in numerous spaces in the New York Metro area and most notably on the Norwegian Cruise Line, Disney World and Hershey Park. While traveling, Elyssa has also won numerous dance competitions and has been offered Scholarships at “Jump” conventions by famous choreographer Dan Karaty. Having moved to Virginia Beach, Elyssa had set her eyes to take over the dance scene in Hampton Roads teaching all genres of dance for the past 10 years. Elyssa has choreographed dances for the Grand Illuminations Parade in Virginia Beach and Norfolk over the past 10 years, held Master Classes for NDS located in Old Donation School, and has Choreographed dances which have been performed in Disney World. With her love of children and studies of so many genres of dance, Elyssa has become a business Owner of Pivot Dance Center in Virginia Beach and has helped in creating some of the most well-rounded dancers who have been selected to join Salem High School’s Visual and Performing Arts Academy as well as Old Donation Gifted Visual Arts and Dance. She has taken her Company to perform with Dance The World Broadway on 42nd Street, New York and has created an Award- Winning Competition Team in 2019 in Virginia Beach. Elyssa Arias has set a goal to build a Legacy and create Legends here in the Hampton Roads area and throughout the Dance Community.

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Sara Lector - Instructor

Sara is a San Diego, California Native. Born and raised, she graduated from San Diego State University with a BA in Communication. Her dance credits include: San Diego Ballet conservatory, San Diego Dance Centre, TS Body Arts, Academy of Performing Arts, Culture Shock Dance Training Academy, back up dancer for local artists, MTV Productions: NSync’s Becoming, Mesa Dance company, 220 Hip hop team, UFX hip hop team, Mel7 performance team, NYR under the direction of the reknowned Erik Saradpon and Melissa Adao, and Disney. Sara has choreographed for numerous high schools up and down the California Coast and charitable organizations such as MADCAPS. She was also the founder of the University of San Diego High School Dance Team in 2002 which inevitably became the prestigious Cathedral Catholic High School Dance Team. having coached and directed both Varsity and JV for thirteen years. Sara was also the Executive Director of Outreach Through Dance, a charitable organization that worked closely with Make-A-Wish San Diego to produce dance shows to grant wishes for wish kids. Years later dance is still a driving force in her life and now since her daughter has shown so much interest she's happy to call herself a dance mom as well.

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Mariah Lopez - Instructor

Mariah Lopez is a Spanish American choreographer, educator, and performer. Mariah is a Virginia Based choreographer and instructor who has been commissioned / performed in New Jersey, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Washington D.C., and Virginia. Since college she has shown work with FAO music, Koresh Artistic Showcase, Dance NJ Showcase, Main Street Theater Company, Princeton Dance On the Lawn, Todd Rosenlieb Dance Ensemble, Nachmo DC, Dance ICONS, Open Marley Night in Baltimore, DanceArtTheater, Artistic Visions Dance Company, Atlas Intersections, and Dance Loft on 14. Mariah's movement style is derived my emotional risks leading to discovering and exposing truths about social inequity. Mariah has been acknowledged to her choreographic work gaining recognition in the competition community and received partial scholarship to Dance ICONS choreographic Institute in 2019. As an instructor, Mariah uses dance history and pedagogy to focus on conditioning work for strength, mental training for clarity and articulation, and strong performance skill that emphasizes intent. Currently, she is a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee under an AOP Fellowship where she will receive her MFA in Dance Education and Choreography.

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Veronica Hansel - Instructor

Veronica grew up loving to dance, but got a late start at the age of 10 when her family finally settled down in Virginia Beach, Virginia. She was enrolled at the Nice School of Dance where studied under many great teachers in all genres, but fell in love with ballet and modern/contemporary. Her dedication to dance was noticed and she moved from student to assistant, and finally to teacher. As a dancer Veronica has had the opportunity to be the lead in her annual dance recital, as well as many other large roles. She has also danced in parades in the tidewater area and had the chance to perform in Disney World with her dance company. Growing up and evolving with the studio, Veronica is close to many students and hopes to help them all achieve their goals and dreams in dance.

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J. Morgan - Instructor

Morgan is so happy to be a part of Pivot Dance Center. Morgan moved to Hampton Roads in 2019 after living in New York City for 10 years working as a professional dancer and actor. Former Credits include productions of West Side Story, Carousel, Cats, Billy Elliot and many others at theatre's and venues all over the country. "To see us dance is to hear our hearts sing." jmorganwhite.com

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Kaitlyn McMillion - Instructor

Kaitlyn McMillion started her dance career at the age of three in a small town in the Shenandoah Valley. Growing up, she took classes in Ballet, Tap, and Jazz. She completed all twelve years of American Academy of Ballet's ' Performance Awards' and performed in many full-length ballets. She also attended Shenandoah Valley Governor's School for theater for two years. Her love for teaching started with assisting in younger classes and she started professionally teaching at 18. Kaitlyn also danced with the Charlottesville Ballet where she performed in their Nutcracker Suite and the Firebird. Soon after, she moved to Richmond, Virginia and was a ballet instructor with Village Dance Studios for five years where she choreographed many original pieces and including a yearly performance of The Nutcracker. She is very excited about her next adventure with Pivot Dance Center and can't wait to call Virginia Beach home.

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Jelani Taylor - Instructor

Jelani Taylor is a dancer and choreographer from Virginia Beach, Virginia. He began his dance training at Old Donation School’s Gifted Dance Education Program under the direction of Valerie Winbourne. Jelani would continue to work with Mrs. Winbourne as a performer with her V2W Experience! Dance Theater Company. He graduated from the Visual and Performing Arts Academy at Salem High School and from Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) with a B.F.A in Dance and Choreography. While at VCU Jelani has had the opportunity to perform in works by Melanie Richards, Martha Curtis, Helen Simoneau (Guest Artist), Ching-I Chang Bigelow (Guest Artist), Scott Putman, and Dr. E. Gaynell Sherrod. He also has had the pleasure to perform outside of VCU in work by Johnnie Cruise Mercer, Rady Nget, and Sinclair Emoghene. He was
the recipient of a departmental special recognition award, outstanding student research award, three outstanding service awards, two VCU arts undergraduate research grants, and VCU's African American Studies Department "Black History in the Making" Award. Jelani’s choreography has been showcased at Inside/Out at Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival, the International Association of Blacks in Dance Conference (IABD), American College Dance Association's (ACDA) National College Dance Festival, National Dance Society Conference (NDS), Sans Limite Dance Festival, Small Plates Choreography Festival, Dogtown Dance Theater, Grace Street Theater, ODU University Theater, Specialty Center for the Arts at Thomas Dale High School, and Edward E. Brickell Academy for Advanced Academics and Arts.

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Donna Mendez-Young - Instructor

Coming Soon