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Faculty
Faculty
Evelyn Ireton owns and directs both Houston Academy of Dance and West University Dance Centre. Dancing since the age of 6 years old, Ms. Ireton combined her passion for dance with her love of teaching, graduating Magna cum Laude from the University of Houston with a Bachelors of Science in Education. The focus of Ms. Ireton’s career has been to train dancers. From her extensive training and successful performing career, she brings her students a wealth of knowledge and experience. Believing in a strong classical ballet background as the foundation of all other styles, Ms. Ireton has also concentrated in the study of the purely American dance style of jazz. She trained with the pioneering legends of jazz including Matt Mattox, Gus Giordano, and Camille Long Hill as well as many others in order to stay current with the ever changing trends in jazz dance.

Both Houston Academy of Dance and West University Dance Centre are well respected by the dance community and referred by Houston Ballet. In addition to directing the schools, Ms. Ireton has been a member of the dance faculty of Episcopal High School, Houston, since 1991. Her choreography has been presented at the Houston Ballet Summer Workshop, National Convention for High School Dance, Tanzsommer Festival, Austria. Choreographers X 6 and Dance Month at the Jewish Community. Center, Houston.

Ginger Herrera, a native of Houston, Texas, graduated in 1984 from the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. Beginning her dance training at the Houston Academy of Dance under the direction of Evelyn Ireton in 1972, Ginger has studied at numerous places with a variety of teachers. Ginger studied with Leon Danillian, of Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, at University of Texas on scholarship in 1985, the Royal Academy of London, England, 1979, and Clara Cravey at Houston Ballet Academy in 1984. In addition to her extensive training, Ginger has also taught dance to various artists both at the Houston Academy of Dance and Spring Branch ISD and she has served as the co-director of the Bayou City Dance Company. Adding to her training and exposure to various styles of dance, Ginger attended the Jazz Dance World Congress, Chicago, in 2002. Ginger has been Assistant Director of HAD since 2003.
Staff

Shannon Benton began dancing at the age of three. Growing up in central Virginia, she trained at Dance Theatre of Lynchburg, Virginia School of the Arts and Central Virginia Ballet. She started teaching and choreographing in college when she founded Divine Call Dance team. After graduating from Liberty University with a degree in Advertising and Public Relations and a double minor in Theatre Arts and Business, Shannon attended The Ailey School and danced with Dayton Contemporary Dance Company 2. She is currently apprenticing with Ad Deum Dance Company and is excited to be joining the staff at West University Dance Centre and Houston Academy of Dance.
Fara Sciulli Bowen has trained with Roberto Munoz, Laura Alonso, Ivan Monreal-Alonso, Josefina Mende and has 19 years of professional dancing and teaching experience. She has danced professionally for Houston Ballet, Lexington Ballet, Lexington, Kentucky, and Cuballet, Cuba. She has taught in Houston and Pittsburgh-area dance community, been summer Ballet Mistress for Francis Patrelle and Karl Von Rabeneu and a choreographer for Point Park Connections. Ms Bowen has performed roles in multiple full-length classical ballets including Ben Stevenson’s Nutcracker, Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, Romeo and Juliet, Dracula, Snow Maiden, Coppelia, DonQuixote, Cleopatra; Ivan Nagy’s La Sylphide; Ronald Hynd’s Merry Widow; and Sir Kenneth McMillan’s Manon. She has featured in a wide range of neoclassical ballets including Trey McIntyre’s Square One; Ben Stevenson’s Peer Gynt; George Balanchine’s Four Temperaments, Serenade, Theme and Variations; Sean Kelly’s Sinuosity; William Forsythe’s In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated; and Sir Kenneth McMillan’s Gloria.
Jasmine Call, from Salisbury, NC, trained with Piedmont School of Music and Dance. She danced with the pre-professional company, Piedmont Dance Theatre where she was able to perform leading roles in a range of works including The Nutcracker, Swan Lake, La Bayadere, George Balanchine’s Serenade and Who Cares?, Alvin Ailey’s Revelations, and several innovative works by Daniel Wiley. She continued her post graduate training with Complexions Contemporary Ballet, Ballet Magnificat!, and Ad Deum Dance Company. Jasmine graduated cum laude with a B.A. in Dance from Belhaven University in Jackson, MS. Currently, Jasmine is dancing with Ad Deum Dance Company and teaching for WUDC.
Christine Chen is originally from Schaumburg, Illinois and began her dance training at Northwest Ballet Academy performing with Northwest Ballet Ensemble and Schaumburg Dance Ensemble, as a soloist in The Nutcracker, Cinderella, The Quiltmaker’s Gift, and other original works. After graduating from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, she continued her training in Southern California at the Anaheim Ballet, Maple Conservatory and Defore Dance Center as a scholarship student. While working as an English and violin teacher in Taiwan, Christine trained at the Wu Yi Dance Center there. Currently, Christine is dancing with Ad Deum Dance Company for her second year and is teaching ballet and violin in the Houston area.
Kenneth Epting, a native of Chicago, received a bachelors degree in Metallurgical Engineering from Purdue University and a secondary mathematics certification and a masters degree in Counseling from Prairieview A&M University. Kenneth’s dance training includes such noted schools as Alvin Ailey American School of Dance and Martha Graham School. He has received high acclaim for many of his choreographic works. Kenneth has been the resident choreographer and artistic director for the Classic Dance Ensemble at Prairie View A&M since 1990. Kenneth is the founder and artistic director of Exclamation Dance Company.
Danielle Gonzaba is from San Antonio, Texas and graduated Summa Cum Laude from Sam Houston State University with a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in Dance. She has performed with the Texas World Dance Company, Earthen Vessels Dance Company, Frame Dance Productions, is in her fourth season with Rednerrus Feil Dance Company and her second season with NobleMotion Dance. Recently, Danielle performed in a Tino Seghal installation at the Menil Collection, and has worked as a freelance performer throughout Houston. She has danced in festivals and shows in New York, New Mexico, Louisiana, Florida and California. Danielle has taught and choreographed for the Universal Dance Association as well as for various studios and high schools throughout Texas.
Leticia Hernandez began her dance training in Corpus Christi, with Ballet Academy. She went on to receive her BA in Dance & Theatre from the University of Houston-Clear Lake. Leti has performed with The National Ballet Company of Mexico City, Exclamation Dance Company, and various dance groups in Houston . Her musical background includes performances in The King & I, West Side Story, Phantom of the Opera, South Pacific, and Camelot, to name a few. Leti has taught for HCC, HSPVA, Texas Tap, HAD, and Studio O3. Currently, she is Director of Performing Arts at St. Mark’s Episcopal where she has taught music and dance for the past ten years.
Cody Jackson, a Louisiana native, moved to the Houston area this year to join Ad Deum Dance Company. Cody began dancing when he was 17 years old at a small studio in his hometown in Louisiana. His passion for dancing continued through college where he began his technical training. He is pursing his R.N. degree and dance minor at the University of Louisiana at Monroe. His training includes, the ULM Repertory Dance Ensemble and Missy Crain Dance of Louisiana Delta Ballet and workshops such as the MasterWorks Festival, ACDFA, Ad Deum Summer Intensive and Twin City Ballet Summer Intensive.
Melanie Kendall-Davis is from Allen, Texas and has been dancing since she was three and recently graduated from Sam Houston State University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance and a minor in accounting. Melanie has participated in national dance conventions such as Tremaine, L.A. Dance Magic, and Company Dance and was a member of the Kista Tucker Dance Company. She was a SHSU dance scholarship recipient from 2004 thru 2008 and spent the summer of 2006 in Chicago dancing on scholarship at Giordano Jazz Company. She was a member of the SHSU Dance Company since 2004 and has performed in pieces choreographed by Melissa Wynn, Dana Nicolay, Jennifer Pontius, Kista Tucker, Jonathan Charles and guest artists Elijah Gibson, Renny Harris, and Joy Kellman. This year Melanie moved to Houston and will be an intern for the Houston Met.
Michelle Lopez, a native Houstonian, began dancing at West University Dance Centre at the age of three and continued through high school. She is majoring in business with a minor in education, and working on her child life specialist certification. Michelle is a member of the National Society of Leadership and Success at her college. She has competed with the Sole Discretion Competition Dance Team and was a member of Exclamation Dance Company under the direction of Kenneth Epting. Michelle has been working as a teacher’s assistant and as part of the office staff for past four years. This year will be her first year teaching ballet and tap to children ages seven and under.
Jessica Marshall began dancing at the age of three in her home town, Ennis, Texas. She graduated Magna cum Laude with BFA in Dance from Sam Houston State University. As a professional contemporary dancer, Jessica performed with Houston-based companies Suchu Dance and Psophonia Dance Company. She has also performed in numerous festivals throughout Texas and Ohio, and has received recognition for her choreography, including an original two-act musical, “In Their Shoes.” From 2008-2011 Jessica worked for both West University Dance Centre and Houston Academy of Dance, and after spending two years teaching dance in San Antonio, Jessica has returned to the studios to teach and serve as the performance coordinator.
Dorrell Martin is a native Houstonian, former artistic director of Houston Metropolitan Dance Company and founder of Dorrell Martin Dance Fusion. The summer of 2003, the company made its first international debut performance in Veracruz, Mexico. He received Honorable Mention for choreography at the World Jazz Congress. He has taught and set works on University of Louisiana, C.A.D Dance in New York City, Lamar University as well as companies in New Mexico and Louisiana. His studies include Paul Taylor, Ailey School, EDGE Performing Arts in Los Angeles, Steps on Broadway, and 2 years at the New York State Summer Intensive with New York City Ballet. Mr. Martin has worked with choreographers such as Kevin Wynn, Fred Benjamin, Liz Imperio of Los Angeles, Randy Duncan of Chicago and Pattie Obey of Holland.
Bernadette Patten is returning to Houston Academy of Dance after teaching in the public sector. She was the dance director for Cornerstone Academy in SBISD for eight years and taught dance and theater arts for three years at Gregory-Lincoln Middle School in HISD, a performing arts magnet school. Bernadette earned her BA in Theater Arts from San Francisco State University and has continued her education in the arts by attending the 2014 New York Dance Summit, the Oklahoma City University Teacher Training Seminar and the Cecchetti Council Seminar for Teachers of Ballet. She also has performing experience with Beresheet Ballet, Houston and Ballet Hysell, New Orleans as well as Dance One and Plexus Dance Company, California.
Karen Pfeifer, a native Houstonian, began her dance training at age three at West University Dance Centre and danced under the direction of Evelyn Ireton and John Truax. She then continued her dance training, again with Ms. Ireton, at Episcopal High School, where she received several awards for her choreography and was a member of Impact dance company. Karen was given the privilege of working with many acclaimed choreographers such as Eddie O’Campo, Pattie Obey, Troy Powell and Frank Vega. While at Episcopal, Karen was a member of Exclamation Dance Company under the direction of Kenneth Epting. Upon graduating summa cum laude from Episcopal, Karen went on to become a member of the Houston Metropolitan Dance Company for three years, and completed her education at the University of Houston Honors College. Karen graduated summa cum laude in 2011 with a B.B.A. in Entrepreneurship and a Minor in Art History. Karen is thrilled to have dance back in her life and to be working at the studio where she grew up.
Tiffany Ramey studied with The Georgia Youth Ballet under Magdalena Maury and Jonsie Pollock. While studying psychology and music at Wesleyan College in Macon, Georgia, she danced with Refuge Dance Company and free lanced with Atlanta Festival Ballet. In 2007, she toured China with Light of the World Ballet in Syracuse, NY. This is her second season with Ad Deum.
Sally Rojas was born in Caracas, Venezuela and moved to Miami, Florida when she was ten. She then began her training with Thomas Annour, Robert Pike, and Judith Reese Newman at the Miami Conservatory. She went on to study at the School of American Ballet and American Ballet Theatre. At the age of sixteen she became a member of American Ballet Theatre II where she remained and toured extensively for two years. Sally then joined the Houston Ballet where she enjoyed dancing in most of the company’s repertoire. As a soloist, Sally danced the lead role in many ballets including Swan Lake, Cleopatra, Snow Maiden, The Merry Widow, Manon, Dracula, Nutcracker and Peer Gynt. She has performed the works of many famous choreographers including George Balanchine, William Forsythe, Ben Stevenson, Sir Kenneth MacMillan, Stanton Welch, Christopher Bruce, Jiri Kylian, Paul Taylor, and Glen Tetley. Sally also is currently on staff with Houston Ballet.
Nikki Wetter graduated summa cum laude with a BFA in Dance from Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio. While completing her degree, she danced with the Dayton Contemporary Dance Second Company for three years, gaining valuable experience with the opportunity to work with master teachers and choreographers in a professional setting. Nikki’s focus was not only performing. She has choreographed numerous times including works for Wright State University as well as professional and high school musical theatre productions and worship services. Currently Nikki is dancing with Ad Deum II and looking forward to the amazing arts community and opportunities within Houston.
Tapley Whaley is originally from Charlotte, NC, where she began her dance training before pursuing her dance career at Belhaven College in Jackson, MS, where she received her B.A. in dance. Ms. Whaley moved to Houston in 2002 and has danced professionally with Ad Deum Dance Company and Psophonia Dance Company. She has been teaching ballet, creative movement, tap, jazz, modern, and pointe for the past 10 years at West University Dance Centre and other studios across Houston. She also travelled to the Netherlands for three summers to teach and choreograph for Youth With a Mission. Ms. Whaley has choreographed for the Ad Deum Trainees, Hopewerks, Big Range Dance Festival, and Project Dance, as well as choreographing and producing her own show about Human Trafficking in 2010. She created and runs the dance ministry at her church, the Houston Vineyard. Tapley loves sharing her joy of dance with children and adults of all ages. She has been married since 2007 and is enjoying her full-time job as Mommy to her 1-year old son, Caden.