Faculty and Staff
Hi there! I am Stephanie Ochoa, the owner and Artistic Director of Dallas Ballet & Academy of Dance. I am going to tell you a little bit about myself, and then introduce you to the rest of our staff and faculty members.
I grew up in a studio just like ours - Silverton Ballet & Performing Arts Co. Paula Magee taught me Ballet ad Jazz until I graduated from high school. Her studio was full of love, support, and excellent instruction, and it was her model that led me to choose a Dance degree in University - I knew I wanted to build a studio just like hers.
I graduated from Western Oregon University in 2004 with a B.A. in Dance and minor in Music. I studied Hip Hop, Tap, West African, Salsa, Hula, Choreography, and Pedagogy while I was there. After graduation, I started thinking about where I wanted to found my studio. I settled on Dallas when I realized that there was no Dance program here at the time (what? No way. Everyone needs access to Dance!), and then I was offered a space that would make a terrific dancing environment - the old roller rink inside the Majestic Building. We opened in September of 2005 with 40 students. It was a delight!
We moved to our own full time space in September 2009, and in December 2015, we moved to our current headquarters - the Mill Street studio. The studio has always offered classes in Ballet, Tap, Jazz, Pointe, Creative Movement, and Hip Hop, but now we have added Adult Fitness Classes, Tumbling classes, instruction in Pedagogy & Choreography, as well as mentorship relationships. As our class offerings have grown, so has our size - we now boast a total of 187 students (almost our pre-pandemic population!), as well as 6 teachers, 4 staff members, and lots of studio babies.
Our mission in the West Valley has changed as we've grown too. We have always maintained an educational program designed around an academic curriculum that teaches technique in a progressive context. But now we also are committed to creating a studio known for kindness, boundaries, safety, inclusivity, and inspiration. We are here to provide all of our students what they need to be successful in dance class and in life, and we are using our platform to bring the Arts to our community, protect the vulnerable, and oppose the xenophobe.
Now that you know what we are all about, let me tell you about my people - because part of what makes DBAD a terrific program is the people who are working within our program - they are solid gold, let me tell you!
Do you folks know about Miss Veronica? She is Magic. Just her presence instills calm and devotion amongst our little students. We are so grateful to work with her!
Veronica Williams has four children, all of whom take class at the studio. They are: Ariannah, Bayden, Xander and Briella, and they all basically work and live at the studio just like the rest of us.
Miss Veronica has taught for 12 years at Dallas Ballet, as both a substitute and a regularly scheduled teacher. She is a Faculty Member, the Costume Mistress, the Backstage Manager, and provides office support. She's also Miss Stephanie's unofficial Veep. (VP= Vice President). She's my second. My right hand. The one who guards my weak side.
Miss Veronica describes herself as “A Domestic Engineer by day and a Dance Teacher by night.”
She currently teaches Tap, Ballet and Creative Movement. She is also the instructor for all of our Community Educator Classes for the DCS (Dallas Community School) Program. Whew!
Next up, my girl Spencer Schrock.
I met Spencer when she was a sophomore at Dallas High School. She was an extremely talented dancer from another studio who was looking for new connections in the dance community. What began as a teacher-student relationship has blossomed over the last 10 years into a friendship with a grown up woman who pushes me, respects me, and helps me always. I am so grateful. Miss Spencer teaches Ballet classes in our Vaganova Program.
Previously a full-time 911 Dispatcher for five years, Spencer is now a stay at home mom of two children, which she says is way harder. She has retained the call-taker “it’s not optional” voice, so she comes in VERY handy in times of urgency.
Fun fact: Miss Spencer is hilarious. Did I mention that? You don’t expect it when you’re looking at her beautiful young self, but she has a witty and ironic sense of humor that makes me guffaw on a regular basis. Here’s the proof- this is how she finished her most recent Nutcracker interview:
(Unrelated - Ballet puns are SO my spiritual gift. When we start our studio coffee shop, let’s feature a “Dirty Chai-kovsky.)
See? I told you.
Please meet our dear Miss Jenesa.
Miss Jenesa grew up in the Portland area, and came to Polk County as a college student to attend Western Oregon University. She graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Biology, with an emphasis in Pre-med and Botany. She also holds an Associate’s degree in Early Childhood Education. While at WOU, she studied Hip Hop, Modern and Ballet, and performed with The Triangle Alliance’s Drag Show.
Miss Jenesa has also spent 8 years in the child care and preschool environment, working with children of various ages. She still lives in Monmouth, and is married to her high school sweetheart. They had their first baby in April 2019, her name is Henley and she is a DOLL.
I was so grateful when Miss Jenesa reached out Summer 2019 and offered to help in the studio- I took her on at once, and haven’t looked back. She is a valued member of our wolf pack and I can’t wait to see all the things our students learn from her! Our Hip Hop Program is thriving under her leadership, and she is now teaching Ballet and Tap as well as a new adult class of her own design- Body Positivity!
Contact info TBA
Our newest addition is Alaisha Johnson, and boy am I excited to have her on our teaching team! Alaisha originates from Humboldt County, California, where she grew up in a Competition Studio called No Limits Dance Academy. She completed her Bachelor’s Degree in Dance Studies, Child Development, and American Indian Education (that’s right, THREE majors) at Humboldt State University. She is currently in a Master’s Program at Portland State University for Special Education. She works full-time with Wilamette ESD as a Vision Specialist, helping students and families adjust to a diagnosis of blindness in a child. Alaisha has taken on our Jazz Program this fall, and is also the substitute support team for Miss Jenesa’s Hip Hop classes.
This is my friend Suzanne. She grew up in Georgia, where she began her career in Gymnastics- she’s studied for 10 years and has been teaching for 19 years, and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice too! I met her when a colleague put us in touch about possibly renting our space for a Tumbling Lesson. I met with Suzanne, and was so impressed with her knowledge and experience that I raised the stakes and asked her to start a Tumbling Program at DBAD. That was mere months before the Pandemic hit, and she has been teaching private lessons ever since. We couldn’t be prouder of her program, and are excited to watch it grow!
Miss Meredith began her dance education with us at the age of 3, and she studied Ballet, Jazz and Partnering. She is also a graduate of our Teacher Training Program. She is now a glorious DBAD Alumna, and in her second year of University studies in Arizona.
We are lucky to have access to Miss Meredith's excellent Dance Instruction in the Summer Term, when she is home from college. She teaches Jazz and Ballet classes when she is here with us.
Lost & Found Coordinator / Merchandise Manager
Please meet Crystal- one of my Mom-Mentors. When I can’t figure something out in the parenting arena, it’s Crystal whom I often seek out. She does not pearl-clutch at the wobbles of youth, and her advice is always compassionate and funny. Crystal has 6 children with her husband Oscar, and although much her life is oriented around keeping their tight ship sailing, she also makes time to be our the coordinator of our Lost and Found Items, as well as our Merchandise Manager.
This is my girl DesaRae. Or as like to call her (in my head) “Sweet D”.
DesaRae is a studio parent, her daughter Kenley Rurak is a blooming Ballet IV and Pre-Pointe Student. Her family joined our community 9 years ago, as soon as Kenley was old enough to take class. Five years ago I asked DesaRae to take on a pivotal volunteer role, and now she coordinates students between the House (auditorium) and backstage throughout each and every one of our shows. We couldn’t do this without her!
“In Real Life” DesaRae is a Bookkeeper and Hairdresser, and three years ago she accepted the job of “Financial Accounts Goddess” here at Dallas Ballet. I am so grateful! She keeps us afloat and affixed to the accounting rules. She likes to make the numbers sit down and behave, and she’s gifted at it, for sure.
She’s a keeper folks.
Let's meet Yvette Geissinger, our Costume Inventory Manager! She is also drafted to laugh at my jokes, so that other people know I am truly hilarious. When she isn’t laughing at my patter, Yvette keeps our inventory of costumes organized, steamed, returned/loaned as they should be, and mended as needed. It’s a big job, and we appreciate her.
In real life, Vette is a homeschooling mother of three, and her daughter Kala danced the role of Marzipan in our 2019 production of The Nutcracker, among other roles. Her family members are deeply entrenched in all things Theater, and she has a wealth of knowledge when it comes to Theater Technology. Vette habitually partners with local and national Theater Groups to share her skills, and she also works for Rose City Comi-con.
We are thrilled to announce that Miss Vette will take on the role of Auditorium Manager for Dallas High School's Bollman Theater in the Fall of 2021. Congratulations Vette! We knew we would have to share you eventually, and we will, because you are awesome.
This is the one and only Lilly Garrett, who I have known since she was 4 years old. She is a senior at Dallas High School, and also a dear friend. She studies Ballet, Jazz, Pointe and Pas de Deux, and will graduate in June of 2022 as a DBAD Senior as well, completing our program and earning alumna status forever more. Lilly works in the studio office several times weekly, doing all of our paperwork and typing drudgery with a cheerful smile that lights up the space.