Sarah Jakubowski - Owner + Instructor
Sarah has a passion for the performing arts. She grew up dancing in Tigard, Oregon, at Westside Dance Academy and went on to graduate with a degree in Public Relations at Portland State University.
Karlie Sanford - Instructor
Karlie Sanford has grown up in the studio and on stage starting when she was a toddler. She has trained in Tap, Ballet, Jazz, Contemporary, Lyrical and Hip Hop at various California and Oregon studios including The Edge Performing Arts Center and Millennium Dance Complex in Los Angeles. Her early professional experience varied from “America’s Most Talented Kids”, spokes model for “Hawaiian Tropic Kids”, performer for “Radio Disney” in Portland Oregon, to being a “Broadway Babe” catalog model. Karlie has also danced for artist “Rachele Royal” on the Mountain Dew Tour.
She is currently an assistant and travels around the country for the 541 Dance Experience/The Vibe City Tour with choreographers: Marty Kudelka, David Moore, Tony Bellissimo, Ivan Koumaev, and Bryan Tanaka. In Karlie’s competing years, she has won various titles from regional to national including: Junior Dancer of the Year (Hollywood Vibe), National Teen Ms. Spotlight, and many others.
Her recent teaching experience (The Vibe Dance Center, MVP Dance Elite) has included advanced level tap, jazz, lyrical, contemporary and hip-hop. She recently has traveled to Texas, California, and Bend, Oregon to choreograph various styles for groups, duets/trios, and solos. Her choreography has recently won high placements and choreography awards (2014/2015/2016). Karlie has experience being both a choreographer as well as a training student and hopes to bring her passion and insight to dancers everywhere.
Taylor Schmelzle - Jazz, Hip Hop, Lyrical + Ballet Instructor
Born in Canada, Taylor Moved to the United States when she was three years old. She started dancing right away and became a competitive dancer at age five. She attended Southern Sturr in Irmo, SC. Six years later, she began at Birmingham Dance Theatre in Alabama. There she met Kim Wolfe who she started assisting at age 12, mainly on the West Coast Dance Explosion Tour. She traveled all throughout High School to shoot videos, attend conventions, and co-choreograph at various studios around the nation.When Taylor graduated high school, she moved out to LA after signing with Go 2 Talent Agency. She attended Loyola Marymount University with a major in dance; however left after one year to focu son professional dancing. During her last three years in LA, she worked on a children's television show, danced in Ricky Palomino's company for Lifetime viewers, performed in numerous dance shows, taught at a local dance studio and worked the 2016 Grammy's as a Talent Credential's assistant for the Red Carpet. Taylor moved to Portland to manage a fitness studio and switch gears from performing to teaching. After 19 years of dancing, it is still her biggest passion.
Jason Wickett - Hip Hop Instructor
Born in Lacey, Wa. Jason started dancing at the age of twelve and was teaching soon after. Since then, he has continued training with the industries finest. He has taught at over 30 studios in Washington alone, and went on to found and co-own an all hip hop dance studio. Jason is currently teaching at numerous places in the PNW; directing and choreographing for competitive dance crews and training the new generation of dancers.
TJ Yale - Tap + Hip Hop Instructor
Thomas Yale (TJ) is a world renowned performer and Choreographer. A Portland native, he commenced his dance career with the Jefferson Dancers in 1997 and spent over six years building and solidifying his skills as a performer and choreographer.
After High school, Thomas moved to New York City and was promptly signed with Clear Talent Agency, under the direction of Rapsody James. While in New York, he reconnected with performing artist Jonte Moaning (Jefferson Dancer Alumni), and has toured various international cities including; Tokyo and Paris.
In addition, he has performed at The Latin Grammy’s, Saturday Night Live, and was honorably invited to an O.M.S.I. taping benefit event with Gregory Hines.
Locally, Thomas has also been working with Mark Smith
of Nike (Creative Director of Jordan brand Nike), where he tests shoes for
celebrity clients. Recently thomas has been choreographing for daVinci Arts
Middle School, and getting back to his tap roots. Working with local jazz
artists, he is bringing back a classic art form with a new twist.
Jessica Lind - Ballet
Jessica was born in San Jose, CA and began her ballet training at the age of 4 at a local studio, Dance Theatre International. She trained with Xavier and Maggie Ferla at DTI until the age of 17. Between the ages of 14 and 18, Jessica attended summer intensives at Boston Ballet and San Francisco Ballet, both on scholarship. Her senior year of high school, she was asked to stay for the year round program at SFB. Jessica attended her high school classes at Presentation High School in San Jose in the mornings and then commuted to San Francisco to study with the San Francisco Ballet School. While in the school, she performed with the company in Giselle, Coppelia, and Petrushka.After training for a year with SFB, Jessica auditioned for Oregon Ballet Theatre and was asked to join their Pre-Professional Division. After two years of training under school director, Damara Bennett and Artistic Director, Christopher Stowell, Jessica was offered an Apprenticeship to join the company. Unfortunately, shortly after, she tore her ACL and had knee surgery. After rehabbing for a year and undergoing a second knee surgery, Jessica completed her two years as an Apprentice under Artistic Director, Kevin Irving. He then hired her as a Company Artist in 2015.Jessica just completed her first season as a member of the corps with OBT. During her PD, Apprentice, and Company Artist years, Jessica has had the opportunity to perform many works. Her favorite and most memorable roles include “Pas de Trois” and one of the four “little swans" in Swan Lake, “Marzipan Principal” in George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker, “Summer Fairy” in Cinderella, one of the four “Russian Girls” in Serenade, and the “improv girl” in William Forsythe’s In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated. She has also learned and performed works by world famous choreographers including Nacho Duato, Nicolo Fonte, Hellen Pickett, James Kudelka, and James Canfield.In the summer of 2015, Jessica was chosen, along with five other of her colleagues, to attend the Bournonville Summer Intensive in Copenhagen, Denmark. There, she studied strictly Bournonville technique and was able to apply her knowledge the following season at OBT where she performed as the first tarantella girl in Napoli. Jessica is looking forward to her next season with OBT.
Kara Edal - Toddler, Jazz + Acro Instructor
The Toddler Tots program is
designed for children to learn and grow in a warm and nurturing
environment. Kara is the perfect fit. Her
experience working with children will lend itself perfectly to our studio.
In 2000, she started Happy Feet In Motion in Shingle Springs, CA working in Day Care centers teaching Creative Movement and Jazz classes. In 2002, she moved back to Beaverton and started teaching at multiple centers such as Kinder Cares, Montessori schools, and private centers. She is currently teaching at Northwest Montessori School and Bright Horizon’s.
Her dance experience includes training from Westside Dance Academy, Rhythm Bees’ Beaverton High School’s Drill Team and Up With People which included traveling the world singing and dancing in different shows.
Mikee Nadora - Jazz + Musical Theatre + Hip Hop Instructor
Mikee Nadora was born in Manila, Philippines, and moved to Oregon at the age of 3. She started taking dance classes at the age 10, and has been in love with it ever since. She is trained in jazz, contemporary, ballet, and hip hop.
In high school, she was a member of an a cappella group, as well as active in her high school’s theater department—now an alumni of the Newberg High School Thespians, Troupe #368. She graduated high school with honors, as valedictorian. Currently, she attends Portland State University, majoring in Communications, with minors in Advertising and English.
She is very passionate about teaching and training dancers. Her main goal with her students is for them grow in their ability and love for dance, as well as becoming hardworking and resilient individuals.
Bunny Hatch - Tap Instructor
Bunny grew up tap dancing at Emery Clay Studio, downtown Portland. She became part of the Emery Clay professional dance performers in high school and early college. Bunny attended the University of Oregon where she was a cheerleader and obtained a Bachelor of Music.
She also has a Masters Degree in Education from Portland State University. She taught Elementary Music for 5 years and Music Fundamentals and Methods at Portland State University for 4 years.
She taught tap for 6 years at Jefferson High School Performing Arts Magnate Program. Bunny has served as a Church Music Director 21 years and National Workshop Clinician for Oregon Catholic Press 15 years. She has two daughters and three granddaughters.
Casey Davenport - Ballet Instructor
A lifelong teacher and dancer, Casey Davenport takes pride in growing his students as artists, technicians and people: articulate, responsible, independent, accountable, disciplined and constantly striving to give back to not only the dance community and art, but, their friends, family and community at large. His teaching centers around independent conceptual thinking, active critical thinking skills, questioning and interactive learning.
Mister Casey has a wide, varied repertoire that has included founding choreography of a cabaret company in Portland, earning him recognition in the Willamette Weekly and Oregonian publications, past membership of Oregon Dance and Drill Coaches Association.
Mister Casey's foundation training came from Caroline Kaiser, founding director of High Desert Dance Arts and continued his studies with Oregon Ballet Theatre, Pacific Northwest Ballet and many other NW Masters and guest artists. He has performed notable classical rep such as Bluebird Pas and Rose Adagio from Sleeping Beauty and many original Nutcracker solo roles with high recognition as well as new contemporary and modern roles, which remain his favorite.
Amelia Unsicker - Ballet Instructor
Amelia began her professional training at the School of Oregon Ballet Theatre, where she performed works such as George Balanchine's Raymonda, La Source and The Nutcracker. In 2011, Amelia graduated from the University of Oregon with a Bachelor of Science in Biology and a minor in dance. While studying science, she performed as a soloist with Ballet Fantastique. After graduating, Amelia became a freelance dancer and choreographer in Portland, working with artists such as John Magnus, Jennifer Camp and Emily Schultz. In 2013, she joined the Agnieszka Laska Dancers, where she had the opportunity to perform The Rite of Spring, The Chopin Project, and Broken Flowers through five cities in Poland.
Amelia recently earned a Master of Fine Arts in Dance from the University of California, Irvine (UCI). While studying at UCI, Amelia choreographed several works, performed in many projects, and taught ballet and Pilates. Amelia's thesis research, Using Dance to Communicate Issues of Climate Change, explores methods of creating and presenting works regarding social, political, and cultural issues. Amelia used her research to choreograph her thesis concert, Carbon Footprint: Watch Your Step, which poetically interprets the challenges of climate change.
Amelia has been teaching dance for nine years throughout the Portland Metro Area and in California. She is excited to be back tin her hometown of Portland, Oregon, teaching, choreographing, moving and dancing. Amelia is thrilled to join the SMJ team!
Ellen Schmelzle - Adult Fitness Instructor
ELLEN SCHMELZLE graduated from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada with a double Honors Degree in Psychology and Sociology. She was employed as a Juvenile Probation Officer before deciding to remain at home to raise her four children. She volunteered at her children’s schools, held several PTO Board positions, worked part-time for a children’s educational book company, sang and competed with Sweet Adelines and earned a Second Degree Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do.
When she was sidelined by a very painful low back injury, many non-invasive attempts to relieve her pain were unsuccessful. Having heard about the wonders of Pilates in relieving back pain, she decided to give it a try. In a very short time, after practicing the method consistently, she became completely pain free! She not only felt stronger, more flexible and more energetic, but realized that Pilates was and is a natural path to long-term health.
This trilogy of ‘mind-body-spirit’ inspired
Ellen to become a Pilates Teacher, in order to share its amazing benefits with individuals
of all ages. In 2008 she graduated from the highly esteemed program at The Pilates
Center in Boulder, CO, and in 2013 she became one of their Host Advisors/Teacher
Trainers. Today she enjoys biking, hiking and skiing, and she is looking
forward to discovering the wondrous outdoors around her new home in Lake
Drea Straw McVay - Office Manager
Drea is a lifelong dancer and artist who has lived in Oregon for the past 6 years. She is an alumna of Mills College where she studied theater and dance. Her professional background is in office management, marketing, event planning, costume and graphic design. She has an amazing husband and two cats and enjoys crafting, cooking, antique shopping and hiking in this beautiful place we call home.
She is excited to bring together her skills and love of dance to help manage things at SMJ Performing Arts!