SMJ Performing Arts

Ballet  I  Jazz  I  Contemporary I  Hip Hop  I  Tap  I  Musical Theatre / Acro

SMJ Staff

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.

During her college years she was a Jefferson Dancer, began coaching Dance Team, and traveled through NYC and LA several times to take master classes and learn from the best.

Since 1997, she has been teaching in local studios, performed with the Olympic Dance Team in 1996, and coached and choreographed for the Tigard and Tualatin High School Dance Teams. She was also honored with Coach of the Year for the Dance Drill Coaches Association of Oregon.

Sarah has coordinated multiple trips for school kids to New York City and Disney World in Orlando Florida. The students have performed, competed and taken a behind the scenes look at what it takes to be a performer.

Sarah is a pianist and trained for 11 years and she can also sing. Sarah was active in high school concert choir, sang and played at church and has performed in several concerts.

Sarah now resides in Sherwood, Oregon with her 3 beautiful daughters who attend Archer Glen Elementary.

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. 

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 Instructor

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 Twinkle Toes 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 lends 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.

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. 

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.

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! 

Rachel Kato- Ballet Instructor

Miss Rachel has been dancing for over 14 years. She began training in ballet in Portland with John Gardner. After training with John, she chose to expand her dance vocabulary and studied jazz extensively with Tracey Durbin and Mary Hunt. She received her BFA in Jazz Dance at the University of the Arts where she had the privilege of studying with many teachers including: Roni Koresh, Kim Bears Bailey, Donald Lunsford, Martha Chamberlin, and Dennis Gronostayskiy. While living in Philadelphia, she performed with Beyond Dance Company. After graduating, Rachel returned to Portland and taught ballet and jazz for a year. After a year in Portland, Rachel chose to attend a post-BFA program at Copenhagen Contemporary Dance School in Denmark. Upon returning to the States, Rachel moved to the Bay Area, where she received her Yoga Teacher Certification at Purusha Yoga, taught ballet and gymnastics at many local studios, and danced with Bollynaach (a local Bollywood company). She currently teaches ballet, contemporary and jazz all around the Portland metropolitan area and dances with PDX Dance Collective. 

Ian Chapman - Guitar Instructor

Ian Chapman lives in the great town of Sherwood. He and his wife are proud parents of a six year old son and a two year old daughter.  
Music has always been his passion.  He enjoys all types of musical genres from rock, classical, jazz, blues, to musicals. At a young age, he took piano lessons and learned the core principles of music theory. When he was 13, he picked up the guitar and with my mom's help learned a few guitar chords and rhythm patterns.  From there, he taught himself all he could about the guitar and eventually took private lessons in high school.  During his college years and throughout the last decade, he's played in various rock bands while writing and recording his own songs. His bands performed in an array of settings such as clubs, birthday parties, and university student unions.  He currently plays bass guitar in my church's worship team. He has also performed for weddings and spends a lot of time playing and singing to his children. 

His philosophy on teaching guitar is based on the fact every person learns and processes information differently.  Having a Master's in Special Education has taught him the importance of recognizing how unique each student is. What works for one student doesn't necessarily work for another. He teaches students how to hold the guitar and determine the best technique of teaching that will maximize the student's ability to start playing songs. He introduces his students to music theory basics such as time signatures, how to keep a rhythm, and the differences between quarter, half, and whole notes.  The students will also learn about the forming of chords and how to pair certain chords together to make familiar and original songs.   
Ian believes that learning how to play the guitar will not only excite the student, but will increase their self-esteem and self-worth. 

Drea Straw McVay - Office Manager

Drea grew-up attending the San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts where she studied dance, theatre and visual art. She then minored in Dance at Mills College and has continued to study dance since.
Her professional background is in design, administration, event planning and management. 
She is thrilled to be a part of the team at SMJ and assist parents and students and help organize things behind the scenes.