Airborne Dance Instructors
Sara Calabrese has been dancing since before she can remember. She began teaching dance at Airborne in 2000. She became the Assistant Director of Dance in the fall of 2001 and was named the Artistic Director of Dance in May of 2006. Before coming to Airborne, she received her dual degrees in dance & psychology from the University of Colorado, Boulder. In 2007, she became the choreographer for the nationally broadcast The Big Green Rabbit, a children’s show on PBS. Sara has taken classes at Broadway Dance Center, Boulder Jazz Dance Workshop, Manhattan Dance Project, NYCDA, LADF and Showbiz conventions. She has also attended the Dance Studio Life conference, Dance Teacher Magazine conference twice and the Broadway Dance Center Teacher workshop. She has taken the Airborne Dance Team to Disneyland four times for performances and workshops. Sara has completed her beginner, intermediate, and advanced classes with Dance Educators of America and received her certification from them as well and is a current member of the DEA. Sara has spent the last 11 years creating a syllabus for Airborne Dance including her own DanceBuilders preschool program. She specifically loves teaching Contemporary Jazz and Lyrical. When not teaching she can usually be found spending time with her son Vincent and her husband Nick and their dog, Luna.
Michelle Bernier was born and raised in Maine, and has been dancing since age 7. Her early training was deeply rooted in ballet and jazz, with bits of tap, musical theater, and ballroom dance mixed in along the way. She went on to study dance at Skidmore College, the University of South Florida, the University of Southern Maine, and the Bates Dance Festival. Through dancing in college, Michelle became acquainted with, and eventually fell in love with, the art of modern dance, and has focused her performance and choreography career in that direction ever since. In Maine, Michelle danced as a soloist with the Portland Symphony Orchestra and was a member of Collective Motion, a contemporary dance company based in Portland, Maine, and her choreography has been seen at many venues throughout that state. Since relocating to Boulder, Michelle has been performing with Life/Art Dance Ensemble in Denver and Blue Moon Dance Company in Boulder, as well as teaching ballet, tap, jazz, modern, leaps and turns, and strength and flexibility at studios throughout Colorado. Teaching at Airborne since 2011, she is also our Tour Ensemble Director, toward which she applies her utmost passion and effort to maintain a fun, creative collective for our young non-competitive performers, and a venue for them to gain valuable community-based volunteer performance experience. She finds joy every day in the faces of her students as they reach their goals and soar beyond. She graduated in May 2016 with her Masters in Fine Arts from CU Boulder.
Dana Bennett has a passion for dance and teaching. Her dance experience includes ballet, tap, jazz, modern, lyrical, salsa, swing, and competition dance. She already has five years of dance teaching experience under her belt, and is excited to be continuing that experience here at Airborne. She loves being able to pass on her passion for dance to the students, and to see her students grow in skill and confidence. On her own time, Dana loves to practice choreography as a form of self-expression, and hopes to be able to share the beauty of this outlet with her students. She recently graduated from the University of Alabama, and now lives in Broomfield.
Olivia Dwyer received her B.A. in Dance and Sociology from the University of Colorado at Boulder under the guidance of artists such as Michelle Ellsworth, Erika Randall, and Donna Mejia. Dwyer has worked for a wide range of artists including Faye Driscoll, Sidra Bell, Michelle Ellsworth and Rennie Harris, as well as premiered work nationally at several acclaimed venues and festivals such as Sans Souci Festival of Dance Cinema and Gibney Dance in New York City. As a social justice practitioner, Dwyer is interested in creating work which grapples, complicates, and challenges codified social interaction while adopting an interdisciplinary approach to creating work which blends the world of dance with technology, film, and performance art. As she teacher she strives for excellence, and believes in pushing her students technically with love and compassion, while encouraging fun in the classroom environment. She currently teaches, creates and resides in Boulder, Colorado USA.
Drew Heflin danced professionally for the last 20 years, in New York City on Broadway and at Radio City Music Hall, in addition to National Tours. Performances include Spider-man: Turn Off the Dark on Broadway, and in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall and at the Grande Ole Oprey. He recently moved to Colorado with his wife to enjoy a slower paced life than NYC demands.
Drew has a BFA from Towson University in Dance Performance and just recently graduated as a Massage Therapist from Boulder Massage Therapist Institute. During his dance career, between jobs he has taught Master classes and judged dance competitions on the east coast and Canada. Drew brings a highly energetic teaching style to Airborne- he enjoys seeing the dancers grow technically, and pushes them in every class.
Elena Kramda started her dance training with Christina Noel Adcock at the Arvada Center. She later earned a BFA in dance from the Conservatory of Music and Dance at UMKC. There she studied under and performed in pieces by Jennifer Medina, DeeAnna Hiett, Rodni Williams, Sabrina Madison-Cannon, Paula Weber, and Mary Pat Henry, among others. She attended programs at The Ailey School, Jennifer Medina’s Common Thread Contemporary Dance Company, Cleo Parker Robinson, and Kim Robards, performing in showcases and attending some of these on scholarship. Elena then went on to study Graham with the renowned Franca Telesio. Elena has performed and choreographed in a variety of professional capacities, including Legacy Dance Ensemble as a soloist, Blue Moon Dance Company, Emmy award-winning Melissa Ivey’s Speed of Life, international artist Nick Cave’s Heard*DAM, Flash Mob America as a dance lead, and Ten Honies, as well as other choreographers and clients. Elena believes in the value of the performing arts from both an artistic and educational standpoint. She is a licensed elementary teacher completing a Master’s in Linguistically and Culturally Diverse Education. As such, Elena believes dance education should be accessible, shared, and enjoyed by all. She hopes to use dance and choreography as a tool to build self-esteem and create a positive self-image for children and growing dancers, especially those who come from difficult backgrounds. Elena has taught in a variety of dance programs in the U.S. and abroad, including Community Minded Dance’s Head Start program, the Dance Academy at the Arvada Center, and guest teaching at many studios in the Denver metro area.
Jessica Riggs is a Colorado Native hailing from Golden, Colorado. She possesses Bachelor’s degrees in both Dance and Dietetics from Colorado State University, as well as a Master’s degree in Food Science and Human Nutrition. During her college dance career, Jessica had the opportunity to work and study with many well known choreographers and teachers. Her own choreography was selected on multiple occasions for showcase during her college years and more recently in the Denver/ Boulder dance community and Nationally.
In 2009, Jessica founded Life/Art Dance Ensemble, a 501(c)3 registered nonprofit dance company that focuses on artistic collaboration and making the arts more accessible to the community. In addition to Life/Art’s productions, Jessica’s choreography and performance have also been featured in multiple national and international dance theater and music festivals.
Alberta Shulman grew up in Maryland where she fell in love with dance at the age of seven. She trained, competed and performed as a member of Dance Unlimited’s Repertory Company, along with other institutions, including Maryland Youth Ballet, Point Park University and Towson University. She grew up as a versatile dancer, training in ballet, jazz, tap, modern, lyrical, pointe, musical theater, improvisation, composition, acting, and vocal work. She began teaching at age fifteen and soon learned she wanted to pursue dance education and performance as her life’s work.
She attended college for two years at The University of the Arts in Philadelphia where she had the privilege to work with a multitude of choreographers, teachers and professionals companies, most notably being The Pennsylvania Ballet and Sidra Bell Dance New York. Her first big move brought her to Colorado, where she finished her BFA in dance at The University of Colorado Boulder, exploring somatic techniques and a healthy use of the body. During her time in school she performed in multiple graduate and faculty shows and participated in community outreach programs throughout Colorado. With a long background in musical theater, Alberta has worked with theater companies such as Candlelight Dinner Playhouse, Other Voices Theater and The Maryland Ensemble Theater as both performer and choreographer.
In addition to teaching at Airborne, Alberta also works as program developer and office manager at The Dance Art Media Studios, and teaches master classes around the Denver/Boulder area. Alberta is a member of Life/Art Dance Ensemble, where she performs, creates work, and takes part in the community outreach program.
Alberta is passionate about bringing dance into public education systems. Using somatic practices to engage, heal and broaden the mind/body connection, she believes dance can develop both the physical and mental, creating strong, healthy movers and people. Currently, she is working towards her teaching license with an endorsement in dance and is planning to continue her educational pursuits with a masters degree in education. Alberta truly loves dance and is so grateful that she can spread that love to students within her communities.
Mykayla Solorio dances professionally with many of our other teachers in the Life/Art Dance Ensemble. She currently teaches Hip-Hop and Jazz in Lakewood, and attends the Art Institute of Colorado, studying Baking and Pastry Art. Mykayla loves the energy and connection in the dance classroom, and is inspired by the students she teaches.