Faculty

Jana L. Beard
Owner and Director - Shuffles & Ballet II

Jana has taught dance in the central Arkansas area for over 40 years and has been the owner and director of Shuffles for thirty of those years. In addition to being committed to offering the highest quality of instruction and the opportunity to experience all forms of dance, she has enjoyed performing in many Arkansas Rep productions, including Sweet Charity, Guys and Dolls, Chicago, Good Woman of Setzuan, A Soldiers Tale, Evita and Into The Woods. Jana attended U of A at Fayetteville as a dance major, and while at the U of A at Little Rock she performed in the productions Cabaret and Pippin and was an instructor in the Theatre and Dance Department. She has served for many years as director and choreographer for the Arkansas Bar and Pulaski County Bar Association's biannual spoof The Gridiron and worked along side Maestro David Itkin as the stage director for the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra's Christmas Spectacular. She has been heavily involved with Ballet Arkansas and has been one of the Nutcracker choreographers for the last five years. Most recently she was honored with the 2015 Arkansas Arts Council’s Lifetime Achievement Award in the Arts.

Allison Stodola Wilson
Assistant Director

Allison grew up dancing right here at Shuffles and Ballet II. It was that training that allowed her to perform professionally for the last 10 years. She attended Butler University receiving her BFA in Dance Performance. Allison performed with the The Radio City Christmas Spectacular for 3 years and was part of the original Moscow cast of the Broadway show 42nd Street. She has trained at Anne Reinking’s Broadway Theatre Project as well as American Ballet Theatre and the Joffrey Ballet. Other favorite shows are Guys and Dolls, Carnival (Papermill Playhouse) and All Night Strut (Marriott Lincolnshire). Allison loves being able to perform locally at the Arkansas Repertory Theatre. Her favorite shows are Evita (Tango), A Chorus Line (Kristine), Anything Goes and Gypsy. Allison is excited to be home from traveling the world aboard Holland America Cruise Line, where she was the Dance Captain. Allison is delighted to be back home at Shuffles teaching her love and passion.

Leslie Dodge
 

Leslie Dodge began her dance training at a young age in Indianapolis, Indiana. Before focusing on ballet, she studied jazz, tap, and various modern techniques, and won many awards at various national dance workshops and competitions. After a year of professional experience as a company dancer in Gregory Hancock Dance Theatre, Leslie attended Butler University and graduated with high honors with a Bachelor's in Dance Pedagogy in 2010. For Butler Ballet, Leslie performed in The Nutcracker, Coppelia, Cinderella, and Antony Tudor's Dark Elegies, as well as in original works by Susan McGuire and Cynthia Pratt. In 2010, she had the honor of dancing the role of Odette in Swan Lake under the direction of Tong Wang. While at Butler, Leslie also taught dance and movement classes for the Butler Community Arts School throughout the Indianapolis area with a curriculum inspired by the National Dance Institute. As part of Ballet Arkansas, Leslie has performed in many works, including the The Nutcracker's Sugar Plum Fairy, as well as both Odile and Odette in excerpts of Swan Lake. Leslie has been featured in Tom Rudd's Mobile, Peter Zweifel's Visions From Within, Darrell Grand-Moultrie's Moultrie's Spring, and Kiyon Gaines' Bolero as well as Gerald Arpino's Birthday Variations. She has worked with such choreographers as Melody Mennite, Leslie Schickel, Sayoko Knode, and Greg Sample. In 2014, she was honored to participate in the Chop Shop Dance Festival in Bellevue, WA in an excerpt of Shayla Bott's Instantly Interruptible, and also performed in the St. Louis Spring into Dance festival. Most recently she danced the lead role in Raymonda and as the pink girl in George Balanchine’s Who Cares? Leslie also acts as rehearsal assistant for Ballet Arkansas as well as instructing at the Ballet Arkansas Summer Intensive. Leslie is also the director for the Pre-professional ballet program at Shuffles and Ballet II.

Lauren McCarty Horak
 

Lauren McCarty Horak, a native Arkansan, is very excited to be in her seventh season with Ballet Arkansas. Lauren received her early dance training at Shuffles and Ballet II, where she currently teaches, and graduated with honors from Butler University in 2006 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Dance Performance. Lauren has performed with Chicago’s Theatre at the Center in their production of CATS (Victoria), as well as with Arkansas Repertory Theatre in their production of Hello Dolly! She has also performed in Sawnee Ballet Theatre’s (Atlanta, GA) production of Les Sylphides. During her time with Ballet Arkansas, Lauren has danced the roles of Clara, the Snow Queen, the Spanish and Mirliton lead, and the Doll in The Nutcracker as well as Kitri in the Don Quixote pas de deux. She has also performed in Michael Bearden’s Simpatico and Raymonda, Kiyon Gaines’ Bolero, Gerald Arpino’s Birthday Variations, Tomm Rudd’s Mobile, as well as other works by Shayla Bott, Melody Mennite, Arleen Sugano, Ron de Jesus, Peter Zweifel, Kiesha Lalama-White and Hilary Wolfley. Lauren also had the opportunity to perform Darrell Grand Moultrie’s Moultrie’s Spring, in the Spring to Dance Festival in Saint Louis, Missouri in May of 2014.

Toby Lewellen
 

Toby Lewellen is in his fifth season with Ballet Arkansas. There he has performed in lead roles in George Balanchine‘s Who Cares?, Val Caniparoli’s Lady of the Camellias Pas de Deux, Rerouting by Greg Sample, Simpatico by Michael Bearden, Bolero by Kiyon Gaines, Mobile by Tom Ruud, and Instantly Interruptable by Shayla Bott as well as many lead roles in The Nutcracker. He has performed with Ballet Arkansas at the St. Louis Spring to Dance Festival and Chop Shop Contemporary Dance Festival in Seattle, WA. Recently he has spent his summers on staff at the Rock School for Dance Education in Philadelphia as well as teaching at Ballet Arkansas Summer Intensives. Toby is originally from Peoria, Illinois where he began his serious dance training at the Peoria Ballet under the direction of Erich Yetter. He attended summer intensives on scholarship at Milwaukee Ballet, The Rock School, and Miami City Ballet. Toby attended Butler University as a dance major. There he performed in Anthony Tudor’s Dark Elegies, as the Nutcracker Prince in The Nutcracker, as the Lead Mazurka male in Swan Lake, as well as lead roles in various faculty works at Butler University. Toby is also a Ballet and Jazz teacher at Shuffles and Ballet II in Little Rock.

Donna McCarty
Office, Costume Manager

Donna has loved dance all her life. She grew up dancing at the Little Rock Boys Club under the direction of Lou Ann Tisdale and continued teaching and then directing the dance program there while in college. At Shuffles, she has been involved in many areas of the school including teaching, costuming, receptionist, and production for the past 22 years. She has had the pleasure of costuming for Ballet Arkansas and the Arkansas Symphony. She has received the most pleasure from watching young dancers grow into disciplined and confident young adults.

Emily Nelson
 

Emily began her early ballet training with Rosanne DeVries in Grand Rapids, Michigan at the Grand Rapids Academy of Dance Arts. Upon moving to Mississippi at age ten, Emily studied with Sharon Long at the Tupelo Academy of Dance Arts. She continued her training with Mrs. Long and danced with the Tupelo Ballet Company from 1999-2006. Emily went on to dance in Oxford, Mississippi in 2006, with the Oxford Ballet School & Oxford Ballet Company. She performed with Oxford Ballet Company in performances such as The Nutcracker and Sleeping Beauty. During her four years at Ole Miss, Emily taught at the Oxford Ballet School. Through the University, Emily studied ballet/pointe under Jan VanDijkwel and Genevieve Fortner. Mrs. Nelson graduated in 2010 summa cum laude from The Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College with a B.A. in English. Between 2010 and 2013 Emily taught and danced at Mississippi Metropolitan Dance Academy, under the direction of Jennifer Beasley, in Madison, Mississippi. Emily is excited to open a new chapter in Little Rock with her husband Kurt.

Deede Phelps

Deede Phelps began her dance career at age 2 1/2 under the direction of Lou Ann Tisdale (her aunt) at Dorothy Donaldson’s Studio and the Little Rock Boys’ Club.  She has been teaching/choreographing in the Little Rock/North Little Rock area 25 years working predominately with adults (tap), and has experience working with small children (ballet and tap) and teens (Irish dancing).

For stage work, she has participated in the Ballet Arkansas’ Nutcracker, since 2009.  She is a former Farkleberry Follies 12 year veteran and has participated in The Gridiron in 2008, 2010, 2014 and will be excited to be a part of the 2016 100th anniversary of The Gridiron.  Deede has also been at the Jim Dailey Fitness Center for the past 8 years as an aerobic/body toning/weights instructor in their Seniorsize program.  

Traci Presley
 

Traci has been teaching in the Little Rock area for over 40 years. She began her dance career at the age of two in Pine Bluff at Dorothy Soto School of Dance and continued on to study in Memphis at Barbara Kohler School of Dance and in Little Rock at Little Rock School of Dance, Ballet Arkansas and UALR.  She has participated in workshops with Southern Association of Dance Masters, Southwest Regional Ballet, Dupree Dance Center and Debbie Reynolds Studios in Los Angeles. She has studied with such notable teachers as Gus Giordano, Joe Tremaine, and David Howard in summer workshops, and was a dancer with Ballet Arkansas and then director of the junior company. Traci has a BA in Theatre/Dance from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, and has, for the past 28 years, taught dance in the Little Rock School District; first at Mann Magnet Middle School and now at Parkview High School.  

Traci is licensed by the Arkansas Department of Education to teach dance and was part of the team of instructors who wrote the Fine Arts Frameworks for Dance for the Arkansas State Department of Education. Traci has three daughters Emma, Analise and Lily Grace who constantly inspire and motivate her.  Traci is an original staff member of Shuffles and Ballet II and so happy to see its continued growth and to be a part of such a remarkable studio.

Rico Sergent
 

Rico Sergent, an Arkansas native, started entertaining and dancing for family and friends at an early age and became known in school for his dancing in various talent shows. He furthered his skills by joining a highly competitive studio within his local area. He’s received ample recognition and won numerous awards as Best Entertainer. He has studied hip-hop, ballet, tap and jazz. In 2002, his solo acts as the King of Pop Michael Jackson landed him a lead role in the Miss Arkansas Beauty Pageant. Rico has attended many workshops such as Monsters of Hip Hop, having taken from some of the biggest names in the industry. After high school, he attended the University of Arkansas at Little Rock as a dance major to further his training in various styles such as ballet, Graham and modern. While attending UALR, he performed in the production Strange Fruit. Over the summer of 2011, he opened for the well known comedian Eddie Griffin. Every year since 2011, Rico has performed Thriller as Michael Jackson at Boo At The Zoo, alongside some of Shuffles & Ballet finest dancers. Rico has performed at the well known Arkansas Repertory Theater, where he starred in the production Gridiron. Starring in the non profit event, Carti Festival Show, Rico performed as the lead dancer. Most recently, Rico won Good Morning America’s Magic Mike XXL epic national dance contest. He’s also choreographed for the Toys for Tots non profit organization, which helps raises money for under privileged children around Christmas. Rico is currently the hip-hop choreographer in his hometown at Shuffles & Ballet II,Dance Dynamics, and Blackbird Academy. Still reaching new heights, Rico continues to broaden his dance career and remains steady with his true love for Hip Hop.

Paul Tillman
 

Native to Texas, Paul Tillman grew up in the Dallas area. At age 7, he began his training at Dallas Ballet Center. Later he became a member of the pre-professional Dallas Ballet Company where he performed many full length ballets such as; Don Quixote, Coppelia, Sleeping Beauty, Raymonda, Le Corsaire and several others. He also performed original choreographer by Jason Fowler, Thom Clower, Reginald Harris, and Judy Klopfenstein. Tillman began training with Boston Ballet’s pre-professional program in 2008, where he had the opportunity to perform with Boston Ballet in Swan Lake, Romeo and Juliet, The Nutcracker and in Boston Ballet School’s Spring showcase performing; Balanchine’s Stars and Strips and Forsythe’s In the Middle Somewhat Elevated. Tillman joined Ballet Arkansas in 2009, and is going on his sixth season with the company. Paul has performed many classical works, such as; Gerald Arpino’s Birthday Variations, Swan Lake, and Le Corsaire. As well as original choreography by Darrell Grand Moultrie, Peter Zweifel, Melody Mennite, Kiyon Gaines and many others. Aside from performing, Tillman teaches in several studios in the central Arkansas area.

Hope Wenneker

Hope Wenneker, a Little Rock native, began her training at Shuffles and Ballet II.  She studied multiple dance forms throughout her time there.  Inspired by her teachers, including Karina Sturdevant Levy, she was encouraged to pursue Modern Dance Performance at the University of Oklahoma where she received her BFA in Dance in 2012.  During her college career, Hope had the opportunity to perform with Weitzenhoffer School of Musical Theatre and Contemporary Dance Oklahoma (CDO) under the direction of Austin Hartel and Derrick Minter.  She was honored to take the stage in A Chorus Line (Lois,) Voices From The Sea, and Battlefield choreographed by Robert Battle, her most memorable moment with CDO.  In 2010 her first dance composition was supported by the competitive UROP grant.  Upon graduation and after marrying her high school sweetheart, Hope returned to Arkansas and was thrilled to join the faculty at Shuffles and Ballet II.  Aiding in the artistic development of her students and sharing the passion she has for the art form brings her great joy.

Savannah Harrington

Savannah Harrington took her first dance class at the age of two, and has been dancing ever since. She began working as a dance instructor at age sixteen, and has trained in all styles of dance. At the age of eight, she began dancing competitively, acting in commercials, and performing in local theater productions. She spent the summer of 2011 in Los Angeles, CA training under industry professionals at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. She has also trained at dance workshops and conventions across the country. Savannah has been a company member of Untapped, the only professional tap company in the state of Arkansas, since it was founded in 2012, manages the company's nonprofit work in the community, and is the director of the Untapped Youth Ensemble. Savannah is also a co-founder and co-director of Little Rock Tap Festival, which is the only tap dance festival in the state of Arkansas, annually bringing in dancers and master teachers from all over the southeast and beyond. 

 

 

 

 

 
 
1521 Merril Dr.
Little Rock, AR 72211
Phone 501 223 9224
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