Kari Ward Kolmetz (Owner, Senior Instructor and Executive Director)
Kari started DanceArt Academy in September 2011 with the intention of providing something different to the Front Range. She delights in each family that comes, and it is Kari’s intention to keep DanceArt Academy known as a place of encouragement, great passion and perfection in all that we do. As we are blessed with growth, it is her intention to personally know each and every family at DAA and strive to meet their needs. This building truly is her home away from home, and she will often be heard thanking people for coming as any good host would do.
Her professional credits include The Hanna Barbera Company, Firebird, Carmina Burana, A Midsummer Nights Dream, Peter and the Wolf, Oklahoma, The Wiz, Music Man, Cinderella, and The Nutcracker. She has danced with David Taylor Dance Theatre in Denver, San Diego Ballet, Hubbard Street Dance Theatre in Chicago, Illinois, The American Dance Machine, and Milton Myers in New York City. One of her favorite memories is working with VOP King, Frank Hatchett of Broadway Dance Center on a video series with MTV on the Lower West Side piers. She worked in New York City in several off Broadway houses, taught in the New York City public schools system after school ARTS program, as well as performed in multiple industrials and collaborative choreography showcases. Kari has worked with many known professional dancers, including, but not limited to Jazz great Gus Giordano, Broadway choreographers Robert Tucker, Nanette Charisse, Syd Charisse, Chita Rivera of West Side story fame, tap guru Judy Bassing and Contemporary Mandy Moore.
Kari obtained her Bachelor of Arts degree with Honors at Loretta Heights College in Denver. She studied with James Clouser, Polly Mötley and Milenko Banovich. She also received accolades for her choreography and giftedness for drawing the artist out of individuals. She is especially skilled in choreographing and producing full shows, incorporating dancing, singing and acting while lifting up the individual artists. (And always a bit of humor). In college, she formed a performance company that toured Colorado during the summer months.
Kari began dancing at age 3 with Art Link Letter School of Dance in Denver, Colorado. She moved to Rapid City, South Dakota at the age of 6, and began her training in the Cecchetti method with Kay Schneider at the Academy of Dance. At home in the studio, Kari fell in love with all types of dance and by the age of 10, was en pointe performing with the Rapid City Symphony, Black Hills Dance Theatre and the Dahl Fine Arts Center. Her favorite role as a child was the Christmas Doll in the Nutcracker.
Kari began to travel at the age of 13 and studied with Ballet West where she worked with Tauna Hunter, Bruce Marks, and Willem F. Christensen, in Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake and Coppelia. She was offered scholarships to study nationwide, including the Joffrey Ballet in New York City. At the age of 19, she joined the International Community Outreach program of Up With People and travelled worldwide – including a time of outreach and performance in the Peoples Republic of China and the arts universities there.
Upon completion of a fruitful professional career, Kari moved to Atlanta, Georgia to attend graduate school. While there, she completed her M.Div. from Columbia Theological Seminary and began her Master of Arts in Theology degree. Kari taught and choreographed for FCS Urban Ministries with Moving in the Spirit, an inner city youth outreach in the performing arts areas. She was recognized by former President Jimmy Carter for her efforts with Atlanta’s at risk youth. Kari’s teaching career began back in Rapid City while still a student where she studied the Chechetti method. She studies annually with master teachers in NYC to keep her teaching skills current and passion for learning ignited. She has a passion to teach young dancers the entire scope of performance and production and has developed a strong Teaching Training Program here at DanceArt Academy.
Kari returned to her native Colorado in 1998. She served in ministry with children and families and incorporated her love of the arts in many ministry ventures. While establishing herself back in the dance world, Kari was a guest dancer, choreographer and dance teacher with many studios up and down the Front Range, including the well-known Ballet Society and the Colorado Youth Ballet. Kari is an expert at taking the intermediate/advanced dancer to a new level of perfection and has a gift for bringing out that inner star of the youngest beginner to the seasoned athlete. When not teaching classes, she enjoys giving private lessons to many ice dancers/skaters, as well as working with performance companies here at DanceArt Academy.
Since 2008, Kari has worked with many middle and high schools in musical productions with choreography and stage direction, choreographed and directed the aisle dancers in The Thorn production, taught multiple master classes around the country and opened her studios to many community organizations.
Kari resides in Gleneagle, Colorado with her 3 children. Her favorite hobbies include gardening, hiking and traveling. She travels regularly to study and keep up to date with trends and traditions in dance. In her words, “Out of all my accomplishments, the ones I am most proud of are my three children. They are the best and my favorites”.
Heidi Martinez Artistic Director, Senior Instructor, Encore Company Co Director
Heidi Martinez, a Colorado native, has been trained in ballet, jazz, contemporary, modern, hip-hop, and tap since the age of three. Training at studios in Colorado Springs, Heidi attended multiple competitions and conventions yearly. At the age of 17, Heidi moved to California where she continued her training in dance at Edge Performing Arts Center in Hollywood, Santa Monica College, Ventura County College, and San Diego State University. She has performed with Megill and Company as well as Relentless Dance Theatre. As a member of Relentless Dance Theatre, Heidi had the opportunity to perform multiple times at the Raw LA artists showcase in the semi-finals and finals. She also had the opportunity to dance in VA Streetz “Lose My Mind” music video. She has contributed choreography to competition and college level pieces. She received the Tane Memorial Scholarship for outstanding dancer, student and leader from her college in Ventura County. While studying dance at San Diego State University, Heidi danced with the University Dance Company where she worked with guest artists Emmanuel Gat and Sara Shelton Mann. During her studies at San Diego State, Heidi had the privilege of providing private dance lessons to the Dean of the Performing Arts and Science College.S he has volunteered with “Multi-Culture Dance Day” and ” High School Dance Day” sponsored by Dizzy Feet Foundation at Moorpark College. In 2014 she volunteered with A Step Beyond, a non-profit organization working on providing dance education to under privileged youth. In the Spring of 2015 her choreography was chosen to represent SDSU at the American College Dance Festival. She returns to Colorado having graduated Summa Cum Laude with her Bachelor in Fine Arts in Dance from San Diego State University. Heidi is the Artistic Director at DanceArt Academy and continues her education attending master classes and teaching master classes of her own.
Jasmine Williams- Encore Company Co-Director, Instructor
Jasmine Williams began her dance training at the June Landrith School of Ballet in 2005 and started teaching there at the age of sixteen. While teaching she continued her own dance education with June Landrith and attended numerous dance workshops and intensives including a summer intensive at Alonzo King Lines Ballet in San Francisco. In spring of 2011 Jasmine was honored to be awarded the Topeka Preforming Arts Center’s “Young Artist of the Year” for classical ballet. Jasmine was a company member of the Metropolitain Ballet of Topeka from 2005 until 2012 at its closure.
In the summer of 2012 Jasmine moved to California and began teaching at Kings Dance Center while attending College of the Sequoias for Psychology and dance. In 2013 Jasmine was asked to join Altered Modalities, a local central Valley contemporary dance company, directed by Martha Kelly-Fierro. She was an Altered Modalities company member from 2013-2015 while continuing to teach at Kings Dance Center and Momentum Dance Academy.
In the fall of 2015 Jasmine relocated to Colorado Springs where she now teaches at Fountain Arts Center.
Havilah Bellah, Instructor
I danced at Ballet Magnificat! based out of Jackson, MS, for 11 years. There I was mostly trained in Vaganova style ballet. I was a member of their first company of Magnificat! Youth Ballet. We performed all over the state and participated in internationally performed ballets. I had opportunities to teach as well- giving private lessons and hosting my own dance intensive. At 19, I interned with a professional company out of Dallas called Ingredients Dance Company where I had most of my broader training from hip-hop to modern. Ingredients traveled nationally with a convention called Dance Revolution. In the summer of 2014, I attended Iris’ Harvest School (a missionary training school) in Mozambique, Africa. There I taught ballet and helped choreograph dances for the students while also broadening my training in African style dances. In the fall of 2014, I moved to Colorado Springs, CO, to help jump-start a modern/contemporary company, Cielo.
Amy Schaub, Primary Program Instructor
Amy started dancing in her living room as a little girl and was soon choreographing shows for the neighborhood kids in her back yard. She began her ‘formal’ training at age 6 in her home state of Nebraska at The Tabor Dance Academy where she later served as an assistant instructor. In addition, she has many years of musical training in flute, piano, chorus and musicals which she also choreographed. She was fortunate to create routines for her grand champion Drill Team for their European tour. Amy received awards from Dance Educators of America, Stars of Tomorrow and Miss Nebraska National Teen-Ager; she has studied with several master teachers including Al Gilbert, Luigi, and Gus Giordano. As a Dance major at Arizona State University, she trained daily in Ballet, Tap, Jazz, Modern and Music Theory and enjoyed various performance opportunities.
Summers home from college were spent teaching at The Ballet School where she also served as recital coordinator, Camp Vega for girls in Maine welcomed her as a member of the dance staff for a summer where she taught all levels of Jazz, Tap and Aerobics daily culminating in an end of summer production. Additional training continued through Dance Caravan workshops.
Choosing to return to Nebraska to complete her education, she attended the University of Nebraska at Kearney and was a member of the Flag Corp and studied and taught at Excalibur Fitness and Central Nebraska School of Dance. She completed her education at Bellevue University and holds a BA in Sociology; her background also includes human resource, retail and travel management. She feels blessed to be a dance teacher – doing what she always wanted to “be when she grew up,” though her most favorite “job” is being Mom to her son and daughter.
Married for many years to her (now retired) Air Force husband she has lived in Tucson, AZ where she was involved in aerobics, Tai Chi and Ballroom dance. From there it was off to the Washington DC area where she took an adult tap class – it sparked the love for dance she had always held and soon she was teaching and performing for the Chris Collins Dance Studio in addition to working as Program Administrator for an Army Contractor. She also served as liturgical dance and youth musical choreographer at her church in Virginia.
Southern Illinois was next, teaching and performing with Adam’s School of Dance (ballet, hip hop, jazz, poms, tap) Broadway Center of Art (tap) and Midwest Dance Academy, here she gained valuable experience with the 3-7 year-old combo classes in addition to training with artistic director Todd Weeks. Life brought changes and a different focus for a time…… a new baby boy, a move to Colorado, two deployments, a new baby girl, and another move.
Two years in Miami, Florida followed where Amy was able to study with Meredith Dreyfuss at Dance Through The Ages. Her husband’s retirement from the military brought her back to Colorado in 2013. Her daughter danced with DanceArt Academy that year and the time seemed right to twirl back into teaching. Amy looks forward to sharing her love for dance while encouraging young dancers to reach for the stars!
Erin Benson – Director, Ballet Emmanuel, ballet company in residence 2014-2015
Over the past nine years Erin Dial has been the founder and director of Ballet Emmanuel –a professional, nationally touring, Christian ballet company. Through BE Erin had the opportunity to create original ballets, perform at numerous locations across the United States, as well as teach dance at studios, universities, churches and art centers. Erin received her dance training in Colorado Springs and later joined Ballet Magnificat’s Trainee company in Jackson, Mississippi. She also danced with Hosanna Sacred Arts, a professional company based in Birmingham, Alabama. Erin is passionate about passing on the joy of dance and excellence in technique to the next generation of dancers!
Alex Ader- Instructor
Alex Ader began dancing at the age of the three at Peak Academy of Dance in the mountains of Conifer Colorado. There she studied ballet, tap, jazz, poms and choreography. She continued to study at Peak Academy of Dance until she graduated high school. Meanwhile, she also periodically studied at Shelly True Dance Academy, Ascot Ballet, and Makhateli Ballet studying ballet, jazz and lyrical. After graduating high school she continued her training at Colorado State University. As a dance major at CSU she studied with some of the amazing faculty, including Carol Roderick, Chung-fu Chang, Jane Slusarski-Haris, Judy Bejarano, and Sayaka Ruggles. While at CSU she has been given the opportunity take master classes and guest teacher classes from Shin Yu Kao, Kun Chien, Pilobolus, Ailley II, and many more. She has performed original choreographic works by Jane Slusarski-Harris, Judy Bejarano, Kun Chien, Wascko. Alex has also choreographed many of her own works her at CSU. Two of her works were chosen by CSU dance faculty to be performed in the CSU faculty concerts. Outside of CSU , she taught ballet and tap at Canyon Concert Ballet and helped supervise a 4H dance team for 2 years. She now works at the Fountain Arts Center. Alex loves teaching dance and watching her students develop as dancers, people and artists.
Lindsay Illsley- Artist in Residence (Art and Drama classes)
Lindsay has over 25 years of experience working with children of all ages from infants to high school students. She is the owner and creative director at A Piece of Work Designs, an art class, after school program, and camp and party company. She is also a Children’s Specialist for the Pikes Peak Library District. She graduated from Boston University with a B.A. in Literature, Classical Studies, and Theater Arts. As a licensed guest teacher by the Colorado Dept. of Education, Lindsay will be teaching our new art and drama classes for children.