High Pointe Dance Staff
Arissa Sanders is the Director of High Pointe Performing Arts Studio. She started teaching as a sophomore in high school and gained a huge passion for working with dancers. Arissa is a graduate of Bentonville High School and has a degree in Exercise Science. She was Miss Arkansas Valley in 2008 and went on to compete for Miss Arkansas. Arissa was selected as a VIP for Dance Olympus and toured nationally with them working with amazing instructors including, Sarah Jo Fazio, Sam Fiorello, and Ian Klein. She was also selected for Junior and Senior dancer of the year throughout her competition years. Arissa had the pleasure of working with the great Ms. Peggie Wallis where she grew a love for ballet. Arissa went on to dance with the Tulsa Ballet Company and performed in their world premier of the newly choreographed, Nutcracker and in the North Carolina Dance Theatre version of Snow White, as the Blue Bird. She was then offered a spot and participated in their summer intensive. Arissa was a UDA (Universal Dance Association) Staff member and had the wonderful opportunity to work with multiple dance teams and amazing instructors from all over the country. Arissa has won numerous choreography awards and her students have won technique awards and top overall placements at competitions. She has choreographed for Bentonville and Rogers dance teams and is currently the Lincoln Junior High Assistant Coach and choreographer. Arissa continues her dance education by attending multiple workshops over the summer and takes convention classes throughout the year.
Mrs.Rebecca is a ballet Instructor and choreographer with 20 years experience working with all ages of dancers to help them understand and appreciate the fine art of classical ballet while helping each dancer maximize their potential to be versatile and intelligent students and performers. She has a BFA in Ballet Performance with extensive experience in performing, teaching and choreographing. Mrs. Rebecca uses this experience to build a strong foundation of ballet through constant guidance, motivation and inspiration.
Originally from Little Rock, she performed numerous roles with Ballet Arkansas and attended numerous Regional Dance America workshops with the company. She has also performed professionally with Tulsa Ballet Theatre, Oklahoma Festival Ballet and Los Angeles Contemporary Ballet. She also performed as a dancer in commercials and film while living in Los Angeles.
In addition to performing, Mrs. Rebecca has been the Children’s Ballet Mistress for the Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker at The Walton Arts Center and looks forward to continuing with this organization when they return to Fayetteville. She was also the Ballet Director for Revolution Dance Center In LA. She helped implement and organize a structured, leveled ballet program for the studio’s 1,200 dancers. In addition to helping this program grow and thrive, she choreographed numerous pieces for their competitive dance groups and their ballet company, Revolution Ballet Theatre. Her students have gone on to perform professionally in tv and film and have also received scholarships to various dance programs such as School of American Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, Hubbard Street Dance, ABT, and many college and university dance programs. Most recently, Rebecca was the Ballet Director for The Movement Dance Studio where she worked with local dancers to train and prepare them for the stage and auditions by strengthening their technique and increasing their love of the art of ballet.
Mrs. Rebecca is very excited to work with the dancers at High Pointe and help them grow as technicians and performers!
Stacey Wilcox was born in Arkansas and raised in San Diego, California. Her ballet training began at the School of American Ballet. She was raised in a military family, and moved. Stacey then continued her ballet training under Ahita Ardalan, and Sylvia Palmer at Black Mountain Dance in San Diego, where she would become certified in Cecchetti. While training professionally in ballet, she danced on her varsity high school team, and branched out to perform in musicals such as “Guys and Dolls” and “Oklahoma.” She enjoyed performing in lead roles in The Nutcracker, Swan Lake, and The Magic Flute, to name a few.
She was accepted into San Francisco’s Ballet’s summer program, and spent a summer training at California State Summer School for the Arts where she further developed her love for Jazz, Ballroom, Modern and Musical Theater. Stacey’s ballet journey would lead her to being accepted into San Diego Ballet where she met the famous Sonia Arova, and her husband Thor Sutowski. Sonia Arova was Nureyev’s dance partner and had been made the Dame of Dance by King Olaf V of Norway. Thor Sutowski was a well known choreographer for Alabama Ballet. The couple chose Stacey and a few others to take under their wing. Stacey would follow Thor and Sonia and perform in his ballet and complete his dance program at UCSD. After a foot injury and surgery, Stacey could no longer perform on pointe. Fortunately, her love for dance was versatile, and was granted a scholarship at Academy of Performing Arts where she would further her training in Jazz and Martha Graham’s style of modern. Stacey would be hired by Theater Noir to dance in the musical, “The Whiz”, and played Iris Kelly in “Fame.” She also was a dancer in the small jazz dance company, Vitality. Stacey along with the other company members were hired to be in a commercial, dance at opening events and hired by AT&T to dance at Comic Con. Stacey then got certified in Pilates (300hr certification) and hired to teach Pilates in La Jolla, California. She also completed a yoga certification with Core Power Yoga (350hrs). Stacey was hired by APA to teach ballet and jazz, and hired by Danceology to direct their ballet program.
With a twist of fate, Stacey moved home to Arkansas for reasons pertaining to family. Now living in Arkansas, Stacey went to U of A to study history and social work. She jumped into the fitness scene. She became certified in Les Mills: Body Pump, Body Flow and Body Attack. Zumba, Beach Body’s: PiYo and completed Pavel’s Kettlebell training system. She taught yoga at U of A, and developed her own Barre class at Clubhaus Fitness, and was hired to manage the group fitness program there. She then became the ballet director for a competition studio, and years later decided to start a small program that focuses on technique and cross training for students that compete. Her love is teaching, and she combines her training in dance and fitness to help develop strong dancers.
McKenzi and her husband Brian live in Rogers where they raise their four kids (Joe 13, Claire 13, Ryan 6, Hannah 4). Brian is the head baseball coach at Rogers Heritage High and you can often find them at the ballpark!
Over the past 15 years of teaching, McKenzi has developed her own upbeat and energetic teaching style. Her goal is to instill her love of dance in all her students. McKenzi grew up in the dance studio, under the direction of Audra Lee and Amanda Craven. When she was in the fourth grade she had the opportunity to study under the legendary Gregory Hines. His belief in her made her realize dance is what she wanted to pursue.
McKenzi’s training includes tap, jazz, pom, musical theater, tumbling, and cheer. She specializes in tap and pom choreography. Her routines have won numerous awards at competitions, including multiple choreography and overall entertainment awards.
For the past 12 years, McKenzi has owned and directed The Pride of Arkansas Cheer and Dance Academy in Fayetteville, AR. Pride was regionally known for their showmanship and dominant tap program. She is looking forward to transitioning out of studio ownership and is excited to be able to share her love of dance with more students, specifically tap dance!
Chloe Barton was a competitive dancer for 15 years at Triplett and Propst in Farmington, MO. She has won multiple regional and national titles as a soloist and a group dancer. She competed on season 8 of America’s Got Talent as a part of Innovative Force where she was able to perform multiple times on the stage of Radio City Music Hall and made it to the top 12 of the competition. Chloe also traveled to conventions and received scholarships from ASH, The Pulse, JUMP, and 24seven, among others.
She continued her dance career into college where she was a member of the Ole Miss Rebelettes during the 2017-2018 season, and a member of the Razorback Pom Squad from 2019-2021.
Chloe is a recent graduate of the University of Arkansas Speech Pathology program and will be working in Rogers Public Schools this year. She enjoys working with children and making a positive impact on their lives whether it be through dance or speech and language.
My name is Reese Hughes and I am from Jonesboro, Arkansas. I’ve danced for 10 years competitively at Christie McNeil Dance Studio. I also danced, as well as choreographed, for the Valley View High-school dance team from seventh grade all the way to my senior year. I was awarded All State Dancer, All American Dancer, and was selected for the Allstar Dance team. Currently, I’m a sophomore at the University of Arkansas majoring in Speech Pathology and Communication Disorders. I am a member of the Arkansas Speech Language Hearing Association, the National Student Speech Language Association, as well as the sorority of Delta Delta Delta. My most recent achievements include choreographing and cleaning for Tri Delta’s performance in Sigma Chi’s Derby Days competition.
Kayla Woody began her dance career at age 2 at Fabulous Feet the Company in the North Little Rock area. Under the creative influence of Shelly & Matt Brekke, she has received the highest level of instruction. During her 16 year attendance at Fabulous Feet, Kayla danced competitively and was chosen for the Parade of Champions for 9 consecutive years. During this time she also performed in the Kidz Rock show at the Clay Cooper Theater in Branson for 4 summers.
Kayla is currently a Journalism major at Emerson College. Here she has led and choreographed for Emerson Urban Dance Theater. Kayla was the Tap Director of this company for 3 years, creating and performing shows every semester. Kayla has also previously worked as an Instructor at Fabulous Feet the Company, Brekke Dance Center, and Greenbrier Dance Academy. She is new to NWA and excited to see what it’s all about. Kayla’s main goal in the classroom is to share her knowledge with the upcoming talent of the next generation, and of course, have fun doing it!
Hannah Mucha grew up in The Woodlands, TX and started training in classical ballet when she was 6 years old. She was educated under the ABT National Training Curriculum syllabus, completing Level 5 – Level 8 exams with Highly Commended and Honors+ at Excelsior School of Ballet. She trained under Richard Bowman and traveled on three international tours as an apprentice with Ballet Excelsior of Houston throughout high school. She then attended Belhaven University in Jackson, MS where she studied Vagonova technique under instructors such as Laura Morton, Robert Wesner and former Royal Ballet principle, Ravenna Tucker-Wagnon. She performed various solo and ensemble works under faculty and guest artists such as former Doug Varone member Ryan Corriston and former Paul Taylor 2 and Bruce Wood Dance member Gabriel Speiller. In the summer of 2021, she also had the pleasure of working with 6 o’Clock Dance Theatre as a company apprentice. The Belhaven dance faculty awarded her both the Bezelel Award for Outstanding Artistic Achievement, and the Daniel Award for Outstanding Scholastic Achievement for the highest Cumulative GPA of the 2022 graduating dance majors. Hannah graduated from Belhaven in April of 2022 Summa Cum Laude with NHSDA Honors (National Honors Society For Dance Arts). Throughout college, Hannah taught a number of dance styles for dancers and non-dancers of all ages. She grew a great passion for teaching while working for organizations such as National Youth Theater, where she worked as both a choreographer and teacher. She is excited to join Northwest Arkansas Ballet Theatre for their 2022/2023 season as a company member and begin teaching the students of High Pointe!
Growing up the daughter of a dance teacher, Suzie Baxter is trained in ballet, jazz, tap, lyrical, clog, hip-hop and acrobatics. She furthered her dance education with the UALR Theatre and Dance Department under the direction of Kathleen Majewska, a former professional ballerina, Dot Callenen-Gravett, a professional dancer and choreographer, and the late Lorraine Cranford of Ballet Arkansas, where she majored in theater dance, health & human performance and psychology. Suzie is the former owner and Artistic Director of DanceArts Studio in Hot Springs, Arkansas for fifteen years. In January 2012, Suzie sold her studio in Hot Springs to relocate to NW Arkansas with her family. She opened a new studio, Harmony Youth Dance Center, in Rogers, AR in 2016.
Suzie is a current member and certified instructor in Ballet, Jazz, Tap and Acrobatics through the Southern Association of Dance Masters (SADM.org), where she currently serves as a board member and the Treasurer for the organization. She has been a member of the American Dance Guild, a former delegate of National Dance Week and is a certified Zumba instructor. She was the director and host studio for the children’s cast of the Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker in Little Rock for five years. She has served as a choreographer for the American Heart Association Sweethearts, the Hot Springs Pocket Theater, several Arkansas school dance teams and many community events. She has more than 30 dance and theatrical shows to her credit as producer/director. Suzie has judged for regional, state and national dance competitions such as Arkansas Drill/Dance Team Association, B2 Cheer & Dance, and JAMfest. She currently judges for Southern Spirit Federation Dance and Cheer Competitions. Many of her students have received numerous accolades and recognition, including college dance scholarships as well as regional and national overall titles and awards.
Suzie lives in Rogers with her husband Josh and 2 daughters, Ella and Leasie.
Sharing the love of dance with her students is a continuous blessing to Ms. Suzie.
Selected choreography credits include: Fiddler on the Roof, A Funny Thing Happened on the way to the Forum, full story dance productions of The Lion King, Prince of Egypt, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Little Mermaid, Bye Bye Birdie, her original work – “The Greatest Gift” – a nativity ballet, and over 25 annual dance revues and performances.
Peyton danced competitively under Arissa Sanders for 10 years, is a former Golden Tamer for Bentonville High School, and went through Cecchetti ballet testing with Beth Hickman. Peyton has assisted with choreography for Washington and Lincoln Junior High Schools. During her time competing for High Pointe, she was selected as a J.U.M.P VIP finalist, chosen as a Talent on Parade T.O.P Starz, won numerous overalls and judges’ choice awards for her solos and unique style, and was selected as an All-American Dancer.
Peyton is currently an Honors College Fellow at the University of Arkansas and double-majoring in Public Health and Human Development and Family Sciences. She has excellent leadership skills through her position as Director of Multimedia for the UARK Associated Student Government and her position as Philanthropy Coordinator for her sorority, Kappa Kappa Gamma.
Mary Jane McConnell
Mary Jane McConnell is a teaching assistant at High Pointe. She began dancing at the age of 3. Mary Jane travels as a member of the Tremaine Performance Program, under the direction of Mr. Joe Tremaine, and assists leading choreographers in the dance world including Meghan Sanett, Keri LaGrand, Emily Zachary Smith and Derrick Schrader. She won Jump Teen VIP 2017, StageOne Standout Teen Dance and scholarship, Tremaine Teen Scholarship 2016, Talent on Parade GoPro Scholarship and many other awards during her tenure competing. She tested for the Cecchetti Council of America and passed commended or highly commended for grades 1-3. The past two summers Mary Jane trained at Tulsa Ballet during their summer intensive and attended the Tremaine Summer Intensive in 2016. Recently Mary Jane made the cut for Juilliard’s 2017 summer intensive and was accepted into Tulsa Ballet’s summer intensive and Joffrey’s pre-professional program. Mary Jane’s performances include the Tremaine Closing Show, during the 2016-2017 Green Light Tour, Tulsa Ballet summer intensive showcase, Kids Rock Show in Branson, MO and other various recitals, competitions and demonstrations. Mary Jane is a member of the National Honor Society, Central United Methodist Church and the Southern Association of Dance Masters. Mary Jane was accepted into Ballet West in Utah for summer intensive training and will be taking classes this summer. She currently home schools to train and will be attending Fayetteville Virtual Academy beginning the fall of 2017.
Joshoua Vang was born in Omaha, Nebraska and moved to Arkansas at the age of 12. He started his passion of dance during high school with an emphasis on underground Hip Hop street styles such as Locking, Popping, House, and Waacking. Traveling around the south, he has battled in numerous underground hip hop all style battles. It was in 2012 at Kollaboration Tulsa, he was given the title of “Best Freestyle Dancer.”
He has also went on to perform and compete at local, regional, and national events and competitions where his choreography has won national titles. He has also performed as a dancer with Rich Homie Quan and Ginuwine.
After attending the University of Arkansas, he continues to pursue dance in the highest degree possible. Joshoua continues his dance education by attending multiple national conventions such as Tremaine, NUVO, World of Dance, Dancemakers Inc, Monsters of Hip Hop, and Reveal dance conventions and also attended the 2017 Build a Beast convention in Los Angeles. His dance training has also brought in world reknown dancers for master classes for the Northwest Arkansas area such as the Lor Brothers, a duo of the Kinjaz.