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!
I was born in Belgium, where at age 7, I started training at Belgian’s only professional ballet school; Royal Ballet School of Antwerp. At 12, I was accepted to the Kirov Academy of Ballet in D.C. on full scholarship. After three years at the Kirov, exclusively training Vaganova, I spent a year at the Rock School in Philadelphia on full scholarship. When I was 17 I moved to Miami to attend the Miami City Ballet School, where I was exposed to Balanchine’s technique and ballets. I had the opportunity to understudy with the company for Nutcracker, and Giselle, as well as Balanchine’s ballets: Square Dance, and Allegro Brilliante. I have been intensively trained in Classical ballet, but have been exposed to Jazz and modern as well. Over the years I was accepted to prestigious summer programs such as The Kirov Academy of Ballet, School of American Ballet, ABT NY, Miami City Ballet, Royal Ballet school, and École de Danse Classique de Monte Carlo (France).
In 2009, I danced the full lenghth swan lake ballet with The Royal Ballet of Flanders in Antwerp, Belgium as a company apprentice.
In 2010, I was offered a contract with Ballet Arkansas as a professional ballet company member, and danced with them for 4 seasons. Dancing soloist roles in numerous ballets choreographed just for Ballet Arkansas by world reknown choreographers. I’ve also performed both Sugar Plum, and snow queen in the annual Nutcracker, as well as the wedding pas de deux from Don Quixote, and the famous Black Swan Pas de deux.
After welcoming our first baby in 2014, I decided to retire from my professional career, and focus on teaching full time. I was the ballet program director for 7 years at Ms Karens Dance Studio in North Little Rock. Teaching technique, pointe, and repertoire classes.
I am so grateful to pass on the technique and knowledge, I was lucky enough to receive, to my students. It’s amazing to see students’ progress, both in technique and work ethic. You can see their passion for ballet and dance in general grow over time. That’s how I fell in love with teaching ballet!
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.
Kiley Pianalto began dancing at age three; training in tap, jazz, lyrical, hip-hop and ballet. She is a graduate from Rogers High School and went on to dance for the Arkansas Razorbacks. In 2011, she decided to continue her dance career and auditioned for the Miami Dolphins Cheerleaders. During her three years in Miami, she served as Captain and danced in several military tours including Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Kiley graduated college from Florida Atlantic University with a degree in Elementary Education and moved back to Northwest Arkansas. She has worked in the Springdale School District for 6 years as a kindergarten and 2nd grade teacher.
My name is Kiki Felton and I am from North Little Rock, Arkansas. I have been dancing for 16 years and competitively for 12 years. I was trained by Shelly Butcher at Fabulous Feet the Company. I was also the performance choreographer for the North Little Rock High school competitive cheer squad and show choir. Throughout my dancing career, I have won many consecutive national titles with my tap solos and group dances, along with many overall tap category and judges choice awards. I love attending dance conventions and taking classes from tap dancers such as Nicholas Van Young and Carson Murphy. Today, I am a junior at the University of Arkansas, majoring in kinesiology. I am a part of my sorority Kappa Kappa Gamma and I am also a member of the University of Arkansas Pre Physical Therapy club.
Addyson Wilgus is a member of the University of Arkansas Razorback Dance Team, where she is also obtaining a BS in Public Health to fulfill her goal of becoming a pediatric oncologist. Her dance training began at a young age in her hometown of Springfield, Missouri as a Company member of Ann’s Performing Arts Centre for over 10 years where she was trained in several genres including ballet, jazz, tap, lyrical, contemporary, and hip-hop. Other than her strong dance background, Addy was also a state-ranked gymnast and involved in the Miss America Organization for three years up until she was crowned 2nd Runner-Up at Miss Missouri’s Outstanding Teen in 2017. Addy is very excited to work the High Pointe dancers and help them gain confidence and strength in their technique!
Payton started dancing when she was 3 years old, and began dancing at Dance Dynamics at the age of 10. She danced competitively through Dance Dynamics and also on her high school Pom team Little Rock Christian Academy. Payton began choreographing in high school, and has continued to choreograph award winning dances for Dance Dynamics for the past 4 years, choreographed competitive dances for the LRCA Pom Squad, and has choreographed for the University of Arkansas Pom Squad. Her senior year of high school, Payton was one of the recipients of the 2017 THEA Foundation Scholarships. Payton is currently a Senior Kinesiology major at the University Of Arkansas and on the Razorback Pom Squad. Payton loves teaching and choreographing and can’t wait to work with High Pointe!
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.