quality instruction. quality instructors.

Robert Underwood Our director stepped in to the studio established more than 30 years ago by Margo Marshall and Gilbert Rome and built upon its tradition as a program offering serious training based in classical ballet technique and took it to the next level.  Robert began his training with Roman Jasinski in Tulsa, Oklahoma and upon graduation went straight into the company of American Ballet Theatre dancing for Mikhail Baryshnikov.  A few years later while on tour with ABT, he met Mia Slavenska.  Ms. Slavenska was a world renowned ballerina and taught dance with a unique perspective and passion.  Robert took a year long leave of absence to train with Ms. Slavenska.  He attributes his longevity and success as a dancer to that training and shares those techniques with others.  This approach focuses on lifting and lengthening and supports all dancers to achieve their best and dance in a healthy way.  Robert went on to dance as a principal with ballet companies in Germany and Switzerland and toured the world.  He returned to the US to ABT and ended his professional dancing career with Boston Ballet.  He retired to Houston to be with his family and to work with Houston Ballet.  When Studio of Dance was seeking a new director, he stepped into that role in 2005. Shortly after, he founded Ballet Theatre Houston.  BTH is a pre-professional ballet company dedicated to developing a passion for dance in our community and producing annual performances of The Nutcracker and a Spring Show that includes restaged masterworks and world premiers.

Cece White 

Ms. Cece and her dance company, American Jazz Dance Company, have been part of the evolution of dance competitions over the past thirty years garnering national recognition.  Her dancers have gone on to professional dance careers in New York, L.A. and around the world. Cece brings her training, experience and love of dance to her jazz and tap classes.  AJDC offers competition and convention experience as well as access to top master instructors and choreographers.


Anton was born in St. Petersburg, Russia and admitted to the Vaganova Ballet Academy at the age of ten.  He was trained by Vladilen Semenov, famous Russian dancer and teacher known as a "Danseur Noble".  After graduating, Mr. Boytsov was invited to join Kirov Ballet (now Mariinsky Theatre).  During his years with the Kirov, Mr. Boytsov performed on many of the most important stages of the world.  He traveled to Europe, the US, Canada, Central and South America, Australia and throughout Asia.  He has danced for royal families and presidents of several countries.  He also worked as a coach with the Russian Olympic Skating team.  For the past two years, Mr. Boytsov has shared his professional skills and love for dance with many orphans of Russia. As Vice President of Open World Dance Foundation, he has helped orphans and other dancers discover their potential and find their way to a better future.  Mr. Boytsov is also certified in the ABT National Training Curriculum.

Scarlett banbury

Scarlett is a second generation dance instructor in the Houston area for over 20 years. She began her training at Banbury School of Dance and spent summers in New York City taking class at David Howard, Martha Graham, Alvin Ailey and “Steps” on Broadway. She has also studied with Houston Ballet’s Andrea Vodehnal. Scarlett has performed many times in the Houston International Festival, Dickens on the Strand and was selected for a part in Houston Grand Opera’s “Manon”. She coached Elite level gymnasts on the USA Junior & Women's Olympic Gymnastics Team. Scarlett is an ABT National Training Curriculum Certified Teacher Primary - Level 5. She is a member of the Texas Association of Teachers of Dancing and is certified to instruct Pilates by PhysicalMind Institute.


Ms. Cynthia joined our staff in 2012 bringing her experience and a passion for teaching the art of ballet.  She taught for a number of years while living in Spain and is certified in ABT National Curriculum through level 3. More to come.

Laurie Claypool

Ms. Laurie brings degrees in dance and educational design to provide the best in dance instruction for our youngest students. She leads our Discovery Dance program that incorporates basic ballet technique, creative movement, and elements of yoga to help get young dancers off to a great start while they have a great time. Dance helps active kids learn about self control and body awareness while it helps shy students to learn to enjoy being part of the group and the fun of performing in the year end recital.

Jennifer Hutchinson

Jennifer graduated Summa Cum Laude from University of Houston.  At graduation, she was the recipient of the honorary Dean's Award.  She also went to The Boston Conservatory of Music, New York University: Tisch School of the Arts, and graduated high school from Pinellas County Center for the Arts in St. Petersburg, Florida. She is an alumni of The Broadway Theatre Project (co-founded by Ann Rienking and Debra McWaters).  Jennifer has performed in television, film, as well as several productions in Florida and in the Boston and New York theatrical circuit.  She has studied under and/or worked under the likes of Luigi, Tommy Tune, Chet Walker, Jeff Calhoun, Frank Hatchett, Reginald Yates, Milton Myers, Mira Rostova, Anthony Abeson, Felicity Huffman, Scott Schwartz, Louis LaRusso II and others.  Jennifer has performed in an array of plays and musicals including well known and original works. 

quality outcomes: OUR STUDENTS AND ALUMNI

Over the 30 plus years of the studio, many dancers have gone on to pursue their passion in college and as professionals.  Noted professionals who trained at the Gilbert Rome Studio of Dance include Jared Matthews now at ABT and Janie Taylor, a principal at New York City Ballet.

Since Robert became director of the studio, he has been proud of all those who have graduated from the program. Many will continue dance outside of their primary career focus.  We have also had students admitted to collegiate and professional training programs.  Recently - Audrey LeBovidge, Kirov Academy; Sarah Mohalley, University of Utah; Stephanie Reid, Oklahoma City Univeristy.

The studio offers comprehensive, pre-professional training.  Robert encourages students to train throughout the year by participating during the school year and summer programs.  He has seen many students make enormous improvement while training with him from June through August.  He also encourages interested students to consider other opportunities to supplement their training including summer intensives and competitions.

In recent years, those considering pursuit of professional dance careers have auditioned and participated in national and international ballet training opportunities giving them exposure to other teachers and professional companies. Attendees have included a number of his students: Kelsey England, Ally Flinn, Audrey LeBovidge, Madelyn Mattfeld, Morgan Mattfeld, Victoria Mechler, Helena Oliver, Mia Pham, Claire Smith Maddy Stump, and Kim Turner at programs including American Ballet Theatre, Gelsey Kirkland Academy of Classical Ballet, Joffrey Ballet - New York, Kirov Academy of Ballet, Tulsa Ballet and Walnut Hill.  

In 2011, he and six students attended two weeks of training at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy in Moscow, Russia.  In 2012, Robert traveled to Sochi, Russia with Open World Dance Foundation to attend their inaugural summer intensive program.  Observing Professor Irina Trofimova, who was taught by Vaganova, was a highlight of his teaching career.  Three of our dancers attended the program held in St Petersburg, Russia in 2013.  The 2014 program will be Riga, Latvia - birthplace of Mikhail Baryshnikov. More information can be found at www.openworlddancefoundation.com.

For the last several years, Mr. Underwood coached dancers for participation at Youth America Grand Prix's regional competition.  The commitment and additional training that is required builds strong dancers. He has also had past coaching experience for International Ballet Competition (IBC) in Jackson, Mississippi. His students have also won ballet scholarships at dance competitions including JUMP and NUVO.

Cece White, director of American Jazz Dance Company, has worked with several students who have gone on to have professional dance careers including:

  • Nick Drago - Finalist in Bravo's Step It Up and Dance which led to many other opportunities to perform including TV spots on Glee, How I Met Your Mother and Scrubs. He has also been a dancer behind the animation on Alvin and the Chipmunks and Hop. He worked with Tremaine dance conventions and now is a principal at Flow 40 Workshops.
  • Alisa Paradowski -Specializing in tap and hip hop, Alisa has danced in the Superbowl and on cruise ships.  She has danced behind Aerosmith and Clay Walker and tapped with Freddie Prince Jr.  Her teaching credentials include Joffrey and Pace University in New York City.
  • Heidi Karel Erickson - Trained at New School, Artist in Residence of Ballet Theatre Houston from 2007 - 2012 and beginning her second year dancing with City Ballet of San Diego.
  • And More - Other notable alumni include Ariana Brown, Beri Brown, Brandi Magers George, Max Jones, Lindsey Martin, Misty Norris, Kate O'Connell, Jacob Pereira, Addie Tomlinson, Julianne Waters, Jade Whitmire and Jessica Wright.

All students who have graduated from the program, take their training and lessons learned with them.  Some go on to teach dance classes while in college and several have gone on to collegiate programs including current students - Stephanie Reid at Oklahoma City University and Emma Hunter at Sam Houston State.  Helena Oliver will be in the ballet program at Butler University in the fall and Alexis Rudd was accepted in the TCU dance program and is considering it along with other offers before making her final decision.

Special Events

  • Dance Insights

    "Passe is an action not a position." - Mr. Robert   Robert shares a wealth of information on a variety of topics, especially ballet.  In any class you take from him you are likely to get equal parts of history, pedagogy and current trends while training.  "Pedagogy" is the art and science of education.  So there you are, you just learned something by reading this blog post.

  • It's Never Too Late

    It’s never too late to join a dance class. For students interested in joining our Discovery and Pre-Professional Classes, we are working on recital. Because we focus on training versus competition or performance in our classes, we welcome students whether they participate in recital or not.

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