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 WhiteMs. 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.
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 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.
Ms. Cynthia joined our staff in 2012 bringing her experience and a passion for teaching the art of ballet. In February 2013, she will be attending ABT's National Curriculum training and will join Mr. Underwood as a certified instructor.
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. Several have continued to pursue dance studies including Stephanie Reid at Oklahoma City University and Sarah Mohalley at University of Utah's ballet program. Audrey LeBovidge is currently part of the Kirov Ballet Academy year-round program.
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 serious students ages 9 and up 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, Morgan Mattfeld, Victoria Mechler, Helena Oliver, 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. As a result, Robert Underwood works with Open World's founder Ekaterina Shchelkanova to offer the 2013 Summer Intensive opportunity to all qualified, interested students. The 2013 Summer Intensive will be held in St. Petersburg, Russia. More information can be found at www.openworlddancefoundation.com.
In 2012 and 2013, 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 dancers: Caelin Boarer, Audrey LeBovidge, and Maddie Otten.
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 current member of 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.