Traci Greene- Owner/Artistic Director of Performance Team Program
Instructor Ballet, Jazz, Turns, Core and Contortion
Traci Greene has been studying, performing, and teaching dance all over the world for over twenty years. In 2010, she decided to combine her love for children and her knowledge, experience, and passion for dance by opening a dance studio in the city of Houston, The Houston Dance Lab. The Houston Dance Lab represents a “mixture” of various dance techniques, styles, and disciplines that Traci has discovered and grown to love in her journey as a professional dancer. Traci hopes that “The Lab” will be your home away from home where you or your child may grow, make new friendships, and dance like no one’s watching! Read more about Traci.
Halie Ayers– Intermediate and Advanced Contemporary Instructor
Halie is from Cincinnati, Ohio and has been dancing since the age of three. Growing up, she trained at SDA Studios in Liberty Township, Ohio. Halie recently graduated from Wright State University where she received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance. While attending Wright State University, she performed with Dayton Contemporary Dance’s Second Company for four years.
Halie is excited to be here in Houston and will be teaching our students contemporary dance this year, in addition to, dancing professionally with Ad Deum II Dance Company. Halie is incredibly thankful to God for all that He has done and will continue to do in her life. And we are happy to welcome Halie to our Lab family.
Jacel Dickson– Pre-Academy Instructor
Jacel Dickson is a native Houston with over 12 years of teaching experience. She began her gymnastics training in Houston at age 3 and began dancing at age 7. When Jacel’s family moved to the suburbs of St. Louis, she studied at the Center of Contemporary Arts (COCA) under the direction of Lee Nolting. There, she studied ballet, jazz, tap, modern, musical theatre and Dunham technique, until she joined her high school dance team.
When Jacel moved back to Houston to study dance and graphic design, she started teaching dance and drill team classes at a studio in Spring, TX, at the age of 19. In 2004, she choreographed Klein High’s School’s spring musical Beauty and the Beast, which won seven Tommy Tune Awards, including Best Musical.
In 2009, Jacel became Rainbow Kids certified yoga instructor and began teaching Christ-centered yoga to children and families through outreach programs, after school care programs and summer camps.
Now as a proud mother of three, Jacel uses her gifts of patience and kindness to help our youngest dancers learn the foundations of dance. She is especially passionate about pointed feet and keeping little bodies safe from injuries.
Afi Frank- Beg and Beg. Advanced Modern Instructor
Afi Kai Frank is a native of Philadelphia PA. Afi received her dance training from a local theater school in Philadelphia, The New Freedom Theatre. There she studied Ballet, Jazz, Modern and Tap dance. She later trained at Philadanco (The Philadelphia Dance Company), and trained with choreographers such as Milton Myers, Debra Chase and Hope Boykin.
After graduating from the Philadelphia High School for the Creative and Performing Arts, she attended Marymount Manhattan College in New York City, where she obtained a BA in Dance in 2001.
Afi had her heart set on performing once she graduated from college and in April of 2002 she landed her “dream” job in the Broadway musical “Aida”. She performed on Broadway for three years, meeting some very talented performers and had the honor of performing on stage with R&B recording artist Toni Braxton, Debra Cox and Michelle Williams of Destiny Child’s.
After her run-on Broadway Afi made the decision to move across country to Los Angeles and continue her dance career. There she linked up with her fellow cast mate, Toni Braxton and was selected as a dancer in her new music video. Afi was then selected as a dancer for Toni Braxton upcoming United States tour, that included live performances in over 20 states, television opportunities on “Live with Regis and Kelly’, the “Tom Joyner Show” and “Ellen” talk show.
The tour lasted 12 months and Afi was ready for new opportunities and new challenges. She decided to move forward with her education and completed her master’s degree in Business Administration. Her transition into the corporate world was challenging yet she was determined to succeed and let nothing get in her way.
Afi recently relocated to Houston Texas, after living in California for 12 years. Since leaving in Texas she has made the transition back to her “first love” dance; teaching at local dance schools, giving private dance lessons, judging dance competitions and even taking a few dance classes.
Afi is happy to be a part of the Houston Dance Lab family and is looking forward to this opportunity.
Caitlin Hoagland-Jazz/Hip Hop/Performance Team Choreographer
Caitlin, originally from Tulsa, Oklahoma, has been involved in the dance community for over 15 years. Caitlin started dancing on her middle school and high school dance teams, focusing on pom and hip hop. While still in high school, she began teaching middle school dance teams. After high school, Caitlin continued her dance education in advanced hip hop, jazz, contemporary, and ballet technique. Caitlin has taught at multiple middle schools, high schools, and studios in Tulsa and was also a dancer, choreographer, and co-director for the Tulsa Talons Arena Football cheerleaders for 4 years. Having recently moved to Houston, Caitlin is excited to become a part of the Houston dance community at Houston Dance Lab!
Donnie Johnson-Adv. Jazz Instructor
Donnie Johnson, is a Houston native who has been dancing since 2000. He received his BFA in dance from Lamar University and has been a member of Urban Souls Dance Company since 2007. He is experienced in all forms of dance. Donnie teaches Contemporary Modern and likes to allow the music to move the class.
Carmen Jones- Ballet Instructor
Carmen began studying dance at Johnston Middle School and was later accepted to The High School for Performing and Visual Arts where she studied with dance professionals from the Houston Ballet, Hope Stone Inc., Houston Metropolitan Dance, Joffrey Ballet, Paul Taylor Dance Company and many more.
After graduating from HSPVA, Carmen accepted a performing arts scholarship in Dance at Adelphi University in New York. There she obtained her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance and graduated with an internship at the Houston Ballet. Through mentorship from adorned prima ballerina, Lauren Anderson, Carmen moved back to New York City to train at Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. After completing her training at the Ailey School, Carmen returned to her hometown (Houston, Texas) where she now dances professionally with Urban Souls Dance Company. Carmen is excited to be joining our team of teaching professionals and will be teaching our students ballet this summer and fall. Welcome to The Lab Carmen!
Nick Muckleroy- Intermediate and Advanced Modern/ Performance Team Choreographer
Nick Muckleroy is a professional dancer and freelance choreographer from Houston, Texas. From an early age Nick was exposed to dance on television watching shows such as Star Search and The Great Performance Series on PBS which featured companies such as Alvin Ailey, The American Ballet Theatre and Frankfurt Ballet. Enthralled by the passion, emotional depth and captivating feats of physicality, Nick knew from then on that he wanted to dance. The opportunity presented itself his senior year of high school, he became a part of Alief Jazz Ballet Dance Company, an arts magnet program in his school district. Nick had been exposed to choreography and movement in hip-hop, jazz, contemporary, and ballet. After graduating from high school, he would attend Hope College majoring in Dance Performance Choreography.
At Hope he was further exposed to an array of styles such as contemporary, jazz, improvisation techniques, and post-modern styles. He participated in choreographic works that challenged him and served as humbling learning experiences and instilled within him a strong work ethic. In attendance, he also had the privilege to participate in master classes and performance opportunities with notable dance companies such as Luna Negra Dance Theatre, Complexions Contemporary Ballet, Rennie Harris’ Pure Movement, Lehrer Dance, Agua Dulce Dance Theatre and Deeply Rooted Dance Theatre. Nickolas soon became a member of dANCEpROjECt, a company known for its avante garde and diverse contemporary movement before leaving Michigan to return to Houston. Pursuing a professinal career, he would then go on to work and perform closely for notable and well known choreographers and participate in summer intensives such as Joffrey Jazz and Contemporary, Nikolais/Louis Dance Theatre, Pilobolus Dance Company, John Lehrer, TOKYO, and Sonya Tayeh.
Upon returning to Houston, he joined Urban Souls Dance Company under the artistic direction of Harrison Guy, dancing with the company for 3 years. Nick was featured on Season 10 and 11 of FOX’s So You Think You Can Dance where he advanced to Las Vegas semi-finals and received high regards from the judges both season. Currently, Nick can be seen as one of Houston’s most notable dancers, teaching and performing all over Houston; teaching workshops at various studios and choreographing full time. Nick is an artist who strongly believes in the passion that resonates from dance. As a teacher he is a proponent of self-discipline, hard work and dedication. He believes that dance should not only showcase physicality and technical prowess but it should also preserve identity, nurture growth and teach lessons in character.
Devon Sells- Choreography/Hip Hop/ Jazz/ Performance Team Choreographer
Devon comes to us with an extensive background in the competitive dance world. She began competing at the age of 10 and competed throughout college. She studied at the Dallas Black Dance Academy and was on scholarship for excellence for several years. As a teen she was selected to be a Junior Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader and was able to not only dance with America’s Sweethearts several games a year, but perform with artist such as Toby Keith, Leanne Rimes, Destiny’s Child, Kelly Clarkson, and Carrie Underwood. In High School she was a member of the Marcus Marquettes Drill Team and was Sr. Lieutenant her senior year. She attended LSU for college where she was a member of the 2010 UDA Hip Hop National Champions, the LSU Tiger Girls. She furthered her Hip Hop studies by attending Monsters Of Hip Hop where she received scholarships and was able to dance background for Drake during a Super Bowl party and Janelle Monae for a Texas Lotto Commercial. In 2013 she again had the chance to dance backup for Beyonce during her memorable Super Bowl performance in New Orleans. With years of training and coaching under her belt she is excited to bring her talents to the Houston Dance Lab and work with our kids.
Valerie Simmons-Tap Instructor/Performance Team Choreographer
Valerie Simmons began her dance training at age 6 and has studied ballet, tap, jazz, pointe modern, hip hop and ballroom. She has trained under instructors such as Frank Hatchett of Broadway Dance Center, Jo Rowan, and Gregory Hines as well as her mentor, the late legendary Al Gilbert, who she served as an assistant at various workshops during his later years. Valerie continues to teach his graded syllabus for the foundation of tap technique as a precursor to current, advanced rhythm tap style.
Valerie is an award winning choreographer and has choreographed national and international top award winning tap solos for “I Love Dance” competitions. In addition, she has received group tap choreography awards and her tap students have won numerous awards at regional and national levels. Valerie currently teaches tap master classes in the UK twice a year while she continues to train in ballet, tap, jazz and vocal performance at Danceworks, Pineapple Studio in London as well as DanceEast, under London’s West End performer Emma Dodd.
Valerie began her musical theatre training at age 8. She was one of 12 national scholarship recipients to the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in NYC. She has performed in several regional theatre shows and has choreographed many musical theatre productions throughout the South Texas region. She has also worked as a spokes model for Animal Planet, MTV, John Freida and Nickelodeon and continues today doing regional commercials.
Allison Wardwell- Ballet Instructor
A performer, educator, and innovator, Allison has been studying movement for over 20 years. A classically-trained ballet dancer, Allison received her B.F.A. in Dance from The University of Texas, and her M.A. in Dance Education with a concentration in ABT Ballet Pedagogy from New York University in collaboration with American Ballet Theatre. Along with her Masters degree, Allison earned a full certification in American Ballet Theatre’s National Training Curriculum, Primary through Level 7 and Partnering.
A Houston native, Allison grew up under the direction of Victoria Vittum in the Houston Repertoire Ballet. She studied all around the globe including programs at American Ballet Theatre, Washington Ballet, Orlando Ballet, Joffrey Ballet, Nashville Ballet, and Salzburg Ballet in Austria. Most recently, Allison spent 5 years in NYC training, teaching, and performing in dance, contortion, and the aerial arts. As a free-lance artist she was able to hone her skills as a teacher, choreographer, and performer. An experienced instructor, Allison combines a deep knowledge of the body with an extensive expertise in functional movement. She emphasizes not only efficiency of movement and brilliant technique, but also self-expression and artistic development.
Allison is the co-author and master trainer for the ElevatED Flexibility Teacher Training, which she teaches internationally. She also is the face and instructor for the mobile app, Stretch It. You can purchase her classes on amazon.com as well as upa.tv/stretchit-tv.
Allison is excited to be back in Texas permanently, starting a new chapter while sharing her knowledge and skills with The Houston Dance Lab!