Carla grew up in a home with a Radio City Music Hall Rockette turned Ballet studio owner mom and an opera singing, symphony playing, airline pilot dad so her love of performing started as far back as she can remember. Now Carla brings 30+ years teaching experience and 40+ years study as well as an extensive background in dance, theater, vocal performance, choreography, acting and instruction to Dance Fusion NW.
Carla trained in the Vancouver/Portland area, New York and LA doing study & workshops with instructors including: Ann Reinking, JoJo Smith, Frank Hatchett, Luigi, Andre Paradis and Ray Hesselink. She worked as a dancer/vocalist for Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines and spent years performing in numerous Musical Theater productions with roles including: Ulla in ‘The Producers’; Celeste Romano in Portland’s long-running production of ‘Tony & Tina’s Wedding’; Diana, Sheila and dream-role Cassie in several productions of ‘A Chorus Line’; Sister Mary Amnesia in ‘Nunsense’, Rizzo in ‘Grease’, Sonia in ‘They’re Playin Our Song’, Nancy in ‘Oliver’ and Laurie in ‘Oklahoma’. In Los Angeles she was honored to perform in Long Beach Civic Light Opera’s productions of ‘Cinderella’ and then ‘Follies’ alongside the legendary Juliet Prowse.
In more recent years as a singer/songwriter with her original band, Colorfield, she has shared stages with Ian Anderson (Jethro Tull), Animotion, Rob Hotchkiss (Train), Glen Phillips (Toad the Wet Sprocket) & Gin Blossoms, to name a few. She recorded the song ‘This Time’ with Frankie Valli for the Eternity movie soundtrack and spent years with several show bands including Portland favorite ‘5 Guys Named Moe’. Theatrical choreography credits include: The Producers, Anything Goes, How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, and Guys & Dolls in addition to choreographing for numerous showcases & studio performances.Acting & commercial work includes: Oregon Forestry Service, On Point, Bissell, Intel, Sunbeam, Con Air, Oster, WebMD, Parr Lumber, AT&T, Xerox & Nike.
Carla is honored to own Dance Fusion NW and work with such world-class instructors and wonderful dance families.
Tony is one of Dance Fusion’s most beloved instructors and a reluctant writer of bios!
A sought after instructor and choreographer, Tony’s extensive professional dance/theatre background is long and varied.
With numerous local and regional theatrical productions under his belt, Tony found success in NYC in both the Broadway cast and national touring company of ‘42nd Street’. He was also featured in performances at NY City Opera, NY Theatre Ballet and Carnegie Hall. Additionally he has been seen in productions on cruise lines, at Do Jump Theater and a variety of shows across the country.
During the day Tony serves as head of the technical department at Reed College and is happy to repair your computer for a small fee! Tony and his wife, Tia, recently welcomed their future star, Roxy, and he is loving his new role as daddy.
If you’re able to take a class with Tony, you should. He’s absolutely amazing and a ton of fun! (Tony – if you don’t like this bio, you have to write your own next time! xoxox)
Rachel Närhi began her dance training and career in Seattle where she received a BFA in Dance from Cornish College of the Arts. With almost 20 years’ experience teaching ballet, creative dance, arts integration, and dance education to children and adults, she has had the privilege of teaching at Pacific Northwest Ballet School, Western Washington University and many notable institutions throughout the Northwest. In 2012 she relocated to Portland, OR where she currently is the Ballet Program Director at Dance Fusion Northwest and a teaching artist with Oregon Ballet Theatre and Young Audiences of Oregon and SW Washington. From 2007, Ms. Närhi founded Open Flame Dance Theater, a contemporary dance company that melded ballet, modern dance, and fire performance. Her works have been commissioned by The Seattle Opera, The Burning Man Festival, The Seattle Solstice Fire Festival, and performed throughout Western North America.
Ikolo Griffin was born and raised in San Francisco, California. He received his first ballet training as a scholarship student with San Francisco Ballet School’s outreach program. He is the first and only outreach student to graduate the school and continue into the San Francisco Ballet company. After seven years with SFB, Ikolo joined Dance Theatre of Harlem as a soloist and was later promoted to principal. He danced principal roles for two seasons at the Joffrey Ballet before returning home to San Francisco as a member of Smuin Ballet. Currently, Ikolo works as a resident corps dancer for the San Francisco Opera and freelances for Oakland Ballet, as well as companies and schools around the world.
Ikolo has danced leading roles in Fancy Free, Agon, Stars and Stripes, Prodigal Son, and St. Louis Woman and has created many world premieres with choreographers such as Val Caniparoil, James Kudelka, Stanton Welch, Christopher Wheeldon, and Mark Morris. Mr. Griffin has also danced in works choreographed by Helgi Tomasson, Lew Christensen, Paul Taylor, Lar Lubovitch, Anges deMille, Arthur Mitchell, Lila York, and Antony Tudor.
Throughout his career as a dancer, Ikolo always made time to participate in outreach programs. One of his missions in outreach is to generate awareness for people of mixed heritage like himself. He and his business partner Nathalie-Andree Muzac created Living Bridges, a mixed heritage awareness organization built on promoting diversity and understanding through lectures, classes, and performances.
As a seasoned artist, Ikolo is now transitioning into his role as teacher, coach, and mentor. His philosophy emphasizes a positive, healthy artistic environment and a fresh approach to classicism. Ikolo’s unique teaching style and talents as a dancer led him to create the Just Turns Workshop, a curriculum specially designed to target and improve turning technique. The workshop can be tailored to dancers of all levels and styles, from individuals to schools, summer programs, and professional settings.
Dancing since age 4, Katherine studied Ballet at Schell Dance Studio, the Academy of Ballet Arts and Washington State Ballet. She performed in numerous productions with Vancouver Dance Theatre including The Nutcracker (playing roles such as Toy, Clara, and Little Bo Peep), Swan Lake, Coppelia and Giselle where she danced in the Corps de Ballet. At 7 Katherine added tap and jazz under the instruction of Carla Kendall-Bray at the Academy of Ballet Arts. Katherine was an original member of the first jazz and tap performance group and remained a dedicated student when Carla opened Dance Fusion NW 2005!
Katherine fell instantly in love with teaching and sharing her passion and love of dance with her students. Styles include Lyrical, Jazz, Tap, and Sing Dance Act, as well as choreography for several DFNW performance groups. Additionally she has instructed for numerous workshops, camps and programs in the community.
As a performer, Katherine is a Principal Dancer with the Fuse Dance Force non-profit, pre-professional company. She was a featured Guest Artist for DarVejon Jones Artistic Residency at Zoomtopia in 2014 and is involved in musical theater and film. At Clark College she served as dance captain for “The Producers” and “Rent”. As an extra on the TV show “Grimm” she was a featured dancer and she recently starred alongside her husband in a locally produced zombie film!
In fact, it was thanks to her participation in Clark College’s “The Sound of Music” in 2009 that she met her husband, Bruce! Currently, she and Bruce are building a small film company, Brat Films, and raising their two gorgeous kids, Noelle (DFNW student) and Reuben (future dancer!).
Dar Vejon Jones was born and raised in Southern California. He was enrolled in his first tap dance class at 8 years old to combat the health issues of his early childhood. He was privileged to study under renowned artists Paul and Arlene Kennedy of Universal Dance Designs and was asked to join their pre-professional company. During his high school years he performed for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Rowell Foster Children’s Positive Plan, numerous LA Tap Fesitvals, The Nate Holden Theater and The Dorothy Chandler Pavilion [televised].
Dar Vejon holds a Bachelors of Arts in Dance Performance and Choreography with a Minor Degree in Japanese Language from San Francisco State University. He received numerous scholarships allowing him to study at Alonzo King LINES Ballet in Contemporary Ballet, Horton Technique and Contemporary Dance. Through the National Endowment of the Arts he performed works by Brenda Way, KT Nelson, Mark Foehringer and Kimi Okada. He has also studied with and performed works by Ray Tadio of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, Wendy Diamond and Kat Worthington, to name a few.
In 2011 Dar Vejon founded his company Sharp & Flat, an experimental Contemporary Jazz dance company in San Francisco performing at the Black Choreographers’ Fesitval and PUSH Benefit Concert. His masterwork “Atonal Aves” was commissioned by San Francisco State University to be set on the University Dance Theatre; the first time in the history of the university a student was hired as a Commissioned Guest Artist. Concurrently he was commissioned by the Theatre department to choreograph Spring Awakening.
Dar Vejon looks forward to his new life here in the Portland metropolitan area with his wife and is a firm believer that dance is a language; and like every language, clear communication is key.
Andre has been dancing, teaching and choreographing for the past 20 years, and has performed for many years in and outside the Portland area. He’s a former Trail Blazer Hip-Hop Dancer and participated in the hit TV show “So You Think You Can Dance” in 2006. Andre designed and directed his own dance company “Liquid Moves Entertainment”. Liquid Moves performed for a wide variety of audiences and tailored the performances to meet the customer needs. In addition, Andre has choreographed for the Miss Black Oregon Pageant and the Debutante Ball.
“Dancing is my passion and my life. I prefer to teach my students the art of dance by expressing Hip-Hop movement through the rhythm, feeling and words of the music within a choreographed format.” Andre has created incredible pieces for the Dance Fusion students & performance teams and brings his passion and innovative vision to every class he teaches and piece of work he creates.
Alicia Cutaia earned her BFA with honors from Point Park University with a double major in Classical Ballet and Jazz. Her previous training included scholarships at Hubbard Street Dance, North Carolina Dance Theater and River North Dance Company.
She has worked with and performed pieces by many renowned choreographers, including Lauren Edson, Jamey Hampton, Ron De Jesus, Gina Patterson, Lar Lubovitch, Louis Falco, Michael Foley, Keisha Lalama-White, Joel Hall, Lou Conte, Daniel Gwirtzman, Lynn Taylor-Corbett, Daniel Ezralow, Choo-San Goh, Alan Hineline, Harrison McEldowney, Kevin O’Day, Frances Patrelle, David Storey, Margo Sappington, Christian Holder and Bianca Sapetto.
Ms. Cutaia previously worked as Rehearsal Director, Costume Manager and Dancer with Eisenhower Dance, Dancer with Hubbard Street Dance and Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago. She also enjoys teaching and setting choreography nationally. Her choreography has been showcased at many choreographic festivals such as the Jazz Dance World Congress “Leo’s Choreography Competitive Event”, the “Maggie Allesee New Choreography Award”, “Michigan Youth Arts Festival”, “Dance Chicago”, Harvest Contemporary Dance Festival, Kaleidoscope Dance Festival, Midwest Rad Festival and the “NSAL Mid-Michigan Chapter.” Her work “Impact” was recently set on Eisenhower Dance and her choreography for competition studios has won many National awards.
Some of Ms. Cutaia’s teaching credits include the Lou Conte Dance Studio, Oakland University, American Ballet Theatre, Dance Theater of Harlem and the Eisenhower Center for Dance and a number of her students have been accepted on scholarship to many prestigious summer and college dance programs. Ms. Cutaia has recently relocated to Portland and is currently in her first season dancing with Bodyvox.
Texas born, Randy Andre’ Davis was raised in Germany and then Portland, Oregon. It was in Portland, Oregon that Randy began his dancing ‘career’ when he joined an experimental magnet program within the public school system. “Dancin’ Davis” hasn’t stopped!
Randy has been seen in numerous Broadway shows and National tours throughout his career. One of his favorites was the colorful Broadway revival of “Guys & Dolls” with Peter Gallagher, Faith Prince, and Nathan Lane where he featured in the Crapshooter Ballet. In “Cats,” Randy performed the challenging and beloved role of Mistoffelles; Noodler the Pirate in Cathy Rigby’s “Peter Pan.” Essential as Dance Captain, Randy assisted in the Broadway production of “All Shook Up.” When theater history was made by the opening of “Harlem Song” at the famed Apollo Theatre, Randy Davis’ name was among the select actors chosen to appear.
In addition to his skills as a dancer, singer and actor, Randy is known for his choreography work. He assisted in the restaging of the National Tour of “All Shook Up” and became the Children’s Director and Stager for the National Tour of “Whistle Down the Wind.” In Japan, Randy choreographed the “Japanese Musical Review” for one of Tokyo’s theaters. Across the country, Randy’s choreography has been in demand by numerous upscale dance studios for the restaging of “Guys & Dolls,” “All Shook Up,” as well as numerous other musicals.
On his first visit to the White House, Randy performed a tap solo at the request of the White House after having seen Randy’s performance in “Hot Mikado.” The second visit was a part of Black History Month celebrations. Randy and the cast of “Harlem Song” were invited to visit and perform in honor of the history of both the show’s content and the Apollo Theatre.
Brittany Walsh competed nationally and internationally in the sport of gymnastics for 12 years. During that time she helped to choreograph floor exercise routines for high school and national level gymnasts and design leotards for Snowflake Designs. After gymnastics, Brittany was not ready to be done moving and jumping around! Between 2005 and 2012, she performed and toured with Do Jump! Physical Theatre Company. Now, Brittany has run away with the circus and performs her solo hand balancing and contortion act for audiences across the globe—but she always makes sure to stay close enough to her Portland home to continue inspiring and encouraging young dancers as they develop their tumbling and acrobatic skills! See Brittany’s amazing work at http://youtu.be/Kr-Xc6nVSK8
After graduating from the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York City, William received his BFA in Theater Education from Western Washington University. Previous favorite roles include Puck in ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’, Dream Curly in ‘Oklahoma’ and Jack Sprat in the national tour of ‘Jack Sprat Low-Fat World Tour’. William is inspired by both theater featuring children and theater for children and aspires to make his living as a teacher and mentor.
Kai’s core training is in Hip Hop, but he has trained in many dance forms including: Tap, Contemporary, Ballet, Salsa, Merengue, Cha Cha, Argentine Tango, Foxtrot, Viennese Waltz, Swing and Rumba. He is constantly looking to expand his knowledge and love of dance in all areas and it is evident in his positive attitude, encouraging nature and huge heart for teaching.
Robyn has a heart for dance, especially ballet and contemporary. Starting in ballet at the age of 3, Robyn branched out into other styles of dance such as: jazz, lyrical, hip hop, modern, and contemporary. She has both performed in, and choreographed for, numerous recitals, competitions, and productions. At Western Oregon University, where she minored in dance, Robyn found a passion for movement exploration and teaching. She has taught for several years now and enjoys introducing a fresh perspective of dance to her students.
Willow is a DFNW graduate, performance group assistant and principal dancer in the Fuse Dance Force Dance Company. As the newest instructor for Dance Fusion, her objectives are “to work in an environment that cultivates creative growth and expression and contribute artistically, productively and positively to a professional work setting.” Willow has attended the Cornish Summer College Prep Dance Intensive for two summers, receiving a full scholarship the second year. She was named DFNW’s Studio Dancer of the Year for the Tremaine Dance Convention and was a Guest Artist for DarVejon Jones Artistic Residency at Zoomtopia in 2014. Her beautiful choreography has been seen in numerous Dance Fusion and Fuse Dance Force productions and her piece “Bohemian Rhapsody” took first place in the Young Choreographers Competition in 2014.
A well-rounded dancer, Willow is trained in Ballet, Modern, Contemporary, Partnering, Jazz, Horton Technique, Rhythm Tap, Hip Hop, Acrobatics, African and Martial Arts and she is a welcome addition to the Dance Fusion staff!
details coming soon…!
details coming soon…!
DFNW guest choreographers and instructors include: Maria Tucker, Ching Ching Wong, Jamal Story, Kemba Shannon, Aaron Wheeler-Kay, Lauren Edson, Bosco and Mary Hunt.