Miss Melissa Maniaci- Dance Instructor
Miss Nicci is a native of Monroe, Michigan. She attended Monroe High School where she graduated with Suma Cum Laude Honors, was editor of the yearbook staff, a member of National Junior Honor Society, a Varsity Cheerleader, and Varsity Dance Team member. She attended Monroe County Community College on full academic scholarship where she earned her Associates of Science Degree with a focus in business. She went on to study dance at The University of Toledo, however when the dance program was eliminated from the University, she decided it was time to chase her dream of owning her own studio where she could have the amazing opportunity to pass on her love for dance. Miss Nicci is certainly no stranger to the dance industry. She began taking lessons in tap dancing at the young age of 2 and immediately fell in love with the art! Nicci studied a wide variety of dance subjects during her 18 years of studio training including tap, jazz, ballet, pointe, lyrical, modern, hawaiian, and tumbling. By the age of 14 she had found herself in the classroom as a student teacher and she knew she had found her calling. Over the last 20+ years Miss Nicci has continued teaching the youth of Monroe County and surrounding areas, taking great pride in the opportunity to mentor each and every one of her students. She created Viva Dance Co. in 2005 with the vision of providing quality dance lessons in a studio environment where every child feels important and accomplished. Her goal has always been to continue sharing her gift with the purpose of mentoring youth thru the art of dance. Miss Nicci continues to further her teaching skills by attending numerous regional and national conventions and workshops each season and also by hosting master classes with some of the industry's most sought out instructors and choreographers. She is also certified in Levels 1 and 2 of the Building Blocks of Dance Curriculum developed by Richard Elzy, CLI certified in pre-school dance instruction, and is currently taking the Level 1 course to become certified in mUvmethod Progressive Dance Conditioning. It is these opportunities that help her to make sure Viva is continuing to offer top notch training while ensuring all of our students are learning proper technique and body placement so they are training in the safest of environments. She enjoys seeing her students learn and grow both in dance and in life skills and truly believes that children can benefit so much from the immeasurable value of the amazing GIFT of DANCE.
Felicity is currently a full time college student at Eastern Michigan University, completing her final year of studies to obtain a Bachelor's Degree in Special Education and Language, Literature, and Writing. She has been a part of Viva Dance Co. since 2008, where she started her journey as a young student and continued taking classes through her senior year in high school. Her studies include tap, jazz, ballet, contemporary, lyrical, and tumbling. Felicity found a great love for tap during her time at Viva which led her to explore many other tap specific events such as Tap Into The Network, Motor City Tap Fest, and Detroit Tap Repertory where she learned to further her tap skills and also develop relationships with other teacher, choreographers, and performers within the dance community. As a student, Felicity spent several years in our Viva Classroom Assistant and Junior Instructor Program giving her all of the experience necessary to be the best teacher she can be! She is so excited to re-join the Viva Community and hopes to share her love for dance and continue to promote the amazing core values Viva provides each and every student.
Miss Kaedem Leal- Tumbling and Acro Instructor
Brandon Koepsell is a Detroit native and graduate of the Walnut Hill School in Natick, MA. After graduation, Brandon spent time performing with “Companie Coline" in Istre, France, Rapture Dance Project and Ron DeJesus Dance in Chicago. Brandon has been a guest performer and choreographer with several college programs including the University of Michigan, Eastern Michigan University, Oakland University, Alma College and Wayne State University. He has appeared with the Michigan Opera Theater in the productions of “ Aida" and "The Merry Widow". He was the choreographic assistant on the set of Disney’s “Oz, the Great and Powerful” and a credited dancer in “A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas”. In collaboration with Jaclyn Walsh, Brandon has presented work at the Boston Contemporary Dance Festival in 2015 and 2018 and at Green Box Arts Festival in Green Mountain Falls, CO in 2019 as part of Larry Keigwin’s “Dynamic Duets”. Brandon has served as a faculty member with the Chicago National Association of Dance Masters, the Southern Association of Dance Masters and as a faculty member in the Maggie Allesee Department of Theatre and Dance at Wayne State University in Detroit where he received his Bachelor’s degree. He is a current dancer with Take Root dance company and a company instructor for Eisenhower Dance Detroit. Since 2018, Brandon has also been teaching weekly Dance for Parkinson’s classes hosted at the Henry Ford Health Systems in Detroit and throughout the metro area to individuals living with Parkinson’s disease.
Miss Elise Hanson- Dance Instructor
Miss Nicci Blanke- Owner/Dance Instructor/Company Director
Meet Our Fabulous Faculty and Staff...
Miss Felicity Renn- Dance and Tumbling Instructor
Miss Jenna Webb- Dance Instructor
Elise Hanson graduated from Bowling Green State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Education with a Dance Major in 2008. While studying at BGSU, she was a two year member of the University Performing Dancers Program, where she studied and performed modern, tap, ballet, jazz, Balinese, and Korean dance. She has an extensive background as a competitive dancer with the former Dance Reach Studio in Columbus, Ohio, having received numerous titles and overall placements as a soloist and group dancer. Elise has performed in the American College Dance Festival at Western Michigan University and also had the privilege of being selected to dance in the gala performance at the OU Dance Festival. Elise has also performed with Tammy Metz Starr's Open Window Dance Company and has studied with world renowned instructors such as Buster Brown, Barbara Bufalino, Sarah Reich, Chloe Arnold, Gregg Russell, and many more. She has taught dance at Owens Community College and continues to follow her passion for teaching and choreographing dances for all ages and abilities. She loves making dance accessible, engaging, and fun for all of her students and looks forward to working with your young dancer this season.
Mr. Brandon Koepsell- Ballet and Dance Instructor
Melissa is a life long resident of Monroe County. She married the love of her life in 2000 and they have 3 wonderful children. Melissa began dancing at the age of 3 training in ballet, lyrical, jazz, with her focus being in hawaiian and tahitian. She danced competitively for 12 years and held numerous titles. One of her greatest accomplishments was holding the title of Miss Monroe County 1995 and was also awarded non-finalist talent winner at Miss Michigan 1996 with her tahitian routine. Melissa has coached several young ladies in talent and interview skills, 3 of which have gone on to win the title of Miss Monroe County. Melissa holds a Bachelors degree from the University of Toledo in Arts and Sciences with a focus in Child Psychology. She currently works as an administrative assistant at the St. Michael's Campus of Monroe Catholic Elementary Schools. Melissa most recently completed her certification for Pre-School Dance with CLI Studios and is so excited to implement all of the skills and concepts she learned with her youngest students. She loves teaching the art of dance and seeing her students working together and having fun in her classes at VDC!
Lynann Johnson and Shawn Satterfield
Alie Asher is a Detroit native and a graduate from Point Park University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She has a Bachelor of Fine Arts in dance with concentration in modern under the direction of Garfield Lemonius. During her studies, Alie trained under artists such as Slowdanger (Anna Thompson and Taylor Knight), Jason McDole and Judith Leifer-Bentz, as well as performed works by Kyle Abraham, Kate Skarpetowska and Martha Nichols. Alie has traveled internationally for multiple intensive workshops including the B12 festival Berlin, Vim Vigor’s summer workshop and the Rubberband Intensive at Domaine Forget De Charlevoix. Her additional performance experience includes repertoire and new creations by Sonya Tayeh, Liz Schmidt, Adam McGaw, Victor Quijada and Alan Lake. Alie currently dances with Take Root dance company in Rochester, Michigan under the direction of Ali Woerner.
Miss Alie Asher- Dance Instructor
More information about Miss Kaedem coming soon!
Isabella Varon, a Michigan native and recent graduate of Marymount Manhattan College in New York City, holds a BFA in dance with a concentration in ballet. She began her dance training at the age of 2 at Juliart Dance Studio in Troy, Michigan. Her training includes ballet, pointe, contemporary, modern, lyrical, jazz, and tap. Additionally during her training at Juliart, Isabella spent 9 years dancing at the competitive level obtaining numerous awards and scholarships. During her time spent studying at Marymount, she performed works by Kyle Abraham, Adam Barruch, Michael Thomas, Breton Tyner-Bryan, John Heginbotham, and Nancy Lushington. Isabella has spent summers training at Hubbard Street's Professional Intensive, American Ballet Theater, Complexions Contemporary Ballet, and SpringboardX. Currently Isabella resides in Michigan. Alongside teaching dance and freelancing, she is also an ArtLabJ Company Member and Guest Artist-In-Residence for Young Dancers Initiative. Miss Bella is very excited to have the opportunity to spread her love for ballet and dance with the students at Viva while she is back in her home state.
Miss Isabella "Bella" Varon- Dance Instructor/Company Assistant Director
Jenna was born and raised in Monroe and after 10 years in South Carolina and Georgia, she and her husband Josh, also a Monroe native, moved back to the area to raise their two young daughters close to family. Jenna has been dancing since the age of 3 training in all styles of dance. Ballet and Pointe have always been her favorite and where she dedicated most of her class time, training under her mother as her instructor, Miss Phyllis McCormick. Jenna is also a classically trained pianist and professional event planner. She has been a wonderful addition to VDC and hopes to inspire all of her students to find a love for ballet and dance just as she did.
COME DANCE AND TUMBLE WITH US AT VIVA!