Barbara Ellis of the “Barbara Ellis Studio of Dance” lends more to the studio than just her name. She offers skilled, quality instruction and has personally shared her love of dance and of life with students for more than 50 years.
As the Director of one of the first dance studios in Colorado Springs, Barbara has had the opportunity to teach thousands of students ranging in age from 3 to 83 – that’s when you also include her philanthropic work in forming the dance company Generation Journey for those 55-years and older. Barbara’s hands-on attention, teaching style and leadership skills create a positive learning environment and a comfortable atmosphere for students and parents alike.
Through the years, Barbara has personally been honored with awards from the local arts community and her dancers have been honored with awards from various events and competitions. However, she believes her biggest honor of all is the relationship she shares with her students and the fact that they keep coming back. In some families, there are up to three generations of dancers being taught in the studio.
Barbara is also a breast cancer survivor (single mastectomy) and has undergone two full knee replacements… but nothing has slowed her or stopped her tapping feet! She is still dancing and still teaching after all these years. But even more than teaching dance steps and techniques she shares an outlook and an optimistic attitude about life that affects all who have the opportunity to be acquainted with her – either as a friend, a mentor, or a teacher.
Barbara holds a degree in Elementary Education from Idaho State College. Early on she taught school, but she soon refocused her teaching talents back to the subject she grew up doing and has always loved most… dance. The rest is history.
Barbara’s husband, Paul, is CFO and co-owner of the studio and together they have two grown children, Suzanne and Scott. They are also the proud grandparents of three grandsons and are doting caregivers to their dog, Tootsie, who loves to come to the studio.
Suzanne Dirscherl is the daughter of Barbara Ellis, so not only is dancing in her genes, but she was also destined to be a performer. Growing up in the studio beside her mom, Suzanne watched classes… then took classes… assisted with classes… and then started teaching classes before she was even out of high school. Suzanne believes her solid dance background combined with the undying support of her mom and dad is what has helped to shape her successful professional dance and teaching career for more than 20 years and counting…
Her dance abilities proved unique very early on when she was chosen to be a “Caravan Kid” with Hoctor’s Dance Caravan at the age of 15. She traveled the nation for an entire summer as an on-stage assistant to a revered staff of teachers. Following that, she also traveled nationally as an assistant to world renowned choreographer and teacher, Scott Benson.
After high school, Suzanne attended Oklahoma City University on a dance scholarship. This led her to explore professional dance opportunities at amusement parks, in on-stage productions, and in shows around the world. Stateside, she performed in shows such as 42nd Street, Anything Goes, Sweet Charity, Chicago and Pippin… just to name a few. Internationally, her dance career afforded her the opportunity to live abroad and perform in industrial shows in Japan, Korea, Canada, Australia and Aruba.
In 2001, Suzanne married Jason Dirscherl, the love of her life, and moved back to Colorado Springs. After living and working in Los Angeles for many years, coming home meant coming back to her first passion – teaching – and she joined her mom as a dance educator at the Barbara Ellis Studio of Dance.
Suzanne’s vibrant and charismatic personality draws dancers of all ages to her classes. As the Office Manager for the studio, she handles many of the logistics of running the business, but it’s in the classroom where she truly excels. While she teaches all ages and styles at the studio, her main focus is on Musical Theater, the adult program, and heading up the Junior and Pre-Junior Ensembles with Barbara.
Along with teaching, Suzanne is currently pursuing her new love of ballroom dancing. She trains and competes with her ballroom coach, Golden Parker, in her “spare” time. Suzanne hopes to continue to inspire young dancers for years to come. The true gift of her life, however, is being able to work beside her very best friend… her mom.
Mindy Ellis has been teaching at the Barbara Ellis Studio of Dance for 20 years. As co-director of the studio, she teaches all skill levels, ages, and styles, but focuses mainly on class instruction for rhythm tap, jazz and lyrical. Along with Barbara, Mindy also heads up the Senior Ensemble performance group.
Year after year Mindy’s choreography remains fresh and unique. She has developed an art for being able to stage and “move” her choreography, which adds visual flair to performances and also keeps her pieces flowing and dynamic for students. She has a friendly yet direct teaching style that resonates with students whether they’re toddlers or teenagers.
Mindy’s “dance career” started under the tutelage of Barbara Ellis at the age of five. Back then, however, she was Mindy Fledderman and could never have known that she would eventually marry Barbara’s son, Scott, and become part of the family… and part of the family business. But as fate would have it, she loved dancing and showed signs early on of being a great choreographer and teacher.
Mindy took classes at Barbara Ellis Studio of Dance up until she graduated from Rampart High School in Colorado Springs. She then attended Mesa State College where she was a dancer and choreography for the Repertory Company. While at Mesa State, she also taught dance through the continuing education department.
From there, Mindy moved to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida and danced professionally with Scott Evans Productions and DSI Productions based out of Miami. But her heart was in Colorado, so she returned home and reunited with Barbara and began her teaching career at the studio. Soon after, sparks flew with Scott and she officially became an “Ellis.”
Mindy loves her job and feels lucky to have so many wonderful students. Their dedication and talent is what continues to inspire Mindy daily in a career she truly loves.
Kedra Betts is literally a home-grown raised and trained dancer of the Barbara Ellis Studio of Dance. She started dancing at BESD at the age of three and continued her study of ballet, Pointe, jazz, tap and lyrical at the studio until she graduated from high school. During that time, she studied under many instructors including Barbara Ellis, Suzanne Ellis, Mindy Ellis, Scott Benson, Donna Mejia, Nancy Derby and Anna Weslin.
Kedra then continued her education at CU Boulder as a pre-law major and dance minor, which contributed not only to her dance training in jazz and tap but also included additional instruction in the styles of modern and funk dance. While at CU, Kedra also made the performance dance/cheer team, CU Express, for the 1994-95 school year. The squad performed at football and basketball games, social events, alumni events, and at other school events around the Boulder area. Kedra then transferred to CU Springs and took a short break from dancing to get married.
In 1997, Barbara was delighted to find Kedra back in Colorado Springs and she asked her to become part of the teaching staff at BESD… and she’s been a part-time dance educator at the studio ever since.
Even though Kedra can do it all, she has truly found her nitch in teaching the technique and art of ballet and Pointe. Students love Kedra’s classes because of her innovative and unique choreography which incorporates the traditional skills of ballet into fun, stylized pieces. Kedra truly enjoys working with her students and is happy to be a part of the BESD family.
Maria Vasquez Hoffmann was born and raised in Colorado Springs and started dancing at the Barbara Ellis Studio of Dance when she was just 3-years-old. All grown-up, she now teaches the 3 to 5 year-olds at the studio and enjoys every minute of it. She has a special way of relating to her students and creates a fun learning atmosphere that enables her to share her love and knowledge of dance with her classes.
It goes without saying that working with younger dancers is Maria’s forte. In 2008, she started her teaching career at another studio in town with class instruction in ballet, lyrical, tap, and hip-hop for 3 to 9 year-olds. In 2010, she also started teaching tap, jazz, and hip-hop at a sports club to students ages 3 to 7. That same year, she also joined the teaching staff at BESD
Maria is a graduate of Palmer High School in Colorado Springs and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education form Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma. While in college, Maria mainly focused on her education, but she was also on the school’s dance team for a year.
Having grown up in the studio, when Maria came home from college she also came back to BESD as a student – taking every class as if it were her first to continue to improve her dance skill. Along with teaching, she still continues take classes and considers herself a BESD lifer.
Maria’s husband, Kirk, is a big supporter of Maria’s love of dance and her “second” teaching job – her first job is teaching first graders at Scholars to Leaders Academy.
Kurtis Aragon was born and raised in Trinidad, CO and is currently the owner and artistic director of KINspire Pre-Professional Dance Studio. Although he took some rec classes for a brief period in high school, he began his formal training at the age of 18 and majored in dance at CU Boulder on a full-ride scholarship. During his college years, he trained and performed professionally with Centennial State Ballet (formerly Longmont Dance Theatre) under the direction of Kristen St. John. While there, he played the roles of “Arabian” and “Spanish” as well as “Snow King” understudy in the Nutcracker alongside Sasha and Stella Radetsky as well as “Cain” in Cain and Abel. Although he loves performing, his passion lies in continuing his training, educating youth and creating choreography. Kurtis has choreographed several award winning numbers and has many students who have received accolades and scholarships from multiple competitions. He recently opened up another studio in Pueblo and has been commissioned to teach workshops throughout the state. He is excited to be a part of the Barbara Ellis Studio of Dance family this Fall!
Tara Frawley is an experienced professional dancer with an extensive background in performance and instruction from around the world. She is the Contemporary instructor at the Barbara Ellis Studio of Dance and also teaches a technique class for Leaps and Turns as well beginning ballet and tap.
Tara started dancing at the age of three and later attended the Dryfoos School of the Arts where she studied dance and theater under the training of Scott Marow and Stacy Porchet. From there she danced professionally in Europe with several different companies.
Her international dance experience took her to Switzerland, Russia, Denmark, Sweden, and Spain. While studying in Switzerland, she was the featured dancer at The Art Festival. In Russia, she danced and trained with the Russian Ballet.
Tara then went on to earn a Bachelor of Arts in Dance and Theater from Palm Beach Atlantic University where she studied under Annie Preston and Kacy Wright, the principal ballerina of Ballet Florida. After graduating, while Tara was dancing with Ballet Florida, Demitrious Klein invited her to join the Klein Company, where she continued her dance career.
Some of her professional credits include her time as a backup dancer and choreographer for Weird Al Yankovic, Disney World Studios, Pleasure Island, Ragtops and numerous other entertainment companies. Tara also appeared in a documentary on the Lifetime Channel about the upcoming women of dance.
With her theater background, Tara has also starred in numerous commercials and has had guest roles in several sitcoms. As for the stage, her work includes A Chorus Line, My Fair Lady, As the World Turns, Cole Porter Presents, Agnes of God, Steel Magnolias, and End Game to name a few.
In addition, Tara has also modeled for companies such as Adidas, Postabon, Bravo, and Buffalo Boots.
Tara is originally from West Palm Best, Florida but is happy to now call Colorado Springs home with her husband and three young sons.
Amy Garcia is the artistic director and head choreographer of CREW, the competitive hip hop team at the Barbara Ellis Studio of Dance. In addition, she’s also established a Jr. CREW program for younger students at the studio who are looking to compete and be challenged.
Amy has been sharing her love for dance and movement with students of all ages for many years and her passion for her art can be felt in her classes. She’s been a part of the Barbara Ellis family since she was a junior in high school and her affluence and skill in the art of street dancing and pop-n-lock come naturally. The joy she finds in teaching others shows through in her infectious smile and positive attitude.
Some of Amy’s credits include being a featured choreographer at the Western Games Olympic Opening Ceremonies at the World Arena as well as choreographing industrial shows for Marlboro and NASCAR.
Along with a Bachelors degree in Management, Amy also holds a Masters degree in Business Administration from the University of Colorado and currently works as the Office Manager at Ken’s Beverage. While she is busy with her day job, she enjoys being able to teach dance at BESD as a second occupation. Her summer 2012 marriage to the love of her life, Kevin, has officially made her life complete.
Clint Folkerts started his dance career more than a decade ago at the Barbara Ellis Studio of Dance. After serving in the military, his dedication and discipline also served him well in becoming a proficient dancer and soon thereafter a teacher at the studio. In addition, his love of dance inspired him to also become an accredited ballroom teacher in the Colorado Springs area along with putting his skills to the test as a ballroom competitor.
As a role model for male dancers, Clint’s energy and positive attitude make him a perfect fit as the director of The Boys class at BESD. With a natural affluence to pop-n-lock choreography and styling, Clint is also the assistant Crew director for the studio’s competitive hip hop squad alongside Amy Garcia.
Clint not only teaches dance, but is also a well-rounded performer including being a member of the 82nd All American Chorus as well as choreographing for The New Life Church production of The Thorn in which he also played the role of an Angel.
On a regular basis you can also see Clint perform as the lead singer of the Colorado-based 90’s cover band Ghost Radio.