Faculty

The best faculty in the area, providing age-appropriate instruction in all areas. 

Patrice (“P.K.”) Van Voorhees

The Studio Performing Arts Center

Founder/Artistic Director 
(All levels of Ballet, Tap, Voice, Acting and Musical Theatre)

Patrice (“P.K.”) Van Voorhees received her B.F.A. in Music Theatre/Dance from the University of Michigan and headed to New York where she studied with theatre greats Fred Kareman (Sandy  Meisner’s protege), Elizabeth Howell for voice and Miguel Godreau from the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre for dance, among many others. She has appeared as an actress on Broadway, Off-Broadway in original shows at the Perry Street Theatre, The Nat Horne Theatre and the Carnegie Studio Theatre, in Touring Shows, Regional Theatres, Dinner Theatres, and Summer Stocks. She also appeared on MTV with Carly Simon (directed by actor Jeremy Irons). She has choreographed and directed in Los Angeles, in Regional Theatres throughout the country as well as locally for several high schools and the former Boarshead Musical Theatre Summer Conservatory. She has studied voice with Beverly Rinaldi, ballet with the late Valentina Pereyaslavec, and contemporary dance with Dennon and Saybre Rawles in Los Angeles, among many others. She teaches and coaches all levels of dancers, singers and actors, and is the Artistic Director of the East Lansing Dance and Theatre Company, and directs 3-5 productions each year.   She is the Co-Chairman of the Michigan Federation of Music Clubs Dance Award, has presented several times at the MFMC and the LMM on Musical Theatre, and is the daughter of Theda Assiff, founder of the now-retired Assiff Studio of Dance.

 

Theda Assiff

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Ballet Master Emeritus

Ms. Assiff founded the Assiff Studio of the Dance over 60 years ago after a busy career as a dancer and sought-after choreographer in New York, Miami and Hollywood. She has choreographed numerous shows for both professional theatres and community groups and adjudicated for The National Council of Dance Teachers. A longtime member of The American Society of Teachers of Dancing/Dance Teachers Club of Boston, the oldest Dance Educators organization in the country, as well as Dance Educators of America, Dance Masters of America, the Michigan Federation of Music Clubs and the Lansing Matinee Musicale, where she currently Chairs several dance scholarships including the Richardson Dance Award. She was inducted into the Lansing Dance Hall of Fame in 2015 for her collaboration with two other dance professions on forming the Lansing Ballet Company in 1967.  She is a recent recipient of MSU’s Distinguished Alumnae Award for her work in the arts, and a finalist for the Woman of The Year by the “Greater Lansing Women’s Magazine” recipient of many awards including the Crystal Apple Award from Michigan State University as an “Outstanding Educator” and the Crystal Apple Award for “Distinguished Community Service” from the City of East Lansing. In addition, the East Lansing Educational Foundation established the “Theda Assiff Distinguished Community Service Award” in 2001. Ms. Assiff is Ballet Master Emeritus for The Studio where she teaches advanced Master Classes and mentors Advanced students.  She choreographs for professional organizations nationally, regionally as well as at The Studio.

 

Samantha Barra

(Hip Hop, Adult Jazz, Sr Lyrical)

Sam is an accomplished dancer and teacher, having started at the young age of 3. She has performed with the Cincinnati Ballet’s Nutcracker, and is a current member of the MSU Dance Team. A recipient of dance scholarships for Rapture Dance Intensive and the Hollywood Connection, she excels in jazz, tap, lyrical, contemporary and hip hop. Early on she gained leadership experience as captain of her Varsity Dance Team at Henry Ford II High School and has choreographed numerous times to critical acclaim from venues such as elementary dance clinics and school dance teams to solos for regional competitions and collage concert performance pieces. A member of Shockwave, the official dance team of the Detroit Shock WNBA Team (sister team to Detroit Pistons, now defunct) for two summers, she is currently a secondary education major at MSU (switching from engineering to education after working with our students!) She loves working with children of all ages and is extremely excited to have the opportunity to share her passion of dance and teaching with others.

 

Emily Lance

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(Jazz I, Jazz II, Teen Junior Jazz and Senior Jazz)

Emily is a former member of The Dance Alliance Repertory Company of Saline, Michigan, where she spent the last ten years in their competitive company. She has studied extensively with professionals in the dance industry (Becca Sweitzer, Christian Vincent), as well as competed in various competitions/conventions and performed in The Nutcracker Ballet every December, most recently as The Snow Queen. She was a Captain for two years, (and a member for four) of the Saline High School Varsity Dance Team, where she helped choreograph numerous dances for a variety of levels. Emily is highly trained in Ballet, Pointe, Jazz, Tap, Kickline, Pom and Lyrical Dance.  She is currently studying Communications and American Sign Language at MSU, and is a member of the MSU Elite Competitive Dance Team. She is excited to be able to make a positive difference in her dancers’ lives, just as she feels her dance teachers have done with her!