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Meet The Faculty


P.K. Van Voorhees

Founder/Artistic Director

Ballet, Tap, Acting, Voice, Musical Theatre

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P.K. Van Voorhees


Artistic Director

Ballet all ages and levels, Tap, Acting, Voice, 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 (Meisner) for Acting, Elizabeth Howell (Broadway) for Voice and David Howard, Willy Burmann, Alexandra Danilova, Miguel Godreau, Frank Hatchett and Phil Black 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, is the Artistic Director of the East Lansing Dance and Theatre Company, and creates, writes and directs 3-5 productions and original shows each year for The Studio.   She is the Immediate Past President of Lansing Matinee Musicale, a 126 year old non-profit music outreach organization, current Co-Chairman of LMM's Richardson Young Artists Award for Musical Theatre, a past Co-Chair of the Michigan Federation of Music Clubs Dance Award, and has presented several times at the MFMC and the LMM on Musical Theatre. She is married with two lovely children and is the daughter of Theda Assiff, founder of the now-retired Assiff Studio of Dance.

Theda Assiff-MacGriff

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 is a Past President and 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 professionals for forming The Lansing Ballet Company /Children's Ballet Theatre 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 guest teaches advanced Master Classes and mentors Advanced students.  She has choreographed for professional organizations nationally and regionally, as well as at The Studio.

Elizabeth Williams

Adult Ballet Bootcamps, Pointe, Boys Ballet

Elizabeth Williams (“Miss Liz”), brings over forty years experience in both dance instruction and performance.  She had an excellent early start studying under our own indomitable Theda Assiff (Assiff Studio of Dance) in East Lansing.  Under Miss Assiff’s guidance, she attended master classes with the Stuttgart Ballet Company, George Zorich, Daniel Nagrin, Gus Giordano, Paul Taylor, and Alvin Ailey.  As a young dancer, she was a member of the Lansing Ballet Company, and received a Superior Achievement Award from the Cecchetti Council of America for her performance in a LBC production when they traveled to different cities.  She continued her dance studies at the Hartford Ballet School where she received her Teachers Certificate of Dance with an emphasis in Russian Ballet Technique and Martha Graham Modern Dance Technique.  In addition, she also studied with the Joffrey School of American Ballet, Dance Theater of Harlem, Phil Black and the Alvin Ailey Dance Center.  She has also taught dance for Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp, and was the Assistant to the Artistic Director at the Lansing Ballet Company under Stanley Godfrey.  During the early 1980’s she traveled to California to expand her teaching experiences at the California Ballet School in San Diego.  In the late 1980’s Elizabeth returned to her dance home with the Assiff Studio of Dance, and became Artistic Director of the Children’s Ballet Theatre, Young Michigan Dances, and other area dance organizations.

She was honored in 2002 for 30 years of contribution to the Young Michigan Dances in Coldwater Michigan, and received professional recognition for her involvement with the Children’s Ballet Theatre in Lansing Michigan in 2004. She owned and operated her own dance school in Williamston, Michigan for over 25 years, creating numerous ballets such as “Rodeo”, “Hansel and Gretel”, “The Little Princess” , “Camelot”, “Robin Hood” and “Beauty and the Beast”, among many others, as well as producing “The Nutcracker Ballet” every other December with her studio dance company. 

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Greg Ganakas

Guest Artist,

Acting Improv

Originally from East Lansing, Greg is an award-winning Director, Choreographer and Master Teacher whose work has included Broadway, Off-Broadway, National Tours, International Productions, Television and Corporate Entertainment packages. He has Directed and Choreographed at Radio City Music Hall, for Disney Live Entertainment, Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center and Madison Square Gardens.  His production of “Izzo Goes To Broadway” at the Wharton Center earned an Emmy Award In The Arts – Entertainment Category and helped raise thousands of dollars for the American Cancer Society’s “Coaches vs. Cancer” initiative. A committed educator, he served on the faculty of New York University, where he founded their nationally renowned Musical Theatre program.  His guidance and expertise helped make it one of the highest regarded programs for Music Theatre training in the country. Throughout his tenure he has always mentored young artists, many who have gone on the successful careers in the theatre and have made award-winning contributions to the performing arts.  Among his many projects, Greg has worked with such artists as Dame Julie Andrews, composer Marvin Hamlisch, playwright/screenwriter Douglas Carter Beane, actresses Patti Lupone, Sarah Hyland, Chita Rivera, Betty Buckley, Idina Menzel, Kristin Chenoweth and Sarah Jessica Parker, among many others.

Greg is an Arts Envoy for the United States Department of Cultural Affairs and feels fortunate to have the honor of traveling around the world directing projects on behalf of the United States. He looks forward to sharing his experiences with our Studio community!

Riley Thomas-Darling

Tap, Partnering, 

A former Trainee with full scholarship at Ballet Met, a professional Ballet Company in Columbus, Ohio, Riley trained under Dmitri Susluv and Maria Torija. A native of Howell, Michigan, Riley spent his formative years at the Elizabeth Williams School of Dance in Williamston, where he learned partnering, mastered advanced ballet and danced lead roles in Camelot and Robin Hood and the solo roles of Cavalier/Snow King in Nutcracker. He trained additionally under Scott Heinrich and Giusuppe Canale at the Oscoda Ballet Theatre. He was last seen as "The Handsome Prince" in the East Lansing Dance and Theatre Company's original production of The Witch, The Beauty and The Handsome Prince. He has performed as a guest artist for CBT’s annual Nutcracker and Don Quixote. He is highly trained in Ballet, Tap, Ballroom/Swing, and Theatrical Combat.

He has taught Ballet and Tap from Beginning to Advanced levels and co-teaches (with Elizabeth Williams) the Partnering (Pas De Deux) class for Advanced Dancers as well as the Boys Ballet and Lyrical Dance classes at The Studio.  Riley’s belief that “dance should be fun for everyone” powers his popular classes.

Sophie Parks

Adult Lyrical

Sophie is a Senior Arts Management Major and Dance Minor at MSU with an extensive dance background in lyrical and modern dance. She has extensive skills in dance, teaching, choreography and child development. She has been a company assistant at Elements Dance Company for 4 years, where she has also choreographed multiple pieces to critical acclaim. She has curated at Wellspring/Cori Terry Dancers in Kalamazoo as well as the Brighton Dance Festival, was a past instructor for the MSU gifted and talented program, as well as a "think tank" camp instructor for Impression 5 Museum, and is a current member of the MSU Dance Company, where she choreographs and performs in multiple shows.

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