It’s all about good people. Our staff is professional, energetic, and vastly experienced. Our students are challenged, well supervised, and expertly trained.
Lisa Zadravec – Owner/Executive Director
Lisa Zadravec’s experience as a dancer, teacher, nutritionist, and parent made her the ideal candidate to take the reins at Westport Dancer Center in 2015. Building on WDC’s tradition of providing the highest quality instruction in a warm environment, Lisa is the ambitious yet approachable face of the school. She oversees both the rigorous training of WDC Company as well as the open classes designed for the more recreational dancer. She employs a diverse faculty of professional dancers and instructors.
A native of Long Island, NY, Lisa grew up captivated by the performing arts. After years of dancing in a traditional studio, she was accepted into The Performing Arts Program at Holy Trinity High School. Lisa went on to compete on both Hofstra University’s Dance Team and Coed Cheerleading Team. Upon graduation, she became the Dance Team Assistant Coach and led the team to consistently place in the top 5 overall nationwide. She continued to coach, choreograph and judge competitions for all-star teams throughout the Northeast.
After moving to CT in 1998, Lisa earned a Masters in School Health Education at SCSU, became a CT certified teacher, and completed a second Masters in Human Nutrition at The University of Bridgeport. From 2001–2009, Lisa taught in Westport at Coleytown Middle School as a health and drama teacher. She joined the faculty of Westport Dance Center in 2004, teaching tap, jazz, musical theatre and pilates. Later, she began assisting administratively, acting as production stage manager, and offering nutrition consultations customized for dancers.
As the new owner of WDC, Lisa incorporates her expertise in dance, education and wellness to enhance students’ lives, both in and out of the studio.
Nikki Claxton – Artistic Director
Nikki lives in New Haven and has been dancing since she was 5 yrs old. After studying locally, Nikki traveled to NYC to study at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre where she continued to study Ballet, Horton Modern, Jazz Dunham Modern and West African Dance. Currently, Nikki teaches dance at Betsy Ross Arts Magnet School in New Haven. Nikki loves teaching dance and her classes are athletically challenging. In addition to Artistic Director and instructor, Nikki is the coordinator of the WDC Competition Teams. She is known for creating award winning choreography while inspiring the teams to achieve their full potential.
Marvin began his dance training in New Haven at Dee Dee’s Dance Center. Very early on he exhibited exceptional talent and was asked to teach teen boy’s hip-hop classes. Soon his choreography was sought after for competitions and area events. Marvin and Donald Morris Jr. formed the performing group The Missing Element, giving inner city children an opportunity to develop and share their love of dance. Marvin has worked for the city of New Haven, lending his choreographic talents to the New Haven Arts and Ideas Festival. Marvin has choreographed for concerts and opened shows for some of the biggest names from the Old School Hip Hop era(80′s – 90′s) including artist such as Slick Rick, Doug E. Fresh, Biz Markie, Kid n’ Play and More. He has a group from New Haven, CT that he teaches choreography to and they compete a few times a year. So far the has traveled to Massachusettes, Florida, and New Jersey. Marvin teaches our boy’s hip hop classes as well as contributing award winning choreography to our competition teams.
Hip Hop, Lyrical, Jazz
Maressa is a professional hip-hop dancer who has studied with many famed choreographers, including Jermaine Browne, Rhapsody James, Bev Brown and Frank Hatchett. A graduate and Dance Team Captain of Fairfield University, Maressa has performed at the national Hip-Hop championships in NYC and on MTV’s TRL. She currently teaches Spanish at Greenwich Country Day School.
Tobin is originally from New Orleans, LA. At the age of 11 he was awarded a scholarship to attend American Ballet Theatre’s summer intensive program which he did for the next couple of summers. Eventually at the age of 15 he moved to NYC and attended Proffesional Children’s School where he continued to study at ABT. In 2002 he joined the company fullfilling his life long dream. In 2012 he also joined The Metropolitan Opera Ballet Company where he continues to dance at the present time. Tobin has also had the opportunity to choreograph for the American Ballet Theatre II Company as well as other bllet companies including Ballet Next. Tobin has performed at many of the major classical ballets of ABT. He has also been a guest artist and teacher with companies around the world. Tobin is also a much sought after ballet teacher and has brought his knowledge to students in NY, NJ, Mass, Michigan,Texas, Kentucky, & Louisiana and now to Connecticut to WDC.
Ms. Violeta Katz began studying ballet at the age of twelve with the Bourmans in New Jersey. At the age of fifteen, she received a dance scholarship to the Center Ballet of Buffalo and studied under Kathleen Crofton. Also, Violeta worked with Anna-Marie Holmes, David Holmes and Bronislava Nijinska, who restaged two ballets, “Les Biches” and Brahams Variations. These ballets were presented at Jacob’s Pillow in the Berkshires. In addition, Violeta studied at ABT and the Joffrey under William Griffith.
Violeta continues to further enhance her teaching techniques by attending teachers’ workshops. She earned her Certification to teach ABT’s Primary to Level 3 syllabus and Certification in The Leap ’n Learn program geared toward ages 3-6, teaching creative movement and ballet. She also attended teachers’ workshops at American Academy of Ballet and at Walnut Hill.
Violeta has been teaching in Connecticut for the past fifteen years.
Hip Hop, Jazz, Preschool
Ashley started dancing at the age of 11 at Stratford Academy of Dance in Stratford, CT, studying ballet, tap, jazz, hip hop, and musical theater. Ashley was on the drill team at Notre Dame Catholic High School in 2002 and 2004. Since graduating high school, Ashley has studied at Broadway Dance Center in NYC. She attended Naugatuck Valley Community College in Waterbury, CT with a major in dance. Ashley taught ballet, jazz, and hip hop at St. Augustine Elementary School in Bridgeport from 2006 – 2010. Ashley currently teaches hip hop, jazz, musical theatre, and lyrical. Her Fairytale Princess and Hip Hop kids classes have become very popular with pre-school/kindergarten children.
In the last year, Tavon Dudley has certainly been no stranger to the Westport Dance Center. Grateful for his appointment as Lyrical/Contemporary Instructor, Dudley’s humble beginnings are truly the facet of this venture. Starting his dance training at Betsy Ross Art Magnet School at the age of 10, Dudley explored the world of dance and theatre. Some four years later, Dudley attended Cooperative Art & Humanities Magnet High School where he continued to expand his technical abilities and apply them to other genres of dance. Eager to break down both personal and creative boundaries, he was crowned America’s Dance Association Connecticut’s Male Dancer of The Year in 2009. Dudley attended The Ailey School in 2010 to continue his training as a professional dancer, and received certification upon completion. As Tavon undoubtedly continues his balletic movement through his own storyline; featuring in online ads and movies, he welcomes this new chapter and is hopeful to share the knowledge and gift of dance with generations to come.
Theresa has 14 years of gymnastics experience, including 3 years of coaching. Involved in both recreational and competitive programs. She is also experienced in tumbling for cheer. Currently, she is pursuing an education in nutrition and wellness as she shares a passion for leading a healthy life-style.
Stevi Van Meter is originally from Michigan where she began her studies in dance at the age of 9. Her extensive career spans over 30 years in the entertainment business throughout the United States and Europe.
Some of her favorite credits include: “Kid of The Kingdom” at Walt Disney World in Florida. Broadway: “Timon of Athens” with the late Tony Randall’s National Actors’ Theater and “Sinatra” (His Voice, His Words, His Way) at Radio City Music Hall. Regional credits include: “Damn Yankees” starring Tony Randall, “Bubbling Brown Sugar” with Diahann Carroll, “42nd Street” in the role of “Annie Time Annie”, “My One And Only”, “Mame” and “Will Rogers Follies” to name a few…all of which she served as Dance Captain. Stevi appeared in over 10 National commercials, including “Diet Coke” with Elton John and Paula Abdul as well as L’Oreal, Jockey, Cadillac, the “Broadway Stamp” for the U.S. Post Office and “Coke” with C&C Music Factory. She has also worked with Liza Minnelli, Bette Midler and Bill Cosby. Stevi and her Dance Group, “Anonymous”, won 5 shows on “Star Search” and went to the semi-finals hosted by the late Ed McMahon. Stevi has appeared in over 20 MTV videos as well as Independent films and was the Assistant Choreographer for “Showtime’s” “The Red Shoe Diaries”. Stevi choreographed “The Fantasticks” for Gateway Playhouse in Long Island and was the Assistant Choreographer for “Damn Yankees” at The Arts Center of Coastal Carolina. She also Choreographed the 2009 Season for the “Queen Elizabeth 2”! Stevi was a Radio City Rockette for 15 years having just retired in 2010.
Scott Thompson is an award winning Director, Choreographer, Writer and Producer.
Scott has been working in theatre for thirty years and has directed and choreographed over one hundred professional productions nationwide.
He has worked with a ‘who’s who’ of contemporary Broadway stars, both in full musical productions and in concerts from Los Angeles to New York’s Town Hall and Lincoln Center.
Scott has won numerous awards, including five CONNECTICUT CRITICS CIRCLE AWARDS, two SAN FRANCISCO CRITICS AWARDS and
the LOS ANGELES OVATION AWARD for his Direction and Choreography. His work has been seen on HBO television and world wide via his work for Princess Cruises.
He is co-author and Director/Choreographer of the new Broadway bound musical hit ONE FOR MY BABY.