Samantha Russell is from Hattiesburg, MS where she recently completed her degree in Dance Performance and Choreography at the University of Southern Mississippi. While at USM Samantha was recognized in her department for "Outstanding Junior" and "Most Memorable Senior Piece." Samantha attended the American Dance Festival in Durham, North Carolina while completing her undergrad where she studied under numerous artists including: Elizabeth Corbett (Forsythe Company), Jennifer Nugent (Bill T. Jones Company) Teena Marie Custer (Venus Fly Trap Crew), Pamela Pietro (Anthony Morgan Dance Company), Gerri Houlihan (Lar Lubovitch Dance Company) and Sherone Price (Chuck Davis African American Dance Ensemble). Samantha loves sharing her passion for dance with her students and enjoys teaching many styles of dance including ballet, jazz, tap, hip hop, and contemporary. Samantha just recently finished her first season with Arrows International Dance Company and is currently living and teaching in Edmond, OKC and Midwest City.
With a Bachelors Degree in Ballet Pedagogy from the University of Oklahoma, Jessie Dolezel, the owner and creative force behind Ascend Studios, knows what it takes to become a true dancer. With over 14 years of high level training and professional dance experience she understands that time management and good communication are key to running your own studio. As a mother, Jessie knows how to interact with families and children.
Jessie Dolezel has taught ballet, jazz, modern & tap classes throughout her career. Sharing her love of dance with all students is her passion! Jessie served as a founding member of the Oral Roberts University dance program. As a faculty member she organized ballet, pointe, variations, jazz, pedagogy and seminar courses. Her responsibilities included developing her own curriculum and syllabi as well as student mentoring, grading, evaluations etc. From the choreography, to costumes, and lighting, she was tasked with creating new work every semester.
Throughout her training Jessie has had the privilege of working with professional artists from many companies including Oklahoma City Ballet, Tulsa Ballet, Kansas City Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, Boston Ballet, Houston Ballet, Bolshoi Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, New York City Ballet, Cincinnati Ballet and others, giving her a broad range of experiences and rich background in technique.
Her performance experience includes roles with Oklahoma City Ballet, Oklahoma Festival Ballet, & Living Water Dance Company. Classical repertoire includes: The Nutcracker, Romeo & Juliet, Swan Lake, Pas de Quatre, Paquita, Napoli, & Concerto Barocco. She has set the following classical choreography: Pas de Quatre, variations from Paquita, Giselle and Sleeping Beauty as well as Dance of the Snowflakes from The Nutcracker.
ASCEND STUDIOS FACULTY & STAFF
Gillian Dodd started dancing and the young age of four at Norther Plains Ballet company in Bismarck, North Dakota and studied under Hollis Macintosh. During her time there she was promoted into their studio ballet company,promoted to pointe and performed in lead roles in company productions that included Snow White and The Nutcracker. After moving to Oklahoma Gillian danced with the Oklahoma City Ballet School, and The Dance Department under the owner Karen Clark and Tasha Hinex, head coach for Oklahoma City University. Gillian has vast experience competing in hip hop, jazz, contemporary, lyrical, and modern, and has won multiple high score awards including multiple platinum and diamond awards in the categories of hip hop and lyrical. Gillian also continued her ballet and pointe training and added tap and tumbling classes throughout her high school years.
Gillian joined the team at Ascend Studios in 2016 and is so happy to continue her dancing with us!
Leslie Ann Ellingburg, BS & RYT 200, has a passion for Movement that has guided her throughout life. Leslie began her dance training at the young age of ten and hasn’t stopped since. Dance brings her a sense of freedom, with yoga and conditioning to add balance. Leslie loves to incorporate kinesiology elements, including strength and flexibility training when she teaches to help young dancers reach their full potential. Her goals are to bring a individualized, scientific based dance conditioning and stretching program to OKC.