THE ASCEND STUDIOS TEAM
Ascend Studios is proud to have passionate, well educated instructors with varying certifications and degrees in the field of dance & movement. Our team is dedicated to our student's safety, technical proficiency, and overall health & well being. Scroll down to get to know some of our instructors!
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 15 years of training and professional dance experience Jessie brings a wealth of knowledge & passion to the studio.
Jessie 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 &
throughout her training 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 and The Nutcracker.
Instructor / Social Media Coordinator/Ascend Ambassadors Director
Alissa is a Magna Cum Laude graduate of Oklahoma City University with a Bachelors of Science in Dance and Arts Management. The Ann Lacy School of Dance and Entertainment at Oklahoma City University is consistently ranked as one of the top dance schools in the nation. While there, she intensely studied ballet, jazz, and tap with a sprinkling of musical theatre, lyrical, and hip hop under the direction of Jo Rowan and instruction of notable professors such as: Patricia “Fast Pat” Oplotnik, Brian J. Marcum, Diana Brooks, Kelli Stevens, Tiffany Van der Merwe, Tiffany Warford, and Alana Martin. She was a member of the American Spirit Dance Company, Spirit of Grace Liturgical Dancers, and cast in numerous student choreographed pieces. She was also given the honor of choreographing a lyrical piece for Project 21: A Multimedia Concert in coordination with the Wanda L. Bass School of Music.
In addition to her dance training, her degree also prepared her for the entertainment industry as whole. She took classes and completed hands on training in the fields of Non-Profit Management, Stage Management, Lighting Design, Technical Direction, Events Management, Accounting and Business Finance, and many other areas.
Since graduating in 2014, she have broadened her arena of expertise to the fields of teaching and choreography through employment at numerous notable dance studios in the Oklahoma City area as well as assisting at festivals and conventions. Her choreography has received choreography awards and high adjudications at national competitions. You can also see her as a demonstrator in Fast Pat Tap, a series of tap tutorial videos.
She is incredibly thankful for the opportunities she has been given and desires to share her experiences with the Ascend dancers!
Joshua Okpara is a versatile and innovative teacher, dancer, and choreographer. Since 2009, he has brought arts education in the form of dance and creative movement to a wide range of populations in Oklahoma through, master classes, workshops, arts camps, staff development sessions, seminars, and guest choreographer positions. Believing that individuals learn best through the application of the arts in various formats, Joshua finds great joy in working collaboratively with artists of other mediums to bring multi-faceted arts curriculum to participants of all ages and abilities. In addition, Joshua is a director and member of Band of Misfits and has competed in international dance competitions such as World of Dance. He is a recipient of many studio dance competition awards and his performance and choreography has been a part of numerous concerts, festivals, theatre productions and events throughout Oklahoma, Texas, California and overseas. As a creative director for many performance arts organizations, Joshua enjoys expressing his love of dance by performing challenging choreography in many creative projects. Eventually Joshua was given the opportunity to tour overseas in Germany, France and Amsterdam with a non profit organization called HYPE (Helping Youth Prepare for Excellence). Afterwards, Josh teamed up with Project Elevate; another Oklahoma based non-profit organization that uses creative arts such as spoken word, skits, MCing, hip hop dance and freestyle, and motivational speaking that focuses on anti-bullying and suicide prevention throughout the school districts. Josh continues to stay heavily involved in the non-profit sector as a Director of Dance of Generation Why (GNWY), a non profit organization that uses the arts to inspire kids to find their “Why” and passion so that they are able to move forward in your life.
Samantha Russell is from Hattiesburg, Mississippi where she completed her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance Performance and Choreography at the University of Southern Mississippi in 2016. While at USM, Samantha was recognized in her department for Outstanding Junior and Most Memorable Senior Piece.
While in undergraduate, Samantha attended the American Dance Festival in Durham, North Carolina for two summers 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).
Shortly after graduating from USM, Samantha moved to Edmond, Oklahoma to perform for a season with Arrows International Dance Company. Since moving to the OKC area, Samantha has taught at multiple studios where she loves sharing her passion for dance with her students and enjoys teaching many styles of dance including ballet, jazz, tap, musical theatre, and contemporary.
Costume Manager & Human Resources & Systems Manager
Alicia has a wide variety of skills she brings to the Ascend Team! With a degree in Human Resources, a military background, and her super organizational skills, Alicia helps coordinate and manage many of our office and behind the scenes tasks! You'll see Alicia at our front desk, checking in on dancers in the classroom, making sure everyone gets in and out of the studio safely, or being a dance Mom to her two children Annabelle & Lukas! We are so thankful Alicia came on staff in 2020!
Ethan is originally from Burnsville, MN. He began his formal dance training at 17 with Premiere Dance Academy. After graduating from high school, Ethan attended Oklahoma City University where he earned his B.S. in American Dance Pedagogy. While at OCU, Ethan performed with American Spirit Dance Company, Liturgical Spirit of Grace, and the annual Student Choreography Show. He also was able to teach class at the Community Dance Center.
After graduation, Ethan stayed in Oklahoma City performing at Frontier City. Ethan currently teaches dance at Harding Fine Arts Academy, and he is super excited to be joining the Ascend team!
Ashley is an seasoned Oklahoma City based performer, dance instructor, and choreographer. Her love of the performance arts began at a very early age and began dancing at the age of 8. She obtained her degree in dance performance from the University of Central Oklahoma where she also had the opportunity to perform with the resident pre- professional dance company, Kaleidoscope. While in the company, Ashley had the privilege of working with many guest instructors and choreographers from around the world, some of which include; Andrew Palermo, Edwin Olvera of PILOBOLUS dance company, and Israeli choreographer, Idan Cohen. Since graduating, Ashley has taught and performed with Perpetual Motion Dance Company, lived in New York City where she performed in several small choreography showcases, and is now back in Oklahoma pursuing her career in choreography and dance instruction. Ashley has worked with numerous studios across the metro area as well as KA! Musical Theater where she fulfilled her role as a resident dance instructor and choreographer for their shows for the past 3 years. She is so excited to be back teaching at Ascend!