Liza Schnitzer

Executive Director

Liza Schnitzer began her dance training at the age of 2. She is well studied in jazz, tap, ballet, lyrical, modern, acro and hip hop. Over the years Liza had trained in New York City, Toronto, Chicago, and Orlando. She taken classes with the Martha Graham Company, Gus Giordano, Joe Lanteri, and Frank Hatchet to name a few! In addition to her extensive training, she graduated with a BA in Theatre and Dance from The University at Buffalo. During her time at UB, she focused her studies on Dance education. Liza has been teaching dance for 15 years. Her choreography has won several awards at both the regional and national level. Several of her students have gone on to become professional dancers. Miss Liza’s passion for dance has lead her to a passion for teaching. She believes strongly that dance should always be FUN, and every child should feel like a STAR.

Katie Heintz


Katie Heintz is originally from Rochester, NY and has extensive training in ballet, jazz, modern, acro, tap, and contemporary. She lived in Los Angeles, CA as a scholarship student at the Edge Performing Arts Center before graduating summa cum laude from SUNY Buffalo with a BFA in dance performance. She has spent many years dancing professionally with Zodiaque Dance Company, Configuration Dance Theatre and Met Dance Company of Houston, TX, where she performed at many events and venues including Jacob’s Pillow, APAP and Texas Contemporary Dance. She has worked with numerous choreographers and has performed works by Joe Celej, Caleb Mitchell, Pattie Obey, Larry Keigwin, Kiki Lucas, Peter Chu and Kate Skarpetowska. She has been teaching dance to all ages for over 15 years in studios in Rochester, Buffalo, Houston, Baltimore, and Washington DC.

Caitlin Celis


Caitlin Celis began her dance education at the age of three. Growing up, Caitlin broadened her training by studying with renowned choreographers and workshops. Her love of dance led Caitlin along a path towards a professional career. In 2004, Caitlin enrolled in the University at Buffalo’s dance program. She performed three seasons with UBs Zodiaque Dance Company before graduating in 2008 with her BFA in dance. Shortly after graduating, Caitlin began performing on board Royal Caribbean Cruiseline. After two successful contracts, Caitlin moved to Cancun, Mexico where her dance career continued. Caitlin performed in some of Mexico’s best resorts as a featured dancer and aerialist. Her final professional contract was with Cancun’s Oasis hotels. She began as a dancer and worked her way up to soloist and rehearsal director. Caitlin is grateful for her opportunities as a professional dancer and is eager to share what she has learned with Dansation’s aspiring dancers.

Sharon Ralston


At the age of 4 years old, Sharon Ralston began dance instruction in ballet, tap, jazz and acrobatics at Geraldine C Hoffman’s School of Dance. Soon it became apparent that ballet was her ultimate passion. During her early teens, she became class demonstrator for all ballet and pointe classes and then an assistant teacher. Shortly there after Sharon went on to become a full instructor. In order to improve in her chosen field, she studied Ballet at The University of Buffalo, Department of Dance, and also with Arthur Mitchell of The Dance Theatre of Harlem and Finis Jung, a master teacher. Later, Sharon completed teacher training with David Howard, world-renowned for mentoring such famous dancers as Mikail Baryshnikov and Natalia Markarova, which earned her a Certification in Ballet Instruction, with a Specialty in Pointe. Miss Sharon has continued teaching Ballet and Pointe at various studios in the Western New York area for over 40 years.

Brodie Haladay


Brodie Haladay studied dance at Fitzsimmons Dance Factory in Rochester NY. During her study at Fitzsimmons she took classes with Mia Michaels, Suzi Taylor and dancers from Fosse. She began teaching with them her senior year in 2002. Brodie continued with her dance career and attended SUNY Brockport as a Dance major and Arts for Children major. During her time at Brockport she studied Modern, Irish, African dance. She participated in performances with SANKOFA and took classes with Garth Fagan. In 2006 she auditioned for Walt Disney World in Florida and accepted a position in their college program as a Character Performer. There is a chance she might personally know some of your favorite Disney pals! She has continued to teach after college, and joined Dansations in 2014. She loves dance and is very passionate about teaching. She is looking forward to another great year with your kids and the studio.

Shayla Stuart


Shayla Stuart has been dancing for 15 years. She danced in both regional and national competitions across the East Coast including, Virginia Beach, Myrtle Beach, Syracuse, and New Jersey. Shayla has taken a wide variety of master classes from world famous choreographers such as: Travis Wall, Kenny Wormald, Stacey Tookey, Jason Parsons, and many other professional dancers and choreographers. Outside of dance, Shayla is a college student working towards a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree. Shayla loves being a dance teacher because it gives children a way to get exercise and express them selves, in a safe and fun way. She always makes it a priority to ensure that every child feels like a star in each and every class.

Jill Lindell


Jill Lindell started dance at the age of 4 at a small studio in WNY. She then transferred to Lorraine Goddard Dance studio when she was 12 and studied there until she was 21. Her training was in tap, jazz and ballet. Miss Jill holds Associates degree in Arts and Science from Niagara County Community College where she was part of the Tanzen Dance Company for 2 years and took several dance classes. She choreographed many pieces that were performed at the dance company’s spring and fall concerts. Miss Jill went on to Buffalo State College and received her Bachelor of Science degree in Health and Wellness. During her time at Buffalo State she continued taking dance classes and performed with their dance company. In addition she was a professional cheerleader for the Buffalo Destroyers arena football team for two years. Miss Jill continued her education at Onondaga School of Therapeutic Massage and has been practicing as a Licensed Massage Therapist since 2003. In 2006 she and along with her husband who is a chiropractor opened a wellness center together where she currently practices. She has two young daughters that both started dance at the age of 2 at Dansations. She is passionate about dance and loves working with children and is very excited to be part of the faculty.

Christine O'Brien


Christine O’Brien began dancing at the age of 4 at a local dance studio. At the age of 8 she was selected to compete in groups and solo competitions at a local and national level in tap, jazz, lyrical and ballet. In addition, she had the opportunity to perform at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida with her dance studio. Miss Christine has continued to grow in her knowledge of dance through various college courses with Neglia Ballet. Outside of the studio, Christine has recently obtained her Bachelors of Science in Accounting as well as an MBA. She currently works as a staff auditor for a local firm.

Donatella Oppenhiemer


Began her ballet training at age
nine, studying the Cecchetti
Method in her native city of Pal-
ermo, Sicily. Upon moving to the
USA, Donatella was offered a full
scholarship at The School of
American Ballet At Lincoln Center,
the official school of the New York
City Ballet founded by George
Donatella danced professionally
with the Tulsa Ballet Theatre and
with the Boston Ballet under the
direction of Bruce Marks
and Anna-Marie Holmes. Her
repertoire included Cinderella,
Bournonville’s Napoli, The Nut-
cracker, Don Quixote, Swan
Lake, Eugene Onegin, The Sleep-
ing Beauty, Balanchine’s Sere-
nade and Tchaikovsky Piano
Concerto No. 2, as well as Twyla
Tharp’s Water Babies Bagatelle
and Merce Cunningham’s Break-
She has been a faculty member
with The Ballet School of Stam-
ford in Connecticut, the Pulse in
Bedford Hills and the Company of
Music Theatre & Dance Inc. in
Jackson, New Jersey.
She has taught company classes
for the Tulsa Ballet Theatre and
has been a guest teacher at the
Rock School in Pennsylvania, the
Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, Mark
Morris Studios, UB Dance and-
Chautauqua School of Dance.

Ms. Donatella loves to be
able to bring and share her
knowledge of the Balanchine
technique to her community.
She hopes that she will inspire all
her students as she has been
inspired by her own teachers.

Emily Codick


Emily Codick was born and raised in Buffalo, NY and has been dancing for over 25 years. A college graduate from the University at Buffalo, Emily majored in both dance and communications. She has performed for the mayors inaugural ball, Curtain Up!, and Neglia Conservatory of Ballet’s production of Romeo and Juliet to name a few. She is an experienced dance teacher, and her dedication over the last 14 years has earned her and her students awards and recognition regionally and nationally. In addition to teaching, Emily works for Neon Entertainment, a national entertainment booking agency, and is a loving wife and mother of two.

Kiara Stuart


Kiara Stuart began dancing at the age of 5. She has competed in regional and national competitions across the east coast. She has won multiple high score awards including second runner up as National Miss Starpower in Ocean City, Maryland. Kiara has taken a variety of master classes from world famous choreographers such as Travis Wall, Twitch, Alison Holker, Joey Dowling, Scott Fowler, Robert Priore, Kenny Wormald and many others. She has spent her summers taking classes all over the country including in Utah, Virginia Beach, and at Point Park University. Kiara is currently working towards a Bachelor of the Fine Arts in Dance at the University at Buffalo. Miss Kiara loves teaching dance because not only is it a fun way for kids to be active with their friends, but it allows kids to express themselves and feel like a star!

Mercede ``Cede`` Smith


Mercedes Smith is originally from Buffalo, NY. She started her dance training at the age of 3 years old and continued her training throughout her schooling as a competition dancer. After graduating high school, she earned her B.F.A. in Dance from the State University of New York at Fredonia, with a duel B.S. in Exercise Science and a minor in Dance Studio Administration. Throughout her time as a student, she has worked with artists such as Ruth Andrien and the Paul Taylor 2 Company, Jon Lehrer, as well as Rebecca Guile-Wind. She has attended the East-Central Regional American College Dance Association all 4 consecutive years while attending Fredonia, including a Gala performance in 2016. Mercedes has also had the opportunity of training with the Dance Masters Of America at the University at Buffalo for the Teacher Training School program each summer, working with artists such as Lynne Kurdziel Formato, Rich Ashworth, Tracy Navarro, Barb Denny & Larraine Susa. Mercedes is excited to be a part of the faculty at Dansations and looks forward to an awesome season!

Angela Disorbo


Angela Disorbo began her dance training at the age of 5. She has taken a wide variety of master classes from famous choreographers and dance companies such as: Jon Lehrer, Andrij Deneka, Joe Celej, Dorrance Dance, Rioult Dance, Koresh Dance Company and many more. Outside of dance, Angela is working towards a Bachelor of Arts in both Dance and Biological Sciences at the University at Buffalo. She loves being able to share her passion and love for dance with others. Angela enjoys being a dance teacher because it gives children a way to express themselves. Angela is very excited to be on faculty at Dansations and is excited for the upcoming season!