Karen J. Zissoff received her degree in dance from York U. in Toronto, Canada; she is a Life Time Member with the international Royal Academy of Dance (with her Teaching Certificate & Teaching Diploma). Her training has been with several prominent teachers from Canada, Europe and the US. Ms. Zissoff has received several scholarships, such as a Canada Council Grant, Tenn. Arts Commission Dance Award and in 2009 the Judith Woodruff Professional Development Award. She has danced and set choreographic works with Memphis Classical Ballet, Tennessee Ballet, Project: Motion, and mounted a dance production for nine musicians and dancers in the city through the Tennessee Arts Commission Grant. Her choreography won in the ballet division from the Tenn. Assoc. of Dance 1997 Choreographic Award. Her teachings have been with ArtsMemphis (formerly Greater Memphis Arts Council’s) Center for Arts In Education and the Memphis City Schools in all levels of elementary to high school dance programs, and the Governor’s School for the Arts. Her residencies involve collaborations in ballet, contemporary, and creative. Former students won scholarships at a state dance conference in 1999, Interlochen Arts Academy, Juilliard School of Arts/New York in 2002, Virginia Commonwealth University/Richmond in 2005, and Alvin Ailey School/New York in 2008 and 2011. Karen J. Zissoff was the Founder and Executive Artistic Director of Dance Works from 1987-2011.
founded in the fall of 2011 will encompass the R.A.D. program of
classical ballet plus modern dance. Live accompaniment in
classes/performances will be introduced as needed in the program. The
program will encompass yearly and summer programs. Dance
Scholars, Inc. founded in March 2012 will highlight performances and
help with scholarships for students.
Wayne M. Smith, a native of Memphis, TN and is a professor of dance plus choreographer and performer in dance and theatre arts. Smith has earned a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree in Dance (1995) from The Ohio State University Columbus, OH and a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree (BFA) in Theatre with Dance concentration [minor Mathematics](1991) from The University of Memphis. Mr. Smith produces workindependently under the auspices of his company SmithWorks. He also works with professional contemporary modern dance collective Project:Motion based in Memphis, TN. Smith has taught extensively at a number of reputable higher education institutions such as University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) Oxford, MS, Emory University and Spelman College Atlanta, GA, Kent State Kent, OH, and Slippery Rock UniversitySlippery Rock, PA, and currently teaches adjunct at the University of Memphis. Wayne Smith's areas of expertise are in teaching contemporary dance techniques, jazz dance, and ballet basics, as well as dance improvisation. Wayne also teaches dance composition, theatre movement, dance history, dance education, and interdisciplinary studies in dance. Smith also regularly performs with Playback Memphis, an improvisational theatre company, as well as teaches and choreographs with Memphis’ Company d, a youth development organization for dancers with intellectual disabilities.
Sondra Brooks Whitfield operated as an assistant teacher for seven years under the direction of Karen Zissoff at Dance Works, Inc. Ms. Brooks-Whitfield studied and performed with: Director/Karen Zissoff, other guest artists and the Royal Academy of Dance (RAD) Syllabus for six years. She went through her RAD ballet examinations up to the Gr. 6 level. She holds a B.S. in Early Childhood Education from Tennessee State University and a M.Ed. from Cumberland University. She spent the summers of 2003-2006 working at STAX Music Academy's SNAP Summer Camp as their dance instructor. She is also the choreographer for the praise dancers at Monumental Baptist Church, and over the dance ministry at Abundant Faith World Ministries Christian Center. Ms. Brooks-Whitfield has been a teacher in the Memphis City Schools for over 12 years, and is currently a first grade teacher.
Takeisha Washington has been under the Direction of Karen Zissoff/dancer teacher since she was 9 yrs old, 8yrs. She has done her Grades in the Royal Academy of Dance Examinations Children's Syllabus : Grade 3,4,5,6,7,8 then some levels done back to back with the pre-professional exams: Intermediate Intermediate, Advanced Foundation, Advanced One Her marks have been above average. Since her inception to dance with Ms. Zissoff she has had scholarship assistance.
She auditioned for Alvin Ailey summer program in Phillipsburg, Florida for the summer program in N.Y. in 2008 and made it, over 100 students auditioned.
She had attended Ridgeway H.S. and the dance program at MTSU, Murfreesboro, TN. She has been on scholarship to attend Ottawa Dance Centre Schools, a Canadian Dance Program in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada in 2005 for a two week intensive dance program. She was also nominated for a scholarship at the Tennesseen Association of Dance in Knoxville, TN in the fall of 2008, a state wide organization that does a conferences yearly. Takeisha reauditioned for Alvin Ailey in the fall of 2011 and was accepted into the Janurary 2012 program. She transferred her grades from MTSU to Fordum U. in NY and joined the Alvin Ailey program for two years.
long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to dance. At fifteen, Karen Zissoff
granted me that wish. Taking me as her student with no dance training,
she saw my potential, and crafted me into an intelligent dancer, aware
of my body, its mechanics, and a dance vocabulary rich in technique and
musicality through my training in the Royal Academy of Dance syllabus.
With only four years as Mrs. Zissoff’s student, I was awarded a
graduating scholarship into Virginia Commonwealth University’s dance
department. I am proud to say I graduated cum laude with a BFA in Dance
and Choreography in May of 2009.
Through my time at VCU, my appreciation of dance, the classroom, respect for my teachers, the musicians, and art of dance itself where all honed in my education with Mrs. Zissoff. Models of guest artists, the rehearsal process, and teacher education, gave me an incredible start to dance as a practitioner, teacher, or simply observer. I now live in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania as a professional free lance dancer, dancing with Dance Theatrex, idiosyncrazy productions, The Peek A Boo Revue, and FlyGround Dance Projects. I also work in an art advocacy and service organization, Dance/USA Philadelphia as a program associate."
Julia Gephart I am a Freshman at Millikin University in Illinois studying music education. I studied ballet for 9 years under Ms. Zissoff. who always provided a strict, learning environment. Any student who continued under Ms. Zissoff became devoted to the art of dance whether ballet, modern or jazz. There was always variety and a chance to try new things. "If I have made an appointment with you, I owe you punctuality, I would no more throw your time away than my own." This virtue was true in Ms. Zissoff's dance studio and has continued to serve me well.
RICHARDSON, College Professor, Author/Publisher, AMI Ed, studied with Karen Zissoff for 5 years
before entering Canada’s National Ballet School as a full time,
professional student on scholarship in 1975. Shelley credits her
early years of ballet instruction with Miss Zissoff/ Ms. Ziss, for
instilling an essential foundation of confidence, self discipline,
perseverance and arts appreciation which continues to inspire her
teaching practice today and fuel her success as a professional
writer. Shelley Richardson is the author of SOPHIE & The Magic of Dance, Nominee for the
Canadian Library Association’s Children’s Book of the Year.
As a tribute to Karen Zissoff’s positive influence in her life,
Shelley affectionately named the character in the novel of the young
Sophie’s ballet teacher “Madame Ziss”. Shelley Richardson is also
the author of RIVER: WE ARE EVER THE
MASTERPIECE and KEEPERS & SEEKERS: The New Paradigm in Education. Through her publishing company EDDY PRESS, she
also writes “The
Eddy” - monthly
inspirational e-letters to a growing global audience of children,
parents and educators. Shelley recently had the honor of designing
the philosophy and curricula for the