Jana L. Beard, owner and director
Jana has taught dance in the central Arkansas area for over 30 years and has been the owner and director of Shuffles for over twenty of those years. In addition to being committed to offering the highest quality of instruction and the opportunity to experience all forms of dance, she has enjoyed performing in many Arkansas Rep productions, including Sweet Charity, Guys and Dolls, Chicago, Good Woman of Setzuan, A Soldiers Tale, Evita and Into The Woods. Jana attended U of A at Fayetteville as a dance major, and while at the U of A at Little Rock she performed in the productions Cabaret and Pippin and was an instructor in the Theatre and Dance Department. She has served for many years as director and choreographer for the Arkansas Bar and Pulaski County Bar Association's bi-annual spoof The Gridiron and worked along side Maestro David Itkin as the stage director for the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra's Christmas Spectacular.
Allison Stodola, assistant director, tap, jazz, ballet
Allison grew up dancing right here at Shuffles and Ballet II. It was that training that allowed her to perform professionally for the last 10 years. She attended Butler University receiving her BFA in Dance Performance. Allison performed with the The Radio City Christmas Spectacular for 3 years and was part of the original Moscow cast of the Broadway show 42nd Street. She has trained at Anne Reinking’s Broadway Theatre Project as well as American Ballet Theatre and the Joffrey Ballet. Other favorite shows are Guys and Dolls, Carnival (Papermill Playhouse) and All Night Strut (Marriott Lincolnshire). Allison loves being able to perform locally at the Arkansas Repertory Theatre. Her favorite shows are Evita (Tango), A Chorus Line (Kristine), Anything Goes and Gypsy. Allison is excited to be home from traveling the world aboard Holland America Cruise Line, where she was the Dance Captain. Allison is delighted to be back home at Shuffles teaching her love and passion.
Arleen Sugano, ballet
Although “Miss A” (as she is affectionately called by her students) received her MFA in choreography, she has had an impressively varied career and has most recently devoted her time to pedagogy. Highlights include teaching at the Joffrey Ballet School & Rod Rodgers Dance Company, both in NYC, and the Lula Washington Dance Company in L.A., coaching ballet gold medalist Aya Noma to six national titles in Japan, performing seven companies of A Chorus Line, producing the National Tour of the Canadian ballet In the Land of Spirits, and working with singer Shania Twain as her movement stylist. She has co-authored with dance physicist Dr. Kenneth Laws the second edition of the book Physics and the Art of Dance (Oxford University Press), released October 2008. She is currently consulting and collaborating with composer/pianist Clark Erickson on a series of ballet classroom accompaniment CDs and working on her next book which will focus on a scientific approach to classical ballet technique. Ms. Sugano has been asked to be on the faculty for the workshop that runs in conjunction with the International Ballet Competition in Jackson, MS in Summer 2010.
Traci Presley, ballet, jazz
Traci has been teaching in the Little Rock area for over 30 years. She began her dance career at the age of two in Pine Bluff and continued on to study in Memphis and Little Rock. She has studied with such notable teachers as Gus Giordano, Joe Tremaine, and David Howard in summer workshops, and was a dancer with Ballet Arkansas and then director of the junior company. Traci has a BA in Theatre/Dance from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, and for the past twenty plus years she has taught at Horace Mann Magnet Middle School and Shuffles and Ballet II. Traci is licensed by the Arkansas Department of Education to teach dance and continues to push for a certification in dance for the state of Arkansas. Traci has three daughters and is delighted to watch their love of dance grow as they begin their dance education at Shuffles and Ballet II.
Donna McCarty, office, costume Manager
Donna has loved dance all her life. She grew up dancing at the Little Rock Boys Club under the direction of Lou Ann Tisdale and continued teaching and then directing the dance program there while in college. At Shuffles, she has been involved in many areas of the school including teaching, costuming, receptionist, and production for the past 22 years. She has had the pleasure of costuming for Ballet Arkansas and the Arkansas Symphony. She has received the most pleasure from watching young dancers grow into disciplined and confident young adults.
Lauren McCarty, ballet, modern
Lauren McCarty, a native of Little Rock, is very excited to be returning to her hometown to dance with Ballet Arkansas and to join the staff at Shuffles, where she received her early dance training. She graduated from Butler University in 2006 with a BFA in Dance Performance and has since then been pursuing her dance career in Chicago, Boston, and New York. Lauren has performed with Chicago’s Theatre at the Center in their production of CATS (Victoria). She has also performed with Sawnee Ballet Theatre’s production of Les Sylphides (principal), with Ballet Arkansas in The Nutcracker, as well as with Arkansas Repertory Theatre in their production of Hello Dolly! Most recently, Lauren has been training with Dance Kaleidoscope, the Indianapolis-based modern company under the direction of David Hochoy. She has also been teaching and choreographing for studios in the Indianapolis area.
Deede Phelps, adult tap
Deede Phelps began her dance career at age 2 1/2 under the direction of Lou Ann Tisdale at Dorothy Donaldson’s Studio and the Little Rock Boys' Club. She has been teaching in the Little Rock/North Little Rock dance market for 21 years working predominantly with adults (tap), and has experience working with children (ballet & tap) and teens (Irish dancing).
For stage work, she is a former Farkleberry Follies 12-year veteran and participated in The Gridiron in 2008 and 2010. Deede has also been instructor in aerobics/weight training/body toning at the Jim Daily Fitness Center in Little Rock for the past five years, as well as at the Heights Health and Fitness Facility in the Heights.
Toby Lewellen, boys' class, jazz
Toby Lewellen, began his serious dance training at the Peoria Ballet Academy in 2002 under the direction of Erich Yetter and Rebekah von Rathonyi. He performed in various performances such as A Midsummer Night's Dream, Giselle, The Firebird, Dracula, and The Nutcracker. There he also competed in the Youth American Grand Prix in 2006, where he was named one of the top twelve males. Toby is a recent graduate of Butler University with a Bachelor's of Science degree in Dance Arts Administration. He furthered his technique there under the instruction of Michelle Jarvis, Derek Reid, Tong Wang, Marek Cholewa, Stephan Laurent, Cynthia Pratt, and Susan McGuire. There he performed in Anthony Tudor's Dark Elegies, as the Nutcracker Prince in The Nutcracker, the Lead Mazurka male in Swan Lake, as well as lead roles in various faculty works at Butler University.
Anna Maris, ballet
Anna Maris, a native of Little Rock, Arkansas received her dance training from Shuffles and Ballet Arkansas. In 2005, Anna graduated with a BA in Dance and Psychology from Centenary College in Shreveport, Louisiana. While pursuing a graduate degree at the University of Iowa, Anna had the privilege of performing Jose Limon's Psalm under the direction of Nina Watt. Anna was chosen to work with renowned choreographer and theater artist Martha Clarke on a newly created work entitled In the Night, which premiered at the University of Iowa in the fall of 2010 through the Iowa Partnership in the Arts. As a member of the University's resident repertory company, Anna performed and toured across Iowa in work by guest Carl Flink and faculty choreographers Eloy Barragan and Armando Duarte. In January 2011, Anna traveled to Chennai, India for a three-week intensive study of the classical Indian dance form Kuchipudi under the expert teaching of Madhayapeddi Murthy. Since recently completing her Masters in Fine Arts in Dance Performance, Anna has moved back to Little Rock and is thrilled to be dancing with Ballet Arkansas. Anna loves taking and creating opportunities to participate in collaborative projects involving the larger community in making and sustaining hopeful and creative changes through the arts.
Rico Sergent, hip hop
Rico Sergent, an Arkansas native, started entertaining and dancing for family and friends at an early age and became known in school for his dancing in various talent shows. He furthered his skill by joining a highly competitive studio within his local area, where he has received ample recognition, won numerous awards as “Best Entertainer” and has studied Hip-Hop, ballet, tap and jazz. In 2002, his solo acts as The King of Pop, Michael Jackson landed and headlined him a spot in the Miss Arkansas Beauty Pageant. Rico has attended “Monsters of Hip Hop” workshops and has taken from some of the biggest names in the industry such as Dave Scott and Lisette Bustamante. After high school, he attended the University of Arkansas at Little Rock to further his dance training. Over the summer of 2011, he opened for the well-known comedian Eddie Griffin. Still reaching new heights, Rico continues to broaden his dance career and remains steady with his true love, Hip Hop. Shuffles is thrilled to have Rico join our faculty.
Leslie Dodge, ballet, modern
Leslie Dodge began her dance training at a young age in Indianapolis, Indiana. In 2010, Leslie graduated with high honors from Butler University with a Bachelor's in Dance Pedagogy. For Butler Ballet, Leslie performed in Coppelia, Cinderella, Antony Tudor's Dark Elegies as well as lead roles in original works by Susan McGuire an Cynthia Pratt. In 2009 she performed as the lead Arabian in The Nutcracker, and, in 2010, as Odette in Swan Lake. Additionally, Leslie assisted in choreographing and coordinating a Laban-inspired movement choir organized by Cynthia Pratt, which was later adapted for the ORANJE Festival along with musical group Basilica. While at Butler, Leslie also taught dance and movement classes for the Butler Community Arts School throughout the Indianapolis area. Most recently, Leslie performed as the Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker as a part of Dancers' Studio, Inc. in Columbus, IN.