Meet Our Dance Instructors
Sylvia Schourek is the owner and artistic director of Superior School of Dance. She began dancing at the age of 9 at the SSOD and went on to earn her BA with a double major in Dance and Art at Western Michigan University. In addition to her experience in Ballet, Pointe, Modern, Jazz, Hip Hop, Tap, Belly Dance and Ballroom, she has performed in numerous plays, musicals, and operas. While in college, she had the privelege of working with such artists as Diane McIntyre and Robert Battle (currently the Artistic Director of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater), as well as performing in several guest artist, faculty, and student works. She attended the American College Dance Festival and was also a member of Hip Hop ConnXion-Rhythmic Soul Project. Additionally, she produced choreography for annual student concerts as well as her own 45 minute Honors Thesis presentation.
After college she spent one year as the Artistic Director of the Superior School of Dance where she taught and staged two full length productions. She moved to the Minneapolis area in 2009 where she took classes, taught, performed and presented choreography at a variety of venues while she was the Curriculum/Performance/Costume Coordinator at Inspiration Performing Arts Center. At Cathy Roe's Ultimate Dance Competition, she has been the recipient of the “Ultimate Dare to Be Different Award” for her modern choreography with IPAC in 2012 and 2014 and Superior School of Dance in 2017 and 2018 as well as a Choreography Award finalist in 2016, 2017, and 2018. She has attended numerous dance conventions including the Dance Teacher Web convention in Las Vegas in 2010 and 2012.
Morgan Kontio danced at New Attitudes Dance Studio in Marquette for 14 years and was a tap teacher her last 2 years there. Aside from tap, Morgan has taken classes in jazz, lyrical, modern, hip-hop and performance throughout her years of dance. For 5 years she competed in a variety of competitions including Dance Olympus and Thunderstruck. She was also a part of Negaunee High School's Dance Team and went to a Just For Kix dance camp with the team. Morgan graduated from Northern Michigan University with an Associates of Applied Science in Radiology and Bachelors in Clinical Health Management. She currently works at Aspirus Keweenaw Hospital as a CT and Radiologic Technologist. When she isn’t taking x-rays and teaching tap she loves to spend time with her fiancé and their dog Coheed.
Allison Mills started dancing at age three and regularly commandeered the entire living room floor for in-house performances. She studied classical ballet in Helena, Montana and in Minnesota's Twin Cities area, including an apprenticeship with the Continental Ballet Company and toured the Midwest for several years performing shows including The Nutcracker, Cinderella and Coppelia. When she left professional ballet, Allison joined the Rosemount High School Modern Dance Company and explored other dance forms including belly dance, jazz, and contact improv.
Belly dance especially stole her heart when she began studying Raqs Sharqi. Allison's belly dance training is mostly in cabaret styles (Egyptian and a hint of Turkish) though she's dabbled in American fusion styles as well. She co-leads the 47 North belly dance fusion troupe with Sylvia and Jessica.
Allison has been instructing a variety of dances over the past decade and hasn't stopped performing since her first stage appearance as an itty-bitty, sequined gull in Peter Pan. She believes strongly in making dance training accessible in rural areas and that dancers of all ages can learn to connect, appreciate, and take care of their bodies. Allison is also a science geek and writer (her day job) as well as a giant dog owner, gardener, and teapot fanatic.
Allison (Strome) Berryman started dancing at age five with the Superior School of dance and continued attending and studying Ballet, Pointe, Tap, Jazz, Hip Hop and Modern all the way through high school. She then went on to attend Michigan Tech where she obtained a BS in Management and an International Spanish Minor. She started teaching classes for SSOD her first year of college and also took classes along with becoming an active member of MTU dance team. In the spring of her Sophomore year of college she tore her MCL which ended her performing career, but with the help of her class assistants she was able to continue instructing throughout her recovery. The following year she picked up more classes to fill the gap leaving the dance team had left, and was one of the head instructors her final year of college. Upon graduating from Tech, Allison and her husband Jared moved to Minneapolis, MN where her husband earned his D.C. and Allison worked as a General Manager for Macy’s food division.
Allison is extremely passionate about all forms of dance, she especially loves modern and hip hop because of the amount of freedom these styles of dance provide, but firmly believes in a strong technique and that in dance you must “learn the rules before you can break them.” Learning to dance has had the largest impact on Allison’s life, she feels it has given her so much strength and patience. She is so excited to be back teaching! She is currently working at Michigan Tech within the Civil Engineering Department doing tech support for the Center for Technology and Training. She and her husband recently welcomed a baby girl (Avery) who at 5 months already has her first pair of ballet slippers. She believes there’s no such thing as too many blankets, sweaters, or fuzzy socks, loves crafting, baking/cooking, coffee and tea, and lives for cold and rainy afternoons spent at home cozied up with her little family.
Lily Ashburn is a senior at Houghton High School, and has been dancing with the Superior School of Dance since she was 5. Apart from dancing with the studio, she has danced with the Minnesota Ballet in their production of The Nutcracker at the Rozsa Center, and played a Hot Box Girl in the Calumet Player's production of Guys and Dolls. She is currently taking classes in Ballet, Modern, Jazz, Hip-hop, Bellydance, and is going into her third year in the Studio 7 competition and performance company. Outside of the studio, she is an avid reader and spends a lot of time playing with her puppy, Kobe. She is part of the Houghton High School Band, playing alto saxophone, and is an honor roll student. Lily is very excited to have the chance to help children learn to love dance just like she does.
Marissa Labyak is a sophomore at Michigan Technological University studying Medical Laboratory Science in hopes of becoming a dentist. She has studied multiple forms of dance for fifteen years at the Superior School of Dance including Ballet, Pointe, Tap, and Jazz. She has been teaching at SSOD for five years. Marissa also continued her dance education into college and has been an active member of the Michigan Tech Dance Team for two years. She loves teaching children to love dance the way she does.
Abby Mauno is a sophmore at Michigan Tech University and is studying Exercise Science Kinesiology, hoping to go into the medical field. Dance has been a big part of her life for 14 years, and she has studied tap, jazz, and hip-hop, with tap being her favorite style. Outside of the studio she is also a member of the Michigan Tech's Women's Club Soccer Team. She is excited to teach her third year of dance and ethused to share her love for dance with children.
Formerly director of the Superior School of Dance (1988—1999), Donna Armistead brings her professional performance experience and lifelong study of the Vaganova, Cecchetti and Royal Academy of Dancing syllabi to a series of master classes for intermediate and advanced students.
A proud native of Florida, Donna began her dance career as a junior member of the Palm Beach Ballet Company and student of Jo Anna Kneeland, whose method of applied kinesiology revolutionized the teaching of classical ballet and was adopted by such noted institutions as the Harkness Ballet and the David Howard School. She was a summer scholarship student at Harkness and later performed with the Miami Ballet, Ballet Dance Theatre (Boston) and Buffalo Ballet Theatre where she was a principal dancer. Among her influential teachers she numbers Marie Hale, Robert Davis, Percival Borde, Aubrey Hitchens, Dianne Walker, Matt Mattox, Gus Giordano and Olga Kostritsky. Before making her home in the Upper Peninsula , she taught and choreographed in such diverse locations as New York, Florida, Colorado, California, Minnesota and Canada.
Donna holds a B.A. in Theatre from Florida Atlantic University and an M.A. in Drama from Washington University in St. Louis. Locally, her choreography has been seen in classical stagings of The Nutcracker, Swan Lake, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty and original works like The Secret Garden and For They Are Women’s Children, as well as being featured in productions of the Michigan Tech Theatre Company and Pine Mountain Music Festival. Also an independent theatre director, she is delighted to be affiliated once more with the Superior School of Dance.
Adeline Goldman is a junior in high school and has been dancing with the Superior School of Dance for the past three years. She is currently enrolled in tap, ballet, and modern. Along with dancing, Adeline has figure skated since the age of five and has played basketball since the sixth grade. Adeline is very excited to share her love of dance through her teaching.
Native San Diegan, Kayla Jaynes-Niva, received her training in classical ballet along with many other styles of dance at the California Ballet School. In 2009, she began performing with the professional company, California Ballet Company, as a corps de ballet member and retired in December of 2017. She performed in countless ballets, some of which include: Thor Sutowski’s Swan Lake, Charles Bennett’s Dracula, Septime Webre’s The Great Gatsby, Maxine Mahon’s The Nutcracker, Giselle, Alice in Wonderland, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Sleeping Beauty, Romanian Rhapsodies, Les Sylphides, Toni Pimble’s Cinderella, Wayne Davis’ Souvenir, and Francisco Gella’s Suite Vivaldi. 2011 started her teaching career, working at various dance schools around San Diego County, and after her retirement, a directorship opportunity took her and her new husband to Shreveport, LA. As of August 2018, they returned home to her husband’s hometown of Toivola. Mrs Kayla is very excited to experience life in the U.P. and share her knowledge of dance with Superior School of Dance students!
Amanda Rasner started dancing at age 5 and continued through high school, mainly in jazz and tap. She took a 14 year hiatus before realizing dance was even more enjoyable as an adult! Amanda currently takes any class she can squeeze in while parenting her four kids and working as a tutor at Finlandia University. She enjoys rehearsing, costume making and performing with 47 North belly dance troupe. Her love for young children and movement merge perfectly in 123 Dance With Me, a class for tots and parents.
Adria Laplander has been a certified Zumba instructor since May of 2011. In high school, she was a cheerleader and on her school dance team. After trying Zumba in January of 2011, she fell in love with dancing all over again and knew she had to get back into it. She loves Zumba because it's a fun, yet effective, way to workout! She hopes to eventually take other Zumba trainings and obtain additional certifications. Adria is also a full time 6th grade teacher at the Houghton Middle School. She resides in Hubbell with her husband, Jason, and their daughter, Eliza.
An eight-time national champion, Debra Goldman represented the United States in international competitions in both speed skating and cycling. She holds a B.A. from Harvard University and a M.A. from The University of Chicago and has been a Guild-Certified Feldenkrais Practitioner since 1998. To contact Debra, please email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alysse Hill is a certified Highland dance instructor and premier dancer who has competed throughout the Midwest and Canada. She is originally from Farmington Hills down state, and moved to the Upper Peninsula with her husband who is a Lake Linden local. Alysse has worked with the local pipe band Superior Pipes and Drums over the past year participating in parades and working with the dancers. Alysse works as a physical therapist. She obtained her Doctorate in physical therapy at Central Michigan University.
Hannah Kowalewsky has done many types of dance up until this point including waltz, tap, pointe, and polka. She trained at The Dance Centre in Alpena, Michigan for fifteen years before coming up to Tech. For the past three years, she has traveled attending workshops and competing in Swing dance, along with helping teach the Michigan Tech Swing Club. Hannah has always had a passion towards teaching. At Tech she is also involved in the Huskies Pep Band and Mu Beta Psi. She is studying at Michigan Tech to pursue a career in Chemical Engineering and Engineering Management.