Originally from El Paso, TX, Ada attended the University of Texas at El Paso on full scholarship, graduating Cum Laude with a BFA in Ballet Performance, and a concentration in Creative Writing. She was the recipient of the Theater and Dance Department’s award for "Outstanding Major". She continued her higher education at New York University, receiving the Dean's Opportunity Scholarship. She holds an M.A. in Dance Education with a certification in American Ballet Theater® Pedagogy. While in NYC, Ada studied with the faculty, accompanists, physical therapist, and choreographer of ABT’s® Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School.


Ada has performed at Universita di Roma, the Conservatorio Santa Cecilia in Italy, Skirball Center for the Performing Arts in New York City, AMEBA Acrobatic and Aerial Dance, Elements Contemporary Ballet in Chicago, Firebox Dance Theatre from Scotland, DTM2 Improvisation Ensemble from California, Ballet Nacional de Cd. Juarez, Peoria Ballet, Reflections by Collective Essence in Austin, Ballet El Paso/UTEP Ballet, El Paso Opera, El Paso Symphony, El Paso Association for the Performing Arts, and the UTEP Dinner Theater.


Ada is a NDEO member who has taught for The Washington School of Ballet, Joffrey Ballet, National Dance Institute NM, Chicago’s Having a Ball Dance Program, Chicago Arts Partnerships in Education, & NYC’s Building Educated Leaders for Life. She is a former faculty member of UTEP’s Department of Theater and Dance, El Paso Community College’s Continuing Education program, and Peoria Ballet Academy.

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Marina Garbalena, originally from Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, began her dance training at her local recreation center and later at the Academia Municipal de Artes in Cd Juárez where she immediately fell in love with the arts and dance. As a teenager she continued developing her passion and skill as a member of the first graduating class of Centro Municipal De Las Artes, a foundational arts school in Cd Juárez. Marina received her Associates degree in Dance and become a principal dancer with the institution’s dance company, where she performed weekly shows for six consecutive seasons alongside artists from the region. She then went on to earn her BFA in Dance Performance at The University of Texas at El Paso.


Ms. Garbalena has partnered and collaborated with the National Dance Institute and Pushing Progress Contemporary Dance in New York City, Danza Total in Mexico City, The UTEP Department of Theater & Dance, and Eva Maria Dance. Most recently, she served as Teaching Artist, and Interim Co-Artistic Director with Kids Excel El Paso, a non-profit arts education organization. 

She is currently a member of Mountain Movement Dance Company (MMDC) where she has had the opportunity to perform and choreograph works presented throughout Texas, as well as the 2017 Edinburgh Festival Fringe in Scotland.


Originally from Russia, Uliana graduated with a degree in Teaching from Penza Pedagogical University with an honor of Red Diploma and received an Award for contributions to Penza Puppet Theater during the festival in Turkey. She took a leap of faith and moved to the USA on a full scholarship to a private liberal arts school, Millsaps, which she graduated with a degree in International Relations. 


Upon moving to Baltimore, she discovered the world of salsa and fell in love with it. She studied with different salsa world stars from Washington D.C., New York and Boston. Later on she became an apprentice to a ballroom studio in Baltimore, Circle of Friends. Upon moving to Washington D.C., she was selected to become a Bay Area Shuckers Cheerleader, which is one of her fondest dance experience memories. While in DC, Uliana also performed with Allure Dance Company and started studying West Coast Swing Dancing.


When she moved to Austin, she joined DAS jazz performance group and performed on stages of North Door, Paramount Theater, and Hilton Hotel. Uliana also continued studying salsa and bachata and joining different dance team projects, like Dance Collective, Cinco Doce, Collective Essence, Cre8tive Control, and Sabor De Austin which allowed her to perform at Houston Salsa Congress, San Antonio dance convention, and multiple ballroom studios around the Austin area. She currently performs with Dos Y Seis Performance Team.  



Clara Neufeld began her dance training studying classical ballet under Andrée Harper in El Paso, TX. Here she performed various soloist roles with the El Paso Youth Symphony, and various concerts with The Bridge BiNational Symphony. 


Clara has been accepted into summer programs with prestigious ballet companies across the nation, including Ballet Austin, Oklahoma City Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, the Washington Ballet, and the Jilllana Conservatory.


Clara discovered her passion for teaching and choreographing as part of the 70 member Eastwood Trooperettes dance team. For the past couple years, Clara has been an instructor for MA Dance, teaching and choreographing for high school dance teams nationwide.


Through TCU's Dance Scholarship, Fine Arts Academic Achievement Scholarship, and English Heritage Endowed Scholarship, Clara is currently pursuing a BFA in Ballet, a BA in English, an Honors Research Thesis in Dance, as well as a Pilates Teaching Certification at Texas Christian University. At TCU, she has had the opportunity to perform in classical ballets, such as “Swan Lake” and “Konservatoriet,” and new contemporary works by Peter Pucci and Rubén Gerding.



Isabella Ginter is originally from Chicago, Illinois where she studied classical modern and ballet at The Academy of Movement and Music. She currently attends Texas Christian University on scholarship where she is earning her BFA in ballet.


Isabella has taught ballet in several schools in both Fort Worth and Chicago including Maywood Fine Arts, Margo Dean School of Ballet, and The Academy of Movement and Music.


Previously, she has performed the title role in Giselle Act II with MOMENTA and the role of Nikiya in Kingdom of the Shades from La Bayadere. Isabella has most recently performed in Ballet Concerto’s Summer Dance Concert in Fort Worth and with Elevator Project’s, A Lily Among Thorns at the AT&T Performing Arts Center , and in new contemporary ballet works by Peter Pucci. 


After graduation, Isabella hopes to dance professionally while continuing to teach ballet and pilates.

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Melanie began her piano instruction in McKinney, TX with Dr. Mary Humm and continued her education with Dr. Terry Hudson at Baylor University, where she earned a Bachelor of Music degree in Vocal Performance with a secondary emphasis on piano. While at Baylor she taught voice and piano lessons and performed with Baylor Opera. Currently, she plays piano at Providence Church and teaches at her piano studio, Melanie Hebert Music. 


In addition to music, Melanie studied ballet for 10 years in Dallas and McKinney, Texas. A highlight of her dance training was taking classes with live piano, and she has been interested in dance accompaniment ever since. 


Melanie is excited to be a part of the ballet world again as our accompanist.


Jennifer graduated from The University of Texas at Austin with her Bachelors, and an  Associate degree in graphic design from Parsons The New School.


In NYC, Jennifer was employed by a boutique design agency and real estate company in their internal design department. Here she worked on their seasonal ads, brochures, and marketing campaigns. She specialized in design for luxury retail, working along the director creating catalogs and ads for products made by brands such as Lancôme. Additionally, while in NYC, she worked on design for a  non profit, IBREA Foundation, an umbrella organization under United Nations.

Upon returning to Austin, Jennifer held an internship with Austin Monthly Magazine in their graphic design department. She's created several logos for a local hair salon, reiki/taro card healer, and physical therapist.

Jennifer most recently completed her 200 hour yoga teacher training in Rishikesh, India. She has also trained and studied another mind body practice of energy movement, ki gong, in Sedona. Her yoga training was the greatest gift of self love to herself after passing her one year post kidney transplant. Her classes have a unique touch, mixing a bit of ki gong with hatha and Tibetan sound healing.

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Meliza Watkins is the cookie artist behind Thirteen Cookies. She attended DANZA's grand opening back in January 2016 and has been a supporter since then! However, it wasn't until the pandemic that this partnership began in which she led online decorating classes to DANZA students. 


Her cookie journey started as a request from her daughter but never thought that in such a short time the business would grow into what it has become. One day her daughter asked her to make cookies in the shape of dancers for her dance team. This is when Meliza fall in love with the art of cookie decorating. With the love and support of her family, who always give her words of encouragement to keep her going, Meliza is happy to bring you, Thirteen Cookies.

She has had the opportunity to take workshops with Megan Warne and Lisa He. Meliza has in turn donated her services to Round Rock Folklorico and MAS Cultura, and has been a vendor with Frida Friday ATX and _OFCOLOR's Latino Art WKND. Most recently, she was featured in Voyage Austin.

Meliza looks forward to continuing to work with the DANZA family and meet your future cookie needs. See her work at:


Cecile Fusco Photography is an event, portrait, and food photographer in Austin. Her work has been featured by the Austin American Statesman, Rolling Stone (digital), and used on everything from album covers to food product packaging. She’s photographed the Austin Music Awards for the Austin Chronicle, events for non-profits around Austin, food for national and local food clients, as well as artistic portraits of many families around the area.


She has been capturing the events and classes at DANZA since its inception, and loves her DANZA family! 


Her work can be found at: (and on our site!).


DANZA is always looking to collaborate with experienced and talented dance, music, and theater teachers for substitute positions, guest teaching, or for our Summer Camps, Children's Program, and Adult Program. Interested candidates may send a resume to:​

Now that you've learned about our staff, go to the 'Gallery' to meet our students!