DAA Academy Faculty

Since 2001, Janie has directed and produced over fifty full scale concerts at the Wortham Center, Hobby Center, Miller Outdoor Theatre, Jones Hall, Stafford Centre as well as on tour.  She trained with Houston Ballet and her mother Mitsi Shen.  She graduated on full scholarship from the Meadows School of the Arts at Southern Methodist University in Ballet, Modern, Jazz and Choreography.  Janie Yao led 20 dancers to the Quarter Finals of Season 8 of America’s Got Talent’s LIVE performance at Radio City Music Hall in New York City in 2013.  Under the direction of Janie Yao, DAA reaches over 50,000 people annually through over 50 free public performances and educational program.  DAA also provides advanced training for local dancers in all forms of dance and opportunities to perform live in professional settings.  DAA values dance as a tool for educating multi-generational audiences about Chinese history and culture and engage in international exchange to effectively bridge the gap between the east and the west.  Visit our website today to find out about our amazing free performances and educational programs or book us for an event.  In 2009, DAA was select as one of the 11 best dance companies in Houston to present the Dance USA’s Showcase – “The Power of Movement” – at The Wortham Center.

Janie Yao
Director and Co-Founder of Asian America
Mitsi Shen
International Coordinator & Co-Founder of Dance of Asian America

Mitsi Shen was former principal dancer and respected teacher of the Shanghai Dance Troupe and Shanghai Dance Academy. She was the Gold Medalist of the Pan-America Competition - Dance Fever - in 1983.  Mitsi Shen was the founder of Mitsi Dancing School and ran the school for 31 years (1984 to 2015) and led the School to the Quarter Finals of Season 8 of America’s Got Talent’s LIVE performance at Radio City Music Hall in New York City.  Mitsi Shen is no longer affiliated with MDS or Mitsi Dancing School.

Amy Fote
Dance of Asian America Guest Master Instructor and Choreographer

Amy Fote was born in Manitowoc, WI and received her early dance training at the Jean Wolfmeyer School of Dance.  She attended performing arts high schools in both Illinois and Michigan before graduating with honors from the Harid Conservatory in Boca Raton, FL. The following year she became a trainee with Milwaukee Ballet where she danced for 14 years, rising to the rank of Principal Dancer. During that time, Ms. Fote was invited to guest the title role in Welch's Madame Butterfly with the Royal New Zealand Ballet. The following season she was invited to join Houston Ballet as a first soloist and was promoted to Principal Dancer the following year. She danced with the company for 8 seasons before retiring in 2012. Ms. Fote's repertoire included leading roles in Swan Lake, Romeo & Juliet, Don Quixote, Manon, The Merry Widow, Onegin, Giselle, The Sleeping Beauty, Anna Karenina (featured in the PBS documentary, Dancing Anna Karenina), The Magic Flute, La Fille Mal Gardee,  Carmen and Scherezade among others.  The diverse repertoire of both Houston Ballet and Milwaukee Ballet afforded Ms. Fote the opportunity to preform works by Sir Kenneth MacMillian, Jiri Kylian, Anthony Tudor, George Balanchine, Nacho Duato , Jerome Robbins, Glen Telly, Choo San Goh, Alonzo King, Christopher Bruce, Ben Stevenson, Christopher Wheeldon, Lynn Taylor-Corbett  and Mark Morris.  

Following her retirement from dancing, Ms. Fote accepted the position of ballet master with Ballet San Antonio.  Currently she guest teaches throughout the U.S. and at Houston Ballet, where she teaches both company and academy classes.

 Her goal is to help young and experienced dancers hone their technique while developing their artistry. 

Yanni Su
Dance of Asian America Instructor and Choreographer

She Su Yan Ni was the First Place Winner in the City of Dalian Dance Competition in 2007. She received group dance Special Recognition in Shanghai Dance Competition in 2009. She also received the group dance Gold medal in the 7th National Lotus Dance Competition in 2010.

Michelle McKay
Dance of Asian America Instructor and Choreographer

Michelle McKay, originally from Houston, Texas graduated from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas with a BFA in Dance. During her time at SHSU she was a member of Chi Tau Epsilon, a Dance Honors Society that kept her involved in community service and outreach, which included incorporation of dance in local elementary schools. While at SHSU, she also gained certification to teach Mat 1&2 Pilates, which she fell in love with when discovering how much it facilitated her body’s strength and awareness while dancing. Michelle began her dance career with a focus in classical Vaganova ballet and later branched out to diversify her training with contemporary, modern, jazz, and more. She has trained coast to coast from California to New York, with choreographers such as Mia Michaels, Liz Imperio, Arturo Fernandez, Travis Wall, and more. Over the years Michelle attended many summer intensives and national dance conventions such as Ballet Austin, Joffrey Ballet School, and The Dance Awards, with the help of performance based scholarships. After being involved with competitive dance for a few years, Michelle began to choreograph pieces that went on to win overall high scores and choreography awards at regional competitions. She is always excited to learn new and different styles of dance, and share her passion with those around her.

 
Man Man Yu
Dance of Asian America Instructor 

Man Man graduated from the Beijing Dance Academy. She received the Gold Medal is performance choreography at the China Northern Five Province Competition. She also received the Gold Medal in Performance and Choreography at the Singapore International Song and Dance Competition.

Jerrica Mark
Dance of Asian America Soloist and Instructor

Jerrica Mark is a graduate of the University of Houston and currently dances with Karen Stokes Dance. She has also performed with Dance of Asian America, Houston Dance Theatre, and the UH Dance Ensemble. She started her training and the age of three and has studied all different styles at Houston Ballet Academy, Dance of Asian America, American Academy of Dance, and the University of Houston. In 2009, Jerrica joined Dance of Asian America and has performed many times in DAA’s Splendid China and East Meets West shows at the Miller Outdoor Theater. She has also performed locally in DAA’S touring shows at Texas Children’s Hospital, Methodist Hospital, and numerous elementary schools in Houston and its surrounding areas. In addition to performing, Jerrica has also taught Chinese dance at six of Dance Houston’s No Limits Dance Camp. This past summer, she taught dance, Chinese culture and crafts for ExploreAsia: The Dances of China at the Asia Society Texas Center. 

Sheri Frazen
Dance of Asian America Instructor and Choreographer

Ms. Glandon received full scholarship from The Julliard School Dance Division. She later danced professionally in the San Antonio Ballet, Milwaukee Ballet, and Pennsylvania Ballet. She has had two ballets choreographed especially for her by Yacor Sharwin and Lynn Taylor Corbett in the 1980s.

Dawn Dippel
Dance of Asian America Instructor and Choreographer 

Dawn Dippel (co-owner) has been dancing most of her life and is co-owner of NHPA & NHPA II, co-Director and founding member of Revolve Dance Company, and a former member of the Dominic Walsh Dance Theatre. She grew up in the Houston area, graduated from Houston’s High School for the Performing & Visual Arts Dance Department, and since then continues to train in and outside of Houston. Dawn’s choreographic works for Revolve Dance Company have been showcased at many of Houston’s various local performance events including Dance Houston, Texas Weekend of Contemporary Dance, Triple Focus, Choreographers X 6, Dance of Asian America, and Revolve On Camera. In the 2008 issue of Dance Magazine she was named as one of "25 to Watch" for up and coming artists across the country and was also named one of Houston's 100 creatives by the Houston Press. In 2014, "Revolve On Camera" premiered at the Houston Cinema Arts Festival and won the audience choice award at the Dance Camera West festival in California.  
Currently Dawn is teaching at NHPA II, Ad Deum II and Houston Ballet Academy. She has spent many years working beside many talented and professional artists who have been an influence and inspiration in her journey of this art!

Jane Thayer
Dance of Asian America Instructor and Choreographer 

Jane Thayer is co-owner of NHPA™ II Dance Studio and NHPA™ II Dance Company  and a member of Revolve Dance Company.  Jane was born in Joliet, Illinois and grew up in Spring, TX where she began her dance training at NHPA™ in 1995 under the instruction of Amy Cain, Dawn Dippel, and Ken McCulloch.  Jane has also had the opportunity to work with other choreographers/teachers in the Houston area such as: Fred Strobel, Barbara Bears, Naomi Glass, Damian Schwiethale, and Clara Cravey of Houston Ballet, Randall Flinn of Ad Deum Dance Company. Others include Wes Veldink, Jason Parsons, Natsuo, Malaya, Mandy Moore and Ryan Heffington (from New York and L.A.), and Yung Woo of Korea. She has performed in Revolve Dance Company's concerts since their premiere in 2005, as well as in Ad Deum Dance Company's "Mystery and Miracle" in 2007, Dance Houston, Choreographers X6, DAA’s East Meets West and "Revolve On Camera" premiere at the Houston Cinema Arts Festival in 2014.  Jane has her degree in Theatrical Costume Design which has provided her with opportunities to do seamstress work for iMEE, and to work with Dominic Walsh Dance Theater as a seamstress and Wardrobe mistress for several productions. She has also been the resident costume designer and seamstress for the NHPA™ & NHPA™ II Dance Company and Revolve Dance Company since 2005.

Nao Kusuzaki
Dance of Asian America Instructor and Choreographer

Nao Kusuzaki is born in Ehime prefecture, Japan, and began her ballet lessons at 3 years old at Yatsuzuka Ballet school. After moving to the U.S. at age 10, she continued her training with The Washington Ballet School and Boston Ballet School. Nao became a member of Corps de Ballet with Boston Ballet in 2001. In 2004 she joined Houston Ballet, and was promoted to Soloist in 2009. She has danced numerous leading roles in both classical and contemporary repertoire. Some of her featured roles include: The Sugarplum Fairy and The Snow Queen in The Nutcracker, Nikiya in La Bayadere, Madame Butterfly in Madame Butterfly, Lilac Fairy in Sleeping Beauty, Odette and Odile in Swan Lake, Jiri Kylian’s Petite Mort, Sinfonietta, and Falling Angels, William Forsythe’s In the Middle Somewhat Elevated, Twyla Tharp’s In the Upper Room, Christopher Wheeldon’s Rush, and Mark Morris’s Pacific. Nao is also active in the Houston community through producing Dance for Hope, a Benefit Concert in response to Japan Earthquake of 2011, co-creating TSURU with Asia Society Texas Center in 2015, and directing and dancing The 45th Anniversary Ballet Performance celebrating Houston and Chiba Sister City Relations, which premiered in July 22, 2017. Nao is Founder of Creative Minds Collaborative Inc., a nonprofit organization which seeks to create meaning across artists, educators, and supporters of the arts.

Wu Wei Feng
DAA Guest Artist and Artistic Director of China Scholar Dance Company

China's #1 Ranking Dancer. He received the best performance award in the 2007 China National Cultural Competition.  In 2006, he received Gold Medal for Choreography in the 10th Beijing Dance Competition and Bronze Medal for Choreography in the 8th Dao Li Cup National Dance Competition.  He was a 2002 CCTV Dance Competition Silver Medalist.  In 2001, he won Gold Medal in China National Dance Competition.  In 2000, he received the Best Male Dancer Award in the 1st Lotus Cup National Dance Competition and Gold and Bronze Medal in the 6th Dao Li Cup National Dance Competition.  He toured France, Italy, England, Russia, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia and India.  Mr. Wu is a renown choreographer in many major films of China.  He also played the body double for amazing performances in House of Fly Dagger.  He is currently a Professor of the China Scholar Dance Company and a member of the China Dancers Association. 

Zhang Yixiang
Visiting Artist

Mr. Zhang, China's National Top Dancer, won the Bronze Medal in the 2013 Korean Seoul International Dance Competition and the Silver Medal in the 2007 National Dance Academy Competition. He was the Bronze Medalist of the 2007 10th Beijing Dance Competition and Silver Medalist of the 7th and 8th Tao Li Cup National Dance Competition.  He joined the China National Ballet Company in 2008 and choreographed unique Chinese Ballets.  He has toured in France, Australia, US, England, Germany and Korea.  He as a guest choreographer in Russia in 2016 and won the best choreography award in the Istanbul International Dance Competition.

Zhou Li Jun
Visiting Artist

Ms. Zhou, China's National Top Dancer, has been rated a “Most Beautiful Dancer” among Chinese’s dance professionals and featured in the September 2016 Cosmo Magazine.  She received 3rd Place in the 7th and 8th Tao Li Cup National Dance Competition.  She was the Gold Medalist of the 10th Beijing Dance Competition.  In 2016 she was featured in the leading role in the Beijing Chinese New Year National Broadcast.

Lena Yeh
Dance of Asian America Instructor and Choreographer

Lena professionally trained in Chinese dance in Taiwan since 2009 and also received a Bachelor degree in Dance Performance from the Sam Houston State University in 2019.  She performed with the Wu Fu Dance Company in Taiwan as well as SHSU in numerous productions.  She received 2nd Place in both the Chinese dance and modern dance category in the Taiwan National Dance Competition.  

Yeeree Bingham
Dance of Asian America Instructor and Choreographer

Yeri is a Korean dance/modern dance dancer originally from Korea. She started dancing since she was 5 years old. She graduated from the TOP Art Middle school and High school in Seoul and received a Bachelor's Degree of Dance at Sungkyunkwan University in Seoul Korea. Yeri’s choreography received award at the Dance and People Choreographic Festival in Korea.  She received 2nd Place OVERALL at the Soonchunhyang University International Dance Competition in Seoul as well as the Best Dance Instructor Award at the Now Here Performance Academy in Seoul.

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