Marshall Ellis – Founder / Director
Marshall Ellis began dancing at age six in Killen, Alabama. His early years he trained in jazz, hip-hop, tap, and lyrical. Until the age of thirteen he competed in many national dance competitions. While competing he was awarded many regional and national titles. Marshall began his ballet training at the age of fifteen under the direction of Therese Laeger at the Alabama School of Fine Arts. Upon graduation, he was awarded the The Prix dʼ Excellence de Dance, the highest award given from ASFA. He then joined Ballet Austin II. After one season, he was asked to dance under full scholarship with “Images of Dance Company” with London Studio Centre in London, England. During his time in London he was awarded the David Rymer Trust Prize. Marshall then joined Orlando Ballet, under the direction of Fernando Bujones, performing everything from corp de ballet to principle roles. He also served as Orlando Ballet company representative for several seasons. Marshall has traveled around the world performing soloist and principle roles in England, Japan, USVI, and the United States. After six years with Orlando Ballet he moved on to perform as a principle equity performer with Walt Disney World. Marshall was the principle ballet dancer in Cirque du Soleil – La Nouba which was the company’s premier ballet role. While performing Marshall Ellis has choreographed and taught for many years. He has been a teacher/ choreographer for Alabama School of Fine Arts, Orlando Ballet School, STEPS Program (Scholarship Training for the Enrichment of Primary Students is targeted to reach at-risk children), Dance Masters of America, and guest teacher for several other national institutions. Choreographic works were created for students and companies. Such works have been performed and awarded in Youth American Grand Prix. Other professional work has been performed for Alabama School of Fine Arts, Cirque du Soleil, Orlando Ballet and ME Dance. In 2011 he founded ME Dance, Inc. (Marshall Ellis Dance Company a 501c3 organization) a professional dance company located in Orlando Florida. The growth of ME Dance extended in 2014 when he opened two other businesses to help stimulate the arts in Orlando. ME Theatre(2014) a performing arts venue and ME Dance School which has a mission to provide students with an environment in which to cultivate their talent and artistry to its fullest potential. Along with performing Marshall has a passion for media design. He founded a media production company called WME Design(2008). He has been lead designer for several large organizations. Services offered range from design, video, photography, and music editing. His love for the arts is apparent and he hopes that his dream will continue to come true. He is very excited to announce the founding of ME Dance (Marshall Ellis Dance Company). With his years of experience in both dance and media production feels strong and passionate about his new company’s future.
Mission and Purpose of ME Dance, Inc.
The Mission of ME Dance is to introduce innovative ideas through dance to create growth in the arts community. Our goal is to enrich the arts community by providing an outlet to feature talent in art through entertainment.
Since the age of six I have known I had a passion to perform. Being in front of an audience is what I craved. I had a dream that became real and have been performing ever since. It was a struggle between people making fun of me or that I was never going to make it. Well, I made it. I was able to perform in countries around the world and meet many talented people along the way. I have danced for different companies and two of the largest production companies in the world. I was performing everyday for thousands of people. I was living the dream. However, my personal desire was met but I wanted others to experience what I had in of my life. I believe dance is the best form of therapy. What is the first thing you do when you are happy? You do a little dance. I now realize my ultimate goal. I believe dance as a form of entertainment should be more accessible to a larger audience. I aim to collaborate with other talents in the entertainment industry to promote excitement and drive arts in the community. Through collaboration ME Dance, Inc. will be able to bring amazing performances to the stage. With passion and love for entertainment I hope to encourage the growth of art in our communities. I want to be able to bring arts back into schools and give kids access to explore there true talents. In the near future I want to build a school that teaches all forms of dance and other forms of entertainment. In life having goals is important. This new venture is important to me. I hope that you see my ambition and want to be apart of this movement with me.
Starting her training in Walled Lake, Michigan with Dance Dynamics, Darlene competed nationally, performed in Magic Music Days at Walt Disney World and as a corp member in The Nutcracker with Ballet Internationale and Moscow Ballet. She began her professional career with Celebrity Cruise Line before moving to Orlando. She currently works as an equity dancer at Dream Along With Mickey and Festival of the Lion King with Walt Disney World, also appearing in the ABC Christmas Parade as a back up dancer for Miley Cyrus and the Jonas Brothers. She also has performed for SeaWorld with Alure Call of the Ocean, Universal Studios Orlando in The Triwizard Experience, and Capones Dinner and Show. Darlene feels blessed to continue to grow with the ME Dance Company.
Sarah started her training in her home town of Newport, Oregon with Newport School of Dance and Oregon Coast Ballet Company. She then went on to train with Corvallis Academy of Ballet with Matthew Averill. Sarah attended Oregon State University and earned her Bachelors Degree while continuing her training with Corvallis Academy of Ballet. Sarah attended summer intensives with Nashville Ballet and Orlando Ballet School. She also became a member of Willamette Apprentice Ballet and performed various soloist and demi soloist roles under the direction of Megan Skinner. She performed in Eugene Ballet Company’s touring Nutcracker. Sarah has participated in many Porthole Players productions as a dancer in shows such as The Music Man, Grease and The Producers and has had a guest appearance with Oregon Dance. Some of Sarah’s favorite roles include: Matthew Averill’s Firebird pas de deux, Eve from Isle choreographed by William Soleau, Gulnare pas d’esclave variation from Le Corsaire, 1st shade variation from La Bayedere and Dawn variation from Copellia.
Abram Garcia was born and raised in Brownsville, Texas. This South Texan knew wanted to pursue dance as a career and attended Texas State University in San Marcos and graduated with a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Dance Performance and Choreography. Garcia is also the first student to graduate with this degree at Texas State University, he credits his success at Texas State University to his professors and mentor LeAnne Smith, Michelle Nance, and Ana Baer-Carillo, During his collegiate career, he was also a company member for three years of River City Ballet in San Marcos, TX under the direction of Keith Duncan performing in The Nutcracker, Ave Maria, and Graduation Ball. During his summer breaks, Garcia attended Ballet Chicago’s Advanced Summer Intensive in Chicago, IL twice led by artistic directors Daniel Duell and Patricia Blair. Today, Garcia is an AEA member and dances at the Walt Disney World Resort in shows and parades such as Dream Along With Mickey, Festival of the Lion King, and the Festival of Fantasy Parade. He loves being a part of ME Dance and working with Marshall Ellis and the rest of the company.
Nathan originally from Berkeley, California has traveled the world working for The Walt Disney Company. He began his career at Disneyland in California, then traveled to Tokyo Disneyland, and now resides in Orlando working for Walt Disney World. In California, he has danced with the World Champion Salsa Team, Pretty Boys & Girls based in the Bay Area as well as with the Fuse Modern Dance Company. In Florida, Greenberg has worked for Hardrive Productions, Metropolis Productions, and Pizazz Entertainment in a number of corporate events.
Rachael is originally from Dayton Ohio, where she began her training. She later moved to Pittsburgh to train at the Pittsburgh Ballet Theater where she also danced with the company. She attended many ballet summer intensives such as Pittsburgh Youth Ballet, Point Park, The Rock School, Houston Ballet and American Ballet Theater in New York. She has been an Equity dancer for Walt Disney World for the past nine years. She thanks her husband, Chris for partnering her through dance and life.
Rachel Mckeever, originally from Columbia, South Carolina, began her dance training at the age of six. She has danced professionally with Boston Ballet, American Repertory Ballet, and Atlanta Ballet. She is currently an equity dancer for Walt Disney World.
Christopher Mckenzie, Jr. is a Miami, Florida native. Education; New World School of the Arts College. Training; Miami City Ballet School, The Ailey School, The Martha Graham School, Diva Arts. Professional Experience; Dallas Black Dance Theatre, Ballet Frontier, The Las Vegas Contemporary Dance Theater, Delta Festival Ballet, Guest Artist Tokyo, Japan Theater company, 6 o’clock Dance Theatre. Teachings; AileyCamp Miami Ballet Master.
Erin Murphy was born in Pittsburgh, PA, and started taking dance lessons at the age of 3, under the instruction of Abby Lee Miller. She has studied multiple dance styles including, jazz, tap, ballet, lyrical, modern, acrobatics, and gymnastics. Immediately after graduating high school, her professional dance career began at Walt Disney World as a Kid of the Kingdom, where she was a swing for Disneymania! and Every Day’s a Holiday. She was fortunate enough to tour the world while dancing for Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, and continued on travelling with Holland America Lines as a dance captain. After many years at sea, Erin decided to get her “land legs” back and is currently performing in the Festival of the Lion King at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Erin would like to thank her family for their continuing support while she follows her love of dance no matter where it takes her. She is so excited to be a part of ME Dance.
Alexandra Schudde is a true Florida girl she started her dance training at the age of 3. Most of her training came from her family owned studio growing up called “Starlight Dance Studio” which was located in Orlando. At the age of 12 her family moved back to the FL panhandle where she continued her studies at Northwest Florida Ballet. Every summer for 5 years Alexandra would travel back down to Tampa to be involved with Broadway Theatre Project. As an apprentice and also an assistant to the Program Director. It was here that she was able to study under the direction of some of Broadways greatest performers like Ann Reinking, Debra McWaters, Ben Vereen, Dave Clemmons, and so many more. After Graduating from high school Alexandra began to dance as a company dancer for Northwest FL Ballet under the direction of Todd Eric Allen and Dorothy Daniels Lister. After completing two seasons with NWFB, Alexandra moved back to Orlando and joined the Actors Equity Association and began performing for Walt Disney World and Universal Studios. Currently she is performing in Finding Nemo the Musical, Beauty and the Beast, Dream Along with Mickey, and A Totally Tomorrowland Christmas. At Universal Studios during Halloween Horror Nights in 2008 and 2009, she performed in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Halloween Adventure and Rocky Horror Picture Show: a Tribute. She has also spent time at Universal’s Islands of Adventure, performing in Grinchmas, and in the original cast at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter as a girl from the Beauxbatons Academy of Magic. Along with performing Alexandra serves on the board of directors for ME Dance, Inc. a new and exciting dance company located in Central Florida.
Lauren Sherwood is originally from Rochester, NY, but she now calls Atlanta, GA home. She began her professional training at the Draper Center for Dance Education in Rochester and later attended high school at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, majoring in dance. After graduating in 2009, she went on to dance professionally with Atlanta Ballet, BalletMet Columbus, Montgomery Ballet and Georgia Ballet. She had the opportunity to perform many principal, soloist and corps de ballet roles throughout her career, but her favorites were Christine Daae in Darren McIntyre’s “Phantom of the Opera” and David Dawson’s “On the Nature of Daylight” pas de deux. She enjoys working with young dancers and was a full time faculty member with the Montgomery Ballet School and the British Academy of Performing Arts in Marietta, GA. Lauren is currently a full time performer at Walt Disney World, performing in shows and parades at Magic Kingdom and in the Festival of the Lion King at Animal Kingdom. She is very excited to continue growing and dancing as a member of ME Dance this season!
Sara Rose Smith is a Michigan native, and has been dancing since the age of four. She trained with many influential teachers in the Metro Detroit area including Theresa McKeon, Deborah Shiposh, and Sergey Rayevskiy. While growing up she also attended dance summer intensives at ABT Detroit, The Kirov Academy of Washington DC, and Walnut Hill School for the Arts. As a high schooler, she was accepted into The Nutmeg Conservatory for the Arts in Torrington, CT, and performed corps and soloist roles in The Nutmeg Ballet’s productions of The Nutcracker, Raymonda, and Diana & Actaeon. She later moved to Indiana to attend Butler University, and participated in several Butler Ballet classical, modern, and contemporary works. She also had an opportunity to study abroad in Eastern Europe, and performed in Poland and Russia. After receiving her Bachelor of Arts in Dance Pedagogy from Butler University, she danced a full season at The Ballet Theatre of Maryland in Annapolis, under the director Dianna Cuatto. Sara is thrilled to continue her dance career in Orlando as a member of ME Dance this season!
Vanessa Maria Smith
Vanessa has been dancing for 21 years. She is originally from Houston, Texas and trained with Laredo Performing Arts. She competed in various dance styles during her adolescence. Vanessa attended Texas State University and was a part of the Texas State Strutters. She was also a part of the Jazz Elite division for the Texas State Strutters. Vanessa currently works for the Walt Disney World company as a performer at Festival of the Lion King.
Elise Tarantina is from New Jersey but started her professional training at The New York Conservatory for the Arts. After many years of dancing she attended Montclair State University and graduated with a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Dance. She has had the pleasure of working with well known choreographers such as Bill T.Jones, Linda Kent and Donald McKayle. She has also professionally danced with Project:Smith and Dimauro Dance Company. Elise is currently a performer at Walt Disney World in Festival of the Lion King and other shows and parades. She is thankful for this opportunity and excited to be a part of ME dance this season!
ME2 Pre-Professional Dance Company in Orlando, FloridaME Dance, Inc. is excited to announce the forming of ME2 Pre-Professional Dance Company. ME2 members will be selected through an auditioning process overseen by ME Dance, Inc. artistic director Marshall Ellis. Dancers from 14 – 21 years of age are invited to audition for ME2.ME2 Pre-Professional Dance Company members will attend a variety of dance classes such as ballet, jazz, tap, and hip hop at ME Dance School. These aspiring students will have opportunities to rehearse and perform with the professional company, ME Dance, Inc.. In addition to performance opportunities with the professional company, ME2 will participate in community outreach, festivals, and other performance opportunities in Orlando.It is the mission of ME Dance School to provide students with an environment in which to cultivate their talent and artistry to its fullest potential.Tuition for program is $150/month. This tuition includes unlimited classes and rehearsals.To schedule a audition class please email firstname.lastname@example.org. In the subject please type ME2 Audition. Thank you and good luck!
ME 2 COMPANY DANCERS