Meet the Team
JACKI FORD – STUDIO DIRECTOR & OWNER
Jacki grew up in Utah, where she began her dance training at The Dance Club in all styles of dance. Growing up, she spent her summers in LA training at professional studios in the city. Upon high school graduation Jacki received the prestigious Willam Christensen scholarship and attended the University of Utah graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in ballet in three years. She then quickly moved into the professional dance world becoming one of the world famous Radio City Rockettes. Although her credits include concert work, Off Broadway, theater and commercials her biggest passion has become choreography and teaching.
An Ace Awards choreography finalist, Jacki has won awards across the country for her work, and as a great technician, she is well known for bringing out the most in students of all ages. She is currently on faculty at PACE University in the commercial dance department where she teaches ballet and jazz and continues to travel around the country as a guest teacher and choreographer. Now the mother of three children, Jacki began searching for a program that would offer the balance she knows young dancers need. Not finding what she knows is needed, she is now going to provide young children with just such a dance education!
Lizzy Tierney – Little’s Ballet/Jazz
Lizzy began her dance training in Rochester, NY, under the direction of Brenda Bobby, where she competed regionally and nationally for over 15 years. She then moved to NYC to attend Pace University’s School of Performing Arts and recently graduated with her BFA in Commercial Dance. While at Pace she studied with Rhonda Miller, Lauren Gaul, Scott Jovovich, Dee Caspary, Jess Hendricks, and Emmy Nominee Al Blackstone, to name a few. Lizzy also spent time in LA studying dance and choreography for the camera under Emmy Winner Mandy Moore (SYTYCD, La La Land, DWTS) and Jen Hamilton.
Lizzy was recently seen as “Annette” in a production of Saturday Night Fever (Surflight Theater) and “Edna” in the regional premiere of Bright Star (Surflight Theater). She loves to teach and share her knowledge and love for dance. She has 4 years of teaching experience, and her choreography can be seen in the New York and New Jersey area. Lizzy is extremely excited to be teaching at DiDa and giving all she can to the next generation of dancers.
Alexia Waites – Hip-Hop/Demonstrator
Alexia Waites was born and raised in Biloxi, Mississippi where she danced at her mother’s studio from the age of two until graduation. She went on to attend Pace University as a BFA Commercial Dance major where she is now a senior. During her time at Pace she has had the opportunity to dance with many well-known choreographers such as Al Blackstone, Dee Caspary, Jacki Ford, Alexandra Damiani, Jess Hendricks, Mandy Moore, Scott Jovovich and more.
She also recently performed an excerpt from On The Town alongside Misty Copeland and choreographed by Joshua Bergasse. Aside from performing, she has really found a passion for teaching dance and hopes to pass on her knowledge to future dancers.
Ru Zhang – Vocal
Ruobing Zhang (Ru) has made a name for himself as a pianist, singer, and martial arts specialist, winning serious accolades in all fields. He will enter his final year studying voice and piano at The Juilliard School under the tutelage of Matti Raekallio (piano) and Doc White (voice). Additionally, he is a rising voice coach and director, highly sought after in both the musical theater and pop fields, with a studio comprising over 50 students. He was crowned gold prize at the 2017 Water Cube Vocal Reality Show in China, where he was selected as the winner among 5,000 contestants. In the past year, Mr. Zhang has directed the musicals “In the Heights” by Lin-Manuel Miranda and “Rent” by Jonathan Larson.
At the age of 14, he performed Prokofiev’s Concerto No. 3 at the World Piano Competition’s ‘Go for the Gold’ concerto competition, winning first place and the Grand Prize for levels 9 -12. During that same year, Mr. Zhang competed in the 2012 US Youth Talent and Art Competition, receiving both first place and Grand Prize. He has also won a slew of other international competitions and has also appeared on FOX, NBC, CBS, and ABC’s Good Morning America.
This past summer, he was honored to have the privilege of recording his debut classical album under China’s most celebrated record label: China Record Corporation.