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. Upon high school graduation, Jacki received the prestigious William 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 Award 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 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.
Sydney Mesher – Hip Hop
Sydney, originally from Portland, Oregon, is a New York based dancer, model, speaker, and artist. She is represented by Clear Talent Group and Zebedee Management. She is a Pace University graduate with a BFA in Commercial Dance. Constantly advocating for individuality and artistry, Sydney strives to share her story. Born without her left hand, Sydney’s differences are blatantly illuminated. She found confidence within her unique body, and has embarked on a journey of celebrating and praising all body types. Sydney has performed and worked for various artists and brands. In 2019, she made her debut as a Radio City Rockette. She has modeled for a Hollister Gilly Hicks Holiday Campaign, stars in a Core Hydration Commercial series and ad campaign, is featured in Real Life Strong segment of Health Magazine, and appeared in the “Smartphone User’s Guide to Etiquette,” which was released by Refinery 21. She has performed for Kpop Group, BTS Official, in their Love Yourself World Tour at Citi Field, danced for Jordan Fisher at an intimate concert in LA, and performed in Candace Brown’s New York show, the Soul Spot.
She has been interviewed and been featured in articles by CNN, NBC, NBC Nightly News, ESPN, the Oregonian, Newsday, People Magazine, GMA, New York Post, and the Mighty. She has trained and worked with many choreographers, including, Candace Brown, Martha Nichols, Karen Keeler, Wildabeast Adams, Janelle Ginestra, Tony Testa, Rhonda Miller, Liz Imperio, Alexandra Damiani, Bo Park, Laura Haney, Sean McKnight, and Jessica Hendricks. She has assisted industry legend, Galen Hooks, in various master classes, and has been a featured dancer and dance captain for Luam Keflezgy.
Maddie Murphy – Tap
Maddie grew up training under her mother, Malana Murphy, in tap dance. From a very early age, she started her dance career training in ballet, jazz, tap and hip hop. In high school, she incorporated modern dance and more ballet training at the prestigious Booker T Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Dallas Texas. In 2016, Maddie was named a Young Arts Finalist in tap dance. Some of her performance experiences include Young Arts, Good Morning Texas, Hands Down Tap Project, INFUSION, DC Tap Fest Concert, and Dallas Dance Fest to name a few. Maddie is in her fourth year at Pace University in the Commercial Dance program, where she trains immensely in ballet, jazz, tap and hip hop, along with classes in acting, singing and aerial arts. She is a Jacob’s Pillow alumni, faculty member at RIFF Dallas tap dance festival and a member of Project Convergence. This past winter, Maddie was invited to perform in Dorrance Dance Company’s The Nutcracker Suite, making her debut at the Joyce Theater in New York City.
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, and graduated in 2019. 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 has also recently performed an excerpt from On The Town alongside Misty Copeland, choreographed by Joshua Bergasse. Aside form performing, Alexia has really found a passion for teaching dance and hopes to pass on her knowledge to future dancers.
Kenzi Maniff – Mini’s Tap
Kenzi is originally from Boston, where she grew up training heavily in ballet, tap, jazz, modern, contemporary, musical theater and hip hop. Kenzi then continued her training in New York City, where she attended Pace University to pursue a career in dance and theater. She graduated from Pace in 2018 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Commercial Dance, with concentrations in Choreography and Pedagogy. Kenzi now lives and works as a dancer in New York City, where she has filmed a commercial for the New Jersey Lottery organization, and most recently performed in a production of All Shook Up! at Westchester Broadway Theater. Kenzi continues to fulfill her love for choreography by guest teaching and choreographing at studios around the Northeast region. She is so excited to dance with you!
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.