Our passion and excitement at Inspire Academy of Dance come straight from the heart - let us introduce ourselves
Alexandra Wright graduated from Webster University in St. Louis with Bachelor of Arts degrees in dance and journalism. After college, Alex spent a summer interning at Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival in Becket, Massachusetts, where she worked alongside well-known dancers and arts administrators from around the world. Later, she completed her master’s degree in secondary education at Maryville University in St. Louis.
Alex has trained in and performed a variety of dance styles, including ballet, jazz, tap, modern, contemporary, lyrical, and aerial. She performed in St. Louis as a company member with En L’Air Aerial Dance Company.
For the past 12 years, Alex has focused on teaching and choreography. Before relocating to the Seattle area in 2012, Alex worked as assistant director of the competitive dance company at Renee Johnson’s Dance Floor in Chesterfield, Missouri. Since moving to the Seattle area, Alex has taught for a number of studios on the Eastside and has choreographed many competition pieces. Her choreography has received recognition and awards at regional and national dance competitions.
Alex established Alexandra Dance Academy in partnership with Maple Valley Parks and Recreation in August 2013. Though not a dance studio in the traditional sense, Alexandra Dance Academy quickly became a successful program dedicated to providing affordable, quality dance instruction to students ages 2-10.
Alex created Inspire Academy of Dance with Michelle Chandler-Smith in 2016. Alex and Michelle share a passion for bringing a family-oriented, positive, nurturing dance environment to Issaquah and the surrounding community. Alex is excited to begin this new adventure in her dance journey, and can’t wait to share her passion with you and your family!
Michelle began her dance journey at age 12. With over 25 years of experience, her interests and expertise are in jazz, lyrical, contemporary, ballet and modern. She spends her free time teaching and traveling the country continuing her dance education, choreographing, teaching master classes, intensives and judging.
Michelle has studied under the guidance of Joe Tremaine, Gus Giordano, Dave Massey, Doug Caldwell, Sean Greene, and several others. She has also had the privilege of performing as a member of the jazz-based Eastside Moving Company and the modern-jazz Company Fusion, both in Seattle.
After three years at Chapman University in Orange, California and a Bachelor of Arts in Dance and Theatre, she began her teaching career in Bellevue, Washington at Backstage Dance Studio. Several of Chandler-Smith’s students have won title awards regionally and nationally and have gone onto careers with Holland America, Carnival Cruise Lines, Stiletto Entertainment and are seen in many industrial pieces in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Las Vegas and New York City, as well as Company work in Seattle, Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, Pennsylvania, Saipan and London.
Michelle also sits on the judging panel regionally and nationally for KAR, Rainbow Dance and other esteemed Dance Competitions and is excited to be a part of the Showbiz and Primetime family now as well. Michelle continues to teach master classes, convention classes on staff at Kids Artistic Revue (KAR) and Dance Masters of America (DMA), and shares her choreography across the country, all of which she feels so honored and blessed to continue to do.
Michelle created Inspire Academy of Dance with Alexandra Wright in 2016. Michelle and Alex share a passion for bringing a family-oriented, positive, nurturing dance environment to Issaquah and the surrounding community. Michelle is truly excited to be sharing her choreography, knowledge and insight with students willing to pursue the heart and soul of dance as an innovative and expanding art form.
Claudia Houston Aragon
Mrs. Houston Aragon, originally from Cali, Colombia, brings to Issaquah a world of experience as both a professional dancer and teacher. She began her professional career at the age of 9 performing with the Incolballet, Colombia’s only full time educational fine arts institution specialized in dance. Her classical ballet training was completed in a period of 8 years, with a daily study that exceeded 9 hours. She graduated at age 16 with her degree of Bachelor of Performing Arts in Classical Ballet. She has also trained in and performed a variety of dance styles, including contemporary, Colombian folklore, Character folklore, jazz, salsa, and flamenco. After graduation she began working on her Law Degree at Universidad Libre in Cali, which she finished in 2011. In 2009, Claudia joined the Santiago de Cali Ballet Company as a Professional dancer and teacher where she danced in several neoclassical ballets as both Soloist and corps of ballet. She also started teaching in various studios around Cali.
In 2011 she received full-time residency in the United States and joined the Brandon Ballet Company after moving to Tampa, FL. In 2012 through 2014 she taught ballet, jazz, pre-pointe, pointe and salsa in the after school program at Music n Arts academy in Riverview. She was a guest teacher for Victoria’s School of Dance in the summer intensive in 2013. In 2013 and 2014, she danced with Florida Dance Theatre in Lakeland Fl. In 2014 she began teaching ballet in New Tampa Dance Theatre. She became a US citizen in 2015 and went back to dancing with Brandon Ballet, and began teaching in Ultimate Dance Center in Lakeland and in The Center Stage Dance academy in Brandon. She recently moved to the Seattle area and is looking forward to discovering the Emerald City.
Claudia spends her free time teaching, traveling the world where she always takes advantage to learn the local dances, continuing her dance education, painting, spending time with family, gardening, and posing for photos in parks. She is happy to be a part of Inspire Academy of Dance so she can continue spreading the joy of dance to all.
Amanda discovered a love of dance at the early age of four when she began taking ballet and tap classes that her preschool offered. Her dance background is extensive, including ballet, jazz, lyrical, musical theater, and tap, and is complimented by performance experience, having competed regionally and nationally with a local pre-professional performing team in Redmond.
Her teaching career began at the age of 17 at Gotta Dance with younger dancers, and quickly grew when she started teaching teens and specialty classes. Amanda’s teaching knowledge was expanded when she was privileged to be an instructor at Flourish Dance Project starting in 2015 and Summit Dance Co. in 2016. Throughout her different teaching experiences, she has found joy teaching all ages and levels of dancers. Her strength as an instructor shows in her commitment to providing a meaningful dance foundation to her students with tenderness and care.
Enthusiastic about nurturing their love of dance and confidence in themselves, Amanda creates an upbeat and inviting learning environment where individuals excel. Through a collection of formative experiences instructing and choreographing in the greater Seattle area, she developed a lifelong respect for this art form and considers it a joy to share this passion with Inspire Academy of Dance.
Christina Noakes began her ballet training with Jacqueline School of Ballet in American Fork, Utah. In 1998 she joined Utah Regional Ballet and worked her way up to a principal dancer. After receiving her Bachelor’s of Science degree in Business Management and Finance from Brigham Young University, Christina joined Ballet Arizona under Artistic Director Ib Andersen where she enjoyed performing many of her favorite Balanchine ballets including Serenade, Theme and Variations, and Divertimento No. 15. Christina retired as a professional ballerina after the birth of her twins. In addition to ballet, Christina enjoys teaching Zumba and being an artistic coach and choreographer for figure skaters. Christina loves spending time with her family, traveling, and sunshine. Her motto is, “Be the kindest person you know.”
Dustin grew up training at nationally recognized Allegro Performing Arts Academy in Kent, WA. He eventually continued on to educate for the studio, returning frequently over the course of his career to guest teach. Eventually his education moved him to LA, where he signed with agent Jim Keith. During this time, Dustin appeared in several TV commercials and live performances such as the infamous Carnival Ball. He was also a featured dancer on Norwegian Cruise Lines. Throughout his career, Dustin has been a guest judge at some of the top dance companies in Seattle & Las Vegas. In addition to judging these events, he has enjoyed watching his students and choreography consistently win top honors at regional and national dance competitions. Students who trained with Dustin have gone on to professional careers in the dance industry from tours and music videos to TV shows like SYTYCD and most recently, World Of Dance. Today he lives in Seattle, WA, with a diverse career which includes teaching for Elite Performance Camp,as well as educating for several of Seattle’s best studios, where he shares his passion for dynamics, musicality and, above all, work ethic
Erin started her technical dance training at age 16 at Allegro Dance Academy in Kent, WA and later went on to further her dance education in college. Erin earned her B.F.A in Dance from Virginia Intermont College (Bristol, VA) in 2005. After college, Erin returned to Seattle where she developed choreography for various competitions and pageants throughout Washington. In 2007, she co-founded the Kent Meridian High School Royal Dynasty dance team that went on to be the Washington State Hip Hop Dance Champions in 2009 and runner-up in 2010. In addition to coaching, Erin has taught Ballet, Jazz, Tap, and Hip Hop at such well-known studios as; Spotlight Dance Center in Renton, Allegro Dance Academy in Kent, Charisma School of Dance in Tacoma and Elena School of Dance in Redmond. Erin spent a majority of her studio teaching career at Backstage Dance Studio in Bellevue, building their Hip Hop program from 2006-2012.
Within the last seven years, Erin took a break from studio teaching to foster her professional career in another way. From 2012 to 2013 besides dancing for her beloved dance group Los Angeles Locos in Jalisco, Mexico, Erin also choreographed for the 2012-2013 historical Carnival in Cozumel where here creative choreography helped crown the 2013-2014 queen of Carnival. Returning home in 2013 to have her son Kayden, Erin went back to school and graduated from Seattle Pacific University with her Masters in First and Secondary Physical Education. Blessed with having the opportunity to do what she loves Erin has spent the last three years as the Department lead and Director of Physical Education and Performing Arts at Evergreen High School in the Highline school district.
“Create, Imagine, Breath, Dance!” is a saying Erin lives by and her mission is to help her students use the many aspects of dance in their everyday lives.