Beth Gulledge Brown – Artistic Director
Beth began dancing with her mom at the age of 3. She continued her training with Joseph Giacobbe (Delta Festival Ballet) in New Orleans, Margo Marshall (City Ballet) of Houston, and Leo Ahonen and Soilie Arvala (Texas Ballet). Beth studied jazz with Delia Stewart and Keith Cross, and later received scholarships with Broadway Dance Center in New York and Joe Tremaine in Los Angeles. Beth received her dance degree from the University of Capetown in South Africa. While there she performed with U.C.T. Ballet Company and the CAPAB Ballet Company. Beth’s performance experience in Houston includes Delia Stewart Dance Company, Texas Dance Theatre, and Joan Karff’s New Dance Group.
Beth has had the opportunity to teach with many studios in Houston, South Africa, and New York City. Beth has set choreography for the Texas Tanzsommer Festival, Choreographer’s X 6, and JCCSummerDance Repertory/ Performance Project. Beth’s choreography has been accepted for presentation at Jazz Dance World Congress held in Monterrey and, recently, Chicago. The company has also attended Jazz Dance World Congress in Costa Rica. In 2001 her student company performed her choreography in three cities in China, and was broadcast nationally over Chinese television. Her choreography was showcased in Austria at the Tanzsommer Festival in the summer of 2002. She has most recently been invited to perform at “Four in the Mix” as part of Dance Month for the Jewish Community Center.
Carolyn Gulledge – Co-Director
A talented and experienced teacher and choreographer, Carolyn has taught all levels of students in the Houston area for 30 years. She has trained with top teachers in ballet as well as tap. Before founding the Uptown Dance Centre with her daughter, she worked with children and adults at the Jewish Community Center.
Florin Adrian Ciobanu – Co-Director
Mr. Ciobanu was born in Cluj, Romania where he graduated from the Liceul de Choregrafie, Octavian Stroia with honors, under the direction of his father, Florin Ciobanu. He then went on to work with the Romanian Opera Ballet for one year before moving to the Hungarian Opera Ballet. During his five years there, Mr. Ciobanu was promoted to Principal dancer. He toured extensively throughout Europe including France, Hungary, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Romania, and the Czech Republic. In 1996, Mr. Ciobanu moved to Sarasota and became a member of the Sarasota Ballet dancing many major Principal roles and creating many roles as well. His repertoire includes many major classical ballets, and many contemporary ballets by such choreographers as Robert North, Alberto Alonso, Katherine Posen, Stephen Mills, Todd Allen, Ament Istvan, and many others. Since 2002 Mr. Ciobanu has been teaching and coaching for the Sarasota Ballet School, Dance the Next Generation, and many local and regional schools such as: Brandon Ballet; The Dance Center: Brandon,Fl.; West Florida Ballet, St. Petersburg, Fl.; Florida Ballet Arts; and Alyson’s in Bradenton, Fl. In 2003, Mr. Ciobanu was promoted to Principal of Academy, Sarasota Ballet. He doubled the number of students and increased the budget significantly since his direction. He has staged many full-length productions for the Academy, such as: Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Alice in Wonderland, The Nutcracker, La Boutique Fantasque, Paquita, and others. In 2008, Mr. Ciobanu was promoted to Ballet Master of Sarasota Ballet and still worked extensively with the Academy. He worked with such stagers and choreographers as: Hans Van Manen, Monica Parker, Alexander Grant, Dominic Walsh, Sandra Jennings, Joyceanne Sidimus, Julian Moss, Andre Prokovsky, Gilles Maidon, Jackie Hollander, Donald Mahler, Margaret Barbieri, and others.
Marlon Grigsby – Teacher
Marlon Grigsby is a native of Baton Rouge, LA, where he began his dance training at the Dancers’ Workshop. He is a graduate of Louisiana State University, where he performed and choreographed for the LSU Dance Ensemble. He danced with the Baton Rouge Ballet Theatre, Of Moving Colors Dance, and Movement Workshop Group (NYC) in Racine D’or. He has had the pleasure of working with Sandra Parks on several projects including NYC Dance Arts Festival and Crossroads in Boston, MA.
Alexander Pandiscio – Teacher/Administrative Staff
Alex Pandiscio has enjoyed a close and ongoing relationship with Uptown Dance Company since 2007. His roles within the organization have been diverse, and include choreographer, dancer, teacher, ballet master, and grant writer. His work on the current program (Playground) is his seventh creation for UDC.
Mr. Pandiscio began studying ballet in his hometown of Hopkinton, Massachusetts with renowned teacher Jacqueline Cronsberg. As a young student, he was twice awarded the American Ballet Theatre National Training Scholarship, and later attended both the Royal Danish Ballet and San Francisco Ballet Schools. Mr. Pandiscio has danced with the Massachusetts Youth Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, and Houston Ballet. As a member of Houston Ballet (2003–2010), he danced in over seventy ballets by a wide range of choreographers, including featured roles in works by Ben Stevenson, Stanton Welch, George Balanchine, and Jiri Kylian.
Following his performing career, Mr. Pandiscio studied kinesiology and business at Rice University, where he graduated summa cum laude. In 2011, the university named him recipient of the Brotzen Award, a grant that enabled him to study ballet teaching methodology privately with Judith Reyn in Vienna, Austria.
After college, Mr. Pandiscio spent a year at Canada’s National Ballet School in Toronto teaching in the professional ballet program while completing the Teacher Training Program for Professional Dancers. He graduated with Distinction and was the recipient of the 2015 Betty Oliphant Award for Excellence in Teaching.
Mr. Pandiscio has taught ballet to dancers of all ages in the Houston area since 2004 and currently teaches on the faculty at the Houston Ballet Ben Stevenson Academy and Uptown Dance Centre.
Amy Phillips – Teacher/Administrative Staff
Amy started her classical ballet training in her native city of Hong Kong at the age of 3. Since then she has also been trained in jazz, modern and contemporary. She has performed in various Hong Kong Ballet productions such as La Fille Mal Gardée, Coppélia and The Nutcracker, and has danced as a soloist in many studio ballet productions including Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty and The Enchanted Toy Shop.
Amy previously performed with Portland-based Polaris Dance Theatre, PDX Dance Collective, Agnieszka Laska Dancers and Kinetic Images Dance Company. She also served as a fellow choreographer for PDX Dance Collective, and as rehearsal assistant for Kinetic Images. Currently Amy is a member of Uptown Dance Company. She is excited to be part of Uptown Dance Centre, and looks forward to sharing the joy of dance with the students.
Holda Torres – Teacher
Holda began her training in Mexico City under the direction of Paloma Zepeda Novelo. She began her classical training in the cuban technique and then moved into the Royal Academy of Dance programme. Apart from classical ballet training Holda is also trained in other dance techniques such as Modern, Contemporary, Tap, Flamenco, Capoeira and Mexican folklore. She has coursed successfully through the R.A.D graded and vocational exams from Pre-Primary to Advance 2. Ms. Holda was a dancer with Allegro Ballet of Houston under the direction of Glenda Brown, Peggy Girouard and Vanessa Brown. Allegro gave Holda the opportunity to dance regionally and nationally at the Regional Dance America Convention and internationally with Young Tanzsommer tour in Austria. While dancing with Allegro, Ms Holda received her R.A.D. training with Rocio Braggiato R.A.D Mentor and Mrs. Catriona Steel. Through her career Holda has been able to work with recognized choreographers such as Jairo Lastre, Paula Weber, Joe Iste, Rocio Braggiato, and Lauren Garson in their original works in different styles of dance. She has also been able to take classes with Master Teachers such as Laura Alonso, John Magnus, Thom Clower, Jennifer Medina, Paula Weber, Lynn Wallis, Ana Jurado, Albert Cataffi, Leslie Jane Pessemier. Holda has also had the opportunity to perform as a soloist in many original productions such as Venezuela Mia, Venezuela Nuestra and America Latina with DAPA. Holda recently shared the stage with Angel Laza performing the main roles in the production of “Mi Colombia” in Indianapolis with Colombian Folkloric Ballet (2014). In the spring of 2015 Holda performed the role of “Michaela” in the collaborative production of Carmen along side DAPA dancers, Intempo Dance Ensemble, and Houston Latin American Philharmonic Orchestra. Holda has attended the Glenda Brown Choreography Project at the University of Missouri in Kansas City, on 4 occasions twice as a dancer and twice as a choreographer. Ms Holda is currently attending the University of Houston pursuing a Major in Dance with a minor in Studio Arts. In December of 2013, Holda completed her Certificate for Ballet Teaching Studies (CBTS) Programme, under the mentorship of Rocio Braggiato, and is now a Royal Academy Certified Teacher (R.A.D TC 797370).
Claire Westerman – Teacher
Claire began dancing when she was ten years old at Northern California Dance Conservatory (NCDC), under Jen Bradfor and Theodore Constant. At age thirteen, Claire enrolled at the Houston Ballet Academy, and trained there for three and a half years on a merit scholarship. During her time at HBA, she danced choreography by Ben Stevenson, Claudio Munoz, Oliver Halkowich, and Stanton Welch including ‘Ladies’ (soloist), ‘Long and Winding Road,’ ‘Paquita’ (pas de trois), and ‘Don Quixote’ (pas de quatre). Some of her favorite performances include the solo in Jane Weiner’s ‘Pink Ribbons Project’, Clara in Sacramento Ballet’s Nutcracker, and the Peasant pas de deux variation from ‘Swan Lake ‘at Houston Ballet’s Solo Night. Claire joined UDCII in 2016 and had the opportunity to tour with them to Austria for the Young Tanzsommer Dance Festival. Claire also teches Pre-K ballet at Uptown Dance Centre.