Aspire Dance Academy
Founded in August 2012 by owner, Lauren Gibson, we are conveniently located right outside of Richmond, in Manakin-Sabot. Only 7 minutes from Short Pump Town Center and directly across from the Food Lion shopping center. Photo by Image Link
Our studios offer a marley covered, suspended wooden floor in Stuido I and wood sprung floor in Studio II, therefore providing our dancers with a safe dancing environment. We use floor to ceiling mirrors to help students see and make corrections. Our lobbies include a monitor into the studio, allowing parents to easily observe their dancer's entire class, if they choose.
Dance became part of Lauren's life at the young age of 5 and has remained a love ever since. She graduated from East Carolina University where she minored in Dance, training with Joseph Carow, Cindi Mancini, and Galina Panova. Most recently, Lauren has performed as a principal dancer with a local ballet company.
Throughout her career, Lauren has won numerous awards for performance and choreography through many national competitions. She has performed at the French Embassy in Washington, DC and has been featured in lead roles to include The Nutcracker, Cinderella, and original choreography. During her college years Lauren had the opportunity to train with the Joffrey Ballet. Photo by The Creative Image
With a desire to share her talents and love of the art with an underserved community, Lauren created, developed, and implemented a Free Dance Program for underprivileged middle school students in Washington, NC. There she volunteered her time to instruct students in ballet, jazz, tap and hip-hop where she had over 40 students per class. She then served as an instructor at a local dance studio in Greenville, NC.
Lauren believes every dancer should always aspire to be more! In September 2013, Lauren completed her ISCA Mat Pilates certification in order to offer additional cross training to her dancers. Working to continue her own dance education, Lauren attended the Dance Teacher Summit in 2014 and 2015 where she had the privilege to train with Luigi, Twyla Tharp, Finis Jhung, Bob Rizzo, Mandy Moore, Mia Michaels, and Jenifer Ringer among many other renowned teachers. In 2016 and 2017, Lauren trained with Finis Jhung at his Ballet Technique for Teachers training in order to continue her growth in teaching styles as an instructor.
Throughout her life, Lauren has aspired to share her love and knowledge of dance with others. She is excited about the opportunity to do this through the Aspire Dance Academy dance studio and looks forward to helping others achieve their dreams.
Erica Hidalgo-Monroy~Tap Instructor
Erica started dancing at the age of 3 and trained extensively in tap and jazz with additional training in ballet and lyrical. In college, while earning her BA, she trained and performed with the Lynchburg College Dance Company. She choreographed a variety of tap numbers for their dance concerts and performed in many student-choreographed projects in a range of dance styles.
After graduating college, Erica continued her formal dance training in Northern Virginia, focusing primarily on tap, and performing with the Step Aside Tap Company. She routinely participates in tap festivals throughout the US and has been fortunate to take master classes with such highly-regarded tappers as Diane Walker, Michelle Dorrance and Barbara Duffy.
Erica is very excited at the opportunity to share her knowledge and love of tap with students at Aspire Dance Academy.
Rachel Breslin~ Jazz/Lyrical Instructor
Rachel started dancing at the age of 3 in Fredericksburg, Virginia. While ballet has always been her first love, she has also trained in tap, lyrical, jazz, and Irish step. Rachel graduated from the University of Virginia with a BA in English and a minor in Dance.
While at UVA, Rachel concentrated heavily on modern dance, taking a special interest in Laban/Bartenieff Movement Analysis. Returning to her musical theater roots, she also choreographed productions such as Carousel and Urinetown for UVA's First Year Players.
While finishing her Master's degree at the University of Mary Washington, Rachel taught creative movement, ballet, pointe, and jazz at Stafford Dance Center. Currently, she is also the co-coach of Rhapsody in Blue, L.C. Bird High School's dance team.
Rachel is so excited to be a part of Aspire Dance Academy and can't wait to see what this year brings!
Shareeda Ragsdale~Hip Hop Instructor
Shareeda Ragsdale has been dancing ever since she can remember. Her dance career began with cheer and dance at her local neighborhood recreation center while in elementary school and continued through high school. At age 14, Shareeda was invited to cheer with the Redskins cheerleading squad junior league. Upon graduating high school, Shareeda moved to Miami Shores, Florida where she studied theater and earned a minor in dance at Barry University.
Shareeda was a principal member of the hip hop dance group, "Nocturnal", where she performed and choreographed for various showcases throughout the Miami area. Upon completion of her courses at Barry University, Shareeda returned to her hometown of Washington, DC, to teach hip hop at her former middle school.
Recently, Shareeda relocated to Richmond, Va where she continued teaching dance, traveling to various elementary schools within the Richmond metropolitan area through the Tommy Shaw dance company.
This is Shareeda's first year with Aspire and is very excited to begin a new chapter inspiring future dancers in the fun and upbeat art form of hip hop for all to enjoy!