Aspire Dance Academy

Founded in August 2012 by owner, Lauren Gibson, we are conveniently located right outside of Richmond, in Manakin-Sabot.  We're only 7 minutes from Short Pump Town Center and directly across from the Food Lion shopping center.

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.

 

 

Lauren Gibson

Owner/Director/Instructor

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.

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.  In 2018, Lauren traveled to Scottsdale, AZ to attend the Dance Teacher Life Conference to continue her quest for education.

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.

 

 
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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.

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Rebecca Weger

Jazz & Ballet Instructor

Rebecca has taught at the Myles Reif Performing Arts Center in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, for Richmond’s Ballet’s outreach program, Minds In Motion, in Roanoke and Martinsville, Virginia and was the Ballet Mistress, for the Southwest Virginia Ballet, Virginia’s pre-professional dance company. For six years Rebecca was the Manager of the School of Richmond Ballet. She has her Pilates Method of fitness training certification through FiTOUR and has taught for many years in private dance studios and for Roanoke College in Salem, VA. as an Adjunct Professor. Rebecca currently teaches dance at Premiere Dance Studio in Powhatan, VA, at the Richmond Ballet and at Appomattox Regional Governor’s School for the Arts and Technology in Petersburg, VA and is happy to be joining the Aspire faculty!

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Rave 'Rah' Williams

Hip Hop Instructor

Lifelong Richmond native, Rave has had a natural gift for dance his entire life but began honing his passion at the age of 10. His desire to dance had him studying numerous different genres up and down the East Coast. Rave attended the School of Richmond Ballet, Jessica Morgan School of Dance, Alvin Ailey's Summer Intensive, Bates Dance Festival, and Center for the Arts at Henrico High School where he took Hip Hop, Modern, Tap, Jazz, Ballet, and African. Although these are only a few of a plethora of experiences, Rave continues to explore and learn the different styles and variations of dance, but his true love will always be Hip Hop.

If there's one thing that's most apparent about Rave, it's the joy he gets when working with children. He has taught Liturgical at Mosby Memorial Baptist Church, Step at Blackwell Elementary School, Hip Hop at the Robinson Theater, Hip Hop Cardio at Dogtown Dance Theatre, and the list goes on! He has also emceed and taught dance for kid's parties, most recently the Steward School's 5th Grade Graduation 2017. 

Now, excited to be a part of the Aspire Dance Academy team, Rave hopes to continue to encourage and inspire others through teaching. He is looking forward to seeing fresh, eager faces and the talents each student will bring.   

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Juli Garrett

Hip Hop Instructor

Juli Garrett has studied all styles of dance for over 30 years. She began her training in her hometown, Louisa County, at the age of 9 years old. She continued her training traveling with Hoctor's Dance Caravan at age 17. She received a BFA degree from George Mason University where she also was apart of the Masonettes Dance Team. She had the pleasure of working for Jessica Morgan's School of Dance for 18 years. She coaches and choreographs for two dance teams, JRHS "Rapid Motion" and RMS "Raiderettes".  She enjoys teaching in RVA and sharing her love of dance!