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.
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
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 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.
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!
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.
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!
Rachael began her dance journey even before her 3 birthday. Her mom put her in ballet because she was “always moving and needed to get some energy out” but never anticipated how her passion for dance would grow. Training in Fredericksburg, Virginia, Rachael began her training with ballet and tap, but later included jazz, contemporary/lyrical, and musical theatre.
Growing up Rachael took advantage of every opportunity to dance and perform. She performed in her studio’s annual show “The Nutcracker” for more than 10 years as well as shows like “Sleeping Beauty” and “An Afternoon at the Ballet.” At the age of 10, Rachael joined Fredericksburg Ballet Centre’s Competition Team and began competing in regional competitions with her team as well as attended several Intensives such as Tremaine Dance Convention.
When Rachael started high school, she began an rigorous training program at Amyclae Dance Academy dancing an average of 12+ hours a week. She began competing as a soloist at regional and national competitions, and placed in the top ten at regional competitions. In 2009, Rachael had the opportunity to attend The Joffrey Ballet South summer intensive where she learned about different techniques, dance history, and choreography methods. In 2010, she was accepted into the Gelsey Kirkland Summer Intensive in New York City, and took classes from the legendary Gelsey Kirkland.
In addition to her passion for dance, Rachael also has a love for teaching and looks forward to sharing these new experiences with the Aspire family!
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 her two dance teams, JRHS "Rapid Motion" and RMS "Raiderettes". She is also the Director of her own hip hop company, "Flava". She currently enjoys teaching in the RVA and sharing her love of dance!
Hip Hop Instructor
As a native Houstonian, Jeia started hip hop dancing at the age of 12. She taught herself basic hip hop moves and techniques by admiring other well-known hip hop dancers. She has always had a strong desire to learn hip hop moves and teach choreography.
Jeia specializes in freestyle dancing and has won many dance battles in her home town of Houston, Texas. As much as she loves to freestyle, choreography is something that is very dear to her heart.
In 2013, Jeia begin posting her dance talents online to an app called Vine. Using Vine as her platform, she shared her dancing nationwide. After one of her dance vines went viral, gaining 68 million views, she became nationally known as a Vine sensation. Gaining over half a million followers with Vine, Jeia was featured in Glamour Magazine, February 2015 issue and has had many other recognitions.
Jeia was part of the Texas Tech University hip hop dance club where she performed and shared her choreography. Since her recent move to the Richmond area, Jeia is hoping to make her mark in the dance community by working with other aspiring dancers.
Hoping that her passion for dance can be seen through teaching at Aspire Dance Academy, she looks forward to bringing her fun spirit into her classes.