A former professional dancer, Mr. Self studied dance while growing up in Las Cruces, as a Harkness receipient in Dallas, in summer programs in Italy, and throughout high school and college at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. He danced with Agnes deMille's Heritage Dance Company, North Carolina Dance Theatre and American Ballet Theatre, performing at New York's Metropolitan Opera House. Upon retiring from his distinguished dance career, Mr. Self returned to Las Cruces, where he attained an additional degree from NMSU and a new career as a real estate broker and appraiser.
Mr. Self continues his late wife's (Michele Self) legacy as Owner and Director of Michele's Dance Academy. His contributions to the world of dance include teaching, choreographing, performing in Las Cruces Chamber Ballet productions. He was a recipient of the 2001 Dona Ana Art Council's Community Arts Award and he was also a choreographer for the world premiere opera "Sara McKinnon", with music by Randall Shinn and libretto by Mark Medoff. Mr. Self was also a featured teacher in the Spotlight Section of "Dance Studio Life" in December, 2010.
Laura grew up dancing, studying under Katherine Clark in El Paso, Texas and also performed for the USO as a member of the El Paso Dance Company. She graduated from California State University, San Bernardino with two degrees, one in Theatre Arts with an Acting Emphasis, and the other in Computer Science. She danced througout college with the Riverside Ballet Theatre as a member of the corps de ballet. She has performed with the Las Cruces Chamber Ballet in many "Nutcracker" productions, and also in "Ghost Stories of the Southwest" as La Llarona. She also continuously attends dance seminars and workshops to perfect her craft, and is proud to have brought her musical theatre background to Michele's Dance Academy, both in classes and with the Academy's performing musical theatre group "Showstoppers". Laura currently holds licensing as a Personal Trainer, Pilates and Barre Instructor.
"Miss Charlie Ann" has been an instructor at Michele's Dance Academy for over 30 years. She continuously attends dance teacher summits and seminars to perfect her craft and is a gifted teacher, choreographer and ballet mistress for the Las Cruces Chamber Ballet. She has performed in numerous productions, including: Coppelia, Swan Lake, Rodeo, Dance Kaleidoscope, Sleeping Beauty, Spotlight on Dance, Still Kickin' in addition to many Nutcracker performances.
Instructor, Artistic Director of "Pasos del Alma"
Marissa began dancing at the age of 5 years old under the instruction of Maestro Jose Tena’s Ballet Folkorico Tierra del Encanto’s first children’s dance troupe. As she progressed, Marissa joined the adult performing group with Ballet Folklorico Tierra del Encanto until she became Jose Tena’s assistant director of the children’s dance troupe in 2005-2009. She has performed on many stages throughout our beautiful state of New Mexico as well as California and the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington DC.
She also had the opportunity to be the instructor of Ballet Folklorico for the MacArthur Elementary after school program from 2008-2009. She has attended conferences to expand her knowledge and understanding of the history and rich culture of Ballet Folklorico. Those conferences include the following: Las Cruces International Mariachi Conference, (student 1994-2001) (assisted instructors 2002-2007) and ANGF- Asociación Nacional de Grupos Folkloricos in Las Cruces, New Mexico 2007 and Nayarit, Mexico 2008.
Kai Garcia is currently a NMSU Student working on his bachelor's degree in Fashion Design. He has been dancing since 2011 in Hip Hop, Ballet, Jazz, Tap, Contemporary and Ballroom.
He has competed at events such as Streetz, NUVO, Starpower, Showbiz for Ann Marie's Dance Academy in Farmington, NM as well as for Sandra's School of Dance in Albuquerque, NM.
Instructor, Artistic Director of "Chrysalis"
Applehelen Kirby is a native of Las Cruces, NM and began her training with Michele's Dance Academy and the
Las Cruces Chamber Ballet. She was a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Scholar at New Mexico State University receiving B.S. and M.S. degrees in Microbiology and Biology. While at NMSU, she was a company member in both Contemporary Dance Theatre under the tutelage of Dr. Debra Knapp and Sol y Arena Flamenco Company studying with Paco Antonio and Lucilene de Geus. She has travelled throughout the US and internationally, training and performing works by various artists from the American College Dance Association, Ballet Nacional de España, Seminario de Flamenco y Danza, Bill Evans Teaching Institute, Social Movement Creative Dance,
Bahtsheva Dance Company, JSR Company, and StaibDance. Applehelen also received an M.A. degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from NMSU and currently works as a licensed therapist, adjunct professor teaching and choreographing for the NMSU Dance Program, certified yoga instructor, and performs and choreographs for Lifted Dance
Collective, as well as serves on the boards of the LCCB and Desert Community Wellness.