Dr. Suzanne R. Salapa
Chair, Department of Dance
Dr. Salapa began her training in Virginia with the Annandale Dance Theater and continued with the Washington Ballet, Maryland Youth Ballet and Columbia City Ballet. She received her Bachelor of Science from the Conservatory at Shenandoah University and completed her Master of Fine Arts in Dance from Florida State University. While attending FSU, she was awarded the Florida State Friends of Dance Scholarship and a teaching assistantship. She received her Doctor of Education in Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Central Florida. In addition, she has served on the faculty of George Mason University and Shenandoah University. She is a member of the dance faculty at Valencia College and Rollins College. Dr. Salapa has participated as an adjudicator for the Florida Dance Performance Assessment/Florida Dance Education Organization and participated in the State of Florida Department of Education K-12 Dance Curriculum Committee as an author of middle and high school dance curriculum course descriptions, standards and benchmarks. In 2006, she received the Dance Teacher Magazine Higher Education Teacher of the Year. In the summer of 2014, Dr. Salapa participated in the national/ internationally renowned program Dance for PD®. In collaboration between the Mark Morris Dance Group and the Brooklyn Parkinson Group, this dance teacher-training model is specifically designed to encourage creativity and movement exploration for those with Parkinson's disease. She teaches the bi-monthly Movement as Medicine dance class for AdventHealth, Orlando.
Lesley Brasseux Rodgers
Artistic Director, Valencia Dance and Valencia Dance Theatre
Ms. Brasseux Rodgers began her training at the school of Southern Ballet in Atlanta, Georgia. She has attended the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance in New York City and the American Dance Festival in Durham, North Carolina. Ms. Brasseux Rodgers holds a Bachelor of Science degree from University of Florida and a Master of Fine Arts in Dance from Louisiana State University and has served on the faculty of a variety of colleges, universities, and professional dance schools. Since 1980, Ms. Brasseux Rodgers has choreographed works for Valencia College, Southern Ballet Theater, the University of Central Florida, the Florida Dance Association and Rollins College. She received the Monticello Scholarship for Young Choreographers from the National Association for Regional Ballet and in 1985 was nominated by the Orlando Arts Council for Outstanding Individual Achievement in the Arts. Ms. Brasseux Rodgers is currently a member of the dance faculty at Valencia College, and a Dual-Enrollment instructor for the Dance Arts Magnet program at Dr. Phillips High School. She was chosen as an associate for residency of Merce Cunningham at the Atlantic Center of the Arts in New Smyrna Beach, Florida and is a member of the Center.
Dance Performance Production Coordinator
Ms. Stevens began her training at the Chico Community Ballet in Chico, CA. She attended summer programs at the North Carolina School of the Arts, the Joffrey Workshop in San Antonio, TX, and on a partial scholarship at the Joffrey Ballet School in New York. In addition to performing in Entertainment at Walt Disney World in Orlando, FL, Ms. Stevens was awarded two contracts to perform at Tokyo Disneyland in Japan. She danced professionally with The Georgia Ballet in Marietta, GA under the artistic direction of Iris Hensley, and received additional training from Janusz Mazon and Gina Hyatt-Mazon. Ms. Stevens received both an Associate in Arts degree in Dance Performance and an Associate in Science in Business Administration from Valencia College, and received a Bachelor of Arts in Humanities from Rollins College. In addition to being the Dance Performance Production Coordinator at Valencia College, Ms. Stevens is an adjunct faculty member in the Dance Department at both Valencia College and Rollins College.
Kathy Follensbee received a Bachelor of Science degree in Physical Education from Florida State University and a Masters of Fine Arts in Choreography from Jacksonville University. She is the full time Dance Director at Dr. Phillips Visual & Performing Arts High School (DPHS - VPA) as well as an adjunct professor of Modern with Valencia College. Kathy is a past President of Florida Dance Masters (FDM) and the founding Secretary for the Florida Dance Education Organization (FDEO). She has served on writing teams for the Florida Next Generation Sunshine State Standards, Florida's Race To The Top and Orange County Public Schools End of Course Exams (EOCs) for Dance. Kathy was a Synchronized Swimmer and Dancer for the Louisiana World's Fair Exposition in 1984, and is a Master's National Synchronized Swimming Champion as well. She has judged dance contests and taught master classes throughout Florida and New York.
Mrs. Judy began her dance training with the Royal School of Dance in Winter Park, Florida. She received a Bachelor's in Dance from Jacksonville University and a Master of Fine Arts in Dance from Florida State University. While attending Florida State University she received a teaching assistantship in ballet. During her time in college, she had the opportunity to perform with the Jacksonville Ballet Theater and the Tallahassee Ballet Company. She has been teaching in the Orlando area now for twenty-one years. She is a member of the dance faculty at Valencia College, University of Central Florida and Rollins College where she teaches ballet and modern dance.
John Parks, a native of New York City, began his dance studies at five. After completing his formal training with the Mary Bruce Dance School, Syvilla Fort Studio, High School of Performing Arts, Juilliard School of Music, Jacob's Pillow Teachers Workshop, New Dance Group, Clark Center, and the American Dance Festival, he performed with the companies of Alvin Ailey, Jose Limon, Donald McKeyle, Anna Sokolow, Pearl Primus, Percival Borde, Mary Anthony, Eleo Pomare, Ruth Currier, Rod Rodgers, Sun Ock Lee, Louis Johnson, Martha Clarke, Baralunda Olatunji, Nina Popova, Joan Miller, June Dunbar, Chark Davis, Lucas Hoving, Billie Kirpitch, Bill Bales, and others. Mr. Parks served as assistant to the choreographer, dance captain, and performer in the seven-time Tony Award-winning Broadway play, The Wiz. His TV and film credits included The Strolling Twenties, Alvin Ailey Christmas Special, Rage in Harlem, Spike Lee's Malcolm X, and Rosewood. Before joining the Ailey Ailey American Dance Theatre, he formed his own company entitled “Movements Black Dance Repertory Theatre" dedicated to the Civil Rights and Pan African movement during the 1960s and '70s. Since Mr. Parks relocated to Florida in 1989 to teach at the University of South Florida, his summers are devoted to choreographing, directing, and teaching at summer festivals, workshops, theatres other art institutions. He has taught at the University of South Florida for over 31 years and been a guest artist-in-residence at Valencia College for over ten years. In addition to working with several community arts organizations, his over 60 year career as an artist has taken him throughout the United States, Europe, Africa and Asia. Recently, Mr. Parks has established "The Parks Institute" dedicated to promoting dance as a healing modality, working with the International Arts+Mind Lab of the Brain Science Institute at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the Straz Center for the Performing Arts.
Although Dr. Saxman has her B.S. and M.Ed. in Mathematics Education from the University of Central Florida, dancing has always been a prominent element in her life. She studied dance from a young age and went on to work at several dance studios/performing arts academies in Palm Bay, Melbourne Beach, and Orlando, Florida always specializing in Tap. She has been awarded and recognized locally for her choreography and continues to work with several public schools in the arena of Broadway-style choreography for show choirs. She is currently a tenured Professor of Mathematics, faculty liaison to the East Campus Math Center, as well an adjunct faculty member for the Dance Department here at Valencia College. In 2012 she was the recipient of the NISOD award, a national award for teaching excellence, and in 2017 she completed her Ed.D. in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Central Florida.
Ms. Smith began her dance training at Deltona Dance Academy under the direction of Shelleh Harkcom. She continued her training at Focus Performing Arts Studio under the direction of Jenny Strickland-Clifton, where she has been an instructor/choreographer for twelve years. A graduate of Pine Ridge High School in Deltona, Ms. Smith was a member and officer of their nationally ranked dance team. During this time, she took many classes from noted choreographers from New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Continuing her studies in dance, she received her Associate in Arts in Dance Performance degree from Valencia College, where she was a member and officer of Art in Motion. While attending Valencia, her choreographic works were performed at Dr. Phillips High School and the University of Florida. A graduate of the class of 2009 from the University of Central Florida, her college volunteer hours were spent working with students at Dr. Phillips Visual & Performing Arts High School (DPHS - VPA) and the dance curriculum at Seminole High School in Sanford, Florida. In addition to her duties at dance studios in the Orlando area, Ms. Smith currently choreographs works for Dr. Phillips Visual & Performing Arts High School (DPHS - VPA) and Valencia College.