West Texas A&M University

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Dance Faculty

Department of Art, Theatre and Dance
Dance Faculty at West Texas A&M University

 

The dance faculty at WTAMU are all sound academics with strong professional backgrounds that encompass all aspects of the field of dance. Together they have performed and or choreographed in professional ballet companies, modern companies, television, film, stage shows, and cruise lines. They bring this vast experience into the studio, guiding students toward professional careers within the field of dance. The faculty are student-centered, devoted to the development of each student and continue to mentor students long after graduation.


Leslie E. Williams, Professor

A native of the Texas Panhandle, Leslie started dancing at a young age and began training professional at the age of eight.

After many summers away from home she traveled north to attend Interlochen Arts Academy, a private performing arts high school located in the northern part of the lower peninsula of Michigan.

Upon graduation Leslie moved to Chicago to train with Gus Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago. She worked in the field for many years and returned back to Amarillo to get her degree. Leslie graduated from West Texas A&M University, Canyon, Texas in 2000 with a BFA in dance all along dancing with Lone Star Ballet and attending professional workshops such as: Jacob's Pillow, Mark Morris, Bill Evans, ADF and many more to fine tune her modern skills.

Leslie began work on her Masters at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor in 2001 and graduated with a MFA in Choreography and Performance in 2003. While attending U of M Leslie was fortunate to work with David Dorfman, Peggy Linman, Peter Sparling, Bill DeYong and many more.

Two months after graduation she was offered a job with a small modern troupe in Ann Arbor, Peter Sparling Dance Company. Leslie divided her time in Michigan between teaching at Dance Gallery Studio, teaching at Wayne State University and dancing with the company. She returned to Interlochen Center for the Arts in 2006 as faculty during the summer months. Leslie is an active member of National Dance Educators Association (NDEO) and serves on the national board of directors of American Colled Dance Association (ACDA) A passionate teacher who draws on life experiences Leslie creates work entwined with humor, sorrow and real life.


Edward R. Truitt, Associate Professor

Mr. Truitt is an internationally award winning choreographer, a Fulbright Senior Specialist and recognized internationally as a teacher and choreographer. Currently Artistic Director of the New Mexico Ballet Company.

Mr. Truitt has an extensive and varied background in dance. He has performed principal and soloist roles in much of the classical canon including Giselle, Sleeping Beauty, Coppelia, Swan Lake, Raymonda, and Nutcracker. He has also performed in the ballets Romeo and Juliet, Carmina Burana, Daphnis and Chloe, Cheri, Orpheus, Graduation Ball and many others. He was a principal soloist with the Los Angeles Classical Ballet Company, Santa Barbara Ballet Theatre, Omaha Ballet Theatre and has performed as a jazz dancer in feature films, television and the professional stage in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Tokyo, Paris and Moscow. Mr. Truitt has also been a guest artist for various modern dance companies and has danced in the works of Bill Evans, Jose Limon and others.

Mr. Truitt has choreographed professionally for the stage, film and television, for universities and various dance companies. In June 2003 he received a Fulbright Senior Specialist grant to set his work "Misguided Faith..." on the Kannon dance company, to teach at the International Festival of Contemporary Dance - Open Look, and to consult on the development of a new dance program in St. Petersburg, Russia.

In January 1999 Mr. Truitt was invited to St. Petersburg, Russia where he completed teaching a seminar in contemporary dance forms for teachers, choreographers and professional dancers. The seminar was conducted with the support of the Administration of the Culture Committee of St. Petersburg as part of the Contemporary Choreography Development Program in St. Petersburg, Russia. Mr. Truitt has made seven trips to Russia teaching and choreographing from St. Petersburg to Siberia, and is a very popular teacher at the International Dance Festival, Open Look in St. Petersburg.

Mr. Truitt has taught workshops or master classes at the American College Dance Association, the Northwest Drama Conference, the CSU Summer Arts Program, BYU Summer Dance Workshop, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, the Eugene Ballet Company, Ballet Nebraska, Ballet Lubbock, South Mississippi Ballet Theatre, Tacoma City Ballet, Central California Ballet Company, the WTAMU Summer Dance Camp, the Nebraska Association of Dance Teachers, and at many other schools around the U.S

Mr. Truitt finished his BFA in Theatre/Dance at the University of Nebraska at Omaha while dancing professionally with the Omaha Ballet under Katharyn Horne and Thomas Enckell, and has his Masters in Dance from the University of Oregon.


Crystal Bertrand, Instructor and Director of Dance

Crystal Bertrand is a native of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, where she started her training at a very young age and where she made her first professional stage appearance at the age of sixteen dancing with Lyric Theatre’s production of My One & Only.    The following year she was awarded the Bill “Bojangles” Robinson Tap Scholarship and continued her professional career that lead her to perform in several venues across the United States in the entertainment industry for companies such as Greg Thompson Productions, Nanette Barbara Productions Canadian magician, Brian Glow, Magic and Illusions/Blue Moon Productions, Heritage Entertainment and has sailed internationally with Crystal Cruise Lines with some of the world’s best talent.  She has choreographed for numerous university dance concerts and for several country and jazz bands such as Light Crust Doughboys, Jim Cullum Jazz Band and the One O’Clock Lab Band

She has staged choreography for the Amarillo Venom football half-time show, the “Blanket Toss” stunt in the opening ceremonies for the Rose Bowl Parade in Pasadena, the opening ceremonies for the American Bus Association at the Gaylord Texan, the re-dedication of the capital opening ceremonies for Governor Bush in Austin and for the100th Anniversary Neiman Marcus celebration in Dallas and Houston.  Locally, she has choreographed for Lone Star Ballet productions, Amarillo Youth Summer Musicals, Amarillo Little Theatre and for the Amarillo Opera.  A few of her recent musicals have included, Legally Blonde, White Christmas, Time Steps; Rock of Ages, Cinderella, Oliver, Amhal and the Night Visitors, Candide, The Drowsy Chaperone, Mary Poppins, The Fantasticks, Music Man and Hairspray. 

Bertrand is the official show choreographer for the TEXAS Show located in the Palo Duro Canyon State Park in which she has been a part of the production for over twenty years and also works as Outreach and Education Director for the Texas Panhandle Heritage Foundation in which she has created programs in association with the Windows on a Wider World that are currently being presented in schools all across the panhandle. Previously, she served as Academy Director for Lone Star Dance Academies, the official schools of Lone Star Ballet where she had been involved with the organization for over fifteen years.

Bertrand continues to teach master classes, conduct guest choreography and judge dance competitions for Dance Masters of America and has held memberships including the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance, Congress on Research in Dance, and the Society of Dance History Scholar. 



Adjunct Instructors:

Staci Clay Hall

Staci Clay Hall began dancing at the age of three. She began competitive dance at theage of ten and was crowned Dance Masters of America Teen Miss Dance of Texas Ch. 35 when she was sixteen. Staci went on to compete in New York, NY on a national stage. Due to her dedication and desire to be challenged, Mrs. Hall traveled seven hours, round trip, twice a week her Junior and Senior years of high school in order to take part in a highly competitive team that won the 1st place Starlight National Title in 2003. While attending the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond, she taught dance for four years at Karen's Kids Studio of Performing Arts in Midwest City. Throughout her years at UCO, she performed in the Kaleidoscope Dance Company. Staci graduated from the University of Central Oklahoma in the fall of 2007 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Dance Performance. After graduation in 2007, Staci moved to Amarillo, TX and opened a dance studio, The Edge Amarillo. They are now in the midst of their eleventh season, and were recently awarded the honor of being named “Amarillo’s Best” dance studio. She teaches forty-five hours weekly, and loves every minute. The Edge currently has around three hundred students on competitive, and recreational tracks. Over the years, her students, and pieces, have won numerous regional, and national titles, choreography awards, and scholarships in the competitive dance arena. Mrs. Hall strongly believes in continuing her education, taking workshops, master classes and seminars from New York to Los Angeles to bring her dancers the best possible training. She is certified Acro dance instructor, and has worked setting pieces, as well as guest teaching at numerous studios. In fall of 2018 she began teaching as an adjunct faculty member for Jazz in the dance Department at West Texas A&M University. Staci hopes through her experience, teaching, and sheer love of dance, she will further the discipline and spread the joy of dance in the Texas Panhandle!

Mark Lanham

Mark Lanham began formal ballet training at 19 years of age with Neil and Camille Hess in Amarillo, Texas. Progressing rapidly, he received his first Ford Foundation scholarship to study with the San Francisco Ballet School, but chose to perform in the TEXAS musical drama in 1972. The following year he received another scholarship to SFB summer intensive, which opened the doors for exciting and dramatic associations, leading to a wonderful career as a Principal Dancer with Ballet West, Canada’s Royal WInnipeg Ballet, and the San Francisco Ballet, as well as a regular Guest Artist with California Ballet and Ballet El Paso. He was a Bronze Medalist in two international ballet competitions; 1978 World Ballet Concours in Tokyo, and 1982 International Ballet Competition in Jackson, MI. His associations with these companies have taken him throughout the United States and Canada, and to Mexico, Venezuela, Belgium, Greece, Egypt, Japan, Korea, and China. He has performed virtually all the principal male roles in all the major classics, and has been privileged to perform works by such outstanding contemporary choreographers as Jiri Kilian and Maurice Bejart. Mr. Lanham was a faculty member at Brigham Young University from 1985 until 1997, teaching and directing the BYU Theatre Ballet, BYU's resident ballet company. During the 2000-2001 season he was Ballet Master for Eugene Ballet Company, and was also Ballet Master for Columbia City Ballet in Columbia, SC, for their 2009-2010 season. At 60, Mark appeared as a guest artist with his wife, Stephanie Parker, in WTAMU’s Dance Concert new work, Elegy for my Parents, choreographed by Edward Truitt, and now, at 65, still performs character roles in yearly productions of The Nutcracker. Mark and wife, Stephanie Parker Lanham, own and operate Landance Conservatory in Amarillo, and they both are principal ballet instructors at The Edge studio, directed by Staci Hall. Mr. Lanham is also currently an Adjunct Part-Time Faculty member of WTAMU’s Dance Department. Mark has been a guest artist internationally, and has received critical acclaim from many of the major dance critics such as Walter Terry of The New Yorker Magazine, Anna Kisselgoff of The New York Times, and Clive Barnes of The New York Post, who have commented on his elevation, style, clean technique, and partnering skills, which characterize him as a truly American dancer, born-and-bred in the tradition of dance in the West. Mark was featured with partner Stacy Swanner in DANCMAGAZINE in the October 1978 issue. Mr. Lanham is the father of seven children, and has nine grandchildren, with one more on the way! In his spare time he is an avid photographer, documenting birds and other wildlife in Randall County.

Sandra Stegelman Miller

Sandra Stegelman Miller embodies the best of dance, historical and new, classical and contemporary, traditional and dynamic, and artistic and analytical. Her training touched the beginnings of classical ballet studying briefly as a child, with a 94 year old teacher who was in Anna Pavlova’s company, expanded with stars of the legendary Ballet Russe, included tutelage under original members of the Alvin Ailey and Martha Graham companies, and continued with the masters that have produced today’s finest dancers. Studying with David Howard in the golden age of dance and sharing the barre with Mikhail Baryshnikov, Natalia Markarova, Antony Dowell, Gelsey Kirkland, Cynthia Harvey, Darci Kistler and other resident and rising stars of ABT®, NYCB and the Joffrey Ballet, she absorbed a wealth of knowledge to pass on to her students. Long term experience with teachers who define classical dance coupled with experiential knowledge of the dynamic trends in contemporary movement, Sandra understands the range of dance today.
With a BFA in Ballet and an MBA from Texas Christian University, this highly educated teacher has the analytical expertise to back her innate teaching skills, and as a principal dancer in the Ft. Worth Ballet (now TX Ballet Theatre) she has the professional artistic experience to pass on to her students. She trained at the schools of the Joffrey Ballet, Alvin Ailey, American Ballet Theatre®, Washington Ballet, Cincinnati Ballet, and Maryland Youth Ballet. She has worked with luminaries such as Arthur Mitchell, James Clouser, Erik Bruhn, Fernando Bujones, Francisco Martinez, Mark Schneider and Fernando Schaffenburg dancing classical productions and work created for her. Ms. Miller has been the Artistic & Executive Director of a regional not-for-profit dance company, the Artistic Director of three regional ballet companies and co-directed a semi-professional modern dance company. A highly imaginative choreographer, her works range from classical to contemporary, whimsical to thought provoking, repertory to full length. Augmenting her educational and artistic background is a Pilates certification and 25 years of experience yielding a contemporary anatomically correct approach to training, and a physical rehabilitation basis to injury prevention. Sandra is an ABT® Certified Teacher, who has successfully completed the ABT® Teacher Training Intensive in Primary through Level 7 & Partnering of the ABT® National Training Curriculum.
Through her 30 year teaching career, Ms.Stegelman Miller has trained students that have gone on to dance with Ballet Austin, Kansas City Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Pittsburgh Ballet, LA Dance Project, CityDance Ensemble, City Ballet of San Diego, CompanyE, and on Broadway. The owner of Balance Pointe Training Solutions, her entrepreneurial ventures included a dance and Pilates studio, business consulting, teaching, coaching, directing and choreographing for studios, and movement, alignment and technique analysis workshops. Her dancers have been accepted in to the schools of ABT®/NY, Houston Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Washington Ballet, Complexions, Boston Ballet, UNCSA and Juilliard. She was a faculty member at the acclaimed South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities, and has taught at Ballet Austin, Tulsa Ballet, Ballet Spartanburg, the Greenville Fine Arts Center, Booker T. Washington School of the Arts in Dallas, Schaffenburg Ballet Academy and Texas Christian University. Ms. Miller was also honored as one of a small international group of teachers who have had the most number of students accepted into the Juilliard School.