About the Director:
Hillary Brown started Manoa Dance Studio to learn how to dance again.
Most thought she was simply teaching kids the basics, when she was learning again herself. In 2008, she suffered a stroke that left her unable to speak and her right side paralyzed. After a risky brain surgery, she nurtured her recovery over two years with Pilates which enabled her to return to her first passion, dancing.
Hillary started dance at age 3 as part of an elite dance team “Starz” in Mesa, Arizona. She continued to train in Salt Lake City, Utah where her studies included Jazz, Ballet, Tap, Pointe, Lyrical, Broadway and Hip Hop. A young actress as well, she played roles in movies with Disney, DreamWorks, and Lucadia Films, and had reoccurring roles on ‘Touched by an Angel’.
In 2001, Hillary made her journey to Hawaii, where she taught for numerous studios, was director of a local talent agency and choreographed several pageant contestants. Hillary has judged several pageants, including the Miss Hawaii Pageant and Miss Teen Filipina and World Pageants.
Now she shares her passion for Pilates with her dance students and clients in hopes that the method will help others the way it helped her. She focuses on developing a passion for health, nutrition, and a positive attitude.
Katie MacLean is originally from Washington state, but has recently moved to Honolulu in order to pursue her Master’s at UH Manoa. She earned a degree from Whitworth University in Elementary Education with a Minor in Dance. Having taught dance for 10 years, Katie hasn’t forgotten her early training in Ballet and Tap. She has always been very involved with her local Children’s Dance Theatre too. Growing up, she participated in annual performances, and after graduating she fulfilled roles as stage manager, assistant director, and choreographer for numerous shows. Katie is very excited to be part of the Manoa Dance Studio, and to be able to share her love and passion for dance!
Alexandra Zinov is from Salt Lake City, Utah where she studied dance at Salt Lake School for the Performing Arts and attended Utah Valley University on a modern dance scholarship. She then went on to dance in the NBA for the Utah jazz for 4 years. She has taught at many dance studios and choreographed for high schools and Jr Highs around Salt Lake. Alex relocated to Hawaii this spring and loves everything about dance. She can’t wait to share her passion with our studio! She will be teaching Ballet I-IV, Jazz I-IV, Ballet I-IV, Pointe, Pre-Ballet & Tap, Musical Theater and helping with our Princess Dance Camp this summer.
Vanessa Brooks was born and raised in Carlsbad, California Vanessa Brooks had a passion for dance and movement since a very young age. Brooks grew up performing and competing in dance and has won several awards over the years, such as Solo Sweepstakes winner and National Champion. She was voted most “Well Rounded Dancer” at the Urban Jam Dance Convention. Brooks has danced and performed with the CHS Lancer Dancers, Future Shock, Culture Shock, Pulse Hip-hop Company, Unity Dance Ensemble, PAC Modern, and Malashock Dance. Brooks performed in the movie trailer “Dance Ten” by Johnny Smith, Maya’s music video “Like Whoa”, and in Super Bowl XXXVVII pregame and half-time shows.
Vanessa has had the privilege to train under multiple professionals such as: Tessandra Chavez, Tabitha and Napoleon Dumo, Brian Friedman, Mark Meismer, Susan McClain, a former Martha Graham Dancer, and Lorin Johnson, from American Ballet Theatre. In the summer of 2006, Vanessa received her Pilates Certification through B.A.S.I. with an emphasis on Dance Specialization, under the direction of Karen Clippinger. In 2008 Brooks, received her Bachelors of the Arts degree in Dance from California State University Long Beach. Brooks has taught Pilates for multiple gyms, Pilates studios, and dance intensives/workshops, such as California Ballet. She has taught dance at several dance studios and college campuses throughout southern California, including Mira Costa College and Cal Poly Pomona. Her unique choreography has been featured by high school dance teams, collegiate shows, dance competitions, dance showcases, and musicals. Brooks’ choreography has won many awards in jazz, tap, contemporary, and acro. Since moving to Hawaii, Vanessa has taught P.E. at Lanakila Elementary school and dance at Ballet Hawaii. She hopes to spread creativity and inspiration through movement to her students, and is honored to be a part of Manoa dance studio.
Nicole Moffitt joined the MDS Family last year as our Contemporary and Technique teacher. Nicole has been teaching dance for the past 6 years in the styles of hip hop, jazz, pom and contemporary. She has also coached and competed in the All Star Dance circuit and coached high school dance team. Nicole is still new to the island and excited to get to know the Manoa Dance family. We could not be more excited for her to be adding Hip Hop ages 7+ and Teen Hip Hop to our summer and fall schedule.
Ki Compton holds a 500RYT from Open Space Yoga and specializations in Ayurveda, Aerial, Acro, Restorative, and Children’s yoga. In class Ki’ focus is on the experience of her students. Encouraging them to playfully observe the movement of their own body’s to create a greater sense of self awareness, accepting limitations, and celebrating triumphs.
Belle Knopf will be teaching Open Ballet, Pointe, Lyrical, Jazz, Musical Theater, Contemporary, Modern, Improv, Pilates and our NEW Strength & Lengthening class. After being diagnosed with a life threatening illness that caused her to lose her kidneys and attacked a few of my other vital organs at 14, dance was the only thing she could escape to where everything felt okay. Dance was her saving grace, and a big part of her healing and recovery. Knowing the amazing benefits of dance, she decided to pursue a degree in dance therapy. She found this beautiful way of movement that connected the mind, body, emotion and spirit in a very beautiful way and is looking forward to sharing her passions with MDS dancers.
Mikum Leah Webster– Recently relocated to Oahu so her husband could complete his Masters at UH Manoa. Her studies as a dancer began at age 2 and have continued throughout her life. She graduated with a Diploma in Contemporary Dance from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts and continued her dance studies at Florida State University. During her studies she has had the opportunity to dance under the direction of ballet legends Suzanne Farrell and Melissa Hayden. She performed for two years with the Corazon Dancers and then with Waterside Theatre. Unfortunately her career was cut short due to injuries which redirected her passion to teaching. This led Mikum to London where she completed her Masters in Dance Science from Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, and inspired her to complete her Pilates teacher certifications
Mikum teaches dancers of all ages in ballet, tap, jazz, and contemporary dance. She specializes in early childhood development and injury prevention. In her free time she works as a research consultant for University dance departments and you can often see her work presented at the International Association of Dance Medicine and Science Annual Conferences.
Brent Koki became a dance instructor a year into his dance career. It is safe to say that this has given him a unique perspective and appreciation for dance. Years later, Brent reclaimed his passion for dance after moving out to Los Angeles, where he was fortunate enough to study under several notable choreographers including Jaffar Smith, Tessandra Chavez, Craig Hollamon, Phi Nyguen, ….. He was also blessed with unique opportunities such as joining the Unity L.A. dance company, touring with Disney’s Cheetah Girls and making an appearance in Nike’s “Let’s Play” campaign. Brent has since moved back to Hawaii in order to share his expirences with the future generation of dancers. Currently in Hawaii he has taught at 24-7, Hypersquad, Honolulu Dance Studio, X-Factor, Dance Artistry, and also is in a battle crew called Hype Beasts. He hopes to bring a new dynamic that will inspire and encourage the dance community in Hawaii in a positive way.