CHRISTOPHER RAYNOR — Senior Teaching Artist

Christopher Raynor is an NYU graduate with a BA in Theatre. Originally from Silver Spring, MD, Chris comes from a large family, so he’s very comfortable around little ones! He got involved teaching ballroom dance in 2002, working alongside Founder/Artistic Director, Sidney Grant and Senior Teaching Artist, Stacee Mandeville at Dancing Classrooms. Chris has been a TA at Ballroom Basix™ since 2011 and is proud to be part of the team. Profiles in our fall/winter newsletter, Chris commented, "It's absolutely rewarding to watch the transformation from when these kids come in as boys and girls the first day...scared of ballroom dance, to watching them blossom -- honestly -- into ladies and gentlemen. Now let's get to the fancy footwork!"


DEREK LEYVA — Teaching Artist

Derek Leyva was born and raised in Las Cruces, New Mexico where he graduated from New Mexico State University with a degree in Dance. Derek appeared in all three-dance companies at NMSU, which included Sol y Arena (flamenco and classical Spanish), Contemporary Dance Theater and DanceSport (ballroom). Derek also became a certified dance instructor through Dance Vision training in Bolero, Cha-Cha, East and West Coast Swing, Foxtrot, Mambo, Merengue, Rumba, Samba, Tango, Viennese Waltz and Waltz. Currently, Derek works with Ballet Hispanico and performs with Artist’s Lab’s Swing Set throughout New York and New Jersey. He is thrilled to be contributing his time and talents to transforming young lives.

Johari Mayfield — Teaching Artist

Johari Mayfield began her dance training at age ten and continued her studies under the late ballet dancer, Sylvester Campbell, in Baltimore. After graduation, she received a full scholarship to the Ailey School in New York. In addition to performing with several modern dance companies and creating work as an independent choreographer, Johari has used her extensive movement background to teach a wide variety of classes ranging from Cecchetti-based ballet, modern, West African, kickboxing, spinning and Pilates-based mat class. As an instructor, she seeks to utilize her dance theatre background to enhance the mind/body connection within each person's capabilities, including children.

GLYKERIA MANIS — TA Trainee

Glykeria Manis is a proud new member of the Ballroom Basix™ team. She is a licensed, practicing social worker and has studied psychology and dance extensively throughout her career. She began her studies as an undergraduate in psychology, graduating with Honors from New York University in 2000. During this time, she completed a one-year study abroad program in Madrid, studying Latin language, dance and culture. She continued studying Argentine tango in New York City and Buenos Aires with several internationally recognized instructors, and now teaches the dance she's fallen in love with. She obtained her first Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology from Teachers College at Columbia University in 2006. She then went on to study at Hunter College School of Social Work, graduating with an MSW in 2011. Her thesis investigated the physical, psychological and social benefits of dance, exploring the unique and personal mode of non-verbal communication that increases awareness of self and others. Understanding the physical and mental health benefits of dance for all ages, Glykeria is currently pursuing her third Master’s Degree in Dance Therapy. She believes that dance is a valuable healing tool not only for our youth, but also our entire society, particularly young people, to improve peer relationships and deter bullying.

LISA ABELSON — Long Island Volunteer/TA Trainee 

Lisa Abelson Rabinowitz has been dancing since the age of 5 when she started with her closet door as partner. A dance friend of Artistic Director Sidney Grant, his organization Ballroom Basix™ intrigued her enough to make a few donations, and attend this past spring's benefit at the University Club. Lisa was so impressed with Sid's mission and accomplishments, as Lisa states it, "to make a difference in the lives of young people while sharing the joy of dance socially, NOT competitively," that she offered to volunteer her time and efforts to help the program expand. Lisa hopes to help grow the community on Long Island as she winds down her own career. Ballroom Basix™ is her perfect "retirement job!" She has already attended several Harlem classes in two different schools, where she enjoys dancing with all the students, especially the Barn Dance!

SHANNAH WHITE — Hudson TA Trainee 

Shannah White has made a passionate study of the mental, emotional and spiritual dynamics of the human mind for the last 20 years. She has always felt that real world change hinges on each and every individual developing the personal awareness and inner skills to experience peace and happiness within themselves and peaceful relating with others, a quality she sees fostered in the Ballroom Basix™ methodology. She has also fallen in love with dancing Argentine Tango (taking workshops from Sidney Grant in Woodstock), and is well aware of the inner balance and outer grace that partner dancing provides. Her respect for the Ballroom Basix™ program was instant, and led immediately to helping to extend the program’s reach to upstate NY. To learn more about Shannah, visit her website at becomingharmless.com


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