Meet SDC

Margaret Armstrong graduated from the University of Alabama in 2001 having completed a B.A. in Dance.  While studying at UA, she was a member of both the Alabama Repertory Theatre and Dance Alabama! Margaret continued her education at the University of South Alabama where she earned her MEd in Exercise Science. After working as a personal trainer for 5 years, she returned to school earning both a bachelors and masters in nursing from UAB.  Margaret and her husband Tommy are parents of Miles and Eli. She has been a member of Sanspointe since 2005 and is a founding board member.

Taryn Packheiser Brown is a freelance performer, choreographer, dance teacher, and audio-visual artist (www.tpbdance.weebly.com) based in Southside, AL.  She has worked with several notable choreographers including Mark Dendy, Joe Goode, Bebe Miller, Gabriel Masson, and Mary Cochran.  Her past company credits include Blank Slate Dance Company, Hurley & Dancers, Co’Motion Dance Theater, Third Law Dance Theater, Elinor Coleman Dance Ensemble and Urban Impact Hip Hop Troupe.  Her choreography has been performed in Costa Rica, New York, North Carolina, California, Colorado, Iowa, Nevada and Alabama.   Packheiser Brown has been on faculty at Shelton State, Iowa State University, University of Colorado at Boulder and ACDFA regional conferences.  Taryn has an MFA in Choreography and Performance from the University of Colorado at Boulder and a BFA in Contemporary Dance from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts.  She joined Sanspointe in 2011 and is the current Artistic Director.

Shellie Chambers, a native of Hopkinsville, Kentucky, graduated from The University of Alabama (UA), with a B.A. in dance and an M.A. in advertising and public relations. She was a company member of Alabama Repertory Dance Theatre and received the Lou Wall Award from the dance department faculty in 2003.  Shellie was an inaugural recipient of the Cultural Alliance of Greater Birmingham’s Grants to Individual Artists Award in 2007. Shellie is the artistic director of the Upper School, marketing director and teacher at Children’s Dance Foundation (CDF) in Birmingham. She also performs with CDF’s School Touring Programs “Math in Motion” and “The Magic Circle.”  Shellie has been with Sanspointe Dance Company since 2005, is a founding board member and served as the company’s artistic director 2007-2011.

Anna Foshee graduated Magna Cum Laude with a B.A. in dance from the University of Alabama with a minor in Social Work.While at UA ,she was a member of Alabama Repertory Dance Theater, the pre-professional company at Alabama and Dance Alabama! a student led organization at UA. She served as a counselor for the American Ballet Theatre summer intensives for two years and was the public relations officer for Dance Alabama!. Anna is a choreographer and dance instructor at the Centre for Performing Arts in Prattville, Al. Anna joined Sanspointe in 2009.

Catherine Vancak Graham was born and raised in Calgary, Alberta Canada.  She began her B.A. in Dance at the University of Calgary in conjunction with Alberta Ballet, where she trained in Cecchetti Ballet Technique.  After transferring to the University of Alabama, Catherine graduated Summa Cum Laude with her B.A in Dance.  At the University of Alabama she performed with the Alabama Repertory Dance Theatre as well as produced her first show “Space/Place”, where she fell in love with choreographing modern dance. Catherine also choreographed for the student company, Dance Alabama!   She danced with the Montgomery Ballet, Tuscaloosa Community Dancers, Complexions Contemporary Ballet in New York City, and most recently Arova Contemporary Ballet based in Birmingham as a soloist.  Currently, she is working on her Masters of Public Health at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and is applying to dental school in the spring of 2014.  This is her third season with Sanspointe.

BioPicDiedre Graham is a native of Mobile, Alabama. She is a Fall 2013 graduate of the University of Alabama with a major in Dance and double minors in German and Anthropology. She is an ABT (American Ballet Theater ) Scholarship Recipient and the recipient of several dance honors from the University of Alabama Department of Theater and Dance. Diedre has trained at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s summer intensive, American Ballet Theater’s summer intensives, Broadway Dance Center, Sheffield School of the Dance, Gotta Dance Atlanta, Dance 411, and Atlanta Ballet. She also participated in a project with noted choreographers Chris Judd, Dave Scott, and Eddie Garcia. Diedre was a member of the pre-professional company Alabama Repertory Dance Theater (four years) at the University of Alabama and the student- choreographed Dance Alabama semi-annual shows. Additionally, Diedre served as both a performer and choreographer in the Actor’s Charitable Theater’s production of The Color Purple. Diedre has experience in arts Administration, serving as an Arts Intern at the Alabama State Council on the Arts. Diedre is a certified teacher in the Mobile County Public School System, teaching ballet, jazz, hip-hop and modern to middle school girls. Diedre is beyond excited to spend her first season with Sanspointe Dance Company!

Michelle Knutson, a native of Charlotte, North Carolina, graduated from the University of Alabama (UA) Magna Cum Laude with a B.A. in Dance and Minor in Psychology. While studying at UA, she was a company member of the Alabama Repertory Dance Theater and received the Lou Wall Award from the UA dance department faculty in 2000. Michelle’s professional training includes work with Celeste Miller, Paul Taylor Dance Company, American Dance Festival, and the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange. Michelle served as the Upper School Program Coordinator, directed the Student Ensemble program, and performed with the school-touring program; “Math in Motion,” at Children’s Dance Foundation from 2001 – 2007. Michelle was an inaugural recipient of the Cultural Alliance of Greater Birmingham’s Grants to Individual Artists Award in 2007. Currently she teaches Physical Education at Trace Crossings Elementary and sponsors the Bumpus Middle School Dance Team. She loves being a mother to her son, Sam, and creating, collaborating and connecting to the world around us through art. Five-time winner of the Panoply Arts Festival’s Best Modern Choreography Award, she is the founding Artistic Director of Sanspointe Dance Company and currently serves as a founding board member, choreographer and dancer.

Alisa McCool, hails from the buzzing metropolis of El Reno, Oklahoma. Alisa is a summa cum laude graduate of the University of Oklahoma and has a Master of Education from Texas Christian University. In 2010, she received her M.F.A in choreography and performance from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. Alisa began her training at the only dance studio in her small hometown and attended the Oklahoma Summer Arts Institute each summer during high school. Throughout her studies, Alisa has worked with a variety of teachers and choreographers including Mel Wong, Fernando Bujones, Gus Solomons Jr., Deborah Jowitt, Doug Varone,Jill Johnson, and Phyllis Lamhut. Alisa has been a featured dancer with the Second Avenue Dance Company (New York), Contemporary Dance/Fort Worth (Texas) and Dance Revolution (nationwide) and has traveled the country performing and teaching in a variety of venues. For five years, Alisa served as the founding director of the Dance Department at the Fort Worth Academy of Fine Arts in Fort Worth, Texas. Alisa is also a certified yoga instructor and teaches dance and yoga throughout the Birmingham area.

Sarah Mutch, born and raised in Columbus, Mississippi, graduated magna cum laude from the University of Alabama with a B.A. in dance with a minor in theatre in 2014. While studying at UA, she was a company member of Alabama Repertory Dance Theatre as well as a performer and choreographer for Dance Alabama! Additionally, Sarah served as a counselor for the American Ballet Theatre Summer Intensive in Tuscaloosa for two years and performed with Tuscaloosa Community Dancers. She now resides in Birmingham and is a teaching artist at Children’s Dance Foundation. She also teaches and choreographs throughout the community. This is her first season with Sanspointe.

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Stella Nystrom was born and raised in Mobile, Alabama and has lived in Birmingham for 7 years. She has danced with Alabama Contemporary Danceand The Down-Downs in Mobile and Arova Contemporary Ballet, Sanspointe, Corpus Euphonium ( an improvisational dance and music collective ), and Pyro-Salto ( a fire performance troupe that changed their name to something recently , something like ” burning Hearts of Desire…..whatever ). She’s trained in Royal Academy of Dance Syllabus, Vaganova Syllabus, several styles of African Dance ( most of which she’s forgotten) and lots and lots of modern techniques ( most of which have also been forgotten ). Currently, she works at The Wine Loft as a Certified Sommelier and is working on the Advanced Sommelier Certification. Eventually, she would like to become a Master Sommelier because being a Master of anything is awesome.

Sara Turney is in her third season with the Sanspointe Dance Company. She grew up in North Alabama around the Madison area. While there, she trained in a variety of dance styles with North Alabama Dance center for 11 years. Sara attended college at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Dance and also a Bachelor of Arts degree in English. During her four years of college, she performed with the Dance program’s pre-professional company, Alabama Repertory Dance Theater, and the student-produced organization, Dance Alabama! Sara has choreographed for Dance Alabama!, and was presented the Edith Barnes Choreography Award her senior year. She is currently a dance instructor for the Children’s Dance Foundation where she teaches a variety of styles ranging from jazz and tap to modern.

Justin Wallace (Music Director) graduated from UAB with a Bachelor’s in Music Technology and a specialization in percussion, where he was a member of the Percussion Ensemble, Steel Band, and Computer Music Ensemble. He is the co-founder/director of Iron Giant Percussion and performs with fellow musicians from UAB. Justin began working with Sanspointe Dance Company in 2009 as a company artist before becoming the company’s music director in 2011.