CCDC Faculty

Melissa Uyehara
Emery Uyehara

“My working definition for a teacher is...Someone who believes you can do better...*and* can show you how...”

Permanent CCDC Faculty:

Melissa Uyehara brings a wealth of professional, performing and teaching experience to the Capital City Dance Center. She performed principal, soloist and corps de ballet roles with Ballet Omaha and Ballet Iowa. Some of her favorite roles include: Witch in Konstantin Uralsky's Macbeth, Ensemble in George Balanchine's Allegro Brillante, Uralsky's Rachmaninov Piano Concerto #1, Michael Uthoff's Tom Dula, Robin Welch's Les Patineurs, the revival of August Bournonville's Konservatoriet and Peter Anastos' Forgotten Memories.

Missy served as Ballet Mistress for Capital City Dance Theater and since its founding has been responsible for helping rehearse, teach, coach, nurture and develop company dancers. She served in a similar capacity for Iowa Dance Theatre, Ballet Theater Des Moines and other local dance troupes. She was recently offered the ballet mistress position with the Montgomery Ballet. Her former students have gone on to dance professionally with many ballet companies, including the Stuttgart Ballet, Cleveland Ballet, Minnesota Ballet, Saint Paul City Ballet, Dayton Ballet, American Midwest Ballet among others.

Missy's been teaching since she was a student assistant at her local studio in Ankeny, Iowa. She's been on the faculty or has taught at many local studios including: the School of Ballet Iowa/Des Moines Ballet School, School of Classical Ballet and Dance, Robert Thomas DanCenter, Central Iowa Dance, Vine Street Ballet School, Westside Dance, Dance Avenue and Dance Unlimited.

Missy's dance training includes stints with such noted teachers as Ballet Long Island's Konstantin and Irina Uralsky, American Ballet Theater's Lupe Serrano, Ballet Hamburg Ballet Master Charles Mudry, Larry Long of Chicago's Ruth Page Foundation School of Dance, Ballet Iowa's Kennet Oberly, Ballet Metropolitan's Gerard Charles, Des Moines Ballet's Lynn Andlauer and Milwaukee Ballet/University of Iowa's Basil Thompson. She's been on scholarship with the Des Moines Ballet School and the Milwaukee Ballet's Summer Program.

Besides ballet and pointe, Missy is an accomplished tap dancer and instructor. She's won or placed at a number of tap competitions, including: the Bill Riley Talent Search, Dance Masters of America and the Show Biz Dance Competition.

Missy prides herself in creating a nurturing, yet challenging, environment for every student she teaches. She also strongly believes a solid foundation of impeccable technique serves as the springboard to fullfill artistic expression.

"...I could see how much you love dance and how special you made the girls feel. I think you are the teacher for us."—E-mail excerpt from prospective student's mother.

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“...your *Mom* thinks you can dance better...but, she can't show you how...”

Comment from pleased CCDC parent:
"...I can't begin to tell you how happy I am with the progress that she has made from being at your studio. Everyone notices the difference! And she loves coming to your classes. You and Emery are truly amazing teachers and we are blessed to have found you!:)..."
...And, still not too late to get your child started dancing at Capital City Dance Center! New students always welcome at CCDC! If it gets too late in 2015, we'll get you pre-registered for the next session!o)

Emery Uyehara's performing and teaching career has taken him from Tokyo to San Francisco to Chicago to New York and the Prix de Lausanne in Switzerland. He received his early ballet training on scholarship in Hawaii with North Carolina School of the Art's former Ballet Master Nolan Dingman, the University of Hawaii's Yasuki Sasa, Hawaii State Ballet's John Landovsky and Alaine Haubert, formerly of the Joffrey Ballet and currently instructing for the JKO School. He continued his training in Chicago with Larry Long, Homer Bryant, Joel Hall, Warren Conover, Anna Paskevska and Marjorie and Maria Tallchief. He's been a member of Ballet Hawaii, Hawaii State Ballet, Hawaii Ballet Theater, Svalander Dance Theater, Third Wave Dance Theater, Duluth Ballet and the Des Moines Ballet/Ballet Iowa. Emery has been a choreographer/dancer for several trade and cabaret shows on the strip in Waikiki including The Lullaby of Swing and The Lavender Follies.

Emery's had guest appearances with Nebraska's Ballet Midwest, San Francisco's Joe Montoya Dancers and Maria Tallchief's Chicago Ballet Workshop. He's choreographed, performed and/or taught for City Ballet Theater of Milwaukee, the Honolulu Acrobatic Troupe, Des Moines' Chamber Dancers, Iowa Dance Theatre and Ballet Theater Des Moines. He also starred in and co-choreographed the Arabian Prince role in the 2002 and 2003 C.Y.Stephen's production of The Nutcracker.

Emery's favorite roles include: George Balanchine's Pas de Dix from Raymonda, the Cavalier from Nutcracker, Prince Florimund from Sleeping Beauty, Kennet Oberley's Russian Trepak from Nutcracker, Jane Cassel's Bette Davis Eyes, Joe Montoya's Al Jarreau Suite, Paul Brown's Tarentella and his own choreography for the Arabian Slave from Nutcracker.

Emery's dance teaching career spans three decades. He began at the Honolulu City Dance Center and continued at the University of Hawaii, Duluth Ballet School, Chicago City Ballet Workshop, School of Ballet Iowa, Robert Thomas DanCenter and other Iowa schools. His former students have gone on to dance professionally with many ballet companies, including the Stuttgart Ballet, Cleveland Ballet, Minnesota Ballet, Saint Paul City Ballet, Dayton Ballet, American Midwest Ballet among others.

Emery is also a former instructor of the martial arts: including Okinawan Judo, Black Panther and Seven Brothers Son Shi Kung-Fu. He's also a tournament winning and former volunteer assistant coach in folk-style wrestling. He was three-year varsity letterman and tri-captain of his high-school team when it won its first conference championship.

Emery's professional performing career also includes gigs as a stand-up comic and as an award-winning journalist, personality and talk-show host with WHO, KGU and KQMQ. He's a retired syndicated radio news anchor and former reporter and producer for WHO-TV and hosted the Iowa Radio Network's monthly "Call The Governor" show. Follow Emery's tweets at @SirDanGuy

"...(Emery) excelled in verbally conveying physical movement and abstract feelings. He had a wealth of performance experience and technical training to pass on to both my company dancers and my young, aspiring dancers."Marjorie Yoshida, Milwaukee City Ballet Theater

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“...that's why I am your dance teacher...”

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“...I *know* you can do better *and* I will show you with me here!”

Madison Campbell first began her ballet training in Des Moines, Iowa with Melissa and Emery Uyehara at Capital City Dance Center, and supplemented her dance education with summer courses at Joffrey Midwest Summer Intensive, San Francisco Ballet School, Pacific Northwest Ballet School, Gelsey Kirkland Academy of Classical Dance, The School of American Ballet, The School of Pennsylvania Ballet, and The School of Nashville Ballet. She then spent a season at Miami City Ballet School training under Lourdes Lopez, Carter Alexander, and Geta Constantinescu. Performing in the ballets; Carnival of the Animals and Paquita. Next, she accepted an offer to study at the School of Pennsylvania Ballet on full scholarship under the direction of William Degregory and later Arantxa Ochoa. There, she had the honor of performing George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker, George Balanchine’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream (on tour at the Kennedy Center), Christopher Wheeldon’s Swan Lake, and George Balanchine’s Serenade. The following year, Madison accepted an opportunity to become a trainee with the Nashville Ballet and had the privilege of dancing Paul Vasterling’s Nashville’s Nutcracker as well as participating in several outreach programs where she performed variations such as Giselle. Ms. Campbell is currently a dancer with the Cleveland Ballet and is also a part of their faculty at the school. Aside from ballet, Madison is earning her Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work and is a part time Starbucks barista.

Catherine Wootten trained under the direction of Melissa and Emery Uyehara at Capital City Dance Center. During summer intensives, she trained at The Joffrey Ballet, Boston Ballet, The Washington Ballet, American Ballet Theater, and Milwaukee Ballet on scholarship. She danced with the Minnesota Ballet for six seasons, beginning in 2010 as an apprentice and was promoted to a company member in 2011. While in Minnesota, she performed principal roles as Cinderella, Jeanne in Flames of Paris, George Balanchine’s “Who Cares?” as The Turning Girl, as Columbine in the Harlequinade Pas de Deux, and performed as the Snow Queen, Dew Drop, and The Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker. Catherine completed her contract with the Minnesota Ballet at the end of last season and has returned to Des Moines to rigorously train and to further pursue her passion for ballet. She was the guest principal artist this past year as The Sugar Plum Fairy with Iowa Dance Theater's production of The Nutcracker, choreographed specifically for her by Melissa Uyehara. Catherine is honored and thrilled to be teaching again this summer!

Alissa Hamer gets to combine her love of children with her love of dance with every class she teaches at CCDC. She earned her dance degree with honors from the University of Iowa after training there and at the University of Northern Iowa and the University of Nevada Las Vegas. Her eclectic background in many forms of dance, as well as acting, yoga and Pilates, allow her to bring a technical focus as well as a performing emphasis to her modern dance classes.

Some of Alissa's favorite roles include Meghan Beresford's Little Gods and Maggie Rupprecht's I'm Here from the University of Iowa's Undergraduate Dance Concert series and Tracy Vacura's When You Look at Me, Do You See Me? from the Advanced Choreographic Design Concert Series. She's also choreographed or appeared in several musicals, including Fiddler on the Roof and Singin' in the Rain and participated in cheerleading, danceline and drill team competitions.

Alissa's group and solo choreography at the University of Iowa includes: Mirage, The Absurdity of the Cell Phone, Busy Daydreamer and Tenshun.

Alissa's modern dance training springs from diverse sources. She incorporates principles from various contemporary and post-contemporary dance forms, including Limon, Currier, Cunningham, Horton and Falco. She introduces and guides her students through fall and recovery, shape, suspension and to a musicality grounded in strength and flexibility.

Alissa says, "...athleticism, musicality, intellect and knowledge of the moving body are the important concepts I stress in the classroom. These concepts not only allow my dancers to be more effective movers, but also help them to dance safely while learning... the art of modern dance."

She continues, " class demands a dancer who is both athletic and intellectual. The very nature of dance requires the presence of both body and mind in class at all times. I expect my dancers to be able to think with their mind as well as to feel with their body."

This eMail Addition from Ms Hamer:
"...I started my formal training with in the Stott method with certified instructor Kandee Bishop at Prairie Life Fitness.  I have been teaching mat classes since 2004 and just started teaching reformer classes in November 2007.
Hurley & Dancers History:
Started dancing with the company in June 2005
Cancer Memorial for Johnston Hospice - May 2007
East Village Art Coalition presents "Art Stop" - September 2008
Des Moines Diversity Chorus presents Winter Solstice Concert - December 2008
Westminster Fine Arts Series presents Poppy's Dancing Puppets - March 2009

05.22.2009: Hamer STILL Hitz Homerz!

Exciting developing news on continuing professional development on the part of CCDC Modern/Jazz/Pilates Instructor Alissa Hamer:
"...I have been officially admitted to the Physical Therapist Assistant program at Mercy College of Health Sciences. I will be starting in the fall. I'm very excited about it and am looking forward to continuing my pursuit of knowledge about the body. I have a feeling I will have many volunteers and test subjects from the studio! I will be finishing my physics pre-requisite class this summer through DMACC (good thing (Lindy VanderEmmen) is going to be around for study dates). I think this will be an amazing opportunity for me. Not to worry, I will still be teaching classes at CCDC while I am in school. As if I could ever give that up!


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“Corrections are compliments. If we didn't think you could do better...we wouldn't bother.”

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“Success is exceeding expectations. ...and, you should have high expectations.”

You'll never catch Cindy Chambers without a smile...and she ALWAYS brings it with her when she teaches at CCDC! ...As well as her sparkling personality AND a degree in education from the University of Northern Iowa. Cindy has academic teaching experience as well as dance...having taught students from pre-school to sixth grade...along with acrobatics, baton and cheerleading.

Cindy started cheering in the eighth grade, continuing through her entire high school and college years. She competed and placed in collegiate cheerleading camps and competitions and has conducted, taught and judged cheerleading clinics and try-outs from pre-school to high school.

Cindy began her dance training in Ankeny and was a member of the UNI dance company for four years.

Sorry, guys! Cindy's married to HUGE former UNI Panther football lineman Jeff Chambers. And, she says she's sensitive to the concerns of all parents because of her own four kids, Chace, Chaz, Chaden and Chyla.

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“Our goal is to produce...not just good dancers...but, good people!”

   “...a little better than the last time, that's all I ask.”

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“A good teacher will never take their responsibility lightly.”

Roni McCann grew up dancing in Des Moines at her mom’s dance studio. She was Captain of Varsity Cheerleading and Dance Team at Dowling Catholic High School. In 2003, she won State in the solo division for the Iowa Drill Team Competition with a perfect score. After high school, Roni moved to LA to pursue her dance career at the Performing Arts Center. She trained with Joseph Malone, Michelle Elkin, Charles Klapow, Jennifer Hamilton, Sallie Whalen, Mark Goodman, Bryan Anthony, Jerry Evans and Terri Yates. She took voice from Deborah Shulman, and acting from Joe Malone and Ann Anderson. Some of her credits include; PGA Industrial, Assistant to Charles Klapow for “Cheetah Girls 3” and Marie Serneholt’s, “I Need A House.” Backup dancer for Alex Bornstein’s “Drop Dead Gorgeous,” Bellagio Go-Go Dancer, Skeleton Crew for, “Boston Legal” and Broadway Show, “Lennon,” lead tap dancer with Mark Goodman in, “Red,” Trace Adkins' “Girls Love Country Boys,” Russian in, “Nutcracker” and performed in many Benefit Shows. After being in LA for 3 years, she went to dance with Princess Cruise Lines. She’s traveled to Hawaii, Alaska, Caribbean, London, France, Spain, Sweden, Russia, Norway, Denmark and Germany. Roni decided to move back home to Iowa and got married in 2011. She choreographed the Mega Millions Iowa Lottery commercial, “More, More, More” and judged for Talent On Parade, Symposium and other dance competitions. She’s also taught Master Classes at North Crest Gym & Dance in Minnesota. She’s choreographed many award winning pieces for her mother’s studio and is a member of Chapter 47 of Dance Masters of America. Roni is a New and Preowned Sales Assistant at Willis Auto Campus and teaches kickboxing at Farrell’s Extreme Body Shaping. Roni is really looking forward to being a part of the CCDC family!

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Kimberly Nygren Cox

Former professional ballet dancer, Kimberly Nygren Cox is now a certified Pilates and yoga instructor in Iowa City. Her dancing career of 14 years was spent primarily with the Louisville Ballet Company where she was a soloist and performed a wide variety of classical and contemporary roles. While in Kentucky, Kim taught regularly for the Louisville Ballet School and Allegro Ballet Theater, and she has been a guest instructor for many other organizations, including Capital City Dance Center. She has become an established choreographer and has also been active in stage management and production. In 2010, Kim was commissioned to create a new work for the Louisville Ballet Youth Ensemble that was later adjudicated and chosen to be presented as part of the SERBA (South East Regional Ballet Association) festival in Montgomery, Alabama. She was also awarded the 2011 Al Smith Individual Artist Fellowship for Choreography by the Kentucky Arts Council. Kim and her husband, Joseph Cox, have two young children who help keep her on her toes, even though it's been years since she danced en pointe!