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The Dancers of,
The Company at Sparrow 

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Kira Akmajian 

Kira Akmajian has been dancing since she was 3. She has trained in ballet, jazz, contemporary, and even hip hop, folkloric, flamenco, and swing dance, but tap dance has always been her passion. She has had the opportunity to train with some amazing tappers through the NM Tap Fest and UNM tap program. She is an Albuquerque native, a graduate of UNM, and an elementary school teacher.

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Ryan Blair 

Ryan started dancing at the age of twelve. His first time attending a dance class was at Rio Rancho Middle School, where he studied dance under Mrs. Christina Daly. From there, his passion was ignited and he was introduced to all kinds of dance styles. Ryan fell in love with ballet! Since then, Ryan has been dancing ballet and continues to love it more and more each and every day. His love for ballet has turned into a passion for teaching the artform. Ryan now teaches multiple ballet classes at Sparrow Dance Productions.

He feels joy in seeing children flourish, love, and dance in his ballet classes. His long term goals are to gain enough knowledge about the art of ballet to pass on to his classes, and eventually graduate to teaching higher levels of ballet classes, and older students, at Sparrow Dance Productions.

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Montserrat Gallegos


Montserrat Gallegos has been dancing for 13 years and has performed in various stages around the US. She grew up dancing salsa and other Latin styles, then moved into jazz, contemporary and other technical styles. Now she specializes in all forms of abstract freestyles within HipHop and some that are derived from HipHop culture. She is a Bgirl, Krumper, Performer, part of HipHop University NM, former UNM Dance Faculty, and former NBA dancer. Montserrat continues to be a student and strives to learn from her teachers and her own students all the same.

She is constantly learning through cypher open practices with crew members and dancers in the Albuquerque community, always eager to learn about the culture and history of dance so she can pass that knowledge down to her students and those around her.

Ashley Hopson 


Ashley started ballet at the age of four in California as the Sue Dalton School of Ballet, now the Classical School of Ballet. While studying Mechanical Engineering at the University of California, Santa Barbara, she continued taking ballet classes, as well as belly dancing and Argentine tango. After moving to Albuquerque in 2011 she joined the La Mesa Dance Academy to continue to pursue her passion for dance. She has also performed in multiple performances of The Nutcrackers with New Mexico Ballet Company.

After relocating to Rio Rancho with her husband and two beautiful children, she continues to work in the engineering field is very excite to now be a part of the Sparrow Dance family.

Jennifer Leach
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Jennifer Leach has been dancing as long as she can remember. While dancing with the company at Ballet Repertory Theatre of New Mexico, Leach has had the opportunity to perform in The Nutcracker, Beauty and the Beast, Sleeping Beauty, and Swan Lake to name a few. She has also recently performed a lead role in Sparrow's production of "Onward and Upward to Narnia and the North." In addition to earning her BS in Community Health Education from the University of New Mexico, she committed time to

earning her Minor Degree in Dance. Teaching ballet over the past decade has helped her to harness what it is to be a skilled and intuitive instructor. As a new mom of two, she is excited to bring her ballet experiences to her growing family and to the community of Rio Rancho as a member of the Sparrow staff.

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Michael Nocker 

 

Michael is new to Sparrow and the ballet world, but it has quickly become his new home away from home. He started his dance journey as a young adult as an improvised tribal style and fusion style belly dancer. Since then, he has become an aerialist, flying on the silks and lyra in the cirque, as well as performing as a pole dancer. To come back to earth, he enjoys yoga, contortion, and flowing with fire staffs and fans. When he's not in the studio, you will most likely find him rock climbing, playing with his dog, volunteering, or selling houses as Albuquerque's tallest, blondest Realtor.

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Lynn Padilla

 

During her first Nutcracker performance, Lynn was cast as a Snowflake, with Dance Arts Los Alamos. She fluffed her white tutu, stepped outside to catch her breath, and just then, huge SnowFlakes began to fall. She felt a magical connection onstage, and knew dancing would forever be a part of her life.


Lynn went onto serve in the National Guard, where she continued taking Ballet classes, with Dance Dimensions, in Albuquerque.

Lynn left New Mexico, and went on to serve in the Coast Guard. While stationed in Seattle, she took Ballet classes at Northwest School of Dance, in Bremerton, WA. Upon returning home in 2017, Lynn made a brief return to Dance Arts Los Alamos, before making a permanent move in 2022, to Sparrow Dance Productions, in Rio Rancho.  

 

Sparrow has become much more to her than just a dance studio. Here, she is challenged, offered a wide range of dance classes for personal growth, and has grown immensely under the direction of Mrs. Christina Daly-Smith, and Staff. While her path to success in Ballet has been sporadic, she is determined to advance, and knows she has found the Dance Studio that fits her. Lynn is passionate about the Art of dancing, and she strives to exude that while performing, to connect with her audience, and fellow dancers. Lynn has danced Ballet since her early teens, giving her a greater appreciation for the Art of Dance.

 

Her favorite quote reads: 

Dance is the hidden language of the Soul.” 

 -Martha Graham.

Amelia Parks

 

Amelia, and has been dancing her entire life! She danced on a competitive all-star dance team in Albuquerque, NM where she developed a passion for jazz, lyrical, and musical theater. Amelia was on staff for the Universal Dance Association for three years in college where she had the privilege of teaching dancers all over the country.

 

Her teaching philosophy is to empower athletes to bring the best version of themselves to the floor, and to always lead with kindness.

Amelia is a community support worker for a mental health agency in New Mexico and is currently working towards her masters in marriage and family therapy. She has a passion for people, and loves getting to connect with others through dance!

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Nikki Root 

 

Nikki began dancing at a young age at La Mesa Dance Academy in Albuquerque New Mexico. Throughout the years she has explored many different styles of dance but found her way back to ballet as an adult. She took several ballet classes at The University of New Mexico while completing a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Studio Art. She then joined The Ballet Repertory Theatre of New Mexico where she performed various roles in The Nutcracker, as well as A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

She is now pursuing her dream of being a full time artist as well as a ballerina. Nikki hopes to help share the joy of dance with the community through performance. She looks forward to continuing her ballet journey as a dancer at Sparrow.

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Preston Sam 

 

Preston started dancing at Rio Rancho High School. After being inspired by the positivity of the Spice Girls, and the intense power of Janet Jackson, Preston began his teaching, creative, and leadership journey by choreographing. Trained in hip hop, ballet, jazz, modern, and contemporary, Preston was steadfast on an amazing trajectory of dance that would take him to many places.

Preston is a member of the Navajo Nation. Born in Albuquerque and raised in Rio Rancho (while spending most weekends and school breaks in Dilkon, Arizona), Preston made a name for himself in Flagstaff, Phoenix, and Los Angeles through dance, film, and live performances. Preston got to learn from his grandparents and other elders the sacred traditions and life lessons taught through the Navajo culture. Preston uses what he learned in the dance industry and on the reservation to teach a dance program called “5678 L.I.F.E.”, fully founded by him, offering hip hop, jazz, ballet, and modern dance classes to kids in remote locations on the Navajo Nation as well as high school students in Winslow and Holbrook, Arizona. The program builds skills such as confidence, self-esteem, respect for authority, teamwork and self-expression in addition to the benefits dance has for the brain and body. In this program, Preston sees the need for emotional release by children, young adults, and adults. In these classes, he creates a safe space linking dance with music and one's own story, frustration, emotion or feeling.

 

Unfortunately, Preston knows the challenges of grief starting from a young age. Losing his father, mother, and two brothers, Preston is the last surviving person from his family. He uses his story as fuel to rise up to new challenges, inspire individuals and to liberate himself though realizing his true potential. Preston is excited to add Yoga Teacher to his arsenal. Preston also knows yoga can offer the same healing he experienced with dance. Preston infuses yoga in his program that is currently serving the youth of the Navajo Nation.  Preston is a natural healer and understands the effect movement has on happiness and one’s own mental health. He is honored to be a facilitator and a guide for such healing. Currently, Preston is the choreographer for Spirit Rangers, an animated children's series on Netflix. Preston has also made history by being the first Native American to choreograph for a major studio. Preston is excited to be a part of this production and is happy to share the stage with so many talented individuals at Sparrow Dance Productions. 

 

Hózhó Náhásdlíí’ - Walk In Beauty

Riley Swinney

Riley has been a dancer his whole life, if there is music, even in his head, he is dancing. Riley started dance classes at the age of nine at Veneration dance, taking jazz and hip-hop classes. Riley began dancing at Sparrow Dance Productions at the age of 13. At Sparrow, he was introduced to many different styles, and began to fall in love with the art of dance. Riley was part of Sparrow’s competition team and has competed with the team in ballet, contemporary, hip hop, jazz, and lyrical.

Riley now teaches hip-hop and breakdancing at Sparrow Dance Productions. He loves getting to share his love for dance with his students. His love for dance shines through his choreography.  Riley is now attending University of New Mexico's Dance Department in pursuit of his Bachelor's in Dance Performance. In addition, Riley is now a full time company member of Sparrow Dance Productions. 

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Ashley Torrez

When Ashley Torrez was 8 years old she was awarded a full scholarship to dance and train with Ballet Repertory Theatre when their City Dance Program was first introduced in 1995. She danced and trained full time for six years as a young dancer and performed in several productions including BRT’s The Nutcracker, Manuel Flores’s Coppélia, and as Thumbelina in Celia Dale’s Tales of Hans Christian Anderson.

 

In 2014, Ashley decided to revive her love of dance and began teaching and training once again with BRT. She has been honored to be a BRT company member for two seasons and has worked with the following choreographers since 2014; Katherine Giese, Alex Ossadnik, Celia Dale, and Christopher Bornet. Her favorite pieces to be apart of have been as a Twin in Alex Ossadnik’s Alice in Wonderland, Celia Dale’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream as Helena as well as Dale’s Unusual Road as a partnered duet with Edward Montoya, and in Christopher Bornet’s Amethyst Resonating…In Six. 

 

Since joining Sparrow Dance Productions, Ashley has danced the roles of Mrs. Tumnus in Christina Daly's original ballet, Onward and Upward to Narnia and North in 2019 as well The Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker.

Lennon Washburn

Lennon started her dance career at the age of 3, with New Mexico’s Ballet Repertory Theatre. She started dancing for Sparrow Dance Productions in the Spring of 2022. Lennon has also danced with other companies inside and outside of New Mexico including New York’s Joffrey and Keshet dance company. She has performed in several Nutcracker productions and has been in other performances such as “The Wizard of Oz", “Sleeping Beauty”,  and “The Little Mermaid". Lennon is currently a student at the University of New Mexico, pursuing a career in dance, in the hopes to one day travel for dance.

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