Empire Dance Challenge is honored and privileged to have a distinguished and accomplished panel of professionals who are in the top of the industry, to join us for the “2017-2018” Competition and Convention . They are excited to share their experience and talents not only as adjudicators, but as master teachers. Our faculty looks forward to providing a weekend full of fun, knowledge, and extraordinary dance workshops. Our master teachers and choreographers are committed to sharing their passion and love of dance with everyone who registers for this exciting weekend!
Buffalo native, choreographer and dance sensation, Melanie Lewis-Yribar is well accomplished and known in the industry. She’s toured the World with Beyonce, Destiny’s Child, and the Backstreet Boys. She has worked on Disney channels “Girl Meets World”, currently and privately coaching one of its stars, Sabrina Carpenter on dance and performance. She was both a choreographer and dancer on the feature film “Burlesque” starring legendary singers, Christina Aguilera and Cher. She was also one of the choreographers of the hit NBC a Cappella TV Show, “The Sing Off” which brought us the Grammy Award winning group, Pentatonix. Melanie starred in the ABC Family TV movie, “The Mistletones” featuring Tia Mowry and Tori Spelling. In addition, she has choreographed music videos for Disney Channel’s, Elizabeth Gilles and Julianne Hough from Dancing With The Stars. Her credits and experience are endless…
This multi-faceted artist came from humble beginnings in Abilene, Texas and Via Florida found his way to Los Angeles eventually being named one of People Magazine’s 25 Hottest Bachelors and In Touch Magazine’s 20 Hottest Hunks.
At age 21, Judd became interested in dance. Within a year, he began dancing and choreographing professionally at Disney World’s Pleasure Island and then shortly thereafter was chosen as one of the original Chippendales dancers. In 1995 he was hired to dance with Michael Jackson for the MTV Video Music Awards, which led to his dancing with Jackson on the Dangerous and HIStory world tours. In 1999, he performed at the Billboard Music Awards with Celine Dion, the MTV Music Awards with N’SYNC, and in 2000 at the American Music Awards with Enrique Iglesias and Brian McKnight, and for “Best Song” nominee That Thing You Do at the 69th Annual Academy Awards. Judd has also appeared in music videos including, My Way for Usher, Jump, Jive, & Wail for the Brian Setzer Orchestra, If I Could Go for Angie Martinez and Tango for Julio Iglesias.
During this time his choreography career exploded and he was asked to choreograph the 2000 Tour for Jordan Knight, the 2001 Festival tour for Perry Ferrell and Jane’s Addiction as well as music videos, Ain’t It Funny and I’m Real for Jennifer Lopez. He also directed the music video, Ain’t It Funny-Remix with Ja Rule and was the creative director and choreographer for Jennifer Lopez’s NBC concert special, Let’s Get Loud. He also choreographed the dance sequences for the film, Bringing Down the House starring Steve Martin and Queen Latifah and coached Nicole Kidman during her performance in the film, The Human Stain. In addition, he also composed the song, Alive (his first track), which was selected as the theme song for the film, Enough. As his talent’s continued to grow so did his responsibilities, serving as music producer and choreographer for Fantasy at the Luxor Resort in Las Vegas.
As an actor, Judd has guest-starred on Nickelodeon’s Unfabulous with Emma Roberts, UPN’s Eve and Half and Half, as well as roles in the independent films, Goyband, The Outside, Five Up, Two Down, Be My Baby, My Baby and the award winning La Noir. In addition, he starred in the Off-Broadway, Victoria Theatre production of Dracula. With his one-of-a-kind personality and soft-spoken demeanor, he was a perfect fit as a celebrity judge on MTV’s Made, and Lifetime’s Your Mama Don’t Dance, as well as hosting Dirty Dancing for WE and Bust A Move for MTV. He also appeared as a celebrity choreographer on Keeping Up With The Kardashians with Kris Jenner and The Real Housewives of New Jersey with Melissa Gorga. You may also have seen him crowned the winner, by viewer vote, of ABC’s I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here in which he donated the $250,000 prize to the Make-A-Wish foundation.
In 2009 Judd performed in a tribute to the late “King of Pop”, Michael Jackson, at the MTV Video Music Awards. He was featured in the dance performance of Scream, alongside Michael’s sister Janet Jackson and other famous choreographers like Travis Payne, Tina Landon, Brian Friedman, and Wade Robson whom all worked with both Michael, and Janet Jackson.
Recently, Cris returned from starring as a Judge on New Zealand’s Got Talent, directing music videos for iMen and Bench Seat, choreographing for America’s Got Talent, Nickelodeon’s Bucket & Skinner & The Haunted Hathaways, creating half time experiences for Bowl Games of America and gives back to the community by sharing his experiences with students across the country at The PULSE on Tour, an intensive dance seminar featuring the top choreographers in entertainment.
Grateful for all of the opportunities in his career Judd continues looking to LA as a source of inspiration for his future artistic endeavors.
A New England native, Scott Fowler has performed on Broadway in six shows as well as two national tours… his most memorable being JEROME ROBBINS BROADWAY, SWING, 42ND STREET, the TAP DANCE KID, and Twyla Tharp’s MOVIN OUT.
Feature film credits include TED 2, LUCKY STIFF (associate choreographer), ROCK OF AGES, GANGSTER SQUAD, BOOGIE NIGHTS, GNOMEO & JULIET, BEDTIME STORIES, THE PRODUCERS, GUESS WHO, GEORGE OF THE JUNGLE, INSPECTOR GADGET, MIGHTY APHRODITE, ANASTASIA, FROZEN (bonus musical theater number on DVD) and his personal favorite… the Best Picture OSCAR winning CHICAGO!!!
Television appearances include BUNHEADS, THE NEIGHBORS, SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE, STAR SEARCH (1992 grand dance champion “Boys Back East”), DANCING WITH THE STARS, GLEE, STONE, TRACY ULLMAN “Live and Exposed” ad the TONY BENNETT TV Special, “An American Classic”.
Scott, who also danced early in his career with the NEW YORK CITY BALLET and the BOSTON BALLET has been in over 30 national commercials from NISSAN to OLD NAVY, GAP, DIET COKE, ORAL B, and DR. PEPPER to name a few. He has performed in live shows from the Oscars to the Emmys, Grammys, and Tony Awards, and the Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular. He is a sough-after teacher, choreographer, and mentor spreading his love of dance all over the USA and Canada.
After a three-year run dancing with CHER in Las Vegas and then Moscow, Russia, Scott is happy to be back home in Los Angeles. He is very proud of the longevity and variety of his dance career and honored to have worked with so many legendary, iconic choreographers of this century. Scott is grateful and gives thanks to his mentor, dance teacher and Uncle…Bill Fowler for his life and love of DANCE!!!
Anthony “Kanec” Carr
Born and raised in the Bronx, the Birth Place of Hip Hop, internationally accredited dancer/choreographer/actor, Anthony “Kanec” Carr, has shared his talent through various mediums including television, film, and stage.
He trained vigorously at New York City’s prestigious School of American Ballet, while simultaneously attending the Professional Performing Arts School (PPAS). At the age of 18, Kanec began training in hip-hop at Broadway Dance Center. Soon thereafter, he became a member of an elite group of entertainers, The Amount Boyz. His raw talent and intense technical training, in combination with his natural knack for performing and the inspiration from his fellow group members, Kanec soon found himself on pop-star, Justin Bieber’s, World Tour.
Kanec can be seen working with multi-platinum selling recording artist Missy Elliott, with whom he’s performed the 2015 Katy Perry SuperBowl Halftime Show with. Along with Missy Elliot, Kanec has performed with Nicki Minaj, Usher, Chris Brown and Nick Jonas to name a few. He has also been a featured dancer in multiple movies and television shows (Step Up, FAME, Hairspray, BunHeads, Glee) and performed on many high profile stages such as the Grammys and the Oscars as well as all of the other musical Award Shows!
Liz Piccoli (AEA/AGMA/SDC) Associate Director and Choreographer — Liz enjoys wearing many hats and loves coffee/life. After performing as a ballet dancer for the New York City Metropolitan Opera in Romeo and Juliet and The First Emporer, she most recently choreographed the Opera Goyescas with Bare Opera. Some of her most enjoyable credits: Assistant Director/Choreographer to Tricia Brouk on I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change, (Central Coast Theater) Assistant Choreographer to Bill Castellino on lonescopades, (New York/Lucille Lortel Nomination), SDC Observer to Dan Knechtges on Lysistrata Jones, (Off-Broadway, which transferred to Broadway), Assistant Choreographer – TV Land Awards starring Liza Minnelli and Choreographer of Now the Cats with Jewelled Claws, Off-Broadsway at La Mama with Jonathon Warman. She has choreographed for the NYC Jazz Choreography Project at Alvin Ailey for the past 5 years and developed the dance program for Ohana Arts in Oahu, Hawaii, a musical theater training professional program. Most recent projects include creating, directing, and choreographing a Cabaret Show entitled “New York Stories” at Stage 72, choreographing the Jungle Book for the Black Spectrum Theater summer program and working on the development of Spandex the Musical (www.spandexmusical.com). To quote her mentor Luigi, “Never Stop Moving”, and nothing moves her like the music of PINK and True Love, a new Broadway bound musical she is Assistant Directing and Choreographing!
Alex Imagna is a professional dancer originally from Buffalo, NY where she trained at The Future Dance Center in jazz, tap, and all styles of hip-hop including locking, popping, and funk styles. Alex has performed on the Latin AMA’s two years in a row. She has performed with artists such as Demi Lovato, Janet Jackson, PitBull, Flo-Rida, Natalie La Rose and Daddy Yankee. She is also going to be featured on the new MTV show “Going Off” with Tricia Miranda. She is continuing to work hard and teach all over the country.
Special Guest “Tina Landon”
It’s hard to believe that EMMY AWARD NOMINATED creative director / choreographer Tina Landon is still one of Hollywood’s best kept secrets. Her sensual and provocative moves have become the landscape for popular music dance choreography for the last 15 years. Some of her signature moves can be seen in artists like Willow Smith, Rihanna, Janet Jackson, Jennifer Lopez, Ricky Martin, Christina Aguilera, Tina Turner, Britney Spears, and Shakira. Tina’s love and passion for dance began as early as she can remember. Her mother of Mexican-American heritage made sure her children would fare better by mandating dance lessons in their household. Committed to the growing appreciation, she left her home in Lancaster, California, to pursue her dreams in Hollywood. Auditioning for various dance ensembles around town, she landed a gig as a Laker girl. Tina was well on her way, but what could be considered a big break would be just the beginning when she was booked as principal dancer for Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal” music video. Tina’s hard work and commitment proved to be beneficial when fellow Laker Girl Paula Abdul cast her for Janet Jackson‘s “What Have You Done for Me Lately” music video. She later went on to tour with Janet during her Rhythm Nation Tour. Tina also choreographed Janet’s music video for “If” and her Velvet Rope Tour. Her work with Janet opened the doors to other high-profile artists. All of Tina’s talent, hard work, and determination have resulted in many awards and accolades. She is a five-time MTV Choreography Award Nominee, MTV Award recipient for Michael and Janet Jackson‘s “Scream” and for Ricky Martin‘s “Livin La Vida Loca”. She has become an Emmy nominee for her outstanding work on the Velvet Rope Tour, which was an HBO special.
Special Guest “Mitchel Federan”
Ohio-native, Mitchel Federan is an accomplished teacher, choreographer, dancer, actor, and singer. His theatrical credits include the National Tour of Annie Get Your Gun, The Music Man on Broadway, and The Boy from Oz on Broadway, which he starred in opposite Hugh Jackman. Mitchel’s television credits include a role on ABC’s All My Children, 8 Simple Rules, The Macy’s Day Parade, Good Morning America, and a starring role in two pilots for ABC’s Just A Phase. Mitchel was nominated for two “Outstanding Featured Actor In A Musical” awards and won a Theatre World Award for “Best Broadway Debut”.
Currently, Mitchel lives in Los Angeles where he is pursuing his career as a dancer and choreographer. He is a Company Member of Royal Flux Dance Company, directed by Jaci Royal