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Dance Instructors

Christina DeLessio-Sapone

Artistic Director

Christina DeLessio-Sapone is a native Nevadan. Christina began dancing when she was three years old. She specializes in ballet, pointe, pas de deux, contemporary/lyrical, and jazz. She danced competitively for many years and placed in the top 10 at numerous regionals and nationals. Christina was on the UNLV Rebel Girls Dance Team in 2006. She is a graduate of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas with a degree in social work.

As the owner and artistic director of Step Up Academy of the Arts, Christina’s choreography and technical ability of her students has distinguished itself as a nationally recognized program. Recently, Step Up Academy was recognized as the Top Las Vegas Studio and awarded the 2016 “International Top Studio” title. In addition, Christina was a finalist for the 2017 MyVegas Top 100 Women. Christina’s award-winning choreography has placed in the top ten at every regional and national competition. Step Up Academy also holds the 2014 title of Studio of Excellence Award presented by the Association of Dance Conventions and Competitions. In addition, Christine and Christina have been nominated for three Chamber of Commerce Small Business Awards. Many of Christina’s current and former students are working professionally in the industry and have won many prestigious titles such as Outstanding Dancer and full-ride scholarships to the Rockettes, Point Park, AMDA, and the Joffrey Company.

Christina is Miss Clark County 2009 which is the local preliminary to the Miss America Pageant. She has won numerous scholarships from the Miss America Organization for her dedication to her platform and for her numerous community service programs. In addition, her pageant coaching has resulted in winners for the Mrs. Nevada America Pageant, Miss Southern Counties Outstanding Teen, and Miss Nevada’s Outstanding Teen.

Passionate about philanthropy, Christina is also the founder of the Twinkle Toez Foundation, which has provided over 75 low income students access to art education. Christina believes that the youth of Nevada are the future of Nevada. In addition to providing a safe, nurturing place for students to participate in arts programs after school, can you think of a better place to “hang out?”

Jessica Reely Cantu

Dance instructor

Jessica Reely Cantu trained as a competitive dancer in Seattle until the age of 18, when she moved to L.A to pursue her career in the commercial dance industry. Ever since, Jessica’s versatility allowed her to experience many facets of the industry, from dancing in contemporary companies such as Mark Meismer’s, “Evolution” alongside Travis Wall, to performing annually in the Bellagio New Year’s Eve spectacular in Las Vegas, and dancing in music videos for artists ranging from pop group, Black Eyed Peas to alternative artist, Fiona Apple.

Some highlights of Jessica’s career include being cast in the original workshop of the Broadway musical and motion picture, Rock of Ages; being long-time assistant to Emmy-award winning choreographers Mandy Moore and Tyce Diorio on various projects, including So You Think You Can Dance; performing on television shows such as Dancing With the Stars, Cold Case, Disney’s Camp Rock Promo and America’s Got Talent; and dancing for vocal artists including Rod Stewart; Bill Medley; and Mark Ballas and Derek Hough’s band, “Ballas Hough.”

Jessica also spent one year as dance captain of the Disney Dream cruise ship in the Bahamas before moving home to Seattle in 2012, where she taught at various local dance studios and guest judged for Velocity Dance Convention. She moved to Las Vegas in 2018 with her husband, dog, and one year old son and is excited to become part of the Step Up family!

Gregory Filler

Dance Instructor

Gregory Filler’s performing credits include five International touring companies of “Tap Dogs,” “Starlight Express,” and “Imagine” on the Las Vegas Strip. Musical theatre credits include “42nd Street,” “Crazy For You,” “Will Rogers Follies,” and many more. Gregory has performed in three Olympic ceremonies and was featured in the Sydney 2000 closing games.

Choreography credits include “Iron Beats,” “Liberty on the Street,” “Hot Tickets,” Asian Tours, and on the Las Vegas Strip, “Spellbound” and “Masquerade Village.” Television credits include “America’s Got Talent,” “John Hancock Tour of Olympic Champions,” and “Rock-n-Roll Gymnastics” for ABC and NBC Primetime. Gregory has also choreographed for many cruise lines including NCL’s newest cruise ship, “The Pearl,” for Jean Ann Ryan Productions.

As a master teacher, Gregory is a faculty member and director on many national conventions and guest teaches for many performing arts schools nationwide. Gregory was casting director for BESTAgency in Las Vegas for 7 years and now is a program manager for Tao Nightclub and also floor supervisor for the Bevertainers at The Rio Hotel. In his spare time Gregory enjoys photography and owns his own business Chromeboxphotograhy.

Laurie Bellueme

Dance Instructor

Laurie Bellueme moved to Las Vegas from Los Angeles 20 years ago. Being that her father was a Hollywood character actor, Laurie began her dance training when she was five with Hollywood veteran, Betty Garrett. At the early age of 12, Laurie was accepted into Burbank’s first Romantic Classical Ballet Company, founded by Miss Patrice McCoy, who herself was trained by some of the Russian stars from the Ballet Russe De Monte Carlo… Alexandra Danilova, Bronslava Nijinska, Theodore Kosloff and America’s first Prima Ballerina–Nana Gollner.

Miss Bellueme’s repertoire includes such classics as Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty. Specializing in teaching “Romantic Classical” Ballet technique, Miss Bellueme concentrates in giving students, who all have different temperaments and body types, the tools to strengthen and define their style. This, she believes, creates individuality within each dancer.

Amy Thompson

Dance instructor

Amy Thomson is a native, born and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada where she received her extensive dance training starting at the age of seven. She booked her first job in 1997 for Skechers, as a shoe model. Amy continued her dance career attending the Las Vegas Academy of Performing Arts and International Studies, where she majored in dance. During high school she began doing technique/training videos for the very talented John Crutchman and Alan Sherfield.

Amy has since toured the world dancing on a cruise ship, worked as David Copperfield’s assistant, and modeled for Dos Equis XX, the Magic Convention, the dance captain at MJ Live, and many more. In the past couple of years Amy has been part of the opening act for Kelly Clarkson, Luke Bryan, U2, and Michael Buble. She has also danced onstage for many popular artists such as Wale, Grand Master Dee, Too Short, Drake, and at the age of 17, she not only danced for the well-known Kenny Ortega, but also danced in the Billboard Music Awards as a dancer for, one of her favorite artists, Beyonce. Amy has since then choreographed the opening act for Toddrick Hall Straight Outta Oz 2016 in Las Vegas, and has currently helped choreograph for shows on the Las Vegas Strip.

Amy uses her passion of movement and exercise in her everyday life. She was last seen dancing and touring on stage in the Donny and Marie Show. Amy’s proudest moment in life would be when she became a mother. When Amy is not with her family, she is seen sharing her love for dance with kids of all ages.

Angela Knudson

Dance Instructor

Angela Knudson was born and raised in Chicago, IL and has studied dance in different parts of the country but received her primary training here in Las Vegas. Her dance education has served her well throughout her career. Trained in ballet and jazz as well, Angela’s specialties are tap and ballroom. Her family having a show in Las Vegas, Atlantic City, Chicago, and various other destinations around the world, in which her dad was the headlining singer/impressionist and her mother the producer, writer and director, makes her no stranger to show business. Angela grew up constantly in the presence of industry professionals allowing her the opportunity to gather knowledge in the performing arts from an early age.

Her performance credits include touring with Masters of IIlusion and It’s Magic, shows such as Nathan Burton Comedy & Magic, Anthony Cools Hypnosis, Matt Goss, Marc Savard Comedy Hypnosis, Magical Passion, Summer in Venice, Superstars of Magic, Carnival of Wonders, Real Magic, Impossible, Feeling Good, Country Diva, and Angela was choreographer and dancer for Guns and Roses Appetite for Democracy residency at Hard Rock. In 2010, Angela and her professional partner were semi-finalists in the Rising Star Rhythm division at Emerald Star Ball and Holiday Dance Classic. She has performed in seven different countries and she has taught at over a dozen different studios both ballroom and traditional.

Angela’s approach to teaching is knowledge and skill through teamwork, support, and enjoyment. She brings experience and a fresh approach to teaching that is sure to help shape the next generation of performers and help them to reach their highest level of potential.

Jake Phillips

Dance Instructor

Jake Phillips was born and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada and began dancing at the age of 18 in Boulder City, Nevada.

He has performed with Wayne Newton, Wayne Brady, Kelly Clarkson, Curtis Blow, Ghostface Killah, and the Wu Tang Clan, and was also a contestant on Season 9 of “So You Think You Can Dance Vegas Week.” Not only has his choreography been recognized by some of the best choreographers judging in the country, he has also had opportunities to choreograph for Missy Cochran Entertainment, Wrangler Talent Agency, Q Productions, and “Legends in Concert.”

Some of Jake’s professional stage appearances consist of “MJ Live,” “Frank Marino’s Divas,” “Legends in Concert,” as well as multiple independent contractor performances across the Las Vegas Strip. He currently is the director of “Sky Pointe Dance” at Somerset Academy Sky Pointe through the Clark County School District, and is a proud father of two amazing children

Brenda Quaife

Dance instructor

Brenda Quaife is a fourth generation dancer. She began dancing at the age of five under her mother’s and grandmother’s direction, studying in all genres of dance. From ballet to jazz, tap, gymnastics, and everything in between and still attends classes to this day. Brenda says, “It’s important to never stop studying your art. You never know what the future can bring so it’s important to stay submerged in your passions fully.”

At the age of 15 she very quickly followed in her families footsteps and began teaching. Her dancers have since gone on to own their own dance studios across the country. Brenda has performed in shows such as Cirque De Soliel and even competed on “So You Think You Can Dance.”

At 16 years old she started her professional dance career and has performed in over 15 Las Vegas, Arizona, and California shows. Brenda toured the world for six years dancing and has even performed in front of audiences as large as 75,000 people in the Philippines. She is currently performing on the Las Vegas strip.

Even though she loves the stage, her “littles” are where her heart lies. “Watching my littles grow into such beautiful, hard working, and such talented dancers is what makes my life fulfilled.”

Lauren Pellegrino

Dance Instructor

Lauren Pellegrino was born and raised in Henderson, Nevada and began dancing when she was five. She studied ballet, jazz, pointe, contemporary, and partnering. Having been a competitive dancer for many years, Lauren competed with Step Up Dance Academy winning scholarships and placing in the top 10 at all regional and national competitions.

Since graduating from high school, Lauren has had numerous professional dancing contracts with agencies in Las Vegas. She is currently teaching and choreographing for Step Up Dance Academy and has won awards for her choreography. Lauren won the title of Miss Boulder City in 2018 and went on to compete in Miss Nevada pageant, the preliminary to the Miss America Pageant, where she placed in the top 5. She now holds the title of Miss Red Rock and will compete for the title of Miss Nevada in June. Lauren works closely with her platform Arts Inspire, and was recently named the director of the Twinkle Toez Foundation.

Lauren is currently enrolled at the University of Nevada Las Vegas working on her Bachelor of Fine Arts with a minor in Business Administration.

Eric Lobenberg

Dance Instructor

Eric Lobenberg began his dance journey at the age of 14. After graduating from The Las Vegas Academy, he attended Point Park University where he attained his BFA in Modern Dance under the direction of Ruben Graciani. While at Point Park Eric had the opportunity to work with choreographers such as Sonya Teyeh, Alexandra Damiani, Jessica Hendricks, Adam Houghland, Garfield Lemonius, and many more.

While in school, he began working professionally with Pittsburgh based companies such as The Blanket as well as Shana Simmons Dance. Eric has also worked with Joshua Beamish’s MOVETHECOMPANY in NYC and Dark Circles Contemporary Dance in Dallas, TX where he worked with choreographers Sidra Bell, Mark Caserta, Mikey Morado and more.

He now resides in Las Vegas as a teacher, choreographer, and fitness instructor where he shares his love for physical movement and creativity.

Desiree Lee

Dance Instructor

Desiree Lee was born and raised in Orange County, CA. She began dancing at age 7. She trained in Huntington Beach with Anthony and Terri Sellars and Keith and Linda Clifton. She also trained with Pennsylvania Ballet summer intensives.

In high school, she earned a full dance scholarship to Chapman University. Desiree received her BA in Movement and Exercise Science with an emphasis in Dance and graduated with two teaching credentials. In 1999, she earned her Master’s in Education also from Chapman.

Desiree was a principal dancer with Ballet Repertory Theatre in Huntington Beach for over 10 years. She also traveled as a guest artist with Rio Grande Valley Ballet for 10 years. Lead roles included Sugar Plum Fairy in the Nutcracker, Swanhilda in Coppelia, Nikya in La Bayadere, Kitri in Don Quixote, Swan Leader in Swan Lake, Peasant Pas De Deux in Giselle, and Princess Florine in Sleeping Beauty.

Desiree taught ballet, pointe, jazz, lyrical, and competition teams for 10 years in Orange County. In 2000, she and her family relocated to Las Vegas, NV. Currently, Desiree is a teacher at Faith Lutheran High School. She was a founding teacher of their Fine Arts Conservatory and heads the ballet and dance classes for all dance majors. She has taught at Faith Lutheran for the past 8 years.

Many of Desiree's students have gone on to dance professionally at such prestigious companies as Cirque du Soleil, Ballet West, Pacific Northwest Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, Julliard School for the Arts, Disneyland, and Tokyo Disneyland.