Professional dancer/choreographer/director Kip Watson and his sister Barbara Riggins, Ballet Mistress, formed Southern Ballet Theatre in the late 1970's. Watson hired Eliza Harwood as a principle dancer. In 1979 the company offered the very first professional ballet company performance season, not only in Orlando but to the whole southeastern region of the U.S..
Southern Ballet Theatre began to grow and the company (and school) moved into the former OUC building at 1111 N. Orange Ave (of which their father was the architect) and flourished as a performing company and professional ballet school. It's success heralded the transfer of management to what is now Orlando Ballet ('thank you' to Fernando Bujones). Watson and his wife Eliza Harwood-Watson, principle dancer and teacher, then opened Harwood-Watson Dance Studios.
First located in Baldwin Park, HW Dance Studios had the pleasure of housing a 'Black-Box Theater' ('thank you' to Johnny Holloway) and continued to offer all genres of fine dancing instruction and frequent performances including a series entitled "Happenstance." Many local professionals got their start at HWDS.
Harwood-Watson Dance Studios is located in Winter Park on 17-92 and no longer has the space for the "Black-Box," but continues to nurture and grow fine young dancers. Kip has since passed on but leaves a colorful legacy that Eliza continues and has made her own.
Harwood-Watson is first a classical ballet school built strongly upon proper ballet technique and performance (largely based upon Vaganova). Artistic Director Eliza is the principal teacher. However, HWDS offers many other genres of dance including Modern, Contemporary, Lyrical, Jazz, Tap, and more. Every student is important to us and each student's progress is evaluated individually.
THE PERFORMERS - Students of Harwood-Watson that choose to join and participate in extra classes, rehearsals and performances throughout the school year. HWDS is not a competition school; the performances are for the pleasure and growth that performing builds within the student. Let us know if you would like The Performers to dance for your event!
Aliecia Marie Anderson is a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and has been passionately dancing since the age of three. She began her dance training at Pittsburgh Youth Ballet and Ballet Academy of Pittsburgh. Aliecia continued her training by obtaining a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Performance and Choreography in Dance from Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania.
In 2017, Aliecia kick-started her professional career with Warner Brother's Central Florida Polar Express Experience Train Ride as their Head Female Dance Captain, Principle Actress, and Soloist. She has currently been promoted to Head Choreographer of Central Florida Railway Mardi Gras Celebration as well as being a performer at Busch Gardens and Universal Studios.
In addition, she has had the wonderful opportunity to not only be a company member but a business associate for Elle Vie Dance Your Truth Company. Aliecia aspires to continue to perform, teach, and create art in Orlando and thanks all of the inspiring professors and dance masters who have guided her through her journey. She is thrilled to be teaching at Harwood-Watson and can't wait to share her repertory of variations!
"I aspire to mentor in a safe place, encouraging innovation and optimism to allow emotion to be illustrated through dance. Instilling my knowledge and passion for dance within my students brings me nothing but pure joy. I aspire to create a healthy judgement free environment where my students learn to explore and grow through movement. I hope to engage not only their technical abilities but to open their minds to critical thinking and the power of their mind and body as one. We all began because we just loved to dance. My students will always have that optimistic message instilled in them under my training. I believe dance is an art form that takes your heart and soul and with proper technique can make anyone a moving work of art."
Ely was born on the island of Puerto Rico. She began her dance studies at the Ballet of San Juan with Lourdes Ortega and Roberto Rodriguez, learning the fundamentals and technique of classical ballet.
In 1989 she relocated with her family to Orlando, Florida where she continued her ballet studies with instructor, Lesley Brasseux (Choreographer, and Artistic Director of Valencia Community College), expanding her knowledge in other dance styles such as classical jazz and modern dance.
In 1992 she enrolled in the Valencia C.C. dance program, also under the direction of Lesley Brasseux, and had the opportunity to participate in seasonal performances in conjunction with Rollins Community College and School of Performing Arts during a five year term.
During that time, she had the privilege to obtain lessons with other instructors that were significantly involved in the seasonal dance programs of Valencia C.C. and Rollins C.C., for instance, W. Robert Sherry, Rollins Dance Director; Suzanne Salapa, Valencia C.C. Dance Director, and Russell Sultzbach, Dance Director of School of Performing Arts. As part of the dance ensemble, she made her appearance on "Dance Extravaganza", "Woodhue", "Synapse", "The Four Seasons", "Bach", and "Midsummer Night's Dream", just to name a few.
As passionate of an individual in the dance world, Ely took a "dance detour" in 2002 and embarked in the world of flamenco. It is clear that her appreciation for classical ballet has been a big part of her life, nevertheless, her strong and vivid Spanish roots have captured her heart and soul even more, finding herself in a much mature, intense and deeper dance world, where she is able to express and convey her most sincere emotions to an audience, adding a touch of contemporary movements while still respecting and maintaining the authenticity and traditional aspect of the flamenco art.
Ely started her journey in flamenco by first understanding and learning the classical movements of Spanish dance from instructor Gloria Negrón. Later in 2005, Ely shifted and refocused her dance style and joined classes with instructor Carmen Linares "La Chiqui", learning different rhythms and dance variations within flamenco.
As a flamenco dancer, Ely still pursuits her dance education and technique to maintain form, and whenever possible, she attends workshops from renown flamenco artists to learn other styles and movements. She believes that regardless of how much experience a dancer possesses, or how many years a dancer has been performing, it is essential to continue the education to perfect every single move and technique; as she addresses even to herself - "there is always more room for growth and improvement".
Ely remains very much devoted to her dance career and dedicates her time to new projects and ideas, hoping to see her efforts come to fruition in the very near future.
Originally from Bogotá, Colombia, Natalia Alarcón is a dancer, choreographer and dance educator. She is a graduate of Columbia College Chicago where she obtained a BA in Dance Performance. During her time at Columbia, Natalia had the privilege of performing works by Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company and Parijat Desai Dance Company, as well as participating in workshops and master classes taught by Gallim Dance, Zoe Juniper and Delfos Danza contemporánea among others. She also collaborated with several Chicago based dance companies, including Project Bound Dance, Salty Lark Dance, The Dance COLEctive and Khecari.
As a former founding member of The Coincidentals, a choreographic collective based in Chicago that served as an additional platform to support emerging local artists, Natalia also had the opportunity to produce her own work. In her latest work, Politics of (in)accessibility, Alarcón examines the issue of accessibility in contemporary concert dance and the role capitalism plays in the distribution of power and resources. She is now back in Orlando, FL where she began her training in ballet under the direction of Eliza Harwood-Watson and where she recently performed Trash: Our Waste Syndrome choreographed by Katrina Anne Soricelli.
Natalia's commitment to education and community engagement is a fundamental aspect of her development as an artist and choreographer. As a dance educator, her interests remain focused on the individuality of each student’s experience, progress and empowerment. She believes dance should be available to all levels and histories and hopes to inspire her students to have a curiosity for movement, as well as self-exploration so that they can achieve their own individual artistry. In addition to leading numerous community outreach programs, Natalia has been teaching dance for over eight years to students of all levels and ages. She is the Owner/Program Director at the Baldwin Oaks Academy After-School Dance Program and is excited to be teaching at Harwood-Watson Dance Studios where her passion of becoming a professional dancer started.
Kira was born and raised in Orlando, Florida and began dancing at the age of three. She danced at a couple of local studios before finding Harwood Watson Dance Studio and making it her home.
Kira was a part of The Performers all through high school and eventually began teaching beginner tap classes. After graduating from high school in 2012, she continued teaching beginning through advanced tap at Harwood Watson.
In 2014, she took a break from dancing and teaching for school and to start a family. However, dance remained an integral part of her life, and now she is back!
Kira has a passion for teaching children, and also works as a preschool music teacher during the day.
“Dance, Music, and all the Arts are so important in our lives; especially for children. I love to help children learn and harness their passion for music and dance!”
Kira will be teaching Adult tap, Tap 1/2, and Tap
Kim Matovina was born and raised in Jacksonville, Florida where she began her dance training at the age of three. She was a competitive dancer in Northeast Florida for eight years before being accepted into Jacksonville University. It was there she received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in dance and worked with many guest artists including but not limited to Pilobolus, American Ballet Theatre, Kiara Ely, David Parsons, Jennifer Muller and The Muller Company, and Take Ueyama.
She gained performance experience in local area venues such as WhiteOak Plantation, as well as studying abroad on the island of Curacao. After graduating, she moved to Orlando to work with Linda Elchak and Nad Dance Collective, where she found her love of improvisation. She has performed in the area with several local companies and choreographers over the last 7 years. Aside from performing, she has over ten years of experience teaching in both competitive and master class settings, was the modern director at The School of Performing Arts and Ballet South, and is the Graham modern teacher at Harwood-Watson Dance Studios.
Kim owns Red Right Return Dance Company, a small local contemporary company founded by Elise Frost, that performs throughout the area. She uses her past personal training background to structure dance fitness classes at Studio K adult dance studio, and has been at Universal Studios for 7 years dancing in entertainment and special events, as well as providing training in her leadership role as a dance captain.
Her work includes touches of classical modern, mixed with a contempo-rary feel, and topped off with a gestural and human quality. It is her belief that dance can heal all things if you just remember to leave it all on the floor, after all that’s what it’s there for.
Andrew Coronado was born in San Antonio, TX. He started his dance training at The Ballet Conservatory of South Texas and progressed to professional dancer soon after.
Andrew has been trained at Kansas City Ballet, Trinity Laban Conservatory, and Henny Jurriëns Studio.
He has worked for Muscle Memory Dance Theatre, The Dallas Black Dance Theatre, and Spareworks Contemporary Dance Company.
His highest honor was studying with Hofesh Shechter Company in London where he took company classes and studied repertoire which he eventually performed. Mr. Coronado moved to Florida where he taught pre-professional classes at The Center for Contemporary Dance and now at Harwood-Watson Dance Studios.