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 Voganova). Artistic Director Eliza is the principal teacher. However, HWDS offers many other genres of dance including Modern, Contemporary, Lyrical, Jazz, Hip Hop, Tap, Musical Theater 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!
Lisa Langford Zahradnik, an Orlando native, is thrilled to be teaching in her hometown now after 17 years in South Florida. She began dancing at the age of 7 and singing at age 4. Primarily focusing on clogging in her early days, she discovered musical theatre in high school and began to pursue that avenue of performing. During college she rigorously studied Ballet, Horton and Cunningham Modern, and Luigi and Giordano Jazz, as well as Acting and Voice. She graduated Cum Laude from Palm Beach Atlantic University in 2002 with Bachelor of Arts degrees in both Theatre Arts and Dance.
Lisa began teaching at Klein Dance in Lake Worth, FL her senior year in college and apprenticed with the Demetrius Klein Dance Company for a year before becoming a company member for 2 years. In 2003 she began teaching at Atlantic Arts Academy in Jupiter, FL and was there for 7 years, teaching jazz, tap, kids hip hop, and in the preschool program. In 2003 she also began dancing with Preston Contemporary Dance Theatre in Port St. Lucie/Stuart FL and was a senior company member for 13 years. During this time she also performed 5 seasons with Reach Dance Theatre in Jupiter, FL. She also performed as a singer with Flashback Band and with Entertainment Connection Premier DJ's for several years. She is also a certified makeup artist and worked for Guerlain for 5 years.
"I am honored and thrilled to be working with an artist the caliber of Eliza Harwood-Watson. I am excited to bring my love and knowledge of classical Modern and Jazz techniques to our students here and to be a part of helping them grow as artists and human beings. We are blessed to have such creative and hard-working dancers! "
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.
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.
Katrina graduated from USF with BFA with a concentration in Performance and Choreography. Through this program she was able to work and perform in a Study Abroad in Paris, France and perform in faculty work with members Andee Scott, Jeanne Travers, Michael Foley, Merry Lynn Morris and guest artists Yaniv Abraham (Batcheva) Zhou Xing (China) Christian Denise, Damon Rago, and Susan Douglas Roberts. She received the World Scholarship, Michelle Vargas Scholarship and numerous talent grants for her work in Choreography. Right after graduation, she performed Cunningham work at the Soumaya Museum in Mexico.
Since moving to Orlando, FL., Katrina has performed in over 25 works and over 150 performances. She is currently working with Coby Project, Varietease, BADD Project, Explore Composite, Vocci and Independent artists including Amanda Cox, Robert Kelley, and Jose Navarro. She also was able to do projects with Red Right Return, AHHA, Opera del Sol, Molly Magee, Emma Cotter, and Emmanuella Dorcely. This past summer she has had the privilege to perform on the Fringe Circuit in Winnipeg, Canada with Varietease. Also, she has recently become 200hour Yoga Teacher Certified from the Asheville Yoga Center in North Carolina.
She has set work for Creative City Project, Indian River State College, and been selected to show work at KoDaFe in New York and Artists for a Cause: Dance for Food the last five consecutive years. Being classically Lindy Hop trained with All that Swing, she teaches improvisational and Fusion classes to help blend to concert and social dance communities together.
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."
Aliecia will be teaching Classical Ballet Variations for us this season. We are privileged to have her join our staff.
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 3.
Elizabeth Shook King danced for Boston Ballet (her bio is coming soon). She is the mother of two very young dancing boys and will be teaching Classical Ballet Variations for us this school year. We are excited and enriched to have her with us!