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! "
Jaclyn is a proud graduate of Oklahoma City University, receiving a Bachelor of Performing Arts in dance performance. While at school she was a part of the American Spirit Dance Company as well as the Spirit of Grace Liturgical Dance Company.
Jaclyn also trained at Broadway Dance Center in New York City. During their Summer Professional Semester, she worked closely with some of New York's finest choreographers and dancers.
A few of her credits include a featured dancer role in Thoroughly Modern Millie at Garland Summer Musicals and a part in the ensemble of Mary Poppins at the Lexington Theater Company. She recently moved to Orlando from her hometown of Parkersburg, Iowa and is currently dancing at Universal Studios. She loves spreading her joy for dance with others and is thrilled to be teaching at Harwood-Watson Dance Studios.
Ms. Jaclyn will be teaching our younger students on Saturday mornings! However, she offers so much more and we are happy to know that more is to come!
Co-Director of the Red Right Return Contemporary/Modern Company, Kim will be teaching Graham Modern and Limon Lyrical for us this season. Her own biography will be coming as well!
Content coming soon!
Content coming soon ...
Mr. Willie Wimbush Jr. is teaching Hip Hop and Contemporary classes at Harwood Watson Dance Studios. He is a welcome asset to our staff.
Born in Tampa, Florida, Willie Wimbush Jr. is a true Floridian. He was a FL Dancer for 2 years at Edge Dance studios, and danced in Universal Studios’ “Holiday Parade” and “Mardi Gras Parade.” Mr. Willie currently dances for Red Right Return, Emotions Dance Company (where he also teaches Hip Hop), and Surfscape Contemporary Dance Theatre.