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! "
Director/Choreographer of the Red Right Return Contemporary/Modern Company based in Orlando, Florida, Ms. Kim is also a talented teacher. She is teaching Graham Modern and Limon Lyrical for us this season.
Ely Cardenal "Flamenco De Perfil"
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.
Emelina holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Dance from Point Park University, where she debuted her first principal role as Juliet in Nicholas Petrov's Romeo & Juliet, presented at the esteemed Pittsburgh Playhouse. She has worked with renown choreographers such as Helen Simoneau, Gregory Dolbashian, Jason McDole, and Daniel Karasik. Emelina is thankful to God to have studied with valued professors such as Rubén Graciani, Garfield Lemonious, Jason McDole, Mark Burrell, Jim Cooney, Judith Leifer-Bentz, Susan Stowe and many more venerate professors. In addition, she has been an active participant and collaborator in several collaborative works. Additional dance training includes Batsheva Dance Company (Gaga course), San Francisco Conservatory of Dance, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, New Dialect, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Broadway Dance Center, among other notable programs. Observing and guiding her students to grow both inside and outside their talent as well as arrive to those "a-HA" victories is what drives Emelina's teaching. She wishes for her students to always remain curious, inpired, and full of joy!
“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” -William Arthur Ward
Ms. Emelina will be teaching Contemporary for us with Limo'n inspired floorwork. We are thrilled to have her on our staff.
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!
Aliecia Anderson ... (bio coming soon)
Aliecia will be teaching Classical Ballet Variations for us this season. We are privileged to have her join our staff.
Ashley has a BA in Dance from Belhaven University, Jackson, Mississippi. Her preferences are Contemporary Modern, Improvisation, Dance Conditioning and Intro to African Fusion. She has taught for our Summer Session for two years and been a boost to our curriculum. For Harwood-Watson's 2018-19 school year, Ms. Ashley will be guesting for our upper levels! We welcome her as part of our staff!