Founder and Owner, Marshall Ellis Dance School
Artistic Director, Dance Theatre of OrlandoMarshall Ellis is a driving force in the burgeoning Central Florida arts community, creating an environment where professional dancers and students alike can cultivate their talent and artistry, and where innovative approaches to dance inspire growth in the arts and entertainment.
The founder and owner of Marshall Ellis Dance School and artistic director of Dance Theatre of Orlando, Ellis has trained, traveled and danced around the world, performing solo and principal roles throughout Europe, Asia and the United States. He is a former principal dancer for Orlando Ballet, dancing under the direction of the renowned Fernando Bujones and serving as Company Representative. After his years at Orlando Ballet, Ellis became the principal dancer for Cirque du Soleil – La Nouba, where he performed the company’s premier ballet role. He also became an Equity dancer and principal dance captain at Walt Disney World, performing in “Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage” and “Festival of the Lion King.”
Ellis’s credits include performing with NSYNC in the NFL Pro Bowl Halftime Show and dancing with Neil Patrick Harris in the Disney Parks Christmas Day Parade.
A native of Alabama, Ellis began dancing at age 6, winning regional and national titles in competitions. At 15, he enrolled in the Alabama School of Fine Arts and begin studying ballet under the direction of Therese Laeger. Upon graduation, he received the Prix D’Excellence de Danse, ASFA’s premier award.
From there Ellis joined Ballet Austin, and subsequently was invited to dance under full scholarship at Images of Dance, London Studio Centre’s classical ballet company. During his time in London, he received the coveted Dave Rymer Trust Prize.
Throughout his career, Ellis has worked as a teacher and choreographer at organizations including Alabama School of Fine Arts, Orlando Ballet School, STEPS Program for at-risk children, Walt Disney World Resort and Dance Masters of America. His choreographed works for students and companies have been performed and awarded in Youth American Grand Prix, and his professional work has been performed by ASFA, Arova Dance Company, Cirque du Soleil, Orlando Ballet and ME Dance, Dance Theatre of Orlando. He has served as a guest teacher at organizations throughout the United States and currently works as a guest choreographer at Rollins College.
When Ellis formed his professional company in 2011, his vision was to introduce innovative ideas that would enrich the arts community and provide an outlet to feature artistic talent. To that end, he has mounted numerous original productions, and he became the founder and producer of the popular I Dance Orlando Festival and Orlando Tap Festival, both annual events offering instruction and performance opportunities for dancers. Ellis is also Artistic Director for the ME2 pre-professional dance company and Creative Director of the ME1st junior dance company. He owns and operates ME Theatre, a performing arts venue that gives local and international artists a platform to create and showcase artistic talents.
He built on his success by opening ME Dance School in 2014, with the goal of providing students with an environment where they can cultivate their talent and artistry to its fullest potential. There he has developed his unique Fusion program, featuring a blend of classes in ballet, pointe, jazz, tap, hip hop, contemporary, aerial and tumbling. In 2017 he introduced the Elite Training Program, an intensive, full-time ballet program designed to train the next generation of dancers.
In addition to dance, Ellis has a longstanding passion for media design and created his production company, WME Design, in 2008. He has self-produced more than 40 shows and events and served as lead designer on many more for client organizations. WME Design offers graphic design, videography, photography and music editing.
Ellis is married to Alex Schudde-Ellis, who is an Equity dance captain at Walt Disney World Resort, a dancer at Universal Studios Florida and a teacher at ME Dance School.
Born and raised in Deltona, FL, Daniel Ryan Hunalp began taking dance classes at the age of 6 at Mariam and Valerie’s School of Dance Arts in Sanford, FL. Studying all types of dance throughout his schooling he went off to many specialty schools through his training as a young dancer. On full scholarships to both Sarasota Ballet (he attended for three years) and Ann Reinkings Broadway Theatre project (attended twice) where he furthered his skills. As a performer Daniel has worked with the Tap Dogs and numerous dance companies in FL and in New York City. He has been the dance captain for shows in front of Cinderella’s Castle in Walt Disney World in Orlando. Performing beside pop stars such as Miley Cyrus, Jonas Brothers, Hillary Duff and Debbie Ryan on ABC. Performing in Regional Theatre across the country in the musicals, West Side Story, Oklahoma and Guys and Dolls. Most recently Daniel was part of the original cast for Norwegian Cruise Line on The Pride of America in Hawaii to originate the role of Fred Astaire. As a teacher Daniel started teaching tap and jazz at his childhood studio to the younger boys at the age of 15. After moving to New York he was asked to be a sub tap teacher at the Broadway Dance Center. Now back in Orlando, FL Daniel teaches tap, jazz, and musical theatre at dance studios around the central Florida area. Having taught and judged on the faculty for Access Broadway with Ron DeVito and also on the faculty for MA Dance competition he always wants to pass on what was so well taught to him from his teachers and the people he looks up to. Dance is not what makes the person. Who that person is, is what makes the dance.Lauren Sherwood – Elite Training Program Director
Lauren Sherwood began her training at the Draper Center for Dance Education in Rochester, NY. She graduated from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts in 2009 under several scholarships. She went on to dance Corps de Ballet, Soloist, and Principal roles with Atlanta Ballet, BalletMet Columbus, Montgomery Ballet, and The Georgia Ballet. Her favorite roles included the Dewdrop Fairy in The Nutcracker, Christine Daae in Phantom of the Opera, and the pas de deux from On the Nature of Daylight. Lauren was a principal faculty member at Montgomery Ballet School from 2012-2014, teaching ballet to all ages. She directed the Fairytale Ballet Program in 2013 and 2014 and coached dancers to compete at Youth America Grand Prix in 2014, where her students placed in the top three. She has also taught ballet at the Centre for Performing Arts in Prattville, AL and at the British Academy for the Performing Arts in Marietta, GA. Lauren is currently a Principal AEA performer at the Festival of the Lion King show at Walt Disney World, where she has performed in parades and shows since 2015. She is also a company dancer with Dance Theatre of Orlando and has performed soloist roles in Keys, as Gina in Change, and as Claire in The Nuthouse.
Joesph Gatti – Principle Guest Teacher
Mr. Gatti is formerly a Principal Dancer with Cincinnati Ballet and Corella Ballet and First Soloist with Boston Ballet. Born in Warwick, New York and raised in Orlando, Florida, Mr. Gatti began dancing at the Orlando Ballet School in Florida and continued his training with Vadim Fedotov and Irina Depler. Joseph danced with Orlando Ballet as an apprentice 2001-2003, under the direction of Fernando Bujones. In 2003, he was coached by Orlando Molina for the Youth American Grand Prix Ballet Competition in New York where he was awarded the Gold Medal and a Scholarship to the Royal Ballet School in London. Upon graduating with honors he received the 2004, Dame Ruth Railton Award for Excellence in Dance. After attending the 2003, American Ballet Theater Summer Intensive he joined the American Ballet Theater Studio Company for the 2004-2005 season. In 2005, he became the first American Male Dancer to win the prestigious Gold Medal at the New York International Ballet Competition. Joseph was nominated as best male dancer for the 2006, Benois de la Danse in Moscow, Russia. In 2006, he became a Bronze Medalist at the USA International Ballet Competition and a Silver Medalist at the Seoul International Ballet Competition in Korea.
He was also chosen to be featured in a video entitled “The Male Ballet Dancer” presented by master teacher Finis Jhung. In 2007, Joseph was coached by Magaly Suarez for the first World Ballet Competition in Orlando, Florida, where he received the Gold Medal. Mr. Gatti also received the Bronze Medal at the 2010 Istanbul International Ballet Competition. In 2013, Joseph received the Mr. Virtuosity Award at the Dance Open Ballet Festival in Saint-Petersburg, Russia. In 2014, he also received the “Best Pas De Deux” award at the Dance Open Festival in St-Petersburg, Russia.
Darlene Chudzinski began dancing at a very young age in Walled Lake, Michigan at her hometown studio, Dance Dynamics. While at this studio, she received advanced training in various dance related skills including Ballet, Jazz, Tap, Pointe, Partnering and Lyrical. As her training progressed, Darlene would eventually join Dance Dynamics pre-professional program, Dynamic Dancers Performing Company. This specific program accelerated her dancing development and equipped her with the necessary skills to become a professional dancer. As a member of this company, Darlene was given the opportunity to train with an amazing staff at Dance Dynamics and furthermore, the privilege of being able to travel across the nation and partake in classes at prominent studios including The Performing Arts Center, EDGE and ABT Summer Ballet Intensive. In addition, Darlene has attended numerous competitions both regionally and nationally where she competed in group, as well as, solo numbers. Her professional dancing career before before graduating high school through opportunities with Ballet Internationale and Moscow Ballet. Upon her graduation from high school, Darlene began teaching at Dance Dynamics then later took a dancer contract with Celebrity Cruise Lines. After completing her responsibilities with Celebrity Cruise Lines, Darlene relocated to Orlando, Florida to chase her dreams. Once she was in Orlando, Darlene became a Principle Equity performer at Walt Disney World performing roles in the Festival of the Lion King, Dream Along with Mickey, Celebrate the Seasons, and Mickey’s Royal Friendship Fair. While working for Disney, Darlene was presented with various additional unique performing opportunities such as appearing in the ABC Christmas Parade as a back up dancer for Miley Cyrus and the Jonas Brothers. Along with performing with the Walt Disney Company Darlene has with Sea World, Universal Studios Orlando and Capones Dinner and Show. Darlene is currently a company member with Dance Theatre of Orlando. Darlene continues to strive for excellence in her field and that is one of the prime factors she is so excited to become apart of the staff for Marshall Ellis Dance School. She has been incredibly fortunate to achieve her ultimate dreams as a professional dancer and while she is in constant pursuit of even bigger dreams of her own, one of those dreams is to share in the pursuit of someone else’s hopes and dreams too. Darlene aspires to share her incredibly unique and successful years of experience and passion for dance to inspire others to succeed in a career she has loved and held so dear.
Alexandra Schudde is a true Florida girl born in the panhandle but raised in Orlando, she started her dance training at the age of 3. Starting at a young age she was taking voice lessons as well as jazz, ballet, tap, lyrical, modern, hip hop, and musical theater. Most of her training came from her family owned studio growing up called “Starlight Dance Studio” which was located in Orlando at the Dr. Phillips Marketplace. At the age of 12 her family moved back to the panhandle where she continued her studies at Northwest Florida Ballet. Every summer for 5 years Alexandra would travel back down to Tampa to be involved with Broadway Theatre Project. As an apprentice and also an assistant to the Program Director. It was here that she was able to study under the direction of some of Broadways greatest performers like Ann Reinking, Debra McWaters, Ben Vereen, Dave Clemmons, and so many more. After Graduating from high school Alexandra began to dance as a company dancer for Northwest FL Ballet under the direction of Todd Eric Allen and Dorothy Daniels Lister. As well as being a company dancer she was a teachers assistant for there Academy School. After dancing two seasons with NWFB she moved back to Orlando. From there Alexandra joined the Actors Equity Association and began performing for Walt Disney World and Universal Studios. In 2010 Alexandra also performed at the Winter Park Playhouse in “Let’s Face the Music — A Tribute to Fred Astaire”. She played Fred’s 5 leading ladies (Ginger Rogers, Adele Astaire, Rita Hayworth, Eleanor Powell, and Marjorie Reynolds). Another thing that was going on at that time was being featured as a motion capture dancer for Hannah Montana: The Movie (video game). Alexandra has been performing at Disney since 2007. Currently she is performing in Finding Nemo the Musical, Beauty and the Beast, Mickey’s Royal Friendship Fair, and A Totally Tomorrowland Christmas. At Universal Studios during Halloween Horror Nights in 2008 and 2009, she performed in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Halloween Adventure and Rocky Horror Picture Show: a Tribute. She has also spent time at Universal’s Islands of Adventure, performing in Grinchmas, and in the original cast at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter as a girl from the Beauxbatons Academy of Magic. Along with performing Alexandra serves on the board of directors for ME Dance, Inc. and Dance Theatre of Orlando.