Dance Faculty at T.U.P.A.C. in Tacoma


JULIE TOBIASON, T.U.P.A.C. Ballet Director, Ballet Instructor

Julie Tobiason is from Lyndhurst, New Jersey. She studied ballet at the Studio Workshop and on scholarship at The School of American Ballet. Ms. Tobiason joined Chicago City Ballet in 1983 and danced under the direction of Maria Tallchief and Paul Mejia. She joined Pacific Northwest Ballet in 1986 and was promoted to Principal Dancer in 1992, under the direction of Francia Russell and Kent Stowell. Ms. Tobiason has danced many varied roles, which include Juliet, Swanhilda, Cinderella, Hermia, Agon and Jardi Tancat.

Ms. Tobiason has performed pieces by Fredrick Ashton, George Balanchine, Kent Stowell, Nacho Duato, Val Caniparoli, Mark Dendy, Donald Byrd, William Forsythe, Maureen Whiting, Paul Taylor and Lynne Taylor-Corbet. Ms. Tobiason has been a guest teacher, dancer and choreographer at various ballet schools and companies throughout the U.S. In addition, she has taught as master teacher for the Regional Dance America Festival, has worked as ballet master for PNB and in the PNB School Outreach program. She has taught as guest teacher at PNBS since 1996 and joined the faculty in 2002 teaching ages 7-adult and company classes. Her film work includes “Nutcracker the Movie”, the role of Hermia in the BBC production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, featured artist in the KCTS production of “Inside Pacific Northwest Ballet”.   

Ms. Tobiason has also choreographed for Arc Dance productions, Evergreen City Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet School, Seattle International Dance Festival, and the independent films, “The Dark Horse” and “Expiration Date” which had its theatrical release in 2006.   She is formerly co-founder and co-artistic director of Seattle Dance Project, a modern and contemporary dance company, which premiered in January 2008. 

While directing Seattle Dance Project Ms. Tobiason has planned and implemented successful public speaking and fundraising events, managed major donors (over $10,000) and sponsors, managed dancers and choreographers, managed grants, negotiated artistic fees, built annual budgets and cash flow budgets, assisted with marketing, public relation and social media campaigns, rehearsal direct and assist, created master class workshops, worked with artistic collaborators for new work productions, produced six repertory programs with 15 world premieres, 5 local premieres and an evening length modern dance production based on the Greek myth Orpheus and Eurydice.   Ms. Tobiason is currently teaching and working on her undergraduate degree in business management at University of Washington, Foster School of Business. Ms. Tobiason lives in Seattle Washington with her husband and three children.   




Jade Solomon Curtis,  born in Texas, is a choreographer, dance artist and founder of Solo Magic, a non-profit arts initiative collaborating with innovative artists to create socially relevant multi-disciplined performances highlighting dance; “Activism is the Muse". A celebrated soloist of Donald Byrd’s Spectrum Dance Theater for four seasons, Curtis is also the subject of an Emmy Award winning short film, Jade Solomon Curtis directed by, Ralph Bevins.  

Curtis received her BFA in Dance Performance from Southern Methodist University and is the recipient of fellowships and grants from the University of South Carolina, Seattle Office of Arts & Culture, Artist Trust and 4Culture. Curtis is currently the Director of the Arts Program for the Pan African Center for Empowerment (PACE). 

Curtis has also performed as a member of Alison Chase Performance, Opus Dance Theater, Wideman/Davis Dance and for Seattle’s highly respected 5th Avenue Theater’s productions of Oklahoma!, Carousel and Man of La Mancha.  A sought after teacher internationally, she teaches children through adult professionals in contemporary dance, ballet and creative dance processes; and was the Program Director of the Professional Division of the School at Spectrum Dance Theater.

She is honored to be contributing to the foundation on which Kabby's Legacy with stand.


ERRICKA TURNER, T.U.P.A.C. Co-Multicultural Dance Director,  Ballet Instructor 

Erricka Turner has performed with Poetry+Motion, 5th Avenue Theatre (Hello Dolly), Village Theatre (Showboat), Chamber Dance Company, Intiman Theatre (Black Nativity, Mary, Angel), Seattle Opera (Un Ballo En Maschera, Rigoletto, and Florencia of the Amazons), Sankofa Theatre (Maafa Suite), Oakland Ballet, and Spectrum Dance Theater. She is Miss October in Project Ensemble’s 2000 Black Ballerinas of the 20th Century Calendar. She received her BFA in Ballet Education with honors from The University of the Arts, Philadelphia, PA, and her MFA in Dance from The University of Washington, Seattle, WA.

Erricka is a ballet, jazz, and creative movement instructor at SOAR Academy, Tacoma, WA. She has choreographed, taught, and lectured at 2016 Jack and Jill of America Honoree Ball, Seattle Chapter, Broadway Performing Arts Center (11 Days of MLK, Jr.), Harlequin Theatre (Soul on Fire, Let the Good Times Roll), Spectrum Dance Theater, Northwest Tap Connection, ARC Dance Productions/ARC School of Ballet, Tacoma School for the Performing Arts (SOTA), Allegro Performing Arts Academy, Ensemble Ballet Theatre, Evergreen City Ballet, Rainier Dance Center, Northwest Dance Intensive, Irene’s School of Dance, Evergreen State College, University of Washington, and other venues throughout the Northwest. 


VANIA C. BYNUM, T.U.P.A.C. Co-Multicultural Dance Director,  Liturgical Instructor

Vania C. Bynum is a former computer engineer who utilizes the ingenuity of making software to create dance.  A graduate of Cornish College of the Arts, Bynum has danced, taught, and choreographed throughout the Greater Seattle area, performing in venues from the renowned stages of the Paramount & Moore Theaters, Intiman Theatre, Benaroya Hall, the Meydenbauer Center, Renton Ikea Performing Arts Center, and the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center, to the reverent and intimate space of local churches.  She also performed in popular shows such as The Black Nativity, Hip-Hop Back to Its Roots!, Dance This!, and the Ballet Bellevue American Jazz Nutcracker.  Other work includes choreography for the production of CATS (2009), produced by Broadway Bound Children’s Theatre, and several productions with the Northwest Tap Connection.

Bynum was a featured dancer in Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center's inaugural African American Master Choreographer series, featuring choreography by Kabby Mitchell, who described her performance as "a remarkable dance presence for the audience that was inspirational and a pleasure to behold."   With grants from 4Culture - King County, WA,  the Mayor's Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs, Bossak Heilbron Foundation of New York,  Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center,  the Central District Forum CREATION PROJECT Grant, and individual contributors, Bynum produced her second full length show, Excerpts from the Soul of A Woman (A powerful story of the human experience expressed from the heart of a woman through the artistry of music, dance, and poetry), which premiered at the Broadway Performance Hall on July 11 & 12, 2008.   Bynum has also performed in the televised Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebrations for King County as well as the City of Tacoma.  In addition to her independent work, Bynum choreographed for the Hal Jackson Talented Teens of Washington, the Eastside Lyric Opera, Jerboa Dance, Mount Zion Baptist Church, and the New Beginnings Christian Fellowship of Renton, WA, serving as Director of the Adult Liturgical Dance Ministry for 10 years.  Bynum has also worked with distinguished artists including Donald Byrd, Sonia Dawkins, Wade Madsen, Michele Miller & Deborah Wolf.  She is honored to contribute to the Legacy of Kabby Mitchell III.  

LYNNE SHORT, T.U.P.A.C. Master Ballet Instructor


Lynne Short has recently relocated to the Pacific Northwest after spending 17 years in Texas. From 2013-2017 she was a faculty member and rehearsal mistress at Chamberlain School of Ballet in Plano, Texas. Prior to that Ms. Short was the Principal of Ballet Austin Academy, in Austin, Texas, from 2001-2013. There she developed and honed a syllabus that has produced students and dancers who learn to realize the joy of working in a deep, thorough, meticulous way.

From 1984-2000 Ms. Short was a faculty member at Pacific Northwest Ballet School. During this time, and under the guidance of Francia Russell, Director of PNBS, the ideas of dedicated colleagues with various backgrounds were formed into a unified, cohesive curriculum.

Ms. Short danced professionally with the Memphis Ballet, Hartford Ballet, First Chamber Dance Company and Pacific Northwest Ballet..

Fatimah Gordon-Mateen, T.U.P.A.C. West/Central African Dance Instructor


Fatimah is an African Dance Teacher with over 35 years of Western and Central African dance experience. She has taught and danced both Nationally and Internationally.  The Rhythms ‘n Rituals brand includes lifestyle strategies that empower Holistic Health.   Fatimah has taught and facilitated dance and innovative entrepreneurial strategies to fund our life callings.  She shares the rituals associated with the dances and guides her students in realizing the ancient connections with current life trends. Her legacy is to share the medicine of the dance and how it relates to everyday living, while creating a platform for cultural lifestyle strategies and socialization through the arts.

ETIENNE CAKPO, T.U.P.A.C. West African Instructor

Originally from Benin, Etienne is the Director and Lead Choreographer/dancer of Gansango Music and Dance. Etienne has been building his repertoire of traditional and modern dance for over thirty years. As Director of Gansango Music and Dance, Etienne leads the company's work with dozens of public libraries, schools and independent arts agencies locally and nationally to make performances of dance and music from Africa available to a wide range of audiences, including young children.


HEATHER ARNESTON, Ballet Fusion.   Heather Arneson is a dancer, teacher, choreographer, and actress, working mainly in the South Sound. Ms. Arneson has been teaching dance for several years and has extensive training in ballet, contemporary, jazz, modern, and tap. Ms. Arneson is currently rehearsing for The Nutcracker with Ballet Northwest. Other dance credits include Handel's Messiah and The Nutcracker with Ballet Bellevue, as well as performances with Katy Hagelin Dance Project and Relay Dance Collective. Her most recent stage credits include Footloose and The Little Mermaid at Tacoma Musical Playhouse. Ms. Arneson holds a Masters in Education and loves sharing her passion for the performing arts with the community.  


JIMMY SHIELDS, Hip Hop, Jazz Instructor. Jimmy began his dance training at the age of 8. He has studied all disciplines of dance but highlight hip hop and jazz/lyrical his favorite and strongest.

Over his years of training, Jimmy has had the privilege of working with Emmy Award winning choreographers NappyTabs and famed Seattle Veteran, Daniel Cruz just to name a few.

Aside from dance, Jimmy is also a singer, Director and professional actor.

His recent theater credits include The WIZ, Tacoma Musical Playhouse; DREAMGIRLS, Village Theatre; Nihonjin Face, Broadway Center for the Performing Arts.



Alease Aubrey Frieson, began studying Pilates apparatus 6 years ago with Meli-Tashi of Maitri Practices and Integrated Pilates Tacoma, where they study and practice in the lineage of Joseph Pilates' student, Eve Gentry. Alease first discovered Pilates as a matwork practice over a decade ago and fell in love with Rebecca Cargill's way of teaching the method in the standing / mat form and went on to study the apparatus work and deeper Pilates teachings with Meli-Tashi for 5 years before certifying as an apparatus and matwork teacher. Her goal with T.U.P.A.C. students is to help them establish somatic-awarness which will ewnhance their every movement practice, using Pilates catalyst. 

T.U.P.A.C. Guest Artists

Afro Contemporary

SHERMAN D. WOOD, Dancer and Instructor, took his first dance class at Divine Dance Institute at the age of nine under the direction of Amanda F. Standard. Starting with African and tap dance, he was encouraged to try modern and ballet and has been in love ever since. Following his graduation from The Duke Ellington School of the Arts in 2011, where he studied in the dance department under Charles Augins, Sherman first attended the Ohio State University before transferring to The Boston Conservatory. He has worked with great choreographers and instructors including Dwight Rhoden, Darell Grand Moultrie, Adrian V. James, Christopher Huggins, Dwana Smallwood, and Camille A. Brown, among others. Sherman has performed with BodyMoves Contemporary Dance Company, BODYART, SoundX-Pressed Dance Company, and Ronald K. Brown’s Evidence, A Dance Company. Sherman recently completed his first season with Donald Byrd's, Spectrum Dance Theater.

Musical Theater

DAVIONE GORDON, Dancer and Singer

Introduction to Acting

LAUREN DuPREE, Actor, Singer and Dancer

Originally from Seattle, Lauren has been involved in the arts since childhood. Her senior year of high school she had the privilege of joining the cast of the PBS nationally syndicated show Biz Kid$. After graduating high school Lauren moved to Washington, D.C. to study theatre at Howard University. Upon graduating, Lauren began her professional career in Washington, D.C. with the musical revue Ain't Misbehavin'. Since then she has been blessed to work consistently in the DC, Maryland and Virginia area at theaters such as Studio Theatre, Signature Theatre, Ford's Theatre and the Kennedy Center. One of her most memorable roles was Orphie in Orphie and the Book of Heroes at The Kennedy Center. Since moving back to Seattle Lauren has been seen as Deena Jones in Dreamgirls and Kanika in My Heart Is The Drum at Village Theatre and Antonia in Man of La Mancha at 5th Avenue Theatre. You can catch her next in Ragtime at 5th Avenue Theatre.


More Guest Artists coming soon...