Sara began dancing at the age of six in Lake Jackson, Texas. She has had the opportunity to train with professionals and dance in many productions such as The Nutcracker. Her teaching experience ranges from pre-school aged children to junior high and adults. Sara has been working with school age children for the past 12 years. The goal of River Oaks Dance is to create a knowledge and love of dance at young age and foster an interest in the art that will last a lifetime. Sara believes that dance can help children grow in so many areas such as coordination, confidence, presence and imagination. River Oaks Dance uses multiple modalities in dance movement and music to encourage cognitive, emotional and physical development in dance students.
Sara is a certified master teacher through the Leap n Learn early childhood development and dance program and continues learning from and about children every year during class and through continued training. Sara is a member of St. Anne’s Catholic Church and lives in Montrose. She loves seeing her little ballerinas around town “in real life”!
Ellen Dyer Smith
Ellen has been teaching ballet, tap, jazz and choreographing in the greater Houston area since she graduated with a B.A. from the University of Houston in 2008. She has loved teaching for River Oaks Dance since August 2009! She is also a member of the Actor’s Equity Union and has performed all over Houston including The Alley Theatre, Theatre Under the Stars, Main Street Theatre, and with Broadway producer, Stuart Ostrow. She choreographed a new musical called Kissless for HFAC in the fall of 2011 that went to the Off-Broadway New York Musical Theatre Festival and was praised in the press for its choreography. In 2011 & 2012 Ellen’s competitive jazz and tap teams qualified to compete at Starbound Nationals Competition where her dancers placed 2nd and 5th overall. She was awarded the prestigious “Story-telling” choreography award and her team was asked to perform in a television special they were producing. Ellen enjoys spending time with her husband and three step-children!
Maria Angeles Crovato
Maria Angeles Crovato is an enthusiastic ballet instructor with over 20 years of experience in ballet and dance as a dancer, choreographer, and teacher. Ms. Maria is a former professional ballet dancer for a ballet company in Paraguay, South America where she also owned her own studio. In addition to her experience teaching dancers of all ages, Ms. Maria is a certified instructor in the Leap n Learn early childhood dance curriculum and is obtaining her certification with the American Ballet Theatre National Training Curriculum pre-primary through level three in New York this summer. Ms. Maria also holds a Bachelor degree in Nutrition.
Ms. Maria is highly motivated in helping students reach their ballet and dance goals while creating an energetic, positive atmosphere. In her off time Ms. Maria enjoys cooking and spending time poolside with her husband.
Lauren grew up in Beaumont, Texas, training at Marsha Woody Academy of Dance and iRule Dance Studio. She continued taking dance on a collegiate level at Belhaven University and then at Lamar University, graduating with a B.A. in English and a minor in Dance. Post graduation, Lauren became a member of Ad Deum II Dance Company and danced with them Spring 2014 – Spring of 2016. Lauren has performed works by Randall Flinn, Shizu Yasuda, Durell Comedy (former company member of Limon Dance Company), and Dani Hammack (former company member of Martha Graham). While a company member of ADII, Lauren performed nationally at Project Dance Houston and NYC. Her international performance experience includes cities throughout Spain and Hungary, where she performed and taught in children’s homes, juvenile detention centers, prisons, and churches. As a choreographer, Lauren has choreographed for multiple musical productions, including Seussical the Musical Jr., 101 Dalmatians Jr., and Willy Wonka. Lauren has also spent several years teaching dance, working with a wide age range of students in varying classical techniques. It is now her pleasure to to come and be a part of River Oaks Dance!
Hilary is a New Orleans native who is happy to be in Houston. She graduated summa cum laude from the University of Alabama in May of 2014, where she earned her BA in Dance, was a member of the Alabama Repertory Dance Theatre and had many of her original works showcased in DanceAlabama!. She has since worked as a guest artist performing in works with Hope Stone Inc. and Noble Motion Dance, as well as an Apprentice with Frame Dance Productions for two seasons.
Hilary has enjoyed teaching creative movement, ballet, tap and jazz classes all around Houston and loves getting to see every student grow in their love of dance. She is found smiling and teaching at “Dance for Kidz” with Elizabeth Schlitzberger, Claire School of Dance with Roxanne Claire and with Hope Stone Inc.’s “the Hope Project” with Jane Weiner, sharing the love of whole-hearted, total-body movement in her classes of young students. One of her favorite Texas-sized projects was choreographing the field show for the Travis High School Marching Band in their 2016 season. You can also find her working towards her Balance Body Pilates Teaching Certification, practicing and learning calligraphy or working out in any fitness class around town.