Ensemble Alumni

Gwen Benjamin


Gwen found her passion for dance at Columbia Performing Arts Centre at age 9 after moving from Los Angeles California. She was a member of CPAC’s competition team for 7 years, and after graduating from Rock Bridge High School in 2011 she moved to New York City to pursue her training. She has worked on projects in New York City with choreographers such as Joe Lanteri, Lauren Adams, Rhapsody James, Torey Nelson and more. Gwen was signed with Clear Talent Group Agency in May 2013.  Through Clear Talent she has modeled for a spread in Men’s Journal Magazine featuring Matt Harvey, danced back up for singer Yummy Bingham, danced in an NBA promo video, and has also danced in scenes for two upcoming feature films. In August 2012 Gwen joined Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet for an apprenticeship where she is currently working along side the company with choreographers such as Julie Bour, Andonis Foniadakis, and Johan Inger.

Josie Camden

Josie Camden

Josie began dancing at age 3.  As her love for dance grew, she joined the Columbia Performing Arts Centre competition team and trained there for 12 years.  In addition to numerous local and regional awards at competitions and conventions, Josie has expanded her repetoire of work into choreography, creating several pieces for CPAC for the upcoming season.  She is currently continuing her dance education at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in Los Angeles, California.

Tessa Crawford


Tessa graduated from Columbia Performing Arts Centre in 2010 and is currently a senior at the Hartt School in Hartford, Connecticut, under the direction of Stephen Pier. Since graduating Tessa has had many opportunities to perform classical works by choreographers such as Jose Limon and George Balanchine and has performed new works by artists such as Charlotte Griffin, Shannon Gillen, Loni Landon, Katie Stevinson-Nollet, Stephen Pier, and Jon Bond. She has also performed in an installation at the Wadsworth Antheneum in Hartford, Connecticut, under the direction of Gregory Dolbashian. While at Hartt she has also studied choreography and will debut her own work in November 2013. Not only has Tessa had many amazing performing opportunities but she has also spent her summers studying all over the world. In July 2011 and July 2013 Tessa was selected to participate in the Cedar Lake 360 summer intensives. In July 2012 Tessa traveled to Amsterdam, Netherlands for two weeks to study at a contemporary dance festival, Julidanse. As of May 2014 Tessa will receive a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance Performance from the Hartt School.

Tiege Dooley-Panko


Tiege grew up dancing in Chicago, Illinois. She studied broadcast journalism at the University of Missouri and was a part of the Mizzou Golden Girl dance team for four years. After graduating, Tiege moved to Los Angeles, California and is now a part of the LA Laker Girls. The group dances at all Lakers home games in Los Angeles and attends several community events.

Kaylin Maggard

Kaylin began her dance training with Columbia Performing Arts Centre at the age of three. She joined the CPAC Compeitition team at the age of eight and attended competitions and conventions around the country. She also was so fortunate to attend summer intensives during her training such as American Ballet Theatre NYC, Pacific Northwest Ballet, The Juilliard School Summer Intensive, Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet’s 180 program, and Perry Mansfield. In addition, she has had the opportunity to work with renowned choreographers such as Lauren Adams, Billy Bell, Benoit Swan Pouffer, Mike Esperanza, Ida Saki, and more. Kaylin was a 2017 YoungArts Winner in Modern Dance and spent a week in Miami, FL performing and learning at National YoungArts Week. She was also announced as Dance Spirit Magazine’s Cover Model Search Winner and was on the cover of their October magazine issue in 2017. In the summer of 2017, Kaylin won the title of NYCDA National Senior Female Outstanding Dancer at New York City Dance Alliance Nationals in NYC. She is now touring with NYCDA Dance Convention around the country assisting classes and performing as their National Winner. Kaylin was accepted into The Juilliard School as a part of the class of 2021 and  is currently living in New York City furthering her love for dance while training at Juilliard. She will forever be grateful for her incredible teachers at CPAC and Nancy Laurie who helped developed her into the person and dancer she is today.


Jennifer Maples

Jenn Maples

Born and raised in Columbia, Missouri, Jennifer studied with Columbia Performing Arts Centre for over 10 years.  After graduating from Rock Bridge High School in 2007, Jennifer traveled to Las Vegas, Nevada, where she was a featured dancer in the musical 42nd Street.   Shortly after leaving Las Vegas, Jennifer accepted a contract with Walt Disney Entertainment Co. in Orlando, Fl. and has been working for Disney for the past 6 years.  Two years after moving to Orlando, she also began working for Hardrive Productions under the direction of Pamela Bolling.  She has performed for audiences all over the world doing different events such as:  Headdress Ball, back up dancer for Jessica Sutta of the Pussycat Dolls, Deborah Cox, Atlantis in Nassau, Bahamas, Give Kids the World Gala, and the Ted Gibson Hair show.  She has also done commercials and worked for other companies such as Universal Studios, Norwegian Cruise Line, Orlando Magic, HGTV, The Food Network, The Daily Buzz Morning Show, Metropolis Productions, John Best Entertaiment, Robby Mackey, and Royal Caribbean Productions.  Currently Jennifer is in her second Equity contract with Disney as a featured dancer in the musical Beauty and The Beast: Live on Stage at Disney’s Hollywood studio’s in Orlando, Fl.  She is also a member of Daniel Hunalps KOR4 Tap Company based out of Orlando, FL.  Jennifer is a proud member of the Actors Equity Association.  Jennifer would like to give a special  thank you to Nancy Laurie and the CPAC instructor’s for giving her the opportunities and training she has had as a child to become the dancer and performer she is today.

Meredith Miles


Meredith feels so blessed to call CPAC home.  Some of her career highlights include dancing for choreographers such as the Legendary and Emmy/Tony Award winning Twyla Tharp, Emmy Award winning Josh Bergasse, Tony Award winning Wayne Cilento, and of course “The Beautiful Jen”.  Credits Include:  Broadway:  ‘Come Fly Away’ (Original Cast/Principle:  ‘Slim’ u/s and Featured Ensemble.).  1st N’atl Tour:  ‘Come Fly Away’ (Principle:  ‘Babe’), Sinatra Dance With Me (Principle:  ‘Slim’ and ‘Babe’ u/s), ‘Wicked’ (Featured Ensemble), Watch The Throne (Kanye West). Film/Television:  Black Swan (Featured Dancer/Cameo), SMASH Season 2 (Bombshell Cast/Featured EP. 15), Saturday Night Live (Kanye West:  Featured Dancer), The Tony Awards (Come Fly Away), Guess Watches Face 2 FaceMagazine Cover:  Dance Spirit Magazine (‘Broadway’s Baby’ July/Aug Issue).  So much love and gratitude for the deep relationships formed at CPAC.  Chaka.

Ashley Rodrigues


After graduation, Ashley was accepted into the dance conservatory at the University of Missouri-Kansas City where she continued to study ballet and modern. The summer of her junior year, Ashley accepted a scholarship to join the Joffrey Ballet School Jazz and Contemporary trainee program. She took a leave of absence from college to move to New York City. While in the program she was selected to perform throughout the city with the LEON dance company under Joffrey program director Dorrell Martin. She was also featured in a national advertising campaign for the Joffrey Ballet School.  Ashley’s choreography was selected to be presented in a professional venue in New York City for the Young Choreographer’s Festival. After the conclusion of her trainee program, Ashley returned to Kansas City to complete her degree and graduated with her Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Dance with an emphasis in modern dance. She now lives in western New York and is pursuing her Masters degree in Mental Health Counseling at Niagara University.

Stephanie Stricker

Stephanie Stricker CPAC HEADSHOT

Stephanie began her dance journey with Columbia Performing Arts Centre at age three when she found her passion for dance.  She later joined the CPAC competition team to compete in state and national competitions and attended many dance conventions throughout her high school years.  She was also very fortunate to attend many summer intensive programs in New York City such as Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet’s 360 program, Joffrey Ballet, NYCDA Nationals, and Dance Awards.  In addition she has worked with many renowned choreographers such as Lauren Adams, Billy Bell, Joey Dowling, Benoit Swan Pouffer, Mike Esperanza, Jess Hendricks, Bobby Newberry and more.  This past summer she also had the opportunity to work with Mandy Moore for the dizzy feet foundation created by Nigel Lythgoe and supported by SYTYCD.

She was accepted into the 2018 Juilliard School of Dance and is now living in New York City to continue her dance training and to pursue her career in dance.  Stephanie is grateful to Columbia Performing Arts for their amazing teachers and is thankful to Nancy Laurie for the many opportunities and support she has provided throughout the years.

Amy Trader


Amy Trader received her bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Engineering and Computational Neuroscience from the University of Missouri in Columbia.  While at Mizzou, Amy was a 4-year member of the University of Missouri Golden Girls and Nationals team. After graduation, Amy relocated to New York City to pursue her life-long dream of dancing professionally.  Amy danced at Madison Square Garden as an NBA New York Knicks City Dancer. She was represented by Clear Talent Agency and sent on numerous commercial dance jobs. While in New York, Amy trained at Broadway Dance Center, Steps on Broadway, and Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet. She then returned back to Columbia for a year to serve as an assistant coach of the University of Missouri Golden Girls and Nationals team.  This past year, Amy auditioned and was selected as a member of the iconic Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders. She was featured on CMT’s Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders – Making the Team Season 10.  As well as dancing at all home games, Amy is a member of the prestigious Show Group that travels overseas for the USO tour and other special appearances and performances.

Sydney Young


Sydney Young moved to CPAC when it first opened because of its commitment to prioritize ballet technique. From the age of 11 Sydney attended summer ballet programs at Kansas City Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Houston Ballet, Hungarian National Ballet, and Alonzo King’s LINES Ballet in San Francisco. While attending Rock Bridge High School in Columbia, her parents graciously drove her 4 hours round trip to Kansas City twice a week to take ballet class.

At 17, Sydney was accepted on scholarship into the prestigious ballet program at North Carolina School of the Arts (NCSA), where she had the opportunity to learn from accomplished dance faculty members such as Melissa Hayden. Sydney graduated high school from NCSA in 2004 and began dancing full-time with Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet in NYC. She was one of a handful from her class at NCSA to graduate with a job offer and was the first CPAC dancer to make it into the professional dance world.

A serious ankle injury eventually forced Sydney to take a step back and evaluate her life-long dream of being a professional dancer. Realizing that she missed being academically challenged, and faced with a year of rehab to get back the necessary ankle strength for dance, Sydney saw her injury as an opportunity to change directions.

Sydney then attended Truman State University on scholarship and graduated Phi Beta Kappa, summa cum laude with degrees in Biomechanics and Psychology. After almost a decade away from home, Sydney is happy to be back in Columbia studying medicine at the University of Missouri and will graduate with her M.D. in 2016. Sydney still maintains her love of dance, and hopes to enter a field of medicine that will enable her to work with injured dancers and athletes in the future.  She also feels great pride in the success of her brother, Zach Young, who is also a CPAC alumnus. She travels to see him perform with his company, Dance Kaleidoscope, in Indianapolis as often as she can.

Zach Young


Zach Young trained at Columbia Performing Arts Centre in Columbia, Missouri, where he studied under Jen Lee, Karen Mareck Grundy, Lisa Geger and Sean France. He participated in summer intensives and workshops with River North Dance Chicago, Mark Morris, L.J. Ballard, Gary Hubler and Dante Adela. He has worked with contemporary choreographers Benoit Swan Pouffer, Jamar Roberts, and Angle Fraser-Logan, and as a guest artist with the Cuban National Ballet. Zach also is trained in Tae Kwon Do and holds a first-degree black belt. Previously, he danced for the Cedar Lake Youth Ensemble, Cedar Lake II and the Missouri Contemporary Ballet. Zach is now in his 6th season with Dance Kaleidoscope in Indianapolis, Indiana.