Students at The Dance School learn from an extremely well qualified faculty. Our instructors either have a degree in dance, conservatory training, and/or current or former professional dance experience. They provide the highest quality instruction, while focusing on enjoyment, cooperation, strength, health, and minimizing injury. In each class, our instructors bring their personal love of dance to the studio and are an inspiration to kids and parents alike!


Mari Engel – Artistic Director:  Ballet, Lyrical, Contemporary, Creative Movement, Preparatory Dance, Nutcracker

Mari received her early training at Makie Naoi Ballet School. During her Ballet studies, Mari was accepted to the prestigious Butai Geijustu Gakuen (Academy for Performing Arts) in Tokyo Japan where she studied Modern, Ballet and Jazz dance. After graduation Mari continued to study at Chacott Ballet in Japan, Ballet Pensacola & Kaleidoscope in Florida and Modern at the Wurzburg Dance Theater in Germany. She started her professional dance career with Nakura Kayoko Jazz Dance Company performing on stage and screen. She continued performing professionally with Kazco Takemoto’s Dance Venus and Swerve in Pensacola Florida. Ms. Mari was also a contract dance teacher for U.S. Navy Japan’s Morale Welfare and Recreation and has choreographed and taught locally at Reflections School of Dance. She performs in original contemporary dance pieces in Seattle. Ms. Engel joined the faculty in 2008.

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Zhenjun (ZJ) Zhang:  Ballet, Stretch/Conditioning, Jumps & Turns, Ballet Studies/Choreography,  Modern

ZJ trained in Ballet, Chinese Classical Dance, Folk Dance and Acrobatics in China. After dancing and choreographing professionally in China, he moved to New York where he danced with companies including Martha Graham Company and the Jose Limon Company. Performing work by Graham, Limon, Tudor, Kylian, McKayle, Varone, haim, Robbins and others. ZJ appeared in “The King and I” Broadway and West End productions and has been involved with many productions of “The King and I” in different capacities including choreographer, dance captain and performer.  ZJ is a member of Actor’s Equity and The Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers. In 2007, he completed his BFA in the Professional Dancer’s program at Cornish College of the Arts. Mr. Zhang joined the faculty in 2008.


Marika Jaffee:  Dance for Theater, Contemporary, Creative Movement, Jazz, Preparatory Dance 

Marika Jaffe trained locally in ballet, jazz, musical theatre, tap, lyrical, modern, and hip-hop. She participated in regional and national competitions with Trilogy Dance Company, where they placed 1st at nationals and who were featured on ESPN. Marika danced with Potion and Kontagious Performing Company, with performances at local shows, the Seahawks Pre-Game Show, as well as some area festivals including Whirligig and Winterfest at the Seattle Center.

Marika loves to teach dance and takes the opportunity to do so whenever possible. She previously taught regionally and in Thailand before joining The Dance School faculty in 2017. With a desire to impact students’ individual expression through dance, she brings high energy, passion, and joy to each of her classes.

Dana King (bio and picture soon):  Tap & Senses and Emotions


Ponorak (Pon) Nuth:  Hip Hop & Arts With a Purpose  

Pon started dancing when he was 10 years old. He is trained in Hip Hop and Break Dancing. Pon gained a lot of his dance experience from Kontagious Performing Company. There he was named one of the youngest captains at 12 years old. With “KCP” he competed at World of Dance and has performed at many different shows including “Posta Sa Nayon” and “Unrated”. He has taken workshops from The Connection in Mukilteo and has danced alongside dancers from “Rated Next Generation” who have made it to MTV’s, America’s Best Dance Crew. Pon has a strong love for dance and it is only getting stronger. Currently, he is the primary instructor in our new partnership with the Denney Juvenile Justice Center, where he is teaching Hip Hop and Break Dancing to the youth at risk in our community. He is helping to cultivate a pro-social environment and becoming am undeniable mentor to the young people within the Denney Juvenile Justice Center community. Mr. Nuth joined the faculty in 2016.

Wendy Ogden:  Vocal & Musicology

Mrs. Ogden is passionate about a well-rounded education and considers music an integral part of such for children and youth. She grew up participating in choirs, musicals and high school solo voice and choral competitions. While at the University of Washington studying pre-med and earning a Bachelor of Science degree in developmental psychology, Mrs. Ogden extended her program by two years to include extensive courses in both dance and comparative literature, and to earn her minor degree in music with an emphasis in classical voice. Since then, Mrs. Ogden has performed as a soloist for weddings, funerals, musicals, Christmas programs, church services, and for a short stint as an aria-singing hostess at an Italian restaurant. Over the last 19 years, along with being a busy mom of four kids she adores, Mrs. Ogden has loved teaching and leading the adult and children’s choirs at church, choreographing ensembles for youth talent shows, and teaching music classes at a home school co-op group. She is excited to join the faculty at TDS, launch the vocal music program, and provide the students with increased skills in and appreciation for, the love of artistic expression. Ms. Ogden joined the faculty in 2017. 



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