Owner & Director Lauren Hammond is a dancer, instructor, and choreographer based in Tucson, Arizona. Growing up in the studio and training in every style under the sun, she knew from a young age that she would one day make dance her career! As a student in Grand Canyon University's dance department, Lauren performed with the Ethington Dance Ensemble for four years as well as for events in the greater Phoenix area, including the Herberger Festival of the Arts, the National Dance Education Organization Conference, and 13th Floor Haunted House. Alongside her training at GCU, Lauren had the privilege of studying commercial jazz at CSU Summer Arts in Monterey, CA and ballet at the Ruth Page School of Dance in Chicago, both on scholarship. In both 2017 and 2018, her choreographic works were recognized as one of the top 12 pieces presented at the American College Dance Association Festival. Her works have been praised by artists such as Rennie Harris, Stephanie Batten Bland, and Christian von Howard. Lauren was a part of [nueBOX]'s Dance Café Committee for two years, providing input for Mesa Arts Center's programming and assisting with the elevation of the arts in Phoenix. Lauren continued to teach, choreograph, and perform in Phoenix until she and her husband relocated to their hometown in Tucson in 2020, where Desert Dance Collective was born. In 2022, she expanded DDC to host two locations in Oro Valley & Marana. Lauren has a B.A. in Dance, a minor in Business Management, and holds a certification as a registered yoga instructor (RYT 200).
Ballet, Pre-Pointe Ali Michel is a dancer, instructor and choreographer. She was born into a dancing family. Her mother was an accomplished tap and jazz dancer. Her grandfather danced with Ginger Rogers doing USO shows. Ali began her training at the age of 3 at Flagstaff School of Ballet. She then moved to Phoenix with her family, dancing with Dance Motion dance company at Betty Johnson School of Dance. She was accepted into the EurAsian dance company by age 16, performing around the Valley. She trained with Mikhail Baryshnikov and the White Oaks Dance Project by age 19. She was a dance major at the University of Arizona with a dual emphasis major in ballet and jazz. In 1996, she moved to Los Angeles to dance, act and model. Soon after arriving, she was invited to join the Screen Actors Guild (SAG). She was in several films, commercials, music videos and live shows, including Batman and Robin, The Sleepless, Trojan Wars, Money Talks, That Thing You Do, Big Kenny, A Time to Kill, Knockout, Bug Busters and many more. During that time she worked with many amazing choreographers, directors, and producers. She began teaching while going to the University of Arizona and continued her love of teaching while working as a dancer in California and New York. She created a dance program in Compton, California where all funding for the arts had been pulled and taught there for several years. She currently does ballroom dance competitions. She loves to share her passion for dance with others.
Hip Hop, Acro Originally born in El Paso, Texas, but raised in Tucson and Nogales, AZ, Cris is a graduate from Grand Canyon University with a B.A. in Dance Education and emphasis in hip hop. He went on to make a career in this dance form and competed at various competitions including Hip Hop International, World of Dance, and more. He is a four-time silver medalist at Hip Hop International. His main goal as a teacher, mentor, and dancer is to inspire students to become not just better dancers, but better people, through an art form that allows self-expression and unity.
Hip Hop, Jazz, Contemporary Kiana Mason is a dancer, instructor, and choreographer. She grew up dancing in Tucson. She is well versed in many dance genres such as ballet, lyrical, contemporary, modern, jazz, and hip hop. Kiana went on to continue studying dance at Grand Canyon University. In college, she was a part of Ethington Dance Ensemble for three years as well as many student choreographed shows. She's performed in Phoenix at the Herberger Festival of the Arts. During her attendance at Grand Canyon University, her passion for dance began to transform into a passion for teaching dance. Beyond her studies at GCU, Kiana also studied at Gus Giordano dance school in Chicago for a summer. After graduating with a bachelors in Dance Education, Kiana moved to San Diego with her husband. She has auditioned and worked in the greater San Diego area at studios and bringing arts to non-profits. As Kiana and her family are relocated back to Tucson, she is excited to return home and join the Desert Dance Collective team!
Musical Theater, Jazz, Contemporary Jessica has been dancing since the age of two in her hometown of Pittsburgh, PA. She danced competitively on her studio's dance team from the age of 5 until she graduated high school. She started teaching at her studio her senior year and fell in love with teaching! She loves teaching ballet and jazz, but is also trained in jazz, hip hop, contemporary, and gymnastics. Jessica also has been training in musical theater since she was eight years old. She has performed on the biggest stages in Pittsburgh and played the lead roles in Chicago, Mary Poppins, Fiddler on the Roof, and Little Women, just to name a few. She is now living in Tucson while studying for her degree in business and a minor in dance, and is excited to be teaching at Desert Dance Collective!
Ballet, Pointe, Lyrical, Jazz Lauren first began taking ballet lessons at the age of seven at Dance Innovations under instructor Elizabeth Sims. When she was 11 she started pointe and soon after began taking various other styles including hip hop, jazz, and lyrical. After Dance Innovations closed, she started taking classes at Pointe of Grace. During Lauren’s senior year of high school she was a student teacher for multiple jazz and contemporary classes, and upon graduating she started teaching for Pointe of Grace. Lauren began teaching all levels of ballet and pointe, and within 2 years was also teaching multiple levels of lyrical and jazz. While at the U of A, she took multiple dance history and technique classes, along with some music history and theory. She graduated in 2019 with a degree in Business Economics. Lauren has choreographed multiple dances for the Marana tree lighting ceremony, and has also helped many students prepare for dance auditions at both the high school and college levels. She believes in teaching the “why”, not just the “how” when it comes to technique, and that the discipline and dedication required for dance is best fostered in a fun, inquisitive, and safe learning environment.
Ballet, Jazz, Hip Hop, Acro Sadie Rubin enjoys dancing, teaching, and choreographing. She began with recreational dance for several years where she later found that she had the desire to compete. After competing for about five years she decided she wanted to take her training to the next level. In 2020, Sadie joined Danceplex Pre-Pro and continued to train for the two years to follow. During her time on Danceplex Pre-Pro she also traveled and assisted for Fluid Dance and was awarded the title of a 2021 Senior Prodigy for NRG Dance Project. At the young age of 12, Sadie began assisting dance classes around the dance studio and found her love for teaching! Then in high school she was a teachers assistant for an intermediate dance class where she partook in choreographing pieces for the school concerts and teaching the students technical aspects in numerous styles. During this time she also began teaching students from the ages of 3-17 years old around Phoenix. Sadie loves to teach contemporary, ballet, acro, tap, hip hop, lyrical, and jazz. Through high school she was a member and Vice-President of her school’s chapter of National Honors Society for Dance Arts. Then her senior year she was awarded her Seal of Arts. Sadie is excited to continue her education at the University of Arizona to pursue a degree in medicine, while also furthering her involvement with dance through the school.
BTJ Combo Taylor Jones has been dancing for seven years, and has trained at studios all over Tucson. She’s studied all different styles, but especially enjoys tap and jazz. She has travelled to participate in competitions as both a soloist and group member. She also choreographed numbers for Leman Academy’s drama productions of Aladdin Jr. and Annie. She discovered her passion for teaching when she had the privilege of studying under Tanya Fisher and serving as her Teacher’s Assistant. She has guest-taught for summer courses and gymnastics camps. In early 2021, she began teaching at a local studio and instructed every age and skill level in multiple different styles including ballet, jazz, lyrical, acro, tap, hip hop, and, surprisingly, a TikTok class or two! She believes that dance comes down to passion and dedication and loves to cultivate that by creating a safe, encouraging environment. She appreciates the opportunity to share her passion. When she’s not teaching, she’s probably reading a good book or singing along to Taylor Swift at the top of her lungs, even though people tell her to stop.
Intern Madeline Brown has been dancing since the age of 3. She is from Chicago and is currently a freshman majoring in dance at the University of Arizona. She was on a competitive company all throughout high school and found a love for teaching at her home studio. Her favorite styles are jazz and contemporary but she has studied ballet, pointe, hip hop, lyrical, and modern as well. Madeline is partaking in an internship at DDC and will be helping with Performance Team rehearsals, assisting classes, and running the front desk!
SHiNE Fitness Instructor Tiffany is a certified SHiNE Fitness Instructor and fitness is her passion! As a SHiNE instructor, her biggest goal is to provide an environment that you will feel comfortable in and can truly let yourself feel joy in what you are doing. She is dedicated to bringing fun workouts to every single class and making sure that everyone is able to experience the freedom and happiness that SHiNE brings her.
SHiNE Fitness Instructor Lauren was born and raised in Tucson. She is a wife to her husband Ryan, who is also a Tucson native, mom to her beautiful daughter Londyn, a seamstress with her own handmade clothing company, and a certified SHiNE Dance Fitness instructor. After "SHiNE-ing" for two years, Lauren decided to take the plunge and become a certified instructor because of how good it makes her feel and for the desire to share that feeling with others! She believes SHiNE is truly a safe and fun space to be yourself while getting a great workout. Lauren would love to see you on the dance floor!
Front Desk Ms. Amanda is one of DDC's front desk receptionists! When she's not at the studio, you can catch her supervising at the Oro Valley Community & Recreation Center, planning a wedding with J. Robertson Events, or hanging at home with her cat, Bart.
Front Desk Ms. Leslie is one of DDC's front desk receptionists! She loves to chat and welcomes all questions and conversations. She loves gluten free dessert, Disney, and her schnauzers.