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Leslie Updyke –

Miss Leslie is the owner, director, and dance instructor of Leslie School of Dance and Artistic Director/Choreographer of the New Heights Dance Theater.


Leslie studied with Madame Halina in Elmira beginning at the age of three.  Leslie opened Leslie School of Dance in Elmira in September of 1991, and the Watkins Glen Studio in September of 2004.  She attended Mercyhurst College and the State University of New York – Purchase, majoring in ballet with a concentration in teaching and has a business administration degree from Corning Community College.


Leslie has performed with the Elmira Corning Ballet Company, the Twin Tiers Ballet Theater and with the Mercyhurst and Purchase Dance Corps.  She was involved with many professional productions performing multiple lead roles.  She has choreographed the Nutcracker in Motion and Walking on the Horizon.  Leslie prides herself on offering a very artistic approach to teaching ballet.


Leslie, and her husband, Greg,  have three children and reside in Watkins Glen. 


Leslie can be reached at either of the Leslie School of Dance locations in Elmira Heights and Watkins Glen

Interested in joining our team?

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Christina Ranck–

Miss Tina was born and raised in Elmira.  She is proud to continue to live here with her son.  She is a hair stylist in Painted Post for Shear Illusions, as well continueing her dream in instructing Dance. 


Tina studied classical ballet with Rafael Grigorian for twelve years where she performed in The Nutcracker, Baba Yaga, Chipillino, and Romeo and Juliet.  While studying for eight years at Leslie School of Dance, she performed in the Nutcracker in Motion, Fairytales, and Stepping into the Season.  Tina has been teaching at Leslie School of Dance since 2000, and is a choreographer for New Heights Dance Theater.

Briana Sampsell–

Miss Bri began dancing at age 6. She has studied dance at numerous studios including LSoD, taking classes such as Ballet, Tap, Jazz, Lyrical Hip-Hop, Pointe and contemporary. Miss Bri was heavily involved in competitive dancing as she grew up. She is passionate about continuing her education to bring more to her dance students. She became certified in Progressing Ballet technique and Progressing Contemporary Technique to help her students with body awareness and muscle memory. She has also studied and continues to focus on an extensive understanding of contemporary and lyrical floorwork. She is enthusiastic about anatomy focused dance training. She is also a huge advocate for mental health awareness. Miss Bri hopes to be a positive influence in her dance students lives both personally and as a dance instructor. She is incredibly grateful she came back to her “home” studio (Leslie School of Dance) and is honored to be able to share her passions with her dance students. Miss Bri teaches Jazz, Contemporary, Hip-hop and conditioning. She is also the administrative director of our competition team.

Leanne Hull –

Miss Leanne has been dancing since age three, studying and dancing competitively at studios in Central New York. She is a graduate of Ithaca College where she received a B.S. in Exercise Science and a Minor in Dance. During college, Leanne was a member of the Ithaca College Dance Team which competed in the Universal Dance Association’s National Collegiate Dance Championships, televised on ESPN, and claimed a spot in the top 20 nationally ranked dance teams.  Her main focus was to study the involvement and importance of nutritional counseling, cardiovascular exercise, and weight training in dancers which lead her to receive a certification as a Personal Trainer & Nutritional Specialist.  Leanne also holds a certification in Progressing Ballet Technique, allowing dancers a deeper knowledge in both ballet and contemporary technique and execution. She is also a member of the International Association of Dance Science and Medicine. In the past Leanne taught and choreographed for the Princess Mhoon Dance Institute in Washington, DC and was the owner of LA Dance Academy in Edmeston, NY for 9 years before moving locally with her husband and daughters. 

Sarah Brown –

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Miss Sarah is a graduate of Indiana University of Pennsylvania with a B.S. in Biology Education and minors in Anthropology and Dance. Miss Sarah is also a graduate of California University of Pennsylvania with a M.Ed in Advanced Secondary Education in Teacher Leadership and National Board Preparation. She began her dancing career at the age of three, studying tap, jazz, ballet, pointe, lyrical, and hip hop and was a part of the competition team for Pat Haggerty Dance Studio. Miss Sarah was in the Nutcracker in Motion for two years with New Heights Dance Theater. 


While enrolled at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Miss Sarah was a member of the IUP Dance Theatre, where she performed modern and ballet for various performances on campus. Miss Sarah was selected to dance with traveling modern companies, such as the Ben Munisteri Dance Projects, and perform with the Dance Theatre company at various local school districts within the Indiana area to teach the background and movement of folk dances throughout history. 


Upon graduation from Indiana University of Pennsylvania on 2012, Miss Sarah held a three year position as a board member of the Pennsylvania State Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance as the Vice President of the Dance Division. Miss Sarah was selected to help bring awareness to the dance arts in public education, and was a member of a committee dedicated to passing a Dance Endorsement for Pennsylvania teachers certifications. 


Miss Sarah is currently an honors biology teacher at Troy Area School District in addition to a teacher Leslie School of Dance. Miss Sarah teaches modern, ballet and jazz, and is also one of our competition team choreographers. 

Bryce Ripley-

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Miss Bryce is a 2016 graduate from Corning Community College and will further her career studies, Fall 2016, by attending the Finger Lakes School of Massage.

Miss Bryce danced at Leslie School of Dance for 15 years and with New Heights Dance Theater performing in the Nutcracker in Motion for 10 years.  Over those 15 years, she studied ballet, pointe, tap, jazz, lyrical, hip-hop, acro, and musical theater.  In addition to dance classes, she was an active member of Leslie School of Dance competition and performance teams.

While at Leslie School of Dance, she was a class assistant for many years before going through the teacher training program, and taught class her senior year of highschool.  Miss Bryce is excited to continue her instruction of dance with the children here at Leslie School of Dance.

Jessica Hyland


Miss Jess is a professional actress, dancer and choreographer, She is a Chemung native, and started dancing at age 3 At age 7  she took a break and studied martial arts until receiving her black belt at age 11.  She then Continuing her dance training at Pat Haggertys Dance studio and studied  various dance styles from ballet, hip hop, lyrical, jazz, tap, and theatre dance.: all while perusing music and theatre in her Highschool programs.

   She then attended Seton Hill University and continued her learning of dance and theatre and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in musical Theatre. After graduation she moved to NYC  to attend a theatre conservatory program at Stella Adler studio of acting. Her first teaching job was there at the Academy for music and dance teaching ballet. 

   After a year she moved back to the area and started pursuing theatre and working as a dance instructor for Leslie School of dance and Endicott Performing Arts Center. She has also been choreographer for several shows for Tiahawaga  Community Players in Owego for shows such as “Bright star” and “Spamelot”. 

   Her main focus with her students is to encourage their love of dance and self expression in movement to help them come into themselves and out of their shells as dance did for her.

Ashlee Scuteri-

Miss Ashlee lives in Beaver Dams, NY with her husband and two children.  Growing up she danced at Leslie School of Dance.  She was also a cheerleader throughout her youth. She has always had a special passion for children and Acro.  In her hip hop flip flop classes she is able to combine her love of cheerleading and tumbling into one class utilizing both of those.  Miss Ashlee teaches at the Watkins Glen studio.

Emma Updyke

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Emma began dancing at the age of 2.  She began assisting in dance classes when she was 8 and started teaching in 2020. She performed with the New Heights Dance Theater and on the Leslie School of Dance competition team where she earned numerous awards, including several national awards. She has attended numerous conventions and workshops and has performed three times at Walt Disney World with Dance the Magic.  She studied Ballet, Pointe, Jazz, Lyrical, Contemporary, Hip Hop and Tap as well as doing mandy conditioning and work out programs while a dance student. She attended Rhee Gold's Dance Life teacher Program and the Soul Dance Conference in the summer of 2022 and Power Pak Intensive in 2023 . She is currently a student at Corning Community College where she is pursuing a degree in Business Marketing while continuing her dance training and auditioning for college dance teams.

Photograph : Photography by a Season

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Sophia Hobbie

Miss Sophia began dancing at the age of 6 and danced at a few different studios before settling at Tioga Artistic Dance Academy (TADA) around age 13. She was a member of the competition team/company there for several years, along with being a class helper. She also worked as a gymnastics coach at Owego Gymnastics and Activity Center. With the retirement of the then artistic director of TADA, Sophia came to Leslie’s School of Dance during her senior year of high school. She instantly fell in love with the quality of instruction and the atmosphere of the studio! After high school, she was a member of the Keuka College Dance Team.

Sophia graduated from Keuka College in 2022 with her B.S. in Early Childhood Education/Special Education with a concentration in American Sign Language. She then graduated from Alfred University in 2023 with her M.S. in Education: Literacy. She is currently a kindergarten special education teacher at Trumansburg Elementary School.

Sophia is so excited to combine her love for teaching with her love for dance! Growing up, Acro was her favorite style of dance and she is eager to begin teaching Acro classes at LSoD this year!

Justine Clarkson-


Miss Justine was born and raised in the Watkins Glen area where she and her husband are currently raising their two boys: Oliver and Beckett and furbabies: Bella and Jack.
She is a 2017 graduate from Corning Community College’s registered nursing program. She 
continued her education with Keuka College to obtain her Bachelors of Science in nursing degree and is continuing on with the University of Rochester for her Masters in Nursing. She currently works at the Falck Cancer Center.  
Her love of dance began at the age of 4 with Filippettis Dance Academy and then continued at
Leslie’s School of Dance at the age of 5 where she studied ballet, pointe, lyrical, musical theater, jazz, and acro throughout the years. During this time, she loved having the opportunity to be a teacher’s helper in between her classes. Miss Justine is very excited to continue with the Leslie School of Dance family and to watch this new year’s kiddos explore a love for dance.

Amanda Hatfield

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Amanda Hatfield attends high school at Thomas A. Edison and plans on attending college for dance. She has been studying dance with Leslie School of Dance since the age of three where she has taken classes like ballet, pointe, acro, musical theater, jazz, tap, lyrical, contemporary, hip hop, and PBT. Amanda is currently with the Leslie School of Dance competition team, performs in multiple New Heights Dance Theater productions, and has also had the opportunity to dance at Disney with Dance The Magic.

Photograph : Photography by a  Season

Trenton Loughlin-


 Trenton has been teaching ballet at PHD Dance Studio in Sayre, PA for the past 6 seasons. He is happy to join the LSoD team at the Watkins Glen studio. He trained with the Ithaca Ballet growing up, and went on to major in dance performance at Point Park University where he received a B.A. in Dance. He loves passing on the tradition of classical ballet. He is also passionate about musical theater. He has choreographed musical productions for local schools, and theater organizations and companies which include The Hangar Theatre of Ithaca. Last spring, Trenton performed with the Ithaca Ballet in their production of GISELLE. Outside of the arts, he works as a paraprofessional within the Trumansburg Central School District.

Kayla Eyer-

I started dancing at the age of 3 and was a competitive dancer at PHD in Sayre, PA. Throughout my time at the studio, I aided many of the younger groups and even came back here and there on breaks when I went to college. I attended Keuka College for Business Management with a concentration in Sports Management and continued to dance with the Keuka College Dance Team for all four years! I was selected as a coach entering my Junior year and was a KCDT coach for 2 years! I am currently the Social Networking and Marketing Coordinator at Grist Iron Brewing Company in Burdett, NY and I am also finishing up my Master's Degree in Business Management through Keuka as well! I'm so excited for this upcoming year!

Devan Accardo-

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Devan started dancing at the age of 10, and has studied many disciplines including jazz, lyrical,
fosse, salsa, hip-hop, and breakdancing. She participated in various dance groups through college,
and has taken opportunities to both take and teach dance classes since graduating. She was very
excited to find the adult lyrical class at Leslie School of Dance, which she began taking as a student,
and is now teaching. She loves teaching adults of any age and experience level who, like her, are
eager to keep dance alive in their hearts and bodies into adulthood. Devan lives with her husband
and dog in Ithaca, NY, where she manages a photo & video production company by day.

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