Get to know the Dancing with the Pagosa Stars coaches


By Tess Wisher
Special to The PREVIEW
Dancing with the Pagosa Stars (DWTPS) is back for another year of dancing to support Pagosa Springs’ National Association for the Education of Young Children-accredited preschool, Seeds of Learning.
On July 20, eight Pagosa stars with the support of eight local dance coaches will take the stage at the Ross Aragon Community Center to spin and dip their way through thrilling dance routines. We are incredibly excited to introduce you to those dance coaches.
Ali Whitman returns this year as our entertainment director. Whitman is a national-award-winning director/choreographer who brings over 30 years of expertise and a few years ago moved to Pagosa Springs from the San Diego, Calif., area. Her productions have won major awards in the San Diego and Inland Empire areas.
Leslie Carlson returns this year as one of our choreographers. Carlson has been a professional dance instructor for over 20 years. She taught social dance with a national dance studio in New Orleans, La., for nine years before becoming an independent instructor and relocating to Durango in 2005.
Kylie Ross, who was a coach last year, is returning this year as a choreographer. A West Coast girl who has made her way to Pagosa Springs, Ross has 23 years of dance experience that began with tap, jazz and ballet. Ross’ career led her to a studio in Seattle, Wash., where she spent the last four years competing in West Coast swing, teaching and regularly performing with her students in studio productions.
Ashley Butcher is one of the fantastic coaches leading our stars through this process. Butcher is a Pagosa native who grew up with a love of dance. That love only grew as she discovered musical theater in high school, followed most recently by the last two burlesque productions performed at the Pagosa Springs Center for the Arts.
Sharina Ramsay-Adams returns this year as a coach. Ramsay-Adams plays recreational soccer in Durango, is a fitness coach and runs a garage door company in Durango. Ramsay-Adams has worked for the PSCA in “Doubt,” “Chicago,” “Full Monty,” “Office Space” and more. She dances in Snow Down Follie’s show in Durango and performs with other local organizations.
Casey Crow is joining us this year as a coach. She is a dance artist, human rights activist and entrepreneur based in Pagosa Springs. Crow is the founder and president of Beyond Words International, a nonprofit providing art and dance therapy to survivors of trauma in the U.S. and abroad. She is also the owner and director of the dance academy. Crow is trained in all styles of dance, having performed with the Blank Canvas Dance Company, Thingamajig Theatre Company and others.
Sariah Ellsmore is a mother of four, a Pagosa resident since 2010, and is joining us this year as a coach. She is a co-owner of two local fitness businesses. She has produced the local burlesque show for three years and loves dancing and performing for community theater. She is a brilliant aerial performer and works with lyra hoop, aerial silks as well as the aerial cube.
Nolan King, having danced for several years, has trained under several of the top dance instructors in the United States and is excited to be coaching the Pagosa stars. He now is an instructor himself, teaching at a studio in Cortez he co-owns with his sister, Cassidy.
John Gilliam is a realtor, as well as a national real estate instructor and private fiduciary. He has always had a love of music, began dancing while in college and then worked as a social dance instructor for several years.
Jacob Miskimens is our final coach for his year’s show. For the last five years, Miskimens has been a part of the local fitness community, which has allowed him to give back to this wonderful community in many ways, including with DWTPS. Last year, Miskimens won Best Male Dancer at the 2018 DWTPS.
If you’d like to catch more about these dedicated coaches and staff, be sure to like and follow our Facebook page. Tickets will be available in May. More information on when and how to get tickets will be available soon at Watch next week’s SUN for our debut of the Pagosa stars.