Get to know the Dancing with the Pagosa Stars coaches and staff

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Photo courtesy Ursala Hudson
Dancing with the Pagosa Stars is back, and this year’s coaches and staff have been announced. Clockwise from top left: Ashley Butcher, Ali Whitman, Pete Rodda, Casey Crow, Autumn von Flotow, Leslie Carlson and Nolan King. Not pictured: Kylie Ross, Sharina Ramsay-Adams and John Gilliam.

By Ursala Hudson
Special to The PREVIEW
Dancing with the Pagosa Stars is back for a third year of dancing to support Pagosa Springs’ NAEYC-accredited preschool, Seeds of Learning.
On July 11, eight Pagosa stars with the support of eight 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 the coaches and production team.
Ali Whitman returns this year as our show 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 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 studio in New Orleans for nine years before becoming an independent instructor and relocating to Durango in 2005.
Kylie Ross is returning as a choreographer for her third year involved in the event. A West Coast girl who has made her way to Pagosa Springs, Ross has 24 years of dance experience that began with tap, jazz and ballet. Ross’ career led her to a studio in Seattle, Wash., where she spent 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 three burlesque productions performed at the Pagosa Center for the Arts (PSCA).
Sharina Ramsay-Adams returns this year as a coach. Ramsay-Adams plays recreational soccer in Durango, is a 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 the School of Movement.
Casey Crow is joining us as a coach for a second year. 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 local dance academy. Crow is trained in all styles of dance, having performed with the Blank Canvas Dance Company, Thingamajig Theatre Company and the School of Movement.
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 for a third year. He now is an instructor himself, teaching at a studio in Cortez, which 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. Gilliam is returning for his second year as a star coach.
Pete Rodda will be joining us from the world of natural horsemanship and training. For more than 15 years, he’s been using his fun and imaginative personality to teach his students how to better understand the nature of the horse. Gaining the nickname of “Dancin’ Pete” for his love of dance back in college, he oftentimes uses it as a technique to communicate with horses. He has danced with his horse, River, in the Eggus Projects, as well as in many demos throughout the years. Rodda is looking forward to coaching a human partner in this year’s event.
A self-employed excavation contractor for over 20 years, Jason Chapman has a passion for the creative side of home building. Originally from Southern California, Chapman moved to Durango in 2001, where he discovered the world of dance. He’s now been studying dance locally and abroad for the past six years and is excited to share his expertise with his star as a coach.
Autumn von Flotow will also be joining us as a coach this year. Social dancing in high school led to an interest in swing during her college years. She found the West Coast swing community that sparked a lifelong passion for dance, eventually leading to ballroom dancing and competing before moving to Durango in 2015.
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 June. More information on when and how to get tickets is available at www.growningseeds.org. And watch next week’s SUN for our debut of the Pagosa stars.