Misako Aoki, Artistic Director

Misako Aoki began her dance training in Japan and later at the Royal ballet School in London, From there, she joined the Matsuyama Ballet Company, one of the major companies in Japan. With them, she performed in Europe and China with Rudolf Nureyev, After moving to the United States, Misako founded her first studio, Misako Ballet Studio in 2002 and taught at Towson and UMBC. She was also a rehearsal assistant for the Moscow's Ballet Nutcracker and the Washington Ballet's Nutcracker at the Hippodrome. Misako is the Artistic Director of Misako Ballet Company (a non-profit professional dance company). She has served as a scholarship review panelist for Howard County Arts Council for several years and as a dance panelist at Maryland State Arts Council in 2015. Check out this article she is in.

Ms. Misako Aoki received FY 2019 Mark Ryder Original Choreography Award! 

We are pleased to announce that Ms. Misako Aoki has been selected as the recipient for

the Howard County Arts Council’s FY 2019 Mark Ryder Original Choreography Award! 

Charlene Marie Muhammad, Yoga

Charlene Marie Muhammad is a traditional healing practitioner, who has been embracing the spirit of natural living for over 25 years. Charlene's practice is predicted on formal Master's level training as well as her own personal use of plants, food as medicine and movement therapy, giving her hands-on relationship and knowledge of these traditional healing modalities. Charlene's traditional healing service, Urbanherbalist, focuses on supporting clients with a practical application to optimal health by using the healing tools that she has grown to embrace in her own personal life: herbal medicine, nutrition and yoga.

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Gabrielle Marrapodi, Musical Theatre

Gabrielle is a graduate from George Mason University completing a BFA in Dance. She began her dance training in Columbia, Maryland studying various genres. At George Mason she focused on modern movement and had the privilege to study under former members of companies such as Lines, Battleworks, Alvin Ailey, Lar Lubovitch, Mark Morris, and The Washington Ballet, as well as Broadway. She has created choreographic works as well as having traveled to Cuba to study Afro-Cuban and social dance. Over the years Gabrielle has been vocal training under the guidance of Erin Driscoll. Most recently, Gabrielle booked and completed her first performance contract at Busch Gardens, Williamsburg Christmas Town in their mainstage production of “Scrooge No More”. Gabrielle wishes to continue teaching and inspiring young dancers.

Amber Hodak, Ballet & Hip-hop

Amber started dancing at the age of 5. At the age of 9, she moved to to MD, where she started dancing at Misako Ballet Studio. She had been involved in multiple dance companies and programs such as the Pre- Collegiate Summer Intensive at TU, Maryland State Council of Dance, Regionals, Chesapeake Ballet, Old Mill Middle North Dance Company, Old Mill High School Dance Company, the Anne Arundel County Dance Ensemble and Moscow Ballet for their Nutcracker. She has received various awards as the Maryland State Dancer of 2013, 2014, and 2015. Currently, she is studying at AACC and is part of the AACC Dance Company.

Amanda Wade, Ballet & Tap

Amanda started her dance training at Ballet Royale Academy under Donna Pidel and Vyacheslav Mesropov. In 2004, she moved to Misako Ballet Studio and trained under the instruction of Misako Aoki, and danced with Kevin Malone in his KTM Extremes Project. During summers, she attended summer intensives at various places such as North Carolina School of the Arts and Dance Institute of Washington. She graduated May of 2011 with a Bachelors of Science in Applied Mathematics from Towson University. Currently, she is attending Towson University for her Master's Degree in Applied Mathematics and Statistics which she is expected to finish this year.

Laury Jackson, Belly Dance

Najla Nefersita, my dance name is a performing bellydance artist based in the state of Maryland of the USA. Najla began her study of bellydance in 2003(ATS, Egyptian and Tribal), she also has training in Modern, Hip hop, Tap and ballet; giving her a very open mind in the world of dance.  Her movements can be described as mysteries, with a taste of tease and playfullness.   Najla's dance is a fusion style of belly dance, showing her training in modern dance and hip hop giving her style that graceful touch yet stylish flare.  Najla has studied with different instructors as well as taken workshops with well know Teachers such as Lotus Niraja, Naimah, Dr. Sunyella Amen, Belladonna, Amar Gamal, Artemis and Shems.  She is always looking to learn more and studying different  styles of bellydance.

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Nina Basu, Ballet

Nina Basu received her training with Tampa City Ballet, a pre-professional intensive ballet program in Tampa, Florida While there, she learned classical ballet, variations, partnering, and neoclassical repertoire. She has danced in Cinderella, Don Quixote, Sleeping Beauty, the Nutcracker as Clara, Alice in Wonderland, and Pacquita as Pacquita. She also attended Blake High School for the performing arts in Tampa, Florida that taught Horton modern technique. She has also been awarded acceptances into summer programs such as The Rock School for the Dance Education, The Miami City Ballet, and International Ballet School, and Lines Contemporary Ballet. She is also a YAGP finalist.

Chris Judge, Tai-Chi & Qi Gong

Chris has been teaching Tai-Chi and Qi-gong for 8 years. He began practicing 14 years ago with Cefu Dave Foulk and Saya Pat Finley. He was immediately taken by the way it links movement to breath and by its profound ability to help promote the body's natural healing abilities. Since he has begun teaching he has worked with many different types of bodies including the elder population, the disabled and even children and kickboxers. he also holds a 200-hour yoga  teacher certification from the Himalayan Institute and a BS in Kinesiology from the University of Maryland.



Mary aka Mhairi Basilah, Belly Dance

Mary aka Mhairi Basilah has been dancing since youth. She specializes in teaching and performing her own a blend of North African folkloric, Persian, and Arabic as well as tribal. She also teaches West African dance and Bhangra is yoga RYT, and a Certified Personal trainer. She loves helping her students achieve their physical goals, while helping them maintain the mind, body connection,

Mary Clark, 'Mommy & Me', Jazz & Ballet

Mary Clark has been dancing since she was five years old and graduated Towson University  with a BFA in Dance Performance and Choreography with K-12 Concentration. While studying at TU, she became a member of the National Honors Society for Dance Arts and spent her summers working for AileyCamp Baltimore and attending summer dance intensives with Ballet Magnificat and Frequent Flyers. Mary has choreographed and performed for TU’s 150th Anniversary Celebration (Dance On Bones), was selected to perform at the American College Dance Association in West Virginia, and has performed with Air Dance Bernasconi at Baltimore Theatre Project.

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Bethany Bilewu, Hip-Hop

Bethany Bilewu has been dancing since two & training professionally since five. She started her professional training with Spirit Wings Dance Company. With her passion, she hopes to start a non-profit aimed for children who cannot afford to have an education in the arts. Bethany is currently a student at Towson University with a graduation date of May 2019. She is apart of Towson Dance Department works including The Senior Seminar Project & DMMP. Along with teaching at Misako Beats, she is the Hip-Hop Instructor at Spirit Wings Dance Company for their pre-professional program & enjoys sharing dance with everyone.

Lauren Jurd Hawkes, Summer Camp

Lauren Jurd Hawkes is from Columbia, Maryland. She has been dancing for over twenty years. Her background includes studying ballet, modern and jazz. She is in the process of completing her Masters in Leadership of Education from Notre Dame University of Maryland. She is a certified mommy and me instructor and certified in pre/post-natal fitness.

Melissa Ivester, Sunrise Yoga

Melissa Ivester is a certified yoga instructor out of Baltimore, who has back round of 14 years coaching figure skating and doing choreography. She has incorporated yoga into her private skating lessons for the past four years and has seen incredible results in her very dedicated athletes. She is passionate about body mechanics, injury prevention through yoga and teaching her students to carry their yoga practice into their daily lives.  

Zakiya Davidia, Yoga


Zakiya is currently a student at Morgan State University, studying Film and Television Writing. She has been practicing yoga for over 5 years, and received her instructor certification last year. Zakiya believes that yoga is a great gateway to improved health of the mind, body, and spirit. All people of all sizes can practice yoga. There are no limitations, only adjustments. A fun fact about Zakiya is that she is a now two-time, independently published author. Ask her about her books after class, and follow her on Instagram at the handle @zakiya.davidia.