Meet Our Faculty
Mr. Pandiscio has taught ballet to dancers of all ages in the Houston area since 2004. His unique background in kinesiology and sports medicine has made him a sought-out teacher, especially for dancers recovering from injury, young students going en pointe, adult students, and advanced dancers preparing for competition.
Mr. Pandiscio began studying ballet with renowned teacher Jacqueline Cronsberg at Ballet Workshop of New England, and later studied on full scholarship at American Ballet Theater, Royal Danish Ballet, and San Francisco Ballet Schools. Mr. Pandiscio danced with the Massachusetts Youth Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, and Houston Ballet. As a member of Houston Ballet (2003-2010) he danced featured roles in works by Ben Stevenson, Stanton Welch, George Balanchine, and Jiri Kylian. In 2007, Mr. Pandiscio joined the teaching staff at Uptown Dance Centre in Houston, TX, and later became both Ballet Master and Company Manager for Uptown Dance Company. Mr. Pandiscio graduated summa cum laude from Rice University with a Bachelor of Arts in Kinesiology (Sports Medicine) and a minor in Business. While at Rice, he was the recipient of the Brotzen Award, a fellowship that enabled him to spend a summer in Vienna, Austria studying ballet kinesiology with master teacher Judith Reyn-Stroux. After graduating college, he completed the year-long Teacher Training Program at Canada’s National Ballet School, where taught in all levels of the Professional Ballet Program. While there, he received the 2015 Betty Oliphant Award for Excellence in Teaching. Following his return to Houston, Mr. Pandiscio joined the faculty at Houston Ballet Academy, teaching extensively throughout the Lower School, Boys Program, and Adult Program, and also serving as a liaison between artistic staff and the body conditioning staff. In 2018, Mr. Pandiscio earned a Certificate with Distinction in Nonprofit Leadership from the Leadership Institute for Nonprofit Executives (LINE) at Rice University.
Originally from Singapore, Priscilla Nathan-Murphy received her classical ballet training in the Royal Academy of Dancing Syllabi and has also been trained in oriental dance mudras, modern dance and jazz. Ms. Nathan-Murphy has a certification from the British Royal Academy of Dance in teaching and has acquired a Teaching License Diploma from the British Association of Teachers of Dance. She has also recently completed a teachers seminar and course in the Cecchetti method in London. Some of the teachers and masters of dance that she has worked with include Rose Eberwein, Eve Pettinger, Kitty Daniels, James Clouser, David Horchoy, Bill Evans, Doug Varone. Ms. Nathan-Murphy taught creative movement, ballet and modern dance in the pre-professional and professional division of Houston Ballet’s Ben Stevenson Academy since 1985, where she held the position of Principal over the Pre and Lower School Divisions for 12 years, as well as headed the modern program. While on staff with the Houston Ballet Academy, Ms. Nathan-Murphy further developed and delineated the syllabi for the Creative Dance Program, as well as introduced the Pre-Ballet Syllabus. She was also instrumental in introducing Improvisational Composition, Cultural Dance and Musical Theater into the curriculum of Houston Ballet’s Summer Intensive Program. She has also been a teaching artist with the Texas Institute for Arts in Education for several years and has held the position of adjunct faculty at the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts for 19 years. Ms. Nathan-Murphy has also conducted numerous master classes and workshops within the United States since 1980. Recently, Ms. Nathan-Murray completed the STOTT Pilates Mat Course. As a dancer, she has performed in Singapore and the United States with several companies. She has also choreographed extensively in the United States. A recipient of numerous scholarships and awards, she received a creative artist award from the Cultural Arts Council of Houston/Harris County for her choreographic work in 1992 and a Fellowship Choreographers Award in 1998. Ms. Nathan-Murphy is also a recipient of the American National Choreographers Competition Award held in Chicago and several teacher recognition awards given by the National Foundation for the Advancement in the Arts. Locally she has choreographed for Houston Ballet II, Houston Grand Opera, Houston Metropolitan Dance Company and numerous other companies.
Nao Kusuzaki was born in Ehime Prefecture, Japan, and began her ballet lessons at three years old at Yatsuzuka Ballet school. After moving to the U.S. at age 10, she continued her training with The Washington Ballet School and Boston Ballet School. Nao became a member of Corps de Ballet with Boston Ballet in 2001. In 2004, she joined Houston Ballet, and was promoted to Soloist in 2009.
She has danced numerous leading roles in both classical and contemporary repertoire. Some of her featured roles include: The Sugarplum Fairy and The Snow Queen in The Nutcracker, Nikiya in La Bayadere, Madame Butterfly in Madame Butterfly, Lilac Fairy in Sleeping Beauty, Odette and Odile in Swan Lake, Jiri Kylian’s Petite Mort, Sinfonietta, and Falling Angels, William Forsythe’s In the Middle Somewhat Elevated, Twyla Tharp’s In the Upper Room, Christopher Wheeldon’s Rush, and Mark Morris’s Pacific.
Nao is also active in the Houston community through producing Dance for Hope, a benefit concert in response to the Japan earthquake of 2011, co-creating TSURU with Asia Society Texas Center in 2015, and directing and dancing The 45th Anniversary Ballet Performance celebrating Houston and Chiba Sister City Relations, which premiered in July 2017. Nao is the Founder of Creative Minds Collaborative Inc., a nonprofit organization which seeks to create meaning across artists, educators, and supporters of the arts.
Emily LaCourse has been teaching dance for seven years with an emphasis on creative movement and ballet. In 2012 Emily began teaching creative movement and pre-ballet at her childhood school Live Oak Dance Center and progressed to teaching all levels. She has since taught ballet at Saltare Studio and Fine Arts Center, Immersion Dance Center, and Canyon Concert Ballet.
As a student she continued her dance education with Ballet Austin and Texas Ballet Theatre in addition to her training at Live Oak Dance Center. Emily then studied dance with an emphasis in dance pedagogy at Colorado State University. While at CSU she had the opportunity to work alongside her professors at Canyon Concert Ballet teaching the Vaganova method. She also had the chance to teach creative movement for academic topics in the Poudre School Disctrict’s Laurel Elementary School- School of Arts and Technology. As a member of the Nation Dance Educator Organization, Emily has had the privilege of representing Colorado State University at the NDEO National Conference in 2016 and 2017 to expand her knowledge and advocate for dance education and the performing arts.
Emily is currently teaching early childhood education trainings with Dr. Vickie Maertz OTR, OTD of Physical and Academic Learning Services. In these trainings Emily teaches preschool educators how to implement creative movement and dance into their classrooms while Dr. Maertz explains the brain science and benefits of dance.
Lindsay Cortner has been teaching Ballet, Modern, Contemporary, and Creative Movement for the past twelve years. As a young adult, she began teaching Jazz and Horton-style Modern dance to intermediate and advanced-level students at Uptown Dance Centre, where she started her own formal dance training as a teenager. While at Uptown, she eventually came to specialize in early childhood dance education. Lindsay currently teaches pre-professional dancers at the Carver Magnet High School of Aldine ISD, and instructs toddler and pre-K children at SEARCH’s House of Tiny Treasures, a satellite program via The Hope Project. She also teaches public Forrest Yoga classes to dancers and non-dancers alike, as well as offering yoga instruction to private clients.
Additionally, Lindsay has danced professionally in Houston for a decade. She performed with Uptown Dance Company for eight seasons, simultaneously guesting for two consecutive seasons with Sandra Organ Dance Company, spent a year dancing for Psophonia, and currently freelances in performance projects with Pilot Dance Project, Frame Dance Productions, Juxtapose Dance Collective, Jennifer Mabus, and Rebecca French, among others.
Artistic Advisor/Guest Instructor
Mr. Looris brings a wealth of experience to Bayou City Ballet School, having danced professionally for eighteen years with Estonian National Ballet, Birmingham Royal Ballet, and Houston Ballet. He is currently Artistic Director of Estonian National Ballet. In addition to his stellar teaching and artistic qualifications, Mr. Looris has many invaluable insights to share with our students regarding professional company life and what directors are looking for in dancers. As Artistic Advisor for the 2019-2020 season, he will teach several master classes throughout the season, as well as offer coaching and mentorship to aspiring dancers.