Meet Our Faculty
Founder/Artistic Director, Principal Teacher
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, he earned a Certificate with Distinction in Nonprofit Leadership from the Leadership Institute for Nonprofit Executives (LINE) at Rice University.
In 2019, Mr. Pandiscio opened the Bayou City Ballet School, realizing a decades-long dream of creating a professional ballet training program in a small school setting.
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.
Children's Ballet/Office Administration
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.
Originally from St. Petersburg, Florida, Allison Miller recently retired from a 16-year career with the Houston Ballet. Growing up, she studied ballet in Ellenton, Florida with Diane Partington and at age 15 attended the North Carolina School of the Arts. She joined the American Ballet Theatre Studio Company in 2004 and Houston Ballet in 2006. At Houston Ballet she rose to the rank of First Soloist. She danced soloist and leading roles in many ballets, including Ballo della Regina (Balanchine), Serenade (Balanchine), La Sylphide (Bournonville), Kitri in Don Quixote (Stevenson), Swanhilda in Coppelia (Stevenson), as well as Clara and The Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker (Stevenson and Welch). Allison is excited to pass on what she has learned to the next generation of dancers through teaching and coaching.
Born in Fairfax, Virginia, Connor Walsh began his training at the age of seven under the direction of his mother Constance Walsh. He has trained at The Kirov Academy of Ballet, The Harid Conservatory, and Houston Ballet’s Ben Stevenson Academy, where he was awarded the Rudolf Nureyev Foundation Scholarship and the Ben Stevenson Scholarship award.
In 2004, Walsh joined Houston Ballet’s company as a member of the corps de ballet. He was quickly promoted to soloist in 2006 and then to principal dancer in 2007. He has danced major roles in numerous full-length ballets including John Cranko’s Onegin (Lensky) and The Taming of the Shrew (Petruchio), Kenneth MacMillan’s Manon (Des Grieux) and Mayerling (Prince Rudolf), John Nuemier’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Puck), Sir Frederick Ashton’s La Fille mal Gardée (Colas), Ronald Hynd’s The Merry Widow (Camille), Ben Stevenson’s Don Quixote (Basilio), The Sleeping Beauty (Prince Florimund), and Dracula (Fredrick), Sir David Bintley’s Aladdin (Aladdin) and The Tempest (Ferdinand), Trey McIntyre’s Peter Pan (Merman), and Stanton Welch’s Swan Lake (Siegfried), Marie (Count Axel Fersen and King Louis XVI), Madame Butterfly (Pinkerton), La Sylphide (James), and Cinderella (The Prince and Dandini).
In recent years Walsh has expanded his reach into teaching, coaching and choreographing. In 2015, along with fellow Houston Ballet company members Oliver Halkowich and Melody Walsh, Walsh founded REACH - a choreographic project that raises money for arts education in schools. Following the success of REACH, Walsh and his colleagues were invited to create a world premiere, entitled What we keep, for Houston Ballet in spring of 2018.
Walsh enjoys teaching, coaching and choreographing as well as participating in many forms of dance. He is also a soccer fanatic as well as food enthusiast.
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.
Mr. Flinn began his dance training in Houston over twenty five years ago with Glenn Hunsucker, Camille Long Hill, Dina Vail and Patsy Swayze. His most recent modern dance influences have come from studies with The José Limón Dance Company and Steve Rooks, former principal dancer with Martha Graham. He has taught and choreographed locally as a guest artist for the Houston Ballet Academy, The Episcopal High School, Houston Met Dance Company, Joan Karff Dance Company, The High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, and North Harris Performing Arts Dance Company.
He was selected as a guest choreographer for Houston’s Dance Salad 1999, Dance Houston 2006, and Texas Weekend of Contemporary Dance 2007. Nationally, he has served as guest faculty and choreographer for Cirque Du Soleil’s-Alegria, Ballet Magnificat, Belhaven University, Friends University, Project Dance NYC, LA, and Sydney, Australia, as well as Hillsong and Dance Revolution Conventions.
Having lived throughout Europe and Asia for ten years, Mr. Flinn has also been a guest artist for Hong Kong Ballet, City Contemporary – Hong Kong, Guanzhou Modern Dance Company – China, Xaris Danz Europe, and Youth With a Mission International Schools of the Arts.
Guest Faculty (Advanced Ballet)
Dawn Scannell was born on Long Island, NY and grew up in Fort Lauderdale, FL. She received her training from Vitoria Leigh, James Franklin, and Ruth Petrinovic. Dawn joinede Houston Ballet in 1985, rose to the rank of Principal Ballerina, and retired from the stage in 2001. Throughout her career, she performed leading rolls in both full-length classical and contemporary work, and has danced for esteemed choreographers such as Sir Kenneth MacMilan, Jiri Kylian, Paul Taylor, James Kudelka, Stanton Welch, Ben Stevenson, Christopher Bruce, Ronald Hynd, John McFall, Trey McIntyre, Lila York, Natalie Weir, and Helgi Tomasson. Many of these choreographers created roles specifically for her.
In 2006, Dawn was invited by Stanton Welch to become Ballet Master for Houston Ballet, staging Ben STevenson’s full-length Don Quixote. In this role she taught classes for the Company, as well as for Houston Ballet II and the Houston Ballet Academy. She staged the work of Welch, Ben Stevenson, Christopher Bruce, and others. She also worked closely with repetiteurs in both contemporary, and classical styles. Dawn’s trademarks are her attention to detail and her ability to recreate a choreographer’s vision. Her care in fulfilling the artistic integrity of choreography from classical to contemporary has allowed her to stage and coach effectively for numerous companies: Paris Opera Ballet, Royal Ballet School, Staatsballett Berlin, Royal Swedish Ballet, Queensland Ballet, Houston Ballet, and companies all throughout the US. In coaching principal dancers to young trainees, Dawn has gained a reputation for demanding precision and technique, but also inspiring and cultivating artistry, and emotional nuance.
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 he provides coaching and mentorship to aspiring dancers.