About Michelle Penn
Michelle Penn started dancing when I was 3 years old at Dance Dimensions in Fort Lauderdale, FL. She took ballet, tap and jazz and became more serious as she entered middle school. At 14, she joined the Fort Lauderdale Children's Ballet Theater, under the direction of Angela Mauti and danced soloist and principal roles, including the Lilac Fairy in Sleeping Beauty and the evil stepsisters in Cinderella.
After graduating from her Catholic high school, she attended Northwestern University in Evanston, IL as a Psychology and Dance Major. There she began exploring modern and contemporary styles, under the guidance and mentorship of the incredible faculty there. In her junior year, she took an internship with Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, a contemporary dance company based out of the West Loop. There she gained invaluable knowledge of arts administration and company management that has served her well in the creation of La Zooz.
After graduating Northwestern, she went to Israel to study at Neve Yerushalayim as an Abraham Scholar. Three months after arriving, she created the Neve Dance Company with Devon Stern, another dance major studying at the school. Over the course of the two years of the company, they performed for over 2,000 women. She also began lecturing at different schools across Jerusalem.
In June 2012 she got married in Chicago, IL and returned to Jerusalem where I continued to build and grow the Neve Dance Company. She also co-created a show with Mrs. Lisa Marcus titled "Behind the Masks" in May 2013.
She returned to the States and moved to Silver Spring in the summer of 2013. La Zooz opened its first classes in January 2015. She has been blessed with the opportunity to share her talents and gifts with her community and continues to work towards building a program that enables each girl to discover her best self.
About Emma Cooley
Emma Cooley is a dancer/singer/actor, choreographer, and teaching artist based in the Washington D.C. and Baltimore areas. She has training in ballet, tap, jazz, theatre dance, modern, contemporary, lyrical, hip-hop, pointe, and acrobatics. She attended The Catholic University of America, graduating with a Bachelor’s of Music in Musical Theatre, in addition to completing a semester-long program of classical acting at the Fordham London Dramatic Academy. Emma is also a company member of Baltimore-Washington’s Broadway Dance Company. She looks forward to not only helping her students build a strong technical foundation, but also helping them express their own storytelling through movement in a fun and safe environment.
About Meira Yaffa Arzouan
Meira Yaffa has enjoyed dancing since she was in preschool, where she pirouetted through an intro ballet class. While in elementary school, she attended a gymnastics camp, and at YGW and Bais Yaakov Baltimore, she was highly inovlved in the dance in production. When she was in seminary, she choreographed and led the dance in the production. Although dance has always been a favorite pastime for Meira Yaffa, she believes it is so much more than fun! Its a process of self discovery and helps to foster true self confidence and awareness. She feels so privileged to be joining the La Zooz team, to have a part in this incredible opportunity of giving the children of our community the gift of dance.
About Julia Williams
Julia Williams is a current Junior Musical Theatre Major at Catholic University. She first started dancing at age 2 and has not stopped since. After spending almost ten years as a competitive dancer, she began teaching dance classes and working for Cherry Children’s Music Outreach as an early childhood music teacher. On stage, Julia has performed and danced in Kiss Me, Kate, West Side Story, and The Addams Family, as well as in a revue of Leonard Bernstein’s theatre works, which was performed at Arena Stage and The Kennedy Center. Currently, Julia is the Associate Choreographer of 9 to 5 at Catholic University, which will open mid-October.
About Iren Chasper
Iren Chashper graduated from George Brown College in Toronto with a major in Dance and Performance Studies. An Israeli native, she has danced with Goshen Theatre from 2002-2018 and Ballet Panov Theatre from 2015-2018. Iren has been teaching ballet and modern dance for over 12 years. After moving to the Greater Washington area, she has been performing with the Classical Repertory Dance Ensemble and the Vaught Contemporary Ballet. She currently teaches at the Maryland Ballet Theater, and is thrilled to begin working with our more advanced students at La Zooz Dance.