Tempe Dance West's Dance Instructors

School Director - Michael Cook


Michael owns and Directs Tempe Dance West and is Co-Director of the Tempe Dance Company, in Tempe, AZ. The school is nationally recognized for their outstanding technique and innovative choreography. His students have been accepted to some of the most prestigious schools in the country, including School of American Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Exploring Ballet with Suzanne Farrell, Boston Ballet and the Juilliard School, many with full scholarships.

Michael is currently a Principal Dancer with the Suzanne Farrell Ballet, based out of the John F. Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. He received his dance training from the Tempe Dance Academy and the School of American Ballet in New York. From 1999 to 2007, Michael was a dancer Ballet Arizona where he originated roles in Artistic Director Ib Andersen's Romeo and Juliet (Romeo), Mosaik and Swan Lake (Prince Siegfried). His repertoire includes works by Paul Taylor, Julia Adam, Twyla Tharp, Dwight Rhoden, Maurice Bejjart, Jerome Robbins and George Balanchine. He has also appeared as a principal guest artist with Cincinnati Ballet and Dances Patrelle.

Michael is excited to share his love and passion for dance with all the students at Tempe Dance West.

Children's Creative Director - Trishelle Dwyer


Trishelle Dwyer has been a part of Tempe Dance Academy since the age of 11, where she was able to perform and travel abroad with the studio. She was 4th runner-up and 1st runner up in the Miss Arizona Pageant, leading her to become a successful pageant coach and judge.

Trishelle is also an accomplished singer. She has recorded an album with her father, jazz musician Danny Longo, under the label Capitol Records. You can catch them singing every Friday in Scottsdale.

Trishelle is very interested in how dance can benefit children both physically and intellectually. She is excited to be the Children’s creative Director and work with young dancers at Tempe Dance West year after year and enjoys watching the kids train,perform and grow as a strong person.

Alicia Cardoza


Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, Alicia began studying dance at the age of four at The Ballet School in Walnut Creek, starting on pointe at age 10, and a member of their company by age 13. She continued to study under the direction of Lareen Fender for the next 14 years. Throughout high school, she became heavily involved in her school’s competitive dance and cheer programs. Her teams performed in Disneyland numerous times, and she won the Student Director’s Award for her choreography senior year.

In 2004 she went on to Arizona State University, where she studied various forms of contemporary ballet and modern dance. She graduated Magna Cum Laude and earned her BFA in Dance Choreography in 2008. By her junior year at the Herberger College of Fine Arts, she began teaching ballet and jazz at a local dance studio, and has since then taught all ages and levels, and is a certified teacher in the Arizona public and charter School systems.

Now entering her eighth year of teaching, she has choreographed numerous award-winning pieces for prestigious national dance competitions, and some of her first students have gone on to dance in college and win numerous coveted dance scholarships. Alicia is still actively performing and choreographing, as a founding member of Phoenix’s colorful contemporary jazz company MarioCo Dance.

Rachel Blakey


Rachel trained professionally for twelve years, studying Russian Character, Flamenco, and Modern, while specializing in Classical Ballet. Rachel’s love for dance began at C&C Dance when she was eight years old. At age ten, with the encouragement of her teacher, Rachel began training at The School of Ballet Arizona (SBAZ) where she trained for eight years. While at SBAZ, she was trained by prominent instructors, such as: Nadya Zubkov, Kee-Juan Han, Truman Finney, Carter Alexander, Maria Simmonetti,Nancy Crowley, and Ethel Dias. She performed in Ballet Arizona’s “Nutcracker” for seven years. To supplement her training, Rachel attended several summer intensive programs at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, Atlanta Ballet Center for Dance Education, and Tucson Ballet.

After graduating, Rachel moved to Atlanta to dance at Atlanta Ballet. Ending the 2008 Season at Atlanta Ballet Rachel was accepted to the Nutmeg Conservatory for the Art’s Summer Program and the apprenticeship program where was offered a full tuition scholarship. She was taught by Victoria Mazzarelli, Tim Melady, Eleanor D’Antuono, and Kirk Peterson, and performed “La Bayadere” and “Nutcracker” in Waltz of the Flowers, Snow, Spanish, and Chinese.

In 2009, Rachel decided to transition from professional ballet performance to pursue education. In 2012, however, she came back to dance in a teaching capacity, and began teaching at Bricks Studio and Ballet Phoenix as Assistant to the Director. While at Ballet Phoenix Rachel performed Blue Bird, Sugar Plum Fairy, Dew Drop, and Snow Queen. In 2013, Rachel began teaching at Desert West Dance and Eastlake Community Center. Rachel is currently building her own classical ballet program on Saturdays for the Eastlake Community Center. Rachel has found teaching dance to be a very challenging, yet very rewarding pursuit.

Trisha Nicholson

Trisha Nicholson Trisha received her education at Glendale Community College and Arizona State University where she studied Law Enforcement. Currently she teaches at Spisak Dance Academy in Phoenix where she instructs grades Pre-K through High School. Trisha excels in Acro, Jazz and lyrical. Her dances have received numerous awards at local and National competitions.

Trisha is a certified dance teacher in Jazz and Acrobatics by Dance Masters of America, the oldest dance Organization in the country.

Jack McNeill


Jack started out by discovering dance in high school... and it was love at first sight. High school classes led to studio training, where he studied at Dance Express in the styles of jazz, lyrical, musical theater, tap, and hip hop. These styles have influence his choreography today, as the fluid nature of what is and is not tap or hip hop allows for some amazing abstractions and permutations.

Jack is a founding member of the Reborn Dance Crew: an all male dance crew that performs at venues of all shapes & sizes and taught master classes throughout the counrty. Jack continues to find inspiration in everyday things to fuel an ever evolving style that includes specialties in: tutting, popping, beginning/foundational breaking, break dancing tricks, femme, abstract, gangsta, and FUN!

All of these styles blend and merge together to make for unique and memorable choreography that infuses the dancers with fun and love for their art form!

Office Manager - Martha Cook

Martha is an Arizona Native, growing up in Grand Canyon, Arizona. She comes to our office after gaining some valuable experience working in the Creighton School District for 6 years and as the Vice-President of Cook Trucking Incorporated. Her extensive experience will further help our office provide you with the best experience possible.