meet our staff and assistants!

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Artistic Director/ Owner - Maria Ruffato

Choreography/technique all genres

Maria has had a love of dance since she was 4 years old. Miss. Maria worked in Walt Disney World Entertainment industry and has experience in auditioning for music legend Missy Elliot to performing with music group B5, Raven Symone and Mitchell Musso. She loves teaching and giving out knowledge to all her students! "Making them feel that they are in a safe-loving environment where they can express themselves" is something she strives for The 716 Dance Lab. She opened The 716 Dance Lab in October 2017.

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Co-Owner- Brittany Leighbody

Acrobatics/ Tiny Tumblers / Combo/ Strength/Flex/ Technique/ Adult Jazz

Competitive Team Instructor

Brittany brings a new zest into The 716 Dance Lab and the dance world. Graduating at the top of her class with a Bachelor's in Business Administration, to having over 20 years of cheerleading experience from youth to collegiate level! She is USASF certified for levels 1-6 and she looks forward to furthering The 716 Dance Lab in tumbling and Acrobatic technique! "I want to help the kids technically and nurture their love of dance."Brittany Co-owns the dance studio with Maria Ruffato and is very excited to continue to grow The 716 Dance Lab family and keeping our values constant. She wants to create a safe, drama-free family environment for the kids to grow up in and to help build them all to be strong, driven young men and women. 

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Instructor- Kelsey Martin

Combo, Lyrical Jazz & Tap

Competitive Team Instructor

This is Miss. Kelsey's 4th year with The 716 Dance Lab and love being a part of the 716 Dance Lab family. She has been dancing since the age of two and trained in many styles including tap, jazz, ballet, acro, lyrical, contemporary, and hip-hop. She has competed in numerous local and national competitions and has received scholarships. Kelsey also traveled to Pittsburg, PA to dance with the Abby Lee Dance Company for two summer intensives. Kelsey is looking forward to sharing her love of dance with all her students. “My goal is to make every student feel comfortable and confident while dancing!” Kelsey has her bachelors in Childhood and Special Education and her Masters in Literacy.

Instructor-  Naomi Greenstein

Ballet, Pointe, Jazz, Ballet/Jazz Combo & Contemporary.

Competitive Team Instructor

This is Miss. Naomi's 2nd year with The 716 Dance Lab. Miss Naomi has been dancing since she was 3 years old and has been en pointe since she was 12. She danced with the Collage Performing Arts Center in Fredonia, NY, and was active on the studio's NY Majestics Dance Team which placed several years in a row at the UDA National Dance Team Championships in Orlando, FL. During her time with the NY Majestics and CPAC, she also was invited to perform at the London New Year's Parade as well as the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade after performing a solo at UDA summer dance camp. Miss Naomi attended Mercyhurst University in Erie, PA for English & Graphic Design and continued her education in Galway, Ireland where she studied for her Master's Degree in Literature & Publishing at the National University of Ireland. 

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Instructor-  Jessica Schmigiel 

Tumbling, Acro, Strength & Flexibility, Adult Classes

Competitive Team Instructor

This is Miss. Jess's 3rd year with The 716 Dance Lab. Miss. Jess has over 25 years tumbling experience. Her strong background stems from competitive cheerleading. She has diverse knowledge from cheerleading in elementary school all the way through college and then for All-stars. She started teaching in 2007 and has been ever since.

 

Miss. Jess stresses tumbling technique and will bring a different approach to The 716 Dance Lab to grow the Acrobatics programs. Her biggest takeaway is needing a growth mindset. "Everything changes and you must be adaptable to stay successful"

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Instructor-  Isabelle Bateson- Brown

Ballet, Pointe & Musical Theater.

 

Isabelle Bateson-Brown began her dance training in Columbus, Ohio at the age of 2. She continued her training in Hamburg, NY with Performing Arts Dance Academy before joining Buffalo Inner City Ballet School in 1998 under Mr. Marvin Askew. She has also participated in master classes and intensives with BalletMet, Dayton Ballet, and BalletWest/ArtEmotion with Allison DeBona and Rex Tilton. 


Since joining Buffalo City Ballet she has danced the leading and soloist roles of Snow Queen, Dew Drop, and Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker, First Wili Soloist and Peasant Pas de Deux in Giselle, Spring Fairy and Fairy Godmother in Cinderella, and Sapphire Fairy in Sleeping Beauty as well as various corps de ballet roles She has additionally danced the titular roles in Cinderella, Firebird, and Paquita. Ms. Bateson-Brown is also a teacher for Buffalo Inner-City Ballet School and Elements Dance Center.


Ms. Bateson-Brown graduated magna cum laude from The Ohio State University in 2011 with degrees in Medieval and Renaissance Studies, French, and International Studies with minors in Cultural Anthropology and Dance.  She earned her NYS teaching certification in French & Dance from Buffalo State College in 2012 and currently works as a high school French teacher.

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Instructor- Zoe Kaminski

Combo, Tap, Jazz & Acro. 

Competitive Team Instructor

This is Miss. Zoe's 2nd year with the The 716 Dance Lab. Miss Zoe is currently studying English and Political Science at Canisius College. She began dancing before age two and competed for many years, where she trained in Tap, Jazz, Ballet, Hip Hop, Lyrical, Acro, Contemporary, and Pointe, while also dabbling in the occasional Polish Folk Dance. Miss Zoe is quite active in the Lancaster/Depew/Buffalo community and you can often find her working with youth to promote healthy habits, as well as organizing many fundraising events. She is currently a member of the Canisius Dance Griffs and can often be spotted on ESPN+ being trampled by basketball players. “I hope that every dancer leaves my classes feeling pushed out of their comfort zone with a newfound confidence that they can accomplish anything life throws at them!”

Instructor-  Emily Ratcliff

Combo, Tiny Tumblers, Ballet/Jazz Combo, & Jazz. 

 

This is Miss. Emily's 2nd year at The 716 Dance Lab. Emily has been dancing since she was 2 and has danced competitively for 11 years. She has assisted dance classes for 8 years in many different styles like; tap, jazz, acro, ballet, hiphop & Lyrical. Emily also has experience in both gymnastics and cheerleading. Emily has performed in the Nutcracker at both Neglia Ballet & American Academy of Ballet. She has taken classes with many choreographers like Abby Lee Miller, Victor Smalley, Christina Digiusppe & Kentrell Newton. She is currently majoring in Education at Daemen College."I hope that every dancer has fun in my class, and that they develop a love for dance at a young age."

Meet the Assistants!

Coming Soon.... 

Pictured below are 2020-21 Teen Assistants. 

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Instructor-  Rachel Steinwachs

Combo, Contemporary, Jazz

This is Miss. Rachel's 1st year at The 716 Dance Lab. Rachel started her dance journey at the age of 3. She studied jazz, ballet, contemporary, lyrical, hip-hop, and acrobatics and was a dedicated member of a local competition team for many years. She furthered her local training by attending various national workshops NYCDA, Nuvo, 24 seven, and more. Some highlights of her dance career have been attending the Dance Awards and NYCDA nationals since 2015. Dance holds an incredibly special place in Rachel's heart as it has provided her a fun way to channel her energy.  She plans to continue to build her dance experience by teaching, choreographing, and contributing to the WNY dance community. In addition to dance her passions are painting, photography and music.   She looks forward to being a part of the faculty and  sharing her love of dance and the arts!