meet our staff
Artistic Director/ Owner - Maria Ruffato
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. Making education a priority, she has trained with: Anthony Morigerato, Mike Minery, Travis Wall, Denise Wall, Kenny Wormald, Misha Gabriel, Ivan Koumaev, Marty Kudelka, Luther Brown, Kevin Maher, Nappytabs, Bryan Tanaka, Erica Klein, Darrin Henson, Ray Leeper, Ayodele Casel, Janelle Ginestra, Max Pham, Codie Wiggins, Ian Eastwood, Jason Rodelo, and many others. 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 at The 716 Dance Lab. She opened The 716 Dance Lab in October 2017.
Co-Owner/Manager - Brittany Leighbody
Brittany opened The 716 dance Lab with Maria in 2017. She has a love for the littles and has a vision for levels & differentiation in choreography. She has been teaching/coaching for 16 years and has over 20 years of competitive performance experience from youth to collegiate level cheer & 7 years of dance! "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 family environment for the kids to grow up in and to help build them all to be strong, driven young men and women. Brittany is very involved in the Village of Lancaster so she help create a family community near the studio as well as inside the studio walls.
Instructor- Naomi Gulotta
Ballet, Jazz, Ballet/Jazz Combo & Contemporary/Lyrical
Competitive Team Instructor
This is Mrs. Naomi's 3rd 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. Mrs. 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.
Instructor- Zoe Kaminski
Combo, Tap, Dancer Strength Training & Jazz
Competitive Team Instructor
This is Miss. Zoe's 3rd 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- Isabelle Bateson- Brown
Ballet, Pointe & Musical Theater.
This is Mrs. Isabelle's 2nd year with The 716 Dance Lab. 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.
Instructor- Rose Wehner
Combo Teacher/ Adult Workout Sub
Ages 4-7 Class Asst.
Mrs. Rose plays a large role in The 716 Dance Lab family and loves the littles. She teaches multiple 2-5 Combo Classes and is a sub and class asst for the older genres. Including Adult Dance Workout! Mrs. Rose especially loves our integrated classrooms!
Instructor- Jessica Schmigiel
Tiny Tumblers & Adult Dance Workout
This is Mrs. Jess's 4th year with The 716 Dance Lab. Mrs.. 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"
Instructor- Alyssa Russillio
Guardian & Me, Combo Ages 2-5 & Tap Ages 4-7
As a new mom with 13+ years of dance experience Alyssa is excited to bring her talent and technique to the 716 Dance Lab Family. With an educational background in childhood psychology and a career serving WNY children Alyssa loves working with kiddos and inspiring them to find their true passions and joys in life. Dance was one of Alyssa’s first passions and she cannot wait to share that with the talented kiddos at 716 Dance Lab
22-23 Teen Class Assistants!
Meet the Teen Assistants!
Miss. Elizabeth (Not pictured)- Thursday Combo/Ballet Jazz
Miss. Lieschen - Monday Combo
Miss. Tamirra - Monday HipHop Shorties
Miss. Lenci- Monday Tiny Tumblers
Miss. Maddi - Tuesday Combo
Miss. Veronica- HipHop & Thursday Combo
Miss. Julia- Wednesday & Saturday Combo