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, Pointe & Contemporary/Lyrical
Competitive Team Instructor
This is Mrs. Naomi's 4th 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, Ballet, Ballet/Jazz Combo & Jazz
Competitive Team Instructor
This is Miss Zoe's 4th year with The 716 Dance Lab. Miss Zoe is currently completing her Master of Business Administration at Canisius University. She completed her Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science, English, and Urban Studies at Canisius College. Currently, she works for a law firm in Learning and Development/Training and provides legal software and technology training to members of the firm. Miss Zoe began dancing before age two and competed for many years, where she trained in Tap, Jazz, Ballet, Hip Hop, Lyrical, Acro, Contemporary, Modern, and Pointe, while also participating in Polish Folk Dance. In college, she was a member of the Canisius College Dance Griffs team and also has experience in coaching Pom, Hip Hop, and Jazz at the collegiate level. Miss Zoe notes: “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- Alexis Ziman
Combo, Tiny Tumblers, HipHop, Tap
Alexis is excited to be back at 716 dance lab from moving back to Buffalo. This is her 2nd year teaching at 716 dance lab. She is trained in jazz, ballet, hip hop, tap, music theatre, lyrical & acro. She is a former collegiate dancer and buffalo bandette (2019-2022). She loves to push the dancers to be confident and grow a love for dance.
Instructor- Rose Wehner
Combo, Ballet/ Jazz,
Mrs. Rose plays a large role in The 716 Dance Lab family and loves the littles. She teaches multiple 2-5 Combo Classes and Ballet/Jazz & 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, Acro & Adult Dance Workout
This is Mrs. Jess's 5th 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, Bllet/Jazz & Tap
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
Instructor- Lindsey Shields
Combo & Tiny Tumblers
This is Lindsey's 1st year with The 716 Dance Lab. Lindsey is a published author who has danced since the age of three years old. She loves to dance but teaching was always her biggest passion. Her love of dance comes from a former teacher who taught her to not only perform her very best, but also to remain true to who she is, believe in herself, and spread kindness to those around her. Lindsey is thrilled to share her love for dance, while also making kids feel seen and loved just as she did by her teacher.
Instructor- Sarah Redman
Combo & Tap
This is Sarah's first year with The 716 Dance Lab. Sarah has been dancing since the age of 8 years old, having a total of 15 years of dance experience. She has studied all forms of dance, with tap being her favorite. She has won numerous awards through her younger years for her tap duets and solos. Sarah has an educational background in teaching, she is a first year, third grade teacher. Sarah strives for her students to be creative, successful, and excited to find their passions in life. Dance has always been a part of Sarah's life, and she can't wait to share that with her students.
23-24 Teen Class Assistants!