meet our staff and assistants!
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. 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.
Studio Manager- Brittany Leighbody
Acrobatics/ Tiny Tumblers / Combo/ Strength/Flex/ Technique/Ballet-Jazz Combo/ 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 was USASF certified for levels 1-6 in 2015 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. Not only is Brittany's concentration in the dance environment, she also works to bring family events into the Village of Lancaster.
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.
Instructor- Jessica Schmigiel
Tumbling, Acro, Strength & Flexibility, Adult Classes
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"
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.
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."
Instructor- Alexis Ziman
HipHop, combo & Jazz Technique
Alexis is from Rochester, NY where she began dancing since she was 3. She is trained in jazz, ballet, hip hop, tap, music theatre, lyrical. She graduated from Niagara university in 2019, during that time she danced on the Niagara university Danceline, she performed at the D1 basketball game. In 2019, she also become a buffalo bandette for the NLL buffalo bandits. This is her 1st year with The 716 Dance Lab and will be working beside Miss. Maria.
Miss McKenzie is originally from Angola, NY where she danced since the age of 3. Miss McKenzie then coached cheerleading for four years after high school. Graduating top of her class with an Associates of Business Administration and moving on to the Certified Public Accountant program (CPA)
Miss McKenzie is excited to help our students, teachers, and family members feel at home here at the 716 Dance Lab as our front desk Mondays & Tuesdays. She is grateful to be a part of the dance environment again and cannot wait to watch everyone grow, learn, and become a 716 Dance Lab family! This is Miss McKenzie’s first year with the Dance Lab.
Meet the Assistants!
Pictured below are 2020-21 Teen Assistants.