Artistic Director & Choreographer - Tasha Patterson Shirley 

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Under the direction of Tasha Patterson Shirley, dancers have graced the stages of the Treasure Coast for over ten years and some have progressed further to the global stage. Audiences rave about the energy and passion of the shows created and performed by the Wings to Fly Dance Company. Their shows Quest (2010, 2011), Time (2012), Life (2013) and Journey (2016) were emotional and memorable masterpieces that staged the incredible talents of local and professional performers.

Before moving to Florida, Tasha lived in Japan and performed with Madonna, Christopher Cross, Dianna Ross, Earth Wind and Fire, and Cyril Takayama. Choreography work includes Guys and Dolls, Rocky Horror Picture Show, Cats, Geki Dan Shiki, and for many contemporary dance companies here and abroad. Music videos include Namie Amuro, Southern Allstars, and Salt N Pepa.  She created events and shows for Budweiser, Coca Cola, Toyota, MAC Makeup, Prada, Sony, Virgin Cinemas and various cabaret shows. Commercials include Glico, Sony, Pizza Hut, Swatch, and Suzuki.

Tasha’s passion to help create a peaceful and compassionate world permeates all that she does. Living in India, Nepal and Japan she learned techniques from Masters (Zen, Buddhist and Vedic meditation, yoga and healing modalities) and her own mastery has been an influential force in her choreography and themes of WTFDC shows. Tasha is the Executive Director of our integrated dance company and teaches yoga to groups and private clients. With 27 years of choreography experience, Tasha Shirley now works with her family to create an exciting and diverse repertoire, engaging in unique collaborations with a wide variety of talents.

Assistant Director, Choreographer, Dancer - Tara Marie Anstensen

 

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 Tara Anstensen has been employed by Martin Memorial Hospital for over 15 years as a Physical Therapy Assistant. Prominently featured in Martin Health System’s 2016 Annual Report and recognized as “Associate of the Month” for February 2017, she’s considered exemplary and extraordinary in the care of her patients. She earned her Advanced Proficiency of Neuromuscular Therapy certification from the American Physical Therapy Association and has also earned certificates in Vestibular Rehabilitation, Watsu Aquatic Therapy, and Myofascial Release. She was the Assistant Supervisor for individuals with disabilities at the Arc of St. Lucie County for over 10 years. Her professional background as a dancer included working with Princess Cruises, performing with Diana Ross, C & C Music Factory and Cyndi Lauper. Her extensive therapy experience and working with individuals with disabilities gives her an exceptional outlook on how to facilitate experiences beyond what is though possible. Tara has a sincere appreciation for creativity and exploration of music and movement and shares that love with all her students. She has had the pleasure of teaching at South Florida Dance Company, Dance Academy of Stuart, Ballet Florida, and Palm Beach Ballet Company. She is currently dancing and choreographing with Wings to Fly Dance Company integrating dancers with and without disabilities.
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Founding Director - Dancer Tena Patterson

 

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 Tena Patterson has an impressive background as a professional dancer, teacher and choreographer in Canada and the United States. She is trained and has taught ballet, modern, jazz, tap, Russian folk dance and musical comedy at the Royal Academy. She formed the Florida Performing and Visual Arts Program for persons with disabilities through the Arc of St. Lucie County. Tena has been a therapist of aquatic therapy for 17 years and Myofascial Release for 8 years. She believes that everyone should have the opportunity to perform and continues to work towards this goal with the integrated Wings to Fly Dance Company. Tena also writes children's books, the latest is called Friendly the 911 Kite and is for sale at Barnes and Noble. Tena, now over 70, still dances with Wings to Fly and often shows the dancers how it's done!
Meet WIngs to Fly Dance Company

 Assistant Choreographer & Dancer
Amanda Irwin

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Amanda began her professional training at the Palm Beach Ballet Center in West Palm Beach, Florida. After continuing her training at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, she danced with North Carolina Dance Theatre (currently Charlotte Ballet). There, she had the opportunity to work with Patricia McBride and Jean Pierre Bonnefoux, Mark Diamond, Michael Vernon, Dwight Rhoden, and Mark Godden. She spent time with American Contemporary Ballet in LA and Reach Dance Company in West Palm Beach before joining Dance Theatre of Tennessee in Nashville. Amanda is currently teaching ballet in the Treasure Coast area, and is passionate about sharing her knowledge and wisdom with younger generations. This is Amanda’s foruth year with Wings to Fly Dance Company. She is excited to have a platform for developing her own artistic expression. Amanda is presently the head Ballet teacher and Choreographer At South Florida Ballet Company, and is presently working on her Spring Ballet, "The Little Mermaid".

Dancer
Mikayla Bradford

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This is Mikayla's sixth year with Wings to Fly, having previously preformed in WTF’s shows Life and Journey. Her dance training began at age 16 with South Florida Dance Company. She has a degree in Fine Arts for Dance from Indian River State College and is currently working as a certified dental assistant in Port St. Lucie. The experience of dancing alongside the wheelchair bound dancers has shaped Mikayla’s perspective of not just her own dancing, but her overall outlook on life and people. “Working with Casey, Sabrina, Alex, and everyone else in HOPE changes how you look at yourself and the people around you. You start to realize how unimportant it is to be able to kick your leg as high or do as many turns as your fellow dancers, and you learn to appreciate the privilege to just move and express through dance. Wings To Fly has given me the opportunity to work with individuals that I would have never otherwise known, but who have made such a powerful positive impact on my day to day life, and for that I am eternally grateful”.

 

Dancer
Kaileigh Bates

 
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Kaileigh Bates was born in Connecticut and started to study dance at the age of 2 shortly after her family made the move to Florida. She began her studies at Florida Arts and Dance Company one of her teachers being Tasha Patterson Shirley, then moved to Dance Academy of Stuart, and then finally made the move back to Tasha under Wings to Fly Dance Company! She was very active within the local theatre area performing in shows with Shiloh Theatrical productions. She now finds herself spreading her love of Dance teaching at Florida Arts and Dance Company and Danceworks! Through Florida Arts and Dance, she gets to go into the local high schools and teach dance to the special needs classes! Wings to Fly has given her a way to follow her dreams in integrating individuals with and without disabilities through dance. Not only is she lucky enough to work along side these wonderful individuals, she finds herself at the heart of the essence of Wings to Fly by getting the chance to follow in Tara Anstensen’s footsteps in harnessing someone! She will be forever grateful for such a heartwarming opportunity! For Kaileigh, there is nothing better than sharing the stage with these incredible individuals and showing the world that anything is possible! 
 
Dancer and Choreographer

Thomas Ciaramitaro 

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For Seventeen years Thomas has been coaching gymnastics, cheer and dance and presently is the owner/director of Aerial Elite in Stuart. He is nationally certified by USAAF in stunting and tumbling and has worked with Mia Michaels, Vanilla Ice, and NiShay Fisher. As a performer and a guest choreographer in WTFDC’s past five shows his passion and love of dance inspires all, with and without disabilities. Tom is fully committed heart and soul to the mission of Wings to Fly. If he is not lighting up the stage, he is backstage helping with wheelchairs, spreading positivity and joy always. Tom is now a proud father of two. This year Tom has created a special works created just for Hope. His children and students will be joining him on stage in a piece about offering loving guidance in a lyrical Hip Hop routine.

Dancer and Costume Designer
Allesandra Scala
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Allesandra has known Tasha and her family for 16 years. Allseandra said," Whenever I am involved with Wings to Fly I find my creativity goes beyond my imagination. I love the fact that they teach the inclusion children and adults and give them the opportunity to perform on stage." Allesandra is an extremely talented costume designer. She presentlyrun the treasure coast tap group. This year Allesandra will not just be backstage with her needle and thread, she will be putting on her own tap shoes. 
Dancer
John Patrick Lupi
 
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This is JP's third show with Wings to Fly. The Joy JP brings to the stage is infectious. You may hear him sometimes singing along with the songs. 

Dancer

Mary Weeks

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Mary Weeks has received her training from South Florida Dance Company over the years as well has attended workshops at Walnut Hill School for the Arts in Natick, Massachusetts. Also, she has taken part of many performances with SFDC, community shows, and performances with Wings To Fly Dance Company. Mary is currently working in the community of Stuart as a Licensed Esthetician at Skin Serenity in Stuart, and enjoys her time and energy with Wings To Fly.- "Being a part of Wings To Fly Dance Company is a blessing and an honor. I love the energy and connection we have with each other, and the ability to release and breathe through the movement of dance."  

 Dancer
Joneik Molyneaux
 
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Dance holds a special place in my heart, from the moment I started dancing until now.  When I dance I feel like I can suddenly breathe, I feel as if I’m invincible, reborn.  Dance is my life and has indeed changed my life in numerous ways.  One thing I have learned as a dancer is perseverance.  When you fall or make a mistake, courage is needed for you to get back up and try again.  Dance to me means ‘freedom’, freedom to move and express yourself in ways you didn’t think was possible.  Working with Wings to Fly Dance Company has taught me the true meaning of freedom.  Freedom is the condition of being free from restraints.  Dancing with people in wheelchairs has brought the statement of ‘anyone can dance’ to life for me.  They have taught me to slow down, and take the time to just look around and take in this beautiful world and all of the simple joys we are blessed to encounter every day.  Seeing a smile on their faces every chance they get to dance makes me as a person even more grateful for dance myself.  Working with Wings to Fly has changed me for the better.

 

Dancer
Riley Brown
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“I began my dancing at age 10 at Kimberly’s School of dance and was there for four years. I then moved to South Florida Dance Company for 4 years which is where my dancing really blossomed from the great instructors to the incredible shows they perform every year. I had the honor to play leading roles on the Sunrise Theatre stage. Meanwhile, I also performed and participated in Port St. Lucie High Schools dance department with Brian Spector. Always, I danced with Tasha Patterson Shirley and Wings to Fly as a guest. She has truly helped be grow and prosper as a performer. Now I am proud to be a member of Wings to Fly Dance Company. I love getting to dance with all our friends in wheelchairs. It gives me great gratitude to be able to make their dreams come true of dancing on a stage. Something they would have never thought possible, brought to life. While I dance, I study nursing at Indian River State College. I aspire to work with neonates in the intensive care unit one day, but always keep dancing.”

 

Dancer

Lisa Mie

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Hailing from Denver, CO, Lisa was a dance major at the Denver School of the Arts and the University of Northern Colorado. She has danced with Cleo Parker Robinson Dance, Kim Robards Dance (Denver), the National Broadway Touring Company of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat!, UCF Knightmoves, Voci Dance (Orlando, FL) and Walt Disney World. Dancing with WTFDC has been a beacon of hope, helping to bring ideals of dance as communication and community involvement into realization. Lisa is currently a Physical Therapist Assistant for Martin Health System by day, mom to a beautiful, little dancer by night and is honored to grace the stage of the Lyric Theatre with Wings To Fly Dance Company once again.
Dancer
Angel Tamayo
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Dance to me, is like taking your first steps. Hard at first, easier as you learn and now you can tell a story just by walking. Angel Tamayo is described as a man on the path of life with a story to tell.  He started his journey through dance at the age of 15 with no proper dance training and two left feet; now, at 21 he's trained with Star City Dance, South Florida Dance Company and Wings to Fly dance company. Described as passionate and optimistic, he shows vulnerability by expressing his story through movements that allow you to connect with him. Without the help and teachings of Bonnie and Brian Spector as well as the teachings and guidance of Tasha Patterson, he wouldn't be the dancer he is today; fearless and full of Hope.

Dancer & Guest Choreographer

Samara Shevlin

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Samara began studying dance at The Dance Academy of Stuart at the age of three. She continued her dance education at Florida Arts & Dance Company, and later became a member of Wings To Fly Dance Company under the instruction of Tasha Patterson. She has performed in local productions as well as with The Rock School of Ballet in Pennsylvania, and The Joffrey South in Georgia, and Broadway Dance Center in NYC.

In 2013 Samara was accepted to The Joffrey Ballet School in NYC where she studied, choreographed, and performed under the instruction of artistic director Michael Blake until 2015. Here she studied with principal dancers, teachers and choreographers stemming from New York City Ballet, American Ballet Theater, Alvin Ailey, as well as master classes from award winning choreographers such as Sonya Tayeh and Ellenore Scott at Broadway Dance Center.  

She currently dances and choreographs with Wings To Fly Dance Company and teaches contemporary, ballet, and jazz at Florida Arts & Dance Company.

“I am forever grateful for all that Wings To Fly Dance Company has taught me, and the impact it’s made on my life. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for creating a space to become and to be an artist.”

Dancer
Jennifer Lopp
 
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Jennifer started her training in Palm Beach county with Linda White, Charles Russell and Joan Miller studying Ballet, Jazz, Lyrical, Modern and Pointe. She went on to study dance at Dreyoos School of the arts in West Palm Beach Florida as a ballet major under the instruction of Jeffrey Satinoff and Garry Lewis and Stacy Porcher. At the age of 16 Jennifer attended Pennsylvania's Ballet Company's 6 week summer intensive program. Upon graduating from Dreyfoos, she taught Ballet, jazz, lyrical and modern through out Palm Beach County as well as U.B. Kinsey/ Palmview Elementary school of the arts. She also was an instructor for ESOL students to help prepare them and choreograph audition pieces for Bach Middle School of the Arts. Jennifer relocated to Port Saint Lucie and has continued to teach her passion through out the treasure coast. This is her second year at South Florida Dance Company teaching ballet, leaps and turns,and choreography through the school year,  summer intensives and the annual spring ballet. This is her first year dancing with Wings to Fly Dance Company.  She is also a liscened and certified occupational therapy assistant working in pediatrics with clients who have disabilities such as, Austism Spectrum Disorder, Down Syndrome, cerebral Palsy and learning disabilites. At the ooccupational therapy office, she teaches a special needs ballet class as well! 
 
 
                    
Dancer
Casey Cardinali
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This Is Casey's 5th show with Wings to Fly Dance Company. 
Casey was the third person ever to be harnessed and lifted out of a wheel chair using the Harness created by Tara Anstensen.
Casey loves being on the stage with her friends. Casey has worked very hard on Her debut harness piece, called "I Believe". This piece will be featured again in Hope. 
 Alexandra Smith
Dancer
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 Alex is a passionate dancer whose smile lights up the room everywhere she goes. This will be Alex’s 6th show with Wings To Fly. She always makes everyone around her happy. Despite her challenges she always manages to crack a smile and laugh through it all.
Photoshoot with Thomas Winter