Meet Our Staff!
Kari Kolmetz-Owner, Director
Kari started DanceArt Academy in September 2011 with the intention of providing something different to the Front Range. She delights in each family that comes to her studios and it is Kari’s intention to keep DanceArt Academy and the Fountain Arts Center known as places of encouragement, great passion and perfection in all that we do.
Her professional credits include The Hanna Barbera Company, Firebird, Carmina Burana, A Midsummer Nights Dream, Peter and the Wolf, Oklahoma, The Wiz, Music Man, Cinderella, and The Nutcracker. She has danced with David Taylor Dance Theatre in Denver, the San Diego Ballet, Hubbard Street Dance Theatre in Chicago, Illinois, The American Dance Machine, and Milton Myers in New York City. One of her favorite memories is working with VOP King, Frank Hatchett of Broadway Dance Center on a video series with MTV on the Lower West Side piers. She worked in New York City in several off Broadway houses, taught in the New York City public schools system after school ARTS program, as well as performed in multiple industrials and collaborative choreography showcases. Kari has worked with many known professional dancers, including, but not limited to Jazz great Gus Giordano, Broadway choreographer Robert Tucker, Nenette Charisse, Chita Rivera, tap guru Judy Bassing and Contemporary Mandy Moore.
Kari obtained her Bachelor of Arts degree in Dance with Honors from Loretta Heights College in Denver, Colorado. She studied with James Clouser, Polly Mötley and Milenko Banovich. She received accolades for her choreography and giftedness for drawing the artist out of individuals. She is especially skilled in choreographing and producing full shows, incorporating dancing, singing and acting while lifting up the individual artists. (And always a bit of humor). In college, she formed a performance company that toured Colorado during the summer months.
Kari began to travel at the age of 13 and studied with Ballet West where she worked with Tauna Hunter, Bruce Marks, and Willem F. Christensen, and performed in the well-known ballets of Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake and Coppelia. She was offered scholarships to study nationwide, including the Joffrey Ballet in New York City. At the age of 19, she joined the International Community Outreach program of Up With People and travelled worldwide – including a time of outreach and performance in the Peoples Republic of China and the arts universities there.Upon completion of a fruitful professional career, Kari moved to Atlanta, Georgia to attend graduate school. While there, she completed her M.Div. from Columbia Theological Seminary and began her Master of Arts in Theology degree. Kari taught and choreographed for FCS Urban Ministries with Moving in the Spirit, an inner city youth outreach in the performing arts areas. She was recognized by former President Jimmy Carter for her efforts with Atlanta’s at risk youth.
Kari resides in Gleneagle, Colorado with her 3 children. “Out of all my accomplishments, the ones I am most proud of are my three children.” Kari choreographs and directs many musical productions, teaches master classes around the country, and manages her two studios.
Heidi Martinez- Assistant Artistic Director
Heidi Martinez, a Colorado native, has been trained in ballet, jazz, contemporary, modern, hip-hop, and tap since the age of three. Training at studios in Colorado Springs, Heidi attended multiple competitions and conventions yearly. At the age of 17, Heidi moved to California where she continued her training in dance at Edge Performing Arts Center in Hollywood, Santa Monica College, Ventura County College, and San Diego State University. She has performed with Megill and Company as well as Relentless Dance Theatre. As a member of Relentless Dance Theatre, Heidi had the opportunity to perform multiple times at the Raw LA artists showcase in the semi-finals and finals. She also had the opportunity to dance in VA Streetz “Lose My Mind” music video. She has contributed choreography to competition and college level pieces. She received the Tane Memorial Scholarship for outstanding dancer, student and leader from her college in Ventura County. While studying dance at San Diego State University, Heidi danced with the University Dance Company where she worked with guest artists Emmanuel Gat and Sara Shelton Mann. During her studies at San Diego State, Heidi had the privilege of providing private dance lessons to the Dean of the Performing Arts and Science College. She has volunteered with “Multi-Culture Dance Day” and ” High School Dance Day” sponsored by Dizzy Feet Foundation at Moorpark College. In 2014 she volunteered with A Step Beyond, a non-profit organization working on providing dance education to under privileged youth. In the Spring of 2015 her choreography was chosen to represent SDSU at the American College Dance Festival. She returns to Colorado having graduated Summa Cum Laude with her Bachelor in Fine Arts in Dance from San Diego State University. Heidi is the Assistant Artistic Director at DanceArt Academy and continues her education attending master classes and teaching master classes of her own. She is currently the Assistant Artistic Director at DanceArt Academy Studios.
Heike Thibou- Office Manager
Heike was born in Ebrach, Bavaria (a small town of 1500 people). She studied in Germany and also completed 3 years of an apprenticeship. Years later, she married a young soldier from the Caribbean. They have two wonderful children who live here in Colorado Springs attending college. She worked for the Pike’s Peak YMCA for 8 years sharing her love and support for the local community, and now works at FAC blessing families with her joy and presence.
Jasmine Williams- Instructor
Jasmine Williams began her dance training at the June Landrith School of Ballet in 2005 and started teaching there at the age of sixteen. While teaching she continued her own dance education with June Landrith and attended numerous dance workshops and intensives including a summer intensive at Alonzo King Lines Ballet in San Francisco. In spring of 2011 Jasmine was honored to be awarded the Topeka Preforming Arts Center’s “Young Artist of the Year” for classical ballet. Jasmine was a company member of the Metropolitain Ballet of Topeka from 2005 until 2012 at its closure.
In the summer of 2012 Jasmine moved to California and began teaching at Kings Dance Center while attending College of the Sequoias for Psychology and dance. In 2013 Jasmine was asked to join Altered Modalities, a local central Valley contemporary dance company, directed by Martha Kelly-Fierro. She was an Altered Modalities company member from 2013-2015 while continuing to teach at Kings Dance Center and Momentum Dance Academy.
In the fall of 2015 Jasmine relocated to Colorado Springs where she now teaches at Fountain Arts Center. She currently teaches Encore FAC, Ballet level two and Ballet levels three-five at Fountain Arts Center.
I danced at Ballet Magnificat! based out of Jackson, MS, for 11 years. There I was mostly trained in Vaganova style ballet. I was a member of their first company of Magnificat! Youth Ballet. We performed all over the state and participating in internationally performed ballets. I had opportunities to teach as well- giving private lessons and hosting my own dance intensive. At 19, I interned with a professional company out of Dallas called Ingredients Dance Company where I had most of my broader training from hip-hop to modern. Ingredients traveled nationally with a convention called Dance Revolution. In the summer of 2014, I attended Iris’ Harvest School (a missionary training school) in Mozambique, Africa. There I taught ballet and helped choreograph dances for the students while also broadening my training in African style dances. In the fall of 2014, I moved to Colorado Springs, CO, to help jump-start a modern/contemporary company, Cielo. Cielo’s home is Dance Art Academy and plan to debut the winter of 2015.
Alex Ader- Instructor
Alex Ader began dancing at the age of the three at Peak Academy of Dance in the mountains of Conifer Colorado. There she studied ballet, tap, jazz, poms and choreography. She continued to study at Peak Academy of Dance until she graduated high school. Meanwhile, she also periodically studied at Shelly True Dance Academy, Ascot Ballet, and Makhateli Ballet studying ballet, jazz and lyrical. After graduating high school she continued her training at Colorado State University. As a dance major at CSU she studied with some of the amazing faculty, including Carol Roderick, Chung-fu Chang, Jane Slusarski-Haris, Judy Bejarano, and Sayaka Ruggles. While at CSU she has been given the opportunity take master classes and guest teacher classes from Shin Yu Kao, Kun Chien, Pilobolus, Ailley II, and many more. She has performed original choreographic works by Jane Slusarski-Harris, Judy Bejarano, Kun Chien, Wascko. Alex has also choreographed many of her own works her at CSU. Two of her works were chosen by CSU dance faculty to be performed in the CSU faculty concerts. Outside of CSU , she taught ballet and tap at Canyon Concert Ballet and helped supervise a 4H dance team for 2 years. She now works at the Fountain Arts Center. Alex loves teaching dance and watching her students develop as dancers, people and artists.
Erin Benson- Instructor
Over the past nine years Erin Benson has been the founder and director of Ballet Emmanuel –a professional, nationally touring, Christian ballet company. Through BE Erin had the opportunity to create original ballets, perform at numerous locations across the United States, as well as teach dance at studios, universities, churches and art centers. Erin received her dance training in Colorado Springs and later joined Ballet Magnificat’s Trainee company in Jackson, Mississippi. She also danced with Hosanna Sacred Arts, a professional company based in Birmingham, Alabama. Erin is passionate about passing on the joy of dance and excellence in technique to the next generation of dancers!
Dennis King- Karate Plus! Instructor
Dennis has been studying martial arts for the past 20 years. He started with a small group at the YMCA and then switched to the Karate Plus! organization in 1999. Karate Plus! is a discipleship-based training ministry that equips people toward spiritual victory and personal safety. Dennis received his black belt in Shotokan Karate and Hakkoryu Jujitsu in 2004 and has been teaching at Fountain Arts Center ever since. He still studies with Karate Plus! under Sensei Ken Valles and is currently pursuing his second degree black belt.