Our Staff

/Our Staff
Our Staff 2018-02-25T05:53:00+00:00

GDSC Staff

Our experienced and professionally-trained staff teaches beginning- to advanced/competition-level classes to students who are ages three and older. We offer instruction in contemporary, improvisation, lyrical, ballet, pointe, creative movement, jazz, musical theater, tap, hip hop, tumbling, Acro, Bollywood, West African and Performance Fundamentals.

Brandi & Sean Nichols, Owners


Sean and Brandi Nichols have lived in Bend for about eight years, and during that time, got married, had three children, and finished up a few degrees: Brandi–a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Oregon and a master’s degree in teaching from George Fox University; Sean–a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Oregon State University.

Sean’s primary experience is in hospitality management, and more specifically, in food and beverage. Brandi, when she hasn’t been dancing, has gained experience as a writer working for a couple of local magazines (1859 Oregon’s Magazine and Central Oregon Magazine) and as a teacher substituting for the Bend La Pine School District.

She has also written a picture book, being currently illustrated, and is four chapters deep into her children’s fantasy novel. (Stay tuned for publishing details as soon as the chaotic dust of business acquisition settles.)

When Brandi and Sean are not working, they’re busy raising their 3 daughters Penelope, Charlie and Winnie. Family time currently looks like long drives through the countryside, walks on the river trail and visits to their hometown, Newport, Oregon. Golf and snowboarding, their two favorite sports, are on the back-burner until their children can handle a golf cart and chair lift.

Brandi and Sean are ecstatic to be the new owners of Gotta Dance Studio & Company!

Brandi Nichols, Owner & Instructor


Brandi began her journey at Dance & All That Jazz (DAATJ) in Newport, Oregon at age 7. She focused on tap, but then progressed to jazz and ballet shortly thereafter. While at DAATJ, she became a “T.J. Hoofer”–a coveted position for dancers in the area–and studied under master dancers J.T. Horenstein, New York Broadway Dance Center instructor, and Bill Prudich, Edge Performing Arts Center Executive Director. She attended several L.A. Dance Force (LADF) conventions in Washington, which lead to a showcase piece, and a silver medal for Tap 4’s advanced tap number. She then received the privilege to teach at DAATJ as a student instructor. Along with dancing and teaching 10+ hours a week, she delved into a bit of local theater and landed the leading role of “Sandy” in Grease her senior year of high school.

After high school, Brandi ventured from her small town of Newport to Australia, where she spent an entire summer building life-long relationships. She then moved to southern California where she studied jazz, tap, and West Coast Swing at the University of San Diego. One and a half years (studying communications at USD) and six months (at Universita’ Cattolica in Milan, Italy) later, Brandi relocated to Eugene, Oregon. There, she finished her bachelor’s degree in journalism and Italian at the University of Oregon and found time to attend tap, jazz and West African dance classes—the latter quickly becoming one of her favorite dance genres.

A marriage proposal landed her in Bend, lending her an opportunity to teach at Miss Kimber’s Dance Magic in Redmond for a year, and finally, at her new dance home, Gotta Dance Studio & Company, where she’s been instructing for eight years!

Kelly Sullins, Assistant Director & Instructor


Kelly was born in Baltimore, Maryland and lived there until moving to Bend in 2006.  She began dancing when she was only two-and-a-half years old and hasn’t stopped. Trained in lyrical, contemporary, jazz, musical theater, tap and ballet, Kelly began teaching at age 14.  She’s competed in and choreographed for numerous dance competitions across the country, bringing home multiple platinum, 1st place and various specialty awards. Her teaching experience includes studio classes, competition choreography, high school dance team and theater productions.

Kelly earned a bachelor’s degree in human development with an early childhood development focus–a contributing factor to her success within the dance classroom.

Kelly has received training in multiple genres of dance and never tires of learning, attending dance conventions and workshops whenever she has the opportunity.

In addition to her talent as a dancer and choreographer, Kelly has experience in studio management and direction. Her exemplary skills in organization, keen eye for detail and desire for perfection make her an asset as GDSC’s Assistant Director.  Kelly’s passion and love for dance are evident in every aspect of teaching, choreography and the development and management of all areas of studio functions.

Kelly is excited and honored to be a part of the amazing Gotta Dance family.

Ashley Gaona, Instructor


Bio coming soon.

Charlene Weirup, Instructor

charlene weirup-gotta-dance-studio-bend-instructor

Charlene Weirup, GDSC’s Acro dance instructor, is not only safety-certified, but also a member of the USA Gymnastics.

Charlene began her journey of being an instructor through many different life experiences. Living in a small Oregon coastal town most of her life, she began her love of gymnastics at age 5. In high school, she was a high-level sprinter, as well as a four-year member and one-year coach of her dance team.

Coaching and working with children have always been a big part of her life. Starting at age 16, she was a volunteer recreational coach for five years.

In 2002, Charlene helped put together and co-coach a dance team in which kids from Kindergarten – 12th grade were allowed to participate. In her small community not a lot of families had the opportunity to offer their children dance and she wanted all kids to be able to get the chance.

When Charlene was 24, she coached gymnastics at a small local gym for two years until her second child made his debut. Charlene’s son was born with Autism and this lead to a whole new world of knowledge and challenges. Since the rural area they lived in wasn’t the right place for their son to get the help he needed, the family decided to move. In 2004, Charlene and her husband packed up the family and moved to Bend.

After 11 years of being a stay-at-home mom of three, she got the crazy idea to better herself and became a ballet student at GDSC. Starting ballet at age 35 was not an easy task, but she loves a good challenge and is very grateful that she made this move in her life.

Charlene is also a strong advocate for Autism Awareness and likes to promote healthy, clean nutrition for children and adults.

Dee Dee Burzynski, Instructor


Dee Dee Burzynski joined Gotta Dance Studio & Company with a well-rounded and prestigious dance resume. She began her dance training at the age of 8 with Chitwood Studio of Dance in Roseburg, Oregon, where she studied classical ballet. She continued her professional training with Pacific Northwest Ballet; Keith Martin Ballet; San Francisco Ballet; and Marin Ballet.

Dee Dee has been an instructor in ballet, pointe, variations and pas de deux for the past 18 years. Several of her students have been accepted by professional ballet training programs: Pacific Northwest Ballet, Joffrey, Anaheim Ballet and Oregon Ballet Theatre.

A regional award-winning competition choreographer, Dee Dee has also choreographed for a variety of groups in the Central Oregon Community, including Ubiquitous Dance Company, Bend High School, Cascades Theatrical Company, Jazz Dance Collective, Obsidian Opera Company, Seven Peaks Elementary, Summit High School and Terpsichorean Dance Company.

She is currently the artistic director and founder of Ubiquitous Dance Company, a nonprofit 501c3 contemporary dance company founded in 2006 and the current board member of Bend Dance Project.

Walt Sullins, Instructor


Walt was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland. He moved to Bend in 2006. Having a girlfriend (now wife), whose life revolved around dance, was the first step in peaking Walt’s interest.  He felt drawn to learn the art of breakdancing, which led him to taking hip hop, jazz, lyrical/contemporary and ballet classes to improve his knowledge and technique. Walt has taught both hip hop and breakdancing and continues to enjoy taking studio classes.

In addition, he attends many dance conventions and workshops to help extend his dance knowledge. He never tires of trying and learning new styles and techniques.

Walt has been asked to choreograph and perform locally–Central Oregon Hot Shots, Winterfest, Monster Ball and a First Story fundraiser, just to name a few.

Walt is always anxious to share his natural talent and has developed a following. His fun, easygoing nature adds to his talent in teaching. He is thrilled to be part of the Gotta Dance family and feels privileged to share the experience with his wife, Kelly.

Ashley Potts, Instructor


Ashley’s (a.k.a. A.P.) dance journey didn’t begin until her junior year of high school when she began dancing for the Varsity Dance Team and continued on to Varsity Cheerleading. She then started her instructing career teaching for Bend High’s Dance Team in 2004, followed by Gotta Dance Studio & Company in 2005.

During her 11 years teaching for Gotta Dance, she trained in a variety of different styles and with a variety of  choreographers, including Tony Testa, Kevin Maher and Nappytabs (her all-time favorite) just to name a few!

In 2008, A.P. became the lead instructor for Gotta Dance Studio & Company’s Senior Hip Hop Crew, taking home awards, including first place and highest overall score.

In 2009, Ashley traveled to Europe to teach in Warsaw and Keubjek, Poland for 3 weeks. She also got to train with Storm, one of the most amazing pop ‘n lock dancers/instructors Europe has to offer! During her trip, she co-choreographed a Levi’s Jeans commercial with instructor and choreographer, Paul Zajek.

Ashley is excited to share her high-energy style and love of dance with students, and hopes to help them embrace humor, style and creativity.

Nancy Scher, Instructor

Nancy grew up in Brooklyn, NY. Her wise parents placed her in tap and ballet classes at age 6, “because she wouldn’t stop moving.” In the 1970’s, she attended The Julliard School where she studied ballet with Anthony Tudor and Alfredo Corvino, and Modern dance with members of the Martha Graham Company and The Jose Limon Company, as well as the formidable Anna Sokolow, who Nancy credits as her first “acting” teacher.

Nancy was trained as a contemporary dancer, although in those days it was called Modern. She worked in the burgeoning avant-garde Dance Theater world of NYC in the late ’60’s to end of the 70’s with such diverse notables as Barbara Roan and Meredith Monk.

Always interested in providing meaning behind her movement, Nancy added acting training when she moved to the west coast and began to stage, choreograph and perform in musical theater and cabarets. She lived in Los Angeles for 20 years, working in professional theater, TV and movies.

Nancy moved to Bend in 2006, and after a few years, joined the local theater community, performing at 2nd St. Theater in the musicals Working and Company and the “immersive theater” production, Five Lesbians Eating a Quiche.

She has directed and choreographed World Goes ‘Round, and choreographed Reefer Madness. She has taught theater and movement classes and directed shows for BEAT, which has given her the opportunity to bring out the best in each student.

Nancy is also a certified Pilates instructor, Feldenkrais practitioner and compulsive crocheter.

Kira Purinton, Instructor


Kira was born into a ballet family–her mom, two aunts, uncle and brother all preceded her as ballet dancers. Her mother likes to say her first grande jeté happened in utero while waiting backstage at a performance of the Nutcracker.  Officially, however, Kira began taking ballet lessons at age three with Emmy Lou Crawford at Santa Barbara Festival Ballet.  While there, she also studied under Michelle Hulse, Denise Rinaldi and Valerie Huston. Kira credits her training to these four teachers as well as her mom, Diana, who is also a ballet teacher.

Over the years, she has been afforded the luxury of performing with many varied and prestigious companies, having danced with the Moscow Ballet, Brian Brooks Moving Company, Misa Kelly, and Baile de California (where she also served as Assistant Director).

Though Kira has a very strong ballet background, she has also studied jazz, hip hop (under Tamaar Paul), contemporary, classical Spanish dance and modern dance with Christina Sanchez, formerly a principal dancer with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.

Kira is thrilled to continue her dance career at Gotta Dance Studio & Company.

Jessica Zacharias, Instructor


Jessica Zacharias was raised in the tall mountains of Western Montana where she studied ballet from the age of three to eighteen and went on to earn both dance and psychology degrees from the University of Montana.

Miss Jessica spent the last six years in Kansas City, cultivating a well-rounded repertoire in teaching adults and children many different styles of dance. Her passion for movement, teaching, and health and wellness have found a solid expression in both practicing and teaching yoga.

She adores being barefoot outside, bright colors, and is quite excited to continue her passion in Bend.

Tristan Anderson, Instructor


Bio coming soon.

Kayla Turpin, Instructor


Kayla has been dancing since age three and has been trained in lyrical, jazz, ballet, tap, and Acro. From 2015-2017 she taught ballet, lyrical and jazz to various age groups. She has traveled to perform in many different places such as Disneyland, Portland, Seattle, Tacoma and Vancouver.

For five years, Kayla has been competitively dancing and has attended conventions at Velocity, Hollywood Vibe, Radix, Jump, and Spotlight. She has had the privilege of taking class from Tyce Diorio, Kent Boyd, Dee Caspary, Tessandra Chavez, Mandy Moore and Ade.

Kayla trained in gymnastics at Oregon Gymnastics Academy, Central Oregon Gymnastics Academy and at Gotta Dance under Charlene for Acro.

Emily Hicks, Co-Instructor & Makeup Consultant


Bio coming soon.