quality instruction. quality instructors.

Robert Underwood Our director stepped in to the studio established more than 30 years ago by Margo Marshall and Gilbert Rome and built upon its tradition as a program offering serious training based in classical ballet technique and took it to the next level.  Robert began his training with Roman Jasinski in Tulsa, Oklahoma and upon graduation went straight into the company of American Ballet Theatre dancing for Mikhail Baryshnikov.  A few years later while on tour with ABT, he met Mia Slavenska.  Ms. Slavenska was a world renowned ballerina and taught dance with a unique perspective and passion.  Robert took a year long leave of absence to train with Ms. Slavenska.  He attributes his longevity and success as a dancer to that training and shares those techniques with others.  This approach focuses on lifting and lengthening and supports all dancers to achieve their best and dance in a healthy way.  Robert went on to dance as a principal with ballet companies in Germany and Switzerland and toured the world.  He returned to the US to ABT and ended his professional dancing career with Boston Ballet.  He retired to Houston to be with his family and to work with Houston Ballet.  When Studio of Dance was seeking a new director, he stepped into that role in 2005. Shortly after, he founded Ballet Theatre Houston.  BTH is a pre-professional ballet company dedicated to developing a passion for dance in our community and producing annual performances of The Nutcracker and a Spring Show that includes restaged masterworks and world premiers.

Cece White 

 Director of  American Jazz Dance Company, a non-profit, nationally recognized dance troupe headquartered at Studio of Dance in Northwest Houston, Texas. Cece has over 40 years of experience in the Houston/Klein/Spring area as a dancer, teacher and choreographer in all dance styles including jazz, tap, lyrical, hip-hop, ballet and contemporary. Many of her students have made dance their career in venues such as THE MUPPET MOVIE and other screen productions; back-up dancers for Janet Jackson, the Black Eyed Peas and other artists; the Rockettes; Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders; Houston Texan Cheerleaders; Disney theme parks worldwide; and cruise lines. Winner of numerous choreography awards including Showstoppers, Dance Olympus, L.A. Underground, New York City Dance Alliance, Tremaine, LA DanceMagic, L.A. Dance Force, Jump, NUVO and many more. Her many credits include work with Walt Disney’s “Donald Duck’s Birthday Celebration” in Houston, the Galveston Festival on the Strand, the Houston Festival, Woodlands Renaissance activities, Thanksgiving Day Parade and numerous Klein High School drama productions, among others. She led AJDC dancers as they performed 3 years with Walt Disney’s “Mickey’s Magical Gatherings” here in Houston. She is a certified CEC instructor, a member of the American College of Sports Medicine, the American Council on Education, and the Aerobic and Fitness Association of America. 

Laurie Claypool possesses two Masters Degrees, one in dance and one in Instructional Design, and was awarded full graduate assistantships for both programs. She has taught ballet in diverse settings including university, private dance studio, and mobile programs to daycare centers for over twenty-five years. Laurie has served as ballet mistress for Jamestown Civic Ballet and the Springfield Ballet. She developed and ran a dance program for Which Way Is Up Gymnastics in Syracuse, New York and choreographed beam and floor   routines for state and national level competitions.  At Illinois State University, she judged a national choreographic competition as a part of a panel and conducted research into the effects of using imagery to   teach dance technique. In addition to her dance work, Laurie has developed curricula and evaluation tools for Headstart and K-12 school programs. She is a certified yoga teacher. 

Jennifer Hutchinson

has an expansive resume with professional credits in television, film, plays, and musicals in New York, Boston, and Florida. She has studied/worked under Luigi, Tommy Tune, Chet Walker, Jeff Calhoun, Frank Hatchett, Reginald Yates, Milton Myers, Mira Rostova, Anthony Abeson, Felicity Huffman, Scott Schwartz, Suzanne Pomerantzeff, Josh Pais, and Louis LaRusso II. Jennifer attended The Boston Conservatory of Music and New York University: Tisch School of the Arts. She is an alumni of The Broadway Theatre Project (co-founded by Ann Reinking and Debra McWaters). She graduated from Pinellas County Center for the Arts in St. Petersburg, Florida and Summa Cum Laude from University of Houston and was the recipient of the honorary Dean's Award.

 Alisa Paradowski

began her dance career here in the local Houston/Spring/Magnolia area also with Cece     White and an AJDC alumnus.  She graduated from Sam Houston State University with a B.F.A. in Performing  Arts. While living in New York City, she was an adjunct professor at Pace University and taught at Joffrey Ballet School.  She has worked with artists such as Taylor Swift, Ne-yo, Le Ann Rimes, Freddie Prince Jr. Clay Walker and Wyclef Jean.  She has choreographed flashmobs for Wells Fargo and Microsoft Office and  been in commercials for XBOX, Canon, Footlocker, and Ford. 

Lindsey Corley began her dance career here in the local Houston/Spring/Klein area with our own Cece White and AJDC alumni.  She continued her studies at Oklahoma City University with Jo Rowan.  She is now married with 3 children and teaching dance at Klein Collins High School. 



Shayna Swanson


started dancing at the age of three. She knew she was serious about furthering her training when she moved to Spring, TX and began dancing at Progressions Performing Arts. There, she trained and competed under the direction of Cece White in the American Jazz Dance Company. She also became one of  the first members of Klein Oak’s Dance Company under the direction of      Fayla Curry. Shayna has studied with various professional choreographers and teachers from around the country.  She recently graduated from Oklahoma City University with a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Dance Management. While at OCU, she performed in Jo Rowan’s American Spirit Dance Company.



Sandra Rahman




started her first dance studio at age nineteen.  She has been teaching dance for over 40 years.She was a principal dancer with the Lafayette Festival Ballet, the Baton Rouge Ballet Company, Houston Dance Center and the Louisiana Concert Ballet.  She has worked with choreographers Agnes De Mille and James Clouser and choreographed for several theaters production groups.



quality outcomes: OUR STUDENTS AND ALUMNI

Over the 30 plus years of the studio, many dancers have gone on to pursue their passion in college and as professionals.  Noted professionals who trained at the Gilbert Rome Studio of Dance include Jared Matthews now at ABT and Janie Taylor, a principal at New York City Ballet.

Since Robert became director of the studio, he has been proud of all those who have graduated from the program. Many will continue dance outside of their primary career focus.  We have also had students admitted to collegiate and professional training programs.  Recently - Audrey LeBovidge, Kirov Academy; Sarah Mohalley, University of Utah; Stephanie Reid, Oklahoma City Univeristy.

The studio offers comprehensive, pre-professional training.  Robert encourages students to train throughout the year by participating during the school year and summer programs.  He has seen many students make enormous improvement while training with him from June through August.  He also encourages interested students to consider other opportunities to supplement their training including summer intensives and competitions.

In recent years, those considering pursuit of professional dance careers have auditioned and participated in national and international ballet training opportunities giving them exposure to other teachers and professional companies. Attendees have included a number of his students: Kelsey England, Ally Flinn, Audrey LeBovidge, Madelyn Mattfeld, Morgan Mattfeld, Victoria Mechler, Helena Oliver, Mia Pham, Claire Smith Maddy Stump, and Kim Turner at programs including American Ballet Theatre, Gelsey Kirkland Academy of Classical Ballet, Joffrey Ballet - New York, Kirov Academy of Ballet, Tulsa Ballet and Walnut Hill.  

In 2011, he and six students attended two weeks of training at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy in Moscow, Russia.  In 2012, Robert traveled to Sochi, Russia with Open World Dance Foundation to attend their inaugural summer intensive program.  Observing Professor Irina Trofimova, who was taught by Vaganova, was a highlight of his teaching career.  Three of our dancers attended the program held in St Petersburg, Russia in 2013.  The 2014 program will be Riga, Latvia - birthplace of Mikhail Baryshnikov. More information can be found at www.openworlddancefoundation.com.

For the last several years, Mr. Underwood coached dancers for participation at Youth America Grand Prix's regional competition.  The commitment and additional training that is required builds strong dancers. He has also had past coaching experience for International Ballet Competition (IBC) in Jackson, Mississippi. His students have also won ballet scholarships at dance competitions including JUMP and NUVO.

Cece White, director of American Jazz Dance Company, has worked with several students who have gone on to have professional dance careers including:

  • Nick Drago - Finalist in Bravo's Step It Up and Dance which led to many other opportunities to perform including TV spots on Glee, How I Met Your Mother and Scrubs. He has also been a dancer behind the animation on Alvin and the Chipmunks and Hop. He worked with Tremaine dance conventions and now is a principal at Flow 40 Workshops.
  • Alisa Paradowski -Specializing in tap and hip hop, Alisa has danced in the Superbowl and on cruise ships.  She has danced behind Aerosmith and Clay Walker and tapped with Freddie Prince Jr.  Her teaching credentials include Joffrey and Pace University in New York City.
  • Heidi Karel Erickson - Trained at New School, Artist in Residence of Ballet Theatre Houston from 2007 - 2012 and beginning her second year dancing with City Ballet of San Diego.
  • And More - Other notable alumni include Ariana Brown, Beri Brown, Brandi Magers George, Max Jones, Lindsey Martin, Misty Norris, Kate O'Connell, Jacob Pereira, Addie Tomlinson, Julianne Waters, Jade Whitmire and Jessica Wright.

All students who have graduated from the program, take their training and lessons learned with them.  Some go on to teach dance classes while in college and several have gone on to collegiate programs including current students - Stephanie Reid at Oklahoma City University and Emma Hunter at Sam Houston State.  Helena Oliver will be in the ballet program at Butler University in the fall and Alexis Rudd was accepted in the TCU dance program and is considering it along with other offers before making her final decision.

Special Events

  • BTH Master Class Series with Ekaterina Shchelkanova & Anton Boytsov

    BTH MASTER CLASS SERIES WITH EKATERINA SHCHELKANOVA & ANTON BOYTSOV August 10 - 15, 2015, 1:00 - 4:00pm Master Class Series of Ballet, Character and Variations. Ballet Theatre Houston presents a Master Class Series with Ekaterina Shchelkanova & Anton Boytsov at Robert Underwood's Studio of Dance.  This master class series is for intermediate and advanced students.

  • Dance Insights

    "Passe is an action not a position." - Mr. Robert   Robert shares a wealth of information on a variety of topics, especially ballet.  In any class you take from him you are likely to get equal parts of history, pedagogy and current trends while training.  "Pedagogy" is the art and science of education.  So there you are, you just learned something by reading this blog post.

  • It's Never Too Late

    It’s never too late to join a dance class. For students interested in joining our Discovery and Pre-Professional Classes, we are working on recital. Because we focus on training versus competition or performance in our classes, we welcome students whether they participate in recital or not.

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