Susan Darrow, Executive Director, has been dancing since she was three years old and started teaching when she was 16. Her background includes tap, jazz, ballet and acrobatics experience with several professional groups, including the Kansas City Civic Ballet, the Kansas City Starlight Theater and the Kansas City Chiefs dance team, as well as performing in many professional productions. Sue’s teaching expertise is in classical ballet and tap dance technique. After 20 years as a dance instructor and choreographer and 30 years of working for corporate America and raising a family, Sue is now enjoying her grandchildren and directing The Aspire Project.
Hello, I am a big, big, big Zumba fan! I believe I am a lot like a lot of you out there; I danced when I was young, and I love a good beat (sometimes not even noticing the words). I was an athlete when I was a teen and kept in decent shape and then I had children. Bouncing back from that was very difficult for me and then I walked into my first Zumba class. I have been hooked ever since. I admit, with all the workouts and classes I have taken, none have drawn me back in like Zumba. Ask me about my weight loss sometime. Dance speaks to my soul, and to not even notice or feel like I worked out is amazing.

Come join me Wednesday evenings and Saturday mornings! Let’s dance and have an amazing time….oh and sweat and workout, shhhhh! Bring your friends and Join us at The Aspire Project and get your dance on!
Kayla Durham is a certified yoga teacher in the Hatha Vinyasa style. She studied under Daniel Stewart and Claire Hartley at Rising Lotus Yoga in Los Angeles for two years. During her training she found personal transformation in the areas of physical strength, overcoming self-doubt and letting go of the egoic self. Kayla is known for her enthusiasm, non-judgmental teaching style and compassion-centered philosophy. She weaves yoga philosophy into her classes, where she applies ancient wisdom to the modern world. Kayla encourages growth of the physical and spiritual self to her students. For inspiration, Kayla cites the inter-connectedness of humanity, the earth and the universe.
Jacki grew up dancing in a small studio in Martinez, California. She started ballet at age 3 and since then has attended many summer intensives including American Ballet Theatre and Walnut Hill School for the Arts. She graduated from Portland State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design and a minor in dance. During her time in college she explored other dance genres and found a new love for hip hop. She became coordinator and choreographer for PSU's recreational dance club where she still teaches and choreographs contemporary and hip hop routines. She has always loved sharing her passion for dance with others and is excited to be a part of The Aspire Project.
Born and raised in Akron, OH, Ella Matweyou has been a dancer since the age of eight, studying primarily ballet, modern, contemporary, and jazz at The Dance Institute of the University of Akron. She graduated Summa Cum Laude with Distinction from The Ohio State University with a BFA in Dance (concentrating on Performance & Education) and a minor in English.

She has had the opportunity to perform choreography by Ohad Naharin, Bebe Miller, Robert Moses, Alex Ketley, Susan Hadley, Abby Zbikowski, Melanie Bales, and other distinguished professionals.

While attending Ohio State, Ella completed her Yoga Alliance Registered 200 Hour Certification in Hatha Yoga from Yoga on High in Columbus, OH. She has also furthered her dance education at summer intensives with Point Park University in Pittsburgh, PA, The Equus Projects in NYC, Trinity-Laban Conservatoire of Music & Dance in London, American Dance Festival in Durham, NC, and San Francisco Conservatory of Dance.

Here in Portland, in addition to teaching for The Aspire Project, Ella works as an instructor for Zenality Yoga and Pure Barre Portland (Lloyd District location). She remains actively involved in the Portland dance community by taking classes at various studios and dancing in freelance performance projects.
Victoria (Vicki) is a Certified Athletic Trainer with a Master’s Degree in Sports Medicine. She has thirty-five years of professional experience in the fields of physical rehabilitation, fitness, and health maintenance. Victoria has trained in the Pilates method for 24 years, and has an extensive background in the therapeutic value of nutrition.

As a Certified Athletic Trainer, Victoria has worked with athletes of all levels to prevent, evaluate, and rehabilitate injuries. Working in various physical rehabilitation settings, Victoria has developed and applied many skills and techniques to assist in the recovery and rehabilitation of numerous injuries and conditions. As a Pilates teacher, Victoria enjoys developing individualized programs to meet the needs of her diverse clientele, as well as leading group mat classes.

Victoria has a strong passion for whole foods nutrition and a desire to help others understand the importance of healthy digestion/absorption and a proper diet. Victoria knows her limitations, though. If it’s evident she does not provide the appropriate service to meet a specific need, she would be happy to assist in determining what is necessary for a successful outcome.
Hello! My name is Edith Shamrell.

I’m a certified yoga therapist who has been teaching yoga for the last 15 years. I believe that yoga is for every BODY, and given the appropriate tools and guidance, anybody can benefit. I apply my knowledge of yoga therapeutics to design classes that are safe and adapted to the needs of my students. My teaching is inspired and creative.  And my yoga style is eclectic and infused with accents of different yoga styles and traditions.

In my classes I try my best to encourage a nonjudgmental practice where each student sets his or her own pace in a noncompetitive atmosphere.  I believe that yoga allows us to create spaces and freedom in our body, helping us to feel more grounded and closer to HOME, and this is supreme quest!
Laura offers a fresh and unique approach to her jazz and theatre dance classes, incorporating various styles into her classes, drawing influences from such jazz greats as Jack Cole, Bob Fosse, Nat Horne, and Fred Benjamin, with an emphasis on individual growth and performance, clean technique, stylization, breath, and musicality.

Laura trained in ballet with Jacqueline Schumacher, Nanette Charisse, and Finis Jhung and in jazz and modern dance with Jaime Rogers, Claude Thompson, Phil Black, Les Watanabe, and with Jose Meier, Nat Horne, Denise Jefferson, and Fred Benjamin at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Center.

Laura established her own professional dance company, “Dance Alive!” at the age of twenty. She then became a member of two dance companies in the Northwest – The N.W. Repertory Dance Co., and the Joe Orlando Dance Theatre. She went on to perform in music videos, television commercials, and regional and international musical theatre productions including, “Evita”, “Me And My Girl”, “West Side Story”, “Pirates Of Penzance” with Martyn Green, and “Pacific Overtures” with Mako, among others.

Laura has conceived, directed and choreographed several noteworthy theatrical productions in the U.S. and abroad. Her most recent choreography was seen Off Broadway in New York at Theatre 80, The Supper Club – formerly Broadway’s own Edison Theater, The Blue Angel Theater, The 13th Street Repertory Theatre, St. Marks Church in the Bowery, The USO Of Metropolitan New York, and The Rainbow Room at Rockefeller Center.

Laura has taught for Oregon Ballet Theatre (OBT), Jefferson High School Of Performing and Visual Arts, ‘Stage 7’ in San Diego, Orlando Ballet in Huntington, New York, The Bridge For Dance in NYC, Portland Community College, and Stumptown Stages.

Laura instills confidence, strength, and a feeling of accomplishment in her students, enabling them to evolve into their own self-discovery of moving through space in a non-competitive, invigorating atmosphere.
Emmy began dancing at the age of three and has been active in the arts ever since. She recently graduated from the University at Buffalo, earning her BA in dance and a minor in Theater Performance. While studying with UB’s intensive dance department she performed in numerous companies and showcases through the program, as well as set her own choreography on her peers for showcase. Emmy also had the pleasure of dancing for the NFL as a Buffalo Bills Cheerleader, where she was promoted to the role of captain after her second season with the organization. While on the team Emmy helped run multiple Jr. Cheerleader camps, working with young girls from age 4 to 18. Other notable performance opportunities include dancing for The Beach Boys, Weird Al Yankovic, PSY & NFL Mexico’s 2012 Super Bowl Promotion Tour. Currently Emmy is performing with the Portland Steel Dance team, the dancers for Portland Arena Football Team.  

Although performing is a true passion, Emmy has fallen in love with sharing her love of dance with others. Emmy has previously taught at a handful of dance studios in in the western New York area, specializing in Ballet, Modern & Jazz. She also was lucky enough to participate in the “Bridging Communities through Dance” internship program where she taught tap & creative movement to children in Buffalo City Schools. As a newcomer to Portland & the Pacific Northwest, Emmy feels blessed to have found The Aspire Project as a great outlet to share her passion with others.    
Susan was born and raised in San Francisco, California. She began dance lessons at the age of 10, after being inspired by some tap dancing on an episode of The Little Rascals. She begged her parents for tap lessons and has been dancing ever since. She studied tap, jazz, ballet and acrobatics at the Lorna Fordyce Dance Studio, with an emphasis on tap, which has always spoken to her the strongest. At 16, she began teaching beginning tap to children and loved sharing her passion and enthusiasm for dance with others. After moving to Portland, she danced for 6 years with Cami Curtis Performing Arts Center in downtown Portland. After that studio closed, she found her way to The Aspire Project, where she is excited to share her love of dance by coming full circle and teaching again. Susan loves all things creative, and is a nature photographer and jewelry maker, too. She lives in St. Johns with her husband, Brian, and Monty (the amazing beagle dog).