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About Us

"BRINGING THE FINEST IN CLASSICAL AND CONTEMPORARY DANCE TO THE LAKE"

Relevé Dance Academy, established in 2004, strives to create an environment that allows for students to grow as individuals, in and out of the studio. Proper and technical dance training is at the forefront, but Relevé and its staff put an emphasis on individuality, creativity, work ethic and confidence!

Located at 1053 Osage Beach Road

Osage Beach, MO 65065

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Meet The Instructors

Mackenna Bennett

Mackenna Bennett is the owner, operator, instructor, and choreographer for Relevé Dance Academy. She began dancing at the age of 3 and started training at Relevé Dance Academy since its inception in 2004 under the direction of Kim Generally. Mackenna began teaching at the age of 16 while she was still a dancer at Relevé, and then later pursued a degree in Fine Arts at the University of Missouri-Columbia. While at Mizzou, Mackenna was a member of the prestigious Golden Girls dance team where she danced at nationally televised sporting events, collegiate dance competitions, and choreographed many routines for the Golden Girls Program. While in college, Mackenna continued her passion for teaching and remained on staff at Relevé Dance Academy. In 2017 Mackenna and her husband, Mason, took ownership of Relevé Dance Academy and set forth on the journey of continuing the legacy already built up at the studio. In 2019, Mackenna was awarded the Lake Lifestyles Young Professional ‘Rising Star’ award for her work as a business owner and professional. Mackenna teaches all ages and styles at Relevé, but her true passion lies in her artistry and creativity for choreography. Her pieces, danced by the Relevé Performance Company, have won numerous choreography awards at regional dance competitions over the years. Mackenna and her sister, Kendal Surdyke, direct the award-winning competitive Performance Company at Relevé Dance Academy and were awarded two prestigious studio awards at different competitions this past 2019-2020 season.

Mackenna is thrilled to have the opportunity to work with so many amazing young dancers and hopes to inspire and uplift those she comes in contact with. She sees dance as a true artform and method of expression and storytelling. She hopes that she can teach dancers to feel completely confident in their own skin and let go of fear or worry as they dance. "We dance because it makes us feel good. You dance for yourself first… and perhaps hope that others will feel that positive energy by watching and experiencing your movement with you."

Kendal Surdyke

Kendal Surdyke is an instructor and choreographer at Relevé Dance Academy. Kendal began dancing at a young age, and is a proud alum of Relevé. Kendal continued her dance education past high school, and received a Bachelor of Arts in Dance from the University of Kansas. As a recipient of the prestigious Hamburg Dance Scholarship, Kendal trained in various styles including ballet, pointe, modern, jazz, African, Indian, and Flamenco. Kendal danced as a member of the University Dance Company for four years, which gave her the opportunities to work with esteemed choreographers from all over the country. Kendal has performed at 'Modern Night at the Folly' in Kansas City, The Lied Center of Kansas, and trained and performed at the American College Dance Association in Chicago, Illinois and Ames, Iowa. Kendal never stops striving to further her education, and has received training at Giordano Dance Chicago, River North Dance Chicago, Dallas Contemporary Ballet, and is a certified Pilates instructor. Kendal started teaching dance at the age of 16, and has taught in both the Kansas City and Lake areas. As a head choreographer for the Relevé Performance Company, Kendal is excited to continue expressing her creativity through dance. She has earned multiple choreography awards at regional competitions. Kendal feels very blessed she gets to do what she loves with her sister Mackenna at her side.

Kendal recognizes that she has the chance to leave a lasting impact on the lives of every student that comes to Relevé. Teaching dance is about more than just the choreography and technique. It is an opportunity to guide every dancer into becoming confident, creative, hard-working, kind, and powerful human beings. Kendal believes the greatest gift she can give her students is positive energy and a safe space to grow.

Ken Braso was a featured dancer with Southern Ballet Theatre, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre,  Ballet Austin, Boca Ballet, Chattanooga Ballet, Cincinnati Opera Ballet, Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati and Walt Disney Productions. Ken retired after the completion of a long tenure with the Louisville Ballet. Some of Ken’s favorite roles included Puck In A Midsummer Nights Dream, Peter in Peter Pan, Renfield in Dracula, Max in Where The Wild Things Are, and Lead Russian in the Nutcracker. Film credits include The Magic of Christmas and the Paramount Pictures film, Flash Dance. Mr. Braso started his dance training in Orlando, Florida with Edith Royal and Barbra Riggins, and he received a scholarship to train at the National Academy of the Arts, in University of Illinois. He has performed classics created by Lew Christensen, Anthony Tudor, George Balanchine, Doris Humphrey, Eugene Loring, Agnes De Mille, as well as many featured roles in major full-length ballets,  including Giselle, Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, Don Quixote, Coppelia, The Firebird and Romeo and Juliet. Ken has worked with many notable choreographers and stagers, including Choo San Goh, David Parsons, Joe Layton, Patrick Frantz, Septime Weber, William Soleau, Lynn Taylor Corbett, Domi Reiter Soffer, Alun Jones, Jack Louiso, Jean Pierre Bonnefoux, Helen Starr, Sally Wilson, Peter Anastos, and Robert Gladstein. Upon retiring from performing in 2002, Ken directed and taught for Step One Dance at All About Kids Sports Center, and was also on the Guest Faculty staff for the Governor’s School for the Arts, in Kentucky. Later, Ken joined the faculty of the Louisville Ballet School. Ken moved to Columbia with his wife Elizabeth Hartwell in 2008. Over the past six years, Ken has enjoyed being one of Columbia’s few freelance dance instructors.

Along with his ballet master/rehearsal director duties at Missouri Contemporary Ballet, he is also a ballet instructor for Dancearts and a dance and gymnastics coach for Flipz Gymnastics. Ken is delighted to have the opportunity to work with Relevé Dance Academy’s students and loves helping them reach new heights as dancers!

Ken Braso

Liz Hartwell

Ms. Elizabeth Hartwell holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Dance Instruction through the University Without Walls program at Northeastern Illinois University. Currently, she is enrolled in the Master of Fine Arts in Choreography low residency degree program at Jacksonville University in Florida. She teaches company ballet class each week as ballet mistress for the Missouri Contemporary Ballet in Columbia, Missouri.

Ms. Hartwell worked at Stephens College as a full time faculty Instructor of Classical Ballet at Stephens College from 2008-2017. She was Artistic Director of the Stephens Summer Dance intensive program in 2014 and 201d and, from 2015 to May 2017, Hartwell served as coordinator of the Bachelor in Fine Arts in Dance degree program.

Elizabeth Hartwell was the Louisville Ballet School Director from 2004 to 2008, following a long tenure as a principal dancer with the Louisville Ballet. Concurrently, she served as Artistic Director of the Louisville Ballet Youth Ensemble, an honor company with the Southeastern Ballet Association. From 1996 to 2004, she served on the faculty of the Kentucky Governor’s School for the Arts and the Louisville Ballet School. Early on, Hartwell was a member of the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, Cincinnati Ballet and Chicago Ballet companies, and a ballet soloist with the Cincinnati Opera, from 1987-1995. She received the 2004 Kentucky Governor’s Award for Artist of the Year, for her lifetime achievements in the arts.

Ms. Hartwell is also a certified advanced Franklin Method® Movement Educator. She joined the staff at Relevé Dance Academy in 2017 and has thoroughly enjoyed educating and inspiring her students!

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