Meet Our Verdi Academy of Dance Staff
Artistic Director, Royal Academy of Dance Certified Teacher
Veronica Edwards began classical ballet training at the tender age of eight, at the Academia de Ballet Delgar in Delicias, Chihuahua, México. From 1974 to 1998, she advanced to new levels of achievement through continuous training, study and testing provided by the Royal Academy of Dance of London, England. Veronica Edwards participated in professional dance performances, such as Coppelia, Swan Lake, Mascarada, Don Quixote, Giselle, Sleeping Beauty and Alegria Parisien, among others. Her teaching career began in Chihuahua, México in 1985; first, at the Academia de Ballet Giselle, then at the Academia Petit Ballet, followed by the Academia de Ballet Delgar. In 1988, Veronica Edwards passed the RAD’s Elementary Examination and went on to become a full member of the Royal Academy of Dance. The milestone in her career was the inauguration of her own dance studio. In 1993, Mrs. Edwards opened the Academia Verdi in Delicias, Chihuahua, México. In 1996, she passed the RAD’s Teaching Examination and was awarded the Academy’s Teaching Certificate with the highest qualification grade of Distinction. At her dance studio, Mrs. Edwards prepared and presented pupils for the Academy’s various examinations. She assembled pianists and international RAD Examiners from Australia, Japan, and the United Kingdom.
Since opening the Verdi Academy of Dance in Las Cruces NM in 2004, Veronica Edwards has directed and arranged choreography for 33 Dance productions. The Verdi Academy of Dance holds annual Royal Academy of Dance Examinations and class awards. RAD Examiners travel from South Africa, England, China, Australia, and Mexico to Las Cruces to grade Mrs. Edwards students. These have been the only occasions for International Examiners from the worldwide organization to visit our state for examinations and class awards. Veronica continues with her education and ballet training by taking an active role in annual courses for RAD teachers. The RAD remains committed to producing the best teachers in the world and through its Continuing Professional Development (CDP) classes, certifies that its teachers are at the forefront of dance education and training with the most up-to-date knowledge and skills.
Jaime Brennan began formal dance training at the age of ten. From 1987 to 1993, she studied and performed classical ballet and jazz dance with Miller’s Dance Studio in Aurora, Colorado and with Michelle Latimar’s Dance Academy in Englewood, Colorado. After moving to the Southwest in 1993, she continued her ballet training and began studying modern dance in El Paso, Texas with The International Dance Theatre. Mrs. Brennan had the wonderful opportunity of participating in a variety of productions at the Chamizal National Memorial in El Paso, Texas and performing with The International Dance Theatre’s Holiday Gift Program, which toured community organizations such as nursing homes and youth centers.
While in high school, Mrs. Brennan studied choreography and was given numerous opportunities to create and perform on a regular basis. After moving to Las Cruces, NM in 1996, she continued her love for choreography and modern dance as a member and Vice President of NMSU’s Dancer’s Unlimited. Mrs. Brennan performed and choreographed with Dancer’s Unlimited for five years in annual productions and community events such as The Renaissance Faire. After graduating in 2001, she has had several opportunities to teach modern dance classes and guest choreograph for Dancer’s Unlimited. More recently, Mrs. Brennan led dance-based fitness classes as a certified Jazzercise instructor from 2003 to 2010 in Las Cruces, NM and recently re-certified as an official Jazzercise instructor in 2018. She enjoys the variety of dance styles, while at the same time encourages women to achieve their fitness goals. She currently teaches Jazzercise at St. James Parish Hall as well as modern dance for elementary children at the Mesilla Valley Christian Home Educators co-op
In 2010, Mrs. Brennan returned to classical ballet training with the Royal Academy of Dance under the instruction of Veronica Edwards. Mrs. Brennan is an affiliate member of the Royal Academy of Dance and currently teaches modern dance classes at Verdi Academy of Dance.
Elisa Orta started ballet classes when she was 3 years old and with time began exploring other styles of dance such as modern, jazz, and hip hop. Her running joke is that she has been dancing since she was in the womb as Veronica, her mother, was pregnant with her while performing on stage! Elisa has successfully completed each level of the RAD Exam from Pre-Primary to Advance Foundation while continuing to perform in more than 25 Verdi Academy dance recitals.
Elisa began assisting in classes at a very young age and actually began teaching at the age of 18. She currently teaches Melody B Ballet, Pre-Primary, Primary, and Grade 1 at Verdi. She loves teaching and believes she leaves a positive impact on the students’ lives.
Elisa has attended a variety of RAD Ballet Intensive Courses for pre-professional dancers and teachers which has inspired her to continue in her pursuit of dance education and performance. She is currently attending Royal Academy of Dance’s Certificate in Ballet Teaching Studies (CBTS) program and will be R.A.D. certified by the end of 2024. In this program, she is learning about the R.A.D. standards and how to properly teach ballet in order to keep children safe and healthy.
Growing up surrounded by dancers and a variety of dance styles has not only inspired Elisa, but has led her to feel that dance is an incredibly important aspect of her life. She has been taught endless lessons through her dance experiences and has the desire to pass these lessons and the love of dance on to future generations.
Carley Casey, MBA, began her ballet training in 2007 at the Conservatory of Dance in Silver City, NM. Prior to ballet, she trained in jazz, tap, and musical theater. Ms. Casey performed numerous roles, including the Sugar Plum Fairy and Snow Queen, in the studio’s annual Nutcracker, and many additional roles during Spring Recitals. She was a member of the studio’s dance company performing at local events and rest homes.
Preceding any formal training, Carley participated in the National Dance Institute of New Mexico’s three-week residency program in Silver City (fourth grade). After a rigorous audition process, she was selected to be a member of the S.W.A.T team, and later, a member of the Celebration team, performing a total of ten shows (30 total performances) in 9 years with NDI-NM.
In 2017, Carley received her Bachelor of Arts in Dance with a focus in Contemporary from NMSU. While at NMSU, she studied modern dance and fell in love with the opposition from traditional ballet. Ms. Casey performed in numerous shows, as well as choreographed. She was a member of the Contemporary Ballet Theatre (CDT) for four years and attended five ACDA conferences.
In 2019, Carley received her Master of Business Administration from NMSU and currently serves as a Project Support Specialist for the Office of Institutional Effectiveness. She is a volunteer member of Pro-Staff with the Pride of New Mexico (NMSU marching band) where she coordinates events, assists with shows/visuals as needed, and is an essential part of the logistics team.
Carley is currently teaching modern during the adult class on Thursday evenings.
Amanda Morrison began dancing in 1999, at the age of 3, at The Dance Depot in Placentia, CA. She began dancing competitively at the age of 5. She continued her dance training in ballet, tap, jazz, lyrical and hip hop and eventually joined the nationally ranked Troy High School “RedHots” Dance Team in Fullerton, CA. She helped her team bring back multiple national and regional titles in her four years on the team.
After graduation, she continued dancing in the modern dance company at California State University, Los Angeles.
Amanda then transitioned to teaching and coaching dance. She taught ballet, tap and jazz at The Art of Dance and Ballet Academy in Placentia, CA. She also coached the Troy High School “Redhots” Dance Team to four national titles from 2016 to 2020.
In addition to her dance training, Amanda is also a Certified Personal Trainer and received her BA in Psychology from California State University, Fullerton in 2019.
Amanda is currently teaching lyrical and coaching Verdi’s first competitive dance team on Saturday afternoons.
Noelia De La Rosa
Noelia de la Rosa began to train formally at the age of three, studying with various dance academies in the Las Cruces area. In 2005, she began to train in classical ballet with Veronica Edwards here at the Verdi Academy of Dance, and later studied Modern Dance with Ms. Jaime Brennan as well. From 2012-2016, she studied Hip-Hop, Jazz and Contemporary Dance under the instruction of Meghan McQueen and Karlos Saucedo at Centennial High School and was later commissioned as a dancer throughout college for various community theatre performances through the American Southwest Theatre Company and the Scaffolding Theatre Company. In May of 2020, Ms. Noelia graduated from New Mexico State University with a
Bachelor of Arts in Dance under the instruction of Contemporary Dance instructors Debra Wright-Knapp, Ann Gavit, Jermey J. Edmonson and Anna Sufflé. Through her studies at NMSU,
Ms. Noelia performed numerous student, faculty and guest-artist works in various contemporary styles with the NMSU Contemporary Dance Theatre. Under the leadership and choreography of Jermey J. Edmonson, Ms. Noelia also danced with the company, Conscience,
which performed commissioned work on racial injustice at the Maple Street Dance Space in Albuquerque, NM and throughout Las Cruces, NM. Through the American College Dance Association, she choreographed a Gala Award-Winning piece titled Detangling on cultural identity in 2019. Independently, Ms. Noelia continues to seek-out workshop and dance intensive opportunities wherever possible, and has studied with various dance companies and organizations including the Bill Evans Dancer’s Institute in Geneva, NY, the Noble Motion Dance Company in Conroe, TX, the Contratiempo Latin Urban Dance Theatre in Los Angeles, CA, and the American Dance Festival Summer and Winter Intensives in Durham, NC and New York City,
NY. In 2016, Ms. Noelia began formally teaching classes at the Verdi Academy of Dance as an Affiliate Member of the RAD and continues to instruct various Ballet and Modern Dance classes
here, today. Ms. Noelia believes that teaching is an empowering vehicle for change and awareness. As a dance educator, she perceives herself as a facilitator for creating a safe learning experience in which students can develop critical learning skills that they can utilize inside, as well as outside of the dance studio. She also believes in the wholistic development of a student and encourages students to use an inclusive perspective by incorporating as many references as she can to other social, emotional and cognitive domains of knowledge in their lives. Ms. Noelia’s teaching philosophy is fundamentally rooted in strengths-based learning. She believes that students are more motivated to learn when they feel that they are already on a path to succeeding at the task at hand, even if that progress may have started in a minuscule way. She strongly believes in the power of patient encouragement. Teaching dance is an art to her, and she finds it to be the most rewarding and meaningful source of interactions that she has ever experienced. Ms. de la Rosa believes dance teaching to be a journey that she will forever be seeking to understand more deeply and is honored to be an instructor for the Verdi Academy of Dance, giving back to the community that first encouraged her to reach for her highest aspirations.