2016 Assistants

Hollywood Connection is about to kick off the 2016 Tour. Meet the assistants for our regional cities this season. We couldn’t do it without these dancers.

Ben Bigler

Dance Assistant and Social Media Expert @benbigler

What are your dance goals?  To dance behind Katy Perry, to travel the world performing, and to eventually own a dance convention.

What would you want to say to your teacher you have yet to say?  Miss Lynne- I STILL say “thank you” after every teacher gives me a correction to this day. You have made me such a better dancer, artist, and overall human being.

How has dance changed you?  Dance has developed me into a more intelligent, social, and organized person. Many ideals and expectations taught to me in dance translate into normal life as well.

What is your favorite food to eat after a long day of dance?  Cheeseburgers!

What’s the funniest thing that’s happened to you on stage?  One time when I was little, I peed in my bright green pants right before going on stage to perform. I then walked on stage and performed my whole duet with a large wet spot in front of my crotch. But I was still SO full out.

If you weren’t a dancer, what would you be?  A Weatherman!

What’s your favorite movie?  Mulan

If you could describe yourself as ONE DISNEY/PIXAR character, who would you be?GOOFY, because I’m tall and a literal goof.

Assistant Ben Bigler

AARON CZUPRENSKI

Dance Assistant and 2013 Icon Of The Year Champion @czupaaron

What are your dance goals?  My dance goals would to be travel all parts of the world either with a tour, or a professional dance company, and work with major artists either on tour or in a music video. As well as book a commercial!

What would you want to say to your teacher you have yet to say?  Thank you. Even though I have done that 1000 times. I could never thank my dance teachers enough for the training and the effort they put into making me the dancer that I am today!

Who is the dancer (or teacher) that has inspired you to work harder and be better?  I honestly couldn’t name a single dancer or teacher that has inspired me because every time in a class or at convention everyone in that room inspires me! Because everyone is there by choice, doing what they love, and doing it passionately and I love that so much!

What is your favorite food to eat after a long day of dance?  Pizza. Always Pizza. Never a bad time for Pizza.

What do you do while traveling to/from conventions? Listen to music on my headphones while I walk through the airport and dance full out to the music I’m listening too and get extremely strange looks.

If you weren’t a dancer, what would you be?  A photographer. I love being able to capture moments and make the simplest things look amazing.

If you could describe yourself as ONE DISNEY/PIXAR character, who would you be?  Dori from Finding Nemo. Only because her love for life and her sense of adventure!

Assistant Aaron Czuprenski

ARIELLE LIBETORE

Dance Assistant @arielle_libetore

What are your dance goals?  My dance goals are to be in Royal Flux Dance Company and to someday be a backup dancer for an artist on tour.

What would you want to say to your teacher you have yet to say?  I would want to say thank you for giving me your best everyday and inspiring me to be my best. I am very grateful for the training I have received and will take it with me everywhere I go.

Who is the dancer (or teacher) that has inspired you to work harder and be better?  The teacher that has inspired me to work harder and be better is Mitchel Federan. I was fortunate enough to train at his studio and be one of his students. He has helped me improve tremendously and I know I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for him.

How has dance changed you?  Dance has always been my rock. It has kept me out of bad situations and has never let me down. It gives me a purpose in my life to be a hard worker, stay healthy, learn commitment, and be a responsible person. I know that without it, I’d be lost!

What is your favorite food to eat after a long day of dance? Chipotle!

What do you do while traveling to/from conventions? I love watching movies (mostly Minions), reading books, sleeping, also getting mentally prepared for the weekend ahead!

If you weren’t a dancer, what would you be?  This is the hardest question. Dance has always been my passion and I’ve never made anytime for anything else! If I had to choose though, I’d probably say an actress. I would need a lot of lessons but I can cry on command!

What’s your favorite movie?  Anything with Minions!!!

If you could describe yourself as ONE DISNEY/PIXAR character, who would you be?  Ariel the Little Mermaid. Not only was I named after her but I love the ocean! And I’ve always wanted to be a mermaid.

Assistant Ari Libetore

RUBY PAPPAN

Dance Assistant and 2012 Icon Of The Year Champion @rubypappan

What are your dance goals?  I would like to go to college and major in dance, be a contestant on So You Think You Can Dance and tour with an artist. Eventually, I would like to be a choreographer.

Who is the dancer (or teacher) that has inspired you to work harder and be better? Ms. Sandra Rubi. She was my first ever dance teacher and someone who I will always look up to and hold close to my heart.

How has dance changed you?  Dance has changed the way that I look at the outside world and how I view life. It has taught me about the power of perception and to always work as hard as I can.

What is your favorite food to eat after a long day of dance? A nice juicy apple.

What do you do while traveling to/from conventions? I like to catch up on homework. When I don’t have any homework to catch up on I usually watch movies.

If you weren’t a dancer, what would you be? A physical therapist.

What’s your favorite movie? Elf.

If you could describe yourself as ONE DISNEY/PIXAR character, who would you be?  Vanellope Von Schweetz from Wreck it Ralph.

Assistant Ruby Pappan

HAILEE PAYNE

Dance Assistant and 2013 Icon of the Year Champion @hailee_payne

What are your dance goals?  My dance goals after the SYTYCD tour is to move out to LA, train, and hopefully book a tour with a music artist. Cough, cough, Lady Gaga.

Who is the dancer (or teacher) that has inspired you to work harder and be better?  My dance teacher, Mandy Shaw, and I are very close. Best friends in fact. I tell her everything but I would say to her thank you for everything you have done for me. You have not only been a dance teacher but a life mentor. You have given me more than just dance. Thank you and love you to infinity and beyond. I find great inspiration from every teacher and or dancer I come in contact with but I would have to say one of my biggest inspirations is my best friend, Amber Williams.  I wanted to be just like her. Fun, outgoing, kind, and an amazing dancer. She really pushed me as I did her and I’m so grateful for that relationship. To this day, we are the bestest of friends and push each other to our limits.

How has dance changed you? Dance has changed my life immensely. It has made me the person I am today. Dance brings out my best and pushes me to be my best. I don’t know where or who I would be without it.

What is your favorite food to eat after a long day of dance? My favorite food to eat after a long day of dance is cookie dough ice cream and chocolate milk. That’s a whole lotta dairy! Moo!

What do you do while traveling to/from conventions? I do the one thing I can’t get enough of…. Sleep!

If you weren’t a dancer, what would you be?  If I weren’t a dancer I would be a student. I would go to college and continue my education in pharmacy or I would be a softball player!

What’s your favorite movie? Frozen!! But I also love the movie Chicago!

If you could describe yourself as ONE DISNEY/PIXAR character, who would you be? Easy answer! My Disney character twin is Elsa!! We are practically twins!

Assistant Hailee Payne

NATALIE PETERSON

Dance Assistant and 2014 Icon Of The Year Champion @nattitude1217

What are your dance goals?  My immediate goals are to be accepted as a dance major at either Chapman, USC or LMU and to reach the top twenty on SYTYCD. My long term goal is to have a long career as a professional dancer in LA on both stage and screen.

What would you want to say to your teacher you have yet to say?  To my long time teacher and mentor Liz Lanning I would say thank you for consistently supporting my goals and dreams and always believing in my potential.  Thank you for giving me opportunities that have helped me grow as a dancer but most of all thank you for being more than a teacher to me – you have been an inspiration, a confidante, and a coach in life as well as dance.  I will never forget your loyalty to me.

Who is the dancer (or teacher) that has inspired you to work harder and be better  Honestly my peers are my inspiration – the amazing people I have danced next to, danced with, and competed against are the people that make me work the hardest.  There are always industry stars that you look up to but when you are standing next to someone with immense talent you feel compelled to work harder to try and match them.

What is your favorite food to eat after a long day of dance?  That is hard! I love cereal but you can’t beat a great smoothie with a protein boost.

What do you do while traveling to/from conventions? Work on homework!  Seriously, to keep up with my AP classes I have to drag my books and laptop on the plane and work when I can.

If you weren’t a dancer, what would you be?  A make-artist and fashion blogger.

If you could describe yourself as ONE DISNEY/PIXAR character, who would you be?  Ariel – The Little Mermaid

Assistant Natalie Peterson

ALLI ESPOSITO

Assistant Mentorship @alli_esposito

What are your dance goals?  I would like to be a concert dancer. My dream is to dance with Complexions Contemporary Ballet.

What would you want to say to your teacher that you have not yet said?  Teachers have so much passion and so much patience. Looking back at old photos of myself dancing I realized just how hard the job of a dance teacher is. To all of my teachers and the entire HC faculty, THANK YOU!

Who is the dancer (or teacher) that has inspired you to work harder and be better?  Well of course Mitchel Federan because he never stops pushing me to reach my full potential. But also all of the dancers that I have met over the last seven years at Hollywood Connection. Meeting dancers from other studios backstage before competition and in the workshop classes at HC truly inspires me.

How has dance changed you?  Dance has taught me so many lessons in and out of the studio. It has taught me how to set goals and achieve them, how to work as a team, and most importantly the value of hard work.

What is your favorite food to eat after a long day of dance?  Definitely peanut butter. It is my guilty pleasure.

What do you do while traveling to/from conventions? Homework!

What’s the funniest thing that’s happened to you on stage?  Four years ago, I was in an audition class at Hollywood Connection and I was wearing a sock. I was really going full out. But when I came down from the barrel jump, my sock slipped on the wood and I landed flat on my back. I tried to pull myself up and finish the combo but it was disastrous. The teacher told all the dancers to remove their socks. Then in each city, that same teacher told the story about the dancer that did the giant back flop and it was me! I think that might be how the faculty learned my name!

If you weren’t a dancer, what would you be?   An author

What’s your favorite movie?  Harry Potter

If you could describe yourself as ONE DISNEY/PIXAR character, who would you be? Figaro – I am a true crazy cat lady!

Allison Esposito

Follow Hollywood Connection and our assistants on Instagram!!! @hollywoodconnectiondance

For 2016 regional cities and dates, click here!

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