Meet the Instructors
Styles: Modern, Ballet, Contemporary,
Nicole Oxendine is a full-time entrepreneur, educator, and activist dedicated to cultivating connections through dance. Drawing on her experience as a professional dancer as an alumna from Hollins University and her continued her studies obtaining a master's degree from Columbia College in Chicago in Dance Movement Therapy, Oxendine has spent the last twenty-six years bringing access to quality dance instruction to public schools and nonprofits with the firm belief that movement empowers people and builds communities.
In 2015, Oxendine founded Empower Dance Studio to provide accessible dance instruction focused on fostering confidence and personal growth in all students. Since its founding, the Studio has served hundreds of families in the Triangle Area of North Carolina and beyond, addressing a need for affordable, quality dance education that valued students of all abilities.
After seeing a need to further inspire and empower children and their families outside of the studio, Oxendine took the initiative to expand her vision to create the Empower Circle to encourage, support, and ensure a safe space for populations who are generally overlooked, underrepresented, and misunderstood. The Empower Circle brand will introduce consulting services, a clothing line, book series, and more that the brand will announce soon. Additionally, the non-profit foundation is expanding underneath the Empower Circle brand to reach new populations by offering free tuition to those in need.
Classes: Creative Movement, Pre-Ballet, Jazz
Kyra Alston has danced throughout her life and education. A Durham, NC native, Alston trained intensively through her high school career, studying and performing with the esteemed Durham School of the Arts Dance Company, and continued her studies at North Carolina Central University, focusing on dance education. Alston has worked for over 5 years in Durham Public Schools, the same system that provided her quality foundational training, honing her skills as a dance educator and working with students of all backgrounds and abilities. Recognizing the positive guiding influence that dance has provided in her own life, Alston's great joy is to nurture, instruct and support students in their own dance studies. Finding a kindred home for her teaching in Empower Dance Studio's mission of making dance accessible for all students, Alston brings her teaching expertise and experience to children's classes, focusing on meeting each student where they are, always with the hope of sparking a love of dance that will carry students through their lives.
Styles: 90s Cardio Funk, WERQ, VideoSould
Erika Bianca Vinson fell in love with dance during her college years, performing hip-hop with Pamoja Dance Company at the University of Georgia. A native of Augusta, Georgia, Vinson's passion for dance led her from the deep south to Chicago to pursue her master's degree in Art Therapy. During her graduate studies, Vinson auditioned to train with Culture Shock Chicago, a nonprofit organization focused on bringing hip-hop dance to families and youth as a positive outlet for creative expression. When recording artist Kid Sister approached a Culture Shock rehearsal one day, offering manicures and Subway sandwiches in exchange for dancing in her music video, Vinson jumped at the chance, launching her career as a professional dancer that would take her around the world, making a stop on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and meeting Kanye West along the way. Following her graduate studies and touring career, Vinson sought opportunities to continue sharing the feeling of unbridled joy experienced when moving in community with others, training in and teaching a variety of dance and dance fitness techniques over the past decade. Building on her experience as a full-time educator and mentor for Exceptional Children in Chapel Hill-Carrboro public schools, Vinson focuses on creating a space where students of all ages and abilities feel safe and supported in a body-positive, nonjudgmental environment - where all are free to experience the joy of dance. Finding perfect alignment with her values and those of Empower, Vinson joined the studio in 2018 to teach adult and children's dance and dance fitness, drawing on her touring years to keep people moving and, most importantly, having fun!
McDaniel Roberts, Assistant Artistic Director of the African American Dance Ensemble, Artistic Director of the Harambee Collective and Co-Director of Baba's Rising Sons. A native of Durham NC, and 2016 Emerging Artist in Dance. McDaniel loves to share the culture of dance throughout communities near and far. He pays homage to his dance father, the late Baba Chuck Davis and all the ancestors. He lives by his mantra, "Believe in yourself, Keep the Faith, and Don't Give Up".
Styles: Contemporary, Hip Hop, Lyrical
Adrian Haywood is an alumni of North Carolina State University where he studied Business Administration and Human Resources. As a young dancer, he studied with and danced competitively for Greensboro Dance Theatre. Adrian’s styles include tap, ballet, contemporary, jazz, hip hop and modern. Adrian was featured as a dancer in the Panoramic Dance Project, performing contemporary, tap, hip hop, and diaspora works. He has also choreographed works for the Panoramic Dance Project as well as the NCSU Dance Company.
Styles: Ballet, Salsa, Kizomba, Contemporary
Tina Vasquez is a first generation American of Puerto Rican, Cuban and Jamaican decent. She is the co-founder of the consulting firm, biwa|Emergent Equity, and joined Empower both as a parent and dance teacher. Originally from New York, Tina moved to the Triangle in 2016 after a 15-year professional dance career. She is a Certified as a Movement Analyst by way of the Laban Institute for Movement Studies, has a B.A. in Individualized Study from NYU Gallatin and an MS in Organizational Behavior, Systems and Analytics from the NYU Tandon School of Engineering Polytechnic Institute. She has also been trained by the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond on Undoing Racism. She has infused anti-racism principles throughout her professional career of teaching, dancing and organizing. Tina enjoys creating art whenever possible and feels incredibly fortunate that she and her family get to be a part of the Empower community.
15 Years Dance Experience
Nia Angie Africana Sutton, MPH, CHES is a Health and Wellness Educator and specializes in heels dance and choreography, twerk and twerk aerobics, HBCU style modeling and dance. She also enjoys modern, ballet and African dance, the styles in which she received professional training. Growing up in Washington, D.C., Nia danced with the Melvin Deal African Heritage Dancers and trained at the Washington School of Ballet. While completing her undergraduate studies in Health Education at North Carolina Central University, Nia co-founded de Haute Allure Fashion & Modeling troupe, and was a short-term member of the JV cheerleading team, Silhouette. Presently, Nia Sutton hosts virtual twerk and movement classes, and frequents virtual dance and fitness classes ranging from yoga to Zumba.
There is so much joy and healing in movement. Yoga helped me find my purpose and create the life of my dreams. It is my deepest desire that you’ll join me in this beautiful practice.
My movement story began as a serious dancer and athlete. Years later, I discovered the practice of yoga while grinding away at a corporate job. I was searching for peace of mind and found my divine purpose. After much study, I was certified to be a Registered Yoga Teacher with the Yoga Alliance in 2019, and haven’t stopped learning since. Now I share the knowledge and practices that have transformed my life, radiating in a new and vibrant light for everyone to enjoy.
With me, every class is an event! Every teaching moment is an opportunity for connection, community, and growth. Maybe you laugh, maybe you cry, maybe you just get that deep stretch, this is your personal practice — have fun with your flow! My classes help cultivate a positive mindset while gradually increasing strength, range of motion, and a greater mind-body connection. I would be honored to be part of your journey.
Styles: Bollywood, Bharatanatyam
Neha Giridharan has been dancing for most of her life! She is formally trained in Bharatanatyam, a South Indian Classical dance style, and graduated from the Arathi School of Indian Dances in Arizona. She moved towards Bollywood in college, where she co-founded the collegiate Bollywood dance team "Om Shanti," and competed from LA to NY. When Neha moved to the Bay Area, she started her dance company “White Swan Dance,” through which she taught a weekly class in San Francisco, made dance videos, and choreographed for weddings. She is currently an advisor for the Bay Area-based dance company Duniya Dance and Drum. She hopes to continue her dance endeavors here in North Carolina! Apart from dance, Neha is a Hospital Pharmacist and loves traveling the world with her husband!