Founder, Artistic Director, Upper School Director
Ms. Odasz trained at the Draper Center for Dance Education under the tutelage of Timothy Draper, Sally Stepnes and Rebekah von Rathyoni. While studying at the Draper Center for Dance Education, Ms. Odasz performed multiple roles in their annual production of The Nutcracker as well as Firebird and Peter and the Wolf. Throughout her training, Ms. Odasz has had the opportunity to study with teachers from American Ballet Theatre, New York City Ballet, Boston Ballet, Houston Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, The Royal Ballet of London, Stuttgart Ballet, Ballet Trockadero de Monte Carlo, The National Ballet of Cuba, The Bolshoi Ballet and The Kirov Ballet, to name a few. Ms. Odasz has also attended master classes with artists such as Mia Michaels, Adam Shankman, Frank Hatchett and Jason Parsons. In the later years of her dance education Ms. Odasz studied Jazz, Contemporary and Musical Theatre with Lisa Allain of the Little Red Dancing School. Ms. Odasz also performed as a soloist with Flower City Ballet.
Ms. Odasz began her teaching career at the age of 18 at the Little Red Dancing School as well as other dance studios in the Rochester area. Ms. Odasz has taught master classes for many schools including Flower City Ballet and Queen City Youth Ballet, and continues to guest teach throughout the United States and Canada. In 2003, Ms. Odasz founded the Odasz Dance Theatre and Western New York Ballet. As Artistic Director, Ms. Odasz has choreographed and directed numerous full-length ballets including The Nutcracker, Hansel and Gretel, Peter and the Wolf, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Alice in Wonderland, Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, and premiered original works including S'vivon, Deep Waters, Hope, Embers and Blues, Awakening Bud and Weightless. Odasz Dance Theatre has also performed excerpts from many ballets including Chopiniana, Coppelia, Diana & Acteon, Don Quixote, Flames of Paris, Giselle, Grand Pas Classique, Harlequinade, La Bayadere, La Esmeralda, La Fille Mal Gardee, Le Corsaire, The Nutcracker, Paquita, Raymonda, Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake and Talisman. Ms. Odasz received the 'Outstanding Teacher Award' in 2015 and 'Oustanding School Award' in 2016, 2017, and 2018 at Youth America Grand Prix Chicago semi-finals.
Ms. Odasz’s students have appeared performing on several local news channels as well as at many community events. Her students competed in and placed at Youth America Grand Prix's NYC finals and have won a multitude of prestigious awards including 1st place at YAGP semi-finals and multiple top 12 placements in all divisions, consecutive 'Rising Star' and 'Excellence in Dance' awards at Rising Star, and Top 10 placements and full scholarships awarded at World Ballet Competition finals in Orlando, amongst many others. In addition, Ms. Odasz’s students have been accepted into several summer intensive programs including Alvin Ailey, The Rock School for Dance Education, Ellison Ballet, Fabrice Herrault, Irina and Max, American Ballet Theatre, Boston Ballet, Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, Joffrey Ballet, La Scala Theatre Ballet School (Milan, Italy), NYSSSA, National Ballet of Canada, Nutmeg Conservatory, Pacific Northwest Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, School of American Ballet and The School at Jacob's Pillow. Her students have also been accepted to Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company, Alonzo King LINES Ballet training program and BFA program, Steps on Broadway conservatory program as well as received full scholarships to the dance programs at Marymount Manhattan College, Manhattanville College, NYU Tisch School of the Arts, SUNY Brockport and SUNY Purchase. She holds a Masters Degree in Education, a B.A. in English, and has been invited to speak as a dance lecturer at area colleges and universities. Ms. Odasz strives to bring out the best in every dancer and looks forward to watching Odasz Dance Theatre and Western New York Ballet continue to grow.
Assistant Artistic Director, Contemporary Director
Ms. Astuto began her training with Mary Kay Touris at Ballet Theatre in Rochester, NY. Her earliest training focused mainly on classical ballet with some modern influences. Ms. Astuto went on to receive her Bachelors of Arts degree in Dance from Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania in 2012; emphasizing on dance education and choreography. While attending the university, Ms. Astuto was also a member of the Sigma Rho Delta Dance Honorary Sorority. She began focusing on the art of contemporary and modern dance and had the privilege to study under notable dance figures such as Ursula Payne, Nora Ambrosio, Teena Custer, Thom Cobb and several other educators.
As a performer, Ms. Astuto was selected to dance as a part of Slippery Rock University's Jazz/Tap Ensemble, Dance Theatre, 60x60 Experimental Showcase and Senior Synthesis Concerts all throughout her four years. In March of 2012, she was featured as a dancer in a contemporary piece choreographed by Corinne Tekletz which was selected to perform at Williamsburg Art NeXus "WaxWorks" professional dance showcase in Brooklyn, NY. In her later years at Slippery Rock, Ms. Astuto discovered her love and passion for choreography. Her ensemble piece, "A Fingerprint Mentality," was selected to be presented in Slippery Rock University's pre-professional Dance Theatre production in the fall of 2011. Ms. Astuto has also been a featured choreographer in Slippery Rock's Senior Synthesis Concert in 2012, and 60x60 Concert, a Slippery Rock Dance original showcase fusing experimental music with contemporary choreography. She also had the opportunity to study with River North Chicago Dance Company, Doug Varone and Dancers, Camille Brown, Beijing Dance Company, Trey McIntyre Project, Chad Michael Hall and many others through master classes, intensive programs and repertory works.
Ms. Astuto had the privilege of joining Odasz Dance Theatre in the summer of 2012 as their Contemporary Director, Coach and Choreographer. Since joining Odasz Dance, Ms. Astuto has had the opportunity to work with the company dancers of Western New York Ballet and choreograph several pieces per year selected to compete in the Youth America Grand Prix finals in NYC. Her ensemble pieces collectively won 1st place at YAGP semi-finals for several consecutive years, and her piece Loudest Lack of Breathing won the "Excellence in Dance" award and highest score out of 438 dances at Rising Star in 2014. All her ensembles advanced to YAGP finals in NYC, 2013-present. Ms. Astuto received the 'Outstanding Choreographer Award' at Youth America Grand Prix Chicago semi-finals in 2015, 2016, 2018, 2019 and 2020. Ms. Astuto is proud to be the Contemporary Program Director and Assistant Artistic Director for Odasz Dance Theatre and Western NY Ballet.
Leah Odasz, School Manager