A fresh new take on dance competitions. Our mission is to provide dancers of all levels with a fair and positive venue to showcase their talents. These weekends should be about so much more than a trophy; it’s about an experience where feedback and growth are just as important as a score. We are here to inspire and ignite your passion and love for dance!

More Than Just a Trophy
About Us

Welcome To Act 1 Talent

a fresh new take on dance competitions. Our mission is to provide dancers of all levels with a fair and positive venue to showcase their talents. These weekends should be about so much more than a trophy; it’s about an experience where feedback and growth are just as important as a score. We are here to inspire and ignite your passion and love for dance. To remind dancers that even though we come from different cities and different studios we are still a community. A score and a trophy are not hereto define us as dancers. Instead they should be used as a guide intended to inspire growth and encourage hard work. By offering classes in the middle of a competition weekend we create a safe and positive environment where we can all share our true passion, dance!

We are thrilled to be partnered with top conventions, workshops, choreographers, educators, and dance agencies in the industry to provide you with even more opportunities this season. Our friendly staff, attention to detail, and passion for education will set us a part from the rest. Don’t miss your opportunity to take class and learn from our professional panel of judges & teachers. These professionals are the top in the industry and will help your dancers take the next step in their journey. Now entering our 6th season, we are grateful for your continued support and we look forward to sharing an even bigger & better event with you.

The Staff
  • Katie Rustowicz
    Katie Rustowicz
    President & Founder
  • Scott Howard
    Scott Howard
    Technical Director
  • Dayna Minniti
    Dayna Minniti
    Road Manager & Registration Specialist
  • Kaeli Carr
    Kaeli Carr
    Team Lead & Tabulator
Katie Rustowicz
President & Founder

Katie Rustowicz is a Michigan native who grew up winning top awards in the competitive dance world.  After graduating she moved to California to continue her training under Joseph Malone at the Performing Arts Center in Los Angeles.  Her television credits include Boston Legal, Joan of Arcadia, Tracy Ullman’s “Live & Exposed” / “State of the Union” Seasons 1, 2, & 3, Brooklyn Nine Nine, Bunheads, Growing Up Fisher, and Broad City.  Katie has worked with Lily Allen, N.E.R.D, Beyonce, Herbie Hancock, Adam Levine, and more.  Commercial credits include Smithfield Ham & Gameworks.  In addition to being a working dancer in TV & Film Katie’s stage credits include productions of Evita, Peter Pan, South Pacific, a skeleton crew for Lennon the musical, American Choreography Awards, Radio City Christmas Spectacular (Boston & Providence), and numerous shows around Los Angeles.

In addition to her career as a professional dancer Katie has had numerous opportunities teaching and choreographing around the country.  Katie was thrilled to choreograph her first webisode series this past year based off the Richie Rich series.  She was a featured teacher in the Dance Spirit Convention & Competition issue.  Katie has enjoyed sharing her experience & expertise with multiple conventions & competitions as a guest judge across the country and in Canada.

Katie has been lucky enough to assist one of the industries top master teachers and educators Jackie Sleight.  She has assisted Sleight on numerous jobs, master classes, shows around Los Angeles and on her convention L.A. DanceMagic.  Katie is thrilled to step into her new position as COO of L.A. DanceMagic.  In addition she has enjoyed directing Final Cut & the LADM National Finals Banquet for the past 5 years.

In 2015 Katie started Act 1 Talent because she felt there was something missing in the competitive dance world.  To fill that void she set out on a mission to provide dancers, teachers, choreographers and parents with a positive and fair environment for dancers to showcase their talent and hard work.  A venue for dancers from around the country to come together as a community and learn alongside each other.  By hiring top industry professionals Katie hopes to provide industry insight to new generations of dancers.  She is a true believe that with hard work and passion anything is possible.

Scott Howard
Technical Director

Scott started his performance career at the age of twelve performing in numerous community theatre productions. He continued to perform through high school when he also began to develop a passion for technical theatre. This transitioned into a job at a repertory theatre in San Diego where he continued to develop his craft. Now a part of the Act 1 team, Scott has combined his experiences and taken on the role of both technical director and emcee. More than anything, Scott’s most cherished role in life is that of Katie’s husband. He has been thrilled to watch Act 1 Talent grow and watching his wife’s dreams come to life. Scott’s favorite part of the weekend is seeing our dancers receive their awards for all their hard work.

Dayna Minniti
Road Manager & Registration Specialist

Dayna Minniti began her dance training at the Ludovici Dance Academy in New Castle, PA, however it wasn’t until she reached The Pennsylvania State University that she realized dance would be such an important part of her life. After graduating in 2006 with a Bachelor’s of Arts degree in Psychology, Dayna moved to New York and immediately immersed herself in the NYC dance scene and continued her teaching career as a faculty member for reputable studios outside of the city, where she directed the hip hop programs. She has traveled with NYLA Dance Convention and Competitions as a faculty teacher and judge. In 2009 Dayna took her career to Los Angles, CA and brought her teaching expertise to competitive studios in Orange County, and continues to set choreography now on both coasts. After moving back to the east coast in 2014, Dayna was the Studio Manager and on faculty at The Edge of Dance in Mount Kisco, NY. She is now living in North Carolina with her family and will be entering her 6th season with Act 1 Talent, a national touring competition, as an Administrative Assistant and Road Manager.

Kaeli Carr
Team Lead & Tabulator

Born and raised in Southern California, Kaeli has extensively trained in dance for over twenty years being mentored by Joe Malone at The Performing Arts Center. Kaeli has trained at many exclusive summer programs such as American Ballet Theatre, North Carolina Dance Theatre, Ballet Austin, and Complexions Contemporary Dance. Kaeli also grew up in a children’s educational musical theater program (MET2). She began as a student, became a participant in the Student Teaching Program for many years, before eventually being hired as the Assistant Director/Assistant Choreographer to Alison Bretches. Select regional theatre: Memphis, the Musical, In The Heights, Beauty and the Beast, Peter Pan (Peter Pan), The Little Mermaid (Ariel), A Chorus Line (Kristine). TV/Live Performance: Bunheads, Hannah Montana, Shake It Up, CBS’ Movie of the Week The Dick Van Dyke Show Revisited dancing alongside Mary Tyler Moore, and the Nickelodeon’s Kids’ Choice Awards with the Pussycat Dolls. She performed with Stiletto Entertainment aboard Holland America Line touring all around Alaska and South America. Kaeli now lives in New York pursing her Broadway career. She is so excited to be back for her 4th season traveling with Act 1 Talent!

  • Brett Michael Davenport
    Brett Michael Davenport
    Emcee
  • Shannon Lemieux
    Shannon Lemieux
    Team Member
  • Taryn Killion
    Taryn Killion
    Team Member
  • Jamie Huhta
    Jamie Huhta
    Team Member
  • Courtney Crain
    Courtney Crain
    Team Member
  • Hannah Fozkos
    Hannah Fozkos
    Team Member
  • Zackeri Landry
    Zackeri Landry
    Team Member
  • Stacey Zielinski
    Stacey Zielinski
    Team Member
Brett Michael Davenport
Emcee

BRETT MICHAEL DAVENPORT is a film, television and theatre actor based in New York City. He has appeared on several network television shows including Blue Bloods (CBS), Bull (CBS) and I Love You…But I Lied (LIFETIME). His theatrical work includes the Off-Broadway production Odysseus DOA (Lion Theater) and A Spot on the Wall at the New York City Fringe Festival. In addition, Brett is the writer and producer of Infirmary, a short film which explores the complexities of relationships.

Shannon Lemieux
Team Member

A southern California native, Shannon Lemieux loves the constant hustle of Los Angeles. After graduating top of her class from Saugus High School, she decided to switch gears and pursue her dream of becoming a professional commercial dancer. She is proud to call herself an alumni of Edge Performing Art Center’s Scholarship Program, where she was mentored by staples in the dance industry including Bill Prudich, Denise Leitner, and Adam Parson. From working with choreographers such as Michael Rooney and NappyTabs, to working on sets such as The Price is Right and Paula Abdul’s Straight Up Paula! Tour, Shannon is living the dream. On the other side of the industry, she is currently a staff member at LA Dance Magic, where she gets to bring her passion for dance full circle. Shannon has also had the honor of becoming an assistant to Jackie Sleight, the “Queen of Jazz” herself, and the incomparable Terri Best, both of which have become life-long mentors. Shannon’s love for academics also has her pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in Fisheries & Wildlife Sciences at Oregon State University, in hopes of one day being able to have a dual career dancing while also researching ecology. Shannon is thrilled to join the Act1 Talent team for another amazing season!

Taryn Killion
Team Member

Taryn is excited to be back for another year of fun with the Act 1 Talent family. She is a Southern California native who grew up splitting her time between competitive figure skating and dance. After 15 years in the sport, Taryn ended her skating career to focus on dance full time. She then spent the next few years traveling with the LA Dance Magic company and dancing professionally in projects spanning film, musical theater, commercials, and music videos. In 2017, Taryn completed her comprehensive Pilates certification through Balanced Body from Master Instructors Kelly and Viktor Uygan, and is now an instructor at their training facility in Mission Viejo, CA. She is currently studying with the Nutritional Therapy Association to become and NTP and will be graduating in the summer of 2020.

Jamie Huhta
Team Member

Jamie spent her years growing up as a competition dancer. She enjoyed the competition experience and took away with her even a greater love of dance. She has studied with master teachers from across the country and believes that dance should be part of every child’s life experiences. Working with children is definitely her forté. Jamie graduated from CMU with a BA in Recreation, Parks and Leisure with a focus on Outdoor and Environmental Education and a BS in Earth Science as well. Jamie is married to Matt and has a young son, Ryan, who keeps her busy. She is currently a Naturalist at the Lewis E. Wint Nature Center, in Michigan, where she develops programs and teaches and engages kids of all ages. Jamie always has a smile on her face and laughter in her heart.

Courtney Crain
Team Member

Courtney Crain grew up training with Missy Crain Dance Studios and was a member of Louisiana Delta Ballet where she served as a Principal Dancer for many years. Courtney was on staff at Missy Crain Dance Studios for six years before deciding to further explore her career opportunities. Her choreography during this time received many awards including the Regional Dance America Monticello Award in 2018. Courtney currently resides in New York City where she is an employee of Ballet Academy East and Act 1 Talent competition. Recently, she has served as an ensemble member for Broadway Cares, Al Blackstone, and Josh Assor.

Hannah Fozkos
Team Member

Hannah is a Texas native and began dancing at the age of three. She recently graduated from Chapman University where she trained in jazz, ballet, modern, ballroom, and hip hop while earning a B.A. in Dance and B.S. in Kinesiology. Hannah currently resides in Los Angeles and works as an office assistant for LA Dance Magic dance convention and competition. Hannah is also in her rookie season as a member of the Los Angeles Clippers Spirit Dance Team. This is Hannah’s first year with Act 1 Talent, and she is so excited to be a part of this amazing team!

Zackeri Landry
Team Member

Zackeri Troi Landry was born and raised in South Louisiana. He has been fortunate to travel with LA Dance Magic, starting as a convention dancer then moving on to join the company and train as an elite assistant (pro track). He now travels on tour with LADM as a staff member. He has worked with choreographers such as Michael Rooney, Tyce Diorio, Mishay Petronelli and many others. In the summer of 2018, he moved to Los Angeles, where he plans to pursue his dream of dancing professionally and perfecting his craft in every way possible.

Stacey Zielinski
Team Member

Born and raised in Michigan, Stacey began her training at a young age in many styles including ballet, jazz, lyrical, kickline, hip hop, and modern. She graduated from Marygrove College in 2017 with a double major in Business and Dance. During college, Stacey trained under Jordeen Ivanov-Ericson, former principal dancer at the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, among many others. After graduation, Stacey became a member of the first ever Detroit Lions Cheerleading team. She was a two-year captain and represented the team at the 2018 NFL Pro Bowl held in Orlando, Florida. She has been a part of ConteXture Dance Detroit, a contemporary company based in the heart of the city. Stacey enjoys sharing her passion for dance through educating children and young adults.

More Than Just a Trophy