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        Patti has worked for the past 43 years in the dance world. After founding 2 very successful studios in Dothan, Al (Patti Rutland Jazz and Oz Dance Center) she went on to serve as a master teacher for Dance Educators of America, Dance Masters of America, The Southern Association of Dance Masters, Atlanta’s Jazz on Tap Festival, The Black College Dance Exchange, The University of Virginia, Fort Valley College, Kent State University, The Energy Source Dance Convention and The Philadelphia Dance Festival. She has also served as a judge and adjudicator for numerous dance conventions and competitions across the United States. She served on the Board of Directors for The Jazz Dance World Congress with Gus Giordano, Luigi, Matt Mattox, Marcus Alford, Patti Obey, Susan Quinn and Joe Tremaine. She is currently the Southern Director of Dance Educators of America and serves on the board of The Montgomery Ballet.


        As a choreographer, Patti was in constant demand throughout the US. Houston Jazz Dance Theatre, The OC Dance Ensemble, and Patti Rutland Jazz all have original works within their repertory. Patti has won SEACTOR awards for best choreography for High School Musical, The Robber Bridegroom, Footloose and The Full Monty. She has also won a total of 14 awards for choreography she has set for high school show choirs and theater departments. Patti has staged, choreographed and/or conceptually designed over 150 works for the stage.  

     In 2005, Patti was awarded the Leo’s Dancewear Gold Shoe at The Jazz Dance World Congress in Chicago for her modern-day urban inspired jazz and hip hop piece A.M. This piece was not only a favorite during competition evenings, but as presented in the closing night program, became the pulse of the entire Congress, garnering such notices as “... volatile and full of almost uncontrollable energy,” from Dance Magazine. Her choreography has also won five Panoply Choreographer’s Events, 2 President’s Cups at Dance Educators of America Nationals in New York, 3 Overall High Score for Star Power Dance National Competitions in Los Angeles, Overall High Scores at Showstopper’s Regional and National Dance Competition and Overall High Scores at Dance Masters of America regional and national competitions.

          In 2008, Patti’s first full-length stage production, Santa’s Workshop was registered as an original work in the United States Library of Congress. In 2021 the work was registered with The Dramatists Guild of America, gained representation by The Cooper Company in NYC and will be performed nationally in 2022. 

          Patti’s dancers include a former Miss America and back up dancers for artists such as Usher, Brandi, The Backstreet Boys, Monica, Keith Sweat and Salt-n-Peppa. Thodos Dance Chicago, Atlanta Jazz Dance Theatre, Gus Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago, the cast of Legally Blonde, Jersey Boys, 42nd Street, Anything Goes, Forever Plaid, Aluminum Show and iLuminate either currently have or have had former PRJ dancers as members. Patti’s students have appeared on The MTV Movie Awards, videos for The Backstreet Boys, Salt-N-Peppa, Keith Sweat, 112, Live at the Apollo, Nike commercials and many movies.

Special Awards:

Lifetime Achievement                                                                                  Dance Studio Life Magazine        2018

50 Most Entrepreneurial Women of the Wiregrass                                      Mayor  Mike Schmitz                   2018

Friend of Education                                                                                     Dothan City School Board           2016

Patti Rutland Simpson


Christina Cervone, raised in Newnan, GA, received training at Dance Contempra in classical and contemporary styles of dance including ballet, modern, tap, jazz, lyrical, pointe, hip hop, and contemporary. In addition, she studied musical theatre, acting, and voice while also performing at The Legacy Theatre. At the collegiate level, she studied ballet, contemporary, tap, improvisation, contemporary partnering, composition & choreography I and II, modern/contemporary history, ballet history, contemporary pedagogy, and ballet pedagogy. Christina graduated from Troy University with a BFA in Dance where she was served as the President of Tau Delta Theta, a dance honor society connected to the National Dance Education Organization (NDEO). Christina is currently pursuing her master’s degree in Early Childhood Education. Throughout her dance career, Christina worked with choreographers James Boyd, Dominique Angel, Adrienne Hicks, James Kinney, Gregory Dolbashian, Nicki Loud, Kelsey Metz, Michael McBride, Lloyd Culbreath, Katie Breland, Mitchell A. Finke, and Chris Coates along with other guest artists. Christina’s passion for teaching has played a major role in her life since she was in high school. She worked her way from teacher’s assistant to solo teacher and now serves as a dance teacher, choreographer, and performance team director for Patti Rutland Jazz. 


Alex Folkes began pursuing her dance career in the small town of Headland, Alabama. Up until the age of 17, she trained at various competitive studios around Alabama and had the opportunity to compete her own choreography. In doing so, she received multiple student choreography awards along with many outstanding performance scholarships. Alex is now a recent graduate of Troy University receiving a BFA in dance. She had the opportunity to train with James Boyd, Dominique Palmer, Adrienne Hicks, Kelsey Metz, Michael McBride, Caitlin Parish, and many more. Throughout her college career, she has produced three large works that have been performed in college showcases, the Alabama Dance Festival, and the 2022 and 2023 DAP Festival in Pietrasanta, Italy. Alex has a passion for choreography as well as dance education. Going into her third year of teaching at Patti Rutland Jazz, Alex is so excited to have a part in growing students’ dance education and training through her roles as teacher, choreographer and performance team director for Patti Rutland Jazz


Barbara Leger is originally from Northeast Ohio and graduated from Ohio University with a Bachelor's degree in Communications. In 1998 she married Rodney Leger in North Carolina and they moved to Alabama the next year. After several years of working for the United Methodist Children's Home, she returned to school to pursue a new career as a Licensed Massage Therapist, which she continues to enjoy. Since beginning her work at PRJ Barbara has trained as a Creative Movement Teacher, Backstage Manager, and PRJ Arts & Innovation liaison with Pike County Elementary Schools.As the parent of a dancer (faculty member Mackenzie Leger) who attends Troy University, she is happy to fill the role as Office Manager for Patti Rutland Jazz. Her favorite aspect of the job is getting to know the families and seeing the dancers grow into confident and happy people.  And one thing is for sure, she is loved by everyone that walks through the doors!


Ethan Tyler started his dance training at the age of 17. He was trained at Panama City Dance Academy in Florida under the guidance of Lance Washington, Michelle Williams, and Troy alumni Kaitlyn Morgan. He was on Panama City Dance Academy's competition team and received top honors at many competitions including Inferno, Masquerade, Platinum, and Applause. He has a Bachelors in Dance from Troy University from years of studying under James Boyd, Adrienne Hicks, and Dominique Angel. Currently, he has danced with multiple nonprofit dance organizations and choreographed multiple stylized works. Details and artistic narrative are major importances for his teaching and performing styles. 


Gabby Deaton is from Jacksonville, Florida and she trained at Arts Edge School of Dance in various styles such as ballet, contemporary, tap, jazz, hip-hop, modern, and progressive ballet technique. She was a company member at Arts Edge and traveled to perform and compete at various competitions and conventions. She received various awards from different competitions for her performances along with special awards from judges based on her solo performances. Gabby is currently studying at Troy University and pursuing her Bachelor of Fine Arts. She has performed in many works choreographed by her peers as well as works choreographed by professional artists such as Dominique Angel, Adrienne Hicks, Marcus Allan Cobb, Kelsey Metz, Micheal McBride, Carlos Garland, Marisa Garland, and Take Ueyama. Gabby has recently had the pleasure of attending and performing at the DAP Festival in Pietrasanta, Italy. She continues to pursue opportunities to learn and perform, as well as opportunities to share her love of dance with others. She hopes one day to work as a professional dancer and share her love of dance everywhere!


Mackenzie Leger began her training at Patti Rutland Jazz in 2014 after training at various studios in the southeast.  She was a member of the PRJ award winning competition team and spent her senior as a PRJ apprentice dancer in the professional company, Patti Rutland Jazz. Mackenzie has performed in 9 Santa's Workshops and in the spring production of Love Stories. As an actor, Mackenzie was awarded an excellent for her monologue at Trumbauer State Theatre Competition. Her professional film credits include Tumbleton Road and Darkest Minds.  In 2023 her brilliant choreographic piece Carrie was a crowd favorite in Troy University's Art In Motion: Off The Shelf where she was also the Assistant Director. In addition to mastering all elements of the stage, she is an avid animal lover, fitness guru and loves the outdoors. Mackenzie is currently a Junior pursuing a BFA from Troy University.  


Taylor Griffith is originally from Madison, Alabama and began her dance training at the age of 3 at The Dance Company, Inc. While at The Dance Company, she trained in ballet, lyrical, contemporary, jazz, tap, and hiphop. She was also a part of their competition team and received several scholarships and awards at competitions. She performed in The Nutcracker annually in a variety of roles, and has competed at Youth America Grand Prix. Taylor has been accepted and rewarded scholarships to ballet intensives across the United States. She had the pleasure of attending numerous summer intensives including Nashville Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, Joffrey Ballet, and Elmhurst Ballet School in Birmingham, England. Currently, Taylor is pursuing a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance at Troy University. Since being at Troy, Taylor has performed in a variety of student-choreographed works, as well as works choreographed by Dominique Angel, Adrienne Hicks, Jamal White, Marcus Allan Cobb, Lloyd Culbreath, and Take Ueyama. She has also served as an Assistant Artistic Director and Choreographer. Most recently, she had the honor of attending and performing in the DAP Festival in Pietrasanta, Italy. In the future, Taylor hopes to dance professionally and share her love for dance to students all over the country!


Sarah Sinclair attended Melody Lane Performing Arts Center from 2013 to 2020 training in jazz, ballet, tap, contemporary, tumbling, contortion, and hip-hop. She has performed in many community performances with Melody Lane. In 2016, she was accepted into North Fort Myers High School dance department, where she took contemporary, jazz, and ballet in addition to classes at Melody Lane. After she graduated from North Fort Myers High School in 2020,Summa Cum Laude, Sarah began her BFA in dance at Troy University where she trains incontemporary, ballet, and pointe. She has performed in Art in Motion: All the World’s A Stage, Art in Motion: Director’s Cut, Illusions, Art in Motion: Vision in Verse, Momentum, traveled to Florence, Alabama to represent Troy in the North Alabama Dance Festival, studied abroad through the DAP Festival in Pietrasanta, Italy, and had the opportunity to take private classes with Limón in New York. She is a senior dance major and looks forward for the excitement of continuing her education and teaching this upcoming year!

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