Shari True - Director
Ms. Shari True started her own dance academy, True Dance & Co., in Lincoln in 1980, and has since provided instruction in classical ballet, jazz, Pointe, lyrical and tap to countless area youth. In 1985, she helped form Ballet Midwest Dance Company (now Lincoln Midwest Ballet Company) in order to give young dancers the opportunity to perform in major works of classical ballet.
Ms. True is a graduate of the University of Nebraska at Lincoln with degrees in Children's Education and Dance. She was a member of the Orchesis Dance Ensemble, UNL Flag and Dance Corps, and Nebraska Dance Ensemble in Classical Ballet. She danced in Ballet Omaha's production of The Nutcracker for five years and was assistant choreographer of the Lincoln Community Playhouse production of The Nutcracker in 1982 and 1983. She has been on staff with Ballet West Summer Dance Camp in Colorado and the St. Louis Ballet. Ms. True wrote and choreographed an original ballet entitled The Crystal Slippers, which premiered in Lincoln, Nebraska in 1993. In 1994, it was performed by the Chamberlain Ballet Company in Dallas. Ms. True has taught master ballet classes in Denver, Dallas and Kansas City. She and six of her students studied in New York City at Broadway Dance Center.
Ms. True has choreographed for Pinewood Bowl's productions of Hello Dolly, Carousel and for the Pinewood Players. In 1985, she danced with Academy West, Rolland DuPree, and taught for Act III Studio in West Hollywood. Ms. True had the delightful opportunity to appear in Universal Studio's movieTo Wong Foo with a speaking part as the dance teacher. She choreographs for UNL's Scarlett and Cream singers under the direction of Paula Bach. Shari and her competitive team travel nationally and hold many prestigious awards. She welcomes students of all ages, who have the desire to study all genres of dance.
Ashley Durst grew up dancing at True Dance & Company and is excited to be a part of the teaching faculty this year. Born and raised in Lincoln, Nebraska, she was a ten-year member with the Lincoln Midwest Ballet Company, performing roles such as Snow Queen, Spain and Clara. She has spent summers studying with the American Ballet Theatre, the American Academy of Ballet, and the Lincoln Midwest Ballet Company. In high school Ashley was a member of the True Dance & Company competition team in which she earned numerous awards and scholarships. In 2005 she was Nebraska’s Junior Miss, and in 2009 was Miss Central Nebraska where she placed in the top eight at Miss Nebraska. She is still very active in the pageant world judging and coaching dancers for pageants.
Ashley attended the University of Nebraska for one year where she was a member of Scarlet’s Dance Team. She transferred to Oklahoma City University where she received her Bachelors and Masters degree in Dance Performance and Dance Teaching. While in Oklahoma she taught and choreographed for numerous dance studios throughout the state, including judging and teaching for Dance Masters of America Dance Convention. At Oklahoma City University she was a member of the American Spirit Dance Company, in which she toured with the company serving as the company representative. She also danced on the school’s Pep dance team, Liturgical Dance Team, and spent a summer as a dancer in the Oklahoma City Theme Park Production Shows. Post graduation Ashley spent eight months dancing and traveling with Carnival Cruise Lines as a dancer in their Production Shows. In the fall Ashley will be teaching dance part time at Creighton University as well as teaching dance at True Dance & Company.
Betsy Andersen began dancing at age three. Her training is in ballet, pointe, tap, jazz, lyrical and contemporary, but her main love is ballet! Betsy danced with the Lincoln City Ballet Company from 1987-1989 in Peter and the Wolf and The Wizard of Oz. She has danced with the Lincoln Midwest Ballet Company since 1989 and has performed for more than 20 years in The Nutcracker. Betsy was a Company Member for five years and has also performed in LMBC productions of Coppelia, Sleeping Beauty, and Festival of Dancers. She attended numerous LMBC summer programs and was accepted to the Colorado Ballet summer dance program.
Betsy is a LMBC Rehearsal Assistant (1996-1999) and 2010 to present. She was an advanced ballet student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln under the direction of Dr. Lisa Fuscillo. She was awarded a ballet scholarship, appeared in University dance performances and was selected to dance with Opera Omaha.
Betsy taught dance in Omaha for ten years. Her choreography won top honors, finishing in the top three at the Hall of Fame Nationals in Chicago in 2010. She danced with the Omaha Modern Dance Collective and continued her ballet training in Omaha under the direction of the late Mary Waugh-Taylor. She has also danced with the Lincoln Contemporary Dance Project. Ms. Betsy has a BSBA from UNL in Human Resource Management with minors in History and Dance and attended graduate school at the University of Nebraska-Omaha. We are happy to have Betsy and her vast experience, knowledge, and talent to share with the students at True Dance & Company!
As an Elementary Education major at Nebraska Wesleyan University, Miss True especially enjoys working with the youngest, and most delicate, members of True Dance & Company. She teaches the Creative Movement classes for the young boys and girls, as well as pre-school ballet and tap. McKenzie danced under the direction of her mother for 14 years. An avid horse lover, she has raised horses and competed with them on a national scale for many years. She holds the title of World Horsemanship - 2011 World Pinto Show. McKenzie is the director of True Knowlege preschool located at True Dance and Company.
Sarah Preston, a Lincoln native, is currently the Deputy Director of Behavioral Health for a Community Health Center. Sarah has her Bachelor's Degree in Child, Youth, and Family Studies, and Masters Degrees in Social Work and Public Health. Sarah believes dance and the arts is an integral part of physical and mental health.
Sarah trained in ballet, jazz, contemporary, tap, and hip hop at True Dance, and was a member of the Lincoln Midwest Ballet Company, performing in their productions of the Nutcracker and Snow White. In addition to her local training, Sarah competed at the regional and national level with her studio’s and high school’s competition teams. She also attended summer dance programs with American Ballet Theater, and New York City Dance Alliance.
She is excited to share her passion for dance with her students at True Dance & Company.
Lila Swope began dancing at True Dance & Company when she was 3 years old, started competing at age 5, and graduated from the studio in 2019. During her time competing, she received many various scholarships and awards individually and with her team. In addition to her commitments with studio dance, Lila was on the Lincoln East High School dance team, where she would be elected Administrative Coordinator (junior year) as well as Captain (senior year). During her second year, the team placed 3rd and 5th in the National Dance Team Competition through UDA, as well as placing in many other UDA state, regional, and national competitions. Swope also studied and competed with YAGP during her earlier years, competing both solos and trios. Lila danced 5 years in the Lincoln Midwest Ballet Company’s production of The Nutcracker, where she was both an Apprentice member and Company member.
Swope is currently a full-time student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She is a psychology major with a double minor in human sciences and family/youth studies. She is on a Pre-Occupational Therapy (OT) track, and will hopefully attend graduate school after her four years at UNL concludes in 2023. She is also a member of Alpha Phi sorority, where she is able to spread her love and awareness for Women’s Heart Health.
Molly Cardenas grew up in Lincoln and was a graduate of Lincoln East High School. Throughout her middle and high school years, Molly trained at True Dance and Company, and is so happy that she is still able to be a part of the True family, now as faculty.
While growing up, Molly enjoyed participating in the Lincoln Midwest Ballet Company’s, The Nutcracker, for several years, as well as being a company member. During the summer, Molly participated in the Joffrey Ballet School’s summer intensive program in New York City, receiving scholarships for both her Junior and Senior years in high school. Upon graduation, Molly began her teaching career at a studio in Norfolk, NE, where she was introduced to the performance group, “Up With People.” Molly auditioned and was accepted to become a member of Up With People, in which she traveled internationally for a year, performing over 100 shows in 11 different countries, all while staying with host families and participating in community service projects all over the world. It was a very special and cherished year.
Upon return from tour in 1999, Molly became a member of the IFL and AFL2 Indoor Football League’s dance teams from 2000 to 2005. In 2005, Molly and her husband, Jerry, welcomed their first of three children. And, for nearly the last 20 years, Molly has enjoyed teaching dance in Lincoln and the surrounding area, and is grateful to be able to share her love of dance.
Olivia Lempka has danced since age of three and danced competitively for nine years. She was an integral part of TDC's award winning competition team, and in TDC's dance program for 5 years. Olivia was also a company member of the Lincoln Midwest Ballet Company's performance and danced in the Nutcracker for 5 years. Throughout high school, Olivia was a member of LSW Emerald's dance team. She was captain both her junior and senior year of LSW. Olivia has taught for True Dance & Company bringing her time talent and passion to the students at TDC assisting and teaching the past two years. Olivia assists TDC with office managerial tasks throughout the summer and fall.
Olivia is currently a student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where she is studying biological sciences, with a minor in leadership & communications. She is on a Pre-PA (Physician's Assistant) track, and will hopefully attend graduate school after her four years at UNL in 2025. On campus, Olivia is a member of the Nebraska Scarlets dance team, involved in Alpha Phi sorority, and a mentor with the NHRI program.
Avery Lewis began her dance training at the very early age of 18 months under the direction of Dance Studio 111 in Phoenix, AZ. Avery grew up as a trained competitive dancer and performed all genres of dance. She has trained under many of the noteable Industry leaders including, Brian Friedman, Talia Favia, Chaz Buzan, Sloane Taylor-Rabinor, Lacey Schwimmer, and Miles Kenney. Avery's opportunities led her on to win several National Titles with reputable companies, such as, NRG National Apprentice, Adrenaline senior dancer, Revive senior dancer, and a Radix Core Performer. Avery has an extensive ballroom background and was chosen in 2019, as the youngest member, of Lacey Schwimmer's Ballroom group, "Femme Forte", which went on to qualify for a World of Dance audition!
Avery's accolades can be attributed to a ballet background, and just like those dancers here in Lincoln, she grew up performing in The Nutcracker Ballet. She danced the roles of Clara, Sugarplum Fairy, and Snow Queen, to name a few, for the Ahwatukee Foothills Ballet Company. Her stage appearances also include notable roles in The Wizard of Oz, Beauty of the Beast, The Little Mermaid, Shrek The Musical, Frozen and The Descendants. Not only did Avery perform in The Descendants, but utilizing her award winning choreography talents, she set this musical piece as well!
During high school, Avery expanded her dance experience to become a member of her competitive high school dance team. As team captain her senior year, she led the team to a State Championship in both the Hip Hop and Jazz divisions.
Avery's love for dance has led her to the University of Nebraska where she is now a 3rd year leader for the Husker Scarlet Dance Team. She is currently a broadcast journalism major and a member of Chi Omega sorority. She takes great joy in instructing dancers at True in multiple genres, and being able to provide creative choreography for members of the prestigious TDC team.
Addie Parde is currently a student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She studying two majors including Family and Consumer Science Education and Hospitality, Restaurant and Tourism Management, but she also have minors in Athletic Coaching & Leadership and Communications.
She grew up as a dancer here in Lincoln at True Dance and Company and continued her dance career at Lincoln East as an Apollonaire! Since graduating she has become a teacher here at True Dance and has continued her professional career by trying out for professional dance teams such as the Kansas City Chiefs Cheerleaders. She is so excited to have the opportunity to teach your dancers and can't wait to watch them grow in their time here at True!!