Lauren Ashlee Messina (Springfield, IL) holds an MFA in Dance from Belhaven University (Jackson, MS), where she studied on merit scholarship and graduated with honors from the National Honor Society for Dance Arts. Lauren received the Oprah Winfrey Foundation Scholarship Award to The Ailey School’s Professional Division Scholarship Program, where she trained in ballet, Horton, Taylor, Graham, Dunham, and musical theatre techniques. Lauren has performed at the International Association of Blacks in Dance conference, the New York Jazz Choreography Project, the Museum of the Moving Image, and with the New Orleans Opera, Amalgamate Dance Company, and KM Dance Project at the Contemporary Art Center New Orleans. She has fulfilled faculty and staff positions at Belhaven University and local studios and schools throughout the greater New Orleans area. Lauren works with New Orleans Dance Network and is in her fourth season with Marigny Opera Ballet. She approaches dance as a physical act of creative and intellectual rigor, one full of athleticism, ritual, and spiritual discovery.