Dawnell retired from dancing with Grand Rapids Ballet in 2017 after 16 seasons. She then transitioned to Artistic Coordinator and Ballet Mistress at Grand Rapids Ballet. Previously dancing with Cincinnati Ballet, Tulsa Ballet, Dayton Ballet and Metropolitan Ballet Theatre of Detroit, Dawnell enjoyed a long, rewarding career with a repertoire spanning the classics to contemporary masterpieces, including Swan Lake, Giselle, Coppelia, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Paquita, Dracula, Peter Pan, Aladdin, Firebird, A Midsummer Nights Dream, Jack The Ripper, Red Angels, Fingerprints, Black and White, Sync, Jewels, Allegro Brilliante, Who Cares, Serenade, Four Temperaments, Divertimento No. 15, Slaughter on Tenth Avenue, Concerto Barocco, Nine Sinatra Songs, Where the Wild Things Are, Celts, Rapture, Il Distratto, Con Amore, The Sofa, This Is Not A Raincoat, and The Gift of the Magi.
Having the opportunity to work with esteemed choreographers and teachers from around the world such as Lila York, Nils Christe, Fredrick Franklin, Suzanne Farrell, Kirk Peterson, Val Caniporoli, Peter Boal, Septime Webre, Raymond Lukens, Mario Radakovsky, and Stanton Welch helped shape her artistry. Having new roles crafted for her and mastering the classics were her happy place as a dancer. Performing live in concert with Bela Fleck and the Flecktones and the John Jorgenson Quintet were outstanding stage experiences.
Additionally, Dawnell took over as the owner and Artistic Director of Academy of Dance Arts in Comstock Park, Michigan, six years ago and enjoys fostering an environment where the students can grow in all the different disciplines of dance, as well as staging and creating new works. She holds a professional membership with Dance Masters of America and the Cecchetti Council of America and enjoys guest teaching, dancing and judging around the country.
Ms. Dryja is married to Bryce Black and has a daughter Tevyn who is the light of her life.