OUR TALENTED STUDIO INSTRUCTORS

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MARIA SORENSEN

Studio Owner
Artistic Director

BIO

Maria has been part of dance and drill team for over 30 years.  Beginning with her high school experience where she was the Colonel of her dance team, Maria also studied flamenco dance in San Antonio, TX for eight years. After graduating from high school Maria worked for American Drill Team School for 13 years as an instructor, camp director, choreographer, and adjudicator. Earning her bachelors in Fine Arts,  Maria was a member of the University of North Texas Pom Squad. Her professional performance experience includes performing as a Dallas Mavericks Dancer for two seasons and dancing with the Anita Martinez Ballet Folklorico in Dallas, TX. Maria is a certified teacher and has taught at Coppell Middle School West and Westwood High School. In 1998 Maria established Star Dancers, a private junior dance team, and has been directing teams ever since. Her teams are award-winning and have received many accolades over the years. As her program continued to grow and advance in all genres of dance, Star Dancers studio was relaunched and The Dance Academy was born. The strong reputation her teams have is an extension of Maria’s personal belief that we dance for a higher purpose and set a higher standard of excellence in all that we do.

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KELLY YANKLE

Ballet - Ballet Company Director
Ballet Academy North

BIO

Kelly was  born in Canton, Ohio. She has been a professional ballet dancer and teacher for 13 years.  She began studying ballet at The School of Canton Ballet on scholarship at the age of ten, where she then received scholarships to prestigious ballet schools such as, Pacific Northwest Ballet, The School of American Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, and The Chautauqua Institution.  Kelly danced professionally in corps de ballet, soloist, and principal roles for The Cincinnati Ballet and The Sarasota Ballet. She choreographed a world premiere on The Sarasota Ballet Company in 2014, as well as solos and group pieces at multiple dance schools.  She taught at the Sarasota Ballet School, and Haven Dance School in Northport, Florida. She has been a regular guest teacher at The School of Canton Ballet, as well as many other schools all around the country. She is a faculty member of the national touring dance programs, Ballet Matters and TRIBE, directed by Jeff Wolfe and Seth Robinson, as well as a judge for their Fire and Ice Dance Scholarship Competition. Kelly is well versed in teaching all age ranges, ballet class, pointe class, variations, pas de deux, contemporary, choreography, as well as pilates and injury prevention classes.  She served as a faculty member at The Cincinnati Ballet School, and was heavily involved with outreach programs that focused on bringing ballet to struggling areas. While dancing professionally, Kelly also studied at the University of Cincinnati on full dance scholarship and was featured in Dance Teacher Magazine.  She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance performance and Pedagogy, as well as a heavy emphasis on the Spanish language (Kelly is a certified tutor) and emphasis on anatomy and physiology. She is well equipped to educate our dancers in Pilates, proper stretch and strength techniques and injury prevention. Some of her favorite roles include William Forsythe’s New Sleep pas de deux, “Russian Girl” in George Balanchine’s Serenade, and “Kitri” in Don Quixote.

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JANIE PARKER

Pointe and Pilates Instructor

BIO

Maria has been part of dance and drill team for over 30 years.  Beginning with her high school experience where she was the Colonel of her dance team, Maria also studied flamenco dance in San Antonio, TX for eight years. After graduating from high school Maria worked for American Drill Team School for 13 years as an instructor, camp director, choreographer, and adjudicator. Earning her bachelors in Fine Arts,  Maria was a member of the University of North Texas Pom Squad. Her professional performance experience includes performing as a Dallas Mavericks Dancer for two seasons and dancing with the Anita Martinez Ballet Folklorico in Dallas, TX. Maria is a certified teacher and has taught at Coppell Middle School West and Westwood High School. In 1998 Maria established Star Dancers, a private junior dance team, and has been directing teams ever since. Her teams are award-winning and have received many accolades over the years. As her program continued to grow and advance in all genres of dance, Star Dancers studio was relaunched and The Dance Academy was born. The strong reputation her teams have is an extension of Maria’s personal belief that we dance for a higher purpose and set a higher standard of excellence in all that we do.

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APRIL JAMERSON

Ballet, Jazz and Modern Instructor
Children's Program Director

BIO

April Fry Jamerson is originally from northeast Ohio where her love of dance began at a young age. April began dancing at the age of 5 eventually winning numerous Showstopper and regional competitions throughout her high school career. April went on to study dance at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, under the direction of Gladys Bailin. She graduated Summa Cum Laude with her BFA in 1989. After college, she moved to Los Angeles, California, where she studied and performed with the Rudy Perez Dance Company and was a company member of the Long Beach City Dance Theater. April also taught at the The Art of Dance in Carson during her time in California. The summer of 1992 brought a lot of changes for April as she married Dave Jamerson, a professional basketball player with the Houston Rockets, on July 25th and moved to Houston, Texas, in August of that year. She immediately began teaching and performing at The Christian Dance Center and was a founding member of His Company International—an international Christian dance company based out of Houston. Her work with His Company became a launch pad for teaching and performing throughout the country and around the world. April has been blessed to perform in places like St. Petersburg and Moscow, Russia; Auckland, New Zealand; Izmir, Turkey; Nairobi, Kenya; Lima, Peru; Highgate, Jamaica; and Oaxaca, Mexico, as well as in numerous events and conventions like the Hurricane Katrina Relief Benefit with T.D. Jakes and Lakewood Church. She is also a gifted choreographer and has set pieces on numerous dance teams nationally and internationally, most notably, Janie Parker, prima ballerina with the Houston Ballet. April was also the founder and director of Arts Alive—a youth performing arts camp in Austin, Texas, and the founder and director of Renovate Dance Center in Indianapolis, Indiana. April was blessed to see Renovate grow to include 180 students during her time leading the center. April is known for her contagious spirit and is passionate about instilling a love of movement into students and seeing each student reach their potential and become the best “they” can be. She is also passionate about seeing students develop a strong self worth, identity, and confidence through their work. April currently is planting Renovate Church in Leander, Texas, with her husband Dave and serves as the director of women’s and children’s ministry. April and Dave have been married for 24 years and have four children, Bret, age 22; Elijah, age 20; Trey, age 14; and Mia, age 12.

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SHELBY KOHLHOFF

Contemporary Instructor
TDA Company Assistant Director

BIO

Over sixteen years of dance experience, much of which was spent at In-Step Dance, located in Spring, Texas under Dana Loving-Sparks.  I credit several teachers with instilling within me a deep love of dance including the late Steven Boyd, Lauren Anderson, Sheila Milner, Doug Caldwell, Derrick Schrader, Dorrell Martin and many others. I am trained in all styles of dance to include ballet, tap, jazz, modern, lyrical, contemporary, hip-hop and musical theater. I have danced all across the country in showcases, and most recently I performed in Beyoncé’s music video “Blow”. I have also danced with Evolution Dance Ensemble, a continuation of Steven Boyd’s Ensemble, and competed with In-step Dance Company, and Progressions Elite. I was a dynamic force in the dance competitive circuit for several years, winning multiple titles at regional and national competitions and conventions including top scholarships and awards at Tremaine, NUVO, LADM, WCDE, JUMP, Pulse, The Dance Awards, and The Streetz.

I have assisted world renowned choreographers at many of these conventions such as, Mandy Moore, and Doug Caldwell to name a few. I have taught master classes, camps, and choreographed at many studios in the Houston area. Teaching and choreographing is my passion, my technical background and flair for dramatic artistic interpretation has proved to be beneficial to the dancers I have worked with.  I love working with kids and teaching them the art of dance while instilling strong work ethics and technique in my dancers. I have received multiple choreography awards at both drill team, and dance competitions on the regional and national level, including “Choreographer of The Year” at KAR nationals in Biloxi, MS, July 2014.

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BRITTANY MORIN

Jazz and Contemporary Instructor
TDA Mini Company Director
Wedding Dance Choreographer

BIO

A former Star Dancer Member herself, Brittany was on the very first Star Dancers Competition Team in 1998.  After being a member of Star Dancers Teams for 5 years, she went on to become a McNeil Majestic.  She then moved to Tennessee where she continued her dance training working with teams in local schools, teaching and studying in a ballroom studio, and directing her own team in a local high school.  She was inspired by her experience and moved back to Austin where she worked as a studio teacher for four years.  Her expertise lies in her knowledge of both the studio and drill team world of dance.  She is able to very successfully combine the two and help her students reach their personal goals in dance at school and in the studio.  She is very driven to help her students improve.  Her work includes teaching, directing teams, choreography for teams, ensembles, and solos, as well as working as a judge and staff member for American Drill Team School at many competitions statewide.  Brittany’s greatest passion is to share her love of dance with others and to share in the process with her students as they learn and grow as dancers and young people. She is so honored to have been a part of the evolution of Star Dancers Studio into The Dance Academy.

 

 

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HEATHER EMSLIE

Tap and Jazz Instructor

BIO

Heather realized her love for dance at the age of three after being enrolled in her first ballet, tap and jazz classes. Shortly after, it wasn’t hard to tell where Heather felt the most comfortable which was definitely on the stage. This led her mother, who is also a dance teacher, to enroll her in a more competitive studio, which brought her to her first competition at the age of six. Heather has since spent most of her time training in a myriad of other styles of dance such as modern, contemporary, musical theatre, pointe, and hip hop and has competed with various companies in the Austin and Denver area. While she loves being on stage, her real passion however is being able to connect with other dancers in the studio which is why teaching and mentoring is something that has always been a natural fit for Heather since she began teaching around 9 years ago. While she has worn many hats within the dance industry, she finds teaching to be some of the most rewarding work she has done and loves to continue to inspire and encourage her dancers to be the most authentic selves they can be.  Heather is excited about the new journey ahead of her with her Dance Academy family and cannot wait to meet her new students and create lasting relationships this year!

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CASSIE WOLFARD

Ballet and Pointe Instructor

Coming Soon.

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