Michelle Denny, B.A., early childhood education, is the founder of Dance Discovery, the Central Dance Theatre Performance Teams, and Avery Ranch Dance & Music. She has over 30 years of dance training and has been teaching dance & music for 24 years. She is a registered Music Together® Teacher and early childhood specialist. Michelle developed the STORYTIME DANCE™ curriculum used by instructors of young children to captivate the creative spirit of young dancers in order to develop dance technique. This foundation provides for strong, versatile dancers who not only develop precise dance technique, but also hold on to their ability to dance from the inside out. The aim is to preserve young dancers’ passion throughout their technical training. Many years of experience with competitive dance teams, balanced with her classical ballet training has also given Michelle the expertise needed to train students of all ages in precision jazz, tap, modern, musical theatre, ballet and pointe. Her balanced approach ensures that students graduate from Dance Discovery prepared to enter the professional dance community as both versatile dancers and original creative choreographers.
Cherami, Fine Arts Academy Director, has been dancing for 32 years. Cherami trained at the Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. She went to Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond on a full scholarship and received a B.F.A. in dance/choreography. She has danced professionally all over the country. The most recent professional companies she has danced for are Wideman/Davis Dance from New York, Kathy Dunn Hamrick Dance Company & Circuitous Dance from Austin. Cherami has a very nurturing way with the children as she motivates them to work diligently to express their passion for dance. She has been working with children for the past 15 years as a dance instructor, nanny, and Montessori assistant. Cherami is the director of the Fine Arts Academy at Avery Ranch and the Petrichore Company at our Central Studio.
Karina Lucio is the General Manager of Dance Discovery studios overseeing the Central Studio, the Avery Ranch Studio, and all onsite school locations as well. Karina holds a Masters degree in Communications and has been with Dance Discovery for over 7 years. She works with our families and schools on a personal level coordinating everything from recitals to Dance Team vacations. For your convenience, Karina is available at both studios throughout the week.
Lisa was a founding member of the internationally acclaimed Doug Elkins Dance Company in New York and she currently dances professionally with her own Dance Company here in Austin. She has been teaching for 35 years and dancing professionally since 1978. Lisa holds a BA in Dance from Sam Houston State University. Lisa is truly inspiring to her students while maintaining a positive, genuine demeanor that children gravitate towards. She believes studying dance can provide a practical understanding, that most of what is deeply fulfilling in life takes commitment, effort, time, and regular practice. Lisa teaches all levels including our pre-professional Company at our Central Studio location and onsite schools.
Rene has a B.A. in Theatre from City University of New York, Hunter College. She is the Musical Theatre Director at our Avery Ranch location. Rene recently moved to Austin from New York City where she has worked as an actress for the past 18 years. She has performed all over the country and is proud to be back in her home state of Texas. Rene is thrilled to be sharing her experiences and knowledge of performing with the aspiring young musical theatre stars of tomorrow. Her mission is to provide a supportive, fun environment where young people can be creative, expressive and improve communication skills that enhance one’s life, as well as put on a rockin’ good show!
Kathryn Emily has been studying dance for 20 years in Texas. She has 15 years of experience working with youth as well. Kathryn Emily studied at Belhaven University, Jackson, MS for her BFA in Dance with an emphasis on Modern. She also danced professionally in Jackson, MS with Front Porch Dance Company. Kathryn Emily’s classes focus on strong technique and a personal connection with her students. She is the Company Ballet director at Dance Discovery’s Central studio.
Kaylee DeMetrotion holds a BFA in Dance Performance from Sam Houston State University. She has 14 year of training in various dance styles including aerial, ballet, tap, jazz, lyrical, hip hop, improvisation, pointe, modern, and Gaga. She has danced professionally in Dallas and New York City with the Positive Space dance company and in Houston with Nicolay Dance Works and NobleMotion Dance. While at SHSU she performed in many faculty and guest artist works including solo and ensemble, and received several awards and scholarships such as The Nancy Gaertner Performing Arts Scholarship. She has also experienced dance on an international level by attending Dance Italia, a summer dance intensive, in Lucca, Italy. She has instructed children for nine years teaching and assisting dance classes and camps.
Jessica began dancing at a young age; her passion for movement inspires her to continuously seek opportunities to explore and develop as a dancer, teacher and artist. She received her BFA in Dance from the Ohio State University. She had the great pleasure of studying with and performing for faculty members Bebe Miller, Susan Hadley, Meghan Durham-Wall and MFA Alumni Abby Zbikowski. Jessica has attended the American Dance Festistival and studied dance for a semester at Taipei National University of the Arts in Taipei, Taiwan. Jessica is happy to back in her hometown and is thrilled to be a part of such a wonderful dance community in Austin. She teaches all levels at our Avery Ranch studio.
Stacey graduated from Oklahoma City University in 2009 with a degree in Dance Management. After graduating, Stacey went on to dance internationally with Royal Caribbean International on the Navigator of the Seas and The Vision of the Seas. Stacey also performed with the National Arena Football League with Oklahoma City Yard Dawgs. While in college, Stacey was a part of the American Spirit Dance Company, as well as director of the Spirit of Grace Liturgical Dance Company. Stacey has a strong passion for helping individuals meet their fitness goals, overcome injuries, and grow as dancers. Stacey has over 10 years experience in teaching Jazz, Hip-Hop, Ballet, Contemporary, and Tap. Along with teaching, she holds her Crossfit Level 1 certification as a Personal Trainer, and is a member of the American College of Sports Medicine. Stacey is our Performance Company director at the Avery Ranch studio.
Jillian is a graduate of Texas Woman’s University holding a BA in Dance. There she studied dance under Mary Williford-Shade, Sarah Gamblin, Jordan Fuchs, and Shelley Padilla among others. Prior to this she was a student at Austin Conservatory of the Arts as well as a member of the Leander High School Blue Belles. She received her Yoga certification from Yoga Yoga. Jillian has 7 years of teaching experience and she has an amazing way of captivating children! Jillian teaches all levels at all locations. She is also the performance team choreographer for several of our Avery Ranch teams. From classical studies to toddler dance expressions, Jillian does it all with grace!
Sarah has been teaching dance since 1996. She holds a BFA in Ballet from Belhaven University in Jackson, MS. Sarah taught as a Pilates Specialist at Rice University and taught children’s dance for many years at the Houston Met Dance Center as well. She takes special care to keep each student actively engaged in the lesson at hand while guiding them through the creative process. Sarah teaches the classical studies program as well as several other classes at the Avery Ranch location. Sarah especially has a heart for toddlers as a proud mother of three young children! Come try her Dance Expressions class with your two year old!
Heidi holds a BS from Tulane University. She has studied dance since she was 10 years old and has a great passion for the joy of movement. Heidi has been working with children for many years and in this time she has found that the most important thing she can do for her students is to empower them with a confident sense of self and strength. Her playful nature makes her a favorite with young children and adults alike! Besides teaching, Heidi assists Laura in the office at Avery Ranch and is available to help both parents and students.
Rachel has studied dance for 15 years including: ballet, jazz, tap, modern, Afro-Haitian and creative dance She attended San Francisco State University where she received a Bachelor’s degree in Geography and she also holds a Master’s degree in Geography from UT Austin. Rachel is the mother of three children, ages ten, seven, and four. For the past 11 years she has been a stay-at-home mom. Rachel enjoys sharing her love of dance with children and families. Rachel teaches Baby & Buddy Creative Dance Classes for infants and toddlers up to age 23 months and their caregivers.
Our Musical Theatre Instructor, Kara has a B.A. in Art & Performance specializing in Musical Theatre from UT Dallas. She recently moved to Austin from L.A. where she has worked as an actress and model for the past several years. She has 60+ clock hours of educational training and has served as a child rearing consultant for 15 years. After training in Musical Theatre for 26 years Kara is proud to be here in Austin working with Dance Discovery. She wishes to identify the magic in each child and help it grow and flourish like a flower. She not only wants to instill a passion for musical theatre in each child, but also a passion for life!
Maya has 17 years of dance training. She danced competitively for twelve years as a member of Ashland‘s Affirming Arts Studio and West Brook Stars Drill Team. With 7 years of experience working with young children, Maya is a master when it comes to breaking down steps in a way that children can be successful! She is currently working towards a BSA in Mathematics with a minor in Religious Studies at the University of Texas. Maya loves sharing her passion for dance with her students and helping them to discover their creative potential!
Laura West is the Avery Ranch Dance & Music Manager and Sales Manager for Dance Discovery. Laura has a Masters Degree in Teacher Leadership and over 20 years of management and business experience. As a trainer for over 15 years, she provides support for the dance instructors and parents to ensure everyone has the best experience possible. Her love for children that drove her to become a teacher now can be seen in her passion to cultivate the joy of dance for children of all ages. She’s happy to help you choose classes best for your children and assist you in navigating your child’s dance education.
Abi comes to us with a strong background in Musical Theatre as well as dance! She has been dancing and performing for over 15 years, including dancing with Collide Theatrical in Minneapolis. She graduated from the Saint Paul Conservatory of Performing Artists and is currently working toward her BSA degree in Neuroscience with a minor in English and a certificate in Computation and Data Sciences from the University of Texas at Austin. Abi got her start working with children more than 10 years ago as an assistant dance teacher. As a teacher, she feels that it is very important that her students understand the significance of dance as an art form and not just as a sport. Thus, she strives to develop their creativity and individuality as well as hard work and discipline, and hopes the students will be able to use these principles throughout the rest of their lives. Abi loves the energy of teaching and gaining inspiration from her students! She learns from them as they do from her!