Alena began her dance training at the age of 9 at Jodi's School of dance in Granville, IL. She initially studied jazz, tap, and tumbling. Within 3 years, Alena was competing at the national level in both power tumbling and sports acrobatics. Under the direction of former world silver medalist Tim Schlosser, Alena was a 3 time national finalist as part of a women's pair in sports acrobatics, and a 4 time national finalist in power tumbling. She earned 2 bronze medals at the AAU Junior Olympic Nationals in Sports Acrobatics and Platform tumbling, and was twice named the Illinois State Power Tumbling Champion. in 1992, Alena was chosen to represent the United States at the World Power Tumbling Championships in New Zealand.
Over the course of her career, Alena continued extensive ballet training while competing as a high level compulsory and optional gymnast. Alena joined the prestigious University of Kentucky Cheerleading squad in the fall of 1992, while pursuing degrees in Physical Education and Health. In 1994 she made the switch back to dance, performing and competing 3 more years as a member of the nationally ranked UK Pom Squad. Upon completing her degrees, Alena also coached the University of Kentucky White Squad. While attending UK, Alena continued her dance education under the direction of Dr.Rayma Beal, studying all genres of dance including ballet, modern, ballroom, contemporary, musical theater, and choreography.
In addition, Alena has an extensive musical theater background. She began formal vocal training at the age of 5, performing as a soloist with the Illinois Valley Children's Choir. She has performed in dozens of shows/ musicals at the high school and regional level, often performing the role of dance captain. Alena has also been cast in multiple local and regional commercials, and was a featured dancer in the national ABC Monday Night Football Campaign with Hank Williams, Jr.
Over the past 20 years, Alena has continued to coach and choreograph both dance and cheer teams at the middle school, high school, and collegiate level. Her squads have won numerous State, Regional. and National titles. She currently specializes in customized music mixes for dance, cheer, pageants, and fitness competitors. Alena is the only Acrobatic Arts Module 2 certified acro instructor in Central KY along with being a certified Alixa Flexibility teacher.
Naomi Day, from Williamsburg, Kentucky has danced since elementary school. She had the unique opportunity to train under the direction of Kelly Fischer, former owner of The Dance Centre, as well as under the instruction of Marianne McAdam and Sarah Downs at EKU here in Richmond. A multi-talented dancer and choreographer with experience in modern, ballet, jazz, tap, contemporary, creative dance and movement styles, she brings a diverse background to Bluegrass Dance Training Center.
Naomi graduated from EKU in the spring of 2013 with a BFA in Visual Arts and a minor in dance. Throughout her time at EKU, Naomi was an active participant with EKU Dance Theatre. She was a former officer, a dancer for 5 years and choreographer for the past 4.5 years for the group. In the fall of 2010 she won the award of “Best Choreography” for her piece “Energy (Never Dies).” She has choreographed 13 pieces for Dance Theatre and looks forward to completing a 14th piece as a guest choreographer this semester. In addition to her extensive choreography accomplishments, Naomi was also awarded "Most Outstanding Performer" honors during her Senior year at EKU.
Her true passion is art in all of its forms and feels very blessed to be able to share it with others. Her intricate detail to choreography and awareness of space and music are an asset that we are certainly pleased to have her share with us. This will be Miss Naomi’s 8th year and sharing her love for dance with the students of BGDTC.
Kelsey Van Tine was born in Naples, Florida. She trained at the Naples Dance Conservatory, formerly known as The Ballet Institute of Southwest Florida, under the direction of Abdelazis Roque. Ms. Van Tine also worked with choreographers including, but not limited to, Kirt Hathaway, Anna Patsfall, and Roberto Sifontes in neoclassical works. At the end of the 2012-2013 season with Kentucky Ballet Theatre, she was promoted to Principal Dancer by Artistic Director Norbe Risco for her tremendous artistic talent and mastery of the art of classical ballet. In May 2017, Kelsey traveled to Cancun, Mexico with three other KBT dancers to perform two pas de deux at the invitation of the 7th Annual International Encounter of Dance Festival. Kelsey has been with KBT for nine seasons, where she is also on faculty at the KBT Academy as one of the lead instructors and YAGP coach. Kelsey is excited to expand her role as a ballet instructor for Bluegrass Dance Training Center.
Emily Stork has been dancing for thirteen years, and has been an assistant teacher for the past five years. She began her dance training at Dancer’s Studio in Lexington. The studio owner, Laurie Fields, encouraged her and her love of dance began. She has been dancing at BGDTC since it opened in 2006. She has experience in ballet, tap, musical theatre, jazz, contemporary, choreography, and modern and was formerly part of the Prep Program.
Emily is currently a student at EKU pursuing a degree in education. In addition to teaching at BGDTC, Emily taught a beginner’s ballet class at a local home school group this past year. Emily will continue to cultivate her love of performing as a member of the Bluegrass Dance Company competition team this season.
Emily says, “I can see the results of dancing that a child experiences, I want to be a part of that by teaching and encouraging them." In addition to dancing, Emily also enjoys painting, studying sign language, and leading a creative arts ministry at her church. We are excited to have such an enthusiastic, patient, and knowledgeable teacher as Miss Emily acting as both an assistant and a classroom instructor at BGDTC.
Born and raised in Winchester, Kentucky, Samantha Ford began her dance education at the age of two at Fara’s School of Dance. Samantha has had the privilege to study dance at Ballet Winchester, Arts Studio of Kentucky, and Bluegrass Dance Training Center. She is trained in multiple styles of dance including: ballet, pointe, modern, contemporary, lyrical, hip hop, jazz, and tap.
Samantha has been a member of the Bluegrass Dance Company since 2011, where she has won several regional and national awards. Samantha has been awarded the student choreography award from Applause Talent Dance Nationals multiple times. Samantha also performed with the Allegro Dance Project for the 2017 season and is currently a member of One Love Dance Company.
Samantha is currently an instructor at Bluegrass Dance Training Center and Dancer’s Pointe. She teaches multiple levels of ballet, contemporary, modern, lyrical, hip hop and jazz. Samantha is also currently a private dance instructor, providing her students with private lessons and choreography for recital, showcase, and competition. Samantha is currently a member of the National Dance Educators Organization, where she is working towards a certification in professional dance instruction and is certified in Alixa Flexibility.
Alexandra (Alex) Todd Doolin, from Berea, Kentucky did gymnastics for ten years, coached gymnastics for seven years at Excel Gymnastics, and has been teaching acrobatics with Alena Watts for two years at Bluegrass Dance Training Center. Alex graduated for Eastern Kentucky University in the spring of 2015 with a BA in elementary education with a concentration in LBD special education. She is now teaching 5thgrade at Kirksville Elementary in Richmond, Kentucky. Her true passion lies in helping all students reach their maximum potential socially and physically at school and in dance/gymnastics! She is thrilled to be able to work at BGDTC with some fabulous acro students!
Rachel Cobb...Follower if Jesus, Wife of Chad, Mom to Kaylan, Kylee and Khloe, Children’s Minister at FBC Richmond, Music teacher at The Learning Center, and Acro teacher at Bluegrass Dance. Rachel has been a lover of the arts her entire life...singing, acting, cheer, gymnastics, and visual arts have been a part of everything she has done. Rachel knew at a young age that she wanted to work with children and has been blessed over the years to be able to teach gymnastics, cheerleading, music, art, and lead kids in faith development. As a mom, she loves watching her girls’ love of the arts come to life and now is grateful to a part of the Bluegrass family as an acro instructor.
Gianna Watts began her training at Bluegrass at the age of 2. She has won numerous Regional and National titles including four National Student Choreography awards. Gianna has enhanced her training at some of the nation’s most prestigious summer programs including Joffrey South in Athens, Georgia under the direction of Colleen Barnes & Mitchell Finke And Joffrey Musical Theatre in New York City with Matthew Prescott and Matthew Baud. In 2018 Gianna was awarded a scholarship to the Institute For American Musical Theatre in New York City. She spent the last two summers studying with famed vocal coach Andrew Drost, acting coach Michael Minarik, and training with some of the best choreographers in the industry and current Broadway stars including Lindsay Lancaster, Ricky Hinds , Whitney Sprayberry, Adam Perry, Nicholas Cunningham, Manuela Oliveira, Deanna Doyle, Lizz Picini, Christine Cornish, Clay Thompson, & Cameron Adams.
Haylie has danced since she was 4 years old and began dancing at Bluegrass Dance Training Center in 2007. She was a member of the competition team for 6 years and participated as a junior assistant for several years. Haylie has learned many styles of dance including ballet, tap, baton, jazz, hip hop, lyrical, contemporary, and acro. Her favorite style of dance is lyrical.
Haylie graduated from Madison Central High School class of 2019 and will be attending EKU this fall and studying Deaf and Hard of Hearing Elementary Education. She holds a special place in her heart for special needs students. She is very excited for the opportunity to teach at Bluegrass and continue her love of dance.
Angela Thomas began her acro/gymnastics/tumbling training at the age of 8. She trained as a competitive gymnast and cheerleader at Marshall’s Gymnastics in western Kentucky. As a part of competing in floor exercise, ballet and rhythmic dance were integrated into her studies. After years of competition and multiple titles, she retired from competing at the age of 16. However, she was unable to leave the sport that she loved and began to coach throughout high school and her early college years.
At EKU, Angela danced for the EKU dance team under the instruction of Marianne McAdam. Angela graduated from EKU with degrees in Occupational Therapy and Psychology in 1997. Currently, Angela works as an occupational therapist in a neighboring county school system where she is able to utilize her knowledge within the classroom. She is excited about sharing her knowledge and skills of acro with her students at Bluegrass where her two daughters are currently studying dance.
Tara Howard has been dancing with Bluegrass Dance Training Center for the last ten years, and has been a Junior Assistant for the past three years. She is continuing her dance education in Ballet, Pointe, Acro, and Modern/Contemporary at Bluegrass Dance Training Center this fall.
Tara began twirling under the instruction of Jenni Webb May of Bluegrass Twirling in 2013 and absolutely fell in love with this unique sport. She started competing in 2015 and is the current Kentucky State Women’s Solo, Strut, and Dance Twirl pairs champion. Her competition path to World Trials began this year when she competed at Pretrials in Trenton, OH and qualified to compete at Nationals in Jacksonville, Florida.
Currently Tara is coached by Cindy Harmon, Cincinnati and is a member of team Encore, coached by Machelle Stiehl, Cincinnati.
Tara has been homeschooled for four years through Abeka Academy, Pensacola, where she has made the honor roll the last two years. She also attends a local homeschool co-op in Richmond, Kentucky where she will be to be teaching a baton/dance class in 2019.
Tara is very thankful and excited to share her love of baton twirling with others this dance year.