Our 2021/2022 Fall Schedule is now posted!
Lacee Johnson is a dancer and choreographer currently based in Los Angeles, CA. She began her dance training at the age of two in Austin, TX. There, she was trained in various styles including jazz, lyrical, modern, contemporary, hip hop, tap, classical ballet, the Cecchetti method, pointe, and even clogging. She continued to compete in these genres for thirteen years, winning multiple regional and national titles. She has worked individually with many renowned choreographers across the country, touring as a teaching assistant with Co. Dance and iHollywood Dance Convention. She was also a professional dancer in Reverence Dance Project, company apprentice for Justin Giles’ SoulEscape Company, back up dancer for Omar “Phoenix”, and the proud founder of Captivate Dance Project. She started her choreography career for competitive dance students at the age of 15. She has since earned over ten choreography awards across the country, including automatic acceptance into the Project Creation Choreography Competition in Orlando, Florida.
Lacee was an instructor and choreographer for several competitive and non-competitive dance studios in the Austin area from 2012-2018. In May 2018, she received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Dance and minor in Kinesiology from Texas Tech University. There, she developed her skills as the President of the University Dance Company and a member of Dancers With Soul: Hip Hop Team. Significant works from her college career include, “The Altar Boyz” musical for the Lubbock Community Theatre , the Monterey High School Pop Show [2016, 2017], and her work “Indebted to You” for the Texas Tech University Fall Dance Festival . After graduation, Lacee moved to Los Angeles to further study her individual artistry. Her current mission is to inspire youth to become talented artists that give back to their communities.
Chere Gafney's twirling career began at the age of 8 years old in Crescent, OK. She joined the local twirl and dance studio at the age of 9 where she took ballet, tap, jazz, tumbling, and twirling until graduating from high school.
Chere was a 6 year member of the United States Twirling Association (USTA) registered Orange Blossom Twirl Team under the instruction of Adana Bryant, a former feature twirler for The University of Texas and a USTA judge. She participated in numerous USTA and National Baton Twirling Association (NBTA) twirling competitions and won various awards. Chere has performed locally and statewide at various events and parades. She was the feature twirler for Crescent High School and took private lessons to prepare for solo competitions in one and two baton events for 7 years. Through the years, Chere competed in twirling competitions and pageants winning various individual and team awards. Chere began teaching beginning twirlers at the age of 16 until she graduated high school. Her other activities and interests were head cheerleader, drum major, band member (playing the Flute and French Horn), choir member, and homecoming queen. Chere participated in the Miss Black Oklahoma State University Pageant her sophomore year in college, performing a combination twirl/dance routine for the talent portion of the competition.
Chere started McKinney All Star Twirlers in October 2011 and taught baton twirling at McKinney Dance Academy for 4 years. For 3 years she taught the Pre-Combo classes at MDA as well as the Heart and Sole dance class. This is her 6th year teaching the Cornerstone Dancers.
She is married to Chris Gafney and has two beautiful children, Jordan and Cherra.
Chere is excited to be to be teaching at DT Dance PAC to continue the development of successful and self-confident dancers.
Hayward is a street hip-hop dancer raised in Dallas, TX. For as long as he could walk, he was dancing and performing. Inspired by pop icons like Prince and Michael Jackson, he started teaching himself how to pop, groove, wave, krump, and animate. In high school, he founded his own hip-hop club called, Abstract Motion, which kicked off his love for choreography. In college, he became a leading officer and choreographer for Texas Tech’s first hip-hop dance organization called, “Dancers With Soul: Hip-Hop Team.” With DWS, he performed in TTU men’s and women’s basketball half-time shows, club concerts, community events, and was even the opening act for the famous rapper/hip-hop artist, Wale.
Hayward can also be found freestyling in Todrick Hall’s music video, “Haterz” and tv show, Pop Star High. Although performing was his first love, giving back to the community quickly topped it when he started teaching dance at the Boys and Girls Clubs of Lubbock, TX. As his passion for teaching grew, he decided to accept the offer to teach and choreograph for Olympic figure skaters at the Dallas Star. Upon returning home, he also revived Abstract Motion in the school that his mother teaches at. He newly created Abstract Motion to be an after school dance program that aims to teach youth about the arts and developing good moral character. Today, Hayward is venturing into the dance studio realm to teach the students at Downtown Dance and Performing Arts Centre the heart and soul of hip-hop dance. He aims to inspire all youth to have fun, break molds, and love the skin they’re in.
Suzan has been a dance instructor for 26 years and counting. She is a degreed accountant from Texas A&M University (Class of ’89). But after working for five years as an accountant, she decided to leave the rat race and return to her true love – dance.
Suzan is a studio trained dancer, who continues her dance education by attending summer intensive programs, college courses, local master classes and conventions. She received most of her early training from Mary Six Rupert, who later moved on to become a Rockette and to teach at New York’s famed “Steps” on Broadway. She later studied with ballet masters such as Ms. Victoria Vittum of the Houston Ballet Academy, Chrysalis repertory Dance Company, and Director of the Houston Repertoire Ballet Company. More recently she has studied with former American Ballet Theater company member Robert Underwood. Her studies also include jazz and tap masters such as Joe Istre, Keith Clifton, Rhonda Miller and locally with Buster Cooper.
She believes in developing the entire child, teaching not only dance and appreciation of music and movement; but also discipline and respect for oneself as well as others. She takes pride in growing well rounded students, who are receiving strong technical instruction, focusing on quality over quantity.
Suzan’s students have gone on to major in dance in college and graduate with outstanding programs such as NYU, UCLA, TCU, SMU, Arizona State, Indiana University and Loyola Marymount University. She has had several recognized students at YAGP regionals and several invitations to YAGP finals as well as regional placement awards. She has had a student apprentice with Houston Ballet and her students have received many scholarships to TBT and Houston Ballet intensives and company training programs. She also trains competitive dancers and has had numerous convention company dancers, scholarship winners and awards.
Suzan loves all forms of dance, but Ballet is her main passion leading her into full productions of ballets formatted to fit studio dancers. To date her productions include: The Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, La Fille Mal Gardee, Don Quixote, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Alice in Wonderland, Snow White and Raymonda. One of her goals is to show her students that comedy and entertainment are integral to the story of a ballet, which brings life, love and appreciation for Ballet.
Katie began dancing at age four and immediately fell in love! She has trained in all styles including Ballet, Tap, Jazz, Contemporary, Lyrical, Musical Theater and Hip Hop. She spent two summers at Ballet Workshop New England as well as one at Slide Tap Intensive in New York City. At her dance studio, she danced the iconic roles of the Sugar Plum Fairy from The Nutcracker, Alice from Alice in Wonderland and Snow White. After graduating from McKinney High School in 2008, Katie moved to Los Angeles to pursue further training at studios such as The Edge and Millennium Dance Complex. She took classes next to multiple dancers from So You Think You Can Dance; Kent Boyd, Matthew Kazmierczak and Audrey Case; from Mandy Moore, Erica Sobol and Nick Lanzisera to name a few.
Her award winning choreography has been recognized by Celebrity, Starquest, Kids Artistic Revue, Talent on Parade and numerous other National Dance Competitions. Not only was she the youngest recipient of Celebrity Dance's CREATE Choreography Award, she was also the only two-time winner! Katie spent a year touring with Celebrity Dance Competitions as the Administrative Assistant to the Director. She traveled all over the country from Arizona to Georgia, and Colorado to Michigan.
She loves sharing her love and passion of dance with dancers young and old. Whether you or your dancer are 2 or 92, Katie would love to teach you all!
Chris Kellaway began their training at the age of 11 in Allen, Tx with Cindy's School of Dance. Upon their training, they quickly integrated into the studios company the following year. Chris trained in a range of styles, including ballet, hip-hop, tap, contemporary, jazz, musical theater, improv, and more. While on company, they were a member of the elites with Cindys until they graduated in 2020. Chris was known for being a go-to assistant for Cindys, beginning assisting classes at 13 years old up until they graduated highschool. While an assistant, many times Chris would have the privilege of leading classes, teaching combos, or even just having workshop days. In the summer of 2018, Chris attended a week-long intensive with LADM and was asked to join their senior company. Chris was a senior assistant for the LADM faculty for conventions and intensives, working with well known choreographers including DJ Guthrie, Tyce Diorio, Micheal Rooney, Christian Vincent, ect. Chris was working with LADM until recently due to the pandemic in 2020. Since graduation they have decided to continue their training into collegiate level with University of North Texas, focusing their training on choreography. As a dancer they have had many performance opportunities including the stages of competitions, being in short films, and being a part of numerous dance films. Chris Kellaway has had a long term passion for dance, however they have always had the same love for continuing that passion through others in their training. Chris hopes to not only facilitate growth in their students, but also to nurture their love, drive, and passion for dance.
Maddie is a professional ballet dancer born and raised in Dallas, Tx. She began her training with Tanju and Patricia Tuzer. At age 12 she was invited to the Kirov Academy of Ballet’s summer program. Upon completion of the program, she was offered full scholarship to remain at the school year-round to continue her training in the Russian Vaganova method. She accepted, and that year performed soloist roles in both The Nutcracker and The Little Humpbacked Horse. However, her love for Dallas brought her back to the Lone-Star state the following year. Living away from home can be difficult at 13!
When she moved back to Texas, she immediately joined the Ballet Ensemble of Texas training under Tom Nicholson and Lisa Slagle. After performing many soloist and principle roles at Regional Dance America and the Youth American Grand Prix including Odalisques from Le Corsaire, Black Swan, and Paquita Variations, she received invitations and scholarships to attend prestigious summer programs like Kaatsbaan, Joffrey, ABT, Texas Ballet Theater, and offered an apprenticeship with Pittsburgh Ballet Theater.
She decided college would be her route after ankle surgery her senior year of high school and after receiving full scholarships to dance programs including Oklahoma University, and Southern Methodist University, she chose to accept SMU’s offer of full artistic scholarship for a BFA in Dance Performance. At SMU, she began choreographing and costume design and both her choreography and costumes were showcased in student performances.
Fresh out of college, Maddie joined Dallas NeoClassical Ballet as a company member where she continued to dance and create costumes for the company’s reanimation of many works by the Ballet Russes. With DNCB, she was also chosen to perform at the Dallas Symphony’s Soluna Festival Array onstage with the Icelandic band Kaleo in 2018. That year, she was also recruited to become a founding member of Ballet North Texas and asked to perform the role of the Sugar Plum Fairy in their first production of The Nutcracker. Now, she continues to dance professionally as a freelance artist while also teaching ballet all over DFW. While she has been instructing ballet for only five years, her students have received notoriety in both classical and contemporary dance competitions and even been awarded scholarship to Juilliard. She is excited to begin her first year with Downtown Dance and to share her love for classical ballet in the 2021/2022 season.