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Maria Usher – Director/Instructor
Maria has been teaching dance since 1986. She started with five students and over the years has watched it grow to nearly 400 students. Maria spent the first nine years of her dance career teaching for Fowlerville Community Education. With the love and support of her family, friends, and Community Ed, Maria ventured out in 1995 to open her own studio. She began dancing at the age of 3 and continued throughout the years. Her training includes studying with Loraine Jones, at Glenn’s School of Dance, Cheryl’s School of Dance, Roxy and Company, and Tina Marie’s. Maria also took dance classes at MSU as well as studied at Broadway Dance Center and Steps on Broadway in NYC, Gus Giodano in Chicago, and Debbie Reynolds in L.A.
In addition to teaching dance, Maria has a BA in Mathematics with a Secondary Teaching Certificate. She taught math and computers in middle and high school for seven years and has been teaching math at Lansing Community College since 2001.
Maria continues to expand her dance education and keeps up on what’s new in the dance world by attending national conferences for dance educators. She also provides opportunities for her students beyond the studio by taking dancers to NYC to attend professional classes, taking dancers to Walt Disney World to perform in a parade in the Magic Kingdom and on a WDW stage, and taking dancers to perform on a professional stage on a cruise ship.
Maria enjoys sharing her love and knowledge of dance with her students. She also prides herself in providing her students with the most knowledgeable and qualified instructors.
Kellie Santiago – Instructor
Kellie started dancing when she was four at Dance Expressions in Howell, MI. After her first year of dance she enrolled at Glenn’s School of Dance and continued there for three years. Since then, Kellie has been studying at Maria’s School of Dance (9 years). Kellie has been teaching at Maria’s since the Fall of 2000, teaching Tap, Jazz, Lyrical, Hip Hop and Jazz. In 1997 Kellie danced in the Florida Citrus Bowl and in 2001 she went to California on a scholarship to Debbie Reynolds School of Dance. Kellie auditioned and was selected for Hoctor’s Caravan Kids and Dance Olympus’ VIP. She has taken classes from professional dance instructors at the Broadway Dance Center in New York, Debbie Reynolds School of Dance and The Edge in California, and at Gus Giordano Dance Center in Chicago. Kellie attended Eastern Michigan University for one year, and then enrolled in Douglas J Academy. After graduating from Douglas J in August of 2007, Kellie went on to teach for the Douglas J Aveda Academy. Kellie is now a stylist of Ulta Salon in Farmington, MI. She began choreographing for MSD’s Dance Express competition dance team in 2002. She has received Overall High Scores, Best Choreography, Most Entertaining.
Jennifer Krueger – Instructor
Jennifer Krueger began dancing at the age of nine when she enrolled in a Livonia Public Schools Community Education dance class. With each class, her love for dance grew and developed into a life long passion for teaching and learning the art of dance.
In her high school years, she was selected to learn and perform in the Livonia Creative and Performing Arts program where she decided to teaching dance as a career. With her goals set, she advance to Wayne State University and enrolled as a Dance major and English minor. She joined the Wayne State dance company and proceeded to dance, choreograph, and advance her knowledge of the dance world. She won various awards including the Copperfoot Choreography Award. She left Wayne State University with a Bachelors of Science degree and a Michigan Teaching Certification.
After college, her time has been spent teaching gymnastics, working at a private Michigan school where she developed a creative movement program for pre-kindergarten through eighth graders, choreographing for high school musicals, working at local dance studios teaching and choreographing all types of dance, and raising her children.
For the past 18 years she has been teaching and choreographing jazz, modern, lyrical and ballet dancesvfor soloists and groups. For the past four years, she has been a member of the Cecchetti Council of America and Dance Masters of America.
Jennifer comes to Maria’s School of Dance with high hopes and a strong desire to pass her knowledge and love for dance to each student she works with.
Dione Monday – Instructor
Dione is a graduate from Central Michigan University majoring in business and apparel design. She also was the founder of Common Ground Performing Arts at CMU. She has been teaching for over 10 years in various styles including hip hop, jazz, and lyrical. Some of her credits include A.S.I.I.D (as seen on Americas Best Dance Crew) and the An One Mix Tape Tour featuring E-40 and more.
Carrie Beam – Co-Director
Carrie began working at Maria’s School of Dance in 1995 helping in the office. Having worked in banking and finance for fourteen years, she was able to take over as bookkeeper. As the studio grew so did her responsibilities. Now working as co-director, she now oversees day to day operations of the studio In 2006 she helped establish Dance Express; a non profit organization that provides dancers the opportunity to work with professional dance instructors and compete for local and national scholarships. She is proud of the many accomplishments of MSD dancers.
Danielle Wireman – Instructor
Danielle started dancing when she was three years old at Orchid Diane’s Studio in the Detroit area. Then went on to study at Giselle Dance Studio and Charmaine’s School of Dance. As a teenager she continued her dance education at Carol Hazel’s Dance Studio in Mason, MI. Danielle studied Ballet, Pointe, Tap and Jazz. She began dancing at Maria’s School of Dance as an adult dancer with Maria in 1989. She then started teaching at Maria’s in 1995. Danielle has continued her dance education attending many dance conventions and workshops in Michigan, Ohio, Illinois and New York. She has been teaching our young students and special needs students for several years and loves helping them to mold their love of dance.
Connie Chapman – Studio Manager
Connie began working at Marias School of Dance in 1996 doing many different projects around the studio. Over the years she has continued to grow, learn, and take on new roles and responsibilities. This past year Connie took on the leadership role of office manager. Connie thoroughly enjoys the time that she spends at the dance studio and over the years she has come to think of the studio as her second home and the staff , students and their families as her extended family.
Cara Murray – Instructor
Cara graduated from the University of Michigan as a merit scholarship student, with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance with a Movement Science minor. Prior to U of M, Cara studied dance with Performing Arts Dance Theatre in Howell, Michigan. Honors include being a member of the University of Michigan Dance Team and scholarships to study at Broadway Dance Center and Steps on Broadway in New York City. She has passed seven levels of Cecchetti Ballet instruction. Teaching experience includes Community Theater, several Summer Intensives, Company C Dance Toledo, Dancer’s Edge “Studio D”, Glenn’s School of Dance and Maria’s School of Dance. She has performed in works by Jessica Fogel, Sandra Torijano, and Bill DeYoung. In 2010 she performed in Paul Taylor’s Sacre Du Printemps on a double bill performance with the Paul Taylor Dance Company. In 2011, Cara performed in there: An Evening of Modern Dance at the Baryshnikov Arts Center in NYC.
Kim Flores – Instructor
Kim (Chapman) Flores After a four year hiatus Kim is returning to teaching at Marias School of Dance! Kim left the studio in 2009 after getting married and moving to NYC. While in NY Kim was blessed with two beautiful children, Natalya in 2011 and David in 2012. Kim has since moved back to Michigan and is ready to continue her dance instruction.
Kim started dancing at age 3 and danced with Marias School of Dance from age 7 until graduating high School. After high school Kim attended Michigan State University and graduated in 2006 with a Bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology. Throughout her years of dancing Kim studied various styles of dance and furthered her education by taking classes at Gus Giordano Dance Center in Chicago, Lansing Community College, touring conventions and on scholarship at Broadway Dance Center and Steps on Broadway in NYC. Kim competed with Dance Express for many years and earned various awards and scholarships.
Kim taught dance at Maria’s from 1998-2009 teaching all ages and levels of dancers including the competition team. Kim’s choreography has earned a variety of awards and special honors. In addition to teaching at Maria’s she taught for the Neu Wixom Dance Academy, Summer Institute for the Gifted at the University of Michigan, and choreographed musicals for both the Howell High school and the Community Theatre of Howell.
We are very excited to welcome Kim back to the studio as an instructor and her daughter Natalya as a student!
Bethany Bean – Instructor
Bethany Bean is passionate about vocal music. She has taught elementary music for Walled Lake schools since 1998. She conducts a children’s choir for students in grades four and five at Commerce Elementary. Bethany also enjoys teaching private vocal lessons. Her family has been involved in Community Theater of Howell performances since 2010. Bethany recently had the privilege of serving on staff as the vocal director for “Into the Woods, Jr”. and Summer Theater Camp, both Community Theater of Howell events. She is looking forward to developing and growing a vocal program at Maria’s School of Dance.
Marissa Leonard – Instructor
Marissa is a native of Fowlerville, Michigan and has been a student at Maria’s school of dance since she was three. She has been dancing for fifteen years and competing for twelve of the fifteen. During her time at Maria’s she has studied ballet, pointe, jazz, tap, lyrical, contemporary, hip-hop, and musical theater. IShe has taught summer dance classes since 2013 for ages ranging from 3-14. She has also studied during the summer at Broadway Dance Center in New York City. She will be attending Michigan State University in the fall where she plans to pursue either a nursing degree or pre-veternary medicine while taking dance classes there at a colligate level. She is very excited to venture further into the honor of being an instructor at Maria’s School of Dance.