*Emily Booth Masters, Founder has been dancing since she was a young child, and she has been teaching for more than twenty years. Her training began under a former Vaudeville performer, from whom she learned the tap style known as “hoofing.” She was one of a competitive tap dance duo throughout her teen years. She studied ballet and jazz under many esteemed teachers, including Terrell Paulk and Gus Giordano, before becoming a member of the Appalachian Modern Dance Ensemble (while attending Appalachian State University). She is a certified ballroom dance instructor and the early years of her professional dance career were spent performing and competing in American Style Ballroom dance - both Smooth and Rhythm. She holds an undergraduate minor in dance in addition to both a BA and an MA in English Literature. She founded DancEast (formerly Studio 1406) in 2008 after deciding she wanted to create a unique environment in which her own children and the children of her neighborhood could learn to express themselves creatively through movement.
*Lindsay Fine Smith, began dancing at the age of 3 in her hometown of Huntsville, AL. She earned her BFA in in Musical Theatre/Dance from the University of Mississippi. Upon graduation, Lindsay moved to L.A., where she taught dance at several studios and trained under Los Angeles Contemporary Dance Company artistic director and founder Kate Hutter. She moved back to Oxford, MS to teach dance for the University of MS. While there she also developed Hinge Dance Company, along with dance partner Lydia Siniard, and she served as the company's co-owner and artistic director for 5 years. Hinge expanded the dance community throughout North MS with exciting and innovative performances while building a base for open-level adult classes. Lindsay also worked in Tupelo, MS as Studio Director for the Tupelo Academy of Dance Arts and held the position of Associate Artistic Director for the Tupelo Ballet. Lindsay moved to Nashville in the Spring of 2015 where she quickly found a home at DancEast, joining the faculty that August. She founded Transit Dance Company in 2016; the not-for-profit dance company is based in East Nashville and still under development, so watch for a launch date soon!
*Whitley Hill, Master Choreographer was born and raised in New York City. She was a child actor, performing at New York's famed La Mama Theater, with the New York City Shakespeare Festival and with the New York City Opera. She is a graduate in drama from NYC's High School for the Performing Arts. She has a degree in dance from the University of Michigan and an MA in performance studies. She directed an award-winning dance company in Michigan for 14 years, and her dances have been commissioned and performed by companies across the country. She has worked with students of all ages in multiple dance genres, and she has taught extensively and served as guest artist in many universities. She is the choreographer of many of DancEast's most beloved pieces and a favorite instructor among students of all ages. She has been a part of the DancEast faculty since 2008.
*Rachel Parker-Shields received her BA in Creative Writing, with a minor in Dance Performance, from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. She has performed in various theaters along the East coast, and visited more than thirty countries as a dancer with Princess Cruise Line Productions. She has performed with a variety of dance projects in Nashville, including the Grand Ole Opry and the Nashville Opera. Rachel has appeared in commercials, music videos, films, and TV series. She is also a certified yoga instructor, teaching with Vanderbilt Summer Academy, Climb Nashville, and corporate classes. Rachel is grateful to be a part of DancEast and a member of the Nashville dance and yoga community. She has been a member of the DancEast faculty since January 2014.
*Curtis Thomas holds a BFA (magna cum laude) from The Boston Conservatory. His areas of expertise include Ballet, Modern, Jazz, Tap, Partnering, Improvisation and Pedagogy. He served as Teaching Artist for New Orleans Ballet Association, where he taught dancers between the ages of 8 and 17 Classical Ballet, Horton Technique and Improvisation. As Teaching Artist/Choreographer for The School at TU Dance Center in St. Paul, Minnesota, he taught Intro to Dance, Composition, Ballet and Modern to kids ages 9-17. He also worked in elementary schools teaching classes to children in grades K-8. Curtis recently relocated to Nashville to dance with New Dialect, a nonprofit contemporary dance collective and training program founded by Banning Bouldin to be a place where dancers, teaching artists and choreographers can explore the wide variety of groundbreaking movement vocabularies that exist in the world of 21st Century dance.
*Erin Kouwe holds a B.A. in dance (magna cum laude) from Point Park University's Conservatory of Performing Arts, and she has trained with other prestigious institutions including Springboard Danse Montreal, Northwest Dance Project and Hubbard Street Dance Chicago. Her areas of expertise cover a wide range: Contemporary, Ballet, Jazz, Tap, Pointe and Improvisation. Erin has performed with New Dialect, Visceral Dance Chicago, and Luna Negra Dance Theater and in projects in Nashville, Chicago, and Pittsburgh. She has taught open classes, master classes, and workshops for companies, pre-professional training programs, and studios - to all levels of dancers ranging from young children to adults.
*Ashley Lawless holds a BFA in Dance Performance & Choreography from the University of Southern Mississippi. She has studied with a myriad of great teachers and performers, and her dance education ranges from aerial dance to botoh. In 202, she co-founded and directed whiteroad Dance Media in New York City and has presented her work to audiences across the country in many venues, including the Built on Stilts Festival in Martha's Vineyard. Ashley has been performing, creating and teaching dance for over 12 years, focusing on contact improvisation and performance art. Ashley's most current project is a collaboration with fellow dancer and choreographer Janelle Bonfour-Mikes on a dance/poetry/performance art/film arts collective Panama Red Arts.
*Holly Cannon-Hesse began her studies at Middle Tennessee State University, where she majored in Speech and Theatre with an emphasis on education and minored in dance. She studied under the likes of Anne Holland, Nancy Turpin, and Rossi Turner in a variety of disciplines, such as Modern, Ballet, and choreographic technique. She has been a member of Blue Moves Modern Dance Company since 1993; the company takes on important social and personal issues through quirky and creative movement. She has been teaching dance to children for more than 15 years. In addition to teaching at Second Story Studio and DancEast, she is a teaching artist for the Tennessee Performing Arts Center’s many outreach programs.
*Carrie Gant (bio coming soon)
*Courtney Flores was born and raised in the Monterey Bay in California. Having pursued a professional career as a dancer in Los Angeles for more than 6 years, she has an abundant amount of experience in the entertainment and commercial industry. Aside from the role of a dancer, she has assisted, choreographed, directed, and been a part of many non-profits and dance-related administration work. She expanded into the health and fitness world while living in Seattle, WA, where she developed knowledge and expertise beyond choreography and performance. She is passionate about her everyday healthy, active lifestyle. Her diverse collection of experiences has allowed her to become a well-rounded teacher and artist. Courtney is excited to be in a position to share and influence students and build professional relationships that allow her to offer both challenges and support.
*Quincy Ellison aka QKong started breaking in 2001 and was traveling the South, East Coast, and Midwest extensively by 2002. He won a number of jams, including Loose Screws, NBL, Get Rooted, and Atlanta Street Jam. He is one of the founding members of Illville Crew (established 2003) and co-started Bashville in 2004, one of the largest jams in the South, now going into its 14th year. QKong started dabbling in house dancing around 2005 and began to devote himself more seriously in 2011. He has been a member of Digital Nativez since 2013. He founded 615 House of Dance in 2013 as a community resource for both beginning students and experienced dancers.
*Alex Winer (bio coming soon)
Dorse Brown graduated from the University of Memphis with a Bachelor's Degree in Music and a minor in Dance. While training, he received a Young Artist Talent Scholarship to attend the American Dance Festival and also had the opportunity to appear and compete on the 5th season of the television show "So You Think You Can Dance." He has trained and danced with the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company in Dayton, Ohio, and he's served as guest artist at a variety of universities. In January of 2016, he went back to his Hip Hop roots (the genre he began learning at the age of 7 in his hometown of Little Rock, AR) with a Royal Caribbean Cruise Line contract.
*PHOTOS COURTESY OF EYERIS PHOTOGRAPHY