Lee Ann Strain-Whittington - Owner - Competition Team Director
Lee Ann began dancing, twirling and gymnastics at an early age. Her mother, Jeannie Strain, was the baton twirling teacher for several dance studios around the Dallas area. She would take classes while her mother taught classes. Her first teacher was Olivia Crutchfield at Gingham Girl Dance Studio. Lee Ann was also a competitive gymnast. She was coached by Bill Willis at Calico Kids, was on the gymnastics team with Betty Martin of Flippers in Garland for over 6 years, and then became a member of South Garland's first gymnastics team. While a Junior at South Garland High School, Lee Ann was selected Outstanding Performer at U.I.L. State Solo and Ensemble Competition where she was Feature Twirler for 4 years. She continued twirling during college as she was Feature Twirler at Stephen F. Austin State University. Not only was Lee Ann a champion Dancer, Twirler and Gymnast with State & National Titles, she has National Television credits to her name.
Lee Ann also studied with Gene Pflug, Kitty Carter, Terry Wolter, Fred, Kelly, Beverly and Will Shirley, J. David Kirby, Savion Glover, Steve Condos, David Medina, Chris Boyd, Monica (Micky) Saba, Jane Quentin and Key Meersman. During both high school and college, she assisted at many different dance conventions and camps as well as traveled all over Mexico teaching and performing baton twirling. After college, Lee Ann continued her dance training and teaching throughout the Dallas area. Before opening CK Studio in 2010, Lee Ann worked as the Dance Director for her mother's studio, Calico Kids.
Although Lee Ann has always loved to perform, she loves teaching and creating choreography even more. Her students and choreography have consistently placed in the top 10 high point category at each competition they have attended. Lee Ann is also proud to provide her students with many unique performance opportunities. Her favorite, thus far, was having the privilege of taking a group of students to perform at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia. In her 40 years of teaching, she has had many students who have become professional dancers, Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, Rhythm & Blue Dancers, Dallas Mavericks Dancers and gone onto careers in film, television, Broadway, theatre, modeling and dance teachers. Lee Ann continues to enjoy sharing her passion with the students at CK.
Michelle Blum-Schuetz - Director of Ballet - Director of the Rockwall Ballet Company
Michelle began dancing at an early age and was invited to become a boarding student with Madame Nathalie Krassovska in 1982. She danced with the Krassovska Ballet Jeunesse until Madame’s death in 2005. Michelle attended Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts where she had the opportunity to learn many original works, as well as receive individual instruction on numerous classical pieces.
During Michelle’s professional career, she performed many principal roles most notably from Don Quixote, Paquita, and Chopinana. Michelle studied with artists including Robert Joffrey, Igor Youskevitch, David Howard, Jacques d’Amboise, Marina Svetlova, Jerry Bywaters-Cockran, Richard Englund, Ellen Page Shelton, Soli Arvola, Leo Ahonen, and Fernando Bujones. Michelle had the honor of performing in the world premiere of Giselle, by Valery and Galina Panov, and she was invited to participate in their world tour. Michelle performed the award winning Statues, a work choreographed and given to her by Jutec Kasamon. While dancing with Krassovska, Michelle performed Pas de Quatre which was taught directly to Krassovska by Anton Dolin who recreated the ballet for American Ballet Theater.
Michelle has enjoyed teaching and coaching dancers in the Dallas, Fort Worth area for over twenty years. In 2013, she received the Nathalie Krassovska Award of Excellence at the Classical Ballet Festival. Michelle directs the Rockwall Ballet Company and CK Studio’s ballet productions.
Nathalie Dowsey - Ballet Assistant Director & Contemporary Ballet Instructor
Nathalie began her dance training under the direction of her godmother, Nathalie Krassovska, of the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo in Dallas, Texas. At age eight, she studied on scholarship with Stefanie Best and Mary Muller and later became a member of the Allen Civic Ballet. She received scholarships to American Ballet Theater, Joffrey Ballet, and Tulsa Ballet workshops.
She attended Texas Christian University as a ballet major and worked with artists including Li-Chou Cheng, Elizabeth Gillaspy, Ben Stevenson, Susan Douglas Roberts, Robert Battle, Allyne Gartell, and SYTYCD winner Joshua Allen. At TCU, she was selected by ABT’s Susan Jaffe for original contemporary choreography, Uncaged. She also performed principle roles in The Nutcracker, Don Quixote, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Coppelia, Swan Lake, Pas de Quatre, and Balanchine’s Valse Fantasy in addition to numerous original pieces.
In 2011, Nathalie joined the Central New Jersey Ballet Theatre continuing her passion for professional dance. Nathalie graduated with honors receiving a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration in 2012 and later began teaching for the CNJ Ballet Theatre. Nathalie received the 2017 Nathalie Krassovska Award of Excellence at the Classical Ballet Festival and in 2019, received the Chouteau-Terekhov Pas de Deux Award for her Black Swan Pas de Deux performance. She continues dancing locally and enjoys training students in Classical and Contemporary Ballet and choreographing for the Rockwall Ballet Company.
Kacey Miranda - Combo Class, Jazz, Hip Hop, Lyrical & Competition Team Instructor
Kacey began dancing at the age of 4 when she started the Kiddie College program through Calico Kids. She had the pleasure of studying dance under Lee Ann Whittington, Gene Pflug, Jeannie Strain and Judy Trammel (choreographer for The Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders). She took dance at Calico Kids for 12 years partaking in jazz, tap, ballet and baton twirling. She won many 1st and 2nd place trophies at SWTA and other competitions during her time at Calico Kids. From there, Kacey attended Lake Highlands High School where she became a Highlandette. She attended drill camp for 3 years and received 2nd place out of 800 girls in the Drill and Discipline Competition. Kacey's drill team went to New York in 2004 and she had the opportunity to take a dance class from The Radio City Rockettes. She also took from the great Kitty Carter. After high school, Kacey attended The University of Texas at Dallas where she earned her degree in Elementary Education while also teaching dance at Miss Billyes Dance Studio in Plano. She taught tap, jazz, hip-hop, ballet and contemporary. Kacey taught Kindergarten in RISD for 3 years while also earning her Masters Degree in Education Administration. Kacey's daughters started out in the Combo Classes and are now the newest members of our CK Competition Team.
Kate Barton - Lyrical, Contemporary, Jazz, Hip Hop & Competition Team Instructor
Kate began dancing at an early age. She was a Lieutenant and Captain of the RHS Stingerette Drill Team. After high school she went on to become a World Famous Kilgore College Rangerette and Swingster. After Rangerettes, Kate transferred to Stephen F. Austin State University where she was on the Dance team. Kate graduated with her Bachelors of Science in interdisciplinary studies in 2017. She is currently a SPED/Resource teacher with Garland ISD.
Kate has had the opportunity to dance all over America, Ireland, and Scotland and with artists like Trey Songz. Over the summer, she works for MA (Marching Auxiliaries) Dance and teaches summer camps. In the fall, she works with Spirit of America, to help with the NYC Thanksgiving Parade Dancers. Kate loves getting to teach and sharing her love of dancing.
Gracie Walsh - Lyrical, Jazz, Acro, & Competition Team Instructor
Gracie grew up at CK where she trained in ballet, tap, jazz, lyrical, contemporary, hip hop, musical theatre, baton twirling, and acro. She was a proud member of the CK Competition Team winning multiple state and national championships with both her teams and as a soloist. Gracie also trained for several years with the Rockwall Ballet Company and participated in ballet festivals, performed in concerts and competed variations. She had the honor of dancing many different roles in The Nutcracker throughout the years - her favorites being Snow Queen and Sugar Plum. She spent her summers taking intensives, master classes and workshops both locally and in NYC and still does when time allows. Gracie is currently a second year member of the Collin Dance Ensemble. Under the direction of Tiffanee Arnold, the company tours throughout the state performing in local concerts and festivals, presents lecture demonstrations at secondary schools and attends the annual American College Dance Association Conference, where the company has been selected for Gala Performances multiple times. Gracie has been assisting classes for five years and is looking forward to teaching her own classes this season at CK!
Jaida Crowley- Jazz, Lyrical, Acro, Baton Twirling & Competition Team Instructor
Jaida started her dance career at CK studio where she took baton twirling, jazz, lyrical, tap, ballet and gymnastics. In addition to being a part of the show teams at CK Studio, she was also a part of the competition team before graduating from Sachse High School. After graduation, Jaida attended Stephen F. Austin State University. During her time there, she became a member of the Twirl-O-Jacks and the Repertory Dance Company. Jaida graduated with her Bachelor’s of Science in Dance Education with a minor in Drill Team Coaching. She is looking forward to teaching and sharing her love for dance, gymnastics and twirling at CK as a teacher.
Emily Schmukal - Tap, Lyrical & Competition Team Instructor
Emily is a graduate of Oklahoma City University where she earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Dance & Arts Management, and a minor in Business Entrepreneurship. She has been dancing her entire life and grew up at CK Studio where she found her passion for performing. She performed in many shows at OKCU, allowing her to showcase her love for tap and ballet. She has had many opportunities to work in management positions with dance companies such as Tapestry Dance, Chicago Tap Theatre, and Rhythmic Souls Tap Company. She is now based in Dallas, teaching, performing, and taking dance classes, alongside working a full time job in event production. She is excited to be back teaching tap and lyrical this year at her home studio!
Kyleigh Reagan - Hip Hop, Jazz and Tumbling Instructor
Kyleigh came to CK as a bundle of energy at the age of 4. She took jazz, tap, ballet, lyrical, hip hop, baton twirling and tumbling. Kyleigh was a proud member of our CK Show Teams and Competition Team for many years prior to graduating from Rockwall High School. She is now attending Collin College and plans to pursue a degree in psychology. It only makes sense that Kyleigh's favorite styles to teach are high energy hip hop and jazz. She is excited to be teaching both at CK!
Nicole Johnson - Baton Twirling Instructor
Nicole began baton twirling with Ms. Jeannie at Calico Kids when she was just 4 years old. She won numerous awards throughout the years and was named the SWTA All-Around Champion Twirler every year since she was nine. After graduating from Sachse High School, Nicole attended Brookhaven College to earn her Associates in Paramedicine. While attending college, she began teaching baton twirling at CK Studio. Nicole, now graduated from college and working full time, is a proud Paramedic with the Rockwall County EMS. When not working a shift as a Paramedic, she enjoys working with the students and teaching them everything she knows about baton twirling.
Tiffany Steel - Baton Twirling Instructor
Tiffany began baton twirling and dance at Calico Kids, under the instruction of Ms. Jeannie and Ms. LeeAnn at the age of 4. Tiffany twirled for 17 years. During those 17 years, Tiffany traveled all over the nation perfecting her art and earned numerous state, southwest regional, national, world open, and Jr. Olympic titles. She was Dallas Christian’s very first featured twirler and went on to twirl at Abilene Christian University. Her favorite memories twirling include being featured in ACU’s centennial anniversary half time performance, leading a parade at Walt Disney World, learning to twirl fire, and earning the peer-elected State of Texas Sportmanship award. Tiffany graduated with honors from Abilene Christian University in 2009 with a teaching degree and has spent the last 13 years teaching in Abilene ISD and Garland ISD, winning Kimberlin Academy’s General Educator of the Year award in 2019. She has been married to her husband, Greg, since 2008 and they have two children; Erik and Hannah Jo. Hannah Jo is one of CK Studio’s tiniest dancers as a member of the Tots to Tumble and Combo Classes.
Stephen & Jessica Nadeau - Ballroom Instructors
Stephen and his wife, Jessica, are a professional ballroom and Latin dance couple who teach, perform, and compete regularly in the International style. Together, they've competed around the country and won titles at several competitions including the King's Ball in New York, the Platinum Dancesport Classic in Miami, and the Gumbo Dancesport in Louisiana. Stephen's passion for dance and love of learning eventually led him to a career in dance instruction. Having taught dance now for 15 years, he is well accomplished in helping many learn how to dance, whether for a special occasion, performance, or just for the fun of trying something new. His greatest hope in teaching is to be able to share with all his students the joy and happiness that can be found in the creative expression that is dance.
John Villapando - Guest Dance Instructor
John is a graduate of Oklahoma City University with a bachelor's of science in dance management, studying under Jo Rowan, Mary Boday, Kari Shaw, and Brian Marcum. While at OCU, he spent the summer of his junior year studying and choreographing in New York City for Broadway Dance Center's Summer Internship Program where he was a featured student choreographer and where he extensively studied jazz, musical theatre, and street jazz from numerous teachers and choreographers such as Jim Cooney, Derek Mitchell, Sheila Barker, and Michelle Barber. John has performed in numerous musical theatre productions around Dallas, with the Ann Lacy School of American Dance in Oklahoma City, and even been on Good Morning America with Liza Minneli in NYC. John's classes focus on musicality, style, and technical "honesty", emphasizing the importance of proper technique, muscular strength, and isolation as the foundation of clarity in artistic expression.
Jeannie Strain - Guest Baton Twirling Instructor
Jeannie is one of the most well-known baton twirling instructors in the state of Texas. She owned the successful Calico Kids performing arts studio in Garland for 40 years. Her students, numbering in the thousands, have earned numerous State and National titles. She gets back in the classroom as often as she can and still loves to teach students, many who are 2nd and 3rd generation students, at her daughter's studio, CK!
Becca Tischer - Guest Tap Instructor
Becca began dancing at the age of 3 and tap has always been her favorite! She was fortunate enough to tour the world as a professional dancer and dance captain/swing. Becca currently works in the medical field and continues to perform in a REP company and in community theaters throughout the Dallas area. She loves to share her love of tap with students at CK!
Wendy Walsh - Office Manager
Wendy can be found at the front desk, behind the scenes and sometimes even in the classroom. She loves to answer questions so ask away! Her daughter Gracie, who now teaches at CK, was a 3rd generation student and a member of both the CK Competition Team and the Rockwall Ballet Company.
Krista Neff - Office Assistant
Krista is our attendance taker, organizer, seamstress, and so much more! From being ready with a hug for a little one to guiding new parents, she is always willing to help. Her daughter, Wylie, is a member of both the CK Competition Team and the Rockwall Ballet Company.