Stage Door Dance Arts Faculty & Staff
Co-founders, Michelle Knell and Haley Harmon-Ashford, are the best and brightest mother-daughter team in the dance community. Michelle spent years as a professional ballerina and 25 years as a master teacher of technique across multiple disciplines. Haley, a professional tap dancer and teacher of master classes, is considered by many to be the best young tap, hip-hop, and modern/contemporary teacher / choreographer in Central Arkansas.
SDDA is blessed to have a well-rounded, expert staff. We choose carefully, making sure each is qualified, capable, and caring.
Your children will have fun and will always be encouraged and challenged.
Owner / Artistic Director / Master Dance Instructor
Mrs. Michelle Knell
An innovative and award-winning choreographer, with a proficient technical background in nearly every area of dance, Michelle has been inspiring dancers of all ages across the USA for more than 30 years.
She is a studio owner, master teacher, choreographer, dance competition judge, and a freelance writer. She has over 11 years of professional performance history as a dancer, singer, and improvisational actress. Performance credits include corps and soloist roles with Ballet Arkansas and River City Ballet, and as a singer/actress in a children's theater group entitled The Story Patch Players, a member of the Texas Commission for the Arts.
Michelle is thrilled to have written a complete, graded dance syllabus to ensure consistent and thorough training for her students. She has recently licensed the syllabus for use at multiple studios across the country. The success of the program is proven through the many students who have become professional dancers, opened studios, or gone on to teach the art of dance. A teacher-of-teachers, and a freelance writer, Michelle has been published 7 times in Dance Studio Life Magazine.
Michelle's desire is to continue her work in the field of dance arts for as long as possible. It is her life's work and heart's desire to positively affect as many people as possible, and to keep the arts alive and well in her community.
Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Mr. Kevin Knell
As Michelle's husband, and number one fan, Kevin brings a wealth of relevant experience and skills to Stage Door Dance Arts. Professionally, Kevin is a 30+ year veteran in the field of information technology, where he enjoys a fulfilling sales career. Kevin lends his knowledge and expertise to SDDA in many areas, including technology, finance, and business operations.
Kevin is experienced working with children and their families, as he coached his own children's youth basketball and baseball teams for more than 15 years. In addition to Kevin's business experience and coaching skills, he has extensive knowledge of music editing and sound systems...and he's even been known to pick up a saw or a hammer from time to time to construct props and sets.
Kevin completed his Bachelor of Science in Business Management at Southern Nazarene University in Bethany, Oklahoma, in only three years, while graduating Cum Laude. No stranger to the stage himself, Kevin has been singing since his youth, and he played trumpet from fifth grade through college.
Reach him at email@example.com
Dance and Acro Arts Instructor
Ms. Kylie Dallas
Kylie is in her fifth year of teaching at SDDA. She has more than 15 years of studio dance training in ballet, tap, jazz, lyrical, hip-hop, modern, and other styles of dance. She has also been supplementing her dance training by attending workshops like DanceMaker's Inc. and Broadway Connection. This has allowed her to study with many master teachers, such as Kathryn McCormick and Dejan Tubic. In addition, Kylie has a wealth of experience in competitive gymnastics, All Star Cheerleading, and acrobatic arts.
Kylie's diverse background includes four years as a member of the Conway High School dance team, frequent participation in high school musicals, along with choral music, too. We are so excited to have her share her passion for dance, and the love of Christ, with the students of SDDA.
Miss Hannah Spann
Hannah is a senior at the University of Central Arkansas, where she studies Exercise and Sports Science. She began her academic careet at UALR, where she was a dance major.
Hannah received most of her training from North Arkansas Dance and Theatre Company. She has over 16 years of training and is especially well-versed in ballet, contemporary, modern, tap, and clogging. She is also an expert instructor, with 7 years of experience as an assistant or lead teacher.
She has great passion for dance, but even greater is her passion for working with children. We are so excited to have her on staff, and we can't wait to watch her journey as part of the SDDA family.
Ms. Summer Lineberry
Summer is a nursing student at UCA and is in her fourth year of teaching at SDDA. She comes to us from All Rhythm Dance Alley in Nash, TX, where she spent 14 years studying all forms of dance. Summer specializes in beginner level ballet, tap, and clogging, but can teach numerous other styles. She has several years of experience, in the classroom, as an assistant and lead teacher.
Summer has an impressive resume. She devotes much of her time to charitable causes in the community such as The American Heart Association, The Texarkana Humane Society, Randy Sams Homeless Shelter, Operation Christmas Child, and Walk to End Alzheimer’s. She’s also CPR certified and currently learning American Sign Language. Summer will be assisting in and lead teaching several classes this year. We're thrilled to have her with us, and we’re excited about her future at Stage Door!
Ms. Mary Webb
We're thrilled to welcome back Ms. Mary Webb to the SDDA Staff for the 2022-23 season. Mary is a graduate of UCA with a degree in psychology, and is originally from the El Dorado area. She works full-time at Pediatrics Plus, but she'll still be serving as part-time receptionist and office assistant for us.
Mary spent 13 years of her youth in studio dance, and was a cheerleader both at El Dorado High School and for TNT All-Stars of South Arkansas. She also worked for TNT All-Stars throughout her high school years, both assisting with team-coaching and working in the office. She has a strong passion for kids and loves helping people. We know you’ll love her as much as we do.
Co-Founder / Master Dance Instructor / Competition Director
Mrs. Haley Harmon-Ashford
A UALR graduate with a degree in Social Work with a focus on concert dance, Haley has been dancing and/or teaching for more than 25 years in studios all across the USA. She received her dance teacher certification from the Ann Lacey School of American Dance Arts and Management.
An accomplished young dancer, she has won more than 20 scholarships, and was named one of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's 20 to Watch in 2012 for her excellence in dance and commitment to dance education in Arkansas through community service, arts festival participation, and choreography projects.
Haley has an extensive performance history, often sharing the stage with world-renowned dancers from the popular TV show, "So You Think You Can Dance." She is also a tap dancer and choreographer for UnTapped, the only professional tap company in Arkansas.
Haley co-founded SDDA, and over the last 8 years has been serving as competition director and lead teacher/choreographer. In that role, she has won over 20 choreography awards and led Stage Door teams to numerous national championships. A lover of continuing education, since 2019 Haley has received certifications in Acrobatic Arts, American Council on Exercise Group Fitness, Barre Above, and Schwinn Cycling, and is training toward MuvMethod. She has also completed training in nutrition coaching, injury prevention, anatomy and biomechanics, and corrective exercise.
Finally, Haley is a regional and national dance competition judge and serves as a master teacher for the Little Rock Tap Festival. As a true Conway fan, she has been thrilled to provide several years of award-winning choregoraphy for the Conway High School Varsity Dance Team and continue her work with them today.
Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Ms. McKinley Young
McKinley Young, a senior at the University of Central Arkansas, is a fourth-year teacher at SDDA. She brings with her more than 10 years of studio training in ballet, tap, jazz, lyrical, modern, hip-hop and musical theater. She has also supplemented her dance training by attending numerous workshops and master classes with Broadway Connection, The Little Rock Tap Festival, and DanceMaker’s Inc. She was honored with the 2019 SDDA Spotlight on Leadership Award.
McKinley’s diverse background includes time spent as a gymnast, a member of the Conway High School Band, the CJHS dance team, and as a featured dancer in the CHS musical, Newsies. She also performed as part of the invitation only Triumph National Talent Performance Team, and served as an Untapped Youth Ensemble dancer, which allowed her to perform in professional shows and take master classes from some of the world’s finest tap dancers.
We are thrilled to have McKinley on staff at SDDA. Her work ethic, positive attitude, leadership skills, and dedication to the art of dance, are a huge asset.
Ms. Anne Ryan Johnston
Anne Ryan is in her third year of teaching at SDDA. She has more than 15 years of studio dance training in ballet, tap, jazz, lyrical, hip-hop, modern, and other styles of dance. She has also been supplementing her dance training by attending intensives hosted by Blackbird Academy of Arts, as well as studio classes at Steps on Broadway and Broadway Dance Center in New York.
Anne Ryan is a former member of the Conway High School Varsity Dance team and is a sophomore at UCA, where she is pursuing a degree in exercise science to prepare her for training students of all ages in fitness and dance. She has a passion for children and dance. What could be a better combination to prepare her for SDDA? We're so thankful to have her on staff!
Mrs. Laura Crabtree
Laura Crabtree is originally from Jonesboro, Arkansas and is in her seventh season teaching at SDDA. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from John Brown University with a double major in Digital Media and Intercultural Studies. She has over 15 years of dance training across all disciplines, but her greatest strengths lie in her experience as a dance instructor and as a mom. She has worked with several studios in the state, such as All Rhythm Dance Alley and Christi McNeil’s Dance Studio. She has many years of experience in the classroom, as a lead teacher and an assistant, specializing in beginning and intermediate levels of ballet, tap, jazz, and clogging.
SDDA is thrilled to have her as a part of our esteemed faculty.
Miss Aspen Powell
Miss Aspen Powell is a junior at University of Central Arkansas and spent two seasons on the Honey Bears Dance Team. She is originally from Texarkana and has 16 years of dance training and 3 years of experience as an assistant teacher.
She is especially fond of jazz, contemporary, and lyrical, and she is excited to be a new member of the SDDA staff for the 2022-23 season.
Dance Instructor & Office Assistant
Ms. Courtenay Pierce
Courtenay has been studying dance since she was just a little girl. She is trained in ballet, tap, jazz, lyrical, hip-hop, improvisation, and modern. In fact, she received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance and Choreography from the University of Southern Mississippi in 2000. She has also trained with the Atlanta Ballet, Steps on Broadway, Broadway Dance Center, the Rennie Harris Pure Movement Company, Hubbard Street Dance, The American College Dance Festival, The Manhattan Dance Project, and the Mississippi Ballet Theater.
Courtenay's performance credits include: Young Choreographer's Concerts with the USM Repertory Dance Company, halftime shows and the Liberty Bowl with the USM Dance Team, Orpheus in the Underworld with the USM Opera, and The Nutcracker with Ballet Mississippi, and the Lousiana Dance Foundation.
She began a summer of interning at SDDA in 2021, and she will be serving as an assistant and lead teacher for the 2022-23 season, and you may see her helping out in the office, too. We're already so thrilled with her potential, her knowledge of dance, and her passion for teaching.