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.

Stage Door Dance Arts Faculty & Staff

Mrs. Michelle Knell, Owner / Artistic Director / Master Dance Instructor

An innovative, artistic, and award winning choreographer, with a proficient technical background in nearly every area of dance, Michelle has been motivating and inspiring dancers of all ages across the USA for almost 30 years. She is a mature, organized, and trusted professional with well-developed communication skills, and an understanding of how to teach the ART of dance without causing a student to lose their PASSION. She accomplishes this by always showcasing a student’s best abilities on stage, but pushing their technical limits in the classroom.

 

She is a workshop presenter, master teacher, choreographer, and freelance writer. She also serves as a competition adjudicator for StarQuest International and StarSystems Talent. She has over 11 years of professional performance history as a dancer, singer, and improvisational actress, and she has taught in Arkansas, Texas, and Virginia, serving as artistic director for several large studios. 

 

Performance credits include corp 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, which was 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. It's success 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. She has also been featured in the popular web-based publication, The Dance Executive, and the "Jump Dance Convention Newsletter."

 

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. In her time off, Michelle enjoys spending time with her beautiful family, including her beloved pups, and attends New Life Church in Conway.

 

Reach her at michelle@stagedoordancearts.com.

Mrs. Haley Harmon-Ashford, Co-Founder / Master Dance Instructor

Haley is a 2016 honor graduate of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, receiving a Bachelor of Social Work, with an emphasis on both Spanish and concert dance. She was a member of the esteemed Donaghey Scholar's Program and graduated Summa Cum Laude.

 

Haley has been dancing since she was two, in studios in Virginia, Texas, and Arkansas.  For the last twenty years, she has been supplementing her studio dance training via the convention circuit, with the likes of Mandy Moore, Nappy-Tabs, Brad Taylor, Keith Clifton, Tommy Alexander, Seth Zibalese, Jo Rowan, Darryl Retter, and Anthony Morigerato.

On the competition circuit, Mrs. Haley was a highly-awarded competition performer, receiving awards such as Talent on Parade TOP STAR, TOP Dance Directive Scholarship Recipient, Revolution Power Pak Scholarship Recipient, Hall of Fame ALL STAR, and KAR Convention Scholarship Winner.  She was also named Ms. Regional Starmaker 2012 and StarSystems Senior Regional Solo Champion 2011 and 2013.  The culmination of her dance honors came when she was named one of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's 20 to Watch in 2012.

Mrs. Haley also has an extensive training and performance history.  She held the leading role in the full-length ballet, “The Little Match Girl,” at the age of 15. She was a Top NDA All-American dancer, captain of the Conway High School Varsity Dance Team, Arkansas All-State Dancer, and was recruited to work for the National Dance Alliance as an instructor for high school dance teams across the country. For 3 years, she had the honor of dancing with the DanceMaker’s Inc. faculty, which allowed her to share the stage with Katherine McCormick, star of the movie Fame and the popular TV show, “So You Think Can Dance.” In 2017 and 2018, she was awarded the “Making Noise” scholarship, allowing her to attend an invitation only tap class for professional level dancers taught by master tap teachers and live percussionists from around the world. Haley is also proud to be a professional tap dancer with Untapped, the only professional tap company in Arkansas. She's thrilled to have joined other highly-acclaimed tap teachers on the staff of the Little Rock Tap Festival. Mrs. Haley is also currently serving as a competition judge for StarQuest International. In fact, in 2019, she is judging and teaching master classes at StarQuest Nationals in Virginia Beach, Virginia. 

 

Haley began her teaching career at age 13 by assisting other master teachers.  She completed her dance instructor certification from the Ann Lacey School of American Dance Arts and Management at Oklahoma City University in 2009. Over the last eight years, Haley has been providing award-winning choreography to numerous studio competition teams and soloists around the state. She has also provided award-winning choreography for the Conway High School and Russellville High School Varsity Dance Teams, to perform at regional and state competitions.

Haley is considered by many to be the best young tap, hip-hop, musical theater, and modern/contemporary teacher-choreographer in the area. We’re incredibly blessed to have her at Stage Door Dance Arts.

Reach her at haley@stagedoordancearts.com.

Mr. Kevin Knell, Co-Founder/CFO

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 was instrumental in the build-out of SDDA’s state-of-the-art facility, and he lends his knowledge and expertise to Stage Door in many areas, including technology, marketing, 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. 

When he isn't working, building props, or singing, Kevin enjoys sports, spending time with his family, including the beloved dogs, Bandit, Bentley, Tippy, and Scarlett, and attends New Life Church.

Reach him at kevin@stagedoordancearts.com.

Dr. Christy Huskey, Instructor, PreSchool Music

Meet Dr. Christy Huskey: Not only is Christy certified in the Musikgarten preschool curriculum, but she has a long and impressive career in music education. She has a Master's Degree in Music Education (emphasis on piano pedagogy), and also a Doctor of Musical Arts in Keyboard Performance and Pedagogy.

 

In addition to her vast education, Christy has served as a Pre-School Music Teacher at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, TX, making her the perfect candidate to teach preschool classes for SDDA. She also spent 14 years as assistant professor of piano/piano pedagogy at McNeese State University.

 

Currently, Dr. Christy spends her time with her husband, Sam Huskey, the Conway High School Choir Director, while running her own business, Dr. Christy's Piano Studio. She even finds time to serve as an adjunct piano instructor at the University of Central Arkansas. If you want your child to love music, Dr. Christie can make that dream a reality. 

Mrs. Laura Crabtree, Dance Instructor

Laura Crabtree is originally from Jonesboro, Arkansas. 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.

Ms. Melodie Moore, Dance Instructor

Melodie is currently a Speech Pathology major at the University of Central Arkansas. She has been dancing since the age of three. She has trained in Ballet, Pointe, Tap, Jazz, Lyrical, Contemporary, Modern, and Pas de Deux. Melodie has been involved in a variety of performance ensembles and has also performed in seven ballet productions. During her senior year of high school, she danced the lead role in Blackbird Academy's production of Cinderella.

 

At age 15, Melodie was accepted into, and received a scholarship to attend, a ballet summer intensive at Oklahoma City Ballet. The following year she was accepted into both the Kansas City Ballet and American Ballet Theater summer intensives.

Melodie's teaching career began at age 14, as a dance assistant. She served as an intern at Blackbird during her senior year in high school. She also completed two years of Blackbird's comprehensive Dance Apprentice Program.

She has a big heart for kids and is thrilled to share her passion for dance with them!

Ms. Kylie Dallas, Dance and Acro Arts Instructor

Kylie is in her second 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.. 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 joy of dance, and a passion for sharing the love of Christ, with the students of SDDA. 

Ms. McKinley Young, Dance Instructor

McKinley Young, a freshman at the University of Central Arkansas, is a first-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, and the CJHS dance team. Recently, she was cast 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. Now, we are proud to announce, McKinley is dancing professionally as a full-fledged member of UnTapped, the only professional tap dance company in Arkansas.

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 sure to be a huge asset.

Ms. Summer Lineberry, Dance Instructor

Welcome Summer to the SDDA Faculty and Staff! Summer comes to us from All Rhythm Dance Alley in Nash, TX, where she spent 14 years studying all forms of dance. Summer specializes in jazz, contemporary, and clogging, but can teach numerous other styles. She has several years of experience, in the classroom, as an assistant and lead teacher. 

Summer is a pre-nursing student at UCA and 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. We expect her to be a huge asset to SDDA. Summer will be assisting in several classes this year while completing her required ,on the job, teacher training. We're thrilled to have her with us, and we’re excited about her future at Stage Door!

Ms. Allyson Laster, Dance Instructor

Allyson has over 14 years of dance experience under the instruction of the late Joel Ruminer and his staff from Joel’s House of Dance. She has trained in Tap, Jazz, Ballet, Pointe, Modern, Hip Hop, Musical Theater and Lyrical dance and attended 6 years of summer workshop intensives at Joel Ruminer’s Dance Camps.

She graduated in 2010 from Parkview Arts/Science Magnet High School in Little Rock. Allyson spent her high school career in the dance magnet program under the dance instruction of Pamela Crane, M’Shay Callicott, and Michael Tidwell. She had roles in the performance of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and “Purity” in Anything Goes.

Allyson currently possesses a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Management from the University of Central Arkansas, and is working on another degree in Information Technology.

She is so excited to be here, and we are thrilled to have her!

Ms. Shelby Speer, Office Assistant

​We're thrilled to add Ms. Shelby Speer to the SDDA Staff for the 2019-20 season. She is a sophomore ultrasound tech student at UCA, originally from the Danville area, and she'll be serving as receptionist and office assistant.

 

Shelby has a passion for kids and loves helping people. We can't wait for you to meet her!

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Proud members of
Conway Dance Studio
Contact us

575 Club Lane

Suite 102

Conway, AR 72034

 

michelle@stagedoordancearts.com

 

Tel: 501-585-7205

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