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, 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 more than 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 Believe Talent Competition. 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 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, 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. 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. 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 gardening, spending time with her beautiful family, including her beloved pups, and attends New Life Church in Conway.
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 was instrumental in the build-out of SDDA’s state-of-the-art facility, and he lends his knowledge and expertise to us 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 email@example.com
Mrs. Laura Crabtree
Laura Crabtree is originally from Jonesboro, Arkansas and is in her sixth 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.
Ms. McKinley Young
McKinley Young, a junior at the University of Central Arkansas, is a third-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. 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 a huge asset.
Ms. Summer Lineberry
Summer is a nursing student at UCA and is in her third 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!
Co-Founder / Master Dance Instructor / Competition Director
Mrs. Haley Harmon-Ashford
Haley graduated, Summa Cum Laude, from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock in 2016 with a Bachelor of Social Work and a minor in Dance and Spanish. She was a member of the esteemed Donaghey Scholar's Program and spent a summer studying abroad at the University of Salamanca in Spain.
Haley has been dancing for 25 years 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, Dejan Tubic, Brooke Zelus, Katherine McCormick, Keith Clifton, Tommy Alexander, Sean Kaminski, Seth Zibalese, Jo Rowan, Darryl Retter, and Anthony Morigerato.
Mrs. Haley was a highly-awarded competition dancer, winning more than 20 scholarships in her career. She was named Ms. Starmaker 2012 and StarSystems Senior Solo Champion 2011 and 2013. She was also named one of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's 20 to Watch in 2012 for her excellence in dance performance and her commitment to dance education in Arkansas through community service, free classes, arts festival participation, and choreography projects. 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.
Mrs. Haley also has an extensive 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.” Haley is also proud to be a professional tap dancer with Untapped, the only professional tap company in Arkansas, and has been thrilled to join other highly-acclaimed tap teachers on the staff of the Little Rock Tap Festival.
Mrs. Haley serves as a competition judge for StarQuest International and Believe Talent Competition. In fact, she recently judged and taught 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 one of 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Ms. Mary Webb
We're thrilled to welcome back Ms. Mary Webb to the SDDA Staff for the 2021-22 season. Mary is a fourth-year psychology student at UCA and is originally from the El Dorado area. She'll be serving as receptionist and office assistant.
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.
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 substitute for the 2021-22 season. We're already so thrilled with her potential, her knowledge of dance, and her passion for teaching. Help us welcome Ms. Courtenay! We're excited about her future with us!
Dance and Acro Arts Instructor
Ms. Kylie Dallas
Kylie is in her fourth 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.
Ms. Anne Ryan Johnston
Anne Ryan 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 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!