The Academy of Dance Arts is entering its 27th year of existence and its 20th year with Kathy Willsey as its owner and operator. With Willsey at the helm, ADA has consistently grown in enrollment at a rapid rate of 30% per year, since moving the studio from Richardson to Allen, Texas in 2002. In order to accommodate such a busy influx of young dancers, ADA employs only the most highly trained and skilled, nationally recognized instructors. Currently ADA boasts 7 teachers, with an average of 10-15 years teaching experience individually. The Academy offers classes in ballet, tap, jazz, hip hop, and lyrical/contemporary. ADA is also the official studio of the 501(c)3 non-profit pre-professional ballet company, the Dallas Repertoire Ballet. DRB presents “The Nutcracker” each holiday season, serving the North Dallas/Collin County area. ADA is also recognized by all local school districts as having an exemplary off-campus PE system. Off-Campus PE students are required to attend between10-15 hours of “Olympic Level” dance activity per week, as well as maintain perfect attendance. Students of ADA also have the option of dancing competitively. ADA Competition Team Members dance at least 6 days a week. They are required to travel cross-country to compete for the Nationally-Ranked ADA team. Some of the most famous and respected professional choreographers around the world, work one-on-one with ADA dancers to prepare them for competition season. The Academy of Dance Arts was the featured cover story for the nation’s only instructor publication, Dance Teacher magazine in April, 2005.Plus, ADA has been included in the list of Top 50 Studios in the Country in Dance Spirit magazineand in the Top 20 Competition studios.
Kathy Willsey, Owner-Academy of Dance Arts and Executive Director-Dallas Repertoire Ballet, began her training under the tutelage of former prima ballerina Phi Delta Neal, in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She continued her training at Oklahoma State University, where she was head captain and choreographer for Varsity Review and OSU Student Entertainers, a professional travelling dance ensemble, as a top-billed soloist. At OSU, Kathy met her husband Steve, and moved to Paris, Texas. In Paris, Kathy owned and operated Paris’s leading dance studio, Kathy Willsey School of Dance, for 13 years. While running her studio, Kathy continued her love of performing by participating in the Paris Community Theater as choreographer/performer in such productions as, Camelot, Fiddler on the Roof, and Mame. She also was the head choreographer for all the college musical theater productions, like Bye, Bye Birdie, Hello Dolly, West Side Story, Music Man, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, and Annie. In 1985, Kathy and her family moved to Dallas where she continued to teach at area dance institutes, plus help secure funding through grants and donations of local dance companies while serving on the boards. In 1993, Kathy once again delved into dance studio ownership, when she became a partner of Academy of Dance Arts. As owner of ADA, Kathy helped establish the non-profit 501(c)3 pre-professional ballet company, Dallas Repertoire Ballet, where she currently serves as Executive Director. With over 40 years of professional teaching experience, Kathy is an expert in dance teaching and training methods that insure a safe, proper, and disciplined learning environment for dancers age 3 to 18. She is a 30 year member of both the Texas Association of Teachers of Dance and the Oklahoma Dance Masters Associations. Mrs. Willsey has also been recognized by The Dance Council of Dallas and Co. Dance Conventions as a master Dance Educator. Her students have garnered over $650,000 worth of dance scholarships to such prestigious dance universities as Julliard, University of Arizona, Southern Methodist University, Texas Christian University, and Point Park, as well as performing for President Bush, as a Presidential Scholar of the Arts and several Medal of Arts winners. Professionally, her students can be seen dancing leading roles on Broadway in Swing, Legally Blonde, Disney World, Disney Toykyo, Royal Carribean and Princess Cruise Lines, Movin’ Out, Clara in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular as wellas Rockettes, Glee, Dancin with the Stars. Many other ADA alums have gone on to perform along side Britney Spears, Jennifer Lopez, and Jessica Simpson, and Ashlee Simpson, both ADA alumni. Through her talent and dedication to the love of dance, Kathy Willsey has built a life-long career of bettering the lives of children and communities through the beauty of dance.
Megan Willsey-Buckland, Artistic Director-Academy of Dance Arts and Dallas Repertoire Ballet, began her early training at age 3 with mother, Kathy, moved to Dallas in 1985, continuing her training with Tuzer Ballet, Ballet Dallas, and Dallas Repertoire Ballet. Megan was accepted to many major ballet company intensives as a student, such as, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, San Francisco Ballet, Pennsylvania Ballet, and awarded scholarships to Eliot Feld Ballet, Pacific-Northwest Ballet, North Carolina School of the Arts, Interlochen, David Howard, Joffrey Ballet, Ballet Met, and one of nine dancers chosen in nation-wide auditions for the prestigious DanceAspen Company Project, with well-known choreographer Tony Pimble of Eugene Ballet. Megan danced in professional productions of Swan Lake, The Nutcracker, Giselle, and The Firebird, and was chosen Principal soloist in Serenade and Concerto Barocco at SMU where she was a Meadows Scholarship awardee. Megan trained closely with Willhelm Burman, David Howard, in NYC, and Jillana, Thom Clower, and Anna Donovan. Equally talented in many dance disciplines, her professional credits also include: Shania Twain Special, Saturday Night Live, Overseas Tours with Jessica Simpson, Wayne Newton, Neil McCoy, Kid Rock, and a Superbowl commercial for IAppliance. Her film credits include Dr. T and the Women, where she also served as personal dance coach to Kate Hudson. Megan also served as USO Tour Director and choreographer for the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders. Megan had the distinct honor of attending the Juilliard Teacher conference, recognizing outstanding dance instructors who are responsible for producing young dancers worthy of acceptance into the prestigious Juilliard School. With nearly 15 years of professional teaching experience, nationally acclaimed choreography, and production of some of the country’s best dance talent, Megan takes great pride in her achievements of creating a positive and dedicated atmosphere to nurture young dancers. Megan resides in McKinney with her husband, Jason, and two children, Bond and Mercy.
“Your little dancer could be the ‘star of tomorrow’.”