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 Juilliard, 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.
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.
Jennifer Gilchrist has over twenty years teaching experience and is ADA’s pre-school and kindergarten specialist. While she enjoys teaching dancers of all ages, her favorite by far are the youngest dancers at ADA. She teaches ballet, tap, jazz, lyrical, and pointe. Jennifer is also a USAG certified gymnastics teacher. Her Arts training not only includes dance, but also music training. She plays the flute and piano and has even dabbled in Musical Theater. Jennifer has been a competition team director at ADA for 8 years and her team has won numerous awards, including a national championship. She has won choreography awards as well as many other accolades.
In her spare time, Jennifer is an avid fitness buff. She enjoys working out and competing in figure and physique body building competitions. She earned her pro-card in the INBA/PNBA and is currently a nationally qualified NPC competitor working on becoming an IFBB pro.
Jennifer is married to her high school sweetheart, Gary. They have two daughters. Ashlee, an ADA alumni is currently attending college in College Station at Texas A&M and Courtnee is a freshman in Allen and is currently a student at ADA. They also have two fur babies, Lucy & Ozzy.
Caitlin O’Hagan-Hargis grew up dancing at ADA! She was the “Sugar Plum Fairy” twice in Dallas Repertoire Ballet’s annual production of THE NUTCRACKER!
She then graduated with honors from Oklahoma City University with a major in Dance Performance. While attending OCU, she was dance captain of the American Spirit Dance Company and traveled to Taiwan on tour. She has performed in numerous musicals including “Footloose”, “Wizard of Oz”, “Chicago”, “Cabaret”, “Godspell”, “Annie Get Your Gun”, “Joseph…Dreamcoat”, “Beauty and the Beast”, and “Fiddler on the Roof”. Caitlin has also co-directed, co-choreographed and casted musicals such as “Swing”, “Jungle Book”, “Urinetown”, and “Finding Nemo”. While living in New York City, Caitlin assisted classes at Broadway Dance Center, and went on tour with “Hello, Dolly!” She currently is on the judging faculty for Dance Masters of America, and VIP dance. Caitlin loves to teach and share her passion for dance with her students, helping each individual shine in their own light! Many of her students are now on Broadway! Caitlin is married with four children, and the director of ADA’s mini team!!
Audrey has been seen dancing around the world with Euro Disney at the age of 16. Professional work includes: Apprentice with Channel Island Ballet, of Ventura, California; Student Apprentice with Kansas City Ballet, Lead Dancer with Holland American Cruise Line; dancer and aerialist at Studio 54 at MGM, dancer in American Superstars Production show at the Stratosphere in Las Vegas; and danced many performances with Jonnis and the Lost Vegas Crew. She is the featured dancer in the international award winning artistic film “ing.” She performed an aerial contemporary piece with Etre Art in the Kansas City’s Fringe Festival. Most recently she had the pleasure to take part in Shannon Watters “Just be.” experience. Ms. Mitts has been featured in George Balanchine’s Valse Fantaisie. Other ballets include, Sleeping Beauty, Beauty and the Beast, West Side Story, The Last Unicorn, and The Nutcracker. Study opportunities include Scholarship at The Rock School of Pennsylvania Ballet, School of American Ballet, and American Ballet Theatre in NYC, Lou Conte Dance Center, Broadway Dance Center and STEPS in NYC. Ms. Mitts is on faculty at Academy of Dance Arts and is the Assistant Artistic Director for the Dallas Repertoire Ballet in Allen, Texas.
Sarah Padilla has been dancing since the age of four. She is a well-rounded dancer, having trained in tap, jazz, ballet, pointe, partnering, contemporary, modern, African, and hip hop. She received artistic and academic scholarship to pursue dance at Southern Methodist University where she performed the works of Adam Hougland, Joshua Peugh, and Millicent Johnnie and developed and showcased her own unique style of choreography. Sarah graduated summa cum laude from Southern Methodist University with a BFA in Dance Performance and a minor in Religious Studies in 2014. She has trained with The Dallas Repertoire Ballet, Joffrey, Complexions Contemporary Ballet, Dark Circles Contemporary Dance, and the Martha Graham School and has performed for numerous events such as the Dallas Cowboys halftime show, The Nutcracker, Tarantella, BeautiControl, Dance Africa, Kenny Loggins, and Rob Reiner’s “LBJ.” She has choreographed multiple award winning competition pieces as well as a production of “The Lion King,” and was recently selected as one of ten choreographers across the country to participate in a choreographic Mentorship with Doug Varone. After months of learning from Varone, the mentorship culminated in a premiere of Sarah’s original choreography at the 92nd Street Y in New York City. Sarah currently resides in McKinney with her husband Kyle.
Shannon Watters holds an M.F.A. in Choreography from Jacksonville University. Prior to that, she graduated summa cum laude from Southern Methodist University with a B.B.A. in Finance. She is an Academy of Dance Arts and Dallas Repertoire Ballet alumni. She danced with Dallas Dance Company for five seasons; Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines; Tanzsommer Tour through Austria, Germany, and Italy; and many industrials. Shannon is a certified Power Pilates instructor, Competition Team Director, Treasurer for the Dallas Repertoire Ballet Board of Directors, and a member of the Cecchetti Council of America, National Dance Education Organization, and World Dance Alliance. She is also a Professor of Dance at Collin College and Tarrant County College. In addition to these professorships, she has led classes for Texas Woman’s University, Jacksonville University, the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, Dallas Stars Ice Girls, Allen High School, Berkner High School, Sunset High School, and private studios. Shannon teaches jazz, contemporary, ballet, turns & leaps, improvisation, and pilates at ADA. She is also the Teen Company Director, and her works have been awarded national titles, Critics’ Choice awards, outstanding choreography awards, overall high scores, as well as the Federation of Dance Competitions Peoples’ Choice Award.
Jillyn Bryant, 22, is a native of Dallas, Texas. Under the direction of Kathy Willsey and Megan Buckland, Jillyn began her serious dance training in 2006 at Academy of Dance Arts, receiving high recognition at the national level during summers with New York City Dance Alliance as well as over $140,000 in college scholarship. As a recipient of the college scholarship fund, Jillyn attended Point Park University in Pittsburgh, PA. She is grateful to have performed works by George Balanchine, Lar Lubovitch, Ohad Naharin, Christopher Huggins, Garfield Lemonius and Jessica Hendricks. She has also extended her studies with summers at Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Complexions Contemporary Ballet, San Francisco Conservatory and The Juilliard School. After graduating with a B.A. in Dance and a minor in Business Management, Jillyn is now dancing as an apprentice with Bruce Wood Dance Project in Dallas. She is happy to be back with the studio that raised her and gives immense gratitude and appreciation to them for making her the dancer she is today.
Bree Hafen Bio Coming Soon!
Jodie Stewart Wilk celebrates her thirteenth year teaching at Academy of Dance Arts as the Musical Theatre and Hip Hop teacher, specializing in beginning dancers and actors. Throughout her 30 year teaching and choreographing career, Jodie’s main goal has always been to enlighten budding artists of their potential and to encourage them to cross over their ‘fear lines.’
Originally from Austin, Jodie was a member of the Kilgore College Rangerettes,1983-85, performing at the 1984 Republican National Convention nominating President Ronald Reagan and twice with Bob Hope at the Majestic Theatre in Dallas in 1984 and 1985.
As the Director of Fine Arts for Lucas Christian Academy for five years and volunteer Director and Choreographer for Collin Creek Community Church of Plano for ten years, Jodie created numerous original musicals, plays and Broadway-style production numbers, including the musicals she co-authored, Bound for Broadway, Clue: Stage Fright Tonight!, and Ms. Mert’s Holly Jolly Merry Christmas Movie Night. Jodie has consulted and choreographed recreational and competitive hip hop, jazz, high kick and innovative prop routines for studios, drill teams and cheer squads in Texas, Connecticut, and Canada.
While directing the Lionettes Dance Team at Prestonwood Christian Academy, Jodie’s team earned three national titles with American Dance/Drill Team, as well as all Division I ratings for high kick, pom, prop, solo and duos for three consecutive years. Her competitive hip hop teams at Mississauga School of Dance in Canada also received highest ratings at all studio competitions.
Prior to her teaching career, Jodie earned her Bachelors of Science in Communications from the University of Texas at Austin and was later the Public Relations Coordinator for Ronald McDonald for the McDonald’s Owner/Operators of Connecticut and Western Massachusetts.
Married 28 years, Jodie and her husband, Greg, live in Rockwall. Their daughters, both ADA alum, have continued in the dance and acting fields. Lena earned her Bachelors of Fine Arts in Dance from Texas State and is currently working on her M.F.A in Choreography from Jacksonville University. Liza earned her Bachelor of Arts in Theatre and Dance from UT at Austin and is currently acting in TV and film. Their son Cody is a Business major at the University of Arkansas.
In addition to teaching, Jodie enjoys painting and making props for ADA, as well as coordinating and directing the ADA Musical Theatre Summer Camps. She also enjoys writing, sewing and journaling.