2021-2022
Artistic Staff

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Robin Smith

Director

Robin has been in the dance education industry for 30 years. It has been a devotion to the Dance Arts that began at the age of three and continued through pre-professional trai ning and professional performing and teaching-directing experiences. Robin is the former owner of the Marysville Dance Center and was the Artistic Director at The Dublin Dance Centre for 15 years. Robin is one of the founders and owners of CDA. Robin trained in Cincinnati on scholarship at the Bonet Dance Studio and attended the College Conservatory of Dance and Music. In college, Robin majored in dance and theater at the University of Cincinnati and at The Ohio State University. She performed professionally as a feature performer, dance captain and assistant choreographer with Kings Production at Kings Island in the American Heritage Theater for six years. Robin was a featured teacher in the Dance Teacher Now magazine ten year anniversary issue. Robin was the coach of the award winning Hilliard Davidson Dance Team for five years.  Presently Robin is a coach/choreographer for the CDA Competition Dance Teams. Robin is presently a primary choreographer for Contemporary Ballet and Contemporary Dance in the CDA Company classes and the CDA Company concert, DanceScope. She has written and directed numerous dance productions and choreographed for community, college and high school musicals throughout the years. Robin feels that bringing the wonderful world of dance to students is rewarding and a fulfilling lifetime journey.

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Rachel Gogolin

Artistic Director | Instructor

Rachel has dedicated most of her life to dance training and dance education.  She has trained intensively in all of the dance art forms and has been teaching and choreographing dance for the past 21 years to dancers of all ages.  She was formerly a DDC Senior Repertory member and performed in numerous feature roles in major productions during her years at DDC.  Rachel is the former Dance Captain of the Hilliard Davidson Dance Team where she won first place awards for her choreography.  Rachel continued her dance education at Otterbein College.  She has attended and performed in The Jazz Dance World Congress. Rachel has trained in Chicago at the RiverNorth Dance Intensive, the Gus Giordano and Lou Conte studios and in New York at Steps On Broadway, Alvin Ailey and the Broadway Dance Centre. She has trained in Tap with Jimmy Tate and Hip-Hop/Jazz with Dan Karaty and Tyce Diorio and was the scholarship recipient at Columbus Taps Festival 2009 for the Cleveland Tap Intensive.  Rachel founded and was the coach/choreographer for the CDA Dance Teams where she has been awarded numerous choreography awards and the teams have consistently swept highest honors.  Rachel presently is a primary choreographer for the CDA Dance Competition Teams.  She is a primary choreographer in Contemporary Dance, Jazz, Tap and Hip-Hop for the CDA Company classes and Company concert, DanceScope, as well as a primary choreographer for CDA’s holiday performances and year end productions. Rachel is a CDA curriculum advisor in Jazz, Tap and Hip-Hop for the academy classes.  Rachel is a full-time instructor at CDA and has been a teacher here since we opened in 2003.  Rachel was named the Assistant Artistic Director at CDA in 2005. Rachel loves bringing the joy of dance to her students of all ages and she has a special connection with them that she cherishes.

Renee Smith

Artistic Director | Instructor

Renee received her BFA in dance from Point Park University in 2008. Upon graduation she toured New England as the Lead Dancer for Latshaw Production’s Swing City Orchestra.  Based out of pittsburgh, Renee was a free-lance dance artist who was a  founding member of the Staycee Pearl Dance Project and performed with Attack Theatre, The Pittsburgh Oprah, and Shana Simmons Dance. Renee was the Co-Founder/Director/Choreographer/Performer of the Murphy-Smith Dance Collective, a modern dance company that performed regularly in Pittsburgh and New York City.  She has been a frequent guest choreographer for the Texture Contemporary Ballet Company and was the Director/Founder and one of the choreographers in the Pittsburgh Dance Junction. She taught and choreographed for seven years in the Pre-Professional Program at Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre and was a dance professor in the Performing Arts Program at Seton Hill University.  During her last six years in Pittsburgh she was also Co-Artistic Director at Dance Explosion Arts Center where she taught the Company and Advanced Ballet and Pointe.  Renee has studied and performed professionally in Ballet/Pointe, Modern, Jazz, Tap, Contemporary and Hip Hop. She has thorough curriculum building and teaching experience in ballet technique and classical variations as well as all other dance art forms.  Renee is a CDA alumni dancer who fully believes CDA’s program and philosophy creates well rounded professional and recreational dancers who are contributing members to society in both the arts and academic worlds. “I am so excited to teach in a dance academy that has programs I feel so strongly about. I have brought a little bit of CDA into every dance experience I have  ever had.” This is her second season with CDA!

Erin Hahn

Youth Program Director | Instructor

Erin studied dance under scholarship at Ohio University where she earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Dance. She has taught dancers of all ages and skill levels, including dancers in private studio settings, public schools, preschoolers at the Children’s Center of Austin (Texas), and college students at Ohio University. Erin’s enthusiasm for dance began at a young age and has grown into a passion that she shares with students at CDA as a teacher and as the mini and kinder program coordinator. She grew up training in dance and in high school devoted much of her time to an intensive program at The Westerville Academy of Dance where she studied many different dance art forms. Erin has studied Ballet, Pointe, Modern, and Jazz with The Lexington School of Ballet and has also studied in New York with Jennifer Muller: The Works, focusing on modern dance. She has danced at Steps On Broadway (New York), at The Columbus Taps! Festival, and at the Hollywood Vibe and LA Dance Force National Conventions. Erin has performed in original pieces of choreography by New York choreographers Mark Haim and Sean Curran and was a member of the Westerville Academy Performance Ensemble. Erin has been a full time instructor at CDA for seven years.  She is CDA’s Program Coordinator of the Mini/Kinder programs and the director of the Mini Show year end performances. She is a CDA curriculum advisor for academy classes in Ballet and Jazz and is the Program Coordinator for the Preparatory Program at CDA. Erin enjoys instilling her love of dance in her students at CDA.

Melissa Hinchman

Administrative Artistic Assistant | Instructor

Melissa discovered her love for dance at a young age, beginning with ballet and jazz classes and later dancing competitively for over nine years. Originally from the Dayton area, she began her pre-professional training at Terre's Dance Workshop where she was a member of the Miami Valley Dance Company and Terre's Dance Team. Melissa attended The Ohio State University, where she graduated Magna Cum Laude earning her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance, with a concentration on dance education and performance. During her time at OSU, she developed a greater passion and appreciation for choreography and creating movement.  Her senior project, “A Crowd is Not Company,” was featured in the senior concert and selected to be a part of the OSU Dance Department’s Spring Concert. 

 

Melissa’s past performance credits include; ensemble dancer in Cedar Fair Kings Island's 2008 live shows, Flashback Totally 80s and Hot Island Rhythms, company member of SMAG Dance Collective, and principal dancer with Seven Dance Company.  She choreographed and performed in numerous Seven productions including, Song of the Stars, which was featured on COSI’s Giant Screen Theater and PBS Broadcasting, and Oceans. In 2018 Melissa founded Cultivate Dance Project, a part-time, professional dance company, as a creative outlet for adult dancers in the Columbus, Ohio community. Since its formation, the work she has set on Cultivate Dance Project has been a part of local productions including Columbus DanceArts Academy’s DanceScope, Columbus Dance Alliance WORKS #2, Ten Tiny Dances Columbus, and the Columbus Arts Festival. Melissa also served as a summer dance camp instructor for AmeriDance from 2009-2012 and has been on the artistic faculty at Columbus DanceArts Academy since fall 2011. Melissa is thrilled to continue to be a part of CDA and is thankful for the opportunity to share her love of dance with students of all ages!

Alyssa Stevens

Resident Photographer | Instructor

Alyssa was born and raised in New Smyrna Beach, FL and trained with Amanda's Dance  Center under the guidance of Amanda Bell and Deborah Coe. During her dance training in Florida, Alyssa attended many Florida Dance Masters education workshops and performed with their pre-professional company, Main Attraction. She also attended dance intensives with the Orlando Ballet, Florida Youth Ballet Theatre, and the Gus Giordano Jazz Dance Company. In high school, she discovered her love of musical theater and began training in acting and voice in the Daytona Beach area. She attended the prestigious program, The Academy, at Seaside Music Theater and was taught by Gary Cadwallader, Kim Ball, and Julia Truilo. After high school, she continued her theater education at Florida State University in Tallahassee, FL graduating from the School of Theatre. Her favorite theater performances include, The Apple Tree, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, The River Goddess,  and Titus Andronicus. 

Upon graduating from her undergraduate degree at FSU, Alyssa interned for a year at Florida Studio Theatre in Sarasota, FL as a literary intern and also worked as Assistant Choreographer. She also worked at the infamous performing arts training center, Stagedoor Manor, in New York as a Choreographer and Teaching Artist. As a choreographer, her favorite musicals she has choreographed are The Rocky Horror Show, Big Fish, The Addams Family, Bonnie and Clyde, Carrie the Musical, and Little Shop of Horrors. Alyssa returned to FSU in 2013 but this time to receive her Master of Fine Arts in Dance and Choreography from the FSU School of Dance. At FSU, she studied under Tim Glenn, Suzanne Farrell, Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, Gerri Houlihan, Anthony Morgan, Rick  McCoullough,  Anjali Austin, and Ilana Goldman. It was there at the School of Dance that Alyssa found her passion of dance technology, photography, and videography. Her master's thesis, Portal, was the first dance film to culminate an MFA thesis in the School of Dance's history. 

Alyssa moved to Columbus, Ohio with her husband and began as an instructor for CDA in 2016. She is truly grateful to have found a place like CDA to fully express all of her talents in the dance arts. Alyssa loves sharing her knowledge of dance with her students and believes that dance incorporates all areas of education that every student can benefit from; physical movement, science, anatomy and kinesiology, music, and history. She hopes that each of her students will not just learn to dance in her class but that dance can teach them about life as well. 

Abby Kreider

Instructor

Bio coming soon...

Alyssa Kreider

Instructor

Alyssa grew up dancing at Columbus DanceArts Academy from its start in 2003, where she trained in Ballet, Pointe, Jazz, Hip-Hop, Tap, Modern, and Lyrical. During her time at CDA, she was a company dancer within the pre-professional company track program, danced competitively on CDA’s competition team, and assisted classes as a student intern. After graduating in 2015, Alyssa then attended Miami University of Ohio where she received a Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry and a Music Performance minor. During her undergrad, she was a member of Vision Dance Company, a student-run organization that emphasizes a mutual passion for dance, friendship, and creativity. Within this group, Alyssa co-choreographed the company dance for “Visionaries” and led the weekly company rehearsal as Artistic Director during her sophomore year. As an upperclassman, she choreographed modern, contemporary, and tap dances that were featured in “Vision in Color” and “Envision”.

 

Alyssa is currently pursuing her PharmD at The Ohio State University College of Pharmacy where she is a third-year pharmacy student. This year will also be Alyssa’s third season as a member of Cultivate Dance Project. As a part of this company, she has been able to continue dancing into her adult life and has performed at various events around Columbus. Alyssa is excited to share her love of dance as a new teacher at CDA and hopes to inspire her students to chase after their passions.

Kate Huntley

Instructor

Kate discovered her love of dance later in life than most, taking classes and private lessons as an adult at Bartelt Dancers for 6 years. She trained primarily in Ballet, Tap, and Jazz. During her time at Bartelt, she began teaching preschool ballet and tap classes. Kate’s passion for dance and teaching led her to become the Preschool Program Director at Bartelt, and eventually the Assistant Director. In addition to her many classes she taught at Bartelt, she also taught 6 week hip hop/jazz funk courses at Barrington Elementary, Wickliffe Progressive, and Bright Star Academy as part of their after school programs. Kate has continued her dance education, taking classes at multiple dance conventions over the last 5 years, including KAR Dance Convention and Dupree Dance Convention. Kate has collaborated on choreography for dances that competed at Showbiz, Dupree, Primetime, and Open Call Competitions, and won a costume award at Showbiz Dance Competition in 2019. Kate has choreographed the Bartelt Dancers 4th of July Parade Performance for 4 consecutive years, winning Upper Arlington’s “Most Patriotic” Award all 4 years. 

 

Kate’s first job was at a daycare, where she discovered her interest in teaching. Since then, Kate has taken courses on early childhood development at both Capital University and Columbus State Community College. 

 

Kate is excited to join the CDA Artistic Staff after her first year with the office staff. Her favorite thing about teaching is watching students get their “aha!” moment, when a difficult concept finally makes sense to them. 

2021-2022
Student Teaching Staff

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Lily Altizer

Instructor

Lily Altizer is entering her second season as a member of Company AH, the highest level in Columbus DanceArts Academy’s Pre-Professional Company Program. During her time at CDA, Lily has trained in Ballet, Pointe, Jazz, Lyrical, Modern, Hip-Hop, and Tap. Her favorite style of dance is tap. Lily is entering her 15th year dancing at CDA and has participated in numerous CDA productions including: the annual Company Concert, DanceScope, the year-end Fairy Tale productions, Haunted Hip Hop, and the Fourth of July parades. Lily has been a member of CDA’s award-winning competition teams for 10 years and was one of four dancers that made up the first Progressive/Pre-Company Dance Team. Lily has also served as one of the captains of the CDA Senior Company Dance Team. In both 2016 and 2017, Lily broadened her dance education by attending JUMP Dance Convention, where she had the opportunity to take classes from renowned dance instructors. During the 2019-2020 season, CDA recognized Lily’s achievements in dance with the Versatile Dance Achievement Award. 

 

Lily has worked as both a teacher’s assistant (TA) and intern at CDA and is currently in her second year of being a student teacher.  Outside of CDA, Lily has grown her dance training and leadership skills as one of the captains of Olentangy Liberty High School’s Dance Team.

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Emma Casement

Instructor

Emma has been dancing at CDA for 10 years and currently trains at the Company AH level, the highest level in CDA’s Pre-Professional Company Program. She is also a member of Columbus DanceArts Academy’s award-winning Senior Dance Team and has competed as a CDA soloist at several competition venues. Emma has had the opportunity to perform in CDA’s annual Company Concert, DanceScope, the year-end Fairy Tale productions, the Holiday Shows, and Haunted Hip Hop. Emma has danced the feature roles of Red in the 2021 year-end production of Castle on Blue Hill, Glitter Princess Doll in the 2020 year-end production of The Unknown City, the Robot in the 2019 holiday production of A December Wish, and the Icicle Fairy in the 2018 holiday production of Nutty Nutcracker.  Emma broadened her dance training by taking classes from internationally known, master instructors at Excel in Motion, JUMP Dance Convention, and traveling to New York City with CDA to attend classes at several prestigious dance studios. This summer, Emma attended a three-week intensive with The Rock School for Dance Education, taking ballet, contemporary, jazz, and musical theatre classes. Emma has been the recipient of numerous CDA awards including: High Achievement in Dance Performance Award, High Achievement in Dance Education Award, High Achievement in Dance Technique Award, Golden Student Achievement Award, and CDA Versatile Dancer Achievement Award.        

 

Emma is excited to pass on her love for dance to her students at Columbus DanceArts Academy as a second-year student teacher. Previously, Emma interned for 2 years with experienced CDA instructors and spent a year gaining further classroom experience by substitute teaching for classes of various ages and art forms.  Emma enjoys having the opportunity to mentor and inspire CDA students on their own dance journeys.

Maddie Demos

Instructor

Maddie Demos has been dancing at Columbus DanceArts Academy for 13 years and is currently training in the Company AH level, the highest level in CDA’s Pre-Professional Company Program. Maddie dances with CDA in numerous styles including: Classical Ballet, Contemporary Ballet, Modern, Jazz, Lyrical, and Hip-Hop. In addition to dancing at the Company level, Maddie is a member of Columbus DanceArts Academy’s award-winning Senior Dance Team, competing in the group, solo, and duet categories. In addition to being a part of the Company’s dance team, Maddie performs in every production that Columbus DanceArts provides for the Company during the year. These productions include: the Company Concert, DanceScope, the year-end Fairy Tale productions, Haunted Hip Hop, the Holiday Shows, and the Fourth of July parades. Maddie has danced the feature roles of the Icicle Fairy in A Nutty Nutcracker, the Rabbit, the Mad Hatter, and the Queen of Winterland in Alice In Winterland, Rose in A December Wish, Melaynie in The Unknown City, and most recently Princess Jiah in the 2021 production of Castle On Blue Hill. For the 2019-2020 season, Maddie was honored with the CDA High Achievement in Dance Performance Award. Maddie has furthered her dance training by taking classes from world renowned dance instructors at Excel in Motion, JUMP, and NUVO dance conventions. Maddie has also participated in CDA’s Company trip to New York City, taking prestigious classes at Steps on Broadway and Broadway Dance Center. Along with training at CDA during the summer, Maddie also attended The Joffrey Ballet’s NYC ballet summer intensive, performing in their end of the summer performance where she danced in both Joffrey’s Contemporary Ballet and Classical Ballet styles. 

 

Maddie has been both a Teacher’s Assistant (TA) and an intern with Columbus DanceArts Academy prior to being a Student Teacher. In addition to working at CDA, Maddie is a weekly volunteer through Stairway For Ballet to teach ballet, through Zoom, to children ages 5-10 years old that do not have the means or access to classes. The goal of Stairway For Ballet’s program is to eliminate racism and break stereotypes in the ballet community one step at a time. Maddie is also involved in many student-led clubs through her school that help to implement more cultural awareness in education, better protect students from violence everywhere, help to create healthier decisions for our environment, and advocating to accept children/teens for the people they are proud to be. 

 

Maddie enjoys being a student teacher and working with CDA students because there is nothing more that she wants than being able to foster a healthy, supportive, and influential environment for anyone ambitious to dance. Maddie wants to use her exceptional dance experience at CDA to help better someone else's dance journey as well. She really values the importance of strong learning in an uplifting setting, and is an advocate for spreading the love and art of dance to everyone who is willing to learn it and have fun! Maddie is passionate to get to know every student she works with, and hopes to inspire many young dancers. 

Kate Varchetti

Instructor

Kate has trained at Columbus DanceArts Academy since she was 3 years old, expanding her dance knowledge and training through the years by taking classes in numerous art forms including: Ballet, Pointe, Jazz, Modern, Lyrical, Hip Hop, and Tap. She currently dances in CDA’s highest Pre-Professional level, Company AH. Through her years at CDA, Kate has performed in CDA’s annual Company Concert, DanceScope, the year-end Fairy Tale productions, Haunted Hip Hop, and Fourth of July parades. She has been a member of CDA’s Dance Team for 7 years, competing in both the team and solo categories. Kate has competed 3 different high-energy, jazz solos, earning awards from the judges for both her stage presence and energy onstage. In addition to her competitive dance awards, Kate earned both the CDA Golden Student Achievement Award and the CDA Versatile Dancer Achievement Award in the 2019-2020 season. In 2018, she furthered her dance training by taking classes from internationally known, master dance instructors at Excel in Motion.

 

Kate spent 2 years as an intern and teacher’s assistant (TA) growing her experience as a dance instructor under the guidance of experienced CDA teachers. Outside of CDA, Kate has furthered her leadership skills and dance training as a founding member and current captain of the OLHS Competition and Sideline Pom Team. She has had the privilege to dance under the instruction of multiple OSU Dance Team members and coaches.  Kate applies her passion for teaching and helping others by serving as a Spanish Tutor after school and participating in a school club that makes cards for nursing home residents. Kate enjoys getting to work with the young dancers at CDA because she gets to share her love of dance with them and see their passion for dance grow, but most importantly, she loves getting to have fun with them!

Natalie Wise

Instructor

Natalie has been dancing at CDA for 13 years and currently dances as a Senior Elite Company dancer in CDA’s highest Pre-Professional level, Company AH, in all art forms including: Ballet, Pointe, Jazz, Modern, Lyrical, Hip-Hop, and Tap. During her years at CDA, she has performed in the annual Company Concert, DanceScope, the year-end Fairy Tale productions, Haunted Hip Hop, CDA’s Holiday Shows, and the 4th of July parades. Natalie has danced the feature roles of Rose in A December Wish in 2019 and Fefe in Nutty Nutcracker in 2018. Additionally, Natalie served as a Parade Captain for CDA’s Parade Team at the Dublin Fourth of July Parade this summer. She is also a member of CDA’s award-winning Senior Dance Team, competing in various competition venues in the team and duet categories. Her achievements in dance were recognized by CDA during the 2019-2020 season with both the Golden Student Achievement Award and Versatile Dancer Achievement Award.  

 

Natalie trained as an intern and teacher’s assistant (TA) for 2 years with experienced CDA teachers and has gained further experience by substitute teaching this past year. Outside of the studio, she has continued to grow her leadership skills through her experiences nannying and babysitting, volunteering at VBS, and participating in the peer collaboration program at her high school. Natalie hopes to create a positive, growing environment in her classes at CDA and help each student find their love and passion for dance.