Our dance and music instructors are highly trained, positive and enthusiastic individuals. They all love to teach and enjoy passing along their love of dance and music.
Krissie Odegard Geye Owner / Artistic Director / Instructor
Krissie has been on staff for Goliard Concerts in New York City, The Ethnic Dance Theatre in St. Paul, MN, as well as clinician at the ATDI “Spirit of Tap” Conference and a faculty member for the New York City Public School system. For the past two years, she was given a grant to produce a full length work in Anita's Way in Times Square. She was selected to be a conference presenter at the International Dance Pedagogy Conference and Performance Festival at New Mexico State University in July 2017. She has also served master class clinician at the Big River Dance Festival in West Virginia. Her choreography has been selected for the Peridance Youth Showcase in NYC, Jennifer Mueller's "Hatch" series in NYC, the Detroit Dance Festival, the Minnesota Fringe Festival, the Big River Dance Festival, The Exchange Choreography Festival in Tulsa, OK, the 2018 Spring Choreography Showcase at Peridance in NYC, and Dance Chicago. She was selected for National "Best Choreography" at Cathy Roe's Ultimate Dance National Finals in 2017, the recipient of the Choreography Award at Bella Moxi Convention, in 2016, and was selected as one of 3 National Choreography Competition winners sponsored by Ovation TV. She is the four-time recipient of a space in the Dance Chicago's "Choreographer's Showcase" performance, featuring the top choreographers from the Chicagoland area. This will be her fifth year as the Director of the National "Heart and Soul" Dance Company and her second year as the National “Elite Petite” Dance Company. She is currently the proud Owner and Artistic Director of the Dance and Music Academy in Chicago and the Co-Founder/Artistic Director of the Trifecta Dance Collective.
Ashley May Coussens Director of Programming / Instructor
Ashley currently serves as Director of Programming at Dance & Music Academy, in addition to teaching as part of our faculty. She is a graduate of Northwestern University's School of Communication, where she studied Dance, Theatre, and Business Institutions. Ashley has worked administratively in external relations and fundraising for several arts organizations and educational non-profits, including Youth American Grand Prix, The Joffrey Ballet, The Harris Theater for Music and Dance, Heron Agency, Northwestern University, and the University of Chicago. Since its inception in 2011, Ashley has been a member of the Auditorium Theatre's Auxiliary Board, where she currently serves on the Marketing Committee and previously served as a member of Event Planning Committee and Fundraising Committee, in addition to Secretary of the Executive Committee. Artistically, Ashley has performed with Trifecta Dance Collective, Chicago Human Rhythm Project, Aerial Dance Chicago, Ballet Légere, and Rephrase Dance Collective, as well as the televised McDonald's Thanksgiving Day Parade and Chicago Lights Festival Parade. Ashley has been performing professionally, as well as teaching and choreographing, for over 10 years, and her original choreography has been selected for the Dance Chicago festival. Ashley has trained at Joffrey Academy of Dance, Hubbard Street's Lou Conte Dance Studio, Visceral Dance Chicago, American Rhythm Center, Joel Hall Dance Center, Gus Giordano Dance Center, Aerial Dance Chicago, Aloft Circus Arts, Trapeze School of New York, Actors Gymnasium, River North Dance Chicago, The School of Performing Arts, and Inaside Dance Chicago (Merit Scholarship Recipient). Having worked with several winners of the Joseph Jefferson ("Jeff") Award and Ruth Page Award, Ashley began her career as a performer and Dance Captain at Chicago's former American Girl Place Theater, and she is a graduate of the National High School Institute's "Cherubs" program for theatre arts. Ashley has had extensive teaching experience, having worked for Northwestern University's Center for Talent Development, French Woods Festival of the Performing Arts, and numerous Chicago schools and arts programs. Ashley has a strong passion for encouraging people of all ages and backgrounds to find empowerment through arts education, and she is thrilled to be part of the amazing community at Dance & Music Academy!
Jamie Moore Director of Educational Initiatives / Instructor
Jamie comes to Dance and Music Academy as a new resident of Chicago. Jamie trained in ballet, tap, jazz, contemporary, acrobatics and modern for 15 years at Just Off Broadway Dance Studio in Cincinnati, Ohio. As a member of their award-winning Performance Team for 14 years, she competed regionally and nationally and attended multiple conventions a year including Dance Masters of America, The PULSE, NYCDA and many more. Jamie taught ballet, tap and jazz at Just Off Broadway and choreographed solo and group pieces for the Performance Team and annual studio recital. Upon graduating high school, Jamie matriculated to The Ohio State University where she was a 4-year member of the university’s Dance Team. The team cheered on the Buckeyes at all home football and basketball games and competed at the Universal Dance Association’s Collegiate Dance Team Nationals each year. Jamie was voted team captain her senior year and led the team to top 5 finishes in Jazz and Pom at the 2013 UDA Nationals. Jamie is thrilled to become a member of the DMA team and is looking forward to sharing the love of dance she’s cultivated over the last 22 years with the talented dancers of DMA!
Felicity Nicholson Instructor
Felicity Nicholson began her formal dance training at the Fort Wayne Ballet under the direction of Karen Gibbons-Brown. She then went on to receive a BFA in Dance Performance from Butler University, during which time she performed works by Gustavo Ramirez Sansano, Susan McGuire, Derek Reid and many others. Upon graduation Felicity moved to Chicago where she studied on scholarship at Visceral Dance Chicago and at the Lou Conte Dance Center. She has since been performing freelance work like Thodos Dance Chicago’s New Dances and Schaumburg Dance Ensemble’s The Nutcracker, as well as the Moroccan tour of Bellydance Evolution’s Scheherazade. She has been performing with Project606 Dance and Trifecta Dance Collective since 2016.
Beth Netzly Director of Ballet Programming / Instructor
Beth Netzly was born and raised in Holland Michigan. She began her training under Rick and Lara Faucher and performed many lead roles with the Turning Pointe Ballet Ensemble for seven years. Her technique advanced as she attended various summer intensives across the country including JHD II, Ad Deum and Paul Taylor. Beth attended Grand Valley State University and was selected as a freshmen to to perform in the ensemble. In addition to college classes Beth trained under James and Lucia Martin and performed as a guest artist throughout west Michigan. Beth was asked to join Rasa in 2008 under the direction of Van Collins. She later trained with Joel Hall, Betsy Herskind and Nick Pupillo. She has performed works by many independent choreographers as well as John Lehrer, Lizzie MacKenzie, Elijah Gibson and Autumn Eckman. She has enjoyed being rehearsal director at Illinois Youth Ballet producing Nutcracker and the Little Mermaid. Beth continues to dance professionally and is thrilled to pass on the knowledge she has learned over the years to her students.
Carrie Patterson Executive Director of Programming and Outreach / Instructor
Carrie Patterson, a native of Atlanta, Georgia, began her training with the Atlanta Ballet, and continued training in the summers with Houston Ballet, Alonzo King LINES Ballet, Paul Taylor Dance Company, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, and Luna Negra Dance Theater. In 2011, Carrie graduated cum laude from Butler University with a BFA in Dance Performance and a minor in Psychology. After graduation, Carrie spent the 2011-2012 season dancing as a trainee with the Louisville Ballet.. In the summer of 2012, Carrie moved to Chicago where she spent 2012-2013 season as a trainee with Thodos Dance Chicago. Carrie has also danced in Chicago with Rephrase Dance Collective and Project606 Dance. She choreographed works for the Louisville Ballet in their New Works show of 2012, Thodos Dance Chicago’s New Dances, and Nomi Dance Company’s Instrumental. She currently is also a dancer with Nomi Dance Company and co-artistic director of Trifecta Dance Collective.
Joanna Paul Director of Community Presence / Instructor
Joanna Paul began her training in Indiana with Patti Plascak Willey at the Terre Haute Academy of Dance, and continued training in the summers with Cincinnati Ballet, Virginia School of the Arts, American Dance Festival, Doug Varone and Dancers and the Trinity-Laban Conservatory in London. Joanna received degrees in Dance and Kinesiology from Indiana University. While attending IU, she performed in works by Elizabeth Shea, Selene Carter, Liz Lerman Dance Exchange and had the privilege of recreating works by Martha Graham. After graduating with highest distinction, she relocated to Chicago. Joanna currently performs with Trifecta Dance Collective, Esoteric Dance Project and Project606 Dance. Further performance experience includes Cerqua Rivera Dance Theater and Tapestry Dance Company. In the spring of 2016 she completed Esoteric Dance Project’s Choreographic Mentorship Program, premiering a dance for the company’s May performance, and also created a new work for Project606 Dance. In 2015 her work Trio for the Waiting was chosen for the emerging choreographer showcase Dances in the Hall at Joel Hall Dancers & Center as well as Going Dutch Dance Festival and as part of the Awakening Movement Project Midwest Tour. In addition to teaching dance, Joanna is also a certified Pilates and Yoga Instructor.
Irfan Qurashi Instructor
Born in India, raised in New York and pursuing his art in Chicago, Irfan Qurashi found his passion for dance at 13 years old. He discovered popping & B-boying and trained himself in those styles at a young age, watching battles & cyphers on YouTube. After high school, he then went on to join dance companies throughout Chicago, beginning with Nonstop Dance Productions, directed by Sonya Bunges, and then competing with The Puzzle League, under the direction of Davina Pasiewicz, Matt Pumanes &Andrew Phan, and C.O.D.A, under the direction of Teddy Chavez, Dee More, and Andre Patterson. He's also received training from Trae Turner, founder and director of Boom Crack! Dance Company as well as Daz Harris, John Silver and Cj Salvador. In 2010, Irfan began training at every Young Lions Workshop offered in Chicago, and continues to train under Ian Eastwood, along with various other choreographers/instructors they've brought to Chicago. He has also been awarded with scholarships to The Pulse Dance Convention and Broadway Dance Center in New York. Irfan continues to train his free-styling, fundamentals, & choreography through classes, workshops, battles, cyphers and many other outlets in Chicago, LA, and New York, to provide the best class experience for anyone willing to learn from him, whether kids, professionals or friends of his own. Irfan believes in nothing more than hard work, focus, discipline and dedication that will get you through dance in order to achieve your goals. “A great student is what a great teacher hopes to be.” - Keone Madrid
Emma Reeves Administrative Director / Instructor
The Debut Dancers curriculum is a research-based movement program that centers around movements that increase muscle control and encourage agility and musicality. The students will learn solid technique in this combination Ballet and Tap program.
Colleen Welch Instructor
Colleen Welch studied dance and exercise science at Indiana University where she graduated with a degree in kinesiology. During her time at Indiana, she performed works by Bill Evans, Martha Graham, Bella Lewitzky, Paul Taylor, and The Dance Exchange. After graduation, Colleen began her professional career with Zephyr Dance in Chicago and performed with the company for three years. She also performed with Dropshift Dance for five seasons and has performed with Ology Dance, Tapestry Dance Company, and Project 606. She is thrilled to be currently collaborating with The Friday Collective. Colleen has performed and presented her choreography in Chicago and NYC with Awakening Movement Project based in NYC. Colleen is so excited to be teaching at DMA!
Heather Zimny Director of Performance Companies / Instructor
Heather Zimny, originally from the suburbs of Chicago, received her BA in dance from Columbia College Chicago. She also holds a 200 hour Power Yoga Certification and a Yoga Sculpt Certification from Corepower Yoga. Heather continues to train and develop her artistry at the Joel Hall Dance Center, Lou Conte Dance Studio and Visceral Dance Center under Betsy Herskind, Birute Barodicaite, Joel Hall, Paul Sanasardo, Kirby Reed, Peff Modelski, William Gill, Pam Tanis, Nancy Teinowitz, Vanessa Truvillion, and Nick Pupillo among many other wonderful teachers sprinkling in some yoga and aerial into the mix for good measure. Heather can currently be seen onstage getting sassy with the Joel Hall Dancers, breaking boundaries with Trifecta Dance Collective and exploring the vertical dance floor with Aerial Dance Chicago. Other dance credits include Rasa Dance Chicago under direction of Van Collins, Paul Sanasardo, Ballet Entre Nous, Lucid Banter Project, Alliance Dance Company, Allure Dance Company (Detroit, Michigan), D.I.A.L and numerous independent choreographers and appearances in music videos. In September 2010 she had the chance to dance overseas in Liverpool with the Joel Hall Dancers as part of a yearlong celebration of their LEAP program's 10th anniversary. Dance has graciously taken her all over the world performing on stages in multiple festivals and concerts across the U.S.(Spring Into Dance St. Louis, Jazz Dance World Congress, Exchange Festival in Tulsa, Minnesota Fringe Festival, Anita’s Way in Times Square NY, Big River Festival in Huntington WV, Dance USA, Fontainebleau in Miami Beach FL) and overseas. Heather is grateful to be directing, teaching and choreographing throughout the city, suburbs and Chicago Public Schools doing what she loves everyday. She is honored to be returning to the Dance and Music Academy faculty this year and is jazzed about the amazing experiences and challenges the new season will bring.