STAFF

Meet our certified, professional teachers

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TANYA ADKINS - Owner/Competition Team Director/ Instructor

Working with kids is Tanya’s passion and pure joy.  Tanya received her teaching certification in Chicago in 1991. She has been teaching since 1992 and started Life Dance Academy competition team shortly after that. Tanya has won several awards and scholarships as a dancer and has since led her own dancers to accomplish the same.  Tanya has been recognized regionally and nationally for her choreography and holds several Regional and National “Best Choreography" Awards. She has had the honor of working with choreographers from So You Think You Can Dance, MTV Music awards, and many music video choreographers.  Tanya has traveled doing Master classes and assisted at several Dance Conventions.  She had the honor of choreographing the opening number for the Stephen Wolf concert, a Janesville Gazette commercial and several community theater shows.  Tanya’s vision for Life Dance Academy is to instill self-confidence, accomplishment, artistry, and great dance technique to all ages and abilities.  Life Dance Academy is for all dancers beginner to Elite and will bring excellence to every child through teaching them with their own individual learning style. Tanya is committed to creating a safe place of positive reinforcements, self-expression, and individuality, challenging her dancers to be the best they can be.

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TAYLOR WIELE- Competition Team Director/ Instructor

 Originally from Las Vegas, NV, she received her classical ballet training under the Royal Academy of Dance and studied Modern, Contemporary, Tap, Jazz, and Musical Theatre at the Las Vegas Academy of Performing Arts. In 2014 Taylor graduated from Point Park University with a B.A. in Dance. Her professional experience includes performing and dance captain in multiple musicals including “Hairspray”, “West Side Story”, “Cats”, “How To Succeed In Business”, and “Beauty and The Beast”; working for Spirit Productions/Dublin Worldwide in “Dance Inferno”; and  performing as a Dancer/Aeralist for Royal Caribbean Productions. Taylor has been fortunate enough to perform in pieces choreographed by Kirby Reed, Christopher Huggins and Blake McGrath. Taylor toured with Dance Olympus as a teacher’s assistant. Transitioning out of the professional dance world and into the fitness/rehab industry, Taylor is certified in P.M.A. Pilates Mat and Apparatus, Bootybarre, ADTA Acro Dance, Fascial Stretch Therapy and Neuro Kinetic Therapy.  She is so grateful that Life Dance Academy has become her home where she can pass on her life experience as a professional dancer and her knowledge of as a bodyworker to all of her students.

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ASHLEY HUMPHREY- Competition Team Choreographer/ Instructor

Ashley began dancing at the age of three in Cape Girardeau, MO.  She attended Webster University in St. Louis, MO, where she graduated with a BFA in Dance in 2007 and an MFA in Arts Management and Leadership in 2009.  While at Webster, Ashley developed three original choreographic pieces for her BFA capstone.  She also performed with the Webster University Dance Ensemble, several student-choreographed performances, and participated in ACDFA.  Ashley has danced in Paris, France as part of the Universal Dance Association's All-Star program.  During the summer of 2006, she attended the Ailey Summer Intensive in New York City, taking daily classes in ballet, Horton technique, and West African.

During her time in St. Louis, Ashley was the junior varsity coach and assistant varsity coach of the state-ranked Westminster Christian Academy dance team, and taught at Renee Johnson's Dance Studio and Renee's Dance Floor.  She has taught and choreographed for Studio One Dance Company in Wales, WI for the past four seasons. 

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AMBER BARNES- Tiny Tots & Ballet Instructor

Amber is elated to be a part of the Life Dance Academy team and work with all of the children at the studio! Amber, also known as "the baby whisperer" has a welcoming, energized personality that connects with our little movers at the first hello.  Amber is warm and inviting.  She instills the love of dance and music into our tiny movers that sticks with them through their teenage years.  Not only does she teach dance fundamentals, she's teaching developmental skills of right/left, balance, creating patterns, following directions, and social interaction that helps them in their overall growth and experiences. She began her dance career at the age of 3 in Madison where she took classes in Ballet, Jazz, Tap, Hip Hop, Hula, Lyrical, and Contemporary. In addition, Amber performed in Walt Disney World. Her teaching career began as a demonstrator for the youth program at her studio Following that experience, Amber pursued childhood education at MATC and in 2016, she established Amber's Happy Home, a childcare program for children between the ages of 6 weeks and 4 years.  Among Ambers many talents, she is also a professional photographer and has done many shoots with our very own dancers and families. 

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KALLISTY ADKINS- Competition Team Choreographer/ Jazz & Hip Hop Instructor

Kallisty has danced with what is now Life Dance Academy since the age of 3. She has been competitively dancing since 2009. She has had the pleasure of working with numerous choreographers throughout the years, such as Mo Williams, Missy Lobes, Patrick Burns, and more. In 2015, Kallisty was awarded with a scholarship from Coast to Coast for a fantastic essay about what dance meant to her. In 2018, Kallisty went to Dupree Dance where she earned a scholarship giving her a full ride to the convention in Chicago. When Kallisty wasn't in competition or recreational classes for herself, she has assisted teaching classes at the studio. Kallisty works as a full time daycare worker by day, dance instructor and choreographer by night.  Kallisty loves sharing her passion for dance with all of her students! Having her students feel seen and accomplished is her greatest joy within the classroom. 

SARAH NESLER WOLF- Ballet Instructor

Sarah completed her BFA in dance with honors from UW-Milwaukee. Over the past decade plus she has been working as a performer and instructor.  During her 9 years at Kanopy Dance Company Sarah was deeply immersed in the Martha Graham technique having the honor of performing numerous pieces of her work. Sarah has also traveled to New York City to complete her certification for teaching in AMERICAN BALLET THEATRE ® in primary through level 7.  Sarah also received her certification for Horton advanced teacher training through Ailey school. Among her many certifications she is certified in Laban/Bartnieff Movement analyst through Integrated Movement Studies. She currently teaches dance at Beloit College, Life Dance and guest teaches throughout Southern WI.  Sarah's sweet demeanor, gentle instruction, patience and passion to bring her best to her students shines through in every class! 

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ERIKA REED- Acro Instructor

Born and raised in Janesville, Erika is excited to bring her professional experience to Life Dance Academy.  She is in the process of receiving her ADTA certification For Acro Dance.  She started out her movement journey with gymnastics through high school and made varsity her freshman year specializing in vault.  Erika was also a part of the Craig poms squad.  She later started her dance training at Danceworks in Milwaukee, studying ballet, jazz, contemporary, and hip hop.  In 2016, Erika was accepted into the School of Madison Ballet where she got extensive Balanchine training and performed in the Spanish corps in The Nutcracker with the company for 4 years.  Her other professional experience includes dancing and choreographing for local country cover band Bella Cain for 9 years, performing for UW Milwaukee Dancemakers, and dancing Snow and Marzipan in The Nutcracker for BJSO/Stageworks in Janesville.  Erika is currently a Fly Girl for an old school hip hop tribute band called Too Hype Crew.  She is committed to pushing the students to improve with an emphasis on growth mindset and strong work ethic!

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WENDI COWNE - Life Little Movers Instructor

Wendi is so excited to be back in the classroom! Wendi has always had a job where kids were involved and it shows.  She's a crazy-fun, energetic, and  animated entertainer.  She has a special ability to bring confidence out in the shyest of littles in a comfortable space.  This is Wendi's claim to fame. Miss Wendi attended school in Kentucky for early childhood education.  As a nanny and swim instructor for many years her expertise with children shines through. She has also taught pre school, competition cheer teams, tumbling and poms when she lived in Texas. Wendi is ready and raring to go to delight your children.  You can see her giant smile while teaching our Little Movers

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DECLAN BORAN-RAGOTZY - No Limits Program Director

In 2022 Declan received the prestigious honor of being awarded the Citation of Commendation from State Representative Don Vruwink and State Senator Janis Ringhand for his incredible work in our community for equal rights and inclusion for all with disabilities.  Declan is elated to be serving as the program director for the No Limits program, here at Life Dance Academy. Declan is a certified instructor for Rhythm Works Integrative Dance which incorporates specific practices from sensory integration, applications to physical skills, and behavioral strategies. While focusing on teaching the students with learning differences and special needs. Declan is very excited to grow this program here at Life Dance Academy with this world recognized certification. Declan has taken this program to new heights by officially establishing it as a non profit organization in 2021 to be able to reach more families in our community.  This program has flourished into an all inclusive art program teaching not only dance and movement but all forms of art under Declan's direction. When not teaching dance, Declan is a special education teacher at Milton High School and is actively involved in a plethora of art related activities in Rock County.  Declan's true passion in life is to advocate for full inclusion and opportunities in all avenues of art for people living with special needs.  

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TARA POWELL - Office Manager

Tara is no stranger to the dance world.  All 3 of Tara's children have danced since they were little.  Tara's kindness, attention to detail, and positivity are the perfect match for our studio culture.  Tara will be your friendly face answering your questions, phone calls, emails and taking payments.  Tara is crucial to the ins and outs that make Life Dance all it can be.  She will always greet you with smile and will make sure you have all the information you need. Tara is warm and welcoming and goes above and beyond to get to know our families and dancers.