CHERYL SCHMIDT - Founder of Dance Attitudes

                        May 9, 1955 - February 22, 2017


Cheryl was the founder and co-owner of Dance Attitudes. The studio began as Schmidt’s School of Dance in Cheryl’s basement in 1982. Among her first students was Dance Attitudes co-owner and Cheryl’s beloved friend, Tanya Adkins. Over the years, her studio grew into numerous locations, changing names to Park City Dance and then Dance Attitudes. Many of Dance Attitudes students have gone on to dance in college, became dance educators, and have become professional dancers. Her dedication to teaching has helped build a foundation of arts education and appreciation in Rock County.

Cheryl is the very definition of leaving behind a legacy not of fame, fortune, or power but of LOVE! Cheryl believed in people!  The hardest thing for her as the studio grew was that she didn’t know every single student by name anymore. Knowing dancers and their families was so important to her. As a teacher, she saw potential in her students, and she never took “I can’t” for an answer. She inspired, encouraged and challenged her dancers to live up to their potential. She has inspired hundreds of young dancers in the Janesville area, and she loved each and every one. Many grew to be her lifelong friends.

Cheryl was recognized as a Rock County YWCA Woman of Distinction in 2005. She was a graduate of East Carolina University with a degree in the Checetti form of ballet.

Each generation of dancer had their own affectionate name for Cheryl, Cher Bear, Momma Schmidt, and Schmitty.

The Legacy that Cheryl started all those years ago will continue on.  Dance Attitudes is looking forward to another 30 years of greatness!  Dance Attitudes will continue to grow, teach, and mentor young dancers to be the best they can be.  Instilling self-confidence, bravery, artistry, and great dance technique will always be the focus of what Dance Attitudes will achieve!

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 a National “Best Choreography Award” for 2016. 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.

SARAH NESLER WOLF- Ballet Instructor

Sarah completed her BFA in dance from UW-Milwaukee, where she worked with a variety of instructors and choreographers. She has also trained in New York City, attending intensives at The Ailey School, The Graham School, and American Dance Festival. While completing her degree, Ms. Wolf received scholarships to attend Milwaukee Ballet School's summer intensives and Masterworks Festival. Since graduating, she has danced one season with Danceworks Performance Company in Milwaukee and has performed with Kanopy Dance Company in Madison, WI, since 2010. She has had the honor of performing pieces by Lisa Thurrell, Martin Lofsnes, Charles Weidman, Pascal Rioult, and Martha Graham, among many others. Sarah is an AMERICAN BALLET THEATRE ® Certified Teacher, who has successfully completed the ABT® Teacher Training Intensive in Primary through Level 7 of the ABT® National Training Curriculum, as well as training in Revolutionary Principles in Movement. She currently teaches at Kanopy Dance Academy, Life Dance Academy in Janesville, and Beloit College. 

TAMI WILLIAMS- Tap, Jazz  Instructor

Tami is currently a student at the University of Wisconsin Whitewater studying Human Health and Performance, Human Services, and Dance. She has been dancing for 16 years and the past 6 have included traveling around the country to dance competitively. She has won several awards and scholarships including being named a UDA All-American Dancer and winning numerous Overall High Scores at competitions. She has also been fortunate enough to have had unique and once in a lifetime dance experiences such as performing in the halftime shows of several BCS College Bowl Games, and being a Radio Disney Dancer for several years. Tami is excited to get back into the studio environment that she grew up in at Life Dance Academy .

TAYLOR WIELE- Ballet, Stretch, Musical Theater and Pilates 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. In the past Taylor has been fortunate enough to perform in pieces choreographed by Kirby Reed and Blake McGrath. Taylor toured with Dance Olympus as a teacher’s assistant in 2008; and assisted choreographer Jeneane Huggins with one of her original dance dramas “Coming Into The Light” in 2010. Transitioning out of the professional dance world and into the fitness/rehab industry, Taylor has taken the last two years to earn multiple certifications in order to build upon her knowledge of the body and how it works. She is now a certified P.M.A. Pilates Mat and Apparatus Instructor, Bootybarre Instructor, and a Level 1 and 2 Fascial Stretch Therapist. Taylor is very anxious to get back to her dance roots and share some of her own life experience as a dancer and her knowledge as a bodyworker to the students at Life Dance Academy

DECLAN BORAN-RAGOTZY - No Limits Instructor

Declan is elated to be serving at the program director for the No Limits program, here at Life Dance Academy. When not teaching dance, Declan is a special education teacher at Milton High School and participates in many art related activities in Rock County. He is a board member Rock River Reps and serves as the assistant director for Parker's musicals. 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.

EMILY YUNGEN- Office Manager

Although new to Life Dance, Emily is no stranger to working with both kids and adults. She worked in the human service field, which taught her the importance of communication and attention to detail. Emily has always had a passion for working with special needs children. With her years of working in the special needs community, Emily is skilled in maintaining a professional work relationship while keeping things inviting. She also enjoys being active in the community. One organization she works with is “Shine”, a prom for individuals with special needs. Emily is also working on finishing her degree in psychology with a concentration in mental health. When she is not working or taking care of her daughter, she is tapping into a creative outlet. Emily is excited to join the Life Dance Academy family. 

KALLISTY ADKINS- Jazz & Hip Hop Instructor

Kallisty has danced with what is now Life Dance Academy for 14 years. 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, and 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 for 5 years. Her love of dance and the studio stems from her relationship with Cheryl & she hopes to carry on Cheryl's dream for the studio. 


TAYTUM ADKINS- Tap Instructor

Taytum has been dancing here at Life Dance Academy since she was two years old. She is currently on the senior competition team, and has danced competitively for the past six years. During that time, she has won countless scholarships and awards. She has won four scholarships at the Dupree Dance Convention, judge’s choice awards at competitions, and has been a part of several first place routines. Taytum has participated at conventions such as Dupree Dance, Coast to Coast, and 24/7. She has also had the opportunity to learn from many different choreographers. Some of which include Missy Lobes, Morgan Williams, and Patrick Burns. Taytum has been assisting dance classes for three years and is excited to step up into the teacher position. It is her main focus as a staff member to make all of her students feel welcome and excited about the art of dance.

AMBER BARNES- Creative Movement & Ballet Instructor


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