Blue Dog Dance Super Staff 2023-2024
Our staff is committed to bring you the joy and excitement of dance. We have a variety of backgrounds in dance and life to serve you. All teachers have their own dance education and are trained internally at Blue Dog Dance. Staff certifications include Dance Teacher Pro, mUvMethod Stretching, Leap n' Learn, IntelliDance, Acrobatic Arts and CLI Studios. Our staff happily commutes from as local to Ms. Barbara in Maple Hills to Ms. Kaela in University Place to Ms. Irene in Redmond. Let us know how we can make your dance journey once that is right for you and your child.
There's nothing quite like finding your "thing" in life, or seeing those you love most find theirs. A joy-filled activity that simply makes you feel good, no matter what else you might be facing. A place to escape when the noise gets too loud and the world feels a little too big. A space to move your body, let loose, and be yourself. A passion that drives you to be your best self. A way to connect with those who share in the same joy.
Dance has always been that "thing" for me. Since the age of three, I've found passion and purpose through movement. I've experienced the power of dance to heal, to connect, and to transform. Most importantly, I've seen how coming together through dance brings light, laughter, and love into the lives of those around me - and what could be a more beautiful thing than that?
I started dancing as a little girl - mainly because I saw my older sister taking classes and I wanted to be just like her (typical youngest child). But quickly, dance became so much more than following in her footsteps. I continued to dance until high school when my family moved from upstate New York to sunny California. While attending college at California Polytechnic State University, I fell head-over-heels for dance yet again, and joined the college's dance company. Here, I took a teaching class and discovered my true calling - to share the gift of dance with others.
I went on to pursue a degree in Kinesiology, teaching dance at every opportunity that arose - local studios, schools, community events, and even prisons (yep, that story is one for the books!). Each time I saw the pure delight that dance brought to those around me, it solidified my belief that dance is a true unifier. It has the power to transcend age, race, gender, religion, and socioeconomic status. It is a language that we all speak, and it is a joy that we can all share.
Upon graduating, I taught tap at the university and established my very first dance studio for adults - In Motion. It was at our first recital that my partner, Kelly, proposed to me and slowly the chapters of my life began choreographing its own dance that has given me sanctuary, solace, community and connection ever since.
When we moved to the Pacific Northwest, I had visions of a career as a personal trainer (fitness has always been a big part of my life) but, of course, dance pulled me right back in and I was teaching at a local dance studio before we had even unpacked. As fate would have it, on one of my trips to the studio, I noticed a space for rent near my home in Maple Hills. I realized in that moment that I would either be driving past the space every day to teach in someone else's studio or I could take the plunge (yes, again!) and open my own studio in my community. I called the landlord, and just like that, Blue Dog Dance was born.
We named the studio Blue Dog after one of my daughter, Millie's, stuffed toys that encapsulated everything I wanted Blue Dog Dance to stand for. I chose an intentional name that was inclusive of everyone from ballerinas to hip-hoppers and aspiring kiddies to ambitious adults (no studio of mine was going to have the words "elite" or "exclusive" on the door).
Though we opened during the global recession in 2008, with our community's support, we've been able to build a thriving dance studio in the heart of Renton, Washington where we offer an inclusive, performance-based dance program to families from Renton, Issaquah, Kent, Bellevue and Newcastle. From a small start-up studio, we now have 20 staff members and 600 students who make fun-filled memories while enjoying their "thing", together!
From ballet, jazz, tap, and hip hop to lyrical, contemporary, pointe, acro, and musical theater, everything we do at Blue Dog Dance is focused on making the physical, social, cognitive, and emotional benefits of dance accessible to people of all ages and abilities as we work towards fulfilling our mission to build stronger individuals, families and communities through dance education.
The past 14 years have been an absolute blast - watching our dance family grow, creating beautiful seasonal shows together, producing benefit galas for Seattle Children's Hospital and seeing hundreds of happy kids attend our summer camps. With an emphasis on inclusion, limitless creativity, strong leadership, interactive learning, and powerful community building, Blue Dog Dance is much more than just a place to learn how to dance...it is a movement.
From our family to yours, we invite you to come and experience the limitless potential of dance as we continue to empower our community to thrive, one dance step at a time.
Barbara and Kelly Walshe
Tiffany Orlando is the studio manager, and recital coordinator, and merchandise organizer, and studio seamstress, and show house manager, and account reconciler and the list goes on and on. She has been with Blue Dog Dance for almost a decade. She has attended Dance Teacher Web and Boost conferences to sharpen her skills as studio manager. Occasionally, you may see her on her bike as she commutes to the studio.
FOUNDER / DIRECTOR
Barbara Walshe is Founder and Director of Blue Dog Dance. She holds a BA in kinesiology with a dance minor. She has taught for over 20 years in a variety of settings including high school, elementary schools, Cal Poly State University, private studios, prisons and more. She opened Blue Dog Dance in 2008 as a community dance studio close to her home in Maple Hills. While she is versed in all styles of dance, she is currently focused on tap and adult classes.
Kyra Jackson has been dancing since she was three years old and loves jazz, contemporary, lyrical, hip hop, acrobatics, tap and ballet. She has performed at multiple shows and competitions and plays the saxophone and clarinet. Ms. Kyra has been teaching for eight years at Blue Dog Dance and is certified in Leap n' Learn, mUvMethod Stretch and Acrobatic Arts. She has attended numerous dance teacher conventions. This year, Ms. Kyra is focused on AcroDance, is our Performing Group Director and Blue Dog Dance's Assistant Director.
Kaela Delaney has been dancing for 30 years. She knows tap, ballet, pointe, jazz, lyrical and modern. She has studied with Sam Weber, Lynn Dally, Angelia Leung, and Stan Kahn. In college at UCLA, she was the assistant to teacher Lynn Dally for all the tap classes in the dance department. She taught creative dance for children at an elementary school off campus at UCLA as a part of her major of World Arts and Culture. She has been teaching dance ever since. She is certified in Leap n Learn, mUv Method and a CSSSA graduate.
INSTRUCTOR / POINTE SPECIALIST
Susan Crandell has been teaching dance for 18 years. She has studied at Cornerstone, Pacific Chamber Ballet, Joffrey Ballet School and Pacific Northwest Ballet. Ms. Susan has performed as a singer at district honor choir, all state honor choir and as soloist in school plays. She has performed the roles of Clara, Snow, Bear, Russian, Rat King, Mirliton, Spanish, and Sugar Plum Fairy in various Nutcrackers. You may also have seen her as a Seattle Seahawks Sea Gal. Ms. Susan holds a Bachelors in Business Administration - Management from UW and is currently working on a Master of Legal Studies - Compliance and Risk Management at Seattle University School of Law.
Tori Steinke has been dancing for 24 years. She knows ballet, jazz, and lyrical. She has studied at Backstage Dance, Woodinville Dance Academy, Exit Space, Kirkland Dance Center and University of Washington. She performed at the University of Washington from 2015-2018, Take Pause with Exit Space and Strickly Seattle. She holds a BA in accounting with a minor in marketing AND a BA in Dance from UW. Her teachers along the way have shown passion and inspired her to pursue teaching. Fitness and nutrition are important to Ms Tori. She takes barre classes and is an avid runner completing 6 half marathons and dozens of 10Ks.
Ashlynn Rodriguez has been dancing for 23 years and is in her 5th year of teaching dance. She is trained in jazz, contemporary, pom, ballet, lyrical, tap, hip-hop, musical theatre, and modern. She has danced with many teams and groups including the Seattle Seahawks Dancers, Jordan Kahn Music Company, and Odyssey Dance Collective. Ms. Ashlynn studied dance at Next Step Performing Arts Center, University of North Texas, Exit Space, Contemporary Ballet Dallas, and Collin College with her BA from the University of North Texas. In her spare time, she enjoys running, skiing and hanging out with her two dogs, two cats, and two parrots.
Willow Stromire has been dancing for 16 years. She does styles of hip hop, jazz, ballet, lyrical, and tap. She started dancing at British dancing Academy then move to Blue Dog Dance. She has done masterclasses at Dance Teacher Web in Las Vegas and the Manhattan Dance Project. She has performed for Bellevue College Dance Company for two years and for the Royal Blue Dance Company for four years. Ms. Willow is certified as level one in mUvMethod Stretch. She graduated with her AA and is working towards a commercial dance career.
INSTRUCTOR / ADMIN
Cheryl Satterfield has been dancing for 68 years and knows the styles of ballet, tap and jazz. Cheryl has been a part of the Dixie Dancers, FW dance and drama performing company, Dance Unlimited Nutcracker, as well as her own production of the Eastside Moving Company. She has been teaching dance for over 40 years, including at King County Parks and Rec, The Boys and Girls Club and private dance studios. She owned her own studio for 11 years and has been teaching at Blue Dog for eight years. Ms. Cheryl has teacher training certification by Lisa Howell. Ms. Cheryl believes that dance for her personally is an essential part of her best life.
INSTRUCTOR / ADMIN
Makayla Kinne is a senior at Liberty High School and a member of the Royal Blue Dance Company. She has danced for 12 years and loves all styles of dance, but her favorite is contemporary. She has taken multiple summer intensives at Blue Dog Dance and has attended many Manhattan Dance Projects. Makayla has danced in numerous Blue Dog shows and recitals over the years, as well as performing at Disneyland's Dance the Magic parades. She has also been a Teaching Assistant, a summer camp counselor and was a Substitute Teacher last year.
Alexis Gau is a high school student and has been dancing for 12 years. She has studied jazz, lyrical, contemporary and hip hop. Ms. Lexi is also a member of the Royal Blue Dance Co. This is her second year teaching hip-hop at Blue Dog after training as a teaching assistant. Her favorite dance to perform has been Queen B, a hip hop piece choreography by Ms. Willow for Royals. She believes that dance is the best way to express who you are. Just as you would with any other art form, you learn about yourself.
Sydney Walling has been dancing for 13 years studing jazz, hip hop, tap, ballet and lyrical. She has performed in numerous Blue Dog Dance shows - including the Royal Blue Dance Co Galas. This is Ms. Sydney's second year teaching. She was also a teaching assistant for three years and has taught summer camps at Blue Dog. Sydney attends Hazen High School and believes that dance is an amazing way to connect and learn with people. This year, Ms. Sydney is teaching lyrical and musical theater.
Lauren Baccus is in her second year teaching hip-hop to our younger dancers. She has danced hip-hop and contemporary at Blue Dog Dance and is an alumna of the Royal Blue Dance Co. Ms. Lauren has also trained at British Dance Academy, Backstage Dance, Rainer Dance and The Studio in Issaquah. Her favorite dance performance was back in 2019 with Blue Dog, dancing in Mi Gente. She said the style of hip hop was out of her comfort zone, but she ended up loving it!
Millie Walshe has been dancing since she was 3 years old, and studies acro, ballet, hip hop, contemporary, and pointe. Ms. Millie has had the opportunity to dance in many dance competitions, Manhattan Dance Project and Dance the Magic parades at Disneyland. Her favorite dance quote by Martha Graham is "Every dance is a kind of fever chart, a graph of the heart." Previously Ms. Millie has been a Teaching Assistant and Substitute Teacher for Blue Dog. This is her first year teaching pre-dance under the mentorship of veteran teacher Ms. Barbara.
Jenna Collins has been dancing for 13 years and is taking classes in jazz, contemporary, ballet and pointe here at Blue Dog Dance, where she has grown up. She is currently a high school student at Liberty High School, and what she believes is true about dance is that everybody can dance if they want to. Ms. Jenna has been a cheerleader for years and has also been a coach for one of the teams. Ms. Jenna was previously a Teaching Assistant at Blue Dog for four years and is now in her second year teaching Jazz.
Cora Myre is a recent high school graduate and a student at Bellevue College. She has taken dance for many years and is an alumna of the Royal Blue Dance Co. Her favorite style of dance is Contemporary. Of all her performances, one of her favorites was from 2021 during the pandemic. Ms. Cora performed in the piece Birds with Royals, which was filmed at historic Fort Worden State Park. Ms. Cora is in her first year teaching pre-dance under the mentorship of Ms. Kyra and is also a substitute teacher at Blue Dog.
Charlotte Brown has grown up dancing at Blue Dog Dance and practices jazz, contemporary and ballet. She has attended the Manhattan Dance Project and danced in Dance the Magic at Disneyland. Ms. Charlotte is a high school student, serving as the Sophomore ASB Senator, and a member of the Royal Blue Dance Co. She has been a Blue Dog teaching assistant for the past 3 years. This is her first year teaching beginning ballet under the expert mentorship of Ms. Cheryl.
SENIOR TEACHING ASSISTANT
Camryn Czerwinski is a high school student and has grown up at Blue Dog Dance dancing over the past 13 years. Ms. Cam has taken classes in tap, ballet, acro, contemporary, lyrical and jazz. She has performed in countless Blue Dog productions and recitals, and is a member of the Royal Blue Dance Co. Ms. Cam is currently training to be an acro dance instructor under the mentorship of Ms. Kyra. She believes that dance is a beautiful and powerful way to express how one is feeling.
COMMUNICATIONS / ADMIN
Stefanie Williamson is our Communications Coordinator and Graphic Designer. She assists with marketing, social media and photography and works mornings at the front desk. You might also see Stefanie taking an adult dance class at Blue Dog or performing “Hot Chocolate” in Polar Express. She has danced since high school and has taken a variety of dance classes in all styles, but her favorite is tap. When she's not at Blue Dog, she's either walking her dogs, spending time with family or watching rom-coms.
Lea Arnold will be assisting at the front desk this year. She is a high school student and a member of the Royal Blue Dance Co. Ms. Lea has been dancing for 9 years and trains in ballet, jazz and tap. Her favorite dance performance was Assemble, which was a fun and energetic musical theater piece featured in the Royals' 2022 Gala. She loves that dance is a way to express yourself and your identity, and is inspired by her Blue Dog dance teachers and her dance friends. Outside of dance, Ms. Lea enjoys skiing, reading and watching movies.
Evelyn Thacker is a Liberty High School student and a member of the Royal Blue Dog Dance Co. She has been dancing for 13 years and is trained in ballet, jazz, tap, lyrical and contemporary. Her favorite dance performance was Sing, Sing, Sing, the advanced tap piece at Blue Dog for the 2022 spring recital. Outside of dance, Ms. Evelyn enjoys crocheting. We're happy to have her assisting at our front desk on the weekends.
We are constantly thinking a creative ways to keep you dancing.
We all want to dance and want you to dance, too. We believe in the joy of dance.
We pride ourselves in continually wanting to get better at what we do.