MEET THE FACULTY

KAREN DEESE

Owner

Karen Brown-Deese graduated with honors from the University of Greensboro with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in dance. At UNC-G and while living in New York City, she studied with Twyla Tharp, Phil Black, Luigi, David Howard, Broadway Dance Center, Martha Graham and the Alvin Ailey Dance Companies. In 1977 she opened The Academy of Dance Arts in Mooresville, NC. The studio later became known as The Academy of Dance and Fine Arts, Inc. (ADFA).

 

Over the last 43 years, Karen has taught thousands of dancers and numerous students who have gone on to become professional dancers and dance educators. Former student accomplishments include dancing at The Carolina Opry, The Alabama Theater, and Tokyo Disney, as well as performing in numerous Broadway tours of West Side Story, A Chorus Line, and Hairspray. Additionally, several of her students have performed on numerous international ships, in Vegas shows, and in various European performances. In the Ballet world, former students have danced with companies in Nashville, Boston, Milwaukee, and for Ballet Pacifica. Karen was an assistant, choreographer,  and dancer with the Miss NC, Miss Virginia, and Miss Mississippi Pageants (for a total of over 20 years).  She has traveled the world working with Kennedy Entertainment, choreographing and directing revue shows for numerous cruise lines including: American Hawaii, Crown, Cunard, and Stella Solaris. Karen has also worked as a choreographer for Norwegian Cruise Line. In 1998 she began directing and choreographing Paramount’s main stage theater shows in Cincinnati, Ohio, Richmond, Virginia, Santa Clara, Ca, Charlotte, North Carolina, and Toronto, Canada.  In 2002 her “Graveyard Shift” show in Cincinnati received the IAAPA Award for the most outstanding theme park show internationally, and her “Superstars” show in Toronto received the 2nd place international IAAPA award.  

 

Karen now judges across the United States for Kids Artistic Revue dance competition on regional and national levels and has choreographed for their opening productions in Las Vegas and NYC. She has also choreographed the opening numbers for the Brunswick County and Horry County Dancing with the Stars. The Academy of Dance and Fine Arts at North Myrtle Beach won the Top Primary Studio at the  National Kids Artistic Revue Competition. Karen’s goal is to produce another studio offering the finest instruction for students who wish to dance on a competitive level or just for fun and recreation. She and her husband Larry currently reside in North Myrtle Beach.

MARCIE WILLIS

Director, Ballet Mistress

Marcie began studying dance at the age of three. She has trained extensively in Classical Ballet, Pointe, Pas de Deux, Lyrical/Contemporary, Modern, Jazz, and Tap. She began her training with the Fredericksburg Ballet Centre, and performed for many years with the Fredericksburg Ballet Company. Her feature roles with the company include Clara in "The Nutcracker", and the Lilac Fairy in "Sleeping Beauty". Marcie also danced with the Fredericksburg Ballet's touring company "Allegro".  Marcie is a 2009 graduate of Coastal Carolina University where she graduated Summa Cum Laude. She was a dancer in the Alabama Theater Christmas Show from 2008-2013. Additionally, Marcie has performed as a dancer for the local production of Dino's TV Variety Show in Myrtle Beach. We are excited that Marcie is teaching at our studio for the fourteenth year and sharing her talent and love for dance with our students.  

STEPHANIE BONN

Instructor, Special Events Coordinator

Stephanie was born and raised in Mooresville, North Carolina, where she began dancing at the tender age of three.  She was very fortunate to study under the direction of Karen Deese at The Academy of Dance and Fine Arts in Mooresville, NC for 15 years. Discovering her passion for performing at an early age, it was no surprise that Stephanie would continue on to pursue dance as a career.  Less than a week after graduating from high school, she was in rehearsals for her first cruise ship, the Crown Dynasty.  From that point, she began touring the world as a featured dancer on a variety of different cruise lines, including Cunards Queen Elizabeth II, Commodore, American Hawaii Cruises, and Disney Cruise Lines.  She later made the big move to New York City where she landed a leading role in an Off-Broadway production of A Thin Line-A Dance Drama.  Stephanie also had the unique opportunity to travel to Athens, Greece, where she starred as the lead dancer in the five month tour of The Magic of Musicals. For over a decade, Stephanie entertained audiences nightly at the Carolina Opry in Myrtle Beach. In addition to performing, she also served as Dance Captain and Assistant Choreographer for The Carolina Opry Show, Good Vibrations, and The Carolina Opry Christmas Spectacular. We are so excited to have Stephanie joining our staff again this year and feel fortunate to have someone with her talent and performing experience. Stephanie resides in North Myrtle Beach with her husband, Jacques, and their children Connor, Sophia, and Oliver.

CHRISTINA O'CONNOR

Instructor

Christina grew up in Worcester MA, where she studied dance at the Charlotte Klein Dance Studio for 13 years. She was blessed to start performing professionally straight out of high school. She began her career at Fiesta Texas (now Six Flags over Texas) in San Antonio TX. From there she spent 20 years dancing in a variety of venues including Opryland U.S.A, The General Jackson Showboat in Nashville TN, Alabama Theatre Myrtle Beach SC, Carolina Opry Myrtle Beach SC, Celebrity Cruise lines (Inaugural Cast of the MV Mercury), and several industrials spanning the globe.  She has worked with such artists as Dolly Parton, Brad Paisley, and Tony award winner Billy Porter. Her training is in all aspects of dance including ballet, tap, jazz, contemporary, with her favorite being adage. She now resides in North Myrtle Beach with her husband Sean and their three children Lindsey, Nathan, and Caitlin.

LINDSAY LINK

Instructor; Director of Musical Theatre

Lindsay holds a Bachelor of Arts in Music Education from the University of Kansas. She has worked with elementary through high school-aged students in general music, voice, piano, guitar, dance, and theatre in the Kansas City, Indianapolis, and Grande Strand areas. She has performed, choreographed and designed costumes in shows such as West Side Story, The Music Man, Nunsense, and Bye Bye Birdie. Ms. Link also enjoys singing in Grande Strand’s premier vocal jazz ensemble Vocal Edition where she performs at Brookgreen Gardens every holiday season.  She also loves spending time and playing with her sweet dog Paisley. Her goal is to inspire students to have a lifelong passion for the arts!​

GABRIELLE ROW

Instructor

Gabrielle Row currently performs in a variety of acrobatic roles, including that of lead aerialist, in Dolly Parton’s “Pirates Voyage.”  Born in Iowa, Gabrielle began her training in dance at age four, and competed in artistic gymnastics from age seven through age eighteen.  After moving to Myrtle Beach in 2013 to attend Coastal Carolina University, Gabrielle began coaching artistic gymnastics with the Ocean Flippers, where she continues to share her knowledge with young athletes, several who have gone on to become South Carolina state and regional champions.  Gabrielle holds a bachelor’s degree in Exercise Sport Science, is a NASM Certified Personal Trainer, and is USAG, CPR/AED, and SafeSport certified. 

MADISON COLEMAN

Instructor

Madison Coleman is originally from Wilmington, NC and began dancing at the age of two. She has studied many styles of dance and is also an accomplished gymnast. She grew up as a competitive dancer winning numerous dance competitions, including the South Carolina State Dance Championships in 2014. At the age of 14 Madison was accepted into the UNCSA High School Program. Madison studied at The Academy of Dance and Fine Arts in North Myrtle Beach until her high school graduation. After graduating high school in 2014 she, began her professional career dancing at the Alabama Theatre. Madison began dancing with Royal Caribbean Productions five years ago, and is currently a dancer/aerialist and serves as their dance captain. Madison is thrilled to be back at ADFA and teaching!

CHELSEA ASHTON

Instructor

Chelsea graduated with her Bachelor of Science degree in American Dance Pedagogy from Oklahoma City University. She is currently completing her Masters of Fine Arts in Choreography at Jacksonville University and hopes to find work as a full time professor or artistic director. After her internship during undergrad at Oklahoma City Ballet, Chelsea began her professional career as the Fire Ballet Queen en Pointe for "TEXAS: The Musical Drama" and a Lead Magic Assistant for David Thomas. Chelsea then danced at Busch Gardens Tampa, Walt Disney World and Royal Caribbean, where she learned a new love for aerial work (including Lyra, Bungee, Halo and 2-Point Harness) while visiting 14 countries. Chelsea was part of a silks duet, an adagio duet, a hammock soloist, an acrobat and a lead character at Pirates Voyage, as well as the featured soloist and adagio partner at Alabama Theatre and The Carolina Opry. While performing, Chelsea has been teaching classes, creating workshops, judging nationwide, and guest choreographing groups and soloists for 13 years. Most recently, she was a professor at Coastal Carolina University where she directed and choreographed for their Student Dance Company. We are excited to have Chelsea at ADFA.

LINDSEY ARMOUR

Guest Teacher/Choreographer/Substitute

Lindsey Armour, dancer, aerialist, choreographer, teacher, began her dance training at the age of 3 in Fort Worth, Texas. She graduated Cum Laude from Oklahoma City University with a Bachelor of Performing Arts in Dance Performance and a minor in History. She trained at the School of Contemporary Ballet in Dallas, as well as several local studios throughout Texas.

Currently, Lindsey is performing in Alabama Theatres show, ONE”, as well as, The South's Grandest Christmas Show”, as a featured dancer and aerialist. Lindsey performed with Novell Enterprises production company for Dolly Parton's Pirates Voyage. She had the honor of performing the lead female role of Scarlet” and specializing in aerial duo silks, as well as a soloist on the hammock. Lindsey was the dance captain, magicians assistant, featured dancer and choreographer for The Sandcastles production of Magic of Saipan”, where she also performed as a lyra soloist. Lindsey performed in Guam, as a featured dancer and magicians assistant in Sandcastles production of Dream”. Lindsey performed for Larwell Productions as a dancer for the Mary Kay summer seminars. She, also has experience performing for well known amusement parks, such as Legoland California, where she performed as a dancer in the summer production of Buddys Dance Party”. Lindsey was also apart of the Oklahoma City's American Spirit Dance Company, performing in their Christmas Show and Spring Variety Show. Lindsey has trained extensively in ballet, tap, jazz, pointe, partnering, contemporary and musical theater. In addition to her background in dance, she has trained and performed solo and duo silks, aerial hammock, lyra, and spanish web. She has taught dance all over the world, including Saipan, Guam, Texas, Oklahoma City, California, and Myrtle Beach. This fall, Lindsey will begin her first semester in the MFA Choreography program at Wilson College. Lindsey is thrilled to be sharing her passion for dance and performing with the students of ADFA!

HALEY KING

Guest Teacher/Choreographer/Substitute

Haley began her dance training at the age of 3 and has continued as a student and teacher ever since. She was a competitive dancer for 10 years, and continued her dance training into college at the University of South Carolina where she was a member of the USC Dance Company, National Dance Education Organization, and an assistant instructor for the USC Dance Conservatory. After graduating, she spent several years teaching in studios and after school dance programs. She has also previously worked for Varsity Spirt Corporation as an instructor and competition judge for middle and high school dance teams. Her love for dance and the way it has shaped her into the person she is today is something she hopes to share with every student she teaches.

RHONDA LAMBERTH

Guest Teacher/Choreographer/Substitute

Rhonda Lamberth is originally from Conover, North Carolina.  She began dance lessons at the age of six, and has been trained in ballet, pointe, jazz, lyrical, clogging and tap, with tap being her personal favorite.  She studied with various instructors all over North Carolina, including the ADFA in Mooresville, NC during her teens. Growing up, she competed in numerous local, state and national talent competitions and pageants.  After graduating from high school, she traveled all around the United State, as well as England, Scotland and Wales, with the Paula Scott Elite Dance Company, performing at various events and charity fundraisers.  Although she enjoyed performing, teaching dance was her passion.  Rhonda attended the University of North Carolina at Greensboro as a Dance Education major, and in 1989 she opened the Lamberth Academy of Dance in Newton, North Carolina.  During the next 18 years, her students won numerous local, state and national talent competitions. Having always been a beach lover, Rhonda relocated to the Myrtle Beach area in 2006, and now works in the veterinary field.  An avid animal lover, Rhonda resides in North Myrtle Beach with her three cats.