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American Academy of Dance

108 Business Court

Hendersonville, Tn 37075

Satellite Facility and Dancewear Boutique

13 Industrial Park Drive, Suite 200

Hendersonville, Tn 37075

Paula Fortner

Paula has been the owner and director of the American Academy of Dance since 1986. Prior to opening the school, Paula danced at Opryland USA for 7 seasons and performed in theatre productions in Chicago and Los Angeles. Television credits include, CMA Awards, Music City News Awards, and many specials filmed in Nashville. Paula has choreographed commercials, industrials, show choir groups, and numbers for television as well as National Competition Award winners. Paula teaches classes and maintains daily operation of the American Academy of Dance.

Cheri Leonard

Cheri has her BFA in Performing Arts with an emphasis in Dance from Western Kentucky University. She has been teaching all levels of dance at AAD intermittently since 1991. In between teaching stints at AAD, Cheri was the owner/director of Silhouette Dance Studio in Gallatin .Cheri currently teaches Lyrical and Ballet classes at AAD.  She is also the  director of the dance department at Station Camp High School and ,the coach for the Bison Belles Dance Team. Cheri is valued highly at American Academy for her beautiful Ballet and Lyrical choreography.

Michelle Fortner

is a third generation dancer/teacher/choreographer. Recently Michelle has been touring the country with "Tap the Show" choreographed by tap master Mike Minery. Her choreography credits include Taylor Swift's Fearless Tour and CMT Awards, Jana Kramer's tour with Blake Shelton, TV special, "Christmas in the Blackhills" with Big and Rich, "Vinyl Daze" and "80's Rewind" for Holiday World and Splashin Safari, "A Grand Christmas" at the Deadwood Mountain Grand, and production shows for Oceania and NCL cruise lines. She has danced in music videos, award shows, and live performances with country artists such as Taylor Swift, Brooks and Dunn, and Big and Rich. Industrial credits include Disney's Animal Kingdom, Harley Davidson, Ingles Supermarket, and FedEx to name a few. Michelle has also entertained audiences around the world with Celebrity Cruise Lines. She enjoys teaching workshops and master classes across the country. Michelle is a passionate and energetic teacher that loves motivating students to reach their full potential.

Leslie Reeves Hardcastle

Leslie started dancing in 1988 and had her early training at studios in Hendersonville, coming to American Academy in 1997. Leslie was a student teacher at AAD, and then taught her first dance class here in 2000. After graduating from Hendersonville High School in 2001, she earned her B.S.Ed in Dance Education from the University of Georgia.  While at UGA, Leslie trained extensively in ballet and modern dance, as well as tap, jazz, and ballroom.  Her emphasis was ballet, and she trained and danced with the University of Georgia’s Ballet Ensemble for three years.  While dancing with the company, Leslie performed soloist roles in Giselle, Paquita, and Pas de Quatre, as well as performing in numerous other pieces. Her choreography was featured at the American College Dance Festival in 2005. While attending UGA, Leslie also taught ballet at a studio in Watkinsville, GA, as well as choreographing for a local theatre company in Athens, GA and teaching at AAD summer intensives. Upon graduation, Leslie taught at two studios in Kansas before returning to the University of Georgia as the assistant to the director of the UGA Ballet Ensemble.  During this time, she continued to train and dance with the company, as well as run rehearsals and assist with administrative duties.  Leslie returned to Hendersonville and American Academy in 2007, where she has enjoyed teaching ballet and choreographing Mary Poppins, The Lion King, Peter Pan, Rio, and The Little Mermaid.  She has also been asked back to UGA as a guest choreographer.  When she’s not dancing, Leslie is busy with her 5 children.  She and her husband, Josh, live in Hendersonville and enjoy raising their family here.

Renee Mckinney

received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Performing Arts from Western Kentucky University. She has directed and choreographed countless productions for Cumberland County Playhouse as well as having performed in 42nd Street, Grease, Music Man, Anything Goes, and Hello Dolly just to name a few. Renee has studied all forms of dance, but holds a special passion for tap and musical theatre.The past 2 summers, Renee has attended the Dance Teacher Summitt in NYC, continuing to learn from some of the nations top dance educators.  Renee teaches pre-school and primary classes and also most of our Tap classes at AAD. Renee’s energy and enthusiasm for dance shows in all her classes!

Chi Lopes

Chi grew up training at excellent dance studios in Arizona(Dance Connection) and Tennessee(DCDF). When she turned 18 she moved to LA to pursue her dreams of performing. Once in Hollywood Chi instantly started booking jobs and from that point on has had an extensive career in the arts. Everything from TV, Film, Commercials, Awards Shows, World Tours, Corporate Shows, Musicals, Theme Parks, Casino’s, Resorts and more. Chi has worked with legends and super stars across the world. Paul McCartney, Justin Timberlake, Pitbull, Neyo, Mike Meyers, Jake Owen, Kenny Chesney, Danny Gokey, Lenny Kravitz, Natalie Grant, Tom Jones, Heather Locklear, Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Nick Lachey and Jessica Simpson to name a few. Chi has also performed on and represented: Grammy’s, Emmy’s, VMA’s, CMA’s, CMT Awards, America’s Got Talent, CSI, Nickelodeon, Fruit of the Loom, Haagen Daz, Dom Perignon, Nike, GMC, Maybelline, Redken and MANY more. After several years dancing Chi naturally fell into assisting choreographers and Choreographing herself. She has choreographed for Ringling Bros Circus, K-Love Fan Awards, Dollar General, Ally Bank, Bellissimo Dance Boutique, Krystal Meyers on the Revolve Tour, Harrah’s Casino, and Wyndham Bahamas Resort to name a few. She’s also no stranger to the dance competition world, working for and choreographing at many studio’s in the south and holding multiple choreography awards and national titles. She has also worked on a couple conventions and been a judge at dance competitions. With her years of experience in Los Angeles and beyond Chi Lopes has created a production company to open up even more opportunities for young dancers called Shy Dance Productions. SDP provides specialty master classes held around Nashville that are open to all dancers from any studio, privates in multiple styles, on-camera training, seminars, putting young performers in gigs around town, and our yearly trips to LA to train and educate amongst the best in the industry. Chi has a passion to help young dancers reach their full potential in training and in their profession.

Jodie Henderson

Jodie Henderson began dancing at American Academy at the age of 3. She has danced at the studio for fifteen years, including being on the AAD competition teams for 6 years. Jodie has also had the privilege of taking classes from professional dancers such as Brandon Bryant, Lauren Froderman, Alex Wong, and Kent Boyd. Jodie has been student teaching at AAD for many years, and is so excited to work with your children. She is currently attending Vol State pursuing a degree in early childhood education.

Tana Barndollar

Tana began dancing at age 5 at The Dance Factory in Topeka, Kansas.  Her early training included baton, tap, jazz, ballet, lyrical, and hip hop. As a young dancer, she competed on dance teams for both her studio and her school. After graduating from high school, she began teaching a full load of classes at The Dance Factory as well as dancing and choreographing for Washburn University’s dance team, The Dancing Blues.  After college, Tana danced with the IFL dance teams: The Lady Knights and Lady Kings in Topeka.  Additionally she was a member of the MLS Champion Kansas City Wizards dance team The Wizards Girls. 

After 7 years of teaching at her local studio, Tana decided to relocate to California where she danced for Sacramento’s NBA dance team, The Royal Court Dancers.  Simultaneously, Tana assisted in opening the Hype Dance Studio in Chico, CA.  As the studio manager, she also taught tap, jazz, ballet, hip hop, lyrical, pom, and pre-dance.  She also served as head coach and choreographer for competitive pom and dance teams.  

           

After 11+ years at Hype, Tana, her husband Jim and their son Isaac relocated to Tennessee to begin a new adventure.  She was able to attend and enjoy AAD’s 30th Anniversary Recital last year and was so impressed that she contacted AAD to possibly become a member of the teaching staff.  She is happy to be with AAD and is excited for this new dance chapter.

William Harris III

William was born and raised in Nashville, TN where he began dancing at the age of 14. He attended Nashville School of the Arts and graduated in 2006. Post high school he was hand picked by Debbie Allen to attend the Debbie Allen Dance Academy on a full scholarship. There he trained in multiple disciplines including Ballet, Dunham, Jazz, and African. He was promoted to Artist- in- Residence were he assisted Ms. Allen on multiple projects, including working with artists such as Chaka Chan, Queen Latifah, and Herby Hancock. William has worked with the cast of GLEE on their first national tour as a Vocal Adrenaline dancer. He can be seen dancing with Neil Patrick Harris at the Oscars, directed and choreographed by Adam Shankman. In 2010 he was Assistant Choreographer to Hector Mercado in Storyville: A Musical. William is a member of the unique and highly reputable UNITY Dance Ensemble, directed by Tessandra Chavez. His assistant credits include FOX’s hit show “So You Think You Can Dance” working with choreographers Tessandra Chavez, Tyce Diorio, and Dee Caspery. He can also be seen dancing in Chinese director Jiang Wen’s 3D movie Gone With The Bullets, choreographed by Keith Young. William spent 2 years dancing and touring Japan with JPOP megastars Koichi Domoto, SexyZone, and ABCZ, where he worked with choreography duo Travis Payne and Stacy Walker. He can be seen in the Dirty Dancing spoof with Idina Menzel and James Corden on The Late Late Show with James Corden. William shared the stage with Broadway legend Jennifer Holiday in a production of Sophisticated Ladies choreographed by Dominique Kelley.  Most recently William returned to Japan not only as a dancer but as a choreographer as well, creating choreography for JPOP stars ABCZ, SexyZone, and Mr. King new hit single “Hi Hi Jet”. 

Deavon Waldon

Deavon Walden is a dancer born and raised in Nashville, Tennessee. He has been in music videos with Eric Paslay and many other artists, as well as performing with artists such as Pharrell, TobyMac, Kenny Chesney, and Coco Jones. Deavon believes that dance is not just a sport or a hobby, but something that we use to inspire those to fight to achieve what they believe they can't. His hope is to influence those he teaches to grow beyond what they believe is possible and surprise themselves with who they become.

Phylicia Roybal

Phylicia Roybal is a native of Santa Fe, New Mexico. She received her Bachelor degree in Fine Arts at the University of Arizona in 2011. She has had the privilege of working with New Dialect Dance company under the direction of Banning Bouldin, Ronn Stewart and Cocodāco Dance Project, Kibbutz contemporary dance company, Catherine Cabeen - Hyphen and Moving People Dance. She has had the opportunity to work with artists such as Roy Assaf, Rami Be’er, Donald Mckayle, Robert Moses, Gail Gilbert, Kevin Iega Jeff, and Bobby Mc Ferrin. Phylicia has taught at renowned programs such as The Nashville Ballet, The Joffrey Ballet Academy Chicago, The Youth American Grand Prix, Northwestern University, The Hispanic Family Foundation Baila program, Foster
Dance Studios, Ensworth High School, and Stage Right Performing arts and Metro parks dance division. She continues to find inspiration through experimental movement and improvisation.

Taryn Escobar

Taryn Escobar is no stranger to dance shoes and a stage! She started her career at a very young age durning her dance training and competitions. She started dancing and performing professionally in stage shows, theme parks, cruise ships, tours, TV, as well as modeling for several dance wear magazines. Her career path spans almost 3 decades in the entertainment industry and has allowed her to grace the stage Nationwide. During this time, Taryn realized her love for teaching and the arts and has had the pleasure of working with and has taught for dance studios in several states throughout the U.S. She has choreographed Master Jazz and Hip Hop classes for many award winning numbers. 

She also has several years in Entertainment Management. Taryn was a Production Manager for The Dixie Stampede, a multi-million dollar show in Pigeon Forge, TN, with a cast of nearly 100 members. She has also choreographed and judged for ‘Dancing With The Knoxville Stars’ which is a charity event benefitting the East TN Children’s Hospital that has raised over a million dollars. Taryn is also a fully licensed cosmetologist and makeup artist. Her husband of 11 years is a World Champion Ballroom and Latin American dancer. He has toured with the World-renowned show, ‘Burn The Floor’, for many years. They, along with their daughter, moved to Nashville in 2018 where she has joined the staff of American Academy of Dance as a teacher and as the Competition Director.

Lauren Renteria

Lauren started dancing at the most elite organizations in Southern California at the age of 3 and is trained in Ballet, Pointe, Tap, Jazz, Hip-Hop, Contemporary, Lyrical, and Ballroom. After graduating high school, she was accepted into the 2014-2015  Edge Scholarship Program in Los Angeles, CA. She is currently signed with The BLOC Talent Agency in LA. Her credits include “Mobbed” with choreographers NappyTabs, "Nickelodeon Kids Choice Sports Awards” with choreographer Erin Lamont, “Raven-Symoné” with choreographer Misha Gabriel, "Old Navy” with director Michael Gracey and choreographer Ashley Wallen, "Sunny Delight” with choreographer Tracy Phillips, “Carvana” and “Joy Meets World” with choreographer Michael Rooney, and toured the nation as a backup dancer with an Australian artist named “Emily Perry”.

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