Lori Christensen Owner
“Ms. California” has travelled a long way from teaching dance in the den of her California home at age 13 to Woodbury, Tennessee, where she was dubbed “Ms. California” at Woodbury Grammar school in 2006. Prior to relocating to Tennessee, “Ms. California” earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Theater Arts from the University of California, Irvine, a Master’s Degree in Secondary Education from California State University, Fullerton, and a Special Education credential from MTSU. Her dance training began at the age of 5 and continued through her college and adult years, most notably with Broadway dancer, Jimmie Defore. One of the highlights of her long career was assuming the choreography responsibilities of Celebration, a performing group of special needs adults, who performed at the White House. Throughout the years, Lori has shared her passion for dance in a variety of venues including Theater For Young America and Dance2Go in Kansas City, and Drama / Dance Department Chair at Fairgrove Academy and McPherson Magnet Schools in Southern California. She contributed her talents to both Cannon and Warren County School Districts as a Theater Arts Teacher and Beta Choreographer while teaching Special Education and ESL classes. Alongside her public teaching career, she developed and maintained her dance studio, Canyon School of the Arts, in Silverado, CA. and started Cannon Arts Dance Studio in 2007 for the purpose of providing quality dance instruction to “build dancers and change lives.” Since the inception of Cannon Arts Dance Studio, “Ms. California” has served the community in a variety of ways including the California Club Ballet Folklorico troupe, Board Member at Edgar Evins State Park, including History Hayride, and a National Park Ranger at Stones River Battlefield including the Hallowed Ground Tour. Her holistic approach to teaching dance focuses on the development of the student dancer through technique, skill building and unique performance opportunities.
Ashley Wilson Hardage Tap | Ballet | Yoga
Ashley has been in love with dance since the age of 3 and has 28 years of dance training. She began studying under Brenda at Dance Works in 1998. She was a member of the Diamonds competition team throughout high school. She began teaching at Dance Works her senior year of high school and continued while studying at Middle Tennessee State University. She was a member/choreographer for the Middle Tennessee Performing Arts Club. She took a semester off to dance aboard the Carnival "Imagination". Ashley has a bachelor's degree in Entrepreneurship from MTSU. In addition to being a dance instructor, Ashley resides in Nashville with her husband Charlie, an Army veteran, and daughter, Sadie Gray. Local residents may recognize her from the Arts Center of Cannon County where she taught many students at Summer Conservatory. As a certified yoga instructor, Ashley will continue the yoga program she started six months ago at Cannon Arts Dance.
Alexandria Lescarini Tap
Alexandria has a lot to celebrate this year, it’s her tenth year dancing at Cannon Arts and her first year as a tap teacher. Although Alexandria excels at many dance genres including, ballet, pointe, lyrical, clogging and jazz, her special passion for tap brings her the greatest joy. Her love of percussive speed has been evidenced in a variety of venues including McMinnville’s Autumn Street Fair, Celebration of Spring at Edgar Evins, Interact competitions, and community nursing homes. She is currently working on a clogging solo in collaboration with MTSU’s music department where her love for instrumental music and dance will intersect. As an accomplished pianist, Alexandra brings her musicality to beginning through adult tappers this season and we couldn't be more proud!
Kevin Lovelace clogging
Kevin was born into clogging-literally! Kevin grew up clogging with his family, performing in many competitions and shows, acquiring awards at both national and local levels. He has been an integral part of well-known clogging groups such as Cookeville’s Rhythm- in- Motion and Nashville's Livewires where he not only danced and competed but assumed teaching duties as well. In fact two of his proteges have ties with the studio- Lydia and Anna Smith! We welcome Kevin’s passionate commitment to clogging and can’t wait to see what new heights he takes our cloggers at Cannon Arts Dance!
Alexis Player Smithville Classes | Support Staff
Alexis Player started dancing when she was 5. In her 13 years of studying dance she became proficient in several different styles of dance including hip-hop, jazz, contemporary, modern, lyrical, ballet (pre-pointe & pointe) and was also on a competition team. Alexis continues to grow as a dancer by performing in a community performances including Relay for Life. Recently she danced with a competitive team that was a three time regional champion and ranked third in the nation.
Ana Reffitt Tap | Ballet
Anastasia, or Ana as she prefers to be called, brings a rare combination of dance training and early childhood experience to her position as our Twinkle Star Combo 1-3 teacher. As an Intern at the Millenium Dance Complex in Nashville, she not only utilized her teaching skills, she supported the studio in various capacities including developing guidelines for other interns. Prior to her stint at Millenium, her dance training included five years of teaching at Artistry in Motion in Hermitage, where she taught Jazz, Ballet, and Acrobatics. In addition to her dance career, Ana teaches at La Petite Academy, where she has honed her classroom management skills, focusing on positive behavior modification strategies. Some of you might also know her as a lead counselor with the Girl Scouts of Middle Tennessee. Regardless of her role, Ana believes in positive, age appropriate activities delivered in a structured environment, for the optimum student experience.
Megan Richards Ballet
Megan Richards’ career in Dance began at the age of three, where she attended tap class at the local rec center in Evanston, Wyoming. When she relocated to Littleton, Colorado, she joined Belliston Academy of Ballet, where she studied varying levels of ballet, RAD, Cecchetti, jazz, tumbling, tap, and modern under the tutelage of Mrs. Jeannine Belliston, for ten years. When Megan was fourteen, she moved to Katy, Texas, where she took a break from dance and focused on acting, joining Theatre Club in high school. After graduation, Megan attended Chattahoochee Technical College, in Marietta, Georgia, earning her Associate’s Degree in Television and Film Production—and soon held a position in the graphics department at Turner Studios in Atlanta. After a few short years, Megan felt the urge to perform again, reentering the world of entertainment from the other side of the lens, getting cast in multiple on-screen “Extra” rolls, including CW’s “The Originals”, ABC’s “Nashville”, and both the sequel and threequel major films “Insurgent” and “Allegiant”. Realizing Dance was the ultimate choice in career, Megan made a leap towards that goal when she enrolled at Middle Tennessee State University, at the age of Thirty-one, to complete her Bachelor’s degree. Four years of training in ballet, modern, jazz, and improv, under the direction of Marsha Barsky, greatly heightened Megan’s knowledge and awareness of the body. One of the first ten students in the state of Tennessee to receive a B.S. in Dance, Megan is ready for the next chapter. Her other hobbies include yoga, cycling, obstacle course (Spartan) races, triathlons, and walking her dogs.
Anna Smith Tap | Jazz | Hip Hop
Anna's family moved to Tennessee in 2006 and shortly after, she found an interest in dance. Anna has been dancing since she was 7 years old and has always had an interest with anything to do with theatre arts. Anna takes Ballet, Tap, Jazz, Pointe, Clogging, Lyrical, and Hip Hop! She has danced with the Nashville Ballet in "The Nutcracker" and is on a National Clogging Championship Team! She absolutely loves performing and loves watching and helping people grow into the dancers they are and for them to have the same passion for it as she does!
Koura Wright Ballet | pre-pointe | Lyrical
Koura Wright has been dancing for 18 years, and began her dance training at Van Metre School of Dance in Knoxville, TN with Amy Morton Vaughn and Jan Valenti, as well as at Dancer’s Studio with Irena Lynn. There she studied ballet, modern and jazz techniques, and discovered her love of performance. She later attended Austin-East Magnet High School and studied Humphrey, Graham and Horton techniques with Karen Duren and Kimberly Matibag, ballet with Peggy Burks, and attended summer programs with Randy Duncan and the Ithaca Ballet. In 2006 she was accepted to and attended the dance program at Tennessee Governor’s School for the Arts and was also accepted as an alternate for the contemporary program at Jacob’s Pillow. In 2008 she attended the University of Vermont where she was a member of the dance team, and from 2009-2010 danced as a company member at the Ithaca Ballet. There she performed as a Russian Candy in the Nutcracker and a Jewel in The Sleeping beauty. In 2010 she attended the summer intensive at the Ailey School and performed in an original piece by Pedro Ruiz. After returning to Tennessee in 2011, Koura taught modern dance Van Metre School of Dance until 2017, and danced with the affiliated company, The Appalachian Ballet Company. Over the past five years she has danced many featured roles with the company, and some of her favorite have been “Big Lil” in Lil’ Lil and the Swing Singin’ Sax, The Sea Witch in The Little Mermaid, and the Arabian Soloist in The Nutcracker. Koura is currently attending Middle Tennessee State University to complete her B.S. in Dance and Education and has performed in works by Alia Cache, Marsha Barsky, Margaret Booker, and Jennifer McNamarra. Koura also enjoys hoop dancing and loves finding ways to merge prop manipulation with contemporary dance.
Group and staff pictures thanks to Julie Cantrell Photography
Middle Tennessee State University expanded their dance offerings last year to include the only dance major in the State of Tennessee. As a result, Marsha Barsky Director of Dance (on leave 2019-2020), Meg Brooker (Acting Director of Dance), and Lori Christensen (Cannon Arts Dance Studio owner), have collaborated to implement the first ever internship program between the university and a dance studio. Maryn ClenDenning, a senior in the dance major program, was chosen as the inaugural candidate to help her develop the skills required to work in a real world studio environment. Maryn possesses an extensive background in dance both at private studios and in academia. Along with her background in ballet, jazz, hip-hop, lyrical, modern, contemporary, improvisation and choreography, Maryn brings a sparkle to the studio and an enthusiastic attitude. Welcome Maryn as we look forward to a long and successful collaboration with MTSU for the purpose of Building Dancers and Shaping Lives.