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.
Shelby Langford Tap | Ballet
Shelby Langford is 21 years old and has been dancing since she was 2. She is well versed in multiple styles including Ballet, Jazz, Contemporary, Hip Hop, Modern, Pom, and various Latin styles. Her dance background includes 4 years as a member and captain of the Blackman High School Dance Team, 3 years as a member and Co-Captain of the MTSU Dance Team, 10 years as a member of the Dance Works Competition Team, 3 time National Champion and 5 time National Title holder, 3 years as Alumni Choreographer of the Blackman High School Dance Team, current Officer Board Member of the MTSU Performing Arts Company, and current Member of the Pre-Professional MTSU Dance Theatre. She is a Dance Major at MTSU as well as a member and Shift Leader of the Catering Team at Chick-fil-A Murfreesboro. On her off days she loves to watch scary movies, organize things, and eat mashed potatoes.
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.
Caroline Scott Ballet | Tap | Smithville Classes
Caroline Scott is a former student of Cannon Arts Dance Studio and a current student at Middle Tennessee State University. At MTSU she is working towards a degree in Education and is an active member of Kappa Delta Sorority. She began interning at Cannon Arts in 2014 and began teaching in 2015. Caroline has studied ballet, jazz, tap, contemporary, modern, pointe, and has taken classes in hip-hop, musical theater, and lyrical, but her favorite will always be ballet. In April 2017, she had the opportunity to travel with MTSU to the American College Dance Association (ACDA) conference. Caroline has traveled with Cannon Arts Dance to Disney World in 2016 and 2018. She has a passion for teaching little ones and can't wait for the 2018-2019 season!
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!
Lydia Smith Clogging
Lydia grew up overseas in the Czech Republic and always dreamed of being a ballerina. When she moved back to the States, Lydia's parents enrolled her in dance classes at the age of 9. She is now 18 and dances at Dance City in Murfreesboro. Her dance genres involve Ballet, Tap, Jazz, Lyrical/Contemporary & Pointe. Lydia was accepted into the Governor's School for the Arts in the summer of 2015 for dance where she got to train every day for a month with amazing teachers from off Broadway, Hungary.. You name it!
Lydia has also been clogging since she was about 15 and was on a competition team that ended up going to and placing in Nationals in 2012. Lydia has been student teaching ever since she can remember and has always had a passion for what she does. Lydia loves teaching and she absolutely loves seeing her students improve and their love for dance grow even more. It makes it all worthwhile!
Rachel Vassar Tap | Jazz
Rachel Vassar is a young dance artist from Columbia, Tennessee. She has a degree in Integrated Studies with a Cognate in Dance and a minor in Nonprofit Management from Middle Tennessee State University. She has been performing in ballet, tap, and jazz since 2003 and modern and contemporary since 2011, both with the university and with community programs. Rachel is interested in expanding the existing concepts of dance through innovative collaborations with other art forms, as well as actively restoring and preserving dance history in America. These interests were acquired after her time in Spain in 2017 where she collaborated with local artists and the Guggenheim Museum.
Ginny Whaley Ballet | Pointe
Ginny Whaley began dancing at the age of three at City Youth Ballet in Johnson City, TN. The studio’s main focus was providing a strong ballet foundation and Ginny studied several techniques of ballet including Chechetti and Balanchine. In 2012, Ginny attended TN Governor’s School for the Arts where she discovered her passion for learning new genres of dance. Since then, she has traveled to Senegal to perform and learn various styles of West African dance. She also recently performed in Moscow, Russia at the People’s Friendship University of Russia for the 2017 spring dance festival. Ginny graduated from MTSU with a major in anthropology and a minor in dance. Her teaching style emphasizes encouraging students to improve and to find their own passion for dancing.
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