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AnnMarie Aulbach

I began my dance career at age 5, and started dancing at HIS at age 8. I was a junior apprentice and then a member of HIS Ensemble for 9 years. I also took ballet, pointe, contemporary, hip hop, and tap. I loved my time dancing at HIS as it was my second home. I loved having a place where I could do what I love and also grow in my faith. I was also part of the Rockford Varsity Dance team at Rockford High School where I competed in Pom and Jazz.  Additionally, I have a background in cheerleading. I was a sideline cheerleader at Rockford High school and I am currently a captain and cheerleader on the cheer team at Cornerstone University. I attended Western Michigan University for 2 years before I transferred to Cornerstone University where I have a major in Elementary Education and a triple minor in science, reading, and Spanish. My heart has always been for kids and I am beyond excited to be in the classroom doing what I love. This is my first year teaching at HIS, and I absolutely love spending my Saturday mornings dancing with my preschoolers!

Sarah Bethel

Bio Coming Soon!

Lauren Brock

Lauren Brock began her dance career around the age of six after seeing her little sister on stage in a beautiful costume and thought that looked way more fun than soccer. Lauren danced at many studios in the Grand Rapids area.  She traveled to Disney World to dance on the “Tomorrow Land Stage” as a pre-teen with her performance troupe. Lauren was involved in Liturgical dance at her church growing up. Here she started to realize that the bond between the two had great meaning and brought her much joy. She was a member of the East Kentwood varsity dance team in high school. While on the EK dance team her squad traveled to the national competition at the ESPN Wide World of Sports and won third place in Pom and 9th place in Jazz. Lauren attended Western Michigan University where she earned a minor in Fine Arts. Lauren was accepted into the Fine Arts Major Program at WMU, but switched her major to Business Administration after her dreams of becoming a Radio City Rockette or a background dancer for Janet Jackson didn’t line up with God’s plans. Lauren started teaching for HIS dance after graduating from college and it has been her passion ever since. This is Lauren’s 11th year loving her job at HIS Dance  Academy helping students to worship our Lord and Savior through music and movement. 

“Let them praise HIS name with dancing...” Psalm 149:3 

Debra Burr

Ms. Debra was owner/director/instructor of her studio, Dance World, with over 300 students, in the Waterford/Clarkston, Michigan area for nine years. She began dancing at the age of five and studied the Cecchetti Method of Ballet, Pointe, Lyrical, Tap and Jazz.  As owner, she presented annual showcases, students for ballet examinations; and had the opportunity to work with Mr. Bob McGrath from Sesame Street as children’s coordinator and instructor, for a Waterford Cultural Arts performance. Ms. Debra has successfully passed student examinations in the Cecchetti Method Grades I-V and her teacher examinations in Grades I-V. She is currently studying Cecchetti Teacher Grade VI. She has served on the Cecchetti General Board for many years and belongs to the Western Michigan Cecchetti Committee. She has been a registrar and host for dance examinations and workshops. Ms. Debra was certified by Dance Masters of America in Ballet, Tap, and Jazz and has been a member of Dance Masters of America and Dance Masters of Michigan.  She sold her studio when her family came to Grand Rapids in 1999 where she began teaching at the Academy of Dance Arts until 2012. While there she had the opportunity to work with the Moscow Ballet for four seasons as assistant to children’s coordinator and the children’s dance instructor for “The Great Russian Nutcracker” at DeVos Performance Hall. Currently she is a substitute teacher for the Kentwood Public School System. “I love working with students of all ages and levels in both the dance and academic world. They truly are a joy and our future”. Ms. Debra feels blessed to be joining the Hearts in Step Christian Dance Academy family. Eph 2:10 For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Bethany Comienski

Bethany began her dance training at the Beck Center for the Arts near Cleveland, Ohio studying under the direction of Melanie Szucs. Throughout the years she has attended Ballet Magnificat summer dance intensive in Jackson, Mississippi, Balletmet summer intensive in Columbus, Ohio artEmotion in Cleveland, Ohio. In 2016 Bethany had the opportunity to be a mentor with the American Ballet Theatre in Austin, Texas working with students during their summer intensive. She recently graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Dance and a Degree in Non-Profit Administration from Grand Valley State University. During her time in the GVSU Dance Program, she had the opportunity to study under wonderful faculty members such as Samantha Shelton, Carrie Morris, Hannah Seidel, and Stephen Sanford. While at Grand Valley she performed in faculty pieces, student works and guest artist works. Bethany also served as Secretary of Momentum, a student-run choreography club for three years, as well Secretary for Xtension, as outreach dance club focusing on organizations like the Boys and Girls Club.

Ashten Duncan

Bio Coming Soon!

Yessina Gomez

Bio coming soon!

Sarah Grace Groot

Sarah Grace started taking ballet, tap and jazz when she was just 4 years old and was completely bitten by the dancing bug!  She continued her training as she got older with the Grand Rapids Ballet School, Turning Pointe School of Dance and Hearts in Step Dance Academy.  She attended summer sessions with Ballet Magnificat and Joffrey Midwest. She created and choreographed the full length production of “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe - a Contemporary Ballet" and has choreographed many musicals for Home School Performing Arts, Master Arts Theater and Midway Theater Company.  
Dancing is a huge part of Sarah Grace’s story as God worked in her heart as a young girl to use her gift of dance to glorify Him in any way she could. Dancing can be very “self glorifying” and she learned how much joy it brought her to give it as a gift to God and others instead of holding it for herself.  She loves telling stories through dance and teaching others how to dance!
Sarah Grace has been married for almost 5 years and has an adorable 4 year old and a 1 year old!  She loves being a wife and mom and is so excited to be back at Hearts in Step this year!  Feels like coming home!  

Kelly Honderd

Kelly Honderd is the mother of 3 beautiful girls, Jaycie (8) Claire (6) and Ruby (4). She has been married to her husband Jake, for 12 years. 

Kelly began dancing at age 4 at Miss Kathy's Dance in Grandville, MI.  She continued training with Grand Rapids Ballet. As a member of the Junior and Senior companies she performed in several Ballets over the years, including The Nutcracker. Kelly performed roles such as Snowflake, Flower, and the role of Clara when she was 12.

Kely gave her life to Christ when she was 8 years old and was able to dance in many churches as she grew up. She learned how to use her body to Glorify God and how to bring others into worship through dancing.

Kelly also took instruction at Turning Pointe School of Dance and taught there for several years. The last 3 years she has dedicated her time to a ministry that she founded called Lil' Worshipers in the Hudsonville area. The mission was to provide young dancers with free, Christian ballet instruction with focus on Christ-centered worship. The ministry continued to grow and God truly blessed her in that journey. The ministry was always Gods and never her own. Because of that, God has led her away from Lil Worshipers for this season and to HIS Dance Academy. Kelly believes that God's provision, timing, and faithfulness never ceases. She is so excited and feels so blessed to be joining with HIS Dance Academy as an Instructor and Outreach Coordinator.

"I have such a heart for service and I know that God has something amazing in the works and I am so excited to be a part of it! I thank you for allowing me to join your team and to be a part of what God is doing at HIS. It is my desire to show Christs' love to others and to use my gift of dance to worship and glorify God." 

Tassia Johnson

Tassia Johnson trained with Jane Stamps, Studied in the San Francisco Ballet School and danced for the Dance Theater of Harlem for over a decade.  She has been teaching for over 20 years and is currently Co Directing with Ms. Hannah Sullivan creating ballets for HIS Dance Ensemble.  She also teaches for Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp and International Ensemble in the summers.  She receives such a blessing in having the opportunity to work with HIS Dance and the mission to tell the good news of Jesus through dance.

Emma Longworth

Emma Longworth trained in ballet and modern dance at HIS Dance Academy for ten years.  Emma was a member of the HIS Dance Ensemble from 2010-2018.  Emma currently teaches modern at HIS Dance Academy and is the Assistant Artistic Director of the Ensemble.  She is also a self-taught costume designer/creator and uses her talents to bring beauty through costuming to the Ensemble productions. 

Mary Jo Priest

Mary Jo Priest was born and raised in Grand Rapids and trained with Grand Rapids Ballet Company from 1993 to 2001. She then received her B.A. in Dance from GVSU and began teaching at various local dance studios. Mary Jo has performed and choreographed for local modern dance collective DITA since 2009. She was also co-founder and co-director of Grand Rapids Dance Project. Mary Jo is currently on faculty at HIS Dance Academy and is the Ensemble co-director. 

Bethany Love

Bio Coming Soon!

Samantha Shelton

Samantha Shelton received her professional training from the Joffrey Ballet in New York and in Michigan with Rose Marie Floyd. She also studied in London with Anita Young (Royal Ballet) and at the Cecchetti International program in England. For the past twenty years, she has been on the ballet faculty for American Ballet Theatre Summer Intensive, currently directed by Kate Lydon, setting ABT repertoire and choreographing new ballets for the final performances. Currently, she is on faculty for the ABT Summer Intensives at the University of Texas, Austin, under the direction of Wes Chapman, former ABT principal and also travels the country as an adjudicator for the ABT National Audition Tour, selecting dancers for training programs in New York, Texas, California and Alabama.  Samantha has also taught at the ABT program at the University of Alabama, directed by Carla Stallings and the Detroit Opera House/Wayne State University, directed by Alaine Haubert.  She has choreographed and taught for the professional ballet  programs at the Walnut Hill School in Boston, directed by former ABT principal,Michael Owen, Ballet Tennessee, Missouri Contemporary Ballet, and Interlochen  Arts Academy. She has performed extensively in both classical and contemporary ballets, including the Grand Pas from Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty, Don Quixote, also principal roles in Giselle and Raymonda. In her guest artist performances, she has partnered with Craig Salstein (of ABT), Arch Higgins (New York City Ballet) and Christopher Stowell (San Francisco Ballet) among many others. Samantha holds an M.F.A in Dance from the University of Michigan, where she was awarded a Rackham Thesis grant, and a B.A. in Political Science also from the University of Michigan. She has also done graduate work at New York University in Performing Arts Administration with internships in development, PR and marketing at Carnegie Hall and the Orchestra of St. Luke’s.   For six years, she served on the  University of Michigan’s School of Music, Theatre & Dance Alumni Society Board of Governors and in May 2012 spent three weeks in Taiwan, teaching and presenting a piece of choreography for Tainan University. She is certified through the American Ballet Theatre National Curriculum Training Program and in August of 2014, co-taught the ABT NTC with Harriet Clark, at the Detroit Opera House.  Most recently, she re-staged and choreographed Swan Lake for the West Michigan Youth Ballet, with Artistic Director Stephen Sanford and Laura Berman (former Director of the Grand Rapids Ballet).  Samantha is currently a Professor of Ballet at Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, MI. 

Olga Smelik

Mrs. Smelik was born in Russia and trained in Vaganova method under Valentina Danilovna Denisevich.
Upon moving to the United States she has taught in various schools throughout the country, including Academy of Dance Arts in Michigan, Center Stage Studio in Asheville North Carolina and Beverly SerraI’s School of Dance in Tennessee.
She performed as a soloist with Central Ballet Theatre in TN and helped to establish Central Ballet Theatre School and Christian based youth company. She served there in the position of Artistic Director and helped foster their collaboration with Tusculum College. Upon moving to her husband‘s home state of Michigan she briefly owned and operated her own Christian ballet school , North Ballet Theatre in Cedar Spring, MI before becoming a stay-at-home mom to her two daughters. She never stopped dancing and teaching, and continued to give private lessons and trained her own children. Under her instruction, her older daughter Celine was accepted into full professional day training program at Gelsey Kirkland Academy in New York City and also to French Academie of Ballet where she is currently studying. Mrs. Smelik recently completed Teacher Certification course through Bolshoi Ballet Academy in Moscow after attending their training course in New York. She is certified to teach levels 1 through 3 of Bolshoi Ballet Academy curriculum.
Her favorite Bible verse is Ecclesiastes 3:11 and she is trusting God’s timing in everything. She is very excited to be a part of HIS team and to meet her new students.

Hannah Sullivan

Hannah Sullivan is a west Michigan-based choreographer and educator who has worked with professional & student companies including the Grand Rapids Ballet, Dance in the Annex (DITA), Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp, Blue Lake International Ballet Ensemble, Grand Rapids Civic Theatre, Macomb Ballet Company, Muskegon Dance Company, School of Grand Rapids Ballet and HIS Christian Dance Academy. Hannah is a featured performer and choreographer with DITA and in screendance films/commercials, most recently writing/producing the film monogrammatic (2018 premiere). Alongside Tassia Johnson, Hannah co-wrote/directed/choreographed original contemporary story ballets for the HIS Dance Ensemble from 2011-2018 including Royal, Toymaker, Ark, Red and Desert. She is an ArtPrize 2014 juror-award winning collaborator with DITA’s respirador (breather) under the artistic direction of Amy & Erin Wilson. When Hannah isn’t moving or creating movement, she sits down with her clients as a mental health therapist at a private practice in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Sarah Walters

Sarah Walters began dancing at the age of 3 in the Russian method. Since then she has studied under teachers with various ballet methodologies. She became a member of the Marshall Community Ballet Company and starred in the roles of Clara and the Sugar Plum Fairy in the Nutcracker. Sarah attended Blue Lakes Fine Arts camp and toured Europe performing Swan Lake with Blue Lake International Ballet. She graduated from Grand Valley State University in 2006 with a BA in Dance. While in college, she performed solo roles in The Nutcracker Ballet, Paquita, Les Sylphides, and Swan Lake.  She spent the summer of 2003 training with the Richmond Ballet Company in Virginia. 

Sarah has been teaching for 17 years for ages 3 to adult.  Sarah values the importance of strong technique in a Christian environment. “Strong technique is essential in ballet as it is the key to training the body to move freely in artistic expression”. Sarah has worked alongside a local physical therapist over the last ten years and believes strongly in injury prevention and screening in her classes.  Sarah also knows the importance of emphasizing dancing for Christ rather than for oneself. “I was raised in a Christian household, but dancing was something that was done outside of church and separate from my spiritual life. It was something that I did just for myself and because of this my own human limitations were very discouraging to me. As my eyes were opened to worship through dance, I experienced a whole new level of joy in my dancing. How amazing it is to give back to the One who gave me the love of dance!”

Sarah is married and has two little girls, Olivia and Macy and a baby boy name Elijah. 

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