Staff

Allison Shenton

Allison Shenton

Artistic Director

Allison Shenton started her dance training in 1981 at Dance Arts, Inc. She enjoyed dancing the Nutcracker with Dance Arts every December performing such roles as Dew Drop, Snow Queen and the Sugar Plum Fairy. Allison attended the University of Georgia where she received a Bachelor of Science in Family and Consumer Sciences and a minor in Dance Education. At UGA she was a company member of the UGA Ballet Ensemble under the direction of Joan Buttram. Many of the roles danced at UGA inspired her love for classical ballet. Such include Myrta, Queen of the Willis in Giselle, the Sugar Plum Fairy in the Nutcracker with the Athens Symphony, the Pas de Quatre in Act 1 and Corps de Ballet in Act 2 Kingdom of the Shades in the full-length production of La Bayadere, Flowers in collaboration will Ballethnic Dance Company’s Urban Nutcracker, and corps de ballet in the full length La Sylphide. After graduation from UGA, Allison also had the opportunity to work as a professional dancer in Atlanta Festival Ballet. She was directed by the world-renowned dancer Nicolas Pacana. Allison danced in many productions including The Nutcracker, The Little Mermaid, and Beauty and the Beast. She did many original works arranged by Mr. Pacana and enjoyed dancing in the lead trio for the work Symphony in C. At Atlanta Festival Ballet School, she served as the Director of Operations. In 2003 Allison returned to Dance Arts, Inc. Her students have gone on to study and have scholarships to many summer programs, selected for the Governors Honors Program, as well as compete at the Youth America Grand Prix under her direction. She is proud to have many of her past students studying at major Universities as Dance Majors including The University of Georgia, Florida State University, Jacksonville University, Kennesaw State University, Belhaven College, Brenau University and Valdosta State University. In 2014, Allison was happy to join the Dance faculty at Valdosta State University from 2014-2016 teaching ballet and was very proud to be a Blazer. Starting Fall of 2016, Allison transitioned to the role of Artistic Director and owner of Dance Arts Valdosta, Inc.

Shannon Thomas

Shannon Thomas

Instructor

Shannon Thomas began her dance career in Douglas, Georgia at The Dance Company, under the direction of Caroline Post. She Competed for 10 years with their competition team, Dance Attack, traveling the country and attending competitions and conventions hosted by the nations top choreographers. After high school, she attended college at The University of Georgia where she was a member of The Redcoat Marching Band as a member of the dance line, the Georgettes. In 2002, Shannon opened Now Dance This in Douglas, Georgia. For 7 years her students competed and won top awards for choreography, technique and entertainment, as well as many national awards. In 2009, Shannon began teaching at Dance Arts teaching tap, jazz and ballet.

Melissa Pihos

Melissa Pihos

Instructor
  • MFA in Choreography/Dance University of North Carolina at Greensboro
  • BA in Biology University of North Carolina at Greensboro
  • Professor of Dance at Valdosta State University

Melissa Pihos began dancing at a very young age and has been performing professionally for over 20 years. She has performed all over the United States and her film work has screened in several film festivals across the country. She has danced for Flatlands Dance Theatre, Van Dyke Dance Group, John Gamble Dance Theatre and Sidelong Dance Company. She has also performed in works by Martha Graham, Larry Keigwin and Twyla Tharp.

She is an award-winning filmmaker and is currently touring her work, PIHOS A Moving Biography as Alzheimer’s disease awareness events. PIHOS A Moving Biography is a documentary dance/film performance that explores the life of her father, NFL Pro Football Hall of Fame receiver Pete Pihos and his battle with Alzheimer’s disease. The work has toured to Charlotte, Winston-Salem, Lubbock, TX, Philadelphia, New York City and Santa Fe.

Holding an MFA in Choreography/Dance from UNC-Greensboro, her previous dance faculty appointments include UNC-Greensboro, UNC-Charlotte, High Point University and Salem College. Pihos is also a national dance judge for Showstopper and Dance Machine.

Emily Harp

Emily Harp

Instructor

Emily Harp started her dance training as a preschooler in Macon, Georgia. She spent many happy hours in downtown Macon at Flag City School of Dance under the direction of Cindy Little. She was a part of the Show Biz Dancers, the studio’s competition team and became an assistant instructor in high school. Emily loved performing in the Nutcracker of Middle Georgia every December, and had the honor of being chosen to dance in different roles throughout the years. Her childhood dream came true when she was chosen to play Clara. While earning a Mass Media degree at Valdosta State University, Emily danced under the instruction of Eric Neilson and Catherine Schaffer. She performed in several dance concerts as part of VSU’s Repertory Dancers as well as the musical theater department’s production of 42nd Street. A week after graduating college in May 2003, Emily married her favorite person, CJ. They now have three children, and enjoy frequent dance parties in the living room. Emily is so excited to share her love for dance with the students at Dance Arts.

Hannah Kortrey

Hannah Kortrey

Instructor

Hannah Kortrey is a Georgia native that found her calling to dance at the age of five. She studied hip-hop in high school and formally studied Modern, Ballet, jazz, Contact-improv, and ballroom training at Valdosta State University. For a semester she performed in a theater for youth tour called “Eventually, Ever After” that traveled through Georgia’s Elementary and Middle schools. During the summer of 2015, Hannah was hired as a dance performer at Wild Adventures Theme Park which consisted of acting and dancing with some improv. She had the opportunity to adjudicated her choreography at the American College Dance Association for the South East Conference. Hannah graduated from Valdosta State University in 2016 with a BFA in dance.

Margaret Anne Cosper

Margaret Anne Cosper

Instructor

Margaret Anne began training in dance under Linda Chase and Allison Shenton at Dance Arts at the age of seven. She trained in ballet, pointe, jazz, modern, and tap. She performed many Nutcracker roles during her time at Dance Arts including Clara, Snow Queen, Dew Drop, Russian Duet, Soldier Doll, and many more. In her junior and senior years of high school, she served as an assistant instructor at Dance Arts and now teaches and assists classes weekly.

Margaret Anne graduated Cum Laude from Valdosta State University in May 2021, earning her BFA in Dance. She also received honors as a graduate of the National Honor Society of Dance Arts. During the 2017-2018 season, Margaret Anne was a member of the 7x NDA National Championship-winning VSU Red Hots dance team. Throughout undergrad, she performed annually in VSU Theatre and Dance’s Fall dance concerts. She also danced in musical productions such as Cats and Guys and Dolls. Since graduation, she is now pursuing her Masters of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy at VSU and serves as an intern at the FamilyWorks clinic.

Margaret Anne is grateful for the opportunity to pass on her passion for dance to the younger dancers at the same studio where she found her love for dance so many years ago.

Lauren Griffin

Lauren Griffin

Instructor

Born into a musical family, Lauren is no stranger to a stage. From musicals, to orchestra concerts, to opera productions, Lauren finds joy in artistic expression. After her first dance recital at age 12, she knew dance would always be a part of her life. Highlights of her early dance training included acceptance into Dmitri Roudnev’s Ballet Intensive from Moscow, and The University of Oklahoma’s Summer Ballet program, Summerwind. In college, Lauren was a Principal Dancer for Metropolitan Ballet Wichita, KS as well as Wichita Contemporary Dance Theatre. As a military spouse, Lauren has had the opportunity to share her passion for dance with students in Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, and now Georgia. Currently, she is a Second Grade teacher at S L Mason Elementary. She is delighted to work with the talented and knowledgeable staff of Dance Arts.

Taylor Sanders

Taylor Sanders

Instructor

Taylor Sanders trained with Valdosta State University for four years, earning a B.F.A in Dance with a concentration in Modern Dance. She performed in many dance concerts for the university as well as for the American College Dance Association Eastern Conference. She had the honor of being Membership Coordinator, Vice President, and President of VSU’s National Society for Dance Arts. Taylor is also a Honor’s Recipient of the 2019/2020 College of the Arts at Valdosta State. She is no stranger to work and has had many jobs in this career field while still enrolled in school and she has no desire to stop now. She invites new challenges, ready to accomplish great feats, savvy, sophisticated and successful. Just see for yourself!

Carrie Beoddy

Carrie Beoddy

Instructor

Carrie Beoddy begin dancing at the age of 4 at Queen City Ballet in Helena, Montana with her twin sister under the tutelage of Campbell Pryor Murphy. She quickly fell in love with the excitement of performing on stage, as well as gaining a passion for the detail and precision of learning technique in class. Carrie has performed in 10 productions of The Nutcracker, including the roles of Dew Drop, Snow Queen, Columbine Doll, Arabian, and other roles. Carrie has also performed Lilac Fairy and Diamond Fairy in a full-length production of Sleeping Beauty, Odette in Swan Lake, and the Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland. She has studied at Colorado School of Dance under Oleg Dedogryuk, former principal at the Bolshoi Ballet and Colorado Ballet, David Taylor of Denver Ballet Theater, Megan Yackovich, owner of Peak Ballet Theatre, and Mark and Sandra Carlson of International Youth Ballet. Carrie has been accepted to summer programs at American Ballet Theatre, Boston Ballet, Joffrey Ballet, and The Kirov Academy. Carrie has a passion for teaching correct technique, emphasizing injury-prevention. She began teaching as a TA and substitute in 2008 at The Peak Ballet Theatre, and taught ballet, pointe, and variations for a season at Cindy’s Dance Factory in Monument, CO. After some years away from dance to focus on her studies at University of Colorado in Chemistry and Education, Carrie is excited to be in Georgia and join the Dance Arts faculty. When she isn’t at the studio, she can be found tutoring math, hiking with her dogs, or reading a good book.

Lauren Eager

Lauren Eager

Instructor

Lauren Eager, a Dance Arts alumni, is thrilled to be returning to teach Kinderballet, Primary 1, Intermediate 1, Advanced 2, and other classes this year! In high school, she trained in ballet and other styles under the direction of Allison Shenton and Linda C. Chase. She enjoyed performing several lead roles in The Nutcracker, including “Snow Queen,” “Arabian Princess,” “Doll,” and “Soldier Doll.” She also enjoyed attending summer intensives with Orlando Ballet School and American Ballet Theatre. After high school, Lauren attended Brenau University on dance and academic scholarship, and she graduated with a B.A. in Dance and a B.S. in Exercise Science in 2021.During her time in college, Lauren studied several forms of dance and had the opportunity to choreograph several ballet and contemporary dances for Brenau student choreography concerts. One of these pieces was selected to be showcased in the annual National Dance Society Student Choreography Concert. In addition to her studies as a dance major, she was invited to perform with the Gainesville Ballet Company under the direction of Diane Callahan. As a company member, Lauren enjoyed performing corps, demi-soloist, and soloist roles in productions of The Nutcracker, A Frozen Ballet, and The Wizard of Oz. In addition to teaching at Dance Arts, Lauren now enjoys teaching piano lessons, working as an ACSM Certified Personal Trainer, and spending time with her husband Thomas. She is also certified in the ballet conditioning program Progressing Ballet Technique.

Alexa Doub

Alexa Doub

Instructor
Linda C. Chase

Linda C. Chase

Founder, Dance Arts

Ms. Chase began her early training under the renowned Russian ballerina Hela Slavinska in Red Bank, N.J.  At age thirteen she joined the Ballet Guild of Jacksonville, Florida directed by former ballerina of New York City Ballet, Betty Hyatt Ogilvie She has trained with the most prominent teachers in the dance world: George Balanchine, Felia Doubrovska, Pierre Vladimiroff, Anatole Oboukoff, Robert Joffrey, Igor Swetzoff and Matt Maddox.  It was in Atlanta, Georgia that Mr. George Balanchine, world renowned director/choreographer of New York City Ballet, awarded her a full dance scholarship to attend the School of American Ballet in New York City.  DANCEMAGAZINE highlighted Ms. Chase in their article on Regional Ballet Festivals after viewing one of her performances. While living in Rome, Georgia she and Anneliese Mathews formed the Rome Dance Academy.  She continued her school in Rome after moving to Cartersville, Georgia and establishing the Cartersville Dance Academy.  In 1970 she moved to Valdosta, Georgia with her two children and husband.  In 1971, she opened the Valdosta Dance Academy teaching all levels of ballet along with tap and jazz.  Through her efforts, Valdosta audiences saw their first performance of The Nutcracker in 1972.  This began an eagerly received annual tradition. When Ms. Chase moved her studio in August 1989 to its present location at 1760 W. Gordon Street in Remerton/Valdosta, she changed the name to Dance Arts. Linda’s Dance Arts students have auditioned and have been accepted to such well known professional schools as the Joffrey School of Ballet, NY and San Antonio, TX, North Carolina School of the Arts, Boston Ballet School, Dance Aspen Colorado, Princeton University, South Carolina Dance Institute, The School of American Ballet, Virginia School of Arts, the Rock School of the Pennsylvania Ballet, Nutmeg Conservatory for the Arts, Pacific Northwest Ballet and students as dance majors and minors at the University of Georgia, Jacksonville University, University of Utah, Belhaven College, Florida State University and The University of Tennessee.  Former students that have danced professionally are: Jessica Roan principal dancer with Charleston Ballet Theatre, Anne Harshbarger with The Houston Ballet and a principal dancer with Atlanta Ballet, John Michael Schert with American Ballet Theater, Alonso King Lines Ballet. and the Trey McIntyre Project, Holley Chatraw Johnson with Atlanta Ballet and Lexington Ballet and Allison Hannay Shenton with Atlanta Festival Ballet.