Instructors

Amber Gilbert
Owner/Director

Amber began dancing as a child at American Dance Academy in Garden City. While there, she was a member of many award winning competition groups. She proceeded to attend Eastern Michigan University where she earned a Bachelor’s Degree with a dance major and a business minor. Amber began teaching in 1992 and taught full time after graduating from EMU in 1997. In 1999, she became the business manager of a local studio as well. In 2001, Amber bought that dance studio and changed it’s name to The Dance Academy.
Amber specializes in modern, jazz, and tap but also teaches ballet and ballroom. She especially enjoys working with dancers ages 7-12 and has led many of her students/groups to competitive awards such as The Precision Award, The Intensity Award, The Best Dynamics Award, and consistent top 5 highest scores awards.

Kim Alexander

Kim began dance training at the age of 5 at American Dance Academy in Garden City.  She studied tap, jazz, Cecchetti ballet (through Grade VI), Hawaiian and baton.  She was a member of many award winning competition groups both at state and national levels. Kim danced in Russia, Poland and Denmark as part of the International Youth Exchange and at Walt Disney World as part of Magic Music Days.  Kim has performed in many parades, community festivals, an Easter Seals telethon, competed in modeling pageants and appeared in a 2002 Winter Olympics commercial. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and a Master’s degree in Early Childhood Education from Eastern Michigan University. She taught elementary school in the Wayne-Westland Community School District from 2001-2014 and is now a stay-at-home parent.  She is a past board member and choreographer for the Distinguished Young Women of Wayne-Westland and the Distinguished Young Women of Michigan Scholarship Programs (formerly Junior Miss).  Kim currently leads the studio’s Polynesian entertainment group, Na Wahine O Ke Anuenue.  For group information, go to  www.michiganhula.com.

Karen Eck

Karen Eck has been dancing since the age of 4 beginning at St. Mary’s School of Dance in Detroit, and later becoming a member of the Mid-West Ballet Theatre Company. She is a long standing member of Dance Masters of America and Dance Masters of Michigan, and has been living the dream of teaching for the past 30 years! Miss Karen has served on the Board of Directors and is now the Secretary of the Michigan Chapter. Passing all of the traditional core exams (ballet, tap, jazz), she is a Post Graduate of Teachers Training School at State University of New York at Buffalo and is continually bringing up-to-date dance training to her classes.   She creatively includes terminology, history and kinesiology.  Miss Karen is a certified Cecchetti Council of America instructor and is currently working on completing her Teacher’s Grade 5 exam.    Although she teaches all ages, Karen specializes in teaching children and is known for her creative choreography. She has also developed a successful dance program for young children.

ML Edmonson

ML began dancing 22 years ago. with Gymnastics, ballet, jazz, partnering, modern, and hip hop. He has spent the last 17 years training, competing, and performing in cha cha, rumba, waltz, swing, lindy hop, and Latin hustle. He has competed in New York, Ohio, and Connecticut as well as Michigan winning such titles as Jr. Latin hustle champion many years running. He began teaching locally in 2005 and has worked extensively in Ann Arbor and Livonia with groups of all ages and private lessons in the arts of ballroom, rhythm dances and hip hop.  He is also a skilled party host and DJ.

Michael Hicks

Michael Hicks is known throughout the country for his award-winning, high energy choreography. He has has been on the faculty of the Cecchetti Council of America and has taught workshops and summer intensives for many regional dance studios. Mr. Hicks has studied with Master jazz instructors Toni Lewis, Luigi, Joe Tremaine, Frank Hatchett and Gus Giordano. He is a former been an advisor for the Cecchetti Council of America. His talents put him in constant demand for Master classes in jazz, modern, lyrical and contemporary. Mr. Hicks is also an accomplished performer; in addition to his appearances on the popular TV show, Dance Fever, he also performed and choreographed for the North American International Auto Show. His choreography is his true forte; he has won numerous national overall awards for organizations such as Dance Olympus, Dance Masters, Kids Artistic Review and Starpower. Many of Mr Hicks’ students have gone onto professional careers with companies such as the Cincinnati Ballet, Celebrity Cruise Lines and Disney. He is certified with Dance Masters of Michigan and Dance Masters of America.

Michelle Langley

Michelle Langley studied dance in Plymouth, Michigan as a child and teen for 12 years. She continued her dance studies at Eastern Michigan University where she acquired a Bachelor’s Degree with a Dance Major and a Business Minor. Michelle began teaching 17 years ago and has choreographed for performance groups both local and abroad. She specializes in working with teens and has been an instructor at The Dance Academy since 2001. Michelle is also a well known judge at various dance related events.

Kelley Paronish

Kelley discovered her love for dance at the age of four. She studied Tap, Jazz, and Ballet at Sheryl’s School of Dance for twelve years and competed in many regional and national dance competitions, including Dance Masters of Michigan and Showstopper. Ten years later, Kelley immersed herself in her first love, Tap, at Ginny’s Danceworks. She enjoyed her Advanced Adult Tap classes so much, she pursued a career as a Tap instructor. From 2006-2013, Kelley was the Co-Competition Director and Competitive Tap Team Choreographer for Neu Wixom Dance Academy. After moving to the Westland area in 2013, Kelley began teaching at The Dance Academy. She has been an Instructor at The Dance Academy for the last 4 years, and has been one of the Competitive Team Choreographers for the last three years. Her teams have consistently placed in the top 5, and her Mini Tap Team currently holds the title of 2016 National 1st Place Overall Mini Champions. She has led her teams to numerous awards over the course of her career including “Innovative Concept”, “Tip Top Tappers”, “Excellent Execution”, “Future Rockettes”, “Happy Feet”, “Sassy Taps”, and many top overall achievements. Through dance, Kelley also gets to live out her other passion- working with children. She is a former pre-school teacher with a great love for teaching ages 12 and under. She hopes to instill in your child a love for dance, and the determination

Samantha Penive

Miss Sam began training at The Dance Academy when she was three years old.  She began competitive dance at age 5 and began her solo career at age 9.  Throughout her performance career, she frequently placed her solos in the top 3 at competition and accomplished becoming a very expressive dancer on stage.  She specializes in Jazz, Contemporary, and Modern, and also has advanced skills in Tap,  She has become a wonderful instructor while pursuing certification and works well with dancers of all ages and levels.

Lisa Podnar

Miss Lisa studied at TDA and graduated in 2013.  She is especially gifted in the classical arts and developing strength and technique in dancers who need extra assistance.   She is currently attending Wayne State and pursuing a degree in PT specializing in dance.  Miss Lisa also has her Cecchetti Certification in grades 1 & 2 and is working diligently to continue the higher levels of certifications to work with her ballet students.  She teaches ballet, tap, jazz, lyrical, and contemporary at both recreational and competitive levels.

Jon Ross

Jon has performed in many venues from stage, film, and tv, to cruise ships and professional circus acts.  He specializes in partner work and contemporary forms of ballroom dance such as latin swing, and his own creation called club swing.  He also specializes in breakdance, and other vintage styles of dance as well as some magic.  Jon organizes and runs a group of adult performers at TDA that perform regularly for charity organizations and professionally as well as working with the owner on special performances such as flash mobs and music video productions.