... All the company members are my family. As soon as I step foot in the KJ door I am greeted by one of the moms or by my best friends. When I'm having a bad day I know I can count on the junior elites to cheer me up. All of our teachers know us so well that if we act a certain way, they know something is up. KJ has taken me down this yellow brick road and has guided me in all different directions to help me become the person I am today. Without my KJ family members, I don't know where I would be in life. People ask me if I ever get tired of dancing so many hours, and my answer is always no. My favorite days of the week are our long Saturday rehearsals because I get to spend an entire day in my second home doing the thing I love most with the people I care so much about. I thank my Lord Jesus every day for helping me find this wonderful place I call home. I am very blessed and grateful that I have parents who pay expenses and support me at every competition I go to. KJ has helped me figure out my true self and brought me closer to God. There is no place like home, there is no place like KJ! Psalm 133:1 'Behold, how good and pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity.
A third generation studio owner who initially gained her love of the performing arts from family members who were musicians, actors, and dancers. Kristy's formal training steepened in the study of classical ballet, jazz, and tap. She traveled over the past 40 years and gained a broad foundation of training from many master teachers all over the world. For instance, she trained in jazz with Frank Hatchett, Gus Giordono, and Luigi to name a few.
After studying communications at Texas Tech University, Kristy began her first studio in Carthage, Texas. In 1983, Kristy returned to Plano where she taught dance and gymnastics for ten years at Tap N Toe with her mother Shirley Williams. In 1993, she started KJ Dance.
Kristy has choreographed musicals in the community for Pamela Hurt at Prestonwood Christian Academy. Kristy choreographed the following musicals: 42nd Street, Little Women, The Drowsy Chaperone, Into the Woods, and her favorite, Crazy for You. She has choreographed and staged the annual children's cancer fund luncheon and the Ms. Collin County and Mr. International pageants. In the early days of the Plano television network, Kristy enjoyed choreographing for the recycling campaign. Kristy choreographed the Biblical Arts musical theater adaptation of Via Delarosa at the center in Dallas.
Kristy's passion for the art of dance and her desire for mentoring young dancers is evidenced in all that happens at the KJ Dance Studio. Kristy loves to train young dancers to be disciplined, to adhere to strong values, and develop a selfless "others focused" mentality. "You cannot become a brilliant artist all alone, you must incorporate, learn from and share with others along your journey."
Personally, Kristy is married to Andy Blakeslee and is blessed with a large family of eight children and two grandchildren. Kristy is passionate about her work nurturing and helping students grow and mature in life and in dance. Lastly, she loves to watch her students dance!
Justine Phillips Orf is an instructor of all styles of dance and is one of few that works with all age groups as well. Justine's choreography has been award winning among the KJ Pulse and Vibe dancers at regional competitions for years. In addition to her positive demeanor with her young students, she has made a name for the Drill Team Prep program at KJ. As Co-Director for KJ's Hip Hop Crews, Vibe and Vibrations, Justine has worked to expand the program and open the doors of opportunity for more young dancers wanting to perform and be a part of a team. Justine grew up dancing at KJ Dance under the direction of Kristy Ulmer. KJ is not just her place of work, but is like a home and a very special part of Justine's life because it shaped her love for dancing.
She began performing professionally immediately out of high school. Justine was selected for the Dallas Mavericks Dance Team in 2002, where she danced on the Mavs home court for three seasons. In addition, Justine's professional highlights include: appearing in a Chuck E. Cheese Christmas Video, performing as a back-up dancer at the 2004 Jingle Ball in Los Angeles and Madison Square Garden- NYC, and many more.
Justine recently completed her fifth year with the world famous Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders. She was a member of the DCC's elite Show Group, and was honored to travel with the USO on seven tours overseas to perform for our Armed Forces in places such as Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan, South Korea, China, Japan, Guantanamo Bay, Puerto Rico, and Mexico. Justine was honored to be chosen as a Group Leader for two years by the DCC Staff. While cheering, she was able to perform alongside many A-list celebrities including Neil McCoy, Jason Aldean, Carrie Underwood, Kelly Clarkson, Sheryl Crow, The Jonas Brothers, and Chris Daughtry. She also performed at the 2010 NBA All-Star Game. Justine was selected as the DCC Representative for the 2010 Pro Bowl in Miami where she performed and appeared on behalf of the Dallas Cowboys Organization. This past summer, Justine continued to perform nightly as a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader at Six Flags as part of their 50th Anniversary "Celebrate Texas" Show.
When not dancing, you can find Justine in Frisco with her husband, Tony, son, Paxton and black lab, Phoenix. Justine and Tony have been married since April of 2008. Faith, Family, and Friends are priorities in her life.
Brian grew up in the Dallas Fort Worth area. Here, he received training from a variety of instructors locally and across the nation. Throughout his training, Brian earned many awards and competition titles. Additionally, he had the opportunity to dance at the Broadway Dance Center and various dance intensives on scholarship. As he trained in the Dallas Fort Worth area, he was asked to be an assistant for Tremaine and Dupree Conventions. Assisting faculty members of these nationally recognized dance conventions allowed Brian to have a hands on experience in teaching young dancers technique. The assistant opportunity also helped him to further create his unique choreography style.
Now, Brian is the Artistic Director of KJ's award winning Dance Company, Pulse. His choreography for large and small groups, solos, duets, and trios are nationally recognized, winning multiple awards and overall titles. Brian tours the country with the Dupree Dance Convention faculty as a choreographer and instructor. He also founded a costume company, Artistic Dance Designs, which launched in 2013. Lastly, Brian has been invited to teach at a number of dance intensives including the North Texas Summer Dance Intensive and Dallas Repertoire Ballet Intensive.
Katey is a multi talented actress and dancer. Katey is originally from Dallas, TX. She grew up training at KJ with Kristy Ulmer, then moved to LA to pursue her dance career. She has worked with some of the top names in the dance industry including Justin Giles, Jackie Sleight, Desiree Robbins, Mark Meismer, Doug Caldwell, and Keith Young, to name a few.
Katey started her career working for Royal Caribbean cruise line, where she was a soloist in both "Rock on Broadway" and "Flashback." Other stage credits include, US tour with The Wiggles, Mary Kay Convention, "Love Notes" with Soul Escape, and "Thriller" with Odyssey Dance Theatre. She has performed in various productions with Disney. Katey also appeared in commercials for Old Navy, Big Lots, and Toshiba. She has taught and choreographed at numerous workshops and studios in Canada, Costa Rica, and across the US. One of Katey's greatest joys is sharing her love of dance with others through performing and teaching. She is over the moon about returning to teach at KJ. This studio has always been her second home. Katey's infectious personality and hard work ethic keep her in high regard amongst her peers.
Lisa is a favorite teacher among many of KJ's younger students. She teaches Rhythm & Rhyme and all levels of combination classes.
She has been teaching at KJ for 14 years and brings energy and fun to all her classes as she gives them a solid dance foundation to build on.
Lisa has been an integral part of KJ's summer program each summer as she makes dance just a little more fun by adding crafts and other fun activities to camp time.
When Lisa is not at KJ she enjoys spending time with family and friends, playing tennis, running, yoga and shopping. Lisa has two dogs, two cats and two beautiful daughters, Rachel and Lauren. Rachel danced at KJ for 13 years and is head cheerleader at Plano Senior High School. Lauren is a sophomore at the University of Oklahoma.
She is a graduate of Texas Tech University with a Commercial and Industrial Business degree. While at Tech, she was also head cheerleader and an NCA collegiate All-American. Prior to Texas Tech Lisa was a Kilgore Rangerette.
After a very rewarding performing career in Ballet, Broadway, Film , Television and video Jeff Amsden decided to dedicate his time and talents to teaching, training and mentoring the next generation of dancers.
In 1990 he co founded the Professional Dance Center of Tokyo Japan bringing American Style Jazz and contemporary dance to students eager to learn all the newest techniques from NY and LA. Jeff headed the studio staffing it every two months with Master teachers from both coasts offering students in Japan a rare opportunity to study with Americas best Master teachers. While in Japan in addition to teaching, Jeff Choreographed for many top recording stars and choreographed numerous Broadway Style Musicals. It was while in Japan that Jeff had the opportunity to teach and choreograph for Carrie Ann Inaba , the judge of Dancing with the Stars. Carrie Ann Credits Jeff as being her first professional Jazz teacher.
After running the Professional Dance Center in Tokyo for three years Jeff changed his focus to LA and was hired on staff at The Edge performing Arts Center in Hollywood where he taught on faculty for ten years teaching ballet, jazz and lyrical. He trained and mentored students in the professional scholarship training program as well as choreographing for their annual production. While at the Edge Jeff met student Sheryl Murakami and was instrumental in encouraging her to keep dancing and performing. Now Sheryl is a wildly successful teacher and choreographer and is best known as Beyonce's choreographer and was awarded an MTV award for best choreography for Beyonce's Run The World video.
From LA Jeff went to London to be Associate Choreographer for the West End Production of Saturday Night Fever. The show was nominated for Best Choreography at the Olivier Awards . While in London Jeff was asked to teach master classes at London's famed Pineapple studios as well as at Dance works.
From London Jeff moved back to NYC where he had trained as a young dancer on Scholarship at the Joffrey Ballet School. Jeff launched his own show A Few Good Men Dancin' and also began a long term relationship teaching at Broadway Dance center. Jeff taught Jazz, lyrical and Ballet at Broadway Dance Center for ten years and continues to teach master classes there when he is in town. Jeff worked closely with the scholarship, pre professional trainees while at BDC and students that he mentored have gone on to dance in Videos, Broadway shows and are dancing with The famed Radio City Music Hall Rockettes. While in NYC Jeff also was honored to teach at the Joffrey Ballet School and was instrumental in the launching of the Joffrey Ballet School Jazz and contemporary workshops. Jeff also was invited to teach master classes at Marymount Manhattan University as well as Pace University.
Cory FInn is one of the most highly sought after master tap teachers in the country. His unique rhythmic style, along with genuine care for his students keep him in high demand. Cory has performed with various tap companies and stage productions including Rhapsody in Taps, Power Tap, and Men at Work, to name a few. He has also had the honor of working with such tap legends as: Gregory Hines, Henry Le Tang, Sam Weber, and Mark Mendoca.
Cory has taught on numerous touring convention circuits including: Nuvo, LA Underground, LA Dance Magic, Hollywood Vibe, Pacific Coast Dance Fest, and Hollywood. Some of his commercial credits include Toyota, Taco-Bell, Dr. Pepper, and Disney. Cory continues to set his award winning choreography on dance companies and studios all over the country. His students have gone on to perform in every medium of the entertainment industry on stages all over the world. Cory is thrilled to have joined the KJ family.
Frequently described as one of the the most sought after choreographers in the world, contemporary master teacher Justin Giles began his training at the Southern Strutt dance studio in South Carolina, under the direction of his mother, Nancy Giles. His attention to detail and sense of musicality have been described as breathtaking and thought provoking. At a young age, Justin was a winner on Star Search as well as Destination Stardom in Hawaii, two of the most prestigious competitions in America at the time. His commercial credits include work for Reebok and Fox TV just to name a few.
Commonly referred to as a gifted dance educator, he has had the privilege of helping train some of the industries leading celebrity dancers, including Season One So You Think You Can Dance winner Nick Lazzarini and second runner up Melody Lacayanga, among countless others. Justin also had the pleasure of traveling to Korea where he worked with Poz Dance Theatre, and performed along side their company in Seoul. Soon after, Justin introduced his work with the premier of his own company "SoulEscape" in Dallas. He has toured the US with countless A-List dance conventions including LA Dance Magic and Nuvo and is on guest faculty with Adrenaline Dance Conventions, iHollywood Convention and the popular in10sive workshops. A highly in-demand master teacher, his award-winning choreography can be seen on hundreds of dance studios and professional companies nationwide and abroad.
Music videos, national commercials, and international tours are just part of Eddie Moody’s exciting and impressive resume. As a member of the boy band, WOW, Eddie toured with Justin Bieber and The Jonas Brothers, and performed alongside Jason Derulo, Ludacris, Katy Perry, Drake, MGK, Twista, B.o.B., T-Pain, Iyaz, and Jay Sean, to name a few. Eddie’s style of dance is fresh and infectious, more reasons why he is quickly becoming known as one of the hottest up-and-comers in the hip hop music industry.
Vincent Hardy is a native of San Diego. During his childhood he started as a praise (liturgical) dancer & director. Mr. Hardy’s interest in studying other forms of dance began in high school under the direction of Sandra Foster-King at the San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts. Later he continued his dance training under scholarship at the Academy of Performing Arts in San Diego.
After high school, Mr. Hardy attended the University of the Arts (UArts), School of Dance in Philadelphia where he received a BFA in Ballet Performance. He later became a company member of Complexions Contemporary Ballet under the direction of Desmond Richardson and Dwight Rhoden.
Prior to his Dallas relocation, Mr. Hardy lived Los Angeles where worked as a commercial dancer in television, film and video projects. Mr. Hardy is also a graduate student in the Masters in Fine Arts program at the University of California, Irvine, Department of Dance. We are thrilled to have VIncent with us at KJ.
Emily began her dance training at age 11 In Durham, NC under the direction of Lindsay Tilley. At the age of 15, She moved away from home to study ballet at Virginia School of the Arts under the direction of Petrus Bosman and Tyrone Brooks. Emily then trained and graduated high school form The University of North Carolina School of the Arts in Winston Salem, NC under the direction of Ethan Steifel. She has spent several summers training with University of North Carolina School of the Arts, Atlanta Ballet Carolina Ballet, Charlotte Ballet (formally known as North Carolina dance theater, and many others around the country. While training, Emily has danced works by George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins, Agnes de Mille, Anna-Marie Holmes, Melissa Hayden, Robert Weiss, Debra Austin, Alonzo King, Christopher Huggins, Lorraine Graves, Galina Panova, Jennifer Medina, Armando Luna, Heather Maloy, Tyler Walters, and Jennifer Archibald among many others.
Emily graduated college from East Carolina University in Greenville, NC with a BFA in Dance. While in college, Emily trained under the direction of Galina Panova, and Timour Bourtasenkov. She has performed in every East Carolina's main stage production.
After graduation Emily moved to Austin and taught for Ballet Austin before moving to dallas to dance with Avant Chamber Ballet. Emily danced with ACB for four seasons.
Megan Shipman is a uniquely gifted choreographer, dancer, and educator from Plano, Texas. She has worked with many illustrious choreographers including Jackie Sleight and DJ Guthrie. While working as a member of the LA DanceMagic Company, Megan was chosen by convention faculty to serve as Apprentice for two years. In addition to this, Megan was blessed to work as DJ Guthrie’s choreographer’s assistant for six years. Together they traveled the country, choreographing, teaching master classes, and working with dancers of all different ages and backgrounds.
Megan is the proud owner of a Fightin’ Texas Aggie Ring, having received her Bachelor of Science degree in Sport Management with minors in both Dance and Business Administration from Texas A&M University. Through her four years at Texas A&M, Megan performed with and choreographed for the Fade to Black Dance Ensemble.
Since graduating from Texas A&M University in 2015, Megan has been teaching at KJ Dance and working with the nationally recognized Pulse Performance Company. In 2017 Megan earned the title of Director of KJ Dance’s Vibe Hip Hop Crew.
From tots to teens, Megan loves and excels in working with all age groups. Megan is very excited to share her passion for performance arts and teach her students that anything is possible.
Lexi Johnston danced professionally with Charlotte Ballet from 2015-2018. She began taking ballet classes at age 6 with Longview Ballet Theatre under the direction of Pat George Mitchell in Longview, Texas. After graduating from high school, Lexi continued her studies in classical ballet and contemporary dance at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA) under Susan Jaffe. She graduated in May 2015 with a BFA in Dance with a concentration in Ballet. At UNCSA, Lexi performed in works by George Balanchine, Twyla Tharp, Susan Jaffe, Emery LeCrone, William Forsythe and Ethan Stiefel. She attended summer intensives at Jacob’s Pillow Ballet School, BalletX, Complexions Contemporary Ballet, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Miami City Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, The School of American Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, Boston Ballet and Tulsa Ballet. While dancing with Charlotte Ballet, she performed in various classical and contemporary works such as Ohad Naharin’s Minus 16, Mark Diamond’s Bolero, Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux’s Sleeping Beauty, Dwight Rhoden’s The Groove, and George Balanchine’s Rubies. Lexi was also a member of Charlotte Ballet II for the 2015/2016 season.
Born in Kilgore, Texas, Lexi also was a Kilgore High School Hi-Stepper and served as Captain for two years.
Raised in Kilgore, Texas, Colby Johnston began studying ballet at the age of seven at the Studio of Creative Arts under the direction of Pat George Mitchell. From this early age, she developed a genuine passion for dance. In high school, Colby performed lead roles in ballets such as Swan Lake, Serenade, Cinderella, The Nutcracker, Who Cares?, and Peter Pan. She also served as Captain of the Kilgore High School Hi-Steppers for two years. To further her professional development,
Colby has attended intensives with companies such as Miami City Ballet, Alonzo King’s Lines Contemporary Ballet, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Complexions Contemporary Ballet, Ballet X and BODYTRAFFIC. Colby recently graduated from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA), under the direction of Susan Jaffe, with a BFA in contemporary dance. While in school, she performed works by esteemed choreographers such as Doug Varone, Lucinda Childs, Martha Graham, Juel D. Lane and Kira Blazek Ziaii. Apart from dance, Colby enjoys yoga, hiking, traveling, and going to the movies!
Colby is a member of the ZION DANCE PROJECT, a Christian based dance performance company in Dallas, TX.
Rachel’s dance career began at KJ when she was only three years old. She is trained in all styles of dance and has been a part of the KJ family for her entire life! In addition to dance, she has nine years of competitive gymnastics experience and she was the captain of her cheerleading squad at Plano Senior High. Rachel continued her dance career in college as a member of the Texas Tech Pom Squad where she had many performance opportunities including: the Shanghai Tourism Festival in Shanghai, China; Dallas Cowboys halftime performances; Big 12 Basketball Tournament in Kansas City, MO; football games in West Virginia, Austin, Houston, Fort Worth, and Dallas; NDA College Nationals in Daytona Beach, Florida; Pro Action Professional Dance Workshop in Las Vegas, NV. Rachel’s last year on Tech Pom was historic as the team won their first national championship in program history in the NDA Jazz D1A division. She graduated from Texas Tech Magna Cum Laude and as a National Champion. Rachel is currently continuing her dance career in her second season as a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader.
Leah Mitchell is from a loving, supportive family of six, and a dancer born and bread in Plano, Texas. Here is where she began developing her love for dance (age, two) at the prestigious KJ Dance of Plano, where she was a devoted company member and multi-nationally ranked competition dancer. The training, love and support she received from Kristy Blakeslee, Audrea Cowan and her staff of dedicated, proficient instructors (combined with her own dedication, tenacity, and passion for dance), led her to her desire to further her education, and became the recipient of a dance scholarship and conclusively a BFA from Southern Methodist University.
While studying at the University, she worked with and performed works by Robert Battle, Jessica Lange, Ohad Naharin, George Balanchine, and The Martha Graham Dance Company. Before graduating, she had already began her professional career as the assistant choreographer and principal dancer for an off broadway production tour of Symphony on the Dance Floor, where she travelled the nation and performed at the critically acclaimed BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music) in New York city. During the summers she worked/performed industrially as a dancer for Mary Kay Cosmetics and Sally’s Beauty Supply.
Post graduation, she continued her education with invitations to company mentorship programs, such as; Dana Foglia’s International Dance Intensive, San Francisco Conservatory Summer Program, & Bacheva Dance Company Summer Intensive. She has toured internationally with a number of national dance companies and touring productions. She recently returned from a tour in China with Daniel Ezralow’s* international Modern dance company PEARL, where she was the dance captain and Principal dancer of a show commissioned by the Chinese Government. *Daniel Ezralow Choreographer known for Katy Perry, Beatle’s movie Across the Universe.
Professionally, Leah is represented by the Top dance Agency, Bloc Talent Agency in Los Angeles, California, and is a working member of the SAG/AFTRA Union. Her most recent projects include working with artist, such as KATY PERRY, Adam Levine, Mary J. Blige, Pit Bull, and Paula Abdul. She has performed in the 59th GRAMMY Awards, Latin American Music Awards, and annual ARIA + Venetian NYE Shows in Vegas. You can watch her featured on episodes of Castle, Black-ish (Season 2 Finale with P. Diddy & Mary J.Blige), Dallas Cowboys’ Cheerleader Making The Team, and seasons 9 & 10 of So You Think You Can Dance. She was featured in movies like Scary Movie 5, and commercials for The Greatest Showman, McDonald’s (with Mindy Kaling), Apple, DELL and Toyota.
Leah is passionate about teaching/choreography & sharing her love for dance with aspiring young artist. She is so happy and proud to be apart of the KJ Dance Family Legacy, and excited to positively develop and inspire the talent of young dancers, so they too can grow up with the confidence, kindness, and determination to do what they love and achieve their hopes and dreams, whatever they may be… the way KJ did (and still does) for her!
Meredith Madden is originally from Plano, Texas where she grew up dancing at KJ Dance. She left Texas to attend the University of South Carolina to obtain a degree in Dance Performance and Choreography. While training and going to school, she taught all styles of dance at a nearby dance studio.
After graduation, she moved to New York City to pursue her career as a professional dancer. Meredith continued her training at Broadway Dance Center. She starred in music videos, tv appearances, performances around the city and a quick tour in China. Meredith left New York to be in a show in Guam as a dancer and magic assistant. Upon her return, she travelled the country as a dancer in various shows including 'Cirque Le Noir', Broadway’s ‘The Illusionists’ World Tour, and ‘The Magic of Adam Trent’.
Meredith recently returned to her home state of Texas and is so happy to be back with her second family, KJ Dance.
Leo’s extensive training began at the age of 8 on a full scholarship with the San Francisco Ballet (under the direction of Helgi Tomasson) and continued for 10 years. Leo studied ballet, jazz, modern, blues, afro Haitian, and choreography under the direction of Elvia Marta at the School of the Arts San Francisco. His training was also with the Dance Company of SF, under the direction of Chris Jacobsen, where he studied contemporary, ballet, lyrical, hip hop, and jazz and studied backup dancing at Push entertainment under the direction of Denise Lee.
Leo has danced in the San Francisco Ballet’s Nutcracker from 1994-2002, in 1994 also dancing in Ruslan with the San Francisco Opera.
In transition of becoming a commercial dancer he has Choreographed/Assisted/Danced for artists such as Carlos Santana, Jackie Chan, Paula Abdul, 50 cent to name a few. As a company dancer, he has performed for choreographers such as Dee Caspary, Justin Giles & Chris Jacobsen. Currently pursuing a career as choreographer/instructor, he has toured as a convention teacher for LA Dance Magic & iHollywood dance, and now guest teaching in dance events for Universities and numerous dance events across the country.
Mr. Allen grew up in Nederland, Texas and began his dancing passion there during high school. He is currently a Senior Mechanical Engineering student at Texas A&M University. Although being a mostly self-taught hip hip dancer, Mr. Allen has made huge steps in the dance community by being a member of Fade to Black Hip Hop Dance Ensemble at Texas A&M and has served as an officer in the organization for two years.
Allen is working with our VIBE Hip Hop Crews this year and we are thrilled to welcome his incredible talent to the KJ Family this season!