We pride ourselves in hiring only the best instructors. All of our instructors have numerous years of experience in their area of expertise, along with a wonderful personality and passion for what they do. Our greatest pride is the atmosphere of family and friendship present at Center Stage. Read below to meet some of the members of our dance family.
Michelle Hensel, Owner/Director
Michelle has had more than 30 years of dance experience and 20 years of teaching experience. After earning a Bachelor’s of Arts in Dance from Sam Houston State University, she went on to complete a Master’s of Education at Texas A&M University. At Sam Houston State University, she choreographed dances for the spring show and danced in ChoDance Company. She was a member of Chi Tau Epsilon, a national dance honor society. She has taught all ages of students in a variety of dance forms. Michelle has choreographed several award-winning routines at national dance competitions. She has had dancers win National titles under her direction and has won recognition for her choreography. Michelle has studied under Dana Nicolay (former dancer of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, Houston Ballet, and Dayton Ballet), Jonathan Smith (former Broadway Dancer in A Chorus Line, Jesus Christ Superstar, and many others), and Jennifer Pontius (former member of Pacific Dance Ensemble and Birmingham Ballet). She opened Center Stage in 2004 and looks forward to many more years of teaching.
Bridget L. Brandt, Marketing Director
Ms. Bridget has over 30 years of dance experience that she brings to Center Stage. She studied ballet, tap, jazz, and tumbling at La Grange Dance Academy and Angela Woodward’s School of Dance. As a young entrepreneur, Bridget opened a dance studio in La Grange. With her love for her students and her passion, the studio quickly grew into a very successful endeavor. Bridget co-directed, along with Michelle, an award winning competition team who competed in both regional and national competitions. Several of their students went on to study dance in college. Ms. Bridget’s company class earned a national title in 2015. Bridget went on to study business and finance at the University of Texas earning a Bachelor’s degree. She continued her education at Texas State where she earned a Master’s of Business Administration. In addition to her career in marketing, Bridget has become the marketing director for Center Stage. Bridget loves working with all of her students and hopes to foster a love of dance in them.
Monica Erskine, Office Manager
Monica has been actively involved in the dance world since the age of three. She grew up dancing with, ironically, Center Stage Productions in College Station, Texas. Dancing on their Platinum competition team, she attended numerous national competitions and conventions in New York City, Las Vegas, Orlando, Oklahoma City, and more. Her specialty dance style is tap, prompting her to attend Slide, a week-long tap intensive in NYC. Monica has studied and competed with ballet, jazz, tap, contemporary, pointe, lyrical, hip-hop, novelty, kick, pom, and country-western swing pieces. She performed in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in 2008 and 2009, and has recently provided master classes and choreography for the Rouse Royals Drill Team. Monica loves to read, run, two-step, travel, and dance, of course! She is a graduate of Texas A&M University and now lives in Leander with her husband, Peter, and her puppy, Ollie.
Ms. Tori earned her Bachelor degree in Music Theatre at Arizona State University. Tori began instructing students at the middle school and high school level in a range of genres, from ballet and tap to modern, jazz, and even flamenco. Along with her teaching, Tori also has an impressive performance background. She is currently the lead singer for The Pictures. She has performed in several professional musical theatre productions including “Smokey Joe’s Café”, Delee (for which she won an award for Best Female Lead), “The 1940’s Radio Hour”, Connie, 2 productions of “A Chorus Line”, Bebe and Connie, “Footloose”, Ariel, and “The Music Man”, Zaneeta. She was also a featured dancer and singer in a show based on the history of her hometown called Viva! El Paso. Tori has been trained in ballet, tap, jazz, lyrical, modern, clogging, flamenco, and folklorico by various instructors in both El Paso and Phoenix. She has led her company teams at Center Stage to national titles. She is delighted to work with dancers of all ages, levels, and styles to help them find their own passion for dance.
Carla comes to Center Stage with more than 25 years of dance experience. She began her training in Houston, TX and has formal studio training in ballet, pointe, jazz, lyrical, and tap. She was a member of both Ballet Grace and The Jazz Co under the direction of Cookie Joe. While in high school, she taught multiple classes of varying styles at the studio. Carla attended The University of Texas at Austin and earned her Masters in Professional Accounting and CPA license. She was a member of The University of Texas Dance Team for four years, served as Assistant Director, and choreographed multiple dances for the annual Spring Show. Carla and her family reside in Leander. She is excited to share her experience and passion for dance with the students of Center Stage.
Kassie Kelly began her dance training with Nancy Sulik and Kay Ledbetter in Corpus Christi, Texas. While in Corpus she performed with Corpus Christi Concert Ballet taking on many classic and neo classical ballet roles under the direction of Nancy Sulik and Thom Clower. In the summers she studied with Ballet Austin, Glenda Brown Choreography Project, and Burklyn Ballet Theatre. She holds a BFA from the University of Texas where she danced for the university’s Dance Repertory Theatre performing works by Ohad Naharin, Mark Morris, David Parsons and Merce Cunningham as well as many faculty and student works. She has toured in Austria twice with Young! Tanzsommer performing with Dance Repertory Theatre as well as Corpus Christi Concert Ballet. She has performed with the Andre Torres Dance Company in their 2014-2015 season and The Theorists’ “Hiraeth.” Currently she is dancing with Shen Jun Movement Effect. She loves sharing her talent and expertise with the students of Center Stage.
Jessy began dancing at the age of 8 in a studio in Honduras where she was trained in classical ballet with the Royal Academy of Dance methodology. She passed every level examination from primary through advanced with distinction by RAD’s representatives from England. During her dance studies in Honduras, she participated in recitals, performances, and two productions of The Nutcracker. After moving to the United States, she began taking dance classes around the Austin area until she found her dance home right here at Center Stage! Jessy was a member of the Senior Company team at Center Stage and took classes in ballet, pointe, jazz, lyrical and contemporary, and tap. In addition to studio training, Jessy was a member of the Rouse Royals Drill Team and also participated in two musicals at Rouse High School: Hairspray! and Oklahoma. She is currently studying Biotechnology and Surgical Technology at Austin Community College. She hopes to transfer to the University of Texas to study to become a doctor. She looks forward to being back at Center Stage and sharing her passion for dance with her students.
Jasmine began her dance training at studios in the Round Rock area. In high school, she was a member of the Westwood Sun Dancers. She served as an officer of the Westwood Sun Dancers her senior year. Throughout her years as a competitive studio dancer and high school dance team member, Jasmine earned several awards for her solos including 1st place rankings at Leander Winter Dance Classic, Lone Star State Championship, and Crowd Pleaser Austin Showcase. She continued her dance team training in junior college as a member of the prestigious Kilgore College Rangerettes. Jasmine was a Rangerette from 2008-2010. Back in Austin, Jasmine became a member of the Lady Vipers dance team. Jasmine enjoys sharing her love for dance with her students at Center Stage.
Elisabeth began dancing at three years old. She was a member of Wildwood Dance and Arts just outside of St. Louis, Missouri where she was on their competition team until graduating high school. She continued dancing at the University of Tennessee as well as Belmont University. She held dancing roles such as the Queen of Hearts in “Alice in Wonderland” and Cinderella in “Cinderella.” She graduated from Texas A&M University with a Master of Education: Curriculum and Instruction. After a few years in corporate America and then teaching in Leander ISD, she’s looking forward to being back in the dance world! The above photo was taken by All Heart Photography.
Hayley began training as a gymnast at the age of 6 and transitioned into the dance world at the age of 13. She was trained in ballet, hip-hop, and lyrical here at Center Stage. She danced for the Leander High School Blue Belles throughout high school, serving as a Company Leander from 2009-2011. She has since trained at Giordano Dance Chicago, the Broadway Dance Center in New York, and the EDGE Performing Arts Center in Los Angeles under Mandy Moore. Hayley has performed at numerous halftime shows for UT basketball games and the Dallas Mavericks, as well as on Kyle Field at Texas A&M. She was a member of the Fade to Black Dance Ensemble while earning her bachelor’s degree at Texas A&M. She has taught classes at On Our Toes Dance Studio and Expressions Dance and Music in College Station, where her hip-hop choreography earned many awards. She is happy to be back in Leander to share her passion for dancing and performing with the students of Center Stage.
We are accepting instructor applications. We are always looking for energetic instructors who love working with kids and sharing their talents. Send your resume to email@example.com.
1602 S. West Dr. in Leander, TX 78641