We pride ourselves on hiring only the best instructors. All of our instructors have numerous years of experience in their area of expertise, along with a 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.
Monica Erskine, Office Manager
Monica has been actively involved in the dance world since the age of three. She grew up dancing with 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, kick, pom, and country-western swing pieces. She danced 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 and Danielson Dynasty dance team. Monica is a graduate of Texas A&M University and loves to read, run, two-step, travel, and spend time with her husband and two boys. She is thrilled to share her love for dance teaching students at Center Stage.
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 currently sings with The Pictures and Stella and the Hey Dudes. She is also the worship leader at Pflugerville Community Church. 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, two 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. Her two daughters, Elyssa and Isla, are enrolled in classes at Center Stage. Tori has led many company teams, solos, and duets to compete on the national stage. 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 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 neoclassical 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.
Brittany earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance and a Minor in Management from Sam Houston State University (SHSU). Brittany began dancing at the age of three in Austin, TX. She has advanced training in ballet, tap, jazz, modern, contemporary, hip-hop, improvisation, partnering, and Pilates. Brittany has performed for notable artists such as Andy Noble, Dionne Sparkman Noble, Dana Nicolay, Evelyn Toh, and Vincent Calleros. She performed at The Vortex Theatre as a part of The Austin Tap Ensemble and danced professionally for Nicolay Dance Works in “A Wynne Home Alice.” Brittany also performed in two works at the American College Dance Association (ACDA) South-Central Conference, both of which were chosen for the ACDA Gala Concert. In addition to performing, Brittany presented her own choreography in several shows at SHSU, and set work at McNeil High School on both the McNeil Majestics and the McNeil Sapphire Dancers. She has also choreographed high-scoring competition routines and worked as head choreographer for several musicals at the Georgetown Palace Theater. She has been teaching at Center Stage since 2019 and looks forward to many more years of sharing her knowledge. Brittany is a strong believer in fostering a love of dance within her students and is excited to share her passion for the art form.
Maddie has had a love for dance since she was a little girl. She concentrated her training of dance in Pom, Jazz, and Hip-Hop but has also trained and performed with many other styles. Maddie was on her varsity high school drill team for four years and served as the Senior Lieutenant throughout her final year. Maddie was also a member of the senior dance company at Center Stage. After graduating high school, she became a Blinn Treasure on her college dance team and has won a National Dance Alliance National Championship twice in Daytona Beach, Florida. Maddie is looking forward to sharing her love of dance in a fun, dynamic environment.
Danielle has been training and competing with dance since she was a little girl. She was a part of the Leander Blue Belles varsity dance team for three years where she received many amazing opportunities to dance, travel, and teach. She was a dance student aide her junior year and assisted her directors in their dance classes. Danielle was awarded Miss Showmanship for her dance team three years in a row and served as Senior Member at Large throughout her Senior year. In addition to her home studio and varsity team, Danielle has trained at EDGE Performing Arts Center, The Playground in Los Angeles, and alongside the Houston Texans cheerleaders. She has trained in ballet, contemporary, hip-hop, drill, and jazz and continues to advance her teaching abilities. She hopes to continue her dance career in college and beyond, but for now she is excited to share her love for dance with the Center Stage family.
Dusty has had a love for dance since she was a little girl. She started dancing at a young age and continued training in the genres of ballet and tap at the Maciolek School of Dance in Hobbs, New Mexico. After several years of ballet and tap classes, she began also taking jazz classes. Dusty went on to perform with the Albuquerque Ballet where she had the privilege of performing in the Nutcracker and Coppelia. Dusty also had the honor of performing as entertainment in the Miss New Mexico pageant. She has carried on her love for dance into her adult life and looks forward to joining the Center Stage team. She is excited to share her love of dance with her students.
Nicole is from Santa Cruz, California. She grew up dancing at Dancenter in Capitola, California where she studied ballet, tap, jazz and modern. Nicole became faculty at Dancenter after becoming ABT NTC certified. Wanting to expand as an artist, she later accepted the invitation to become a trainee at BalletMet in Columbus, Ohio. As a trainee, Nicole performed in Balanchine’s “Who Cares?”, “Serenade,” and “Walpurgisnacht” as well as classical works such as La Bayadere, Giselle, and Swan Lake. She received the BalletMet Academy Certificate of Outstanding Performance and became faculty the following year. Nicole then returned to California as New Ballet faculty and Studio Company Member. While at New Ballet, she was give the opportunity to perform principle roles in Marika Brussel’s “Ruth’s Crossing,” Le Mai Linh’s “Awakening,” and Naomi Sailor’s “Reverse Entropy.” She looks forward to sharing the joy of dance with the students of Center Stage.
Ashley has been dancing since she received the gift of “Bella Bella Dancerella” as a toddler. When Ashley wore out the tape and learned every dance step, her mom enrolled her in ballet/tap classes. She continued to train in jazz, ballet, contemporary, and hip-hop at multiple dance studios. She participated with a competitive dance team in middle school, and continued her dance journey as a Leander Blue Belle in high school. This is where she found her love of choreography and teaching dance to others. She was honored to serve as the Head Company Leader for the Blue Belles, where she choreographed dances for the team and taught dance prep classes. Ashley continues to choreograph for the Leander Blue Belles and is excited to teach dance as she pursues her education. We are thankful to have Ashley as a part of our Center Stage family.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
1602 S. West Dr. in Leander, TX 78641