Meet the Staff
Krystal Behunin has been dancing for over 15 years in many areas of dance such as Jazz/Lyrical, Ballet, Tap, Hip Hop, African, and Latin. She studied in Washington and Texas and began her professional dancing career in Seattle with Fusion Dance Company. Krystal has won multiple awards in various competitions, as well as the Peabody for the choreography/dancing of Nursery Tap Hip to Toe, a children’s dancing nursery rhyme production. She began teaching in Seattle and then branched out to studios in the Puget Sound area such as Lake Stevens, Gig Harbor, University Place, Tacoma and now Auburn. Krystal’s love for dance, movement and children is apparent in her teaching style. She is excited to now be teaching at CDT, and is a great addition to our staff.
Katelyn Buck has been dancing at Children’s Dance Theater for the past 12 years. She has studied a variety of different styles of dance such as ballet, pointe, jazz, lyrical, and hip-hop. For the past six years, she has participated in the studio’s annual Nutcracker performance in many roles such as Spanish, Arabian, snow, flowers and this year will be performing as the Sugar Plum Fairy. She is also a part of the studio’s competition team for the third year. She began teaching in 2017 and teaches ballet, tap, and hip-hop with students ranging from the ages 3-9 years old.
Debbie Collins has always wanted to dance, and counts herself very privileged to have been able to follow that dream! She received her training at Laine Theatre Arts followed by Dance Theatre Academy in London, England. Debbie trained in both Russian and English (Royal Academy) Ballet forms, Graham Contemporary, Jazz, Acrobatics, American Tap and Drama, winning a gold medal for her pointe solo at the Mole Valley Festival of Dance, 1989. She has danced with Springs Dance Company both in England and on tour in Germany. She has choreographed dances for school productions in the UK including, “The City of Gold” and “Peace Child.” Since moving to the US in 2010, Debbie has performed with Auburn Community Players in “The Wizard of Oz,” and “Willy Wonka,” and been dialect coach and narrator in a recent production of “A Christmas Carol.” Teaching dance is an absolute joy for Debbie, imparting that love of this art form; teaching for excellence, not perfection. “I love to dance and I love to teach dance!”
Stephanie Cox is the proud owner of Children’s Dance Theater and Prestige Dance Studio. She has been dancing since the age of 3 and received her training from the Evergreen City Ballet, the Hartford School of Ballet and Westlake Dance Center. After receiving a serious ankle injury, Stephanie attended at the University of Oregon where she received a Bachelor of Arts with a dance major and double minors in business and art administration. Upon returning to Washington, she became a well-known jazz, ballet and children’s instructor and began teaching all over including Pacific Northwest Ballet School, before opening the studios. She and her husband David Cox, were instrumental in founding Auburn Community Players and she can often be found choreographing musicals. When dance isn’t ruling her life, Stephanie is a mother of 2 boys and one girl, and one of her son’s is on the Autism Spectrum. She believes that becoming a mother was one of the best things that happened to her teaching methods. She is known for creating a positive, high energy and fun atmosphere while maintaining a high level of loving discipline.
Allie Dwyer studied Jazz, Lyrical, and Contemporary at her hometown of Walla Walla for 10 years. She had the opportunity of competing with her varsity high school dance team before moving to Tacoma to attend the University of Puget Sound. At Puget Sound, Aly participated in the Repertory Dance Group where she served as a dancer, choreographer, and officer. It wasn’t until college that Aly found a love for hip hop and a great appreciation for Tap. Throughout college and post-graduation, Aly taught at a number of studios in the region. In 2014 Aly moved back to Walla Walla and was unable to teach for a few years but in 2017 she moved back to the West Side after accepting a position with Washington State University. It wasn’t long until she felt that urge to find a great studio to call home and fortuitously found Children’s Dance Theater. Although performing will always have a place in her heart, it is most rewarding to be able to share her passion with growing dancers and help them to find their own.
Jenna Etcheverry first started dance in 2005 with Stephine Cox when she taught at YMCA. She continued dancing with her when she opened Children’s Dance Theater. Jenna was an active part of the virtuoso performing group for 3 years and is a 5th year member of the Competition team. Her favorite styles of dance are Ballet, Contemporary, and Jazz. In 2016 Jenna became an ATTP graduate and was lucky to teach two classes. Jenna loves to teach and is excited to teach more styles this year. She wants to inspire dancers to find their voice through dance, just as she has.
Tesee George was born in Yakima Washington where she received her classical training at the Yakima School of Ballet. Extending her education, she trained with Eugene Ballet, Joffrey Ballet, and private instruction in Modern and Contemporary. Tesee Graduated from Cornish College of the Arts with a BFA in Dance where she received a full ride scholarship. She went on to perform for many groups, notably Alvin Ailey Dance Company, Joffrey Ballet, Big Red Dance Company, Aeon Contemporary Dance and Three Spells, to name a few. Tesee has been teaching professionally in the greater Seattle area for over fifteen years. She has a deep passion in education for the next generation of dancers. She currently is Faculty with Elite Dance Camps, Evergreen City Ballet, and Children’s Dance Theater. In 2017 she took the position of Professor and the Head of the Dance Department at Green River College. She sets choreography on local public-school dance teams in the greater Seattle area including the National champions Todd Beamer Dance Team and State champions Eastlake Dance Team. She is a member of Big Red Dance Company, Northstar Dance Company and Artistic Director and Choreographer of Dance Contemporary.
Alaisha Jefferson graduated from Tacoma School of The Arts in 2008. Since then, she has taught and performed at various venues. Some of these teaching opportunities include, but are not limited, to Tacoma School of Arts, Curtis High School, and dance teaching artists at Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute. Some of these performances included, but are not limited to, The Black Nativity, Taste of Tacoma, Bite of Seattle, weddings, and various community events. Nichole has studied under Tacoma City Ballet and Cabby Mitchell and Company. Her dance styles include modern, ballet, hip hop, contemporary, and praise dance. Alashia is an inspiring artist with a creative, out-of-the-box way of thinking. Her goal and driving point is not only to teach her students dance, but to make them better people. By way of dance concepts, Alashia instills hard work, discipline, self-control, self-esteem, self-worth and perseverance into the hearts and soul of her dancers.
Katie Jones is a proud native of Washington State. As well as being a wife, and a mom of two young daughters, she has an entrepreneurial spirit, teaching private voice lessons & music theater classes at Children’s Dance Theater, runs an exclusive wine club and is a Mary Kay Independent Beauty Consultant! For a brief time, she and her husband lived in Arizona where she had the privilege of singing with the Arizona Opera and the Phoenix Bach Choir (now known as Phoenix Chorale), while she attended ASU with a Musical Theater scholarship. She has played characters such as Ado Annie in Oklahoma! Grizabella in Cats, Sonia the Widow in The Merry Widow and Mother Abbess in The Sound of Music. She debuted as a Music Director with the cast of 9 to 5 in the Spring of 2015 and also Legally Blonde the following summer.
Myla Kaleta is currently a high school student and lives in Auburn. She has been dancing exclusively at CDT since she was 3 years old. Myla enjoys all styles of dance and considered is a versatile dancer, however she has a passion for acro. In years past Myla has been an active member of the Virtuoso Performing Team and is a 5th year member of the Competitive Team. She also enjoys participating in the annual Nutcracker production. Myla has completed ATTP training at CDT, worked at summer camps and assisted in a few classes at the studio. She aspires to be a teacher someday and has a heart for working with children who have special needs. She is dedicated to helping her dance students have a positive experience. In her free time, she enjoys doing DIY projects, cooking, babysitting, swimming and playing with her dogs. And of course……………… Dancing
Kilee Nathe was born and raised in Washington State and started dancing at the age of three. She trained in Tap, Ballet, Jazz, Lyrical and Contemporary. Later putting a heavy emphasis on Tap, which she still enjoys training in to this day. In 2013 she found a new passion in teaching dance, as well as choreographing at a recreational and competitive level. She now proudly teaches and choreographs throughout the Puget Sound.
Sarah Robinson has been teaching for 13 years. She began teaching in California started out at Sierra Academy of Dance. After moving to Washington in 2013 she began teaching at Children’s Dance Theater in 2015. She loves to teach ballet and is an assistant director with the studio’s annual production of The Nutcracker. She also enjoys teaching jazz, lyrical, and belly dance. Recently she became a certified instructor in Progressive Ballet Technique and is excited to help her students reach their dance goals.
Tori Sandate has trained in ballet, jazz, tap, lyrical, contemporary and hip hop for over fifteen years as well as instructed dance classes for nine years. Tori began teaching when she was eighteen and is originally from Odessa, Texas where she taught and choreographed for Tammie Locklar’s Dance studio. She is currently a choreographer for multiple dance organization in Odessa; choreographing competitive routines for studios, high school dance teams, and universities. In addition, she has been involved in local theater productions as a choreographer and a dancer. Tori is also a dance specialist for the YMCA in Puyallup where she trains instructors and choreographs for their dance companies. She has also worked as a guest artist for Pacific Lutheran University teaching hip hop classes. Tori has her BA in History from the University of Texas of the Permian Basin where she was also a part of the Falcon Heat Dance Team for three years. Her choreography has won many awards in dance competitions in numerous states and has had many students recognized for their achievements in dance. Above all, Tori believes that dance should always be fun and she aims to inspire creativity in all her students.
Jimmy Shields is a Pierce county native with a strong passion for the performing arts. Jimmy began his dance training at the age of 8 and has studied all disciplines of dance but highlight hip hop and jazz/lyrical his favorites and strongest. Over his years of training, Jimmy has had the privilege of training and working with Emmy Award winning choreographers NappyTabs (Napoleon and Tabitha D’umo), Disney veteran Jon Jacobson and famed Seattle Choreographer, Daniel Cruz, just to name a few. As a teaching artist, Jimmy has instructed dancers who have gone on to dance with Debbie Allen, Ciara, Adam Lambert and Meghan Trainor. Aside from dance, Jimmy is also a singer, Director and professional actor in the greater Seattle area. His recent theater credits include The Wiz, Tacoma Musical Playhouse; DREAMGIRLS, Village Theatre; Nihonjin Face Broadway Center for the Performing Arts and Hairspray, Village Theatre.
Tori Steinke was born in Kirkland, Washington and has lived her ever since. Starting her dance career at the age of nine, she quickly discovered dance to be her true passion and fully immersed herself in the art form. She has studied Ballet, Lyrical, Modern, Tap and Jazz at many local studios, including Backstage Dance Studio, Woodinville Dance Academy, Kirkland Dance Center and Exit Space Dance as well as participated in many dance intensives including “Strictly Seattle” and “Dance This,” receiving instruction from many well-known instructors and choreographers. Combining her love of children with her passion for dance, she began teaching at Blue Dog Dance in Renton, in September of 2015, in addition to concurrently teaching at other area studios including, TJ Dance in Duvall, Washington and Kirkland Dance Center in Kirkland, Washington while continuing her dance education at University of Washington, pursuing both majors in dance and business administration and gradating in June 2018. This is Tori’s first-year teaching at Prestige Dance Studio and she is looking forward to a great year! Outside of dance, she and her husband just recently bought a new home in Auburn and had a baby boy named, Landon in July 2018. Tori enjoys taking Pure Barre classes, running, shopping (especially at Marshall’s, TJ Maxx or Homegoods) and hanging out with her two pugs, Tad and Albie.
Jada Nicholson started ballet at the age of 7 in Alaska. After moving to Washington, she enrolled at CDT taken ballet, and lyrical, for the past 7 years, as well as a few jazz and tap classes. In 2012 Jada started dancing on pointe which led to many roles in the nutcracker. Including Dew Drop Fairy, Snow Queen, and the Sugar Plum Fairy. After completing our Assistant Teacher Training Program, Jada went on to assist our Kinder Kid class for one year. This is her second year now teaching, which has included CBT, Kinder Kid, and Pre-Ballet. In the summer, Jada often assists with our summer camps, as well as other events like TuTu Boo. Jada’s style of teaching is centered around creating a positive and fun environment for all her students. She strives to include skills in her curriculum that are beneficial in, and outside of dance class. Including counting, public speaking, communication, and classroom edict. She encourages her students to feel confident in themselves, and overcome any challenges that they might come across.
Michelle Wheaton began dancing when she was 5 years old and went to numerous dance competitions growing up in California. She continued to dance through college and at the Walt Disney Company. Michelle has taught a variety of ages, levels, and styles of dance throughout the almost 20 years of teaching.