Kathy Walker Owner and Director of Elevate is from Staten Island, New York where she began dancing at the age of 5. She competed in numerous competitions and conventions in New York City and taught at several studios in Brooklyn and Staten Island. After moving to Virginia Beach Kathy continued to teach dance at local studios and opened Elevate Performing Arts Center in 2014. Kathy holds a B.A. in English from Wagner College and is a certified member of Dance Masters of America and The Dance Association of Virginia. She teaches tap, jazz, ballet, lyrical and musical theater to various ages and levels. Her students and choreography have won overall high scores and choreography awards both at multiple dance competitions both on the region and national level. Kathy believes that whether a student wants a career in dance or dances for fun, dance builds self-confidence, a sense of accomplishment and friendships that will last a lifetime.
Katy McBride originally from Seattle, Washington, began her training with tap followed by ballet, jazz, musical theater, and contemporary. A graduate of the Broadway Dance Center training program in New York City, she trained for nine months with renowned choreographers and teachers concentrating in theater/jazz and ballet. Katy has also attended four seasons of the Rockette’s Summer Intensive, a week long training program led by the prestigious dance troupe. She has performed in several productions local to Seattle as well as Broadway Dance Center’s showcase with choreographers Justin Boccitto and Heather Rigg. In 2017, she had the opportunity to perform in the opening number of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in NYC, led and choreographed by NappyTabs. As an instructor, Katy has choreographed for competitions and focuses on the importance of technique, style, and performance in all of her classes.
Kathryn Munk (ACSM EP-C, USAW) began formally training in Omaha, Nebraska at Kitty Lee Dance Studio, under the direction of Diane Hansen. She graduated with honors from South Dakota State University with a B.S. in Exercise Science with dance and German minors. Thanks to the guidance of Dr. Melissa Hauschild-Mork, Kathryn took on numerous dance opportunities and was inducted to the National Honor Society for Dance Arts, supported by NDEO. Kathryn developed and piloted the strength and conditioning program for the university’s dance team and continues to research and create effective cross-training programs for dancers. Kathryn earned her M.A. in Dance Performance and Choreography from the University of Bedfordshire, under the direction of Dr. Tamara Ashley. She performed original works by Gaby Agis and Luke Jessop across Great Britain and Malta. Supervised by Dr. Jane Carr, her dissertation explored identity formulation through individual dance practice and performance, specifically within ballet. Kathryn was the artistic director of the Apprentice Company, as well as the ballet mistress, at DanceFX in Charleston, South Carolina. A proud Navy spouse, she recently relocated to Chesapeake and enjoys exploring all parts of the Hampton Roads dance community.
Hannah is from Virginia Beach, VA and began dancing at the age of three. In April of 2022, she graduated from Point Park University in Pittsburgh PA with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance. She has had the pleasure of performing in various works by Crystal Frazier and Danny Herman during her time at Point Park. Hannah is a 2018 graduate of The Governor’s School for the Arts in Norfolk, VA. She has had the opportunity to perform with The Royal Birmingham Ballet in the Virginia Arts Festival with The Governor’s School. She has attended the Rockette Summer Intensive multiple times as well where she trained directly with The Radio City Rockettes. She enjoys teaching Jazz, Contemporary, Ballet, and Advanced Tap as well as choreographing for our award winning competition team. Hannah has won multiple awards for her choreography and looks forward to working with her students and seeing them thrive on stage and in the classroom.
Maria is from Virginia Beach and a 2019 graduate of the Visual and Performing Arts Academy at Salem High School. Maria has 7 years of all-star cheering experience and hip hop. She has taught at several cheer gyms in the area. Maria is currently attending Christopher Newport University and is majoring in Musical Theater with a minor in Dance.
Tomomi Brown began teaching in 2005. She taught at Virginia Ballet Theatre, Ballet Virginia International and Nice School of Dance. Tomomi has taught dancers from the ages of three to adults. She trained and earned her degree in Musical Theater in Japan. Tomomi performed with a drama company that toured of the country, amusement parks and theaters in Japan. Also Tomomi took summer intensives at School of the Hartford Ballet, Joffrey Ballet, San Diego Ballet and Boston Ballet.
Chelsea is a native of New Jersey and began dancing at the age of three. She competed in various local competitions growing up in the South Jersey region & throughout the Miss America Organization. Winning awards for various styles of dance, tap has always been her style of choice. Chelsea has been teaching at Elevate since 2017 and enjoys playing with multiple styles of tap. She believes that tap is an important part of learning musicality and challenges students to hear and create different sounds within the music.
Laura Payne has over 35 years of dance training and performing experience. She is a graduate of The Governor’s School for the Arts in Virginia and The University of the Arts in Philadelphia where she earned her BFA in Modern Dance Performance and received the Top Choreographer award of her graduating class. She has performed professionally with Group Motion, The Virginia Opera and was both a performer and a choreographer of Second Wind Dance Co. She was on adjunct faculty at TRDance Center and Old Dominion University. Laura is a sought after choreographer and Masterclass teacher for studios throughout the East Coast. For the past 6 years she was a resident choreographer and teacher for the professional dance company Masterworks. She recently expanded out to work with Elevate Performing Arts Center’s competition team where her works were awarded top contemporary choreographer and her dancers took numerous technique and 1st place overalls. Laura is an adjudicator for Starbound National Talent Competition, World Class Talent Experience as well as Fusion National Dance Competition, and with 17 years experience as a certified massage therapist she is able to educate dancers in the importance of proper body mechanics and injury prevention. Laura resides in Virginia Beach with her husband and 2 boys.
Hip-Hop Dance Instructor/Choreographer
Joél Casanova was born in Chicago, IL and raised in Dallas, TX. He started dancing HipHop at 11 years old and for the next 5 years danced on competition teams. By the age of 16, he was choreographing professionally. Joél move to Virginia Beach at 18 years old, where he pursed a BA in Journalism, was staffed at Academie de Ballet, and performed in theatrical dance productions with Masterworks USA. In addition, he received training in Ballet and Modern from Mr. Elbert Watson. Joél Casanova created and founded BeatHunter Dance, a headquarters for dance innovation, at age 20. At the same time, he wrote the Personal Kinetic Curriculum, which develops the personal style of dancers. Joél is a young dance professional with a deep passion for dance performance and instruction as well as writing and choreographing original dance productions.
Mackenzie Broccolo was born and raised in Westerly, Rhode Island and began dancing at the age of 3 at Jeannes Dance and Gymnastics Center where she trained in Ballet, Jazz, Contemporary, Lyrical, Hip Hop, Tap, and Gymnastics. Mackenzie frequently traveled to NYC to take classes at institutions such as Broadway Dance Center and Steps. She has also traveled all over the US to compete and participate in conventions. Knowing she wanted to further her career in dance, Mackenzie received her BA in Dance during her 4 years at Dean College in Franklin, Massachusetts where she also minored in Psychology. She trained under Jill Silverman, Gregory King, Rose Pasquarello Beauchamp, Todd Shanks, Laura Young and many other well established names in the community. Mackenzie also had the pleasure of traveling with William Evans Modern Company for 2 years. Mackenzie has had great opportunities teaching and choreographing for over 10 years throughout New England and is expanding her craft in the South as well.
Amber Romano, native of Rhode Island, received her early training at classical ballet schools in her home state, including Festival Ballet. She spent summers training at prestigious schools such as Boston Ballet, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, and Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet; and she spent her final years of high school training with internationally renowned teachers Trinidad Vives and Parren Ballard. Upon high school graduation, she began her professional career with the Nashville Ballet in Tennessee. For four years, she performed in countless productions, her favorites including George Balanchine’s Serenade and a demi-soloist role in The Nutcracker. In 2016, Amber joined the Todd Rosenlieb Dance and Virginia Ballet Theatre companies in Norfolk, VA. She performed principal roles with both companies for four years, as well as directing the Virginia Ballet Theatre Ensemble. Amber first began teaching ballet in Nashville and has found a passion in sharing her experience and love of dance with students of all ages. She has won multiple awards for choreography, and she is currently on faculty at the Governor’s School of the Arts teaching ballet & pointe in the Dance and Musical Theatre departments.