All dance classes are taught by adult instructors with years of experience. They make classes fun and genuinely care about our students.
Many of our instructors have earned their Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in dance and hold certifications from national dance organizations.
The Dance Arts Center is a member of the Dance Masters of America Heart of America Chapter 28. Our family-friendly studio helps dancers learn and grow in a positive, challenging environment.
Marla Heeler - Owner
Brandi Keling, Office Manager
Charissa Dodge, Office Assistant
Marla Heeler, owner and director of The Dance Arts Center, LLC is thrilled to share her passion and love for the art of dance with as many people as possible. Her motto is, “There is more to dance than pointing your toes.” As a choreographer and studio owner she has many award winning students including Dance Masters Chapter 28 Teen Miss Dance 2013, Teen Mr. Dance 2012, Petite Miss Dance 2018, Junior Miss Dance 2020, Junior Mr Dance 2020 and Mr Dance 2020. Her students have also been award opportunities to study with ABT, Kansas City Ballet, North Carolina School of The Arts, State Street Ballet, Joffrey Ballet and Chicago Human Rhythm Project.
Marla’s award winning choreography has been recognized by Robidoux Resident Theater as a Dobbins Award recipient. She has also been recognized by several dance competitions such as Bravo, Celebrity, Dance Masters of America, I Love Dance, Dance America and Headliners.
Marla has taught Master Classes and judged throughout the Midwest. As a certified instructor she is very involved in continuing to raise the standard for dance professionals. She has served as both President and Vice-President for Chapter 28 Dance Masters and is a member of Chicago National Association of Dance Masters.
As a former performer, Marla began her professional career after winning Miss Dance Heart of America. This award created the opportunity for her to study with the world renowned Gus Giordano. While in Chicago she performed with Gus Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago, The Chicago Opera Theater, The Evanston Dance Ensemble, The Dance Foundation, Dance Explosion, Dancewerks and Indola International Hair Show.
One of her most proud achievements is being the founder of A Chance To Dance. This unique dance benefit was started in 2002 as a way to bring the dance community together to help raise awareness and funding for the prevention of child abuse.
Working with the college students whether it is introducing them to dance or helping them complete their minor in dance has been a very rewarding and exciting process.
Ms. Angie started dancing at Dance Arts when she was 4 years old. She enjoys all forms of dance but has always loved tumbling. She was a part of the Dance Midwest company. Angie got the opportunity to travel to New York City and take several master classes. She has taken many convention classes for many years.
Angie graduated from Missouri Western State University with a bachelors degree in Criminal Justice. In addition to teaching she is a Deputy Juvenile Officer.
She enjoys working with all kids. She loves watching them grow as dancers and tumblers. She loves the entire DAC family.
Ms. Terzah studied ballet, tap, jazz and tumbling in the St. Joseph area while growing up.
She attended Stephens College in Columbia, MO where she received her BFA in dance. During her time at Stephens she had the opportunity to study ballet, modern, flamenco and many other styles of dance.
Terzah is a member of Dance Masters of America (DMA). She has participated in many continuing education opportunities through DMA, Chicago National Dance Association, MTJGD virtual training and CLI studios.
She loves being a part of The Dance Arts Center and sharing her love for the art of dance with everyone who comes through the studio doors.
Ms. Megan grew up studying at The Dance Arts Center.
Throughout high school she was fortunate to study with dance companies such as: Ballet Austin, State Street Ballet, Hubbard Street and River North Chicago. She also spent a summer studying at The Virginia School of the Arts. She continued her dance education at Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri and received her Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree with a focus in Dance.
After graduating college, she performed as a magician’s assistant for magic shows across the country as well as performed with the Storling Dance Theater for a season. She has choreographed musicals for Robidoux Resident Theater.
Megan recently performed as the White Witch in the studios production of The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe.
She is happy to share her love of dance with her students in the place where it all started for her.
Ms. Kealey began dancing at the Dance Arts Center when she was four years old. When she graduated high school she continued to teach as an assistant and master instructor. Kealey loves teaching dance and watching the students grow not only as dancers but into poised and confident individuals.
Alongside being a teacher at the Dance Arts Center, Kealey attended Missouri Western State University and graduated in 2016 with a Bachelor’s Degree of Science in Social Work and a Bachelor’s Degree of Science in Psychology. While at Missouri Western, Kealey was a member of the Missouri Western Dance Team for two years and captain her sophomore year.
Ms. Kealey earned her Master's Degree in School Counseling and will begin working for the St. Joseph School District this fall.
Ms. Ariel wanted to become a dancer upon seeing a traveling production of The
Nutcracker. She began lessons with Tamra Duprai in 1986. From 1989 to 1999, she studied
with Halcyon Perlman, a student of Alexandra Danilova among others, at the Mid-Missouri
She has been teaching at DAC since Ms. Marla recruited her in 2014. She teaches all levels of Ballet and Pointe and attempts Modern and Contemporary.
Her continuing education includes DMA conferences, the first virtual PBT certification, MTJGD virtual training, YPAD-Child Protection Training, and perpetual self-education.
Ms. Ariel has performed in the DACPAC production of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and choreographed pieces for The Dark Fairy.
She loves dance for its beauty, creativity, demands, benefits, and challenges. There is nothing else like it for melding visual art, physical rigor, musical precision, and creative expression.
Ms. Annie is originally from North County St. Louis, where she started her training in Ballet, Tap, Lyrical, Jazz and Musical Theater at 5 years old. In her teens she took on assistant teaching at her studio. In college she was on the Truman State University dance team and a member of “The Society of Dance Arts.”
Dance has continued to follow her, even to her first job in Fairfax, Missouri where she started choreographing for and performing with the Rock Port Community Theater. She even started a small studio at the Tarkio Recreational Center for area children who didn’t have close access to dance opportunities.
She is the art teacher at Mound City School K-12 and has her Masters of Arts in Education in Visual Art: Emphasis, Fiber Arts. She lives with her husband, Tom and two dogs, Rafe and Marqui in St. Joe.
Ms. Isabel "Isa" started dancing at The Dance Arts Center when she was 3 years old. Throughout her 15 years at the studio, she studied all styles of dance and was also a part of the DACPAC competition team.
After graduating high school, Isa went on to pursue dance with the Avila University dance team for 3 years. She has choreographed for and worked with a number of high school dance teams from both St. Joseph and Kansas City.
After graduation this past spring with a Bachelor degree in Mental Health Psychology, Isa will be begin working on her Master's Degree in Counseling Psychology.
Ms. Arianna "Ari" is a Saint Joseph native and has been apart of The Dance Arts Center since she was 2.5 years old!
She’s a student at Missouri Western State University where she is majoring in Business Management with a concentration in Entrepreneurship and a minor in Dance while being apart of the MWSU Mystics Dance Team!!
She’s choreographed for her alma mater’s musicals, several high school dance teams, and several college dance showcases. She’s excited for another year at her second home!!
Ms. Alexis began her dance training in all styles including Jazz, Tap, Ballet, Lyrical/Contemporary and Hip Hop at the age of 4 in Oceanside, California at Dance Unlimited Performing Arts Academy. She danced competitively with two different studios in San Diego county for 14 years. While dancing competitively, she began to work professionally in San Diego and Los Angeles at the age of 13.
She opened for famous hockey player Wayne Gretzky at the 2014 TEA Award Show. She also opened for Singer/Songwriter Zendaya at her San Diego concert. Alexis has competed in the biggest Hip Hop competition in the world; Hip Hop International (HHI) from 2014-2018, where her teams have placed in the top 5 at the USA finals.
One of Alexis’ favorite professional jobs was teaching at the 2014 Indian Reservation Outreach Program, where she helped kids find their love for dance. Alexis found her true passion through teaching, choreographing, and passing on her talent to the younger generations.
She has been teaching and choreographing in the Los Angeles area for 7 years. Her routines have received many top overall awards as well as choreography awards at several National Dance Competitions.
Alexis is excited to share her knowledge through dance with the kids at The Dance Arts Center.
Ms. Casi started training at the Dance Arts Center in 1995 when she was 3 years old. She was a member of the 8th Street Dance Company (now known as DACPAC) through middle school and high school.
After high school, she attended Northwest Missouri State University where she tapped and clogged in the Northwest Dance Company. She earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with an emphasis in Photography and a Minor in Biology. After graduating from Northwest, she attended Missouri Western State University where she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Applied Computer Technology.
Casi is a CRM Consultant for Value Stream Consulting where she specializes in configuring grants management solutions for foundations. She has two cats, Dobby and Kreacher.
She is so happy her life led her back to the Dance Arts Center so she could be part of the wonderful DAC family again!
Ms. Kara has been dancing and performing on stage her entire life. Tap, Clogging, and Musical Theater are her specialties-also earning her Bachelors of Science degree in Fine Arts.
Kara has owned and operated Momentum Dance studio in King City for the past 10 years and is in her third season teaching at The Dance Arts Center. Kara traveled and competed in many national and regional competitions, earning many titles and awards. She trained at the age of 14 for a summer in New York City in tap and jazz while having the opportunity to study under some the most prestige instructors including Barbara Duffy. She spent summers at the Columbia Performing Arts Center furthering her dance training and instructing through her teen years.
Theatre is also a passion of Kara’s, landing her in roles at Starlight Theatre, Theatre in the Park, and Missouri Western State University stage; directing, choreographing, acting, singing, and dancing.
Kara lives in King City with her 2 children, 2 dogs, and husband Sean that serves as a firemen for the city of St Joe. Both of her children dance at The Dance Arts Center and throughly enjoy all their teachers. They love family nights, playing games together, laughing, and enjoying life. Life has thrown its curve balls at her family, giving her the roll of a living kidney donor. They understand the value of life and happiness now more than ever!
You will find Kara teaching a mix of styles at The Dance Arts Center including; tap, hip hop, musical theatre, ballet, jazz, and combo classes. She’s excited for another new and safe year, growing as a teacher, leader, and mentor for our students.
Mr. Caleb danced at The Dance Arts Center for 9 years taking classes in ballet, tap, jazz, hip hop, musical theater and tumbling.
While at DAC, he played Peter Pevensie in the studio's first production of The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, Amicus in The Dark Fairy and Maugrim the wolf and the Centaur in the 2nd production of The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe.
He has also competed with the studio, winning DMA's title of Mr. Dance of Chapter 28 in 2020. He was able to take classes and compete at Dance Masters of America Nationals in Nashville, TN. He has had the opportunity to continue his dance education through DMA convention classes, MTJGD training and CLI studios.
In addition to dancing, Caleb enjoys theater. Some of his favorite roles he has played include: Conrad Birdie in Bye, Bye Birdie, Underling in the Drowsey Chaperone, Mush in Disney's Newsies and Neleus in Mary Poppins.
Caleb is majoring in business and finance at Missouri Western State University.
Trenna started dancing as soon as she could walk, and trained at her mother’s dance studio, Hill-Top Dance Center in Shawnee, KS. She is a third generation dance teacher, choreographer, and professional dancer and hopes to pass on her passion and appreciation for dance to her two daughters, Sage and Venus. Trenna studied Dance Performance at Oklahoma City University and graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor’s of Performing Arts in December of 2017. While there, she performed several times with the American Spirit Dance Company and served as the Costumer’s Production Assistant as well as Assistant Wardrobe Mistress. In 2018, she performed as a singer/dancer at World’s of Fun in the Holly Jolly Trolley show. Trenna then returned to her Alma Mater as an adjunct faculty member to serve as the interim Costume Shop Foreman in the Spring of 2019. Later that year, she joined VidaDance Company as a choreographer for Cracked! A Reimagined Kansas City Nutcracker and will be making her debut as a VidaDancer this December. She also has been teaching dance alongside her mother, Tauna Keltner, for Lenexa Parks & Rec since 2018. Trenna is incredibly passionate about teaching dance and hopes to use her knowledge and experience to help mold the next generation of dancers at DAC!
Ms. Sydney has been taking classes at the Dance Arts Center since she was three years old. In her time there she has learned many different styles, been a member of DACPAC, and the last three Dance Arts Center productions.
She has also been involved in other stage productions with different groups such as CAP and RRT. Sydney is a graduate of Stewartsville high school. At school she was involved in band, math club, science club, FCCLA, and NHS.
Sydney is majoring in early childhood education at Missouri Western State University.
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