Joanna Chockett

Juliana Dalton

Rachel Dart

Stephanie Dawkins

Carrie Dedrick

Erica Hidalgo-Monroy

Nikki Kelly

Andria Maxwell

Kami Mercer

Melinda Merritt

Amaris Opher

Kara Robertson

Mandie Waagner 

 Joanna Chockett

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Joanna’s dance training encompasses a wide variety of styles including ballet, pointe, modern, tap, jazz and hip hop, as well as choreography and performance techniques.  She received her pre-collegiate dance training from both weDANCE Academy and Jessica Morgan School of Dance, then continued her studies at James Madison University, graduating cum laude, in 2011, with a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre and Dance (Dance Concentration).  At JMU she was awarded the Marlene and Peter Coe Visual & Arts Scholarship (2008-2011), served as the Public Relations Chair of the Dance Theatre Student Organization (2010-2011) and was a member of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars.  In addition, Joanna studied in numerous summer intensives, including the Manhattan Dance Project, Z Mullins Summer Dance intensive, North-Atlantic American College Dance Festival (Ohio University), Mark Morris Summer Dance Intensive (New York), and the American College Dance Festival (Elon, NC).

Joanna danced with the Associate Dance Ensemble, the Contemporary Dance Ensemble, and the Virginia Repertory Dance Company, all at JMU.  During 2012-13 she danced with the Dogwood Dance Project (Richmond, Va.), and she has recently rejoined that company.  Joanna also enjoys choreographing, and has a number of pieces to her credit.

Joanna taught her first classes, at weDANCE Academy, in 2006-07 (Adult Tap and Jazz Technique).  She taught Master Classes for dance majors and was the Student Director of the Freshman Dance Ensemble, both at JMU.  In 2016, she taught Master Classes at DOORS School and to the Ggaba Church Dance Crew, both in Kampala, Uganda.  From 2009-16, Joanna worked with Young Life Ministries, first in Virginia (2010-13) and then in New York (2014-16).  After returning to Richmond in 2016, Joanna joined the weDANCE staff to teach Modern Dance for Combustion Dance Camp and yearly classes in modern and hip hop styles to children, youth and adults.  Joanna currently serves as a substitute teacher for all styles of dance

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Juliana Dalton

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Juliana began dancing in a local studio at the age of 3 and has been training at weDANCE Academy since its inception.  She has studied extensively in a broad range of styles, including ballet, ballet pointe, modern, jazz, hip hop, tap, and musical theatre.  Juliana performed with both weDANCE Company Ballet and weDANCE Ensemble and, for over a decade, was seen in numerous dancing roles in Glorious Christmas Nights, Master’s Plan, and weDANCE productions including In the Beginning . . . Intelligent DesignAfter the Rain(2010 and 2014), Daniel . . . Dance With DestinyHeal Our LandThe Master’s Dance (2015) in which she performed the solo ballet role of the Samaritan Woman, and Moses (2016) .  She served as a contributing choreographer for WEAG Kids Productions in 2014, 2015 and 2016 and the 2015 and 2016 WEAG Youth Productions.

Juliana is an active member of many programs at West End Assembly of God and has assisted with many tasks in the area of children’s, youth and dance ministry.  From 2013, she served as an Assistant Teacher for Pre-School Foundations and weDANCE Summer Camp and a substitute teacher for children’s dance classes in all styles.  In 2014, she was Dance School Assistant for Miracles in Motion.  In Summer 2015, she joined the Prism Dance Camp team, teaching Hip Hop to elementary aged children.  Juliana, who currently is studying dance a Christopher Newport University, serves, as her schedule allows, as a substitute teacher for children and youth in all styles of dance.

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Rachel Dart

Born and raised in Texas, Rachel began her formal training in ballet and pointe at Allen Conservatory of Dance at the age of 13.  She joined the student company at Allen Civic Ballet in high school and performed in The Nutcracker and other classical and neo-classical repertoire.  Also while in high school, Rachel performed in numerous musical theatre productions, including Oklahoma, Godspell, and Once Upon a Mattress.  It was during this time that Rachel began to explore her dance design and leadership gifts as she served as choreographer for her school’s productions of Fiddler on the Roof and Annie Jr. Upon graduation, Rachel pursued a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Ballet at Friends University under Stan and Sharon Rogers.  She had the opportunity to perform in The Nutcracker, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Les Sylphides, and other classical, contemporary and modern repertoire by many esteemed choreographers. She also expanded her dance resume with classes in modern dance, jazz, tap, and musical theatre. Subsequently, Rachel relocated to Virginia, where she has furthered her knowledge and experience in classical and contemporary ballet, training for a year with the Charlottesville Ballet and now beginning her second season as a company member with Stavna Ballet.

Rachel’s teaching style places a high priority on skill development as well as developing her students’ appreciation for the art of dance performance.  Her teaching credits include classes in ballet, tap, jazz, pre-pointe and advanced pointe to a variety of ages.

We are delighted to welcome Rachel to the weDANCE staff, teaching ballet, pointe and jazz to children and adults and serving as teacher/choreographer for weDANCE Company Ballet.

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Stephanie Dawkins

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Following four years of intensive instruction in modern, ballet, jazz, lyrical and tap at Henrico County’s Center for the Arts, Stephanie studied both modern and improvisational dance at James Madison University where she earned a Bachelor’s Degree with a major in Social Work and a minor in Humanitarian Affairs.  In 2015, she earned a Masters in Social Work from VCU.  She currently is employed as a Therapeutic Day Treatment Counselor, and will soon complete the process to become a LCSW.

Stephanie danced competitively for six years, during which time her hip hop team won several national titles.  Her performance credits include the National High School Dance Festival (Miami, Florida), Dancing with the Stars (JMU), No Man’s Land (GCN 2009), and Shadrach in Daniel (weDANCE 2012) and featured dancer in Finding Christmas (GCN 2016).  Her choreography has been showcased at VCU’s Grace Street Theatre.  Stephanie, a long-time attendee of WEAG, danced with the Youth Choir Dance Team in 2009 and 2010 and has served as a substitute weDANCE teacher throughout the past several years.  She completed WEAG’s Family Life Youth Internship (2011) and, since that time, has served as a WEAG Youth leader.

Stephanie taught and choreographed for weDANCE Intermediate and Advanced Ensembles in Fall 2014 and currently serves as a substitute teacher for all styles of dance.

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Carrie Dedrick

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Carrie, who has over 20 years of training in jazz, ballet, tap, musical theatre, lyrical, modern and acrobatics, graduated from Bridgewater College, where she danced and choreographed for the Bridgewater Dance Team as well as the dance worship group, the Bridgewater Lyrical Ensemble.  She also toured with the Bridgewater Concert Choir and Vocal Ensemble, travelling to Ireland and Scotland to perform in 2011.  After earning degrees in English and Communication Studies, Carrie moved to Richmond, which she now considers home. She has several years of studio teaching experience and also previously taught preschool at Rainbow Station.

Carrie has danced competitively in jazz, tap, musical theatre, and lyrical, where judges have always commented on her bright smile! She loves musicals and has enjoyed performing in many shows includingFootlooseGuys and DollsGeorge M!, ThumbelinaBeauty and the Beast, and The Baker’s Wife.  Carrie served as a contributing choreographer and was a featured dancer in Under the Same Stars (GCN 2014), was a contributing choreographer and featured dancer for Sincerely Yours (GCN 2015) and served as choreography assistant for and featured dancer in Finding Christmas (GCN 2016).  She danced the solo role “Angel of Death” in Moses (weDANCE 2016).  When she is not dancing, you can likely find Carrie marathon running “at turtle speed.”

For several years, Carrie taught weDANCE Jazz C, Intermediate Jazz, Advanced Jazz and Musical Theatre for weDANCE Academy, but took a recent sabbatical as she and her husband welcomed their beautiful baby daughter.

We are so happy that Carrie is returning to the weDANCE staff for 2019-20 to teach advanced jazz and substitute teach for all styles of dance.

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Erica Hidalgo-Monroy

From a young age, Erica trained extensively in tap, jazz, ballet and lyrical dance.  While attending WEAG in middle and high school, Erica performed with the Youth Choir and in Glorious Christmas Nights, including as a featured tap dancer in GCN 1999.  In college, while earning her BA, she trained and performed with the Lynchburg College Dance Company, also choreographing a variety of numbers for their dance concerts and performing in many student-choreographed projects across the spectrum of dance styles.  Following college graduation, Erica continued her formal dance training in Northern Virginia, focusing primarily on tap, and performing for several years with the tap company, Step-Aside.  She routinely participates in regional tap festivals and has been fortunate to take master classes with such highly-regarded tappers as Diane Walker, Michelle Dorrance and Barbara Duffy.  Erica also enjoys her ongoing training in ballroom dancing. An engaging performer, Erica delighted audiences with both her ballroom and tap dancing skills in Streets of Gold (GCN 2012) and A Storybook Christmas (GCN 2013).  She also served on the dance leadership team and performed in Under the Same Stars (GCN 2014), Sincerely Yours (GCN 2015), Finding Christmas (GCN 2016), A Fantastic Christmas (GCN 2017) and Angels and Kings (GCN 2018).

Erica teaches weDANCE classes in tap and jazz to children, youth and adults.

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Nikki Kelly

Nikki, who holds a Master’s Degree in Teaching from Virginia Commonwealth University, is a homegrown WEAG performer who began developing her God-given talent and ministry potential at a young age in the WEAG Youth Choir and as a cast member of a variety of WEAG productions, including Glorious Christmas Nights in which she has sung, danced, and played a variety of dramatic roles from Jesus’ mother Mary for several years to “Mary Had a Little Lamb” (GCN 2006).  She appeared as Faith in Under the Same Stars(GCN 2014), and, most recently, as a lead Tantilla Dancer and mother Mary in Finding Christmas (GCN 2016).  She performed in James River High School’s award-winning Mixed Show Choir and has participated as a soloist/ensemble singer on many praise and worship teams.  She served for several years as the choreographer for the WEAG Youth Choir, currently is a soloist/ensemble singer with the WEAG Sunday services Praise and Worship Team and serves as WEAG’s Worship Administrator.  Nikki also is frequent contributing choreographer for GCN, including Sincerely Yours (GCN 2015).  She and her husband, John, served as choreography assistants for the Tantilla Ballroom scene in Finding Christmas (GCN 2016) and performed as Mary and Joseph in The Fourth King (weDANCE 2017).

Nikki taught hip hop to children, youth and adults for a several years, but currently is on sabbatical from full-time teaching to care for her newborn twin boys.  As time allows, she serves as a substitute teacher for all styles of dance.

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Andria Maxwell

Andria has long been associated with WEAG dance — having danced in and served as a lead choreographer for WEAG productions, including Glorious Christmas Nights and Master’s Plan, for several years.  Andria choreographed and was lead dancer for the spectacular Roaring 20’s scene in Streets of Gold (GCN 2012) and danced in Daniel . . . Dance with Destiny and After the Rain (role of “Raven”) in 2014.  Andria choreographed the lyrical Angel Dance, and appeared as an Angel on Pointe in Under the Same Stars (GCN 2014), choreographed the lyrical and couples’ dances for Sincerely Yours (GCN 2015), and choreographed the Angel dances and appeared as Angel on Pointe and other featured dance roles for Finding Christmas(GCN 2016), A Fantastic Christmas (GCN 2017) and Angels and Kings (GCN 2018). She was most recently seen as the White Witch in Dancing Through Narnia (weDANCE 2019).  Andria is a gifted, highly trained and experienced dancer and teacher across many styles of dance, but her first dance-love is ballet and she continues to train weekly at the Richmond Ballet.  An active member of WEAG, Andria enjoys participating in summer missions trips.

Andria, who is in her tenth year of teaching with weDance Academy, currently teaches Twinkle Toes preschool dance classes, ballet and tap to children, and ballet and pointe to youth and adults.

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Kami Mercer

Kami graduated from Liberty University with a Bachelor of Science in Communication Studies.  She has been dancing for over 15 years, receiving training from programs such as Virginia Governor’s School, Shenandoah University, Ad Deum Dance Company, and Shenandoah Conservatory Arts Academy.  In college, Kami was the Artistic Director/Choreographer for Divine Call Dance Company.  Also while in Lynchburg, she performed professionally with Alluvion Stage Company in shows including Mary Poppins,The Little Mermaid, and Newsies.  She has choreographed various musicals for high school productions and for numerous dance recital performances.

Teaching dance is a labor of love for Kami, whose favorite styles include modern, ballet, contemporary, and jazz.  She is thrilled to be teaching at WEAG this year and sharing her love of dance and performance.

Kami and her husband, Davis, love to travel together and are currently launching a creative business in portrait and wedding photography.  She also works as an aerial fitness instructor at a local Richmond studio.

We are delighted to welcome Kami to the weDANCE staff, teaching modern dance and serving as teacher/choreographer of weDANCE Intermediate and Advanced Ensembles.

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Melinda Merritt

Melinda brings a wealth of training and experience in a variety of styles, including tap, lyrical, ballet, and jazz to the weDANCE Academy family.  She trained in Central New York under the Direction of Lucille Bach Stewart and Norma Broderick of Broderick-Ezzo Dance Studios and has trained with Master Instructors and Dancers including, Gus Giordano, Frank Hatchet, Roni Malher and Danny Hoctor.  Melinda and Norma Broderick partnered in development of a successful dance studio in Oswego, New York.  In addition, Melinda owned and operated a dance studio under the name of Broadway Babies with sites in Mexico, New York and Pulaski, New York.  Her competition dance teams have been highly rated at both regional and national levels.

Melinda relocated to Richmond in the late 90s and, since 1999, has served as a dance instructor with Richmond’s City Dance Program, also working in the area of curriculum development for ages 3 through adult and organizing performances for City Dance Program’s traveling competition dance troupe.  In addition, Melinda, who enjoys teaching students of all ages, has developed and taught creative movement and dance classes for area schools.

For the past several years, Melinda has taught weDANCE tap and musical theater to children, youth, and adults.  This year she will be adding a special needs Tap class to the weDANCE curriculum.

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Amaris Opher

Amaris was practically born and raised at WEAG, making her first stage appearance as Baby Jesus in the church’s annual Christmas extravaganza, Glorious Christmas Nights.  From a young age, Amaris trained with weDANCE Academy, including classes in ballet, pointe, jazz, tap, modern and hip hop.  She also danced with weDANCE Intermediate and Advanced Ensembles and Company Ballet.  Amaris was accepted, upon audition, to The Center for the Arts at Henrico High School where she furthered her knowledge and experience in ballet, jazz, modern, tap and hip hop and began to explore her dance design and leadership gifts.  She also has studied aerial silks and various components of stage production, including lighting and costuming.

Amaris has performed in WEAG children’s choir productions and youth productions and in numerous years of The Master’s Plan and Glorious Christmas Nights, where she has performed in various dramatic and featured dance roles and as a flying angel.  Amaris has danced, for nearly a decade, in weDANCE spring productions and was most-recently seen as Mr. Tumnus in Dancing Through Narnia., for which she also served as a specialty dance choreographer.

Since 2015, Amaris has filled a variety of teaching and administrative positions with weDANCE Academy, including: an assistant teacher for ballet, modern and hip hop classes, a teacher for beginning tappers, an instructor for flying angels training workshops and the administrator for summer elementary dance camp.  This year, she will assume the role of co-leader for the GCN Flying Angel Team.

We are excited to welcome Amaris to the weDANCE staff, teaching modern dance to children and substitute teaching a variety of styles to all ages.

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Kara Robertson

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Kara, the Valedictorian for Henrico High School Center for the Arts class of 2012, received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance and Choreography from Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts, where she was a Dean’s List student (2012-2016) and currently works as an Administrative Assistant.  Additionally, she has trained with Richmond Ballet (ballet and pointe), and has studied ballet, modern and jazz in numerous summer intensives, including the ImPulsTanz Veinna National Dance Festival in Vienna, Austria (2015), Doug Varone and Dancers Summer Intensive in Brockport, New York (2014), and the Consorzio Universitario Mediterraneo Orientale in Noto, Sicily (2013).  Kara has danced in and choreographed pieces for numerous VCU Dance Company performances, the Richmond Dance Festival and Henrico High School Center for the Arts.  Her choreography was recently showcased in the National American College Dance Association Gala Concert at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.  Kara has been the recipient of many scholarships and awards, including: VCU Dance Bobby Chandler Award (2016), VCU Dance Outstanding Choreography Award (2016), VCU Provost Scholarship (2012-2016), VCU Dean’s International Study Grant (2015), VCU Dance Double Take Award (2015) and VCU Education Abroad Scholarship (2013).

Kara’s teaching experiences include Master Classes in Modern Dance as well as Choreographic Workshops at Henrico High School Center for the Arts (2015 and 2016) and the VCU PALETTE Program (Promoting Art for Life Enrichment Through Transgenerational Engagement) which connects senior adults and students to engage in the creative arts.

Kara taught on the weDANCE staff in 2016, and currently serves as a substitute teacher in all forms of dance

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Mandie Waagner

Mandie began classes at New York’s Mary Lourdes Academy at a young age, training there for over ten years in ballet, jazz, tap, pointe, lyrical, and modern dance.  During those years, she competed, up and down the East Coast, winning many regional titles and First Place Overall awards for the Academy across the spectrum of those dance styles.  She also performed in full ballet adaptations of the stories of Peter PanCinderella, and Alice in Wonderland.  Mandie continued her studio training in Richmond following her family’s relocation here in 2003.  She served as choreographer and captain of the Douglas Freeman High School Dance Team for two years, coached and choreographed local middle school dance teams, was choreographer and captain for WEAG’s Youth Choir (2003-2006), and danced in Glorious Christmas Nights 2002 through 2006.  Mandie also has attended and choreographed for numerous Universal Dance Association camps.

Now married with pre-school aged children, Mandie works as a freelance hair and make-up stylist and continues to develop her gifts in dance through training in modern, jazz, contemporary and hip hop dance with Richmond Ballet.

Mandie, who joined the weDANCE staff in 2017, teaches hip hop to children, youth and adults and serves as a substitute teacher for all styles of dance.

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