Was the principle male instructor of Terry Dean’s Ballroom Dance Studio for almost 20 years. He originally started as an instructor with Arthur Murray’s Ballroom Dance studio, and he stayed with them for 19 years, while winning numerous awards and competitions with his students. Terry opened his own professional ballroom dance studio in Charlottesville in 1996. Not only is Terry a wonderful dancer, but he has had the most successful ballroom dance studio in town for years! He continues to win awards as an independent studio. For example, his student won “Top Student” at the 2008 Yuletide Ball Championships in Washington DC, and Terry won a prized Top Teacher award. Terry Dean’s Dance Studio was presented the Top Studio Award at the 2013 and 2014 Yuletide Ball Championships out of 35 represented studios from the east coast and midwest. Terry imparted his talents not only as a dancer, but as a teacher to his current lineup of instructors, when he retired from teaching full-time in February of 2015.
Terry Dean, however is now BACK in the Ballroom! Teaching the 8:15 Advanced group class on Mondays, and the 8:15 Basic group class on Fridays! He’s thrilled to be back in action, and available for private lessons by appointment.
Tara joined the staff at Terry Dean’s in early 2009, and has provided an injection of fun, energy, and enthusiasm. She is a terrific dancer and helps all our students put dance into their lives. One of her students placed 3rd Overall Top Male Student at the 2013 Yuletide Ball Championships in Washington, D.C. and at the same competition in 2014 Tara received a Top Teacher award, while two of her students took home top male student awards. At the 2016 Yuletide Ball, she took home the Top Overall Female Instructor award! Since then, her students have gone on to receive numerous top accolades at various major competitions.
2017 found Tara taking some time away from the ballroom to have and care for her first child, Felix! But she’s back in the Ballroom, and thrilled to be teaching again.
Whether you are a brand new dancer, or more experienced, she loves teaching couples and singles and makes an exceptionally great member of our team.
Taylor joined our staff in late 2012 and has been a wonderful addition to the studio. His unique blend of humor and technique is sure to get you dancing. In December 2013 Taylor had two students awarded Top Student awards at the Yuletide Ball Championships in Washington, D.C. In 2014 he received a prized Top Teacher award and again had two students place among the top 20. In 2016, Taylor and one of his students won the Silver Level Best of the Best Challenge at Virginia State Ballroom Championship, and went on to represent that competition at the Ohio Star Ball. Since then, he has gone on to win numerous Top Teacher awards, and his students continue to receive top accolades at competitions all over the East Coast. As well as competing with his professional partner, Allison Lenore, Taylor is dedicated and driven to bring out the best in his students and wants to teach YOU to dance!
Connor moved to Virginia from Texas and joined our team at the end of 2016! We are absolutely thrilled to have him teaching private lessons and group classes in the ballroom with us. He was a member of the Penn State Competitive Ballroom Team from 2013-2015 and has had thorough training in both International and American styles of Ballroom. He has been a wonderful addition to our team, bringing his witty humor and booming charisma, and has an extremely bright future as an instructor.
Chelsea Casanave Learned
Chelsea joined the Blue Light Ballroom team in mid 2015 and after a brief hiatus, is back teaching in the ballroom! Catch one of her group classes, or give us a call to schedule a private lesson with Chelsea. Her first act as a college freshman in 2010 was to join the Christopher Newport Ballroom Dance Society, and it turned out to be a life-changing decision. While learning from dancers there, she decided on taking a dance minor to go with her theater major and practiced ballet, jazz, and Afro-Carribean dance. She also learned from and eventually worked for Amy Hontos of Amy’s (Ballroom) Dance Studio and took lessons from Rick Zilonka. Over the summers she received training from Robert Eisenbach at Fred Astaire Dance Studios, which her grandfather and great uncle had helped to form. Chelsea believes that dancing with others is one of the most connecting and positive experiences you can have.
“When you’re dancing with someone, it’s not just you anymore. There is another person having the same experience, and you work together to create something beautiful. There’s nothing else quite like it.”
Cary, a born-and-bred Charlottesvillian, has been teaching Ballroom Dance for 22 years. She began her teaching with Terry Dean, and developed a life-long love of dance. With a vibrant passion for technique, rhythm, and movement, you’ll catch her teaching her Tuesday night Intermediate group class – so look for her on our schedule! Open to teaching ages 5-life!
When Cary isn’t teaching, she loves to play an active role in the local community. Annually participating in fundraisers and charity events for organizations such as the Muscular Dystrophy Association and the Charlottesville-Albemarle ASPCA.
Gia Ray was raised in the idyllic University town of Charlottesville, Virginia. Knowing she wanted to be a performer by the time she could speak, she began her journey as a performance artist in a Montessori preschool. As a teen, Gia was accepted to the “Governors School of the Arts in Theatre.” She studied drama at the University of North Carolina’s School of the Arts summer program and always loved participating in local theatre groups. She went on to receive her Bachelors of Fine Arts from Shenandoah University’s Conservatory in Acting and studied acting for film at New York University’s School for the Arts – TISCH.
After graduating, she traveled the world and ended in Mexico working as a professional Salsa dancer. Half a year after landing in Mexico she decided it was time to move to Los Angeles, California to try and make it in the world of modeling, acting, and singing. Much to her surprise LA became a place where dreams come true.
She kicked off her career by modeling for Playboy and became their “Cyber Girl of the Year 2016.” She went on to become a Playmate and Cover Model for Playboy Mexico as well as posed for GQ and Vogue Italy. She has stared in independent films, guest stared in a Showtime show, and is now in pre-production for a movie she wrote herself.
Gia is so excited for the next chapter of her life as a Ballroom Dance teacher! She is sincerely grateful for all the people in her life, past and present, who have helped make her creative endeavors a reality.