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.
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. Taylor is dedicated and driven to bring out the best in his students and wants to teach YOU to dance!
Dakota took a passionate interest in dance from the moment he encountered it here at our studio at the age of 19. He left to pursue higher learning in a range of fields before taking time to travel the middle and southern Americas. He recently rejoined our studio as an instructor bringing with him an easy-going charm and fun-loving personality. He has an enthusiasm for teaching as well as the ability to bring out the joys of dancing for students of all ages. He can be found teaching group classes Thursday and Friday evenings or sign up for a private lesson with him today.
“Set your life on fire. Seek those who fan your flames” ― Jalaluddin Rumi
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 has worked as a model 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.
Kristaleagh grew up in Stafford, Virginia and has been involved with dance since she was young. When she was a child, she did ballet, jazz, hip hop, and other styles of dance all the way up until high school where she got more involved with musical theater. She taught the choreography classes for the studio’s elementary school plays while being involved in the middle and high school productions.
Kristaleagh came to Charlottesville and Blue Light Ballroom in 2017 while pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing and English from Southern New Hampshire University. She immediately fell in love with ballroom dancing and has been a part of our community ever since. This year, she joined the Blue Light Ballroom team as a full-time instructor and our desk manager.
Kristaleagh is getting married this December to her wonderful fiance Ryan, loves her two kitties, and absolutely lives for a good Swing or Cha Cha.
Kristaleagh has a vibrant personality, is extremely creative, and is very excited about starting her teaching adventure here and being able to share her passion for dance with others.
Jennifer Gage recently moved to the area from Norfolk, VA, but it’s Chicago she called home where she taught ballet and jazz for over 25 years at many schools, including her own studio, NorthSide Dance Theater. In 2002 Jennifer created her own not-for-profit company, Alliance Dance Company. Over the 13 years they were active the company grew into a full 3 show season with their own festival. Through many various opportunities she has created over 100 choreographed pieces including 18 productions and 15 full length story works.
Looking to add something new to her expansive dance background, Ms. Gage trained with World Champions Tommye Giaccino and Gregory Day, at their Chicago Dance studios teaching Ballroom for several years and then later at other studios. Earning High Honors after testing in DVIDA syllabus, she was a major part of revamping many of the social classes, inc Argentine Tango and Swing Club.
Jennifer is happy to be back in the ballroom teaching and looking forward to having time to enjoy dancing, especially with her husband Steve.