Shanna has been a dance educator and mentor for over 15 years. She began her teaching career at Kingwood Strutters followed by Suzanne's School of Dance in College Station. She attended Texas A&M University, receiving a BS in Sport Management and Minor in Dance and Business, and founded Chara Christian Dance Company as a student organization there. Shanna worked for the Houston Texans before founding Chara Christian Dance Academy where her passion for faith, family, dance, and music comes to life through she and her staff for hundreds of students each year. In 2017 she and her husband Bobby, Associate Pastor of Friendswood Friends Church, started Part of the Art Foundation providing dance scholarships to deserving kids. Bobby and Shanna have three young children and love being a part of and giving back to the Friendswood community
School Director, Petite and Senior Company Director, Dance Kids Director, and Instructor
Meghan Owen is very excited to begin her fourth year on the Chara Christian Dance Academy staff. She grew up in Iowa taking ballet, pointe, jazz, tap, and tumbling classes from the age of three. When she was in high school she began competing with her dance studio’s performance company in Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, and Illinois. She also danced with and was the Captain of her high school’s dance team. Throughout high school she was able to study at and attend workshops put on by Dance Masters of America, New York City Dance Alliance, West Coast Dance Explosion, Tremaine, Showbiz, Manhattan Dance Project, NDA, Giordano Dance Center, and Hubbard Street Dance. She then attended the University of Iowa receiving a BA in Dance and a BA in Performing Arts Entrepreneurship. While at the university she performed in multiple undergraduate, graduate, and department performances. She also was a dancer in the university’s pre-professional dance company. At the university she grew in her love for ballet and modern dance and developed a love for kinesiology and choreography. After graduation she danced with the Kacico Dance Company in Kansas City and taught dance lessons at several dance studios in the area. She thoroughly enjoyed performing throughout the Midwest and in Texas. Teach for America brought her to the Houston, Texas area. Here she has taught high school dance and coached dance team and cheerleading at YES Prep Southwest and South Houston High School. Meghan also holds a Masters of Education in Physical Education from the University of Houston. She feels blessed to share her passion for dance and education with the dancers here at Chara.
Ballet, Jazz, Tap, Lyrical, Company Director
Ballet & Jazz
Maddie Batton is excited to experience her fourth year as an instructor at Chara Christian Dance Academy. Maddie began dancing at the age of three and has loved it ever since. She joined the Chara family eleven years ago as a student, where she danced for seven years before becoming a director and instructor. She is also a member of Houston-based Christian dance company, Flight Dance Company, with several of her Chara colleagues. Maddie graduated from Houston Baptist University in May 2017 with a BBA in Marketing, and is pursuing a full-time career while continuing to teach at Chara. She was also recently married to her best friend, Race, in July 2017. She loves to share the joy of dance with her students while teaching them to worship their Savior, Jesus Christ. Maddie is excited to return to the Chara team this year, and she is looking forward to a wonderful year of growth!
Ballet & Jazz
Alexandria Hernandez began training at Bonnie Siscoe School of Dance under Manuel Barra before coming to Chara Christian Dance Academy. She is a member of Ballet du Coeur and also serves as rehearsal assistant. She graduated from Alvin Community College with her Associates degree at the age of eighteen and is now majoring in Education at the University of Houston. Alexandria has a passion for dancing and feels so blessed to able to be a part of such a wonderful group of instructors!
Reagan Israel began dancing in Sugar Land, Texas, where her love of the art was cultivated by Sharon Valant for ten years. In high school she danced with Ballet Forte, a pre-professional Regional Dance America company, where she studied ballet and modern and performed in classical and contemporary ballets. Throughout her teenage years, Reagan attended RDA festivals as well as summer intensives at Ballet Magnificat and the Atlanta Ballet. She also trained at Ballet Center of Houston under Victoria Vittum and performed with the Houston Repertoire Ballet and Sandra Organ Dance Company. After high school, Ms. Hand became a trainee with Ballet Magnificat and moved to Mississippi to study and share the gospel through dance full time for three years. After sustaining a chronic injury, Reagan left the stage and began teaching in 2012. She is passionate about the arts and hopes to encourage the pursuit of excellence in her students. Ms. Hand has been trained and certified by the American Ballet Theatre in their National Training Curriculum in Primary through Level 3. She also holds a bachelor's in Psychology and English and teaches Latin at a private school in Houston.
Josh Cruz is an uprising talent who began dancing at the the age of sixteen. His passion arrived during the trying recovery of a spinal adjustment. Using dance as physical therapy and music as motivation, Josh began his journey as a self-trained dancer. For three years he was involved in kids programs at Grace Community Church including The Noize in which he choreographed and taught Hip-Hop with a fun, positive twist. Whether it be a mashup for a Quinceañera or a flash mob for a wedding reception, Josh has an easy-to-follow style the energizes a room. His personal focus in West Coast Hip-Hip offers students with the fundamentals of Popping, Locking, and Animation.
Ashlynn Dykes fell in love with dancing when she was 9 years old at Life Moves Dance Studio in Richmond Hill, Ga. While dancing at Life Moves, she trained in ballet, pointe, lyrical, contemporary, tap, tumbling, and jazz. Ashlynn has had the opportunity over the years to attend classes and workshops taught by a variety of teachers including Keri LaGrand, Derrick Schrader, Joe Tremaine, Doug Caldwell, and Laurie Johnson. She has performed various roles in several productions with The Columbia City Ballet such as “Sleeping Beauty”, “Cinderella”, and “The Nutcracker.” Ashlynn began assisting with classes at the age of 12 at Life Moves and began teaching her own classes a few years later. She has taught ballet, tap, jazz, lyrical, contemporary, and tumbling. She has also choreographed solos, duets, and group dances for the competition team at Life Moves. She is an AFAA certified group fitness instructor and has taught Pilates for 1 year. Ashlynn plans to continue her education at the University of Houston to finish her BA in Chemistry and minor in dance. She enjoys sharing her love for God and passion for dance with all of the children she teaches and looks forward to it every week! Ashlynn is excited about being an instructor at Chara Christian Dance Academy this year!
Rebecca Blackshear grew up dancing throughout the Houston area, receiving classical ballet training with Houston International Ballet Academy and Kennedy Dance Theatre under the tutelage of former prima ballerina, Milena Leben. In 2009, she was accepted into the Ballet Magnificat! trainee program in Jackson, MS where she furthered her professional ballet training and performing. In the summer of 2012, Rebecca was offered a full-time ballet teaching position in Lilongwe, Malawi for African Bible College Christian Academy. Along with her teaching partner, Rebecca was instructor to over 100 academy students. Upon her return to the U.S., she performed as a company member with Ad Deum II, a professional contemporary Houston-based company from 2014-2016. She has also traveled to work with Springs Dance Company in London, England. Rebecca is currently on teaching staff at the Houston Ballet Academy and is a freelance dancer.
Brianna Reeves has been dancing and performing in the Clear Lake area since the age of three. She graduated from Texas State University in 2015 with a Bachelors of Science in Recreation Administration with a focus in Therapeutic Recreation. She, along with her husband, have been worship leading all around the Houston area for the last two years and she has a passion for the way that worship and movement collide. She is also a member of a Houston-based dance company called Flight Dance Company. Brianna is excited to begin her first year in the Chara family as a teacher and company director and is looking forward to an exciting and impactful year ahead!
Jennifer is a busy mom of four, three girls and a boy. Her and her husband, John, have been married for 21 years. She is grateful for the opportunity to homeschool her four children. She loves the Lord with all her heart and enjoys serving in the children’s ministry at Grace Community Church. Seeing children understand who God has created them to be and encouraging them to follow their God-given dreams is her passion. Working at Chara gives her the opportunity to see so many dancers and musicians smiling as they go after their dreams.
Jillian is currently in her last year at Northwest University studying Ministry Leadership. She attends Life Community Church in La Porte and serves as one of the Classroom Coordinators in their children’s ministry and helps lead their young adult group as well. She is a former member of the Deer Park High School Escort Drill Team and enjoys using her love for God’s children and dance at Chara to help find each dancer the style of dance that matches them perfectly. Let them praise His name with dancing. Psalm 149:3
Lori has been married to her husband Jim for thirty-five years, and is the mother of two daughters. She spent many years serving in Children’s ministry at her church. She enjoys spending time with family and friends, as well as traveling to new places. Her favorite thing about working at Chara is making the young dancers feel at home in our studio, as well as making families feel welcome and comfortable.
Susan is a mom of a teenage boy and has been married to her husband, Craig, for 31 years. They enjoy going to Mustang and Longhorn football games, volunteering with the FHS Band and Boy Scouts, and serving at their home church, Friendswood Methodist. She earned a bachelor's degree in finance from The University of Texas and a master's degree in human resources and public policy from Carnegie- Mellon University and spent 30+ years leading teams in healthcare human resources. She finds her greatest joy in the studio in seeing the smiling faces of our dancers and families!