Shanna has been a dance educator and mentor for over 15 years. She began her career at Kingwood Strutters followed by Suzanne's School of Dance in College Station, gratuating from Texas A&M University with a BS in Sport Management and a Minor in Dance. She founded Chara Christian Dance Company at Texas A&M as a student organization and frequently travels as a dance adjudicator. Shanna worked for the Houston Texans and in 2007 founded 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. She loves spending time with her husband, a pastor, and their two young sons, while 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 third 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. Last May, Meghan completed her 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
Nicole grew up in Houston competing and performing, later pursuing dance at the University of Houston. Nicole trained under several professional directors/choreographers in Houston such as Karin Celeste, Jessica Greenhaw and Jeanna Vance. Nicole spent 3 years training with Ingredients Dance Company in Dallas, Texas and had the privilege of touring the country with Dance Revolution Conventions. With Ingredients Dance Company, Nicole worked with professional dancers from all around the country, as well as SYTYCD stars such as Katherine McCormick, Robert Roldan, Kent Boyd and ABDC stars Keeley Lockn’ key Kaukimoce and Peterson Thelisma. Nicole performed in large church productions and conferences throughout the Dallas/Houston area gaining experience in performing, speaking, and teaching. This was a pivotal season in her life helping her grow immensely in her walk with The Lord as well as in her dance career. Moving back to Houston in 2013, Nicole completed her Bachelors in Public Relations and minored in Business Management. She went on to start her own dance company, Flight Dance Company, in 2015 with Alyssa Beach that has been performing in the greater Houston area. Nicole is thrilled to be returning to Chara for her 4th year and is looking forward to another great year directing dance companies, growing Chara in our community and working hands on with all of her students in the classroom.
Gillian began her dance training at the age of five at the Eastern Virginia School for the Performing Arts in Williamsburg, Virginia. After moving to Houston, Gillian continued to train at RAFA with Milana Leban and Misha Bart, and later with Kathleen Waltz at Houston International Ballet. While there she performed in “Nutcracker”,“Les Sylphides”, “Coppelia”, and “Giselle”. After a summer intensive in Maine with the Bossov Ballet Theater, Gillian was invited to join the year-round program at The Maine Central Institute. While there, Gillian studied under Andre Bossov, the former head teacher of the Kirov Ballet. At 15 years old, she was thrilled to be given the opportunity to dance the Queen of Driads solo in Saint Petersburg, Russia, at the Dance Open. She was a guest artist for United Ballet Association’s production of “Don Quixote” in Biloxi, Mississippi, dancing the parts of Mercedes and Queen of Driads. Before her senior year of high school, following a summer intensive with the Orlando Ballet, Gillian was invited to join Peter Stark’s new ballet company, Next Generation Ballet, as a trainee. She accepted, deferring college for a year to continue her training. While there, she performed in “Midsummer Night’s Dream”, “The Nutcracker”, and “Swan Lake.” She is currently attending University of Houston, majoring in dance and education. She is honored to be a part of the Chara family, and looks forward to applying all her skills and experience to her students!
Carli has been dancing since she was three years old. Throughout elementary, junior high, and high school she has enjoyed performing all types of dance including tap, ballet, jazz, and hip hop. She focused on cheerleading at Friendswood High School and was head cheerleader for two years. She graduated from Texas Tech University with a Bachelors degree in Early Childhood and has taught kindergarten through second grade. Now she enjoys staying home with her four children. It is such a joy to share her love for dance in an uplifting, Christ-honoring environment!
Ballet & Jazz
Maddie Boykin has been dancing since she was three years old and has loved it ever since. She began dancing at Chara in 2007, and continued as a student for seven years before becoming a teacher and company director. She is also a member of a Houston-based dance company called Flight Dance Company. Maddie is attending Houston Baptist University pursuing a BBA in Marketing. She loves to share the joy of dance in worship to her Savior, Jesus Christ. Maddie is excited to return to the Chara team this year, and she is looking forward to a great 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 Hand 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.
Annica Marcuccio started dancing at age five. One of the best decisions she made as a child was to move to Chara Christian Dance Academy in the fifth grade. Annica was one of the founding members of Chara Christian Dance Academy’s competitive dance team where she moved through the ranks until she became a principal. During her time as a company member she performed at Texas A&M, churches, numerous community outreaches, and competitions. During her time with Chara, Annica has worked with notable hip hop artist Karin Celeste. She continued in high school as a part of the Pride and Joy of Friendswood, The National Champion Wranglerettes! and she was appointed chaplain her senior year.
Annica has performed in in numerous shows and musicals. Her most notable are “42nd Street” and “Mary Poppins” where she had the pleasure of being a soloist and a featured chimney sweep dancer. Annica was the head choreographer and dance director for P.I.N.E. for 5 years, a dance and theatre arts outreach program that focused on the underprivileged children within the community. During that time she taught ballet, hip hop, tap, and jazz to children, and helped choreograph and stage large musical productions at Christmas for Angel Tree. A service project for children when their parents have been incarcerated. In addition Annica has danced on NBC’s Today Show, in The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, KPRC’s Local 2 News with Ruben Galvan, and on ABC13 during the Tommy Tune awards. Currently she is studying to be a teacher. Her future plans are to become a missionary, and start a performing arts program for children in Botswana or Rwanda.
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 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 administrative and part-time teaching staff for the Academy at the Houston Ballet and is a freelance dancer.
Michaela received her classical ballet training in Katy, TX under John Adamson of the Royal Ballet Academy. She also trained with Margo Marshall School of Ballet and performed with Ballet Forte in Don Quixote, The Nutcracker and other works. In her collegiate career, she worked with SoMar DanceWorks for Project Abolition in Erie, PA in 2011 and performed with Ekklesia Contemporary Ballet in 2014. She was a company member in 2011 with Sandra Organ Dance Company and Brazos Dance Collective in 2015. During her time in the Texas A&M Dance Science Program, she performed the title role of Paquita as well as title roles in Sierra: The Edge, Panthera and other contemporary works. Also in 2011 and 2016, she performed in various works for the American College Dance Association Conferences in Elon, NC and Steven’s Point, WI. From 2012-2014, she served as a domestic missionary with NET Ministries. In 2014, she also taught ballet to pre-school and elementary students at St. Paul’s Fine Arts Academy. Michaela graduated from Texas A&M University with a BS: University Studies with a Dance Concentration and English & Psychology Minors. She works as the Dance Educator at Incarnate Word Academy (Houston, TX) where she teaches various genres to high school students. She loves teaching dance by fusing it with her Christian faith to create a 3-dimensional experience that engages the mind, body and soul. She is certified to teach SoulCore, does freelance dance projects and is very excited to teach at Chara!