This is the second article celebrating 25 years of DDD alumni and their accomplishments in dance and beyond. Alumni are sharing what they have been doing since graduation and how DDD has impacted their lives. The DDD family, past and present, appreciate all of the time, energy and efforts MISS JILLIAN and MR. ROB have given and continue to give to their students.
Thank you to all who contribute to Dancing and Beyond. Alumni are listed alphabetically as the only rule.
Emily Armentrout, Class of 2014
Emily is entering her senior year at Slippery Rock University (Slippery Rock, PA), where she is majoring in Early Childhood Education (P-4) and Dance. She is also earning a minor in Adapted Physical Activity, with this being her focus in graduate school. Ultimately, Emily would like to become a teacher in an inclusive classroom.
Emily has participated in the Rock Dance Company while at Slippery Rock. She has had many wonderful opportunities to choreograph, perform in faculty pieces, and further her dance career. Being able to combine dance with her APA minor has allowed her to work with many different populations. Through her minor, Emily was able to travel to the 2016 Paralympic games in Rio. There she was able to take her love for adaptive sports to a new level. She met the USA Wheelchair Rugby team, USA Goalball team, and the coach of the USA Woman’s Sitting Volleyball team.
Emily was also able to expand her knowledge of adaptive dance by taking a wheelchair dance course. This opportunity resonated deeply with Emily as she worked with a wonderful student named Tori when she was an assistant at DDD. Emily explains, “Tori opened my eyes to adaptive dancing, as her condition did not allow her to walk, so that girl pored her little heart out on the floor by spinning around in her pink wheelchair. Unfortunately, Tori has passed, but those memories I have of her love for dance never leave and have influenced my decisions when it comes to my future career. It is important for students to remain active throughout life.”
When asked what she would like to share about her experiences with DDD, Emily says, “DDD has allowed me to become the person I am today. They have taught me many life lessons that I carry with me. From the small things like time management and teamwork skills, to the big things like lifelong friendships, courage and following your heart. I am forever grateful for everything that DDD has offered me.”
Shalie Borton, Class of 2015
Shalie is entering her third year at Oakland University, where she is pursuing her degree in Elementary Education with endorsements in Mathematics, Language Arts and Early Childhood.
Shalie continues to dance at Oakland University with the Vitality Dance Team. During her sophomore year, Shalie held a position on the team’s Executive Board. Currently, Shalie is the President/Captain of the Vitality Dance team. As President, she will choreograph most of the dances and lead practices for performances at Oakland University’s football and rugby games, along with a Pistons game, competitions and more.
Shalie says, “My time at DDD has made me the person I am today. My dance teachers pushed me to be the best me, to work hard and reach for my dreams. By using my experiences at DDD, I have became a great student and leader. I can’t thank the DuHadway family and all of the DDD staff enough for everything they have done for me. I can not imagine dance and the DDD family not being apart of my life, as I would not be where I am today without them.
Kalie Dickman, Class of 2010
Kalie attended Central Michigan University and obtained her Bachelors of Science in December of 2014. While there, Kalie was a 4 year member of the University Theatre Dance Company and was both a dancer and choreographer. Currently, Kalie is in her 3rd and final year of her Doctorate of Physical Therapy program at CMU. In May of 2018, Kalie will graduate with her DPT degree.
Aside from the Dance Company, Kalie has kept dance in her life by teaching at DDD. She will be beginning her 9th year of teaching and 7th year of being part of the Elite Team Staff this fall.
Kalie says, “There is no doubt in my mind that being part of the DDD family has taught me countless life skills that I can use in my everyday life. I also know I have a family for life even as we all travel all over the world. Dance and DDD is such an integral part of my life. As my mom always says ‘You are just so much happier after having been at the studio’. I am so thankful to be a DDD alumni along with all these other amazing people.”
O’Malley Ferguson, Class of 2016
O’Malley will be returning to Grand Valley State University this fall as a sophomore. She is majoring in Dance and exploring her other interests before determining another major.
As a part of the Grand Valley Dance Department, O’Malley auditioned for several different pieces and worked with many guest artists. O’Malley was chosen to work with guest artist Leslie Scott, who is currently represented by MSA talent organization and stands behind numerous television, film, and commercial credits.
O’Malley says, “Being in the dance program at Grand Valley has opened my eyes to other genres of dance which I can appreciate. DDD has shaped me into the hardworking, diligent, and responsible individual I am today. In addition, they have created a forever family for not only me but everyone who walks through the studio doors. I can’t thank Jillian, Rob, and all of the DDD staff enough for everything they do.”
Mikaela Kitzmiller, Class of 2016
Mikaela is entering her sophomore year at Alma College. She is double majoring in Nursing and Spanish.
Mikaela is involved in the Alma College Dance Company and has performed in guest artist pieces, along with pieces choreographed by Alma College faculty. Mikaela also joined the newly forming Alma College Dance Team as an incoming freshman, which consisted of five members. This year, however, the dance team has more than tripled in size with 17 members. This past summer Mikaela and the Alma College Dance Team attended NDA (National Dance Alliance) camp and placed 1st overall in their division, 5th overall and won the Silver Bid to Nationals in Daytona Beach.
Mikaela says, “Being a dancer at DDD has catapulted not only my dance career, but my character to be miles ahead of the game. It’s unbelievable. DDD has taught me how to juggle not only my double majors, my involvement in both dance programs, but 3 jobs on top of that as well. Thanks to their teachings of aiming high I have been able to maintain that motivated, dedicated, and light hearted person Jillian, Rob, and the rest of the staff fashioned for me to be. The dancing brought bliss and amusement, but the standard and fundamentals taught by Jillian and Rob have left me with commitment, responsibility, and euphoria that will last for lifetimes.”
Courtney Nelson, Class of 2011
Courtney will be graduating from Central Michigan University in December 2017 with a major in English and a minor in Communications, with an emphasis in Secondary Education. This fall Courtney will be student teaching at Shepherd Middle School.
Courtney began dancing at DDD in the fall of 1999 where she took ballet, jazz, tap, pointe, and studied the Cecchetti Method of ballet. Her passion for dance continued beyond high school, as she has been an instructor at DDD for the past 6 years. In 2014, Courtney earned her Zumba instructor license and teaches classes for ResLife Fitness in the dorms at CMU.
Courtney says, “DDD taught me that dedication, hard work, and perseverance will get you far…also that if you’re not 15 minutes early, you’re late! I know that I definitely would not be the person I am now if it wasn’t for Jill and Rob. They became my second parents over the years, that’s for sure.”
Abbie Richardson, Class of 2015
Abbie will be beginning her junior year at Alma College as a Dance major and Business minor. Abbie began her college career studying while in Europe and working as a ballet teacher with the Bullfrogs Ballet School in Skopje, Macedonia.
After returning to Michigan, Abbie continued her education in dance, but suffered a major foot injury requiring surgery. Recovered and ready to dance again, Abbie is now a member of the Alma Dance Team. The Alma College Dance team attended their first NDA (National Dance Alliance) camp this summer and were named Division 3 Champions and 5th overall with a Silver Bid to NDA Nationals.
Abbie says, “DuHadway really took dance from being something I enjoyed to being my lifelong passion and something I feel I can’t live without. It is my plan to pursue my Masters Degree in Dance in hopes of teaching and choreographing with collegiate dancers myself one day. I would not have the strength, confidence or lifestyle that I do without my teachers and friends at DDD guiding me throughout my journey.”
Libby Scout, Class of 2010
Libby attended Michigan State University and joined the Orchesis program for a year, after dancing at DDD for 15 years. While at MSU, she became good friends with her choreographer and landed her first choreography job in Lansing, which remained her job throughout college. Upon graduation, Libby worked as a Graphic Designer in Grand Rapids, went back to DDD as an instructor for 2 years, and earned her yoga teaching certificate.
Shortly thereafter, Libby was hired as a graphic designer for Short’s Brewing Company in Bellaire, Michigan. This past November of 2016 Libby moved to Denver, Colorado as a full time graphic designer for a craft beer distributor. She is also a part owner of a small yoga company in Florida.
Libby says, “The whole DDD community brought people into my life that I know 100% are a very large part of who I am today. I don’t know where I would be without that place. The picture (below) is from the first year we did Mamas, which was from a very long time ago but was my favorite dance I did while at DDD. Caleigh Nowlin is in the picture with me who became my best friend through dance. We were roommates all through college and I was a bridesmaid in her wedding last summer.”
Maya Stahl, Class of 2017
Maya will be attending Mid Michigan Community College in the fall, with the intent of pursuing a degree in Speech Pathology. Currently, Maya has her CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) license and is working at Arbor Grove Assisted Living in Alma.
Maya started dancing when she was 2 turning 3, but never actually stepped foot on stage until she was 8 years old! She then tried out for the Elite team and danced Elite for 8 years. Maya choreographed her own solos for her junior and senior years, and during her senior year choreographed a teen solo, a group dance for 7 to 8 year olds, and a senior solo for another studio dancer.
Maya says, “Dance gave me so many opportunities and really pulled me out of my comfort zone. It made me the hard working and determined person I am today. Although I am not dancing in college, I know dance will always be something I can do for the rest of my life, and I hope to choreograph in the future. I made lifelong friends because of dance. I will always be there for them, as I know they will be there for me.”
Miranda Stutzman, Class of 2013
Miranda graduated from Alma College with a Bachelors degree in Accounting and Dance. She graduated from Alma College in December 2016 and immediately began working for Plante Moran as an auditor. Miranda is currently completing her CPA (Certified Public Accountant) and plans on pursuing law school in the future.
While at Alma College, Miranda was a part of the Alma College Dance Company, was an instructor at DDD, and participated in multiple other organizations. During her undergrad, Miranda was able to learn from guest artists and amazing faculty. Her choreography for “The Last Goodbye” was chosen for honors and she was humbled and grateful to be recognized for her work.
Miranda says, “DDD prepared me to be able to take college and professional level classes after high school. Dance has helped shape me into the person I am today and created a forever family with my teammates. I plan on continuing my dance career through teaching and choreographing once I have completed my CPA. I am thankful for the memories and experiences I have had when a dancer and teacher at DDD.”
To read Dancing and Beyond (Part 7), click here.