Get to know CDE owner, Christy Wood

How did you get started in dance?

“I began dancing at the age of 4.  I was so eager to meet new friends and wear leotards and legwarmers! As I grew older, my love for dance expanded with learning new styles, going to conventions, and competing.”

Why did you want to start a dance studio?

“If you know me personally, you would know that I’m a bit of a perfectionist and, at times, get overwhelmed with the pressure I place upon myself.  Dance was, and still is, an outlet for me to release my tensions and emotions.  When the music starts and my body moves, I can feel outside pressures release their grip.  I become more relaxed, more focused, more determined, and more joyful as my thoughts are consumed with the choreography.  I want to provide a place where people can experience all those things that I love about dance.  A place where students can be themselves and push themselves to do more than they knew they were capable of doing.”

 Christy attended East Carolina University to pursue a degree in Business Administration and a minor in Dance. After transferring to North Carolina State University, Christy began teaching dance for a non-profit organization in the Garner area. While employed at SAS Institute, she received her Business degree with a concentration in Marketing. Christy was a member of the ECU Dance Team and the Wolfpack Clogging Team. Christy is an active member of her church where she serves as a preschool teacher and dance ministry co-director.

Karyn Abell


I began dancing at 2.5 years old. I studied at the Locker School of Dance in New Jersey. I was trained in tap, jazz, and ballet under the instruction of Susan Locker, a retired New York City Rocket. I moved to NC in 1996 where I attended the University of the North Carolina School of Arts. There, I was classically trained in ballet primarily under Nina Danivola. Upon leaving NCSA I picked up belly dancing.
I’ve been able to sub at CDE a few times and am looking forward to sharing my love and passion for dance with your little ones!

Alex Blackmon

Christy's DancExplosion
Tap, Ballet, & Jazz

Alex Blackmon began dancing when she was 5 years old at Christy’s DancExplosion, and has continued to dance here for the past 12 years. She has performed many different styles including ballet, jazz, contemporary, clogging, lyrical, tap, hip hop, jazz fusion and acro. She has been competing with the CDE company team for 7 years and is so thankful for the community of dancers at CDE. Alex has also assisted in many classes over the years at the studio and is overjoyed to bring her love of dance to the next generation of dancers. Alex is a senior in high school and hopes to always have dance as a part of her life.

Ivey-Jae Carroll Power

CDE Faculty Ivey
Hip Hop, Cheer, Lyrical, Jazz, & Acro

Programs Director

Company Instructor

Ivey started her dance and cheerleading career at a young age in her hometown of Asheboro, NC; and competed for Cheer Extreme All-Stars in Kernersville, NC. After her sophomore year of high school, she was accepted into Governor School East for dance and studied modern for 6 weeks and fell more in love with dance education and movement. After graduating high school, she performed at NC State basketball and football games for 2 years and also competed at NDA Nationals in Daytona, Florida with the NC State Dance Team. During her summers, she worked for Edge Cheer and Dance as a cheer and dance instructor for 4 years. She graduated from NC State University with a degree in Program Management but her love and passion for the art and the sport continued. She truly felt God was leading her down a path to teach and guide young artists and athletes. Ivey moved on to work professionally for a performance company based out of Raleigh, NC for 5 years. Here, she danced, modeled, and performed ambient talent at many events on the East coast. Now, Ivey shows her love for dance and cheer by choreographing, teaching, and judging. She has received multiple choreography awards for both cheer and dance and special team recognition achievements. Miss Ivey specializes in multiple styles of dance and finds joy in creating a safe environment for dancers and cheerleaders to learn, grow, and create confidence within themself and their art. She is the Program Manager and Instructor at Christy’s DancExplosion and has her own business, Lively Made with Ivey. There is not a plan to ever hang up that hat, she is continuously looking to stay educated, updated, and certified in her field. She married on November 11, 2023 to her life partner, Chris Power and lives in Garner with their sweet pups, Echo and Roadie.

Kimmie Ellis

Adult Clogging

Kimmie has been clogging since the age of five and comes from a long family line of traditional cloggers. Growing up, she was fascinated by the stories of her mother, aunt, and uncle performing with the infamous Little General Cloggers of Kennesaw, Georgia. They danced multiple times at the Grand Ole Opry and even traveled to Washington D.C. to perform at the White House. Her family eventually created their own competitive clogging team called the Southern Travelers that earned numerous national titles. These stories developed Kimmie’s passion for clogging before she ever put on her first pair of clogging shoes. Following in her family’s “double-steps,” Kimmie spent many years performing and competing with Rhythm & Class Cloggers of North Augusta, South Carolina before relocating to the Raleigh area. Here she has been an avid member of the Hemlock Bluff Cloggers and CDE’s award winning competitive adult team. As a clogging instructor at CDE, Kimmie strives to share the enjoyment of dancing and to build confidence in dancers of any age. She is also dedicated to preserving the traditional drag-slide style of clogging that has brought great pleasure to both cloggers and audiences for generations.

Michelle Gerrald

Clogging & Hip Hop

Branding & Marketing Design

Michelle started clogging as a young child under the direction of Christy Wood at a nonprofit organization in Garner.  She then started dancing at CDE upon its opening.  Her love of clogging grew even more as she became a founding member of CDE’s competitive clogging team, Feet on Fire.  While on FOF she took master classes and workshops under many accomplished clogging instructors from across the nation.  When she started teaching in 2007, she realized her love of choreography and creating relationships with her students.  During her time as a FOF director, she choreographed many award-winning routines and discovered just how much joy it brought her to watch her students succeed and reach their goals. She has always had a love for Hip Hop and loves to even incorporate it into her clogging choreography.  Michelle is very passionate about being able to share her skills and experiences with her students.  She hopes that she can help create an environment where students can grow, push themselves, and BE themselves! CDE welcomes Michelle back for another year!

Colleen Hanson

Ballet, Jazz, & Tap

Human Resources

Colleen began dancing at the age of 3 at The Karen Gibson School of Dance in Laurinburg, NC.  While there she studied Ballet, Jazz, Tap, Lyrical, Pointe and was also a member of the Triple Toe Cloggers.  After high school, Colleen became a teacher at KGSD while enrolled at UNCP.  In 2008, Colleen began teaching at Christy’s DancExplosion and became a Feet on Fire Director in 2010.  Colleen, alongside Michelle and Christy, were able to bring the traditional style of clogging to the Feet on Fire team.  In 2020, Colleen took a break from teaching to be with her husband and 2 children, Savannah and Sawyer.  In her free time, she loved spending time with her husband, Brad and her 2 kids.  Colleen is extremely excited to be back in the studio this season!

Arlie Honeycutt Kidd

Voice & Theatre

Arlie Honeycutt Kidd is a proud summa cum laude graduate of East Carolina University. In 2012, she was honored to be named the 75th Miss North Carolina, and received a non-finalist Talent award at the 2013 Miss America Pageant. She went on to receive her Master of Music from LSU in 2017. Arlie currently serves as the Head of Talent Relations for a podcasting PR company, Lemonpie, and teaches private voice lessons. She resides in Raleigh with her dog Stella, and her husband Evan.

Danielle Lang

Ballet, Contemporary, Hip Hop, Jazz, Musical Theater & Pointe

Company Instructor

Danielle Lang was born in Heidelberg, Germany where she lived with her family. They soon moved to New York then later settled in Raleigh, NC. At age eleven she enrolled in dance at Lehman’s Studio and auditioned for the company Ballet Lehman USA. In that company, Danielle had the opportunity to perform in the Nutcracker all over the Triangle as well as compete in Sochi, Russia for 3 years. Danielle has a wide genre of dance forms such as ballroom, ballet, tap, jazz, hip hop, contemporary, modern, African, etc. In 1999 when the Special Olympics hosted their event in the Triangle, Danielle performed as one of the top ten principal dancers. After high school Danielle was accepted to Virginia Commonwealth University on scholarship for dance and choreography where she worked with numerous dance professionals from all over the world.  She has performed pieces such as Jose Limon’s Choreographic Offering at the Kennedy Center also on BET’s 2009 Spring Bling in Singer Island, FL. Some of her students have been seen on Laurie Ann Gibson’s Live to Dance and other promotional commercials. Danielle has worked with shows such as The Lion King, Burn the Floor, Shrek the Musical and other on and off Broadway shows.  She occasionally takes classes in NYC to keep her dance styles updated.  Most of all she enjoys teaching all ages.  Ms. Danielle has been part of the CDE faculty for over 10 years!

Dayleigh Martin

Feet on Fire Director Dayleigh
Clogging & Preschool

Feet on Fire Clogging Team Director

Dayleigh Martin is from Clayton, North Carolina and began dancing at the age of 3. For the past 19 years she has trained in many styles of dance, including ballet, tap, jazz, contemporary, musical theatre, and clogging. Dayleigh started competing at a young age and she became a dance instructor in 2015. Her choreography has won many awards including “Most Entertaining”, many overalls, and multiple highest scoring routines of the day. At 16 she became a national CCI (Certified Clogging Instructor), and has been a guest choreographer for many other studios. She is a recent graduate of Mars Hill University, with a B.A. in Elementary Education. Dayleigh was a member of the Bailey Mountain Cloggers, the 28 time national championship clogging team. During this time she has served as the dance team leader and co-captain. As a member of this team, she enjoyed many opportunities including traveling overseas each summer to represent the United States at international festivals. Also, Dayleigh was inducted into the America’s Clogging Hall of Fame All-American Team in 2019. She is very excited to be a part of the CDE staff!

Katie Mickunas

Company Director - Katie
Tap, Lyrical, & Jazz

Company Instructor

Katie grew up in North Carolina training and competing dance up and down the east coast receiving her tap technique from Gene Medler and Emily Shoemaker. She went on to continue her training at East Carolina University where she was a part of the tap ensemble and worked with celebrated tap choreographer Lane Alexander. She attended and performed at the Chicago Human Rhythm Project and took master classes from some of the greatest renowned tappers including Derick Grant, Jason Samuel Smith, and Michelle Dorrance. After 4 years of growth and studying, she received her BFA in Dance from ECU. Following graduation, she started her professional career at the longest running outdoor drama, The Lost Colony, and continued on to perform at Cedar Point Amusement Park in Ohio for multiple seasons. She recognized she had both a passion for dance and the desire to travel, so she moved her career out to sea. She spent 5 years dancing on Princess Cruise Lines where she explored over 30 countries and danced in elaborate production shows created by accredited artists such as Stephen Schwartz and Danny Teeson. Now she’s excited to share her experience, love, and enthusiasm for dance with students at CDE.

Andra Thomasson

CDE Faculty Andra
Clogging & Preschool

Office & Accounts Manager

Andra grew up in the Garner area and began dancing at the age of 6. She has studied a variety of dance forms including modern, ballet, jazz, hip hop, and clogging. She studied under and worked with Christy at a non-profit organization in Garner prior to the opening of CDE where she continued as a dancer, assistant, and an instructor. She attended NC State University and was a member of the Wolfpack Clogging Team while she continued to teach at CDE and earn her degree in Biochemistry. She was assistant director for Feet on Fire until she moved to Boston with her husband in 2008. Andra returned to North Carolina and teaching at CDE in 2010, adding the role of Office Manager in 2018.

Taylor Wood

Feet on Fire Director Taylor
Clogging, Tap, Jazz, Strength & Stretch

Enrollment Coordinator

Feet on Fire Clogging Team Director

Taylor has been dancing at CDE since she was old enough to walk. She competed with both Feet on Fire and Company at the studio. For the past 18 years, she has trained in many styles of dance, including ballet, tap, jazz, hip hop, musical theatre, pointe, and clogging. Taylor was honored to be inducted into the Clogging Hall of Fame as a member of the Team of the Decade from 2011-2021. She has earned numerous awards and certifications through dance, but most importantly, Taylor continues to dance, coach, and mentor alongside her mother Christy Wood.