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.

Jess Allen

Ballet, Tap, Jazz, & Tumble Instructor

Enrollment and Preschool Director

Jess Allen is a professional dancer, choreographer, and teacher in the Triangle area. She grew up dancing and has 20 years of dance experience. She has danced with Virginia Ballet Theatre, Arts Together, Raleigh School of Ballet, and NCDI. During high school, she took Drama classes and performed in musicals, such as, “Grease,” “Cinderella, and “The Sound of Music.” She won “Best Supporting Actress” for her role as the Baroness in “The Sound of Music.” She attended Meredith College where she received her B.A. Degree in Dance Studies and Minor in Music. She has had professional training with Ballroom coaches and Latin Champions. Her love for the performing arts has also led her to sing for many years and she was a volunteer Worship Leader for Youth and College Students at Churches throughout the Triangle for 14 years. Jessica has been teaching dance for 10 years now. Styles that she has taught include Acro/tumbling, Ballet, Ballroom, Tap, Creative Movement, Modern, Jazz, Hip Hop, and Lyrical/Contemporary. She enjoys spending time with her husband and little boy, going to the beach, mountains, and Disney. Jess is happy be a part of the CDE family for another season!

Taylor Ayotte

Ballet Instructor

Taylor Ayotte was born in Sacramento, California and began her formal dance training at the age of 5 at the Green Bay School of Dance in Wisconsin. She continued her training in New York City as a full-time student at the School of American Ballet after accepting an invitation to study year-round at age 14. Ms. Ayotte performed with the New York Choreographic Institute, School of American Ballet’s annual workshop performances, and participated as both choreographer and dancer in the school’s Student Choreography Workshop. She attended summer courses on full scholarship at Pacific Northwest Ballet and the School of American Ballet. Ms. Ayotte is a solo dancer with Carolina Ballet. Featured roles include Calliope in George Balanchine’s Apollo, Tall Girl in Rubies, and Butterfly in Robert Weiss’ The Nutcracker.

Madalyn Bridwell

Acro, Lyrical, & Jazz Instructor

Company Instructor

Madalyn realized her passion for dance growing up at Accent On Dance, in Waukesha, WI.  She is thankful for her experiences traveling to dance competitions/conventions around the country. As a competitive gymnast in her younger years, acrobatics became a huge part of her teaching and performing careers. She is trained in aerial and has worked with many recording artists as their backup dancer and choreographer. Her largest event was opening for Chris Brown as a back up dancer for Grammy and Dove Award nominated music producer, Imani Presley. Madalyn first studied at UNCG, where she continued her technical training as a BFA in dance, along with the UNCG Spartan G’s Dance Team. Later on, she completed her Associates in Science at Wake Tech. Today, Madalyn is a Project Manager/Design Consultant at Markraft Cabinets, and the Acro and Dance Company Instructor at CDE. She has been teaching at CDE since 2013 and is excited for another great season! Lastly, she gives a loving thanks to her parents and her husband for the continued support throughout her artistic career paths! Dance has guided her through some of the most difficult and most rewarding times of her life, which is what Madalyn strives to give back to her students at CDE!

Michelle Gerrald

Clogging & Hip Hop Instructor

Social Media / Marketing

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!

Danielle Lang

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

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

Clogging & Preschool Instructor

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

Tap, Lyrical, & Jazz Instructor

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

Clogging & Preschool Instructor

Office 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.

Leah-Catherine Seaton

Clogging Instructor

LC is a true born and raised North Carolinian, clogging since she was 6 years old. She’s clogged with exhibition and competitive teams, training under Vicky Conrad, Chip Summey, Chip Harrison, Darren Hedrick and the NC State Clogging Team (although a Tarheel alumnae and lifelong fan!).   LC was invited to America’s Clogging Hall of Fame All-American Team in 1992 and now enjoys sharing her passion with students at CDE. LC started as an instructor at CDE in 2009, assistant director for Feet on Fire Jr (2010), and is now part of the Feet On Fire adult team. She works in the pharmaceutical meeting industry and hopes her 5 year-old son loves clogging as much as she does. He enjoys the grapevine and chug right now!

Ivey Jae Carroll

Hip Hop, Lyrical, Jazz, & Acro Instructor

Company Instructor

Program Director

Ivey Jae Carroll started her dance and cheerleading career at a young age in her hometown of Asheboro, NC at Studio J Dance Center. She also competed for Cheer Extreme AllStars in Kernersville, NC. After her sophomore year of high school, she was accepted into Governor School East for dance. Once there, she studied modern for 6 weeks. After competing in both cheer and dance, she auditioned for the NC State Dance Team. She performed at NC State basketball and football games for 2 years and also competed at NDA Nationals in Daytona, Florida. 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 for a performance company based out of Raleigh, NC for 4 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 acrobatics, hiphop, contemporary, and modern and finds joy in creating a safe environment for dancers and cheerleaders to learn, grow, and create confidence within themselves.