The Staff Members at SCDC Value Every Student and Family. SCDC is Committed to Treating Students and Families with the Highest Level of Professionalism, Respect, and Courtesy.
The staff members of SCDC encourage you to let us know at anytime if we are not meeting your expectations or providing you with the level of services you desire. SCDC instructors and staff members have Christian beliefs and support comes from the staff through prayer and ministry by guiding students (young and old). We believe that if we train our children in the way they should go, when they are old they will not depart from it.
Our goal is to provide each dancer the opportunity to grow and learn in all disciplines of the performing arts while providing a safe, happy, and nurturing environment with Christian staff members. Our goal is for South Carolina Dance Company to be the BEST DANCE STUDIO IN THE MIDLANDS!
Ashley Howell Neal – Company Co-Director, Ballet, Pointe, Tap, Lyrical, Combination Classes, Hip-Hop, Acro, Dancenastics
Ashley is starting her 8th season here at South Carolina Dance Company. She began her dance training at the age of 3 at ShaMar Dance Studios with her mother, Sharon Jones. At the age of 10, Ashley was accepted into Columbia City Ballet II and began training under William Starrett and Mariclare Miranda at the Columbia Conservatory of Dance. At the age of 15, she was asked to join the Columbia City Ballet and performed many soloist roles in ballets such as The Nutcracker, Hootie & The Blowfish, Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella, and Off the Wall & Onto the Stage Dancing the Art of Jonathan Green. In addition to her ballet studies, Ashley begin training at South Carolina Performing Arts Center for jazz and tap and became a Senior member of Company One, winning top overall awards for solos and groups.
Over the years, Ashley has trained with world-renowned choreographers such as Jason Parsons, Mia Michaels, Mandy Moore, Travis Wall, Chris Dupre, Stephen “Twitch” Boss, Allison Holker, Cynthia Harvey, and David Howard. Now retired from her dance career, Ashley enjoys sharing her love for the art with her students. Her choreography has been recognized at the regional and national level. Along with Danyele Gardner, Ashley was awarded Teacher of the Year Awards in 2012, 2013, and 2015 and Choreographer of the Year 2013, Top Primary Studio 2015, and Elite National Grand Champions 2013 at Kids Artistic Revue Nationals. SCDC was awarded 2 Best of the Best Awards and National Top First Call Studio in Charleston, SC at Applause Nationals Finals. During her time here, SCDC has won over 10 top studio awards. Ashley has attended the Dance Teacher Summit in NYC to further her dance education and enjoys traveling across the country judging dance competitions. In addition to teaching, Ashley enjoys spending time at home with her husband, Brian, and her two children Keena (5) & Tobias (18 months).
Amanda Breedlove – Daily Operations, Company Instructor, Ballet, Pointe, Tap, Lyrical, Combination Classes, Hip-Hop, Acro, Dancenastics, Professional Wall Painter
Born and raised in Columbia, SC and a graduate of Spring Valley High School, Amanda began studying Ballet at the age of four with the Columbia Conservatory of Dance. She has trained under Mariclare Miranda, William Starrett, Serge Lavioe, Kerrie-Anne Dunn Sparks, Ashley Howell and Kimberly Langley. She danced on stage with the Columbia City Ballet beginning at the age of five, became a member of CCBII, the junior company, at the age of seven and continued until she became a full company member at age 17. She danced professionally with Columbia City Ballet for 5 years. While with Columbia City Ballet she has performed in numerous Ballet productions since 1997 totaling over 60 rolls.
Amanda began competing with Columbia Conservatory Dance Company when she was 12, first in Ballet then in Jazz, Lyrical, Contemporary and Musical Theatre winning numerous solo and group awards. Amanda has attended summer programs at the Boston Ballet and the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre where she had the privilege of taking classes with Li-Chou Cheng, David Howard, Gelsey Kirkland, Dennis Marshall, Laura Young among many others. Amanda recently attended the Dance Teacher Summit in New York City to further her teaching education. Amanda is extremely honored to continue teaching at SCDC and hopes to pass her love of dance along to all of her students!
Claire Rose Norris – Daily Operations, Preschool, Lyrical
Claire entered the world of dance as an eager, energetic 5-year-old student at the well-respected Crosby’s School of Dance in Aiken, SC. By age 11, Claire was invited to join the Aiken Civic Ballet Company as an apprentice (ACBC) where three years later she earned a position as a full member of the ACBC, under the direction of Carl Crosby. A committed dance student, Claire developed skills in tap, ballet, Pointe, jazz, hip hop, and musical theater. As Claire developed her dance skills, she was invited to perform as a guest dancer with the Augusta Civic Ballet in several productions of the classic, The Nutcracker.
Claire continued her dance study throughout work on her bachelor’s degree at Winthrop University where she graduated with a degree in Mass Communications in 2001. Following graduation, Claire spent a year working at Walt Disney World in Orlando where she learned the Disney way of using aspects of performance as life skills as well as the value of excellent interpersonal customer service skills. She enjoys working in the theater world as well both acting and choreographing. She won the award for “Outstanding Choreography” for her work on the Aiken Community Playhouse’s production of “Grease”. Aside from dancing, Claire’s greatest joy is spending time with her husband, Clay, and their beautiful daughters, Macie (6) and Brantlie (10 months).
Lauren Strickland – Jazz, Combination Classes, Terrific 2’s
Lauren Strickland has been a dancer for her entire life. She started out at age 5 at Linda Watkins’ School of Dance in Southwest Virginia, where she danced as a lion to music from the Lion King in her first recital. Lauren danced with Mrs. Watkins until she graduated from Hidden Valley High School in Roanoke, VA where she was on the dance team and also trained in ballet, tap, and jazz and competed regionally for Linda Watkins. From there she wen ton to study at Virginia Tech, where she was a choreographer and the Event Planner for Fusion Dance Team at VT.
Lauren graduated in the spring of 2012 from Tech with Bachelor’s degree in English and proceeded to work full time in Roanoke. She also taught ballet, tap, and jazz and coached the competition team for LWSD for two years until moving to Lexington, SC. She has choreographed many jazz, contemporary, and lyrical pieces that have been performed and competed by LWSD dancers- many receiving High Gold and Platinum awards, as well as placing in the Top 5 at regional and national level competitions. Lauren is incredibly excited to begin her 4th year teaching at SCDC!
Sharon Jones – Ballet, Tap, Lyrical, Combination Classes
Born and raised in Columbia, South Carolina, Sharon is no stranger to the dance world. With over 30 years of teaching experience, Sharon trained at local studios through high school and continued taking dance classes in college at the University of South Carolina with Susan Anderson and a local studio with Wrenn Cooke. In 1989, Sharon took over Sha-Mar Dance Studios in Irmo, South Carolina and went on to own it for 7 years.
In 1999, after a short hiatus from teaching, Sharon joined the staff of the Columbia Conservatory of Dance. In 2002, she was appointed head of the Tap Department and in 2003 took over as Artistic Director of the Columbia City Tap Company. In 2005, to expand the Tap Company she and her daughter Ashley created CC Dance Company- a company that grew to over 60 members- who competed in jazz, tap, ballet, lyrical, hip hop and musical theatre. Many of her students have taken top honors at regional and national competitions in the southeast. She is a judge for Kids Artisic Reveue National Dance Competition and Rainbow National Dance Competition. Sharon is formerly the Director of the award winning Columbia Conservatory Dance Company. She has also served as the Children’s Regisseur for the Columbia City Ballet.
Sharon’s former students have danced with the Columbia City Ballet, Robert Ivy Ballet, and on Broadway. Current students can be seen in local theatre productions as well as local and national television commercials. Sharon’s stage credits include “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat”, “The Wiz”, Mrs Stahlbaum in The Nutcracker and Berthe in Giselle.
To stay aware of the latest teaching methods and dance trends, Sharon attends local and national dance conventions and workshops.
Frezaun Grooms- Hip hop, Acrobatics Coach
Frezaun Grooms’ dance and gymnastics career started in New Orleans at Art in Motion Dance Academy & NOLA Gymnastics where he was a competitive dancer and gymnast. As an adult he has coached here in the Columbia and the Charleston area for over 7 years as a boys/girls gymnastics coach, two and a half years as a dance coach, as well as one and a half years as a cheer coach.
He is trained in many different areas including acro, tumbling, and hip hop choreography. He is currently certified as a Regional Level Gymnastics coach under USAG/AAU and is a frequent guest coach at Gymnastics Camp.
Isabella Cook-SCDC – Company Team Captian, Lyrical, Combination Classes, Jazz
Isabella Cook, a Senior Company team captain this year, began her dance training at the age of 3. She is currently in her 15th year of dance and her 10th year on the South Carolina Dance Company’s competition team. She has had excellent training under Danyele Gardner and Ashley Howell since the beginning of her dance career. She has studied ballet, pointe, tap, jazz, tumbling/acro, contemporary, lyrical and hip hop.
During her years competing, she has earned many top overall placements in her solos and groups. She has also been invited to compete in the Star Showcase at Kids Artistic Revue Nationals and Best of the Best at Applause Nationals against some of the best talent in the nation. Isabella is an energetic, happy individual who has an extraordinary passion for dance. She is a Junior at River Bluff High School and will graduate in 2018.
Isabella is very excited to be a staff member this season and looks forward to sharing her passion for dance with our young students.
Jade Polson – Combination Classes
Jade Polson has danced for 13 years and has trained on the South Carolina Dance Company competition team for a total of 9 years. She has had extensive training in several styles of dance, including ballet, jazz, lyrical, contemporary, pointe, tumbling/acro, and hip hop. She has been a student of Danyele Gardner and Ashley Howell since she began dancing and has been apart of many of the studio’s award winning dances at both regional and national dance competitions.
Throughout her dance career, Jade has taken many classes from well known dance influencers including Shannon Mather, Twitch, Jordan Casanova, Mandy Moore, and Nick Lazzarini. Jade is a Junior at River Bluff High School and also competes and performs with the River Bluff Dance Company. She will be graduating from River Bluff in 2019. Jade has been assisting dance classes for two years and is thrilled to have the experience of teaching and sharing her love of dance with young dancers.
Kaiya Cook – Hip Hop, Combination Classes
Kaiya Cook is a student at River Bluff High School and this is her third year on the South Carolina Dance Company staff. Kaiya began her dance training at the age of 2 and this is her 14th year of dance. I am a member of the Senior Company and this is my 10th year on South Carolina Dance Company’s competitive team. I have been trained in ballet, pointe, hip hop, jazz, contemporary, lyrical, tap, and tumbling/acro by Danyele Gardner, Ashley Howell, and Amanda Breedlove, and other professional choreographers throughout her dance training. Kaiya looks forward to sharing her passion for dance with your child this year!
Rebekah Cheatham – Pre- Ballet, Terrific 2’s
Rebekah started dancing at the age of three at Gilbert Studio of Dance Arts. She began training in ballet at the age of 4 with Kerrie-Anne Dunn Sparks and at age 5 she began competition dance with Nicole Couture. After moving to South Carolina Dance Company in 2009, she has been trained primarily by Danyele Gardner and Ashley Howell Neal in ballet, pointe, tap, jazz, contemporary, lyrical, and musical theatre. At SCDC, Rebekah has had amazing opportunities to take master classes from fabulous dancers such as Daniel Gaymon, Stephen “tWitch” Boss, Allison Holker, Landon Monroe, Cyrus Glitch Spencer, Todd Flanagan, Chryssie Whitehead, Regina Willoughby, Katie Smoak, Antoine Olds, Jordan Cassinova, Chase Hudson, and Jeremy Hudson, to name a few. In 2015, Rebekah performed on stage with Columbia City Ballet in “Dracula”. It was an honor to perform with such an amazing ballet company! Rebekah attended the summer dance program at the Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities in Greenville, SC, in 2016. She has also had wonderful opportunities to choreograph four shows for the local theatre “On Stage Productions”. For the past two years, Rebekah has assisted classes at SCDC but she’s very excited about her first year of teaching! She can’t wait to share her love for the art of dance with your children!
The Student Teaching Assistants for South Carolina Dance Company
SCDC Office Staff