Meet the Team!
DiscoverDance began in 2006 as the early childhood dance program created for Elite Dance Academy. Elite’s co-founder, Andrea Trench, developed the curriculum over the course of a decade. As teachers joined the Elite team, they also trained next to Andrea in the studio with the young students. In 2016, Andrea was encouraged to begin sharing her research, methodology, and resources to dance educators worldwide.
Founder of DiscoverDance
Andrea is dedicated to helping dance teachers create and deliver content that is research-based and developmentally appropriate for children under the age of 6. Her primary focus is classroom management, conceptual teaching, and foundational movement skill development in early childhood dance education. In addition, Andrea uses her 12 years of experience as a partner in a dance studio to inspire, equip, and empower educators.
Andrea’s teaching career began in 1998. While receiving a B.F.A. in dance at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, she met dance educator, Kate Kuper. It was her class and mentorship that led to the creation of DiscoverDance. After over a decade of teaching, refining, and evolving, DiscoverDance launched in 2017. Since the launch, Andrea has presented at events sponsored by Revolution Dancewear, Misty Lown, Rhee Gold, Richard Smith, Louise Taitz, Chicago National Association of Dance Masters, and Dance Masters of Wisconsin. She has contributed to DanceStudio Life Magazine, DanceEd Tips, Rhythm Works Integrative Dance, and is a current contributor for DanceStudioOwner.com. She hosts the DiscoverDance podcast and is the creator of the Foundations Course for Early Childhood Dance Educators.
Andrea is known for her energetic teaching approach, desire to ask and answer tough questions, and passion to advocate the importance of dance in a child’s life. Through Andrea’s tested structural classroom frameworks, creative teaching approach, and passion to improve the quality of early childhood dance programs, educators learn how to effectively teach inside the studio and how to share the “why we do what we do” outside of the studio with clarity and confidence.
Ashley Deets is a professional dance instructor and choreographer from the Chicagoland area. She graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2013 with a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in Dance and a minor in Business Administration. She is currently the Artistic Director of Elite Dance Academy in Homer Glen, Illinois, where she creates programming and leads classes for students of all ages. She is a certified fitness instructor and Acrobatic Arts (M2) teacher and is certified in Rhythm Works Integrative Dance and the Wingman For Dance curriculums. Outside of the studio, she loves spending time with her husband, her son, Henry, and her dog and cat. She is blessed to be a part of the DD team!
Content Developer and Creative Advisor
Gina Matsie graduated from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance and a Bachelor of Liberal Arts and Sciences in Psychology. While obtaining her Dance degree, Gina trained with Kate Kuper in her Creative Dance for Children program from 2014-2016. Since graduating, she has honed her passion for Dance Education and is a full time instructor, Assistant Artistic Director, and DiscoverDance Director at Elite Dance Academy in Homer Glen, IL.
Content Developer and Editor
Rhonda Moore has been a dance educator for over 20 years and has an extensive background in Modern, Tap, Ballet, Pointe and Jazz. Rhonda holds a B.F.A. in Dance and Choreography from Virginia Commonwealth University. She is certified in Progressing Ballet Technique (PBT), and Rhythm Works Integrative Dance. Her professional experience has included positions as Artistic/Early Childhood Program Director for Trilogy School of Performing Arts, Performance Company Director for Elite Dance Academy, Dance Coordinator for Steppin’ Out Dance Studio, Artistic Director for A-Factor Dance Company, Lower School Dance Director for St. Catherine’s School and Instructor/Choreographer for various studios in Virginia and Illinois. Rhonda is also a Head Adjudicator for Edge National Talent Competition.
Katie became a dance educator 13 years ago after time spent in both the retail and childcare sectors. Her dance education focus areas include child development, play-based learning, adaptive and inclusive dance, dance medicine, injury prevention, and the neuroscience of dance. Katie is a member of the National Dance Education Organization (NDEO), the International Association for Dance Medicine & Science (IADMS), Dance and the Child International (daCi), and the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).
Katie is certified in Progressing Ballet Technique (PBT) and the Acrobatic Arts Pre-School program. She has been certified by Youth Protection Advocates in Dance (YPAD), is CLI-Certified, and has also completed Sugarfoot Therapy’s teacher training program. Katie is currently working toward her Certificate in Dance Education (CiDE) through NDEO. She has completed three teacher training programs with Lisa Howell through The Ballet Blog / Perfect Form Physiotherapy: Level One Teacher Training, Level Two Pointe Intensive, and Training Turnout in Tiny Dancers.
Katie has completed two Adaptive Dance Teacher Training workshops with Boston Ballet and recently completed the Creative Dance Center’s Summer Dance Institute for Teachers, where she trained under Anne Green Gilbert, Terry Goetz, Dionne Kamara, and Anna Mansbridge.
Katie is currently the director of The Children’s Program and also the Adaptive Dance program at Just Dance in Alexandria, LA. She is a faculty member and PBT instructor for Just Dance’s Ballet Rêve program, as well as the staff sponsor for the studio’s junior and secondary chapters of the National Honor Society for Dance Arts (NHSDA). Katie is also co-owner of The Movement Lab, a dance consulting and education business located in Pineville, LA.
Katie is passionate about creating and providing dance instruction that is developmentally appropriate for children’s cognitive, physical, and social/emotional growth. She is excited to be part of the DiscoverDance team and hopes to use her passion for dance education to help inspire and uplift other dance educators.
Nathan found his passion for dance later in life, when he began studying tap dance at the age of 30. He began by taking private tap classes, supplementing those lessons with additional knowledge from Rod Howell, Terrence “Taps” Bennett, Eli Newsom, and Mark Goodman. He was a teacher’s assistant for two years before becoming an instructor.
Most recently, Nathan completed Karida Griffith Walker’s 10-week Tap Teacher Training Program and Hillary-Marie Michael’s 10-week iTap Online teacher certification program. He is CLI-certified and has also been certified by Youth Protection Advocates in Dance (YPAD).
In 2017, 2018, and 2019, he participated in RIFF: Rhythm in Fusion Tap Festival in Dallas, TX. He has had the privilege of learning from tap masters Chloe Arnold, Dianne Walker, Sarah Reich, Derick Grant, Anthony Morigerato, Kaelyn Gray, Justin Lewis, Tony Merriwether, and more. Nathan enjoys translating the information and skills learned in master classes and at workshops into lessons and activities for the students in his classes.
Nathan is currently the studio tap director and an award-winning tap coach for the Just Dance Company competition team at Just Dance in Alexandria, LA. His most recent endeavor is Sound Rhythm Project, a program created to offer students a deeper connection to the rich history of tap dance and a creative outlet to express themselves through sound and movement. Nathan is also co-owner of The Movement Lab, a dance consulting and education business located in Pineville, LA.
Nathan believes music theory and the development of rhythmic skills are a crucial part of any dance education. Rhythmic skills are essential for language development, building communication skills, the development of self-regulation, and synchronizing ourselves with others. Nathan advocates for the inclusion of music theory and rhythmic development in dance classes of all styles and genres and for all ages.
Nathan is a member of the National Dance Education Organization (NDEO) and enjoys participating in music theory and choreography courses taken through NDEO’s Online Professional Development Institute (OPDI). He is also a member of Southern Open Rhythm Collective (SORC), a collaborative group of tap dancers from the southern United States. Nathan is passionate about sharing his enthusiasm and love for tap with the next generation of young dancers. He is excited to be part of the DiscoverDance team and hopes to help other dance educators find ways to incorporate more music theory and rhythmic skills into their classes.