CK’s Hall of Fame

our alumni

Name: Carolina Meireles


Instagram: @Carolina.Meireles


CK Graduation Year: 2019

College: University of Georgia


College major: Biological Sciences

Did you dance in college? Not as my major, but through clubs.

What are you currently doing? I am a first year at the University of Georgia. I am participating in SDT Greek Grind which is a dance competition between sororities.

How has dance helped you in your “real” life? Dance has taught me that whatever you put in to something, is what you get out of it. I was able to gain confidence throughout my life as a dancer, and I would not be the person I am today without it.

What did CKDW teach you that helps you now? CKDW taught me how to be a supportive teammate and to never limit myself. My teachers always pushed me past what I thought I was possible of doing. I also learned how a smile will make anyone’s day, and because of this, I have made some of my closest friends through dance.

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Name: Brinkley Doherty

CK Graduation Year: 2018

College: Tulane University

College major:Cell and Molecular Biology and Dance

Did you dance in college? Yes, I will

What are you currently doing?In the fall, I will be a freshman at Tulane University where I will double major in cell and molecular biology and dance. I will also be a part of the dance team.

How has dance helped you in your “real” life?Dance has always been a part of my life and speaks to the deepest parts of who I am as a person. It has allowed me to speak in a language without words and has helped me to find my own voice. Dance makes me feel bold and daring and has taught me many life lessons, like how to win or lose graciously and how to work well with others. It has taken me to forks in pathways and has steered my direction on which way to travel. Dance is my reason, my why, my everything and has shaped me into the person I am today.

What did CKDW teach you that helps you now? In 7th grade, I made the decision to move to CK Danceworks, and it was one of the best decisions that I have ever made. I grew so much not only as a dancer, but as a person as well. My incredible teachers pushed me to be the very best dancer, student, and person that I can be. They instilled a confidence within me that I will have for the rest of my life, and I can not thank them enough for the constant support and encouragement that they provided throughout all of my endeavors. Above all, CK has provided me with lifelong friends that I consider sisters and a support system that I consider family. This priceless bond is what makes CK such a special place and is something that I will cherish for the rest of my life. I am so grateful to have been a part of it.

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Name: Aissa Umaru

Instagram: @aissaumaru

CK Graduation Year: 2012

College: Pierce College

College major: Math

Did you dance in college? I did not dance for College but I do work as a dancer outside of College.

What are you currently doing? 
I’m living in Los Angeles and pursuing my dance career and modeling career.

How has dance helped you in your “real” life? Dancing has helped me in my “real” life in multiple ways. It has taught me to be discipline, forced me to face many difficult incidences, which I always overcome, and it has also influenced me to become a responsible adult.

What did CKDW teach you that helps you now? CKDW taught me to always be sassy with a side of class. Most of all to never give up on my dreams and to always push myself.

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Name: Kaley Grace Marlow

Instagram: @kaley__grace

CK Graduation Year: 2018

College: Kennesaw State University

College major: Dance

Did you dance in college? Yes!

What are you currently doing? 
I am currently a freshman at KSU and have been accepted into the dance program to major in dance. I have been taking summer classes at KSU to prepare for this semester!

How has dance helped you in your “real” life? Dance has taught me to have discipline and patience. I’ve learned to never settle and to continue to grow as both a dancer and a person.

What did CKDW teach you that helps you now? CK taught me to be confident in myself and to always have a positive attitude in everything I do.

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Name: Kaleigh Wix

Instagram: @k.wix

CK Graduation Year: 2018

College: University of Georgia

College major: Biology

Did you dance in college? Yes!

What are you currently doing? I am a freshmen at the University of Georgia and am a rookie on the UGA Dance Dawgs dance team. The dance dawgs perform for the UGA basketball and gymnastics teams, as well as make appearances in and around Athens, GA.

How has dance helped you in your “real” life? Dance has helped me in “real” life because it taught me that hard work and dedication go a long way. If you put your mind to something, you can make it happen. Dance also taught me how to manage my time. From dancing up to 10 hours a week along with being an honors student at school and maintaining a social life, you really learn what’s important and how to balance everything you do.

What did CKDW teach you that helps you now? I have been dancing at CK since the age of five and I can honestly say that it has helped shape me into the person I am today. The teachers and staff at CK are the best role models I could have asked for growing up and every one of them has had a positive impact on my life. CKDW taught me discipline, and that no one else can hold you accountable for your actions except for yourself.

 
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Name: Sierra Houang

CK Graduation Year: 2018

College: Georgia Southern University

College major: Biomedical Engineering

Did you dance in college? Yes, but not specifically for the school. I’m less interested in being on the dance team, so I’m joining a studio off campus.

What are you currently doing? I am studying to be a biomedical engineer at Georgia Southern University, and I plan to transfer to Georgia Tech in two years.

How has dance helped you in your “real” life? Dance has always helped me to ground myself and made me feel at home no matter where I live. I always make sure to sign up for dance classes, wherever I am, because dancing is so vital to my mental health and gives me a sense of community and belonging.

What did CKDW teach you that helps you now? CK taught me what it’s like to belong to a place that will always let you call it “home,” no matter how long you’ve been away.

 
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Name: Alyssa Alves

Instagram: @alyssalalves

CK Graduation Year: 2015

College: University of Georgia

College major: Journalism

College Clubs: Gamma Phi Beta Sorority, DiGamma Kappa Broadcast Society, Grady Newsource, Whatever It Takes, Relay for Life, The Odyssey at UGA

Did you dance in college? No, I did not pursue dance in college, but enjoy dancing on my own or taking dance exercise classes. I brought my tap shoes to college and when I get stressed I always tap! Ha!

What are you currently doing? I’m currently a junior studying journalism at the University of Georgia in the Grady College of Journalism. I’m also a Portuguese and Philosophy minor, and love cheering on my Dawgs!

How has dance helped you in your “real” life? Dance truly made me the person I am today. With dance, I learned early on to become comfortable in my own skin, to manage my time well, and to take pride in all things I do. Dance taught me not only the importance of hard work. I learned how motivation and determination lead to success, and that you have to be willing to go the extra mile to achieve your goals. These are lessons I will carry with me forever. 

What did CKDW teach you that helps you now? CK taught me how to recognize myself at my best times. My teachers constantly encouraged me, and always took notice to my growth and improvement. As a student, I was encouraged to strive to be only better than the dancer I was the day before, and my dance teachers never tried us to compare ourselves to one another. This lesson, to only strive to be the best version of myself, has helped me in many social, professional, and academic situations, and I am incredibly grateful to have learned this at CKDW.

 
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Name: Amber Griffin

Instagram: @amber__griffin

CK Graduation Year: 2018

College: Kennesaw State University

College major: Marketing

Did you dance in college? Not through a major but through classes here and there.

What are you currently doing? Going to school and working and living life 🙂

How has dance helped you in your “real” life? Dance has helped me in many ways. It has taught me what hard work is and has taught me how to work with a team. Dance has also allowed me to find myself as a person and I can honestly say I wouldn’t be the person I am today without dance. Dance changed me, it gave me friendships that I will hold onto forever and has taught me how to be a better person 🙂

What did CKDW teach you that helps you now? CKDW taught me how hard work and persistence will take you far. it’s not always about talent, it’s about how much work you put into yourself. Once you invest and believe in yourself you’re unstoppable. I will never forget that. Also ck taught me how to be a supportive team memeber. They showed me how to thrive off of each others successes and support others.

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Name: Aubrey Clark

Instagram: @aubracadabra

CK Graduation Year: 2015

College: Berry College

College major: Psychology (Pre-Med), Dance Minor

College Clubs: DanceTroupe, Campus Outreach, Gate of Opportunity Scholarship

Did you dance in college? Yes!

What are you currently doing? My scholarship requires me to work during the summers so I am a full-time resident in Rome, Georgia. I am in my second year of college pursuing a Psychology degree with full class loads and I am working 20 hours per week. I am maintaining a daily dance schedule with our dance program at Berry, and I am about to begin my second season working with the Rome Braves organization as a part of the Braves Brigade.

How has dance helped you in your “real” life? Dance helped me to be a well-rounded individual, and that there really is no “normal” life. I had to learn at a young age how to departmentalize—when to be in which mindset. I have become very skilled in sorting my priorities and handling my time more wisely (and also functioning on little to no sleep). I think dance really taught me more useful things that people usually learn the hard way later on in life, like independence.

What did CKDW teach you that helps you now? CK DanceWorks taught me how to love people—truthfully, wholly, and unconditionally. I am a faithful girl, but I never knew real love until I felt the way that CK’s staff genuinely seems to love everyone. I don’t just mean in a friendly, cordial type of love. I mean CKDW is supportive and accepting of all people to come exactly as they are, and the dancers are taught to praise each other rather than to compete for that solo part or front line spot. Everyone is equal and judgment is nonexistent. CK DanceWorks is the safest place in which I have ever been and being a very small part of that family showed me how to be a safe haven for those around me.

 
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Name: Brittany Shields

Instagram: @Brittanyshields_

CK Graduation Year: 2017

College: Georgia Highlands college/ Kennesaw State University

College major: Biology and Veterinary Medicine

College Clubs: None yet

Did you dance in college? No, but I still enjoy dancing on my own as a way of expressing myself and reliving stress.

What are you currently doing? Working at a veterinary office part time and going to college part time.

How has dance helped you in your “real” life? Dance has helped me in endless ways besides the obvious. It taught me to criticize myself less in a negative way and realize my own growth more. I became more and more confident in myself the longer I continued to dance. though I may not be the best dancer in the room I was growing and improving myself every single day and that was something to always be proud of. I made invaluable friends and discovered things within myself along the way. I developed a work ethic i can be proud of through the love for dance I have always had. I grew as a person in ways I never knew I could and I wouldn’t trade any of my experiences for the world.

What did CKDW teach you that helps you now? I was taught what real hard work is and how you can make the impossible possible though it. I learned what responsibility really meant and I worked harder than I knew I could and discovered a drive within myself I didn’t know I had. Success is only possible when you push yourself out of your comfort zone and you realize it will not come easy. Despite the difficulties I will be able to carry with me the things I learned into all other aspects of my life and make great things happen for myself!

 
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Name: Brittany Tudor

Instagram: @btudor2

CK Graduation Year: Graduated high school in 2010 but danced with CKDW through 2012

College: Auburn University

College major: Biology and Spanish

College Clubs: Gamma Phi Beta sorority, Greek Sing, Auburn University Dance Marathon, Club Gymnastics Team, Lacrosse Hostess

Did you dance in college? Yes! I had the opportunity to stay and dance with CKDW during my first 2 years of college while attending Kennesaw State University. After I transferred to complete college at Auburn, I became involved with different dance programs through my sorority.

What are you currently doing? Today I am living in Atlanta while working a full-time job as an Account Executive for an IT/Software company.

How has dance helped you in your “real” life? There are a million reasons I could list here but a few that stick out the most would include being a hard worker, teamwork, being competitive, and having passion for what I do. Hard work is important in any stage of life and teaches me to be appreciative. Teamwork encourages me to be a better person and to learn to collaborate with others. Competition drives me to be my best self, and is particularly relatable in my job today as a sales representative who competes with others on a daily basis. And passion. I don’t think there is anything more important than being passionate about what you do. I have a passion for dance, and while I don’t practice every day like I used to, I have found so many wonderful things that I am passionate about today.

What did CKDW teach you that helps you now? Because I did not become a true dancer until high school, I always felt behind, trying to play catch up with these amazing dancers that have lived in a studio their entire lives. Every single instructor at CKDW spent time with me, encouraging me, and pushing me to be the best version of myself. Even when I did not have the best technique, they taught me to be confident, yet humble, in everything I do – enjoying every moment to its fullest.

 
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Name: Christina Swiney

CK Graduation Year: 2016

College: University of Georgia

College major: Psychology

College Clubs: Univ. Union, UP@UGA

Did you dance in college? Yes!

What are you currently doing? Made the dean’s list, working in the child care center at The Athens YMCA, on track to graduate a year early (2019), planning UGA student events for the cinematic arts committee of Union, and run- ning for the UP@UGA executive board.

How has dance helped you in your “real” life? Flexibility is always a nice asset to have psychically, mentally, and socially and that’s something I got from dance. You always have to be ready for anything and go with the flow in dance and in everyday life.

What did CKDW teach you that helps you now? That nothing can stop a determined group of people who all trust and support each other from doing an amazing job and that giving up is never the answer.

 
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Name: Erin McDevitt

Instagram: @erinmmcdev


CK Graduation Year: 2013

College: Savannah College of Art and Design

College major: Design for Sustainability- Built Environment

Did you dance in college? No, but I still dance, teach, and choreograph.

What are you currently doing? Going to SCAD for a while! I work at Two Birds Taphouse in Marietta Square (come see me!) and I love to do in lots of activities and hobbies (including dance) like drawing/painting, hiking, snowboarding, and lots of traveling!!

How has dance helped you in your “real” life? Dance has kept me punctual, reliable, and always hard working. There are so many things you can carry through from growing up in a dance environment to all other aspects of life. It is a special art from because growing up in a dance studio teaches you respect, maturity, creativity, and the importance of dedication and resilience. It also helps you learn healthy competition, a long lasting passion for music and art, keeps you humble and knowing you can do whatever you set your mind to!

What did CKDW teach you that helps you now? To be confident and always give a lil’ sass! Go for your dreams, even if they change… Dance wise- just being versatile and trained in a range of different styles. It really helps you absorb everything when you are older, and helps you book jobs! Learn everything you can from every teacher you take from.

 
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Name: Graham Dobbs

Instagram: @Instagraham346

CK Graduation Year: 2013

College: Jacksonville University

College major: Dance

College Clubs: Sigma Chi Fraternity, Alpha Psi Omega

Did you dance in college? Yes!

What are you currently doing? I will be graduating from JU at the end of April. I have a few options, so far I have made it through the cuts and will begin dancing with Princess Cruise Lines soon. I am also auditioning for other cruise lines and hope to travel the world.

How has dance helped you in your “real” life? Dance teaches you discipline and tough skin. I am able to hold myself to a higher standard because dance requires so much of oneself. Whether it is public speaking and being able to be in front of large groups of people or waking up for that awful 8am class. Dance has given me the ability to push myself.

What did CKDW teach you that helps you now? CKDW taught me to be flexible. They also taught me what it is like to truly have a dance family and having each other’s back. I am so thankful for the year I spent with CK and feel that they really pushed me to the next level.

 
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Name: Haley Denisoff

Instagram: @haleydenisoff

CK Graduation Year: 2011

College: The University of Alabama

College major: ABA Communications

College Clubs: Alpha Omicron Pi, The Odyssey at Alabama

Did you dance in college?For a semester 🙂

What are you currently doing? I live in New York City and work for an awesome influencer casting and management agency called Socialyte. I work on the execution side and manage campaigns between influencers and brands.

How has dance helped you in your “real” life? Where do I even start?! CKDW was the biggest and best part of my life for several years and definitely helped mold me into the person I am today. The dedication necessary to be a part of DancElite taught me how to work hard, be patient and be persistent. Hard work does pay off and failing doesn’t make you a failure.

What did CKDW teach you that helps you now? I started dancing much later in life than most of the girls and that was a huge obstacle for me in terms of my technique and experience being years behind. Christina, Brian, Allison and all of my teachers and peers never gave up on me and were the most encouraging group of people I have ever met. From that, I know that surrounding yourself with people that build you up no matter the circumstances is so important in your road to success. Remaining positive no matter the challenge and picking yourself back up when you don’t succeed is the only way you can grow. I learned that through dancing at CKDW and it’s a foundation to this day of how I live my life.

 
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Name: Harley Cook

Instagram: @hhharlleyyy

CK Graduation Year: 2018

What are you currently doing? I am currently going to music festivals and traveling to see the beautiful planet we live on.

How has dance helped you in your “real” life? Dance has opened my eyes! I am able to read people’s feelings by simply watching how they move. It has taught me to come out of my shell and express how I’m feeling. I am able to listen to a song and break it down and show people the meaning behind the words that are being sung.

What did CKDW teach you that helps you now? I have been taught how to work hard and pay attention to every little detail that is given to me. As I grew at the studio I have gained so much responsibility. I have so much respect for all of the teachers and dancers that push through to be the best they can. I have learned that having confidence will get you further than you think! If you can’t do something that another dancer can, do it with confidence and have fun with it and the teachers will like you just as much! At CKDW you learn to be you and only you!

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Name: Isabella Byrd

Instagram: @byrdistheword__

CK Graduation Year: 2016

College: Auburn University

College major: Political Science and History

College Clubs: Freshman Leadership Program in SGA, Auburn University Dance Marathon, Alpha Omicron Pi

Did you dance in college? I am participating in Greek Sing this year with my sorority. At  Auburn, Greek Sing is a dance competition for sororities that benefits Habitat For Humanity.

What are you currently doing? I am a student.

How has dance helped you in your “real” life? Dance helped me in real life by teaching me the important skills of time management, a hard work ethic, commitment, and listening. Through the hours of rehearsal and long competition weekends, I learned these skills and so many more that are so useful to me now that I am a freshman at Auburn.

What did CKDW teach you that helps you now? The most important lesson that CKDW taught me was not how to do a pirouette or a plié, although those were very important. The most important lesson I learned was the value of teamwork and the importance of good sportsmanship. I think that CK is a studio that shows dancers the value of good sportsmanship. I was always proud to be a dancer at CK, and felt that pride grow even more when I saw all dancers, from the tiniest mini to the seniors, stand up and cheer on everyone, even other studios.

 
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Name: Kelsey Belt

Instagram: @kelsey_belt1

CK Graduation Year: I graduated From North Paulding High School in 2011, but continued training with CK DanceWorks till 2012.

College: Valdosta State University

College major: At Valdosta State my major was Dance and I graduated with my Bachelors of Fine Arts Degree.

College Clubs: Dance Club and Honors

Did you dance in college? Yes. With my Dance degree at Valdosta State University my was Ballet, and Jazz, with emphasis in Tap.

What are you currently doing? I currently am teaching at Dance and Music Academy of Woodstock where I teach Jazz, Ballet, Tap, and Lyrical. I’m also a part of their competition team as a choreographer.

How has dance helped you in your “real” life? Dance has always been a “get away” for me. It was a way to escape certain situations. It’s much more then just a hobby. I have used everything I learned from dance in some sort of way everyday. Today, I teach some form or another the morals and ethics I learned growing up through dance to my students. The poise and etiquette they recently just showed at competition was amazing. I am so proud!

What did CKDW teach you that helps you now? CKDW has taught me that there was much more to dance than the be a “technician”. There was a emotional, dynamics, and movement quality that I was lacking. I can never thank Christina and others at CK who made the biggest impact on my dancing career. She broke the technical dancer down to one who gracefully took the stage with such heart and devotion and still does as she dances.

 
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Name: Kelsey Hamilton

Instagram: @kelshammie

CK Graduation Year: 2015

College: University of Alabama


College major: Dance and Marketing

College Clubs: Alpha Omicron Pi Sorority, Recruitment Chair of Greek Affairs, Phi Eta Sigma National Honors Society, The Honors Society of Collegiate Leadership and Achievement, Dance Alabama!

Did you dance in college? Yes, I am majoring in Dance at UA.

What are you currently doing? I am currently a junior at the University of Alabama. I am a double major with a minor and specialty in professional sales. I have found a balance between dance practices, school work, and enjoying my time in college. I currently serve as the Recruitment Chair for Sorority Greek Life. I am involved in various honors societies and other business clubs on campus. Aside from taking dance as part of my college curriculum, I also perform in the Dance Alabama shows.

How has dance helped you in your “real” life? Dance has instilled values in me that will stay with me forever. Dance taught me the importance of hard work and dedication, and I have learned how to achieve the goals I set for myself, with focus and determination. Dance taught me that perseverance and discipline can help me be a successful student, regardless if it’s in the studio or the classroom. Dance showed me how to interact with others in a team setting, strengthening my communication skills and allowing me to feel more confident meeting new people. I was given the opportunity to understand what it means to find something I am overly passionate about through dance.

What did CKDW teach you that helps you now? CKDW has taught me an immeasurable amount of life lessons, but most importantly, my studio taught me to not give up when things get difficult. I began dancing at CKDW when I was in 6th grade. When I was 15, I was faced with a back injury that forced me to stop dancing for a year. Stepping back into CKDW after a year off of dance, I was surrounded by staff and fellow dancers that supported me to continue pursing my passion. Their encouragement was a constant reminder that giving up on dance was not an option for me. I am so thankful for the motivation I received from CKDW, and I am glad that I made the decision to keep dancing after recovering from my injury.

 
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Name: Laura D. Testino

Instagram: @LDTestino, or find me at LDTestino.com

CK Graduation Year: 2013

College: The University of Alabama

College major: B.A. in Dance and B.A. in Journalism with a minor in general business.

College Clubs: Alpha Psi Omega Theatre Honor Society, Dance Alabama!, Alabama Repertory Dance Theatre, The Crimson White, Alice magazine, Foxletterp

Did you dance in college? Yes!

What are you currently doing? I’m currently living in New York City, employed as the assistant site editor for This Old House. I’m also constantly scoping out other stories to tell as an arts and culture freelancer, often inspired by chats with my boyfriend, Jordan, or walks with our rescue pup, Rita June (an always-alert, sweet and smart Australian Cattle Dog-Border Collie mix). With classes and theater spaces on every corner, dance has kept its presence as an integral part of my life.

How has dance helped you in your “real” life? Dance has helped me tremendously in the real world. Dance is storytelling, just with a mix of movements instead of a mix of letters. The more I’ve wiggled into my voice as a writer and choreographer, the more I see that voice as the same. And stories, now more than ever, are so powerful. Having empathy and respect for others – for things you may not totally understand or agree with, even – is how change happens and progress is made.

What did CKDW teach you that helps you now? It’s more than just a beautiful studio space at CKDW. The stuff that goes on between those walls teaches you the beauty of what it means to work hard and stay humble. I was one of the first students to start at CKDW, and a founding member of the company, DanceElite. Oftentimes when I’m met with a challenge, or feel like something is too difficult to tackle, I look back on how much progress was made during the nine years I spent at this studio: as the studio progressed, so did I. I learned what it meant to chip away at a larger goal with poise and patience, to take risks responsibly, and do so with conviction. Dancing with CKDW taught me how to embrace innovation, and to do so with a voice that is distinctly my own.

 
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Name: Lexi Smith

Instagram: @lexismith14

CK Graduation Year: 2012

College: Kennesaw State University

College major: Business

Did you dance in college? Yes!

What are you currently doing? I am currently teaching at CK Danceworks, where I am entering my 4th season as a dance instructor. I teach many different ages and various styles. I am also the Assistant Creative Director of Fusion Dance Company in Cumming, where I work with the competition team and choreograph a variety of dances for each season.

How has dance helped you in your “real” life? Dance has always been such a big part of my life and I am thankful each and every day that I am living my dream. Through the many years of dance class, competitions, recitals and friendships, Ive learned the importance of dedication, discipline and teamwork. The experiences Ive had on and off the stage have helped shape me into the person I am today. Dance has given me the confidence to accomplish anything I set my mind to and overcome life’s obstacles.

What did CKDW teach you that helps you now? I am beyond grateful for CKDW. I can credit a lot of my success to the most amazing team of instructors. Now that I have graduated from student to teacher, I utilize my past experiences and training in my own dance classes. I am able to incorporate all the things I’ve learned from CK and pass it on to students of my own. I’m so lucky that I have been able to continue my career with dance. CK is more than just a a dance studio, it’s my family.

 
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Name: Liliae Funderburk

Instagram: @liliaerose

CK Graduation Year: 2015

College: Life University

College major: Dietetics

College Clubs: Student Nutrition and Dietetics Association and Campus Activities Board

Did you dance in college? No, but I still take classes whenever I can!


What are you currently doing? I am currently in my third year of college working toward becoming a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. I am the president of the Student Nutrition and Dietetics Association at Life University, which is a club focused on philanthropy, specifically working within the Atlanta community and promoting nutrition education!

How has dance helped you in your “real” life? There are so many things that I’ve carried from the dance environment with me into the real world. Most of all, dance has given me the ability to push myself, despite life’s difficulties, and to be confident in my abilities. It learned to give my all whenever I am working toward achieving a goal, whether it is an A on an organic chemistry exam or collaborating with others on campus and within SNDA. I also got used to functioning with very little to no sleep, which I still do in college!

What did CKDW teach you that helps you now? Dancing at CKDW taught me dedication and perseverance, two qualities that have helped me in college and in the real world. Being a dancer on a team requires a lot of teamwork, time management, respect, good sportsmanship, and empathy toward others. Being able to work with others is so important both in college and in the workplace. Also, everyone I encountered at CK was always so encouraging, genuine, and supportive to everyone and accepted them for who they are. Being around them helped me grow so much as a person throughout my last years of middle school and throughout high school. This showed me how important it is to always strive to be kind, humble, genuine, and gracious to those around me.

 
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Name:MacKenzie Carroll

Instagram: @kenz.carroll

CK Graduation Year: 2017

College:Mercer University

College major:Nursing and Psychology

Did you dance in college? Yes! I am currently on the Mercer University Dance Team!

What are you currently doing? I am currently studying at MU to receive a Bachelor’s in the Science of Nursing with a minor in Psychology. I am on the Mercer Dance Team and I am also a sister of Chi Omega. While at school, I spend my time studying, working out, going to practice, and hanging out with my friends and sisters!

How has dance helped you in your “real” life? When I was an upcoming sophomore in highschool, I did not make the group that I had hoped I would. I decided to continue dancing, although I had several thoughts of quitting. The same year, I made sure to give the season my all. I worked hard and put in extra time practicing, stretching and rehearsing to insure my success the following year. After lots of hard work, I finally made the group I had hoped for. This experience taught me that nothing in this world comes easy and that failure is always a lesson, never a letdown. This experience taught me to work hard and to never give up. When life knocks you down, get right back up and try again! I now never expect to always get what I hope for, no matter how confident I am in the situation.

What did CKDW teach you that helps you now? CKDW taught me discipline, perseverance, kindness, and confidence. I have become a strong, inspired and well-kept young woman, all thanks to CKDW. I am so grateful for the many amazing experiences that I have endured while dancing at this studio and look back at the many years I spent here with a huge smile!

 
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Name: Maylon Hicks

Instagram: @maylonhicks

CK Graduation Year: 2014

College: University of West Georgia

College major: Esthetician program- professional skin care and makeup

College Clubs: DanceTroupe, Campus Outreach, Gate of Opportunity Scholarship

Did you dance in college? No

What are you currently doing?I am finishing up my Esthetics schooling (only a month left, woohoo!) and getting ready to become a licensed Esthetician certified in microdermabrasion and a certified professional makeup artist. I am engaged to a wonderful man in the U.S. Navy and we’re getting married this October and I can’t wait to be Mrs. Cummings soon! I’m planning a big move to Jacksonville, Florida shortly after our wedding and I’m looking forward to all the fun new adventures and places we will embark on in the next few years!

How has dance helped you in your “real” life? I have become a serious lover of yoga, and having that previous knowledge along with the flexibility allowed me to jump right in pretty quickly. Dance helps me in my daily life by being a constant reminder that everything I do needs to be done all the way and that wherever I am, I need to be all there. It helps me to never throw my hands up and to always give 100%, no matter how big or small the task may seem. My soon-to-be husband has been in the Navy for almost a year now and I know that the emotional endurance dance gave me has helped me stay strong through the distance and in my daily life.

What did CKDW teach you that helps you now? Dance (literally, sometimes) taught me to fall seven times, and get up eight. It taught me to persevere and keep pushing through the stress of life even when things get rocky. The hardest trial I have ever had to go through thus far would be when Collin had to leave for bootcamp and begin his military journey. The distance was excruciating and it still is to this day. It’s not easy, but the values of hard work and determination CKDW ingrained in me early on in my life prepared me for my adult life. But, the most valuable thing I carry with me everyday is the stillness it helped me find. Even through the insanity my life unfolds into sometimes… dance is there and it’s reminding me to slow down and find my stillness in the middle of all the stress. I truly could never thank my CK Danceworks family enough for the unmatched values I was given there throughout my years.

 
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Name: McKenna Wix

Instagram: @mckennawix


CK Graduation Year: 2016

College: Kennesaw State University

College major: Major in Business Management with a Dance Minor

College Clubs: Phi Mu Fraternity

Did you dance in college? Yes, I am minoring in dance.

What are you currently doing? I am currently in my sophomore year at Kennesaw State University. My main focus is school and family. Though when I am not in school, I’m either with my friends or watching the CK babies!

How has dance helped you in your “real” life? Dance helped me through the ups and downs of life. Dance challenged me to explore out of my confront zone and express movement in a save environment. I am more confident, outgoing, and disciplined because of dance. I am forever thankful for this art form that has taught me many lessons and given me many memories.

What did CKDW teach you that helps you now? From spending most of my time at dance, I didn’t know how influencing that would truly be on me. I figured out that my dance friends would be my forever friends. CK has taught me what a community is all about. People come together to watch our recitals and showcases, they send us love on competition weekends, and continue to support our passion for dance. CK will help me in whatever career I purse as well. In order to go to dance each night, I had to go to school. On days where I wasn’t feeling school, I would still go in order to go to dance. I have learned how to work in groups, with adults and children. CK teaches good sportsmanship. Dance isn’t about winning, it’s about dancing because of a passion one has inside. CK has given me some of the absolute greatest memories. And only when I graduated, did I truly understand the influence CK had on me as person, not just a dancer.

 
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Name: Nikita Khan

Instagram: @nikita_khan13

CK Graduation Year: 2016

College: Emory University

College major: Neuroscience & Behavioral Biology

College Clubs: Circle K, Oxford Service Corps, Med Club

Did you dance in college? Yes!

What are you currently doing? I am currently a Freshman in college and I am pursuing medicine! I still try to go to dance classes here and there but I am a full time Pre-Med student.

How has dance helped you in your “real” life? Dance has helped me immensely with time management. In high school, I would dedicate so much time at dance and would work till about 1AM every night. Now in college, I have more time to be able to complete work and to study. The time management with balancing dance with my studies and social life has helped me balance college life.

What did CKDW teach you that helps you now? CKDW teaches patience and how to work with people that has helped me. You can never always be in the spotlight and I think CK does a pretty good job with instilling that. Everybody has their strengths and weaknesses in life whether it is in the dance world or in the educational world. The family and home environment at CK is one to cherish and be grateful for because it is one thing you will miss. CKDW will always be my home and it will always hold a special place in my heart.

 
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Name: Rachel Ratke

Instagram: @rach_ratke

CK Graduation Year: 2015

College: University of Georgia

College major: Advertising with a certificate in entrepreneur

Did you dance in college? I currently and on the UGA Dance Dawgs team, And am super excited about it! GO DAWGS!!


What are you currently doing? I am currently as mentioned above on the UGA Dance Dawgs team, I’m also signed with a modeling agency in atlanta called MP model management, and just starting to get involved in UGA miracle!

How has dance helped you in your “real” life? Dance has definitely taught me how to put myself out there. Dancing at CK is just about how high you can kick your leg or how many turns you can do, I learned so many life lessons through my time there that i use in my everyday social and professional life.

What did CKDW teach you that helps you now? What Ck taught me that helps me now is to always put myself out there.. the worst answer you’re going to get is a no. Always try your best, push yourself to the limits, and always have fun and love what you do! If it wasn’t for CK I wouldn’t have some of the friends that I currently have now (Currently living with Teddi Gniadek who gradated the same year as me from Ck and its SO SO fun)
CK is the BEST and always will be! SO happy and proud to say that I use to dance and be apart of such an amazing studio that stands behind and supports all of there students!

 
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Name: Sarah Evans

Instagram: @sarahhh_evanss

CK Graduation Year: 2016

College: Valdosta State University

College major: American Sign Language

College Clubs: Zeta Tau Alpha Fraternity, ASL Club, Red Hots Dance Team, Disney College Program, VSU Wishmakers

Did you dance in college? I danced my first year of college on the Red Hots Dance Team, we are currently Division II Hip Hop National Champions for NDA. My second year of college I was able to work for the Walt Disney World Company as a character performer.

What are you currently doing? I am currently a student at VSU earning my bachelors degree as an ASL Interpreter for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.

How has dance helped you in your “real” life? Dance has boosted my self-confidence and has allowed myself to step out of my comfort zone. I’m not afraid to do something “different” or “weird” because dance has enabled me to feel comfortable with who I am as a person.

What did CKDW teach you that helps you now? CKDW has taught me the importance of positivity and spreading that to those around you. All of my teachers at CKDW and many of my very best friends at the studio helped me grow into the person I am today and have prepared me to take on positions I never knew I could take on. The positive environment CKDW has, started from the moment I stepped in when I was 14 and is still there every time I step foot into the studio. CKDW is a second home and I always love spending my time there.

 
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Name: Sarah Gold

Instagram: @sarah__gold

CK Graduation Year: 2011

College: Oklahoma City University, class of 2015

College major: Dance Performance with a minor in History

College Clubs: OCU pep dancers, Alpha Chi Omega

Did you dance in college? Yes, it was my primary focus! I was also apart of the American Spirit Dance Company all 4 years, and a member of the OCU pep dancers.

What are you currently doing? I am currently a working dancer based in New York City. I was lucky enough to work as a dancer on cruise ships for 2 years and see parts of the world I never would’ve dreamt of. Following my time with Royal Caribbean, I moved to the big Apple and booked my first national tour in “A Christmas Wonderland” with Spirit Productions.

I am now pursuing a career in Musical theater full time and have recently been seen in the regional premier of “An American in Paris” at Ogunquit Playhouse, and “Flashdance” at Gateway Playhouse.

How has dance helped you in your “real” life? I’ve spent nearly my entire life dancing, so to say that it’s aided me in any one way would be an un- derstatement. Dance is very much apart of who I am, and I consider myself extremely blessed to have turned a passion, an emotional outlet, and a talent of mine, into a lifelong career. Growing up, dance not only taught me determination and persistence, but it taught me how to be accepting of myself and push myself to new limits. It taught me how to be passionate. Turning dance into some- thing I wanted to pursue as a career was a scary choice- but I wake up each day thankful for this incredible art form that has molded me into who I am today.

What did CKDW teach you that helps you now? I think the biggest impact that CKDW had on me was the people it surrounded me with. I was constantly uplifted by my instructors, and was shown a type of love and acceptance inside those walls that I am forever grateful for. To be surrounded by people who encouraged team work and humility is something that carried through into my college years and even now. I think the most valuable thing CK taught me though was that dance is more than just leaps and turns, what makes a dancer special is there passion and charisma. That will follow me through every audition and performance I do- be transparent and authentic and THAT will carry you further than any number of pirouettes you can do. CKDW will forever hold a very special place in my heart for that very reason.

 
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Name: Taylor Hill

Instagram: @taymarhil

CK Graduation Year: 2010

College: Kennesaw State University

College major: Dance

Did you dance in college? Yes!

What are you currently doing? This past summer I finally realized my dream of becoming a studio owner. My studio, Duet Dance Academy, begin its inaugural season this past August in Canton, GA. I could not be more excited and thankful to pass on the dance training I’ve received to my students, and CK Danceworks was a major part of that.

How has dance helped you in your “real” life? Dance has given me all of the confidence I need to not only be a strong business owner a dance teacher for my students, but a stronger person inside and out. Before dance my previous teachers would have told you I was shy and introverted. “Real life” is not kind to those who lack confidence and second guess themselves. However, each time I was onstage I felt one step closer to finding my true self. Also, throughout my entire life dance has helped me control my anxiety by giving me an outlet to go to anytime I felt worried or stressed. I would not be my best self without movement and dance.

What did CKDW teach you that helps you now? I currently teach dancers of all ages, and I constantly have to think back to my own training to figure out which teaching tools were effective and which were not. I find myself channeling my inner Ms. Christina, Mr. Brian, and Ms. Alison, asking myself multiple times per week “What would they do? What would they correct? How would they move?” It sounds silly but I find a lot of answers in those moments. CKDW has given me a network of teachers that still to this day inspire me. It has also given me fellow dancers and friends who have gone on to become teachers and performers in their own right, and I know they’re always there to bounce ideas off of. I know I can call my fellow CKDW Alums Lexi Smith and Kelsey Belt to ask advice on my classes, costumes, or choreography, which is invaluable in this industry. I cannot thank CKDW enough for this precious gift.

 
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Name: Teddi Gniadek

Instagram: @tedgniadek

CK Graduation Year: 2015

College: University of Georgia

College major: Advertising with a Sport Management Minor

College Clubs: UGA Dance Dawgs, UGA Miracle, Whatever It Takes (WIT) at UGA, UGA Ad Club, Kappa Delta Sorority

Did you dance in college? Yes!

What are you currently doing? I am currently studying Advertising and Sport Management at the University of Georgia. I am a Dance Dawg and dance at UGA basketball games as well as do appearances around the Athens community. In addition to being a Dance Dawg, I volunteer at Whatever It Takes (WIT) at UGA and serve as a mentor and tutor to children in the Athens area. I am also a part of UGA Miracle, an organization that raises money and awareness for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. I served on the Fundraising and Public Relations committees of UGA Miracle. I am also involved with UGA Ad Club and Kappa Delta Sorority. This past summer, I was a Business Leadership intern at an advertising agency in Atlanta and I am looking forward to working in the advertising field in the future. After college, I plan to work in advertising on the account service side.

How has dance helped you in your “real” life? Dance has helped me tremendously in the real world. Because I have always been so busy with dance, I have learned how to manage my time wisely and be responsible. I have also learned how to efficiently communicate with people. The dance world is a big place and dance taught me how to meet and talk with new people. Dance has also helped me understand the real meaning of perseverance. Being a dancer, you are taught to never give up, and because of dance, I never let myself give up. I always find the courage and means to overcome obstacles and keep pushing myself.

What did CKDW teach you that helps you now? CKDW taught me so many things, but most importantly, CKDW taught me to ALWAYS be confident. I was this just this little shy girl when I first walked into CKDW and by the time I left, I was extremely confident in myself. My teachers were so supportive and constantly pushed me to be the best I can be, inspired me to come out of my shell, and taught me to love myself and my dancing. The countless hours at CKDW taught me to believe in myself and follow my dreams. Today, I channel everything CKDW has taught me about confidence and use it all in every aspect of life.

 
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Name: Sarah Meyer

Instagram: @sarahcoozy

CK Graduation Year: 2017

College: Brenau University

College major: Dance, Minor in Music

What did CKDW teach you that helps you now? I spent 10 years at CK Danceworks and it provided me with the teamwork skills and work hard attitude that has carried me through my beginning years at college!

 
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Name: Mackenzie Tillery

Instagram: @mackenzietillery

CK Graduation Year: 2017

College: Kennesaw State University

College major: Nursing

Did you dance in college: Yes! The Greek organizations at my school do dance competitions every semester and I am always the first in line to audition. They have been my favorite thing about college so far. I also have danced a bit in KSU’s Dance Department.

What did CKDW teach you that helps you now? My years at CK taught me how important it is to keep yourself surrounded by people who love you for who you are and push you to be the best you can be. My dance peers and teachers who I was constantly with, molded me into the person I am today and I cannot thank this studio enough for that tremendous gift.

What are you currently doing? Currently I am sophomore and am preparing to apply for the nursing program at my school. I am a sister of Phi Mu Sorority at KSU and have served many positions benefitting our philanthropy, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. I am beginning my third year of working at CK and 15th year of being a part of this dance family!

How has dance helped you in your “real” life? My years at CK taught me so much more than just dance. I learned so much about teamwork, patience, commitment, work ethic and so much more. Through CKDW I also found some of my life long best friends and some of the greatest people I will ever know. A couple of girls that I know will be my bridesmaids one day, I met through CK.

What did CKDW teach you that helps you now? CKDW teaches patience and how to work with people that has helped me. You can never always be in the spotlight and I think CK does a pretty good job with instilling that. Everybody has their strengths and weaknesses in life whether it is in the dance world or in the educational world. The family and home environment at CK is one to cherish and be grateful for because it is one thing you will miss. CKDW will always be my home and it will always hold a special place in my heart.

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Name: Graham Dobbs

Instagram: @instagraham346

CK Graduation Year: 2013

College: Jacksonville University

College major: Dance

Did you dance in college: Yes!

What did CKDW teach you that helps you now? My years at CK taught me how important it is to keep yourself surrounded by people who love you for who you are and push you to be the best you can be. My dance peers and teachers who I was constantly with, molded me into the person I am today and I cannot thank this studio enough for that tremendous gift.

What are you currently doing? Dancing for Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines

How has dance helped you in your “real” life? Dance gives a person discipline, standards, and foundations that you can build your life on. Whether it is making deadlines, holding yourself to a higher level, or the way you treats others. Most importantly dance taught me how to express myself and never hold back for anyone and to be true to who I am.

What did CKDW teach you that helps you now? As a dancer CKDW pushed my flexibility to the limits, if the girls were going to kick their heads in a battement, so was I. They also showed me what family is and just how important it is to support each other through everything. I continue to look back and am so thankful for everything that I learned from CK.

Alumni Isabella Varsalona

Name: Isabella Varsalona

Instagram: @isabella_varsalona

CK Graduation Year: 2018

College: Undecided

College major: Nursing

Did you dance in college? I hope too!

What are you currently doing? Currently I am going to be taking college classes to become a pediatric nurse practitioner.

How has dance helped you in your “real” life? Dance has helped me in real life by becoming more perseverant and to never give up on what I want.

What did CKDW teach you that helps you now? CK has helped me learn that dance can be your voice through movement and no matter what is happening in your life dance can get you through it.