Faculty

Hilarie Neely

Artistic Director

Teaches Creative Movement, Ballet, Pointe, Tap, Jazz and Pilates.

Hilarie began dancing in Chicago, IL. and then received her BFA in Dance from Southern Methodist University. She danced professionally with the Portland Dance Theater and Cirque, dance company before moving to the Wood River Valley in 1980. Co-founder of the Idaho Dance Ensemble, she performed regionally for five years before devoting her full-time energies to dance education. Hilarie is a Licentiate member of the Cecchetti Council of America holding Professional Grade 6. She has been a dance consultant for the state education department of Idaho, a recipient of an Idaho Apprenticeship Art Grant and helped write the state curriculum for dance K-12 in 2000. She taught for 25 years as dance specialist for K-5 for the Sun Valley Community School and is currently on faculty with the Performing Arts Academy at Wood River High School and College of Southern Idaho. A member of the Idaho Dance Arts Alliance, National Dance Registered Educator, National Dance Educators Organization, secretary of the Idaho Dance Educators Organization, past president of the Idaho Alliance for Arts in Education and past member of the Ex. Board for the Wood River Arts Alliance. She currently serves on the Ketchum Arts Commission. The 2004 Dance Educator of the Year for the NW District AAHPERD, 2019 Dance Educator of the Year for IDEO. Hilarie serves as administrator of the WRHS National Honor Society for Dance Arts (NHSDA) honoring students for academic achievement, dance accomplishments and community service.

Shellrae Garnes

Faculty

Teaches Ballet, Pointe at the Hailey studio.

Shellrae was trained in ballet and modern dance from a young age all the way through college. She taught and then directed the Sun Valley Center for the Arts Dance program 1973-1980. Shellrae taught for Footlight Dance for over 30 years before retiring from full-time teaching, moved to Boise and after returning to the valley in 2019 is happy to be back teaching. She is a master teacher in the Chinese art of Tai Chi Chuan teaching classes at the Grange Hall, YMCA and Pure Body Pilates studio.

Leah Taylor

Faculty

Teaches Creative Movement and Ballet at the Ketchum and Hailey studios. This fall 2020 she is on maternity leave.

Leah began her study of dance with Hilarie Neely at Footlight Dance Centre, graduating here in the Wood River Valley. She accomplished a year of modern dance studies and performances as well as classical ballet at Arizona State University before transferring to University of Arizona receiving her BA in Psychology and Early Childhood Education. Leah spent five years in Washington, D.C. teaching Kindergarten at a public charter school where she implemented movement and dance on a daily basis into her classroom. Upon returning to the Wood River Valley Leah completed her yoga teacher training. She is passionate about children and movement going “hand in hand” and everyone should have the opportunity to learn with movement. She also teaches family yoga classes at the YMCA and Mindful Movement classes for toddlers at Studio Move.

Melodie Taylor-Mauldin

Faculty

Teaches Jazz and Hip Hop at the Ketchum and Hailey studios.

Melodie began her dance training in Utah studying ballet, modern and jazz. She received her BFA in Music/Dance/Theater from Weber State University. A triple-threat performer, some of her favorite roles and performances include Gorgeous George Gershwin, Oklahoma, 42nd Street, Quilters, Annie, Stage Door Canteen, South Pacific, touring with the Glenn Miller Show and 1940’s Radio Show, Opera Idaho Barber of Seville and Opera Under the Stars. Choreography credits include work with Opera Idaho, MDT Workshop, Wild West Productions, Company of Fools, Music Theater West and Utah State University. Melodie’s specific area of focus has been working with youth and teens as co-founder of MDT Workshop in Boise, Idaho. MDT Workshop is a camp focused on music, dance and theater skills for performers ages 8-20. Melodie has studied dance with Nancy Hammond, Sandy Emile, Michelle Froelich, Irene Bates and James C. Christian. We are honored to have Melodie working with our students.

Jennifer Franklin

Faculty

Teaches Teen Hip Hop at the Hailey studio.

Jennifer is a 2001 graduate of Western Illinois University, with a major in Public Communications/Human Relations, and a double minor in Recreation, Parks, Tourism and Administration, and Sociology. Jen has her own photography business, but years of dance experience. Some highlights include jazz and tap in her younger years, hip hop and cheer in her teen years and dancing with Gwendolyn Brooks Cultural Center Dance Troupe during her time at university where her primary focus was hip hop and choreography. She was head coach and choreographer for the Quad City Riverhawk’s Dance Team. She also performed at the company level with Bruce Brown at CLASS Dance Academy in Muscatine, IA. Jen created and implemented a dance program in Leadville, CO. for the Lake County Parks and Recreation that focused on creative movement, jazz and hip hop; with the overall goal of engaging the community in dance. We are so lucky to have Jen’s enthusiasm and talent for dance as she works with our teens.

Kassidy Thompson

Faculty

Teaches Jazz at the Hailey studio.

Kassidy has been dancing since a young age in Sheridan, WY. She moved to Indianapolis, IN. where she taught for Showtime Dance Studio and then performed with the Celebrity Cruise Lines. She moved to the valley in 2006 and began teaching, passing on her love of dance. Kassidy also works full time at Power Engineers.

Anne Winton

Faculty

Teaches Modern/Contemporary at the Hailey studio. Taking a sabbatical this fall.

Anne has been teaching for Footlight since 1991. She received her BA in Dance from the University of Colorado. She then trained in NYC and San Francisco with Nikolais/Louis Repertory Company and Wendy Rogers Dance Company. Anne loves to create, explore and share her love of dance.

Julie Fox

Faculty

Teaches Creative Modern at the Hailey studio.

Julie began her study of dance in the Wood River Valley with Julie Mattson and Hilarie Neely. She went on to major in dance at the University of Utah and Boston Conservatory. While studying, she performed with college companies. Julie continued her studies in improvisation, contact improvisation and theatrical movement arts. She was co-artistic director of the dance company, CORE, here in the valley for several years. Julie teaches at the Wood River High School Performing Arts Academy. She runs her own business, Fox Acres Upholstery.

Robyn Fox

Faculty

Teaches Tap and Ballet at the Hailey studios.

Robyn was born and raised in the Wood River Valley. She started dancing at age 5 at Footlight Dance Centre where she trained in all forms of dance, focusing on ballet and tap. In 2006 she danced the lead role of Alice, in Footlight’s “Alice in Dancerland”. She acted with Missoula Children’s Theatre and various productions with Wood River HS Drama department. She continued her training at Boise State University, Boise working with Marla Hansen along with her other studies in dental hygiene.
“I live to dance and it has been such a joy sharing my passion for movement with our future generations.” We are thrilled to have Footlight alum working with our students and sharing our mission of dance for everyone.

Gabi Bryant

Faculty

Teaches Modern/Contemporary at the Hailey studio.

Raised in Overland Park, Kansas, Gabi began pursuing her natural love for dance at age 6. She danced jazz, tap and contemporary competitively across the country in her younger years. Later she expanded her studies to included classical ballet, modern and theater. In 2012, Gabi moved to Boise to study Bilingual/ENL Elementary Education and dance at Boise State University. Her studies with Marla Hansen reinforced that one’s love for dance has no end and can take many forms. She was able to study modern with Kelli Brown and danced professionally two seasons in, Off Center Dance. After graduating, Gabi traveled and made her way to the Wood River Valley. She teaches at Wood River Middle School and is ecstatic to continue empowering youth and share her love for dance.

Michele Minailo

Faculty

Teacher in Tap, Jazz, Pilates.

Michele is trained in dance, acting and voice. Born and raised in Canada, she was a member of the Young Canadians Performing Group before moving to Las Vegas and then on to Off Broadway productions and television in Los Angeles. She has appeared in many productions including 42nd Street, A Chorus Line, Pal Joey and Will Rogers Follies. She has studied with some of the best, including Tommy Sutton, Phil Black, JoJo Smith, Zena Rommett and Joe Tremaine. Michele has a tailoring, wedding gown and alterations business here in the Wood River Valley.

Emily Knowles

Faculty

Teaches Pilates Conditioning for Intermediate and Advanced dancers.

Emily is a classically trained Pilates instructor. Her certification includes A.C.E. Personal Trainer & Fitness Instructor, Authentic Pilates, and Les Mills Certified Instructor. She was born and raised in Bellevue, Washington participating in dance and many other sports. Emily received a double major at Whitworth University in Spokane, Washington. After moving to the valley in 1997, she began teaching group fitness, added personal training in 2000 and then completed her Pilates training. She works at Zenergy in Ketchum, working privately with clients and teaching group classes.

Rika Pere

Faculty

Teaches Ballet for children.

Rika began her dance training at Footlight Dance Centre at a very young age. Growing up in the Wood River Valley, Rika fell in love with all forms of the performing arts. As a triple threat performer, her study of dance and theater expanded when she was accepted into the high school Idyllwild Arts Academy for Musical Theater studies. After three years she transferred back to graduate from The Community School. She attended The University of Oklahoma in the Weitzenhoffer Department of Musical Theatre, before booking a ticket to Alaska. In Alaska, Rika let her wild side take over and became a boat Captain out of Seward, AK. The love of theater and dance never left her soul, so she opened a dance studio and helped revive the local community theater company. Now happily back in the WRV, she is working as a volunteer firefighter and thrilled to be back in her hometown dance studio.

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