Rachel Huffman is the Owner and Director of Martell School of Dance located in Akron, OH. She is from the small Ohio town of Woodsfield and has been a member of the Martell dance family since 2004; originally hired and mentored by the studio’s founder, Miss Teri Martell.
In her early years, Rachel studied with Candace Bruce at The Dance Workshop of Barnesville, OH. Rachel later earned her Bachelor of Arts in Dance from The University of Akron where she was a University Honors Scholar. Throughout college, she had the opportunity to study with and perform under the wings of various dance experts and professionals. She is well versed in a variety of modern and ballet dance techniques. She also possesses a love for Jazz, Musical Theatre, choreography, and dance history. Rachel has choreographed countless pieces for Martell as well as for Firestone High School Theatre, Jillian Rian’s Dance School, Montessori High School at University Circle, and The Western Reserve Playhouse in Cleveland.
Rachel holds a special passion for education. In addition to her dance studio work, she also designed the International Baccalaureate Dance Program curriculum for Montessori High School at University Circle. Rachel currently serves on the KSU Academy of Performing Arts Advisory Board and recently joined the ArtSparks Board of Directors.
Since she was young, Rachel has affiliated dance to hope, happiness, and healing. This approach will forever be passed on to all the students with whom she has the opportunity to connect. Rachel’s ultimate goal is to reassure students that there are multiple avenues in the dance world and that everyone can succeed and create a personal journey with dance that will resonate with them for life.
Tammy (Stafford) Treen started dancing with Martell at age 5 and will be starting her 32nd year as a part of the Martell family.
She began with ballet, which turned quickly into pointe, jazz, and tap. In the 1993-1994 school year, she was the Martell School of Dance scholarship student. In addition to dancing on Jr. and Sr. Lines over the years, she also attended numerous conventions. These conventions lead to a national tour with Dance Caravan in the summer of 1994, as well as a Joffrey Ballet scholarship from the New York City Dance Alliance convention in 1996. After graduating from Copley High School in 1998, she attended Malone College earning a B.A. in Psychology. While in college she danced with Living Fountain Dance Company from 2000-2002. In the summer of 2003, she has also studied Hawkins Technique under Bill Wade of Inlet Dance Theatre of Cleveland. In 2009 Tammy graduated from The Ohio College of Massotherapy, and is currently working at the Shaw Jewish Community Center in Akron as an LMT. Tammy teaches master classes in the Akron/Cleveland area at numerous studios and special events such as the All Ohio Dance Festival. Tammy continues to take class and is currently studying with the renowned jazz teacher Dee Hillier of Cleveland. With all these experiences, she feels most privileged to have studied under Teri Martell where all of her foundation began. She says that teaching at Martell is a wonderful reality that started as a childhood dream. Dancing is an amazing gift that has tremendously enhanced her life and she loves sharing it with her students.
Emily Bowen has been a member of the Martell family since she was four years old. She danced her way through high school and that love followed her to college where she was a part of the dance ensemble for four years. She attended the University of Dayton where she studied Early Childhood Education. She taught in the early childhood classroom for seven years, but is now grateful to stay at home with her children, Nora and William. Emily is happy and excited to share her passion and love for dance with the youngest of ballerinas!
MyAhna Davis is 24 years old and a recent graduate from the University of Akron. She danced at Martell for 10 years as a student and has been teaching at the studio since 2012. MyAhna attended Miller South and Firestone’s Akron School of the Arts, both for their dance programs. She was Martell’s scholarship student during the 2011-2012 dance year and participated in several dance conventions and community performances with the studio as well. Currently MyAhna fills her time with teaching dance, being the Director of Children’s Ministry at Garden City Church, and working at the Hopebridge Autism Therapy Center in Akron. She has a huge passion for dance and sharing the art form with students of all ages and all abilities. Dance has a been a transformational part of MyAhna’s life since the age of 2 and she is excited to see and be a part of the way it impacts the lives of our students each and every year.
Torie Gray is a tap dancer and clogger from Southeastern Ohio. She owns a preprofessional tap company called The Cleveland Tap Repertory which is composed of intermediate to advanced teen and adult dancers who travel to take class and perform throughout the United States at festivals and venues such as Motor City Tap Fest in Detroit MI, Riff in Dallas TX, Tap City in NYC, Chicago Tap Summit, and The House of Blues in Cleveland. Torie competed with her company to take 5th place at the IDO World Tap Championships in 2018 in Riesa, Germany.
Torie dances professionally as an apprentice with M.A.D.D. Rhythms in Chicago and travels teaching for festivals. Her choreography has won numerous high scoring awards with choreographic recognition at regional and national competitions and several routines have gone undefeated for entire seasons. She is constantly traveling to take class, teach, and further her knowledge of rhythms and technique to pass along to her students.
Outside of the studio, Torie enjoys drumming, being on the water, and spending time with her cats.
If a child can’t learn the way we teach, maybe we should teach the way they learn. – Ignacio Estrada
Daniel Natal was born in August 1992 in Ponce Puerto Rico. He started his inspiration and passion for dance in 2007 thanks to the movie “Stomp the Yard” becoming a break dancer. Right after realizing his passion, he auditioned at the specialized school Bellas Artes (Beautiful Arts) getting into his firsts Hip- Hop lessons. Being part of the school of Arts, Daniel got a full scholarship to be part of one of the best ballet academies of PR Ballet Señorial. There, Daniel decided to make dancing his life career. Years after he decided to become a commercial dancer, auditioning for the company Over The Top Dance Complex in which he accomplished some of his dreams of becoming a backup dancer for various artists of the Reggaeton genre like Nicky Jam, Daddy Yankee, Arcangel and many others. Also, he has traveled and performed in different countries and cities like Argentina, LA, Miami, Philadelphia, New York.
In 2016 Daniel and his family moved for the first time out of his country to Connecticut, expanding his knowledge in various studios until he achieved his dream of moving and dancing in NY. In NY he got signed by Bloc NY Agency in which he expanded his talent being part of live tv performances, commercials, acting.
Daniel and his family then decided to move to Ohio. While continuing his goals, he keeps expanding and sharing his knowledge within local studios; bringing his style of Latin Hip- Hop. Daniel’s interest outside of dancing are being with his family and working out. His inspirations are some great choreographers like CJ Salvador, Cultura, Michael Caceres. Daniel wants to show everyone that it doesn’t matter where you’re from, if you really have the mindset and the will to achieve your goals you can be anywhere in the world.
We are so excited to welcome Daniel to the Marte
Kathleen Horrell graduated from The University of Akron with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance, and served three years as an officer of the dance club, Terpsichore. Through the University, she had the opportunity to perform in many faculty concerts as well as projects/performances such as Stream, Streb, Dancing for the Kids, ACDFA, Neos’ Snow White and Penny Saunders’ Flight. She was involved in student shows as a performer, choreographer and producer. After graduation, she has pursued her love of dance through teaching for various studios and organizations, and cannot wait to join the Martell family!
Darcie Lemons began her dance training at the age of nine in Tap, Jazz, Ballet, Lyrical and Pointe at her local dance studio in Marysville, Ohio. She then attended the University of Akron, where she studied Modern, Ballet, Pointe, Jazz, Tap, dance history, dance education, choreography and served as an officer of the dance club, Terpsichore. In August 2015, she graduated Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor’s degree in Dance Education. While at UA, she had the opportunity to perform with the University of Akron Dance Company in many faculty shows, working with notable dance companies such as BalletX and STREB, in addition to performances such as Stream, and Dancing for the Kids. She was involved in many student productions as a choreographer, performer and producer and also attended the American College Dance Festival. Since graduating, she has been a member of the Dayton Contemporary Second Dance Company, RED Dance Company and a member of Inlet Dance Theater’s Trainee and Apprentice Program. Darcie has been with Martell since the 2016-2017 season and is excited to continue sharing her knowledge and love of dance!
Patricia Luthy-Herrnstein was classically trained at the School of American Ballet, Boston Ballet, Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet and Dayton Ballet. She danced professionally with Chautauqua Festival Company and Dayton Ballet as well as a guest artist for Columbus Youth Ballet. Patti acted as Assistant Artistic Director of Columbus Youth Ballet from 1990-1994, before moving to the Akron area. Miss Patti has taught at the University of Akron’s Dance Institute from 1995-2012. She loves sharing her passion for ballet with her students. This will be her 12th season at Martell School of Dance. At home Miss Patti is a wife, mother of two, and stepmother of four. The family continues to grow now that five have married! She is also, Mimi to four adorable grandchildren.
Erica Piper recently graduated summa cum laude from the University of Akron with a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Dance and a Bachelors of Arts in Dance Education. During her time at the university she had the opportunities to perform in works by professionals from The Joffrey Ballet, Ballet Memphis, Hubbard Street Dance, Neos Dance Theatre, and Alexandre Munz’s S.A.F.E. Project as well as taking classes from the many companies in residence each year. As an officer of the student dance club, Terpsichore, Erica produced, choreographed, and performed in many student productions. She also traveled to the American College Dance Festival and participated in community events with the Akron Children’s Hospital. Erica’s passion for quality dance education has led to some amazing experiences. She is a member of the National Dance Education Organization and attended intensive teacher training with the acclaimed National Dance Institute in New York City. Erica is excited to share her love of dance with the Martell family!
Jennifer McDonald In 2002, Jennifer graduated from St. Vincent St. Mary High School in Akron and began pursuing her lifelong dream of performing. In November of 2003, Jennifer was hired by Holland America Cruise Line to perform in the nighttime production shows as part of a 10-14 person cast. For 3 years she traveled all over the world, to places such as Alaska, Hawaii, Panama Canal and Europe. After deciding to come home in October of 2005, Jennifer returned to Martell and began teaching again. Her dream came true when she took over ownership of her beloved studio on June 1st, 2007. The following September, Jennifer married her husband Tommy, and together they have three sons, Benjamin, James, and Ryan. Most recently, Jennifer and Tommy became licensed foster parents. In 2017, Jennifer passed the torch to Miss Rachel and continues to teach various age groups, levels and styles alongside the incredible staff at Martell. Jennifer is a huge part of why Martell is such an amazing facility for kids and adults to come and learn how to DANCE!
Sharlee Keith Sharlee Keith grew up in Strongsville, OH and began dancing at the age of three at Studio 82. She then attended the University of Akron and graduated with a Bachelor’s of Dance.
While studying there, Sharlee had the opportunity to work with well know companies and choreographers such as Doug Varone and Dancers, Alexandra Beller, Taylor II, and Keigwin & Co. After graduating, she danced as a principal dancer with RED, Real Edge Dance, modern company for five year in Akron, OH. She is now focusing on teaching dance in the Northeast Ohio area and she has also established a preschool Creative Movement class for the City of Akron Recreation Bureau. Sharlee is excited for another great year at Martell!
Katie Gsellman began dancing at Martell at the age of 4 taking ballet and tap classes. Through the years, she picked up jazz, lyrical, modern, pointe, acro, hip hop, and musical theater. She was given the Most Improved
Award and received her 5 and 10 Year awards dancing with Martell. She danced at conventions such as Dancemakers, Turn It Around Tour, and All
Ohio Dance Festival for multiple years. She also performed in Junior & Senior lines.
Katie attended Miller South School for the Visual and Performing Arts as well as Firestone High Schools Akron School of the Arts. In 2019 she was
awarded a scholarship to attend Inlet Dance Theaters summer intensive in Cleveland. She began teaching in 2018, and now teaches preschoolers through adults.
She graduated in 2020 and now works at the OBGYN Associates of Akron as a medical assistant. In 2022, she married her husband, Owen. Dance has been the biggest part of Katie’s life. The relationships she has formed and the things she has learned, not only about dance but about life, are all thanks to Martell School of Dance. This will be her 17th year with Martell and she hopes to continue being a part of her “home away from home”.
Maddie Thomas grew up in Akron, Ohio and attended Martell School of Dance beginning at the age of 8 where she developed a sincere passion for dance. She devoted her time to Martell, and was the scholarship student during the 2009/2010 school year. To this day, performing with Martell is one of Maddie’s fondest pastimes. Maddie went on to study Psychology at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio and minored in Economics and Business Management. During college Maddie continued to incorporate dance into her life. She took ballet classes at the university, and joined the Spartan Dance Team with whom she performed during football and basketball games. Maddie was also the dance captain for the Spartan Dance Team at Case. In 2017 Maddie took a full time job with Catholic Charities as the Camp Administrator of Camp Christopher, and began teaching at Martell! Maddie is jazzed about her fifth year of teaching our talented students at Martell!
Brooke Winter joined the Martell family in the Summer of 2015 and has loved it ever since! She lives in Akron with her husband and two sons.
Brooke started dancing at age 5, with her favorite genres being ballet and lyrical. In addition to teaching at Martell, Brooke coached competitive gymnastics for 10 years. Brooke is a certified Acrobatic Arts instructor. She especially loves teaching Acro because it is a fun blend of two of her favorite things-dance and gymnastics!
One of Brooke’s favorite parts about Martell is that it truly feels like one big happy family.
Fun fact about Brooke: Ever since she was a kid, she’s been a HUGE Olympics fan! She loves reading about it, talking about it, watching (and rewatching) and is always counting down the days till the next one!
Alice Duey is a performer, educator, artist, and advocate for strengthening healthy, vibrant communities.
Her career in entertainment was spent primarily as a supporting lead singer with Holland America Cruise Line and at Walt Disney World as a member of Actors’ Equity Association. Her main roles included: Dance Captain for the Magic Kingdom’s castle stage holiday show, and Lead Actor of “Disney Jr. Live on Stage.” Alice has performed extensively across the planet, in television productions, dinner theaters, and with Universal Orlando.
An Akron native, Alice trained under the tutelage of her mentors, Teri Martell, Kelly Berick, and Ron Hazelett. She continues to embrace her artistic expression through vocal performances and flamenco dancing. She graduated summa cum laude with a BA in Child and Family Development from the University of Akron and works as a child advocate for the CASA program of Summit County.
Alice believes in authentic relationships with each other, nature, the arts, and ourselves––as being fundamental to unleash the courage to live our most marvelous lives.
Amber Coughlin is a Pittsburgh, PA native dancer and choreographer currently residing in Akron, Ohio. Her training includes intensives at Millenium Dance Complex Pittsburgh, Kelly Strayhorn Theatre’s Alloy Studios (formally Pittsburgh Dance Alloy Pittsburgh), and Point Park University. All supplementing her work at her home studio – Miss Holly’s Dance Studio.
Amber started performing in her school musicals from 6th grade on where she developed the passion she has for theatre today. Along with performing, Amber also began choreographing for musicals while still in High School. She was awarded the 1st Place Award for Choreography in the 2013 Gene Kelly Awards held in Pittsburgh, PA – for her work on ‘All Shook Up’ performed by Penn Hills HS. After graduating, she attended The University of Akron to train as a Dance Major and focus on her ballet (under Pauline Reilly-Howe) and modern technique (under Tom Smith – who trained under Martha Graham). Since that time, she has continued to dance, choreograph, and direct in the Akron/Cleveland area with companies such as Division Dance Company,her nonprofit Phoenix Performing Arts, Cleveland Dance Project, and now Martell.
She is thrilled to work with Martell to continue positively impacting the youth with the fine arts!
Lisa Horton has been dancing since the age of three at her local dance studio. There she was an Assistant Teacher for six years, instructing students of all ages. She received many opportunities to perform and train at conventions such as Revel, Titans of Dance, and Ohio Dance Festival as well as local competitions and master classes at Broadway Dance Center in New York City. Growing up, Lisa was also on her High School Dance Team where she was able to compete at the OASSA Cheer and Dance Competition three years in a row and perform at varsity basketball games. Lisa is currently pursuing her Bachelor of Arts in Dance With a Business Cognate with the University of Akron where she has been gifted with two scholarships. In her first year at the University she had the opportunity to perform in multiple faculty pieces as well as student choreographed pieces. In Lisa’s home studio, while growing up, she always felt a sense of having a family away from home. Lisa expresses that she has found that same feeling at the University of Akron, and now can’t wait to become a part of the Martell Dance Family!
Chloe J. Redman
Chloe J. Redman is a currently in pursuit of a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Dance from the University of Akron’s accredited dance program. From age ten all the way through high-school Chloe trained at the University of Akron’s Dance Institute under the executive direction of former Cincinnati ballet dancer Christina Foise. Through this pre-professional ballet based program Chloe has had opportunities to learn from and work alongside local as well as international artist such as Ohio ballet dancers Damien Highfield and Shauna Conzaman, free lance artist Brian Murphy, Neos Dance Theater, Groundworks Dance Theater, Kegwin and Company, Joseph Morrissey, Le Ballet Jazz de Montreal and many more. Chloe has had extensive performance experience and looks forward to continuing pursuing performance for many years to come. Besides performance Chloe loves to share her love of dance through teaching. She’s well versed in ballet and pointe as well as modern dance technique.
Heather Knighton began her dance training at the age of 3 at Abby Dance Center in Barberton, Ohio, where she competed for 8 years in countless Regional Competitions, 7 National Competitions and 1 International competition in Lake Tahoe Nevada. She took home many platinum, first place and overall highest scoring awards, as well as scholarships to numerous dance conventions. Heather was invited to dance at the NFL Pro Bowl in Hawaii in 1997 and she competed and won the right to represent Columbus, Ohio as a member of the “I Love Dance Junior Sweetheart Touring Ensemble.”
She received scholarships to attend the Joffrey School of Ballet summer intensive when she was 10 years old, and the Kirov Academy of Ballet summer intensive at the age of 15. Heather is a Graduate of The University of Akron’s Dance Institute, where she was placed in the advanced level and received her first college credit dancing with The University of Akron Dance Company (UADC), at the age of 12. While dancing there, she trained under many Artistic Directors and professional dancers from the Pennsylvania Ballet, Cleveland San Jose Ballet, Jennifer Muller/The Works, GroundWorks Dance Theater, The Ohio Ballet, and Dancing Wheels.
She continued performing with UADC throughout college in leading and soloist roles choreographed by the faculty as well as guest choreographers. She performed with the Pennsylvania Ballet and the Moscow Ballet of Russia in their productions of “The Nutcracker.” Heather has been teaching for the past 17 years and strives to make a positive impact in the lives of her students. She has taught ballet, pointe, modern, and lyrical classes at dance studios throughout Northeast Ohio, as well as substitute ballet classes for The University of Akron’s Dance Institute. She enjoyed choreographing for Regional and National Dance Competitions, and for Theatre 8:15’s Halloween, Broadway and Christmas Show productions. Her choreography won the “Living Art Award” in 2011, and a “Showmanship Award” for her lyrical team piece performed by Studio J Academy of Dance’s competition team in 2020.
She is currently a Teaching Artist with ArtSparks, and is continuing her education studying Psychology with a Concentration in Child and Adolescent Development with SNHU. Heather is thrilled for the opportunity to share her passion for dance with the Martell community!
Molly Thomas grew up loving dance at Martell. Molly joined our dance family at a young age and was a student at Martell for 14 years. Throughout those years she studied a little bit of everything the studio had to offer, was the 2015/2016 scholarship student and has been to many conventions with Martell, such as NUVO, Turn it Around, and DanceMakers. Molly is now a student at Kent State University, majoring in Environmental Studies with a minor in Sustainability. During the past few summers she has been a camp counselor at Camp Christopher. This past, rather peculiar summer, she ran the challenge course on site. During the fall and spring she also teaches environmental education to 5th and 6th graders whose schools come and visit Camp Christopher. Molly is extremely excited to be back at Martell and teaching.
Isabel Balana began dancing at 3 years old. She studied primarily ballet and pointe at Nan Klinger Excellence in Dance where she was part of the Cuyahoga Valley Youth Ballet until the age of 12. Wanting to explore other styles of dance, Isabel joined the Martell School of Dance. During her time there she became part of the student staff, attended several dance conventions, took part in community performances and was the 2014-2015 Scholarship Student. Since graduating high school in 2018, she has taught on and off at the studio.
In the fall of 2019, Isabel began her training in the conservatory program at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy (AMDA) as a Dance Theatre major. At AMDA, she developed her skills in dancing, acting and singing until she graduated in October 2021.
Isabel is now a company member with Ballet Legato, a new contemporary ballet company located in Cleveland. She is so excited to share all the knowledge she has accumulated over the years at the place that helped make her the dancer she is today.
April Templeton Brenneman
April Templeton Brenneman first started her dance training at the age of 8 under the late Richard Moore. Over the years, she continues to study her craft by traveling to numerous conventions, studios, and never turning down an opportunity to take class or perform. Recently, April has been seen assisting the incredible Duo Dejan Tubic and Zach Venegas here in Ohio and at DanceMakers Inc. Nationals Convention, back up dancing for recording artist Eden Xo at the DanceMakers Inc. Nationals Convention “Wrap it up Ceremony” in Myrtle Beach, as well as in an EP release concert for singer Anthony Paul from season 5 of “The Voice.”
Though April has enjoyed being a full time dance instructor over the years, teaching several disciplines of dance including contemporary, hip hop, jazz funk, and musical theatre, she has to admit that the journey to being back in the spotlight has felt like a dream! She loves the great opportunities that come from performing; however, she continually remains focused on her influence in the classroom. A goal of hers is to continue her training in dance as she feels “No one dancer is perfect; learning and training are never ending. To me, it is necessary to keep our eyes and hearts open for growth.” April hopes to continue inspiring students, and that she may be a teacher who makes a difference in the lives of others while she is working, training, and collaborating new innovative concepts to bring to her classes.
De’Moni Dobson grew up loving to dance and joined Martell when she was seven years old. Shehas taken many styles and was Martell’s 2019-2021 Scholarship Student. She currently attends Akron Early College High School, and was their dance team’s choreographer. She is so excitedto see what this year holds!
Brittney Hurley Brittney graduated from St. Vincent St. Mary High School in 2002 and Kent State University in 2006 with a degree in finance. Brittney currently lives in Green with her husband Ryan and their 3 children Rylan, Quinn and Phiona. Brittney enjoys working in the accounting department. She is very excited to be a part of the Martell family and loves working with all of the students and staff!
Michelle Vaigl is married with adult twins, Brett and Brooke that she is very proud of! Her and her husband became Grandparents in May to the most adorable baby boy, who brings their family an abundance of joy!!!
Martell has been a part of Michelle’s family for most of her life. She took Jazz, Tap and Ballet as a teen and Jazz & Tap as an adult. Her daughter, Brooke, was the 2010-2011 Scholarship Student. And her 5 year old niece, Brynn, has started Pre Ballet and Pre Tap this year!!
Michelle is absolutely thrilled to be starting her 5th year working for the best dance studio in the world! She is proud of Rachel for maintaining Martell’s high standards and stellar reputation that Miss Teri instilled so many years ago! She knows Rachel and the staff at Martell truly love every single one of their students and provide a nurturing, loving, yet disciplined environment that is not only valuable to the students dance lives but their personal lives as well. She feels that they were the most influential and positive role models to her daughter!
Kris Duey Mrs. Duey is thrilled to start her 17th year working at Martell School of Dance as the Office Manager. She started coming when she brought her daughter Alice to take dance lessons. As the years went on she was continually impressed with not only the quality of dancing, but with the warm Martell family that she became a part of. Even after Alice graduated from high school, Mrs. Duey continued on the staff. She says, “I just love the kids and love the dancing!”
Mrs. Duey herself danced as a child, and has taken our Adult Ballet and Tap. She starred in Martell’s first Adult Tap number “Steam Heat,” as well as dancing in “Singin in the Rain.”
Outside of Martell, Mrs. Duey works for the University of Akron at Quaker Square. She enjoys many hobbies such as: running, tap dancing, reading, yoga, playing piano, gardening, and of course spending time with her family and best friend Susan.
Mrs. Duey is very proud of her 3 children Sarah, Ian, and Alice. Sarah lives in San Diego and is in Commercial Real Estate. Ian, her running partner, lives in Akron and works at the Mustard Seed. And Alice is currently living in Cleveland and teaching at Martell!
Mrs. Duey looks forward to many more years watching everyone grow in the Martell community.