Rachel Huffman Yunker (Owner/Director) joins Martell from the small Ohio town of Woodsfield and has been a member of the Martell family for over 16 years; originally hired and mentored by our studio’s founder, Miss Teri Martell.
Rachel earned her Bachelor of Arts in Dance from The University of Akron where she was a University Honors Scholar. While at U of A, she studied and performed with various dance professionals. She is well versed in Graham, Muller, and Paul Taylor modern dance techniques as well as various ballet techniques, choreography, and dance history. Rachel has choreographed countless pieces for Martell as well as for Firestone High School Theatre, Jillian Rian’s Dance School, and The Western Reserve Playhouse in Cleveland, and designed the IB Dance curriculum for Montessori High School at University Circle.
In 2004, Rachel began the modern program at Martell School of Dance. Since that time, Rachel has held many roles in addition to instructing the students. Her most recent endeavor being lifelong – assuming Ownership of our historic studio, a dream nearly 25 years in the making!
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 at Martell 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. A dance education is our main focus, but, there is more to Martell than just dancing.
With a passion for education, learning, and integrating dance into each life she touches, Rachel has an endless amount of goals and wishes for Martell. Some of these goals include the development and unification of our curriculum from the Pre-School through Advanced Levels, beautifying and enhancing our dance environment for the benefit of our dance community, and maintaining our prolonged philanthropic approach to dance and how it can benefit our beloved Akron community.
You will see Rachel along with her daughters, Daphne and Mia, around the studio on a daily basis. Whether it’s interacting with students and their families, teaching classes, or even operating the front desk, her commitment to Martell will be limitless. Rachel is grateful for every family and friend of Martell and looks forward to our 39th season of dance!
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.
Alexis Baines is 18 years old and plans on attending the University of Akron as a Dance major in the spring. She has been a student at Martell for a total of 10 years and is very excited for the opportunity to be teaching this 2017/2018 school year.
Alexis attended Miller South and is a 2017 graduate of Firestone’s Akron School of the Arts Dance program. She has traveled to multiple conventions with Martell as well as on her own such as NUVO, Dancemakers Inc, and All Ohio dance festival. Alexis has been recognized for her dance ability at several Dancemakers conventions and was also a recipient of a full scholarship to their 2017 summer Intensive this year in Nashville, TN. Alexis is also a member of a Hip Hop dance company called Elevated. Elevated was originated in Cleveland OH and focuses on dancer’s skill and ability to pursue dance as a career and foster a better life.
Dance has always been the one thing Alexis is most passionate about, she cannot wait to share her passion in the studio and continue to learn and grow as a dancer.
Emily Bowen has been a member of the Martell family since she was four years old. She danced her way through high school and then college, where she studied Early Childhood Education. She was previously a teacher for seven years, but has chosen to stay at home with her baby daughter, Nora. Emily is very excited to be teaching Preschool Ballet, Kindergarten Tap, and Move with Me for the 2018-2019 dance school year!
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.
MyAhna Davis is 19 years old and a nursing student at the University of Akron. danced at Martell for a total of 10 years and is very excited be teaching for this 2015/2016 school year. MyAhna attended Miller South and is a 2014 graduate of Firestone’s Akron School of the Arts dance program. She was Martell’s Scholarship student for the 2011/2012 school year and has been to many conventions with Martell, such as NUVO, Turn it Around, and DanceMakers. She has also participated in performances both in and outside of the Akron Community. Some of these include the Orange Bowl in 2012 taking place in Miami Florida, and The Football Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony in Canton, Ohio. Dance has been and continues to be a life changing and enjoyable experience for MyAhna, and she cannot wait to share her love and passion for dance with all of her students this year!
Torie Gray grew up specializing in traditional and contemporary tap and clogging styles in Southeast Ohio. Throughout this time she performed at Miss Ohio pageants, multiple presidential rallies, and national/international competitions. She received a Psychology degree from the University of Akron and spent several years traveling the globe doing research on the causes and treatments for autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and becoming fluent in multiple languages. She currently performs in-home behavior therapy for children with ASD. Toriealso received a minor in dance from Akron studying under Mary Ann Black and Frank Kosik. Because of her strong background in clogging and her work at Akron, Torie enjoys infusing dance styles to create unique pieces which break the boundaries of traditional tap dance while still honoring the rich history of the dance form. Why be normal when you can be weird? It’s way more fun! Torie places a strong emphasis on rhythm and timing in her teaching and hopes that her students will emerge with a strong tap vocabulary and technical base. She is extremely passionate about making music with her feet, having fun, and hopes to instill this love and joy in her students as well.
If a child can’t learn the way we teach, maybe we should teach the way they learn. – Ignacio Estrada
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 is originally from Marysville, Ohio where she first began her dance training at the age of nine in Tap, Jazz, Ballet, Lyrical and Pointe. 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 and RED Dance Company. She is currently a member of Inlet Dance Theater’s Trainee and Apprentice Program. This is Darcie’s second year teaching at Martell, and she is excited to continue sharing her knowledge and love of dance!
Patricia Luthy-Herrnstein was classically trained at School of American Ballet, Boston Ballet, and Dayton Ballet and danced professionally with Chautauqua Festival Ballet and Dayton Ballet. Patti acted as Assistant Artistic Director of the Columbus Youth Ballet Company from 1990-1994, before moving to Akron. Miss Patti taught at the University of Akron’s Dance Institute from 1995-2012. She loves sharing and passing on her love of ballet. This will be her 6th year of teaching 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 two have married and another will marry this June.
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 is the former Owner and Director of Martell School of Dance and has been a member of the Martell family for 28 years. At the age of 6, she started with tap, and jumped into the ballet and jazz program shortly after. When she was 15, Jennifer was Martell’s Scholarship Student, an honor that only one student receives each year. After completing her one year scholarship, she began teaching and assisting under the guidance of Teri Martell, or “Miss Teri” as her students affectionately called her. During her Junior High and High School years, Jennifer attended several dance conventions with Miss Teri and other students and received a scholarship to dance for the summer of 1999 with Hoctor’s Dance Caravan; a 6 week, 8 city tour, assisting and training with the nations top dance teachers.
In 2002, Jennifer graduated from St. Vincent St. Mary High School in Akron and began pursuing her life long dream of performing. In November of 2003, Jennifer was hired by Holland America Cruise Lines to perform in the night time production shows as part of a 10 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. Jennifer will be teaching various age groups, levels and styles as she continues to teach alongside the 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 Sacha Sharlee Sacha 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!
Maddie Thomas is a graduate of Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio where she studied Psychology, Economics and Business Management. Maddie danced at Martell for 10 years where she discovered her love for dance. In college Maddie continued to take ballet classes, and was the captain of the Spartan Dance Team. Maddie currently works full time at Catholic Charities as the Camp Registrar of Camp Christopher.
Brooke Winter joined the Martell family in the Summer of 2015 and has loved it ever since! She currently lives in Highland Square with her husband and son.
In addition to teaching at Martell, Brooke coached competitive gymnastics for 10 years. Brooke is a certified Acrobatic Arts teacher, and currently teaches all of Martell’s Acro classes, along with Move with Me! 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.
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!
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.
Erin Siegferth is a senior at The University of Akron with a major in English, and minors in Creative Writing and Consumer Marketing. Erin grew up in Akron and danced at Martell for fifteen years—an experience that shaped her lifelong love for dance, value of physical movement, and a need for creativity. She is happy to remain close to the Martell family as an office manager at the front desk of the Main studio in Highland Square.
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!
Sophia Fugate is a freshman at the University of Akron currently majoring in Art Exploratory. She plans on graduating with a degree in the visual arts or anthropology with a minor in art. She is an alumni of Miller South and Firestone High School, having participated in the Akron School of The Arts program as an art student. Before that she started her dance career at age 4 and has been dancing on and off for 14 years. She has been dancing at Martell since middle school with a concentration in ballet, pointe, and hip hop. Her two passions are dance and art and she plans to combine them with murals to be displayed at Martell.This is her first year working at Martell and she hopes that this year goes well!
Alice K. Duey grew up in Akron, Ohio, studying here at Martell School of Dance and at West Side Vocal Academy. After graduating with honors and a focus in dance from Firestone High School, she set sail around the world with Holland America Cruise Line as Second Lead Singer. Through this rewarding opportunity, Alice was able to visit all seven continents and four oceans. Her next adventure in entertainment took place for six years at Walt Disney World, where her primary roles included Dance Captain for the Castle’s Holiday Show, “Celebrate the Season”, and Lead Actor of “Disney Jr. Live on Stage”. While In Florida, she also performed in dinner theatres, television productions, commercial gigs, and with Universal Orlando.
After hanging up her stage heels, Alice embraced her love for education and has been teaching movement and music since. Nurturing her student’s imaginations and social-emotional development in theatrical and thoughtfully expressive ways is one of her most valuable skills as a teacher. She believes in educating in positive, encouraging, kind, and honest ways.
Outside of Martell, Alice is a teaching artist with ArtSparks, practices yoga, enjoys writing and reading, spends countless hours getting lost in nature with her pup, Griffin, and baking with her mom, Mrs. Duey. She recently settled in Cuyahoga Falls and is pursuing her degree in Child and Family Development, with a minor in French, at the University of Akron.
Kasey Williams is 19 years old and is studying Early Childhood Inclusive Education at the University of Akron. She graduated from Archbishop Hoban High School in 2017, and danced at Martell for eight years. Through her time as a Martell student, she attended two Dancemakers conventions, the All Ohio Dance Festival, an Akron Children’s Hospital performance, and many other wonderful opportunities. She assisted the Martell Tu classes over the last 4 years, and this will be her first year teaching her own classes. Kasey will be teaching four kindergarten classes and a 1st-2nd grade class on Saturday mornings. She has always had a passion for teaching young children and watching them grow throughout their early childhood years. She cannot wait to combine her love for teaching and her passion for dance in all of her classes this upcoming school year.
Lexi Hartung was born and raised in the small town of Huron, Ohio and has been dancing since the age of 5. She is currently a dance major at the University of Akron where she recently received a 2019 Dance Award. Lexi has trained all across Ohio and even in California in many different styles of dance. Growing up, she competed in many regional and national competitions, performed for various events at Cedar Point, and danced in the Nutcracker, in addition to many other performances. More recently, she has been involved in performances with The University of Akron Dance Company, Choreographers’ Workshop, Spring Into Dance, and was in a piece for the Adjudication Concert at the American College Dance Association. Lexi is passionate about sharing her love of dance with others and cannot wait to work with the students at Martell!