top of page

Meet Our Instructors




Christopher Wayne

Christopher Wayne started dancing at the age of six in his hometown of Johannesburg, South Africa.  He became the under 16 Latin American Champion and Under 18 Male Tap Dance Champion. Christopher moved to the US in 1999 and has established himself as one of the top ballroom dance teachers in the country. His competitive students consistently win major competitions in all styles of ballroom dance from newcomer all the way through advanced/open levels. Christopher has also been a featured professional dancer for the large Nashville charity event Dancing for Safe Haven for the past 9 years - 7 of which he has won the “crowd favorite” award. Christopher has had a very successful competitive career and currently competes professionally in American Rhythm and Smooth throughout the US with his partner Mallory Evan. They have won several professional events throughout the US and are United States Professional 9-Dance finalists.  He has a humorous and fun style of teaching- but you will surprise yourself with how much technique and style you’ve learned in such a short time. As the Director of The Ballroom of Nashville, Christopher will place you with the teacher best suited for your needs and style. You are in great hands.


Mallory Evan

Mallory Evan is a California native turned Nashville enthusiast! She is a classically trained dancer that specializes in all of the styles of competitive ballroom dance as well as the latin social dances and swing. Having trained under some of the nation's top coaches, Mallory has competed extensively throughout the United States and is currently competing in Professional American Rhythm and Smooth (9-Dance) with her partner Christopher Wayne. Christopher and Mallory have won several Rising Star and Open Professional competitions throughout the US and are currently United States Professional 9-Dance finalists. She is also a US Open Swing Dance Championship Cabaret division finalist. Mallory is an experienced performer and was selected to dance at the Super Bowl Pregame and Halftime shows.  She has been a featured performer at the Nashville Dance Congress as well as various music videos and promotional events. She has also been a featured professional dancer for Dancing for Safe Haven for the past 6 years. Mallory loves teaching dance and seeing her students develop confidence. She takes pride in her ability to explain movement so that “steps” can become dancing…the more you dance the more fun you’ll have!


Juanita Simanekova

Juanita Simanekova started dancing at a young age and has enjoyed teaching Ballroom and Latin dance in the Nashville area since 2008 when she relocated here to compete with her professional partner. Over the years, she has earned several Rising Star Rhythm Champion titles and is an Open Rhythm Finalists at numerous events throughout the country.

As an experienced instructor Juanita enjoys working with students of all ages in both private and group settings. Seeking ways to be active in the community through dance, Juanita has volunteered to provide lessons during Metro Parks’ Big Band Dances, participated in numerous local fundraising events (“Dancing for Safe Haven”), and has provided instruction at several local high schools for their special events. Juanita also coaches the Vanderbilt ballroom dance team (Vandy Ballroom). In addition, Juanita has been fortunate to work with Metro Parks and Friends of Metro Dance in the past to implement a summer program, Music City Ballroom Kids.


Ian Meeks

Ian is a North Carolina native where he started his dance career in show business. Having studied musical theatre, modern, contemporary, tap, jazz, and trained in many other dance styles for 10 years; Ian was a professional traveling around the country until he chose to settle in Nashville. 


This is where he discovered one of his greatest loves; teaching dance. Ian still competes professionally in Cabaret and has had considerable success with American Rhythm and Smooth in different seasons of life. 


Now Ian focuses on helping others achieve their dance goals. He finds joy and success bringing others onto the stage or competition floor for their very first or hundredth time, and training them to be better than before. Whether your desire is to learn a dance for your wedding or wanting to be the best of the best, Ian will help you get there. 


Claire Ramage

Vivacious and entertaining, Claire co-hosts our Saturday Socials, runs the Ballroom Basics group class, and teaches private lessons! She uses a light hearted and energetic approach no matter what she’s doing, hoping every student at the Ballroom of Nashville feels welcomed and at ease. With a resume boasting everything from line dancing, to social salsa, to competitions and performances, Claire’s got you covered. She competes with her students in all styles, and with her professional partner in Smooth and Theatre Arts. Acting as both lead and follow in opposite and same sex partnerships, with students as well as professionals, Claire has acquired a unique versatility and perspective as a teacher. She is focused on finding a way to make dancing feel accessible to all of her students, no matter what role they are in, their experience level, or the material at hand. Her love of dance is inspiring, and her love of teaching is obvious. Claire wants to make sure your lessons feel productive and enjoyable every time you step on the floor, regardless of what you’re working on!

Sean Lyons

Sean began ballroom dancing at the age of 13. Dancing International Latin, he competed domestically and internationally representing Argentina throughout South America, ranking top three in the country. He regularly appears on local television and made appearances in group performances on ABC’s Dancing With the Stars. Since then he has studied the roots of Latin dancing (with a focus in salsa) on the island of Cuba alongside top dancers in the world. He has competed in the professional rhythm circuit and is currently focused on teaching and spreading his passion for all styles of dance to everyone in Nashville (and beyond)!


Susanna Cranford

Susanna Cranford was born and raised in Nashville, TN. Growing up, she trained in Ballet, tap, hip hop & Jazz. In addition to her dance career, she has an expansive background in musical theatre. She was first introduced to Ballroom in high school and immediately fell in love. When a job opportunity came up to teach Ballroom in Nashville, she immediately jumped in and has yet to look back. Her teaching specialties and certifications include all of the American and Smooth styles, as well as Salsa and other social dances. In her ballroom career she has competed in Open American Rhythm, Theatre Arts, and is about to begin her journey as an American Smooth competitor with her professional partner, Claire Ramage. She has competed both with students and professionally in Ballroom dance competitions across the country and hopes to continue traveling and building a competitive student body. Teaching dance and performance are her passions and she believes in teaching her students by encouraging them to be the best versions of themselves.

Newell DeFreest

Newell DeFreest is a ballroom, country, and swing dance instructor who has made his career all across the southeast. He teaches American Rhythm, American Smooth, Country dance and West Coast Swing. With over 10 years of experience, he has trained multiple Pro-Am UCWDC world champions. In 2019, Newell and his partner won the UCWDC Division 1 World Championship in Nashville, Tn. Newell looks forward to continuing to train competitive students and furthering his professional competitive career in the ballroom and country dance industries.

JoAnna Senn-Russell


JoAnna Senn-Russell started dancing in her late teens and after discovering a love of ballroom decided to pursue it as a career and didn't look back! Over the years, she has worked as a Pro-Am teacher and competitor, studio manager, and dance director. JoAnna had a great journey in professional competition as well. She and her partner placed in the U.S. Rising Star American Smooth final for three consecutive years and won many other Rising Star  and Open American Smooth events. In addition, her Pro-Am students had great success in competition in all four ballroom styles.


JoAnna has not been limited to teaching amateurs. She has trained and coached many professionals in various stages of their careers, including individuals those just starting out in the dance business. This passion for teaching lead JoAnna to become a National Certified Examiner for DVIDA (Dance Vision International Dance Association). This certification allows JoAnna to train and administer examinations for both students and teachers on a Nationally recognized syllabus. 


Even with all the years in the dance business, JoAnna still enjoys working with all levels of dancers from beginners to professionals. And perhaps the greatest joy in teaching comes from helping a student discover a concept that was elusive to them only moments before.

Michael Hosale

Michael Hosale was born and raised in Nashville (essentially making  him a unicorn!) Just like Michael, his lessons are one in a million! Michael has been competing, coaching and training his students to be the best they can be for almost 30 years. He teaches all four styles of dancing, American rhythm and smooth, and International Latin and Standard. Michael has trained with many of the world's top coaches. He has competed all over the world- both professionally and pro-am. His students always place well in their competitions. Dancing is his love and passion and he enjoys sharing all of the amazing benefits that comes with learning to dance. He brings fun and excitement to every lesson and makes learning to dance easy, fun, and simple!

Marielle Suddarth

Marielle Suddarth started her dance career at eight years old studying the Balanchine method of classical ballet in the pre-professional academy of the Kansas City Ballet School.  At sixteen, Marielle transitioned to ballroom and Latin dance, and competed Pro/Am until moving to the United Kingdom to attain her undergraduate degree.  Throughout college, Marielle received training from champion coaches across the UK and competed in both International Latin and International Standard styles on the Oxford University Dancesport “A” Team.  Marielle now enjoys teaching competitive and social students of all ages in Nashville, TN, and offers lessons in all four styles of traditional ballroom dance; American Rhythm, American Smooth, International Latin, and International Standard.  On a mission to continue to develop and share her passion for dance, technique, and body mechanics, Marielle founded BarbellsNBallroom in 2019, where as an NSCA Certified Personal Trainer, Functional Movement Specialist, and an ISSA Corrective Exercise Specialist, she also works with dancers and non-dancers alike to increase their mobility, stamina, and strength, in order to enhance their dance performance, reduce risk of injury, and ensure a long and healthy dance career…  And life!

Kalai Myrick

Kalai is a Minnesota girl who relocated to Nashville for school in 2012. She started dancing soon after her graduation in 2016 when a chance West Coast Swing class turned into a job offer. Kalai has trained with some of the top coaches in the world and has achieved 4 Dvida teaching certifications. Kalai started competing on the ballroom (NDCA) circuit in 2019 and started the country (UCWDC) circuit in 2022. She continues to take students around the country and compete with her professional partners Jacob Ebelhar and Tim Taylor. Kalai volunteers her time to monthly run the Otter Creek Swing dances - which makes dancing free and accessible to anyone who attends. She also participates yearly in the Longest Day Showcase: a show that raises money for the  Tennessee Alzheimer's Association. Kalai is passionate about making dancing fun and accessible to everyone who has a desire to learn.


JT Thomas

JT Thomas is a two-time US and World Smooth Champion.  She has been studying dance since the age of 7, including earning a BFA in dance from the University of Arizona. She has competed professionally in the Rhythm, Latin, and Theatrical styles as well as Smooth. She coaches all styles of partnership dancing and loves to create choreography for competitive and showdance routines.

JT moved to Nashville in 2013 and it immediately felt like home. In addition to teaching and coaching locally, she is also a national adjudicator and produces shows throughout the country.

With her partner, Tomas Mielnicki, JT has performed numerous shows in the US, Mexico and Poland.  They were featured performers on ABC’s Dancing with the Stars and in the Disney movie Enchanted.  She was also a choreographer for the Fox show So You Think You Can Dance.

Adrienne Hope Hite

Adrienne started dancing at the age of three.  At the age of fifteen, she started dancing on a competitive dance team, where she was soon named team captain. She was introduced to various partnership dances in high school, quickly realizing she had a knack for it. She was fortunate enough to pursue ballroom more formally in college, and has been doing so for the past ten years. 


    After receiving her BFA in Media and Theatre Performance,  Adrienne also acquired her DVIDA certification, recognized by the National Dance Council of America, which she is a member of today. She has also won various titles in the American Rhythm competitive circuit.  In addition, she is yoga certified, having first been introduced via her love of dance.  She received her RYT-600 and is currently pursuing her Master's in Yoga Studies, along with her C-IAYT, Clinical Yoga Therapy Certification.  She loves diving deeper into the various aspects of yoga, both physically and mentally. She specifically enjoys cultivating an environment where body awareness, connection, and self-empowerment are fully available to each one of her clients.  Adrienne comes from a place of authenticity and integrity, truly meeting her clients where they are. She loves helping people in all walks of life.  Whether someone is looking for a challenge, a new hobby, a stress reliever, fitness, or beyond, she tailors the lessons around her students' specific goals and needs. She brings not only her vast knowledge to the lessons, but has been told her encouragement, patience, as well as pushing her students to bring their best to every lesson, is the perfect fit for someone wanting to include either dance or yoga into his/her life. 


Dan Sanderson

Dan Sanderson spent his childhood in northeast Arkansas playing sports and enjoying the outdoors. Performance is what Dan loved and eventually he found a position portraying various character roles at Walt Disney World for live guest interactions. Dan moved on to Spend six months in New York City studying entertainment Comedy and performance and after seeing it all finally found the calling he was meant to find, teaching! Dan’s passion for teaching in the love he has for his students is tremendous. Dan began studying Ballroom at age 33 with zero prior experience. Ballroom of Nashville is everything anyone could ask for. Dan is very excited to be a part of this warm impressive community and he looks forward to meeting you.

Tim Taylor

Tim first learned about Ballroom dance when he attended a class at the local library. In college, Tim continued learning though classes and clubs, eventually becoming the President of the Swing Dance Club. One professor told Tim that there are two rules to dancing- keep your partner safe and have fun!  After college, Tim started competing as an amateur and eventually started competing as a professional.  He is now enjoying his life sharing the joy of dance with others, and competing around the country with his dance partner Kalai Myrick. 


Patricia Lefler

Korean born Patricia Lefler started dancing at 2 years old. Patricia’s Mom enrolled her in dance classes because she would dance on the fireplace every time music was played. Patricia put on her first performance at 2 ½. She’s a show girl and loves to make a statement! Patricia has been a choreographer, teacher and coach for over 30 years. Her background is not only in dance, but also martial arts, acro and gymnastics. Patricia loves to mix the elements together to create a unique and memorable routine. She has worked with competitive gymnastics, cheerleading and dance teams, and is grateful to have state and national titles. Known as the 'clean up', 'synchronicity' coach, she loves seeing a group perform as one heart beat! Patricia loves choreographing everything from wedding couples, father-daughter dances, cotillions, show choirs, quinceanera, dance teams, martial art groups to drag queens! Besides doing choreography, she loves to teach dance. She remembers doing the Waltz on her mother's feet when she was four. And now many years later, she can teach over 15 different styles of dance. From Ballroom to Country and Latin to Swing. Her latest obsession is Argentine Tango.  When asked what is your favorite, she replies with all of it! She loves to see the confidence glean in her students’ eyes when they have that critical “Aha!” moment. Patricia also loves to give her time and talent to her mission of bringing joy to others. She volunteers for numerous charities and events. She was awarded The Mayor’s Award for her service on helping people with disabilities. She loves bringing her students to nursing homes and military facilities with people struggling from PTSD. Patricia, together with her blind student Peggy, are “The Dancing Peas,” and they have volunteered to teach dance at the Tennessee School for the Blind. They’ve traveled the country and were recognized by Fox News for the difference they’ve made. With the help of her dance partner, Sasan Saati, they started Give-n-Groove, where they get people together to dance for a good cause. They’ve been able to take Give-n-Groove to other cities and hope to resume these events in the near future.


Laynee Day

Laynee Day has spent the entirety of her life in fine arts, singing, dancing, acting, competing, directing, and teaching. She has dedicated her career to studying fine arts, graduating with a B.A. in Applied Voice, and continually learning from internationally renowned coaches in classical dance, theatre, West Coast Swing, Lindy Hop, American and International Ballroom, Club Latin, and Country. Laynee adapts her teaching style to her students’ goals, making sure to pair technical information with a fun, positive learning environment. After 14 years of teaching dance and fine arts, Laynee continues to enjoy seeing others experience and enjoy dance, whatever their goals may be. She has worked with children and adults of all ages, working with social dancers and wedding couples to choreographing full production numbers. Laynee is currently competing on the West Coast Swing, Country, and Ballroom circuits. Catch her for a dance at our social parties, or find her talking about the joy of dance with her friends and fellow instructors!


Kristin Sanderson

Kristin Sanderson, a Nashville native, grew up dancing since the age of 3, focused on the styles of ballet, jazz and tap. She attended the University of Alabama from 2006-2010 where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Dance and Journalism.  Kristin interned for a semester as a character performer for the Disney College Program in 2008 and after college she returned to Florida where she performed at both Walt Disney World and Universal Studios for four years. Some of her favorite credits include Disney’s Electrical Parade, Celebrate the Season castle show, the Main Street Trolley Show and the Magic Kingdom Festival of Fantasy parade. Kristin returned to Nashville where she discovered ballroom and social dancing. While teaching she acquired her DVIDA certifications and competed across the country both pro-am and professionally in Smooth, Rhythm and Theatre Arts. She is happy that both her and her husband Dan have found a home at The Ballroom of Nashville. She is eager to share her talents and passion for the life-changing skill of partner dancing and wants to help you reach your dance goals!


Laurie Schwimmer

Laurie Schwimmer is  accomplished dancer and choreographer has dedicated her life to the art of dance. She began training in several genres, including ballet, tap, jazz, lyrical, contemporary, gymnastics, musical theater, cheer/Pom, country, ballroom, and Latin at the age of six. She majored in dance at Orange Coast College and Cal State Fullerton. She has owned several dance studios, including Buddy's Dance Clinic, The Schwimmer's 5678 Dance Studio, Planet Dance, and Schwimmer’s The Dance Center. She has performed on television shows like Dancing with the Stars, So You Think You Can Dance, Regis and Kathie Lee, Sabado Gigante, and The Gong Show. She has even performed on Broadway as a swing dancer.

As a director and choreographer, she has worked on productions such as Hello Dolly, Bye Bye Birdie, The Music Man, Wizard of Oz, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Grease, Annie, Beauty and the Beast, and Mary Poppins. She has also directed and choreographed several dance shows such as Dance Attack I, II, III, Simply Sensational, and Jump Start I, II.

She is a cabaret champion of the US Open Swing Dance Championships and has received several awards, including the 2010 Swing Dance Hall of Fame. As a judge, she has been involved in several competitions, and as a coach, she has worked with several swing dance champions. She is known for her technical expertise in all dance genres and is the proud mother of two successful dancers, Benji Schwimmer and Lacey Schwimmer. Her passion for dance continues to inspire her to share her knowledge and love of dance with others.


Luisana DiFiore

Luisana is an accomplished dancer from Italy, who has had the privilege of dancing at the highest levels. She has won several Italian championships and the highest one of all: the world Latin champion in 2000 in Sarajevo. Throughout her career, Luisana has danced all around the world and taught in multiple regions across all ages and levels. Her passion for dance has led her to participate in "Dancing with the Stars" in Italy. As a Latin dance teacher, Luisana is excited to share her experience and all her dance background with her students. She believes that dance is a remarkable medium through which we can fully embody and express ourselves, allowing us to communicate our deepest emotions, experiences, and aspirations in the most extraordinary and authentic way imaginable. If you are looking to learn Latin dance and start an amazing adventure, Luisana is here to serve you as your teacher. Don't miss the opportunity to learn from one of the best dancers in the world!


Jack Gardner

Jack Gardner is a North Carolina native who moved to Nashville in search of a diverse and dedicated community in which he found at The Ballroom of Nashville! He began teaching at the age of 16 and currently competes professionally in Rising Star/Open Latin and has competed in American Rhythm as well as Showdance categories. Jack teaches American Rhythm and Smooth, as well as International Latin.
Jack's teaching style emphasizes creativity and individual expression, creating an inclusive space for students to explore their unique dance journeys.
As a young Ballroom dance teacher, Jack Gardner is not only dedicated to refining technical skills but also to instilling confidence and a love for dance in his students!


Austin Jauregui

Austin Jauregui is a skilled ballroom dancer and teacher with a passion for movement and innovation. He has been dancing for 8 years and specializes in Latin, Standard, Swing, and Contemporary styles of dance. Austin's background in acrobatics sets him apart from other dancers, allowing him to incorporate daring lifts, dynamic movements, and captivating tricks into his routines.

As a teacher, he encourages his students to think outside the box, experiment with unconventional movements, and embrace their individuality on the dance floor. Austin believes in fostering a supportive and nurturing environment where dancers can explore their creativity and truly excel in their craft. He inspires his students to push boundaries and discover their own artistic potential by providing a fun and engaging learning experience.

With his wealth of experience and charismatic teaching style, Austin Jauregui continues to make an impact on his students, helping them develop their dance skills and express their unique personalities. Whether on the stage or in the studio, Austin's passion for movement shines through, leaving a lasting impression on the world of dance.


George Blick

George, originally hailing from Wales in the United Kingdom, discovered his love for dance at the age of 10. His dance journey started with Line Dancing, leading him to achieve an impressive six consecutive World Line Dance Championships and secure various accolades from his ventures in country dance competitions.

Transitioning to the Latin & Ballroom circuit, George excelled and even contributed to the British formations team before pursuing further education in dance. This pursuit led him to receive a full scholarship for a three-year dance program at Laine Theatre Arts, one of Europe's premier dance academies.

Following his studies, George embarked on a voyage working on cruise ships for several years, voyaging to over 70 countries, assuming roles as a lead dancer & dance captain across the globe.

Upon relocating to the United States, George showcased his talents in prominent roles in Las Vegas productions. Presently based in Nashville, his aspiration is to share the joy and sense of community that dance brings with all who are eager to partake.


Matt Stewart

Matt Stewart has been dancing and teaching out of Nashville since 2002. In addition to his professional ballroom dancing career, he has appeared in music videos with Taylor Swift, Jewel, The Mavericks, and Steel Magnolia and performed in the 2008 Country Music Awards. Recently he performed with Imaginatio Arts in the fall performances of This Is A Love Story and Catch The Train in San Francisco and was a featured performer at the Nashville Dance Congress in May 2017. Matt coached the Vanderbilt ballroom team (Vandy Ballroom) and has most recently competed in American Smooth and professional showdance at UCWDC World Championships and other professional competitions. Matt has a productive yet laid back style of teaching that will get you confident on the dance floor sooner than you can imagine!

bottom of page