Meet Our Instructors
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 National 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 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 US National 9-Dance finalists. 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 4 years. Mallory also coaches the Vanderbilt ballroom dance team (Vandy Ballroom). 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!
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 currently coaches 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!
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. 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.
Mick Milligan began taking Ballroom & Latin dance lessons at the age of 14 and started teaching by the age of 19 in his hometown of Indianapolis, Indiana. He later moved to Florida where he opened his first studio by the age of 25.
Throughout the years Mick has been a studio owner, manager and instructor all across the US. He has competed professionally in several dance styles but specialized in the American Smooth division. He has had many professional accomplishments including a Fred Astaire National Title in Rising Star Smooth.
Mick has especially enjoyed his time traveling and competing Pro/Am with numerous students from New York to Hawaii, as well as Havana, Cuba to Buenos Aires, Argentina. He enjoys teaching students in all styles of Ballroom & Latin dance, as well as Country Western, West Coast Swing and Argentine Tango. Mick’s students have had many amazing accomplishments – from his wedding couples performing their first dance, to his local stars winning an award for their local charity event, or his competitive students winning the United States NDCA top student award.
After many years teaching, Mick still loves to see the twinkle in his student’s eyes after learning a new step or accomplishing a new goal. Mick most recently moved to the Nashville area in 2021 and is very excited to call this his new home and share his joy and knowledge of dance.
In her youth, Shalene Archer was a competitive gymnast and cheerleader in Oklahoma. She first moved to Nashville to join the pre-med program at Vanderbilt University but made Nashville her permanent home after falling in love with the city, ballroom dancing, and teaching. Once she found her joy and passion in dancing, she never looked back! Hard work, a hunger for knowledge, and access to the top coaches in the country led to dozens of championship wins and titles. Shalene is a two time United States American Smooth Champion, 9 Dance American Style Smooth & Rhythm Champion, and World American Style Smooth Champion.
She loves to dance and bring the crowds into her performances, but she quickly discovered she had a tremendous enthusiasm for teaching and particularly enjoys training and partnering with amateur gentleman dancers in competition. Shalene helped to change the landscape of pro-am competition which at the time was dominated by male professionals partnering with their female amateur partners. She and her amateur men turned the judges heads and showed that amateur men can be equally skillful and successful! Together Shalene and her students have won countless competitions and top student and top teacher awards across the country. Highlights of her career include being awarded the top teacher of the year for the prestigious Dancesport Series, a Hall of Fame award for the Dancers’ Cup Circuit, and being voted by her peers as the favorite coach and favorite female teacher several years in a row.
Shalene now travels across the country coaching, choreographing, and training teachers and students. Although she specializes in teaching competitive dancers, she loves teaching dancers of all levels and ages....from age 5 to 85, from a social swing basic to the most elegant Viennese waltz...changing and enriching people’s lives through dancing is her greatest joy. She believes no other activity can challenge the brain, provide exercise for the body, surround you with happy people, and fill the soul like ballroom dancing...and she can’t wait to show you!
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)!
Anne-Marie Fournier is a native of Toronto and has been dancing for as long as she could walk. Her mother was a lifelong dance instructor, and she followed in her mother‘s footsteps literally. She has been a dance instructor for over 30 years and has competed as a professional in many styles of dance throughout the US. Anne-Marie has taught thousands of students how to dance for all types of occasions- whether it be a wedding, business function or just for fun. She works one-on-one with her clients to help them learn while enjoying the process and realizing their dance goals.
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!
Milan Jackson has been dancing since age 3. Her passion peaked into a career during her first year of college by way of joining a breakdancing team named Peacemakers Crew. During her time as team member and then captain, she traveled along the east coast for various competitions, notably, Top Notch (Washington, D.C.), UDEF Silverback Open (Philadelphia), and the East Coast Dance Competition hosted by Culture Shock. Mrs. Jackson also participated and led her team in performances for audiences of 8,000+.
Milan comes with 9 years of overall teaching experience spanning from theatre, to hip hop, to breakdancing, to ballroom and jazz and tap (and more!). She’s also had the pleasure to be a choreographer on both regional and community theatre stages in New York!
Milan enjoys creating and teaching dance curriculum that translates into simplicity, fun and confidence for the students! Nothing brings her more joy than to see someone smiling when they dance!
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.
Jaimee Simon is a proud Nashville native. She has always had a passion for the performing arts and spent her childhood and early adulthood dancing, acting and training others in the arts. She discovered ballroom dancing in 2001 and has trained under some of the most renowned ballroom coaches and champions in the country. She was a 2008 World Champion in Country-Western Dance, and a 2010 United States Smooth Rising Star Semi-Finalist. But Jaimee’s first love of partner dancing is West Coast Swing. She also specializes in teaching Argentine Tango and has traveled to Buenos Aires for training. Jaimee has taught, performed and competed all over the country and is most proud of her hard-working, award-winning students. She’s appeared as a dance instructor on TV shows “Nashville Star”, “Chrisley Knows Best” and CMT’s “Top Twenty Countdown” as well as various Nashville Films, music videos, and commercials. She is also the writer and instructor of the Nationally awarded DVD series “Learn and Master Ballroom Dance”.
~Bio Coming Soon~
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.
Odigene or “Odie” has been dancing and teaching for over 12 years is currently based in Nashville-Davidson County. He specializes in Latin dances such as Salsa, Bachata, Cha-Cha-Cha, to name a few and has experience in Afro dances and Hip Hop. Odigene began dancing in college and has fallen in love with it ever since. He enjoys seeing the vast amount of creativity that can be seen from different dancers and choreographers alike as well as the transitions of dancers from one style to a completely different one. He is always looking new ways to grow as a dancer and teacher while inspiring and encouraging others to step out of their comfort zones and experience dance in their own ways.
Kalai is a Minnesota girl that 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 got Dvida certified in 2019. She volunteers her time to monthly run the Otter Creek Swing dances, and also teaches at Metro's Big Band Dances - which makes dancing free and accessible to anyone who attends. Now Kalai is dancing the competitive circuit with her dance partner Tim Taylor and looking forward to taking students on the road with her.
Danny Pugh has been teaching ballroom dance for the past 20 years, specializing in the 4 styles of competitive ballroom dance and has received training from top level national coaches and choreographers. Danny has competed both professionally and Pro- Am and holds several titles across the United States most recently winning pro am titles at Emerald Ball and Ohio Star Ball.
Nicole Ahima (aka Nicole La Bailarina) helps people escape their mental, physical, emotional, and social comfort zones through the magic of Salsa Dance. Nicole is a Nashville native and received a minor in dance from MTSU in 2010. She danced freelance until an injury severely limited her ability to gig. Soon after, she discovered Salsa dancing and amazingly, was able to do it without pain! Nicole started teaching Salsa in 2013 and hasn’t looked back. She is a strong leader and key contributor to the Nashville Salsa community. This community is like a family and possibly one of the most diverse and safe spaces you will find in Nashville. All ages, races, religions, ethnicities, sexual orientations, genders and political affiliations are represented! You can find Nicole teaching group classes, DJing, and dancing at venues all over town.
Nicole is currently the Director and Choreographer for Music City Mambo and Music City Mambo Semi-Pro performance teams. These teams perform all over Nashville and even travel throughout the US doing shows and competitions.
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.
It all started six years ago as a casual hobby, but quickly turned into a passion and a way of life. From contra dancing to competing International Standard, American Smooth, and now Country. The music, movement, and connection all pulled Anna in. She is so excited to get to share her passion for dancing! Seeing people fall in love with dance like she did is her favorite part of what she does. Look for her to appear with her partner, Jonathan, on the UCWDC circuit this year competing Division One Showcase!
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.