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Meet the Instructors!


Lydia Alford (Cook) began dancing 23 years ago and initially studied sacred/interpretative dance under Judy Mandeville, the protégée of sacred dance pioneer Dr. Margaret Fisk Taylor-Doane. Soon after, she began training in ballet and later obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Dance from Belhaven University in 2011. While studying at Belhaven, she studied the Vaganova method of Ballet Teaching Methods and recently received a Year One Vaganova training certificate from the “Artspectives” online teacher training program. Since graduating, she has taught ballet classes to children (of all ages) and adults ranging from beginners to pre-professional dancers. She began setting choreography on her classmates at 12 years old and continues to enjoy creating ballet, modern and contemporary dance works. At a recent competition in March 2021, her ballet piece “Rhapsody in Blue” received a judge’s choice choreography award. Professionally, she danced with Intersect Dance Collective in Jackson, MS from 2012-2014 and is now a core member of Circle Modern Dance in Knoxville, TN.  Currently, she teaches at Premiere Dance Studio in Seymour, TN. She is passionate about using dance in ministry, making dance accessible to dancers of all body types and skill levels and enjoys sharing her love of dance through performing and teaching.

Amelia Breed has been choreographing and performing dance professionally for 14 years. In addition to the Knoxville dance scene, her work has been performed in Asheville, NC; Brooklyn, NY, Charleston, SC; Chattanooga, TN, and Lewisburg, WV. Amelia feels grateful to have studied with various artists including Art Bridgeman and Myrna Packer, Chris Burnside, Joy Davis, Cindy Dollar, Vicki Fink, Angie Hauser and Chris Aiken, Kathleen Hermesdorf, Tere O’Connor, Stephen Koplowitz, Leah Pinder, Shelley Senters, Nancy Stark Smith, Ray Elliott Swartz, Amanda Thom-Woodson, and Doug Varone and Dancers. She received her BFA from Virginia Commonwealth University where she studied Glass, Textiles, and Dance. Amelia founded the Chickamauga School of Art, a program offering art classes and camps to children and adults, 2009-2015. She founded BreedArts School of Art and Dance in 2015. Amelia has worked with children for 17 years in schools, museums, and art centers both in Virginia and Tennessee, including a decade at Garden Montessori in Knoxville, TN.

Semaj Johnson is a Knoxville native Hip-Hop dancer who has trained in the styles of Popping, Locking, Waving ,Electric Boogie, Battle, Tutting, Stepping, Capoeira, and Krump. He is an Austin-East Alumni and the Co-director of Align Movement Project. He has had the pleasure of dancing with Southern Sole, University of Tennessee Knoxville, Co-Choreography in What the Water Tells Me, and has taught workshops for Carpetbag Theater. Semaj believes that dance is a tool that we use to reinvent ourselves through self-empowerment and body awareness.

Debbie Whelan, for 40 years, has designed dance programs, curriculums and choreography for people of all ages in multiple settings: Meredith College, Penn State University, University of Tennessee, Beaumont Magnet Academy, private arts and community centers throughout the east coast, including a senior citizen dance company, “The Elderberry Dancers”, and the Tennessee Department of Education, where she co-authored the state’s current K-5 Dance Curriculum.

She is the architect of the first public elementary school dance program in the state of Tennessee, “Beaumont Magnet Academy” (1993) and the first children’s dance company in a Tennessee public school, “Beaumont Dance Works” (1995). She is the recipient of many awards and accolades, including: Outstanding Educator of the year, from TAD and Outstanding Accomplishments in Dance Education, from AAHPERD.

Her teaching philosophy is shaped by years of study with the Limon Company, Bill Evans, Peggy Hackney and Ann Green Gilbert. Her teaching of technique and composition is infused with the theories and work of Rudolf Von Laban and Irmgard Bartenieff.

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