Our Instructors

Our talented and passionate instructors bring their experience from a broad variety of dance, yoga and fitness styles to help you improve your dance, fitness and well being.

Come take a class with Harford County’s finest!

Melissa DeSantis

Melissa DeSantis

Co-Owner/Studio Director

Melissa has her BA in business marketing from Towson University. She is not only the primary caregiver to her family, but also manages projects for a local teen volunteer organization. Her youngest daughter, Tess, has been dancing for the past four years and she is passionate about providing a space for her to grow as a dancer. After being home with her children, Melissa is ready to get back into the business world and to work for herself alongside Danielle. 

Danielle Forgione

Danielle Forgione

Co-Owner/Artistic Director

Danielle grew up in New York where she studied dance and graduated from Long Island High School for the Arts as a dance major. Danielle went on to earn her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Dance Education with a concentration in Modern Dance from The University of the Arts in Philadelphia, PA. While at school she studied under many outstanding teachers, performed and choreographed in many shows and won two awards; The Blumenthal Prize for Service to the School and the Outstanding Student Teacher Award.  After graduation, she danced with Higher Minds Dance Company, New Vision Cirque and Dance Company and The Movement Lounge. Since becoming a Maryland resident 16 years ago, she has kept up with her teacher training over the years by attending many different dance conventions including the Dance Teacher Summit & Rhee Gold’s Dance Life Teacher Conference. Danielle was certified by Broadway Dance Center and Dance Teacher magazine for her completion of the 2009 Dance Teacher Workshop in NYC. She has also won numerous awards over the years including Choreography and Exceptional Concept awards at several different regional dance competitions.  Danielle taught at Harford Dance Center for 14 years, was the Studio Director from 2007-2013 and was the Co-Director of their competitive dance team for 13 years. Danielle is a choreographer for Harford Dance Theatre’s (Live at Harford Community College) yearly productions and was the Co-Director of Harriet’s Happiest Halloween from 2008-2012. She was a co-founding member of The Danse Macabre and a choreographer for their dance productions as well. Danielle is also an adjudicator for Elite Dance Challenge.

Danielle is extremely excited to be in business with her good friend Melissa and hopes to pass along her passion for dance to each child that she teaches. 

Denise Carr

Denise Carr

Dance Instructor

Denise Carr started dancing at the age of 4 and has continued to dance through high school and college. She graduated in May 2017 with a BFA in dance performance from Towson University. Denise trained with many outstanding teachers and choreographers like Linda-Denise Fisher-Harrell, Runqiao Du, Vincent Thomas and Catherine Horta-Hayden. She also performed with the Towson University Dance Company with excerpts choreographed by Runqiao Du, Darrell Moltrie and Kim Bailey.

Throughout her life, Denise has performed in different benefits and venues such as The Sophia L. Kurek memorial fund, as well as Symphony Space in NYC for breast cancer.

She is currently teaching in the Baltimore and Harford County area and is a choreographer for Harford Dance Theatre’s yearly productions. 

Emily Crocker

Emily Crocker

Dance Instructor

Emily began dancing at the age of 4 at Harford Dance Center. A few years later, she began her long time training at Maryland School of Ballet and Modern Dance under the instruction of teachers including Laura Ward-Moran, Kim Pugh and Michelle White. In 2007 she began taking classes with Jessica and Meghan Treherne at Harford Dance Theatre where she performed major roles including the Sugar Plum Fairy and Arabian soloist in The Nutcracker as well as roles in Harriet’s Happiest Halloween, The Children’s Spring Classic Series and Canvases.

Throughout her training, Emily participated in Youth American Grand Prix, and summer dance programs such as Sudbrook School of the Arts instructed by Laura Dalid, Goucher College Summer Dance Intensive, and summer intensives at HDT with guest instructors. Upon high school graduation in 2012, Emily began sharing her passion for dance as an instructor with Harford Dance Center and a choreographer with Harford Dance Theater, where she has taught for eight years.

In 2016 Emily graduated from Towson University, Summa Cum Laude, with her degree in Elementary Education and Special Education. Emily is now beginning her fifth year as an elementary school teacher. She enjoys using her knowledge of child development and best practices for learning and engagement as she teaches young dance students.

Kathleen Rink Ebner

Kathleen Rink Ebner

Dance Instructor

Kathleen earned a Bachelor’s of Science degree from Towson University. While there, she studied dance and theatre arts. Starting her education in dance at age 3, Kathleen has many years of experience in ballet, tap, jazz, modern dance and musical theatre. She has had the opportunity to train with many accomplished dance instructors in the Baltimore Metropolitan area. Her training includes teachers such as Dorothy Virgilio, Ann Roman, Wally Saunders, Gus Giordano, Luigi, Marilyn Gaston, Caryl Maxwell, Edward Stewart, Libby Lovejoy and Diana Curren.

Locally, Kathleen was the Artistic Director for Forest Hill Dance and has taught at Harford Community College and Harford Dance Center. She has also completed courses in African and Social dance, studied in NYC at Broadway Dance Center and Steps on Broadway, participated in classes at The Pulse on Tour and Star Power, choreographed for BAAC Stage Dance Company, choreographed and performed in local musicals and danced with Headliners of Baltimore.

Kathleen resides in Forest Hill with her husband, Charles.

Mckenzie Horseman

Mckenzie Horseman

Dance Instructor

Mckenzie grew up dancing in Harford County. She began studying dance under Pam Villeneuve at Harford Ballet Company and Laura Ward-Moran at Maryland School for Ballet and Modern Dance. While growing up Mckenzie also performed in many local dance productions through Harford Dance Theatre. At HDT Mckenzie performed major roles including the Sugar Plum Fairy, Snow Queen, Dew Drop and Arabian soloist in The Nutcracker, Harriet in Harriet’s Happiest Halloween, as well as roles in The Children’s Spring Classic Series and Canvases. She graduated, with honors and a concentration in dance, from Carver Center for Arts and Technology in 2004. While attending Carver Mckenzie studied with Ken Sketchesky, Elizabeth Ahearn, Amanda Thom Woodson and Glenna Blessing.

Mckenzie graduated from Goucher College with a B.A. in Dance Performance and Choreography. She performed in several works by fellow students, faculty and guest artists. Throughout her training, Mckenzie attended summer dance programs including Sudbrook School of the Arts, Goucher College Summer Dance Intensive, Kirov and American Ballet Theater.

Mckenzie has been teaching dance for the past 13 years and is currently and Directs/choreographs for The Nutcracker at Harford Dance Theatre (Live at Harford Community College. She is excited to start this new journey with Raise the Barre.

Jill League

Jill League

Birthday Party Manager/MOD/Mini Acro Instructor/Yoga Instructor

“If you can dream it, you can do it!”

Jill has more than 30 years of experience with children. Most recently she was blessed to be a preschool teacher for 16 years.

Jill dreamed of becoming a Children’s Yoga and Mindfulness teacher and made it a reality! She plans on adding a Children’s Fitness Certification as well.

Jill absolutely loves spending time with and engaging with children. Their imaginations are bright lights and she looks forward to her new dream come true. 

Ashley McDowell

Ashley McDowell

Dance Instructor

Ashley McDowell (Blondell) is a local Baltimore resident where she began her training with Edna Lee Dance Studio at age 2. She then went on to train with various other local studios, including the Baltimore Ballet, Susan Ina and Dance Explosions, where she competed and had the opportunity to work with a variety of choreographers from NYC and LA. During her High School Career at Baltimore School for the Arts, Ashley had the rare opportunity to work with experienced Broadway dancers, as well as those who had performed with companies in NYC, Chicago and LA.

Following High School, Ashley went on to study at The University of the Arts in Philadelphia where she received her BFA in “Jazz Performance” and shadowed Artists from Koresh Dance Company, Philadanco, Complexions, Alvin Ailey and David Parson. Since graduating in 2010, she has returned to Baltimore to instruct various forms of dance and is an adjudicator for On Point National Dance Competition and Elite Dance Challenge. She has had the opportunity to perform in two companies as well, one of which was a jazz company based out of Fairfax, VA and then was with Dissonance Dance Theatre, a Contemporary Ballet Company based out of Washington DC for two seasons.

Ashley has a strong passion for dance and loves to share that with her students.

Jermaine “Platinum J” Melvin

Jermaine “Platinum J” Melvin

Dance Instructor

Jermaine “Platinum J” Melvin is a choreographer and entrepreneur who was originally born in Nuremberg, Germany. His unique style of dance has made him very popular locally, which is how he received his stage name “Platinum J”. He was most recently seen on the Lifetime show “The Rap Game” (season 3) as the manager to his sister, musical artist, Deetranada.

His accolades include performing for Grammy Award-nominated R&B superstar Ginuwine during the Baltimore Believe Tour. He has appeared on “So You Think You Can Dance” and in 2009 Platinum J won the grand prize after a stellar performance for “Baltimore’s Got Talent.” Not only has he performed at these big events, but at many local events that include pep rally’s and community services as well.

He also produces his own music mixes for his routines and classes and continues to put his personal stamp on today’s modern hip hop dance scene. 

Katelyn O'Connor

Katelyn O'Connor

Dance Instructor

Katelyn O’Connor began her dance training at two years old. Her primary training comes from The Rage Box Contemporary Dance Center under esteem faculty including director Karen Muccioli, Danielle Sten Guillermo, Lance Guillermo, and Samantha Hewes. Additionally, she has performed in numerous productions for local dance and musical theater groups including Harford Dance Theater, Mid Atlantic Youth Ballet, Theaterworks Live, and Tidewater Players.

Currently, Katelyn is working toward her Bachelors of Arts in Dance Performance and Choreography at the University of Maryland Baltimore County on a full scholarship through the Linehan Artists Scholarship. At UMBC, she is studying under faculty including Carol Hess, Ann Sofie Clemmensen, Brandon Russell, and Shaness Kemp, to name a few.

Katelyn has been in professional works for The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, performing as a featured guest artist dancing with the National Symphony Orchestra in works under the direction of Hope Boykin. Recently, she has also worked with Matthew Rushing, associate artistic director of The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, on a Performance Project based out of Peridance in New York City. Other recent projects include being a resident artist working in various projects for The Aliyah C. Artist Collective based in Baltimore, as well as a guest artist in short film, “The Thud”, produced by RawArts Dance Company.

Casey Landon

Casey Landon

Dance Instructor

Casey Landon, a Baltimore, Maryland native, began dancing at the age of three, eventually competing around the East Coast, and even participating as a soloist in the Youth American Grand Prix.  Casey had the privilege of attending the Baltimore School for the Arts for high school, and then continued her dance education at Point Park University where she received her Bachelor’s of Arts in Dance.  Upon graduation, she accepted a professional contract with Holland America Line as a dancer and aerialist upon the M.S. Westerdam.  Casey has had the honor to perform in the “Holiday Spectacular” with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, in Balanchine’s “Stars and Stripes” and Martha Graham’s “Appalachian Spring”.  She has worked with choreographers such as Barry Hughson, John Clifford, Jim Osorno, Anton Wilson and Christopher D’Amboise.

In recent years, Casey continues to share her love for movement and technical education with dancers around the state of Maryland.

Tigga

Tigga

Dance Instructor/Zumba Instructor

Tigga started dancing at an early age by copying music videos and dance movies. Primarily self-taught, Tigga has had the opportunity to pass on her knowledge and love of dance through a fusion of hip hop, pop and musical theater. She has performed in numerous productions including Canvases and Harriets Happiest Halloween at Harford Dance Theater before moving on to musical theater in shows like Bring It On, West Side Story, Shrek and Newsies to name a few.

After covering a hip hop class for a local teacher, she was hired to do choreography for multiple productions and eventually to take over the class. She was also given the opportunity to create choreography for the nationally ranked open hip hop team, Entourage, that she also competed with for many years.

Tigga has had the pleasure of working with numerous hip hop dance teams on the east coast. Along with hip hop, Tigga has been a Zumba instructor for over 8 years, Bokwa instructor and trainer for 3 years and during this time trained in belly dance and hula as well. Tigga has been teaching in Harford County for more than 10 years.

April White

April White

Dance Instructor

April White is originally from Baltimore, Maryland where she began her classical training at the age of nine.  April trained with the Art of Classical Ballet under the direction of Magaly Suarez.  In 2014, she was awarded a Gold Medal at the Youth America Grand Prix and the American Dance Competition.  She also received full scholarships to the Académie Princesse Grace in Monte-Carlo, Orlando Ballet, Houston Ballet, and Ellison Ballet as well as an invitation to perform in the Florida Youth Dance Gala.  In 2015, April joined Orlando Ballet as a trainee where she was invited to perform at The Young Medalists Gala at the Miami International Ballet Festival.  April furthered her training and began her dance instruction at the Russian Ballet of Orlando, where she performed principal roles in Swan Lake, Coppélia, Esmeralda, and The Nutcracker.  In 2017, she returned to her hometown to join the Ballet Theatre of Maryland.  In 2019, April joined First State Ballet Theatre as a Professional Dancer and Teacher for the FSBT Shcool.  April’s passion is sharing her knowledge and love of dance with her students!

Kylie Magness

Kylie Magness

Dance Instructor

Kylie is a Harford County native who began dancing at the age of three, starting her training at Harford Dance Center and Rage Box Contemporary Dance Center.  In 2008, she began participating in showswith Harford Dance Theater, performing in notable roles such as Harriet in Harriet’s Happiest Halloween and Dew Drop in The Nutcracker.  Kylie has aslo performed in productions with Phoenix Festival Theater adn Scottfield Theatre Company.  She danced competitively with Harford Dance Center under the direction of Danielle Forgione & Ashley McDowell for 5 years before graduating from high school in 2018.

Kylie attended the University of Central Florida, graduating Summa Cum Laude in 2022 and receiving her BS in Entertainment Management.  While in Orlando, she was employed at Walt Disney World, where she worked as an attraction hostess in Magic Kingdom Park.  After moving back to Maryland, she began working for the Aberdeen IronBirds where she is currently a senior operations intern and administrative assistant, as well as starting at Harford Community College as a the Arena Event Coordinator.  She has been involved with Raise The Barre since its opening in 2020, and has a passion for working with children and helping them develop their skills and love for dance!

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