About Our Faculty

Valerie Smith Byron

Owner/Director
Tap/Jazz/Contemporary Lyrical/Musical Theatre/Leaps and Turns
A Delaware native, Ms. Smith Byron has over a 25-year distinguished professional career in dance and choreography. From New York City to Los Angeles, from Broadway to Film, Val has worked extensively in all manner of media. She has trained and studied all across the country with many renowned teachers, dancing with the Eglevsky Ballet and Wilmington Ballet Companies. Some of her Broadway show credits include Beauty and the Beast, 42nd Street, Evita, Meet Me In St. Louis, along with the Radio City Christmas Spectacular in New York City.

In the New Millennium, Valerie turned her attention to teaching and choreography, creating musicals, commissioned pieces and award winning competition entries.

Her credits span television, film, commercials and industrials, including the 2012 PBS Special “A Captiol Fourth” starring Tom Bergeron, Megan Hilty (Smash), Matthew Broderick, Kelli O’Hara, Josh Turner, Amber Riley and Kool & the Gang. In 2009 she choreographed the film “The Sophomore” starring Bruce Willis and Micsha Barton.  In 2015, Valerie received a Global Arts Award in Los Angeles for her choreography.

Valerie is also a well known dance instructor at Universities, Performing Arts high schools and travels extensively throughout the United States, teaching and judging dance competitions.

Faculty:

Karen Lacy

Ballet
Karen Lacy graduated from Skidmore College with a B.A. in Dance and English. She lived in New York City for 21 years, working as a professional dancer, teacher and choreographer, but recently moved to the Philadelphia area. Some of her dance credits include the Metropolitan Opera Ballet, New York City Opera, Neville Dance Theatre, John Passafiume Dancers, Eglevsky Ballet, and Covenant Ballet Theatre. Her choreography credits include La Traviata, Once Upon a Mattress, Romance Romance, The Big One, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Clue, and countless children’s dance recitals. For the past fifteen years, she has worked as a teaching artist in the NYC public schools with both City Center and American Ballet Theatre, and is an ABT certified teacher who has successfully completed the ABT Teacher Training Intensive in Primary through Level 7. Karen teaches at Dance Delaware Studios in Wilmington, guests at Manhattan Youth Ballet (NYC), School of the Garden State Ballet (NJ), and Philadelphia Dance Theatre, and works at Gaynor Minden, where she is Senior Fitter and Dance Teacher Liaison.

Stephanie Smith

Creative Movement/Hip Hop/Acrobatics
Stephanie has studied with many renowned teachers throughout the tri state area as well as the Koresh Dance Company, New York City Dance Alliance, StarQuest, Wild and the legendary Roni Mahler in ballet, tap, jazz and hip hop. She is a certified acrobatic teacher and is an award winning hip hop choreographer who has a very positive and energetic level of enthusiasm which goes a long way with children!

Ashley Scherer:

Ballet/Tap/Contemporary Lyrical /Co-Director of competitive team
Ashley
, a Delaware native, who has been dancing for many years. She has studied with many renowned teachers and companies such as The Joffrey Ballet, The Kansas City Ballet, and The Austin Ballet. Ashley is in the masters program at the University of Delaware for exercise science. She has performed at Frontier Town as a cancan dancer, the Liberty Bowl with the Beach Boys, Judith Jamison at the White House, Royal Caribbean and Carnival Cruise Lines. Ashley has performed and competed in many National/International competitions/conventions throughout the United States.

Jamie Gissendaner:

Modern/Cheer Dance
Jamie grew up with her two sisters in Baltimore, Maryland.  She began her dance training very young and fell in love with Ballet, Hip Hop and Modern dance styles.  Jamie has trained with the Baltimore School for the Arts, Alvin Alley and Debbie Allen.  Jamie was also a cheerleader throughout high school and college and has always enjoyed combining the two during performances at school games.  While attending Temple University in 2000, Jamie auditioned for and was selected to represent the Philadelphia 76ers Dance Team as a professional dancer, where she would later be selected for many consecutive basketball seasons.  She has also represented the 76ers organization in commercials, numerous promotional events, including their annual renowned 76ers Dance calendar.  Jamie is excited to share her wealth of experience with DanceDelaware as a co-instructor of the newly introduced Cheer Dance class.  She is a DanceDelaware mom and has two children, Leah and Tyler.  By day, Jamie is a registered nurse with a background in Trauma and Emergency Care.

Cicely Everson:

Cheer Dance
Cicely grew up in New Castle, Delaware with her two older brothers. She began her dance training at a young age, where she trained in Ballet, Jazz and Modern dance.  Through out high school and college, Cicely enjoyed cheerleading and performing at school games. While attending Wilmington University in 2001, she became an NFL Philadelphia Eagle Cheerleader. In 2005, Cicely relocated to Sacramento, California, where, an hour after arriving, she auditioned for the Sacramento Kings Dance Team.  She was selected to represent the organization as a professional dancer, where she also participated in commercials and other promotional events within in the organization.  Cicely is a DanceDelaware mom and has two children, McKenzie and Chancellor.  She runs a holistic functional medicine practice when she is not co-instructing Cheer Dance, which she is excited to offer to the children at DanceDelaware!

Nick Elder

Jazz/Hip Hop/Contemporary Lyrical/Assistant Director of Competitive Team
Nick started dancing at the age of nine with one class of Hip Hop a week. His love for dance grew quickly to where he proceeded to train in Ballet/Tap/Jazz/Modern/Contemporary Lyrical and Musical Theatre.  He joined the DD Studios performance team and soon after became a member of the competitive team(SWAT).  In just one year on the competitive team, he performed his first solo earning him regional titles such as Mr. Teen StarQuest and Mr. Teen StarPower.  As a competition soloist he has become a favorite of many with his personality and stage presence, earning him many accolades such as “Mr. Personality” and “Mr. Imagine”.  Amongst his regional title wins, he also 1st runner up National Mr. StarPower in Ocean City 2015.  Nick’s love for dance has taken him all over the country from New York City, NY to Los Angeles, CA learning from the best in the industry such as Mark Meismer, Ray Leeper, Travis Wall, Stacey Tookey, Kathryn McCormick, Doug Caldwell, Joe Lantiere and many more.  Nick is thrilled to share his knowledge, passion and love for dance with the future generation of dancers.  Starting in DD Studios student teacher program, Nick has trained with the faculty in Jazz, Hip Hop, Contemporary Lyrical and has worked his way to becoming a teacher.  He is honored and beyond excited to join DD Studios faculty this year.