Dance Teacher Biographies
The instructors you'll read about below are the heroes of our dance department. They create a fantastic experience for hundreds of dancers each year. I'm privileged to work with and continually inspired by the wonderful people who choose to share their passion for creativity, excellence in motion and having fun while growing and learning at the Pavilion in Mountlake Terrace.
Take a look and you might learn something new about your favorite teacher. - Chloe Davenport
Chloe E Davenport Ballet, Pointe, Jazz, Funky Kids, Tap/Ballet, Creative Dance, Modern & Contemporary Dance
Ms. Davenport has been teaching Ballet, Modern/Contemporary Dance, and Creative Dance abroad and in the US since 1994. Her love of dance started at age 3 when her mother took her to see the Boston Ballet and she sat on the edge of her seat for the duration of the performance. She immediately started dance lessons and loved to ‘be a butterfly’.
Her first serious training began at age 7 while her family was stationed with the Air Force in Japan. The unforgettable two year experience of taking ballet class where only Japanese was spoken, taught her that dance is it's own language and is for everybody. After moving to Southern California she studied Ballet and Jazz at the Phyllis Cyr Dance Academy, dancing in all of their nutcrackers, recitals and performing groups. She went on to receive a BA in Dance from UC Santa Barbara focusing on Modern Dance, Improvisation, Composition and Ballet.
Directly out of college, her wanderlust landed her in Dortmund Germany where she began teaching dance to children and adults. In this she found her calling and sought out a second dance degree focused on instruction. The Rotterdam Dance Academy in the Netherlands, after two years of study, awarded her a Modern Dance Docent/Teachers Certificate in 1999. This education included curriculum planning for Ballet, Modern Dance, Creative Dance and Improvisation classes supported by child development, as well as rigorous physical training in many dance techniques including Martha Graham and Merce Cunningham Modern Dance styles.
Since returning to the states in 1999, she has taught throughout the greater Seattle area including Spectrum Dance, Allegro Performing Arts School, 9th Ave School of Dance and many Seattle Community Centers. She has been directing the dance program here at MLT since June 2011. Under Ms. Davenport’s guidance, the participants and highly trained staff, create a supportive, inclusive and performance ready dance community.
Salsa & Ballroom Dance
Ms. Abaya, brings 20 years of teaching experience to her students. She has achieved national and international recognition as a ballroom champion; teaching, competing, and performing, locally and abroad. Catherine is a United States American Rhythm Rising Star Finalists and United States Open Semi-finalists. At the pinnacle of her performance career, she was ranked 7th in the United States.
She is dedicated to bringing Mountlake Terrace some of the best dance instruction in the business.
Irish Step Dance
Lauren began Irish step dancing at the age of seven at the Haran School of Irish Dance in Spokane, WA. Within this school, she excelled in competition and became a champion-level dancer, but she really loved the performance side of the dance performing countless times with band An Dóchas. Her passion for Irish dancing and the performative side of the dance took her to Limerick, Ireland, where she received a BA in Irish Music and Dance from the University of Limerick.
While attending the University of Limerick, she competed with the Fleming-Ball Irish Dance Academy, won a Munster (a western region in Ireland) medal, and competed at two World Championships: London (2014) and Montréal (2015). Apart from competition, in university, she worked on the artistic and creative side of Irish dancing while studying other dance forms such as Cape Briton, ballet, sean nós, and aerial dance.
During her third year of university, Lauren took a three day long exam to become a registered Irish dance teacher with world-wide organization, An Coimisíun le Rincí Gaelacha, and passed. She was the only student in her degree to pass the exam during university. She is now a registered TCRG (Teagascóir Choimisiúin le Rinci Gaelacha). In her classes, she conveys her passion and love of the historic and energetic dance form, while teaching the technical, traditional, and artistic sides of Irish dancing.
Jazz, Hip Hop
A native of Maryland, Tiffani began dancing in local studios at the age of 3, and hasn’t stopped since. During her middle school years, she studied at the Dance Institute of Washington, under the direction of Fabion Barnes. She later attended Hampton University, where she performed with the Terpsichorean Dance Company, and had the pleasure of taking master classes from notable companies such as PHILADANCO! and Alvin Ailey.
In 2005, Tiffani began professionally teaching ballet and tap classes at a local Maryland studio. A year later, she began choreographing for the studio’s company, with her dances ultimately reaching the world stage when the company proudly performed at the 2012 London Olympics.
Tiffani has always had a love and passion for dance, which culminated in the opening of a community dance studio in 2017, where she taught creative dance, ballet, tap, jazz and hip-hop to various age groups. As the owner-operator, this gave her a platform to continue sharing that same joy and passion with her students.
Recently, Tiffani has moved to the Pacific Northwest and is very excited to join the dance program at Mountlake Terrace, teaching jazz and hip-hop. In addition to those genres, she enjoys teaching contemporary, lyrical, ballet, tap, creative dance, and technique and conditioning classes of all ages. Dancing is such a great outlet for self-expression, and Tiffani loves to teach her students from an early age the fun and joy dance can bring to one’s life.
Creative Dance, Funky Jazz, Summer Camps
Jennifer is a 200 hour certified practitioner of Yoga registered with Yoga Alliance and teaches yoga to adults and children. Her training has focused on adapting practices for students of all abilities. She has been teaching yoga to adults since 2008 and yoga and movement to children at MLT since 2005.
She received her BA in dance from WWU, and her MA in Counseling/Psychology from Lesley College. She has taught all kinds of dance to students from ages 3 to 17 throughout the Seattle area since 2002.
She was a presenter at Dance Educators Association of WA in 2017, 2013 and 2009. Jennifer and Dena Lee co-directed eNergi!, a youth performance group in 2010 and their latest collaboration was Loss in Found in 2015 at Velocity. She keeps her performing chops up to speed with MoDanCo, a modern dance choreographic collective.
Jennifer enjoys fostering joy and ease in movement and creative self-expression in others.
Tap, Ballet, Jazz
Kathryn Hightower has been dancing since age 3. She has studied and performed ballet, tap, jazz, modern, contemporary, Hawaiian hula, Croatian folk, and dance improvisation. She has a BA in Dance, with a Teaching Endorsement, from University of Washington. She is founding director of a community designed to support women-identified artists of all media. She has performed her own work, and worked with groups like Gender Tender, Vela Luka Croatian Dance Ensemble, The Dancing Word, and the Swan and the Kat at Velocity Dance Center, On the Boards, Studio Current, Seattle Center, and more. She is in the process of earning her Doctorate in Naturopathic Medicine at Bastyr University.
Patty took her first dance class at the age of 4 and quickly fell in love with dancing. She’s studied ballet, jazz, and tap and started teaching jazz and tap in 1993. She has been a certified Zumba instructor and an ACE certified group exercise instructor. Several years ago she discovered clogging and after her first class was hooked!
She believes that dancing should be fun and inclusive for all. It doesn’t matter what body type you are or how well you dance--the only thing that matters is that you have fun. Patty’s classes are geared towards fun, kindness and community spirit.
Maria Plancich Keovija
Tap/Ballet, Ballet-all levels, East Coast Swing, Waltz & Foxtrot
Maria began her dance career at Mountlake Terrace Pavilion at the age of three, fell in love with dance, and has been dancing since! Her dance background is broad; however she’s devoted to her Croatian folklore. Maria began in Vela Luka’s children’s ensemble in 1975, when the ensemble was founded, and was appointed Artistic Director in 1998. She has taken the company on tour to Croatia three times and hopes to dance in the homeland again soon.
Maria Plancich Kesovija’s dance resume includes: Ballet Scholarship, New York, 1984; Guest Dancer and Vocalist with LADO Croatian National Folklore Ensemble, Zagreb Croatia, 1991, 1992, 1993; Ballroom Dance Instructor at Arthur Murray School of Dance, 1996-1998; Various Performances with Seattle Opera; Croatian Folkdance & Voice instructor all over the West Coast.
Maria enjoys choreographing, from waltz, foxtrot and swing to ballet. She creates both ensemble and solo pieces for local performance groups. She has trained in many ballet schools over the years including Olympic Ballet and PNB and continues to take classes, most recently at Exit Space School of Dance.
Maria’s pleased that her daughter, Marija, began taking classes with Ms Chloe at age 3 in 2013 and has been dedicating herself to dance ever since. The family tradition continues!
Jazz, Lyrical, Ballet, Funky Hip Hop/ Jazz, Flamenco
Ms. Kostecka, a Seattle native, began dancing at the age of 5. She has studied a wide variety of dance genres such as Ballet, Pointe, Lyrical, Musical Theater, Character, Contemporary, Flamenco, Latin, Tap, Jazz, Hip Hop, Salsa, Tango, Afro-Caribbean, Puerto-Rican Dance, Ballroom, Baroque, Improvisation and Swing. She has performed in numerous production at the 5th Avenue Theater, as movie extras and in music videos, as well as other productions through the Seattle Area. She has studied singing and acting to support her passion in Musical Theater and Character.
Wendy graduated from the University of Washington with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Dance in 1995 and took her internship at Pacific Northwest Ballet in Seattle. She has 15+ years of teaching/choreography experience. Wendy Directed Diaz Dance Academy in Kent for 3 years and has taught at numerous studios in both principal and guest teacher positions. She has written and directed musical productions and musical pieces. Wendy’s choreography has been showcased in several productions at the 5th Avenue Theater, throughout Seattle and in music videos. She has also privately trained/coached Miss Sea-fair contestants, Seattle Sea Gal members, commercial and video dancers, gymnasts and stage musicians.
Jazz, Funky Kids Hip Hop/Jazz
Dayna grew up in the city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She has been dancing since she was 4 years old and teaching since she was 12 years old. She started out in gymnastics and worked her way through jazz, ballet, hip-hop, modern, Hawaiian hula, tap, and baton at a small studio called Joyce's School of Dance. By the time Dayna got into high school, she had completed 2 years as a teaching assistant and 4 years of competitive dancing before being presented with a new opportunity; to co-create a dance team.
Dance FX was formed with a small group of non-professional, dancers who competed against other high school dance teams in the Pittsburgh area. Dance FX, with Dayna as assistant choreographer, sky-rocketed from an unknown competitor to a friend-to-all in 3, fun-packed years before Dayna began her next step in growth at Point Park University’s pre-professional program.
Point Park University, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania offered Dayna dance courses during her junior year. She traded her high school electives to leave at 12pm and study 3 hours of dance each weekday. These lessons helped refine her technical skills and propelled her into her role, as a choreographer in the dance ensemble at the University of Pittsburgh in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. As the UPJ dance ensemble secretary, Dayna was finally given the opportunity to choreograph her own pieces of art to over 100 members.
Since moving to the west coast, Dayna has taken classes with Debbie Reynolds studio, in Los Angeles, as well as the American Dance Institute, in Seattle! She yearns to spread her love for dance into the hearts of all who are willing to listen and learn. Dayna truly hopes to lead students to finding their passion inside their bodies that can only be expressed through the art of dance.
Tap/Ballet and All levels of Tap
Miranda Swan Veenhuysen is a dance artist who loves to perform, teach and choreograph. She has studied a variety of disciplines and likes to combine forms in her work. A graduate of the University of California, Santa Cruz, she holds a dual degree in Dance and Drama. In Seattle, she has performed with Walrus Dance Company, Ha’lau Hula O Maile, and in the Isis Women Arts Festival. Her favorite choreographer is Pina Bausch. She works as a nanny and enjoys snowboarding and surfing with her partner Jason and cuddling with her cat Jasmina. A lifelong mover, her teaching dream is to nurture a love of dance in all her students.