Chara Dance Academy proudly employs professional, caring, and dedicated dance instructors who are active role models in the lives of their students.  Our instructors teach students technical skills, Christian values, and self-confidence that will guide them throughout their dance journey and within their everyday lives.  Many of our instructors have danced at a professional level and/or hold a university level degree in dance. Each instructor participates in continued education both within and outside of the studio to stay current in the field of dance.

STAFF

Shanna KirkpatrickShanna opened Chara Christian Dance Academy in 2008 with the intent of combining her passion for faith, family, dance, and music and offering it up to the community in one faith based, professional dance academy. She attended Texas A&M University, receiving a BS in Sport Management and Minor in Dance and Business. In 2017 she and her husband Bobby, Associate Pastor of Friendswood Friends Church, started Part of the Art Foundation providing dance scholarships to deserving kids. Together they have three small children. Shanna enjoys serving on the FISD Education Foundation and Board of Directors of Family Promise. She is a certified business and personal development coach with More Than Just Great Dancing!®, helping other studio owners create businesses that serve their students and communities with excellence!

Meghan has been with Chara since 2014 and brings over 31 years of dance experience with her. Meghan grew up with a passion for dancing and was captain of her high school dance team and danced competitively with her dance studio. She attended the University of Iowa receiving a BA in Dance and a BA in Performing Arts Entrepreneurship where she was a part of the university’s pre-professional dance company. Meghan then moved to Kansas City to dance professionally with Kacico Dance.  Coming to Houston through Teach for America, Meghan previously coached dance and cheerleading teams at YES Prep Southwest and South Houston High School.  Meghan holds a Masters in Physical Education from the University of Houston and is now our full time School Director writing curriculum, developing choreography, developing our instructors, and so much more.

Susan KeebleShe earned a bachelor’s degree in finance from The University of Texas and a master’s degree in human resources and public policy from Carnegie- Mellon University. She spent over 30 years leading teams in healthcare human resources. Susan is a mom of a teenage boy and has been married to her husband, Craig, for 31 years. They enjoy going to Mustang and Longhorn football games, volunteering with the FHS Band and Boy Scouts, and serving at their home church, Friendswood Methodist. Susan finds her greatest joy at the studio in seeing the smiling faces of our dancers and their families!

Nicole has been with Chara since 2011.  She spend 3 years training with Ingredients Dance Company in Dallas and had the privilege of touring the country with Dance Revolution Conventions.  Nicole received her Bachelor’s in Public Relations and minor in Business Management and later started her own dance company “Flight Dance Company” that has been performing in the greater Houston area since 2015. Nicole manages our competitive and recreational dance companies and is the Administrator for Friendswood Contemporary Ballet. She has a passion for people and works diligently to extend the Chara Culture by giving back to our community.

Christen has her bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Mass Communications from the University of Minnesota.  Prior to joining the Chara team she spent a majority of her professional career working in Project Management for the Healthcare Information Technology field.  She has a son and a daughter who dances at Chara.  Christen enjoys being able to engage with the families at Chara and share the exciting news of upcoming events, programs and offerings through our various media platforms.

lori chara christian dance academyLori has been married to her husband Jim for thirty-five years, and is the mother of two daughters.  She spent many years serving in Children’s ministry at her church.  She enjoys spending time with family and friends, as well as traveling to new places.  Her favorite thing about working at Chara is making the young dancers feel at home in our studio, as well as making families feel welcome and comfortable.

Jillian recently graduated from Northwest University studying Ministry Leadership. She attends Life Community Church in La Porte, serves in their children’s ministry and helps lead their young adult group as well. She is a former member of the Deer Park High School Escort Drill Team and enjoys using her love for God’s children and dance at Chara to help find each dancer the style of dance that matches them perfectly. Let them praise His name with dancing. Psalm 149:3

Jennifer Yarnold Jennifer is a busy mom of four, three girls and a boy.  Her and her husband, John, have been married for 21 years.  She is grateful for the opportunity to homeschool her four children.  She loves the Lord with all her heart and enjoys serving in the children’s ministry at Grace Community Church.  Seeing children understand who God has created them to be and encouraging them to follow their God-given dreams is her passion. Working at Chara gives her the opportunity to see so many dancers and musicians smiling as they go after their dreams.

DANCE INSTRUCTORS

Rachel ChapmanRachel is from the greater Nashville, TN area where she trained primarily in ballet and modern. Her performance experience includes dancing at the 2008 Dove Awards, on Premier Christian Cruises, on a VeggieTales Live! tour, and in professional music videos. In 2016 she received a BFA in dance and minor in Business Administration from Belhaven University. She is currently dancing as an Ad Deum II company member. Rachel has a passion for dance as ministry and sharing joy and excellence through dance with her students.

Josh Cruz began dancing at the the age of sixteen after trying recovery of a spinal adjustment. Using dance as physical therapy and music as motivation, Josh began his journey as a self-trained dancer. For three years he was involved in kids programs at Grace Community Church including The Noize in which he choreographed and taught Hip-Hop with a fun, positive twist. Josh has an easy-to-follow style the energizes a room and inspires boys to experience the joy of dance!

Madison began her dancing in North Carolina at age seven. During that time she performed in works with Carolina Ballet, Graceful Expression Classical Ballet Company, and Atlanta Ballet’s Centre for Dance in Georgia. She attended college at Belhaven University for Dance where she learned how to integrate her faith into dance; specifically, ballet. Madison has always had a passion to teach and rediscovered her love for teaching after an injury took her out of dance for a while. Madison is excited to be teaching at Chara Christian Dance Academy and she is thrilled to step in as the new Artistic Director for Friendswood Contemporary Ballet!

Ashlynn fell in love with dancing when she was 9 years old at Life Moves Dance Studio in Richmond Hill, Ga. She has performed various roles in several productions with The Columbia City Ballet such as “Sleeping Beauty”, “Cinderella”, and “The Nutcracker.” She is an AFAA certified group fitness instructor and teaches Pilates. Ashlynn enjoys sharing her love for God and passion for dance with all of the children she teaches and looks forward to it every week!

Leisha is a former Friendswood Wranglerette, Kilgore Rangerette, and member of the SFA Pom Squad. She is a certified teacher and currently the long-term sub for the Wranglerette’s. Leisha is excited to be working with the teams, students, and staff at Chara Christian Dance Academy!

Grace is a previous student of Chara Christian Dance Academy, and is a former member of the Chara Competitive Company and principal of Friendswood Contemporary Ballet. In the summer of 2015, Grace fractured part of her vertebrae in her lower back, which became a pivotal season in her life where she grew in her relationship with The Lord as well as began learning how to navigate through the obstacles of dancing with an injury. Grace’s greatest joy is pursuing excellence in dance where she can share her love for worship through movement. 

Ariel SepulvadoAriel has been dancing for seventeen years and teaching for three years. She grew up dancing with the Shreveport Metropolitan Ballet in Louisiana. Ariel spent one summer at the Joffrey Ballet Summer Intensive in New York City, and two summers touring as a VIP with Dance Olympus. Ariel recently graduated with her Associates of Arts in dance from San Jacinto College.  Ariel has been teaching with Chara for the past year and is thrilled to be a part of the Chara family!

MUSIC INSTRUCTORS

Piano Instructor Cindy FletcherCombining a passion for teaching, children and music,  Mrs. Fletcher is an award-winning educator and musician who is thrilled to be sharing her love of fine arts in the Christian environment of Chara Christian Dance Academy.  Her goals are to motivate and encourage students while instilling a life-long appreciation of music.  She has taught piano lessons for 25 years, taught in public and private schools, and directed/performed with numerous choirs, singing groups, praise teams and musical productions.  When not teaching or making music, Mrs. Fletcher can be found with her other obsessions –  reading, cross-stitch, fur babies and family.

Jon studied classical guitar and music education at the University of North Texas. Jon has studied the guitar for 35 years and began playing the piano at age 5. He has taught private lessons in guitar, piano and other instruments for over 25 years. Jon began playing professionally in church and school productions at age 15. Jon has performed with groups ranging in styles from blues, jazz, rock, country, funk, contemporary, pop, reggae and ska. Jon tailors his teaching according to the students interest, skill level and adaption with a heavy emphasis on technique.

“It is my purpose to share my gift with others.” – Jon Gowen

Kirsten HillKirsten is thrilled to be a part of Chara’s Music Department. Kirsten is a student at the University of Houston’s Moores School of Music where she is pursuing a degree in vocal music education. Upon completion of her degree Kirsten plans on pursuing a career as a high school choral director. At the University of Houston, Kirsten is a member of the internationally acclaimed Moores School of Music Concert Chorale. Kirsten is an active member of the Moores Opera Center where she has been featured in Romeo and Juliette, The Crucible, and The Love for Three Oranges. Kirsten graduated from Friendswood High School in 2015 where she was the Choir President and a musical cast member in Mary Poppins, 42nd Street, and Guys and Dolls. If you ever catch Kirsten away from teaching or practicing herself, you will find her spending time with her family, dog, and pet rabbits!

Kylee is a student at the Moores School of Music at the University of Houston pursuing a degree in vocal music education. She aspires to be either a junior high or high school choir director upon completion of her music degree. At the University of Houston, Kylee is the student director of one of the fine ensembles and has been a part of two of the student lead acappella groups. Kylee is a local who graduated from Friendswood High School where she was involved in the musical & choral department. Kylee made the 2016 & 2017 all state women’s choirs & performed in Mary Poppins, Beauty & the Beast, & Les Miserables.

Sara Johnson is an elementary music teacher in Pearland. She graduated with a vocal music degree from Wayland Baptist University and has traveled as a music director and singer.  She loves sharing her gift of music with students and teaching them to use their gift for the Lord.  When not singing on the church worship team, or with her students, she loves spending time with her husband and two children.

Christopher Ranew has been teaching music for over 6 years to students of all ages. He started showing interest in learning music at an early age of two and has been learning ever since. He has traveled from California to Mexico playing on stage and is looking to spread his passion for music through teaching.