Our Staff

Miss Emma Mead

Owner/Dance Teacher

I am originally from England and have danced for as long as I can remember! At the age of 11, I attained my first classical ballet scholarship and at 13, I left home to train at one of the most renowned ballet schools in the country- Elmhurst Ballet School in London. I trained for 3 years in traditional ballet as well as many other genres of dance. I studied under some of the most knowledgeable teachers in the world, while at the same time continuing my academic studies. For the next 3 years I furthered my education at a dance college in the North of England, and this is where my passion for teaching dance started to develop. I completed all my vocational exams and teaching qualifications with the Royal Academy of Dance (RAD) and the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dance (ISTD), before venturing off to start teaching around the world!

My love of teaching has evolved immensely throughout the years; so many different aspects of my career have molded me into the teacher I am today. Mentors, colleagues, teachers, friends, students, family, languages and cultures – everything has played a role.

Over 15 years ago I met and married my husband while living in Germany. Together we have spent many years travelling the world as he served in the US Air Force. In 2007 we were blessed with amazing twin girls and now we are settling here in beautiful Virginia.

As I continue to grow and learn from all the wonderful people around me, I also enjoy every moment in the dance studio teaching the dancers of today. I have a passion for teaching: it is in my blood. I have a love for dance: it is in my bones. I am so happy I have the opportunity to do both every day.

I have always dreamed of having my own dance studio, and now that dream is a reality.

Please come and join me in my new adventure DANCE WORKS and share my love of dance.

Office Staff

Ms. Val Burton

Val lived in Fredericksburg, Virginia for 28 years and moved to Newport News with her husband a year ago to be closer to their daughter and her family. In Fredericksburg, she worked for the public library system for 10 years. She was a supervisor in the customer services department for the last 5 of those years. In addition to the having that experience, Val has also worked in office settings in the past and has experience with office management. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her granddaughters, scrapbooking, playing pickle ball and mahjong and going to her monthly book group. Val joined the office staff at Dance Works in March 2019 and looks forward to continuing with the 2019-2020 season.

Ms. Miriam Tietjens

Miriam was born and raised in Port Chester, New York for 15 years. She moved to Williamsburg in 1993 with her family and calls Virginia home! She started gymnastics at the age of 3 and worked at it for 7 years. The US Olympic Team, led by Béla Károlyi would come and see her group. After gymnastics, she completed a season of ballet. She graduated from Lafayette HS in 1996, then from ECPI College of Technology with an Associates in Computer Networking and Administration in 1999. Met her husband the same year and married in 2001. She has a 17 year old son who will graduate in 2020. She loves to read, knit, play board games, watch movies, workout and is a Pin Up Model with a group of ladies called Hepcat Honeys! Miriam is very excited to be a part of the Dance Works staff, and is looking forward to her first full season!

The Dance Faculty


Miss Emma and her excellent Dance Works team are always welcoming and friendly.  They are committed to high standards, working hard, and providing you with the best possible dance classes for you or your dancer.  We are proud to not only teach dancers how to dance but, also model the behavior and set an example of being good citizens and help prepare young people for a successful future.  Whether you are new to dance, new to the studio, or pass through our doors multiple times a week, our welcoming environment is just the start.  We are here for you, to help you every step of the way.

Ms. Danielle Merian

Danielle grew up in the Fredericksburg, Va area where she began dancing at the age of 3 years old. She has a background in ballet, tap, modern, pointe, jazz, and hip hop, and competed heavily. As she grew older, her love for dance grew as well, and she branched out into Musical Theater scoring an adult role in the Music Man while she was in the sixth grade. She coached and choreographed for her high school dance team, and joined the Silver Storm dance team at Christopher Newport University. She graduated from CNU with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology, and also joined the sorority Gamma Phi Beta. Ms. Danielle was welcomed into the Dance Works family a few seasons ago, and has loved absolutely every single memory that has been made with everyone at the studio.


Ms. Angelle Wise

Angelle is from Baton Rouge, Louisiana and began dancing at two years old. Throughout her childhood she studied a variety of techniques including ballet, pointe, modern, jazz, tap, contemporary, lyrical, hip hop, and musical theatre. While studying these techniques, she also had the opportunity to study with professional companies including Joffrey Ballet and Ballet Magnificat!, attend international dance festivals, as well as perform in ballets, outreach performances, and dance competitions.

She decided to further her dance education at the University of North Texas. In May, 2016 she graduated Magna Cum Laude with her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance with a focus in performance and choreography; she also earned a certificate in rehabilitation studies at this time as well. At U.N.T., she regularly performed and choreographed in school produced productions, public productions, and at the American College Dance Association Festival.


After graduation she moved to Wyoming with her husband. She taught at En Avant Dance Studio in Cheyenne for two years as well as performed with reformation dance company, ballet Wyoming, and a collaboration concert with the Cheyenne Symphony Orchestra before her husband received orders to Virginia. Over the past year, Ms. Angelle taught and performed with dance companies in the area including Todd Rosenlieb Dance Ensemble before finding Dance Works to call her home. She is excited to start her journey at Dance Works teaching ballet, lyrical, and contemporary this year.


Ms. Avery Inge

Avery was born, raised, and trained to dance in Montpelier, Virginia. She is currently a student at Christopher Newport University, majoring in Political Science and American Studies with a minor in Dance. She began her dancing career at age two and has a background in ballet, lyrical, contemporary, jazz, and musical theater. She has competed and was a part of her home-studio’s company and also served as Dance Captain and Choreographer for her high school dance team. She has a strong theater background and used her dance training to perform in many shows such as, Bye Bye Birdie, Mary Poppins, and West Side Story to name a few. This is her first season with Dance Works and she can’t wait for a fun and exciting season! 


Ms. Susan Kircher

Susan Kircher was born in Corpus Christi, TX and began her early dance training at the age of four and continued throughout high school.  She attended many ballet summer intensive programs including Ballet Dallas, Ballet Austin, Joffrey Ballet, and Milwaukee Ballet.  She later attended Purchase College in New York where she obtained her BFA in Dance.  She performed twice with American Ballet Theatre Studio Company in New York and worked with well-known artists such as Robert Hill and Stanton Welch.  Susan has been in various ballets such as Sleeping Beauty, Carmen, Gaité Parisienne, Cinderella, Les Sylphide, George Balanchine’s Stars and Stripes and Serenade and performed leading roles in The Nutcracker, The Firebird, Spring Waters, and The Red Shoes.  Susan also served as a resident guest artist and choreographer for Corpus Christi Concert Ballet in Texas.  She is married to her husband Christopher who is active duty Coast Guard.  They share two beautiful children together; Alexandria and Hunter.  The military has taken her many places including Ketchikan, AK where she taught and choreographed at Ketchikan Theatre Ballet.  One of her memorable times in dance was dancing with So You Think You Can Dance season two winner Benji Schwimmer in Charleston, SC.  Susan is looking forward to starting her first season at Dance Works.

Ms. Sarah Ebert

Sarah took her first dance class in western Germany at age 4. She can still remember what it felt like to look down and see her first pair of pink tights and ballet shoes. Her family was her first audience and her kitchen was her first stage. Sarah moved back to the states and trained in ballet, jazz, and lyrical. She continued to gain dance knowledge and experience as part of a local completive dance team and company. Sarah was also a member of Bethel High School’s Championship Cheerleading team. At Christopher Newport University, she was on the Silver Storm Dance team, began to teach classes, and fell in love with giving young dancers the tools and training they need to fulfill their dreams. Sarah grew up a military kid and didn’t stray too far from what she knew when she added a military husband to her audience. Her newest audience members are 5-year-old Evan and 3-year old Norah. Sarah looks forward to sharing her passion for dance and helping your dancers achieve their dreams… whatever they may be.

Ms. Eileen Byrne

Eileen grew up in Manassas, VA and has been dancing since the age of three. Although she mainly teaches tap at Dance Works she has trained in ballet, tap, and jazz. While dancing at her hometown studio, Spotlight Dance Company, Eileen performed in The Nutcracker, The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and the Citrus Bowl Half Time show, and attended classes in New York City at ABT, Steps, and Alvin Ailey. While earning her degree in Environmental Design at the University of Kansas Eileen played the piccolo in the university marching band and basketball pep band. She also worked at a local dance studio teaching ballet, tap, jazz and competition tap. After graduation in 2014 Eileen moved to Hampton Roads and began work as an interior designer. In 2017, the same year she began teaching at Dance Works, she was named one of the National Kitchen and Bath Associations top 30 professionals under the age of 30. When she is not designing or dancing Eileen enjoys running (she has completed two marathons), reading (especially the Harry Potter series), relaxing with her fat cat, Alastor, and playing her flute (much to the annoyance of her cat). Eileen is excited to return to teaching at Dance Works.

Ms. Olivia O’Malley

Olivia grew up dancing in a local studio for many years. Olivia has 20 years of dance, gymnastic, and cheerleading experience; including 9 years of teaching/choreographing for all ages and abilities, competitions, and training. As well as having a knowledgeable dance background, Olivia has also had over 7 years of office manager experience at local family owned businesses- which she applies in the back office of the studio. When not in the dance studio, she enjoys spending time at the beach with her “expanding” family and her career in nursing. Being at Dance Works for the last 5 years, she has been able to continue to surround herself with what she loves most.

Ms. Jordan Williams

Jordan was born and raised in Newport News. She graduated from Christopher Newport University, majoring in History and minoring in Dance and Political Science. She is currently a graduate student at CNU, working towards her Masters of Arts in Teaching. She started dancing when she was three years old, favoring ballet but loves to branch out. Before graduating high school she participated in the assistant teacher program at Dance Works and taught as an assistant at her previous studio. The Assistant Teacher Program gave her the skills to transition to a full teacher. Ms. Jordan loves being able to motivate and teach children through dance at Dance Works.

Ms. Jen Jones

Jen Jones began her dance training at the age of 3 at Studio B in Decatur, IL. In high school she competed on the studio’s competition team and was a part of the award-winning Mt. Zion High School show choirs. She continued her passion for dance in college by getting a minor from Millikin University as well as dancing for the school’s pom squad for two years. Looking to expand her training, Jen joined fellow pom teammates as a founding member of Millikin’s Physical Graffiti hip hop crew. It was with this group that she found her love of hip hop. Ms. Jen found her way to Hampton Roads in 2016 when her husband, who’s in the United States Navy, got orders here. The two met while salsa dancing in Charleston, SC and love any chance they can get to get out and dance together. While Ms. Jen mainly teaches hip hop at Dance Works, she has trained in ballet, jazz, tap, lyrical, contemporary, modern, Latin partner dancing, and theater dance.

Support Teachers

Ms. Jolynn Jones

JoLynn was born and raised in Salt Lake City, Utah before moving to Yorktown with her husband and 4 kids. She has been dancing since she was very young and didn’t find a love of dance until the day she told her mom she wanted to quit! Since that day her passion for dancing and sharing her love of dance has been a great enjoyment for her. She has danced with many studios and companies. One of which was a short performance at Repertory Dance Theatre with her now husband Brad. Before moving to Virginia she was the Assistant Director of a dance studio in her home town. Ms. JoLynn loves lyrical/contemporary dancing and sharing the joy of expressing emotions through movement. She works hard with her dancers to create growth and measurable success throughout the year. She strongly believes in hard work and dedication and teaches that in class to help her dancers learn lessons in the classroom that transfer to their daily life. Ms. JoLynn is passionate about natural living and taking care of yourself in mind, body, and soul. In her free time, Ms. JoLynn runs a business educating people on natural wellness and uplifting others. She also sneaks in some beach time, working out, and shopping.

Ms. Melissa V Cartwright – Guest Teacher

Melissa is originally from San Juan, Puerto Rico and growing up in Atlanta, Georgia, considers herself a “Georgia-Rican”. She is a graduate of Point University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Music Ministry and Vocal Pedagogy. Over the last 20 years, she has performed professionally, both in the Atlanta theatre community and in Virginia with Virginia Musical Theatre & Virginia Repertory Theatre. She has also worked both in television and radio and had the privilege of working on the set of Tyler Perry’s “Madea Goes To Jail”. Melissa is the owner and head vocal coach for MVC Performance in Newport News and also teaches music for York County’s Middle School Arts Magnet. Her favorite roles are that of “wife” to Shawn and “mom” to their two daughters, Gabriella & Mikayla. When she’s not singing or dancing, you can find her out running with her dog or enjoying coffee with a friend.

Ms. Jennifer Pyle

Jennifer Pyle is a classically trained ballet dancer as well as a stage and film actress. She began her ballet training at the age of seven under the tutelage of Gene Hammett, Susan Borree, and Mary Marshall. Jennifer attended the summer intensive program at The Joffrey Ballet School in New York City as well as summer intensive at the North Carolina School of the Arts. Jennifer was a principal dancer and soloist with the Esperance Dance Theater and the Peninsula Ballet. One of her favorite roles was Hermia in A Midsummer’s Night Dream. Most recently, Jennifer choreographed and performed the pas de deux from Romeo and Juliet as part of the Phantom Players production of Phantom of the Opera in Richmond, VA.

Jennifer enjoys teaching and choreographing, and is passionate about helping dancers of all ages be the best they can be and have fun!

Ms. Caila Carlstrom

 Caila Carlstrom put on her first set of dance shoes when she was 5 years old. She was born and raised in Hampton, Virginia. Along with many years of taking dance, Ms. Caila has competed in gymnastics for 4 years. She was one of the top 5 in the state for gymnastics in 2013 as well as placing 2nd overall for the Excalibur Cup in 2012. Ms. Caila started with Miss Emma at Dance Works in 2013 where she started off with tap and contemporary and eventually adding ballet, jazz, hiphop, acro, lyrical, and pointe to her list of classes. She earned Dancer of the Year during the 2015-2016 season. Ms. Caila competed on the Dance Works Dance Company for that season as well. When Ms. Caila started assistant teaching at Dance Works in 2014 she discovered her love for teaching dance. This inspired her to start teaching gymnastics at the YMCA. She eventually became head assistant teacher for Dance Works for a year before she was promoted to the teacher staff. You might recognize Ms. Caila as one of the white rabbits in Dance Work’s Alice the Dansical and one of the Queen Clarions in Pan and Tink. Ms. Caila’s favorite part of being a Dance Works teacher is promoting optimism to all of the children and teaching them that dance can be a positive way to express themselves. 

Alumni Teachers


Ms. Carly Finneran

Carly Finneran was born and raised in Newport News and began dancing at the age of three. She has always loved ballet but continues to try new styles. She was a dancer at Dance Works for five years and participated in the assistant teacher program. Carly is now a senior at James Madison University as a health science major and a dance minor with goals to become an occupational therapist. Her studies have given her an interest in injury prevention, specifically related to dance, and she loves incorporating that knowledge into her dance classes at Dance Works. 

Ms. Shayley Skinner

 Shayley Skinner was born and raised in Newport News, VA. Her family moved to Yorktown in 2011, where she continues to reside. Shayley started dancing at Fields Dance Studio at the age of three. She transitioned to Betty Smith School of Dance and ended up at City Arts Dance Company through the city of Newport News. This is where she began instruction from Ms. Emma and she has stuck with her ever since! When Ms. Emma created her own studio, Ms. Shayley followed and began working as an Assistant Teacher. She has participated in the Assistant Teaching program for the past six years! Ms. Shayley performed with the first two years of the Dance Works Dance Company and was selected as Dance Works’ first ever, “Dancer of the Year” in 2013-2014. It is an honor that she will always cherish and respect. Ms. Shayley has dance skills in Ballet, Jazz, Tap, Lyrical, Contemporary, Hip Hop and Pointe. In addition to her classes at Dance Works, she has been dancing with the York County SOA (School of the Arts) dance program for the past three years and continues to dance with this talented group of performers. Looking for further teaching experience, Ms. Shayley has been teaching ballet, and jazz classes at the Yorktown YMCA for the past two years. Ms. Shayley is so excited to be given the opportunity to teach alongside her dance teachers!


Ms. Lainey Griffin

Lainey was born and raised in Virginia and has been dancing since age two. She has trained in ballet, tap, jazz, lyrical, contemporary, modern, and acro and has close to five years of competition experience. Lainey is currently majoring in dance and exercise science at Shenandoah University in Winchester, VA with plans to obtain a doctorate in physical therapy specifically for the performing arts. Lainey trained with Dance Works for five years and absolutely loved her time there. She played Alice in Dance Works production of “Alice the Dansical” in 2016 as well as Indian Chief in “Pan and Tink” in 2018 when she was awarded dancer of the year. She was also a part of York County’s School of the Arts dance program throughout high school and graduated from Grafton High School with highest academic honors. She is very excited to have the opportunity to teach and share her joy and passion for dance with younger dancers.


Ms. Emma Bryant

Emma Bryant was born in Landstuhl, Germany and has been dancing for 13 years. She began dancing at the age of two and has loved dancing ever since! Her family moved to Missouri in 2005 and Emma was put back into dance right away! She learned to love jazz because of how much attitude she got to use and at the age of 9, Emma became apart of her studio’s competition team. In 2010, Emma and her family moved to Yorktown, Va and went to one other dance studio before coming to Mrs. Emma’s in 2014. At Dance works, Emma has been an assistant teacher for four years, a head assistant teacher, and an office intern. She also auditioned for the Dance Works Dance Company and has been apart of it for all of her years at Dance Works. Some of her favorite memories from Dance works was getting to play the role of “Alice” in Dance Works’ “Alice the Dansical” and being awarded the title of Dancer of Year in 2016. Outside of Dance Works, Emma was apart of The School Of The Arts Dance program for four years.  Emma recently graduated from Grafton High School and will be attending Longwood University to study Speech-Language Pathology and special education. Emma looks forward to dancing in college!


Ms. Brooke Buchanan

Brooke grew up in Poquoson, VA and has been dancing since the age of 3.  She has danced at Dance Works since 2013 where she has gained skills in ballet, tap, jazz, and lyrical.  Brooke has been a part of the Assistant Teacher program since 2016 where she became a Head Assistant Teacher during the 2017-2018 Dance Works season and worked as an Intern during the 2018-2019 season.  Brooke was very honored to have received the “Star Senior Award” during the 2018-2019 dance season. Throughout her assistant teaching and dance classes, she has learned of her love for dancing and helping other students grow in their dancing.  From the work that Brooke has put in at Dance Works, she has learned how to use those skills to teach students.

In the fall, Brooke will be attending Longwood University where she will be pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing.  Ms. Brooke is very excited to have the opportunity to teach classes while she is home from school!

Assistant Teacher and Junior Assistants Program

Dance Works is a studio that not only trains dancers to be the best they can be, but also helps mold our young people of today for a successful future. Our unique programs allow dancers to grow throughout the program, as they grow up and develop these valuable skills.

  • Intern Program gives senior dancers an insight into the “backstage” works of the studio, giving them additional skills before college.
  • Assistant Teaching Program gives young dancers an opportunity to assist the Teachers, in the dance classes, to gain teaching experience and in turn solidify their knowledge of dance in addition to many other important assets.
  • Jr. Assistant Teaching Program, this gives even younger dancers a chance to help and learn how to become an Assistant Teacher.

All dancers in our Assistant Teaching program must have been dancing at Dance Works for at least one year to be accepted into the program, they must also keep up their academic grades and dedication in their regular dance classes to continue in the program.

2019-2020 Head Assistant Teachers:

Rachel Cobb, Emily Graver, Mackalyn Williams

2019-2020 Assistant Teachers:

Meadow Dawes, Addisen Jones, Paetyn Jones, Aaliyah Lee, Hannah Mead, Sarah Mead, Jessica Montgomery, Emma Stoker, Payton Waller, Piper Webb

2019-2020 Junior Assistants:

Madelyn Adams, Leila Augustine, Abigail Cartwright, Ashlynn Clinkenbeard, Madison Hampton, Ella Karcher, Isabella Kerner, Therasita Long, Erin Magruder, Emily McCallum, Emily Staul, Brynn Trimble

2018/2019 Season

Rachel Cobb

2018/2019 Season

Dancer of the Year

The Dancer of the Year award is the highest honor. The annual award recognizes a top-notch dancer who is an excellent representation of the type of individual our studio hopes to build – the Dancer of the Year (DOTY). In order to be eligible for this honor, dancers must participate in both the company and in the assistant teacher program as well as dance a minimum of 2 nights per week.


The final result is made through a variety of processes, including teacher assessments, teacher and company votes, and lastly Miss Emma’s vote and decision.  This accomplishment is kept top secret until Recital time and presented in the Recital/Production Program.



Past recipients:

Lainey Griffin – 2017/2018 Season

Emma Bryant – 2016/2017 Season

Caila Carlstrom – 2015/2016 Season

Grace Fotis – 2014/2015 Season

Shayley Skinner – 2013/2014 Season