Meet the outstanding faculty of Encore Studios

MANDI LITTLE

MANDI LITTLE

Owner/Director

Our Owner/Director has dedicated over 35 years to dance performance and 23 years to dance education. During this time she has been recognized internationally for outstanding talent, performed with a select group of dancers from across the US as an All American Hula Bowl Dancer, appeared as a Laker Girl Dancer in the movie Eddie with Whoopi Goldberg, and was a founding member of the King David Dance Co. Mandi has trained extensively with renowned instructors from New York and Los Angeles such as Ray Leeper, Keith Stewart, Gene Anthony Ray (Leroy from Fame), Doug Caldwell, Terry Lindholm, Alan Onickel, and was demonstrator for tap master and Tony Award winner Henry LeTang. She has studied ballet with Fanchon Cordell of the North Carolina School of the Arts, the late Salvatore Aiello of North Carolina Dance Theatre, and Claudia Folts, director of the school of the Charlotte City Ballet.

BRITTANEY DEASON

BRITTANEY DEASON

Instructor/ Office Staff

Brittaney is an alumni of Encore Studios where she trained under Mandi For over 10 years. She was a member of the National Champion Encore Competition Company where she honed her technique and gained valuable performance experience. Brittaney also had the honor of participating in Encore’s apprenticeship program which prepares aspiring dance educators to lead their own classes in the Encore tradition. Her training across all genres of dance make her a well rounded instructor who excels at bringing out the best in the next generation of dancers. Her love for both children and dance make her a favorite among her students.

DANIELLE RICHARDS

DANIELLE RICHARDS

Recreational Program/Competition Instructor

Danielle Everett was born and raised in North Carolina where she studied dance starting at the young age of four. As a competition dancer Danielle won numerous regional and national awards. After one year at UNC-Wilmington where Danielle was a member of the varsity dance team, she had the opportunity to attend Dance Excellence, An International Dance Festival in Los Angeles as a scholarship winner. While in LA, Danielle auditioned for the Young Americans, a California-based performing arts company. As a member of the company, she traveled and taught in Japan, Germany, Holland, Luxemburg and all over the US. In addition, she stage directed a tour in Germany for The Young Americans. Danielle has spent the last five years dancing onboard Carnival Cruise Lines! Danielle lives and breathes dance. It has always been and will always be her passion in life. She is extremely excited to pass on her love and knowledge of dance to children of all ages!

Rachael Knight

Rachael Knight

Recrational & Competitive Instructor, Asst. Director

Rachael is an alumni of Encore Studios where she spent over 10 years training under Mandi as a member of the Encore Competition Co. Rachael has been the recipient of National awards and has studied under the likes of Joe Tremaine, Doug Caldwell, Mark Meismer and Jackie Sleight. As a graduate of Encore’s apprenticeship program, Rachael honed her skills as an educator in the Encore tradition and is excited to pass that knowledge to young dancers. Her students love and excel under her upbeat and energetic teaching style. Rachael also holds a degree in Exercise Science from the University of South Carolina.

ALEXA MCINVAILLE

ALEXA MCINVAILLE

Dance Instructor

Alexa grew up in upstate New York where she danced competitively at the regional and national level for 10 years at East Avenue Dance Company, a studio owned and operated by her mother. She has trained in jazz, contemporary, lyrical, tap, hip hop, and the Vaganova method of ballet, worked with the head coach of the Syracuse University Dance Team, and attended several workshops and master classes throughout her dance career. Her work as both a dancer and choreographer has been honored with platinum awards and placement in the top ten overall, and she comes to Encore with years of experience as a dance instructor. Growing up in the studio has given Alexa a love for dance that she wishes to pass on to her students while also teaching the importance of proper technique, confidence, and hard work.

JESSICA THOMPSON

JESSICA THOMPSON

Recreational Program/Competition Instructor

Jessica comes to Encore with over two decades of experience in the dance field receiving much of her early training at Dianne’s School of Dance in Greenville, SC where she danced as a member of the National Champion Starz Artistic Performing Co. for over 10 yrs. She has trained with renowned master teachers such as Ray Leeper, Dee Caspary, Martha Nichols, Bobby Newberry and Napolean D’umo. She graduated from Winthrop University with a major in Psychology and minor in Dance where she was also a member of the Eaglette Dance Team. She brings tons of energy and passion to her classes and loves working with all ages.

JESSIE VICIC

JESSIE VICIC

Acro / Tumbling Instructor

Jessie comes to Encore with a decade of competitive gymnastics training and competitive dance experience, with most experience competing and teaching Acro at various studios in Ontario, Canada. When she was 11 years old, she won the pre-national provincial championships in Ontario Gymnastics, winning gold medal in the overall over 60 other gymnasts that year. Along with several other awards and recognition such as best dance on floor, best leaps on the beam, and the “expression” award for various floor routines. Along side gymnastics, Jessie was training heavily in the dance realm as well. In 2008, she was the 2nd runner up Junior Miss Dance at MDMA pageant, the same year winning a full scholarship to NYCDA’s intensive summer camp, as well as being named a Junior Outstanding Dancer. In the following three years, she won several scholarships and overall awards for her Acro solos and duets. Although she heavily focused on Acro, she was well balanced in Jazz, Tap, Ballet, Lyrical and Contemporary as well.

KELLY WALKER

KELLY WALKER

Assistant To Director/Competition Instructor

As Encore’s First Student, Kelly grew up dancing under Mandi and has over two decades of dance experience. While a member of Encore’s Competition Co. she has received many regional and national overall High Score awards/scholarships and was twice named NYCDA outstanding Dancer. She is an alumni of the NYCDA Summer Intensive program where she trained with the best in the business in NYC. She is a graduate of Clemson University where she also spent 4 years on the athletic dance team, The Rally Cats. Her senior year she served as the captain of the team. Most recently Kelly’s dancing has taken her around the world as a professional dancer for Royal Caribbean International and Azamara Club cruises as a featured dancer in the production shows.

Isabelle Witzel

Isabelle Witzel

Dancing Without Limits (Program for Special Needs Dancers)

Isabelle joins our Encore family as the head of our new dance program for children with special needs.  As an occupational therapist, Isabelle has over 20 years of experience working with children with special needs in both school and outpatient settings.  Growing up in the southern shores of Montreal, Canada, Isabelle began taking ballet lessons at the age of 3.  She later expanded her dance repertoire to learn other dance styles (Jazz, Contemporary, and Lyrical) and continued taking dance lessons for 15 years, becoming a member of her dance school’s performance team.  She is excited to be given the opportunity to combine her expertise as an occupational therapist with her love of dance and to allow children with special needs to experience the physical and social-emotional benefits of dance.

Shannon Young

Shannon Young

Dance Instructor

Shannon Young began her dance training in Rochester, NY at 2 years old. She continued her training in Charlotte, NC where she was a well accomplished competitive dancer through out high school winning numerous regional and national awards. Under the direction of Pamela Sofras, she attended The University of North Carolina Charlotte where she earned her BA in Dance Education (K-12). While attending UNC Charlotte, Shannon was a member of MOVE Dance Alliance and enjoyed performing in various modern ensembles. Upon graduation, Shannon started Move It! Dance Company and traveled to different preschool and after-school programs teaching dance. She has been assisting and teaching for over 10 years in the Charlotte area and loves teaching students of all ages. Shannon has been a dance teacher for Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools for the past 6 years. She currently teaches at Mint Hill Middle School where she also coaches the dance team and works closely with the music and theater departments on numerous productions. Shannon’s favorite part of teaching is watching the passion for dance grow in her students.

Charise Meyer

Charise Meyer

Instructor / Office Staff

Charise was born in New Orleans, Louisiana and competed with Dance By Deborah for 14 years were she won both national and regional titles. In 1990 she performed on Star Search, and the following year was crowned Mini Miss Louisiana after which she taught for Deborah for 10 yrs. Her family relocated to Lake Charles, Louisiana were She taught for Stefani’s Front and Center for 11 years in Ballet, Lyrical, Tap, Jazz, Hip Hop, Acro, Competitive Hip Hop and Contemporary. Charise’s Hip Hop and Contemporary teams have won many overall awards and special judges awards throughout the years. We are excited to have her on our faculty!

What our customers have to say

While I watched the competition, there were some distinct differences in the groups of dancers. The Encore groups danced to music that was family appropriate and in a style that was very classy and talent-oriented. I am very glad to have my daughter in an organization that has good taste and understands the value of substance over flashy style.

BW - Parent

All of you at Encore have done wonders making them proud of themselves, boosting their self-esteem and having fun at the same time. They really are so proud to be a part of Encore.

K C - Parent

Thanks so much for all your hard work. I love to brag about Ella’s dance school and it’s because you seem to pour your heart and soul into it. It shows! You do an excellent job and you should be told so. Thanks!

K C - Parent

Mission Statement

Our instructors believe that dance lessons can also be used to teach life lessons. In addition to technical training in all aspects and styles of dance, including ballet, tap, and jazz, Encore Studios builds self-esteem, respect, independence, and physical fitness through the fun-filled and exciting arts of dance and gymnastics. Not all dance schools are the same! Contact Encore Studios today to see why we’re different!

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