Anne Byrne Wash

anne-wash-bwAnne began dance classes in her hometown of Ashland under the instruction of Diane Hale. During this time, Anne also danced with the Concert Ballet of Virginia, performing a variety of roles over the years, including the principal roles of Clara, Snow Queen and the Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker and Myrta in Giselle. She continued her dance studies at Radford University where she graduated cum laude with a B.F.A. degree in classical ballet from the Department of Dance. While studying at Radford, Anne performed various lead roles for the Radford Dance Theater. With leaders from this group, she traveled to Europe to observe ballet companies in Croatia and England. She has even had the opportunity to perform at the White House!

Anne’s passion for teaching dance began during her college years when she had the opportunity to teach and stage children for the Radford University Arts Foundation’s production of The Nutcracker. After graduating from Radford, Anne performed with the Charleston Ballet Theater before moving to New York City where she studied at various dance centers, including Broadway Dance Center, Steps and Dance Sport. Before opening CVDA, Anne taught at several local dance studios and also at Randolph-Macon College in Ashland. Anne’s commitment to her dance education continues to this day. She has attended teacher workshops at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet in 2012, 2014 and 2015 where she had the wonderful opportunity to observe and learn from the world-famous Marcia Dale Weary and Darla Hoover. Anne has also completed a teacher’s workshop from the Royal Ballet of London and also completed her certification to become a member of Dance Educators of America.

Anne is proud of her students who have gone on to dance at The School of American Ballet, Appomattox Regional Governor’s School, Henrico Center for the Arts, James Madison University Dance Program, George Mason Dance Program, Radford University Dance Program and AMDA College and Conservatory for Performing Arts. She is also proud of her students who have attended the following summer programs:  Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, Debbie Allen Dance Academy, Governor’s School, Joffrey Ballet, University of North Carolina School of the Arts and the Richmond Ballet. Also, she had a student perform in Kings Dominion’s production of Charlie Brown’s All-stars and Peanuts Rocking Party. Anne is very excited about the growth of the studio’s dance company, which has danced in Downtown Disney World, traveled to New York City to take dance classes at Broadway Dance Center and, over the last four years, has performed the The Nutcracker. Anne is also excited about the expansion of the studio this season. In 2015 and 2016, CVDA was honored to be recognized as the “Best Dance Studio for Children’s Classes” in Richmond Magazine’s “Best Of Richmond Edition.”  Anne, or “Miss Anne” as she is known to her students, strives to pass on to others the magic and love that she has found in the art of dance.

Sarah Ruppel Bullis
Ballet Instructor

Sarah-Ruppel-BullisSarah Ruppel Bullis is originally from Annapolis, MD where she began her dance studies at the age of four with Ballet Theatre of Maryland, under the direction of Edward Stewart. Before graduating high school she continued her training in Washington D.C. at the Kirov Academy and later at the Washington School of Ballet, under the direction of Mary Day. She spent her summers attending ballet training programs at the Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet and American Ballet Theatre of New York City. After graduating high school, she studied in the B.F.A program of the College Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati for one year and then was invited to move to New York City to train professionally with Edward Ellison. In 2006 Sarah joined the Richmond Ballet as a trainee and later continued to enjoy a professional career with the Sarasota Ballet of Florida, under the direction of Iain Webb.

Since 1997 Sarah has been independently teaching children’s ballet camps in the Annapolis area. Her strong passion for teaching dance led her to join the Richmond Ballet faculty in 2010, where she is now a full-time faculty member. In addition, she currently is an independent ballet and creative movement teacher with the Weinstein Jewish Community Center, Cartwheels and Coffee, and the Goddard School of Short Pump, and she teaches barre fitness classes at The Barre Boutique. In the Richmond area she has also guest taught at the Chester Performing Arts Studio, Regency Dance Academy, and Country Club of Virginia.

Erin Coumes
Jazz/Hip Hop Instructor

Erin-CoumesErin Coumes began dancing at Encore Performing Arts Studio at age 3. She continued to train with the studio for 15 years while attending summer programs at Richmond Ballet and Virginia School of the Arts. Erin attended high school as a dance major after being accepted into Appomattox Regional Governor’s School for the Arts and Technology. During her time attending ARGS she had the opportunity to work with several guest artists, perform at the Regional High School Dance Festival, submit her own choreography to be adjudicated for the National High School Dance Festival, and became a member of The National Society for Dance Arts.

Erin is currently a VCU student working on a major in Psychology and a minor in dance, planning to graduate December 2015. While attending VCU Erin danced with the Goldrush Dance team for 4 years and worked with Easter Cheer and Dance association as a head instructor for 2 years. Most recently, Erin started her 2nd year coaching for the Glen Allen Dance Team (Go JAGS!), and she works with the Randolph-Macon Dance Team teaching summer choreography and technique camps. Erin is very excited to start her 4th year working with CVDA!

Kacey Lindsay
Modern/Tap/Jazz Instructor

Kacey Lindsay developed a passion for dance at the young age of three, and began her early studies at Encore Performing Arts Studio, Chesterfield School of Ballet, and the Richmond Ballet.  Kacey continued her training through the Dance Program at Appomattox Regional Governor’s School under the direction of Rebecca Hodal.  While a student there, Kacey was selected to perform works by guest choreographers Starr Foster, Willie Hinton, and James Hansen, as well as perform at the Regional High School Dance Festival.  In addition to performing, she was given the opportunity to choreograph works for Eighth Document and From Here, and was accepted into the National Honor Society for Dance Arts.

Her growth as an artist continued through the BFA program for Dance & Choreography at Virginia Commonwealth University for a year before diving into her teaching career.  While at VCU, Kacey had the opportunity to perform works by Judith Steele and Melanie Richards, as well as study with guest artists from Alvin Ailey, Bill T. Jones, Urban Bush Women, and Stephanie Batten Bland.  She was also invited to perform in the evening length multimedia production Locken, choreographed by Amy Kaeberle.  Kacey graduated cum laude with a B.S. in Accounting and a Minor in Dance & Choreography.

Kacey has been teaching and passing on her love of dance to others throughout the Richmond area for several years. She has attended the Teacher’s Workshop at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, where she had the opportunity to learn from Marcia Dale Weary and Darla Hoover, as well as strengthen her own dance education techniques. In addition, Kacey feeds her passion for performing as a company dancer with RVA Dance Collective.

Kacey was honored to establish the modern dance program at CVDA in 2010, and is thrilled to be back at the studio with the wonderful students and staff again this year!

Karen Lynne
Ballet Instructor

karen-lynneKaren’s love of dance began at the age of 4 at Heritage School of Dance. As she got older, her love of dance grew and she eventually joined the Concert Ballet of Virginia and extended her training to include Richmond Dance Center and Scott Boyer Teaches Dance. While at the Concert Ballet, she rose through the ranks to become a Principal dancer and then Ballet Mistress. While there, Karen had the opportunity to perform various lead roles including Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker, Odette/Odile in Swan Lake, Giselle in Giselle, and Nikita in La Bayadere.

While performing, Karen discovered her love of teaching and attended Virginia Commonwealth University where she got her degree in Psychology. She retired from performing when she was accepted into the Masters of Teaching program at VCU. While there, she worked with professors to create lessons that integrated art and dance into the elementary curriculum. Karen became a third grade teacher at Linwood Holton Elementary School in Richmond. While teaching school, she had the opportunity to pass on her love of dance by choreographing various musicals for her school.

Karen also spent 6 years as the Mills E. Godwin High School dance team coach. She choreographs for Hanover Children’s Theatre and was a ballet instructor for Randolph Macon College. Karen also taught for 11 years at Encore Performing Arts Studio. Over her years of teaching, she has had students accepted to numerous programs including Appomattox Regional Governor’s School, University of Richmond Governor’s School program, Richmond Ballet, Virginia School of the Arts, Washington Ballet, Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, North Carolina School of the Arts, and various colleges across the country.

Her training continued at VCU’s summer intensive classes and currently with Richmond Ballet’s Adult Program. Karen received various awards over her career including the 2000 Broadway Dance Center Summer Intensive Scholarship winner and National Dance Week’s Choreography Competition winner- Best Costume, Best Concept, Best Choreography, and Best Overall.

Karen took a hiatus from teaching school to raise her two children Ethan and Lucy. She is active in her community and her church. She enjoys spending time with her husband, Andy, and her kids. She is also ecstatic to be back in the studio with “Miss Anne” as she continues her work with the fabulous CVDA!

Clement McDowell
Dance Instructor

clement-mcdowell-225x300Since childhood, dance has always interested Clement McDowell – whether participating in it or just watching dance for entertainment. As much as he liked dance though, it wasn’t until 2009, when he was in his sophomore year at Flager Palm Coast High School, that he decided to enroll in the school’s dance department. That was the first time he was exposed to a class environment for ballet and hip-hop. It didn’t take long for Clement to realize that dance would be a big part of his life as his passion for the art quickly grew along with his curiosity to learn.

Sadly, after attending Palm Coast High for just a few months, he and his mother had to move to Virginia. For Clement, leaving Florida, which he had known as “home” for so many years, the northern region of the US seemed extremely foreign. Leaving all of his school friends and his family behind made the rest of his sophomore year feel quite lonesome – but little did he know that soon his life would change.

He started attending Central Virginia Dance Academy where he regularly took hiphop and ballet classes and also joined Hermitage High’s own Diversity Dance Team. Two years passed and Clement graduated with the class of 2012 from Hermitage High School and CVDA. The climax of his senior year was when Clement took a CVDA class from a guest instructor, Brian Hyunh, who was a member of one of Virginia Commonwealth University’s Blank Canvas groups. Clement was encouraged to join Blank Canvas and did so shortly after. It was in 2016, after four years of being a valued member of Blank Canvas, that he became an alumni. Clement has performed at various schools and competitions in the DMV area alongside Blank Canvas. Also during this four year journey, he has taken classes from numerous choreographers like Keone Marid, Brian Puspos, Hok (Quest Crew), Bam Martin, Sean Bankhead, Devin Jamison, Pat Cruz, Jose Hollywood, Moon and Chachi (IAmMe) – and that just names a few! And now, at the age of 22, Clement McDowell has come full circle – he is a hip hop instructor for Central Virginia Dance Academy!

Christian Mercado
Hip Hop Instructor

Christian-MercadoChristian started dancing at age 13 with the Richmond Filipino Community. He was trained in and performed traditional cultural dances for many Richmond events including the Asian Culture Festival and Annual Filipino Festival. At age 18, he was formally introduced to and trained in hip hop dancing after joining Blank Canvas Dance Crew at VCU in 2011. In 2012, he was hired to perform as a stage dancer for the Asia 71 32nd Celebration at the Long Beach Performing Arts Center in California. In 2013, he became an Artistic Director for Blank Canvas Dance crew and later stepped up to Executive Overseer in 2015. Christian found a passion in teaching dance and has reached out to many communities to teach including the KODACHROME VA Workshop series, The Mighty at UVA in Charlottesville, Dancing’s Our Poison at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, and even North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Christian is currently enrolled at VCU with a major in business and started working with Central Virginia Dance Academy in January 2015.

Alyssa Paulett
Jazz/Hip Hop Instructor

Alyssa-PauletteAlyssa was first exposed to dance by her mother, who was a dance teacher, learning ballet and Chinese folk dances. Though she danced off and on growing up as she tried other hobbies (like ice skating and kung fu), Alyssa ultimately went back to dance, studying ballet, lyrical and jazz at Buffa’s Dance Studio in Burke, VA, and at the Fairfax Institute for the Arts. She also trained at Hua Sha Chinese Dance Center in ballet and Chinese folk dances. In high school, she was a member of the varsity dance team, and performed in various musical theater productions.

Alyssa studied and graduated with a degree in Graphic Design at Virginia Commonwealth University, but she fed her enthusiasm and love for dance as a VCU Gold Rush Dancer. She continued her dance career cheering for the Richmond Raiders arena football team as a Lady Raider. Occasionally, she dabbles in some East Coast Swing and Lindy Hop.

After a long day sitting at a computer working as a web designer, Alyssa loves coming to CVDA to teach and learn, and share her passion for dance!

Gin Jans Smith
Dance Instructor

Gin moved to Richmond last fall from Orlando, FL where she worked as a choreographer/assistant director at the Orlando Repertory Theatre, and as a dance instructor at St. Luke’s School of the Arts and Act III Studios.

Growing up she trained with Ballet Arkansas and Southern Ballet Theatre (now Orlando Ballet) where she performed various roles in The Nutcracker and Cinderella. Gin continued her ballet dance training as she found a love of musical theatre.  After performing around Central Florida throughout high school she performed in a variety of parades and shows at Walt Disney World, including the 25th Anniversary Remember the Magic parade, SpectroMagic, and the Sparkling Christmas Spectacular.

Gin received her BA in Theatre Arts with a concentration in Musical Theatre from Point Park University in Pittsburgh, PA. There she continued her dance training with Kiesha Lalama, Ron Tassone, and Susan Stowe.

Along with a love of performing Gin has a profound love of teaching, and has spent the last decade teaching dance and musical theatre, as well as choreographing and directing productions in the Orlando area. Favorite credits include Ragtime (Choreographer/Assistant Director), Big Fish (Assistant Director/Assistant Choreographer), Mary Poppins (Assistant Director/Assistant Choreographer), Seussical (Director/Choreographer), Hairspray (Tracy Turnblad), A Chorus Line (Lara), and Crazy for You (Tess).

Gin recently attended the teacher training at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet where she had the amazing opportunity to learn from Marcia Dale-Weary, Darla Hoover, and Melinda Howe. She is thrilled to be bringing her love of dance and performance to the students at CVDA.

Maggi Weiseman
Dance Instructor

maggi-weiseman-225x300Maggi Weiseman grew up in Blacksburg, Virginia where she attended and taught at Performing Arts Studio. Here, she trained and competed in ballet, jazz, tap, acro and contemporary dance. During her summers in high school Maggi went to many summer programs through The Joffrey Ballet, the Virginia Governor’s School for Performing Arts, and :pushingprogress Dance Company. She graduated from high school in 2014 and is now studying Exercise Science with a minor in Psychology and Dance at Virginia Commonwealth University.

I’m happy to join the CVDA team, and I can’t wait to settle in with my students and start exploring!



Abigail Williams
Dance Instructor


Abigail began dancing at the age of 4 under the direction of Elizabeth Turner. Her years at Richmond Dance Center instilled in her a passion for the art of ballet as well as other forms of dance. In high school, because of her love for stage performance, Abigail became very involved in theater. She was a member of the National Honor Society for Theater Arts as well as a Thespian in the Thespians Society. At this time, she had the chance to choreograph the dream ballet sequence of her school’s spring musical, Oklahoma, where she was also the featured dancer. Abigail has had the opportunity to take a Balanchine Master Class under the direction of Jerri Kumery, Ballet Master of the Richmond Ballet. Upon graduation from high school, Abigail continued her training at Richmond Ballet in its summer intensive program. She also danced with the Concert Ballet of Virginia in their performances of The Nutcracker. Abigail is currently a member of the Central Virginia Dance Company (CVDA) Performance Group dancing in The Nutcracker as Snow Queen and the Sugar Plum Fairy. With the studio’s dance company, Abigail has also had the opportunity to perform at the Virginia Dance Festival and other various dance programs in the community.

Abigail graduated from J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College in May of 2012 and continued her education at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) where she studied Early Childhood/Elementary Education. After earning her Bachelor’s of Interdisciplinary Studies degree, Abigail is currently in graduate school at Virginia Commonwealth University where she will be awarded her Masters Degree in Teaching in May, 2016.

Abigail holds certification in First Aid, CPR (adult, child and infant) and AED.

Abigail has been with Central Virginia Dance Academy since its opening in 2008. She started as an assistant for “Ms. Anne” and is now excited to share her passion for dance with her own students!