ILLUMINATE! CREATIVE ARTS

ILLUMINATE! FACULTY


DANCE INSTRUCTORS

Valerie Lyons - Director and Dance Instructor

Valerie Lyons is a professionally trained dancer who studied at the dance conservatory at the University of Missouri in Kansas City. She began formal dance lessons at the age of eight and quickly discovered a love for the art as she progressed in her education. Valerie began teaching dance at the age of sixteen and two years later opened Lifesong Dance Studio while simultaneously leading the dance ministry and studio programs at City Christian Fellowship Church. During her first year of college in Kansas City, she was accepted to be part of the dance team at the International House of Prayer. While studying at UMKC, she improved and developed her skills in different techniques, styles, and teaching disciplines. She also developed an understanding of the dancer's anatomy for injury prevention. 


After college and seven years with Lifesong Dance Studio, Valerie and her husband felt God was leading them from Arkansas to Texas. Valerie enjoys sharing her passion and providing the opportunity for young students to discover a love for dance, just as she was able to do. Everyday she is excited to bring her experience to Illuminate! Creative Arts Studio and looks forward to training and bringing out the creativity of any generation.

Celestine Pierce - Dance Instructor

Celestine Pierce, a native Hawaiian from Polynesian descent, began her formal training at Kamakani O Ka Moku 'Aina Hula studio at the age of four. She continued to study dance and train in hula, and at the age of sixteen began performing professionally for Island Breeze Productions. In 2000, Celestine began teaching the same hula classes that she trained in as a young student, and was also hired as a trainer and assistant choreographer for Island Breeze Productions. In 2013, Celestine married her husband, Isaac Pierce, and moved to Texas to open Ike & Tine's Dance and Fitness Center, which has morphed into Illuminate! Creative Arts Studio and Shiloh Fitness.

Sarah Kearns - Dance Instructor

Sarah Kearns is originally from Jackson, Mississippi. While in Jackson, Sarah was a member of Army 4 One, a dance and drama ministry, for six years. She began her dance training at the age of 3 in the school of the arts at Ballet Magnificat, "America's Premier Christian Ballet Company." Styles while training there included Vaganova technique of Ballet, Pre-Pointe, Pointe, and Jazz.


At the age of 18, Sarah moved to Texas to become part of Ingredients Professional Dance Company's Trainee program. She was a trainee for one year and the following year was promoted to company. Styles while dancing at Ingredients include Ballet, Contemporary, Jazz, Modern, Hip-Hop, Strengthening, Conditioning, and also Biblical Application classes. Ingredients Dance Company performances included benefit concerts, art shows, Gateway's PINK Impact for two years, Covenant Church's Easter show at American Airlines Center with BeBe Winans, and Grace Community Church women's conference in Houston.


While in Ingredients Dance Company, she toured with the national convention Dance Revolution. Touring with Dance Revolution, she performed with Ingredients Dance Company, world renowned DR staff, assisting classes including senior ballet, and participating in 3 original Dance Revolution productions over the two years.

Lauren Awbrey - Tumbling Instructor

Lauren Awbrey is a graduate from University of Texas at Tyler with her Bachelors degree in Health and Kinesiology.  She started gymnastics at 4 years old and moved into competitive cheer at the age of 13.  She cheered through high school and got a scholarship cheering with the 11 time National Champions at Trinity Valley Community College.  She began teaching tumbling while in college and has continued teaching private lessons for 15 years.  


Lauren and her husband owned and operated an Anytime Fitness gym for 5 years in east Texas.  She is now a Personal Trainer at Shiloh Fitness at the Global Spheres Center and has a passion for helping people of all ages stay healthy and strong. 

Poetry Williams - Dance Instructor

Poetry Williams joined Illuminate! Creative Arts Studio staff in September of 2018. She has been a delightful addition to our adminstration team as one of our five receptionists as well as an instructor's assistant for several of our studio classes.  We are excited to welcome Poetry to our full time teaching staff beginning in the fall of 2019. Poetry grew up in Bethany, Oklahoma where she began gymnastics at age three in Oklahmoma at Mat Trotters Academy and continued on to compete for eight years. While attending Bethany High School she also join their varsity cheer squad. More recently, Poetry trained with Rose of Sharon for Worship Ministry before moving to Denton in 2017 to dance with the Illuminate! Compnay dance team. We are excited to bring her on as a instructor teaching Hip Hop, Tumbling, Creative Movement, and Experiencing the Arts beginning Fall 2019. 

Lisa De La Cruz - Dance Instructor

Lisa De La Cruz, originally from Chicago, IL, began her love for dance and art at the age of 5. She began formal training in dance through Chicago State University and continued her passion for dance by helping to start a dance ministry at her church at the age of 14. Lisa continued to take dance classes in Jazz and Modern as she earned her degree in Child Psychology from Loyola University Chicago.  After graduation, Lisa began her teaching career in Chicago. Lisa’s love for dance never died down so she continued her dance training in Modern and Hip Hop with Hubbard Street Dance and African with Muntu Dance Theater. Lisa joined Deeply Rooted Productions dance company for two years, where her focus was modern and contemporary, until God told her it was time to move to Texas. After moving here to Texas 4 years ago, Lisa was led to visit Glory of Zion where she immediately joined membership and began to minister with the dance ministry. Lisa soon met her husband, Jesus De La Cruz and they married in June of 2018.  Lisa has not just a passion for the arts, but also a passion to minister to children. She has served as a classroom teacher for 20 years teaching from Pre-K to 5th grade. Lisa is excited that she now has the opportunity to fuse her two passions together by joining the Illuminate! staff teaching Jazz and Modern dance classes.

THEATRE

Jonathan Dickson - Theatre Instructor

Jonathan Dickson is a graduate from the University of Evansville where he received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Theatre Performance. He has acted professionally for the Colorado and Kentucky Shakespeare festivals, The Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, The New Harmony project, and numerous companies from New York to L.A.  Jonathan enjoys work-shopping and performing new work and has performed in premiers at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., off-Broadway, and the New York Fringe Festival. Jonathan's love for the art and craft of acting extends from the stage to the classroom where he enjoys introducing the fundamentals of acting to new students. Jonathan strongly believes the skills and tools needed for acting are as beneficial to non-actors as they are to those pursuing their acting careers.

ART

Tumi Mphahele - Art Instructor

Tumi Mphahele has had a passion for art from a young age and has experienced many of the art capitals of the world including the Louvre, the Van Gogh museum, the Rembrandt museum, and more - which fueled her desire to pursue an art education. She began her formal education as a child in elementary school, continued through her high school years, and is now studying at North Central Texas College. Along with foundational art classes, Tumi has studied ceramics, pottery wheel throwing, welding, and other unique courses. Tumi has been working with children since 2010. She has developed the art portion of the curriculum for our Experiencing the Arts classes introducing six different art mediums over 15 genres and styles of art history to her students ages 3-15. Tumi finds great joy in seeing her students' own love of art and artists bloom each week they are together.

MUSIC

Sam Dickson - Drum and Percussion Instructor, Tap/Percussion Instructor

Samuel has been a drummer and percussionist for 19 years. He started learning the fundamentals in drum line and progressed to drumming for his local church. Sam has been teaching drum lessons since 1998.  He has a passion for teaching untraditional methods that he has created over time, combined with basic fundamentals. His teaching style is geared toward learning by ear with a practical approach toward becoming a unique drummer and/or percussionist. Sam has taught a variety of age groups ranging from 2 to 60 years old. His opinion is "there's no one too young or old to learn."

Tiffany Smith - Music Department Administrator, Piano Instructor


Tiffany Smith is our piano instructor as well as lead instructor for our music program for six month - eight year old children. She comes to us with many years of training in both piano and voice. Tiffany has served as pianist for several different organizations. She has a natural gift of working with children. Her goal is to get both adults and children off to a great start in music while making it fun to learn. Tiffany also serves as our Assistant Office Manager. She and her husband, Aaron, live in Denton and have three children.

Shatece McLeod - Delivered Through Sound

Shatece McLeod is a Memphis native and has been a lover of music since early childhood.  She started her music journey taking piano lessons in elementary school and expanded her musical skills in band, choir, and dance while attending creative performing arts schools both in middle and high school.  At the age of 12, she began leading choirs as a minister of music for several ministries.  During the years of leading choirs, is when the training of “playing by ear” developed.

While attending the University of Memphis, Shatece received her Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and served as president and musician for the college choir.  After college, she ventured in teaching piano in her home to elementary children.  Soon after teaching, Shatece and her husband moved to Dallas to attend Christ for the Nations Institute, which is where the prophetic gifting in music was further developed. 

Shatece has 3 sons and it is parenthood that fuels her desire to ignite a spark of creativity in children, causing them to freely express what they see and hear in playing music.

Maggie Wallace - Piano Instructor and Choir Teacher

Maggie’s love of music began at a young age around a piano as her mother would play and teach Maggie and her sisters to sing hymns and four-part southern gospel music.  She grew up singing and playing in church.  Maggie began piano lessons at a six years old and continued piano, voice and music theory lessons through college.  She has served as pianist and worship leader for different ministries, including small home groups for over 20 years.  During this time, she developed skill in improvisation and "playing by ear".  She has also led children’s choirs and directed church plays and performances.  She has served as Director of Education for children and adult ministries.  She has taught private piano lessons for children, teens and adults.  Being the daughter of a pastor, Maggie has lived all across the southeast portion of the United States as well as 8 months in Romania.  She and her husband, Paul, moved to Texas over seven years ago with their two children to be a part of Glory of Zion International where she is on the worship team and often leads various services. 

Kyev Phillips - Piano Instructor

Kyev J. Phillips had his interest sparked in music at the age of five, watching the local church
musicians sing and play the piano. At the age of twelve, Kyev began cultivating his gift by
singing and playing the piano by ear. By the age of 14, Kyev began leading worship for different
church ministries. A few years later, he received music scholarships from Ranger Junior College
and Texas Wesleyan University singing in the choir and playing piano for concerts and other
events. After completing school, Kyev became the worship leader and music director at Living
Word teaching center, as well as playing piano on mission trips in Honduras and Peru. Today
Kyev works as a full-time special education teacher and is on the worship team at Glory of Zion
International Ministries. He has a passion to teach and inspire the next generation of musicians.

ADMINISTRATION

Mistie Lohse - Office Manager

Mistie Lohse came to Illuminate! Creative Arts Studio with years of experience in administration and operational management. From being drill team captain in high school to hiring and training employees in later roles, she has become efficient in creating an atmosphere of drive and dedication. She is passionate about young children reaching their potential in all areas of life. She is dedicated to see the vision of the studio come into fruition in the coming years.

Jessica Rana - Marketing Manager & Event Coordinator 

Jessica Rana joined our administrative team here at Illuminate! in 2015. She has been an elementary school teacher for the past 11 years. She brings our team a unique perspective as she's been immersed in educational settings for over a decade. While Jessica's role in the studio is broad, she has a major role in writing curriculum, planning studio events, as well as marketing and promoting the studio to local and surrounding communities. Jessica loves seeing the students here at the studio express themselves through various art forms and enjoys meeting their families. She has two small children who are also students at the studio studying dance, music, art and theatre.