Valerie Lyons – Studio director
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 – Director and 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 comeau – Dance Instructor
Sarah Comeau 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.
Sarah was married the summer of 2020 and is enjoying life with her husband in Denton, Texas.
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 continues to teach Tumbling at Illuminate for both Foundations classes and our Dance Training Program.
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 staff over the past several years. Poetry grew up in Bethany, Oklahoma where she began gymnastics at age three in Oklahoma 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! Company dance team. Miss Poetry is an instructor for our Dance Training Program as well as Tumbling and Creative Movement.
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 fusing her two passions together by being a part of the Illuminate! staff teaching Jazz and Modern dance classes.
Chenia Patu – Dance Instructor
BIO COMING SOON…
Moriah Williams – Dance Instructor
Moriah Williams comes to us from Bethany, Oklahoma where she participated in a variety of extracurricular activities including gymnastics, cheerleading, show choirs, and Christian ministries in and around the OKC metro area. Moriah attended Bethany High School where she performed in Suesical the Musical and Oklahoma. Moriah also invested more than 9 years in gymnastics at Mat Trotter’s Gymnastics in Oklahoma City. She is excited to be assisting and teaching several of Illuminate’s Foundations tumbling classes as well as one of our Dance Training Program instructors and has been dancing regularly with the Glory of Zion International Ministries Worship Team since 2018.
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.
savannah dickson – Theatre Instructor
Savannah has held a love for theatre from an early age. She began performing at age 6, and started competing in poetry readings and speech events at age 8. She performed in plays and competed in speech and theatre events throughout her middle and high school years (her favorite being high school UIL One Act Play competitions). She later earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in theatre from Stephen F. Austin State University, and was an acting intern for a full production season at the Milwaukee Repertory Theatre. She has also appeared professionally on stage at the Milwaukee Rep as well as with Stage West Theatre Company in Fort Worth. She enjoys sharing her passion for theatre with others and is excited to teach at Illuminate.
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 teaches both Foundational level Art classes as well as spear-heading the Art Training Program, here at Illuminate. She finds great joy in seeing her students’ own love of art and artists bloom each week they are together.
tiffany smith – music department director and Instructor
Tiffany Smith is a piano instructor as well as lead instructor for our music department. 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 has paired up with many other Illuminate staff to create the Music/Theatre Training Program curriculum which continues to train students in music, voice, and sound development. She and her husband, Aaron, live in Denton and have three children.
sam dickson – music instructor
Bio Coming Soon…
Isaac Pierce – music instructor
Isaac Pierce is one of our newest music instructors to be working along side Sam Dickson as a drum instructor. He has been playing drums, guitar, and writing music for the past twenty years! We are thrilled to know that his passion for music, knowledge and skill on a variety of instruments will be a great asset to students and teachers, alike.
Isaac and his wife live in Denton with their two young boys and sweet dog, Bonnie.
Maggie wallace – piano instructor
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.
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. Mistie has been dancing with the Illuminate Company for the past six years as well as the Glory of Zion International Worship Dance Team.
Jessica Rana- Marketing and Enrichment course instructor
Jessica Rana joined our administrative team here at Illuminate! in 2015. She was previously an elementary school teacher for 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 the 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 children who are also students at the studio studying dance, music, and theatre.