ILLUMINATE! FACULTY

DANCE

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. 

CHRISTINE PATU-  DANCE Instructor

Christine Patu was born and raised in Hilo, Hawaii as a 3rd generation Hula dancer. She was born into her hula lineage as her mother and aunts started teacher her at the young of age four years old. Public performances began not long after and has been an ongoing life long journey of living and sharing her aloha through the life and art of Hula. 

Raised in a musical family, Christine was also trained by her uncles on the basics of ukulele and Tahitian drumming. In 1986 she moved to Kona to join Island Breeze. She has traveled to many countries around the world performing and ministering in dance. She has performed for kings, dignitaries, celebrities, Olympic games, and many other organizations and individuals. 

Hula is life for Christine – walking, learning, working together in all generations with the spirit of aloha is her constant belief and goal. Imparting to the next generation to embrace their cultural identity, to live and share aloha, to have a sense of belonging to Ohana and to live their life to the fullness of their potential with excellence in per passion. 

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, 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 fusing her two passions together by being a part of the Illuminate! staff teaching Jazz and Modern dance classes.

Chenia Patu –  Dance Instructor

Chenia Patu was born and raised in Kona, Hawaii. She began learning Hula at age 3 and has been dancing ever since! She has been technically and professionally trained in Hula, Polynesian dance, and Hip Hop, but also loves dancing Contemporary, too!

Growing up she danced and worked for Island Breeze hosting nightly luaus in Kona for visitors from around the world. She has also spent time touring worldwide with Island Breeze’s and performing all over the world. She has a deep passion for photography, videography and storytelling through film. This love has been instilled in her by her late best friend, Mr. Caleb Brown. She is proud to carry on his legacy from behind the lens. 

Chenia has been connected with Glory of Zion since 2017 but moved to Texas and became a full time Illuminate teacher in the summer of 2020. She currently teaches Hip Hop and leads multiple genres in our Dance Training Program. She also creates and choreographs for Illuminate Company Productions and Videos.

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 in several of our Foundations classes as well as teaching in our Dance Training Program.  Moriah has been dancing regularly with the Glory of Zion International Ministries Worship Team since 2018. 

Renee henry  –  Dance Instructor

Renee Henry is a native of Chicago, IL and lived in Bloomington, IL starting in 2002 where she graduated from Illinois State University and received her Bachelor Degree in Community-Health Education.

In 2004, she joined a local ministry where she embarked on her calling to dance ministry. Even though she did not have technical training before joining the dance team, her dedication, hard work and passion for dance ministry was shown through her movement. Over the years, she was known as being called the “poster child” because she loves to dance and was ready to minister at any time. 

Renee served on the leadership team of her adult dance ministry, Anointed Expressions. She served as the Free Praise Coordinator, where she was responsible for choreographing, teaching, training and creating strategies for Sunday services. She also served as the leader of children’s dance ministry, Children of Praise, where she established a Biblical foundation and taught the adolescent the importance of having a relationship with the Lord.  Renee loves to worship and be in the company of other worshipers.

In 2015, the Lord brought Renee and her daughter to Texas. This move connected them to Glory of Zion where her passion of dance led her to graduate from The Eagle Network Institute where she received a license to minster in dance which opened a door for her to visit Nigeria twice in 2017. Her assignment while there was to unlock prophetic dance in that nation. She knows Nigeria is the first of many nations she will spread the gospel through movement of dance. Renee currently serves as a dance leader at Glory of Zion.

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.

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.

ART

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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. 

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Tracey Liggett –  Art Instructor

Bio coming soon…

MUSIC and VOICE

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

Sam Dickson is a self taught musician with a focus in drums. He has been studying drums for over 20 years and have been teaching drums to children and adults for the last 15 years. Sam makes it a personal goal to teach a wide range of variations, from theory to learning by ear, reading and writing music, and interacting in band settings with other musicians. Sam loves being able to spend quality time with students in order to identify natural strengths as well as address any weaknesses or hinderances in learning in order to teach in a way that fits each student in the best way possible. 

Sam and his wife, Janna, live in North Texas with their daughter. 

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.  

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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.

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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.

ENRICHMENT

ALISON LOHSE – GARDENING TEACHER

Allison Lohse comes to us from our neighboring state of Louisiana. She moved back to the North Texas area in 2018 to be closer to family as her sister-in-law is our very own Miss Mistie. She has a background in Education and loves working with both adults and children.

Allison currently works as the office administrator for the Beulah Acres Agroforest at the Global Spheres Center. She manages all correspondence for the Community Gardens, Community Classes, Garden Volunteers, and the development of the Agroforest, and hosting the monthly Farmer’s Market at Glory of Zion. She teaches Global Gardeners Level 1 and assist for Global Gardeners Level 2 classes, here at Illuminate.

Daniel Arenas – GARDENING TEACHER

Daniel was born and raised in Brazil. He has been in America for almost 12 years now, where his desire to garden and learn from the Land finally became truth. He was a part of the Garden Crew here at Global Spheres Center since they first broke ground in early 2011. Since then, he has spear headed many projects at our property such as the Community Gardens, Demonstration Gardens, Composting Operations and Beulah Acres Agroforest.

Daniel became a Denton County Master Gardener Member in 2013, Elm Fork Chapter Master Naturalist since 2017, Certified Permaculture Designer and throughout the past 10 years, he has specialized in Vegetable Gardening, Composting, Tree Care, Green House Management and Junior Master Gardeners Program, where he designed the yearlong curriculum for our kiddo’s classes here at Illuminate!

Back in Brazil, he completed his bachelor’s degree in Industrial Design, Eco designer, socio-environmental manager, helping to recycle tons of materials every year and in many cities around the country, as well as generating job opportunities through recycling market opportunities. He worked for many years with Non-Profit Organizations operating at underprivileged communities, helping them to learn craft techniques to reuse trash and make products from it; furniture, toys, corporate gifts and more. 

Married to an incredible Brazilian woman with a daughter and son, he believes that one of the best tools we have today is to teach and prepare the future generations for tomorrow.

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. 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. Jessica currently teaches the Experiencing the Nations class for 3&4s and 5&6 year olds. She loves traveling, experiencing the great big world the Lord has given us, and hopes to educate little minds with the same interests and passions of exploration. 

She and her husband Justin have two children who are also students at the studio studying dance, music, and theatre.