Teaching and Administrative Staff

Ellis Gatewood Elliott, Founder and Artistic Consultant

Ellis Gatewood Elliott founded Dance Arts Iowa in 2004 and developed the studio into what it is today- a viable and technically sound dance studio for dancers ages three to eighteen years. She set the standard for students to obtain a dance education in a fun environment while developing a successful business in the community.    She and Kaleena Marshall and later Taylor Koch taught classes and choreographed the spring dance concerts performed by Dance Arts Iowa students.  Miss Ellis and Tim Elliott married in 2011 and now live out of state.  We are forever grateful to her for creation of Dance Arts Iowa and the  legacy she left the Mount Vernon-Lisbon community.

NOTE: The following biographical information is only a summary of the teachers’ skills and accomplishments. 

                                        Tierney Rowe – Ballet, Contemporary Ballet and Pointe

Mrs. Rowe is teaching fourth grade at Washington Elementary in Mount Vernon.  She has a major in elementary education and minor in the dance program at the University of Iowa.  She grew up in Crystal Lake, IL where she studied Ballet, Jazz and Modern at the Judith Svalander School of Ballet for three years.  She also studied with the Joffery School of Ballet of New York in 2008 and the Joffrey Dance Academy in Chicago in 2009. Her experience includes several performances in the Nutcracker with the Judith Svalander School of Ballet, Joffrey School of Ballet and the City Ballet of Iowa in 2012.  She also performed in the 2011 University of Iowa Dance Gala. Mrs. Rowe also taught at the University of Iowa Youth Ballet Program. During her study of dance she also learned Irish Step and is able teach this dance discipline. 

Courtenay Baker – Tap, Ballet and Contemporary Ballet

Miss Courtenay has fifteen years of experience in Tap and Ballet from the Carousel Dance Studio in Clinton, IA. She danced with the Gateway Contemporary Ballet Company (a pre-professional company) in 1991 and was a founding member of the Pizzaz Tap Company in 1987-1089. Miss Courtenay has choreographed numerous shows such as The Baker’s Wife (2004), Hair (2003) at Cornell College and Is There Life After High School? (1995) at the University of Northern Iowa.  Miss Courtenay also participated in numerous performances including The Wizard of Oz,  Cinderella,A Tribute to Fred Astaire, Godspell and Annie. She graduated from the University of Northern Iowa with a BA in Secondary Theatre, Speech, and English Education, University of Northern Iowa (1995).

Michele McCoy – Tumbling, Jazz and Hip Hop

Miss Michele began dancing and tumbling at the early age of three. She danced and tumbled her way through elementary and high school, scoring a perfect landing at the University of Iowa, where she continued her dance  education. Michele taught gymnastics at the Iowa Gym-Nest for many years, started the DanceTastics program at National Dance Academy, teaches tumbling and Pom and Drill at Dance Arts Iowa, where she loves teaching dance and tumbling. She has been the cheer coach at Lisbon High School for the past 10years.  Michele is the proud mama of three children! 

     Hannah Day – Irish Step, Dance Teams and Poms

Miss Hannah is teaching at DAI while pursuing a degree in Business Administration: Management & Entrepreneurship at Kirkwood Community College where she is also a member of the Kirkwood Dance Team. She has been a teacher and student at DAI for thirteen years as a student of Ballet, Contemporary Ballet, Jazz, and Irish Step. Hannah was a member of the Maolisa Irish Step dance troupe. She enjoys passing on the love of dance to her students! 

   Jill Wilkins – Musical Theatre

Miss Jill is the Events Director for NewBoCo, a non-profit located in Cedar Rapids.  She has a major in communications with a public relations emphasis and a minor in Theatre from Wartburg College.  Miss Jill has enjoyed performing in many productions including area productions of ShrekBeauty and The Beast and Nunsense. Miss Jill has choreographed over 18 musical productions for area high schools including the Mount Vernon High School musicals for the past 8 years.  

 Ashlee Elliott – Creative Movement and Pre Ballet/Tap

Ashlee Elliott has been dancing since she was 4 years old. Over her 12 years of dancing at Dance Arts Iowa, she has been involved in Ballet, Pointe, Jazz, Tap, and Contemporary. Ashlee started student teaching when she was 12 helping Mrs. Rowe with creative movement. In 2017 Ashlee was able to be a part of the Moscow Russian Ballet Nutcracker and danced at the Cornell Summer dance Institute in 2017 and 2019. In 2018 she attended the Starz Dance competition. Ashlee has been a part of school musicals, many Dance Arts Iowa recitals, and many little shows. She plans to keep on dancing in the future and can’t wait to start her first year as an official teacher. 

 Devon Olberding – Hip Hop

Devon has had a passion for music and expression through movement her whole life. She has taught dance and fitness classes in Mount Vernon (where she lives with her husband and four kids) for over seven years and loves to inspire others to live happier and healthier lives. In addition to Dance Arts Iowa, she is employed as an exercise instructor, health coach, and customer service at the Lester Buresh Community Wellness Center in Mount Vernon.

Jackie Happoldt – Ballet, Tap, Jazz and Pointe

Jackie began her dance training in Southern California, studying in the areas of Ballet, Pointe, Jazz, Tap, Lyrical, and Acrobatics. After many years of studio training and competing, Jackie went on to pursue strictly Classical Ballet at Riverside Ballet Arts Company and then continued her dance training focusing on Ballet and Modern, at the California State University of Fullerton.  There she received her bachelor’s degree in dance, graduating Cum Laude, and also serving as the President of the Dance Association 2002/2003.  Jackie has been teaching dance for over 20 years, working with dancers of all ages and all levels, and has also choreographed for award winning competition teams.  From 2008 to 2016, she owned her own dance studio in Orange County, California leaving only to focus on her growing family.  Jackie is now super excited and honored to be teaching again for Dance Arts Iowa.

  Angel Barkalow – Ballet

Angelica Barkalow has been dancing for 14 years, 13 of those years have been joyously spent dancing at Dance Arts Iowa. In 2017 Angel was able to participate in the Dance Intensive at Cornell College, and in 2018 she took part in the Starz Dance competition. Christmas of 2019 she was honoured to dance as the Sugar Plum Fairy in Mt. Vernon’s first Nutcracker. She has enjoyed teaching Ballet I, and is excited to continue teaching in the coming years.

  Abbey Keen – Creative Movement, Pre Ballet/Tap  

Abbey Keen has been dancing for 10 years learning Tap, Ballet, Pointe, Jazz, Contemporary Ballet and Pom & Drill. All of those years has been spent at Dance Arts Iowa. Out of those 10 years, Abbey has spent the last 5 years student teaching for many different teachers and styles. In 2017, Abbey had the honor of attending the very first Cornel Dance Intensive and is hoping to attend it again before she goes off to college in 2 years. She is very excited to start her first year as an official teacher at Dance Arts Iowa. 


    Trude Elliott – Owner and Administrator

Trude and her husband Rick own and operate the First Street Community Center that includes Dance Arts Iowa.  Trude is the administrator for Dance Arts Iowa.  Any comments, questions or concerns should be addressed to Trude.  The contact information is 319.558.9202 or danceartsiowa@gmail.com.