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About the Owner/Director

Ashlee Russ, owner/director of Footnotes Dance Center is an accomplished dance choreographer and instructor utilizing her professional teaching skills to share the Art of Dance. 


Ashlee has studied dance for 25 years locally and competed both nationally and internationally for years. She has trained at some of the world’s finest dance centers including: Broadway Dance Center NYC, Steps on Broadway NYC, and the Kimberly Lewis School of Dance AZ (Dance Studio 111). Ashlee has studied under many of the nation's top choreographers including: Stepp Stewart, Blake McGrath, Nolan Padilla, Barry Youngblood, Travis Wall and Nick Gonzales, just to name a few. She also held an internship with Celebrity Dance Competitions, where she had the opportunity to work onboard Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines with Celebrity Dance Competitions for their Nationals at Sea, Summer 2007. 


Ashlee graduated from the University of Akron with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Dance with a minor concentrating in Business Management. She was a member of UADC (the University of Akron Dance Company) where she studied under professors from the Pennsylvania Ballet, Ohio Ballet and Martha Graham Company, just to name a few. She was also a member of The University of Akron Dance Team where she cheered on the Zips in both football and basketball. She was an active member of the University's dance club Terpsichore as well. Ashlee has choreographed for and performed in many Choreographers Workshops and Spring Into Dance concerts while at The University of Akron.


Along with her extensive collegiate dance background, Ashlee was also an active sorority member of the Delta Gamma Fraternity, where she held numerous office positions. She was also the President of Rho Lambda, a National Sorority Leadership Recognition Society, and the Phi Delta Theta Fraternity Sweetheart. After graduating from college, Ashlee was a dancer/member of the Rising With Dawn Dance Company and The North Coast Vikings Dance Team. Ashlee is a licensed Zumba Fitness®, Zumba Toning® and Zumba Gold® Instructor and also part of the Zumba Instructor Network (ZIN), which she is a member in good standing.


Ashlee's innovative choreography and passion for teaching has earned her and her students numerous accolades including platinum and high scoring awards, overall awards and choreography recognition at some of the nations top competitions.


Ashlee has been a dance educator for years and believes in a nurturing dance environment that encompasses creativity, discipline, technique and progression. It has been her passion and dream to one day carry out and share the knowledge and talent she’s been given with her students by running her own dance studio. With many years of hard work, dedication, blood, sweat and tears, she is realizing her ultimate dream and watching it unfold around her!


She continues to educate herself by attending yearly dance conferences and retreats with the industry’s top dance and business educators. Her lifetime motto is DREAM BIG and instills that in her students daily.


Ashlee was raised in Macedonia, Ohio and is a graduate of Nordonia High School. She married her high school sweetheart Michael, in May of 2010. They have two baby boys, Landon, who was born in October of 2013, and Colton who was born in August 2015. Without her husband and the rest of her family, she would not be where she is blessed to be today!


2015-2016 Teaching Staff

Dominique Alioto was raised in Cleveland, Ohio and began dancing at the age of three. She has received training in various areas such as classical ballet, the cecchetti ballet method, jazz, tap, modern, contemporary, and hip-hop. Dominique has been a competitive dancer for eight years and have had the chance to study under Mandy Moore, Phi Nguyen, Leslie Scott and many more. Dominique recently just graduated from Ohio University with a Bachelor in Communication Sciences and Disorders and a Minor in Dance. While attending OU she studied under Travis Gatling, Tresa Randall, Mickie Geller, Stefanie Batten Bland, Lisa Lock and John Bohuslawsky.


Donala Anderson is a distinguished dancer, choreographer, and instructor. With over 30 years of dance experience, she is proud to provide instruction in ballet, pointe, lyrical, tap, jazz, modern, acrobatics, musical theatre, and creative movement. Donala grew up dancing competitively, and later danced professionally for The Cleveland Pops Dancers.  She holds degrees in Dance and Business Administration from Baldwin-Wallace College, and has earned numerous awards for her dancing and choreography. Donala enjoys sharing dance with students of all ages and levels to help them express themselves through the art of motion, as well as learn valuable life skills.


Bobbie Barna started taking dance classes at the age of 4, in all different styles of dance. She started her dance career as a professional dancer, working in many nightclubs, theaters and touring companies. Bobbie was the owner and director of Bobbie Barna’s Dance Studio in Solon for 24 years. Bobbie resides in Solon with her husband Brian and is a proud mom of two adult children, Keith and Scott. She is excited to be back working in the dance environment by working the Footnotes Dance Center's front desk. Please come by and introduce yourself. She would be happy to help you!


Christina Hawkins has been dancing since the age of three, and has focused on training in ballet, pointe, modern, lyrical, and jazz. She has been teaching recreational and competitive classes of all ages since 2007. After graduating high school she continued her education at The University of Akron. Christina also attended school at Stark State and studied Early Childhood Education. She currently lives with her husband and one year old daughter. She is so excited to start working at footnotes this season, and can't wait to share her love of dance with the students!


Erika Hunt received her pre-professional training from the University of Akron Dance Institute and continued as a student of the University of Akron, graduating with a BFA in dance in 2008. As a student she attended summer intensives at Pittsburgh Ballet Theater in Pittsburgh, PA and Jennifer Muller and the Works in NYC. She has had the opportunity to perform numerous variations and ensemble work from classical ballet repertoire and contemporary ensemble works by Heinz Poll, Jennifer Muller and Amy Miller. She was also selected to perform a soloist role for a touring production of Pennsylvania Ballet’s “Nutcracker.” With over ten years of teaching experience in the Northeast Ohio area she is grateful for the opportunity to pass on her love and appreciation for the art of classical ballet.


Blair Koch started training at the age of 3 and is currently expanding her training at The University of Akron in dance and business. Blair is a recent graduate of Footnotes Dance Center and has recently been featured in the 2015 Summer issue of Starbound Dance Magazine. Her goal is to inspire dancers to love the Art of dance as much as she does!


Shannon McKowne has been an established performer, choreographer, and instructor since 2001.  She has performed in several shows for Six Flags Amusement Park and Geauga Lake, along with performing with the Dee Hilliar Dance Co.  Shannon has been classically trained in ballet, jazz, tap, acro, hip hop, lyrical, modern, musical theatre, multiple ballroom styles, and voice.  In her youth, she was a member of the Singing Angels, Kids On Broadway, and Captain Dave Productions.  She was also crowned Miss Pre-teen Cleveland in 1991.  She has worked to further her dance education by attending classes in New York at Broadway Dance Center and Steps on Broadway.  Her goal as an instructor is to encourage her students' growth in creativity, self-confidence, knowledge and technique, and an overall positive passion for life!


Jenny Filippelli-Pitts teaches our Zumba® and Zumba Kids® classes. If you haven't been to one of her classes yet, come and check them out! What are you waiting for...Ditch your work out and come join her party!


Mikala Santucci is from Warren, Ohio. Growing up, Mikala has been trained as a competitive dancer at a very prestigious dance studio and has studied many forms of dance such as; hip-hop, jazz, lyrical, tap and modern. She has taught and choreographed numerous dance classes, along with holding dance workshops for both competitive and non-competitive dance teams. She was a recent 2013-2014 dancer/cheerleader of the NBA D-League team, Canton Charge. Mikala now resides in Kent, Ohio attending Kent State University. 


Julie Seitz discovered meditation and yoga in 2012 and it changed her life forever!! It didn’t take long for her to decide she loved it so much that she wanted to teach it. She enrolled in the Teacher Training Program at Namaste Yoga Studio in Northfield, Ohio and received her RYT200 certification in June of 2015. “Yoga has had such a profound impact on all aspects of my life. It is truly mind, body and spirit! I see yoga as so much more than just physical exercise.” In her commitment to further her education and understanding of yoga and anatomy, Julie frequently attends workshops and classes and spends a lot of time educating herself through reading. Julie also enjoys teaches children’s yoga and mindfulness. You will leave Julie’s classes feeling balanced, refreshed and grounded.




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