Each of our dedicated Academy instructors are shown below. To read any faculty member’s bio, click on his or her photo.
Cindy is a 50 year member of Chicago National Association of Dance Masters and is certified by testing to teach ballet, jazz, and tap. She is a former student of her mother Betty Dybdahl, and Rose Lorenz. She attended Interlochen, Michigan and Jacob's Pillow in Massachusetts during summers of high school and college. After graduating from Drake University, she taught school in West Des Moines and Urbandale for 10 years. She has managed one of the most successful dance schools in Iowa for over 30 years. She continues to expand her training at various conventions all over the country with some of the most famous teachers in the United States. She also is a mother to four children and has three grandchildren. Her passion for family and dance can be seen throughout her life.
Kristi has been dancing for 20 years. She studied dance with Cindy at Westside Dance until the age of 18. She has performed and competed at both the regional and national levels. She has received many high point awards for her performances as well as her own choreography. Kristi has attended yearly conventions with Dance Masters, LA Dance Force and Tremaine to further her dance training.
Alissa began her dance training at the age of five. She has studied for over 30 years in ballet, tap, jazz, lyrical, hip hop, modern, and contemporary. As a teen, she competed at many regional and national competitions, was on her high school dance team, attended conventions and master classes to further her training, and also taught studio dance lessons. While attending the University of Northern Iowa, Alissa began a dance minor, taking many dance classes in all styles, performed with the Orchesis Dance Company, taught ballet, tap, and jazz lessons at the Waterloo Center for the Arts, and also choreographed for local high school dance teams. She graduated with a double major in Early Childhood and Elementary Education. After college, Alissa was a member of the Iowa Energy DNBA League Dance Team (Currently the Iowa Wolves) for multiple seasons, and since then has been a part of the judging panel each year. She also taught Kindergarten for many years in Urbandale. Currently, Alissa lives in Clive with her husband, Blake, and their 4 children. Alissa is ecstatic to be a part of the Westside family and to share her love for teaching and dance with the studio!
Abby began her dance training here at Westside Dance Academy at the age of three. She has trained in ballet, jazz, tap, pointe, lyrical, hip hop, modern and contemporary. Abby was a part of the WDA competition team where she competed at regional and national levels. She also attended conventions and took master classes to further her dance training. During high school, Abby was on the Waukee Varsity Dance Team all four years, on the Waukee Varsity Show Choir for three years, and taught dance classes at WDA for two years. After high school, Abby attended the University of Iowa where she majored in Elementary Education and got minors in Dance and Communication Studies. She was also on the University of Iowa Dance Team for four years. Abby is now a first grade teacher at Walnut Hills Elementary and is thrilled to be back at Westside Dance Academy sharing her love for dance.
Brett has been dancing since the age of four, studying at Westside Dance Academy. Her main focus is in ballet and pointe, but she also studied jazz, tap, hip hop, and modern dance extensively. She also traveled to receive training at Milwaukee School of Ballet. Over the years, she performed with Iowa Dance Theatre and Yaro Dance Company, often performing lead roles. Through working with Iowa Dance Theatre, she has been able to be a student to many teachers in the Des Moines area. She was selected to perform a piece by Jessica Lang while her company visited Iowa in 2016. Most recently, she performed with Hurley and Dancers as a guest artist and co-choreographed a hip hop piece for Iowa Dance Theatre’s 2018 spring show. She is currently a Senior member of Dance Masters of Mid-America, certified by test to teach ballet nationally, and is certified in Progressing Ballet Techniques. Brett works as a Physical Therapist Assistant part-time and continues to take classes and perform when she can.
Brooke's favorite childhood memories are of dancing. She danced and competed nationally in ballet, tap, and jazz with Susan Marsh Fine Arts East in Birmingham, Alabama. As her passion for ballet grew, she was invited to study under the direction of Dame Sonia Arova of the Alabama School of Ballet. Brooke holds a PhD in Developmental Psychology and finds such joy watching children grow and learn. As Westside Dance Academy’s Director of Youth Dance, she brings her knowledge of child development into the dance studio.
Christine began dancing at the age of three. She has trained in ballet, jazz, tap, contemporary, lyrical, hip hop with her passion lying in lyrical and contemporary styles. As a teen Christine was involved in competitive dance as well as a member of her high school dance team. Upon graduation Christine dove head first into the dance world as an choreographer/teacher. Christine has had the honor of teaching hundreds of students over the last 20 plus years. Christine’s choreography has won numerous high point and choreography awards at both the regional and national levels. Christine has been involved with productions such as A Chorus Line, Cinderella, The Nutcracker as well as judging for many different dance competitions across the country. Christine furthers her training by keeping up on industry trends by attending conventions and master classes across the country. Christine lives in Norwalk and is the mother of Cali Wilson who is currently attending Joffrey Ballet School in New York City. Christine is excited to be at Westside sharing her love and passion for dance with everyone!
Gigi earned her high school diploma and her BFA in Ballet from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. She performed soloist and principal roles with Milwaukee Ballet (WI), San Antonio Ballet (TX), and Des Moines Ballet (IA), touring widely. Gigi also served as Ballet Mistress for Des Moines Ballet/Ballet Iowa and has taught for Nevada Dance Theatre (NV), Eugene Ballet Company (OR), San Antonio Ballet (TX), School of Ballet Iowa, Iowa Dance Theatre, Iowa State Dance Festival, and the Siouxland Dance Association (IA), plus several Des Moines (IA) area dance studios. She is looking forward to sharing her love of ballet with the wonderful dancers at Westside!
My name is Holly McFarland, and I'm from West Des Moines. I grew up dancing at School of Classical Ballet and Dance and performing with Ballet Des Moines. I graduated from Dowling Catholic High School before getting my degrees in education and dance at the University of Iowa. Today, I teach 7th grade language arts and reading, and I fulfill my passion for dance by teaching dance classes and staying involved with Ballet Des Moines productions. I am married to a wonderful husband, and I am a mom of two. I love spending time with my family, going on walks, and enjoying my favorite foods: chocolate and coffee!
Jamie Jo began her dance training at the age of three and studied for over 20 years in ballet, tap, jazz, modern, and ballroom dance. While in college Jamie Jo continued her training at the professional level by holding an internship with the Joel Hall Dance Company in Chicago, Illinois. In addition to her dance training, Jamie Jo has coached the North Polk Dance Team and the ADM Dance team. Jamie Jo holds a Master’s Degree in Special Education from Drake University and an undergraduate degree from Iowa State University in Early Childhood Education. Jamie Jo is excited to share her passion for dance and children with the dancers at Westside and to motivate them to work hard to build confidence in themselves and a love for dance!
Jeffrey began his dance training at the age of nine under the direction of Stacey and Connie Jo Wilson School of Dance. From there Jeffrey continued on with more training with Robert Thomas Dancenter, Iowa Dance Theater, Central Iowa Dance, and the Iowa Youth Ballet. He trained extensively in New York City at Steps, Broadway Dance Center, and the Luigi Jazz Centre. Jeffrey also went on to dance with the Rock School Ballet in Philadelphia, where he received some of the world's best ballet training. He has also had the opportunity to study with a wide range of talented dance masters, which included Savion Glover, Desmond Richardson, and Sascha Radetssky, to name a few. Jeffrey teaches a wide variety of classes at Westside and is one of our head competition instructors. He has been recognized for his unique choreography at several dance competitions. Jeffrey has a passion for dance and stays involved with various activities throughout the area. He is a fun-loving, energetic instructor who loves to share his wide range of dance styles and experiences with his students.
Kate began her dance training at the age of five at Westside. After moving to Cedar Rapids a few years later, she continued to take dance lessons throughout high school. Kate went on to attend the University of Iowa, receiving a BA in Communication Studies, as well as a BA in Dance. While at Iowa, she was a four year member and two year captain of the University of Iowa Dance Team. After college she moved to Chicago, where she began coaching. Kate was the technique coach for the nationally ranked Lake Forest High School Dance Team, and then coached the dance team at Loyola University of Chicago. She has worked for Universal Dance Association, teaching at dance team camps throughout the Midwest and serving as a regional/national judge at UDA Competitions. She currently choreographs for high school and college teams in both Iowa and Illinois. Kate is so happy to be back where it all started, teaching for the one and only Cindy Jones and mentoring young dancers!
Sydney was born and raised in California and began dancing at the age of three. She has trained consistently for 24 years in ballet, tap, jazz, hip-hop, break-dancing, and pom. She has a love for all types of dance with jazz being her favorite. Sydney has competed since a young age in the All-Star Dance division earning multiple national championships in Jazz, Pom, and Hip-Hop as well as being invited to compete at Dance Worlds several times placing within the top 5. Her last year competing was in 2019 where she and her team were awarded 3rd in the world in the Open-Coed Jazz division and 2nd in the United States. She has performed in several dance shows at the State Theater in Modesto (CA). Some of her favorites being Rebels of Rydell High, Vaudeville, and the “Notcracker”. She began teaching dance in 2013. Sydney has always loved to dance so being able to share her passion with others through teaching is truly one of her favorite things. She is a energetic and engaged teacher who loves to work hard at the art of dance while having the most fun as possible. She continues to train and enjoys taking dance classes to keep her skills in order to be the best instructor possible. She recently moved from California to Waukee (IA) where she now lives and works as a radiologic technologist.
Heather began dancing at the age of 3, under the direction of Jody Currie. Taking class from icons like Luigi, Frank Hatchett, Ronda Miller, and Joe Tremaine helped shape the dancer and teacher she is today. Heather has a passion for teaching technique and loves to clean and work privately with students.
Lyndee has been dancing since the age of 2, trained in ballet, lyrical, jazz, hip hop, tap, contemporary and pointe. Lyndee was part of the competition team for the past 10 years and has been teaching at Westside for 3 years. She was a member of the Varsity Valley Dance Team for 4 years and All Iowa Dance Team. As a member of the WDA staff, Lyndee has really enjoyed teaching the younger dancers and to inspire them to love dance. Lyndee will be attending Des Moines Community College to study radiologic technologists and finish up at Mercy College of Health Sciences.