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.
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.
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!
Brett has been dancing since the age of four, studying at Westside Dance Academy and Iowa Ballet Academy. Her focus is ballet and pointe, but she has also studied jazz, tap, hip hop, and modern dance extensively. She also has traveled to receive training at Milwaukee School of Ballet. Over the years, she has 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 and is certified in Progressing Ballet Techniques. Brett works as a Physical Therapist Assistant full-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.
Emma Heithoff began dance at age three. Learning and taking classes at many places in Iowa, Emma was drawn to the elegance and discipline of classical ballet. The foundation of technique, across ballet and all other styles, gives confidence to reach for your daily personal growth and also makes hard-work a priority. After graduating high school, she chose to continue training at Kansas City Ballet School, and as a member of Kansas City Youth Ballet, enjoys supporting others. In Iowa, she danced in many Ballet Des Moines performances, with favorite memories in "The Nutcracker," and fall performances. She is excited to be teaching classes at WDA. Dance has given her an appreciation to greet all challenges with a positive mindset. She is excited to be teaching classes and getting to meet all of the WDA dancers!
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!
Jaclyn grew up in Bountiful, Utah where she danced and trained competitively from a young age. Her love and passion for dance has been a driving influence throughout her life. Despite almost being paralyzed from the waist down and having major back surgery at age 13, she never gave up on her dreams. Jaclyn graduated from Brigham Young University with a double major in Dance and Social Work. While at BYU, she danced on their modern DancEnsemble team, was an officer of the jazz club, received several scholarships from the dance department, and also performed and studied dance abroad in China. She later danced as a member of Wasatch Contemporary Dance Company in Utah for two years. Jaclyn loves to teach dance and has taught for many years at studios in Utah and Colorado. She now resides in Waukee with her husband and two children. She is so excited to be a new member of Westside Dance Academy and hopes to continue to help and inspire young dancers to pursue their dreams.
Jacque LeWarne was born and raised in Clive, Iowa and is most known for her time as a finalist on FOX’s So You Think You Can Dance Season 11. Growing up and competing, she was a finalist at the Youth American Grand Prix. At 17, she joined Ballet Des Moines and performed soloist and principal roles with the company. After So You Think You Can Dance, Jacque toured throughout the United States with the SYTYCD Tour and Ballroom With a Twist. She has appeared on The Ellen Show, Disney Channel’s “Best Friends Whenever”, Marvel’s “Runaways” and has worked with stars such as Zendaya, Maksim Chmerkovskiy from Dancing with the Stars, and singer Andrea Bocelli. One of her favorite performances was dancing, singing, and acting in NBC’s Hairspray Live as the Nicest Kid in Town, “Brenda”, alongside costars Ariana Grande, Derek Hough, Jennifer Hudson and more. Jacque recently moved back to Des Moines and is excited to continue her passion for dance through teaching in her hometown.
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!
Growing up, Kyle always had a passion for dance. This passion grew after a friend introduced him to hip-hop classes at a local Des Moines dance studio during high school. After graduating from Johnston High School, he went on to attend Iowa State University, where he would major in the Performing Arts with an emphasis in acting and directing. He joined Iowa State University's hip-hop dance club (Dub-H) and spent most of his time dancing with and choreographing for this group, which ended up being one of the largest clubs on campus. After graduating with his Bachelor's Degree, Kyle continued his passion and love for dance through teaching for multiple dance studios and being an active member of Midwest Vision. His role as a co-leader of the Midwest Vision, non-profit, hip-hop dance organization has inspired him to continue his growth as a dancer and choreographer.
Taylor Jones studied dance at Westside Dance Academy as she was growing up. She graduated from Iowa State with a elementary education degree in 2017. She will be starting her first teaching job as a second grade teacher at Grant Ragan this fall. Taylor loves working with students to help them excel at their goals in both dance and academics. In her free time she enjoys time with friends and family.
Lyndee has been dancing for 15 years. She has been assisting Cindy at Westside Dance Academy for the past four years. She competes for the Westside competition team in all forms of dance. Lyndee has been on the varsity Valley Dance Team for three years. She also competes at state with the varsity Valley Dance Team. Lyndee is a junior at Valley High School. She also has been attending master classes and conventions to further her training in dance.