The faculty is comprised of skilled, highly credentialed and genuine educators. The foundation for our reputation is the high-quality dance training that this faculty is able to provide. We are teaching dance to inspire, motivate and help dancers achieve their dreams by building a foundation of proper technique.

Staff

Cindy Jones

Cindy is a 40 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 almost 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 4 children and 2 grandchildren. Her passion for family and dance can be seen throughout her life.

Kristi Ickowitz

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.

Jeffrey Shields

Jeffrey began his dance training at the age of 9 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. Jeff also went on to dance with the Rock School Ballet in Philadelphia, where he received some of the world's best ballet training. Jeff 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. Jeffrey 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. Jeffrey is a fun-loving, energetic instructor who loves to share his wide range of dance styles and experiences with his students.

Cj Frascht

Cj has been dancing for 24 years. Growing up in a small town, she was able to enjoy all genres of dance and become a member of the competition team at the young age of seven. She competed solos, small groups, large groups and production pieces, winning several top honor awards over those years. After high school Cj moved to Des Moines and continued to pursue her passion for dance. She danced for the Iowa Stars Hockey Dance Team a year and then danced for the Iowa Barnstormers for 4 years. After which she moved to Northern Iowa and taught for 3 years at Dancin with Roxie. During that time she was a part of several top earning awards, choreography awards, judge's choice, and winning the Top Production award with her choreography. Cj now lives in Grimes with her beautiful little girl, Adlei and is so excited to share and inspire all the dancers at Westside Dance Academy.

Caitlin Hendricks

Caitlin has been dancing for 20 years. Originally from Houston, Texas, she trained at various studios in the Houston area and competed at regional and national levels. She was a member and officer of the Cinco Ranch High School Dance Team, a nationally ranked Texas dance team. After high school, Caitlin became a staff member for MA Dance company.Caitlin serves as a choreographer, head instructor and judge for camps and competitions across the country. Caitlin graduated from Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas, with a Bachelors of Art in Dance along with her secondary Texas teacher certification. While in college, Caitlin was a member of the TTU Dance Company which allowed her to study and work with Pilobolus and Ailey II dance companies. After graduation from Texas Tech, Caitlin was named the Head Director for the Mckinney North High School Northstar Varsity Dance Team and the Starlette Junior Varsity Dance Team. Since her relocation to Des Moines, Caitlin has been named a High Voltage Dancer for the 2015-2016 season of the Iowa Energy.

Brooke Nelson

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 of ballet grew, she was invited to study under the direction of Dame Sonia Arova of the Alabama School of Ballet. Apart from her dance experience, Brooke holds a PhD in Developmental Psychology and finds such joy watching children grow into their own unique selves. She is excited to combine her love of dance and child development as a new instructor at Westside Dance Academy.

Jaclyn Naegle

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 all 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.

Gigi Oerter

Gigi earned both her high school diploma and 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!

Kyle Phillips

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.

Kate Sandy

Kate began dancing at age of 5, and Cindy Jones was her very first dance instructor. After moving to Cedar Rapids in 3rd grade with her family, Kate continued to take dance lessons through high school. Kate went on to attend the University of Iowa, where she received her BA in Communication Studies, as well as a BA in Dance; while at Iowa, she was a 4 year member and 2 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 for 3 years, before moving on to pursue her dream of coaching a collegiate dance team at Loyola University of Chicago for another 3 years. Kate was also an instructor/judge for Universal Dance Association, teaching at dance team camps throughout the Midwest, and she continues to serve as a judge for UDA's competitions, both regionally and nationally. Kate also choreographs for high school and college teams in both Iowa and Illinois. She is so happy to be back where it all started for her, teaching for the one and only Cindy Jones, and mentoring young dancers!

Brett Thompson

Brett has been dancing since the age of four, studying at Westside Dance Academy. Her focus is ballet and pointe, but she has also studied jazz, tap, hip hop, and modern dance extensively. Over the years, she has performed with Iowa Dance Theatre and Yaro Dance Company, recently 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 also has traveled to receive training at Milwaukee School of Ballet. She is currently a junior member of Dance Masters of Mid America and attends Mercy College of Health Sciences in pursue of becoming a Physical Therapist Assistant.

Jamie Jo Wahlert

Jamie Jo began her dance training at the age of 3 and studied for over 20 years under the direction of several studios in Iowa, Wisconsin and Illinois. Jamie Jo’s dance background is in ballet, tap, jazz, modern, and ballroom dance. She participated in the Iowa Dance Theater, and the Lake Country Dance Theater and competition team while in high school and competed in competitions around the Midwest. Jamie Jo attended Iowa State University where she obtained a degree in Early Childhood Special Education. While at Iowa State University she was an active member of Orchesis I dance company, performed in the Stars over VEISHIA musicals, competed with the ISU Ballroom Dance Company and interned with the Joel Hall Dance Company in Chicago, Illinois. Since college Jamie Jo has coached the North Polk Dance Team as well as the ADM Dance team. Jamie Jo is excited to share the passion she has for dance with the dancers at Westside and to motivate them to work hard to build confidence in themselves.

Abby Zaug

Abby began her dance training here at Westside Dance Academy at the age of 3. 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 4 years, on the Waukee Varsity Show Choir for 3 years, and taught dance classes at WDA for 2 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 4 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.

Gracie Bach

Gracie Bach attends WDM Valley High School, and has been dancing at Westside Dance Academy for 14 years. She has been a Teacher Assistant with WDA since 4 th grade. Gracie has worked with, and been mentored by, all the WDA faculty at some point and time over the last seven years. She worked side-by-side with Miss Cindy for several years, learning how to teach a dance class, understanding curriculum standards and expectations, and making lesson plans. Gracie is a three-year member of the Valley High School Dance Team, has been a member of the award-winning WDA Competition Team for the last nine years competing on solos, duets, trios and groups. Gracie continues to take Level 5 Ballet, Pointe, Tap and Jazz classes along with several technique classes, and spends her summers taking Master Classes from professional dancers at numerous dance studios both locally and throughout the Midwest. She was a CNADM participant, and has attended several workshops, with most recently being a scholarship winner with ASH.

Guest Choreographers

Mikaela Jagim

Hattie McConnell