SDA Instructors 2016-17

Miss Mary (Mary St.Romain), is the owner and director of SDA Studios, founded in August 2002. A former principal dancer with over 40 years of classroom experience, she has taught all levels from beginners to professionals. She began her teaching career at the age of 16 while still a student in Rochester New York, before moving to New York City to study on full scholarship at American Ballet Theater and with master teacher David Howard. She performed soloist and principal roles during her 5 years at Ballet Oklahoma, under the direction of Bojan Spassoff and Edward Villella, then retired to begin a family with her husband Richard. While raising her sons Mark (graphic designer, Simeone Deary Design Group) and Joseph (former CPL USMC, now Boise State University), she continued to teach and perform in Denver and Minneapolis before settling with her husband in West Chester, Ohio. She became a certified Jazzercise instructor and returned to teaching dance full time at Oui Danse and Cincinnati Ballet while beginning her study of Yoga. Since opening the SDA, she attended both a Finis Jung and Dance Medicine teaching seminar, participated in the Jazz Dance World Congress (bringing numerous students along) in Chicago in 05, 07 & 09, become a certified ZUMBA instructor attending 3 different Zumba training workshops and has attended yearly dance teacher educational seminars including DanceLife Teacher, Dance Teacher Web & Dance Teacher Summit. By continuing her own dance education, she is able to offer her students the very best and newest dance styles, in addition to preserving classical ballet history through the teachings of the repertoire she herself learned and now passes along to her students.

Miss Stevie (Stevie Wells), from Middletown Ohio, began dancing at age 3 studying jazz, modern and ballet. At age 11, she began intensive ballet only training in Cechetti, Vaganova and Balanchine styles. She was a member of a pre-professional company, Ballet LeJunesse from age 16 through high school and competed in the Ohio Dance Festival Choreographers Showcase. She attended summer intensives at both Juilliard and The School of American Ballet in 1998 and 1999. Stevie also competed in the Cincinnati Overture Awards as a finalist in 1999 and again in 2000, winning the scholarship for the dance segment of the competition. To complement her ballet training, she has also studied jazz, modern, ballroom, swing dance, pilates and yoga. During high school, She taught ballet/creative movement to preschool children at a local school/daycare in Middletown, as well as guest teaching for local studios. From 2004-2005, Stevie relocated to Tampa FL and danced professionally with a small company of dancers. Upon returning to Ohio, she placed dance on hold to become a mother to her 3 daughters, Sunny, Riley and Avery. She returned to teaching in 2012 and joined SDA Studios in Jan 2015. Stevie is very excited to be a part of the SDA teaching staff full time and is looking forward to a fantastic 2nd year working with all ages of dancers!

Miss Kara (Kara Lam), has been involved in the dance industry for nearly 20 years. She has studied many disciplines over the course of her training, ranging from ballet to tap to hip-hop, specializing in lyrical and contemporary. In addition to her recreational training, Kara has several years of competitive dance experience under her belt with teams and as a soloist. As captain of her competitive team during her senior year of high school (2012), she led her team to several regional and national titles. Since high school, Kara has been gaining teaching experience with several studios before finding her home at SDA. She is also currently a dance adjunct for the Ameridance, Studio LIVE, and Eastern Dance competitive organizations. Kara is a firm believer in staying updated on her training and choreography styles and loves learning as much as possible about the ever-changing world of dance. She takes dance courses at the University of Cincinnati’s College Conservatory of Music (CCM), as well as professional-level classes at Planet Dance Cincinnati. Additionally, she travels across the country to take teaching seminars and master classes from some of today’s top choreographers and teachers – Denise Wall, Stacey Tookey, Sonya Tayeh, Kathryn McCormick, Liz Imperio, and tWitch to name a few. Outside of dance, Kara is a student in her final year at the University of Cincinnati’s College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning (DAAP) pursuing a bachelors degree in graphic design. She is looking forward to her first year as a full-time member of the SDA staff and working with all of SDA’s amazing students!

Miss Claire (Claire Small), was a student at SDA Studios for 10 years, studying ballet, jazz, modern, lyrical, and tap. She graduated Summa Cum Laude from Grantham University with an Associate of Arts degree in 2015, and is currently a student of Grantham University Online. Claire has attended summer intensives at Cincinnati Ballet, Kansas City Ballet, Boston Ballet, Ballet Chicago, and Dayton Ballet; as well as attending Jazz Dance World Congress with SDA Studios in 2009. Claire danced with Dayton Ballet II for four seasons, where she performed with the professional company in Karen Russo Burke’s The Nutcracker and Cinderella, as well as Septime Webre’s Romeo and Juliet. She also received the Walter J. McCaslin Memorial Award and the Josephine and Hermene Schwartz Award, and began teaching at Dayton Ballet School in 2014. Claire Small is an ABT® Certified Teacher, who has successfully completed the ABT® Teacher Training Intensive in Pre-Primary through Level 5 of the ABT® National Training Curriculum. She is also Acrobatic Arts Certified. Claire is excited to be returning to SDA to teach for her second year!