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                      Meet the Instructors of Dance Salsa Jax!

 Ally Knight

Studio Director
Senior Instructor, Choreographer, & Web Master

Ally grew up in a household where latin music was always playing in the background and a party just wasn't a party without Salsa.  While she always enjoyed the music, it wasn't until 2009 that she took her first class and became hopelessly addicted.  She has been dancing salsa and bachata non-stop ever since.  A fast learner and dedicated student, she was asked to join the DSJ staff just months later and began teaching in early 2010.  She credits her skills to having had lots of practice and an instructor (former Dance Salsa Jax director Christopher Bady) with such an excellent understanding of technique and attention to detail, and uses the same methods in her classes.

Ally has since trained with many highly respected instructors at numerous congresses, performed across the country, and danced on stage with famous salsa singer Frankie Negron.  In 2012 she took up Ballet to expand her horizons as a dancer.  Subsequently, she was asked by The Cruxshadows to join their band as a dancer and backup vocalist, and has since toured the world with them.  (Checkout their latest CD ^_^) Later that same year, she accepted the role of Director of Dance Salsa Jax, sad to see her mentors retire but excited to take DSJ to new heights.

Outside of dance, Ally practices Taekwondo & tutors math & physics,
while working on her bachelors in Mathematics.
 

Ravi

Instructor & Choreographer

Dwarakesh "Ravi" Ravichandran first met salsa at an event downtown in October 2010.  We snatched this shy unsuspecting onlooker from the crowd, got him hooked on dancing, and just one year later he was performing with us at that very same location! Ravi has continued his training with DSJ over the years and has also traveled with us to countless congresses where he has trained with many world renown salseros.  Now all the girls love dancing with him!

Our happy-go-lucky Ravi is also a full time IT for CSX
(and a part time street magician)
who is always up for any athletic challenge!

 

Joe Gioello

Instructor

Joseph Gioello is one of Ally's most dedicated protégés.  An Italian-American gringo from New Jersey, he danced the very first step of his life in 2011.  He immediately fell in love, and after just one short year full of practice and determination, was welcomed onto the staff.  Joe is a very valued member of our team.  A true perfectionist, he has very quickly become one of North Florida's best lead dancers, as well as living proof that anyone can learn how to dance!

Joe also serves in the United States Coast Guard and is the proud
father of two adorable little dogs.

 

Crystal Thompson

Part-time Instructor & Choreographer

Crystal has been dancing tap, ballet, jazz, and hip hop since 2003, and taught all these dances to children (ages 3-12) at Precision Dance Center in Charlotte, NC.  She was also a member of the adult competition team and assisted with several classes during competition seasons.  In 2008 she began dancing salsa and bachata, and moved to Jacksonville 2 years later. (Yay!)
 
Crystal has continued taking classes and attending congresses to improve her dancing,
and i
s now a valued member of our team. 
 
Crystal graduated from Nova Southeastern University with a Masters in Counseling and works full-time with children with Autism at Behavior Management Consultants.  She is currently planning a trip to Kenya to help children with Autism :) 
 
 
 

                                    ♦ Former Directors 

Isaiah Meders

Founder & Former Director

Isaiah Meders began his dance career in 1995 at a small dance studio in Florida.  Despite a relatively late start to his dance career, he's accomplished much more in the industry than most traditional dance professionals, & has achieved tremendous success training competitive dancers, teaching social dancing to thousands of students, directing several dance schools, & developing social dance venues.
 
Isaiah has competed at a professional level in International Latin, American Rhythm, & Theater Arts.  He has taken many of his students to competitions all over the U. S., including a group of youth competitors to the 2003 Junior Olympics.  He developed the Copacabana DanceSport competition team, which produced two National Champions in the International Latin & Standard divisions. 
 
In addition to competitive dancing, Isaiah has spent over 15 years developing his social dancing in Salsa,  Argentine Tango, West Coast Swing, & Ballroom.  He found his calling in teaching & launched his own dance program in 1999.
 
In 2002, Isaiah & his partner started an improv comedy & dance show that developed into a non-profit community organization: Pharcyde Dance Center.  They offered adult social dancing, a youth performing arts & Latin program, performance teams, & shows combining live stage dancing & film.  In 2005, Isaiah cofounded Jacksonville's very first social salsa program: Dance Salsa Jax (Yay!) & introduced Jax to Rueda in 2007.
 
Meanwhile, Isaiah co-founded Far & Away Pictures, a film production company which has created several film & dance projects.  Isaiah has served on the board for Norman Studios Silent Film Museum.  He & his partner were hired to choreograph for the feature film, "Lonely Hearts," & he had the opportunity to teach dance to Selma Hayek & Jared Leto.  Isaiah was also commissioned by Lisa Rinehart to choreograph an Argentine Tango at the White Oak Plantation.
 
Isaiah enjoys being part of community organizations & has worked with River City Band, American Heart Association, Norman Studios, Fostering the Arts, the United Way, the Torrance Cultural Arts Foundation's Dancing with the Stars, & the Switzer Learning Center, to name a few.  Isaiah even taught students with hearing & vision disabilities through the Independent Living for the Adult Blind (ILAM) program.
 
 In 2010, Isaiah moved to California to pursue more career opportunities, & passed DSJ down to his protégés Chris & Kristina.  He continues to thrive as a dance instructor there & currently is the proud owner of IM Dance Happy Studios.

 

Christopher Bady

Retired Director
2010-2012

Crunkmaster Chris has extensive experience in many styles of dance.  He first fell in love with Hip Hop in 2001.  Five years later, he took up ballet, ballroom,
& of course SALSA!

Chris joined the professional salsa company DSX under the direction of Isaiah Meders, & spent five years performing throughout the southeast of the United States.  During this time, he also began teaching group & private lessons in both salsa & hip hop.

 

Kristina Bady

Retired Co-Director
2010-2012

Our beautiful, bubbly Kristina has always had a passion for people, culture, and the performing arts.  In 2007, she was invited to a DSJ party & instantly fell in love on the dance floor.

Kristina has since attended multiple congresses, taken numerous workshops, & trained with some of the industry's top instructors.  Kristina believes dance is a combination of true self expression & applied technique.

  In 2010, Isaiah passed DSJ down to Chris & Kristina's talented hands! Together they took DSJ student & pro performance teams to congresses from Reno to DC & also performed on stage with famous salsa singer Frankie Negron!  Chris & Kristina also became well known for their phenomenal salsa & hip-hop fusion workshops.  In late 2012, however, the future husband and wife team stepped down to pursue other life goals.


Locations:
Avondale Dance Directions
&
Art of Dance

Contact Us:
DanceSalsaJax@gmail.com
Ally: 904-377-3437 Call or Text

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