Diane Matthews, Director
Diane began her dance training at the Philadelphia School of Dance Arts, where she was awarded a full scholarship studying Ballet, Modern Jazz, Tap and Gymnastics for 10 years. She continued her education at West Chester University and the Philadelphia College of the Arts. Her professional background includes being one of the original members of Philadelphia Dance Company (Philadanco) and a featured soloist with the Philadelphia Civic Ballet Company. Ms. Diane has been a dance instructor throughout the area for more than 30 years. During the past few years, in addition to directing West Chester Dance Works, our resident dance company, Diane has been teaching, performing and choreographing for various schools and organizations including West Chester University. She continues to broaden her dance spectrums by participating in various workshops and symposiums including Vaganova and dance medicine.
Aisha Cunningham, Director of Operations
Aisha Cunningham, is a graduate of West Chester University with a Bachelor of Science in Biology. She is a former student of the Diane Matthews School of Dance Arts who in 1998 joined our administrative staff as the receptionist and today uses her analytical and organizational skills to improve the overall experience at the studio. Over the past 15 years her knowledge of dance administration and responsibilities has increased to include general office operations and management of the school. She is committed to the philosophy of Dance in a Caring & Friendly atmosphere and has found working with children and family to be quite rewarding.
Candace Matthews-Bass, Communications Manager
Candace Matthews-Bass trained at the Diane Matthews School of Dance Arts for 16 years, studying ballet, tap, jazz and tumbling. While at Drexel University, Candace was captain of Drexel’s first Dance Team and a member/choreographer with the Drexel University Dance Ensemble. She graduated with a BS in Psychology and went on to complete her MA at Eastern University. Candace has danced professionally with Body Language Modern Dance Company, Freedom Theatre in Alkynza Danz 1999 and West Chester Dance Works as both a corps and principle dancer for over 15 years. Additional performing includes freelance projects and contracted performances throughout metropolitan Philadelphia. “Ms. Candi” is entering her 16th year as director of West Chester Dance Works’ dance team “DM Dance Machine” and serves as the Artistic Coordinator and choreographer for “Expressions of Praise”, the intergenerational dance ministry of Grace Baptist Church of Germantown. Candace has taught jazz and hip hop at DMSODA for over 20 years!
Tiffany Griffin, Head Teacher
Tiffany Griffin is a graduate of Drexel University with a degree in Accounting and a minor in Dance Education. She has been a student of dance for over 20 years studying Ballet, Tap, Jazz and Modern with renowned artist such as Pat Thomas, Milton Myers, and La Vaughn Robinson. Tiffany is an adjunct teacher with Drexel University and has danced and choreographed for the Drexel University Dance Ensemble.
Tiffany has danced professionally for area companies and for the last 15 years has taught dance in the Philadelphia and Montgomery County School Districts.
Judith Thomas, Head Teacher
Judith Thomas received her Bachelor of Science from West Chester University. She studied ballet with James Jamieson at the Academy of the Dance in Wilmington for 15 years. Judy’s modern training includes studying with Lida Nelson Smith at West Chester University where she was one of the founding members and principal dancers In the Theater Dance Group. Judy has been dancing with and/or teaching for us since 1984.
Melissa Threadgill, Head Teacher
Melissa trained 14 years with the Diane Matthews School of Dance Arts studying ballet, jazz, tap, modern, and hip-hop. Through training under the guidance of Ms. Diane, Melissa began to experience the joy of teaching dance at the studio. She was also the Artistic Director of the Pioneer Dance Company of Conestoga High School. Melissa continued her studies at Virginia Commonwealth University where she graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology. While at VCU she expanded her training in improvisation, ballet, modern and contact improvisation. She has previously been a member of West Chester Dance Works Signature Company, WCDW DM Dance Machine and Training Company. West Chester Dance Works is pleased to have Melissa as the West Chester Dance Works Junior Performers’ program director.
Shareese is a 2015 graduate of California University of Pennsylvania with a Bachelor of Science in Gerontology. She is a West Chester native with strong ties to Diane Matthews School of Dance Arts. She joined the studio in 1996 and throughout the years participated in almost all of the various disciplines therein; ballet, jazz, tap, modern and hip hop. Shareese was a member of the Junior Performers, DM Dance Machine and Signature/Training Company of the West Chester Dance Works. Among her highlights is as a performer in Rachel Harris; a featured story of a runaway slave, choreographed by Diane Matthews. Dance arts saturated home and church life as she formed a dynamic duo with her sister Aja, dubbed the “Asparagus Sisters”. In addition she danced in community based groups known as Joyful Praise, Diamond Girls and projects developed by herself and colleagues. Miss Asparagus has been a summer assistant and instructor of Diane Matthews students. Dance has had a significant impact in her life, changing it, molding it, while also allowing her to share this passion with the world.
Kiara is a student of Ballet, Jazz, Hip Hop, and Praise Dance at the Diane Matthews School of Dance Arts for the past thirteen years. In addition to dance studies, she is a member of Expressions of Praise Dance ensemble at Grace Baptist Church of Germantown. She is also a member of DM Dance Machine, and a co-instructor for Annointed Too. Kiara’s choreography has been performed in West Chester Dance Works concerts for the past three 3 years. She is currently a senior at Cheltenham High School.
Pam studied at Diane Matthews School of Dance Arts from ages 8 through 18. She took classes in ballet, pointe, tap, modern, and jazz (with a smidgen of liturgical and hip hop for good measure). Pam was a member of West Chester Dance Works’ Junior Performers, WCDW Annointed Dance, and WCDW Signature and Training Companies. After high school, Pam attended Northwestern University, where she earned a degree in English Education and a teaching license in the state of Illinois. While at Northwestern, she was a member of its oldest dance company, Graffiti Dancers. Graffiti, a contemporary dance group, is much more diverse based on dancers’ creativity and annually original choreography. When life brought her back to Pennsylvania, she was sincerely honored to have the opportunity to work with the studio, with the incredible individuals that watched and helped her grow up. The meaning of “home” shifts throughout life. For Pam, feeling cared for and appreciated, comfortable while challenged, genuinely known, makes the studio home. When not dancing, Pam enjoys reading, skateboarding, listening to podcasts, and tutoring.
Alyssa has been dancing since she was three years old and ballet has been a major part of her life for over 25 years. She was trained in the Vaganova method of ballet at the Dance Center in West Chester, PA and performed throughout the West Chester area with the Brandywine Ballet Company of which she was a member for 7 years. Alyssa went on to graduate from Penn State University with her Bachelors of Architecture in 2010. While at Penn State she continued to dance, perform and teach ballet as a member of Vole, Penn State’s student run ballet club. Since returning to West Chester, Alyssa has taken classes at Koresh in Philadelphia and has now found a home at Diane Matthews School of Dance Arts. Alyssa believes good dance training is a valuable experience that has a positive impact on all aspects of life, and she is excited to pass along her passion to her students.
Liz has been educating students in dance and choreographing for more then a decade. She currently teaches at studios throughout the Philadelphia area including, head teacher of North Penn YMCA’s summer camp. Liz has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Dance from Eastern University where she performed in and choreographed for many of Eastern’s dance concerts; her pieces included A Part of My Soul, Unfaltering Drive!, Paresthesias, Beautiful Human and What Remains?. Liz performed in pieces by Eastern professors such as Stephen Welsh’s Under the Microscope in 2009 and Dr. Karen Clemente’s Return Again in 2007 at Pennsylvania State Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance State Convention. Liz is a former company member/choreographer of modern dance company, MM2. Her piece for MM2, Post-Emergence, was performed at the 2010 Philadelphia Fringe Festival, and Philly Fringe Preview Show. Liz.s choreography showcased at the Koresh Artist Showcase, InHale Performance Series, ETC Performance Series, Jam 4 Jess Benefit Dance Concert, SpringUP Dance Festival, Cabaret Nights (Lehigh Valley Dance Exchange), and Artistry Unfolded. Liz has taught master classes around the Philadelphia area, at In Motion Dance Company, and Moravian College and has judged for That’s Entertainment Performing Arts Competition. Liz loves to instill a passion for dance in all of her students!
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Angela Masci has trained with Diane Matthews School of Dance Arts since 1997. Over the years she has taken various styles of dance including tap, jazz, hip hop, ballet and was on dance team right before graduating high school. In college, she took broadway style tap, as well. She returned to the studio two years ago after graduating college in 2014. She attended Neumann University, and West Chester University where she completed her bachelors degree in Nutrition and Dietetics. Angie always had a love for tap dancing ever since she first took classes with Miss. Bettie at 7 years old. She also took tap classes with Miss. Diane and trained with Miss. Tiffany for over 11 years. This is Miss Angie’s first year teaching tap at Diane Matthews School of Dance Arts and she is excited to show her students how amazing and exciting tap dancing truly is!
Jamal is a graduate of the Pennsylvania Leadership Charter School where he studied ballet, tap, jazz, and modern dance. Inspired with a passion for hip-hop that began early, Jamal has trained with some of the hottest hip-hop artists of today including Smart Mark (I am Phresh), the Les Twins (Beyonce’s back-up dancers), and Knucklehead from Street Kingdom, an Los Angeles based krump crew. Jamal currently performs with I’AM PHRESH , (hip-hop company of talented young local hip-hop dancers), Excalibur and Balance Dance Company. Jamal’s experience with Excalibur includes performances in the tri-state area particularly those for Sixers’ games and at the University of Delaware.Jamal is a well-rounded and versatile dancer who specializes in many styles of hip-hop dance. Jamal believes that every student has the potential to excel in at least one aspect of hip-hop dance. His goal is to bring each dancer’s strengths into every number. A creative and innovative choreographer, Jamal encourages his students while inspiring them with his enthusiasm and dedication. His teaching style includes lyrical hip-hop, popping & locking, old school, and krump. We are excited to have Jamal return to the Diane Matthews School of Dance Arts for the upcoming year.
Alice has been dancing since the age of four. She trained at B*Dazzled Dance Studios in York, PA under Priscilla Hoffman. At B*Dazzled Alice not only trained in dance but also on the administrative side of running a dance team and studio. Since moving to Philadelphia in 2011, Alice has continued her dance training by dancing and choreographing for InMotion Dance Team at Temple University and also served as their co-captain for two years and captain for one year. She graduated from Temple University in December 2014 with a Bachelors of Science in Education. Alice continues to take dance classes at Koresh and Millennium in Philadelphia, along with attending various workshops and conventions. She is certified by Dance Teacher Magazine from the 14th, 15th, and 16th Annual Teachers Workshop hosted by The Pulse on Tour in NYC! Alice has been teaching dance for over ten years in York, PA and in Philadelphia. She currently teaches Hip Hop, Jazz, and Predance at Diane Matthews School of Dance Arts, Jazz and Hip Hop at Ovations Academy of Dance in Northeast Philadelphia, and coaches Adrenaline Rush Competition Dance Team in York, PA.
Kathleen Padgett graduated cum laude from Columbia International University with her Bachelors of Science in Education. She trained in ballet, jazz, pointe, and tap at the former LeRoux School of Dance in Conshohocken, PA. Kathleen has 12 years experience teaching dance, as well as 2 years experience teaching 3rd grade. She has enjoyed choreographing pieces for various events for several organizations. Her passion for dance continues as she regularly participates in a local dance group and teaches at Diane Matthews School of Dance Arts.
Motivator. Administrator. Creator. Dancer. Blogger. Kristen makes people’s dreams become a reality. A former professional dancer, she’s danced nationally and taught in eight states to thousands of children and adults, including those with special needs. Her award winning choreography moves the audience to a place of awakening. She’s also performed lead roles in the plays: The Piano Lesson, Flyin’ West and has written several plays and productions. With a passion to see people’s dreams come alive, she markets, arranges, administers, and brings to life visions and plans in a practical way. Kristen is also a writer, blogging for mommy blogging websites as well as her own own blog (She Writes Him.)