Meet Our Instructors

Mary Lou Barnes

Owner, director, teacher, choreographer, judge, teacher of teachers.

Member: Dance Masters of America, Dance Masters of Michigan and Cecchetti Council of America

Mary Lou began her  dance training in Detroit at the age of six at the CYO center. She then moved to East Detroit and started classes at Novak music and Dance. She started as an assistant at eleven years old. By the age of fourteen, she was a full time teacher with over 200 students. She then taught in her parents’ home and built up a clientele. In 1971 she married and moved to St. Clair Shores and continued to teach in her home. She gained so many students that they had to be placed on a waiting list. In 1984,she opened her own school and within a short time outgrew the building and moved to the present location at 12 and Harper. Her school has grown to be one of the most popular in the area. This enviable reputation continues today.

Many of her former students have gone on to achieve their own success in the dance world as performers on Broadway, Disney, Cruise lines and dance companies as well as teachers and choreographers. Through the years her local reputation has expanded all across the United States, teaching for Dance Caravan and numerous dance organizations. Mary Lou is a certified member of Dance Masters of America and Michigan and the Cecchetti Council of America. She has been on faculty for Joel Ruminer’s dance camp throughout the country. She had donated many hours along with her students to entertain convalescent homes, churches, schools, and various other organizations.

Karly MacLean

Karly is a Junior at University of Toledo working towards her Bachelor degree in Bio Chem. She graduated from L’Anse Creuse High School and attended Macomb Community College pursuing an Associate’s Degree in Pre-Medicine. She has been dancing at Dancer’s Workshop since she was 3 and is trained in tap, jazz, ballet, pointe, lyrical, contemporary, and hip-hop. Karly has also assisted for many teachers over the past 5 years.  She has performed with the Macomb Ballet Company and has won numerous awards at various competitions such as: Tremaine where she received a full Scholarship to attend the weekend convention for being Studio Dancer of the year, Jump, LA Dance Magic, Hollywood Connection, Star Systems, and Applause Talent. Karly and her team mates took 1st place in the Senior overall and were invited to attend a Summer intensive in New York. Karly has passed her grade I-III ballet exams with, commended and highly commended marks through the Cecchetti Council of America. She has also performed for many charities and organizations such as Wigs for Kids, Relay for Life, and St. Anthony’s Nursing home. Karly was on the competitive Roseville cheer team and the L’Anse Creuse Varsity Dance team. She has recently won an Al Gilbert Scholarship at the Music Works Teacher Tour Convention. Karly was just recently asked to be a Assistant coach for a local competitive Cheer team. Looking forward to another great year in dance, Karly can’t wait to show her love for dance through her classes and choreography.

Katherine Philliben

Ms. Katherine,  just loves the performing arts and would like to share that joy with future generations of performers! Curriculums that she enjoys include: Ballet, Pointe, Lyrical, Musical Theater, Jazz, Tap, Progression (Jumps, Leaps, and Turns), Stretch, Modern, Contemporary, Preschool, and Pageant Preparation. She also teaches at Competitive and Recreational levels. Also she offers private and group lessons.

Former Owner and Artistic Director of That’s Entertainment Studio for the Performing Arts, Inc., Ms. Katherine is a nationally award winning competitive dance instructor and choreographer. Her students have won national titles, overalls, and pageant titles. Some of her graduated students are managing ballet companies, have appeared on SYTYCD, headline in Las Vegas, are Dance Captains for University dance teams, and more.

Ms. Katherine has won several of her own titles as a performer and distinguished awards as an instructor. She has been in numerous musicals (Choreographed a few too); in a collegiate show choir and acapella singing group, and performed for Disney to name a few.

She is so excited to be bringing her talents to share with the students at Dancers Workshop!

Ashley-Brooke Shambeck

Ashley is a native of Metro Detroit and started her dance career at 3 years old. She grew up in the dance studio world and after many years of training in Ballet, Tap, Jazz, Lyrical and Hip Hop she has gone on to fined a true passion in teaching and choreographing for many studios in the Metro Detroit area. She dedicates a lot of time and energy to studying her craft by attending conventions and traveling  to California and New York to learn from the best of the best. As well as educating her students to do the same.

Ashley has had the amazing opportunity to perform in many televised events and performing for artist such as Boys 2 Men, Enrique Iglesias, Vanessa Carlton, Jon Bon Jovi, Mary J. Blige, and Wyclef Jean. She has performed and choreographed for many local and Canadian events including corporate and casino events and show. Movie credits include choreography for a local independent Indian Film, Vanilla. She choreographed and performed for local Detroit rapper E. Strong for 2 years and in a collaboration performed with Ja Rule and Lil Jon. She has also assisted on a national convention. Ashley has been teaching for 11 years and has had many award winning competition numbers in Lyrical, Jazz and Hip-Hop. In addition she has been called to teach Master Classes all over Michigan and is a guest teacher at Oakland University. Her classes have been described as fun, energetic, and challenging. She loves teaching and pushing her students to constantly push the envelope and evolve as dancers.

Nina M. Wojcik (Bommarito)

My first experience with dance began when I was 10 years old here at Dancers Workshop with Ms. Renee.  I loved dance and took to it right away.  I wanted to learn it all: Tap, Ballet, Jazz, and Funk (we know this as Hip Hop today).  My favorite style of dance became Funk/Hip Hop.  My favorite part of learning to dance was getting on stage to perform every year.

I also enjoyed all the new friends I met and grew up with in these classes.  I still keep in touch with many of these friends today.  Dance was a large part of my life then and it is now.  When I was 13, I started to assist the dance teachers.  I loved it.  I knew then that I wanted to teach dance when I grew up.  I still feel the excitement of when I was first learning dance when a student is able to perform a step for their first time.

After I graduated from Lakeview in 1990 I decided to dance and do college at the same time.  That year was one of my most amazing years in dance.  It opened my eyes to greater possibilities in the world of dance.  I learned so much in that first year after graduation and I was more motivated then ever.  I was able to become the dancer I dreamed about and started to learn how to become a dance teacher.  The opportunities that were offered to me increased my enthusiasm and love for dance.  Through dance, I was able to travel all over North America performing next to professional singers and magicians.  By the time I was 21, I danced about 20 hours a week, was going to college, coaching the college dance team, and working as a corporate travel agent (oh, and I had met my wonderful husband).  I also managed to get a degree in Business Administration and Graphic Communications and dance all at the same time.  It was tough, but no matter what else I tried, I always seemed to come back to dance.  So I asked to become a teacher have not regretted it for a minute.

I did take a few years off of dance because I got married (my husband actually proposed on stage after a dance recital in 1996 – my two biggest loves came together!), and we had 3 amazing children, Brenden (11), Peter (8), and Elizabeth (7).  My wonderful (can I say that too much?) husband knows the month of June is recital time.  And that time means a lot of late nights helping with music, last-minute choreography changes, costumes, etc.  Through it all he is a good sport and offers support in listening to me vent my last-minute frustrations.

I have always thought of the dance is my other family.  Teachers, students, and their families that I have met here are more than just clients.  They are my support, my laughter, and my tears.  The one thing we all cherish as teachers is that we get to watch many young dancers grow up to be wonderful and amazing young adults as well as dancers.  It’s my honor to see them shine each and every time they dance on stage; it makes me proud to know I was a part of that growth.

So here I am.  It’s been over 30 years since I came to the Dancers Workshop and I am back teaching where it all began.

Mary Salada

Mary Margaret (Garafola) Salada married Bob in 1976 and has two daughters, Marybeth Ann and Christie Marie. She started loving Hawaii when she went there on her honeymoon in 1976. Right away she took her first lesson there. She loved it. When she came home she started looking for a dance studio that taught hula. It took her three and a half years but she found one. It was in Royal Oak called Vicki Stevens Dance Studio. They taught Hawaiian and Tahitian with authentic hulas and costumes. She had to be the best. That was in 1980. She took there for 10 years. Then Vicki had to close her studio and she had to find another dance studio to take lessons.  She found Dancer’s Workshop and started in 1986, and started teaching in 1987. She has been there with Mary Lou for twenty four years. She also taught at other studios through the years. She also makes all of the costumes that they wear in the recitals; all of the materials are from Hawaii. She also performs in shows throughout the local area and other states. Her daughter Marybeth also performs with her. She still takes lessons from a professional Hawaiian/Tahitian teacher so she learns new material every year. She has been to Hawaii seven times and Tahiti one time. She loves teaching the Hula and Tahitian dance and she loves Hawaii, ALOHA!

Marisa DeVuyst

Marisa began dancing at the age of 3 and hasn’t stopped since. She has been trained in jazz, lyrical, contemporary, modern, ballet, pointe, hip hop, and tap. She has passed grades I-IV in Cechetti Ballet receiving high commendations and has taken classes in grades V-VI.

As a competitive dancer she received numerous awards for her performances and recently began choreographing her own material and practicing improvisation, things she hopes to continue exploring through teaching and taking class.

While trained in many areas, tap remains her favorite form of dance. Marisa has been a member of Detroit Tap Repertory Company for 6 years and has studied tap and tap history with leading masters worldwide. Last season she discovered Mary Lou Barne’s teacher class and was honored to perform in the Christmas show and Spring recital. Other

performances include The Joffrey Ballet Nutcracker, Motor City Movement, The Detroit Jazz Festival, Masters of Tap, Ted X and many benefit performances for such causes as the Breast Cancer 3 Day, Unicef, and St. Patricks Senior Center.

Marisa has been a teaching assistant for 4 years and just recently taught a 6 week tap intensive.

Currently a freshman at Wayne State University in pre-nursing, Marisa hopes to initiate tap jams and extra instruction on campus in the near future.

She is excited about the opportunity to educate others and share her love for dance at Dancers Workshop.

Stephanie Penner

Stephanie began dancing ballet and pointe when she was 4 years old at a Russian ballet school. She continued her extensive dance training there for seven years. Under the direction of her mother, Flor Penner, Stephanie also started polynesian dancing and performing with a group known as the Aloha Tropics. She expanded her knowledge of dance in 1997 by joining a small studio that offered ballet, acro, jazz, tap, lyrical, and hip hop. Since then, Stephanie has gone on to compete in numerous dance competitions, winning many regional and national awards. She is continuously studying dance by attending workshops around the Metro Detroit area as well as traveling to California for seminars with well-known choreographers.

In 2008, Stephanie performed on-stage with the Goo Goo Dolls at the Detroit Lions Thanksgiving Day Half-Time Show. During the 2013 North American International Auto Show, Stephanie performed for Kia Motor Currently, the band Fifty Amp Fuse now tours Michigan and the rest of the US with Stephanie.

Stephanie is now ready to share her love of dance through her classes and choreography.

Don Mazzola

Don has been performing and teaching ballet for over thirty years. Mr. Mazzola has studied with Rosemarie Floyd and Yacub Lascu in Detroit, MI. He continued his study in New York City with Maggie Black, David Howard Violette Verdy and Steps Dance Studio. Mr. Mazzola has performed in many classical as well a contemporary ballet pieces. “Sleeping Beauty”, “Swan Lake”, “Coppellia”, “Romeo and Juliet” and “Dance to Gershwin” among many others. Also Mr. Mazzola has performed over 500 “Nutcracker Suites” all over the country as well as 15 continuous years at the Fox Theater in Detroit, MI with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. He has performed with American Ballet Theater with Mr. Baryshnikov, Boston Ballet with Rudolph Nureyev, Dearborn Ballet, Dance Detroit, Harbinger, Americana Ballet, Michigan Ballet Theater, and Great Lakes Ballet.

Mr. Mazzola has taught with many local dance studios and Marygrove College. Several of his students are performing with Universities and professional dance companies. Mr. Mazzola holds a Masters degree in Education and B.F.A in dance and holds a Michigan Certified Teaching Certificate for grades K-12. He has taught at the American Ballet Summer intensive programs and also teaches students with Special Abilities in the Dearborn School District.

Marlise A. Cole

 Greetings! I started taking ballet, tap and jazz classes at Charmaine’s Studio of Dance in Roseville when I was about eight years old. I kept dancing at Charmaine’s thorough grade school, high school and while I earned a Bachelors in journalism from Wayne State University, where I received a scholarship in dance. I continued dancing and teaching while doing post-graduate work in business administration at U of M-Dearborn and working as an editor and marketing manager in the health care field.

In addition to the incredible training I received from “Miss Charmaine” and her staff, I have also participated in a variety of jazz and ballet conventions and have taken guest classes and workshops from numerous professionals including prima ballerina Nathalie Krassovska, George Chaffee, Ronnie De Marco, Luigi, and Roger VanFleteran, who got his start at Charmaine’s and is now Alabama Ballet Associate Artistic Director and Resident Choreographer.

Although well-versed in tap and jazz, ballet/pointe is my passion and I have been teaching/choreographing for more than 25 years. In my classes I like to encourage dialogues with the students (more so the older ones) so we can explore concepts and learn from each other, reaching a level of understanding that is beneficial to all.

On the home front, dancing is a family affair. I have two girls who take dance classes and a supportive husband who works backstage and “dances” in recitals. When I’m not taking care of my family or teaching/choreographing, I write on a freelance basis for publications that have included Dance Studio Life magazine.

Denise Caston

Denise Caston was a Radio City Rockette for 10 years and toured nationally with the Tony Award winning musical, Crazy For You. Denise has also had the honor of performing the choreography of Savion Glover at a showcase in New York City. She performed on tour in Australia in 2002, dancing all over the continent in Elvis to the Max. Her credits also include film, television, commercials, and industrials.

Teaching credits include Tradition In Tap (NYC), Gregg Russell’s Tap Into the Network, the St. Louis Tap Festival, the Oklahoma City Tap Festival, classes at Broadway Dance Center and Steps on Broadway, as well as The Rockette Experience© at Radio City Music Hall. Her choreography has been seen in many productions in which she also performed, including shows at Caesars Windsor in Ontario, Canada.

Denise currently directs the Detroit Tap Repertory, which she founded in 2008. This ensemble performs at the annual Detroit International Jazz Festival, as well as other prestigious events including choreography showcases in New York, Chicago, and metropolitan Detroit.

Dance Spirit Magazine – “The Detroit Tap Repertory [has] some serious talent.”

Dancer’s Workshop offers training in: