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AOD Alum

In The Spotlight

The Academy Of Dance offers an incredible training ground for ALL students.
In addition to providing professional quality training, we are also pleased to connect students with top performing arts colleges, provide scholarship opportunities, and make introductions and connections to the industry to help students achieve their dreams!
Read below about some of our successful Alum!

Lauren Hebert

Lauren is originally from Newport News, Virginia and grew up training at The Academy of Dance and Gymnastics from age 3 to 17 where she spent most of years on the competition team. Winning her first solo competition at the age of 9, she fell in love with being on the stage. At 17 years old, upon graduating high school she started working at Busch Gardens, Williamsburg for two and a half years where she performed in various shows. Her last season at Busch she spent as the dance captain and park swing for multiple shows at the same time. She later moved to Orlando, Florida booking her first audition as a dancer at Walt Disney World. During her time at Disney she was in multiple parades and shows like “The Festival of The Lion King”, “Festival of Fantasy Parade”, “Disney’s Electrical Parade” and “Move It, Shake It, Street Party” to name a few. Lauren took her next move to the seas, completing a couple of contracts with Norwegian Creative Studios working on Regent Seven Seas Cruise Line. She loved working on ships being able to see the world and dance her heart out at the same time. Following cruising, she returned home to Orlando to perform at Mangos Tropical Cafe, Capone’s Dinner and Show, and LEGOLAND Florida. In the last year she has also spent a lot of time teaching choreography and dancing at major events in Orlando. Lauren has recently obtained her NASM certified personal trainer certification and has found that her dance training is an immense aid for helping people in the fitness industry. When Lauren is done performing, she hopes to pass her knowledge and experience down to the dancers of the future. Lauren says she “Would not have been as successful in career without the Academy of Dance, Linda Haas and her many teachers at the Academy.”

Bravita Threatt

Dance Captain and Swing on Broadways hit musical, Disney’s “THE LION KING”.  Former member of Disney’s THE LION KING Las Vegas and Disney’s THE LION KING Gazelle Tour.  Ms Threatt is a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, VA and Woodside High School for the Performing Arts in Newport New, VA.  She has been a company member and teacher at Dallas Black Dance Theater and Lula Washington Dance Theatre.  Ms. Threatt was also in the CW’s “Katey Keene”, Fox Films “Avatar”, ESPN’s Sport Science “Meet the Lion King: Biomechanics” and QVC’s “Disney Christmas Special”.  She is a former Miss Black Los Angeles, Miss Suffolk and a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority inc. 

Tiffany Haas

Originally from Yorktown Virginia, Tiffany grew up at the Academy of Dance! She has a 15 year career, performing on Broadway, National Tours, Symphony Stages, and Regional Theaters.  Tiffany landed the role of a lifetime as “Glinda” in the Broadway production of Wicked. Prior to her Broadway role, she wowed audiences nationwide playing “Glinda” on the National Tour of WICKED. She toured as the Dance Captain for the Tony Award-Winning musical The Drowsy Chaperone, and later went on to cast and choreograph the second national tour.  Tiffany received her BFA from the Cincinnati College-Conservatory. During her time in Cincinnati, she won the title of Miss Ohio and competed in the Miss America Pageant! She is now serves as a judge and emcee for the Miss America system.  Having a true passion for teaching, Tiffany continues to teach guest master classes at some of the most prestigious conservatories, universities and performing arts schools throughout the country. In addition, she is the Artistic Director for Destination Broadway, a musical theater intensive held in New York City for young aspiring performers where students train closely with top professionals in the industry. Her students can be seen on The Disney Channel, Nickelodeon, Sesame Street, Broadway, National Tours and studying at some of the most prestigious performing arts programs in the country.


Tiffany’s book, “Waiting In The Wings: How To Launch Your Performing Career On Broadway And Beyond” (released by MacMillan/ St. Martins Press) is available now on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.


Growing up at The Academy Of Dance & Gymnastics, Tiffany was an original member of the AOD Showbiz Kids Competition Team and went on to win numerous national dance awards and Miss Dance titles throughout the competition circuit. Now, she now serves as a judge on the national level for several dance competitions and teaches for many dance conventions circuits. Since returning to AOD, her choreography has been recognized on a national level receiving many “top scoring” overall awards. Most recently, she was recognized as Top Choreographer at Encore DCS 2020. Tiffany absolutely loves being back at AOD, where her love of dance and performing first began! After all, “there’s no place like home!”

Collin Heyward

is joining us after being in the company at Alvin Ailey! Collin first discovered his love of dance right here at The Academy of Dance and Gymnastics in Newport News, under the direction of Linda Haas!

Collin is an outstanding dancer and teacher. His choreography is national award-winning and our company students have been so lucky to work with him when he comes back in town! Mr. Heyward has had a beyond successful career. He graduated with honors from the Ailey/Fordham BFA Program in Dance program and has performed all around the world including in NYC and LA.

He also attended several dance intensives, including Earl Mosley’s Institute of the Arts, and has performed works by Sidra Bell, Francisco Martinez, Elisa Monte, and Scott Rink. He has made guest appearances with Company Stefanie Batten Bland and in the revival of E. Clement Bethel’s The Legend of Sammie Swain in Nassau, Bahamas. Mr. Heyward is also a featured dancer in the Fox Searchlight film Black Nativity.

Stephanie Parker

Instructor at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York City, joins the Academy of Dance resident teaching staff!

Stephanie was born and raised in Newport News, VA. From the age of 4, she loved everything theatrical! She started dancing at the Academy of Dance and competed with the Showbiz Kids from the age of 7 until the end of high school, winning numerous regional and national awards. Stephanie has training in Tap, Jazz, Ballet, Lyrical, Contemporary, and Musical Theater.

After graduating in 2012, Stephanie moved to New York City to attend the American Musical and Dramatic Academy (AMDA) and The New School to get her BFA in Musical Theater with a Minor in Psychology. After receiving her degree, she had the pleasure of performing across the country in numerous productions and projects. Some of her favorites include: Newsies (Spot Conlon/Hannah/Newsie/Katherine u/s), Songs for a New World (Woman 1), Jesus Christ Superstar (Mary Magdalene), Applause (Ensemble, Dance Captain), and Jekyll and Hyde. She appeared on NBC's Red Nose Day as a featured tap dancer which helped to fight against child poverty around the world. She has worked in Busch Gardens’ Christmas shows as a singer and dancer and has also workshopped developing theatrical productions for RWS and their Great America theme parks.

For the past 6 years, Stephanie has been a Dance Faculty member at The American Musical and Dramatic Academy, teaching aspiring actors of all different training backgrounds the love of dance! She teaches Tap, Musical Theater, Jazz, and Ballet, and also choreographs for their graduation showcases and Dance Workshop select program. Stephanie has also had the pleasure of choreographing for many other projects while in NYC including: The Braggart of Bourbon Street (Fringe Festival) and The Sunday Series (Abington Theater).

Stephanie is excited for the opportunity to teach where her love for dance began! Thanks to Linda, Jim, Tiffany, and the rest of the amazing staff at the Academy for their support and love!

In the second photo below, you can see Stephanie on the far right as a cast member of “Newsies”!

Brittany Nicholas

Brittany recently appeared in "Matilda" and "Mean Girls" on Broadway! She is a dancer, singer, actress originally from right here in Newport News, VA. She started dancing at the age of 4 with The Academy of Dance and Gymnastics under the direction of the beloved Ms. Linda! She started competing at the age of 10 and traveled along the east coast in regional and national dance competitions. Her training includes Ballet, Tap, Jazz, Lyrical, Contemporary, Hip Hop, Pointe, and Gymnastics. Brittany has trained with Alvin Ailey Dance Theatre as well as at conventions N.Y.C.D.A, and Jump.

In 2008, Brittany booked her first professional job at Summer Theatre of New Hampshire in "High School Musical". From there Brittany went on to work at several regional equity theaters. In December of 2009, Brittany booked the first national tour of "Billy Elliot" as the Swing. Little did she know Billy Elliot would make her Broadway dream come true, and would also give Brittany her first dance captain credit.

When Brittany is not performing she is teaching master classes at studios and conventions. She also coaches gymnastics and is a seasoned gymnastics competition adjudicator. She loves working with children and spending time with family and friends.

Emily Donston

Emily Grew up studying dance at AOD! She was an award-winning member of the company and soloist at the Academy of Dance for 12 years. She graduated Summa Cum Laude from East Carolina University with a BFA in Dance with a concentration in Performance and Choreography. While in college, Emily served as the President of East Carolina Dance Association where she led her peers in community service and volunteer programming, and as the Director of Interns for ECU’s Dance Program heading the program’s social media, marketing, and alumni networking. She participated in intensives with Koresh Dance Company, River North Dance Chicago, and Trinity Laban Conservatoire (UK) and performed in showcases in New York City. She has also choreographed dances for competition that have ranked nationally, including this past year’s “Batucada,” which was the highest scoring tap number of the week and “Stomp to my Beat” that placed 2nd overall at StarQuest Nationals. This year, Emily’s choreography has already received recognition as one of the highest scoring routines at Encore Dance Competition, along with multiple first overall placements.

Ericka Whitaker

Ericka is originally from Newport News, VA and grew up dancing at The Academy of Dance at a very young age! She was an award winning dancer on the "Showbiz Kids" Competition Team until she graduated from AOD! Ericka went on to perform with the Radio City Rockettes Christmas Spectacular as a featured Rockette! She later moved to Atlanta to continue her career performing as professional MBA cheerleader! We are so proud of her success!

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