Kathleen Connolly
Artistic Director , Company Director & Owner

Kathleen began teaching dance in 1973. She is a graduate of the High School of the Performing and Visual Arts, with a concentration in dance. She became a certified member of the internationally accredited dance organization, Dance Masters of America in 1988, and has served on its board. In 1990, she opened Connolly Dance Arts at her Westheimer Road location and had a successful 21 years. She brought her love of dance to students in the Katy area in 2011. Kathleen opened her current location at the Villagio in Cinco Ranch, and is proud to be part of the Katy community. Kathleen has directed her students in many dance productions and competitions. She is the Artistic Director for the award winning CDA Company, whose members have won numerous awards and titles.

Dorena Battaglino
Tap instructor

Dorena studied Broadway-style tap, jazz, and ballet for thirteen years at the Shirley Wolfe Dance Studio in Plano, Texas, beginning at age four. While earning a Chemical Engineering degree, she choreographed annual musicals: Damn Yankees, Oklahoma!, Sugar, and the Faculty Follies. In the San Francisco Bay Area, she was active as an actor, improv artist, dancer, and choreographer in the local community theatre scene. Choreographing tap-rich 42nd Street was a personal favorite. She was also the inaugural Resident Staff Choreographer of the Oakland Lyric Opera and staged Amahl and the Night Visitors with guest artists from San Francisco Opera.

Dorena discovered the world of rhythm tap while studying with Karen Callaway Williams in NJ. Since then, she continues her professional development by taking class regularly with masters at tap festivals.

While living in Scotland for three years, she studied Scottish step dancing. Among her performances, she was invited to dance at Natalie MacMaster’s Aberdeen concert.

Dorena returned to Texas in 2015, and wants to share a passion for tap dance with youth and adults by teaching rudiments, choreography, improvisation techniques, music theory, and history.

Erica Bridgewater
Nutcracker Director/Dance Instructor

Born and raised in Katy, Erica started dancing at the age of 4. She attended to Mayde Creek High School and was a member of the Martinettes Drill Team for 4 years. After high school she attended Sam Houston State University and earned a degree in dance with a minor in education. She performed in several modern and ballet productions with their Dance Company. Erica has taught several different dance genres and has assisted in developing choreography for several productions for the past 8 years. She currently teaches Preschool 2’s through Level III classes and will direct the CDA annual Nutcracker Tea in December. She recently attended the Dance Teacher Connection Convention to stay current with dance trends and teaching techniques. This will be her third year with Connolly Dance Arts.

Kiki Fernandez
Company Director/Dance Instructor

Kiki was born and raised in Houston. She started dancing at the of three at Connolly Dance Arts, where she continued to dance for the next 14 years. She started dancing for the company at age seven and competed for 8 years. Kiki danced for her high school dance team, Inertia, all four years of high school and was captain her senior year. Her high school dance team was asked to perform at numerous competitions around Houston and Kiki won 1st place at the HISD competition for her solo her senior year. She is currently attending the University of Houston, where she is going into her sophomore year. Kiki is excited to be teaching at the studio she has grown up with, and hopes to make the students experience as great as hers was.

Sondra Gordman
Dance Instructor

Sondra began dancing at the age of three. She has performed in regional theatre productions in New York. She holds a college degree in dance and received an academic scholarship award in dance. Sondra has been a dance educator and choreographer for the past 24 years at seven New York dance school. Her teaching styles include ballet, pointe, jazz, tap, modern, lyrical, musical theater and hip hop. She was a high school dance team coach for five years, leading her team to numerous first place wins and Long Island dance championships. Her team was invited to perform at the 1997 Major League Soccer All-Star game and the 1998 Florida Citrus Bowl. Sondra was the Dance Director at the Great South Bay YMCA for five years. She then owned her own dance studio for twelve years in New York. Her Dance Power Dance Company was invited to perform at Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, Disney World, Carnival Cruise line, Universal Studios and New Jersey Nets basketball games. Sondra has worked with special needs students at both the elementary and high school levels. She is very excited to be joining the CDA staff!

Melissa Vann
Nutcracker Director/Dance Instructor

Melissa was born and raised in Iowa. She has been dancing and performing since the age of three. She began her dance training in Marshalltown, IA at age three. She moved to Holstein, IA at age seven and began training at the Francie McKee Dance Studio in Ida Grove, IA. She took lessons and performed in the areas of ballet, tap, pointe, jazz, modern/contemporary, and lyrical. Melissa was a member of her high school dance/cheerleading team for four years and was head captain in her senior year. After graduating high school, she attended UNI her freshman year of college and was a performing member of the International Dance Theatre. She transferred to Iowa State University for the remainder of her college years and was a member of Orchesis I Dance Group. Melissa was also the Secretary for the Orchesis I Dance Group. In Spring 2012, Melissa performed at the National College Dance Festival at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. In 2005, Melissa moved to Katy, TX to teach in an elementary school. She has been a teacher for 10 years. Melissa taught Preschool and Level I dance classes at Connolly Dance Arts from 2011-2013. She lives in Katy, TX with her husband, 3 children and cat. She continues to work as an elementary school teacher and is excited to be teaching Preschool and Level I dance classes at Connolly Dance Arts again!

Lise Lund

Lise Lund is a trained and certified dance teacher that recently moved from Norway to Houston. Began her ballet study 5 years old, completed the study of RAD syllabus/and exams. Danced 8 years pre-professional with miscellaneous companies in Norway.She has 20+ years of experience of teaching ballet, jazz, tap and as a freelance dancer/choreographer/guest teacher and presenter at various workshops.

In addition to be international certified dance teacher, she has a long list of certifications/education.

  • e.g., certified PT, specialized in dancers’ anatomy.
  • PBT (progressing ballet technique)
  • KST (kinesiological stretching technique) ++++

Lise is a “forever student”, continuously studying to learn more and be updated in everything related to a safe dance environment. In addition to continuously taking courses and study, she regularly attends workshops/intensives with pro companies in Europe. She is passionate about spreading the joy of dancing and sees each student as an individual to give them the wonderful feeling of mastery and achievement.

Kristin Dyal

Kristin was born in Southern California where she discovered her love of dancing at 8 years old.  While attending UCLA, she took several classes under artistic director of the L.A. Jazz Tap Ensemble Lynn Dally and joined the hip hop dance group Kaba Modern.  After graduating from college, she commissioned as an officer in the Air Force and continued to teach hip hop, jazz, tap, and pre-school classes while stationed in Cheyenne, Wyoming.  Kristin and her husband Matt both served for 7 years in the Air Force before deciding to move to Houston to be closer to family.  After a recent move from The Woodlands, she is now living in Katy with her husband, son, JJ, and daughter, Ellie.