Kathleen Connolly

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.

Morgan Joines  Ballet and Pointe Instructor

Coming soon!

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/Nutcracker Choreographer, 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!

Richard Woods (Tiger Ball Z)   Hip Hop/Dudes that Dance Instructor

Born and raised in St Louis Mo Tiger has had the love for music since as far back as he can remember.
Growing up in a very musical family Tiger was exposed to all kinds of music, instruments and dance.
Tiger started dancing at the young age of six. He was so intrigued the first time he watched a Michael
Jackson video. From that point on Tiger knew he wanted to dance. With other influences such as
movies like Breakin, and Beat Street, Tiger would just watch dance movies and videos and would
practice what he saw by imitation. Tiger then grew up entering many talent shows, dancing any and
everywhere he could, winning dance battles all over. Tiger booked his first dance job at age 19 where
R&B singing group Naturally Smooth noticed him just dancing at a club. From there Tiger went on tour for
2 years with Naturally Smooth all over the country including the 1999 Superbowl in Atlanta Georgia and
the 2002 All Star Game in Philadelphia. After touring Tiger came home and practiced and joined the
dance crew “The Flyboyz” in St Louis, doing many performances all over the city. At age 29 Tiger was
discovered by artistic director Ashley Tate of the Ashleyliane Dance Company (ADC) dancing in a club
where she asked him to come and study under her direction. Tiger had 9 years with ADC where he
studied Ballet, Jazz, Contemporary, Modern, and other forms of dance. He also at this time started
teaching and coaching competition teams. During his coaching Tiger would take his teams to many
dance conventions all over the country such as The Pulse, Monsters of Hip Hop, Jump and many more.
He also presented dance pieces in front of some of the world’s most amazing choreographers and trained
up close and personal with Chris Judd, Tabitha and Napoleon D’umo, Brain Friedman, and Ian
Eastwood. When Tiger is not dancing, he enjoys his free time at the movies or trying new restaurants,
cooking or just hanging with friends and traveling. Tigers goals for dance are to travel the world teaching
his love for hip hop, dance and life. Some of tigers achievements are 6 time grand national dance
champion in 4 years, 15 choreographer awards, 3 invites to be a special performance group at the Pulse
on Tour and Monsters of Hip hop. Performing with Morris Day and the Time, Raven Simon, 311, Sonique,
Black Eye Peas and Kirk Franklin.
Dance teachers teach more than just dance, we teach life lessons through music ~ Tiger Ball Z

Mary Evelyn Thwaites/Dance Instructor

Coming soon!

Holly Gibson/ Dance Instructor 

Holly S. Gibson is a graduate from Stephen F. Austin State University (SFASU), where she
received two Bachelor of Science degrees in Chemistry and Dance Performance/Choreography.
While at SFASU, she was a 4-year member of the Repertory Dance Company where she learned
and trained under all the dance faculty and guest artists. Her undergraduate research project,
focusing on Dancer’s Self Esteem in modern day America, was chosen as the 2023 Top Scholar
for the Mickey Elliot College of Fine Arts. She is currently continuing her research with
professional and pre-professional dancers to create awareness of low self-esteem in dancers.  She was also an award-winning dancer while on the Connolly Dance Arts Company.  Holly is excited to be working and sharing her love for dance at Connolly Dance Arts!

Sarah Jenkins/ Nutcracker Choreographer, Dance Instructor

Sarah Jenkins  is a recent graduate of the University of Missouri-Kansas City, receiving a BFA in Dance Performance and Choreography and a minor in Business Administration. Sarah is originally from St. Louis, Missouri, where she started her dance training emphasizing in Cecchetti ballet. Sarah has attended workshops and intensives nationwide, studying both commercial and concert dance from companies like Ballet West, Houston Contemporary Dance Company, SALT Contemporary Dance, Grand Rapids Ballet, Cleo Parker Robinson Dance, and Millenium Dance Complex. Since moving to Kansas City, Sarah has performed locally with three hip hop crews, danced in the 2019 Worlds of Fun “Grande Carnivale”, and for the past two years has been working and traveling with Quixotic Cirque Nouveau, a cirque-fusion company, on several amazing performances. Sarah is excited to be moving to Houston to pursue more professional dance opportunities and is thrilled to be joining the CDA family!