Sara Sanders, Owner, Director and Teacher
Sara Sanders is a National Certified Teacher and Examiner through Dance Masters of America (DMA) and the owner of Higher Ground Dance Studio. She started dancing at the age of 6 and quickly fell in love while dancing at a couple of local studios in town. Sara has currently been teaching for 13 years. During her dance career she participated in many events. She won several awards and scholarships at competitions and conventions all across the United States and Canada. She also learned how important it is to give back to the community. She participated in several community events like retirement and nursing home shows, hair shows, parades, benefit shows supporting Hospice and AIDS, teaching underprivileged kids dance in Yakima, Washington, and an anniversary celebration of a church in Portland, Oregon.
She took a break from dancing, married Zac, moved to Colorado then back to the beautiful Northwest and started their family. During her time off from dance she realized more and more how much she loved dance and wanted to start her own studio. She wanted to create a place where children could come and learn the love of dance she was given in a warm and encouraging environment. Dance and children have a special place in her heart. She is excited to share her heart for dance with all who come through her dance room!
When she isn't teaching or running the studio, her and her family love to spend time together regardless what they are doing. Their favorite place to go together is Disneyland. She has had the privilege of dancing in 3 Disney parades with her children, a memory she will cherish forever!
Jeana Johnson is a Dance Masters of America National Certified Teacher. Jeana started dancing at the age of 7. She has studied dance at a couple local studios as well. She had the opportunity to dance in places like Disneyland, California Adventures, a Caribbean Cruise ship, Disney World and a Portland Trail Blazers half time show. Jeana achieved many awards in competitions and participated in performances to raise money for Hospice. She has been teaching for 12 years and loves to create dances that capture the audience and tell a story. In her down time she loves to make coffee and create amazing chalk art!
Jill Gibson is a National Certified Teacher and Examiner with Dance Masters of America. She started dancing at a local studio when she was 6 years old and instantly fell in love. She has studied Jazz, Acrobatics, Lyrical, Hip Hop, Tap, Contemporary and Musical Theatre. Jill has been teaching for over 11 years and is currently in her 5th year teaching at Higher Ground Dance Studio. She has also spent time judging for various dance competitions including Dance Magic. Jill teaches to share her love of dance and hopes to inspire her students through creative expression and movement. In her spare time she enjoys reading, working out and spending time with her family. Jill also loves all things Disney. Some of her favorite Disney Characters include Simba, Baymax, Stitch and Hei Hei!
Michalyn is a dance instructor and choreographer who has been working with children and adults alike teaching dance for nearly 20 years. She grew up studying several styles of dance and has performed roles in many musicals, danced or acted in several venues around the Pacific Northwest, on cruise ships, in Disney theme parks, and with the Southwest Washington Symphony. She attended Portland State University studying Theatre Arts before transferring to Naropa University in Boulder, CO where she majored in Education. She has been a local dance instructor for the past 8 years upon having returned to Longview from Colorado. She currently choreographs for Mainstage Theatre and Stageworks NW Theatre in Longview. She has also judged several competitions for Dance Magic. Michalyn is delighted to be contributing to the arts culture in our community and loves sharing her passion for dance. When she’s not in the dance studio, Michalyn enjoys spending time with her family, playing the piano, and taking ballet class when she can. She also likes to act and used to play in a band.
Jessica has been dancing since the age of 6. She has studied various styles of dance including Jazz, Acrobatics, Hip-Hop, Lyrical, and Tap from local studios. Jessica studied Ballet under Michalyn Killian where she went on and preformed as a swan in the production of Swan Lake. Jessica had the honor of taking ballet with Yusha Sorzabi from the Joffeey Ballet where she was inspired to become a dance instructor. She also studied Musical Theater through Stage Works Northwest and Kelso High School where she choreographed her first play "Pride and the Prejudice" her senior year in high school. Jessica has been teaching since 2014 and is looking forward to her first year at Higher Ground. Jessica has participated in many competitions and conventions throughout Washington and Oregon. She has also performed in car shows, parades, at Silverwood and many benefit shows which helped raise money for Hospice and the Kalama Library. Jessica is an outgoing and energetic young woman who loves searching for waterfalls, baking and spending time with her family and three cats.
Olivia has been dancing since she was 2 and a student at Higher Ground Dance Studio since the age of 4. She immediately fell in love with dancing and loves to tell stories through dance. For the past 11 years, Olivia has taken many classes including ballet, lyrical, tap, jazz, hip hop, acro, and musical theater and has been a part of the company team for the past 4 years. She has had the opportunity to compete in many competitions and dance in Disneyland and California Adventure. She has been assisting in classes for the last 4 years and is very excited to be joining the Higher Ground staff as a teacher this year and share her love of dance further. In her free time she loves spending time with her family and friends.
Imani is a 16 year old student at Kelso High School. She has been dancing since the age of 3 and has been dancing at Higher Ground since she was 7. She has been to many competitions in the Pacific Northwest area and has received many awards for her dancing. Imani has also had the opportunity to perform in Disneyland twice. She has been helping teach classes for 6 years and loves working with children. Imani loves to share her passion with other kids and help them to have fun while working hard. In addition to dancing Imani loves to go hiking, spend time with friends and relax watching Disney movies!