Whether you want to learn how to dance jazz, hip-hop or ballet, our dance studio is the place to visit. Our dance instructors are ready to assist you every step of the way. Read through this page to learn more about the amazing teachers behind our dance studio.
Train With Our Dance Instructors
Enroll in Hartland Dance Academy and take advantage of the professional dance instruction we offer. Our dance instructors are all skilled, knowledgeable and equipped to impart to you the best techniques and styles of dance. We look forward to serving you soon!
Laura Smith is the owner and artistic director of Hartland Dance Academy and the Hartbeats Competitive Dance Company. She began her journey in dance at the age of 4. She studied at Diane’s Dance Academy for 15 years, where she competed as a company dancer and taught ballet, tap, and jazz. Laura graduated from Oakland University with degrees in Elementary Education and Dance. She was a dancer and choreographer for Oakland University’s Oakland Dance Theater. Laura also graduated from the Second City Detroit Improvisational Training Center, where she choreographed the final graduation performance. Laura has taken master classes in Los Angeles and New York. She has studied ballet, tap, jazz, lyrical, modern, and musical theater. She was a dance teacher at The Power of Dance for two years, and co-owned it for a year before opening Hartland Dance Academy. In 2011 and 2013, Laura completed training at Rhee Gold’s Dance Life Teacher Conference in Scottsdale, Arizona. There, she trained with Joe Tremaine, Larraine Susa, and Roni Mahler. Her competitive company has taken home many awards, including Overall Top Score Awards, Technique Awards, Showmanship Awards, Best in Choreography Awards, Miss StarQuest Detroit 2012 Title, Miss Ultimate Dancer 2014 Title, and Senior Dancer of the Year 2014. Her dancers have also received convention and national finals scholarships. Laura has been teaching for over 20 years. She is currently a third-grade teacher at Lakes Elementary in Hartland. As a studio owner and dance teacher, Laura looks forward to many more years of sharing her love of dance.
Jenny LaRue is a pediatric occupational therapist and clinic director of Leaps and Bounds Therapy Services. She danced for Fenton School of Dance/Fenton Dance Academy and Lorraine Peltonen School of Dance for 15 years. She combines her love of dance with her passion for helping children with special needs by teaching an adapted dance class so that all kids have the opportunity to be stars.
Bethany Lenhart is a Fellow of the Cecchetti Council of America, holding Advanced Certification. She has served as President of the Cecchetti Council and has also held the offices of Vice-President, Corresponding Secretary, Liaison Coordinator, and General Board Chairman. She received the Sylvia Hamer/Margeret March Scholarship and attended the Cecchetti Teacher’s Course in England. She has taught master classes and choreographed for several regional dance companies in the USA and Canada, and was associated with the former Flint Ballet Theatre. Bethany has received the Children’s Champion Award and is listed in the International Who’s Who of Professionals. She is a permanent examiner of the Cecchetti Council of America.
Nicole Mattioli graduated from Oakland University with a B.S. in Human Resource Management and a minor in Dance. She was formerly a guest dancer with Eisenhower Dance Ensemble, a member of Oakland University Repertory Dance Company and a member of the Oakland Dance Theatre. Ms. Mattioli has also graduated from The Second City Training Center, where she learned the art of comedic improvisation. She used her improvisation skills at the 2000 North American International Auto Show (N.A.I.A.S.) for American Motor Scene magazine and at the 2001 N.A.I.A.S. for Volkswagen. Nicole was a founding member of the Patterson Rhythm Pace Dance Company. She was also a primary dancer in Center Dance Ensemble (C.D.E.) for four seasons (2001-2005) where she was the assistant director and choreographer. Nicole’s choreography was selected for inclusion in the 2004 Maggie Allesee showcase concert, which is a featured event of the National Dance Education Organization conference. In 2008, she was selected to perform at Casino Windsor for their Cinco de Mayo performance. In 2010 –2011, Ms. Mattioli was a member of Discover Church’s creative team. As a team member, she helped produce many Sunday services as well as choreographed dances, danced and acted. She completed her comprehensive McEntire Pilates training in 2009 and has been teaching privates and duet Pilates and Cardio Rebounding sessions since then. In 2016, Ms. Mattioli started her own business, Budget and Body by Nicole, specializing in personal Financial Coaching, Pilates, and Cardio Rebounding, and the education and distribution of Young Living Essential Oils.
Kristen Papalexis started dance and gymnastics at the age of 5. During her time as a dancer, she was trained in ballet, tap, jazz, lyrical, and acrobatics. She was an USAG and High School Competitive Gymnast, and won many placement medals. In high school, she was an assistant teacher in both gymnastics and dance. She went on to graduate from EMU and has been coaching a combination of gymnastics, cheer tumbling, and dance for more than 15 years.