“Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.” – Aristotle
Faculty & Staff
Jana Christensen, Artistic Director
Jana Christensen first came to the Franklin School of Performing Arts in 1993 to study under Kaylee Cahoon. She was named the FSPA student of the year in 1998 and shortly thereafter joined the faculty. Jana credits her jazz and teaching style to the influences of her many teachers, Luigi (pioneer of jazz dance), Jeffery Bullock (former Hubbard Street dancer), and Geri Houlihan (former Lar Lubovitch dancer).
She has been a guest teacher for the Nashville School of the Arts, Metro Parks, and the City Performing Arts Academy in Visalia, CA. Jana has had students go on to nationally recognized college dance programs, as well as, students dancing on Broadway. Jana is also a certified Pilates instructor for Pilates of Cool Springs. Her vast Pilates training has been through Core Dynamics Pilates in Santa Fe, New Mexico, the Pilates Center of Boulder, Colorado, and Power Pilates of NYC. Jana's personal goal as a dance teacher is to instill correct alignment and body patterns in her students through the art of dance. Jana has her Associates degree in business from Columbia State Community College.
Megan Ciccoline White, Executive Director
Megan holds a Bachelor’s in Science in Psychology, Dance, and Nutrition. She is currently an Adjunct Professor of Dance for Columbia State Community College in Franklin TN.
The past twenty years Megan has been studying dance in Nashville, New York, and California. Sixteen of those years she has been teaching in the Middle Tennessee area where she has held title of Artistic Director of Tennessee Dance Arts Conservatory and of the Spring Hill Arts Center's School of Dance. In 2009, White founded Tennessee Dance Arts Conservatory to provide her local community with classical dance education. She developed a strong ballet and modern concentrated program that trained dancers to continue on at American Ballet Theatre, Joffery Ballet, Alvin Ailey, Next Generation Ballet, Scripps College, and Florida State University.
As the Artistic Director, White presented over a dozen evening length works including The Nutcracker, La fille mal gardee, Carnival of Animals, and original productions. Megan’s contemporary choreography was noted and placed her student in the top 12 of the 2012 Youth American Grand Prix. In the summer of 2012 Megan co-taught a six week pilot program for Very Special Arts of Tennessee, teaching dance to children with down syndrome and autism. In the fall of 2012 she continued her work by creating a Special Needs dance program at Tennessee Dance Arts Conservatory.
Megan began studying modern dance technique, composition, and improviation as a child with former Nikolais and Louis company member, Kaylee Scott Cahoon. She trained under Cahoon at Franklin School of Performing Arts, in Franklin TN for twelve years, continuing on to teach modern, tap, and jazz at the school. During that time Megan had the amazing opportunities to take workshops and master classes from Donald McKayle, Luigi, Bill T. Jones, and Sean Curran, In 2001, Megan moved to Los Angeles to pursue school at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising, concentrating on Costume Design. This experience helped aid Megan in her work as a dance costume designer. Megan left California to go on tour with multiple touring acts, including a two-year run with Michael Flatley's Lord of the Dance. During this time she worked as a wardrobe mistress and taught pilates and contemporary dance on tour.
Megan has continued her dance education by taking classes from Luigi and Brenda Bufalino, as well as, attending workshops at Giordano Jazz Dance, American Tap Dance Festival, NYC Dance Teacher Summit, and Tennessee Association of Dance. She has also taken courses in Laban Movement Analysis, Alexander Technique and Dance Movement Therapy. Additionally, Megan has been a certified Pilates instructor for 12 years.
Megan is excited to be back at FSPA and looks forward to sharing her knowledge and love for dance and the arts with her students.
Thom Yzaguirre, Ballet Director, ABT® Certified Teacher
Originally from Montana, Thom Yzaguirre began his formal dance training at Minnesota Dance Theatre and School. Thom trained in both ballet and modern dance, and worked his way up from student to Company 2 dancer.
Thom went on to receive scholarships with the Tidewater Ballet Academy, Milwaukee Ballet, Joffrey Ballet and the School of American Ballet. Among his many teachers were Bonnie Mathis, Gene K. Hammett, Susan Borree, Robert Joffrey, Michael Bjerknes, Stephen Jenkins and Elaine Thomas.
He has danced professionally with Duluth Ballet, Ballet Arizona, as a soloist with Louisville Ballet and as a principal with Nevada Dance Theatre and Nashville Ballet. He has worked with a variety of directors including Loyce Houlton, Vassili Sulich and Janek Schergen. He has also danced a wide range of choreography by a host of dance masters including Antony Tudor, George Balanchine, Lynne Taylor-Corbett, Graham Lustig, Paul Vasterling and Choo San-Goh.
Mr. Yzaguirre has been a guest teacher for the Tidewater Ballet Academy, the Academy of Nevada Dance Theatre, the Kentucky Governor’s School for the Arts, Nashville Ballet, Tennessee Association of Dance and Ballet of Theatre Arts.
He currently lives in Nashville and is the director of the ballet program at Franklin School of Performing Arts. Thom also works with competitive figure skaters at A Game Skate Academy and teaches ballet for the Commercial Entertainment Department at Columbia State Community College.
Thom Yzaguirre completed an intensive workshop in the Progressive Ballet Technique (PBT) Junior, Senior & Advanced programs conducted and produced by Marie Walton-Mahon in August 2016. PBT is an innovative program developed by Ms. Walton-Mahon for students to understand the depth of training muscle memory in order to achieve their personal best in dance class. PBT is a structured class that uses fit balls, therabands and mats to help improve students’ understanding of core stability, weight placement and alignment. Thom is excited to start using these teaching tools in ballet class and also to incorporate PBT class in the FSPA schedule.
Thom Yzaguirre is an ABT® Certified Teacher, who has successfully completed the ABT® Teacher Training Intensive in Pre-Primary through Level 7 + Partnering of the ABT® National Training Curriculum (NTC). ABT® NTC is a breakthrough 9 level program for the development and training of young students that embraces sound ballet principles and incorporates elements of the French, Italian and Russian schools of training.
Jackie Zarcone, ABT® Certified Teacher
Jackie Zarcone grew up dancing at Franklin School of Performing Arts under the direction of Kaylee Cahoon founder and Modern teacher, Jana Christensen Artistic Director and Jazz Teacher and Thom Yzaguirre Ballet Director. She expanded her training in college, graduating from the University of Alabama with a BA in Dance and a minor in Biology. She continued to train in ballet, modern, and jazz under Director Cornelius Carter and Associate Professors Sarah M. Barry, Rita Snyder and Qianping Guo. While at Alabama, she choreographed and performed with Dance Alabama, was an active member of Nu Delta Alpha the national dance honor society and Alpha Psi Omega the national theatre honor society.
She loves sharing her passion for ballet at Franklin School of Performing Arts and aims to help students to express themselves with movement using appropriate body alignment and muscle control.
Jackie completed an intensive workshop in Progressive Ballet Technique (PBT) Junior, Senior, & Advanced programs conducted and produced by Marie Walton- Mahon in August 2016. PBT is an innovative program developed by Ms. Walton- Mahon for students to understand the depth of training muscle memory in order to achieve their personal best in dance class. PBT is a structured class that uses fit balls, thera-bands, and mats to help improve students' understanding of core stability, weight placement, and alignment.
Jackie is an ABT® Certified Teacher, who has successfully completed the ABT® Teacher Training Intensive in Pre-Primary through Level 5 of the ABT® National Training Curriculum.
Missy Tillman, Pre- Primary
From the time she was 3, Missy was known as a performer, having a heart for the stage and taking the spot light at every opportunity. Missy studied classical ballet for 16 years as a student, member of the children’s company, and corps de ballet of Chattanooga Ballet. Missy has enjoyed ballet from a young age, and was blessed to perform multiple roles in several ballets during that time. Her passion for modern dance began to grow during her time with the Chattanooga Ballet. Invited to participate in several original works with modern choreographers, it became evident this was a wonderful outlet for her abilities. Out of this passion and natural affinity for modern dance, Missy and a few fellow dancers worked together to develop and implement a dance curriculum with the creation of a dance company for their private middle/high school.
Founding the contemporary company, Charis, Missy worked with dancers on ALL levels to create a space for artistic release through movement developing proper technique. Her love for teaching and choreography grew extensively during those years. Missy spent several years as a company member with the Macon Moving Company, where she performed and studied Limon Modern technique under Sharona Paller Rubinstein. She began to master her technique and continued to grow her choreography and performance abilities. Over the years Missy has been privileged to study under some of the most talented modern and contemporary choreographers including David Dorfman, Rennie Harris, Gerri Houlihan, Lisa Race, and company members from Pilabolous, Paul Taylor, and Alvin Ailey.
Missy is trained in Progressive Ballet Technique, a program designed by Marie Walton-Mahon , to help dancers understand and find proper muscle use in their training. PBT gives students a safe and yet challenging way condition their bodies and advance their dance technique. Teaching Progressive Ballet has become a passion and joy for Missy. After moving to Nashville, Missy engaged in the Nashville Dance scene and found a home teaching in Spring Hill TN. She is enjoys sharing her love for movement and release in a classical modern technique curriculum, and LOVES getting to know her students and watching them discover the joy, freedom, strength, and challenges of modern movement.
Missy and her husband Jason live in Spring Hill, TN with their 4 lovely young daughters.
Renee McKinney, Tap
Renee McKinney received her BFA in Performing Arts from Western Kentucky University. She has directed and choreographed countless productions for Cumberland County Playhouse as well as having performed in Cats, 42nd Street, Grease, Music Man, Anything Goes, Little Me and Hello Dolly just to name a few. Renee has studied all forms of dance, but holds a special passion for Tap and Musical Theatre. The past 2 summers Renee has attended the Dance Teacher Summit in NYC, continuing to learn from some of the nations top Dance Educators. Renee has 16 years of teaching experience with all ages including adults in the Tennessee area. She is excited about returning to FSPA after a 3 year break. Renee's energy and enthusiasm for dance shows in all her classes!.
Amanda Gavigan, Modern
Amanda Gavigan is originally from Nashville, TN where she grew up and spent most of her childhood at the Franklin School of Performing Arts. In 2002, she spent the summer at the American Dance Festival as a summer scholarship attendee. In 2008, Amanda graduated Summa Cum Laude from Florida State University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance Performance.
During her time at FSU, Amanda was a member of the Dance Repertory Theatre under the direction of Lynda Davis and performed in numerous concerts and outreach performances. In 2008, Amanda choreographed and had her work performed at Florida State.
She has worked with several internationally recognized choreographers such as Dan Wagoner, Gerri Houlihan, Lynda Davis, Alan Danielson, Bruce Wood, Wallie Wolfgruber, and Jawole Willa Jo Zollar.
Since graduating Amanda has lived in New York, performing work with Dajhia Ingram Dance and Amalgamate Dance Company. She has taught in Tennessee at Franklin School of Performing Arts, Harpeth Hall Academy, and Pearre Creek Elementary. Amanda is very excited to be back in Tennessee teaching again at FSPA!
Stefani Paige, Acting
Stefani has been performing on stage since she was a child, and has always had a deep love for the performing arts. She participated in Odyssey of the Mind, a competitive acting, improv, and creative-thinking team in elementary and junior high school, and could never get enough of the thrill of the stage!
In 2009, she kicked off her film career in Carrie Underwood's Temporary Home music video as the young mom, and has been doing commercials, films, music videos, and television ever since with representation through Talent Trek and Heyman Talent.
In March she made her Tennessee Repertory debut in The Rotten Core as Genevieve, and she continues doing theatre and film consistently.
She completed studies at the Gately Poole Acting Conservatory at Northern Illinois University, she holds an Associate's degree in elementary education, and a BFA in Acting from Lipscomb University.
She is delighted at the opportunity to explore the magic of acting with the students of FSPA!