Faculty Biographies

Wendy Daw, Director


Director & Instructor

Wendy is a native of Burlington, NC, and started teaching at Down East Dance in 1999 and then became Owner/Director in 2001.  She instructs Preschool, Kinderdance, Ballet, Tap, Jazz, Hip Hop and Lyrical classes at Down East Dance. Wendy holds a BS degree in Dance Education from East Carolina University with K-12 certification. While at ECU, Wendy studied modern dance with Pat Pertalion and Patti Weeks, Tap and Jazz with Alan Arnett, Ballet with Joe Carow and Dr. Dawn Clark, performed in various choreography projects, including Dance Theatre, the yearly faculty choreographed spring performance, Madrigal Dinners, and was a member of Wheel Power, a dance performance group for dancers with disabilities. Wendy also studied tap with Gene Medler, director of the nationally-praised NC Youth Tap Ensemble, while at the Burlington Academy of Dance Arts. As a dance educator Wendy spent five years educating through dance at Oaks Road Elementary School in New Bern and also 4 years as dance educator at St. Paul Education Center, also in New Bern. Mrs. Daw has also donated her time in various community dance projects. She was a founding member of the New Bern Dance Ensemble which was the primary dance group for the USO in Jacksonville, NC. As a member of NBDE, Wendy has performed in various shows and had the opportunity to dance aboard the USS Saipan for members of the US Military who were coming home from Iraq. She has also choreographed productions at New Bern Civic Theatre including Kiss Me Kate, The King and I, and Carousel as well as Chicago with the Craven Early College. Mrs. Daw also served as Dance Educator for the Craven Arts Council’s annual Summer Arts Camp. Wendy and her husband Lloyd are the proud parents of their two children, Marina and Dylan.

Joan Taylor


Ballet & Pointe Instructor

Joan Vermilyea Taylor began her ballet instruction at the age of 8 in Fredericksburg, VA under the instruction of Joan Limerick at the Fredericksburg School of Ballet. She continued with Victoria Shiflett of the American Ballet Theatre, and Wilfred Schumann of the New York City Ballet. Under their instruction she trained and enjoyed all aspects of Classical Ballet and Pointe. At age 13 the family moved to Yuma, AZ where Joan began dancing at Dancer’s Workshop. Instructors included Daniel Job, and John Cristofori and Kathleen Sinclair from the San Francisco Ballet. She received her BA in English from Franciscan University of Steubenville in 1990. Joan has been an instructor at Down East Dance since 1991 teaching all levels of Classical Ballet and Pointe.  Joan also served as choreographer for Craven Community College's show choir - Encore! She has resided in New Bern since 1990, is married to John Taylor of New Bern, and is proud mother to Max, Jake and Mimi Taylor.

Brooke Dove


Adult Tap,  Hip Hop,  Acro for Dance Instructor

Brooke grew up outside of Winston- Salem, NC where she began dancing at age 3. Her passion for teaching began in high school as she assisted instruction at her local dance studio.  Brooke attended East Carolina University where she studied and graduated in 2006 with a BFA in Dance Education.  While in Greenville she also performed with NC Academy of Dance Arts. After graduating, she taught dance and theatre at East Columbus High School in Lake Waccamaw,  NC where she was also the coach of their dance team and co-director of annual musical productions. She also worked at Carolina Performing Arts Academy in Loris SC where she was the choreographer and instructor for the Star Systems Regional Champions in the Teen Tap Duet/Trio division. Brooke relocated to Oak Island where she was the main instructor for On My Toes dance studio and director of Steps of Praise and Performance Team programs.  Brooke brings several years of teaching experience and has taught ages 3 through adult in classes ranging from ballet & pointe, tap, jazz, musical theatre, acro & hip hop to modern & lyrical dance styles.    

Brooke LOVES the beach, all types of music, anything orange, living healthy but still loving chocolate, Wake Forest basketball and ECU football. She is excited to be in her fourth year at Down East Dance!

Erica Sanderson


Tap, Jazz, Lyrical & Clogging Instructor

Mrs. Erica Parker Sanderson is a graduate of East Carolina University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance Education. During Ms. Erica’s high school years, she was titled “Miss Dance” with the Universal Dance Association of North Carolina, while dancing with New Bern High School’s Drill Team. Ms. Erica is one of the founding members and a former Assistant Coach for New Bern High School’s Terpsichore dance team. Being a member of The Twin River Country Dancer’s, Ms. Erica appeared in many episodes of the Wild Horse Saloon; a country music dance show that aired on the Nashville Network. Ms. Erica was also a member of The Craven Historical Dancers where she studied 18th Century Baroque and 16th Century Renaissance dance under the leadership of Paige Whitley-Baugess at Down East Dance. Ms. Erica currently performs with the world renowned Green Grass Cloggers, which has allowed her the honor and opportunity of performing with the famous Ira Bernstein on several occasions. Ms. Erica has been teaching at Down East Dance since 2006.  She and her husband Jason are the proud parents of their dancer daughter Vanessa and their little guy Brantley.

Kathryn Taylor


Guest Ballet & Pointe Instructor

​Kathryn Taylor is a Lexington, NC native, moving to New Bern in 2010 with her husband Chris, and three children, Sarah, Reid, and Alex.  She began her dance education at age 6 with Sheets Dance Academy and the High Point Ballet.  During high school she began teaching ballet at Sheets, discovering a love for sharing her passion for ballet with youth. She also enjoyed choreographing for Lexington’s Charity League “Candelight” production, and various summer intensives.  Kathryn continued dancing while attending college at East Carolina University, taking classes through ECU’s dance department and at the Greenville Civic Ballet.  She graduated in 2002 with BS’s in both Athletic Training (sports medicine) and Community Health Education, and in 2004 with a Masters in Health Education.  In addition to teaching, Kathryn enjoys the creativity of fashioning her own stories and characters for original ballets including Sheet’s Dance Academy’s 2000 performance of “Masquerade”, and Down East Dance’s May 2016 performance of “The Fairy’s Gift”.   

Ariana Guzman


Preschool, Kinderdance, Hip Hop & Lyrical Instructor

Ariana Guzman is a dancer and choreographer native to eastern North Carolina being raised in nearby Swansboro. Growing up, Ariana found her passion in dance quickly starting at the age of five. She trained in many styles including ballet, contemporary, tap, and jazz. A graduate from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Ariana received her BFA in dance with a concentration in contemporary dance. At UNCG, Ariana trained under dance professionals such as Janet Lilly, Duane Cyrus, Robin Gee, and BJ Sullivan. During her time at UNCG, Ariana preformed for various concerts and even started learning world dance forms such as African Dance and Latin Dance. After graduating Ariana moved back to the east coast in 2018 and looks forward to sharing her passion with her students here at Down East Dance.

Kandice Barney


Guest Instructor

Kandice Barney has trained in ballet, jazz, lyrical, hip-hop, tap, modern, precision and tumbling. She has been passing on her passion for dance since 2003, choreographing for competitive teams and teaching all styles of dance around the world. Since then she has earned National, International, and media credits. Kandice choreographed and performed for Synergy Dance Company for four years at Utah Valley University. She continues to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Dance Education, from Utah Valley University, while working full time as a United States Marine. Kandice moved here last year and is excited to share her love for dance with the New Bern community. National Credits include: Dancer in Seven Peak’s Stadium of Fire, Performance in Odyssey Dance Theater’s hit Halloween show, Thriller, and their Christmas show, Joy to the World, Ballet West’s Nutcracker, and a scholarship recipient to New York City Dance Alliance Summer Dance Intensive. International Credits include: FIS World Ski Championships in Oberstdorf, Germany, UVU Elementary Education Lecture/Demonstration Tour, Edinburgh, Scotland and London, England. Media credits: ESPN Airwave show in Park City. 

Kim Craigie-Blonn


Ballet, Preschool & Kinderdance Instructor

Kim Craigie-Blonn holds a BFA in Dance from the Juilliard School and is a graduate of The Washington School of Ballet.  As a professional dancer in New York City, Kim performed with The Juilliard Dance Ensemble, Sue Bernhard and Dancers, Aynsley Vandenbroucke Movement Group, Mary Seidman and Dancers, The DeMille Project and Michael Mao Dance - China Tour.  She has 20 years of teaching experience and served on faculty at The School at The Mark Morris Dance Center in Brooklyn, NY, and later directed The Young Children’s Program at The Academy of Dance Arts in Downers Grove, Illinois for eight years prior to moving to North Carolina.  She has extensive experience training beginning through advanced level dance students with recreational, collegiate, and professional goals.  Kim and her entire family are thrilled to join the New Bern dance community.

Shannon Mayhew


Hip Hop, Jazz & Lyrical Instructor

​Shannon grew up in the small town of Martinsville, VA, where she started dancing at the age of 5.  She grew up taking classes in Ballet & Pointe, Tap, Jazz, and Lyrical, Lyrical being her favorite.  Beginning in high school she knew she wanted to teach her love of dance and share her passion with others.  She went on to study at Radford University, in Radford, Virginia, where she received a Bachelor of Arts in Dance.  During college she attended various conferences including ACDFA (American College Dance Festival Association) and performed at the Kennedy Center.  Shannon moved to New Bern back in 2009 where her husband is stationed for the USMC.  Her daughter is a dancer now and she loves being able to not only teach others but having her right along beside her.

Amanda Pumphrey


Kinderdance, Jazz, Lyrical & Tap Instructor

Amanda is a native of New Bern and continues to live here with her husband and 5 daughters.  She began her passion for dance at age 3 here in New Bern, dancing throughout high school.  She went on and studied at NCSA (North Carolina School of the Arts) in modern dance, then continued her dance and theatre studies at both UNCG (University of North Carolina Greensboro) and ECU (East Carolina University).   Amanda holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communication from ECU.  She started teaching at Down East in 2005 as well as choreographed several local theatre productions for both New Bern Civic Theatre and Rivertowne Repertory Players.  As a military family, the Pumphrey's moved around FL, VA, and TX between 2011 and 2017 where Amanda had the opportunity to continue to teach dance and choreograph shows in Pensacola and Corpus Christi.  She is thrilled to be back in her home town of  New Bern and teaching again at Down East Dance.  Amanda has 4 dancing daughters that she enjoys sharing her love of dance with! 

Jaime Gibbs


Hip Hop Instructor


Jaime Tarece Gibbs has been involved in performing arts since age 3. Under the direction of Katura Dance Academy, Greenville, NC, she began developing her vocal, dance and her theatrical gift throughout the community. During her tenure at NC A&T State University & UNC Charlotte, she has studied 10 dance styles (Contemporary, Hip Hop, Jazz, Ballet, Modern, African, Lyrical, Musical Theatre, Afro Fusion, Tap). She has participated in Debbie Allen's Dance Academy Summer Intensive, opened for BET Sunday's Best winner, LeAndria Johnson as well as participated in several local intensive dance workshops. The Crucible, her first community play, afforded her the opportunity to not only be cast for a role, but to exhibit her love of dance through creation of the play's choreography. Jaime’s background for dance and vocal broaden her artistic expression which led her to be the Choreographer for New Bern Civic Theatre's  Aida. Directly after staging Aida, Jaime had the pleasure of choreographing one of her favorites: The Wiz! Jaime still manages to give back to her community through dance as well as pursuing her dreams. She is now the Creative Dramatics Teacher at Oaks Road Academy and Color Guard Auxiliary coach at South Central High School. When Jaime is not teaching across Eastern Carolina, she is a dedicated mother to Jamir. 

Dana Riddick


Tumble Time Instructor

Dana is not new to Down East Dance.  Her daughter has been dancing with us since she was in our Preschool Dance Program.  Dana graduated from Elon University with her BA in human services.  While living in Burlington, she was the Director of the Tumblebus and Preschool Gymnastics programs at Kidsport Gymnastics Academy for over 6 years as well as taught Pre-Team through level one Gymnastics.  

Dana is also in her 9th year of teaching at Centenary Preschool.   Dana thoroughly enjoys working with young children as she was also the Director of Children's Ministries at Centenary UMC for 6 years.  She is an avid supporter of helping kids to be mentally and physically fit.  

"I love to be a part of helping children gain confidence and feel good about themselves"

Dana is excited to join our Down East Dance Faculty this year as our Tumble Time Instructor!