Arthur Murray dance studios are proud for you to meet our team of dance instructors. Our diverse community of teachers brings you the talents of one of the most experienced teams anywhere. They have studied dance for years — here in the U.S. and around the world. They bring to Arthur Murray students both a global perspective and the expertise that makes it so quick and easy to enter the fun, friendly and satisfying world of dancing.
Joe & Leisa Howard – Owners
After 11 years of owning the Columbia Studio, Joe & Leisa have helped the staff and students reach new heights in achieving their dance goals. With Joe’s teaching career beginning in 1996 and Leisa’s in 2000, they have helped Arthur Murray Dance Center of Columbia become one of the top studios in the organization. Before taking over ownership of the Columbia studio, Joe & Leisa Howard managed the #1 Arthur Murray Dance Center in the world (over 270 studios in 21 countries) in Alexandria, VA. Additionally, they were very successful Professional Competitors, reigning 7 years as undefeated Arthur Murray Champions and culminating in a 2008 US National Championship! After achieving all of their dance hopes, Joe & Leisa are now eager to pass on their knowledge to their employees and all of their students. First, by creating fine social dancers… Then whatever their heart’s desire!
Ellias Velasquez – Instructor
Ellias is an Arthur Murray professional who works with new students, seasoned students, and other Arthur Murray professionals. He helps them prepare to dance for special events, at social or competitive venues, or to further develop dance teaching skills. “I believe in the Arthur Murray teaching system and curriculum. My success as an Arthur Murray Professional is product of it. My most compelling experience is that “Learning How To Dance” can be easy if we look good dancing, feel good to the partner that we are dancing with, and that the both of us look good while dancing.” Ellias started training at Arthur Murray in the Summer of 2006. He is trained in American Smooth, American Rhythm and Specialties Dances. He is currently working in Standard and Latin. When he gets asked which dance is his favorite? His response is that the dances change, every week. Because, honestly, all the dances are my favorites dances.”
Alex Miranda – Instructor
Alex Miranda began dancing 10 years ago to Latin music. He one day realized this was a passion and new way of life. He then decided to begin his new journey as a ballroom dance instructor at Arthur Murray Columbia. He now specializes in Smooth and Rhythm and a variety of specialty dances. What Alex enjoys the most and what really fulfills his passion and career as an instructor, is working with students and bringing the magic of dancing into their lives.
Nico Shavers – Instructor
Nico’s journey in performing started at a young age. He competed as a martial artist throughout his youth earning an AAU National Champion title and qualifying for the Junior Olympics. He also started teaching in his youth, training both children and adults. Later in life Nico dedicated his life to the service of others working for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). During that time Nico earned both a Presidential Award of Service and a Congressional Award. Looking for something new and exciting he turned to Arthur Murray Columbia. He fell in love with dancing and never looked back.
Sarah Primavera – Instructor
Sarah started dancing as a little girl learning ballet, tap, jazz, hip hop, etc. Dancing has always been an important and passionate part of her life. What began as a fun hobby turned quickly into the best career for her in 2014 when she joined Arthur Murray Columbia. She now specializes in Ballroom, Rhythm and Specialty Dances. What she loves most is bringing out students’ passion, sense of accomplishment, and showing off their talents and creativity.
Rachael Gordon – Instructor
Rachael started her dance journey in college while studying Theatre & Acting. She studied ballet as well as several Eastern dances such as Suzuki, Butoh, and Kabuki. After taking one dance lesson at Arthur Murray, she knew that she had found her passion in Ballroom dance. Now she enjoys bringing her wealth of movement knowledge to all students, knowing how dance can change people’s lives in the most amazing ways!
Lia Mervis – Instructor
Lia started dancing when she was 4 years old, doing Recreational Dance. Once she turned 12, she went to Loch Raven Academy for middle school, for dance. While she was at Loch Raven Academy, she was also studying at the Baltimore School for the Arts TWIGS program. She then auditioned for the high school program at Baltimore School for the Arts and attended for the next 4 years. While she was in high school, she did several summer dance programs such as at Nashville Ballet and Goucher College. After graduating, she went to Virginia Commonwealth University for a Dance Major. She continues her Dance BFA degree currently at CCBC and is now a certified instructor at Arthur Murray Columbia.
Matthew Bryant – Instructor
Matt started dance at a young age where he attended Chandler Magnet School for the Arts. This program introduced music, instruments, and dances from across the world. With guidance and encouragement from inspirational teachers, his passion for music and dance ignited. Matt studied classical voice, and dance which led him to perform with a traveling competition show choir throughout high school and gave him the confidence to turn his passion of performing into a career. Matt’s focus in his studies were integrated Musical Theater and Dance at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in NYC. He has been very fortunate to perform professionally across the nation, choreograph for competition teams and show choirs. Now, he is working alongside some of the best in Ballroom dancing at Arthur Murray Columbia.
Jessica Cummings – Front Office Administrator
Jessica, despite being in the office, has always loved dance. Having been in musical theatre and acting classes since she was six years old, quite a variety of dancing has been asked of her over the years. She found later on in life how much she loved contributing to an artistic team and coming to Arthur Murray Columbia seemed an amazing fit!