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Classes are instructed with the DEAC philosophy in mind: To help each child achieve success through their dance skills, teamwork, and physical fitness. The DEAC Staff is highly educated & professional. We attend seminars and dance related events to further educate, adjust to changing dance trends, and be instructed by world-renowned master teachers. DEAC Teachers have degrees and years of training in dance.


Amy Downs:

Owner, Director, Instructor

Amy began dancing at the age of 3 and has been teaching for over 20 years. Throughout her career, Amy has performed with several Pittsburgh dance companies, LaRoche College,  Michael McPherson's Physical Magic Show, Idlewild Theme Park, & Disney. Her studies have taken place at dance centers such as Broadway Dance Center, Steps, the Edge, and the Performance Arts Center in LA. She has also studied with master teachers including Luigi, Phil Black, Frank Hatchett, Steve Sirico, and Angela D'Valda. Amy developed her dancing education under Susan Swanson, Andrea Sabatier, & Michele Van Doeran at Andrea School of Dance & Broadway West. She later continued education under Michelle Moore and began teaching in 1998 for Pittsburgh DancExplosion. Amy is a 2001 graduate from LaRoche College with a B.A. in psychology, including senior studies in Dance & Art Therapy. She became a member of the Pittsburgh DancExplosion LLC and Artistic Director in 2007, Managing Director in the 2009 season and Owner/CEO/Director of DancExplosion Art Center in June of 2010. As an instructor, Amy has received choreography and costume design honors and her students have earning honors, titles, and scholarships on regional and national levels as well. Amy has had the privilege to collaborate with several Pittsburgh professional dance artists & companies. In addition, the Le Grand Jete building, which is home to Dancexplosion, has been happy to host many performing artists & local companies creating a dance pathway between studio and theater. Amy is thrilled to share the Arts Center with the talented & passionate DEAC Creative Team and is beyond proud to watch them continue to share, inspire, & spread the joy of good works. It has been the honor of a lifetime for Amy to cultivate the passion for dance in several generations of dancers and a privilege to continue this journey year after year.

Alexandra Tiso:

Youth Director, Assistant Director, Instructor

Alexandra Tiso began her dance training in jazz, tap, and contemporary styles at various schools in Tampa, Florida. At twelve years old, she changed her focus to classical ballet and modern with teachers Amanda Keeney and Mitsie Kraack. She was accepted into the dance program at Blake High School of the Arts where she studied under Albena Arnaudova and Kelly Rayl. Alexandra also attended training intensives at Orlando Ballet, the ROCK School, Alonzo King's LINES Ballet, and Nashville Ballet. After graduation, Alexandra joined the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre's Graduate program, where she danced as a trainee for two years. She is currently a company member of Texture Contemporary Ballet. Alexandra has performed in numerous Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre productions and has performed George Balanchine's Serenade. She also danced in choreographer Robert Moses' premiere performance of, How Does One Arrive at Short-Story Technique? She has received numerous awards and honors, including being chosen as the model dancer for example of video submissions for the All-State Dance program in the state of Florida. She has had her choreography displayed at Blake High School of the Arts and the Youth America Grand Prix.


Allison Long:

Office Management, Instructor, Company Choreographer

Allison (Al), originally from Schaumburg, Illinois, began her dance career at age 3. She graduated from Western Michigan University with her B.F.A. in Dance in April 2017. While at school, Al performed works from Ohad Naharin’s Excerpts from Kyr and Anaphase, Lew Christensen’s Con Amore, Frank Chaves’ Charanga, and Loie Fueller’s Fire Dance.  She was very honored to perform Carolyn Pavlik’s The illusion has been just a dream at the 2016 American College Dance Association’s Nationals in Washington D.C. She has trained with many dance companies in Philadelphia, D.C., and most recently Chicago, such as Inaside, River North, and Dance Works, and rounding out her training with American Dance Festival at the New York intensive. While at Western, she found a passion for the “dark side” of dance production: she has created many light designs for various concerts, edits her own music, and enjoyed coordinating multiple concerts and volunteer opportunities at WMU. Along with teaching and managing the office at DEAC Al teaches Pilates, and has recently started dancing with Exhalations Dance Theatre here in Pittsburgh! In her spare time, Al enjoys working out, reading, and listening to true crime podcasts. 


Kelly Gallagher:

Graphic Designer, Instructor, Company Choreographer

Kelly Gallagher started her dance training at the age of 2 years old at the now titled, Studio 19 Dance Complex. At the age of 8, she moved studios to study under Michelle More and Amy Downs. It was there she embraced and cultivated her acrobatic skills and her knack for tap, but also found a love and passion for contemporary and emotional story-telling. In her competitive years, she received numerous awards, titles, and scholarships. She attended the University of Dayton to receive her B.F.A. in Visual Communication and Graphic Design. By her junior year, she was named Captain of the Flyerette Dance Team and Rehearsal Assistant to the University of Dayton Dance Ensemble. It was also during her junior year that she created an internship position with Dayton Contemporary Dance Company. This internship gave her the opportunities and experiences to learn about the business side of a professional dance company as well as the opportunity to take regular/master classes and learn choreography with the first and second company. She has performed with DCDC II, The University of Dayton Arts Department, UDA, and Texture Contemporary Ballet Company.


Emma Chammas:

Office Liason, Instructor,

Company Choreographer

Emma has been dancing since the age of three, and she started working with teachers Amy Downs and Michelle Moore at the age of seven.  In her last year at DEAC, Emma began teaching and choreographing.  She went on to obtain a Bachelors Degree in Psychology at the University of Pittsburgh and a Masters Degree in Clinical Community Psychology at Point Park University.  During her undergraduate career, Emma continued dancing, teaching, and choreographing for Pitt Dance Ensemble.  She worked with choreographers and teacher including Sarah Parker, Shana Simmons, Renee Smith, Jamie Murphy, Jessica Marino, Gabriel Ash, and Greg McCummings.  Emma is excited and honored to be able to continue sharing her love for dance as a part of the DEAC staff!


Alyssa Ferris:

Dance Instructor

Alyssa Ferris started dancing at the age of 3 under Michelle Moore, taking all styles of dance. She joined the Pittsburgh DancExplosion competition team at the age 6 and went on to win awards and scholarships. She has danced at local malls, nursing homes, Pittsburgh festivals, and Disney World. As she grew, she also began to dance and work with Amy Downs. She attended CAPA High School where she continued her dance studies. There she danced under amazing teachers such as Kevin Maloney, Amy Farren-Piekut, Gabe Ash, Greer Reed, Rene Polanco, Leslie Anderson-Braswell. She was able to take master classes with former students who have gone out into to dance world, dancers from Alvin Ailey dance company, Attack Theater, and other amazing dancers. She performed for the former President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, and the  20 leaders with their spouses attending the G-20 Summit. She also had the amazing opportunity to dance with Evolve Productions for their Arts Alive benefit. Currently, she is loving every second she gets to teach at DEAC and share her passion.


Savannah Runco

Office Liason and Tumbling Coach

Savannah Runco has been tumbling for over 15 years. She began her athletic career as a competitive cheerleader for an organization called Pittsburgh Superstars. She traveled around the country competing at numerous national and world championships. After high school, she went on to be a cheerleader for the University of Louisville Large Coed team in Kentucky. There she had the privilege of cheering on the sidelines for football and basketball, as well as competing at the college nationals in Daytona Beach, Florida. Savannah currently works in the Emergency Department at Butler Memorial Hospital and is a student at Slippery Rock University. She plans to attend grad school to further her career in the medical field.


Kim Sawyer

Hip Hop Instuctor

Kim started dancing at age three in a small tumbling studio in Beaumont, Texas. She quickly fell in love with the technical, expressive art and expanded her skill set to all styles of dance. Under the impactful instruction of Amy Johnston Downs, Michelle Moore, Tina Kay, Damian Kush, Jason Parsons, Calen Kurka, and Matt Saffron, Kim competed and is humbled to have been nationally recognized for her performances. In high school, Kim completed Point Park University’s Pre-Professional program where she refined her technique and escaped her comfort zone as a dancer. She began her college career at Point Park and became a member of their esteemed hip-hop team “Impulse.” In the summer of 2012, Kim fulfilled an Entertainment internship at Walt Disney World and in 2013, she was chosen to represent the Pittsburgh Power “Sparks” Dance team in the Arena Bowl. Despite her love of performing, the true highlight of Kim’s dance career has been teaching. With six years of experience, she is beyond excited to work with the dancers, families, and staff at DEAC!

Arts Center

5505 Babcock Blvd
Pittsburgh, PA 15237