Director - Owner
Brantley has recently moved back to Columbus after spending over 10 years in Chicago and Texas dancing professionally. While training at the Academy of Fine Arts under the direction of Patty Taylor, he completed his first degree in Early Childhood Education and Teacher Certification from Columbus State University. To further his dance education, Brantley was awarded the Nordan Fine Arts Scholarship from Texas Christian University in Dallas/Ft. Worth, TX. At TCU, he was a member of the Chi Tau Epsilon Dance Honor Society and earned his second degree graduating Magna Cum Laude in Ballet. While in Texas, Brantley danced with the Ballet Concerto Dance Company and trained under the late Fernando Bujones, of the American Ballet Theatre and Orlando Ballet.
To continue his dance career, Brantley moved to Chicago and was a scholarship recipient for Lou Conte-Hubbard Street Dance School. For 5 seasons, Brantley performed professionally throughout Chicago and toured both nationally and internationally to Japan. He is a former company member of Cerqua Rivera Dance Theatre, Inaside Chicago Dance, and Joel Hall’s Dial Dance Company. Brantley’s diverse stylistic performances in Chicago include various works with Chicago Crash, Dance Chicago, Lyric Opera Works, Alliance Dance, and soloist with Ballet Arts-Scholastica.
While performing in Chicago, Brantley completed his Master of Arts degree in Teaching with an emphasis in Education and Dance from North Park University, graduating with honors. He is a current member of the Chicago National Association of Dance Masters and Dance Masters of America where he is certified, through rigorous testing, to instruct classes of all levels in Ballet, Jazz, Modern, and Tap.
For over 15 years, Brantley has been on the faculty of numerous dance studios where he instructs classes, intensives, master classes, and choreography workshops. His classes include Ballet, Jazz, Pointe, Lyrical, Contemporary, Modern, and Partnering. Brantley’s span of choreography includes Ballet & Contemporary dance companies, musical theatre productions, and competitions nationwide. Since 2006, he was the resident choreographer for the Lane Theater in Chicago and has received countless Platinum, Overall, and Top Choreography honors and awards. Along with dance instruction, Brantley has served as Jazz Director, Competition Team Coordinator, and Dance Curriculum Advisor for several dance studios.
In addition to his dance career, Brantley is a certified Group Fitness Instructor. He leads a variety of classes including Yoga, Pilates, Aerobics, and Conditioning.
Leah F. Stewart
Leah is a Columbus native where she and her husband have relocated from Illinois back to Georgia. She has a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Psychology from Georgia College & State University. Additionally, she earned a Master’s of Education in School Counseling from Troy University. Her passion for working with children and adolescents is reflected both in her experience as a School Counselor as well as 10+ years of teaching dance.
While continuing her School Counseling career in North Carolina, Leah expanded her coaching experience as McDowell High School’s JV Cheerleading Coach. From there, Leah and her husband ventured to Illinois; counseling in the public school system while also connecting with multiple dance studios, one being Moves Dance Studio, where she became their lead Outreach Instructor reaching many stakeholders within the local community.
Leah served as the Academy’s Assistant Director for multiple years before marrying and moving to NC. Previously at ADC, she was the ‘Celebrity’ Competition Team Director where her routines received numerous Choreography, Judge’s Choice, and Overall Category Awards. Her teen/senior hip hop large group routine was selected in the top 5 out of 300+ routines at International Dance Challenge 2014. Additionally, Leah was the Hip Hop Program Director and Dance Team Program Director where she worked in conjunction with local high school dance teams. Her work in this field specializes in Marching Band Halftime shows, Basketball Halftime performances, as well as UDA Georgia State Championships.
Leah trained for 17 years at the Academy of Fine Arts Dance Center where she was a member of both the Apprentice Dance Company and competition team. She was a 4-year member of the Hardaway High School Dance Team, graduating in 2009. While dancing with Hardaway, she traveled to Miami, FL and performed in the Orange Bowl Halftime Entertainment show in 2007. Leah was Captain of Hardaway’s Dancin’ Hawks her senior year and a state champion team member for both Jazz and Hip Hop in 2008.
At Georgia College, Leah was a member and head choreographer for the award winning dance team, The Sassy Cats. On the team she trained with numerous Hip Hop and Jazz choreographers including Stephen Jones, star dancer in the Step Up movie series. During her senior year as captain, she led the team to their PeachBelt Conference trophy win with her stylized Hip Hop/Jazz routine mix. Leah is a former dance instructor with the Universal Dance Association (UDA), where she traveled the southeast instructing Hip Hop, Jazz, Lyrical, Pom, and Kickline technique and routines to students of all levels.
Leah loves working with students of all ages and abilities and is excited to bring her knowledge, professionalism, and fun back to the students in the Valley area!
Assistant to the Director
Kassi is a graduate from Valdosta State University in Valdosta, GA with a Bachelor's of Arts in Dance. Kassi trained for 17 years at the Academy of Fine Arts Dance Center in Columbus, GA where she was a member of the Apprentice Dance Company and competition team. She was a 4-year member of the Harris County High School Dance Team, graduating in 2013. While dancing with Harris County, Kassi performed the the SEC Halftime Extravaganza 3 times. Kassi was captain of the Harris County Dance Team from her sophomore to senior year.
At VSU, Kassi was a member of the award winning dance team, The Valdosta State Red Hots. On the team she was a two time NDA All American. During her senior year as captain, she led the team to a National Championship in the Hip Hop Division. While in her major at VSU, Kassi was a member of the SWA Dance Company performing at several conferences such as ACDA and The Modern Atlanta Dance Festival. She's trained with several company directors such as George Staib, of Staib Dance, and Kristin O'Neal, of Core Dance. Kassi is a former dance and Head instructor with the Universal Dance Association (UDA), where she traveled the southeast instructing Hip Hop, Jazz, Lyrical, Pom, and Kick dance to students of all levels. Currently, she is the Hip Hop and ‘Celebrity’ Competition Team Director at the Academy as well as the coach and choreographer for the St. Luke School Dance Team.
Ann has been the Academy Office Manager for over 20 years. She is the Mini-Motions Coordinator and also a Specialist in instruction for our young dancers with 24 years of dance and teaching experience. She is a graduate of Troy University and previously taught in the public school systems in Florida and Columbus. She is married to Joe Flynn and they have six daughters.
Laura began her dance career when she was 3 years old at the Academy of Fine Arts. During her early dance years, she was a member of the Academy’s ‘Jazzy Juniors’ performance team and competed in numerous dance competitions and performances.
When she was 13 years old she moved to Ohio where she continued her dance training and cheered for her high school competitive cheerleading team. Laura coached pee-wee cheerleading for 4 years and during her junior and senior year of high school, Laura’s team won the Top Award in the state of Ohio for her award winning competition routines.
After graduation, Laura returned to Columbus and resumed dancing with the Academy. She most recently danced with our Academy’s competition team and competed in Celebrity Dance Competition’s Nationals at Sea where her Contemporary Trio won Top Overall First Place at Nationals! Laura has performed in numerous Academy productions and is thrilled to share her love of dance with the students at the Academy.
Leslie is a graduate of Valdosta State University in Valdosta, Georgia with a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in Interior Design. She trained locally with the Academy of Fine Arts Dance Center in Columbus, GA in addition to instructing throughout the southeast collectively for 20 years. She was a member of the PTADC and competition team for many years. Leslie graduated from Hardaway High School in 2009 while being in the International Baccalaureate Program. While at Hardaway, she traveled to Miami, FL and performed in the Orange Bowl Halftime Entertainment show in 2007. She was also a member of the 2008 State Championship winning dance team for both jazz and hip hop divisions. After graduation, Leslie auditioned and became an instructor for Universal Dance Association. As a UDA Instructor, she taught many genres of dance including jazz, hip hop, kick, pom and lyrical as well as judging competitions across the southeast.
During her time at Valdosta, she worked as a dance coach and choreographer for Winnersville Elite Cheer and Dance in both their recreational and competition departments. While at Valdosta State, she was a 4 year member of the Red Hots dance team and was captain her senior year. The Red Hots dance team is a 4 time NDA National Championship winning team and Leslie was a member for 2 of those 4 national titles in the Open and Hip Hop divisions.
Leslie is also a coach and award winning choreographer for the “Celebrity” competition team here at the Academy. She is happily married to Andy Ginn and enjoying life with their two dogs, Gurley and Molly.
Michele is originally from Columbus and has over 20 years of dance instructor experience ranging from Ballet, Jazz, Musical Theatre, Contemporary/Lyrical and Hip Hop. She is a former member and soloist with the Springer Ballet Company under the direction of Sonja Manzi. Michele danced competitively for over 15 years and has choreographed numerous overall award winning routines for many companies. Currently, she is one of the resident choreographers for the Springer Opera House where she completed choreography for Sweeny Todd.
Ashlyn is a Junior at Columbus State University majoring in Computer Science and minoring in Dance. She is a graduate of Columbus High School, where she was co-captain of their ‘Dancing Blue Devils’ Dance Team and a former Governor’s Honor nominee in Dance. Ashlyn has danced at the Academy for 16 years and is a former award winning competitor with the ‘Celebrity’ Competition Team. She performed the lead role of Princess Tiana in the 2016 Academy production of, The Princess & the Frog.
Maggie is a 12th grade honor student at St. Anne-Pacelli Catholic School where she is a Student Ambassador, President of the National English Honor Society, Vice President of Spanish National Honor Society, and a member of the Literary Team where she placed 2nd in the state for Rhetorical Essay. Maggie has danced at the Academy for 14 years where she has excelled as a Junior Instructor, Teacher’s Assistant and a member of the ‘Celebrity’ Competition Team.
Founder - Past Director
Patty, a graduate of Northwestern University, Evanston, IL., was the Owner and Director of the Academy for 45 years. Her certified training influenced students over many years to seek professional performing dance careers all over the United States, as well as become dance teachers and studio owners. As Artistic Director for the Patty Taylor Contemporary Dance Company for 26 years, the company toured internationally in Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, Greece and with the Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines.