Academy Faculty

Brantley Arrington

Director - Owner

Brantley 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.

IMG-7634 (1).jpg

Leah Stewart

Artistic & Management Director

    Leah is a Georgia native and she and her husband have relocated from Illinois. She earned her Bachelor’s of Science degree in Psychology from Georgia College & State University in 2013. Additionally, she has a Masters 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 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. Leah is returning to her role as the Academy's Hip Hop Program Director and ‘Celebrity’ Competition Team Director where her routines have 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, she was the 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. She performed in the 2007 Orange Bowl Halftime Entertainment show in Miami, FL as the Captain of the Hardaway High School Dance Team, who then won the 2008 State Championship in Jazz and Hip Hop before graduating in 2009. 

     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!

Pam Averett

Operations Manager

Pam has been a part of the Academy in different roles for over a decade is now part of the Academy's Business Staff. She is a graduate of Columbus State University with a B.S. degree in Science and minors in both Computer Science and Mathematics. Besides her regular presence at the Academy, she also volunteers with numerous church, school, and community activities. Pam and her husband, Anthony, have three children - Ashlyn, Alana, and Nicholas. 


Ann Flynn


Ann has been the Academy Office Manager and ADC Instructor 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.

Mary Jane Bowden


Mary Jane, originally from Columbus, Georgia, graduated with a degree in Dance from the University of Alabama in 2013 on the SFA (Dean's Office) Scholarship, Dance Gift Fund, and Tutwiler Dance Scholarship. Upon graduation she moved to New York City where she participated in Broadway Dance Center's Professional Semester training program on scholarship. While in New York she performed on TV shows such as "The View", where Mary Jane was also the choreographer and Dance Captain for, "The Dr. Oz Show", and "Good Morning America". She had the opportunity to perform the work of many prestigious choreographers at places such as Lincoln Center, The Actors Home, and as a featured dancer in A Chocolate Avenue Christmas in Hershey, Pennsylvania. Since returning to Columbus, Mary Jane had a blast playing the role of Cha Cha DiGregorio in the production of Grease at the Springer Opera House as well as performing in West Side StorySingin' in the Rain and as the choreographer of The Great Gatsby. She recently received her Masters in Theatre Education with Teacher Certification while working as the graduate assistant to the dance minor at Columbus State University. Mary Jane spent the last two years as a dance and theatre teacher at Rainey-McCullers School of the Arts. She now resides in Phenix City, AL with her husband and two pups and is also a STOTT Pilates instructor at Quest Pilates Studio. She is so excited to begin teaching dance where she first began her training at age 4! 

Cope Vinson


Cope is an 11th grade Honor Student at Harris County High School. She is a member of the Beta Club, Student Government Association, DECA, and St. Luke Leadership Team. She has danced at the Academy for 13 years and is a member of the 'Celebrity' Competition Team. Cope has excelled through both the Academy's Teacher Assistant Program and as a Junior Instructor for multiple years.

Carter Whiddon


Carter is a senior Theatre Major at Columbus State University, with a minor in Dance. He grew up in Perry, GA and decided to move to Columbus to further study theatre. While taking theatre classes, he enrolled in courses to begin his Dance Minor track. He has studied modern, ballet, jazz, and tap under the direction of various prestigious instructors. He has focused a lot of his time on modern dance and plans to pursue a Masters in Dance with a concentration in Modern Technique. Carter’s recent performance and choreography experiences include the Springer Opera House’s Cinderella, Columbus State University Theatre Program’s Once on This Island, and Tuck Everlasting, as the Assistant Choreographer. Within the Dance Department at CSU he choreographed a piece for the American College Dance Association (ACDA) Southeast, performed at Broadway Ball, as well as WinterFest. Recently, Carter has partnered with the animation department at CSU on a project exploring how to animate movement. "Great dancers are not great because of their technique; they are great because of their passion." -Martha Graham

Courtlyn Headshot 20-21.jpeg

Courtlyn Holt


Courtlyn Holt is currently a senior at Columbus State University. She is a Theatre major with a minor in Dance and a Musical Theatre Certificate, after changing her path from majoring in Music with focus in Opera. She trained for 16 years at Pink Slipper School of Dance in Albany, GA before moving to Columbus to begin her college training. Courtlyn is regularly involved in the musicals at CSU and the Springer Opera House. Recently, she was cast as Elle Woods in Columbus State University’s Legally Blonde. Other performance and casting experience includes CSU’s Guys and Dolls (Sara Brown), Cabaret (Fritzie), and the Springer Opera House’s Cinderella. Upcoming roles with the Springer for Courtlyn include Linda in Evil Dead: The Musical and Cindy Lou in the production of Winter Wonderettes. Courtlyn loves and trains in all styles of dance, however musical theatre and modern have stolen her heart. After college, she plans to move to New York to pursue a career in Musical Theatre.

Patty Taylor

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.