I was raised in Grassland. I watched the field turn into Food Lion, slurped on ICEEs from C.Y. market enjoyed many nights of chicken fingers from Grassland Grille and rented movies from Video Max. The best part of all is Grassland still feels like home after so many years and like Dorothy says, “There’s no place like home.” It is a magical community surrounded by loving families that I am proud to be a part of.
Grassland Estates was my old stomping ground. Summer nights were filled with endless games of “German Spotlight” and “Capture the Flag” and days were spent bike riding and splashing in the creek.
My mother, Kay Callahan, started me in dance lessons when I was three years old. Little did she know that dance would become my life and my career. I had a true passion for dance and never stopped, taking every class from ballet to tap to jazz.
My first job as a professional dancer was onboard the Celebrity Cruise ship “Infinity”. My new home was a large ship weighing ninety one thousand tons at nine hundred sixty five feet long.
I continued performing onboard for five years, traveling to exotic locations such as Bora Bora, Tahiti, Australia and New Zealand, and dancing my way through the European countries of Italy, Turkey, Greece and the beautiful Greek islands.
I never thought, while studying the world map in Coach Rice’s World Geography Class at Franklin High School, that I would actually go to those magnificent places, embrace all the different cultures that I was exposed to, and meet dear friends from all over the world!
Holding various positions such as dance captain, wardrobe supervisor and, of course, production dancer onboard Celebrity Infinity, Millennium and Solstice was truly unforgettable.
Furthering my dance education I took on Aerial, an acrobatic art form consisting of trapeze, aerial lira or hoop, and Spanish web. My passion for dance was taken to a whole new level - dancing in the air. Learning this style of art takes a lot of focus, will power, strength and determination as the training at this level is rigorous and very demanding. Excelling in this training brought on a lot of other opportunities for my career. I was cast in “Cirque on Ice” where I performed trapeze over ice in Singapore. Along with being a performer in the show I was also Company Manager responsible for twenty plus cast and crew, all of the show’s logistics and the artistic integrity of the show.
On completion of this show I continued working for Celebrity Cruises holding various roles on my last contract as a dance captain, trapeze artist, production dancer and wardrobe supervisor. I then accepted a position with Poet Productions as Artistic Manager and moved to Fort Lauderdale Florida. There I was responsible for all of the “Solstice Class” production shows rehearsing sixteen plus cast members on four different shows before joining the ship and mounting the shows while onboard. I also assisted in casting singers, dancers and acrobats for the shows.
After working at sea for nearly six years I was ready to put down roots and what better place to be than Franklin, Tennessee? This brings me to my current endeavor, Grassland Dance Academy. I am happy and excited to be the Director/Owner of Grassland Dance Academy in the community of Grassland, my home.
My goal for Grassland Dance Academy is to guide the youth of today in the direction of their goals and to help develop the self-confidence to achieve all they want to achieve through dance and creative movement. Dance gives children a creative outlet to enjoy music, learn coordination and rhythm, develop self confidence, work on fitness and most of all, have fun! Dance brings joy to the soul!
— Maureen Callahan
Katie joins Grassland Dance Academy from The University of Tennessee Chattanooga. With thirteen years of dance experience she has honed her skills through Grassland Dance Academy's internship program during Spring 2014 and is proud to now be an instructor for GDA. Katie has traveled to New York City where she trained with some of the cast members from the Tony Award winning Broadway show Billy Elliot. Including some of the original cast. She has performed in Walt Disney World and was a Junior Member of the Southern Association of Dance Masters. She has worked with various well-known choreographers and has participated in multiple dance conventions over the years. Katie was recently a back up dancer for an upcoming A&E television show and has received her associates degree in Commercial Entertainment through Columbia State Community College . Spreading the joy of dance is Katie's passion and she looks forward to sharing that very passion with Grassland Dance Academy's students!
Lizzy Graves “Lizzy was born in Vacaville, CA and grew up dancing at Vacaville Ballet Theatre. She moved to Nashville, TN in 2009 where she trained at Nashville Ballet till 2014, performing works by Paul Vasterling and Banning Bouldin.
She lived in Vancouver, Canada for two years to dance at ArtsUmbrella under Artemis Gordon, performing works by Lesley Telford, Crystal Pite, Marie Chouinard, James Kudelka, and Medhi Walerski. She also had the opportunity to work with Cindy Salgado, Eric Beauchesne, Johnathan Alsberry, Tom Weinberger and Doug Letheren.
Since joining New Dialect in 2016 Lizzy has participated in numerous outreach performances to the Nashville community. She has also collaborated in Third Voice as dancer and rehearsal assistant.
She teaches and choreographs at dance studios across Middle Tennessee and has been commissioned by New Dialect to create a piece for Third Voice. At Grassland Dance Academy and Third Voice she is collaborating with local composers to create original music for the performances.
Outside the studio she is pursuing an Accounting Degree at Belmont University and assists Kevin and Banning Bouldin administratively. She also works with New Beginnings, a local non-profit fitness and nutrition center for women.”
Allison Little is a native of Franklin, TN and started dancing when she was only three! She got exposure at an early age to competitions, professional ballets, and Broadway musicals which helped give her the drive she now has as a professional choreographer, performer and teacher. After earning her BFA in Performing Arts with an emphasis in Dance from Western Kentucky University she moved to Los Angeles to pursue her performing career. Allison’s professional experiences have taken her to LA, New York, Canada and even South America! She has been seen in such TV shows like Boston Legal and Mad Men, in feature films like The Comebacks, The Prestige, and Ocean’s 13, and has done various commercials and music videos throughout her career.
Allison loves performing in every genre of entertainment but her true passion is live theatre. Some of her favorite theatre credits include: The Broadway National Tour of CATS, How the Grinch Stole Christmas at The Grand Ole Opry, The Nutty Professor directed by Jerry Lewis, West Side Story (Studio Tenn), A Chorus Line, All Shook Up and Guys and Dolls. Throughout her professional experiences Allison has had the privilege to work with some of the top choreographers and directors in the world! Choreographers like Travis Payne (Michael Jackson), Joann Hunter (School of Rock Bway), Gillian Lynne (CATS), Lisa Shriver (Ring of Fire B’way), Tony G.(Bring It On Movies), Lee Martino (Ovation Award Winner) and Bob Richard (How the Grinch Stole Christmas). Directors like Jerry Lewis, Kristen Blodgette (Musical Dir CATS & Phantom of the Opera Bway), Richard Stafford (CATS), and Matt Logan (Studio Tenn) just to name a few!
The most rewarding aspect of all of her experiences is getting to share that knowledge and passion with others!
Sandy Bennett was born in Oklahoma and moved to Texas where she became a competitive gymnast. She loved competing and coaching youth gymnastics throughout high school. Her junior year of High School she started training in rhythmic gymnastics. When it became an Olympic sport, her senior year, she moved away from her family to Florida to train in Rhythmic gymnastics with Russian coach, Marina Davidovich. Sandy qualified and competed in the USA Nationals for 5 years. She was chosen twice to train at the Olympic training center. She received many awards during her competitive years and was able to travel nationally and internationally.
Sandy also has a love for choreography. She has choreographed several music videos, Worship Jamz TV commercials, a Dove awards show open along with countless other events. She has been very involved in Dance Ministry in churches where she has choreographed for many large church conferences and musicals. She also has choreographed many projects for Life Way including their VBS for the last 6 years.
Sandy also travelled with singer Nicole C. Mullen, performing Rhythmic gymnastics at her concerts and Women of Faith conferences.
Sandy was certified in Tae Bo® in 2008. She has been teaching with Shellie Blanks Cimarosti (Billy Blanks’ daughter)
for nearly a decade and has been a part of many fitness videos with Billy Blanks. She is also certified in others areas of fitness and teaches at several gyms.
Sandy graduated from Texas Christian University with a degree in Fashion Design and Art minor. Sandy continues to teach dance, choreograph, teach tumbling and enjoys spending time with her husband, Joel and three sons, Zach, and twins, Andy and Alex.