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Meet Our Staff

At Cedartown Academy of Performing Arts in Cedartown, Georgia, we pride ourselves on our team of seasoned and dedicated mentors. Backed by years of experience in the art of dance, we go above and beyond to breed brilliant performers.

We offer Tap, Ballet, Lyrical, Jazz.

Miss Denise is a certified teacher with Dance Educators of America - 

Why does dance matter?

Certified dance instructors can make a significant, life-long impact on children and adolescents. Dance classes led by certified instructors not only offer a safe, encouraging environment for kids, but also provide children and adolescents important developmental opportunities. From the youngest children to volatile teenagers, certified dance instructors demonstrate excellent interpersonal communications skills enabling them to establish an emotional connection with all their students. Dance teachers aren’t just teachers for their students; they’re role models, advisers, confidants, and friends that dance students can rely upon throughout their formative years.

Certified dance instructors are uniquely qualified to devise fun, engaging, and physically demanding dance lessons that challenge students of all abilities to think and move in ways they may not have before. In addition to helping keep kids healthy and strong through demanding physical challenges and allowing self-expression at an emotional level, dance can also improve academic performance and students’ learning abilities.

Emerging studies reveal a substantial connection between movement and cognition, meaning that the more students move, the better they may learn. Dance is a fun way to move and--led by a highly skilled instructor—also a fun way to improve learning. To some students, a certified dance instructor may be just a teacher. To others, they’re lifelong friends, inspirational figures, and the key to a more productive life.

Meet Our Professionals:

Denise Davis Johnson - Owner and Artistic Director

Miss Denise began dance at the age of 3 with Diana's School of Dance, Diana Smithson. It was there Miss Diana introduced her to an education and experienced the life of fine arts. Denise loved dance from the very beginning, she also began teaching with Diana and stayed with her until she graduated. There at the dance school Diana introduced her to many fundamental foundations with a strong background in all areas of dance.

Diana would take Denise and other students to study under famous dancers for master classes in Atlanta and around the Southeast. Miss Denise had the opportunity to take class from Patsy Swayze (Patrick Swayze's Mom), Kenny Ortega, Frank Hatchett, Charles Kelley, Gus Girodano, Luigi, Gary Orr and more. Janie Hamrick Holmes taught Denise ballet at Diana's School of Dance and introduced her to master classes with Stanley Zampokus a ballet master from Russia. Denise continued studies in Cedartown and also won the State of Georgia talent show at Six Flags Over Georgia in 1976. In 1981 she was chosen for the first Georgia Governors Honor Program in Dance.

After Graduation Denise attended Floyd College & Shorter University with majors in Physical Education and Business Administration. Shorter is where she met and studied ballet under Dana Smith Crain. Dana went on and opened the Woodstock School of Ballet in Woodstock, Georgia.

In 1983 Denise co- founded the Cedartown Academy of Performing Arts with Sharon Keahey Roddy. It was at that time when competitions began and Denise and Sharon entered teams into competitions for dance line and show teams through Drum Majorettes of America. There the teams won national titles for three consecutive years. Then in 1985 Denise became the sole owner of the performing arts school.

In 1984 Denise became one of the first youngest certified teachers in Tap, Jazz and Ballet with Dance Masters of America. Dance Masters of America is an international organization of dance teachers certified by test to teach. In 1990 she became a member of Dance Educators of America another international organization of dance teachers certified by test to teach. In May 2017, Miss Denise was re-examined with Dance Educators of America and was re-certified in teaching. 

Denise also did modeling in runway and photo shoots throughout the southeast with Macy's, Rich's and JC Penneys in Atlanta and Birmingham as well Dixie Fashions in Cedartown.

Through the years Denise has taught approximately four thousand students in the Northwest Georgia and surrounding areas. Her students performed throughout the southern region at various shows and events such as the Invitational Henrietta Egleston Hospital Festival of Trees for ten consecutive years at the Georgia World Congress Center, 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, Six Flags performances, Opryland and was chosen by Walt Disney Productions to perform in a world televised event. The school was honored when chosen by Ruth Mitchell herself of The Ruth Mitchell Dance Company to perform in the Christmas classic "The Nutcracker" in 1991 and 1993 at the Cedartown Civic Auditiorium. Then in 1995 with the Clayton Ballet Festival under the direction of Nickalus Pacana and Gregory Aaron.

Danetta Henderson Hardy a former student audition and was chosen as a candidate to the JOFFREY Ballet Summer Scholarship program held in New York City in 1990. Danetta opened her own school in early 2000 in Hawkinsville, Georgia.

In addition, some former students performed with the Ruth Mitchell Dance Theatre as company members, some performed in the Atlanta Ballet performances. Some have opened their own schools and are now competitors. Students at the Academy were always exposed to professional dancers in workshops and master classes with Alvin Ailey Dance Theatre, New York City, Gus Gioradano Jazz Dance Chicago, the Oakland Ballet, Oakland, California, Frank Harris and some students were taken on trips to explore and experience New York City. 

Competition teams of the Academy kept bringing in winning titles and trophies at regional and national levels throughout the school's history.

In 1990-1994 Denise became assistant auditorium director of the Cedartown Civic Auditorium and Kristy Goosman Hughes became director. Both worked together to receive grants from the National Endowment for the Arts for the Cedartown Civic Arts Commission. Kristy and Denise booked national touring companies and celebrity performances with national agencies. But their most accomplished endeavor was maintaining the Children's Enrichment Program which brought in artist, celebrities and shows in for Northwest Georgia students. This allowed the students to have the opportunity to be educated in cultural arts.

In late 2000 the Academy closed due to unforseen circumstances and emergency health issues. For nearly a decade Denise was a mortgage banker and then went back to college where she obtained a degree in the healthcare in 2011. She has been employed for the last eight years as a certified phlebotomist/lab tech at SouthEastern Pathology in Rome, Georgia. She will continue her position at the lab.

Denise however admits she has never been happy since the day the Academy closed. So through the work of Our Lord showing her daily where her true passion continues to develop in Dance and teaching, as well as many former students, friends and citizens encouraging her to reopen, the Cedartown Academy of Performing Arts reopened with a dynamic staff of teachers, along with performances to enhance the students skills and competitions! 

Miss Denise is a native of Cedartown, Georgia. She is the daughter of Judy Davis and Jr Davis. She is the sister of Jeff Davis. She has two daughters, Lauren Elizabeth Johnson and Ivy Caroline Benefield. Miss Denise has six grandchildren.

Miss Haley

Haley Livengood is back with Cedartown Academy of Performing Arts for her second season. She has rejoined the Academy after attending UAB and Jacksonville State University. Miss Haley is a national dance champion with many dance competitions and is presently an NBA Atlanta Hawks Cheerleader/ Dancer. She has taught for many years in Alabama and Georgia as well as being a dance competition coach with award-winning teams. She also traveled with the American Dance Team overseas to compete in 2015. We are so very happy to have Miss Haley back with us! She will be teaching Ballet, Tap, Jazz, Lyrical, and AcroTumbling at Cedartown Academy!

Miss Tori

Tori Holder

Miss Tori begins her third season teaching at Cedartown Academy of Performing Arts!

Tori has been dancing since age three, starting with Miss Denise Johnson in 1993! She took classes and taught tap and jazz at Rome Civic Ballet for a combined 15+ years. Tori is trained in ballet, tap, jazz, lyrical, modern, and a little bit of hip-hop. She also participated in intensives while in high school with the Atlanta Ballet Centre for Dance Education. 

Tori has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication from Shorter University and a Master of Science degree in Journalism from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champign. She is the Outreach Specialist at Tools for Life, Georgia's Assistive Technology Act Program, which serves people with disabilities across the state and helps them acquire technology to be independent.

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