You mention “Rhoda” in Aiken, and everybody knows who you are talking about. In 1982, she began transforming the dance landscape in Aiken to have the only studio offering comprehensive instruction in tap, ballet, and jazz. She began Burns Dance Studio in 1982 after many years of teaching in northern Ohio and central South Carolina. After 7 years with the well-known Freed School of Performing Arts in Sumter, SC, a move to Aiken inspired her to open her own studio.
For over 30 years she was director of Burns Dance Studio. Under her leadership the studio has taught thousands of children and been responsible for placing many in dance careers. She has been able to attract high quality instructors for classes and maintain a great reputation among convention, costume, and competition companies.
She has instilled the love of dance, discipline, time management and life skills to dancers and parents with her meticulous organization of the recreational classes, basketball halftime-shows, performing company events, and charitable functions that students from the studio participate in each year.
She will continue to work with our pre-school students, tap classes, merchandise and costumes. In her spare time she loves traveling to Myrtle Beach and spending time with her grandchildren.
Caroline Miller DiDio grew up in the studio as a young dancer, eventually joining Performing Company. She competed in several competitions with the team for 9 years and after graduating from Aiken High School, began teaching her own classes. She has a degree in Elementary Education and is currently a 5th grade teacher at Warrenville Elementary.
Caroline specializes in preschool, musical theater, and tap classes. Her energetic style of teaching and class preparation make for great experiences with our students. She has also worked on audio/visual projects and competition statistics for the studio.
She is married to Nick.
Tatum is a former student at Burns Dance Studio where she was a member of the Performing Company for 6 years. She assisted classes of many styles and attended conventions to further her training in addition to choreographing routines of the Aiken Community Playhouse. She is currently a sophomore in college and active member of the Aiken Community Playhouse. Tatum will be teaching & assisting in our STARS program, musical theater, and jazz.
Dominique Praylow is a native of Irmo, SC and she recently graduated from The University of South Carolina, earning her B.A. in Political Science. Dominique has been dancing for over 13 years, starting her training at The Southern Strutt. She has trained and competed in all styles including jazz, contemporary, hip hop, ballet, tap, and musical theater. In her free time, she loves spending time in nature, listening to music, and cuddling with her cat, Sully. Dominique has formerly worked as the Assistant Dance Coach and choreographer for her high school’s dance team! She has also been a guest teacher at many local studios, and loves sharing her passion for dance with her students!
Ryan Kirby is originally from SC. He relocated to LA after high school where he continued his dance training and worked as professional dancer. Upon his return to SC, his unique style of hip hop and contemporary were in high demand. He is a professional choreographer for many studios in addition to convention work.
He will be working with our Performing Company kids each month on developing their story telling and contemporary skills. He currently lives in Greenville, SC.
Now starting his 11th year full time at the dance studio, Corey brings an incredible background of dance and organizational management to the studio. Corey began dancing at age 3 in Sumter, SC and continued his training as he grew up in Aiken. In high school he was the first male jazz company dancer at the nationally known Southern Strutt Dance Studio. In addition to dance, he was active in soccer, basketball, and football here in Aiken. He went on to choreograph and perform on live TV as well as teach and perform at dance conventions all over the United States. He has choreographed for high school and college dance teams, pageants, plays, halftime shows, studio competitions, weddings, banquets, and televised fundraisers. He is one of the original founders of the USCA-Dance Team, now known as the Spirit Squad.
He has a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education from USC-Aiken and a M.Ed. in Educational Leadership from USC. From 1996-2013 he enjoyed a career as public school teacher, assistant principal and principal. His former superintendent told him, "If you run that dance studio like to you ran your school, you wont' have to worry about coming back to education." And with that, he left public education to work with his mom at the studio in June 2013. He is married to Kristen Burns along with 2 kids: Kayla Calvert (Labor and Delivery Nurse at Aiken Regional) and Jonathan Burns (Sophomore at Gardner-Webb University). In his spare time, he can be found at Lake Murray with family and friends.
Michael McManus was born and raised in Bennettsville, South Carolina. He received his training at Crystal McInnis School of Dance in Laurinburg, NC. Michael graduated from the University of South Carolina with his Bachelors in History and a minor in dance. As a student, Michael received training from Thaddeus Davis, Dale Lam, and Susan Hancock. Michael also had the opportunity to perform at the American College Dance Festival at the Kennedy Center, in Washington, DC. His self choreographed piece Recrudescence earned him recognition by university faculty and was also selected to perform in the American College Dance Festival regional event. Michael teaches hip hop, jazz, and contemporary. He also takes every opportunity he can to guest choreograph at studios throughout the Southeast. This past summer, Michael was fortunate enough to be a mentor at the University of South Carolina Summer Dance Conservatory where he fostered the growth of over 100 children and had the opportunity to partner with Artists for Africa in training 11 dancers from Nairobi, Kenya. Most recently, Michael toured with the Wideman-Davis Dance Company debuting “Migratuse Ataraxia” in Birmingham, Alabama. Michael has also performed with Unbound, a professional dance company under the direction of Caroline Lewis-Jones and Morgan Holton and was a special guest performer with Salt Lake based company Divinity, under the direction of Krissie Edwards and Nikole Black.
Madelyn grew up in Evans, Georgia where she studied at the Columbia County Ballet under Renee Toole and Lia Daniele. She was a regular performer in ballet productions such as Nutcracker, Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland and Beauty and the Beast. She is trained in the Cecchetti style of ballet. Her teaching experience ranges from kids ages 5-18. She enjoys working with community outreach programs in the medical field. She will be focusing on ballet technique and variations for performances.
Ashley started dancing at age 2 1/2 at Marie Shaw School of Dance in West Lawn, PA.
She went on to pursue a higher level of education and competitive dance at Center Stage / The Next Step Dance Studio in Birdsboro, PA. She studied many forms of dance including ballet, pointe, jazz, lyrical, tap, and hip hop. During her time there, she was part of company for ballet, tap, and jazz. She competed in group routines as well as solo performances earning top scores in multiple disciplines.
She furthered her dance studies by attending many conventions and learning from top choreographers at The Pulse, NYCDA, and Monsters of Hip Hop to name a few.
She had the opportunity to dance for the Reading Raptors semi professional football team and the Reading Express Steam Team Dance Team, both in Reading, PA. She was also chosen as 1 of 12 out of hundreds to perform in the Ronald McDonald Extreme Dance Challenge out of Philadelphia, PA.
She went on to dance for Penn State University, Berks in Reading PA where she was president and choreographed routines for 2 years.
Throughout her dance career, I often assisted and taught primarily beginner level / younger aged classes.
She continued dancing and taking classes in her adult life at Dance Fusion Performing Arts Studio in the Lehigh Valley, PA.
She has a degree from Penn State University in Kinesiology with a minor in Business. She is the Wellness Coordinator and Front End Manager at Family Pharmacy in Aiken, SC.
Ashley moved from PA in 2021 to Aiken, SC with her boyfriend, dog, and cat to be closer to family and warm weather!
Website & Social Media Manager
Katie Miller started her journey with BDS as a supportive mom to her 3 daughters, all of whom have been involved in the studio. She is the Library Director at Aiken Technical College and has been a Girl Scout Troop leader in Aiken for many years.
She is currently our Website and Social Media manager. Over the years, she has developed her photography skills to lead her into the professional photography world. She is currently owner of KT Photography and her work can be seen on hundreds of Facebook pages and just as many home mantles and walls. Our parents look forward to seeing how she captures amazing moments of dancers on the stage and in the studio.
She is married to Neil (USCA professor) and they have 3 daughters - Abby, Caroline, and Sammi.