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.
Kayla Frails joined BDS faculty in 2020 after a performance career that included Disney Cruise, music videos, live performances (including Cochella w/ Beyonce). She was also faculty member of Retter Academy of Dance in Agoura Hills, California.
However, she began her dance career at Burns Dance Studio before the age of 3! She was member of the Performing Company where she training in tap, ballet, jazz, and hip hop. She is now a very sought after choreographer and master class instructor. Her work is seen on many competition stages and her classes are breathtaking! We are very excited to have Kayla back with us on a regular basis.
Caroline Miller 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 is currently a 5th grade teacher at Warrenville Elementary.
Caroline specializes in preschool instruction, but also assists with acro classes 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, competition statistics and photography for the studio.
She is engaged to Nick.
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 10th 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.
Lia has trained with teachers from all of the world at SUNY Purchase, The Hartt School of Fine Arts, and Joffrey Ballet School. Her classical training led to performances with Joffrey II, APAP, and NYPP, in the operas The Merry Widow and Rigoletto, and as “Rosie” in Bye Bye Birdie, and “Graziela” in West Side Story.
She has had a run of shows in Atlantic City and around the country including a Latin review show “Havana After Dark,” a 50’s show “Jukebox Live,” and review show “The Rat Pack.” Lia‘s major choreographic works include an original family musical “Zephyr’s Pond,” original holiday show “Joy To The World,” and in 2014 conceptualized, directed, and choreographed an original show “Holiday Inn!”
Lia has taught master classes in ballet, lyrical, Latin, and jazz across the country for Main Stage Dance Academy, Alvin Ailey, Broadway Dance Center, and Ballet Arts.
She is currently teaching for Columbia County Ballet and is thrilled to be back for her 5th season dancing with Burns Dance Studio. Lia lives in Augusta with her husband, Will and daughter, Avelina.
Stephanie originally from Frederick, Maryland attended Coastal Carolina University earning a Bachelor of Science in Health Promotion in 2011 and Clemson University earning a Master of Science in Youth Development Leadership in 2016 Stephanie has been teaching and choreographing for dance studios up and down the east cost for over 14 years. She has also coached and choreographed for high school varsity and collegiate dance teams as well as for all-star cheerleading programs.
Stephanie holds a personal training certification from the National Academy of Sports Medicine with a Group Personal Training Specialization, a Yoga Specialty from NETA, and specializations in Sport Conditioning and Youth Fitness from the American Council on Exercise. Stephanie currently holds USOC SafeSport and Safety and Risk Management Certifications through USA Gymnastics and is a Level 1 Certified Instructor through AcrobaticArts.
Stephanie moved to in Aiken, SC in 2015 with her husband Keith. They have a daughter Addilyn a
son, Barrett and a American Staffordshire Terrier named Watson.
Besides teaching dance Stephanie is also the Kinesiology Instructor at SAIL-School for Arts Infused Learning in Evans, GA, a Personal Trainer at Unrivaled Fitness in Aiken and travels nationwide working with Platinum National Dance Competition. In their free time Stephanie and her family enjoy spending time outdoors, attending various sporting events, and visiting their families in Myrtle Beach, SC.
Burns Dance Studio is excited to welcome Tatum Hanna to our staff. 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. Look for her assisting Ms. Rhoda and Ms. Caroline in our STARS program and teaching jazz.
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.