Dedication. Expertise. Passion.
The Dance Connection is proud to offer an all adult teaching staff in each and every one of our classes. Our amazing staff is eager to help your child fall in love with dance from their very first toddler class to their graduating performance. We would love for your family to be a part of our dance family.
Carol Jackson- Founder
Carol Jackson was the co-owner of The Dance Connection in Canton, Michigan, which she owned and operated with her daughter Melissa, since 1995. Ms. Carol started her studio with 52 children in whom she instilled much more than her love for dance. She had a "hands-on" approach, as as is often the case with dance teachers, she became a mentor and even a second mom to many of the over 500 students that now call The Dance Connection their
home for dance. Ms. Carol was a woman full of compassion for each and every child and family who walk through her doors, and firmly believed that dance was for everyone regardless of their circumstance. In June of 2012 surrounded by her family (which included many of her dancers and their families), she ended her nearly 2-year battle with lung and endocrine cancer. Her legacy is carried on at The Dance Connection by Melissa, her staff, and the many dancers that call The Dance Connection home.
Melissa McParlane- Owner
Melissa started her dance training at the age of 2 under the direction of her Mom, Carol Jackson. She started her professional career at the age of 16 as a performer at Bush Garden’s in Williamsburg, VA in the Das Festhaus show. During her junior and senior year of high school she was accepted into the Broadway Dance Center training program in New York City. After graduation she started her first of many contracts with the Peter Grey Tehrune productions working on
numerous cruise ships sailing the Caribbean, Mediterranean, and Europe. Upon completing her final cruise contract in 2001 Melissa came back home to The Dance Connection where she became the Artistic Director of the competition team. In 2005 Melissa was named co-owner of The Dance Connection with her mom Carol. Melissa assumed full ownership of The Dance Connection in 2012. Her additional performance credits include the Radio City Christmas Spectacular and Walt Disney World’s Kid’s of the Kingdom show. Melissa is certified through the Cecchetti Council of America as a Grade I and II Cecchetti instructor.
Aileen has been dancing since she was 3 years old and has training in ballet, tap, jazz, lyrical and hip hop. As a soloist and company dancer, she has competed and placed at several regional and national competitions. She was a member of her high school pom team for 2 years and was a member of the Mid-American and Universal Dance Association All Star Teams. Aileen was a member of the dance ensemble for the traveling production
of Disney's Pocahontas at the Fox Theater. At the age of seventeen, Aileen began sharing her passion for dance with others by teaching at various studios around the area. She was also a member of the MAPP staff for 2 years. Aileen coached the Salem High School Rockettes for 14 years and led them to many regional and state championships. Her team was nationally ranked each year, with a 3rd place finish in the high kick category. After 21 years in the elementary classroom Aileen made the switch to becoming an Instructional Coach in Wayne-Westland and continues to teach dance at The Dance Connection in Canton.
Emily Zazula- Studio Manager
Emily started taking class at The Dance Connection at the age of six in 1997 and continued through high school graduation in 2008. She has trained in Tap, Jazz, Lyrical, Hip-Hop, Pointe, and Ballet. Emily was a member of the competition team for seven years and loved every minute of it. She has gained experience in the dance room by teaching and substituting. Emily graduated from Eastern Michigan University with a degree in elementary and early
childhood education. Emily has spent the past ten years traveling the country helping to produce dance competitions for children. She currently works for as a Regional Director for EnerGy National Dance Competitions
Camyle began dancing at the age of two right here at The Dance Connection. At 15 she began assisting and substitute teaching and has continued her teaching since then. Camyle is trained in the disciplines of tap, jazz, Cecchetti ballet, pointe, hip hop, and lyrical. Camyle specializes in tap dancing and tap technique and shares her talent with many dancers in the area. She is certified by the Cecchetti Council of America as a Grade I, II,
III, and IV Cecchetti Ballet instructor, and is continuing training towards higher grades. Camyle has her certification for Acrobatic Arts module 1 with special training in back handsprings and aerials. She is also a certified member of Dance Masters of America Great Lakes Region Chapter 46. Camyle is always looking for new ways to grow her dancing and teaching skills.
Aby started dancing at the age of four at The Dance Connection where she danced for 14 years, 10 of which were spent on the competition team. She is trained in ballet, pointe, tap, jazz, hip-hop, and lyrical. She has assisted and substituted for the faculty at The Dance Connection for many years to gain experience in the dance room. Aby graduated from Eastern Michigan University in 2016 with a Bachelors of Science in Communication and Dance
Performance-Choreography. She earned her Masters Degree at Wayne State University in Masters of Teaching Artistry in 2021. Aby is certified through the Cecchetti Council of America as a Grade I, II, III, and IV Cecchetti instructor. Aby recently completed her certification for Acrobatic Arts module 1 with special training in back handsprings and aerials. She continues to take open technique classes, and participates in conventions. Outside of the dance world Aby is a middle and high school substitute teacher and serves as the Executive Director of her local Area Chamber of Commerce!
Sharon has been dancing since the age of five and has training in jazz, tap and ballet. She began teaching at the age of 18 while taking dance classes at Henry Ford college, where she was in the dance company for two years. She received a license in Cosmetology in 1997 and continued teaching dance for several years before coming to The Dance Connection in 2006. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing from Madonna University
and is currently working as a registered nurse and continues to teach dance at The Dance Connection. Dancing is her passion, and has become such a big part of her life. She hopes to continue for many years to come.
Aaron Smith is a passionate performing dance artist, choreographer, and educator. Aaron earned a Master of Fine Arts in Performance and Choreography from the University of Arizona. He also holds a Bachelor of Science in Dance and also served as an adjunct instructor at Wayne State University. As a performer, he danced in principal and featured roles with companies such as Ron De Jesus Dance, Autumn Eckman Dance,
ArtlabJ Contemporary Dance, Squeeze and Release, and Chicago Dance in the Parks. Aaron trained under the guidance of Complexions Contemporary Ballet Artistic Directors Meg Paul, Dwight Rhoden, and Desmond Richardson. Additionally, Aaron has performed in works by renowned choreographers, including Sonya Tayeh, Mandy Moore, Larry Keigwin, Michael Williams, Sam Watson, Nicholas Leichter, and Miguel Perez. As a choreographer, assistant choreographer, and repetiteur, Aaron has restaged classical and contemporary works at collegiate dance schools and institutions nationwide, including Jacksonville University, Virginia Commonwealth University, Oakland University, Northwestern University, Shenandoah University, Washington and Lee University, Ball State University, Visceral Dance Chicago, and Joffrey Academy of Dance.
Notably, Aaron's passion for dance extends to his role as an educator. As an adjunct instructor at the UofA, he had the privilege of teaching jazz and modern dance, for which he was recognized with the 2017 Creative Achievement Award. From 2020-2021, he assumed the position of Artistic Director for Tucson Regional Ballet.
Aaron currently serves as the Program Coordinator for the Complexions Contemporary Ballet Academy Summer Intensives at the University of Southern California and Marymount Manhattan College. Recently, he made the exciting move to the Detroit area, where he looks forward to sharing his vast experience and passion with the students at The Dance Connection.
Kendell was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan and began his dance training at the age of 16 at his local high school, Cass Tech. His senior year he decided to further his training at the collegiate level and auditioned for the Marygrove College Dance Company. Upon acceptance he began his training in Ballet, Modern and Jazz. During his time at Marygrove he has had the opportunity to take classes
from several freelance artists including Levi Marsman, Roger Jeffrey, Meredith Dincolo and Brian Hare. After attending Marygrove for two years, Kendell transferred to Wayne State University and has had the freedom to explore his artistic voice through composition classes offered by the University.