Laura Almond

A teacher at heart, Laura is always excited to share her love of dance with students of all ages. She is certified in Waltz, Tango, Foxtrot, East Coast Swing, International Latin dances including Jive, and Gymnastics Safety and Tumbling. Laura has also trained extensively in Jazz, Tap and Musical Theater. She is the production manager and choreographer for The Talent Company in Albemarle. Laura has also been involved with Stanly County Dancing with the Stars since 2012 as a producer and/or choreographer.

Valencia Williams

Valencia Williams began her training at Albemarle Academy of Dance at the age of four years old, where she was a member of The City Youth Ballet and The Showoffs performance company. At the age of 13, Valencia was accepted into Joffrey Ballet School, in New York City, where she focused in the jazz and contemporary programs. After graduating high school, she pursued her dance career even further, getting accepted in The Ailey School (also known as Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater), also located in New York City. She continued to study here for three years, within the certificate program. Outside of dance Valencia enjoys spending time with her daughter and family.

Hillary McSwain

Mrs. Hillary has been with the studio since 2007. She is our office manager, and is the person behind the emails, texts, and phone calls. She’s a self-proclaimed professional dancer, with no formal training, but lots of sweet moves. Hillary brings her fabulous attention to detail, and organization expertise to everything she does for AAD to help keep us running smoothly.

Devonna Morgan

Mrs. Devonna is married to Tony, and is a mom to Hayden. She is originally from Johnson City, TN, where she danced, was in choir & theatre in high school, and played the saxophone. Along with being our office assistant, Devonna is in charge of costume altertions and is the costume mistress for City Youth Ballet. Devonna’s grandmother taught her to sew at a young age, and she still reaches out to her for her opinions and advice. She attended Lees-McRae College, and sits on the board for Uwharrie Youth Arts, and is Vice Chair of the Stanly County Arts Council. Devonna enjoys being with all the dancers, and loves seeing them grow from tiny dancers to amazing young adults.

Courtney Holbrooks

Courtney Holbrooks began her dance training at the age of three from Albemarle Academy of Dance. It was there where she trained for fifteen years until her high school graduation in 2019. In 2018, she attended UNC School of the Art's Contemporary Summer Dance Intensive where she was accepted to the year-round program. Courtney now has a BFA in Contemporary Dance and a minor in Arts Entrepreneurship since graduation in May of 2023. It was during her studies here that she learned from profound artists, Sean Sullivan, Brenda Daniels, Trish Casey, Ming-Lung Yang, Abby Yager, Ashley Lindsey, and Kira Blazek Ziaii. Courtney has performed works such as “Missa Brevis” by José Limón, “MO” by Trisha Brown and other works by Igal Perry, Shen-Wei, Gaspard Louis, and Mariana Oliveira. In the summer of 2022, she learned from Micaela Taylor, Maleek Washington, and Imre Van Opstal at BODYTRAFFIC’s professional summer program and Jacob Jonas the Company at Perry-Mansfield’s professional summer intensive.

Courtney is certified in Yoga & Ayurveda Center’s 200 Hour Yoga teacher training. She fell in love with the art of yoga in 2020 during the COVID-19 lockdown and has since applied these lessons to her current studies. She also has an interest in arts administration after serving as the head of the fundraising committee for UNCSA’s The Pluck Project and as ADF’s Program & Administration Intern. While at ADF, she produced two student concerts including ADF’s first student film showing. Dance on film is another interest of Courtney’s. Her most recent film Isolate has been selected in LadyFest Charlotte and ADF’s Movies by Movers.

Courtney’s goal is to join a contemporary dance company and continue her learnings by working with as many choreographers with as many different backgrounds as possible. Her long-term goal is to spread her love of contemporary dance in her home state, North Carolina by creating more opportunities to create, perform, and share work.

Julie Hefley

Ms. Julie is an instructor for AAD's young ballet, tap, tumbling and  hip hop classes.  Julie began her dance training at age three at Murphy School of Dance, in Western North Carolina where she continued her training for fifteen years. After completing teacher training and an internship, she went on to teach all ages in a variety of dance styles before moving to Stanly county.  Julie loves the feeling of individuality, freedom, and confidence that dance gives and loves watching her students discover the joy of dance.  In addition to dance, Julie studied criminal justice and as an emergency medical technician. Ms. Julie loves spending time with her daughter, Arabella, as well as gardening and fishing.  

Edmund Roush

Mr. Edmund teaches theatre and voice classes at AAD. Edmund began his performing career at age twelve, performing in the Lost Colony outdoor drama. Edmund obtained his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in theatre as well as a minor in dance from East Carolina University. Edmund has performed all over the East Coast. He was a principal dancer with the Columbia City Ballet. His was a principal performer in 'Horn in the West' and has performed and taught for Charlotte Children's Theatre.  Edmund is a member of the stage hands union and has been a technician for several traveling broadway productions. Edmund is married to Leigh Roush and they have two sons, Jonas and Gabriel.

Meet Our Staff

Leigh Roush

Leigh Johnson Roush is the artistic director and owner of the studio and teaches all ages & ability levels. Leigh began studying dance at a very young age, and has trained under such renowned instructors as Edward Villela, Marcus Alford,  Kathryn Horne, Melissa Hayden, and Duncan Noble. She has studied at the North Carolina School of the Arts, Wake Forest University and Eckerd College and was a principal with the contemporary ballet company 'Dance Innovations' in St. Petersburg, Fl. Leigh is certified with high honors in classical ballet and modern dance by  Dance Educators of America and a certified instructor of Progressing Ballet Technique.  Leigh has been the director of AAD since 1990, and the artistic director of the City Youth Ballet, since 1998. Her students have been accepted to study with the School of American Ballet, Boston Ballet, Houston Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Washington Ballet, Atlanta Ballet, and  numerous others. Other students have continued their dance training on the college level at such schools as New York University, UNCSA, Pace University, East Carolina University, The School in London, Virginia Commonwealth, University of Cincinnati, and Yale University.  Her students are performing professionally  throughout the U.S., on Broadway, on cruise ships, and teaching internationally. Leigh has been honored with numerous awards for her choreography, staging and technical training. She has judged and taught master classes for several dance competitions and companies throughout the United States. Leigh has two grown sons, Jonas (actor) and Gabriel (ballet dancer) and enjoys traveling and watching her (dance) kids perform.