Emily graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of North Florida with her degree in Elementary Education.  In addition to teaching here at Academy of Dance she is also a Kindergarten teacher for Duval County Public Schools

While in Florida, Tess became a Registered Yoga Teacher.  She received her 200 hours training at Yoga Den - Mandarin.  Returning to Episcopal School of Jacksonville, as a choreographer, Tess choreographed several musicals, including Anything Goes and Seussical the Musical, as well as jazz, contemporary, and tap pieces for the Dance Ensemble.  She also studied and performed with Jacksonville Dance Theatre and performed with It Must Have Been Violet Productions.


Tess later moved to Jacksonville, North Carolina were she taught at Dance Theatre of Jacksonville.  She choreographed several musicals including All Shook Up and Little Shop of Horrors.


We are excited to have Tess join us as our teacher in several aspects of dance which include:  Intermediate Ballet, Ballet Extensions and Tap.  Tess is extremely passionate and excited about sharing her love of dance and is very happy to be back in Florida and joining the AOD Family!

Florida where she had the opportunity to perform in parades and shows throughout the resort.  Sarah has taught at several studios and schools in the area, including: Flagler College and St. John's County School District, and has also been on the Board of Directors as well as an Artist in Residence for Braided Light Dance Project.  Ms. Messenger is excited to be joining the staff at Academy of Dance this year as our Pointe and Pre-Pointe teacher.

Sarah Messenger

Sarah began dancing at 8 years old as a compliment to her figure skating.  She began studying Ballet and Jazz with Patricia Hoffman, formerly of the Bolshoi Ballet.  Her love for jazz and contemporary took her to the Colorado Jazz Dance Company to study with Zetta Alderman who performed with the touring company of A Chorus Line.  While at CJDC Sarah had the opportunity to study with world renowned choreographers such as Ben Vereen (Tony Award winning Broadway performer), Sherry Zunker (River North Chicago), Susan-Quinn Williams (University of Arizona), Michael Gorman (Broadway Director/Choreographer), and Mia Michaels (Emmy Award winning Choreographer).  Throughout college, Sarah danced with a local group in Colorado Springs, High Altitude Dance Ensemble.  In 2008 she accepted a position with Walt Disney World Entertainment in Orlando,

Carolyn is a graduate from Flagler College with a degree in English Literature and currently works full time at Publix.  She is so excited to be at the studio where her passion for dance and theatre was born.

various choreographers and companies such as the Muller Company of New York.  Lindsay developed her choreographic interests here and presented original works at various venues including the American College Dance Festival, Jacksonville Art Walk, Florida Alliance for Health Physical Education for Recreation, Dance and Sport, and many collegiate shows.  After graduation Lindsay taught at several local dance schools in Jacksonville and delved into the world of competitive dance earning several top choreography awards.


It was in 2011 when she was invited to move to Pontlevoy, France with the Blacklight Theatre Group, Inc. to work in the school for theatre and dance that she was able to grow into the dancer and teacher she is today.  While in France, Lindsay studied under her greatest mentor, Christina Teague Mann, studying the art of Contemporary dance, Children's Education, and Choreography.  During her stay in France, she performed several times in various festivals and events and taking Master Classes throughout her year abroad.


Upon her return to the U.S., Lindsay became a choreographer and company member with East Coast Ballet, traveling to the Midwest to dance and present original works created by herself and director Mindi Mende.  In addition to her training in Ballet, Pointe, Jazz, Contemporary and Modern, Lindsay received training in West Coast Swing and the Hustle and became an amateur competitive dancer.  She most recently became a professional Ballroom dancer, studying under several World Champion instructors and competing and performing in the Waltz, Tango, Viennese Waltz and Fox Trot.  Her future plans include earning her Masters degree in both Education and Choreography. 


We are happy to have Lindsay return were she started her teaching career here in Jacksonville as our Contemporary, Inter/Adv Jazz, Acrobatic Dance teacher as well as the coach for our Performance V/Elite competition teams.

Lindsay Lynch

Lindsay Lynch began her dance training in Orlando, Florida, training as a classical dancer in Ballet, Pointe and Jazz.  After graduation, she began her teaching career in children's dance focusing on preschool and elementary dance education while pursuing her college degree in Dance Performance and Choreography.  While studying at Valenzia Community College she was privileged to work with the Jose Limon Company and performed multiple times for the American College Dance Festival Association across the country.  While residing in Orlando she became a choreographer for the Wekiva River Players, a musical theatre company specializing in children's choreography.  After receiving her A.A. in Dance Performance she moved to Jacksonville, Florida where she achieved her B.F.A. in Dance from Jacksonville University.  While studying at JU she was able to train with

12276 San Jose Blvd Suite 613, Jacksonville FL 32223 / (904) 880-2275 / academyofdancejax@gmail.com

Carolyn Brennan

Carolyn Brennan assists with our Musical Theatre class as dance instructor and choreographer.  She has always had a passion for Musical Theatre, having been vocally trained from a young age.  She actually started dancing right here at the Academy of Dance when she was only 12 years old.  After graduation she became a teacher for Academy of Dance, starting off teaching our Creative Ages and 5&6 year old classes as well as Musical Theatre.  She briefly concentrated all her efforts towards Musical Theatre, but now is back to teaching our Creative Ages and 5&6 year olds.  Carolyn has choreographed a number of shows such as, "Xanadu Jr.", "A Chorus Line Jr.", "The Real Story of Little Red Riding Hood", "Jump 'n' Jive Juliet", and "Into the Woods".   She is also the choreographer/co-coach for our AOD Thespian Competition Team.

Summer Musical Theatre Dance Camp shows as well as directed several full productions such as "Disney's Alice in Wonderland", "Willy Wonka Jr.", "Annie Jr.", "Xanadu Jr.", "Into the Woods" and many more.  She also started AOD's first Thespian Competition Team, which has gone on to achieve numerous awards.  Mindy brings us all things voice, drama and stage performance in this well rounded program, emphasizing on the "triple threat" of the dance/theatre/voice world.

Mindy Dushane

Mindy Dushane is our Musical Theatre/Vocal Teacher as well as the Office Manager here at Academy of Dance.  She has been a part of music and theatre since the age of six.  Over the years Mindy has performed in numerous show choir concerts and plays at various venues around Florida.  She has been teaching/directing/assisting with Musical Theatre since 2007.  During this time she assisted with voice, staging and set design for the Saint Augustine Community Theatre as well as being the drama and stage director for the North Florida Christian High School Fine Arts Camp. 


Mindy joined Academy of Dance in 2012, and since then has written, co-produced and co-directed many

Emily Cazzolli

Emily Cazzolli has been teaching here at AOD for over six years now with our youngest dancers on up to our Intermediate Jazz and Advanced Hip Hop, as well as being a Choreographer/Coach to our Performance III & IV Competition Teams. 


Emily started her dance career here in Jacksonville, Florida under the direction of Jill Gieger and our own Jacquie Franz.  Emily is a former member of the cheerleading squad for Jacksonville Jaguars, The ROAR.  During her five years tenure on The ROAR, Emily served as a team captain, was selected to represent her squad in the Armed Forces Entertainment tours to Andros Islands, Bahamas, San Juan, Puerto Rico, Tegucigalpa, and Honduras.  She also represented her squad in Mexico City, Mexico doing special appearances for NFL Mexico.

Tess Sturgeon

Tess Sturgeon started her dance training in Jacksonville, FL.  She studied at Episcopal School of Jacksonville and Beth Marks Ballet Arts Centre.  During the summers, she studied at the Broadway Dance Center Summer Intensive.  After graduating she attended the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, PA.  Her contemporary choreography was featured during her spring semester.  She transferred to Oklahoma City University in Oklahoma City, OK where she studied under Jo Rowan.  There she was the lead dancer in the show Shades of LoveAfter her training there, she returned to Florida and received her Associate in Arts Degree from Florida State College at Jacksonville.  While at FSCJ she worked as the Dance Repertory Company Manager and Administrative Director's Assistant.  Her choreography was showcased in the faculty show, two consecutive years.

and classical ballet with Thomas Armor and Judith Newman of the Miami Conservatory.  Jacquie has been trained in the teaching of the Royal Academy of Dance Syllabus of Ballet in addition to being a F.A.P.A. Certified Tap Instructor.


Jacquie and her husband relocated to Jacksonville in September 1997 and was employed as the assistant director at the Nieden-Johnson Academy of Dance in Mandarin.  In August 2001, she acquired the business and became owner/director of what is now called Academy of Dance.  She has also been a guest teacher at the Lavilla School of the Arts.  In addition to running the studio and instructing classes, Jacquie created Dance on Location 20+ years ago.  This program offers instruction at area schools as part of their after school programs.

Jacquie Franz

Jacquie Franz is the Owner/Director of Academy of Dance, located in Jacksonville, Florida.  She began her career as a dance instructor in 1978 at the Dance Center, Inc. in Miami, Florida where she spent 10 years instructing classes in Classical Ballet, Tap, Jazz, Modern and Musical Theatre.  During this time she also was employed by the Dade County Magnet School Program as a Jazz and Tap teacher, choreographer, and consultant.  Following this position, Jacquie was hired by Dance Works of Miami teaching Classical Ballet, Tap, and Jazz.  While there, she directed and produced numerous Musical Theatre Summer Workshops.  She has studied jazz extensively with Karen Finan of The Dance Center in Miami and Frederick Brather, formerly of the Alvin Ailey Dance Co.  She studied modern with Delma IIes, Director of the Momentum Dance Co.

Our Staff