Down East Dance

Dance Studio 

Hailey Willis
Kinderdance & Ballet Instructor

Hailey was born and raised in the New Bern area and began taking dance lessons at the age of four.  She quickly developed a passion for dance and has dreamed of teaching dance since the age of five.  Hailey joined the Down East Dance family as a freshman in high school and fell in love with the ballet program soon after.  She started assisting with ballet classes her senior year of high school and has continued to train under Ms. Joan and Ms. Wendy while also continuing her dance training taking various dance master classes & workshops.  She has also served as a substitute teacher at Down East Dance.  Hailey has performed both locally and also performances at Disney World.  Hailey is currently a student at ECU and is pursuing a degree in Elementary Education.  She is super excited to live out her dream of being a dance instructor and can’t wait to inspire her students and help them grow!

Jennifer Cook
Tap & Hip Hop Instructor

Jennifer is a native of sunny Florida but has called New Bern home for over 10 years.  From a very young age she developed an appreciation and passion for dance.  Jennifer grew up nurturing her love of dance through a variety of dance styles and technique.  She later taught dance to ages 3-16 at "A Class Act" in North Miami Beach and Hollywood, FL for 4 years where she and her father owned and directed the studio in Hollywood.  There she taught various dance styles and technique to ages 3 through 16. Jennifer is experienced in Tap, Jazz, Hip Hop, Lyrical, Ballet & Pointe.  She earned many awards including precision and Best overall in "Showstoppers".   Ms. Jen's love, passion and personality are infectious!  Jennifer and her husband are the proud parents of two delightful children, Wyatt and Morgan (who is a dancer too!)  She is thrilled to share her passion with our Down East Dance family!




Tabbi Taylor
Jazz, Lyrical, & Hip Hop Instructor

Tabbi Taylor began her love of dance at age three and continued for 15 years until she graduated from New Bern High School.  During her high school years she was on the New Bern High School Drill Team.  She was Dance Captain her Junior and Senior Year, after graduating she continued with the Drill Team as Assistant Coach for the 05-06 season.  Tabbi continued to nurture her passion for dance and went on to study Dance Education at East Carolina University.  While at ECU her professional studies included Stage Management, Creative Dance, as well as technical studies in Ballet, Lyrical, Partnering, Improvisation, Tap, Jazz, Modern and Hip Hop.  She strives to challenge, inspire, and prepare individuals to achieve their dreams through a foundation of dance knowledge, style, and technique.  Tabbi is in her third year of teaching at Down East Dance. 




Kathryn Taylor
Ballet & Pointe Instructor

​Kathryn Taylor is a Lexington, NC native, moving to New Bern in 2010 with her husband Chris, and three children, Sarah, Reid, and Alex.  She began her dance education at age 6 with Sheets Dance Academy and the High Point Ballet.  During high school she began teaching ballet at Sheets, discovering a love for sharing her passion for ballet with youth. She also enjoyed choreographing for Lexington’s Charity League “Candelight” production, and various summer intensives.  Kathryn continued dancing while attending college at East Carolina University, taking classes through ECU’s dance department and at the Greenville Civic Ballet.  She graduated in 2002 with BS’s in both Athletic Training (sports medicine) and Community Health Education, and in 2004 with a Masters in Health Education.  In addition to teaching, Kathryn enjoys the creativity of fashioning her own stories and characters for original ballets including Sheet’s Dance Academy’s 2000 performance of “Masquerade”, and Down East Dance’s May 2016 performance of “The Fairy’s Gift”.  





Joan Taylor
Preschool, Kinderdance, Ballet & Pointe Instructor

Joan Vermilyea Taylor began her ballet instruction at the age of 8 in Fredericksburg, VA under the instruction of Joan Limerick at the Fredericksburg School of Ballet. She continued with Victoria Shiflett of the American Ballet Theatre, and Wilfred Schumann of the New York City Ballet. Under their instruction she trained and enjoyed all aspects of Classical Ballet and Pointe. At age 13 the family moved to Yuma, AZ where Joan began dancing at Dancer’s Workshop. Instructors included Daniel Job, and John Cristofori and Kathleen Sinclair from the San Francisco Ballet. She received her BA in English from Franciscan University of Steubenville in 1990. Joan has been an instructor at Down East Dance since 1991 teaching all levels of Classical Ballet and Pointe.  Joan also served as choreographer for Craven Community College's show choir - Encore! She has resided in New Bern since 1990, is married to John Taylor of New Bern, and is proud mother to Max, Jake and Mimi Taylor.


Wendy Daw
Director & Instructor

Wendy is a native of Burlington, NC, and started teaching at Down East Dance in 1999 and then became Owner/Director in 2001.  She instructs Preschool, Kinderdance, Ballet, Tap, Jazz, Hip Hop and Lyrical classes at Down East Dance. Wendy holds a BS degree in Dance Education from East Carolina University with K-12 certification. While at ECU, Wendy studied modern dance with Pat Pertalion and Patti Weeks, Tap and Jazz with Alan Arnett, Ballet with Joe Carow and Dr. Dawn Clark, performed in various choreography projects, including Dance Theatre, the yearly faculty choreographed spring performance, Madrigal Dinners, and was a member of Wheel Power, a dance performance group for dancers with disabilities. Wendy also studied tap with Gene Medler, director of the nationally-praised NC Youth Tap Ensemble, while at the Burlington Academy of Dance Arts. As a dance educator Wendy spent five years educating through dance at Oaks Road Elementary School in New Bern and also 4 years as dance educator at St. Paul Education Center, also in New Bern. Mrs. Daw has also donated her time in various community dance projects. She was a founding member of the New Bern Dance Ensemble which was the primary dance group for the USO in Jacksonville, NC. As a member of NBDE, Wendy has performed in various shows and had the opportunity to dance aboard the USS Saipan for members of the US Military who were coming home from Iraq. She has also choreographed productions at New Bern Civic Theatre including Kiss Me Kate, The King and I, and Carousel as well as Chicago with the Craven Early College. Mrs. Daw also served as Dance Educator for the Craven Arts Council’s annual Summer Arts Camp. Wendy and her husband Lloyd are the proud parents of their two children, Marina and Dylan.

Kaycee Mas
Lyrical, Hip Hop & Jazz Instructor

Kaycee was born and raised in New York but has recently moved to North Carolina to attend school. She began dancing at the age of 3 with training including Ballet, Pointe, Jazz, Hip Hop, Acro, Tap, Lyrical, Contemporary, and Musical Theater. A natural  performer, at the age of 9 she began sharing her love of dance to audiences around the country. She has since traveled up and down the East Coast for various performances, including Steps On Broadway, Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, the Philidelphia Thanksgiving Day Parade, Six Flags, Sesame Place, and Walt Disney World. She performed on Norwegian Cruise Line during a 13 day cruise of the Hawaiian Islands and performed on the island of Honolulu. She also represented the state of New York at Dance Excellence in California and performed at Disneyland. Kaycee has obtained 3 national titles in her years of dancing and received multiple scholarships and recognitions. Kaycee has also competed and choreographed in the Mrs. North Carolina International Pageant. Kaycee has recently been instructing all types of dance at Dance Studio B in Wilson, NC. 

Though it may seem that Kaycee's life is full of dance, she currently does enjoy volunteering with Colonial Capital Humane Society in New Bern. She enjoys the beach, recording videos, her loveable cattle hound pup, pizza, and her favorite ice cream place: the Cow Cafe in downtown New Bern. Kaycee is excited to share her passion and creativity with Down East Dance Studio!

Shannon Mayhew
Jazz, Boys Hip Hop & Lyrical Instructor





Brooke Dove
Preschool, Kinderdance, Ballet, Tap, Lyrical & Jazz Instructor

Brooke grew up outside of Winston- Salem, NC where she began dancing at age 3. Her passion for teaching began in high school as she assisted instruction at her local dance studio.  Brooke attended East Carolina University where she studied and graduated in 2006 with a BFA in Dance Education.  While in Greenville she also performed with NC Academy of Dance Arts. After graduating, she taught dance and theatre at East Columbus High School in Lake Waccamaw,  NC where she was also the coach of their dance team and co-director of annual musical productions. She also worked at Carolina Performing Arts Academy in Loris SC where she was the choreographer and instructor for the Star Systems Regional Champions in the Teen Tap Duet/Trio division. Brooke relocated to Oak Island where she was the main instructor for On My Toes dance studio and director of Steps of Praise and Performance Team programs.  Brooke brings several years of teaching experience and has taught ages 3 through adult in classes ranging from ballet & pointe, tap, jazz, musical theatre, acro & hip hop to modern & lyrical dance styles.    

Brooke LOVES the beach, all types of music, anything orange, living healthy but still loving chocolate, Wake Forest basketball and ECU football. She is excited to be in her second year at Down East Dance!




Erica Sanderson
Tap, Jazz, Lyrical & Clogging Instructor

Mrs. Erica Parker Sanderson is a graduate of East Carolina University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance Education. During Ms. Erica’s high school years, she was titled “Miss Dance” with the Universal Dance Association of North Carolina, while dancing with New Bern High School’s Drill Team. Ms. Erica is one of the founding members and a former Assistant Coach for New Bern High School’s Terpsichore dance team. Being a member of The Twin River Country Dancer’s, Ms. Erica appeared in many episodes of the Wild Horse Saloon; a country music dance show that aired on the Nashville Network. Ms. Erica was also a member of The Craven Historical Dancers where she studied 18th Century Baroque and 16th Century Renaissance dance under the leadership of Paige Whitley-Baugess at Down East Dance. Ms. Erica currently performs with the world renowned Green Grass Cloggers, which has allowed her the honor and opportunity of performing with the famous Ira Bernstein on several occasions. Ms. Erica has been teaching at Down East Dance since 2006.  She and her husband Jason are the proud parents of Vanessa (super preschool ballerina!) and their little guy Brantley.




Faculty