Melody began her dance training with Jane Whitsett at the age of 12 in Joplin, Missouri as an attempt to civilize and make a lady of her. She graduated from the University of Missouri at Columbia with a BGS in Dance, Music, Art, and Drama for the Exceptional Child. She planned to work in the juvenile detention system, but budget cuts left her with only one option, graduate school. Melody attended graduate school in dance at the University of NC at Greensboro. She is the artistic director of Studio A Dancers a children’s performing group. Melody has performed with Missouri Dancers, the Chapel Hill Ballet Company, Carolina Dancers, Whirlwind Jazz Dancers, and Studio A Dancers. She designs and produces costumes and art to wear for idres. Melody continues her dance training and exploration with yearly jaunts to the Bates Dance Festival where she keeps in touch with what it feels like to be a student.
Stephanie Markunas: A Chapel Hill native, Stephanie grew up dancing at Dancentre under the instruction of Melody Eggen and Mary Norkus. During her time at the studio she participated vigorously in the jazz and contemporary program, headed by Eggen, and was a long-time member of the audition group Studio A dancers. She studied several summers at the Bate’s Dance Festival in Lewiston, Maine under the instruction of a diverse selection of talented dancers. After leaving Dancentre, Stephanie continued to keep dance in her life. Participating in various workshops and classes in the area, she returned to the studio to teach others in the same environment that she was once nurtured. She has now been teaching Hip Hop and Fundamental Contemporary Technique, while actively offering her help with choreography and support for the studio’s audition company for five years. Recently Stephanie graduated from DTCC with an Associate in Arts degree, and is now moving forward to attend UNC-Chapel Hill this coming fall in order to pursue her Bachelor’s in International Studies and Spanish. Dance has remained an expressive and passionate outlet for Stephanie her entire life and she is delighted to pass her love of dance along to the younger generations and help contribute to the new Studio A Dance and Performing Arts school.
JESSI KNIGHT WALKER
Jessi Knight Walker is a dancer, teacher and choreographer from Pittsboro, N.C., She began her training at Dancentre in Chapel Hill N.C. under the instruction and mentorship of Mary Norkus and Melody Eggen. As an undergraduate at Duke University, she pursued a self-designed dance degree with an emphasis in music and education. While at Duke, she studied and performed with various Duke faculty members, Duke’s Modern and African Repertory Ensembles, and with guest artists Billy Siegenfeld of Jump Rhythm Jazz Project and Ron K. Brown of Evidence. Since graduation in 2004, Jessi’s passion for dance has led her to pursue a life full of teaching, choreographing and performing. Having spent the last four years as a professional dancer with the Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble, Jessi make her homecoming inspired to share all that she has discovered so far.