Inspiring Through Dance Since 1976

Happendance School Teachers and Staff

MISSY LILJE ~ Teacher and Happendance Chief Executive Officer

Missy holds a B.F.A. in Dance from the University of Michigan and an M.F.A. in Dance from Arizona State University. Lilje is a recipient of the Earl V Moore Award at U of M, the Hope Hinnemann Fellowship at ASU, and 2 “Thespie” Awards for Best Choreography from the Lansing State Journal. She has toured North America and Europe presenting her research and performing with five professional dance companies: Happendance Velocity, 100th Monkey, Rayn Dance Theater, A. Ludwig Dance Theater and Travesty Dance Group. Her thesis (published in 2008 by ASU Press) is titled, “An Investigation of Self-Sustaining Business Models for Professional Modern Dance” and outlines a three-year study of Happendance and resulted in the creation of a new business model. Since this model was implemented in 2007, Happendance has experienced strong growth of 100% in revenue and audience, despite the economic challenges in the surrounding area.

Missy is a life-long Happendance learner. Her long history includes experience almost every level: Happendance school student and graduate, professional Velocity dancer, Education Exchange teaching artist, Happendance School faculty member, artistic director, and now CEO. She considers herself a product of the Happendance philosophy which promotes self-knowledge and empowerment through dance training of the highest caliber.

DIANE NEWMAN ~ Teacher, Happendance Founder, and Executive Director Emeritus

Diane served as Artistic Director of Velocity, Happendance School Director, and Executive Director. She received the Michigan Dance Educator of the Year Award both in 1981 and 2007. She co-authored Interdisciplinary Learning through Dance: 101 MOVEntures, published by Human Kinetics, 2005. Newman has a 40-year history in dance production and has successfully received numerous grants to support Happendance activities.

PATTY VILLANUEVA ~ Teacher, School Director, Artistic director Happendance Velocity

Patty earner her B.F.A. in Dance at Hope College in Holland, MI, where she was honored with a Distinguished Artist Award. She taught ballet and dance at Black River Public School and at the Holland Area Arts Council. She served as Ballet Mistress for the Holland Area Youth Ballet and danced with Aerial Dance Theater, also serving as the rehearsal assistant. Patty and her family moved to the Lansing area in 1998 and she joined the staff at Happendance. She also taught and performed with the Greater Lansing Ballet under the direction of Barbara Smith, including duties as mistress of the junior company. In 2015, her work, “Darling,” was named one of four finalists form the Michigan Dance Council Maggie Allesee Choreography Award. Currently Patty teaches many levels of ballet at Happendance School and in May 2009 received a Distinguished Service Award for her 10 years of service to Happendance.

KAY DURYEA ~ Teacher

Kay graduated from MSU as an interior design major with a dance minor. She joined Happendance professional company in 1981, where she also became a performing member of the Lecture Demonstration Team from 1982-1999. A seasoned veteran, she was a featured performer in Happendance’s Silver Anniversary concert “25 Alive!” in 2001 and in the 30th year celebration in 2007. Kay also volunteers on the wardrobe committee for Children’s Ballet Theatre, with whom both her daughters dance extensively. She resumed teaching at Happendance School in 2002 and brings a wealth of dance experience to her teaching of beginning ballet levels and creative modern classes.

AMY BROOKS ~ Teacher

Amy Brooks has been a dance teacher in the Lansing area for 25 years. Prior to teaching at Happendance, Amy developed a public school dance program at the Lansing School District's Performing Arts Magnet School (Pleasant View) to bring dance to an urban population of school children, Kindergarten through 8th grade. She taught dance at Pleasant View full-time, producing several performance opportunities for its student body of over 500 children. Through the Lansing School District and the Magnet Schools of America National Conferences, she has had access to professional development opportunities, addressing teaching concepts and curriculum development usually reserved for certified school teachers. Amy started taking dance classes at the age of 4 and has danced in the Greater Lansing area for 39 years. She studied tap and jazz at Lansing Community College where she performed in several "Jazzabout" and "Hot Feet" productions. Amy also danced professionally with Happendance’s To Go Team from 2010-12. Currently, she teaches many levels of group and private lessons in tap and jazz at Happendance School. Amy has been happily married for almost 20 years to her husband Dave; she has three teenage boys --Ben, Bailey, and Blake; and two dogs, Bella and Jazz.


Deanne has been dancing since age 3. During 14 years at Bauer Dance Studio in Holt, she trained in ballet, lyrical, jazz, tap and hip hop. She also started her teaching career there, as an assistant instructor, in 1997. Deanne performed with the Holt High School Varsity Dance Team from 1998-2001, competing at state, regional and national competitions. In 2002, Deanne joined the staff at Synergy Dance Academy in Holt, where she added modern dance training while refining her other dance styles. At Synergy, Deanne served as an instructor, a dancer and choreographer with their Professional Performance Company, and co-directed the Senior Touring Company with Lisa Whiting Dobson. She began studying technique at Happendance School in 2009, and choreographed works for the student company, Happendance 2, in 2010 and 2011. In both of those years she also successfully auditioned as a dancer and choreographer for Community Dance Project. In March of 2011, she was accepted as a member of Happendance professional company, and began performing with the Happendance To Go team for the 2011-12 season. Deanne earned a B.A. in English Literature from MSU in 2007, and is currently pursuing an M.A. in the same field from Central Michigan University. Deanne is a member of the Happendance Board of Directors, which she serves as Secretary, and is the Artists' Representative to the Board.

HEATHER VAUGHN-SOUTHARD ~ Teacher, Director of Health and Education Services

Ms. Southard is a dance educator and movement specialist with extensive experience directing programs in K-12, Higher Education, and Arts-in-Healthcare settings. With the approach of teaching movement as a liberal art and an empathy-based process, she creates dynamic movement experiences that reintegrate the whole person physically, cognitively, and socially-emotionally. She was named a Chris Clark Fellow by the Arts Council of Greater Lansing in support of her researched-based curriculum, Creative Self-Care. She serves on the Project Management Team for the Michigan Arts Education Instruction and Assessment project (MAEIA), authors the blog EducatingDancers, and writes for Dance Advantage.

Heather danced professionally in Chicago, New York, Los Angeles and through-out Michigan and co-founded of the professional company, Underdog Dance Project. She was invited to the Editorial Board of the Journal of Dance Education and is a national conference presenter in the fields of dance, movement education and pedagogy. As Director of Health and Education services, she works with local school districts, hospitals, veteran groups, and social organizations including Sparrow Hospital, Angel House, the Allen Neighborhood Center, and Michigan State University. She holds an MFA in Dance from the University of Michigan, a BFA in Dance from Western Michigan University and received comprehensive pilates training through the McEntire School.

Andi Crawford – Director of Operations.

Andi is the principal of Move It Media, a communications and strategy firm specializing in leading focused collaboration for community development. A long time performer and collaborator with Happendance, she continues to provide strategic direction, development, and operational leadership to Happendance as the Director of Operations. She also coordinates community and organizational development at the neighborhood level for the City of Lansing serving as the Neighborhood Resource Coordinator. These projects overlap within the City of Lansing as Happendance continues to collaborate with other community development and arts organization throughout the City of Lansing in place making and community development systemic arts programming. Previously to returning to her hometown Lansing, MI she served as the Vice President of Health Innovation for the YMCA of Broward County (now the YMCA of South Florida). In that capacity, she leveraged resources to establish and sustain a $1.2 million annual program portfolio providing programs at over 60 community based locations throughout the county. Move It Media continues to provide consulting services in South Florida and currently teams with Urban Health Partnerships and the Broward Regional Health Planning Council to develop and implement the Healthy Community Zones Initiative, a CDC funded place based health initiative.

Andi is an ACE certified personal trainer, Faculty Trainer for YUSA, National T-Trainer for Enhance®Fitness, SPARK Master Trainer, and the author of Gabustle Make my Body Hustle and Assorted Silliness for Natural Born Movers™.

Lisa Whiting Dobson, Technical Manager, Artistic Director: DANCE Lansing and Happendance Impulse

Lisa holds an MA and BA in Telecommunication, BS in Psychology and AA in Dance. She is a full-time faculty member at Michigan State University in the Telecommunications Department. She also teaches at Lansing Community College and produces televised mass for the Diocese of Lansing. Winner of over 70 awards for her work as a director and producer, she is also the most sought-after dance stage manager in the Greater Lansing region. Her backend as a choreographer and dancer, combined with her skill in stage technology, television directing and video production make her uniquely qualified to direct dance productions from every angle.


Danielle is the newest member of Happendance School faculty, received her BFA in modern dance and choreography from the College at Brockport, State University of New York in 2010. She has presented choreography across New England with her pickup company SelbyDance. In addition, she has performed with Libertina Dance Company (Queensbury, NY) and Nacre Dance Company (Albany, NY). Danielle is also an accomplished costumer and has constructed designs for Nacre, Libertina and her own company. Danielle was recently accepted into Happendance Professional Company, where she will be performing in public concerts as well as the outreach “Happendance To Go” team. She has taught a variety of dance styles and will be teaching modern/composition this fall.