ABOUT US


Makers Ekklesia Dance Co. was founded in 2018 with a vision to give dancers in Knoxville, TN an encouraging, loving and educational dance studio. We believe in practicing excellence in our craft as well as practicing dance as an expression of worship. God created each of us with unique giftings, and at Makers we love that we get to use dance as a means of expression. 

Makers was established so that all could have a place to be free, create and worship in movement. We are passionate about using dance to glorify God and show his love to others.

The Origin of Our Name

Ekklesia is a Greek term used in the New Testament of the Bible often to describe the church, or “the called out ones.” We have been called out by our Maker to follow Him and make Him known. We were made in the Maker’s image as well. Thus, we were created to create! We are His Ekklesia, sent out into the world to create. We are the Makers as well as the Maker’s. 

who we are

AFFILIATIONS

All of our classes are based in technique and love. We are proud to be a part of the More Than Just Great Dancing network!

Additionally, in a an industry without any regulations or standards, Makers is YPAD certified. YPAD is the nation’s only dance certification program focusing on both safety and wellness for dance students. To earn the designation, studios must complete two training tracks. The first track centers on dance safety and educational best practices. It focuses on background checks, CPR and First Aid, abuse awareness and prevention, injury prevention and response, and safety and emergency preparedness. The second focuses on the wellness and development of youth dancers and covers social media, social media safety, today’s dance culture, developmentally appropriate artistry, body image, nutrition, disordered eating, bullying, and conflict resolution.

LAUREN BERRY  |   ASSISTANT DIRECTOR, INSTRUCTOR, BALLET program Director

JENNIFER BLESSING   |   OWNER, INSTRUCTOR

meet our

Instructors

Our founder, Jennifer Blessing, started dancing in 1995 and has been teaching for over 20 years! She has studied ballet, tap, jazz, pointe, contemporary and modern in her dance career while dancing in a company throughout her time in high school. She went on to dance in college and direct Company AbunDance, dance in Chara Dance Company, Talitha Dance Company and served as the Artistic Director for the Knoxville Dance Project after moving to TN in 2012. She is a wife and mother to two daughters. 

Lauren Berry has studied danced for 20 years. She has lived and danced in Knoxville her whole life. She has studied Ballet, Jazz, tap, modern, lyrical, contemporary and hip-hop. Lauren was a member of the Tennessee Children’s Dance Ensemble when she was 10 years old, and through that opportunity was able to work with many choreographers such as Randy Duncan and others from New York and Chicago. Dance has shaped her into who she is today and has taught her many life skills. She is excited to share the love and passion of dance with you and give you a space to create, express and grow in your love of dance. Lauren is currently on staff as the assistant director and ballet program director.

BROOKE COOPER   |   INSTRUCTOR, HIP HOP, JAZZ

EVANGELINE BONIN   |   INSTRUCTOR, BALLET

Born and raised in Belgium as a missionary kid, Evangeline began dancing at 13 years old and immediately knew it was something God wanted her to pursue. During her time at Oral Roberts University, she received extensive training in ballet, modern, pedagogy, improv, and choreography. Evangeline danced with Instruments Ballet Company in Oregon for three years before moving to Tennessee in 2021 to join Enoch Contemporary Ballet for their inaugural season. She is currently beginning her 3rd season with Enoch Contemporary Ballet where she serves as the Assistant Artistic Director. Evangeline is passionate about using dance as a ministry on a professional level.

Brooke Cooper has been dancing for 13 years and has loved every second of it. Growing up dancing with her two sisters, she was taught from an early age to use dance as a way to express herself. Brooke grew up training at Histown Dance, a Christian dance studio in Franklin, TN, where she studied ballet, pointe, hip-hop, jazz, contemporary, modern, tap, and musical theater and taught dancers of all ages for 4 years. At Histown, she was part of their Senior Company and was able to perform at many events, including festivals and performances around Nashville. But her favorite aspect of Senior Company was being able to minister not only to the girls she danced with, but to the 

younger students, which inspired her to begin teaching her own classes. One of Brooke’s favorite parts about dancing is using it to bring glory to God and worship Him. She is so excited to attend the University of Tennessee this fall, and can’t wait to meet all the dancers at Makers Ekklesia!

lisa duffin   |   INSTRUCTOR, contemporary

julia jeffress   |   INSTRUCTOR, BALLET

Julia fell in love with dance when she began taking classes at the age of 5. At her home studio in Johnson City, TN, she studied and performed in ballet, pointe, contemporary, and jazz. She especially loved all the time she got to spend with the younger students, first as a teacher’s assistant, and later teaching classes of her own. In addition to teaching at Makers Ekklesia, Julia is also a student at Maryville College working on a major in English. Her favorite thing about dancing is the way it encourages self expression and storytelling, and she is so excited to share her love of this beautiful art form with her students!

Lisa Duffin has been dancing since age 2. From age 2 through high school she danced with Tanner Dance studio and was a member of their Children’s Dance Theater company for 8 years where she had the opportunity to perform in her hometown of Salt Lake City, as well as nationally and internationally. She has studied modern, contemporary and ballet and majored in modern dance for a year at the University of Utah before going on to receive a bachelors in Elementary education. She is excited to be able to combine both her love for dance with her passion for working with children as a dance instructor. She is currently a core member of Knoxville’s Circle Modern dance company.

Bess Trew   |   INSTRUCTOR, contemporary 

ANNA DUFF   |   INSTRUCTOR, TAP

Anna is from Dickson, Tennessee and is currently a senior at the University of Tennessee studying Sociology and French. Growing up, she danced competitively with Miss Amy’s Competitive Edge for over ten years. While dancing there, she was able to travel to various cities around the nation to compete regionally and nationally in Tap, Jazz, Hip Hop, Contemporary, Lyrical, and Musical Theatre! In High school she continued dancing with Miss Amy’s, and was also a part of the Seasons Dance Company at St. Cecilia Academy. As a member of Seasons Dance Company, she was given the opportunity to choreograph and set various pieces for performances. These pieces were recognized with Outstanding Choreography awards, and received an excellence in the Fine arts scholarship! Tap has always been one of her favorite styles of dance. Her competitive dance company placed in the top three at nationals with tap pieces four years in a row. She trained in tap for approximately five hours per week under very talented teachers such as Raven and Jennifer Rickard, Benjamin Blevins, Maria Logan, and Leigh Anne Ervin. Teaching has always been one of her passions, allowing me to share knowledge and experience with others, so she feels truly blessed to be able to spend time doing so with your students each week.

Bess Trew, born in Atlanta, Georgia, received the majority of her dance training at the Baltimore School for the Arts in Maryland and the Tulsa Ballet Center for Dance Education in Oklahoma. In 2015 she moved to Jackson, Mississippi to join Ballet Magnificat’s trainee program and the following year became a member of their touring company under the direction of Jiri Voborsky. From 2016-2019 Bess had the opportunity to travel and perform in seventeen countries, learning to use dance not solely as an art form, but as a tool for ministry. In the fall of 2019 she moved to Portland, Oregon to dance with Instruments Ballet Company under the direction of Rebekah Atkins; in 2020 becoming the Assistant Artist Director and choreographing two original works for the company. In the summer of 2021, Bess moved to East Tennessee to start the Enoch Contemporary Ballet. Since the company's inception, she has had the opportunity to teach, choreograph, and perform throughout the US and Europe

abbi jean howard  |   INSTRUCTOR, BALLET, pointe

Abbi Jean Howard began dancing at three in Wilmington, North Carolina. She continued her training as her family moved to South Carolina and to Virginia and settled in at the School of Richmond Ballet. Senior year, the Lord began moving in her heart to give her dancing back to Him. After graduating high school in 2014, she entered the trainee program with Ballet Magnificat for three years and then was promoted to student apprentice with Ballet Magnificat! Alpha Company. In 2018, the Lord called her to North Carolina to teach at Gafa Studios and Brunswick School of Dance. Abbi Jean then proceeded to Southeast Asia to dance and teach in 2019 before returning back to NC. While spending time in her home state, the Lord began renewing her love of dancing for him and reminded her of the freedom and fulfillment found in Christ alone. Abbi Jean felt the peace of Christ directing her to join Enoch Contemporary Ballet in Tennessee at its formation in 2021. She is looking forward to teaching again and pouring into the students and families at Makers Ekklesia Dance Collective!

christi price  |   INSTRUCTOR, jazz

Christi started dancing as a child and has been teaching and choreographing since 1999. While growing up in Southern California, she trained at studios in Long Beach and was in the advanced dance program at Wilson HS. In college, she went through the dance program at Orange Coast College and was in Dancin etc touring company with Monie Adamson. Christi has an Associate of Arts’s degree in dance, certified in Pilates on all equipment, and dance conditioning. During her time in college, she also taught at local studios and choreographed productions for Melodyland Christian Center. When she wasn’t training at school or teaching, she attended Edge performing arts center and Millennium dance complex. She has danced for Disney, Telemundo, MTV, was on the Kidz Quest movie on TBN and toured in California and South Africa. In 2012 she moved to Frisco, TX where she taught at local Pilates studios, guest taught at dance studios, choreographed for 

churches such as Gateway Church. In Frisco, she had a Pilates studio where she taught her Dancilates program to pre-professional dancers. Some of her students went on to dance professionally and study dance in universities across the United States. Christi and her family have resided in Knoxville since the fall of 2018. She truly believes and has seen throughout her life that when you “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, all things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:33."

Mandy Flemster  |   INSTRUCTOR, HIP HOP

Noelle Vigoroux   |   INSTRUCTOR, ACROBATICS

My name is Noelle Vigouroux, I am 21 years old and I am from Orange County, California! I have been a competitive gymnast as well as an aerial artist and acrobatic performer since I was 7 years old. My love for cirque and performing came from watching a Cirque De Soleil show when I was young and being completely inspired. Ever since then I have been performing and teaching the circus arts. Now I am studying at the University of Tennessee and I am so excited to continue my teaching career with Makers Ekklesia!

Hi there, I’m Miss Mandy! Dance has been my passion since I was a little girl and I have been teaching Hip Hop specifically since 2007. My style is a mix between Street/Freestyle/Krump - I pull from foundations in Jazz, Folk, Pom, Drill, Cheer, Funk and Breakdance. I moved to TN in 2021 from WA State with my husband Josh and our two kids, Kiley and Jakoda. We also have three big dogs, two cats, and a lizard! When I’m not at dance or preparing for dance, I’m usually at the front desk for a salon in town or soccer practices/games for my kids.

Melissa jabaay |   INSTRUCTOR,

lindsey allmon |   INSTRUCTOR, ballet

Lindsay is a wife and homeschooling mom of 2 boys. She has danced and taught dance off and on for over 30 years. Lindsay has a degree in education and a masters degree in instructional leadership. She taught in Knox County Schools for 10 years. While teaching middle school science she also coached middle school dance for 15 years and high school dance team for a few years also. During this time she also started a drama club at the middle school and produced and directed plays and musicals. Lindsay loved working with this age but found a true calling while teaching toddlers and young children and watching them fall in love with dance for the first time. She has been teaching young children for the past 10 years. Lindsay’s passion for music has also led to her involvement with both children’s music and church worship.

Melissa Jabaay is thrilled to be joining Makers Dance this season. Mrs Melissa has been teaching dance for 26 years and teaches multiple dance genres including; Ballet, Tap, Jazz, Acrobatics, Modern, Contemporary and Musical Theatre. Mrs Jabaay has worked professionally as a dancer, singer, actor, choreographer, stage manager, lighting designer, sports commentator, college professor, and stage director. Some of the companies she has had the opportunity to work with, include; Carnival Cruise Lines, Busch Gardens Williamsburg, Eugene Ballet, Ballet West, Minnie Madden Productions, Momentum Dance Collective, Alaska Dance Theatre, University of Alaska Anchorage, Anchorage Classical Ballet Academy, Neil Goldberg's Cirque Productions, Eastern Virginia School of Performing Arts, Miss Alabama Pageant, Alaska Center for the 

Performing Arts, Chamber Ballet Academy, Headliners National Dance Competition, Visionland Theme Park, and Michael Roddy Productions. 

Mrs Melissa is originally from Alabama but moved to Alaska to do Gymnastics for the University of Alaska Anchorage. She received her BA in technical theatre with an emphasis on Theatrical Light Design. While in Alaska she met and married her husband of 24 years and they now have 3 children. Her family moved to Tennessee last year to be closer to her family and she has been warm and smiling ever since she arrived. Mrs Melissa is honored to be a part of Makers Ekklesia Dance this season. It is her hope and desire to bless and encourage each of her students with joy, inspiration and motivation to keep their eyes up and focused on their Heavenly Maker, and to always live and dance for Him.  

Want to join our team?

email info@makersekklesia.com to apply