Kirsten started dancing at the age of five under the training of Linda Walker at Tucson Regional Ballet. She trained in ballet and tap for the first few years and then added jazz classes. As a teenager, she sampled other styles of dance, spending time each summer at intense weeklong workshops.
Kirsten started teaching at the age of 15 when she ran her first summer dance camp. When she was 17 she suffered a back injury that stopped her dance career and plans of studying dance in college. It was then that she decided that she could still share her love of dance by becoming a dance teacher and eventually a studio owner.
Kirsten worked at three different studios in Arizona and Texas before opening her own studio for the first time in 2015. After taking a break to have two children and working full-time at the school, Kirsten re-opened her own studio and put on a few amazing recitals for a few years before she joined the Legacy Performing Arts staff in 2019.Legacy was very successful in Benson for two years and then moved to Willcox as Legend Dance Studio. Kirsten was a ballet, tap and technique instructor for Legacy/Legend and was the assistant company director for two years.
Kirsten re-opened Spotlight Studio in Benson in July 2022, and at the recital in May 2023 she had 50 enrolled students! Her studio includes a small competition team; many of the dances that Kirsten choreographed have won awards at competitions across the state and even at a national dance competition in Las Vegas.
Cumulatively, Kirsten has been in the dance industry for 28 years, and has been teaching for 17 years. She is thankful for all of her mentors and previous employers that taught her and helped her grow into the instructor that she is today.
Kirsten is excited to be expanding Spotlight Studio to offer different styles of dance including Hip-Hop and Acro, as well as adding a kids fitness class! She wants all children to feel welcome at the studio and find something there that they love!
“Do what you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.”
Ashley grew up in southern New Mexico where she started gymnastics at the age of 5. She was a competitive gymnast until high school, winning the level 5 all-around state title and many other awards. During high school she transitioned from competitive gymnast to a coach, coaching all levels from mommy and me to the competitive girls’ team. She was also a member of her High School cheerleading squad, which won the NM Small Co-Ed Cheerleading Championships and competed at the NCA High School Nationals cheerleading competition. After high school, she attended New Mexico State University where she was a member of the New Mexico State University All-Girls Cheerleading squad. She moved to Arizona and began teaching gymnastics at Encore Dance Academy in 2014. She has continued to teach gymnastics, Acro, and tumbling classes as needed since then. She was the Acro Director for the Legend Competition team for the 2021-2022 season.
Ashley is a registered instructor and member of USA Gymnastics, which includes being Safe Sport Trained. When Ashley is not teaching gymnastics, she works as an Assistant Professor at New Mexico State University and Angelina College. She has a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Science in Civil Engineering. Ashley and her husband live in San Simon with their 4 children.
Ashley is excited to share her love of gymnastics and Acro with her Spotlight Studio students!
Anja is originally from Tucson, Arizona. She started her dance journey at Dance Force-1 when she was 3 years old and competed until the age of 18. As a company member, she performed in local events, put on recitals and traveled to other states to compete. In 2020, she was invited to a National Dance Competition in Galveston, Texas.
As a competitive dancer, Anja was trained in every style of dance from ballet to hip hop. Her focus here at Spotlight Studio is teaching lyrical and working on conditioning & stretching with our older dancers. This will be Anja's second year teaching for Spotlight Studio, and she is really looking forward to continuing to educate students. She can't wait to work with our strong returning dancers and welcome new friends joining us this season!
Josh is a Benson local who has taught fitness classes in our community for over 8 years. He holds a certificate in Fitness Professions from Pima Community College and is a certified personal trainer. Josh has trained several San Pedro Valley athletes and enjoys working all ages. He has coached different sports throughout the years and look forward to building a love for fun fitness for all kids!