Dance Teacher Biographies

        The instructors you'll read about below are the heroes of our dance department. They create a fantastic experience for hundreds of dancers each year. I'm privileged to work with and continually inspired by the wonderful people who choose to share their passion for creativity, excellence in motion and having fun while growing and learning at the Pavilion in Mountlake Terrace.
Take a look and you might learn something new about your favorite teacher.                         - Chloe Davenport

Chloe Davenport

Chloe E Davenport
Program Director


Ms. Davenport has been teaching Ballet, Modern/Contemporary Dance, and Creative Dance abroad and in the US since 1994. Her love of dance started at age 3 when her mother took her to see the Boston Ballet and she sat on the edge of her seat for the duration of the performance. She immediately started dance lessons and loved to ‘be a butterfly’.

Her first serious training began at age 7 while her family was stationed with the Air Force in Japan. The unforgettable two year experience of taking ballet class where only Japanese was spoken, taught her that dance is it's own language and is for everybody. After moving to Southern California she studied Ballet and Jazz at the Phyllis Cyr Dance Academy, dancing in all of their nutcrackers, recitals and performing groups. She went on to receive a BA in Dance from UC Santa Barbara focusing on Modern Dance, Improvisation, Composition and Ballet.

Directly out of college, her wanderlust landed her in Dortmund Germany where she began teaching dance to children and adults. In this she found her calling and sought out a second dance degree focused on instruction. The Rotterdam Dance Academy in the Netherlands, after two years of study, awarded her a Modern Dance Docent/Teachers Certificate in 1999.  This education included curriculum planning for Ballet, Modern Dance, Creative Dance and Improvisation classes supported by child development, as well as rigorous physical training in many dance techniques including Martha Graham and Merce Cunningham Modern Dance styles.

Since returning to the states in 1999, she has taught throughout the greater Seattle area including Spectrum Dance, Allegro Performing Arts School, 9th Ave School of Dance and many Seattle Community Centers. She has been directing the dance program here at MLT since June 2011. Under Ms. Davenport’s guidance, the participants and highly trained staff, create a supportive, inclusive and performance ready dance community. 

Catherine Abaya

Salsa & Ballroom Dance

Catherine Abaya

Ms. Abaya, brings 20 years of teaching experience to her students. She has achieved national and international recognition as a ballroom champion; teaching, competing, and performing, locally and abroad. Catherine is a United States American Rhythm Rising Star Finalists and United States Open Semi-finalists. At the pinnacle of her performance career, she was ranked 7th in the United States.

She is dedicated to bringing Mountlake Terrace some of the best dance instruction in the business.

Lauren Carroll​
Irish Step Dance

Lauren Carroll

​​Lauren began Irish step dancing at the age of seven at the Haran School of Irish Dance in Spokane, WA. Within this school, she excelled in competition and became a champion-level dancer, but she really loved the performance side of the dance performing countless times with band An Dóchas. Her passion for Irish dancing and the performative side of the dance took her to Limerick, Ireland, where she received a BA in Irish Music and Dance from the University of Limerick.

While attending the University of Limerick, she competed with the Fleming-Ball Irish Dance Academy, won a Munster (a western region in Ireland) medal, and competed at two World Championships: London (2014) and Montréal (2015). Apart from competition, in university, she worked on the artistic and creative side of Irish dancing while studying other dance forms such as Cape Briton, ballet, sean nós, and aerial dance.

​ During her third year of university, Lauren took a three day long exam to become a registered Irish dance teacher with world-wide organization, An Coimisíun le Rincí Gaelacha, and passed. She was the only student in her degree to pass the exam during university. She is now a registered TCRG (Teagascóir Choimisiúin le Rinci Gaelacha). In her classes, she conveys her passion and love of the historic and energetic dance form, while teaching the technical, traditional, and artistic sides of Irish dancing.

Jennifer Haywood
​Creative Dance Summer Camps

Jennifer Haywood
Jennifer is a 200 hour certified practitioner of Kripula Yoga registered with Yoga alliance and teaches yoga to adults and children. Her training has focused on adapting practices for student of all abilities. She has been teaching yoga to adults since 2008 and yoga and movement to children since 2001.

She received her BA in dance from WWU, and her MA in Counseling / Psychology from Lesley College. She has taught all kinds of dance to students from ages 3-17 throughout the Seattle area, and at MLT since 2005.

Jennifer keeps her performing chops up to speed with MoDanCo, a modern dance choreographic collective. She was a presenter at Dance Educators Association of WA in 2009 and 2013. Jennifer and Dena Lee co-directed eNegri!, a youth performance group in 2010 and their latest collaboration was Loss in Found in 2015, honoring lost relationships.

Jennifer enjoys fostering joy and ease in movement and creative self-expression in others.

Kathryn Hightower
​Tap, Ballet, Jazz

Kathryn Hightower
Kathryn Hightower was born to dance! She started training in Ballet and Tap at the age of four, and has expanded into Jazz, Modern/Contemporary, West African, Hawaiian Hula, Salsa and most recently, Croatian Folkdance. She holds a BA in Dance from the University of Washington, with a dance teaching endorsement. She recently finished her second year of the naturopathic medicine doctorial program at Bastyr University, where she hopes to combine her love of dance, health and creativity into a holistic healing practice.

Joan Kashauer
​Tap for Seniors

Joan Kashauer
Joan received her Bachelor of Arts in Dance, Kinesiology and Deaf Studies from California State University at Northridge in 2004. Ms. Kashauer has been teaching various methods of dance for over 25 years including Classical Ballet, Tap, Jazz, Dance Pedagogy and Creative Movement for children. Her unique back ground gives her the knowledge and ability to also teach Special Needs children and adults aquatic and land therapy. Joan also utilizes music, literature, puppets, and of course, movement to enrich children’s lives throughout their life’s journey by giving them permission to live in the moment.

Maria Keovija​
Tap/Ballet, Ballet, East Coast Swing

Maria Kesovija
“Dance is my first love!”
Maria began her dance career at Mountlake Terrace Pavilion at the age of three, fell in love with dance, and has been dancing since! Her dance background is broad; however she’s devoted to her Croatian folklore. Maria began in Vela Luka’s children’s ensemble in 1975, when the ensemble was founded, and was appointed Artistic Director in 1998. She has taken the company on tour to Croatia three times and hopes to dance in the homeland again soon. 

Maria Plancich Kesovija’s dance resume includes: Ballet Scholarship, New York, 1984; Guest Dancer and Vocalist with LADO Croatian National Folklore Ensemble, Zagreb Croatia, 1991, 1992, 1993; Ballroom Dance Instructor at Arthur Murray School of Dance, 1996-1998; Various Performances with Seattle Opera; Croatian Folkdance & Voice instructor all over the West Coast. 

Maria enjoys choreographing, from waltz, foxtrot and swing to ballet. She creates both ensemble and solo pieces for local performance groups. She has trained in many ballet schools over the years including Olympic Ballet and PNB and continues to take classes, most recently at Exit Space School of Dance. 

Maria’s pleased that her daughter, Marija, began taking classes with Ms Chloe at age 3 in 2013 and has been dedicating herself to dance ever since. The family tradition continues!

Wendy Kostecka​
Jazz, Lyrical, Flamenco, Creative Dance, Ballet

Wendy Kostecka

Ms. Kostecka, a Seattle native, began dancing at the age of 5. She has studied a wide variety of dance genres such as Ballet, Pointe, Lyrical, Musical Theater, Character, Contemporary, Flamenco, Latin, Tap, Jazz, Hip Hop, Salsa, Tango, Afro-Caribbean, Puerto-Rican Dance, Ballroom, Baroque, Improvisation and Swing. She has performed in numerous production at the 5th Avenue Theater, as movie extras and in music videos, as well as other productions through the Seattle Area. She has studied singing and acting to support her passion in Musical Theater and Character.

​Wendy graduated from the University of Washington with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Dance in 1995 and took her internship at Pacific Northwest Ballet in Seattle. She has 15+ years of teaching/choreography experience. Wendy Directed Diaz Dance Academy in Kent for 3 years and has taught at numerous studios in both principal and guest teacher positions. She has written and directed musical productions and musical pieces. Wendy’s choreography has been showcased in several productions at the 5th Avenue Theater, throughout Seattle and in music videos. She has also privately trained/coached Miss Sea-fair contestants, Seattle Sea Gal members, commercial and video dancers, gymnasts and stage musicians.

Bengie Santos​
Modern Dance

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​Bengie Santos holds a BFA in Dance from Cornish Institute and MA in Dance and Theatre from Western Washington University. She has been teaching, dancing and choreographing for more than 25 years. She has choreographed numerous musical productions thru the years while teaching her dancers various dance styles and multi-cultural dancing.

As a Modern Dance teacher, she loves exploring all the emotional and artistic expressions of her students and her sense of creativity is endless. Bengie also enjoys teaching and dancing Contemporary, Pop, Jazz, Salsa, Ballroom, Zumba and Cultural Dances. Growing up with family members who were passionately involved in Music, Dance and the Arts inspired Bengie to pursue her artistic career in Dance.

​ Bengie Santos is also a Dance Fitness and Wellness Instructor who helps Active Older Adults maintain a healthy lifestyle thru dancing and exercising. She occasionally teaches pre-schoolers Creative Movement. She motivates and inspires all ages to be active and to be the best they can be.