team

Thea Francesconi

Owner & Dance Instructor

Thea began her journey with dance at the age of 2. She trained with many studios in the surrounding areas in jazz, tap, ballet, pointe, hip hop, contemporary, and acrobats.  Thea began teaching dance at the age of 16 with the desire to bring out each client’s full potential. She was a dance major at the University of Louisiana until 2012. Since then, she has traveled as far as Europe to further her expertise and choreograph in dance. In 2012 Thea competed on  “So You Think You Can Dance” making it to the 4th round of choreography and top 100 of her audition.  With this experience, she was chosen to be featured on many of their commercials as well as the cover of their website. Later that year, she was selected to choreograph and perform for NFL players Roman Harper and Kyres Hebert’s football, cheer, and dance camp where she had the opportunity to work alongside many professional athletes and dancers. Thea is a Certified Teacher with Acrobatic Arts and CLI Studios and is always looking for ways to grow as an instructor. She is now a Certified Personal Trainer and Fitness Nutrition Specialist through NASM. She uses these certifications to help better her knowledge of the human movement system and how it may affect dancers. Thea’s passion for dancing, teaching, and choreographing have been the focal point of her life. She is fun, energetic, and dedicated to teaching children and adults.

BRITTANY RENARD

General Class Instructor

Brittany Renard teaches ballet classes at Thea’s Dance Academy and St. Martin Academy of Fine Arts.  She graduated from St. Martin Academy in 2008 with twelve years of dance. After which, she continued teaching Ballet, Tap, Jazz, Lyrical, and Hip-Hop while studying English at UL Lafayette.  Brittany earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in 2011 and then moved to Southern California where she continued to study English at the University of California, Riverside. Earning a Master of Arts degree in 2013 and completing her Ph.D. coursework in 2015.  Now that she’s returned to Louisiana, Brittany works at South Louisiana Community College as the Assistant Director for Student Engagement.  While she’s a very busy woman, she’s happy to once again fill her spare time with the art of dance.

Jesse Hernandez

Boys Hip-Hop Instructor

Jesse Hernandez is a native from Maurice Louisiana and has been dancing for 24 years. Jesse travels with Universal Dance Association teaching high school and college dance teams routines for their football season. He has also taught dance with a company in London and Rome for their New Year’s Day parades. Jesse was the coach for the Louisiana Ice Gator Gator Girls cheer team for their 2015 hockey season and is currently in his second season with the New Orleans Saintsations. He has had the privilege of being one of the first male cheerleaders in the NFL. Jesse is excited to be a part of the staff at Thea’s Dance Academy and can’t wait to share his love of dance with the next generation of dancers here in South Louisiana! 

Michelle DesOrmeaux Merrill

Primary Instructor

Michelle DesOrmeaux Merrill is a native and lifelong resident of Lafayette. She began her love of movement when she was only 2 years old when she started her first dance class. Michelle was a member of her highschool dance team, the St. Thomas More Sparklers, and was awarded 3 National Titles. She also was a part
of the Ragin Jazz dance team in college. She graduated from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette in Education and taught Pre. K 3 and 1st grade
before returning to a more hands on career in dance and fitness. Michelle continued to dance through college and beyond and was a dance teacher for 13 years at DeLarue Dance Centre. She was awarded the Val Salnikov Scholarship in 2007 and asked to perform in his rendition of Swan Lake in Gulf Port, MS. She has also been a certified fitness instructor for 21 years. She started teaching classes in college and went on to becoming the department head of the Intramural Aerobic Department at UL Lafayette. She has taught fitness at many gyms and studios in Lafayette over the years, is currently teaching at Red’s and she even owned and ran her own studio for 2 years, The Fit Room. She is now a Master Trainer for an international fitness company, POUND® Fitness with the duties of training and certifying new instructors. Michelle has been married to her husband, Robert, for 12 years and they have 5 FUR babies that they enjoy.

Blair Blanchard

Office Manager / Class Instructor

Blair Blanchard graduated from Connections Academy Online School in 2017 as well as Studio 84 School of Dance. She has been dancing for 16 years and assisting for 5. She enjoys working behind the scenes and with students to help further their love for dance.

Chasity Theriot

Class Instructor

Chasity started dancing at the age of 8 and danced for 12 years at Sugar n Spice. She also went on to teach for 1 year at Sugar n Spice. Chasity now works at Quest Pediatric Dentistry, in addition, to teach for TDA. She loves fitness and has a passion for dance that she can’t wait to share with her students!

Alexandra Drouant-Vallejo

Class Instructor

Allie started dancing at the age of 3 at Sugar n Spice and switched to Morgan Street Dance Company after 2 years. She Trained in Ballet, Tap. Jazz, Pointe, Hip Hop, and Pilates for 12 years with Morgan Street Dance Company and also participated in competitions for 4 years. Allie also has experience in teaching Primary and Intermediate Ballet and Jazz students. In addition to attending MSDC, Allie also got extra training for Ballet and Pointe at Lafayette Ballet Theatre. Allie is so excited to get this dance year started with you all!

Hailey Richard

Pre-Primary Class Instructor

Hailey began dancing at the age of 3 and continued to dance for 12 years at Morgan Street Dance Company. She has trained in ballet, tap, jazz, hip hop, and pointe as well as student teaching for 4 years. Hailey graduated in May of 2019 from Comeaux High School and was on Comeaux’s varsity cheer team for her junior and senior year. She is currently enrolled in UL Lafayette, majoring in nursing and is looking forward to spending her spare time sharing her passion for dance with the TDA dancers.

Paige Kelley

Receptionist

Paige Kelley is currently a full time graduate student at ULL. She will be getting her masters degree in Speech Language Pathology and has dance experience of over 10 years. She will be joining our team at the front desk and has over two years of office work experience. She is excited to meet all the new dancers at TDA!