Meet Our Instructors

Kathy Coughlin, Artistic Director

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Director, Kathy Coughlin founded Centerstage Dance Academy and its company (The Centerstage Dancers) in 1991. Her goal is to provide the training that will nurture both the potential artist as well as the dance student who studies for the inherent rewards. Kathy inspires young dancers to dance from their hearts and enjoy the experience along the way. Through her extensive training she has developed a curriculum with up to date techniques and innovative teaching methods. Her students have enjoyed acceptance into the most prestigious dance colleges and dance companies in the United States. She received her formative training from E. Virginia Bowser and subsequently with The Boston School of Ballet, The Joy of Movement Center and Boston State College. She also spends her time in New York studying with various Master Teachers. Kathy received her teaching credentials through The Dance Teachers Club of Boston where she was the recipient of the Carwood Ballet Scholarship. She is an active member of Dance Masters of America and The Dance Teachers Club of Boston where she is now on the Board of Directors serves as the Dance Education Training Program Chair.  The Dance Education Training Program is designed to offer structure and guidance to dancers who have aspirations of becoming dance educators themselves.

Mrs. Coughlin has more than 25 years of teaching experience. She has been a guest teacher throughout the U.S. and Russia and has served as a master teacher for dance organizations and colleges. As an independent, award winning choreographer she has staged a wide variety of musicals and has been commissioned to choreograph routines that have been performed in such places as Moscow, St. Petersburg, Copenhagen, and Disneyworld. She has performed in television, industrials and commercials. She recently choreographed and appeared in (along with The Centerstage Dancers) the video for "First Night 2000" in Boston.

Kathy received her judges credentials from The National Dance Council of America and is also the Treasurer of the Tyngsborough Arts Council. 

Kathy and the Centerstage studio have been featured in two episodes of MTV's MADE.

Allison Barstow

Allison danced has been dancing for 18 years and trained at Dance Images Dance Center and New England Civic Ballet. While a student she has attended multiple competitions and conventions, receiving special awards for her stage presence. After high school she attended Dean College as a dance major and trained with multiple highly respected professors such as Jill Silverman, Bill Evans, Robbie Mulrey, Todd Shanks and Joan Phelps Paladino. She graduated Dean college in 2016 with a degree in the Arts.


Allyson Bird

Allyson has had a passion for dance and the performing arts since the age of 3. She grew up dancing at Centerstage and was trained extensively in ballet, jazz, lyrical, and various style of tap including Leon Collins. She was a member of the Centerstage Dance Company and earned many regional and national titles for performances in competitions.  She was also a class assistant and an assistant teacher during her years at Centerstage and is a graduate of the Dance Education Training program provided by the Dance Teacher’s Club of Boston. 

During her college career, Allyson earned a degree in Public Relations and Marketing at Quinnipiac University. She was also a member of the QU Dance Company in which she both performed and choreographed for.

Upon graduating college, she relocated and began teaching and choreographing for a dance studio along the Shoreline of Connecticut. She taught at this studio and choreographed for their competition dance team for eight years. Allyson is an active member of the Dance Teachers Club of Boston and is a certified acro instructor through Acrobatic Arts.

Mikaela Bradley


Growing up, Mikaela danced at Centerstage Dance Academy and then moved on to study dance at college. She recently graduated from Springfield College in May 2014, with a Bachelors degree in Dance. While at Springfield, she was able to study under many notable choreographers in order to continue her dance education, while learning many valuable teaching skills. Mikaela has been teaching dance since 2009 in both dance studios, and public schools. Trained in tap, ballet, jazz, modern, and contemporary dance, Mikaela is always interested in learning more about these styles while sharing her current knowledge with other dancers.


Melanie Coughlin


Melanie is a versatile performer with an impressive array of talents. She has trained extensively in ballet, tap, jazz, modern, hip-hop, breaking and gymnastics. Combined with her enthusiasm for the art and her positive attitude towards her children, Melanie loves to share her knowledge of dance through teaching. She started dancing at five years old, and her training continued throughout college where she attended the University of New Hampshire. 

During her college career Melanie earned a BA in Business and filled her extra classes with Theatre and Dance courses that ranged from "Theatre and Dance III (Adv Jazz and Tap)" to "Dance Pedagogy" so she could continue to broaden her knowledge of the art. Melanie was also a member of the UNH Dance Team for four years, where she competed at NDA/NCA Regional and National Competitions. Melanie is a graduate of the Dance Education Training Program provided by the Dance Teachers Club of Boston, where she graduated in the top of her class. Melanie is a certified instructor through Acrobatic Arts.

A dancer for more than twenty years, she has earned many regional and national titles for performances and choreography and she continues to takes classes throughout the Boston Area to strengthen her knowledge of the art and to keep fresh ideas flowing into Centerstage.

Brittany Gilchrest


Brittany is a graduate of Dean College School of Dance 2011. She graduated Cum Laude with a Bachelors in Dance and a minor in Psychology. She is trained extensively in ballet, tap, jazz, hip hop, and modern. While at Dean she took classes in choreography, staging and lighting, and pedagogy. Her choreography has been selected to be performed in student choreographed shows at Dean, as well as, showcases. She has also received numerous awards for her choreography in competitions around the New England area. Brittany has also trained for the American Academy of Ballet Performance Awards and Received Golds in 6 levels.

Brittany has been performing through her entire dance career all around the New England area. Brittany continuously takes master classes with teachers at Alvin Ailey Studios and Broadway Dance Center in NYC, other master teachers around the New England area, and guest teachers from all over the country. At Dean she trained in all styles with her focal point being tap. While at Dean she worked and trained with Kelly Peters, a hip-hop choreographer from NYC, along with Nailah Bellinger, Jill Silverman, and Charles Holbrook and many other highly qualified faculty at the school. She has been teaching and working with children, teens, and adults for many years passing on her passion for the art to aspiring dancers. Brittany is an active member of the Dance Teachers Club of Boston and is Acrobatic Arts Certified.

Alyssa Klem


Alyssa is currently attending Northern Essex Community College and will graduate in Spring of 2018 earning her Associates degree in Dance Education. She is also still continuing to dance at a variety of studios continuing her training. She specializes in ballet, jazz, modern, and pointe. Alyssa’s nineteen years of training began at Bedford Dance Center. Alyssa has also done a large amount of auditions and was accepted into Summer Intensives such as Bolshoi Ballet, The Rock School for Dance, Burklyn Ballet Theatre, Nutmeg Conservatory, and much more. Along with her studio training, Alyssa spent almost two years with the Huntsville Ballet Company in Alabama. Alyssa has performed in many productions such as “The Nutcracker Ballet” as Snow Queen, Dew Drop, and Spanish. Also performed in the Royal Ballet version of “Alice in Wonderland” as the Red Queen (Queen of Hearts). Sleeping Beauty as one of the Fairies, and many more. Alyssa really loves and enjoys teaching all ages, and she is excited to start her career. 

Stacey Rancourt


Stacey Rancourt has been a faculty member at Centerstage since 2003, after receiving her BA in Dance and Performance from Roger Williams University. She was awarded the Dance Theatre scholarship her junior year and the "Most Outstanding Achievement in Dance" award upon graduation. Stacey has studied in Boston, Providence, and London, and has been a member of Kelley Donovan and Dancers and Perceptions Contemporary Dance Company, both based in Boston. She became a member of Dance Teachers Club of Boston in 2006, a member of Dance Masters of America in 2008 and is Acrobatic Arts Certified. In 2016 she received a Massachusetts state licensure in dance for all levels pre-k through 12.

Stacey has choreographed "Oklahoma!", "Godspell", and "Little Shop of Horrors" for Roger Williams University and is the resident choreographer at Lakeview Junior High School in Dracut, Ma. Stacey was also a faculty member of Bristol Community College's Theatre and Dance Department in 2008. Other credits include featured dancer in Turtle Lane Playhouse's "George M!", ensemble in ACT's "Spotlight on Broadway", swan/featured dancer and contributing choreographer in Gary Shore’s film adaptation of Swan Lake: "Ode", and featured dancer/Tammy in Gary Shore's original film "Children of Providence": winner of the Best Feature Award at The Rob Knox Film Festival, London (2010).

Alexandra Townsend

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Alexandra Townsend grew up dancing at Centerstage Dance Academy before attending Roger Williams University for college. She graduated in 2017 with a Bachelor of Arts in Dance/Performance and a Bachelor of Science in Economics. Throughout her four years at Roger Williams University she worked closely with numerous professors and guest choreographers including Christina Robson, Sean Curran, Takejiro Ueyama, Fritha Pengelly, Paula Josa Jones, Jenny Rocha, and Heather Ahern. During her freshman year, she performed with the Dance Theatre at Water Fire in Providence, RI. Alexandra also presented choreography in the Roger Williams University's Dance Theatre both her junior and senior year. 

During the fall semester of her junior year at Roger Williams University, she studied dance, choreography, and theater in London working with closely with Katie Lusby, Jorge Crecis, Jean Abreu, and Freddie Opoku-Addaie. 

Alexandra is a certified dance teacher through Dance Teacher's Club of Boston and Acro certified through Acrobatic Arts. She is trained in Modern, Contemporary, Acro, Jazz, Hip Hop, Ballet, Pointe, Tap, and Musical Theater.

Justyn Thoren, M.Ed.


Justyn earned a Masters degree from Harvard University in the Mind, Brain and Education and a BA in Human Development from Rivier College. Her extensive study of psychology, neuroscience and education allows her to fully understand the developing child’s physical, cognitive, and emotional needs.

She received her dance training from the Asami Maki Ballet School in Tokyo, Japan, The Granite State Ballet School in Nashua, New Hampshire and the Boston Ballet School in Boston, Massachusetts. She trained with notables such as Tony Williams, Robert Thomas, Elaine Bauer, Laura Young, James Reardon and Doreen Cafarella. Her exceptional talent was recognized at age 16 with early acceptance to the Julliard School in New York City. Instead she chose to continue her academic studies and then dance professionally as a soloist with the Granite State Ballet Company where she entertained in An American in Paris, Cinderella, Coppelia, The Nutcracker, Peter and the Wolf, and Sleeping Beauty. She also performed as a soloist in Boston’s original Urban Nutcracker, a diverse Nutcracker experience.

Recently, Justyn completed a certificate program in Biblical and Theological Foundations of Dance and Dance Ministry.

Ms. Thoren has been teaching a demanding and focused ballet class for 20 years. During this time, she has guided her students to grow in confidence, strength and beauty as dancers and ultimately, as young women. In addition to teaching at Centerstage, Justyn is a university professor of Human Development and Special Education. 

 Elisabeth Wilson


Originally from Amherst, New Hampshire, Elisabeth received the majority of her dance training from Southern New Hampshire Dance Theater under Patricia Lavoie and Classical Ballet Academy in St. Paul, Minnesota under Andrew and Cheryl Rist. Her classical repertoire includes The Nutcracker, Don Quixote, Le Corsaire, Pas de Quatre, La Bayadere, Giselle, and Swan Lake. She has also performed other contemporary works including those choreographed by George Balanchine, Lisa de Ribere, Gerard Arpino, Jeremy Collins, Lynn Cote, Patricia Lavoie, Douglas Davis, Tauna Hunter, and more. She received the majority of her early performing experience with the Regional Dance America dance festivals where she received several scholarships including the Barbara Weisberger Founders Award for Excellence in a Classical Ballet Performance and an invitation to attend the Craft of Choreography Conference in Seattle, Washington. Elisabeth is a recent graduate of Mercyhurst University in Erie, Pennsylvania where she received Bachelor of Arts degrees in Dance and History. Elisabeth is excited to be joining the faculty of Centerstage Dance Academy for the Fall of 2014.