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About Kristi's Academy of Dance

About Kristi's Academy of DanceKristi’s Academy of Dance and Performing Arts has providing the highest quality dance training in the  area since 1999!

We believe that a personal approach is the key to providing the best dance training. At KAD, we offer classes in ballet, tap, jazz, tumbling and hip-hop for dancers who are beginners, advanced or fall somewhere in-between. Although we are located in Kansas City, KS , we draw students from all over the  metropolitan area, including Bonner Springs,  Mission Hills, Lawrence, Leawood, Lee’s Summit, Liberty, Overland Park, Olathe, Piper,  Raytown, Shawnee and Tonganoxie. 

Faculty & Staff

Here at KAD we pride ourselves in having qualified Head Instructors in each class along with a Student Teacher, known as our VIP’s, and a student demonstrator. This enables us to give individual time and attention to each student. We want to make sure EVERY dancer and tumbler receives quality attention. Quality Instruction is as important to us as it is to you! Our teaching staff combines for over 25 years of dance, tumbling, cheer and teaching experience.

"We want to create more than that great dancers & tumblers…
We want to create great people !!!

We hope you will allow us to become a part of you and your child's life!!"

     Miss Kristi
     Owner/ Artistic Director
     Kristi’s Academy of Dance


Meet Our Awesome Faculty Of Dance And Cheer Educators

Kristi Smith-High - Owner/ Artistic Director

Kristi Smith-High - Owner/ Artistic Director

Mrs. Kristi has been sharing her love for dance with students for over 15 years during which time she has instructed hundreds of dancers, She has been there to guide many of her dancers into successful dance careers, including college programs, teaching positions, choreographers, and work as professional dancers. Kristi believes in the principles of providing KAD dancers with a strong foundation in both technique and performance ability, thereby creating versatile, well trained dancers that are successful in any genre of dance.

Starting at the age of 2 she has trained extensively in ballet, jazz, lyrical, and tap, as well as acrobatics, poms, and cheerleading. Ms Kristi has years of previous experience as a competitive and professional dancer, gymnast and cheerleader, as well as having performed in many stage productions and musicals. Her credits include being a former National All American Cheerleader with both the National and Universal Cheerleading Associations (NCA/UCA) as well as with the Fellowship of Christian Cheerleaders. As she completed her High School years, she was ranked as one of the Top 5 Cheerleaders in the Nation by NCA and Top 3 with FCC. She went on to staff with both the National Cheer and Dance Association and head camps with FCC. Kristi was recruited by a number of college cheer teams and was blessed to start out at MU Cheer under the directions on Ms Suzy Thompson and later transitioned to the University of Kansas, under the direction of Cathy Jarzemkowski, where she cheered for 4 year and served as Captain for two. In 2002, Ms Kristi graduated from the University of Kansas with a minor in Dance and a BSE in Elementary Education. Additionally Ms Kristi has dance and cheered professionally as a member of teams that represented the St Louis Rams, KC Minute Men and Kansas City Wizards.

She attends conventions and workshops through the United States each year to continue her dance education. Ms Kristi has studied and trained with some of the top names in the industry including: Debbie Allen, Frank Hatchett, Gus Giodarno, Steven Boyd, Mia Michaels, Cathy Roe, Bob Rizzo, Finis Jung, Denise Wall, Desiree Robbins and many many more!

Ms Kristi has directed KADs K COMPANY COMPETITION TEAM through eleven successful seasons. As director, her Company has grown to over 50 talented members, and has won many regional and national titles. Her choreography has won numerous regional and national awards, including several top petite and junior choreography awards, and teen and senior top entertainer titles at competitions in the past seasons. Under her direction, the company has traveled to compete and perform around the KC Metropolitan Area, The Liberty Bowl in Memphis, Walt Disney World, Branson, MO and the Wisconsin Dells. The company and its dancers have been invited to dance in New York, Las Vegas, Hollywood, Chicago and more.

In addition Kristi has also successfully implemented the HiFLIGHT ATHELTICS cheerleading program at KAD where the team has won numerous titles and national championships in the last 5 years. The studio also now offers a wonderful drama and music department, featuring piano, a vocal instructor and acting classes. Under her direction, the studio has developed a beautiful annual Nutcracker performance, which over the past 5 years has grown to a cast of over 60 dancers. Each December, KAD has entertained dance lovers from the local and surrounding areas with its charming rendition of a classic holiday favorite.

Kristi prides herself on providing a family-friendly studio environment, and fulfilling dancers’ dreams of performing by ensuring that they receive training from the best teachers the area has to offer. All instructors at KAD are talented, professional dancers who have the ability to inspire excellence from all of their students. She is extremely proud of the place that KAD has become, and strives for an even brighter future for the studio and all of the dancers who call KAD home.

When she’s not in the studio, Ms Kristi can be found judging and choreographing for high schools, colleges and regional and national competitions. Most recently she had the honor of judging for the 2016-2017 KU Cheer Teams. She is also proud to have spent the last couple of years as the choreographer for the Debutante Ball sponsored by the Mu Omega chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority where , as a soror, she is pleased to give back her time and talent.

Ms Kristi is married to Kareem, who can be seen helping around the studio and sharing his time as a conditioning and cheer coach. They’re proud parents to Kaleb who is involved in dance classes and gymnastics classes at the studio. Ms Kristi owes her life success to her AMAZING parents Virgil and Joyce Smith, who are both very involved in the day to day studio operations and studio life. She thanks them for not only providing her with opportunities some only dream of but for instilling both a strong work ethic and a belief in our Lord Jesus Christ that with his help we can do anything we want in life! Ms Kristi’s life verse is Philippians 4:13 – “I can to all things through CHRIST who strengthens me”.


Mrs. Erika – HFA Asst Director, KCO, Pageant Consultant

Mrs. Erika – HFA Asst Director, KCO, Pageant Consultant

Miss Erika began studying dance at the age of 3. In high school she was on the dance team for 3 years, and was twice named Miss High Kick America. She officially began her cheer career when she became a cheerleader for Missouri Western University in 1994. In 1995 she became the Captain of the cheerleading team as a sophomore.

Actively involved in the Pageant World, Erika had the honor of holding the title of Miss Greater Kansas City in 1998. She continued her career by becoming a Kansas City Chiefs Cheerleader later that year. She then moved to Nashville Tennessee, where she joined the Nashville Kats Dance team, as not only a cheerleader, but also a choreographer. She returned home to Kansas City, and immediately found her place at KAD where she started out assisting Miss Kristi with the dance program.

One of the greatest moments in her life was starting HIFLIGHT with Miss Kristi! And has served as assistant director during the programs rise as one of the premier cheer programs in the city. When she’s not at KAD, Erika works as a flight attendant for Southwest Airlines. She has been married to Jonathan for 10 years and is the proud doggie mommy to her 11 year old pomeranian, Princeton.


Mr. Lonnie – Jr Elite and Advanced Tap

Mr. Lonnie – Jr Elite and Advanced Tap

Dancer, Musician, Song Writer… Lonnie has been entertaining since he was in elementary school, learning tap licks, and intricate rhythms from his father, Kansas City hoofer and all around entertainer Smilin’ Jimmy McFadden. Lonnie has made many local and national television appearances including “Incredible Sunday’s” the result of a recommendation from Ben Vareen. He has also performed with some of the biggest names in show business, like Sammy Davis Jr., Tony Orlando and was the featured act with Wayne Newton for over 2 and a half years. Lonnie and his family still reside in the Kansas City area where he can be found performing at the major music venues in the area, as well as teaching the art of “Tap Dancing”. He can’t wait to be part of the “KAD Energy”!


Mrs. Chelsea – Ballet, Contemporary, KCO Assistant

Mrs. Chelsea – Ballet, Contemporary, KCO Assistant

Chelsea earned her BFA in Dance from UMKC in 2008. She danced with Quixotic Fusion as a company member for two years, and is currently in her fourth year as a company member with Kacico Dance. She was born and raised in the Kansas City area and began dancing at age 3! She trained throughout her childhood, performed with her high school dance team and competition dance teams and earned National Dance Champion titles. Chelsea also attended the dance program at Tisch School of the Arts in NYC. Chelsea is married and has a two Children, Chloe and Dexter. She is “so excited to be a faculty member at KAD and can’t wait to work with the girls”!


Mrs. Chelsea – Ballet, Contemporary, KCO Assistant

Ms. Keena – KAD Academy Program Lead Faculty, KCO, HFA Cheer Coach, Hip Hop 

Keena Ford is a past student apprentice and current faculty member. She has danced with Miss. Kristi for 12 years, studying cheer and several dance styles; tap, ballet, jazz, lyrical and many more. Tap would have to be her favorite. 
Keena is currently a sophomore at Johnson County Community College.  She is also a part of the Golden Girl dance team. Keena plans to major in business management with a minor in accounting and social services. She soon plans to pursue a career in the business community. 

If she's not dancing, Keena can be found hanging out at the dance studio, doing homework, and/or hanging out with family and friends. 
Being at the studio for several years, Keena was on KCompany for 10 years and HiFlight for 4. She has competed in several competitions nationally for both dance and cheer. She was awarded high rankings in multiple dances throughout her years.  She was also a part of the Champion Belt winning "Mizdemeanors" her senior year. Along with many championship jackets won through the amazing cheer team! She's always looking for a new, exciting year at the studio. 

Keena loves working at the studio because it feels like "home". She says It's great working with the many children throughout the community. " I love that I can share my passion, but also learn from and with the many students that walk through the K.A.D doors."

Mrs. Laura – Jr Elite and Advanced Ballet, Pointe

Ms. Lacy – GymStarz! Gymnastics Asst Director, HFA Cheer and Tumbling Coach

Lacy Ritzman began her gymnastics career at age 5 under the tutelage of Coach Gerald Carly at Elite Gymnastics. Lacy continued training at Cincinnati Gymnastics Academy under coach Mary Lee Tracy and alongside Olympic gold medalist Amanda Borden. As a level eight gymnast she competed and placed fourth All-Round in the state of Ohio. Actively involved in both dance and cheer throughout her childhood she later found a love for cheerleading and during her High School years, Lacy was a three time NCA All American and as a senior she competed and won the NCA Top Cheerleader Award. After high school Lacy was hired by the the National Cheerleading Association where she traveled across the country coaching both cheer and leadership camps and while cheering at Kansas State University she was recruited by UCA to become a college cheer instructor. Once she completed her time at KSU, Lacy coached cheer squads helping earn bids to National competitions. Lacy's greatest accomplishment was becoming a mother to her now two-year old daughter, Kate. She is excited to share her love of gymnastics and cheerleading and to be a part of the KAD family!


Leah Swank-Miller

Leah Swank-Miller - Acting/Theater

Leah Swank-Miller is a professional actress who has lived and performed in New York City, Maine, Indiana and regional theatres all over the country. In Kansas City she has been seen on stages at New Theatre, Musical Theatre Heritage and The Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre and has also choreographed numerous professional shows. Leah holds a BFA in Musical Theatre from Wichita State University in Wichita, KS. She is the Forensics coach and director of Musical Theatre and Drama at Kansas City Christian Schools. Leah has been singing acting and dancing since a young age and she looks forward to a summer filled with creativity, confidence and fun with all the K.A.D. students.