Our Directors & Faculty

Cathy De Frances 

Creator & Co-Director

Cathy De Frances is considered a "Teacher of Teachers!"  Many of her past students dance professionally or operate their own dance studios in or around the Baton Rouge area.  She is well known for her children's work and her loving ability to make dance fun for the student at the same time developing them to their fullest potential.  She is also the head ballet mistress.  She was a teacher at St. Aloysius school for 27 years. She was the choreographer for the Tucumcari Mardi Gras Ball for 28 years and has choreographed for the Baton Rouge Symphony and has been a guest teacher for the BRLT.  Catherine is a former gymnast, an AAU champion and a certified gymnastics teacher through DMA. In the 1960's, she was an alternate on the US Olympic Gymnastic Team!  Catherine always strives to bring the best dance education to her students.  Her energy has no limits!  She is married to Jimmy De Frances, has 5 children, 12 grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren!

Gwyn De Frances

Owner & Director of the Baton Rouge Studio

Gwyn De Frances Kilshaw brings her expertise, creativity, passion and sense of humor to the teaching profession.  She began dancing at the age of 7 receiving her training from her mother, Cathy De Frances as well as world renowned teachers in Chicago and Los Angeles.  She taught at St. Aloysius School for 6 years and was the Cheerleader Coordinator for 2 of them.  She performed in the BRLT production of "A Chorus Line, has been a guest teacher and choreographer for other studios in the area and around the country.   She has choreographed and judged for many of the area high school dance teams and has traveled all across the country for 23 years as an experienced adjudicator for dance competitions. She is a member of the Jones Creek Business Association and supports the BR Police and Fire Depts.  Gwyn is married to Gary Kilshaw.

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Angie De Frances Snow

Owner & Director of the Prairieville Studio

Angie De Frances Snow has been trained in Ballet, Tap, Jazz, Modern, Pointe and Contemporary.  At the age of 12, she was the youngest student accepted to the N. Carolina School of the Arts which she attended alone for a summer of intensive training.  She was a St. Joseph Academy cheerleader and a Catholic High Bruinette.  She was selected as an American All Star Dancer for Super Bowl XX1 and a dance ambassador to the Bahamas and NY.  Angie was the 1992 Miss Dance of Dixie and Miss DEA.  She taught at St. Aloysius for 3 years, and was the choreographer of the Parkview "Silver Steppers" for 2 years.  She has been a guest teacher and choreographer for local studios and Southeastern University.  She has judged for the LSU Tiger Girls and local dance teams as well as adjudicating for Dance Competitions on the national level. Angie has won numerous regional and national choreography awards.  She is married to Mike Snow and has 3 children.

Colleen Babin

Office Manager

Colleen Babin comes to De Frances after fulfilling her lifelong dream of owning her own dance studio, Colleen's Studio of Dance Arts for 9 years.  She is the Office Manager of the Prairieville location and the Office Manager for the Dance Force Competition Team.  She brings over 25 years of dance training including intensive training in the competitive arts.  She is excited and overjoyed to be a part of the De Frances family as these three ladies have been her mentors and friends for many years.

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K LeFeaux

Office Manager

K LeFeaux LeBourgeois began dancing with De Frances 28 years ago.  She is the Office Manager of the Coursey Baton Rouge location and loves being a part of the studio!  She was a member of Dance Force her senior year.  K graduated from Southeastern Louisiana University with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing.  She is a registered nurse at Our Lady of Lake on the Pediatric Oncology and Hematology unit.  K is the proud mother to River Michael and Briar Gray with her husband Michael.

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Pat Crifasi

Faculty Teacher

Pat Crifasi has been with De Frances for over 30 years.  She teaches the 2 year old Creative Movement classes at both locations.  She was a preschool teacher at BREC for 5 years and taught preschool at the Alford G. Rayner learning center.  She also provided daycare in her home for many years.  All 4 of Pat's children have taken from De Frances.

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Amanda Walters Roussel

Faculty Teacher

Amanda Roussel has been teaching with De Frances Academy of Dance since 2002.  Her love for dance began at the age of 3 and that love is still strong.  She's worked with many kids and teams over the years through dance teams, American All-Star, and De Frances. Amanda is grateful for her De Frances studio family as she is truly inspired by not only Cathy, Gwyn and Angie, but also the students who are so eager to learn. She has been a Dance Force choreographer and her routines have earned Choreography, Platinum and High Point Awards. Aside from her dancing career, Amanda works in marketing and business development for Full Sail Partners. She has a wonderful and supportive husband, Ben, and three energetic kids - Marin, Olivia, and Noah - who can't keep still if music is on!

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Dani Smith

Faculty Teacher

Dani Smith has been with De Frances for 32 years and has been an instructor/choreographer for over a decade.  She was a member of Dance Force and traveled all over the southeast competing regionally and nationally in the late 90's.  She also was awarded the Dancer of The Year Scholarship in 2003.  Dani is a former resident of Denham Springs and graduated from Denham Springs High School where she was a member of the Jackette dance team for 4 years. She went on to graduate from Southeastern with a degree in Fashion Merchandise and then continued her education at AVEDA Institute of Baton Rouge.  She currently is a hairstylist and makeup artist at Serendipity Salon in Baton Rouge.  

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Lauren Knight

Faculty Teacher

Lauren Knight is a graduate of St. Joseph's Academy and Louisiana Tech University.  She was a Catholic High Bruinette for 3 years and a Louisiana Tech Regal Blue for 5 years, as well as serving as co-captain her last year on the team.  She has trained in dance for 16 years, one of which were at De Frances and spent 4 years as a Dance Force member.  Lauren has taken classes and learned from many professional dance team coaches at Pro Dance in Las Vegas with The Regal Blues.  She received a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry and is now a Corporate Billing Specialist for Plantation Management Company in Denham Springs.

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Giara Major

Faculty Teacher

Giara Major has danced for 22 years.  She started out at De Frances and danced with them for 16 years.  She attended Central High School where she cheered for 2 years and danced for 1 year as a Central High Kitten.  She then attended Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond, LA.  While there, she was a member of a ballet and modern dance company called "Moxie" in 2010 through 2012.  She graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Psychology in December of 2013.  Giara was a member of the New Orleans Saintsations a professional NFL dancer from 2013 through 2015. She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.  Giara is a Support Coordinator at ABC Case Management assisting children with disabilities, disabled and mentally disabled.

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Rita Olivier

Faculty Teacher

Rita Olivier is a fourth grade teacher at Our Lady of Mercy.  She danced with De Frances for 25 years.  She taught classes and was the Office Manager at the old South Choctaw location for many years.  Rita is married to Micah and has 2 children. Cate {who is named after Miss Cathy De Frances} and Jude.  She danced with the Krewe of Tucumcari from 1999 - 2010.  Rita is excited to be teaching again at De Frances.

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Niki Banes Thornton

Faculty Teacher

Niki Thornton is a “homegrown tomato”, having danced with De Frances since she was about 3 years old! After spending several years here as a student and member of Dance Force, Niki became a staff member when she started college. She first graduated from Our Lady of the Lake College’s Nursing program and then received her Bachelor’s degree in Nursing from Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond. Since then she has worked both bedside and in clinic with Orthopedic patients having surgery to replace or repair parts of the musculoskeletal system.  She choreographs solos for Dance Force and really enjoys traveling with the team to cheer them on. She enjoys rescuing dogs, good music, and watching her twin gals make up dances in the living room!

Codie Hicks

Faculty Teacher

Codie Hicks has been dancing since the age of 3 years old. She grew up dancing at Colleen’s Studio of Dance Arts before training at De Frances Academy of Dance where she was a member of the Dance Force competition team. In high school she was a 4-year member of the Denham Springs High School Jackettes where she served as the Colonel her senior year. In addition to Jackettes, she was also a member of the LA Fierce All-star team for two years where her and her team won the National Championship at the Universal Dance Association in Walt Disney World. Today, Codie is a full-time college student at Louisiana State University where she plans to attend law-school in the future.  

Kelsey Richard

Faculty Teacher

Kelsey Richard has been dancing since the age of 2 years old. She grew up dancing at De Frances Academy of Dance, where she was a Dance Force member for 10 years. Kelsey is a graduate of St. Joseph’s Academy and the University of Southern Mississippi. She was a Catholic High Bruinette for 3 years in high school. She was a Dixie Darling at Southern Miss for 4 years, and was captain for her last year on the team. Kelsey earned a Bachelor of Liberal Studies degree and has now moved back home to achieve a Bachelor of Science in Nursing at FranU starting this fall. In the future, she wants to become a nurse. Throughout her years, Kelsey has trained through all styles of dance under the De Frances studio and she is looking forward into joining the staff of De Frances Academy of Dance to share her love of dance with children! 

Alexis Hymel

Faculty Teacher

Alexis Hymel has been dancing since the age of 3 years old. She began dancing at De Frances at that age and was on the competition team for 9 years. She was a part of the De Frances Dance Force senior company when they won national championships at Rainbow nationals in 2016 and received the De Frances Dancer of the Year for 2014-2015. She was on the Griffin Girls 2016 dance team when they won the LHSAA state championships. She was a Griffin Girl at Dutchtown High School for 3 years and was captain her senior year. She assists and helps choreograph for Griffin Girls now. She was a Member of LSU Golden Girls Dance Team for 2018-2019. She is a member of Delta Gamma Sorority and volunteers at Louisiana School for Visually Impaired. In addition, she is a member of Step Show dance team for Delta Gamma Fall 2019 and member of Songfest dance team for Delta Gamma Spring 2020. She has danced in New York at BDC and with Rockettes one summer. She is currently a full-time student majoring in Kinesiology with a sub focus in Pre-Physical Therapy at Louisiana State University and plans to attend Physical Therapy School in the future.

Olivia Hamilton

Faculty Teacher

Olivia Hamilton has been dancing since the age of 3 years old. She grew up dancing at DeFrances Academy of Dance and was a member of Dance Force for 11 years. She is super excited to be back teaching at what she considers her second home. Olivia is a graduate of St. Michael the Archangel High School, and during her time there, was a member of the St. Michael Dance Line. She is currently a full-time student at Louisiana State University and is studying Biochemistry with a minor in Business Administration. At LSU, she is a 4th year member of the nationally ranked LSU Tiger Girls Dance Team and is currently serving in her 2nd year as captain. During her time on the team so far, the Tiger Girls have taken home 2 national bronze medals in the D1A Hip Hop division. After graduating from LSU in May of 2021, Olivia plans to attend graduate school to pursue a career in research, and of course, continue sharing her love of dance through teaching.

Gracie Baukman

Faculty Teacher

Gracie has been dancing since she was 4 years old. She  started taking dance in Shreveport, Louisiana at Carol Anglin Dance center and later joined the studio’s company, Louisiana Dance Theatre, in 2009. Gracie danced there until she graduated from Caddo Magnet High in 2016. She started college at University of Louisiana at Lafayette as a dance major and graduated with her BFA in dance in 2020.  Gracie is excited to join the De Frances dance family!

Allison Oubre

Faculty Teacher

Allison Oubre has loved dancing since the age of 3. She trained at DeFrances with Ms. Gwyn, Ms. Cathy and Ms. Angie and credits her love of dance to them.  Allison was fortunate to be part of the inaugural ballet class at Runnels High School with Mary Camille Maddox.  She continued to study dance at LSU and received a minor in dance.  During college, she performed with the LSU dance ensemble, Of Moving Colors, and BRBT. Allison is the current Program Manager for the McLindon Family Foundation, which is a local nonprofit that provides adaptive bikes to children with special needs. 

Thank you to our amazing dancers & families!