Founder / Co-Owner /
Artistic Director / Instructor
Backstage Dance Studio has founded by Cindy Thompson in 1980. She has a Bachelor of Fine Arts in dance and teaching from Sam Houston State University as well as College Graduate courses in dance. She has studied dance since she was four years old and is highly trained in Classical Ballet. She has also studied the Modern and Jazz techniques throughout her life. Much of her training was in the Houston area, but she also trained at Sam Houston State University and briefly in New York. She has also performed with several dance companies and groups over the years. She now enjoys sharing the knowledge she received from all of her talented teachers and has a commitment to pass on to future dancers a love, respect and understanding of proper dance technique.
Co-Owner / Administrative Director
Trey Thompson, Cindy's son, grew up at Backstage Dance Studio. While he did take a few classes when he was young, he quickly learned that his place was not on the stage, but behind the scenes. He discovered his passion for business and what began as part time receptionist work quickly turned into manning both Backstage locations. After graduating from Montgomery High School, he studied at Texas A&M University where he graduated with a Bachelors of Business Administration in Accounting and a Masters in Financial Management. In 2023, Trey became the Co-Owner of Backstage Dance Studio. Although most of Trey's work is behind the scenes working on scheduling, recital, and studio operations, he is always accessible via email.
Studio Director / Instructor
Erin is originally from Ohio and received her Bachelor of Music in Music Theatre from Baldwin Wallace University. She took a semester off from her training to appear in the European tour of The Who's Tommy. Following graduation, she spent six years in New York City pursuing a career in musical theatre. She has choreographed for numerous choirs, show choirs, and glee clubs across the nation, as well as high school musicals and college dance concerts in Ohio. She spent two years in NYC teaching preschool dance and Erin’s passion lies in blending the joy of creativity, imagination, and performing with introducing dance fundamentals. Erin is a proud member of the Actors’ Equity Association.
Company Director / Instructor
Originally from Ames, Iowa, Chance began his early training at The Robert Thomas Dance Center and performed in The Nutcracker with the Iowa State Center Ballet before moving to New York City to study at The Joffrey Ballet School. In 2016, Chance moved to Indiana to finish his degree as a Dance Performance Major at Anderson University. Chance has danced with Gregory Hancock Dance Company, Indianapolis Ballet, Hinsdale Dance Academy, and was a company member with Ballet 5:8 based out of Chicago. Chance has taught at studios all over the country and has worked as a competition judge for Fly Dance, Hall of Fame and New York City Dance Alliance, just to name a few!
Rena began ballet at the age of 7, under the instruction of her mother, Nina Marlow. She danced numerous roles in many ballets such as Sleeping Beauty, Don Quixote, La Bayadere, and the Nutcracker. She began teaching as a teenager, and has always loved working with children of all ages. She went on to study Psychology, and has a Bachelor of Science from NAU in AZ, in which she was a therapist for a Mental Health facility. Before joining Backstage in 2022, Rena owned her own ballet studio in Phoenix, Arizona where she taught students who scored top 12 in the state at Youth America Grand Prix.
Natalia is originally from Russia and moved to Houston, Texas in May 2014. She started her artistic career at eight years old in the Up Circus school for approximately nine years. She graduated as a juggler and acrobatic artist. After high school, she studied at the College of Culture and Arts as a choreographer/teacher for three years. Natalia went on to Sports Academy Lesgaft in St. Petersburg for one year taking jazz and modern. She worked with Dance Studio Image throughout China as a dancer and at the Moscow Circus on Tsvetnoy Blvd. Nikulin as a dancer with the Dance Theatre Favorite along with famous Russian artists. In 2015 Natalia received her Master's Degree in Folk Art Creativity / Artistic Director of Choreography and Teaching from the University of Khabarovsk Culture and Art in Russia.
Julie Davis began dancing at the age of four in Boulder City, Nevada. She then went on to receive a Bachelor of Arts degree in Dance with a Minor in History, followed by a Master of Fine Arts degree in Dance. During her MFA, she was awarded a Teaching Fellowship and spent the next few years educating students in New Hampshire and around Houston. She taught at Houston Community College before starting her own program, Discover Dance, within Discover Gymnastics. Triplet daughters sidelined her temporarily but a chance encounter with Backstage Dance Studio's production of The Nutcracker provided a dance home for her girls. After years of being a “Dance Mom”, Miss Julie once again decided to dust off her dance shoes and join with the Backstage Staff in 2023.
Paris Gensheimer graduated from Texas Christian University with a BFA in Modern Dance Performance and minor in Education. She has been dancing since she was three years old and has had extensive training in ballet, jazz, tap, contemporary, hip-hop
and character dance at Progressions Performing Arts, her home away from home. She also received training across the country in LA, NYC, Chicago and Florida. In her early years of training she performed in the Nutcracker, Coppelia, The Super Bowl, Disney’s “Mickey’s Magical Holiday” and National Competitions. When she became of age, she
performed with Royal Caribbean Cruise lines and Exclamation Dance Company. Due to several surgical procedures on her knee and her love for the students at her home studio, she decided to go onto teach, manage, and direct at Progressions Performing Arts for 10 years. She moved to the Montgomery County area in 2022 and her heart for teaching has
led her to join the staff at Backstage Dance Studio. Her goal is to encourage and educate
the students of Backstage Dance with her experiences.
Instructor / Administrative Assistant
Rachel has been dancing from the age of six, and has always loved getting to share her passion for performance arts with others. Her training includes over twelve combined years of Jazz, Ballet, Lyrical, Hip Hop, and Tap. Having lived in three states throughout her childhood and teen years, staying heavily involved in a dance studio was always a priority for her. She found a passion for theatre after getting involved in a Musical Theatre class at her final dance studio, and her love of the arts grew even more. From there she continued her theatrical journey throughout high school and college, graduating from Sam Houston State University in May 2020 with a Bachelor’s in Theatre. While there, she also received advanced education in dance techniques.
Originally from Midwest City, Oklahoma, and began dancing at three years of age. She studied ballet, tap, jazz, lyrical, and gymnastics at The Furman Gray School of Dance in Midwest City for over 17 years. She became a dance instructor at 17 and taught in Oklahoma at The Furman Gray School of Dance, Capitol Kids and Tumble Stars. Andi danced with the Joe Tremain convention circuit in Los Angeles under the direction of Joe Tremain and Wade Robson, just to name a few. For 25 years, Andi has been a marketing and public relations professional, but began teaching group fitness in 2021 and continues doing so today. She is very thankful for the opportunity to teach again at Backstage Dance Studio with so many talented people.
Shara Phillips began studying dance when she was three years old. She has trained in ballet, pointe, tap, jazz, modern, contemporary, and lyrical. Shara has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in dance from Sam Houston State University. She spent four years with a professional contemporary dance company, where she was able to act as both a dancer and choreographer. Shara has been teaching dance for over seventeen years and has been with Backstage Dance Studio for ten of those years. She looks forward to many more years of sharing her love of dance with her students.
Melise Rider is from Crowley, Louisiana and danced with Core Dance Center for ten years. She has been teaching dance for over twenty years in the subjects of ballet, tap, jazz, and lyrical. Before joining Backstage Dance Studio, she served as a ballet director for Kathy Kurth Dance Studio in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Her training consist of Cechetti Ballet and Jazz with styles that are strong in traditional technique. Melise has danced with Lake Charles Ballet Company and has toured with Dance Olympus as a VIP. She has a love for choreography and children and is happy to be with Backstage Dance Studio with a primary goal to share her passion of dance with others. Melise thanks her husband and six children for supporting her in staying involved with dance.
Billing Manager / Receptionist
Jimmy Thompson, Cindy's husband of over 30 years, became Backstage Dance Studio's Billing Manager and Conroe Receptionist after he retired. He quickly became known as Lollipop Director, (no sibling leaves the building without a sucker from Mr. Jimmy!), Facilities Manager (handy helper) and Head of Hospitality (a friendly welcoming face at the studio). He loves to meet and interact with our dance families, and is always willing to help our great customers.
Bailey Turner grew up in The Woodlands where she began her dance training at the age of four. She has participated with several competitive studios as well as her junior high and high school dance teams. She first choreographed a number for her junior high show choir and has been in love with it ever since. Bailey continued her training at The University of Mississippi where she received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. While attending "Ole Miss" she danced with and choreographed for a contemporary company and even founded her own student lead dance company which she was elected the Artistic Director of three years in a row. Bailey looks forward to many more years of dance and fun.
Avery Waller, who grew up in Montgomery, boasts a lifelong passion for dance. Beginning at three years old, Avery took dance for over her sixteen-years here at Backstage Dance Studio. Her commitment to the art form is deeply rooted, as her mother, Gina, dedicated over two decades to teaching at Backstage. Currently, Avery studies at Sam Houston State University, where she is majoring in Education with a minor in Dance. In the spring of 2022, Avery had the distinct privilege of participating in the Disney College Program, where she contributed her talents at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. Upon her anticipated graduation in the fall of 2025, she aspires to become a Drill Team Director while simultaneously fulfilling her dream of becoming a High School Math Teacher. Her unwavering dedication to both education and dance is a testament to her commitment and passion for nurturing young minds and fostering the art of dance.
We absolutely love Backstage Dance Studio! The teachers are so nurturing and know how to instill a love of dance at a young age. We started out in Princess Dance Camp during the summer and have been taking classes for two years now. Looking forward to many years to come!
- Sarah J.