Staff & Faculty

Meet the Owners, Directors, Instructors, and Staff

OWNERS







Tara Behnke
Owner / Director

TARA has been dancing since the age of three. She fell in love with performing immediately and has loved being on stage ever since. As a young artist, she began her study of classical ballet at the Academy of Dance in San Luis Obispo. Her training immediately broadened to include pointe, jazz, tap, lyrical, musical theater, contemporary, and hip hop. Along with dance conventions, Tara has trained at West Side Ballet, Zeal Studio, and the Edge in Los Angeles as well as Allan Hancock College in Santa Maria. She was the top scholarship winner at the Dance in Action Convention in 1998. Tara's intense schedule of training provided the foundation for a myriad of dance experiences including national and international tours to Spain, China and Cuba. Tara has danced with several professional level companies in SLO county, including All Things Contemporary Dance Company, the San Luis Jazz Dancers for eleven years and the Civic Ballet Company for seven years. As on of the company’s principal dancers, she performed in numerous roles in productions such as the Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty and original works, and danced the lead of Maria in West Side Story and Nancy in Since I saw Her Standing There, a Beatles ballet.

Tara holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Child Development and Psychology from Cal Poly. The research for her senior project focused on how extracurricular activities influence positive developmental outcomes during adolescence. She is now fascinated with immersing child developmental theory into her teaching. Tara has been teaching dance and directing performing groups in San Luis Obispo county since 2002. Tara joined Coastal Dance as a guest teacher in 2005, and in 2008 she joined forces with Kathy as they expanded Coastal Dance to it’s Grand Avenue location, adding “and Music Academy.” At that time, they became the Founders of Coastal Chamber Youth Ballet, a non-profit ballet company. Tara is a contributing choreographer for CDMA’s Summer Intensive Programs, Coastal Chamber Youth Ballet’s Babes In Toyland productions, and Morro Bay High School’s 2009 Dance Intensive. Tara’s diverse teaching experience expands beyond dance, including public preschool and working with students with autism. Tara is the Assistant Director and Owner of Coastal Dance and Music Academy as well as an instructor of jazz, contemporary, pointe, ballet, and contemporary pointe, Performance Troupe Director, and CDMA’s web designer.






Kathy Schultz
Owner / Director

KATHY holds a Master's of Education and a teaching credential from Cal Poly. She has taught in a variety of capacities including the public school setting as a dance specialist for Children’s Creative Project, Bellevue Santa Fe Charter School, and Ocean View Elementary School, and as a guest teacher for the ACE Camps summer program. Kathy studied, taught, and choreographed at the Academy of Dance in San Luis Obispo for 15 years. While at the Academy of Dance she also directed performance troupes and served as the executive director of the Civic Ballet of San Luis Obispo. She was one of several choreographers featured in an international tour of The People’s Republic of China. Kathy was able to fulfill a dream when she opened her own studio, Coastal Dance, in Shell Beach in 2004. Due to the incredibly positive reaction, the fledgling studio was soon too small for it’s growing number of students. Therefore, in February of 2008, with the help of family and dear friends, Kathy expanded her growing studio to a beautiful new facility in Arroyo Grande, CA, adding music, voice, theater, and fitness to her program. Coastal Dance has now become Coastal Dance and Music Academy (CDMA).

Kathy has been a contributing choreographer for Allan Hancock College in Santa Maria, California. Her work has been featured in the dance department’s productions of Dance Spectrum and Dimensions in Dance. She currently teaches jazz, tap, and ballet to all ages at Coastal Dance and Music Academy, and is the Director of the Performance Troupe. In 2008, Kathy and Tara became the founders of Coastal Chamber Youth Ballet, a non-profit ballet company. Her family-oriented, up-beat and polished performance troupe shows have received rave reviews wherever they have performed. Kathy’s loving, nurturing, and positive teaching style continues to be the guiding force behind Coastal Dance and Music Academy.

PROGRAM DIRECTORS






Molly McKiernan
Artistic Director Coastal Chamber Youth Ballet / Dance Instructor

MOLLY'S first ballet class was at the age of 5 at Mary Coudin Snyder's Dance Studio. Her dance training continued at American Dance and then on to Academy of Dance in San Luis Obispo where she spent many years studying ballet and jazz as a young dancer. At the age of 10, Molly auditioned for the prestigious Ballet Austin and was accepted to their Junior Company program for 3 years of classical ballet training under the direction of Eugene Slavin and Alexandra Nadal of Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. She performed many of the children's roles in their acclaimed production of The Nutcracker.

Upon returning to Academy of Dance, Molly became a member of the Civic Ballet of San Luis Obispo. For more then 12 years she performed corps de ballet, solo and principal roles for the ballet company including Snow Queen, Rose Queen and Sugarplum Fairy. Contemporary roles in Alice in Wonderland,  West Side Story, Where the Wild Things Are and soloist for Jon Anderson's "Earth Mother Earth". She was hired as Lead Guest Artist for 2 seasons of Ballet Fantastique's Nutcracker and went on to further her training with Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre.

Molly's devotion to dance transitioned seamlessly into teaching and choreographing. She was appointed Artistic Director for 2 seasons of the Civic Ballet's well received Sleeping Beauty at the Cal Poly Performing Arts Center, Master Ballet Teacher for Dance in Action's Summer Convention in Hawaii, Guest Choreographer at The San Luis Obispo Little Theatre for "Frank Sinatra, Johnny Cash and Roy Orbison Legends Shows" and Co-Director for their ACT Children's Broadway Camp programs, Artistic Director for The San Luis Jazz Dancers, Choreographer/Master Teacher for Mission College Prep, Morro Bay High School, Alan Hancock's Spectrum and Cal Poly's Orchesis Dance Company, performer/choreographer for Academy of Dance's International Dance Festival in China, Cuba and Spain, creator and Teacher for San Luis Coastal Unified School District's Elementary PE/Dance program which provided an enrichment through dance for over 2000 students a year. She most recently has been recognized for her collaborative efforts with the San Luis Obispo Symphony in "Carnival of the Animals".

Molly is incredibly proud to be the Artistic Director of Coastal Chamber Youth Ballet and takes great pride in nurturing her Company dancers into exceptional artists.





Natalia Salsbury
Artistic Director Coastal Youth Theater / Theater Instructor

NATALIA is enjoying her third year at CDMA as a drama teacher and the Artistic Director of Coastal Youth Theater (formerly CDMA Triple Threat). She is proud to have directed Once on This Island, Thoroughly Modern Millie and Beauty and the Beast with Coastal Youth Theater. She has a BA in Theatre Arts from Cal Poly where she portrayed the role of Charlotte in the musical Falsettos and studied the fundamentals of directing, scenic and lighting design, and play writing. She is also a graduate of the actors training program at PCPA and has worked professionally with PCPA during their summer fests in numerous productions such as The Secret Garden, Grapes of Wrath, Julius Caesar, How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying, The King and I and Once Upon a Mattress. She has worked with Sorcerer Productions as Executive Producer and Artistic Director, and has enjoyed portraying roles such as Christine Colgate in the musical Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Trix in the Drowsy Chaperone and Celeste in Little Shop of Horrors.  Natalia has worked in children’s theater for the last 8 years. Her credits include Nipomo High School, Atascadero High School and the San Luis Little Theatre. She has always believed that children are the future participants in a theatre community, therefore, teaching them to respect the laws of the theatre etiquette alongside the craft itself, might be the hope and salvation of live theatre in the future. She uses Uta Hagen as her inspiration. “We must overcome the notion that we must be regular…it robs you of the chance to be extraordinary and leads you to the mediocre.”  Natalia believes that teaching children the fundamentals of acting will not only prepare them to be solid, grounded, and talented  performers, but that it will also prepare them for other major performances in life such as job interviews and college applications. Her goal is to one day get her Masters in Directing so that she can teach collegially and remind adults that we were all children at one point and to not forget that it is our responsibilities as thespian leaders, to keep molding future generations! Natalia wants to thank the husband Jeff Salsbury for his encouragement and for reminding her that she is destined to direct,  her children Lucas and Josie for believing in her,  her mother for encouraging her and loving her, and  her father, for always reminding her that she  a teacher and to always master life’s lessons. Love you all!

DANCE INSTRUCTORS






Corrina Gemignani
Dance Instructor

CORRINA has been dancing since she was three years old. She started dancing at the Studio of Performing Arts, and danced there off and on for 9 years. She later found CDMA and fell in love with the warm, loving, and welcoming atmosphere. Corrina immediately joined the performance troupe, Dance Out Loud, and graduated through each performing level and even became a dance captain with her friend Abi. In performance troupe Corrina had the opportunity to perform in many small shows throughout the community, including Avila Farmers Market, Strawberry Festivals, the Arroyo Grande Centennial Celebration, Pier 39, and even at amusement parks, specifically Great America and Knott’s Berry Farm. While dancing in performance troupe, Corrina became involved in Costal Chamber Youth Ballet Company and danced as a Senior Company Member for almost 3 years. She participated in the Company’s winter ballet of Babes in Toyland, for the first 6 years of the ballet, and was granted the opportunity to be a lead in Dec. 2012, her senior year of high school. Throughout her time in high school and with CDMA, Corrina found her love of teaching and working with children. She worked as an assistant teacher for CDMA for over 3 years, and was able to graduate the studio’s Dancer Teacher Training Program and become a certified teacher. Since her accomplishments at CDMA, Corrina has pursued an AA degree in Dance at Allen Hancock Junior College. She has performed in their Summer and Fall Shows since the summer of 2013. In 2015 she was able to choreograph for the College’s summer show, taking her dance to local summer schools, the Santa Barbra County Fair in Santa Maria, and even to Disneyland!





Alli Humphries
Dance Instructor

ALLI began dancing at the age of four and she hasn’t stopped since. Alli trained with the long beach ballet and attended multiple summer camps where she had the opportunity to take class from professionals such as Gelsey Kirkland and Patricia Barker.  As she grew older, she fell in love with the freedom of movement and creativity in jazz and contemporary.  Alli preformed just about every role in The Nutcracker through the years and competed all over California.  Straight out of high school, Alli signed with DDO dance agency, which helped her find jobs performing on stage and screen. Alli helped coach and choreograph for the El Dorado Dance team and continued to teach and sub at studios throughout Orange County. Alli moved to the Central Coast in September 2014. She is excited to learn from the students and staff at CDMA.






Cami Johnson
Dance Instructor

CAMI grew up here on the central coast and attended her first ballet class at the Academy of Dance in SLO at the age of three.  Her love of dance developed instantly and has only continued to grow through the years. She also discovered, early in her life, the joy of working with children. Cami attended San Jose State University where she studied ballet, tap, and jazz as she earned a degree in Child and Adolescent Development. During these college years up north, she was the coordinator of a child care program at a private elementary school and also had the opportunity to teach beginning ballet and tap to children of low-income families at a Family Life Community Center. After graduating college, her journey into motherhood began and she moved back to the central coast to raise her family. She jumped at the chance to be part of the CDMA family in March 2011 and is thrilled to share her love of dance with young children.





Ben Reyes
Dance Instructor

BEN has been involved in dance at Allan Hancock College since 1983, first as a student and dancer, and later as a choreographer and currently an instructor on campus. He has participated in AHC Dance Ensemble since its beginnings, performed and choreographed for numerous dance concerts, and taught for the Youth Dance Company in the AHC College for Kids program. He has been a guest choreographer and dancer for Cal Poly's Orchesis dance productions 1995-2001. He has also been an instructor for Class Act Dance studio in Paso Robles and a guest choreographer for high schools in and out of the area. Ben is a jazz, hip hop, boy’s technique and partnering instructor at Coastal Dance and Music Academy.





Catherine Russell
Dance Instructor

CATHERINE was raised in Philadelphia, PA where she trained and performed with The Pennsylvania Ballet and later with the Massachusetts Youth Ballet under such notable teachers as Gloria Govrin, Carter Alexander, Sandra Jennings and Suzanne Farrell. In her professional career, Catherine has performed in New York, St. Louis, Irvine, California and at The Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. Catherine danced with the Kansas City Ballet for 12 years performing many principal roles including Lisette in La Fille Mal Gardee, the Paquita Pas de Trois, and Desdemona in Limon's The Moor's Pavane as well as many Balanchine works, most notably the Stairway to Paradise soloist in Who Cares? She has also been involved in several contemporary dance projects in the Kansas City area including acting as a founding member of Quixotic Performance Fusion and dancing with Owen/Cox Dance Group as Marie in The Nutcracker and the Mouse King a Nutcracker parody as well as several mixed repertory programs. Catherine taught ballet at the Kansas City Ballet School and master classes at several Kansas City area ballet schools and is delighted to be sharing her knowledge and experience with her students at CDMA.





Brianna Deveraux
Dance Instructor

BRIANNA started dancing at the age of 4 at Adkins Dance Center in Santa Maria. During her time at Adkins, she studied ballet, tap, jazz, modern, hip hop, theatrical and contemporary dance styles. She joined their junior company at age 11, the senior company at age 13 and started teaching classes at age 16. She danced with the Adkins Dance Center company until she graduated high school. After high school Brianna moved to Southern California where she continued her dance studies at various studios in Los Angeles and San Diego. She also danced with the hip hop company Culture Shock San Diego. In 2006 Brianna moved to London, England to attend University. While there, she danced and taught classes at the world famous London Pineapple Dance Studio. Since returning to the Central Coast in 2011, Brianna has returned to Adkins Dance Center to teach and has preformed in and choreographed for a number of the Allan Hancock College Dance Department’s concerts. Brianna has a degree in Fine Art and she is also an accomplished professional painter, working mostly in watercolor and mixed media. 





Jenica E. Turner
Dance Instructor

Jenica was born and raised in Monroe, Louisiana and this is where her passion for the arts began. Jenica started dancing at the age of 2 with Linda Lavender School of Dance.At the age of 9, she auditioned and was accepted to become a part of their performance/competition group. With LLSD competition group she attended top dance conventions like New York City Dance Alliance and Tremaine. Within this time with LLSD competition company she worked with some world renown choreographers/instructors such as Mia Michaels, Joey Dowling, Suzi Taylor, Mandi Moore, Nick Lazarini, Wade Robson and many more! Jenica also auditioned and was accepted for the regional ballet company Twin City Ballet, many more incredible growing opportunities came to light. With Twin City Ballet Company, Jenica attended annual summer intensive workshops, which allowed her to grow even further as a performer/dancer. She also had the opportunity to perform several times a year, at Regional Ballet Festivals Spring performances (Ballet Under the Stars) and Christmas performances, such as the classics, Nutcracker and Rudolph in lead roles such as Rudolph and Snowflake Queen. After dancing with the Twin City Ballet Company for 9 yrs Jenica auditioned for New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts, where she received a full scholarship, graduated and received Choreography and Dance certification. Jenica wasn't finished there.  She went on to audition for Carnival Cruise lines Rock of Ages and was chosen out of 100 Dancers for a group of 40, she sailed the seas for a tour of 6 months. After her career as a professional dancer and after having her daughter, she decided that she wanted to share her passion with others. Jenica began teaching and choreographing for many different studios. Her and her fiancé have now settled on the Central Coast and Jenica is super excited for this year at Coastal Dance and Music Academy!





Brianna Foerster
Dance Instructor

Bree moved to the central coast from Germany when she was 9, thats when she joined Dellos performing arts center and danced with them competitively and non-competitively on and off through the past 6 years. She attended many competitions and took convention classes with a lot of amazing professionals. In fact being able to assist Suzy Miller through out the years. Through being at the studio most of her life she sparked her interest in teaching by assisting a toddler class once a week. She fell in love with the babies and is now thrilled to be teaching preschool combo classes as well as other classes here and there. She is a recent grad from Nipomo High School and is attending Cuesta College to get her AA in Early Childhood education in hopes to transfer to Cal Poly. 

MUSIC AND VOICE INSTRUCTORS






Kimberly Youngblook

Kimberly Youngblook
Choir/Vocal/Piano/Musical Theater Instructor

KIMBERLY Youngblook is delighted to be part of the Coastal Dance and Music Academy family. She will be offering private voice lessons, private/class piano lessons, musical theater classes and choir. It has been a dream of hers to live on the central coast doing what she loves; music. Kimberly received her baccalaureate in Music, with an emphasis in Vocal and Choral arts, in 2012 from California State University Northridge. During her time there, and before, she toured with world renowned choirs and performed on many stages as a soprano and pianist. Kimberly has been a principal lead in many shows including; Le Nozze Di Figaro, Pirates of Penzance, Sweeney Todd and countless others. She received her Single Subject Music Credential from California State University Bakersfield in 2016. Kimberly has been teaching music, full time, at the high school level for three years, currently teaching at Nipomo High School. She has experience teaching marching band, concert band, pep band, beginning and advanced choir, percussion, piano, music theory, music appreciation, jazz band, pop music, musical theater and voice. 

Kimberly states, “Music is the core of who we are. In it we learn compassion, discipline, language, patience, creativity and the list goes on. I look forward to teaching here at CDMA and sharing what I have learned myself through music."





Teresa Gasca-Burk
Music and Movement Instructor

TERESA has been teaching music and movement to children on the Central Coast for 15 years. She began at the Academy of Dance in San Luis Obispo teaching Creative Movement to preschoolers. Word of her wonderful work with children spread and she was asked to present a class for the young students at Shell Beach Elementary. She expanded her program to include basic music theory and appreciation for the young. She has now shared her program with students from Shell Beach Elementary, Bellevue Santa Fe Charter School and Robin’s Rugrats Preschool. Teresa performs in the community for children with her band BIRDIE. Along with her husband and writing partner, Gary, she has written and recorded two original CD’s for children titled, “Birdie,” and “Birdie-My Family Tree.” Her music can be found on iTunes, CDBaby, Pandora, and Rhapsody.

Matthew Goodman 
Music Instructor

MATTHEW received an Associate of Arts from Cuesta College in Music Performance, where he studied guitar under Jeff Miley and Jennifer Martin, the chair of the Cuesta Music Department. Ms. Martin is the conductor of the Cuesta Wind Ensemble of which Matthew played percussion for two years.  Additionally, he sang in the choir, Mixed Chorus, at Cuesta College. Matthew is currently attending Cal Poly University, where he is studying guitar under James Bachman.  Matthew is a member of the Cal Poly Classical Guitar Ensemble. Matthew has composed a piece of music for the Ensemble that they will be performing this year, and has also participated in three Master Classes with Dr. W. Terrence Spiller. He is a recipient of the Lucien Morrison Memorial Scholarship and the Janet Lee Memorial Scholarship. 

Julie Harper 
Music/Voice Instructor

JULIE HARPER is an experienced, encouraging, and expert teacher, with 13 successful years of voice, piano, and beginning guitar instruction, as well as chorus and preschool music direction. Classically trained on piano, Julie went on to study singing with retired opera singer Nella Girolo in San Luis Obispo County, and later in Boston, Mass., with a Berklee School of Music alumni.  She studied guitar in Santa Barbara with blues artist Kenny Sultan. In addition to teaching, she writes and performs in eclectic country-rock-folk-blues genres. She is gifted with understanding individual learning styles and abilities, and is very intuitive and precise with diagnosing and correcting vocal production issues. Julie is committed to helping students realize their full potential, and has helped them to select and audition for college programs, plus various theatre and choral groups.

THEATER INSTRUCTORS


Paulette Messenheimer 
Theater Instructor

PAULETTE has directed theater workshops and plays in Greensboro, Colorado, Chicago and Topanga, CA since graduating from Indiana University. She has instructed students from 6 years to adult and has helped students explore drama using imagination, text, and props. The range of Paulette’s work includes Street Theatre of The Singer in church, the Adventures of Alice in Wonderland with an LA Community Block Grant for teens, to creative dramatics with children in the City of San Luis Obispo Parks and Recreation Department.

Natalia Salsbury
Instructor/Artistic Director Coastal Youth Theater

NATALIA is enjoying her third year at CDMA as a drama teacher and the Artistic Director of Coastal Youth Theater (formerly CDMA Triple Threat). She is proud to have directed Once on This Island, Thoroughly Modern Millie and Beauty and the Beast with Coastal Youth Theater. She has a BA in Theatre Arts from Cal Poly where she portrayed the role of Charlotte in the musical Falsettos and studied the fundamentals of directing, scenic and lighting design, and play writing. She is also a graduate of the actors training program at PCPA and has worked professionally with PCPA during their summer fests in numerous productions such as The Secret Garden, Grapes of Wrath, Julius Caesar, How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying, The King and I and Once Upon a Mattress. She has worked with Sorcerer Productions as Executive Producer and Artistic Director, and has enjoyed portraying roles such as Christine Colgate in the musical Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Trix in the Drowsy Chaperone and Celeste in Little Shop of Horrors.  Natalia has worked in children’s theater for the last 8 years. Her credits include Nipomo High School, Atascadero High School and the San Luis Little Theatre. She has always believed that children are the future participants in a theatre community, therefore, teaching them to respect the laws of the theatre etiquette alongside the craft itself, might be the hope and salvation of live theatre in the future. She uses Uta Hagen as her inspiration. “We must overcome the notion that we must be regular…it robs you of the chance to be extraordinary and leads you to the mediocre.”  Natalia believes that teaching children the fundamentals of acting will not only prepare them to be solid, grounded, and talented  performers, but that it will also prepare them for other major performances in life such as job interviews and college applications. Her goal is to one day get her Masters in Directing so that she can teach collegially and remind adults that we were all children at one point and to not forget that it is our responsibilities as thespian leaders, to keep molding future generations! Natalia wants to thank the husband Jeff Salsbury for his encouragement and for reminding her that she is destined to direct,  her children Lucas and Josie for believing in her,  her mother for encouraging her and loving her, and  her father, for always reminding her that she  a teacher and to always master life’s lessons. Love you all!

SPECIAL NEEDS INSTRUCTORS


Deanna Duarte
Special Abilities Instructor

DEANNA has a degree in education and holds an Education Specialist Credential. She has worked for over 10 years with children, beginning with the San Luis Obispo County Office of Education as a Behavior Health Specialist, where she worked directly with students on the autism spectrum or with other behavior needs, and as a Special Education teacher, working with a variety of students in different circumstances. She is trained in the MOVE Program (Mobility Opportunities Via Education/Experience), has collaborated with Adaptive PE teachers, physical therapists, occupational therapists, music therapists, art teachers, and other professionals to develop and implement programs to enrich the lives of her students.

OFFICE STAFF


Sue Dailey
Office Manager

SUE was born and raised in a small town in South Dakota. She graduated with an Associates Degree of Science in Nursing from Presentation College in Aberdeen SD in 1983 and began traveling the country as a traveling nurse. It was during this time she discovered the Central Coast and decided that this was where she wanted to make her home.  In 1995, Sue acquired a Bachelors Degree of Science in Nursing from Cal State Dominguez Hills and became Nurse Manager of ICU/ER at San Luis Obispo General Hospital. After an 18 year career, she left the medical field to focus on her family. She currently lives in Arroyo Grande with her husband, Mike, and their two teenage children. It was her daughter’s love for dance that led both her daughter and her to Coastal Dance and Music Academy. Sue is the Office Manager and is so excited to be part of such a dynamic and prestigious business.

Suzanne Eisworth
Bookkeeper

SUZANNE graduated from Cal Poly in 1991 with a B.S. in Physical Education and a minor in Psychology. While in recent years she has devoted herself to raising her family, she has also worked in administration for Cannon Associates, Staff Builders Home Health Care and Wells Fargo Bank. Suzanne lives in Shell Beach with her husband, Ron, and their three children. When not working, Suzanne is passionate about physical fitness, home projects, and spending time with and supporting her family. Suzanne is the bookkeeper at Coastal Dance and Music Academy.

Ilona Jill Meza
President - Office Volunteer

With a business degree, Ilona Jill has built two diverse careers.  She spent many years with CBS Television/Radio stations in L.A. and consulting in stations throughout California.  In her second career she ventured further afield working for Marriott Hotels and opening properties worldwide.  Throughout her work history she always made time to work with and for non-profit agencies. While working for CBS she became Public Relations Director for the March of Dimes, with emphasis on all aspects of public education and fund raising.  During her tenure her successful relationships with CBS and other media groups, enough money was raised to build the first handicapped children’s playground in the U.S.  As President of the non-profit Coastal Chamber Youth Ballet Company, she is proud to be part of organizing the annual gift performance of Babes In Toyland to the community through CAP-SLO and other non-profit organizations.

Now, she and her Service Dog, Epie, are delighted to be part of the CDMA family.  Always a patron of the arts she feels right at home and enjoys watching the growth and development of all the dancers

Epie Meza
Office Dog!

A package deal, Epie comes as part of the package with Ilona Jill. Epie, who is Ilona’s Service Dog, alerts to both her diabetic and heart conditions. Epie has proven that she considers CDMA home because she has successfully “alerted” to low blood sugars for both students and teachers, preventing any serious problems. As a dancer Epie has effectively learned to Pirouette and is adorable in her custom Tutu. She is currently working on her double Pirouette turns and leaps through hula hoops.