Diane Hansen is the director and owner of the prestigious family owned Kitty Lee Dance Studio that has been serving students in Omaha since the1950s. Miss Hansen has been instrumental for winning numerous national championships in the competitive dance world that have been obtained by her studio. Her continued commitment to hard work, dedication, passion for dance and belief in her students are key ingredients to her continued success.
Diane’s mother, Miss Kitty opened the studio when Diane was only one year old! Diane grew up in the studio and shared her mother’s passion and desire to develop and nurture the abilities of all that entered Kitty Lee Dance Studio. Diane began teaching with her mother as a teenager and helped many students reach their potential and realize their dreams.
Diane’s professional career began when performing in a group out of Miami, Florida. The group performed all across the United States, Europe and as far as Singapore. While traveling in Europe, she met her husband, Scott. They were married a year later. Being an Air Force wife, Diane managed to teach wherever her husband led her. She owned a studio in Illinois and sold it in 1993 when they moved back to Omaha and she became the Director of Kitty Lee Dance. Diane is the former President of the Omaha Dance Teachers Association and has always been a strong supporter of the organization. Diane’s daughters have followed in her footsteps and are successfully pursuing careers in dance. Mrs. Diane Hansen is very proud of her students and has watched many of them perform on and off Broadway, become New York City Rockettes, Disney performers, choreographers and obtain professional dance careers in Las Vegas.
Diane travels frequently to conventions, competitions and performances to keep on the cutting edge of the dance world. She continues to share all of her experiences that have been built by her family so that everyone who enters her doors will share in her success.
Leslie began dancing as a toddler and continued to realize her passion and potential through the art of dance with the support of her family. She is naturally athletic and agile which contributed to her success in other interests which included playing select soccer, cheerleading and being a member of the high school dance team. Her passion and desire to help dancers pursue their dreams has impacted her career in dance and she serves as a distinguished director and choreographer at Kitty Lee Dance Studio. Leslie has been an inspiration to many children in the community and continues to develop dancers who are confident, creative, and exhibit advanced technique in dance. She begins working with KLD students at a very young age and continues to develop their abilities throughout high school. Leslie's philosophy integrates the inclusion of body, mind, and soul that fosters a balance proven to be the stepping stones for success. She is well known for her creativity and ability to choreograph solos, duos, trios and group dances. Her work has been recognized locally and nationally, receiving notoriety and numerous awards. She travels around the United States to further enhance and develop her skills by attending seminars and classes. KLD students describe Leslie as someone who works countless hours so they can realize their dreams and is also someone that cares about them and will listen to them in times of need. She helps develop individuals who demonstrate responsibility and have the life skills that will give them the confidence they need to reach for the stars and follow their dreams.
Lauren graduated with honors from Oklahoma City University with a Dance Performance Degree. Lauren was a member of the American Spirit Company in Oklahoma City, Ok. Lauren has just finished touring with Royal Caribbean as a dancer and performer. Her tour took her from Alaska southward through the Hawaiian Islands, Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific Islands. Lauren has been choreographing and teaching since high school, earning numerous regional as well as national choreography awards. Lauren will be a huge asset to our team as well as technique classes for all ages. She loves the studio and has maintained her active involvement while pursuing her college and professional career.
Callie Peterson is a former student of Kitty Lee Dance Studio where she danced for 16 years. As a part of her studio training, she was included in many dance competitions and conventions since the age of 12. She also trained with multiple choreographers from the west and east coasts.
Callie received a BA in a concentration in Dance at Kansas State University in 2006. While working towards her degree, Callie was honored to showcase her choreography in multiple concerts. Callie also was selected to be on the Kansas State University Classy Cat Dance Team for 3 years. During her years as a Classy Cat, she choreographed numerous football and basketball routines. Callie also attended 2 National Dance Association Nationals in Daytona, FL. In 2008, Callie was the Assistant Director of the new founded dance studio Prestige School of Dance in Salina, KS. Callie currently teaches summer intensives and choreographs multiple competition pieces for Prestige. To extend her teaching career, Callie was officially certified in Zumba April 2011.
When seven-year old Bret Samson received Piotr Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker cd as a present, she immediately began dancing around the house. As the music played on, her mom felt compelled to ask Bret if she wanted to take ballet lessons.
“I was such a shy kid,” says Bret. “Up until that moment, I did not want to take any lessons – for anything.” But ballet was different. Soon Bret was dancing in her Wisconsin hometown at a small studio called Lake Shore Dance, her second home for many years to come.
While competitive dance in a variety of styles was her interest throughout childhood, Bret was lured by the beauty of classical ballet which eventually became her biggest passion.
She was fortunate to have had dance teachers who took a personal interest in her. “Amy Aichele and Gwen Agee were two of my teachers as a child,” recalls Bret. “They were my mentors throughout high school and helped shape me into the person and dancer I am today.”
Bret Samson began her dance training at Lake Shore Dance with Amy Aichele and Gwen Agee in Saukville, Wisconsin, and later with Melissa Anderson and Rafael Delgado in Milwaukee. Bret continued her training at Steps on Broadway in New York City. She has previously performed with Milwaukee Ballet II, Madison Ballet and Omaha Theater Ballet.
Originally from Chelyabinsk, Russia, Sasha York trained at Paavola School of Dance in Flint, Michigan. He later returned to Russia, where he trained with Urey Urivich. Sasha was accepted into the pre-professional program at Pittsburgh Ballet Theater, where he performed in company productions of Don Quixote, The Nutcracker, Peter Pan, and Alice in Wonderland. He has worked with many well-known choreographers such as Harrison McEldowney, Viktor Plotnikov and Septime Webre. With Ballet Nebraska, Sasha has performed as Oberon in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Marc Antony in Cleopatra, the title role in Dracula, Claude in Swing, Swing, Swing!, Cavalier and Snow King in The Nutcracker, and White Knight in Alice in Wonderland. He previously danced for two seasons at Omaha Theater Ballet. Sasha, not only teaches several ballet classes for us, he also teaches all boy classes.
Brian began learning tap and acrobatics from Miss Kitty at age 7, expanding into other disciplines through the years and dancing at the studio through high school. Following graduation from the University of Nebraska- Lincoln, he relocated in Portland, Oregon for a period of employment. Since his return to Omaha, in 2004, he has been teaching younger boys tap and hip-hop classes, and working with various levels of acrobatic classes. He also works as an account and project manager for a material handling company, and cares for his young twins, who are building a future at Kitty Lee.
Dorothy has been a teacher at KLD since 1972. She started helping Miss Kitty with acrobats and then moved into teaching other dance forms. Dorothy was employed by OPS for 34 years and was instrumental in starting the dance program at McMillan Middle School. Today Miss Dorothy owns and operates American Legacy Complex, but has never given up her love for dance and working with the students at KLD. She especially loves working with the younger ones to help them learn the basics of dance.
Jana Belitz Rhodes
Jana Belitz Rhodes grew up in Omaha. A former student of Kitty Lee, she chose dance as her career after high school. She graduated from Oklahoma City University with a Bachelors of Performing Arts in Dance Performance. She danced with Premier Cruises and Busch Gardens, Williamsburg. She also danced in The Hunchback of Norte Dame- A Musical Adventure at Disney's Studios - Walt DisneyWorld, Florida. She then became a Staging Specialist at the Magic Kingdom where she taught all parades and stage shows for 7 years. She now resides in Omaha with her husband and is blessed to be mom to 3 amazing kids. She is currently a Teaching Artist for Dancing Classrooms here in Omaha. But returning to teach at Kitty's is where her heart lies.
Haley was a student at Kitty Lee for 14 years, competing locally and nationally. During her 8 years as a competitive dancer, she received many titles and scholarships, working with many esteemed choreographers. She was also a member of the Millard North Varsity Dance Team all 4 years of high school before attending the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. During her college years, she was a member of the inaugural Omaha Nighthawks Cheerleading team, performing at games and making appearances throughout Omaha. Haley now works full-time as a Family and Consumer Science teacher at Millard North High School, coaching JV cheerleading and teaching dance at Kitty's! Haley's passion for dance and performance has brought her back as a teacher at Kitty Lee!
Jessica Turner is a former student of Kitty Lee Dance studio. She received a bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science with a minor in Dance from the University of Kansas. There she was a member of the University Dance Company, the Bowery Dancers, and the Cohen/Suzeau Dance Company. She had the privilege to work with several renowned artists. She was a featured soloist in new works set by guest choreographers Kate Skarpetowska and Wally Cardona. She is currently seeking her Doctorate of Physical Therapy at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. Jessica enjoys teaching ballet.
Andrea began her dance training in Grand Island, under the direction of Sandy Gardner (former Kitty Lee dance student). In her youth, Andrea was a part of the Lincoln Midwest Ballet's Nutcracker , along with attending their summer ballet dance camps programs. While growing up, she was on the competition dance team, and went to many conventions and competitions nationwide. Andrea went on to study Dance Performance at Oklahoma CIty University, where she was a member of the American Spirit Dance Company. In the summer months, she would take classes in L.A. at the Edge, and competed at Gus Giordanos Jazz World Congress in Chicago. After college, Andrea performed with Spirit of the Dance in Las Vegas and the U.S. tour. While in Vegas, she had many opportunities to dance in industrial shows, along with being a shoe model for fashion events. Then Andrea went on to work for Royal Caribbean Productions ;dancing aboard the Monarch, Vision, and Serenade of the Seas. She recently has been performing with Extreme Vegas magic/variety shows in Oregon and Massachusetts. During her professional dance career, Andrea pursued her STOTT Pilates certification in equipment based pilates. She also lived in Toronto for a year teaching pilates in a physiotherapy center and a pilates studio. For the last 4 years, Andrea has called New York City home; where she taught in Brooklyn and Manhattan. When not teaching Pilates, she could be found taking class at Alvin Ailey, Broadway Dance Center, Steps, and Peridance studios. Andrea is very excited be in Omaha, teaching dance and pilates, with hopes of going back to school for physical therapy.