Denise Gillman, FDCCA, AISTD- Academy Founder

Ms. Gillman began her early training in Michigan with Marjorie B. Randazzo; she was the recipient of the Hammond Scholarship allowing her to continue as a full-time student at the National Ballet School of Canada.

Ms. Gillman is a frequent guest teacher in the United States and Europe, including faculty positions at the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School, Carnegie Mellon University, Louisville Ballet School, the International Summer School of the Cecchetti Council of America, ISTD – Cecchetti, and the Kate Simmons School in England.

Ms. Gillman is familiar with Balanchine style and has training in the Vaganova and RAD methods of teaching, although her teaching preference is the Cecchetti Method.

Through many years of continued education, dedication and love of dance, Ms. Gillman has achieved an associate diploma from the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing and has also earned her Cecchetti Diploma as a dancer and teacher.

Ms. Gillman is dedicated to the continuation of the art of ballet and dance education. For the past twenty  years, she has grown her dance studio into a multi-location academy . Gillman’s Dance Academy is also home to the MAGIC, Inc., a youth dance company founded by Ms. Gillman and community members who are invested in the non-profit, MAGIC – Making Art Grow In Children, Inc.



Madalyn Brinkhaus- Academy Director/Instructor 

Born in Louisville, Madalyn began her dance training with the Louisville Ballet School. She graduated from Butler University in 2012 with high honors and a B.A. in Dance Pedagogy. At Butler, she performed in a number of Classical Ballets, such as The Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake, and Coppélia, as well many contemporary and jazz pieces.

Madalyn is a member of the Cecchetti Council of America and has passed her Teacher’s Exams I-V. She is also a member of Ohio Dance Masters and Dance Masters of America, and through this organization she is certified to teach Acrobatic Dance.

Madalyn sees the importance in continuing her dance education and has attending a number of workshops, including Rhee Gold’s Dance Teacher Conference in Scottsdale, AZ and Kate Simmons’ International School in England. She has adjudicated the Junior Title Competition for Ohio Dance Masters and guest taught for Dance Masters of the Bluegrass’ Fall Workshop.

Madalyn is a Co-Artistic Director and Choreographer for M.A.G.I.C., Louisville’s non-profit youth dance company. She is also involved with Gillman’s competitive teams, and has choreographed many award winning routines. In addition to teaching at Gillman’s, she teaches dance and gymnastics classes at The Gardner School. She is also certified in Zumba® and Zumba® Kids.



Lee Anne Meyer- Instructor

Lee Anne Drake-Meyer grew up in Louisville, Kentucky where she studied tap, jazz, and ballet at Harold Roberts School of Dance. While obtaining her Bachelor of Arts in Communications at the University of Louisville she continued her dance education with training at the University of Louisville Dance Academy, U of L Collegiate Ballet Program and Louisville Ballet Civic Company. Lee Anne competed and received dance awards both regionally and nationally. Some of her achievements include being the first Junior Miss Dance of the Bluegrass (Dance Masters of America), Top 3 finalist in the Coca-Cola Talent Classic (KY State Fair) and 2nd runner up to Miss Kentucky 1991.

Lee Anne has performed in productions at U of L, the Louisville Zoo Back to School Revue and Fox 41’s Fun Around Downtown Day. She has been a dance teacher and choreographer for KIDance, Harold Roberts School of Dance, Louisville Metro Parks, and Ellen’s School of Dance. Lee Anne also worked as a TV news producer at WHAS-11. She is married with one daughter and one son. Her daughter, Kathleen, is currently a trainee at Joffrey Ballet in NYC.






Maddie Shackleton- Instructor

Maddie Shackleton has been a part of the Gillman’s Dance Academy family since 2008 when she began studying under Denise Gillman in the styles of ballet, pointe, tap, jazz, and lyrical. In her time at Gillman’s she studied the Cecchetti Ballet method and passed her grade I-V student exams.

In addition to studying under the faculty of Gillman’s Dance Academy, Maddie has attended the Cecchetti Council of America’s summer intensive in Holland, Michigan, Kate Simmons International Summer Intensive in England, and also numerous conventions with Dance Masters of Ohio. As a founding member of Louisville’s non-profit youth dance company M.A.G.I.C, Maddie performed for 8 years as many roles including Clara, The Rat Queen, Little Bo Peep, and The Dew Drop Fairy.

Maddie fell in love with teaching when she began assisting classes at the age of 11, and starting in 2012 she began choreographing award winning competition routines. In the winter of 2017, Maddie became a certified teacher with Dance Masters of America in the disciplines of Tap and Acrobatics. In the future, she plans to continue her training by attending Dance Teachers Training School in Buffalo, New York to enhance her teaching skills and further her knowledge of the art.

After graduating from Oldham County High School in 2016, Maddie began studying as an undergraduate student at the university of Louisville. Her choice of schools has allowed her to remain apart of the Gillman’s family where she continues to teach classes and work with the studios competition team and M.A.G.I.C Dance Company.

Office Staff

Benjie Witt- Account Manager

Benjie Witt is a lifelong resident of Oldham County KY. She attended LaGrange Elementary and Centerfield Elementary Schools, Oldham County Middle School and is a 1994 graduate of Oldham County High School. In 1998 she received her Bachelor’s Degree from Western Kentucky University in Computer Information Systems. In January 1999 she began her professional career with Humana Military Healthcare Services as a Systems Engineer, 15 years later she is still employed with Humana. Benjie currently is a systems manager who supervises a dedicated group of employees. Benjie lives just north of LaGrange and has been married to her husband Tracy for nearly 15 years; together they have 3 beautiful daughters and 3 dogs. Her daughters’ passion and love for dance brought her to Gillman’s Dance Academy.

Joan Gillman- Support/Wardrobe