Our staff consists of the top dance teachers in the Gulf Coast area. Many of our teachers and choreographers have danced professionally or graduated from top university programs.
Melissa Patterson Covo
Teacher/Choreographer : Director & Founder
Melissa’s dance career started in Mobile, AL in 1981. She danced at Robinson’s School of Dance for nineteen years and was a charter member of the Lynn Robinson Dancers. Melissa was an ADF scholarship student in 1999. While at ADF she focused on ballet and modern to include classes and performances. She had the opportunity to learn choreography from both Paul Taylor and Alvin Ailey companies. She is a graduate of The University of Southern Mississippi with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance and a minor in Psychology. While attending USM, Melissa was a member of the USM Dance Reparatory and captain of the Dixie Darlings. While traveling with USM Dance Reparatory, Melissa studied with company members from Alvin Ailey Dance Company, Susan Mcguire the head of Paul Taylor Dancers and Jane Comfort and Company. Melissa was also chosen to perform original works from these companies while attending the American Dance Festival at Duke University.
After graduating in 1999, Melissa moved to New York City where she did an internship at Dance Space Center and Steps on Broadway. In 2001 Melissa moved to Raleigh, NC where she taught classes and worked with company members at Dance Creations by Susan Byrd. In 2003, she began working for the Wake County Public School System where she taught dance for two years. Melissa worked as the dance instructor at Old Shell Road School of Performing Arts in Mobile, AL where she taught Ballet, Tap and Jazz in 2006 and 2007. In 2008 Melissa became a dance instructor for a dance company in Fairhope, AL where she was the Director of Ballet and choreographed many stunning ballets and award-winning competitive routines.
Melissa is currently the owner and founder of Gulf Coast Dance Alliance in Spanish Fort, AL; one of the most diverse dance studios on the Gulf Coast. Melissa has taught at The Summer Jazz intensive in Chicago at Gus Giordano Dance along with other amazing Dance Educators from across the country such as Cornelius Carter, Fury Gold, and Kirby Reed to name a few.
Melissa’s choreography over the past 9 years has won many first overalls, national titles, and choreography awards at the elite level. Melissa has volunteered over the past five years choreographing for the Spanish fort senior pageant.
Meryl Hyderally – Ballet Director and Teacher
Ms. Meryl Hyderally has a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance and Choreography from Southeastern Louisiana University. She has dedicated her life to the study of ballet and related art forms. Meryl was the Head Ballet Mistress for the Emerald Coast Ballet and a Ballet Teacher at Pensacola School of Ballet. Ms. Hyderally resides in Daphne, Alabama and is the mother of Sophia (college gymnast) and Hunter (lacrosse player). Meryl is honored to have the opportunity to teach and share her love of ballet with the dancers at Gulf Coast Dance Alliance.
Brooke Baggett Eubanks – Performance Team Director / Teacher / Choreographer
We are excited to welcome back Brooke for her 4th year with GCDA as a teacher and choreographer! Brooke began dancing at the age of two, studying ballet, pointe, tap, jazz, modern and lyrical at Gale’s Studio of Dance and as a member of Davidson High School’s Kinetics Dance Company. After high school, she attended the University of Southern Mississippi and received a BFA in Dance Education. During her time at USM, she was a member of the Dixie Darlings, Southern Misses Dance Team, and USM Repertory Dance Company.
In 2013, she presented with USM dance faculty at the National Dance Education Organization national conference in Miami. While in college Brooke was awarded Outstanding Junior and Outstanding Dance Educator, and was elected co-chair of the NDEO USM student chapter. Her teaching experience includes Dance Dynamics of Hattiesburg, Nora Davis Magnet School in Laurel, MS, and currently at Dunbar Creative and Performing Arts Magnet School in Mobile, AL. Brooke is looking forward to sharing her passion of dance with the students at GCDA!
Chassitie Smith – Teacher / Choreographer
We are excited to welcome back Chassitie for her 7th year with GCDA as a teacher and choreographer! Chassitie has been studying the wonderful art of dance since the age of seven. For the past twenty years, she has had many opportunities to expand her knowledge and expertise as a dancer, teacher, and choreographer. At age fifteen, she had the opportunity to travel the country as an assistant teacher with the dance convention Company Dance. While on tour, she assisted many classes with Eddie Garcia, Chebar Williams, Barry Youngblood and many others. After graduating from Alma Bryant High School, Chassitie was selected to be a member of the dance team at Troy University in the Sound of the South marching band.
In 2006, she achieved the National Title of Miss VIP at the National VIP Dance Competition in Panama City, Fl. Chassitie has been a guest choreographer at Tribe Studio in Elba, Al. for ten years now and has been responsible for all competition choreography for the Tribe Dance Company.
For twelve years, Chassitie has been a dance teacher and choreographer in all areas of dance including lyrical/contemporary, hip-hop, jazz, ballet/pointe, tap, acrobats, and baton. She graduated from the University of Mobile with a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing. She is extremely excited to be starting her 5th year with GCDA and looks forward to spreading her love and passion for dance.
Ashley Nicole Funk – Teacher / Choreographer
We are excited to welcome back Ashley Funk in her 5th year at GCDA as a teacher and choreographer! Ashley started tumbling at the age of 7. She grew up dancing at several local studios to include Robinson’s School of Dance. During her professional career, Ashley has taught at studios throughout AL & MS and even founded her own studio in 2011. She attended the University of South Alabama where she followed her love for dance and entertainment by auditioning and being selected as a Disney character in 2006.
In the years to come, Ashley choreographed numerous half time shows, school dance teams, majorette lines along the coast. In 2011 she was chosen as the coordinator - choreographer and member of the Mobile Pro Arena football dance team. She has choreographed for DYW formerly Junior Miss programs opening numbers and fitness routines in 2006-2009 and continues to work with and advise contestants every year. Her competition choreography continues to win prestigious awards and honors every season. Ashley is so excited to be starting her 4th year at GCDA and looking forward to many years to come!
Ron Smith – Acro/Gym Coach
Ron Smith graduated from the University of South Alabama with a degree in Physical Education. Ron started tumbling at a young age, later developing a passion for gymnastics and coaching. Ron was named the National Trampoline Champion, National Masters Champion and was a World Silver Medalist.
He continued his love for gymnastics by becoming a gymnastics/fine arts specialist within the Mobile County Public School System for 20 years. He owned Ron’s Academy of Trampoline & Tumbling in Semmes, AL where he trained numerous gymnasts for 5 years.
As a coach, Ron led four United States teams to World and International Championships. He has had the pleasure of working with numerous professional dancers, singers and actors as well as over 1,000 athletes. He is also a certified elite level gymnastics coach and judge. With over 30 years’ experience, Ron cannot wait to share his love for tumbling with GCDA this year!
Maria Joy Moxey - Teacher
Maria Moxey began tapping at the age of 2 keeping herself occupied in the aisles of grocery stores where she could hear her sounds. When she was 10, she performed on Broadway with Duke Ellington’s Orchestra in a limited engagement of the tap show “Slide.” For three years, she danced with TapKids’ Tap SpecTAPular in Burlington, VT and was chosen as a soloist in 2016. She was invited to join the American Tap Company and represent the US at the World Tap Congress in Germany. One of her “wow” moments was performing a tap piece for Ben Vereen at his request.
Maria has studied with tap masters Dianne Walker, Derrick Grant, Michelle Dorrance, Sarah Reich, Star Dixon, Nico Rubio, Jason Janas, Mark Goodman, Max Pollack, Chloe Arnold, Jared Grimes, Barbara Duffy, Aaron Tolson, and Ayodele Casel. Brent Oplotnik helped define her sounds and vocabulary for 5 years.
Maria trains daily to be a well-rounded dancer. Her modern dance choreography was included in the 2017 Mississippi Dance Festival and the 2017 Fall Modern Dance Festival. She is the 2018 Alabama State PTA Reflections Dance Choreography Winner and is interning with the Jazz City Tap Fest.
On the weekends, she can often be found in New Orleans tapping with Nora Clark of Tap That Brass, Inc. And, she still taps in the aisles while buying groceries. We are excited to have Maria tapping with us and our dance family for 3 years!!!
Raley Zofko Zampieri - Teacher / Choreographer
Raley Zofko has been dancing for more than twenty years; she is proficient in ballet, jazz, gymnastics, and tap. The majority of her training was fulfilled at Green Acres School of Dance and Dare 2 Dance in Robertsdale, Alabama. During her last few years of high school, she trained at Sheffield’s School of the Dance, in Mobile Alabama.
Raley has won numerous awards at local dance conventions and competitions along the way. After high school, she went on to continue her education at the University of South Alabama, as a Primary and Special Education major. There, Raley joined the University of South Alabama dance team and supported her school’s athletics with pride and spirit for four consecutive years. In her very first year on the team the “Prowlers” won 3rd place in their division at the UDA National Dance Championship!
In 2007, Raley auditioned and was accepted as a Radio City Rockette! Since then she has been a part of numerous Radio City Christmas Spectacular casts, performing all over the U.S. She was selected to join the New York Radio City Rockette cast for the 2012 Radio City Christmas Spectacular. Since then, she has also been selected to perform on the Today Show, Wendy Williams Show, America’s Got Talent, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and the Radio City Spring Spectacular. Raley has performed with the Rockettes for over 9 years! She will also be joining us for her 10th year at GCDA.
Lauren Guynes - Choreographer
Lauren has been dancing since the age of three. She grew up competing in contemporary, jazz, hip‐hop, and tap with the Explosion Performance Company of Dance Unlimited from Byram, MS. In 2013, Lauren received her Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Dance Performance and Choreography from the University of Southern Mississippi. During her time at Southern Miss, she performed with the USM Repertory Dance Company. She had the privilege of working with student and faculty choreographers, as well as guest artists such as InSpirit, Ririe‐Woodbury Dance Company and ClancyWorks Dance Company.
After graduation, she had the opportunity to perform as a guest artist with Hattiesburg’s Hub Dance Collective. She then moved to New York City where she had an internship with WHITE WAVE Young Soon Kim Dance Company. During her time in New York, she performed the work of Kelly Ferris‐Lester at the 2014 Brockport Alumni Concert and the 2014 DUMBO Dance Festival. Lauren will be continuing her professional dance career this fall with the Marigny Opera Ballet Company based out of New Orleans.
Susan Holman - Preschool Instructor and Tumble Coach
Former Corps De Ballet Dancer with The State of Alabama Ballet while attending Alabama School of Fine Arts. Susan, was self proprietor of Contempo Dance Studio for 20 years. Throughout the years she was the recipient of numerous awards both personally and by her students. Susan has been married to Dewayne for 30 years and they share two sons. She is now a Preschool Teacher. She is a preschool instructor and tumble coach here at GCDA.