Leslie created the dance program at Harpeth Hall School, where she still continues to teach Yoga. Leslie created and served as Artistic Director of the Harpeth Hall Dance Companies for 23 years. She is a two-time recipient of the prestigious Pencil Foundation Grant, and received the first Outstanding Dance Educator Award from the Tennessee Association of Dance and the Owen Chair for Excellence in Teaching from Harpeth Hall School. She has a 1,000 hour certification in Yoga from the Southern Institute for Yoga Instructors.
Leslie teaches "Gentle Yoga" in the Iyengar tradition and utilizes props and modifications for all levels to properly align the body for the asanas with focus on spinal stabilizers. Special attention is given to physical limitations and injuries.
Ms. Carver’s formal dance training began at the age of 7, and later she danced with two civic ballet companies, during her student years, training under Alpheus Koon of American Ballet Theater and Gerald Pascual of the Chicago Lyric Opera. She went to New York City to train under such ballet luminaries as Vladimir Dokoudovsky at the Ballet Arts School, Maria Nevelska and Vladimir Konstantinov at Carnegie Hall Studios, Anatole Vilzak at the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo and David Howard at the David Howard School of Ballet. She also trained in Toronto at the National Ballet School (now School of the National Ballet of Canada) with school Principal Betty Oliphant (who was also a guest teacher at the Bolshoi Ballet) and Margaret Saul. While performing professionally with the Florida Ballet Company, she trained with Jean Spear and the great Sir Frederic Franklin. She passed examinations of the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing, London, England – Cecchetti Method.
In Nashville, Ms. Carver founded Tennessee Dance Theater (as a ballet company) and was its Artistic Director and Resident Choreographer until it became the famous modern dance company. Tennessee Dance Theater presented the first full-length ballet ever presented in the city with its production of "Giselle" in 1989, and sponsored the first ever showcase of local choreographers during its annual Choreographer’s Showcase.
Tennessee Dance Theater paved the way for other professional dance companies in the city, including Nashville City Ballet, which is now known as Nashville Ballet. She also served as the Secretary and Teacher Representative to the Board of Directors for Tennessee Association of Dance as well as a judge for several talent and dance competitions in and around the city. She taught ballet technique classes in several local dance studios as well as at Vanderbilt University, Tennessee Fine Arts Center at Cheekwood, Nashville Ballet, and The Dance Center, a school she owned and operated.
She continues to share her knowledge, coaching private dancers, as a faculty member for Tennessee Governor’s School for the Arts, where she received the 2013 Teacher of the Year award, and with her adult ballet class at Second Story Studio. She was also Director for Circle Players for the musicals “Brigadoon,” “Camelot,” and “Hello, Dolly,” all presented at TPAC.
Marci Murphree - Owner, Artistic Director, Teaching Artist
Creative Ballet, Modern Dance, Tap & Musical Theater
Ashlyn began her dance training at various studios in her hometown, Eau Claire, WI and continued throughout her youth. She then pursued her professional dance training and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Dance at the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point. After graduating in December 2014 Ashlyn went back to teaching in her hometown, before moving to Nashville in September 2015. In January 2016 Ashlyn joined Blue Moves Modern Dance Company and is excited to continue growing with the company.
Ashlyn began teaching in high school and has continued to share her passion for dance ever since. After experiencing the maturity of a college dance program, her desire was to bring that same wealth of knowledge to a younger crowd. Ashlyn focuses her dance classes on honing artistry and shaping creativity. But, don't worry, classes with Ashlyn will still be athletic, energized, and technically based!
Holly performed with Glen Fredrick’s Repertory Theater in Tsunami Echoes: Katrina Cries, a benefit for those devastated by the deadly storms. She also performed with the company Whispers, another dance company whose main goal is to shed light on social issues. Holly has been working with children for over 15 years. She began teaching dance in Murfreesboro for the Extended School Program (ESP) in elementary schools and for the Governor’s School Program under the direction of Nancy Turpin. She opened The Right Moves; A Studio Dedicated to the Arts in Smithville, Tennessee, where she offered classes in the fundamentals of dance, as well as self-defense, and guitar lessons.
After moving to Knoxville, Tennessee she worked for the highly reputable Rocky Hill Studio for the Arts teaching pre-ballet and African classes. Returning to Middle TN, Holly taught for the Kid Skills program for six and a half years creating her own curriculum called "The Stuff Every Kid Should Know,” combining dance and gymnastics while emphasizing the importance of health and fitness.
Marci met Holly when they both were Teaching Artists for Tennessee Performing Arts Center’s ArtSmart Program, Wolf Trap Early Learning through the Arts team, and most recently Disney Musicals in the Schools. Holly is happy to be back in the studio again working with many age levels and different styles of dance, after having two little dancers of her own, and we are happy to have her back as well!
Shonnah was one of Marci's students whose potential and interest in a variety of dance genres inspired Marci to open Second Story Studio 10 years ago. Shonnah trained in Modern, Ballet and Tap - where she quickly earned the nickname "our Metronome" because of her flawless focus and rhythm. She became a member of REASONs dance ensemble, performing in local shows including Tennessee Women’s Work Festival.
Shonnah started dancing with Marci 11 years ago at the Renaissance Center in Dickson TN where she went on to do 8 or so musicals with the Renaissance Players including Guys & Dolls and Once Upon A Mattress. She also took class there with Bryan J. Wlas and Marilyn Fair.
As part of REASONs, Shonnah received additional training in tap and flamenco, performing traditional as well as original choreography by Cindy Bleck, from Kansas City's, OLE Flamenco company and Billie Mahoney's Tap company. In 2013, she worked with Jeremy Benton, performing 42nd Street with most of Nashville's best tappers in the opening number for the First Night Award Honors Show. For a number of years Shonnah has worked with Nashville's famous hoofer/choreographer, Pam Atha, performing tap and musical theatre numbers.
Shonnah McNeal is a natural born teacher, putting students of all ages at ease and making dances that bring out their strong points and help them work on skills they need. After a number of years assisting, she took over the tap classes at Second Story. She attended Brenau University in 2014 where she had a semester of tap with Autumn Morgenstern and performed tap and modern numbers in the dance showcase.
Lucky for us, she realized her passion for tap, and life back in Nashville, and we’re thrilled that she returned to attend Nashville Tech and got herself qualified to train at the American Tap Dance Foundation in NYC 2015 & 2016. There she had Master classes with Brenda Buffalino, Barbara Duffy, and Margaret Morrison, and learned signature dances of the famous classic tap company The Copasetics including the traditional Soft Shoe, the B.S. Choras, and the Shim Sham Shimmy. Also, some of Shonnah's favorites, the Coles Stroll, originated by Honi Coles and Doin’ the New Low Down, an original dance by Bill “Bojangles” Robinson.
Shonnah is currently enrolled in film school at Nashville Film Institute, as she continues to teach at Second Story.
Pretty amazing history for a 22 year old girl who loves her horse and 3 dogs, on her family's farm in Kingston Springs.
Join Mary in flow yoga with an emphasis on safely exploring the edges of your strength and flexibility.
Mary specializes in therapeutic exercise and injury prevention,
giving expert attention to proper alignment and form. As a physical therapist, she guides students to work within their personal limits while providing sufficient challenge to improve bone health and muscle strength.
Breathing techniques that awaken the core and support coordinated movement will be used throughout each class.
Beyond the physical benefits, students will enjoy mindful, rhythmic, breath-linked movement, that calms the mind and releases tension that is often held, unrecognized, within the body.
Mary holds a Ph. D. in Neurophysiology with a specialty in movement disorders. She has practiced yoga for over 20 years and has studied with notable Iyengar teachers. Most recently, Mary received in-depth yoga teacher training from Ganga White, founder of one of the first yoga studio in LA.
Dance, Yoga, & Fitness
for Every Body
Donna Carver - Adult Ballet Instructor Adult Ballet
Prior to opening Second Story Studio in 2007, Marci was an original member of Tennessee Dance Theater. She performed in numerous original works by renowned dancer/choreographer Donna Rizzo and Andrew Krichels in concert with the Nashville Symphony, Riders In the Sky, Mark O'Connor, Chet Atkins & John Knowles, among others. The time with the company was an education in itself. TDT became certified to perform historical dances by early pioneers of modern dance, like Brahms Waltzes by Charles Weidman, and Doris Humphreys' Day On Earth. More contemporary dance greats, Bill Evans, Dan Waggoner, and Billy Seigenfeld set dances on the company as well. The company received warm reviews for their performances including those in the NY Times and none were more acclaimed than Quilts - choreographed by the company's directors to the original music created for them by singer/songwriter Mike Reid.
If you’ve taken dance or stage movement in Nashville in the last 30 years, there’s a good chance you’ve been in one of her classes at number of private studios, Vanderbilt Dance Group, Metro Parks, The Acting Studio, Dramatic Arts Studio, or University School of Nashville, where she still teaches. Marci has also had a presence in schools across Middle TN throughout her career as a Teaching Artist. She is a veteran TA with TPAC Education's ArtSmart, WolfTrap Early Learning, and Disney Musicals in Schools. She served as Director of LifeWork Productions for nearly a decade, where she wrote, directed and produced plays and musicals addressing personal and social issues, touring over 100 schools a year with an amazing professional cast.
Jen Hoeft is a woman's fitness expert, and a functional fitness specialist. Jen is an ACE certified personal trainer, a JohnnyG certified SPIN instructor, and a 19-year veteran of group fitness training. As a professional drummer, she has combined her passion for music and wellness into a unique and real approach to knowing, challenging, and celebrating the body inside and out. Jen is a health consultant and writer for Modern Drummer Magazine, and the TV host of City Sights-Nashville. She is currently promoting her book FUNdamental Fitness: Playground Exercises for Grownups. She studies yoga, is an avid swimmer and cyclist, and says diversity, balance, and laughter are the keys to a great workout.
Pam Atha, a native Arkansan, came to Nashville over 20 years ago in hopes of breaking into the music industry. Her path led sideways towards a performing artist career, encompassing music, dance, theatre, choreography and teaching all levels of modern, jazz, tap, fitness, and ballroom dance to children and adults.
While earning her BSE in dance from the University of Arkansas, she was introduced to modern/contemporary and interpretive dance in the tradition of Isadora Duncan, Martha Graham and Jose Limon. She was a founding member of Tennessee Dance Theatre, a modern dance company under the direction of Donna Rizzo and Andrew Krichels and performed with them for 13 years. Afterward, while teaching at Cumberland University, she earned her MAE and developed the dance program there.
Pam is proud to be a teaching artist for ArtSmart, the Aesthetic education program of TPAC Education. She continues to balance her teaching and performing careers and directing/choreographing for theatres in the area and beyond. Most recently she choreographed Much Ado about Nothing for Nashville Shakespeare Festival, and West Side Story for Hume Fogg High School. In 2011 Ms. Atha won a First Night award for her valuable contribution of dance in Tennessee theatre. We are grateful for the contribution she has made as a friend of Second Story Studio over the last 5 years and happy to have her teaching again!