Below you will see our lovely Studio Owner, Dance Director, and our staff.

Marco Mechelke

Marco was born in Berlin, Germany. After a very successful career as an amateur dancer he and his partner moved to the United States in 1989. He became a professional and had immediate success, climbing the ranks in the Latin American style in the United States. Having lived in Miami, Dallas, New York, Las Vegas, Santa Barbara, San Diego, and Cincinnati over the last 20 years, he has built long lasting professional relationships through coaching, competing, performing shows, and judging major dance competitions. He represented the United States in many international competitions and championships. His many professional accomplishments include being a finalist in the United States Ballroom Championship as well as a finalist in the World Masters. He won many championships all around the United States. After retiring he started to teach and coach all around the United States as well as perform shows. He worked for independent studios, as well as Arthur Murray and Fred Astaire studios all around the United States as a visiting coach. This experience helped him when he was asked to manage a dance studio in Las Vegas that he built into one of the premier dance studios in Nevada. Marco was a featured dancer in the movie "Dance With Me" with Vanessa Williams, Kris Kristofferson and Chayenne. He is a member of the North American Dance Teacher Association, the National Dance Council of America and is a judge, permitted to judge any dance competition, including World Championships.

  

Leslie Whitesell

Leslie Whitesell began her dance training in classical ballet in Baltimore and went on to graduate from the high school ballet program at the North Carolina School for the Arts.  After graduating, she moved to New York City where she studied at the Joffrey Ballet and Steps on Broadway Dance Center with a variety of distinguished teachers, including Finis Jhung and Nancy Bielski.

 

While in New York, Leslie developed an interest in ballroom dancing and began training at Stepping Out Studios.  She also studied Argentine Tango both in New York and Buenos Aires with Argentine masters Carlos Gavito, Nito ​& ​Elba Garcia, Oscar Mandagaran, and Guillermina Quiroga.

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Leslie has competed extensively in many prestigious competitions and holds such titles as 2010 United States Dance Championship Pro-Am Open Cabaret Champion and Ohio Star Ball Pro-Am World Theatrical Champion.  Her tremendous knowledge of technique and presentation is a result of her considerable training and many performances.

 

In January 2014 ​Leslie moved to Cincinnati and began teaching at DARE TO DANCE where she is currently training to compete professionally in the American Smooth style.  Her coaches include former Smooth champions Eddie Simon, JT Thomas and Mayo Alanen.  Devotion to her craft and a great sense of humor make her an instructor beloved by both students and staff.

  

Tony Magana

Born and raised in a small town in Mexico, Tony Magana started dancing Ballet Folklorico as a young boy.  After much preparation and rehearsal, he headed with his dance troupe to the big city of Guadalajara.  The performance was such a success that it became a turning point for him and he knew dancing was his thing to do in life.  He is very proud of the fact that he influenced his 4 year old niece to take up ballet dancing. Knowing he has helped her make that decision makes him work harder every day to get better and better.

 

There is only one other activity that Tony is as passionate about and that’s soccer. When he’s not on the dance floor, you can find him on the soccer field playing with his friends.


Tony is a friendly, noble, and happy person who loves to share what he’s learned throughout the years. He believes that dancing is therapy for your soul and a great way to have a fun time with family and friends while you shake the stress away.

  

Alex Olmedo

 Alex Olmedo is a long-time student of dance. She grew up in Houston, where she learned street salsa, bachata and merengue with her family and friends. She attended college at Miami University where she studied many forms of modern dance, and performed on the Latin dance and Swing dance teams for four years. After college she deepened her interest in” the body-mind” connection and completed her 200 hour yoga teacher training. She also completed an apprenticeship under long-time choreographer and movement therapist FanchonShur this past spring, and plans on continuing her education in Ballroom, Healing Touch and movement therapy modalities. 

  

Elayne Sullivan

Elayne started performing at the age of four, and hasn’t stopped since. She grew up in a musical family, learning various instruments such as piano and clarinet while studying vocal arts. In high school Elayne was a part of the show choir, concert choir, marching band, concert band and drama club. Music and dance have had a huge impact on Elayne and have guided her through life.

She attended college at the University of Cincinnati where she earned her degree in Electronic Media Technology while being a member of the campus choir, marching band and rider on the equestrian team. Her passion for music has led her to a place where she can share her love for rhythm and movement to others.

When not dancing, Elayne enjoys horseback riding, campfires, and spending time with friends and family.

  

Timothy Harris

Timothy Allen Harris was Born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio. After graduating from High School he went on to pursue his dreams of being a Chef at Cincinnati State Technical and Community College. He began to utilize his cooking skills and turned them into his event planning business for the past 11 years. He has written one cookbook “The Branded Culinarian” that was released in November 2014. He enjoys being in the company of good people and being able to leave a smile on one’s face! He takes on the role here at D2D as Office Manager/Event Coordinator since January 2015. Timothy has always enjoyed the customer service atmosphere.Being able to assist people is his first passion! Here at the studio, Timothy is a key player for studio information, instructor availability, and making sure you have the ultimate dance experience at Dare To Dance.

  

Jacob Conner

          

Jacob Conner started dancing in college. During his first week at Purdue University, he and some friends attended a Ballroom Dance team callout thinking it would be a fun way to meet girls. Needless to say, his first year dancing was very difficult, having started out with absolutely no musical inclinations, natural rhythm, or athletic coordination. It certainly wasn’t as easy as it looks on Dancing with the Stars.

Fortunately, Jacob did meet a very patient young lady, who became a wonderful friend. She helped him along that first year as he struggled to learn to lead, do the basic steps, and just stay on time to the music. As he continued to learn new steps and technique, he found himself enjoying this new skill he was developing and striving at to become better. At first, he had to be satisfied with effort, but by the end he was proud of his acquired skills.

As an official member of the Purdue Latin and Ballroom dance team his freshman year, Jacob competed in only a couple of competitions as a beginner. But by his senior year, Jacob was competing in virtually every Midwest Collegiate competition. He danced various styles such as the waltz, cha cha, foxtrot, and samba! The competitions were a great experience because it was a chance for his Purdue team of over 100 members to compete against other top Big Ten and Midwest schools.

When he’s not at the studio, Jacob works full-time as an Actuary at American Modern.

Ben Blekfeld

Ben Blakefield has been performing in the arts since a very early age. He graduated with a Bachelors in Fine Arts from Millikin University in Decatur Illinois, with a degree in Music, Theatre, & Dance. While there he studied Movement for the stage, Jazz, Ballet,Tap and Modern Dance. Since then he has performed in the Chicago Theatre circuit as well as regional repertory theatres.
 

Ben has been teaching Ballroom dance for over 12 years in the Chicagoland area.  He has competed in Rhythm and Smooth both profesionally and with students receiving top student awards & top teacher awards.  He has managed two ballroom dance studios both Franchised and Independent and loves watching how learning to dance changes peoples lives for the better.

 

 

DARE TO DANCE            513-407-8633                  contactus@d2dcincinnati.com

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