Mary Ellen School of Dance

Offering The Best Dance Education in Ocala, Florida for 39 years!

 Studio Owner

Mary Ellen Vowinkel- Owner of Mary Ellen School of Dance, was born in Buffalo, New York and danced and trained at her mother's dance studio with her three sisters. She moved to Ocala with her husband and family in 1977, and opened Mary Ellen School of Dance in 1979. Mary Ellen has trained and educated thousands of students in the Ocala and surrounding areas. She has received most of her training from New York, dance conventions and from many head choreographers and teachers all over the US. All classes are under the personal direction of Mary Ellen thereby assuring a quality method of teaching of the art of dance through a graded system with discipline and correction for each student by trained , dedicated, and committed dance instructors.

Studio Director

Lisa Whitaker - Lisa began dancing in Melbourne , Florida, at the Nancy Haram School of Dance and then became the head choreographer for her high school dance/drill team for three years, traveling throughout the State of Florida to many competitions. She continued dancing for two years at the University of Florida taking various classes. She came to Mary Ellen School Of Dance in 2002 starting as an assistant and then teaching her own classes: Lyrical, Jazz, Tap, Ballet. She is the Studio Director for Mary Ellen School of Dance.

Office Staff

                 Angela Stoddard                                 Kelly Clemons                

                                Lisa Whitaker (Studio Director)



Dara Summers (See Below)



2016-2017 Faculty

Alison Swearingen - Alison received her dance training at Mary Ellen School of Dance.  As she brought her daughters to the school of dance training, she redeveloped an interest in dance involvement for herself.  She started as a class assistant and has been teaching Tiny Tots since 1999. She is co-director of the Performance Team and also teaches Jazz and Tap.

Dara Summers - Dara began her training at age 3 at Mary Ellen School of Dance.  Dara has taught Hip-Hop, Jazz, Acro, and Lyrical. She is co-director of the Mary Ellen School of Dance Performance Team, and also one of our office managers.


Samantha Lewis - Samantha is a former student of the Mary Ellen School of Dance and a graduate of Florida School of the Arts at St. John's River College.  Samantha has taught Tiny Tots, Bumblebees, and Jazz. She is co-director of Mary Ellen School of Dance Performance Team.

Maycee Dominguez- Maycee received her dance training at the Mary Ellen School of Dance.  She has been a member of the Ocala Dance Force Company, where she received numerous awards at competitions.  She started teaching at the Mary Ellen School of Dance as a student teacher and is now an associate teacher. Maycee is the director/choreographer for the Ocala Dance Force Company.


Leah Whitaker - Leah received her dance training at Mary Ellen School of Dance and has been a member of the Ocala Dance Force Company competition team.  Leah was a part of the Central Florida Ballet academy for four years.  While training at Central Florida Ballet, she performed in leading roles in their Nutcracker productions, which were nationally televised. She also received ballet training at Pofahl Studios, home of Dance Alive National Ballet Company.  She currently teaches Ballet, Pointe, Lyrical, Contemporary, Jazz Funk, and Silks/Hoops.


Jennifer Eggers - Jennifer's dance training began at the age of six in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. Her foundation was built studying Luigi's jazz technique, as well as Cecchetti, an Italian graded method of ballet.  Upon high school graduation, Jennifer studied dance at Point Park College (now Point Park University) with an emphasis on classical ballet.  Within a year, Jennifer booked her first Broadway show, the Will Rogers Follies.  Before she retired from the stage, she worked on two Broadway shows and three national tours.  She even performed "eye high" kicks as a world famous Radio City Rockette in NYC. 


Vanessa Carnes - Vanessa grew up in Ocala sharing her skills within our local community. She began cheerleading at the age of 9 with MCYFL and continued through highscool at Vanguard. She spent a year displaying those skills through The College Of Central Florida Cheerleading Team. She has coached Elementary, Middle and High School Levels. Also growing up she attended Jeanne Benson Dance Academy. She is excited to now be sharing her skills with others.

Kassie Grace- Kassie began dancing as a little girl at a studio in South Florida. At about 10 years old her family moved to Ocala, Fl and shortly after enrolled in classes at A Step Above dance Studio. She has trained in ballet, pointe, jazz, lyrical, tap, clogging and hip hop. She loves every minute of teaching young girls the art of dance.

Hannah Robarge- Hannah has been dancing for over 10 years and has been a on MESD Performance Team for 4 years. She enjoys assisting Tiny Tots and hopes to continue her passion after high school and pursue a degree in Elementary Education. Hannah Loves competing and performing with her team and enjoys being apart of the MESD family. 


Alyson Tomasetti*- Alyson has trained at Mary Ellens for 10 years and is apart of the Ocala Dance Force Company for the 8th year. She teaches/trains her fellow teamates in felxibility and technique classes to work their hardest to be the best dancers they can be. MESD is like a second home to her and hopes to stick around even after she finishes high school.

Trish Perkins- Bio coming soon.

Upcoming Events

Monday, Sep 4 at 3:00 PM - 7:00 PM
Tuesday, Oct 31 at 3:00 PM - 7:00 PM
Thursday, Nov 23 at 3:00 PM - 7:00 PM
Friday, Nov 24 at 3:00 PM - 7:00 PM