Growing up, Rubye Del Harden never thought of herself as an entrepreneur. But, one day she woke up and realized she owned seven businesses. What is surprising to her and others is the diversity of those businesses - from printing to newspapers, to an online store that sells books and gifts, to consulting and several dance businesses including The Dance Studio and All Star Dance Camp. Rubye Del, who has danced since 2001, says she can operate so many businesses by having great managers.
An amateur competitor, Rubye Del takes lots of lessons, attends group classes and parties, and works through many venues to build the North Mississippi ballroom community. She even teaches a few beginner classes at the studio in addition to lending her business skills to support the studio's great staff.
Tammy is both the studio manager and the artistic director at The Dance Studio in Tupelo, Mississippi. Prior to this position, she and her Mom, Linda Hong, were co-owners of The Dance Floor in Chattanooga, TN. At The Dance Floor, she developed a great reputation as a superior dance teacher. She consistently develops wonderful relationships with her students and, in Chattanooga, she developed one of the largest youth programs in the South. She not only develops outstanding dancers, but serves as a role model and mentor for the youth. As you look around any dance floor, you can always spot her male students because they are consistently the better dancers on the floor. While she is a meticulous and demanding instructor, her students love her because when they are “Tammy Trained” they understand what they are doing and they look like they know what they are doing. Tammy is realizing her goal of expanding the Tupelo Dance Studio into the broader North Mississippi region with classes now offered in Oxford and Columbus. She is DVIDA certified in American style smooth and rhythm. Her dance coaches include dance notables Jim and Jenell Maranto, Ron Montez, Felipe and Carolina Telona, Toni Redpath, and Kasia Kozak.
Melissa Halbert - Instructor/Assistant Manager
Melissa Halbert, originally from Birmingham, began dancing and teaching as a student of Curt and Wendy Johnson. She is now a DVIDA certified dance instructor/choreographer, and is no stranger to the North Mississippi dance community. Hers is a familiar face at dance events in the region where she and former Dance Studio Instructor, Zack Wallace, have won numerous awards and received recognition as showcase dancers.
Melissa is a graduate of Faulkner University with a degree in Theater Performance. She brings to the Studio an extensive background in ballroom dance. At The Dance Studio, Melissa is an instructor in the Youth classes for children 8-12 years old in addition to her private lessons and classes for adults. She emphasizes that her love of dance has allowed her to make new friends and to express herself creatively, and she shares these dynamics with her students.
"I love dance because it allows you to enter a whole different world where you can leave all your troubles behind and become immersed in the music and movement," says Melissa.
Lauryn Sperling has made quite a dance debut since coming to Oxford MS. She discovered ballroom dancing when she was a brand new student at Ole Miss working toward a Bachelor of Science degree in biology. She fell in love with the joy of dancing and participated in every class, workshop, dance party and dance camp in the region, striving to learn as much about dance as she could. It wasn’t long before she was invited to become part of the pro staff of The Dance Studio of Tupelo’s team. Lauryn is a DVIDA certified instructor, earning high honors. She has trained with top level pros such as Ron Montez, Jim Maranto, and Felipe and Carolina Telona, as well as studying extensively with Tammy Wilson. Lauryn learned Salsa first hand from Daniel Peña and specializes in Cuban-style salsa. While Lauryn enjoys all forms of dancing, her favorites include Salsa and West Coast Swing. She is currently working on gaining competitive experience in the West Coast circuit.
While Lauryn is constantly striving to improve, she believes the most important aspect of dancing is having fun. She loves to introduce people to dance and help them continue to improve their skills. She is currently working to expand the social ballroom dancing sphere in and around the Ole Miss campus with both group and private lessons. Lauryn aims to make each and every lesson productive and enjoyable. Since it wasn’t long ago that Lauryn was learning ballroom for the first time, one of her strengths is breaking down the steps and making them easy to understand and utilize.
Matt Embler started dancing as a teenager when his mom signed him up for lessons at the Asheville Ballroom and Dance Centre (North Carolina). While he didn’t initially have a lot of time for dancing, by the time he was 17 he was taking lessons from Amy and Jason Barnes, and competing at country events.
Among his many accomplishments, Matt is the UCWDC 2012 World Champion in the Pro-Am Male Teen Newcomer division at the UCWDC 2012 Country Dance World Championships, and a recipient of the Charles Bryant Scholarship Award as Top Male Student winning Gold w/honors in Triple Two-Step, Polka, Night Club Two-Step, Waltz, Country Two-Step and East Coast Swing along with Gold Graduate in Cha Cha and West Coast Swing.
Two years ago, Matt decided to continue his dance education by becoming a teacher-trainee at The Dance Studio in Tupelo, Mississippi where he received his primary instruction from Tammy Wilson and Robbie Greenwood. This past year, at The Dance Studio, he moved from teacher-trainee to full professional status. In addition, Matt has earned his DVIDA certification in American style ballroom. In addition to American style smooth and rhythm, Matt also has extensive training in Country-Western dancing and West Coast Swing. He continues to improve his abilities through coaching with pros such as Crystal Lambert-Auclair, Ron Montez, Kasia Kozak, Jim & Jenell Maranto, and Carolina and Felipe Telona.
To Matt, what is more important than all the awards he has received is the way that dance has changed his life. He has met just about all of his friends through dancing and loves to share the joy of dance with others. He says that most people recognize that dancing brings physical benefits but he notices most people experience social, mental and emotional benefits as well. He absolutely loves spreading the joy of dance and considers it both an honor and a privilege to be given the opportunity to introduce so many people to dance. He hopes to continue to spread the love of dance wherever possible.
truly strive to make all my partners feel comfortable and welcome. Dancing
isn't about doing all the steps right, it's about having fun!” Matt said.