Julie Kirkland has had a passion for dance and instruction at a very early age. She danced competitively as a child and attended various dance conventions in the Southeast taking Master Classes under Frank Hatchett, Tommy Alexander and Janice Barringer. Julie minored in dance at Lander University and was a Company member of the Lander Dancers where she was awarded a Fine Arts Scholarship for her choreography. During the summers, she attended ballet classes with The Arts Center in Spartanburg, SC. Over the years, Julie was blessed enough to share her art form through instruction with various dance schools in Greenwood and in Ware Shoals, SC. Some of these students have chosen to continue to pursue their dream of dance through college and have become dance studio owners and instructors. Her competitive students have received numerous overall awards and Judge's awards at Regional and National Competitions in the Southeast. Julie is married and is a mother to twin college-aged daughters and a dance mother to several current and former students.
Susie Pennington has been teaching, choreographing and directing for over 30 years. She initially opened Susie’s Academy of Dance with an artistic vision and passion for teaching that sparked the same excitement in her students. Her competition teams over the years have won numerous awards and recognition. Most recently, her team competed at a National Competition in Rock Hill, SC where they won several top awards and placements. All of her students perform in the Greenwood Christmas Parade as well as the annual Spring Production held at Lander University. There are several opportunities for students to perform at various events including the Polar Express, the Greenwood Regional Rehabilitation Hospital, Susie’s Halloween Spooky Bash, the American Kidney Association and various Nursing Homes around the community. She teaches her students to value the importance in serving the community through involvement. Some of her students are now dance teachers in the public school system, dance studio owners and teachers in her studio. Susie says seeing her students continue the love of dance is her greatest accomplishment.
ABOUT OUR FACULTY
Taylor Kirkland is a Greenwood native and long-time student of Susie’s Academy of Dance. She was a competitive student for a number of years winning Regional competitions and most recently, a National competition with her competitive dance team. She was a former Varsity Football Cheerleader with Emerald Highschool and was the Junior Miss Emerald and Miss Emerald Highschool in her Senior year. She is currently a Lander University student where she is majoring in Elementary Education and minoring in History. Her background includes several dance conventions where many SYTYCD judges taught Master classes. Her favorite style of dance is tap and she loves bringing the excitement and passion to her tap classes.
"I am very blessed to have a job that I love & the opportunity to share the gift of dance with my students."
-Susie Pennington, Owner/Director
JULIE FORD KIRKLAND
Bree Lewis originally came to Susie's Academy of Dance as a student from North Carolina. She was a competitive dancer for several years and in her last year won several first place overall solo awards. She attended Master Classes at various conventions all over the Southeast. She graduated from College of Charleston where she majored in Mathematics, but continued her passion of dance. She studied ballet, modern and jazz while at CoC and eventually became involved in a Belly Dancing Troupe. She is currently a competitive and non-competitive instructor. Bree has taken her competitive students to Regional competitions where they have won numerous overall awards.
Helen Phillips is a native of Greenwood SC where she discovered her love for dance at a very early age. She began her teaching career at Susie’s Academy of Dance at the age of seventeen. She became a studio owner at the age of nineteen, when she relocated to Ware Shoals, SC and opened the doors to DanceWorks & Company. She produced numerous winning competition numbers at both the Regional and National levels. She also had several students move on to have successful dance careers. Helen coached cheer for 11 years at both Brewer Middle School and Emerald High School. She continues to share her love of choreography and creativity as a private instructor for participants competing in pageants and other talent venues. Helen is currently employed as a Job Coach with Greenwood School District 50. Helen is absolutely delighted to be returning to Susie’s Academy of Dance!
Jakayla Goodman is a former competitive Susie's Academy alumni having danced 11 years with our studio as well as other local studios in town. In addition to hip-hop, her two other favorite loves are tap and contemporary. She is currently teaching majorette in Spartanburg, SC and recently graduated with a Bachelor's in Business Administration/Marketing from USC Upstate. Her plans are to return to school in the fall and further her education, but for now we are so fortunate and glad that she is taking her time to share her knowledge and creativity with us!
MacKenzie Kirkland is a recent Susie's Alumni where she spent the majority of her years dancing and training competitively. She competed at the Regional level where she and her twin sister, Taylor, won overall awards. She has experienced several conventions from all over the South which included Master Teachers from all over the country. MacKenzie was also a former Varsity Football Cheerleader/Flyer with Emerald Highschool and overtime developed a love for Acro-Dance where she currently teaches various tricks and partnering for competitive and non-competitive students. She is presently a Lander University student where she is double majoring in Art and Elementary Education.