• Dance Theatre of Jacksonville
    14 Doris Avenue
    Jacksonville, NC 28540
  • Phone: (910) 347-3226
    Email (General Inquiries):

Meet the Staff

Debra Baile Becerra began dancing at the age of 3 and has been a part of DTOJ since it's opening in 1987.  She started dancing competitively at the age of 6, studying ballet, tap, jazz, clogging and lyrical.  Debra trained under Desiree LeFebvre, Bridgett Stone, Erin Warpole, Larry Payne and, of course,Debbie T Baile, her mother and owner of DTOJ.  She started assisting dance classes at the age of 13 and began teaching her own classes when she was 18.  Debra is the Director of Dance at DTOJ, as well as the director of the competitive companies at the studio. She is also the Executive Director and Artistic Director for the DTOJ Ballet Company.  Under her direction and training, Debra's students have won regional and national awards, as well as scholarships.  Debra has had the honor of training several DTOJ alumni who have gone on to dance at a college and professional level.  She continues to educate herself in all dance styles as well as contribute her talents to her community with events like Dancing Stars of Onslow County.  Debra is a head competition judge for Imagine Dance Challenge and travels all over the country critiquing and advising competitive dancers.  

Sonia Flores was born in Oceanside, California. She began her dance training at the age of six with Nancy Caldwell (Abbate), where she studied tap, ballet and jazz. Four years later, she continued her training at the Oceanside Dance Academy and added acrobatics, hip-hop and lyrical to her studies. The following year, Sonia joined the O.D.A."Jewels" competition team under the direction of Joceyln K. Wilson where she competed throughout California, and performed at the University of Arizona Jazz Dance Showcase.

At thirteen years old, Sonia began student teaching at O.D.A, while continuing her dance training and performing with Vista High School’s Panther Dancers. By sixteen, she started teaching her own ballet and tap classes at John Landes Community Center. While teaching for the City of Oceanside, Sonia continued performing. She performed at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, The Jeep Aloha Bowl in Hawaii, and the Down Under Bowl in Australia. She also performed in the pregame and halftime shows for Super Bowl XXXII and Super Bowl XXXVII held in San Diego, California.

Sonia returned to Oceanside Dance Academy in 2000 as an instructor and taught Ballet/Tap, Ballet/Jazz, Hip Hop/Tumble, Tap, Jazz and Zumba. Even though teaching was Sonia's passion she missed performing and in 2004 enrolled in a Salsa dance class.  In that first Salsa class she met her husband and they were married in January 2005. They both continued taking group salsa classes and Sonia joined Majesty in Motion’s ladies performance team and began performing Salsa in venues around San Diego, the San Diego Salsa Congress, Los Angeles Salsa Congress and the San Francisco Salsa Congress.

In 2010, Sonia and her husband relocated to Okinawa, Japan and that same year they had their son Rudy. While on island Sonia taught Salsa dance and choreographed three musicals for the Pacific Okinawa Players: Alice In Wonderland Jr, A Midsummer's Night Dream and Godspell.

Sonia moved to Jacksonville with her husband, who is a United States Marine and her super hero son. Sonia is excited to bring her blend of traditional dance steps and Latin influence to Dance Theatre. Sonia would like to thank God for the gift of dance and the opportunity to share it.

Julie Barnes started ballet at 5 years of age at Bucks County Dance Center in Bensalem, PA under the direction of Rex Henriques and Lorelei Leigh. Her dance education continued at the studio for 10 years where she trained in ballet, jazz and tap. During that time, Julie also trained at the Pennsylvania Ballet in Philadelphia for 2 years to enhance her technique and musicality. After her family moved to Florida, she found Boca Ballet Theater and trained primarily in the art of ballet under the direction of Dan Guin and Jane Tyree. While with Boca Ballet Theater she performed full-length ballets to include The Nutcracker, Giselle, and the first Act in Paquita, as well as showcase performances. When Julie started college she attended one year at Florida International University as a dance major and performed multiple showcases with them. Unfortunately, she had to stop her dance major due to injury, but continued with her education. Despite the set back in her degree Julie continued taking classes and later joined a local organization called Illusions Dance Company that comprised of individuals of varying ages performing different styles of dance at events and a yearly full show. In addition to her formal ballet training, Julie Barnes also performed as the lead dancer in the colorguard community in South Florida to include Alliance of Miami Winterguard and Magic of Orlando Drum and Bugle Corps.

Julie has recently moved to Jacksonville with her Marine husband and 2 children and is excited to teach the students at Dance Theatre of Jacksonville and share her knowledge of dance technique with all her students.

Katrina Moore began dancing at age 5 in Columbus, GA, where she trained in ballet, tap, jazz and hip hop. After graduating high school, she attended Auburn University. There she became a member of the University's dance team, the Tiger Paws. It is on that team where she found her love for teaching and began choreographing for the team. Katrina began teaching at Rising Starz Performing Arts Centre in 2012 in Auburn, Alabama. The following year she became the associate director of the competition team and became the sole director in 2014. Since marrying her husband in 2016, Katrina has been traveling around the U.S. spreading her love for dance. She has recently relocated to Jacksonville, NC with her marine husband and two dogs. She feels blessed to able to share her passion with the students of DTOJ.


Nicole Skeen was born and raised in Jacksonville, NC, where she started dancing at the age of 8. She started dancing at Diana’s Dance Academy and took ballet, tap and lyrical there for 3 years. Nicole then continued her dancing at Dance Theatre of Jacksonville for the next 7 years, where she danced competitively and extended her learning to jazz, ballet, lyrical/contemporary, hip hop and more! Nicole earned her Nursing Assistant Certification while still in high school  She graduated from White Oak High School this year and is now attending Coastal Carolina Community College to get her associates in Art. She is hoping to transfer to UNC Chapel Hill for Nursing. Although Nicole can no longer perform as a dancer at DTOJ, she decided that she wasn’t ready to give it up just yet and is very blessed to be teaching at DTOJ! Nicole loves children and that she has this opportunity to teach and help create the love of dance in her students! 

Natalie Oldani began dancing at age 3 at DTOJ and started dancing competitively at age 8. Natalie trained in styles such as contemporary, jazz, ballet, musical theater, and hip hop under Debra Baile Becerra, Ashleigh Hunter, and more. When she was 17, Natalie began choreographing hip hop for DTOJ and has been returning to the studio every summer setting competition choreography ever since.
After graduating from high school, Natalie went on to receive her bachelor’s degree at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington (UNCW). She was able to continue her hip hop dance training by joining UNCW’s hip hop dance crew Physical Grafeeti. She served as community outreach chair and co-president for the team, traveling to perform alongside other collegiate dance crews in multiple showcases on the east coast. She was also able to train under well-known choreographers including Candace Brown, Bo Park, Keenan Cooks, and more attending workshops and professional classes in and out of state. After graduating from UNCW, she received her masters degree in Interactive Media at Elon University. Natalie now lives in Wilmington, North Carolina and is so excited to be back teaching at DTOJ full-time!

Sophie Van Meerten is origially from Southern California.  She started attending multi genre dance lessons in her hometown at the age of three years old.  At nine years old, she saw Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker” for the first time.  This ignited her passion for ballet.  She then went on to complete her student years of ballet training in a diverse variety of studios and disciplines.  This included Classical (Russian), Royal Academy (English), Balanchine (American) and Contemporary.  In 2016, she successfully graduated from    Los Angeles Ballet School, under the direction of Colleen Neary and Thordal-Christensen.   

Sophie then joined the professional track program at State Street Ballet in Santa Barbara, CA. With SSB, she performed corps de ballet roles in several company productions and had the honor of choreographing a piece for the Studio Showcase in 2017.  After completing the pro-track program, she moved to sunny San Diego, CA and began a trainee position with City Ballet.  With City Ballet, she danced in many company productions such as “Swan Lake”, “Serenade”, “Carmina Burana” world premiere by Jeff Gonzales, “The Nutcracker” and “Alice in Wonderland”.  After three years in San Diego, Sophie accepted a company position with United States International Ballet.  This brought her all the way to Wilmington, NC in September of 2020.  At USIB, she recently performed in a production of “The Little Mermaid”.  

Sophie has left USIB and is now teaching ballet full-time.  Although, teaching is not new to her, she began assistant teaching at a young age.  Sophie was a beloved TA for pre-ballet through level 2 children’s division students in CA, as well as a yearly performance teacher for the Ventura Montessori School dancers “Christmas Showcase”.  She was a substitute dance teacher while living in San Diego and had her first full-time teaching position at Notion Dance Concepts in Carlsbad, CA.  There she taught ballet, contemporary and jazz to all students, advanced through adult.  

Sophie is thrilled to be teaching again in North Carolina and she is eager to share her knowledge and love of dance with all her students.


Shannon McCarthy was born and raised in Orange County, California and began dancing at the age of 5. She started her training at McCoy Rigby Dance Academy and continued on at Orange County Performing Arts Academy in her teenage years being heavily involved with the competitive team. Simultaneously, she attended Orange County School of the Arts to further study dance from 2008 - 2014. She grew up attending and assisting numerous competitions, intensives, and conventions along the way. In deciding to pursue dance as a career, she received her Bachelor’s degree from Chapman University studying Dance and Sociology. At Chapman, Shannon was fortunate to partake in various performances each year. Following graduation, Shannon moved to Los Angeles to officially begin her professional career, and had the opportunity to work with many well-known choreographers in the dance industry. Several choreographers include Brian Nicholson, Andrew Winghart, Alicia Guy, Will Johnston, Sarah Davison, Ido Tadmor, Justin Giles, Cindy Peca, and Chad McCall among many others. Shannon is well trained in Jazz, Contemporary, Jazz Funk, Hip Hop, Musical Theater, Ballet, Modern, and Tap. Since starting her career, she has had the opportunity to perform in various venues -- most recently including Cirque du Soleil’s One Night for One Drop in Las Vegas at the “O” Theatre located in the Bellagio. While in LA, Shannon discovered another passion of teaching fitness and realized how beneficial standard exercise and conditioning was for dancers. When life took a turn in 2020 due to the pandemic, Shannon decided to refocus her life of auditions and performing into teaching dance and fitness. Relocating to North Carolina with her marine boyfriend, Shannon was thrilled to find Dance Theatre of Jacksonville and have the opportunity to teach these amazing kids, as well as personal train adults at RipXFit in Wilmington.


 Savanna Hanks began her dance and gymnastic training at the age of three in Mesa, Arizona. Savanna trained in styles such as contemporary, lyrical, hip hop, jazz, clogging and ballet. She trained with Trevor Leavitt for 15 years in gymnastics, tumbling, and acrobatics.

In high school, she performed with Euporea Dance Company and cheered with Mesa Varsity Cheer. She started choreographing for these teams at the of age 14. She choreographed dances, sideline cheers, and pep rally routines. Being a part of Mesa High dance and cheer is where she found her love for choreography. Savanna began teaching dance and coaching gymnastics at age 17. Under her direction students have reached their personal goals.

            After graduating high school, she attended Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. At BYU she had the opportunity to study dance under Kate Monson, Keely Song, Adam Dyer, Kathleen Sheffield, Liz Dibble, and Rachel Barker. In her studies she gained knowledge of performance, teaching, and choreography. While attending BYU, Savanna performed with BYU Contemporary Dance Theatre and BYU DancEnsemble. In February 2020, she performed professionally in “Emergence” Louisa Rankin's self-produced show in Provo, Utah. She graduated from Brigham Young University in April 2021 with a Bachelor of Arts in Dance.

Over the past two years, Savanna has choreographed competition solos, duets, and group pieces for Rhythm and Motion Dance Center in Mesa, Arizona and Daje Dance Academy in Saratoga Springs, Utah. Her works went on to receive regional honors at various competitions. 

Savanna recently moved to Jacksonville with her husband, who is a United States Marine. Savanna is delighted to be teaching at Dance Theatre. Savanna is grateful to all the artists that inspire her and her friends and family that support her. 

Heather Stanley was born and raised in Northern NJ. She began dancing at the age of 5 and knew someday she would be a dance teacher. Heather graduated from East Stroudsburg University, where she earned her B.A. in Dance/Theater Arts. She decided to stay in the Poconos, where she owned and operated her own dance studio. Heather also spent five years coaching the local high school’s dance and color guard team. After getting married and starting her family, she returned to NJ and continued teaching for several studios! 

Heather was a tap instructor for Macy’s Tap-O-Mania for 5 years and also participated in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade in New York City. 

Heather moved to Jacksonville in 2019 with her husband and her three children. She believes dance is a gift and is so happy to be a part of DTOJ to continue sharing her love of dance!