Upper Falls Dance Academy

Dance classes serving the Baltimore area

Meet Our Instructors

Judith A. Daniel, RAD T Dip. – Owner
Ms. Daniel received her training from internationally renowned master teachers and examiners of the Royal Academy of Dance and is the recipient of the Royal Academy of Dance Teaching Diploma. She has held the position of chairperson for the Mid-Atlantic Region of the Royal Academy of Dance, where her involvement has been instrumental in planning and providing workshops, lectures and social events for dance teachers and students in the Mid-Atlantic area of the United States. Ms. Daniel has been on the faculty of the National Association of Dance and Affiliated Artists instructing both student and teacher workshops and has developed training programs, choreographed and coached for competitive dancers, gymnasts and skaters. She has also been recognized in Who’s Who for her contributions to American Society in the area of dance. Actively teaching since 1979, her passion and knowledge has influenced many. She takes great pleasure in knowing that former students are now working as professionals in the field guiding future generations of dance enthusiasts.


​Melissa Daniel – Executive Director
Melissa has been teaching dance at UFDA since 1994. Melissa earned a BFA in Dance Performance and Education and a BS in Exercise Science from Towson University. She has studied classical ballet under the Royal Academy of Dance and is trained in jazz, tap, and modern dance. She is the founder and director of Boppin’ Babies, a creative movement program for toddlers ages 1.5 to 4 years. Melissa’s patient and gentle manner helps to guide younger students in the fundamentals of dance, as well as, motivate students and experience the joy of dance through fun and creative dance classes. In addition to teaching, Melissa has developed dance curriculum for Harford County Public Schools, and choreographed for The Archdiocese of Baltimore and Roland Park Country School, among others. Outside of dance, Melissa also works as a preschool teacher at Trinity Church Day School in Glen Arm, MD.

Julie Foley – Artistic Director
Julie received a BFA in Musical Theatre with an emphasis in Dance from The Boston Conservatory.  She also studied and taught at Broadway Dance Center in New York.   Julie is a member of the Royal Academy of Dance and Actors Equity Association.  She has worked professionally as a dancer for Norwegian Cruise Lines, national tours with Theatre Works USA, the TBC Hoofers dance company, and Symphony Hall Boston. In Boston, Julie choreographed for Barrington Stage Company and SpeakEasy.  Locally her work in musicals can be seen at Cockpit in Court, Dundalk Community College, and many private schools.  Julie has a contagious enthusiasm, creativity, and energy that motivates and inspires.  Although she misses traveling the world and experiencing different cultures, Julie is delighted to be back home continuing the dance legacy of her mother Judy Daniel and sharing her knowledge with the students of UFDA.

Gary Dieter
Gary is a graduate of Towson University and holds a BFA in Dance Education, Performance and Choreography. He is certified in Dance through the Maryland State Department of Education and is qualified to teach grades kindergarten through twelve. He is a member of the Maryland council of Dance and a member of the National Dance Association. Recently , Gary was the recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award from Towson University for his postgraduate work in the field of Dance and Performance. For ten successful years, he was the artistic director of GD Studio for the Performing Arts, his own school, where students were able to participate in classes in dance, musical theatre, private voice, guitar, piano and coaching. Gary has been teaching for the past 20 years in numerous capacities. Gary's performing career includes featured roles at virtually every major theatre in the Baltimore/Washington area. He can be seen dancing with Elizabeth Perkins and Kevin Bacon in the Paramount Film, He Said, She Said. He has been named "Baltimore Tap Dance Kid" by Winfred Walsh of the Baltimore Sun and his performance in 42nd Street was selected as one of the "Best of '88" by dance critic Carolyn Kelemen. Gary was nominated for the Helen Hayes Award for his performance in Forever Plaid.

Alyson Jacques
Alyson is a graduate of Desales University, Center Valley, PA, with a Bachelors in Dance, a minor in Business and concentration in Dance and Film. While at Desales, she participated in master classes with a number of guest artists through the DanceNow/NYC program and performed works by Tara Madsen-Robbins, Mishele Mennet, Alwin Nikolais, Trinette Singleton, Sydney Skybetter, Twyla Tharp, and Charles Weidman. She performed in Tensile Involvement, by Alwin Nikolais, at Lehigh University, Lehigh Valley, PA, and Hunter College, New York, NY, for Alwin Nikolais’: Sharing the Legacy. Alyson has worked professionally in arts administration and fundraising around Baltimore most recently at Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation and Baltimore Center Stage. Alyson is in her sixth season dancing, choreographing, and teaching with The Collective, a non-profit organization in Baltimore operating as a professional dance company.  She currently holds the role of Company Member and is on the Board of Directors.  The Collective performs throughout Baltimore at a variety of venues, including Baltimore Theatre Project, The Gordon Center for Performing Arts, Creative Alliance, and The Baltimore Museum of Art and has participated in a number events including Artscape, AKIMBO, FREEFall Baltimore and the Baltimore Dance Invitational.  Currently, Alyson works full time as the Associate Director of Parent and Alumni Giving at The John Carroll School in Bel Air, MD.   Alyson is so proud to be an instructor at the studio that started her career and honored to be director of the Upper Falls Dance Company.   

Molly Jean Kirkup Heer
Molly Jean graduated in May 2011 with a BA in Dance from the University of Maryland - College Park. She had the privilege of working with inspirational professors, talented choreographers and students during her college career, including Monica Bill Barnes, Tere O'Connor, Keith Thompson and Betty Skeen as well as the opportunity to showcase her own works in the 2010 and 2011 Spring Maryland Dance Ensemble Shows. Molly was proud to be the President of the Student Dance Association for two years and was awarded the Cora & John H. Davis Performing Arts Award her final semester. She has been a guest choreographer and teacher around the Maryland/DC area for over ten years in studios, public and private schools as well as professional companies. Yoga found her the summer after graduation - combining her love of movement and a way to connect mind/body/soul. As of December 2013, Molly is a 500hr registered yoga teacher. She teaches a vinyasa style flow with breath as the center of the movement. To continue her movement exploration, she completed her PilatesBarre Certification in January 2017. Molly recently joined The Collective as a Company Dancer. Uniting movement and mindfulness is her passion and an ever-evolving journey. Through movement Molly would like to bring positive change, healing and joy to anyone who is willing to join the dance.

Tara Vierheller
Tara is a passionate teacher and advocate of the performing arts. Her love for dance arose at a very young age when she began to study the Royal Academy of Ballet at Upper Falls Dance Academy. While attending UFDA, Tara performed at both Lin­coln Center and Carnegie Hall in New York City. Under the tutelage of Ju­dith Daniel, Tara not only continued to advance her career as a performer, but also found her true calling in the field of dance education. Her desire to pursue a career in dance education led her to Goucher College in Baltimore, Maryland. During her time at Goucher she had the opportunity to not only work with artists such as Jennifer Archibald, but also travel abroad to Ghana, Africa in order to further her knowledge of dance history. Tara graduated Goucher in 2011 with a degree in dance followed immediately by a master’s degree in education the following year. Upon graduation, she was hired as a dance educa­tor at Wiley H. Bates Middle School, a magnet arts school in Annapolis, Maryland. In 2017, as the Dance Director at NSU University School in South Florida, Tara revitalized and greatly increased the number of dancer participation. Tara is thrilled that she can continue to share her passion and love for dance as she returns home to her Upper Falls Dance Academy family.

Jonathan “Nino” Brown

​Originally from Baltimore, Nino started dancing in 2003. Labeled as a street dancer but not limited to, he trained in various styles of Hip-Hop. In 2006 he began his Dancecareer and had his first official battle at the Sky Lounge. By becoming a part of such a diverse dance community, this ignited his passion for dance and competition. In 2008 he began training in Krump and Break dancing. In 2010 he was inducted into DVC,formally known as The Deadly Venoms Crew. In 2011 he competed in numerous All-Styles and Top Rock battles and was also thefeatured dancer in a music video. In 2013 he was a showcase street performer in the production “Working America” and later that year went on to perform on his biggest stage yet, WDSF World games 2013 Kaohsiung (World Dance Sport Federation). He was a part of the US lead HipHop team. Most recently he performed for an audience made up of many of his peers along with onlookers that love the art for its raw form at the JoJo Diggs event Diggs Deeper. He is now a HipHop and Break dance instructor/ choreographer and leading the Allstyles division of his crew DVC known as “Venom Soul” along with expanding his groundbreaking Fitness program FitHop.