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, Maryland.


Julie Foley
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. 


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.


Abigail Hurd

 Abigail began her dance training at Dance Fusion Performing Arts Studio in Allentown, PA. She began as a student and later progressed into an instructor and choreographer for competition-based teams. Abigail’s dance training also includes training under the Pennsylvania Ballet Guild, Dolly Haltzman Dance Academy, Laura Hausman from the NYU Tisch School or Arts, and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. She frequents Broadway Dance Center in NYC and attends master classes around the area. Abigail was captain/choreographer of her high school dance team, a member of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte’s dance team and a member/choreographer of Kutztown University’s dance team. Through her dance experience she has performed at the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, The Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs, and The Philadelphia 76ers. Abigail is a certified AcroDance teacher and has multiple years of experience in implementing acrobatics in her choreography for competitions and performances. Aside from dance, she holds a BS in Education and is a certified elementary education teacher and special education teacher. She currently works at Patterson Mill Middle School as an autistic support teacher. Abigail is overjoyed to join Upper Falls Dance Academy and to continue teaching her love for hip-hop and jazz!