Colleen Cannon Benoit established The Lake Charles Dance Academy in 2011 after many years of teaching, performing and training in classical ballet. She spent most of her years studying and teaching at the Clarke Dance Center, under the direction of the late Ida Winter Clarke and her daughter Cissie Clarke.
She studied nationally receiving many scholarships for study and took classes with many nationally renowned teachers. Her training includes two scholarships to the Regional Dance America’s Craft of Choreography Conference, The School of American Ballet in NYC, The North Carolina School of the Arts, The Pittsburgh Ballet Theater, the International Ballet Competition, and the Joffrey Workshop. She has had the privilege of studying with world renowned teachers including Edward Villella, Gwen Ashton, Marjorie Mussman, David Howard, Robert Joffrey, Richard Englund, Patricia Wilde, andSoili Arvola and Leo Ahonen. She has performed lead roles in many of the full length ballets that the Lake Charles Ballet Society produced including Coppelia, The Nutcracker, and La Fille Mal Gardee.
She has also performed with several professional companies including The Dallas Ballet, The David Taylor Dance Company and The Texas Ballet. Benoit’s goal is to bring back the performance opportunities the Lake Charles Ballet Society was able to provide to area dancers. It was through these performances that Benoit was able to develop her skill and love as a performing artist ~ one she wants to share with the today’s local area dancers. The Lake Charles Dance Academy accepts boys and girls of all ability levels who want to experience the joy in the expression of dance.
Colleen graduated from McNeese with a Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education and a Master’s degree in Educational Technology. She has been a second and third grade teacher, a TAP Mentor and Master teacher and presently serves as the 2nd and 3rd grade Lead Teacher for Nelson Elementary. She has twice been voted “Nelson Teacher of the Year.” She also was selected as “Calcasieu Parish Teacher of the Year,” “The KPLC Class Act,” “The Cummulus Broadcasting Teacher of the Week,” and “Wal-Mart Teacher of the Year.” She brings with her this extensive educational background which will greatly enhance the learning for all her students. Her love for educating students – whether in school or in dance – is her motivation.