Danscend’s mission is to bring mental wellness to the forefront of performing arts training by providing a space for education, application, and community to performers, educators, and professionals.

Hi. We're Kristin & Michelle.

Kristin Deiss and Michelle Loucadoux have a shared sixty years in the dance industry. Both have worked extensively as professional dancers and are well-versed and experienced in the realm of dance education.

After working together in the education field for seven years, the idea of Danscend was born because of an overwhelming need that Deiss and Loucadoux observed in their students. No stranger to the need for mental health awareness, both creators wrestled with various issues in their professional dance careers as well.

In Danscend, Deiss and Loucadoux have created a resource that they wish was available when they were beginning their dance careers, a resource that will benefit not only their students but also the dance industry as a whole.

Meet our Advisory Board!

Photo of Dr. Alice Schluger
Alice Schluger

Dr. Alice Schluger is an accomplished health professional with an extensive background in clinical research, health education, and psychology. She earned a Master of Arts Degree in Community Health Education and a PhD in Health Psychology. Her dissertation titled “Disordered Eating Attitudes and Behaviors in Female College Dance Students: Comparison of Modern Dance and Ballet Dance Majors” has been published in the North American Journal of Psychology.

Dr. Schluger has also taught graduate courses in Health & Wellness Psychology. She continues her academic and research pursuits as a member of the Health Psychology Division of the American Psychological Association and various dance-affiliated organizations. She is currently a freelance health writer and has published numerous article for PsychologyToday.com and other health-related communications.

Dr. Schluger has a strong passion for dance and has taken ballet classes for most of her adult life, as well as serving as a longtime Information Committee volunteer at The New York City Ballet.

As a Certified Wellness Practitioner/Wellness Coach, Dr. Schluger has comprehensive knowledge of the unique health and wellness issues pertaining to dancers and the challenges associated with this demanding profession. Her coaching practice is devoted to helping dancers accomplish goals and embrace new challenges to thrive in their life and career. If you are interested in finding out more information, please check out her website https://wellnessfordancers.com

Simon Ward

Simon Ward is an actor, psychologist and educator based in Sydney, Australia. Simon trained in the MA Musical Theatre degree & the LRAM program in teaching voice at the Royal Academy of Music in London, holds a Licentiate in Musical Theatre from Trinity College London, trained in Acting with the Actors Centre Australia, and completed four Psychology degrees at Macquarie University in Sydney.

He has performed in London’s West End, New York City & throughout Australia in musicals, plays, opera and extensively in cabaret. He has also directed shows for the Sydney, Adelaide and Melbourne Fringe Festivals.

Simon teaches acting, singing, voice, and mental health for performers to university and college students, and also coaches and runs workshops internationally on anxiety and the voice, psychology and performing, psychology and professional development for arts educators. He works with individuals, educational institutions, and arts industry organisations.

Simon has also worked as a Clinical Psychologist in the NSW Government Health Department, as a consultant psychologist for the Australian Ballet & works in private practice. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society for the Arts, an Associate Fellow and Chartered Psychologist with the British Psychological Society, a member of the Australian Psychological Society, a member of the Musical Theatre Educators’ Alliance, a member of the Australian National Association of Teachers of Singing, the British Voice Association, Equity UK and MEAA Equity Australia. www.simonward.info

Joe Brown
Dancer, choreographer, MEng, M.Arch

Joe Brown is originally from NYC and has become a full-time creative force on and off camera in Hollywood! Some of Joe’s choreography credits include The Masked Dancer, NBC World of Dance, America’s Got Talent, So You Think You Can Dance, and GAP. He also choreographed for top artists Lizzo, Khalid and Beyoncé (Netflix: Homecoming)!

Joe is known for his powerful, resonating approach to performances, incorporating his stepping and highly-stylized percussive technique. His keen sense of musicality, geometries, storytelling and rich cultural blends of Stepping, Hip Hop, Dancehall, & African dance have garnered much praise in Hollywood! He founded and manages two business entities: Step/Stroll, an online dance platform and Stroll Groove, an immersive performance crew also centered around his dance style.

While he has a full-time career in entertainment, Joe also holds both bachelor and masters’ degrees in engineering and architecture from MIT and SCI-Arc, respectively. He worked several years in the theme park industry designing attractions and immersive experiences. Today, he continues to filter his dual passions for both the technical fields and performing arts into his work. He also is a dance instructor and collegiate professor educating thousands of dancers in the U.S. and abroad.

Joe is represented by MSA Talent Agency, is a member of SAG-AFTRA, and is a proud brother of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.

Ariana Shimits

Arianna Ciccarelli Shimits, MA, CMPC completed her Master’s degree in Sport and Performance psychology at the University of Denver and her bachelor’s degree in Psychology at the New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences at Arizona State University.

While working towards her BA she danced professionally at the Washington Ballet, Ballet Arizona, and the Colorado Ballet. She performed soloist and corps de ballet roles in ballets choreographed by Petipa, Balanchine, Tudor, Tharp, Webre, Deane, Liang, York, and Stevenson. After retiring from ballet Arianna pursued an MA in Sport and Performance Psychology (SPP), believing that the performing arts could benefit from the skills and training offered by SPP.

Additionally, Arianna is a doctoral student at Springfield College studying Counseling Psychology. Throughout her graduate school education, she has worked with dancers, musicians, runners, basketball players, soccer players, cyclists, surgeons, first responders, and adults with eating disorders.

She is passionate about helping people perform at their best and believes that complementing rigorous physical training with SPP will help performers of all ages achieve exactly that. 

Here's what people are saying about Danscend!

“I’ve found Danscend’s prompts for my students to be an effective way to get them thinking about their mental health on an ongoing basis. The easy to understand and thought provoking questions make discussions around mental health an accessible topic for any dance teacher no matter the stage of their career.”  

- Anouska Moore, Dance Educator

“Spend the money. Do it. It’s going to make a world of difference in the way dancers handle and shoulder the pressure that naturally comes with all of the things dancers deal with.” 

- Brianne Zborowski - Co-founder and CEO - Apolla Performance 

"Danscend is that rare organisation; it combines the most up to date science in psychology and wellbeing, with practical advice which dancers and teachers, at any level, can immediately use. Kristin and Michelle, who are utterly professional, kind and curious, are also at the cutting edge of dance education. They have started something big which is destined to change the industry. I can't wait to see what's next."

- Simon Ward, Psychologist, Actor, Educator

Danscend would like to recognize institutions that are committed to supporting the mental health and wellness of their dancers and educators. Thank you to the following studios and conventions!

Higher Ground Dance Studio

Longview, Washington, USA

Fluid Dance Convention and Competition

Stars of Tomorrow Dance Academy

Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia, Canada

Arts in Motion Dance Academy

Richmond, Virginia, USA

Studio Bea Dance

Waukee, Iowa, USA

School of the Canyon Concert Ballet
Fort Collins, Colorado, USA

As seen in:

Danscend is proud to be a regular contributor to Inside Dance Magazine on topics related to mental wellness in the dance community.

Check out Danscend's regularly schedule blog contributions to Apolla's "The Muse."

Danscend is proud to work with Dance Teacher Magazine and Dance Media to get the word out about mental wellness in the dance industry.

Get Help Now

988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline

United States-based suicide prevention network of over 200+ crisis centers that provides 24/7 service

Dial 988

National Sexual Assault Hotline

The nation's largest anti-sexual violence organization - confidential 24/7 support


N.E.A.M.A. Cares

Free, trauma-informed, one-on-one confidential support to those in the movement arts community seeking guidance on physical, psychological and sexual wellness and safety


The Emily Program 

Specializes in eating disorder awareness, treatment, and lifetime recovery


The Trans Lifeline

A trans-led organization that connects trans people to the community, support, and resources they need to survive and thrive


DISCLAIMER: The information provided on Danscend, and through its courses, is not a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a mental health problem without consulting a qualified healthcare provider. Danscend is not liable for how the information is used and cannot be held responsible or guarantee any results. Danscend is simply serving as a coach, mentor, and guide to help you reach your own health and wellness goals. 

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