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Our Teachers

Kara Gilliam


Kara Gilliam, the founder, and owner of Gilliam Dance Project has been involved in dance since the age of 4.  She started in tap and ballet as a young child, continuing her education through college, and started teaching after graduating from Virginia Tech with a degree in Chemical Engineering.  For the last 12 years, Kara has shared her love of dance with students in Smyrna, coaching competitive teams to national champions and winning various choreography awards.  Kara continues to build on her knowledge of dance as a member of the Pennsylvania Association of Dance Teachers, Dance Masters of America. She’s beyond excited about this new chapter and the opportunity to continue to educate and share her passion.  

“It’s impossible,” said pride. “It’s risky,” said experience. “It’s pointless,” said reason. “Give it a try,” whispered the HEART.

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Laila Gilliam


Dancing for a total of 14 years, Laila is excited to spend time teaching our younger dancers.  Laila is currently a junior at Smyrna High School, interested in pursuing a career in pediatric neurology nursing upon graduating.  Her scholastic pathways include Early Childhood Education and Allied Health. When not at dance, Laila spends time cheering, with friends and with her dogs – Hokie and Beamer.  Laila has danced competitively since the age of 8, winning numerous team, trio, duo, and solo awards in lyrical, jazz, hip hop, tap, and contemporary dance.  She routinely participates in dance intensives, often-times on scholarships, broadening her exposure to different genres and styles.  Laila’s love of dance was formed at a young age and she’s eager to “pay it forward” opening other’s eyes to the joy of dancing.

Morgan Burnett


Morgan's love of dance began at the age of 3 years old, when her mom enrolled her in her first ballet class.  Morgan has experience in ballet, jazz, lyrical, tap and gymnastics.  At age 11, she began studying dance under the direction of Kara Gilliam and continued pursuing her passion of dance, excelling in both lyrical and jazz.  At age 12, Morgan began competing both individually and on competition teams, where she received numerous awards.  Morgan is a graduate of Smyrna High School where she was on the dance/pom team.  Upon graduating, Morgan pursued her dream of becoming a nurse, graduating this spring and becoming a Registered Nurse working at Bayhealth.  While in school, Morgan's love of dance never left and she is beyond excited to join Gilliam Dance Project with a chance to give back and share her passion with future dancers.

Gabbie Glean


Gabbie began dancing at the age of 3… her love of dance started here. From a young age, ballet became one of her favorite past times, and she grew to excel in it! Her passion for ballet still shines today. Gabbie has experience in ballet, lyrical, tap, and jazz. She competed for 5 years both in group numbers and solos. Gabbie graduated from Unionville High School in 2016 where she was captain of the cheerleading team and went on the University of Delaware where she earned a bachelors degree in political science and public policy. She is so grateful and excited to be joining the Gilliam Dance Project team and can’t wait to see what the future holds!

Kaitlyn Heverin


Jumping into dance at the age of 6, Kaitlyn immediately knew the studio was the place for her to be!  Kaitlyn's natural "performance" approach to dance led her to the competition stage - competing in musical theater, hip hop, jazz, lyrical, contemporary and tap.  If you have the opportunity to watch Kaitlyn perform, she'll instantly win you over!  She's an absolutely joy to choreograph for and is excited to help our young ones find niche!  Kaitlyn is a senior at Polytech High School and is eager to travel upon graduation.  As one of Miss Kara's first competitive students, having Kaitlyn at Gilliam Dance Project feels like "she's home". 

Our Staff

Ashton Coleman


A friendly face since the day we opened our doors, when not helping us at the studio, Ashton enjoys spending time with her kids, fishing, painting and planning events.  Both of Ashton's daughters are members of GDP's Dance Company.

Michala Messick


A previous student of Miss Kara's - we are thrilled to welcome Michala this year to the GDP staff. Michala is a K-8 Art Teacher and loves running and spending time with family and friends in her free time!​ 

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