Deborah Agrusa is the owner and artistic director of Deborah's Stage Door Center for the Performing Arts which is now in its 35th year. Debbie received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in dance from Michigan State University and a Masters of Education Degree from Wayne State University. Debbie was chosen by the faculty of Michigan State University as "One of the Top Ten Graduating Seniors" upon the completion of her Bachelors Degree from Michigan State University. She has taught on the faculties of Wayne State University, Michigan State University and Oakland University. She was awarded the prestigious Copper Foot Award of Excellence in Choreography from Wayne State University. Deborah has served as the choreographer for America's Thanksgiving Parade in Detroit for many years. Debbie's competition dancers are known throughout the United States for their excellence in dance. They have performed at the Reel Awards (a pre-Academy Award Gala) in Hollywood, California; for Variety, A Children's Charity International Convention in Palm Springs, California; America's Thanksgiving Parade televised nationally on CBS; Detroit Piston Halftime Shows; The Ryder Cup, Walt Disney World and Disneyland. Her dancers have had the privilege of performing with the Jonas Brothers, the Cheetah Girls, Raven Simone, Corbin Bleu, Chubby Checkers, Bernadette Peters, The Contours, Little Richard, The Four Tops, Rich Little, Bob McGrath from Sesame Street, Sam Wright from "The Little Mermaid" and many more. These talented dancers have also performed at Comerica Park on the baseball field at Detroit Tigers games. These talented dancers have been crowned the National Dance Champions 18 times in the past 30 years. Her students have gone on to receive Tony awards, Emmy awards, Grammy awards, VMA awards and have been finalists on So You Think You Can Dance, Star Search, and America's Got Talent. They have also performed at the Academy Awards, the Emmys and the American Choreographer Awards. She is proud that they have been able to attend some of the most prestigious universities in the country as well as starring on Broadway, TV and Film. They have most recently been involved with television's Dance Moms, Nashville, Smash, The Young and the Restless as well as many other shows. Debbie is very proud of all of her students and of all those who have studied at DSD throughout the years. She is elated to have so many of the children of her former students now studying at DSD and so many of her former students now teaching for her. Debbie feels privileged to be a part of the lives of each of the children who attend DSD and their families. We are very thankful for the support the community has given us throughout our now 32 years. In addition, Miss Debbie feels it is important to give back and to instill in her students a sense of giving. Thus, the DSD dancers perform at community, charity and fundraiser events throughout the year. "Miss Debbie" is the driving force that makes her students excel and strives to offer the "best" in dance and performing arts education.
Co Director/ Instructor
Erin Bishop is a gifted teacher who has been a dance educator for many years. She has extensively studied jazz, tap, lyrical, ballet, tumbling and hip hop. Erin especially loves working with the preschoolers. Erin has studied extensively with Deborah Agrusa, Mia Michaels, Savion Glover, Gregg Russell, Dee Caspary and various other teachers in New York and California. She has performed at Disneyworld, Disneyland, the Children's Miracle Network Telethon, the CBS nationally televised America's Thanksgiving Parade, the CBS nationally televised Showstopper American Dance Championships, Detroit Piston halftime shows and Rochester Art and Apples. Erin was a proud member for several years of the DSD Repertory Company and part of the 1996 and 1998 National Championship Dance groups from DSD. Erin is married to an alum of DSD, Karl. Erin and Karl have two beautiful children, Keira and Justin who are both members of DSD’s national award winning competition groups. Erin feels so fortunate to be able to do something she loves so much . . . sharing her joy of dance with children.
Ashley Agrusa has studied jazz, lyrical, tap, ballet, pointe, tumbling, hip hop, and contemporary for the past 17 years. She is a seasoned performer and is also an experienced actress and singer. Ashley has grownup at DSD and has been a member of the National Championship Repertory Company. Ashley has opened for "The Cheetah Girls”, "Raven", "The Jonas Brothers" and "Corbin Bleu". This diverse young lady has also appeared as "Sharpay" in High School Musical, Laurie in "The Music Man", Marty in "Grease", Vivien in "Legally Blond", Mary Poppins in “Mary Poppins” and many other roles as well. She has performed on national television on the "Showstopper American Dance Championships" and "America's Thanksgiving Day Parade". Ashley is currently pursuing a BFA in Musical Theatre at CAP21 in New York City. She is the recipient of an academic scholarship at CAP21. Ashley has been teaching and choreographing for the past five years. She loves children of all ages and truly enjoys sharing her love of the arts with them!
Jacqueline is honored to be a part of the staff of Deborah’s Stage Door where she has grown up. She has been dancing for 21 years and is a versatile performer and teacher. Jacqueline has studied ballet, pointe, jazz, tap, hip hop, contemporary, tumbling and lyrical extensively. In addition, Jacqueline has trained in acting and voice performance. Jacqueline holds a BFA in Performing Arts with a minor in Vocal Performance from SCAD - Savannah College of Arts and Design where she was the recipient of a talent and academic scholarship. This dynamic young lady is an accomplished performer. She has appeared on Star Search with Arsenio Hall, the CBS nationally televised Showstopper American Dance Championships and America’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, numerous times. She has opened for the Cheetah Girls, Raven, the Jonas Brothers and Corbin Bleu. She has also performed with Bernadette Peters, Rich Little, Chubby Checkers, The Tops, The Temptations, Little Richard, Bob McGrath from Sesame Street and many more. Jacqueline has appeared as Columbine in the musical "Rocky Horror Picture Show", Glinda in "The Wizard of Oz", and Sandy in "Grease" in addition to other musicals and plays. Jacqueline's choreography has received numerous awards from many different organizations. Jacqueline travels across the country teaching and choreographing. She has won numerous awards for her choreography. Jacqueline loves sharing her knowledge and passion for dance and the arts with her students!
Tricia Atkinson grew up at Deborah’s Stage Door where she studied all forms of dance extensively and was a proud member of the Repertory Company. After attending Oakland University for dance Tricia went on to dance in Los Angeles and New York City. She has ran two amazing Competition Companies who have won numerous awards. Tricia has had the pleasure of judging for numerous dance competitions, teaching on convention, and teaching master classes all over the country. She was also one of the choreographers for the High School Musical Depot Tour. After the birth of her 3 children she has come back to Deborah’s Stage Door where she is excited to share her knowledge and passion of dance with her students.
Karl Bishop grew up at DSD and was a part of numerous national championship dance groups while here. Karl is famous for wowing Ben Vereen, host, on the CBS nationally televised Showstopper American Dance Championships with his huge, high side leaps in the Senior Championship dance number "Hot Stuff". Karl has studied jazz, tap, lyrical, ballet, tumbling and hip hop extensively. Karl studied and worked in Los Angeles and was a part of numerous television commercials, MTV videos and films. Karl has also performed at Disney World, Disneyland, the Children's Miracle Network Telethon, the CBS nationally televised America's Thanksgiving Parade, the CBS nationally televised Showstopper American Dance Championships, Detroit Piston halftime shows and Rochester Art and Apples. Karl is the proud father of Keira and Justin who are already following in his footsteps. Karl loves children and his passion for kids, dance and tumbling truly shows when he is in a room teaching!
Benjamin E. Hogg (aka Benny Edwards) is thrilled to be a part of the Acting and Music Programs at DSD! Ben has performed on stage for over 20 years. His acting roles include: Che’ in Evita, Hero in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Vernon Hines in The Pajama Game, Captain Corcoran in HMS Pinafore and Pish-Tush/Poo-Bah (understudies) in The Mikado along with various roles in Richard III, She Stoops to Conquer, The Merchant of Venice, Inherit the Wind, and Taming of the Shrew. At 16, Ben became the youngest member of the professional song and dance company, In-Motion Productions and sang in the nationally renowned Choral-Aires and Men of Note while working as the “Singing Bus Boy” at Dill’s Olde Towne Saloon in Traverse City. Ben received both vocal music and creative arts scholarships to Michigan State University where he studied Theater, English and Spanish while singing in the acapella singing group, The Spartan Dischords. Ben holds a teaching certificate from the University of North Carolina’s NC Teach program, and has taught both special education and middle school English. Currently, Ben performs professionally throughout Michigan. He teaches private lessons in guitar and voice, and is the sole owner of Benny Edwards Music!
Deborah's Stage Door is excited to welcome our new Ballet Mistress, Leanne Gauthier! Leanne Studied at the Ballet Met Columbus Pre-Professional Program. Her studies there consisted of not only ballet but numerous forms of dance. She also trained extensively at the Link School for the Arts. Leanne has years of teaching experience and working with children. She has a true passion for dance and truly loves sharing her knowledge and experience with children.She is so excited to be joining our staff this year and inspiring the students of DSD! Welcome Miss Leanne!
Victoria grew up at DSD and was a proud member of the national award winning Repertory Company throughout middle and high school. She has studied every type of dance and is a motivated and experienced teacher. Victoria graduated with honors and a Bachelors Degree from MSU in elementary education with minors in English and Communication. Victoria also has a Masters Degree from MSU in Curriculum and Teaching. After college, she lived in North Carolina and performed with the Raleigh School of Ballet. Upon returning to Michigan, Victoria taught kindergarten at Cranbrook before she had her two daughters Liliana and Annelise who are both second generation DSD competition dancers. We are so fortunate to have her and her family with us at DSD!
Instructor-Voice & Piano
We are so excited to have Michele Maples join our teaching staff as a piano and voice teacher and she looks forward to helping with musicals as well. Mrs. Maples, as she likes to be called, began studying piano at the age of 7. She was trained through Classical Methodology. She has studied with Leslie Brooks of Birmingham and Rich Vogelhenerr of Warren. Her Piano Professor in college, Julianne VandenWyngaard, is a graduate from the Eastman School of Music. Mrs. Maples graduated from Grand Valley State University in 1996 with a Bachelor’s of Music degree and school certification (JX K-12) with a major in piano and a minor in voice. She then graduated from Oakland University in 2007 with a Master’s in Music Education where she focused her thesis work on the motivation to study music. Mrs. Maples has served various churches as a Music Minister, Choir Director, and Youth Director. She has also worked in the community as a Piano Accompanist. In addition, she has worked for both the Van Dyke and Chippewa Valley School Districts for 9 years.
Throughout her many years of teachine, Mrs. Maples has preferred the one to one tutor style of piano and voice instruction. This method allows the student to move at his or her own pace and accomplish their own goals and objectives. Mrs. Maples invites parents to participate in the piano/music instruction and even to learn themselves. There are few opportunities for parents to work with their children and learn together! She can provide an Adult method book, if you are interested in learning how to play, too. Your teacher will begin at the level your child begins, taking in mind other music instruction from their life. Your child will determine how fast or slow we progress. Michele Maples is so excited to share her love and passion for music, piano and voice with the students of Deborah’s Stage Door!