Heather Knight- Heather originally from New York grew up tappin and twirlin since she was 3 years old. She is a graduate of Lassiter High School. Heather was a member of the Atlanta Workshop Players where she performed at middle and high schools through out the Atlanta area. After attending Kennesaw State University, she left her southern roots and headed out for the high seas. She worked for Jean Ann Ryan Productions on Norwegian cruise lines as a dancer and dance captain. She performed in "Grease", "Sea Legs Express", "Masquerade", "Hooray for Hollywood", "On Broadway" and "Puttin on the Hitz". Her sea legs then brought her to the castle stage at the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World where she performed in the Mickey Mania Parade and Sparkling Christmas Spectacular. She also got to fulfill every little girl's dream portraying "Cinderella". With her dreams achieved, she came back to Atlanta to continue educating the youth of our future in the arts. She has been teaching the art of dance since 1999 where she has achieved many honors including choreography awards both regionally and nationally. Additionally, Heather judges for Starpower's Regional competitions throughout the country. Her proudest accomplishment is her daughter Makhenna as she takes the "Steppin Out" stage in competitions.
Autumn Ritter (Owner) - while growing up in Atlanta, Autumn started at a young age in the performing arts world. She was involved in dance, theatre, commercials, industrials, and music videos. Throughout most of her childhood, she was a member of The Atlanta Workshop Players; where she traveled the southeast performing for many venues, including schools. At the age of 16, She moved to Orlando, Florida to attend a performing arts magnet school where she interacted with people from the Mickey Mouse club to N-Sync. She performed at Walt Disney World in the Mickey mania parade and sparkling Christmas spectacular show at the magic kingdom. She attended Point Park University and graduated with a B.A. in musical theatre. Upon graduation, she boarded Celebrity cruise lines and performed in there hit shows aboard the mercury and century. While residing in New York City she has performed regionally for 7 years and has worked with such stars as Jeff Goldblum, Tom Wopat, Ed Beagley Jr., Illeana Douglas, Sutton Foster, and Victoria Clark. She has performed in many dance industrials and musical theatre shows such as The Music Man, My Fair Lady, Hello Dolly, A Funny thing happened on the way to the forum, Sugar Babies, and Me and My Girl. For many of these shows, autumn was the asst. choreography, asst. to the director, and the dance captain. She was also involved in the Movie "Pittsburgh" with Jeff Goldblum, which was seen at the Tribeca Film Festival. Additionally, Autumn judges for Starpower's Regional competitions throughout the country. She has always wanted to instill her passion and dreams of the arts on to others and opening a performing arts center will enable her to share her love and enthusiasm!
-has always loved dance, music, and acting. He began his dance training when he was 7 with Steppin Out Performing Arts Center. He has trained under professional dancers in the industry from all over the country. He has competed and won several regional awards and scholarships for his hip hop and musical theater performances. He has performed at Disney World as part of an extreme team made up of top dancers from around the world. He was the studio Stand Out Dancer for 2015-2016.
He enjoys sharing his love for dance with others and teaching them to express themselves through dance. Hip Hop is his first love. He has been on staff at steppin Out choreographing and teaching Hip Hop since 2016.
Lauren studied and trained in dance from age 3 at a local studio in Alpharetta, GA. There, she trained in many styles of dance including ballet, tap, jazz, modern, and musical theater, as well as voice and acting. She has trained with numerous established instructors including Mandy Moore, Travis Wall, Brian Friedman, Wade Robson, Tyce Diorio, Mia Michaels, Mike Minery, Ellen Tshudy, and Susan Anderson. She was also a member and choreographer of Xtensity Atlanta, a member and choreographer of Dancefx Concert Dance Company, and show coordinator for Pamoja Dance Company at UGA for several years.
More recently, while teaching and choreographing at numerous studios throughout the tri-state area, she has been a member of Project 7 Contemporary Dance Company under the direction of Cherrise Wakeham (2014 Capezio Ace Awards 1st runner up). Along with gaining national recognition for her award-winning choreography, Lauren has also been the music video choreographer for both Emergent Heart’s “Top Shelf” and Pacific UV’s “Funny Girl”, UMANO Clothing's Video Lookbook, and she was a dancer and choreographer for Dancefx Concert Dance Company’s “Alice : Lessons in Wonderland”. She also recently choreographed and helped staged the opening number for the annual Flagpole Music Awards in Athens, GA. She looks forward to pursuing her career as a professional dancer and instructor.
Mark Gilliam - Gymnastics Teacher
Mark has been involved in AcroSports – Power Tumbling, Trampoline, Double Mini-Trampoline, and Olympic Gymnastics since the age of 8. His first World Age Group Championship came at the age of 13. He started traveling over-seas to World Championships at the age of 15, which included travels to South Africa and Australia.
Mark was a four-year Varsity Starter and Letterman at Kent State University. He qualified for NCAA Nationals twice and named an NCAA All-American on Floor-X in 1983. In 1992 he was inducted into the Kent State Athletic Hall of Fame.
After college he did a US Tour with famed US Gymnast Kurt Thomas and the Kurt Thomas Gymnastic America Tour.
Mark then completed three World Tours with the Budlight Daredevils; incorporation tumbling and mini-trampoline with basketball and performing half-time shows at NBA and college basketball games. The three world tours included extended stays in Europe, Canada, and Japan.
Mark has been coaching and teaching acro since the age of 15. He has been involved in numerous other sports including diving, pole vaulting, soccer, and running. He is an avid cyclist (both road and mountain) and is still currently racing mountain bikes.
- has been dancing since he could stand. He started competing at age nine and has been choreographing since he was seventeen. He is indebted to Steppin Out Performing Arts Center for much of his training, where he enjoys working as a teacher and choreographer. Freddy especially enjoys contemporary, which he studied under Alyssa Vacco and Cherrise Wakeham, and tap, under the exceptional Heather Knight. He has also taken six years of hip hop under the talented Raqi Carter and Antoine of Jungle Boogie. He has won various awards and recognition throughout his dance career, including a full scholarship to the Arnolds sisters’ Tap Fest in Washington D. C. and several scholarships from Nuvo Dance Convention. Freddy has had the honor of being a part of Cherrise Wakeham's Project 7 for her 10th year Anniversary! When he isn’t dancing, he is typically reading, playing board games, or studying for his Computer Science degree at Georgia Tech.
Photography: Roman Naumov