The Dancer Project Artists

January-May 2019

Dance Photography by:

Martin O' Connor Photography

Layne Porter

Layne Porter is a Nashville native who started dancing at the age of 6. When she was 12, she studied at the Dance Theatre of Tennessee, which gave her exposure to the professional ballet community. Once the studio closed, she continued to study under Jennifer Drake, who later invited her to join The Dancer Project. Performance opportunities have included roles in Cinderella and Hansel & Gretel along with soloist roles in Jennifer Drake’s ‘Sleeping Beauty’ as the ‘Song Fairy', 'Cinderella' in The Dancer Project Conservatory's Spring Showcase, and Mrs. Drake’s  contemporary ‘Swan Lake’ as ‘Odile’. Dancing with The Dancer Project, she is provided a place to dance as well as give her a creative outlet. Layne believes in the mission of The Dancer Project in making the beauty of the arts accessible. She loves to do outreaches in communities for those who have never been exposed to performance arts for the first time. Layne graduated in May 2018 from MTSU with a Bachelor's degree in German and Entertainment Technology. Along with dance, she is also passionate about shooting and developing film photography. This is Layne’s fourth season as an Artist with The Dancer Project.

Danielle Quirion Howard


Danielle is from northern Virginia and discovered her love of dance at a young age. She began as a competitive gymnast and dancer, receiving dance training in a variety of styles. During this, Dani participated in various programs with professional companies such as the Boston Ballet and Dance Theatre of Harlem.  In 2002, Dani graduated from the Fairfax Academy of the Arts and then continued on to attend Virginia Commonwealth University, where she trained and performed in Modern dance and was a member of the VCU Dance Team. After graduating in 2007 with a B.S. in Sociology, Dani continued performing and choreographing with the Dance Company at Virginia Tech University, where she earned her Masters Degree in Public Administration and Policy. Dani then returned to Washington, D.C., and served as Director and Choreographer at SAX Lounge where she choreographed a variety show of styles including Cabaret, Burlesque, Pole Acrobatics, and Contemporary Dance.  Her works have been showcased at events such as Intersections Dance Festival and DC Knock Out Abuse Gala. Dani also performed with a variety of companies in D.C. including DCypher Hip Hop Company, Next Reflex Dance Collective, El Teatro De Danza, Contradiction Dance, and DancEthos. Dani was instructing dance and directing the community dance school at Joy of Motion Dance Center and was teaching pole fitness at Pole Pressure Studios before relocating to Nashville, TN, in 2018. Dani is now teaching pole dance at The Chrome Bar Boutique and is thrilled to be joining The Dancer Project for her first season!

Autumn Wegner


At the age of two, Autumn Wegner watched her mother take a ballet class and decided that she wanted to dance as well, so her parents put her in dance classes at Pat Brown School of Dance in Jackson Tennessee, where she continued to dance through high school. During this time, her mother began a dance ministry in the church they attended, so Autumn grew up watching her mother choreograph and teach movement to others, and when she was older, participated in and assisted her mother in that ministry. In high school, she joined Ballet Arts of Jackson, a local youth ballet company, where she had the opportunity to play the role of a doll in the Nutcracker. After High School, Autumn attended Union University where she studied art with a primary emphasis in art therapy and secondaries in sculpture and photography. Her junior year, she began teaching dance classes at a local studio, there she found that what she was learning in about art in school affected her dancing and teaching as well, and sought to encourage her students to dance creatively and to be artists, letting dance be a medium that allows honest expression while still understanding the importance of good technique and attention to detail. In May 2017, she graduated with a BA in Pre-Professional Art Therapy. In November of 2017, she moved to Nashville and has been working in coffee shops and traveling the country as a photographer with Groove Dance Competition. Besides these things, Autumn works as an artist in many mediums, including painting, textiles, clay, words, and whatever odd objects inspire her. This is Autumn's first project performing with The Dancer Project.

Sarah Kate Barnard

Sarah Kate was born in Nashville, TN. From a very young age she wanted to be a “ballalina” and at the age of 6 began dancing with The Academy of The Arts under the instruction of Diane Brewer. At the age of 8 she auditioned with the Nashville Ballet, earning the role of an Angel in The Nutcracker. She performed various roles over the next 3 years in the youth cast, and in the following years she went on to dance with several studios in the Middle Tennessee area. In 2010 Sarah Kate began assistant teaching and volunteering to lead classes and summer camps for children of all ages. She is now entering her third year as an instructor with Dance Classics in Murfreesboro, having taught ballet, tap, jazz, and tumbling for ages 2-18 and choreographed pieces for The Little Mermaid and Cinderella ballets. Sarah Kate is also looking forward to choreographing Fellowship Bible Church Murfreesboro’s Christmas children’s program for December 2018. Sarah Kate strongly believes in The Dancer Project's mission to bring affordable, professional dance training and performances to the community, and encourage a love of the arts in people of all ages and walks of life.  Having met Jennifer Drake in 2016, she has had the privilege to follow the company’s progress since and is thrilled to begin her first season with The Dancer Project! 

Jodie Mowrey

Jodie has danced since the age of two, studying multiple genres including ballet, modern, jazz, tap and ballroom. She grew up at Evansville Dance Theatre in Evansville, IN, then studied at Interlochen Arts Academy and The Ohio State University. She recently moved to Nashville from Indiana where she choreographed over 10 musicals including Oklahoma, Music Man and Beauty & the Beast and directed a pre-professional dance ensemble. Jodie has been involved with dance her entire life and began acting and singing after college. She has performed in multiple stage productions including Annie, the Crucible, Nutcracker and Cinderella (as one of the Wicked Stepsisters). Along with the arts, Jodie established a career in advertising after receiving her MBA at Columbia Business School. She is currently the Director of Marketing at a healthcare software company. This is Jodie's first season performing with The Dancer Project.

Elizabeth Banas


Elizabeth is originally from Corunna, MI. She began dancing in ballroom during college in Michigan. After relocating to Nashville, Elizabeth started dancing again and to help with her ballroom she tried a ballet class. Elizabeth fell in love with the art of ballet and danced at several places around Nashville and Atlanta. She came to The Dancer Project in January of 2018. Since working with The Dancer Project she feels her whole perspective of art has changed and loves the energy of the studio! Having the chance to work en Pointe as an adult and perform with a company is a dream come true. She enjoys competing in ballroom dancing, running, and exploring Nashville.This is Elizabeth's first season with The Dancer Project.

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