Meet the Faculty

One of Tampa Bay’s Most Respected and Experienced Dance Schools

Lauren Ben Yaakov | Director

Lauren Ben Yaaqov, Owner of Steps School of DanceLauren began dancing at the age of 8 years old at STEPS School of Dance with Maureen Gibson. She studied at the North Carolina School of the Arts and earned her BFA in Dance from Florida State University. She went on to dance professionally with the Richmond Ballet before moving to New York to pursue other dance styles. She danced with a wide range of companies and choreographers and was chosen to choreograph at Columbia University for two years. Dance brought her all the way to Israel where she continued to perform and choreograph. She was a founding member of MakeSound Music and Dance Company based in Tel Aviv. While performing in New York and Tel Aviv she taught dance to students of all ages and levels. She also had a successful career in the fitness industry teaching Pilates, group fitness and Barre classes.


Sarah Edwards | Instructor

sarah_edwards_StepsSchoolofDanceSarah Edwards has over 20 years of dance experience, with emphasis and experience in Classical Ballet, Contemporary, Tap, Jazz and Acro. She trained at Jackie’s Dance Studio in Tampa, Florida from an early age and took Master’s Classes in New York at Luigi Jazz Center. She attended Howard W. Blake High School for the performing arts majoring in Dance and received her Master Certification in Performing Arts. Recently, she studied at Texas Metropolitan Ballet in Killeen, Texas under renowned dancers Randall and Jeannie Marie Marks. While there she taught at the Killeen Community Center and FreeStyle Dance Studio. Sarah is happy to be back in the Tampa Bay Area teaching at STEPS and Classical Christian School of the Arts. Her philosophy is that everyone has their right to free expression through the art of dance. She continues to dance and follows the motto: “Never Stop Moving”—Luigi.

Marianna Gonzalez | Instructor


Marianna Gonzalez started dancing at the age of five in Bonifay, Florida. She also participated in cheerleading and Acrobatics and attended several competitions as a captain. She discovered a passion for Musical Theatre and traveled/competed around the state of Florida as a main character in the Broadway musical “CATS”. She then decided to pursue a career in music and received my Federal Communication Commissions license to broadcast on the radio. She received lots of publicity from broadcasting live and transformed into a public figure/model for social media with over 10 sponsors and 30 thousand followers. Simultaneously she continued her Dance education and received her certification from the American Sports and Fitness Association to Teach Hip Hop and Contemporary Dance. Marianna joined the faculty of Steps School of Dance and had the opportunity to train with Dr. Mallory Quinn in Applied Behavioral Analysis Sports Innovations (ABASI). She received a certification from ABASI to teach Dance Education to children. She is passionate about continuing her education in dance and music as well as teaching. She enjoys showing the next generation how love, dedication and positive attitude can drive you wherever your heart desires.

Heather Mills | Instructor

Heather_Mills_StepsSchoolofDanceeOriginally from Cleveland, Ohio Heather Mills grew up studying with renowned artists and teachers including Artour Bajanov, of the Moscow Ballet Theatre, Bashkirian State Ballet and Bolshoi; Karen Gabay and Raymond Rodriguez of Ballet San Jose and Joanne Morscher of North Coast Ballet Theatre. Furthering her education she studied around the country at BalletMetAmerican Ballet Theatre  and Point of Departure, as well as participating in several youth ballet companies.  Heather received a dance scholarship to attend Mercyhurst College where she earned her BA in Dance Management in 2011 under the direction of Tauna Hunter. While at Mercyhurst she fostered her love of jazz, modern and contemporary styles, which she continues to use today. Upon graduation she went on to dance professionally with The Ballet Theatre Maryland in Annapolis for three seasons under the direction of Dianna Cuatto.
In 2014 Heather moved to Florida to join Tampa Ballet Theatre. In addition to dancing with the company Heather also takes on the role of Development Manager and was promoted to Company Ballet Mistress in 2017.  Heather enjoys teaching at STEPS School of Dance as well as Tampa Bay Ballet, the official school of Tampa Ballet Theatre.

Manuela Oliveira | Instructor

Manuela_Oliveira_StepsSchoolofDanceManuela Oliveira is well Recognized in the Field of Dance and Choreography, her works displayed on TV shows, TV Commercials, Music Videos and on Stage. Choreography Credits include: NBC’s The Voice Season’s 1,2 & 3 as Performance Consultant and Choreographer and working with Ceelo Green, Christina Aguilera, Blake Shelton and Adam Levine, SYTYCD Malaysia Season’s 1 & 2 as Creative Director, Choreographer and Guest Judge, SYTYCD Australia Seasons 1,2 & 3 as Choreographer, X-Factor USA assisting Paula Abdul and Nickelodeon Kids Choice Awards. Manuela has appeared as a Dancer for Rihanna - MTV Music Awards, Jennifer Lopez, Sara Bareilles, Luke James to name a few. She recently relocated to the Tampa Bay Area and is a proud faculty member of STEPS School of Dance.