About our Founder
Carla Gilespie Berry
Carla’s Dance Factory was founded thirty-seven years ago on the belief that every child should be given the opportunity to enjoy the art of dance. As a child, Carla did not fit the stereotypical shape or size of a dancer. But with perseverance and determination, she continued to study with as many teachers as possible to develop her talent.
While attending Emory University, Carla expanded her dance experience by moving into musical theatre choreography. As principal choreographer for the theatre department, she choreographed numerous musicals including, “The Pajama Game”, “Oklahoma”, “Guys and Dolls”, “Godspell”, “Oliver”, “And South Pacific”, and “You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown”. Serving as president and choreographer of Ad-Hoc theatre, Carla established a musical dinner theatre group with all profits being donated to Egleston’s Children’s Hospital. Additionally, she volunteered her time at the DeKalb Neighborhood Playhouse choreographing their summer stock productions. After graduation from Emory, she was a member of the Dance Alive Dance Company and the Georgia Peaches. Performing with Tanzer Productions, she worked in musical theatre, as well as with convention and trade shows. Her work with special needs children won her state citizenship and leadership honors and the Outstanding Young Woman in America Award.
Carla’s students have won national dance competitions, pageant titles, and numerous other dance awards. Many of her former dance students have gone on to dance on their college dance teams. Three of her former students danced professionally in New York City. It is the achievements of her students that continue to motivate and drive Carla to continue inspiring, mentoring, and encouraging her students to become who they were destined to be in life. For some, that is dancing and acting, and then there are other young women that have become pharmacists, accountants, doctors, attorneys, physical therapists, speech pathologists, nurses, and teachers just to mention a few careers. The most important thing for Carla is that they become self-assured young women in whatever path they choose to follow.
Carla fulfilled a lifelong dream by attending and participating in a Radio City Music Hall Rockette summer intensive held at the University of Alabama in 2004. While there she learned the legendary toy soldier routine, kick lines, and many technical tricks of precision dancing.
Carla participates in a dance continuing education program every summer to keep her studio fresh and up to date with the latest trends in dance. Until disbanded Carla attended the Southeastern tap explosion where she studied with Jay Fagin, Sam Weber, Germaine Salsberg, Josh Hilbermand, Asia Gray, Barbara Duffey, Dianne Walker, and other tap teachers & legends.
She studied with her friend and Broadway performer Thommie Retter who starred as Mr. Braithwaite in “Billy Elliot” bringing him to the studio for choreography and masterclasses. Carla attended the Big Apple Tap Seminar in NYC studying with Avi & Ofer, Debbie Dee, and a Velocity Tap Seminar with Mark Goodman and Sara Reich. Carla and her faculty have attended the Pulse, Jump, and Nuvo conventions just to name a few. She attended the LA Tap Festival held at the Debbie Allen Studio in Los Angeles hosted by Jason Samuel Smith and Chloe Arnold two of the hottest young dance talents in America today. Continuing to learn keeps Miss Carla inspired and motivated. Last summer her faculty attended the Rhee Gold Seminars in their chosen discipline to learn new techniques and ideas. Rhee Gold is known among the dance community as the most inspirational teacher in the industry. Carla also attended the Studio Business Owners Seminar held in Boston. Last year she attended the Rhee Gold Seminar in Phoenix to catch the latest trends in dance education.
In addition to her role as “Miss Carla” she holds a bachelor’s degree from Emory University and a Pharm. D degree from Mercer University and is a practicing pharmacist with Walmart. When asked about the dual role she said that she continues to dance because she believes that what her dance school has to offer in the community is unique and different from all of the many other dance schools in the area.