Meet the Pros

Crystal Chang

Crystal Chang started dancing at age 5.  Born and raised in the Washington, D.C., area, Crystal was classically trained in ballet, but her love of dance eventually led her to expand her knowledge, learn new styles and ultimately pursue dance as a career.  Crystal launched her instructing career with a worldwide franchise in the D.C. area.  Within her first year, Crystal made her company’s list of “Top 20 Teachers,” and by her second year, she was promoted to supervisor.  After that, Crystal took the opportunity to move to Greenville and continue teaching with her company.  In December 2012, Crystal opened Studio C.  A couple years later, Crystal added 4-Time NDCA Rising Star Professional American Rhythm Finalist to her list of accomplishments.  Currently, Crystal continues sharing her passion for dance with novice and advanced dancers through private sessions and group classes in the Upstate.  Crystal will be coaching two of our stars this year.

(dancing with Brad Schulte)

Asangwua Ikein

Asangwua Ikein is a DVIDA certified instructor and owner of Ballroom Alchemy. He has trained social and competitive dancers since 2010. His specialty is developing impeccable technique, graceful movements, and presence. Students enjoy lessons with Asangwua because he is consistent and patient. He meets students where they are and challenges them to build upon a strong foundation. In 2013, Asangwua and his partner won first runner-up at the Dancing with the Fort Wayne Stars event. In 2015, he and his partner won 1st place at the Oxygen Ball.

(dancing with Lindsay McPhail)

Ciara Ikein

Ciara Ikein is an instructor and owner of Ballroom Alchemy. She began partnership dancing in 2011, then began teaching in 2012. Her specialty is music and choreographing fun routines to match. She enjoys introducing students to partnership dance and helping them learn to connect with another person. Ciara and her husband, Asangwua, showcase and compete throughout the Upstate and surrounding areas.

(dancing with Jamie Porterfield)

Cesar Jaramillos

Cesar is the owner and director of Jaramillo’s Latin Dance Academy. He is also an experienced choreographer. Cesar has been with the cast of Dancing with the Carolina Stars since the very first show in 2010 and has taken home the dance champion trophy several times.  Cesar is originally from Colombia, where he was taught all latin style dances. With over 25 years as an instructor and choreographer, Cesar makes an excellent teacher that will motivate and inspire all to learn to dance.

(dancing with Jillian Wells)

Grigorii Kalinichenko

Grigorii is originally from Ukraine. He started dancing in the early age of seven and continued his professional career as International Standard and Latin dancer for 20 years. He has been a multiple time winner and finalist of natinional and International dance competitions and championships. After receiving his Master’s Degree in Choreography and Psychology of Education, he chose to follow his heart to pursue a Professional career in teaching Ballroom Dancing. As an instructor, Grigorii derives a great deal of satisfaction in seeing his students achieving new heights in their dancing whether it is a high result at the National Competition or just learning a new step. He believes that dancing changes people’s lives and feels honored to be a part of it.

(dancing with Mary Ann Sudnick)

Lindley Mayer

Lindley Mayer has danced for 23 years and more than anything her passion is to entertain and perform. She moved to Los Angeles, CA after high school where she resided for six years. She can be seen on projects such as; GLEE, The Oscars with Host Seth MacFarlane, Bunheads on ABC Family, Americas Got Talent, Victorious and performing for Lady Antebellum for the American Country Music Awards and more. She most recently worked on a campaign with Kay Jewelers to represent Jane Seymour’s Open Heart Collection. She can also be seen on Hunger Games in the role of Kaysa Minox, as well as The Walking Dead, short film entitled “Sangria Lift” and a pilot television series that was filmed in the Upstate as well as in California entitled “Morningside”. She is experienced in Tap, Jazz, Ballet, Hip-hop, Contemporary, Modern, Musical Theatre and Lyrical. She has appeared in commercials for NASCAR, Wii (Just Dance), Camp Rock Promo and The Big Help with iCarly. One of her favorite experiences was performing at Christina Aguilera’s home for her son’s 2nd birthday.

Lindley has trained professionally and worked for choreographers such as: Brian Friedman, Zach Woodlee, Mia Michaels, Marguerite Derricks and more. She has done choreography for many National Champion competition teams, college teams, studio teams as well as pageant soloists. She is the choreographer and lead dancer for a KCET Television show called “Shushybye”. She also performs the role of Magic Carpet in Disneyland’s “Aladdin- A Musical Spectacular.” She is currently the spokesperson for Benson Nissan and lead model for clothing company, Marley Lilly.

She was Miss South Carolina Teen 2005 and along with finishing 1st runner up to Miss South Carolina in 2013 she won overall talent for 2 consecutive years and now works on staff as the Prince/Princess Director and the Children’s Miracle Network Assistant! You can read and see more about Lindley’s professional career as well as her non-profit organization at!

This will be Lindley’s 5th year as a part of our pro team.  She and her partners have taken home the Dance Champion trophy two times in 2014 and in 2017.  She and her partner placed 2nd in 2016.

(dancing with Teddy Weil)

Geoff Newell

Geoff started dancing in 2012 at the University of Georgia. While at UGA, Geoff was President of the Ballroom and Social Dance Club and Vice-President of the Ballroom Performance Group. As part of these groups, he became one of the leading choreographers and teachers in the Athens area. He has competed and placed at multiple events across the South East, including the Atlanta Open and the Grand National Dance Championship. A member of the WSDC and the NDCA, Geoff believes strongly that anybody and everybody can find joy in dance. He cannot wait to show you how fun and rewarding dancing can be!

(dancing with Suzy Kim and Shannon Reilly)

Alex Zhylenko

Alex is a world renowned championship ballroom dancer, choreographer and adjudicator. Born in Ukraine, Alex began studying dance at an early age and has been dancing for more than 18 years. He is a certified competitor, dance teacher and adjudicator of the World Dance Council and a member of the prestigious International Dance Council of UNESCO. Alex is a two-time National Ukrainian Champion, and he believes in an engaged and dynamically based method of teaching. And, above all, it should be fun!

(dancing with Daja Dial)