Knecht Dance Academy was founded in 1959 by Fred and Joanne Knecht on Radcliffe Street in Bristol, Pennsylvania. After just a few years, KDA outgrew its home and they moved onto Haines Rd. Quickly becoming a staple in the community, families continued to flock. In 1972, KDA relocated to Frosty Hollow Rd. in Levittown, Pennsylvania, where they built a new state of the art facility from the ground up. Now 62 years later, Knecht Dance Academy has been named the "Best of Bucks" over 20 times, has served tens of thousands of families, and continues to be THE place for dance education for all ages and all abilities.
Fred Knecht is known as a father of jazz dance. He has received multiple lifetime achievement awards from national dance organizations all across the country. In 2014, Fred was recognized as a pillar in the Bristol Borough Community and celebrated for his contribution to the arts and education. As a member of Dance Masters of America- certified in both Pennsylvania and New York Ctiy, Mr. Knecht has judged, taught, and choreographed nationally and internationally. He is partly responsible for the syllabus at Dance Masters of America's Teachers Training School, which is still used today. Even now, at 82 years old, Mr. Fred continues to teach throughout the country and Canada.
Joanne Dubois Knecht made her Broadway debut at just 18 years old. She was the opening act for Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis where she was affectionately known as "Crazy Legs." Before meeting Mr. Fred, she successfully owned and operated Joanne Dubois' School of Dance. She created the preschool curriculum that we still introduce in our "Tiny Tots" program. Together, Miss Joanne and Mr. Fred (then known as Dubois and Kenny) played every night club in the Philadelphia area. Although retired, Miss Joanne is still adored by all Knecht students.
After 40 years of owning and directing Knecht Dance Academy, Fred and Joanne retired and their eldest daughter took over. Before her teaching career began, Elise Knecht danced professionally in New York City, Atlantic City, Las Vegas, and the Bahamas. Elise is also a member of Dance Masters of America, both in New York City and Pennsylvania where she also served as Vice President of Pennsylvania Association of Dance Teachers. As a judge and choreographer, Miss Knecht has worked all across the country for national dance competitions. She continues to teach and choreograph numerous winning routines and remains the artistic director of Knecht Dance Academy.
Ashlee Knecht is the eldest daughter of Elise Knecht. After growing up as a competitive dancer, Ashlee graduated from Neshaminy High School in 2014 and moved to New York City to attend Pace University as a commercial dance major. She has trained with the likes of Mandy Moore, Jerry Mitchell, and Anne Reinking. Ashlee is a graduate of Broadway Dance Center's Professional Semester and a member of Pennsylvania Association of Dance Teachers. Since moving back home to teach, Ashlee has become the executive director of Knecht Dance Academy. She is a certified member of Acrobatic Arts Association and a third year student at Teachers Training School at SUNY Buffalo. Ashlee continues to work for numerous dance competitions as an adjudicator and has been a guest teacher for Dance Masters of Pittsburgh and Dance Masters of Michigan. Ashlee continues to teach and choreograph full time.
After 61 years and three generations, Knecht Dance Academy is responsible for training dancers superior to the rest. To date we have over 20 Miss Dance of America titles, a Mr. Dance of America, a Master Dance of America, a Junior Mr. Dance of the United States, and a Senior Mr. Dance of the United States. Hundreds of our students have gone on to Broadway including Tony Award Winning choreographer Christopher Gattelli (Newsies), Herman Sebak (Miss Saigon, Cats), and Nadine Isenger (Matilda). They have graced the screens of television and film on Law and Order, iCarly, and Aileen Quinn in Annie (as Annie). our dancers continue to dance across the world on cruise ships, in theme parks, and national tours. But even more of our students have gone on to excel in college, pursue dream careers, and raise happy, healthy families. While many of our students graduate to careers in performing arts- our goal is to lead and teach our students that they are capable of anything while growing and learning in a safe and positive environment.
As Karen Martin retires after successfully owning and operating Dance Works of Mercer County, we look to merge two studios with abundant histories and create Knecht's Danceworks. We look forward to continuing our legacy of being a home away from home for all!