OUr Dance Instructors

  • Dance Director

    Debra Gierling Poole

    Debra Gierling Poole returned to Gateway in 2016 for Gateway's 10th Anniversary Season and is thrilled to be back as the Director of Gateway's Dance Academy. 


    At the age of 12, Debra was offered full scholarships to train with the Bolshoi in Moscow, Russia and the Kirov in Washington, DC. Although she did not accept either of those engagements, she went on to pursue a professional career in dance as a performer, choreographer, teacher and coach. 


    Debra has been dancing for three decades, teaching for a quarter of a century and has been coaching pre-professionals for the last 11 years. She is a graduate of Belhaven University, having obtained a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Ballet, Magna Cum Laude. She is the Founding Director of Cornerstone Dance (cornerstonedance.org), a non profit organization, which utilizes dance as a medium to serve, love and share the message of hope. Debra loves utilizing her gifts to minister within the church and beyond. She has been blessed to teach and perform all across the United States and throughout more than a dozen countries. 


    As a performer, she has danced with East Coast Dance Theatre, Jacobs Pillow, Ballet Magnificat!, Belhaven Dance Ensemble, Phoenix Dance Theater, Polarity Dance Theatre, Doxa, Space Coast Ballet, Japan Mission, Glory Dance, Living Stones, Illume, International Christian Embassy of Jerusalem, Arrows International, Beijing International Christian Fellowship, Dánzale, Dawn Branch Works and many others. She has made eight trips to Israel to serve through dance with the International Christian Embassy of Jerusalem, but took a sabbatical to return as Director for Gateway Dance. Debra attends church at Calvary Chapel Melbourne.

  • Beginning Combo / Pre-Ballet

    Susan Baden

    Susan Baden was raised in Brevard County, Florida. She discovered a love of dance at an early age and had the privilege of receiving her dance training from Erika’s School of Dance. Areas of study included ballet, modern, jazz, and tap under the instruction of Erika Rappa and Deborah Crisafulli. During her 18 years at Erika’s School of Dance, she performed with their dance company in multiple productions including Coppelia and their annual production of The Nutcracker Ballet. Susan also has a background in musical theater and has performed in The King and I and Gypsy with the local community theater. Susan currently resides in Satellite Beach with her husband Patrick and her daughter Hadassah. Hadassah will be starting her first ballet class at Gateway Arts Academy this fall with her mommy. She and her family attend East Coast Christian Center in Viera. 

  • Jazz / Ballet

    Whitney Stites

    Whitney Stites graduated with her Associate in Arts degree from Eastern Florida State College in 2006, transferring to Palm Beach Atlantic University to major in Dance Pedagogy. She graduated Cum Laude from PBA’s School of Music and Fine Arts Department receiving her Bachelor of Arts degree with a minor in Exercise Science. Whitney also had the honor of being chosen as the Dance Department’s Outstanding Graduate of 2009. One of her greatest achievements was auditioning for and receiving a role in the reconstruction of Merce Cunningham’s Septet. Upon graduation, Whitney began teaching at Heather’s Dance Studio. In the spring of 2012 Whitney was hired to teach the dance classes at Eastern Florida State College’s Melbourne campus. Whitney is an American Ballet Theatre® Certified Teacher, who has successfully completed the ABT® Teacher Training Intensive in Primary through Level 3 of the ABT® National Training Curriculum. She also works with Project Dance, a not-for-profit organization which promotes change in our communities and inspires young dancers. Whitney hopes to continue working in the Central Florida area inspiring and educating the next generation of dancers. Whitney attends Calvary Chapel Melbourne.


  • Hip-Hop

    Nestor "Buyett" Funelas

    Nestor "Buyett" Funelas moved to New York and Los Angeles, California from the small town of Palm Bay, FL for Music and Dance. While in New York and LA, he studied in critically acclaimed training facilities such as Broadway Dance Center, Steps on Broadway, Millenium Dance Complex, Movement Lifestyle, Debbie Reynolds, IDA (Hollywood) and Edge.


    He toured the country with All Access Productions after having attended the University of the Nations for a degree in theology and performing arts. After many years of teaching and performing throughout New York and Los Angeles, Nestor saw a need to break away from the traditional molds of the industry and musical theatre and merge his performing arts experiences with a message of hope and change for a new generation. In 2011, Nestor moved back to Brevard County where he developed and launched Sole180 Productions. Nestor attends church at The House.

3301 Dairy Road

Melbourne, Florida 32904

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Ph: 321.723.0561

E: gateway@fbcmel.org