Meet Our Instructors
Julie Akers Wilkes - Director
Julie began dancing at the age of four in her hometown of Marietta, GA. With a focus on ballet and jazz techniques, she trained in a pre-professional program led by Maniya Barredo of The Atlanta Ballet. While attending Pope High School, Julie joined the highly decorated colorguard and received many local and national awards, including a silver medal in 2000 at the Winter Guard International competition in Dayton, Ohio.
At Elon University, Julie took classes with instructors such as; Jane Wellford, Shouze Ma, Nina Wheeler (Miss NC Pageant’s choreographer), Gene Medler, Cherie Bower, and Rebecca Hutchins. Her training at Elon included dance and worship, dance history, improvisation, choreography, ballet, jazz, tap, partnering, and modern techniques. She graduated from Elon in 2005 with a B.A. in dance and human services.
After graduation, Julie joined the entertainment department of Walt Disney World. There she performed in “Mickey’s ‘Twas the Night before Christmas” show at the Magic Kingdom and the “Stars and Motorcars” Parade at MGM Studios. Upon returning to Georgia, Julie found her passion in teaching. She taught the East Coweta Colorguard in Sharpsburg, Georgia for the 2006-2007 season and the Pope High School Colorguard in Marietta, Georgia from 2007-2009. While at Pope, Julie helped to coach the winter guard program on to receive bronze and silver medals respectively at WGI in Dayton, Ohio. While in Georgia, Julie also taught for Teaching Little Children and The Spirit of Dance. It’s through these dance companies that she fell in love with teaching young students and enjoyed the role of a “first ballet teacher”.
In the fall of 2011, Julie moved to Portland, Maine. Once in Portland, she and her husband, Chris Wilkes, began Portland Music & Dance Academy (now Brio Dance Studio). Julie choreographed and performed with indiedanceworks from 2013-2017. She is a current performer with Collective Motion, choreographs for local companies such as Portland Youth Dance, and has had her choreography showcased at the annual FAB performance in Lewiston, ME.
Knowing that there is always more to learn, Julie is active in taking classes, performing, and attends regular teacher trainings. In July of 2018, Julie became a certified Rhythm Works Integrated Dance instructor.
"Our oldest daughter who is 5 loves her class with Miss Julie! She started in Spinning sprouts when she was just 3 and a little shy but wanting to try dance. Over the past 2 years of classes and camps, we have seen Miss Julie’s patience, kindness and teaching of good manners and respect, help our daughter grow and make new friends. I recommend Brio Dance and Miss Julie to anyone I know who’s child wants to try dance. Her programs are fun, the music is great, and she has the best props. Our almost 3 year old can’t wait to start classes this year with Miss Julie (she already loves her!)" - Lee Anne
"We had a wonderful time learning with you. Their little performance was adorable! We thank you so much Miss Julie! Our family is looking forward to working with you again later this month!" - Nicole
"I wish Maddie would have known you when she was younger. She learned so much from you in such a short amount of time. You will forever have a piece of our hearts Julie!" - Sandra