The Leading Follows of 2022/2023

Recipient of the Shalene Archer Award Izabela Orlowska

Izabela Orlowska was born in Olsztyn, Poland, at the time considered the capitol of ballroom dancing. At the age of eight, her training, dance studies, and professional coaching began with ballet, then expanded to all forms of international ballroom dance styles where she later represented her country in world championship events throughout Europe. In 1992, Izabela’s success in ballroom dancing led her to the United States. She began dancing and teaching American style and had a successful career as a dance instructor at Arthur Murray studios in Bloomfield Hills and Ann Arbor, Michigan.

For over 30 years, Izabela has competed with her students in Pro Am dance partnerships across the United States. Her awards as a Top Teacher on the National Dance Council of America competition circuit established her as one of the best ballroom dance instructors in the U.S. Izabela is the only female Top Teacher to receive three Emerald Rings at the Emerald Ball, a premier NDCA competition held yearly in Los Angeles, California. She enjoys competing, traveling with her students, and teaches all levels of dance.

World DanceSport Series - Top Teacher 2013, 2018, 2019 • Global DanceSport Series - Top Female Teacher 2013, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2023 • Emerald Ball Dancesport Championships - Top Female Teacher 2013, 2018, 2019 • Capital Dancesport Championships - Top Teacher 2012, 2013, 2017 • The SnowBall DanceSport Competition - Top Female Teacher 2018, 2019, 2020 • Heritage Classic Ballroom Championships - Top Teacher Award

Emily Mertens

Emily Mertens started dancing at a young age. When she was in high-school she took her first ballroom class with her dad to prepare for their father-daughter dance. Emily loved it and continued throughout high-school and college. During that time, she was hired as an instructor and has now been teaching for 15 years. She has competed professionally in 9-dance and has won many top-teacher awards. Throughout the years, Emily has also had the privilege to train many male students that have ranked in finals in national championships. Currently, she is focusing on growing her own studio, Dance Plus Ballroom in Columbus, Ohio.

Julianne DiBacco Daniells

Since a very early age, Julianne has been dancing, performing, and competing in classical dance styles such as ballet, tap, lyrical, and jazz, as well as other areas, including, but not limited to various sports and horseback riding. For 10 years, she trained and performed in traditional dance, however, at age 13, she was involved in too many extra curricular activities and had to step away from dancing to pursue her other passion: horses. Throughout high school, Julianne concentrated her after school focus on riding and showing Arabian horses both locally and nationally, accumulating numerous awards and accolades. After high school, Julianne went on to focus on her academics, earning two Bachelor's Degrees (in only 4 years), Business Management & Psychology, from the prestigious Santa Clara University in California, and, she went even further to obtain a Master's of Business Administration (MBA) from the renowned W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University.

A year after Julianne graduated college, she found her true calling in ballroom dancing. From the very first moment she took her first lessons, she knew that ballroom would be something that would become a large part of her life. She started as a student and quickly began training and competing with her various teachers at local, national, and international events, earning top honors at nearly every event she attended. Fast forward almost 15 years, and Julianne is now a certified Professional Instructor and Competitor with Dance Vision and NDCA. She is an active Professional American Smooth competitor and also competes with her students around the country in all 4 styles of ballroom dancing. Julianne and her husband, Paul Daniells, own one of the top independent ballroom dance studios in Arizona, DanceWise Dance Studio. She is a true testament to turning your passion into a lifelong career!

Grace Jungers

Grace grew up in South Dakota and began dancing at a young age, starting ballet when she was four years old. She passed her Cecchetti exams through Grade IV and also enjoyed studying pointe, tap and jazz. Having also started studying piano at age five, music and dance have always been a large part of her life. After receiving a music degree in piano performance, Grace began taking ballroom lessons to get back into dancing and quickly fell in love with the art form as well as with competing. She had a successful Am/Am and Pro/Am experience, competing in all four styles, before deciding to pursue ballroom professionally.

Grace has a passion for sharing her love of dance and teaching as well as performing. She began as an instructor at Cinema Ballroom in 2015, where she continues to teach full time and compete, both with students and with her professional partner, across the United States. Grace and her students have won several top student and top teacher awards, including being in the top six of the Leading Follows Pros in 2023 and a top teacher in the Dancers Cup Tour in 2021. In her pro partnerships, she has been a Rising Star Smooth finalist at various competitions and won Rising Star Smooth at Heart of America in August of 2022.

Maura Garuccio

Born and raised in Italy, Maura Garuccio is a professional dancer and coach with over 15 years of experience. Her love of dance and dedication to her craft, developed from her earliest days dancing in Brindisi. After competing and becoming Italian Champion in International Standard and be in the top couples in Europe,Maura moved to Cincinnati, where she now works with dancers across the Midwest in both International and American styles.

As a teacher, Maura leads her students to dance to their highest ability. Her special recipe of high-level dance knowledge, unwavering care, and tough love has led to many accolades, most recently earning Second Place in the Top Teacher Category at Ohio Star Ball 2023. Maura brings in top coaches from the United States and abroad to ensure her students continually learn from the best. Her work with kids, supporting them to become lifelong dancers, is one of her greatest sources of pride.

Danyelle Morley

Danyelle began her dancing career at a very young age and spent 12 years dancing classical ballet with a professional company prior to switching to ballroom dancing. Danyelle attended Brigham Young University where she toured internationally as a member of the university’s ballroom dance company, and competed individually in Ballroom, Smooth and Latin styles. While at BYU she majored in psychology and began working as a unit director at an eating disorder treatment center. Danyelle loved the opportunity to help so many amazing people with the struggle of eating disorders and other mental health disorders.

She has been teaching dance for more than ten years and is currently living in St. Louis with her amazing husband. She now teaches at Just Dancing Studio and began a professional smooth partnership with Jonathan Wolfgram in 2021. Whenever not dancing Danyelle loves to travel around the world and experience different cultures but if that isn’t an option she can usually be found binge watching crime documentaries and cuddling with her puppy. Danyelle hopes to continue using her training in therapy and dance to help others find the joy and release that can be found through ballroom dancing.