Carleigh Gee, Kelly Panagiotopoulou and LD Speights are hip hop artists who create, perform and teach together at The Studio Dance Company in Tampa.
While they each bring their own unique style to their collaborations, they share a common passion to motivate, support and challenge one another.
Photographed in “Mural Alley” just north of Central Avenue between 6th and 7th Streets in downtown St. Petersburg. Twiggy and Mr. Sun murals by Chad Mize. Colorful mural with hearts by Jennifer Kosharek.
photos by Tom Kramer
photos by Charlotte Suarez
Carleigh began her dance training in hip hop at age 9. She received a BFA in Dance Performance with a Concentration in Modern Dance at the University of South Florida in 2014. During her senior year at USF, she performed in Bliss Kohlmyer’s Picture in a Frame/let go let go let go, at USF and in the ACDFA Southeast Conference Gala.
Carleigh has performed in works by Jeanne Travers and Ben Munisteri, as well as excerpts from Rosie Herrera’s Pity Party and Ohad Naharin’s Minus 16. In 2013 she attended the USF Dance in Paris Program under the direction of Michael Foley and Colleen Thomas, where she choreographed, performed and trained in all styles of dance for an immersive four weeks.
Her first post-graduate performance was her original solo work, To Deviate, in Moving Current Dance Collective’s NewGrounds 2014. Professionally, Carleigh has danced and choreographed for Tampa Modern Dance Company, most recently premiering her work grasp/shift/anew at their show, “The Grip.” She’s a company member with ROGUEdance, and faculty member for The Studio Dance Company in Clearwater. Carleigh teaches Contemporary, Lyrical, Jazz, Ballet and Improv, and choreographs/coaches The Studio’s competition team.
Originally from Athens, Greece, Kelly began dancing at the age of 9 at a local dance studio. At the age of 14, she received a full scholarship to a dance school of her choice and started to attend dance competitions.
In 2011, she won first place at the international ballroom competition, Acropolis Dancesport in Athens.
Kelly moved to Florida in 2012 and started taking dance classes at The Studio Dance Company, where she became a dance instructor in 2014. She’s competed at competitions and conventions including Monsters A-List and Pulse, and studied with Brian Friedman, Laura Edwards, Tricia Miranda and Dave Scott.
Kelly has danced for artists such as Flo Rida, Wiz Khalifa, Lil Wayne, and Fabolous. She’s currently pursuing a degree in Elementary and Special Education.
LD “Buckwheat” Speights
LD was born and raised in St. Petersburg. He’s well known for his character and expression in the dance scene, as well as his “lite feet” technique.
He has won numerous battles at various dance jams, including the Monsters of Hip Hop Orlando freestyle battle for the past 3 years. He is the creator of the event “Buckwheat’s Clubhouse.” a showcase and battle which has drawn dancers from all across the country.
As a dancer, he has opened for Mindless Behavior along with other artists at Wild 94.1’s Wildsplash. LD teaches at The Studio Dance Company, where he has been teaching Hip Hop, Breaking, R&B and Character Development for the past 4 years.