Niagara Royalettes Logo
Home About Us Awards news Photos contact


Niagara Royalettes Staff

Judy Evans is the owner and director of the Niagara Royalettes Majorettes Baton and Dance Studio. She started the studio 38 years ago in 1977. Judy has been teaching baton twirling and dance lessons for forty years. Her dance training began at age four with Carol Peacock. She took classes with with Carol for 12 years and was also an assistant teacher at her studio until her retirement in 1974. Judy also studied with nationally renowned tap teacher Beverly Fletcher for 15 years, Tom Ralabate (UB Dance Professor) and still takes teacher classes with Barb Denny and attends dance seminars. Judy's baton twirling lessons started at the age of 9 with Pat Bragg (Twintonettes). She has also been coached by AnnNita McDonald (Indiana), a former national champion and nationally known teacher of champions. Judy is a former New York State Baton Twirling Champion and finished in 3rd place in Miss College Majorette of America. She was inducted into the New York State Baton Twirling Hall of Fame in 1995. She had the opportunity to choreograph the Citrus Bowl Halftime Show in 1993 and 1994. Judy is also a certified coach and judge with the National Baton Twirling Association (NBTA). Her students have successfully competed at several New York State Baton Twirling Championships and America's Youth on Parade (AYOP- the National Baton Twirling Championships for NBTA) at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana, winning many titles. They have also competed at the AAU Junior Olympics, Twirlmania in Florida and Twirling Unlimited International Championships. In 2009 she traveled to Gent, Belgium for the World Baton Twirling Championships with her student, Jeff Matiash, who won a bronze medal in Senior Men's freestyle. Her students have also performed at the Florida Citrus Bowl, World University Games, Niagara University and University of Buffalo basketball/football games, Lewiston Peach Festival, Niagara County Fair, Fantasy Island and area nursing homes. The Royalettes have also marched in local parades for 35 years. Judy is also a wife, mother and grandmother. Her daughter, Ashley Evans, is on the studio staff. Her son and daughter-in-law, Michael and Dana Evans, welcomed their first child, David Evans, on June 10, 2010. You can contact Judy at

Dawn (Simpson) Smith currently teaches ballet, hip-hop, tumbling, jazz and baton at the dance studio and is also a certified Zumba® Fitness Instructor. Dawn joined the Niagara Royalettes family at the age of 5 and has taken all classes offered while currently taking jazz, tap and hip-hop. Her love for dance and encouragement from her dance teachers led her into a path towards education. In 2006, Dawn graduated with a B.A. in Early Childhood Education from Niagara University. She also minored in dance during her undergraduate years at NU. In 2008, she completed her Masters degree in Literacy Instruction, also from Niagara University. Dawn was the 2002 recipient of the Monica Senese Scholarship at the dance studio. Dawn loves having the chance to continue to take dance and teach classes at the studio she grew up in. As always, Dawn is looking forward to our annual recital. You can contact Dawn at

Ashley (Evans) Grabowski currently teaches the intermediate and advanced jazz classes for the Niagara Royalettes and often choreographs jazz/lyrical solos and duets. She is the daughter of Judy Evans, the owner of the Niagara Royalettes, and began her dance and baton training at the age of 2. She has studied tap, jazz, ballet, and baton twirling in her time at the studio and continues to take jazz, tap, and hip-hop classes with the studio. Before graduating from Lew-Port High School in 2001, Ashley won numerous state, regional and national titles in baton twirling with the National Baton Twirling Association (NBTA), Twirling Unlimited Organization (TU) and AAU Junior Olympics Organization. Some major awards include numerous Adv. Miss Majorette of NY titles, TU International Solo titles, and a bronze medal at the AAU Junior Olympics. She also enjoyed many years of twirling with the award winning Advanced Senior Niagara Royalettes Twirling team, with whom she performed in the Halftime shows of the Florida Citrus Bowl two years in a row in the early 1990s. Ashley has also performed around Western New York as a solo twirler. In 2002, Ashley was inducted into the New York State Baton Twirling Hall of Fame. She attributes her years of success in competitive baton twirling to her coaches (Judy Evans, Kelli Russell, AnnNita McDonald, Candy Kimball, and Lori Uhazie). In 2005, Ashley graduated from Ithaca College with a Bachelor’s degree in Clinical Science. She then went on to graduate with her Master’s Degree in Physical Therapy and Doctorate of Physical Therapy in 2006. Ashley enjoyed extensive involvement with the nationally ranked Ithaca College Dance Team (ICDT) while at Ithaca, where she served as coach/captain for two years. She helped lead her team to top 5 and top 10 finishes in the UDA open division team finals at the College Dance Team National Championships in Orlando. The ICDT also won a regional championship at the Basketball Hall of Fame in Massachusetts during her junior year. Ashley also was involved in Ithaca’s dance company, IC Unbound, for three years, where she participated as both a dancer and choreographer. Upon graduation from Ithaca College, Ashley returned to WNY to pursue a career as a Physical Therapist (PT). She has worked as a PT for Erie County Medical Center Corporation (ECMC) since 2007, where she spent three and a half years working on the medical rehabilitation unit, specializing in traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, and multiple traumas. Ashley recently changed settings and is now working as a PT with children at Buffalo Public School #84 Center for Children at ECMC, which serves children with multiple disabilities. She loves her job and looks forward to many more rewarding years as a PT. Outside of her time spent as a Physical Therapist and as a student and teacher with the Niagara Royalettes, Ashley has continued on her with her dance education at Barb Denny’s Studio of Dance Arts in Lancaster, NY, where she currently studies tap, jazz, and modern under Barb Denny and Michael Hitzel. When she is able, she enjoys attending dance seminars and workshops to continue her development as a dancer/choreographer. Ashley loves to dance and perform and hopes to keep it up for a very long time! Happy dancing everyone…and remember, “Dance Hard…Life is Short.” You can contact Ashley at

Brittany Matiash currently teaches the youngest groups of children at the Niagara Royalettes studio. She has been teaching the beginner tap, baton and jazz classes for three years and was previously an assistant teacher for eight years. Brittany has been a dancer and baton twirler at the studio since she was 3 years old, where she has won many awards and titles in solo and group events. One of her favorite memories is being a member of the National Halftime Championship team in 2003 performing to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”. She was also the 2001 recipient of the Monica Senese Scholarship. Brittany graduated from Niagara University in 2008 with a B.A. in Elementary and Adolescent Education with a focus in History. In 2010, she received her Masters degree in Literacy, also from Niagara University. While in college, Brittany was a member and officer of the Niagara University Danceline and was able to perform twice in the yearly NCAA “March Madness” Basketball Tournament. In addition to teaching dance, Brittany is also a high school social studies teacher. You can contact Brittany at

Jeffrey Matiash currently teaches and assists with the competition baton groups and also assists with hip-hop, jazz, and tap classes at the dance studio. Jeff began classes with the Niagara Royalettes in 1993 at the age of 3. He has won numerous state and national titles as a solo baton twirler, as well as in team events, with the Niagara Royalettes. Highlights of his competition career include winning the National Young Boy's Solo Championship in 1997 at the age of 7 and being a member of the 2003 National Senior Half-time Championship team with the Niagara Royalettes. He most recently won the bronze medal at the 2009 World Baton Twirling Championships in Gent, Belgium in the Senior Men’s Rhythmic Twirl division. Jeff graduated from Niagara University in May 2011 with a B.A. in History and a minor in Dance. In December 2010, Jeff took part in the NU Theatre Department’s original production, Dance Theatre of Niagara, in which he was a lead in the tap and ballet numbers as well as a part of the ensemble jazz piece. Jeff was a 2005 recipient of the Monica Senese Scholarship. Jeff is the web designer and webmaster for the studio and also edits music for many of the groups. Jeff still takes tap, jazz and hip-hop at the studio and is still coached by Judy Evans for baton. In 2011, he joined a new baton competition team named Crescendo, coached by Kelli Russell. In their first season together, the team won a North Atlantic Regional Team title, won two titles at T/U International Championships, and were finalists in all four Senior team events at NBTA Nationals in July 2011. He enjoys being a part of the Niagara Royalettes family. You can contact Jeff at

Erika Ewert has been dancing at the studio for about 10 years. This is her third year assisting classes. She currently takes tap, jazz, baton, ballet and hip-hop classes at the studio and was a 2005 recipient of the Monica Senese Scholarship. Erika is in her junior year at Niagara Wheatfield High School.

Natalie Manning has been taking classes with the Niagara Royalettes for about 10 years, and currently takes tap, jazz, baton and ballet classes. She is a sophomore at Niagara Falls High School. This is her second year assisting with classes at the studio.

Allison Ewert is in her first year of assisting at the studio. She currently takes tap, jazz, ballet, hip-hop and baton classes and helps with the ballet classes while also occassionally assisting the younger classes. Allison has won multiple Beginner and Intermediate State and Regional twirling titles and was the 2007 recipient of the Monica Senese Scholarship.