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Ballerinas Sitting in a Circle


LEE envisions a future where youth are empowered. The Arts is a universal language that gives voice to individuals and communities and is accessible across social boundaries.

The Arts improves sensitivity, understanding, appreciation, and consideration for others, both for their similarities and differences.

Anna Maria D'Onofrio
Artistic Director


Anna Maria is an internationally accomplished performing artist. Her lifelong study of dance with The Royal Academy of Dance (ARAD) in London lead to her Advanced ARAD Level Examination with Distinction. Anna Maria was awarded a full scholarship from the top performing arts college in London, The Laine Theater Arts School. Anna Maria has taught over 1000 students within the California Unified School District. 

Since graduating college with honors, she has worked in Dance, Theater, and Film in cities such as London, Los Angeles, Honolulu, Athens, and Rome.  In 2011, Anna along with her husband, Derek Pratt, launched Anna Maria Academy of Dance. 

Anna Maria's mission is to empower her students to fully express themselves through dance and free self-expression. Students understand that learning dance has a positive effect not only in the dance studio, but in all areas of a their lives. 


CREDITS: Off the Top (London), West End Laine (Aldwich Theater), A Chorus Line (Epsom Play House), The Nutcracker (Hawaii Ballet), Shrek the Musical (Honolulu Hawaii) Ensemble/Dance Captain, Honolulu Music Festival 2016 (Dir Kapolei Hawaii)  (BBC) Our Friends in the North (Frances).

Aside from directing dance programs in both Southern California and Europe Anna Maria is the creator of Holistic Movement Therapy (HMT) works at local dance studios in Los Angeles and continues to perform with (LEE) and Theatrical productions in Los Angeles. 

Derek. A Pratt, MA 
CEO/Executive Director

Derek is the Founder and Executive Director of The Anna Maria Dance Academy and Lightning Education. He has an impressive educational background with a BA in Law and Society and an MA in Spiritual Psychology. He has also owned and run a successful restaurant, and has experience in Child Development, Special Education, Adult Mental Health, and the homeless population for over 25 years. 

Derek has decades of experience in volunteering and working professionally with children and non-profit organizations. He has blended his knowledge of child development and mental health with lessons learned from a long-spanning career in organized sports and theater, to create two unique programs: Holistic Movement Therapy and The Puppet Therapy Workshop. Holistic Movement Therapy combines free movement, dance, self-expression and psychotherapy to help students reach their full creative and artistic potential. The Puppet Therapy Workshop is an entertaining and educational method to promote mental wellbeing and provides self-processsing tools for students to utilize during puppet play.

D Derek is a well-rounded and experienced manager, coach, and "Administrator of Fun" who is dedicated to helping his clients reach their highest potential. He has managed his daughter, Appy Pratt, for who has starred in CW's hit show "Jane The Virgin" and many other TV shows and movies, including Dungeons & Dragons (2023), Skeleton In The Closet (Cuba Gooding Jr, Terrance Howard), The Woman In The House (Netflix), and Rattlesnake (Netflix). She has been a regular sketch player for Jimmy Kimmel Live. She has also been featured in more than 20 commercials and over 100 print campaigns for companies such as McDonalds, Google, Victoria Beckham, GAP, Target, Lexus, Fila, AT&T, and many more. Derek also recently began managing Appy's little sister, Amore’ Astera Pratt, as well as a few other up-and-coming child actors. His passion for helping others achieve success is clear, and he is committed to seeing his clients reach their goals and dreams.

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