Dancing is my life, my love, my joy!

Tonie Bense, owner and director of Tonie’s Dance Workshop in Panama City, FL and The Magical Kingdom of Dance is a dance educator and avid dance enthusiast.  Her studio has been in operation since 1976 and it has grown to two locations and over 600 students.  In addition to teaching weekly classes at the studio, Tonie travels the country participating and teaching at dance seminars and conventions ensuring that she stays up with the latest dance trends.  Tonie was a member of the 2013 Dance Studio Life Faculty where she shared the Magical Kingdom of Dance method to teachers from around the world. Tonie is the daughter of Mary Alpha Johnson who is well known in the dance community nation wide.  Mary Alpha developed The Magical Kingdom of Dance featuring the Alphamat, The Encyclopedia of Dance, and other materials designed to teach the young dancers. Their combined passion for dance and this innovative teaching method is one that Tonie is committed to sharing with her fellow dance educators. Sadly, Mary Alpha passed away in 2012, and it is Tonie’s goal to continue pursuing her Mother’s dream. MKOD has been featured in Dance Studio Life Magazine, Mississippi Magazine, The News Herald, and The Meridian Star. MKOD also has a “Magical Mondays” post on the Dance Exec website – a site dedicated to studio owners and dance teachers.

Tonie is a native of Meridian, Mississippi and began dancing at the very young age of two.  Her Mom’s dance studio was in the basement of their home and dance class was a part of the daily life routine.  Dance conventions, guest teachers, and master classes with Roni Mahler, Gus Giordano, Buster Cooper, Joe Tremaine, Sherry Gold, to name a few, were all a part of Tonie’s dance training. Tonie is a graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi where she also studied dance.  She was “Miss Southern”, Top Ten Miss Mississippi Pageant and Captain of and the famed Dixie Darlings.


Community activities and charitable events are a top priority for Tonie.  Every Summer, Tonie’s studio has a charity event called the “Singular Sensation Showcase” This performance raises money to support the dance program of Pediatric Plus.  Tonie has served as chairman of the Cattle Baron’s Ball and the Heart Ball. She is a mentor for Bay Education Foundation, Bay Arts Board and was First Lady of the Florida House of Representative while her husband was Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives.  She currently serves on the Gulf Coast Medical Center’s “Spirit of Women” board and has been appointed to the Florida Commission on the Status of Women.


Tonie has been married to Allan Bense for 38 years and has three adult children, and four GRAND daughters and one GRAND son. Life is definitely GRAND with so many blessings for which to be thankful. Dance has been an integral part of her entire life and she feels that real success is finding your life work in the work that you love.