GET TO KNOW US

Charlotte Ballet’s staff is a group of individuals with a common passion: creating artistically excellent programming from beautiful classics to thought-provoking contemporary works that push the boundaries of ballet. From artists who have dazzled audiences and critics the world over, to teachers and educators sharing the joy of ballet as an art form, we proudly call Charlotte our home. We invite you to get to know us better. Click on the tabs below to learn more about the people who make up Charlotte Ballet.

OUR DANCERS

The artists of the Charlotte Ballet are known for their high energy, precision and speed, as well as their ability to perform a versatile repertoire ranging from full-length classical ballets to innovative contemporary works. The Charlotte Ballet’s breathtaking beauty, boundless energy and amazing athleticism have dazzled audiences and critics the world over.

Juwan Alston

Juwan Alston

Raven Barkley

Raven Barkley

Chelsea Dumas

Chelsea Dumas

Colby Foss

Colby Foss

Drew Grant

Drew Grant

Josh Hall

Josh Hall

Sarah Hayes Harkins

Sarah Hayes Harkins

Ben Ingel

Ben Ingel

Alessandra James

Alessandra James

Lexi Johnston

Lexi Johnston

James Kopecky

James Kopecky

Sarah Lapointe

Sarah Lapointe

Michael Matthews

Michael Matthews

Peter Mazurowski

Peter Mazurowski

Maurice Mouzon Jr

Maurice Mouzon Jr

Amelia Sturt-Dilley

Amelia Sturt-Dilley

Ryo Suzuki

Ryo Suzuki

Elizabeth Truell

Elizabeth Truell

Shaina Wire

Shaina Wire

Anson Zwingelberg

Anson Zwingelberg

Charlotte Ballet II

Charlotte Ballet II is a group of young professional artists affiliated with Charlotte Ballet. These dancers offer public presentations of their own repertoire as well as appear in performances with the main company. Charlotte Ballet II dancers perform an eclectic mix of choreography including some of their own work. They also appear in lecture demonstrations and residencies at public and private schools.

Jonas Godwin

Jonas Godwin

Cara Hansvick

Cara Hansvick

Claire Hutchinson

Claire Hutchinson

Giselle MacDonald

Giselle MacDonald

Michael Menghini

Michael Menghini

David Preciado

David Preciado

Humberto Ramazzina

Humberto Ramazzina

Candace Ricketts

Candace Ricketts

Pre-Professional Division Apprentices

The Charlotte Ballet Apprentice program provides a transitional experience for dancers as they move from the academic ballet setting to the world of professional dance. It gives dancers an opportunity to increase their stylistic range and versatility by exposing them to a variety of dance styles in class, rehearsals and performances. Charlotte Ballet is known for its eclectic repertory and we are committed to preparing our dancers to be as versatile as possible not only for work with our own company but to increase their chances for employment with other dance companies. Apprentices receive unique opportunities to learn the repertoire of and perform with Charlotte Ballet and Charlotte Ballet II.

Executive & Artistic Leadership

Hope Muir artistic director email x2789
Douglas Singleton executive director email x2761
Patricia McBride associate artistic director & master teacher
Mark Diamond program director of Charlotte Ballet II  email x2778
Traci Gilchrest Kubie rehearsal director
email
x2784
Sasha Janes resident choreographer email

Administrative

Faye Lakey director of finance email x2764
Gene Bledsoe director of facilities email x2763
Misha Eady-Harbold company manager email x2785
Maria Donahue finance and accounting manager email x2791

Development

Brooke Mize director of development email x2777
Meg Cockrell director of individual giving email x2783
Roslyn Jones corporate relations manager email x2792
Megan Mitcham annual giving manager email x2773
Emily Portal special events and volunteer coordinator email x2769

Education & Community Engagement

Bianca Bonner director of education and community engagement email x2767
Katelyn Pounds education and community engagement coordinator email x2775
Kimberly Pereira education administrator email x2774

Marketing

Logan McSwain Evans director of marketing and communications email x2765
Amanda Fowler associate director of marketing email x2766
Sarah-Kate Pease patron engagement manager email x2772
Toby Shearer digital media producer email x2787
Samantha Salvato content marketing specialist email  x2786

Production

James Ogden II director of artistic operations email x2780
Dean Burchett production manager email x2762
Aimee Coleman director of costumes email x2761
Liz Shinkle technical director email x2211
Amy Evans wardrobe supervisor email x2782
Sarah Ingel costume technician & shoe manager email  x2782
Jennifer Propst lighting director email
Jesse Muench lighting supervisor
Rick Moll studio lighting supervisor email

Academy

Ayisha McMillan Cravotta director email x2776
Laszlo Berdo Academy associate director
Anita Pacylowski-Justo Academy associate director
Ruth Gibbs Academy program manager email x2770
Danielle Doucet Academy administrator email x2793
Kati Hanlon Mayo artistic coordinator email
Asia Bartholomew, Shannon Fraser Academy administrative assistants email
Anne Mitchener  Academy receptionist email
Hope Muir

Hope Muir

Artistic Director

Hope Muir became artistic director of Charlotte Ballet in 2017. Born in Toronto, Hope was a founding member of Peter Schaufuss’s London Festival Ballet School. Upon graduation she joined the company (now English National Ballet), and in 1994 Hope joined Rambert Dance Company with the appointment of Christopher Bruce CBE and danced a wide variety of repertoire from prolific choreographers, including Ek, Kylian, Naharin, Tharp, Tetley, de Frutos, Cunningham and over a dozen Bruce works. After ten years with the award winning RDC, she moved to Hubbard Street Dance Chicago and expanded her repertoire to include Forsythe, Duato and Lubovitch. After a 20-year performance career, Hope became a sought after guest teacher and rehearsal director, coaching both classical and contemporary technique. She has worked with The National Ballet of Canada, English National Ballet, Rambert Dance Company and Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures Company. Hope has assisted numerous choreographers on setting their works internationally including Christopher Bruce CBE, Javier de Frutos and Helen Pickett. She helped Crystal Pite on her creation Emergence for the National Ballet of Canada in 2009, was invited by Emily Molnar to be guest rehearsal director for Ballet BC and worked as rehearsal assistant for Hofesh Shechter’s creation Untouchable at the Royal Ballet, Covent Garden. Hope joined Scottish Ballet in 2009 and was promoted to assistant artistic director in 2015. Hope’s first season as artistic director for Charlotte Ballet includes the introduction of eight new choreographers to the company, the creation of five new ballets, two ballets making American premieres and the newly established Choreographic Lab.


Patricia McBride

Patricia McBride

Associate Artistic Director

Patricia McBride has been celebrated as the outstanding American ballerina of our day and a star of international stature. In 1959, she joined the company of New York City Ballet and, in 1961, became its youngest principal dancer. Patricia danced for five American presidents, performed with many of the great male dancers of our time and had numerous master works created for her by George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins. She joined Charlotte Ballet in 1996 as associate artistic director and is a master teacher with the Charlotte Ballet Academy. She also serves as associate artistic director and master teacher at the Chautauqua Institution in NY. Patricia has received awards from Dance Magazine Award, the New York City Mayor’s office and Mademoiselle Magazine, as well as the North Carolina Award, the state’s highest civilian honor. In 2014, she was named a Kennedy Center Honoree. Patricia and Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux have two children and three grandchildren.


Mark Diamond

Mark Diamond

Charlotte Ballet II Director

Mark Diamond has choreographed and taught in Europe, Japan and the U.S. since retiring from Hamburg Ballet in Germany in 1983. He has choreographed more than 30 ballets for Charlotte Ballet and is program director for Charlotte Ballet II. In the summer he serves as associate artistic director and resident choreographer for Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux at Chautauqua Institution in New York. Before joining Charlotte Ballet, Diamond was resident choreographer for Cincinnati Opera, founded Ballet Artists Cincinnati and received grants from Ohio Arts Council, New England Foundation for the Arts and others. Before dancing in Europe, Diamond was a principal dancer with Milwaukee Ballet Company, danced with Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre and Tamburitzans Slavic Folk ensemble. He trained with Edward Caton and studied music, history and dance at Duquesne University and Point Park College, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree.


Traci Gilchrest

Traci Gilchrest

Rehearsal Director

Traci Gilchrest-Kubie was born in El Paso, TX, and danced professionally for Hartford Ballet, Ballet Arizona, Chautauqua Ballet and Charlotte Ballet. During her 20-year career, she danced many leading roles by George Balanchine, Paul Taylor, William Forsythe, Alonzo King, Mark Diamond and Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux. She retired from Charlotte Ballet in 2011 after a 16-year career to serve as Repetiteur for the Charlotte Ballet and Charlotte Ballet II. She is an instructor with the Charlotte Ballet Academy and in addition stages ballets on Complexions Contemporary Ballet and Carolina Ballet Theatre among others. In 2009 she was celebrated by the Chautauqua Dance Circle for her “extraordinary artistry and contributions to Chautauqua Dance.”


Sasha Janes

Sasha Janes

Resident Choreographer

Sasha Janes was born in Perth, Australia, and received his formal dance training from the Australian Ballet School. He has danced professionally with the West Australian Ballet, Australian Ballet, Hong Kong Ballet, Dayton Ballet and Charlotte Ballet. In 2006, Sasha was commissioned to choreograph his first ballet, Lascia la Spina, Cogli la Rosa, and since has choreographed many ballets for Charlotte Ballet, including Rhapsodic Dances, performed as part of the Kennedy Center’s Ballet Across America series in June 2013. The Washington Post called Sasha, 'a choreographer to watch.' He was invited to participate in the New York Choreographic Institute’s spring session, where he created Murmuration on the students of the School of American Ballet. In 2013, he created Dominant Curves for Richmond Ballet’s New Works Festival. Sasha was a principal dancer with Charlotte Ballet for eight seasons before being named rehearsal director in 2007 and associate artistic director in 2012, adding the title resident choreographer in 2013. Sasha continues his role as resident choreographer, while also serving as director of contemporary studies for the Chautauqua School of Dance and as a ballet faculty member and choreographer for The Indiana University Jacobs School of Music.


Douglas Singleton

Douglas Singleton

Executive Director

Doug Singleton’s passion for dance began at Spoleto Festival USA with a performance of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. After graduating from the College of Charleston, he moved to New York City and spent over five years traveling with the Ailey company. While in New York, he was the producing manager for the premiere performances of Complexions Contemporary Ballet, led by Dwight Rhoden and Desmond Richardson, and worked with dance luminaries such as Judith Jamison, Masazumi Chaya, Jerome Robbins, Garth Fagan, Elisa Monte and Lar Lubovitch. Singleton joined Charlotte Ballet in 1996. He received the Charlotte Business Journal’s 40 under 40 Award and was selected to the 2008-2010 Class of the William C. Friday Fellowship of Human Relations at the Wildacres Leadership Initiative. He is currently chair of Dance/USA, a member of the Knight Arts Advisory Committee and a board member of ARTS North Carolina. Singleton was formerly on the NC Arts Council’s Grants Panel and the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County, MD, and proudly served as a member of the board of directors for the Choir School at St. Peters in Charlotte. Singleton and his wife Viki live in Charlotte with their three children.


Ayisha McMillan Cravotta

Ayisha McMillan Cravotta

Charlotte Ballet Academy Director

Hailing from Illinois, Cravotta’s dance career began at an early age at the Momenta Dance Company, where she trained in ballet and early American modern dance with Stephanie Clemens. On scholarship from Homer Hans Bryant, founding principal dancer at Dance Theatre of Harlem, Cravotta studied at the Chicago Multi-Cultural Dance Center. She also trained at Maria Tallchief's School of Chicago City Ballet, and under Bolshoi Ballet Director Asaf Messerer and Mikhail Messerer at their Soviet American Ballet School. At the age of 15, Cravotta left home to study on full scholarship at the Houston Ballet Academy. Cravotta joined Houston Ballet, under Director Ben Stevenson, in 1996. With Houston Ballet she toured and performed in London, Hong Kong, Toronto, and at The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., performing ballets by Stevenson, George Balanchine, Glen Tetley, Trey McIntyre and Lila York. Cravotta spent five seasons with Charlotte Ballet and was the first African American woman to play a principal role in the company’s Nutcracker. Her time at Charlotte Ballet also included a memorable role as Tinker Bell in Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux's Peter Pan, as well as being featured in Alvin Ailey's The River and in George Balanchine's A Midsummer Night’s Dream. After retiring as a professional dancer in 2007, Cravotta joined Charlotte Ballet’s marketing department. In 2011, at the invitation of Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux, she became principal of the Charlotte Ballet Academy. Cravotta’s teaching experience includes working as a dance instructor and mentor at La Salle Street CYCLE WIZ Factory of Learning and Chicago Multi-Cultural Dance Center. She was also a resident artist for the Arts in Medicine Program at Texas Children's Hospital where she conceptualized, developed and led movement and music-based workshops to creatively engage pediatric cancer outpatients. In 2005, Cravotta was honored for her career achievements with an appointment as a Grand Marshal in the Chicago Defender's 76th Annual Bud Billiken Parade. Several national dignitaries, as well as over one million Chicagoans, were in attendance. In 2007, Cravotta was inducted into the prestigious HistoryMaker national archive in recognition for her accomplishments as an African American in the Arts. A National Achievement Scholarship Finalist, Cravotta studied at Rice University and most recently at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. She lives in Charlotte with husband Jeff Cravotta and their son, Luca.


Bianca Bonner

Bianca Bonner

Director of Education and Community Engagement

Bianca Bonner was born and raised in the Bronx, NY. She began her dance training at Ruth Williams Dance Studio at a young age. She later trained with Mary Barnett, former associate artistic director of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, in ballet, jazz, modern and African dance. Bonner has also studied under Melba Lucas, Aziza, Rae Ross Sandifer, Ann Vachon, Ruth Williams, Laura Williams, Bruce Hawkins, Kariamu Welsh, Chuck Davis and many others. Bianca holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Broadcasting, Telecommunications and Mass Media and a Master of Education degree in Dance from Temple University. Bonner served on faculty at Temple University in Philadelphia, PA. She has taught in various schools, studios and camps including The New Freedom Theatre and National Youth Sports Program. In 2000 Bonner co-directed an arts consortium that aimed to heighten appreciation and skilled development in dance called Cayenne Entertainment. Bonner has performed with Kariamu & Company Traditions and has received certification in the Umfundalai technique, a Pan-African contemporary technique developed Dr. Kariamu Welsh. She toured nationally and internationally with Chuck Davis and The African American Dance Ensemble, partaking in residencies, dance workshops, lecture demonstrations and outreach celebrating African dance through love, peace and respect. Bonner has served on the board of Charlotte Dance Festival and was named best choreography at the Charlotte Emerging Dance Awards in 2009. During that same year she received a choreography award from the North Carolina Theatre Conference for Studs Terkel’s Working. In 2012 she was awarded the John W. Parker Award for Excellence in Directing from the North Carolina Theatre Conference for Ntozake Shange’s For Colored Girls who Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf. For six years, Bonner has choreographed main stage theatre productions with the Union County Performance Ensemble under the direction of Larry Robinson. Bonner served as dance educator for seven years at Central Academy of Technology & Arts in Union County Public Schools.

Charlotte Ballet 2017/2018 Board of Trustees Members

Lise Hain – Board Chair

Civic Leader

 

Dana Lumsden – Board Chair Elect

Bradley – Managing Partner

 

Alex Funderburg – Board Treasurer – Finance Committee Chair

Bank of America – Managing Director

 

John Mayo – Board Secretary – Governance Committee Chair

HSM – Vice President, General Counsel & Secretary

 

Mark Maraffi – Immediate Past Board Chair

BB&T Corporation – Senior Vice President, Wealth Advisory Team Director

 

Cathy Austin

Catherine M. Austin Interior Design – Principal, Interior Designer

 

Nina Austin

Fifth Third – Director, Structured Products & Product Specialist

 

Taber Cathcart

Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC – Shareholder

 

Titi Cole

Wells Fargo & Company – Executive Vice President & Head of Operations

 

Dawn Doherty

PNC – Carolinas Market Manager

 

Herb Doss

Doss Custom Fishing Rods – President

 

Tom Finke

Barings – CEO

 

Catherine Fortin – Academy Committee Chair

Independent Educational Consultant

 

Jennifer George

DHG Professional Standards Group – Partner

 

Kari Halkyard – Individual Giving Committee Chair

Civic Leader

 

Watts Hamrick

Pamlico Capital – Partner

 

Emily Hay

Brighthouse Financial – Technology Audit Leader

 

Laura Hay

Pearl Meyer & Partners – Managing Director and National Head, Banking Group

 

Carol Hitselberger

Mayer Brown, LLP – Partner, Finance Office Practice Leader, Partnership Board Member

 

David Houston

Fifth Third Bank – Senior Vice President

 

Rolfe Eldridge Hughes IV

Accenture – Managing Director

 

Lee James – Marketing Committee Chair

Mythic – President

 

Dr. Edward Kim

Levine Cancer Institute – Chair, Solid Tumor Oncology and Investigational Therapeutics

 

Beverly Ladley

Civic Leader

 

Ken Lambla – Education Committee Chair

UNC Charlotte – Dean and Professor – College of Arts and Architecture

 

Jennifer Madara

Wells Fargo – Vice President

 

Hugh McColl III – Corporate Development Committee Chair

Collwick Capital, LLC – Partner

 

Katie Morgan

Bank of America – HR Executive

 

Tadd Morganti

Deloitte Consulting – Managing Director

 

Richard Osborne

Civic Leader

 

Yandrick Paraison

Civic Leader

 

Steve Rasnick

Steven Rasnick Interior Design – Owner

 

Claire Rauscher

Womble Carlyle – Partner

 

Virginia Rosen – Outreach Committee Chair

Civic Leader

 

Phyllis Schultz

Blue Ridge Scoops, LLC – Member

 

Parker Shuford

Civic Leader

 

Ex-Officio Members

Tom Brydon – Advisory Board Chair – Ex-Officio Member

Civic Leader – Management Consulting

 

Rebecca Schultz – Corps de Ballet President – Ex-Officio Member

Bank of America Merchant Services – Marketing

 

Erin Milling – Parent Guild President – Ex-Officio Member

Erin Milling Design – Owner

 

Hope Muir – Ex-Officio Member

Charlotte Ballet Artistic Director

 

Doug Singleton – Ex-Officio Member

Charlotte Ballet Executive Director

Ayisha McMillan Cravotta

Ayisha McMillan Cravotta

Charlotte Ballet Academy Director

Hailing from Illinois, Cravotta’s dance career began at an early age at the Momenta Dance Company, where she trained in ballet and early American modern dance with Stephanie Clemens. On scholarship from Homer Hans Bryant, founding principal dancer at Dance Theatre of Harlem, Cravotta studied at the Chicago Multi-Cultural Dance Center. She also trained at Maria Tallchief's School of Chicago City Ballet, and under Bolshoi Ballet Director Asaf Messerer and Mikhail Messerer at their Soviet American Ballet School. At the age of 15, Cravotta left home to study on full scholarship at the Houston Ballet Academy. Cravotta joined Houston Ballet, under Director Ben Stevenson, in 1996. With Houston Ballet she toured and performed in London, Hong Kong, Toronto, and at The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., performing ballets by Stevenson, George Balanchine, Glen Tetley, Trey McIntyre and Lila York. Cravotta spent five seasons with Charlotte Ballet and was the first African American woman to play a principal role in the company’s Nutcracker. Her time at Charlotte Ballet also included a memorable role as Tinker Bell in Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux’s Peter Pan, as well as being featured in Alvin Ailey’s The River and in George Balanchine’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. After retiring as a professional dancer in 2007, Cravotta joined Charlotte Ballet’s marketing department. In 2011, at the invitation of Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux, she became principal of the Charlotte Ballet Academy. Cravotta’s teaching experience includes working as a dance instructor and mentor at La Salle Street CYCLE WIZ Factory of Learning and Chicago Multi-Cultural Dance Center. She was also a resident artist for the Arts in Medicine Program at Texas Children’s Hospital where she conceptualized, developed and led movement and music-based workshops to creatively engage pediatric cancer outpatients. In 2005, Cravotta was honored for her career achievements with an appointment as a Grand Marshal in the Chicago Defender’s 76th Annual Bud Billiken Parade. Several national dignitaries, as well as over one million Chicagoans, were in attendance. In 2007, Cravotta was inducted into the prestigious HistoryMakers national archive in recognition for her accomplishments as an African American in the Arts. A National Achievement Scholarship Finalist, Cravotta studied at Rice University and most recently at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. She lives in Charlotte with husband Jeff Cravotta and their son, Luca.


Laszlo Berdo

Laszlo Berdo

Academy Associate Director

Laszlo Berdo was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he began dancing at the age of five. At age 11, his mother encouraged him to try an audition for a local Nutcracker production. Initial resistance to classical ballet turned into a life-long passion. Laszlo later intensified his studies at the National Academy of Arts in Champaign, Illinois. Upon graduation he first joined Ballet Austin and then the Louisville Ballet under Alun Jones and Helen Starr. He was later hired by Ivan Nagy first as a guest artist then later as a soloist with the Cincinnati Ballet. Laszlo joined the Boston Ballet in 1990 as a corps de ballet member under Bruce Marks. He was promoted to soloist in 1993 and became a principal dancer in 1995. As a principal, he has danced numerous roles in ballets by Cranko, McMillan, Balanchine, Bournonville, Hynd and Stevenson. Laszlo also excelled in contemporary works by Tharp, Taylor, Feld, Butler and York. Laszlo is honored to be the first to perform the lead role in Cranko’s Eugene Onegin in the United States. He began choreographing in 1993, creating the pas de deux Eternal Being which later was performed for a Boston Ballet gala. In 1997, Berdo was commissioned to create a new work for Boston Ballet. Four Hands premiered in March of 1998 and was performed in many venues such as the International Ballet Competition in Jackson, Mississippi, and at a summer festival in Biarritz, France. In 1999 Laszlo created Below Down Under which premiered at the Shubert Theatre in February 1999. In March of 2001 he created Sanctuary for the Norwegian National Ballet in Oslo. He choreographed Bass Elements for the Boston Conservatory and participated in ChoreoPlan 2001 in which he created Concertante for the Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet. Laszlo staged Four Hands for the Finnish National Ballet in Helsinki which premiered in October 2002. From 2000 to 2003 he was a faculty member for the Boston Conservatory and Harvard University. In 2003 he joined the faculty of CPYB full time. In 2008 Laszlo choreographed Snow White, premiered Peter Pan in 2009, restaged Swan Lake in 2011, and premiered Carnival of the Animals in 2011. In 2010, Laszlo was commissioned to choreograph for the Eglevsky Ballet, The Nutcracker premiered in December of 2010. He was appointed Artistic Director and School Director of Eglevsky Ballet in 2011. Under Laszlo’s leadership, Eglevsky Ballet opened its doors to the community with a brand new state-of-art facility in Bethpage, Ny, reestablishing Eglevsky Ballet as the premiere ballet school and only professional company on Long Island. Laszlo is currently Ballet Master of the Pennsylvania Regional Ballet and continues to coach privately.


Anita Pacylowski-Justo

Anita Pacylowski-Justo

Academy Associate Director

Anita studied ballet at the Columbia Conservatory Ballet, the Reston Conservatory Ballet and The Washington School of Ballet. Her senior year in high school, she received the Princess Grace Award in Dance, was the National YoungArts Level 1 winner and received the Presidential Scholar in the Arts in Ballet award at the White House. She then joined The Washington Ballet and ascended to the a Principal dancer. She trained at the Chautauqua Institution in Dance and performed for fourteen summers as both a student and a founding company member under the artistic direction of Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux, which lead her to join Charlotte Ballet. In Charlotte, she performed as a Principal Dancer, for seven years. This is where she met fellow dancer Hernan Justo – who proposed to Anita onstage in front of a packed house at the Belk Theater at Blumenthal Performing Arts Center. In 2001, she came to Carolina Ballet Theatre in Greenville, SC to join her husband as artistic leadership of Carolina Ballet Theatre and in 2004, she became director of the school. During that time she also coordinated and facilitated many of CBT’s arts integration work through Metropolitan Arts Council’s SmartArts program – connecting students, artists and teachers to deeper learning and self-awareness through integrating the arts with all areas of education. She is grateful to rejoin Charlotte Ballet again after 16 years.


Audrey Ipapo Baran

Audrey Ipapo Baran

Audrey Ipapo Baran graduated Magna cum Laude from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte with a BA in Dance in 2003. Since then she has danced with the KINETYX Dance Ensemble, Queen City Jazz Company, Kim Robards Dance, project Incite, and EE Motion. In addition to the School of NCDT, Audrey teaches at Open Door Studios and Sullivan Dance Centre, and is an Adjunct Lecturer in Dance at UNC Charlotte. She has performed several times in the Charlotte Dance Festival and the North Carolina Dance Festival, and also at Piccolo Spoleto. Mrs. Baran has presented work in the NCDF Charlotte concert (2011) and NCDF Audience Choice Show (2012), and her choreography has received recognition at the CDF's Charlotte Emerging Dance Awards three times. In 2012 she founded Baran Dance, a Contemporary dance company which seeks to make dance more accessible and inspiring in the Charlotte area. Audrey is also a Registered Yoga Teacher, and continues to share her love of movement and mindfulness throughout the Queen City and North Carolina. Mrs. Baran is honored and excited to be a part of the faculty!


Emily Bowen

Emily Bowen

Emily Bowen was born and raised in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. She received her dance training at Cumberland Dance Company in PA, the School of North Carolina Dance Theater (now Charlotte Ballet), and Houston Ballet Academy.While in Houston Ballet II, Ms. Bowen competed in the prestigious Prix De Lausanne in Lausanne, Switzerland. During her 10 year career as a performer with Houston Ballet, she was featured in many works by world renowned choreographers including: George Balanchine, Sir Kenneth McMillan, Anthony Tudor, William Forsythe, Stanton Welch, Wayne McGregor, Jiri Kylian and Nacho Duato. In 2013, she was one of the featured dancers in Jordan Matter's print work Dancers Among Us photographed in New York City. After retiring from the stage in July 2016, Emily is excited to begin this new chapter in her ballet journey.


Leah Burge

Leah Burge

Leah Burge is a native of Pompano Beach, Florida, and trained under Magaly Suarez at The Art of Classical Ballet. She received numerous awards at Youth America Grand Prix, including gold in classical at the semi-finals, and silver in pas de deux at the NYC finals, and was additionally selected to perform with her partner, Jeffrey Cirio, in the Stars of Today Meet The Stars of Tomorrow gala held at New York City Center. She also received silver at the American Ballet Competition and The Frances Rands Beery Award. Leah danced with The Cuban Classical Ballet of Miami for three seasons and was invited to perform in the XI, XII, and XIII International Ballet Festival of Miami. Having completed her training, she went on to dance professionally with The Joffrey Ballet, Oklahoma City Ballet, Florida Classical Ballet, Columbia City Ballet and Columbia Classical Ballet. Her range of repertoire spans from Petipa's Don Quixote to George Balanchine's Serenade to Paul Taylor's The Cloven Kingdom. During her career, she has instructed ballet and contemporary to all ages and levels, drawing from her influential Cuban and Russian training. Leah moved to Charlotte in 2016 and has taught classes for local studios including Caroline Calouche & Co. and Jena Burgin-Peters Entertainment. She is honored to join the staff of Charlotte Ballet Academy and share her passion of dance with the next generation.


Tara Winston-Conrad

Tara Winston-Conrad

Tara Winston-Conrad’s dance training began as a young girl in Washington, DC. She studied at The Bolshoi School of Ballet in Bethesda, MD, and then later at The Bethesda School of Ballet. Conrad continued her dance education at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro where she worked towards a major in drama and a minor in dance. After two years she transferred to Catholic University in Washington, DC. While studying drama and teaching dance she commuted to New York where she performed in an Off Broadway Showcase. Later that year she traveled to the Middle East and abroad as a featured dancer in the 1982 USO tour. Conrad graduated with a Bachelors of Fine Arts degree from the prestigious Drama program at Catholic University and moved to New York City. While in New York, Conrad studied and later taught at many major dance studios, including Broadway Dance Center, Steps, and David Howard. She also performed as a Zigfield Folly dancer and was featured in several VH1 music videos. Conrad’s dance training led her to the fitness industry where she became National Spokesperson for The Body Bar and presented at many national and international fitness expos. During this time she was a member of “Team Danskin” and appeared on several talk shows as a fitness expert. Conrad has worked extensively in television, appearing in TV films, soap operas and national commercials.


Duane Cyrus

Duane Cyrus

Duane Cyrus is an Associate Professor at the University of North Carolina in Greensboro and the Artistic Director of Cyrus Art Production LLC. He has performed with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Martha Graham Dance Company, The Lion King (original London cast), Carousel (U.S. Tour) as well as domestic and international touring with Cyrus Art Production. Mr. Cyrus is the co-author and editor of the book Vital Grace- The Black Male Dancer a photographic celebration of black men in dance. A graduate of the Juilliard School (BFA) and the University of Illinois (MFA) Mr. Cyrus is also a recipient of the Princess Grace Foundation award for emerging artists. Duane Cyrus choreographs, performs and teaches extensively throughout the U.S. and abroad. He has served as faculty for the Joffrey Ballet School/New School BFA Program, The Hartt School Actor’s Training Program, American Ballet Theatre’s Summer Intensive, AileyCamp, and the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign where he was a Visiting Lecturer. Duane Cyrus was awarded the 2009 University Dance Educator of the Year honor by the North Carolina Alliance for Athletics, Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance. He also wrote a grant for the National Endowment for the Arts that was awarded to the dance department at UNCG. In 2010 Mr. Cyrus was the first place winner for the Anne Fulton Carter Business Plan Competition. With his award winning plan he opened the Access to Art Academy that provides professional level training for performing artists in the Greensboro Triad Region. Duane Cyrus continues to produce performances, outreach programs, and collaborative projects around the country. His recent projects include The Vital Grace Project that includes performances and collaborations with notable artists. For more information visit: www.cyrusartproduction.com


Jamie Dee Clifton

Jamie Dee Clifton

Jamie, a native of CA, received her training at Orange County Regional Ballet. After receiving the California Alliance for Arts Education’s 2000 Emerging Young Artist Award, she joined the American Repertory Ballet in New Jersey where she spent two seasons. Jamie accompanied Nai Ni Chen Dance Company on their 2002 China Tour and has been a guest artist with L.A. Chamber Dance. She danced for seven years with BalletMet Columbus where she received the 2008 Violetta Boft Award. Some of her favorite roles include Juliet in David Nixon’s Romeo and Juliet, Odette in Nixon’s Swan Lake and Daisy in Jimmy Orrante’s world premiere of The Great Gatsby. She has had the pleasure of dancing works by such choreographers as Jiří Kylián, George Balanchine, Dwight Rhoden, Twyla Tharp and Stanton Welch.


Mark Diamond

Mark Diamond

Mark Diamond has choreographed and taught in Europe, Japan and the US since retiring from the Hamburg Staatsoper in Germany in 1983. He has choreographed more than 30 ballets for North Carolina Dance Theatre and is program director for NC Dance Theatre 2. In the summer he serves as associate artistic director and resident choreographer for Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux at the Chautauqua Institution. Before joining Dance Theatre, Diamond was resident choreographer for the Cincinnati Opera, founded Ballet Artists Cincinnati, and received grants from the Ohio Arts Council, the New England Foundation for the Arts and others. Diamond was a principal dancer with the Milwaukee Ballet Company, danced with Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre and the Tamburitzans Slavic Folk ensemble. He trained with Edward Caton and attended Duquesne University and Point Park College (BA), where he studied music, history and dance.


Katarina Dimitrijevic

Katarina Dimitrijevic

Katarina M. Dimitrijevic is a graduate of The State Ballet Academy of Belgrade, Serbia. Dimitrijevic danced with the Simionov Ensemble and instructed classical ballet at three different ballet institutions in Belgrade. She then spent several years in Italy as a ballet instructor, choreographer and dancer at ballet schools in Ragusa, Comiso, Acate and Grammichele. In 1997, Dimitrijevic opened her own dance school, KAYA, in Belgrade. She also completed a four-year course in Ballet Pedagogy at the University of High Culture and Arts in Rome, Italy, where she improved her knowledge in the Vaganova method. She served as assistant to Professor Ivan Goliandin in the Character Dance Department. While studying in Rome, Dimitrijevic taught classical and character dances at several dance studios and also worked as a dancer. Dimitrijevic immigrated to the United States in 2003 and obtained a position as a classical ballet instructor with the Fort Wayne Ballet Academy. She and her family moved to Charlotte in July 2005.


Silas Farley

Silas Farley

Silas Farley is a member of the New York City Ballet. He started dance training with Sal and Barbara Messina at the King David Christian Conservatory in Charlotte, NC, at age 7. At the age of 9, he was accepted into Charlotte Ballet Academy, where his teachers were NYCB alumna Patricia McBride, Kathryn Moriarty and Mark Diamond. At the age of 14, Mr. Farley attended the summer course at the School of American Ballet (SAB), the official school of NYCB, and was then invited to enroll as a full-time student. Mr. Farley has also choreographed for SAB Choreography Workshops, the SAB Winter Ball and the New York Choreographic Institute. In 2012 he was one of two advanced SAB students selected by Peter Martins for a student teaching pilot program at SAB. In August 2012, Mr. Farley became an apprentice with NYCB and joined the Company as a member of the corps de ballet in August 2013. He is a recipient of SAB's 2012 Mae L. Wien Award and Lincoln Center's 2015 Martin E. Segal Award.


Heather Ferranti Ferguson

Heather Ferranti Ferguson

Heather Ferranti Ferguson is a native of Rochester, NY, where she studied with Luba Gulaeva at the Botsford School of Dance, and later with Timothy Draper at the Rochester City Ballet. She has danced professionally with the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, Colorado Ballet, and Chautauqua Ballet Company. While at Dance Theatre Heather has danced featured roles in ballets such as Alonzo King’s MAP, Alvin Ailey’s The River, Mark Diamond’s Cyrano de Bergerac, Salvatore Aiello’s The Nutcracker and many Balanchine ballets. Ferguson spent five seasons with North Carolina Dance Theatre.


Gretchen Jax

Gretchen Jax

Gretchen Jax graduated from Winthrop University with a BA in Dance Performance. She performed in Meredith Monk’s Obie Award winning Quarry at the 2003 Spoleto Festival in Charleston, South Carolina. She has also studied and performed the works of Sandra Neels, David Parsons, Marjorie Palmer Perry, Mary Beth Thompson and Duke Young. She was the recipient of the 2000, 2001 and 2002 Alpha Psi Omega Best Choreography Award from Winthrop University. In 2006 she was one of eight selected to study at the School of Jacob’s Pillow Choreographer’s Lab. Jax is the co-founder of Sinergismo, a group of dancers, artists, poets, and musicians using collaboration as a means to produce choreographic works. Sinergismo has performed at venues throughout the southeast including the Piccolo Spoleto Festival, Sumter Museum of Art, Southern Holiday, NC Dance Festival Saturday Series, Winthrop University and the Charlotte Dance Festival. Jax currently teaches modern at Davidson College and choreographs for their dance company The Gamut. Jax has been a faculty member at the School of Dance since 2003.


Naimah Kioski

Naimah Kioski

A native New Yorker, Naimah began her dance training at age 8 at Ballet Tech - formerly known as The New Ballet School - in New York City, under the direction of Eliot Feld. After becoming a member of the Ballet Tech professional company, Naimah was invited to join the Dance Theatre of Harlem company under the direction of Arthur Mitchell where she had the pleasure to perform works by Sir Frederic Franklin, Goeffrey Holder, Michael Smuin and resident choreographer Robert Garland. In addition, Naimah has performed repertory by George Balanchine including: The Four Temperaments, Serenade, Concerto Barocco, Agon and Apollo. In 2007, she became a member of the Gazelle national touring cast of the Broadway production The Lion King. Naimah is very excited to be teaching beginner ballet, level 4 Jazz, Pre-Professional Jazz and Adult Ballet classes in the Open division. She and her husband Yani moved to Charlotte June 2015.


Kati Hanlon Mayo

Kati Hanlon Mayo

Kati Hanlon Mayo began her dance training at The Boston School of Ballet and went on to study as a scholarship student at The Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet and The School of American Ballet. At the age of 15, she became a member of Boston Ballet 2 and performed regularly with The Boston Ballet. Kati attended The University of Massachusetts/Amherst as a Chancellor’s Award Scholarship recipient for two years before moving back to Boston to dance soloist roles with Jose Mateo's Ballet Theatre. In 1992, Kati began working as a principal dancer with Charlotte Ballet (formerly North Carolina Dance Theatre,) and that same year, she was invited to join The Chautauqua Ballet Company. Throughout her career, Kati had many ballets created on her including the female lead in Mateo's Schubert Adagio and Salvatore Aiello's ‘Chosen One’ in The Rite of Spring. Kati performed principal roles in ballets choreographed by George Balanchine, Alvin Ailey, Jean- Pierre Bonnefoux, William Forsythe, Violette Verdy, Agnes DeMille, Jacqueline Buglisi, Dwight Rhoden, Uri Sands and Alonzo King. In 2000 and 2004, Kati was named Best Performing Artist by Charlotte Magazine. The New York Times reviewed that she “ruled the stage with benign classical authority” and Dance Magazine heralded her as a “performer of stunning versatility and dramatic power.” Kati began teaching at the Charlotte Ballet Academy upon its inception in 1993. She is currently an instructor for the Advanced and Pre-Professional Division as well as the main company of Charlotte Ballet. Kati has been a guest teacher for The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and she is a repetiteur for the Salvatore Aiello Trust. Kati is a certified instructor of Dance for Parkinson's Disease through The Mark Morris Dance Group and she also completed her instructor certification with Progressing Ballet Technique in 2016.


Sophie Folts-Mercure

Sophie Folts-Mercure

Sophie started her dance education at Charlotte Ballet and pursued musical theatre at Children’s Theatre of Charlotte. There she took musical theater classes, performed in a number of plays and musicals, and joined their Performance Company her freshman year of high school. She also studied ballet with Melissa Hale Coyle while doing community theatre. Sophie trained in Charlotte Ballet’s Pre-Professional Division under teachers Patricia McBride, Mark Diamond, Kathryn Moriarty, Kati Hanlon Mayo, Jeanene Russell Perry, and Sarkis Kaltakhtchian. She trained for four years on full scholarship at Gelsey Kirkland Academy’s year round training program in New York City. Sophie’s training at GKA was under teachers Gelsey Kirkland, Lybov Fominich, Vera Soloveyva, Liudmila Polonskya and Alexandra Lawler. She performed in Gelsey Kirkland Ballet’s full length classical ballets, The Sleeping Beauty, The Nutcracker, La Bayadere, and Le Corsaire as well as GKB’s performance excerpts from Giselle, and August Bournenville’s Enchainements. Sophie joined the faculty at Miller Street Dance Academy in 2015. In 2016 Sophie attended ABT’s National Teacher Training program for levels Pre-Primary to level 3. Charlotte Ballet Academy celebrates Sophie’s return to the organization as a faculty member in the 2016/2017 School Year.


Yaqshaan Medan

Yaqshaan Medan

Born and raised in Philadelphia, PA, Yaqshaan Medan’s journey to the stage began at the age of 16. He trained with Freedom Theatre and Dance Kidz in Jazz, Modern, Tap, Ballet, and African. He went on to attend Marymount Manhattan College in New York City and later transitioned to University of the Arts, where he received his BFA in Jazz Performance. During his attendance in college, Yaqshaan toured internationally with Dance Theatre X in Lithuania for their 14th International Modern Dance Festival and became a union performer with the Philadelphia Opera Company in Aida. Yaqshaan’s career took flight in Donn Arden’s Jubilee in Las Vegas, NV. From there he went on to dance Cameron Mackintosh’s Hey Mr. Producer with Jean Ann Ryan’s Production aboard Norwegian Cruise Line. Since returning to Philadelphia, Yaqshaan found love in choreographing and teaching. While working and performing with local dance companies he received numerous awards such as Outstanding Choreography and Contemporary Ensemble 1st Place in the Semi-Finals of Youth America Grand Prix. For the past several years his choreography has been seen on stages in the (Northeast) Regional Dance America. Yaqshaan’s joy comes from inspiring and instructing youth to succeed in all aspects of life, no matter where their journey leads them. If you can dream it, you can become it. –William Arthur Ward


Jeanene Russell Perry

Jeanene Russell Perry

Jeanene Russell Perry trained at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy in Moscow, Russia, under the direction of Sofia Golovkina, Director of the Institute. She was the first American to receive a Diploma of Completion of Studies from the prestigious institution. She danced for two years with Ballet Arizona in Phoenix, Arizona, The Chautauqua Ballet Company in Chautauqua, New York for five seasons and with the North Carolina Dance Theatre in Charlotte for five seasons. Perry has lived and toured all over the globe performing hundreds of ballets. She has had numerous roles created for her by well known choreographers including “The Soul” in Dreamer by Alonzo King. She has performed principal roles in Giselle, the Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty, In the Middle Somewhat Elevated, Tango and many others. She has choreographed several ballets and plans to continue developing this talent. She is now using her talents to nurture and train the next generation of dancers. She is on staff at NC Dance Theatre School of Dance. She has been both a guest instructor and speaker at UNC Charlotte. In addition to dance accomplishment, she is a certified Pilates Instructor and Master Teacher. Her home is Charlotte, North Carolina.


Vivienne Ramsey

Vivienne Ramsey

Vivienne Ramsey began her ballet training at an early age in Sydney, Australia. She completed her RAD syllabus with honors and was awarded the Solo Seal at age 16. A silver medal performance during the Peter Stuyvesant Competition at the famed Sydney Opera House let to a stipend to the John Cranko School in Stuttgart, West Germany. It was in Stuttgart under the influence of Marcia Haydee that Vivienne learned the ultimate importance of integrating passion and dance. She went on to become a soloist with John Neumeier's Hamburg Ballet and traveled the world, dancing in such capitals as Paris, Berlin, Leningrad, New York, Montreal, Buenos Aires, and Salzburg. Ramsey began her experience in Exhibition Ballroom Dancing in 1992. Very quickly she and her partner, David Howland, began to challenge the best couples in the word. Since 1995 they have dominated Exhibition Ballroom Dancing by repeatedly taking the World and British Exhibition titles as well as winning four United States Championships. As an experienced teacher of all levels ranging from adult beginners to accomplished professionals, Ramsey’s ballet class is presented with kindness yet clear disciplined instruction.


Mavis Scully

Mavis Scully

Mavis comes to the Charlotte area from Philadelphia where she was on faculty with the prestigious Rock School for Dance Education and the Walnut Street Theatre - teaching Ballet, Musical Theatre, Life Skills for Performing Artists, and Acting for Dancers. Prior to that, she taught Ballet and Musical Theatre at Samford University and Acting and Movement at the Alabama School of Fine Arts. A 25+ year member of Actors’ Equity Association, she has performed in just about every genre of the performing arts. Mavis began her dance career in Ballet, with early training from Nels Jorgensen, Pamara Perry, Frank Bays, Patricia Sorrell, David Mclain, and Oleg Sabline. She studied at the School of American Ballet, NYSSSA, Cincinnati Ballet, Cleveland Ballet, and was coached by her beloved Bojan Spassoff and Stephanie Wolf (directors of the Rock School), while she was a soloist with the Savannah Ballet and Ballet Oklahoma. Mavis also danced for the Cincinnati Opera before changing gears and receiving her BFA in Acting from Philly’s University of the Arts. She has choreographed for Stage One - the Louisville Children’s Theatre, Seattle Opera, Birmingham Music Club, Alabama Shakespeare Company, and City Equity Theatre (for which she won the 2015 Broadway World’s Best Choreographer Award for Peter and the Starcatcher). Her nation wide performing career includes ballets, plays, musicals, cabaret, performance art, Renaissance faires, commercials, voice-overs, play-writing, and directing. She brings to the studio an intense love of “the Work” required in creating a true artist - knowledge of Ballet and Musical Theatre history, emotional connection/ investment as well as technique.


Kyle Garrison Shawell

Kyle Garrison Shawell

Kyle Garrison Shawell received his training at the University of the Arts, Theatre West Virginia, Winthrop University and the Philadelphia School of Dance Arts. His training includes the dance styles of Lester Horton, Martha Graham, Paul Taylor and jazz taught by renowned teachers such as Ruth Adrien, Ronen Koresh, Milton Myers and Pat Thomas. He brings together a wide breadth of knowledge, expertise and experience in a diverse style of movement for the community. Shawell has been a teaching artist for North Carolina Dance Theatre and North Carolina Blumenthal Performing Arts Center, and a dance educator for the Governor's Award-winning Janice Wyatt Summer Arts Institute at Delta State University in Cleveland, MS. His choreography has been seen at Gaston Dance Theatre, Girl Talk Foundation of Charlotte, NC, KAOS Dance Company, SCDA, SCAHPERD, Winthrop Dance Theatre and Valley Forge Dance Theatre, and he choreographed the summer musical production of Once on this Island at Delta State University. He has been a guest teaching artist in several Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools, most recently at Northwest School of the Arts. As a Lecturer of dance, Shawell taught modern, jazz, hip-hop and musical theatre for several years at Winthrop University. Shawell’s performance career includes such classic works as: Doris Humphrey’s Life of the Bee, David Parson’s The Parson Etude, Charles Weidman’s Christmas Oratorio, and he was a soloist for Donald McKayle's Rainbow Etude. He has been a member of KAOS dance company of Charlotte, Martha Connerton/Kinetic Works, Theater West Virginia, Philadanco II and the Valley Forge Dance Theater, and has performed for the American Dance Festival, Charlotte Dance Festival and North Carolina Dance Festival. He has appeared in performances for Opera Carolina and in musical theatre productions of Anything Goes, Bye Bye Birdie, Bubbling Brown Sugar and West Side Story.


Lauren E. Skrabalak

Lauren E. Skrabalak

Lauren Suflita Skrabalak graduated cum laude and earned her BFA in Ballet (Performing and Teaching Emphases) from the University of Utah in 2002. While on scholarship, her undergraduate performing career included a guest artist role with Ballet West and dancing with the Utah Ballet. This allowed for an opportunity to travel abroad to Taipei, Taiwan performing a soloist role in Balanchine’s famed ballet Concerto Barocco. She also danced on the Medals Plaza stage during the 2002 Salt Lake Winter Olympics. After graduation, Skrabalak danced professionally, choreographed and taught for Bodiography Contemporary Ballet in Pittsburgh. As a principal dancer, she was privileged to have worked with choreographers like Ze'eva Cohen, Emeritus Chair of Princeton University’s Dance Department, Tony nominated Lynne Taylor-Corbett, and former principal dancer for the American Ballet Theatre Johan Renvall, among others. During her tenure with the company she held multiple roles as Rehearsal Director and the Assistant Director of the conservatory. Her works have appeared at the Byham Theater, Kelly-Strayhorn Theater, as well as Johnson Theatre, and she has extended her teaching talents to the following schools: University of Utah, Point Park University, Carnegie Mellon University, West Virginia University, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Washington & Jefferson College, McDaniel College, La Roche College, and now Winthrop University where she is an Adjunct Professor within the Department of Theatre and Dance. Skrabalak earned her MFA in Dance (Performing Arts) at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and graduated Spring 2013 with honors. She is a certified Pilates mat teacher and is currently working towards her apparatus certification as well. Presently, Skrabalak also sits on the Board for the Charlotte Dance Festival as Treasurer.


Alyce Cristina Vallejo

Alyce Cristina Vallejo

Alyce Cristina Vallejo began her training at North Carolina Dance Theater and The Charlotte School of Ballet. In her senior year at Northwest School of the Arts, Vallejo was an invited guest artist with the Moving Poets Theater of Dance; Providing her with the footing to guide her to a professional career in dance as she entered Florida State University. While at FSU she had the honor of working with and performing in original works by Alex Ketley, Rick McCullough, and many more. Vallejo also performed as a soloist in Pas de Quarte, restaged by Richard Sias and Balanchine’s Western Symphony, restaged by Suzanne Farrell. Vallejo was invited to dance with Suzanne Farrell at the Kennedy Center, Alonzo King LINES Ballet, and did a four month internship with Ballet Hispanico in NYC. Graduating Cum Laude in 2006 she moved to San Francisco to dance with the SF Conservatory of Dance. Upon moving back to Charlotte in 2007, Vallejo joined Martha Connerton’s Kinetic Works Dance Company- Currently in her seventh season and now acting as rehearsal and administrative assistant. In her professional career in Charlotte she has performed original works by E.E. Balcos, Martha Connerton, Duane Cyrus, Bridget Morris and Edward and Christina Winslow. Vallejo has also performed with CPCC Theater in the Will Rogers Follies, Cabaret, Guys and Dolls and Legally Blonde. For 5 years she has performed as a guest artist with the Charlotte Youth Ballet in the Nutcracker and most recently as the ‘Fairy Godmother’ in Cinderella. In December 2012, she delivered her greatest ongoing role as mother to her baby girl, Amelia Jean. This year Vallejo is excited to return to the stage as a ‘Moving Poet’. Her artistic journey is never ending and she looks forward to the adventures that await but couldn’t do it without the amazing love and support from her Family!


Alissa Getz Waller

Alissa Getz Waller

A native of metro Detroit, Alissa received her early ballet training from Cecchetti master teacher Rose Marie Floyd and continued her classical training in a variety of styles at the schools of the Cleveland Ballet, the Atlanta Ballet and the School of the Arts in Amsterdam. Alissa performed with the Detroit Contemporary Civic Ballet for four years performing soloist roles in the Nutcracker, Giselle, Coppelia, a Midsummer Night’s Dream and Swan Lake. After moving to Chicago in 2000, she joined the Chicago Ballet under the direction of Paul Abrahamson and was an original member of Elements Contemporary Ballet. Alissa earned her BFA in Dance (Ballet Performance emphasis) at the University of Arizona, graduating summa cum laude. She has performed original works by Chicago choreographers Randy Duncan, Susan Quinn, Paul Abrahamson, Michael Gosney and Christina Ernst. She is an accredited ballet instructor through ABT’s National Teacher Training Curriculum as well as a Fellow member of the Cecchetti Council of America. In 2015, Alissa completed her Advanced Professional Teaching Examination in the Cecchetti Method with honors. Besides teaching for close to 20 years at ballet schools in Detroit, Chicago and Charlotte, she has been a guest teacher for the dance departments of Northwestern University, Florida State University and Appalachian State University. Alissa is a Certified Pilates Teacher, holds a specialized certification in Pilates for Dancers and is a Master Teacher for the GYROTONIC EXPANSION SYSTEM®. While in Chicago, Alissa founded Chicago Northshore Gyrotonic Studio which she directed for 12 years. After moving to Charlotte in 2012, she opened Charlotte Movement Arts, a Pilates and Gyrotonic studio in Charlotte’s Noda neighborhood.

Bianca Bonner

Bianca Bonner

Director of Education and Community Engagement, x2767

Bianca Bonner was born and raised in the Bronx, NY. She began her dance training at Ruth Williams Dance Studio at a young age. She later trained with Mary Barnett, former associate artistic director of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, in ballet, jazz, modern and African dance. Bonner has also studied under Melba Lucas, Aziza, Rae Ross Sandifer, Ann Vachon, Ruth Williams, Laura Williams, Bruce Hawkins, Kariamu Welsh, Chuck Davis and many others. Bianca holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Broadcasting, Telecommunications and Mass Media and a Master of Education degree in Dance from Temple University. Bonner served on faculty at Temple University in Philadelphia, PA. She has taught in various schools, studios and camps including The New Freedom Theatre and National Youth Sports Program. In 2000 Bonner co-directed an arts consortium that aimed to heighten appreciation and skilled development in dance called Cayenne Entertainment. Bonner has performed with Kariamu & Company Traditions and has received certification in the Umfundalai technique, a Pan-African contemporary technique developed by Dr. Kariamu Welsh. She toured nationally and internationally with Chuck Davis and The African American Dance Ensemble, partaking in residencies, dance workshops, lecture demonstrations and outreach celebrating African dance through love, peace and respect. Bonner has served on the board of Charlotte Dance Festival and was named Best Choreography at the Charlotte Emerging Dance Awards in 2009. During that same year she received a choreography award from the North Carolina Theatre Conference for Studs Terkel’s Working. In 2012 she was awarded the John W. Parker Award for Excellence in Directing from the North Carolina Theatre Conference for Ntozake Shange’s For Colored Girls who Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf. For six years, Bonner has choreographed main stage theatre productions with the Union County Performance Ensemble under the direction of Larry Robinson. Bonner served as dance educator for seven years at Central Academy of Technology & Arts in Union County Public Schools.


Katelyn Pounds

Katelyn Pounds

Education and Community Engagement Coordinator, x2775

Katelyn Pounds, of Cincinnati, OH received her B.F.A in dance education and performance from The Ohio State University studying under Bebe Miller, Jessica Zeller, Meghan Durham-Wall, and Susan Hadley, among others. While attending OSU she was the recipient of the Vera J. Blaine Special Projects Fund. She began her early dance training with the Otto M. Budig Academy of Cincinnati Ballet, SDA Studios, and had the privilege of attending Dayton Contemporary Dance Theatre (DCDC), Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, Garth Fagan Dance, Gus Giordano summer intensives on scholarship. A former TEACH Charlotte member, and licensed Special Educator, she has taught adults and children with extraordinary bodies throughout Ohio, Kentucky, and North Carolina in the public and private sector. Most recently Pounds was the recipient of the American Ballet Theatre® Project Plié Scholarship and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation scholarship. She is currently working towards her Comprehensive Pilates Certification with Balanced Body. Ms. Pounds is an ABT® Certified Teacher, who has successfully completed the ABT® Teacher Training Intensive in Pre-Primary through Level 3 of the ABT® National Training Curriculum.

TEACHING ARTISTS
Skyla Caldwell

Skyla Caldwell

Skyla Caldwell, A.R.A.D (Associate of the Royal Academy of Dance), trained at the Charlotte School of Ballet under Gay Porter Speer and The Point Park Conservatory in Pittsburgh, PA, as a scholarship student under the direction of Roberto Munoz. She has danced for Charlotte Ballet as an apprentice under Salvatore Aiello and Jerry Kumery. Caldwell has also danced at the National Ballet of Cuba under Laura Alonzo in Havana, Cuba, and is associated with the Royal Academy of Dance in London. Caldwell has also danced with the Moving Poets Theater of Dance for eight years, works with Lincoln County Cultural Arts Community, and is currently Ballet Mistress for The Union County Youth Ballet in Monroe, NC.

Ashley Suttlar Martin

Ashley Suttlar Martin

Ashley Suttlar Martin is an independent artist and educator with a MFA in Dance from Temple University and a BFA in Dance Performance and Choreography from Virginia Commonwealth University. She danced professionally for companies based in Philadelphia and New York City. Martin’s creative works have been acclaimed and presented nationwide. She is director of 4thrightdance, designer of Embellish handcrafted accessories and founding co-producer of FRESH, a touring performance series. Martin developed the dance minor curriculum at Morehead State University (KY), was guest faculty at QCC - City University of New York, has served on faculty at Central Piedmont Community College (NC), Coker College (SC), Winthrop University (SC) and the Governor's School of Arts & Humanities (SC). She has also worked in arts-integration programs as a Teaching Artist for various school systems and outreach organizations. Martin’s passion led her to exploring many avenues as an artist, educator, administrator and advocate. She was a corporate representative for a dance wear retailer, has obtained dance fitness teaching credentials and recently, earned certification as an Instructor of the Umfundalai Contemporary African Dance Technique. Currently, Martin teaches dance to all ages; from preschool, to college level, and beyond for various organizations and colleges in the Carolinas. She is thrilled to serve another year as a Teaching Artist at Charlotte Ballet.

Gretchen Jax

Gretchen Jax

Gretchen Jax graduated from Winthrop University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Dance Performance. She performed in Meredith Monk’s Obie Award winning Quarry at the 2003 Spoleto Festival in Charleston, SC. She has also studied and performed the works of Sandra Neels, David Parsons, Marjorie Palmer Perry, Mary Beth Thompson and Duke Young. She was the recipient of the 2000, 2001 and 2002 Alpha Psi Omega Best Choreography Award from Winthrop University. In 2006 she was one of eight selected to study at the School of Jacob’s Pillow Choreographer’s Lab. Jax is the co-founder of Sinergismo, a group of dancers, artists, poets, and musicians using collaboration as a means to produce choreographic works. Sinergismo has performed at venues throughout the southeast including the Piccolo Spoleto Festival, Sumter Museum of Art, Southern Holiday, North Carolina Dance Festival Saturday Series, Winthrop University and the Charlotte Dance Festival. Jax currently teaches modern at Davidson College and choreographs for their dance company The Gamut. Jax has been a faculty member at Charlotte Ballet since 2003.

Robin Gray-Bishop

Robin Gray-Bishop

Robin Gray-Bishop is a Julliard graduate with a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree and has also graduated from the University of North Carolina in Charlotte with a teaching certificate in Dance Education. Currently, she is teaching for Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools Waddell Language Academy. She has studied at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, and the American Ballet Theatre and Alvin Ailey American Dance Center. Her performance credits include being a featured dancer in the films; The Wiz and Fame and principal dancer for Jubilation! Dance Company which toured in the US and abroad. Mrs. Robin Gray-Bishop is a talented, mature dance professional; highly trained in modern, ballet and jazz with over twenty-five years of dance, teaching and choreographic experience within the private and public school sector in New York City and throughout the United States. Robin has over fifteen years of experience as Director of the St. Paul Community Baptist Church Dance Ministry choreographing and teaching for a congregation of 2,000+ children, men and women. Her most prized accomplishment was starting the Leaps and Bounds School of Dance as Director and Founder, a performing arts program for gifted and low-income inner city youth for over thirteen years.

 
Elsie Mufuka

Elsie Mufuka

Elsie Mufuka, teaching artist, is a current candidate of a Masters of Arts Administration degree at Winthrop University. Coker College graduate with dual Bachelor of Art degrees in Dance and Communications, some of her references are The Amy Marshall Dance Company residency of New York City, The Wanda Project directed by Wanda Ebright, Shannon Kelly of Kelly and Co. and Choreographer/Mentor Natty Mncube. After her undergraduate completion, she accepted her first opportunity in South Africa with Ntosana Contemporary Dance Theatre director Sello Pesa. For slightly two years, Mufuka worked with this company as well as Taelo Dance Theatre-Gustin Makgeledisa, DTL Entertainment-Tumie Letsoenyo, Lorcia Cooper, and additional work of teaching in the townships of Soweto and Alexandra of South Africa, as a dancer as well as administrator, executive assistant and dance facilitator. She has also worked for Office of Cultural Affairs.Both internationally and locally, Mufuka has developed even more experience in her craft of dance and now enlightens her skills back into her own country through MufukaWorks Dance Company. She is a community outreach teacher at Johnson C. Smith University, Chair of Board of Charlotte Dance Festival, Dance/USA Convention Full Scholarship Winner, Dance Machine Productions Teaching Award, Selected Choreographer for Loose Leaf Festival and proud teaching artist with Charlotte Ballet.

Javonne M. Gbenyon-Spearman

Javonne M. Gbenyon-Spearman

Javonne M. Gbenyon-Spearman, originally from West Africa, Liberia, had an early interest to learn cultural diversity of all dance genres. Spearman’s college studies included folk/traditional dance forms under Mrs. Eleanor Gwynn of the E. Gwynn Dance Company at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University. Dunham technique was her master study of dance and while in college Spearman studied abroad researching all traditional/folk dances in Kingston, Jamaica. Spearman received a dual BA degree in Interdisciplinary Studies/Special Education and Dance/Performing Arts with honors. Currently, Spearman is teaching classes at several Greater Charlotte YMCA’s. She is a Kindergarten Teacher at Sugar Creek Charter School and cheer/dance coach for middle school girls. A mother and wife, Spearman enjoys teaching her students that “Dancing with their feet is one thing, the easiest thing to do, but to dance with your heart is another thing, the best thing to show!” Spearman is also an active professional dance member of MufukaWorks Dance Company where she trains and teaches dance education classes.

Vanessa Carr

Vanessa Carr

As a native of Charlotte, Ms Carr grew up dancing in Charlotte, performing on many stages and at area events. At 16, she was accepted into the North Carolina School of the Arts in Winston-Salem in modern dance, received a scholarship to study with Dance Theater of Harlem (DTH) in New York, and attended North Carolina Governor’s School in Winston-Salem, in dance, two consecutive years. She is a highly motivated fine arts director, teacher, and performer with a Master's Degree in Dance Education and extensive experience in dance, choreography, cheer, and fitness training. She has a proven ability to create and orchestrate theatrical productions, coach collegiate and professional cheerleading and dance teams, and instruct and train in the area of physical fitness & wellness. She has taught dance in universities across the US - teaching Ballet, Tap, Modern, Jazz, Broadway, African, and Vaudeville. During this time, Ms Carr served as Artistic Director for several Dance Companies, worked in the Community Theaters as a choreographer and stage manager, and started her Doctorate in Sports Medicine. While living in NC, she taught at UNCC, Children's Theater, Spirit Square, Winston-Salem Arts Center, and served on the NC Arts Council at which time she was part of the group that helped implement dance into the Charlotte Mecklenburg School System curriculum. Her dance training includes:Alvin Ailey, Arthur Mitchell (DTH), Tokyo Ballet, Chicago Ballet, George Faison, Frank Hatchett, Pilobolus, Nicolai, Graham, Taylor, and Cunningham.

Freddie D. Rivera

Freddie D. Rivera

percussionist

Freddie Rivera began drumming at the early age of five with the Cuban Conga drum. He began studying the Djembe drum with lead musician of the Chuck Davis Dance Company, Mr. Ronald Love. Rivera has worked with Lee Strasberg School of Acting, Myers T’chaka Ensemble, Dance Africa New York, Stevie Wonder, Stacey Latersaw, National Ballet of Guinea West Africa, Chuck Davis and the African American Dance Ensemble. Freddie Rivera can be noted as one of the first musicians to perform Ballet Monsoka. In 1992 he was the first drummer to open the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre School to traditional Guinea style drumming. Rivera is currently working in the education and outreach department with Charlotte Ballet.

Pamela Sofras

Pamela Sofras

Curriculum Consultant

Pamela Sofras, professor of dance at UNC Charlotte, is recognized on the national level as an expert in dance education. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the Julliard School and a Master of Education degree from Lehigh University. As one of the developers of the North Carolina dance licensure program, she has been called upon by several states to assist in establishing their frameworks and standards in dance for their public schools. From 1978–1990 she maintained an affiliation with the American Dance Festival that included serving as assistant, then associate dean, and founding director of its Young Dancer’s School. In 1995, with colleagues around the country, she assisted editing the National Standards in Dance Education currently in use throughout the USA. Recently, she has presented pedagogical papers at the Congress on Research in Dance, Dance History Scholars, Focus on Dance Education, National Dance Education Organization and other notable professional organizations. Published curriculum materials have been created for New Jersey (with the Alvin Ailey Company), South Carolina (with the Southeast Center for Dance in Education), Tennessee (with the Southeast Center for Education in the Arts) and North Carolina (with Charlotte Ballet). The American Dance Legacy Institute engaged her to create the first educational materials for the innovative Repertory Etude Project. Sofras has presented her work in education conferences in South Africa, Portugal and Egypt. Successful grant awards have included four UNC Charlotte Curriculum and Instructional Development grants used specifically to develop and broaden curriculum offerings at UNC Charlotte with professional dance works. Most recently, she has formed an innovative partnership with Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools and Charlotte Ballet. This partnership provides an opportunity to implement the lesson materials though professional development workshops in Charlotte Mecklenburg, to assess and evaluate the work and to create CD-ROM materials for teachers. Awards have included the North Carolina Dance Alliance Award for Outstanding Service in Dance Education (1994); the College and University Dance Educator of the Year, 1998–1999, Southern District American Alliance for Health; Physical Education, Recreation and Dance and the Annual Faculty Award for Sustained Service to Public Schools 2001–2002 from UNC Charlotte.

The dancers of Charlotte Ballet are supported, in part, by a generous grant from The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.