Academy Experience Manager
Academy Business Manager
Front Desk Supervisor
AYISHA MCMILLAN CRAVOTTA
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, Ayisha 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, Ayisha left home to study on full scholarship at the Houston Ballet Academy. Ayisha 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. Ayisha 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, Ayisha joined Charlotte Ballet’s marketing department. In 2011, at the invitation of Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux, she became principal of the Charlotte Ballet Academy. Ayisha ‘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, Ayisha 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, Ayisha 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, Ayisha 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.
ACADEMY ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR
Laszlo Berdo was born in Grand Rapids, MI, where he began dancing at the age of five and Laszlo later intensified his studies at the National Academy of Arts in Champaign, IL. Upon graduation, he first joined Ballet Austin and then the Louisville Ballet. He was later hired as a guest artist then later as a soloist with Cincinnati Ballet. Laszlo joined the Boston Ballet in 1990 as a corps de ballet member, was promoted to soloist in 1993 and became a principal dancer in 1995. As a principal, he danced numerous roles by Cranko, McMillan, Balanchine, Bournonville, Hynd Stevenson, 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. Four Hands premiered in March of 1998, and was performed in the International Ballet Competition in Jackson, MS, 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.
KATI HANLON MAYO
ACADEMY ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR – UPPER SCHOOL
Kati Hanlon Mayo trained at The Boston School of Ballet under the direction of E. Virginia & Violette Verdy. At the age of 15, she became a member of Boston Ballet 2 and performed regularly with The Boston Ballet. In 1992, Kati was invited by Salvatore Aiello to join North Carolina Dance Theatre (now Charlotte Ballet) as a principal dancer. That same summer, she also became a member of The Chautauqua Ballet Company under the direction of Jean Pierre Bonnefoux.
Throughout her 17-year career at Charlotte Ballet Kati performed principal roles in ballets choreographed by George Balanchine, Alonzo King, Alvin Ailey, William Forsythe, Dwight Rhoden, Agnes DeMille, Jacqueline Buglisi, Jean Pierre Bonnefoux and Nacho Duato. 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 main company along with the Advanced and Pre-Professional Division. Many of her students have gone on to professional careers with companies throughout the world, including: New York City Ballet, Nederland Dans Theater, San Francisco Ballet, Boston Ballet and Houston Ballet. Kati has been a guest teacher for The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, The Chautauqua Institution, Regional Dance America and she is a repetiteur for the Salvatore Aiello Trust. She 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.
ACADEMY ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR – LOWER SCHOOL
Johanna Butow was born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and began her dance training there with Irma Grant Millard. At age 13 she attended the Pennsylvania Ballet School, and at age 14 she entered the Joffrey Ballet School, receiving a full scholarship.
Ms. Butow’s professional career began at age 15 when she joined The Joffrey II as an apprentice. During the next four years she toured across the United States, performing roles in ballets by choreographers such as August Bournonville, Choo San Gogh, Marius Petipa, and Robert Joffrey. At age 19 she was asked to join the Joffrey Ballet to perform as the original Trepac in Robert Joffrey’s The Nutcracker.
During her six year career with the Joffrey Ballet, Ms. Butow performed major roles in such diverse ballets as Nijinsky’s L‚Apres-Midi D’un Faune, Nijinska’s Les Noces, Fokine’s Petrouchka, Gerald Arpino’s Light Rain, Trinity, and Suite Sainte Saens, Robert Joffrey’s Postcards and The Nutcracker, Laura Dean’s Light Field, and Eugene Loring’s Billy the Kid. She was in the cast of the Dance in America filming of Nijinsky’s Le Sacre Du Printemps, and was also an original cast member of the 1992 collaboration Billboards, with music by Prince.
In 1993, Ms. Butow joined American Ballet Theatre, where she danced for eight years. At ABT she has performed most of the major full-length classical ballets including Giselle, La Bayadère, Romeo and Juliet, Coppélia, and La Sylphide, with featured roles in The Merry Widow and Swan Lake. She was also a cast member of Lar Lubovitch’s original full-length Othello and Meadow.
Ms. Butow has also performed such repertory ballets as Antony Tudor’s Echoing of Trumpets, Gala Performance and Lilac Garden, Clark Tippet’s Bruch Violin Concerto, Kevin McKenzie’s Transcendental Etudes, Agnes DeMille’s Fall River Legend, Petipa’s Paquita, Fokine’s Les Sylphides, Lar Lubovitch’s A Brahms Symphony, and James Kudelka’s Cruel World. She has had featured roles in Agnes DeMille’s Rodeo and Antony Tudor’s Leaves Are Fading, and was in Twyla Tharp’s The Elements and an original cast member of Twyla Tharp’s How Near Heaven.
Her teaching credits include, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School at American Ballet Theatre’s Children’s division, Pre-Professional Division, Young Dancer Summer Workshop, and ABT’s Summer Intensive. Johanna is an ABT Affiliate Teacher and is certified in ABT’s National Training Curriculum Primary through Level 7. She serves on the Artistic Board of Examiners.
In December 2010 and 2011, Ms. Butow was ballet mistress of the children’s cast for Alexei Ratmansky’s new Nutcracker. In 2012, she staged the child children’s cast for their Kennedy Center’s performances. In 2016, she also staged the children’s cast performed at the Segrestrom Center.
CHARLOTTE BALLET ACADEMY MASTER INSTRUCTOR
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.
Emily Bowen was born and raised in Harrisburg, PA. 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, Emily 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 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.
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. Tara continued her dance education at the University of North Carolina at 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. Tara 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, Tara 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. Tara’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. Tara has worked extensively in television, appearing in TV films, soap operas and national commercials.
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.
HEATHER FERRANTI FERGUSON
Heather Ferranti Ferguson is a native of Rochester, NY, where she studied with Luba Gulyaeva at the Botsford School of Dance, and later with Timothy Draper at the Rochester City Ballet. At the age of 15 she was invited to join Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre as an apprentice. After several years of dancing professionally with various companies, including working with Jean Pierre Bonnefoux at the Chautauqua Ballet Company, he invited her to join Charlotte Ballet. While at Charlotte Ballet, Heather had the privilege of dancing in several of George Balanchine’s greatest works and being coached by Patricia McBride, as well as ballets from choreographers including Salvatore Aiello, Alvin Ailey, Jean Pierre Bonnefoux, Mark Diamond, Nicolo Fonte, William Forsythe, Mark Godden, Alonzo King, Dwight Rhoden, and Paul Taylor. Heather spent six seasons with Charlotte Ballet, during which time she began teaching for the academy. For more than two decades she has been an instructor and choreographer for the Intermediate and Advanced Divisions, with many of her students going on to professional careers.
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. Gretchen 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. Gretchen currently teaches modern at Davidson College and choreographs for their dance company The Gamut. Gretchen has been a faculty member at the School of Dance since 2003.
A lifelong student and performer, Jenn Jones began her classical ballet training in Marietta, GA, later moving to Daytona Beach, FL where she attended Southern Ballet Theatre, now Orlando Ballet and the Ormond School of Ballet. Ms Jones attended dance programs at both Columbia College Chicago and Barry University before earning a BA in General Studies with a concentration in Dance Performance from the University of South Florida and a Masters Certificate in Nonprofit Management from the University of North Carolina Greensboro, where she is currently finishing her MA in Dance Education.
Professional performing experience over the last 20 years has included: The TOC Project, a contemporary ballet company in Miami directed by former Twyla Tharp company member, Lara Tinari, Busch Gardens Tampa, Bella Danza, an eclectic modern dance company in Tampa directed by the great Maria Capitano-Pardo, Karen Pederson and Dancers, utilizing both abled and disabled bodies, and Sara Council Dance Project, in addition to others in Tampa and Miami.
Ms Jones has worked as a freelance choreographer since 2003. She has taught for the Patel Conservatory at the Straz Performing Arts Center in Tampa, home of Next Generation Ballet, among others including theatre companies, schools, and dance studios. Ms Jones began working for Charlotte Ballet in 2019 for the REACH program and continues to teach for the academy.
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 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. 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. She and her husband Yani moved to Charlotte June 2015.
Ben trained on full scholarship at the Joffrey School of Ballet in New York City and The David Howard Dance Center. His professional dancing career spanned over fifteen years where he danced leading roles by George Balanchine, Choo Sah-Goh, Paul Taylor, Martha Graham, William Forsythe, Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux, Patricia McBride, John Clifford, Kirk Peterson, Graham Lustig, Jean Grand-Maitre, Sal Aiello, Jacqulyn Buglisi, Donlin Foreman, Mark Diamond, Alonzo King and many others. In 2004, he retired from the professional stage as a principal dancer with the Charlotte Ballet and was featured in Dance Magazine’s September edition that year for professional dancers in career transition. Ben is an ABT® Certified Teacher, who has successfully completed the ABT® Teacher Training Intensive in Pre-Primary through Level 5 of the ABT® National Training Curriculum. Ben is a full-time dance teacher and private coach in both North and South Carolina and a frequent guest teacher for the Charlotte Ballet.
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 nationwide performing career includes ballets, plays, musicals, cabaret, performance art, Renaissance fairies, 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 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 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, Lauren 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. Lauren 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, Lauren also sits on the Board for the Charlotte Dance Festival as Treasurer.
A native of metro Detroit, Alissa received her early ballet training from Rose Marie Floyd and continued her classical studies at the schools of the Cleveland Ballet, Atlanta Ballet and the New 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, 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 under the direction of Michael Gosney. While in Chicago she performed original works by choreographers Randy Duncan, Susan Quinn, Paul Abrahamson and Christina Ernst. In 1997, Alissa earned her BFA in Dance (Ballet Performance emphasis) at the University of Arizona, graduating summa cum laude. She is an ABT® Certified Teacher, who has successfully completed the ABT® Teacher Training Intensive in Pre-Primary through Level 7 of the ABT® National Training Curriculum. In 2015, Alissa completed her Advanced Professional teaching examination in the Cecchetti Method with honors and was awarded the Jane Carol Miller teacher’s scholarship. She has been teaching ballet for over 24 years for ballet studios in metro Detroit, Chicago, and Charlotte. Many of her students have gone on to perform with professional companies such as American Ballet Theatre, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, the Joffrey Ballet, and even Cirque de Soleil. Alissa is also an accredited Nationally Certified Pilates Teacher, a licensed Master Teacher for the GYROTONIC® and GYROKINESIS® Methods and a Pilates for dancers specialist. She is thrilled to continue to share her love for Ballet, Pilates, and movement with the students of the Charlotte Ballet Academy.
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. Robin 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.
VERONICA MORETTI NIEBUHR
Born and raised in Cranston, Rhode Island, Veronica, affectionately known as “Ms. V”, started her dance training at the age of 7 after being diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. The Doctor’s advice was to “keep moving,” and she has. She received her early training from Bette Ann Rossi at Atwood Performing Arts, Festival Ballet of RI, and Boston Ballet and furthered her training with scholarships in NY with Wilhelm Burhman, Finis Jhung, Peff Modelski, Alexander Filipov and Joe Lanteri at STEPS on Broadway. While in NY, Veronica started teaching professional children who performed on Broadway, Choreographed for the first Boston Aids Benefits, performed with the Metropolitan Opera Ballet, and worked with independent choreographers in music and industrial videos, on stage and film. After beginning a family, Veronica was the Director of Ballet South in Savannah, GA, a faculty member at Armstrong Atlantic University, was a contributor on www.thewinger.com and ran her own school, the STUDIO, for seven years. Many of her students have gone on to professional careers and have won national and international recognition at the Youth America Grand Prix including the top prize-the coveted Youth Grand Prix award, and honored at the National High School Dance Festival. She has been on faculty of Charlotte Ballet since 2011.
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.
Amber Johnson is a Charlotte-based dance artist and teacher. She holds a BA in international studies with minors in French and dance from UNCC. She began dancing at age seven and is trained in ballet, modern, and jazz. To continue her training, she has attended multiple dance festivals including the American Dance Festival. From 2004-2019 she performed classical and contemporary ballet roles with Dance Central. Amber dances professionally with local dance companies and choreographers in the Charlotte area. She has also performed in several arts festivals including Sensoria, Boom, and Fête de La Musique. She has performed internationally in Belgium, France, and Canada. Amber served on CDF’s Board as secretary and coordinated many of its youth community stages for several years.