2024 National Festival Faculty

Meet the 2024 Regional Dance America National Festival Faculty!

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  • Accompanist
  • Adjudicator
  • National Festival Faculty
  • Photography/Videography

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Jill Eathorne Bahr

Jill Eathorne Bahr is a true product of Regional Dance America, having been nurtured in the art of ballet in Michigan under the tutelage of Evelyn Kreason of Michigan Ballet Theatre. She now resides in Jacksonville, Florida, where she has been a faculty member of the Florida Ballet, the city’s professional ballet company. Her acclaimed full-length production of “Romeo & Juliet” is set to be recreated for the company in May 2024.

Jill held the position of Resident Choreographer at Charleston Ballet Theatre for 25 years and was a respected Senior Faculty Member and Choreographer at the Charleston Ballet Center for Dance. Her career is decorated with numerous accolades, including two National Endowment (NEA) Fellowships, four Monticello Fellowships, the William Habich Choreography Award, two South Carolina Arts Fellowships, and two Astral Choreography Awards. Her choreographic creations have graced the stages of esteemed ballet companies nationwide, including Atlanta Ballet, Boston Ballet, Cary Ballet, Dayton Contemporary Dance Company, Ballet Eddy Toussaint, Eugene Ballet, Indianapolis Ballet Theatre, Nevada Dance Theatre, North Carolina Dance Theatre, Ballet Michigan, State of Alabama Ballet, Ballet Omaha Joffrey II Dancers, Douglas Anderson School of Arts, Central Indiana Dance Ensemble, Florida Ballet at Jacksonville, Heartland Youth Ballet, Project Ballet, Victoria Ballet Theatre and Fort Wayne Ballet. Her most recent full-length works include “Aladdin and the Magic Carpet,” premiered by Midland Festival Ballet and “Alice in Wonderland,” premiered by Canton Ballet.

Jill has also imparted her knowledge through summer intensive workshops at prestigious institutions such as Boston Ballet (8 summers), Atlanta Ballet, Joffrey Ballet, and Ballet Aspen (3 summers). In 2008, she received the Governor’s Award – “Elizabeth Verner Award”- the highest Arts Award in South Carolina. She was also selected for the esteemed Carlisle Project which provides resources and mentorship to talented choreographers.

She has served on the National Endowment for the Arts Dance Panel and adjudicated College Dance Festivals. An enthusiastic supporter of Regional Dance America, Jill has adjudicated all five regions. The upcoming 2024 National Festival will mark her third time serving as a National Adjudicator for Regional Dance America. Her continued dedication to the organization underscores her commitment to advancing dance.

Lori Bodine Benold

Lori Bodine Benold proudly considers herself to be a “product” of Regional Dance America and wholeheartedly believes in the benefits and opportunities the organization provides for young dancers. She is thrilled to be a part of RDA after having participated in festivals as a dancer and choreographer, and now as an adjudicator.

A former professional dancer with the San Francisco Ballet, Lori Bodine has since been teaching dance for over 35 years, developing excellent technique and artistry in hundreds of dancers, from their balletic beginnings to their debuts as professional dancers, and beyond.

Bodine received her first formal dance training as a student of Larry and Bettye Roquemore while performing with their civic ballet company, Corpus Christi Ballet Theatre, in the Southwestern Regional Ballet Festivals (now RDA Southwest). At the age of 15, Bodine was granted scholarships from Robert Joffrey to attend his workshops in San Antonio and New York City. She also studied at the School of American Ballet and under scholarship at San Francisco Ballet School. She became one of the few students to go directly into the SFB professional company without having to go through an apprenticeship.

Bodine later performed as Resident Principal Artist for the Corpus Christi Ballet, under the Artistic Directorship of Cristina Munro. She has also choreographed numerous pieces that were chosen to be performed on Gala evenings at RDA Festivals. Bodine founded and directed dance schools in Corpus Christi and in Austin, and she continues to teach and choreograph. She served as the RDA Southwest Adjudicator in 2021.

Kenny Borchard

Kenny Borchard (he/him) is an alumni of Idyllwild Arts Academy and the University of Arizona. Since graduating Kenny has worked on television and commercial projects with credits including a featured role on TruTV’s Fake Off, What Not to Wear, Toyota Pruis, Mobbed, and Lifetime’s Petals on the Wind. Kenny has worked with Odyssey Dance Theatre, Solevita Dance Company, Pacific Festival Ballet, and Pasadena Dance Theatre among others. Kenny was also cast member of “Aladdin: A Musical Spectacular” at Disney’s California Adventure.

As an educator, Mr. Borchard has taught on the faculty of Broadway Dance Center’s Children and Teen Program, and has taught as a guest educator/choreographer around the country. Since finishing his performing career, Kenny has committed to creating welcoming dance spaces where all students feel welcomed and honored for who they are and how they show up.

Headshot photo credit: Joelle Martinec

Janis Brenner

Janis Brenner is an award-winning dancer/choreographer/singer/educator and Artistic Director of Janis Brenner & Dancers in NYC. Known for her “meticulous artistry,” she has toured in 36 countries and received “Best Performance” and the Critics’ Choice Award at the United Solo Theatre Festival Off-Broadway for the interdisciplinary, one-woman show Inheritance: A Litany (score by Jerome Begin), NY “Bessie” Award in Meredith Monk’s work, Lester Horton Award for Choreography in L.A., grants from Fund for US Artists at International Festivals, Asian Cultural Council, Trust for Mutual Understanding, O’Donnell Green Music & Dance Foundation, US State Department, US Embassy for tours to Moscow, Bosnia, Jakarta and Dakar, and a commission for The Memory Project from the Whitney Museum of American Art. Her work has been commissioned/restaged on more than fifty companies and colleges worldwide. Ms. Brenner was with Meredith Monk and Vocal Ensemble from 1990 – 2005, 2014, recording on ECM Records, and danced with the Murray Louis Dance Company working with Rudolf Nureyev, Placido Domingo, Dave Brubeck Quartet, Bat Sheva Dance Company, and Alwin Nikolais. She was on faculty at The Juilliard School from 2009-2021, currently teaches at Marymount Manhattan College and Steps Conservatory, and teaches improvisation, composition, voice and JB repertory worldwide. She was Director of Choreography at NCI in 2010-11 and 2017-18. Her second solo show, She Remembers her Amnesia (score by Jerome Begin) has also received critical acclaim and is currently touring, as is Inheritance: A Litany. Since 2022, Ms. Brenner has had two gallery exhibits of her mixed-media collage work in NYC.

LeeWei Chao

LeeWei Chao was born in Taipei, Taiwan. He started his ballet training at age 15 with Ms. Xiao Lee, who brought from Russia the Vaganova ballet method to Taiwan. After dancing with Taipei City Ballet, and Henry Yu Dance Company, he joined Singapore Dance Theater. In 1996, Lee Wei joined Joffrey Ballet Concert Group in New York City, followed by dancing with Joffrey Ballet Chicago, and Milwaukee Ballet.

Mr. Chao started his choreography work while he was dancing with Milwaukee Ballet Company. As a choreographer, LeeWei’s works have been performed by Milwaukee Ballet, Ballet Nouveau Colorado, Oklahoma City Ballet, New Mexico School of the Arts, TCU Residency and others. In 2014, LeeWei received a National Choreography Recognition Award from Regional Dance America.

LeeWei has taught at Milwaukee Ballet, Alonzo King LINES Ballet, LINES Ballet Training Program, LINES Ballet Summer Program, LINES Ballet BFA Program Dominican University, Stanford University, National University of Taipei, Taiwan, ODC Dance San Francisco, San Francisco State University, Smuin Ballet, and others. LeeWei was featured in the August 2018 issue of Dance Teacher Magazine, and in the May 2021 of Pointe Magazine. He is currently a faculty member with Oregon Ballet Theater, NW Dance Project and BodyVox.

Zakiya Cornish

Zakiya L Cornish is a dance artist, choreographer, and educator whose innovative Contemporary African dance practice is grounded in her wealth of knowledge and experience of West African dance and music, and African American vernacular dance. Zakiya has had the opportunity to work with Tony-award nominee Jeffrey Page, Bessie Award nominee Lela Aisha Jones, and Ron K. Brown of Evidence Dance Company. Zakiya has worked closely with world-renowned, Kulu Mele Traditional African Drum and Dance Company where she performed, often directed rehearsals, served as a production/stage manager and lighting designer, and set original choreography. She also had the great honor of studying with Germain Acogny and many other artists at the École des Sables in Senegal.

Zakiya has served as a K-12 teaching artist and arts integrationist for over 10 years, including a 5- year residency with Young Audiences of Louisiana, culminating in an invitation for her students to perform in Los Angeles for Adam Shankman and the Dizzy Feet Foundation. Zakiya received her MFA in Dance from Temple University, where she has served as an adjunct professor and has taught many master classes across the higher education sector. Zakiya recently served as an Assistant Visiting Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Currently, she is choreographing, teaching, and performing as an independent artist.

Angelica Daniele

Angelica Daniele, M.A., M.S., NCC, E-RYT earned her M.S. in Addictions Counseling through Purdue University (2022), her M.A. in Arts Management from Goucher College (2012), and B.A. from Goucher in dance and psychology with concentrations in both arts administration and dance therapy (2009). She is a 500+ hour certified Yoga instructor through Yoga Factory Teacher Training. Angelica teaches multiple styles of yoga and coordinates domestic and international retreats, trainings, and education programs. Angelica is certified in both the Usui and Jikiden Reiki methods and is in pursuit of her LPC credential. Angelica is also the co-owner of Yoga Factory and owner of Radiant Elle yoga apparel. After 25+ years in the arts and fitness industries, Angelica knows for a fact that Radiant Elle products are perfect for movers of all forms and for athletes who love to sweat and shine in their own “second” skin.

Headshot photo credit: Anita Buzzy Prentiss

Lonnie Davis

Lonnie E. Davis Jr. spent over a decade teaching modern, jazz and contemporary in the Academy and open levels at the Atlanta Ballet Centre for Dance Education. Davis also taught for 7 years at DeKalb School of the Arts, and 13years at Cobb County Center for Excellence in Performing Arts at Pebblebrook HS. He has been a guest instructor all over the U.S. and abroad conducting workshops and master classes. Some engagements include:(IABD) The International Association of Blacks in Dance Conference, The Landing Dance Centre-Vancouver BC, Emory University Dance Program, Gainesville Ballet, University Missouri KC, Brenau University, Ohio University, Project Dance NYC-ATL, Alabama State University, Alabama Dance Festival,The Georgia’s Governors Honors Program, and Southeast Regional Ballet Associations Regional Dance America Festival. Lonnie is a much sought after choreographer having set works on companies, colleges and university programs. Some include- Wylliams Henry Contemporary Dance Company and The Georgia Ballet.

Lonnie was invited to travel to the UK where he conducted company class for England’s premiere contemporary dance company, Phoenix Dance Theatre (Leeds,UK).  Davis continued his education, completing Horton technique pedagogy teacher training at the Ailey School.

As a performer he has worked with Dayton Contemporary Dance Co., Giordano Dance Chicago, Wylliams/Henry Contemporary Dance Company and Royal Caribbean Productions to name a few. Mr. Davis has had the privilege to dance masterworks by renowned  choreographers. They include: Gus Giordano, Margo Sappington, Rod Rodgers, Kevin Iega Jeff, Sean Curran, Leni Wylliams, and Lester Horton. Lonnie currently serves as department chair of the dance conservatory at the new School of the arts (SotA) at Central Gwinnett HS.

Headshot photo credit: Shocphoto

Tedrick Evans

Tedrick Evans was born in Tallahassee, Florida. Growing up with a high interest in art, he allowed his paintings, drawings, and other artistic outlets to be his channel for speaking what words couldn’t express. Tedrick was a late bloomer to dance. He didn’t grow up in a studio, nor was hometown a space for opportunity to grow in dance. Dance was just a hobby he enjoyed doing recreationally, but eventually, through college, his love for art became more dance focused and joining a competition hip hop team allowed him to grow in performance and choreographing.  This resulted in awards and industrial opportunities he’s forever grateful to have experienced. After graduating college moving to another city to work in the corporate business field, he eventually got back into dancing, and focused heavily on teaching and educating future dancers/choreographers of the dance community. During these years, as a coach he provided the tools to help his clients and team members win pageant awards, World of Dance competitions, and taught in various parts of Florida. He plans to use this moment to show his unique style of choreo blending all styles with storytelling and mixing rhythm, grooves, lines, and funk while embracing students on the importance of work ethic, confidence, patience, and humility.

Headshot photo credit: Kenny Tirado

Silas Farley

Silas Farley is a ballet teacher and choreographer. He currently serves as the Armstrong Artist in Residence in Ballet in the Meadows School of the Arts at Southern Methodist University (SMU) and as a Principal Guest Teacher at the School of American Ballet (SAB).

Farley is a former dancer with New York City Ballet and former Dean of the Trudl Zipper Dance Institute at The Colburn School in Los Angeles, CA.

He has taught and choreographed for the School of American Ballet, Peabody Conservatory, the Kennedy Center, The Washington Ballet, Houston Ballet, New York City Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He was an inaugural Jerome Robbins Dance Division Research Fellow at The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. He is writer and host of the NYCB podcast, Hear The Dance. He has written for Dance Magazine and Dance Index and lectured on ballet at the Museum of Modern Art. He serves on the Board of The George Balanchine Foundation.

Headshot photo credit: Jenny Douglass

Tori Hines

An Atlanta native, Tori began her dance education with the Ruth Mitchell Dance Theatre (now GA Metro Dance Theatre) under the direction of Lisa Toups and Shelley Grames. She then went on to attend Georgia College & State University, and graduated with a B.A. in Fine Art with a concentration in photography.

Currently, she is a Ballet, Jazz, and Contemporary instructor and the Studio Manager at Georgia Dance Conservatory, a Rehearsal Director and the RDA Coordinator for GA Metro Dance Theatre, and a freelance choreographer and photographer. She is thrilled to be photographing alongside Abigail Photos for the 2024 RDA National Festival.

Charmaine Hunter

Charmaine Hunter began her formal dance training at the Hartford Ballet School under the leadership of Artistic Director, Michael Uthoff and teacher Truman Finney. Her education continued at the Professional Children’s School of Dance Theatre of Harlem. There she studied under teachers such as Karel Shook, Frederick Franklin, Suzanne Farrell, Alvin Ailey, and many more. As one of the company’s leading ballerinas and finally their Ballet Mistress, Ms. Hunter is best known for her roles as The Firebird, by John Taras and Medea, by Michael Smuin. During her career with DTH, she launched programs for young people with no access to the arts. In 1988, she traveled to Russia as part of the United States Cultural Exchange and in 2000, conducted outreach programs in China.

Ms. Hunter also served as Ballet Mistress and teacher at the Jones-Haywood School of Dance in Washington D.C. Charmaine then directed Disney’s “The Lion King” at the Princess of Wales Theater for over 3 years. Then she took the position of casting director and talent scout with the Cirque du Soleil on the Las Vegas Strip. While there, she launched the Las Vegas Contemporary Dance Theater. Charmaine Hunter became the teaching artist with Disney Musicals in Schools, training teachers to incorporate dance in early childhood curriculum and the STEAM programs.

Returning to the concert dance world, Ms. Hunter accepted the position as Upper School Principal and Co-Director with Texas Ballet Theater under leadership of Ben Stevenson O.B.E.  Now thrilled to be home with her family in Orlando, Florida, Charmaine looks forward to an amazing future teaching at the Orlando Ballet School and serving as the organization’s Director of Community Engagement.

Headshot photo credit: Michael Cairns

Damien Johnson

Damien Johnson is originally from Dallas, Texas. He received his early dance training from Kitty Carter, Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, and The Etkin-Atkinson School of Ballet. Johnson went on to study at The Rock School and The School of American Ballet, the official school of The New York City Ballet. As a professional dancer, Johnson has been a member of American  Repertory Ballet, Dance Theatre of Harlem, New Chamber Ballet, Los Angeles Ballet, and London based Ballet Black where he was a  principal dancer for 10 seasons. Since returning to the states in 2017, Johnson has performed with Madison Ballet, The Ashley Bouder Project, and The Suzanne Farrell Ballet.

Johnson, permanent guest faculty member at The School of American Ballet, is a sought-after teacher who is certified in the American Ballet Theatre National Training Curriculum in Pre-Primary-Level 3 as well as classical Pilates through Power Pilates. He has taught for many companies and dance institutions including Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, The Central School of Ballet, Rambert School, Bermuda Civic Ballet, Lake Tahoe Dance Collective, Ballet Black, and Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures.

Headshot photo credit: xmbphotography

Carla Stallings Lippert

Carla Stallings began her training with Marguerite Phares in Sacramento, CA. As a member of the Theater Ballet Association, a student company directed my Mrs. Phares she attended Regional Dance America’s Pacific Regional Festival for many years. Through the Festival Carla was awarded scholarships to New York City Ballet’s School of American Ballet and the American Ballet Theatre School. She also spent many summers training and working with William Martin Viscount in Fort Worth, TX.

These opportunities led to her joining American Ballet Theatre’s second company and then as an apprentice in the company. She entered the corps de ballet under Jucia Chase with Mikhail Baryshnikov’s Nutcracker. Within a short time she began performing soloist roles such as Competition Girls in Graduation Ball, Salvation Army Lady in Anthony Tudor’s Undertow, Big Swans in Swan Lake and later Dark Elegies, First and Third Variations in Natalia Makarova’s La Bayadere Act II, stand out Corps and Soloist in Hal Landers Etudes, Principal in Balanchine’s Bourrée Fantastique, Mother of the Bride and Groom in Jeremy Robbins’ Les Noces, Myrta in Giselle, Benvolio’s Harlot in Sir Kenneth MacMillan’s Romeo and Juliet, 3rd Movement soloist in his Concerto, Lilac Fairy in Sleeping Beauty and Fairy Godmother in Baryshnikov/Anastos’ Cinderella. She was promoted to soloist by Mikhail Baryshnikov after winning the Bronze Medal at the Jackson International Ballet Competition.

Carla went on to join Boston Ballet as a Principal Dancer. Her repertoire included Odette/Odile in Swan Lake; Giselle and Myrta in Giselle; The Ballerina in Etudes; Sugarplum Fairy, Spanish, Arabian, and Dew Drop in the Nutcracker; The Sylph in La Sylphide; The Maiden in Maurice Bejart’s Sacre du Printemps; The Other Woman in Anthony Tudor’s Jardin Aux Lilas; and many more. She also had the pleasure of working with many up-and-coming choreographers such as Ralph Lemon, Monica Levy, and James Kudelka when they competed in Boston Ballet’s International Choreographers Competition.

During her career Carla had the privilege of touring with Mikhail Baryshnikov, performing Balanchine’s Sylvia Pas de Deux, with Rudolph Nureyev, performing Calliope in Balanchine’s Apollo, and with Fernando Bujones, performing Odette/Odile in Swan Lake.

Having been given so much by ballet, Ms. Stallings feels called to give back to the art form through teaching at schools and summer programs across the nation. She takes special joy in coaching dancers in the classical repertoire and helping them reach their personal best both artistically and technically.

Carla is an American Ballet Theatre Certified Teacher for Pre-Primary through Level VII. She coordinated American Ballet Theatre’s summer intensive program in Tuscaloosa, AL for 12 years (until it stopped due to Covid), where she also taught, set repertoire, and choreographed.

She recently renewed her connection to Regional Dance America, adjudicating the Pacific Northwest Region in 2021/22 and the Northeast Region in 2023. She will also be a Master Teacher for their 2023 Southwest Festival.

She currently lives in Fresno, CA, where she teaches at California Arts Academy and was Co-Artistic Director for the local production Central California Ballet’s Nutcracker for five years.

Kati Hanlon Mayo

Kati Hanlon Mayo trained at The Boston School of Ballet under the direction of E. Virginia Williams & Violette Verdy. At the age of 15, she became a member of Boston Ballet 2, performing 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 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, Jacqueline Buglisi and Nacho Duato. In 2000 & 2004, Kati was named Best Performing Artist by Charlotte Magazine. The New York Times reviewed that she “ruled the stage with benign classical authority” Dance Magazine heralded her as a “performer of stunning versatility and dramatic power.”

Kati began teaching at the Charlotte Ballet Academy in 1993. She is currently an instructor for the Company, the Academy, and the Trainee 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, Chautauqua Institution, Regional Dance America and she is a repetiteur for the Salvatore Aiello Trust. Kati is also a certified instructor of Dance for Parkinson’s Disease and Progressing Ballet Technique.

Headshot photo credit: Richard Israel

Steven Melendez

Steven Melendez was born in New York City in 1986 and started his ballet training with the LIFT Program at Ballet School New York at the age of 7. He has danced as a Soloist dancer with Ballet Concierto in Buenos Aires, Argentina, a Principal dancer with The Vanemuine Theater Ballet Company in Tartu, Estonia, and for over 15 years with New York Theatre Ballet. He was a national and international guest artist and teacher and has worked across Europe, Asia, and Central and South America. Steven co-choreographed his first large-scale work, Song Before Spring, for New York Theatre Ballet which was named a Dance Europe critic’s choice “Best Premiere” of 2016.

Steven is currently the Artistic Director, New York Theatre Ballet. He is a member of the alumni advisory committee on diversity and inclusion for School of American Ballet and served as the Hiland Artistic Director for National Dance Institute New Mexico. Steven is the subject of the feature-length documentary film LIFT, which premiered at the 2022 Tribeca festival and is available on streaming platforms worldwide.

Headshot photo credit: Rachel Neville

Elizabeth Parkinson

Elizabeth Parkinson is a highly acclaimed performer/educator recognized for her contributions in  multiple genres of dance from classical ballet to Broadway. Currently she is the Co-Founder/Director of FineLine Theatre Arts, New Milford, CT., where she has trained numerous dancers towards professional careers. She has traveled numerous times to Moscow in a cultural exchange program with the American Embassy in order to share her knowledge of theatre dance with Russian professional actors and performers in training.

Elizabeth is an adjunct professor of dance at Western Connecticut State University. Other teaching credits include but are not limited to The American Ballet Theatre Studio Company, The West Coast Dance Explosion, North Carolina School of the Arts, and Joffrey Ballet Summer Intensives. Elizabeth’s  Broadway and national tour credits include Movin’ Out (Original Broadway Cast, Tony nomination for Best Actress in a Musical, Astaire Award for Best Female Dancer on Broadway), Fosse (Outer Critics Circle Nomination for Best Featured Actress, FANY Award for Best Broadway Debut), Andrew Lippa’s The Wild Party (Pre Broadway workshop),the national tour of the Lincoln Center production of Carousel, Singin’ In The Rain (St. Louis MUNY, girl in the green dress), Donald Byrd’s The Harlem Nutcracker (Sugar Rum Cherry), and Billboards, a full length ballet to the music of Prince. She has appeared in the films Every Little Step, Romance and Cigarettes, and Stay. Elizabeth studied in depth Fosse repertory and style with Gwen Verdon and Ann Reinking. In 2014 Elizabeth appeared opposite Bernadette Peters in the City Center/Lincoln Center Jazz production of A Bed and A Chair, directed by John Doyle.

Elizabeth ‘s concert dance credits are extensive including The Joffrey Ballet, Feld Ballets NY, Donald Byrd/The Group, and Twyla Tharp and Dancers. Elizabeth was twice awarded the Kennedy Center College Musical Theatre Festival Award for best choreography for the WCSU production of Parade in 2015 and the WCSU production of The Drowsy Chaperone in 2016. Elizabeth currently lives in Sherman, CT.

Headshot photo credit: Steve Vaccariello

Brandon Ragland

Brandon Ragland danced with the Louisville Ballet as a leading artist and served as the Pre-Professional Program Manager for the Louisville Ballet School and Resident Choreographer for the Louisville Ballet Youth Ensemble (LBYE). He has taught for Alabama Ballet, Alabama Ballet School, Alabama School of Fine Arts, Next Generation Ballet, Samford University, AROVA Contemporary Ballet, and Ballet Arkansas. Most recently, Brandon is honored and thrilled to take on the role of Artistic Director of Dayton Ballet.

Brandon is the recipient of The Lift A Life Foundation Emerging Leader in the Arts Award presented by The Fund for the Arts; a Hadley Creative recipient; and was awarded Louisville Magazine’s Best Artist Award.

Brandon has created works for Louisville Ballet, Alabama Ballet, Ballet Arkansas, AROVA Contemporary Ballet, Next Generation Ballet, Sedona Chamber Ballet, and The Perla Ballet. His choreography has been presented at several RDA/Southeast Festivals. Brandon has also created two one-act ballets, Cinderella’s Ball and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, for the Louisville Ballet School.

Brandon has collaborated with community programs such as Root and Wings project, IDEAS xLab, and The Kentucky Center’s Artsreach program. He performed with the Black Iris Project at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. as part of their Dance Across America Program.

Brandon received his early training in Birmingham, AL and graduated from Butler University with a B.S. in Dance-Arts Administration. He then joined Alabama Ballet where he performed numerous classical and neoclassical works by choreographers such as Roger Van Fleteren, George Balanchine, Christopher Bruce, and Septime Webre. Brandon spent 13 years as a leading artist with the Louisville Ballet where he performed featured roles in classical, neoclassical, and contemporary works by choreographers such as Alun Jones,  George Balanchine, Adam Hougland, Val Caniparoli, Ma Cong, Lucas Jervies, Stanton Welch, Ronald Hynd, and Tim Harbour.

Headshot photo credit: Kateryna Sellers

Morgann Rose

Morgann Rose is a Certified GYROTONIC® instructor, movement therapy coach, and retired Principal Ballerina. Originally from Lake Forest, California, Ms. Rose graduated from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts before joining her first ballet company Elliot Feld’s Ballet Tech in New York City.  In 2001, she joined The Washington Ballet serving in a variety of roles as Principal Dancer until retiring in 2017.

Her performing arts experience brings a unique perspective and approach to personal training, health and wellness that includes improvisational movement techniques, injury rehabilitation, alignment, injury prevention, and overall body awareness.  Additionally, Ms. Rose continues to support numerous professional ballet companies and performing art schools around the world choreographing various productions. She now lives in Reedville, VA and is also the owner of Motion Studios in Kilmarnock, VA.

Headshot photo credit: Corey Miller Photography

Christopher Stuart

Christopher Stuart, originally from Sandy Hook, CT, graduated in 2002 from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. Following graduation, he joined Nashville Ballet, where he was featured in works by renowned choreographers. In 2018, after 16 years as a principal dancer, he was named Resident Choreographer of Nashville Ballet. Stuart’s vast experience as a dancer and performer helped him articulate his choreographic voice through improvisation and exploration of different forms of movement.

He has created works for Nashville Ballet, Ballet Arkansas, Chattanooga Ballet, National Choreographic Initiative, and, of course, Charlotte Ballet. Stuart first worked with Charlotte Ballet in early 2020 when he choreographed a piece for its Innovative Works repertoire show, which drew inspiration from the Mint Museum’s installation of Immersed in Light by studio DRIFT. Following the success of that collaboration, Hope Muir hired Stuart – then Resident Choreographer of Nashville Ballet – to be Program Director of Charlotte Ballet II, the Ballet’s second company, and Rehearsal Director for the main company. In summer of 2021, Charlotte Ballet appointed Stuart as interim artistic director, which he served until May of 2022 before being promoted to Director, Charlotte Ballet II. Christopher is excited to join the Alabama Ballet family for his first season as Artistic Director.

Headshot photo credit: Eric Lucky

James Sutton

James Sutton, dancer, teacher, choreographer, and writer, was for fourteen years an Associate Arts Professor in Dance at the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University and is currently company teacher and choreographer for New York Theatre Ballet. He was the co-recipient of the Balasaraswati/Joy Ann Dewey Beinecke Endowed Chair for Distinguished Teaching from the American Dance Festival in 2015.

As a performer, he danced with Houston Ballet, Chicago Ballet, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, Milwaukee Ballet, and DANCERS.  Formerly Associate Director of the Kathryn Posin Modern Dance Company, he formed his own company in New York in 1983.  His choreographic commissions span all aspects of theater and dance, from operas and musicals to ballet and contemporary dance.

A frequent guest instructor and adjudicator around the US, he has taught on the faculties of The University of Texas at Austin (UT-NY), Marymount Manhattan College, Connecticut College, Southern Methodist University, and the University of Michigan, among others, as well as many summers with the American Dance Festival (Durham, NC; Japan; Korea) beginning in 1985.

He was formerly ballet master for Ballet Hispanico of New York, and, for five years, a company teacher for the Metropolitan Opera Ballet. Internationally, he has been a guest teacher at the Mikhailovsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia; Cloud-Gate Dance Theatre in Taipei, Taiwan; Victorian College of the Arts in Melbourne, Australia; and the Cullberg Ballet and Balett Akademien in Stockholm, Sweden, among other venues across Europe and Asia.

Previously an Associate Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and teacher of ballet and composition at the Juilliard School in New York, he has recently worked in Communications for Brooklyn Academy of Music and is a contributing writer for Playbill.

Mauro Villanueva

Mauro Villanueva (he/him) began his dance training with Shawn Knife and later studied at the Nutmeg Conservatory.

Mauro joined the Joffrey Ballet and danced ballets by world renowned choreographers, was a union representative for the artists, and was one of two dancers chosen to participate in the search for a new artistic director.

Mauro has also worked for Barak Ballet, Ballet San Antonio, The Jacksonville Symphony and others. He has taught at the Colburn School, Edge Performing Arts Center, Regional Dance America, The New Orleans Ballet Association, The New Jersey Ballet, Eglevsky Ballet, North Carolina School of the Arts, and The Ballet Alliance.

Mr. Villanueva was a 2022-2023 School of American Ballet National Visiting Fellow and is dedicated to creating inclusive dance spaces through his work as co-director of The Joffrey Workshop.

Headshot photo credit: Ginger Sole Photography

Abigail Werner

Abigail Werner started her dance training with the Ruth Mitchell Dance Theatre (now GA Metro Dance Theatre). Abigail taught at Georgia Dance Conservatory from 2013 to 2021. During her time as a student, she also discovered her love of dance photography and started her photography business Abigail Photos. She specializes in dance, performing arts, and portrait photography. Abigail’s photos have a classic style, with an emphasis on capturing light and color in a natural manner. She draws on her extensive dance experience to capture performers at their best. Abigail has had the privilege of working with multiple dance companies in the Southeast, including Georgia Metropolitan Dance Theatre, Roswell Dance Theatre, Atlanta Dance Theatre, Appalachian Ballet Company, Southern Ballet Theatre and more. Since 2019, she has photographed the Southeastern Regional Ballet Association’s festivals. Abigail currently resides in Atlanta with her husband Kenny and two sons, Ezra and Lazarus.

Anthony Williams

Anthony Williams, Jr. is a native of Birmingham and a third-generation musician. His first teacher was his mother, Doris Terry Lockett.
He began taking piano lessons from Jessica Hayden, where he learned to read music, and later became the Sunday School musician for his church in Birmingham, AL.

A Birmingham native, Anthony received his diploma from A. H. Parker High School, studied piano performance at Birmingham-Southern College and Music Technology at the University of Alabama – Birmingham respectively.

Anthony moved to Oakland, CA in 1985 and taught music in the San Francisco Unified School District at the Phillip and Sala Burton Academic High School. He was also Church organist and choir director at The Allen Temple Baptist Church in Oakland, CA, and accompanist for the U C Berkely Gospel Choir.

He has worked with such artist as: Stevie Wonder, The 5 Blind Boys, and The Alabama Symphony Orchestra. He has traveled to Spain and several other countries. He has played in Carnegie Hall and across the USA.

Under the professional name AntMAN Music, he has served as accompanist for the Alabama School of Fine Arts Dance Department for over 8 years. (Wes Chapman, Director)

Anthony has been married to Verada Fritz for 40 years and have one son, Antoine and three grandchildren whom he is very proud. Mr. Williams believes that Jesus Christ is the reason that he has been blessed to do the things has done. To God Be The Glory!!

George Winchell

George Winchell has been a professional Videographer/Photographer for over 35yrs. His love of dance goes all the way back to the Disco era where he was a part of both the social and competitive scene while in School in Rhode Island. After graduating and starting a career in Photography he found he was able to combine his love of photography with his passion for dance. In the 1980’s with his brother they founded WM Productions as a commercial video and film company. WM Productions quickly made a name for themselves in Central PA for their innovative and creative approach to Commercial, Industrial, and Narrative Video and Film. Along the way George continued to stay active in the dance world filming and photographing various local and regional dance companies and performances.

From there the offers to film and document concerts and competition have taken him all over the country. Each spring and Summer he films over 30 shows for various local dance schools. Among the dance companies and organizations he has worked for are, Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, Pennsylvania Regional Ballet, Ballet Academy East, Maryland Ballet, Waves, Motion Mania, and of course Regional Dance America. George has provided video for many dance competitions including Swing Fling, American Lindy Hop Championships, Eastern US Country & Western Dance, Platinum Dancesport, YuleTide Ball, and the International Hustle & Salsa Championships. George also continued to be involved in competitive Hustle, Swing, Country and Ballroom dance eventually winning 3 National championships in Ballroom Dancing.

Kyla Cummins Zollitsch

Kyla Cummins Zollitsch earned her Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance from Portland State University. Kyla toured extensively throughout the Pacific Northwest and accompanied at Portland State University, Reed College and Lewis and Clark College. At age 13, she began accompanying ballet with the Alaska Dance Theatre. Kyla has accompanied for the Oregon Ballet Theatre, Milwaukee Ballet, Atlanta Ballet and currently, Kennesaw State University Dance Department. Kyla plays for guest ballet companies including but not limited to Alvin Ailey, Lines Ballet and American Ballet. She also played for the Universal Ballet Competition, Youth America Grand Prix, American College Dance Association SE Conference and the Regional Dance Association SE.

Kyla has played with the Rome Symphony, Jacksonville State, National American Brass Band Championships and is also an accompanist at Berry College. Kyla owns a piano studio in Rome, GA. Her students have won many local competitions, festivals and the Rome Symphony concerto competition. She also chairs many local competitions and events for the Rome Music Teacher’s Association. Kyla resides in beautiful Calhoun, GA with her husband Matt and two dogs Xena and Denali.