Staff & Teaching Artists
April Berry assumed the position of director of education and outreach for North Carolina Dance Theatre in August 2006. In this role she directs, develops and implements NC Dance Theatre’s dance education and community outreach programs around the State of North Carolina and in Charlotte. Berry also serves as a modern dance instructor at the North Carolina Dance Theatre School of Dance.
Previously Berry served as director of education and community programs for BalletMet in Columbus, OH, implementing numerous dance education and outreach programs for their company and dance school.
Berry’s professional training began at the National Academy of Ballet and Theatre Arts in New York City, at the Dance Theatre of Harlem as a scholarship student and company apprentice and as a scholarship student at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Center. She began her professional dance career as a ballerina with the Stadt Theater at St Gallen in Switzerland, after being accepted as a student at SUNY Purchase in upstate New York.
Berry has served as artist-in-residence, lecturer and guest instructor at numerous universities around the country including Denison University, The Ohio State University, UNC at Charlotte and Indiana State University at Bloomington. Ms. Berry is certified as a “Master” in the Dunham Technique, having received her certification directly from dance legend, Katherine Dunham. Berry has also been recognized by the International Association for Blacks in Dance for her “Outstanding Achievements in the Field of Dance.”
As a former principal dancer with the Ailey Company, Berry feels blessed to have performed all around the world and to have worked with so many world-renowned artists and choreographers. Ms. Berry has had the rare opportunity of performing in several works by legendary modern dance pioneer, Lester Horton, and has originated roles in such ballets as Talley Beatty’s The Stack-Up and Alvin Ailey’s last choreographic work Opus McShann.
Ms. Berry counts among her many professional accomplishments creating and developing unique and varied education and outreach programs and partnerships that have impacted countless children, teens and adults.
Joanna Ahlman, Teaching Artist, began her ballet training in Columbus, Georgia, under the direction of Maria Hirsch at The Columbus Ballet and received her BFA in Studio Arts in Columbus. Ahlman has served as an instructor at The Columbus Ballet where she also worked as a dancer and choreographer, Ahlman currently also serves as an instructor at Piedmont School of Music and Dance and Open Door Studios.
Tammy Fox, Teaching Artist, was raised in New York City where she received most of her dance training. Ms. Fox studied with jazz masters Frank Hatchett, Luigi and Phil Black and at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Center. Ms. Fox graduated from UNC Greensboro where she received a Bachelor of Science degree. She has experience teaching in children’s outreach programs and serves as a jazz dance instructor at various studios around Charlotte.
Jillian Jackson, Teaching Artist, is a native of Springfield, IL, and began her career in dancing, singing and acting at the age of seven. Jones has trained in ballet, tap, jazz, modern, liturgical, hip-hop, and African-based styles of dance. Ms. Jones has worked as a dancer with the Oneaka Dance Collective in Charlotte, NC and the Dunham Children’s Dance Troupe in East St. Louis Illinois, touring the United States and Europe.
Melissa Word, Teaching Artist, graduated with a degree in dance from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. She was a member of the UNCC Dance Ensemble, and a participant in the UNCC/North Carolina Dance Theatre Professional Certificate in Dance Training Program. She has danced and had work professionally adjudicated in the American College Dance Festival and has experience teaching youth ballet and creative movement through North Carolina Dance Theatre’s School of Dance, Open Door Studios, and Rhythm Dance Studio.