Staff & Teaching Artists
Bianca Morgan was born and raised in the Bronx, New York. 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 Theatre, in ballet, jazz, modern and African dance. Morgan has also studied under Melba Lucas, Aziza, Rae Ross Sandifer, Ann Vachon, Ruth Williams, Laura Williams, Bruce Hawkins, Kariamu Welsh, Chuck Davis and a list of others. Bianca holds a BA in Broadcasting, Telecommunications and Mass Media and an Ed. M in Dance from Temple University. Morgan 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 Morgan co-directed an arts consortium that aimed to heighten appreciation and skilled development in dance called Cayenne Entertainment. Morgan has performed with Kariamu & Company Traditions, and has recently received certification in the Umfundalai technique, which is 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. Morgan 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, Morgan has choreographed main stage theatre productions with the Union County Performance Ensemble under the direction of Larry Robinson. Morgan served as dance educator for seven years at Central Academy of Technology & Arts in Union County Public Schools. She resides in Monroe, NC with her husband Charles and daughter Chase.
Jennifer Bakane grew up dancing in North Carolina, studying ballet, jazz, tap, modern, and musical theatre. She received formal training in Classical Dance from the Infinity Ballet Conservatory in Apex, NC under the direction of Debra Sayles-Senchak, Lori Christman-Bourtasenkov, and Timour Bourtasenkov while having the opportunity to train with various master teachers such as Marina Medvetskaya, Luba Gulyaeva, Alaine Haubert, and Valery Lantratov. Ms. Bakane has enjoyed opportunities to dance professionally with ballet and modern companies in both North Carolina and Colorado, including the Ballet Ariel Company and Avatar Movement Dance Company in Denver. She has been a dancer for NLL and NBA D-League teams and has performed in musical theatre productions, including some of her favorites: Cabaret, Follies, and The Goodbye Girl. Ms. Bakane holds a BA in Theatre from Meredith College and a MLS in Arts Development and Program Management from the University of Denver. Ms. Bakane has formal pedagogy training in the Complete Teaching Method of Classical Dance developed by Vera Kostrovitskaya and based on the work of Agrippina Vaganova at the Imperial Ballet in St. Petersburg, Russia, taught by Professor Peggy Willis-Aarnio. Ms. Bakane has served as the head of the dance program at Cardinal Gibbons High School and on faculty at Infinity Ballet Conservatory, The Ballet School of Chapel Hill, High Pointe Dance Academy in Evergreen, CO, and The Academy of Colorado Ballet. She is excited to return to North Carolina and begin her work with the NC Dance Theatre in the department of Education and Outreach!
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.