Melissa, a Miami native, received her BFA in Dance from the University of South Florida. She is currently in her third season as a Company dancer with North Carolina Dance Theatre. In 2010, her choreography Stained Glass was selected by the American College of Dance Festival to be performed at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Melissa trained at New World School of the Arts and spent summers with Complexions Contemporary Ballet, Boston Ballet, Miami City Ballet, Joffrey Ballet and Chautauqua Ballet. In 2012, Melissa was nominated for a Princess Grace Award. Some of her favorite performances in which she has had the honor of dancing include Bill T. Jones’ Serenade/The Proposition, William Forsythe’s In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated, Dwight Rhoden’s Artifice, Sasha Janes’ Last Lost Chance, Mark Diamond’s Bolero, Jacqulyn Buglisi’s Requiem 9. 11 and the Lilac Fairy in Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux’s Sleeping Beauty. Melissa has premiered two original pieces of choreography, Artificially Exposed and Yappos at Paalam with North Carolina Dance Theatre.
Melissa’s teaching experience includes Jazz, Ballet and Modern instruction at South Florida Ballet School, the Chautauqua Pre-Workshop program, and North Carolina Dance Theatre School of Dance. As part of her BFA education, she also completed curricula in Dance Pedagogy. Melissa is excited to be immersed in performing, choreographing, and teaching with North Carolina Dance Theatre this year.
E.E. Balcos, Associate Professor of Dance at UNC Charlotte, began studying with modern dance pioneer Hanya Holm at the age of 19. Balcos teaches Modern technique, Choreography, Improvisation, and Contact Improvisation. As a performer he toured nationally and internationally with Shapiro & Smith Dance, Demetrius Klein Dance Company, Zenon Dance Company, and worked with renowned choreographers including Danny Buraczeski, Ping Chong, Sean Curran, David Dorfman, Joe Goode, Dwight Rhoden, David Rousseve, Stephanie Skura, and Bill Young. He was Artist-in-Residence with the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange in Washington, DC and at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts in 2009. His dance group, E.E.MOTION, has been featured with North Carolina Dance Festival, Charlotte Dance Festival, ADF’s Acts to Follow Series, Piccolo Spoleto’s Dance at Noon Series in Charleston, SC, and the Minnesota Fringe Festival in Minneapolis. His choreographic works have been presented in such venues as Walker Art Center and Intermedia Arts in Minneapolis, Joyce/Soho and St. Mark’s Church in New York City, Kansas City at the Folly Theatre, Lawrence Art Center in Kansas, and at numerous dance festivals, and universities nationally. He received grants from Minnesota State Arts Board, Jerome Foundation, Asian American Renaissance, Missouri State University, COAS at UNCC, Arts & Science Council Charlotte-Mecklenburg, and a UNCC Faculty Research Grant in collaboration with composer John Allemeier. Balcos received a BA in Music from The Colorado College and an MFA in Dance from the University of Iowa.
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 at the School of NCDT!
Director of Education and Outreach
A former principal dancer with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, April Berry is the director of education and outreach at North Carolina Dance Theatre. She is also on the faculty of the NC Dance Theatre School of Dance. Previously Berry has served as the Director of Education and Community Programs for BalletMet in Columbus, Ohio.
In addition to serving as the education director for BalletMet, Berry founded YouthMet!, a multi-cultural repertory dance ensemble at the BalletMet School. Berry studied at the Dance Theatre of Harlem, the School of American Ballet, and the Alvin Ailey American Dance Center. She has received Master Dance Certification in the Katherine Dunham Technique. Berry performed as a principal dancer with the Ailey Company for eleven years. She has also danced professionally with ballet companies in Italy, Switzerland and throughout the United States.
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 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
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 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.
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 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.
Kim Jones, a native New Yorker, is an assistant professor at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte as well as an accomplished choreographer and dancer. She received her MFA. summa cum laude from Florida State University and her BFA from Marymount Manhattan College. Most notably, Jones has danced with the Martha Graham Dance Company (2002-2006), the Metropolitan Opera Ballet (1998-2003) and performed in the US National Tour of The King and I as a principal dancer (2005). Other companies she has performed with include Coyote Dancers, Ricardo Gomez, H.T Chen, and Santa Barbara Dance Theater and works by renowned choreographer Gerri Houlihan. Currently, Jones dances for the Edgar Cortes Dance Theater.
Jones is one of a handful of Graham dancers to perform Ms. Graham's solo Deep Song (1937) and is a Régisseur for the Martha Graham Resource Center. She is honored to have re-staged Martha Grahams' 1962 ballet Secular Games for Millennium Dance 2000 in London, UK (first school outside the US to perform the work), and Steps in the Street for Arke Dance Ensemble in Turin, Italy and for Florida State University and UNC Charlotte.
As a choreographer, Jones co-created an evening-length performance entitled Signs of Awakening that combines American Sign Language, text and dance in Santa Barbara, CA (1997), works for the Joffrey Midwest Workshop (2004), Swing Space NYC (2007.) She choreographed and performed in collaboration with Andy Noble creating an evening concert Imprint at Florida State University (2008), Mauri-A breath of Life North Carolina Dance Festival tour (2009-2010). In May 2010 Jones presented her own solo Burning Consumption at the Baryshnikov Arts Center in NYC it will also be presented in September 2010at the Pietrasanta International Dance Festival, Italy.
Some of her teaching experience includes Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance, The Ailey School and Long Island University-Brooklyn Campus. She has also taught internationally at Arke Dance Ensemble, Istituto Addestramento Lavoratori dello Spettacolo (IALS), Laban Contemporary Dance, Middlesex University, Bird College, Roehampton University and The Place in London.
In the summer of 2010, Jones created a successful UNC Charlotte dance study abroad program in Turin, Italy. www.edabroad.uncc.edu/itdanc/
A native of Armenia, Sarkis Kaltakchian studied at the Choreographic Institute of Yerevan, where he later danced with the Armenian National Ballet and Opera Theatre. He also danced with the Classical Ballet of Costa Rica, Les Ballets Classique de Montreal, The Banff Festival of the Arts, Ottawa Ballet, North Carolina Dance Theatre and Hartford Ballet as soloist and principal dancer. His repertory includes the works of George Balanchine, Marius Petipa, Choo-San Goh, Alonzo King, Val Caniparoli, Nicolo Fonte, William Forsythe, Paul Taylor, Mark Diamond, Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux and Nacho Duato.
Kaltakchian’s teaching experience includes five years in the ballet department of Les Ballets Divertimento de Montreal under the direction of Maxim Marterosian and head instructor and director of the Tulsa Ballet II since 2005.
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. Mayo went on to perform with Jose Mateo's Ballet Theatre before joining NC Dance Theatre as a principal dancer in 1991.
During her career Mayo had many roles created on her including the female lead in Mateo's Schubert Adagio and Salvatore Aiello's Chosen One in The Rite of Spring. She performed principal roles in works choreographed by George Balanchine, Alvin Ailey, Jean- Pierre Bonnefoux, William Forsythe, Agnes DeMille, Dwight Rhoden and Alonzo King. In 2000 and 2004 Kati was named "Best Performing Artist" by Charlotte Magazine and The New York Times reviewed that "Miss Hanlon ruled the stage with benign classical authority."
Mayo began teaching at the School of Dance upon its inception in 1996 and has been a guest teacher for many studios across the country.
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
Alyce CV Moran
Alyce Cristina Vallejo Moran began her training at North Carolina Dance Theater and The Charlotte School of Ballet. Through the Student Ensemble and the Charlotte Youth Ballet she was given the opportunity to work in various techniques and perform in many classical, contemporary, and modern ballets. In her senior year at Northwest School of the Arts, Moran was an invited guest artist with the Moving Poets Theater of Dance. This provided Moran 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 Daryl Foster, Alex Ketley, Rick McCullough, and many more. Moran also performed as a soloist in the restaging of Pas de Quarte, restaged by Richard Sias and Western Symphony by Balanchine and restaged by Suzanne Farrell. During her time at FSU, Moran was invited to dance with Suzanne Farrell at the Kennedy Center, Alonzo King LINES Ballet, and did a four month internship with Ballet Hispanico. Graduating Cum Laude in 2006 she moved to San Francisco to dance with the SF Conservatory of Dance, Performance Company, under the direction of Summer Lee Rhatigan. Upon moving back to Charlotte in 2007, Moran joined Martha Connerton/ Kinetic Works Dance Company- Currently in her fifth season and now acting as rehearsal and administrative assistant. In the past five years she has performed original works by E.E. Balcos, Martha Connerton, Duane Cyrus, and Edward and Christina Winslow. This past summer, Moran performed with CPCC Summer Theater in the Will Rogers Follies as a Follies Girl and was invited to be a guest faculty member of NC Dance Theater 5 week summer intensive as a modern teacher. Every year Moran performs as a guest artist with the Charlotte Youth Ballet in the Nutcracker and other, performances. In the fall of 2011, Moran will perform Paquita with the CYB and be in her first show with EchoDance Company. Moran continues teaching ballet and modern at The Charlotte School of Ballet and is excited to join the NC School of Dance faculty teaching Modern. Moran’s 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 husband and Family!
Kathryn Moriarty was a principal dancer with Milwaukee Ballet, and danced solo repertoire with the Norwegian National Ballet, the Hamburg Staatsoper in Germany and the Cincinnati/New Orleans Ballet. She has made many guest appearances including performances with the Australian Dance Theatre.
Her training includes the Australian Ballet School, The Scully-Borovansky School of Australia and University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
Moriarty has also served as Artistic Associate of Dayton Ballet, Co-Director of Dayton Ballet II and faculty member of the University of Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music. She has been a full-time faculty member of the NC Dance Theatre - School of Dance since 1998.
A Native of South Africa, Renee Olivier was a soloist with the Tulsa Ballet since 1999 after dancing with the Playhouse Dance Company in South Africa and the Alberta Ballet Company of Canada during their 1998-1999 season.
Her repertory includes Daniel Pelzig’s Nine Lives; Jerome Robbins’ In the Night and Fancy Free; Amedio Amodio’s Carmen; Val Caniparoli’s Going for Baroque, Connotations, Vivace and Lambarena; George Balanchine’s “Rubies,” The Four Temperaments, Valse Fantasie, Allegro Brilliante, Concerto Barocco, Western Symphony and Theme and Variations; Anthony Tudor’s Gala Performance, Nicolas Beriozoff’s Petruschka; Jack Carter’s Melodrama and Cage of God; Jean Paul Comelin’s Firebird Les Nuits D’ete; Nacho Duato’s Na Floresta and Coming Together; Birgit Cullberg’s Miss Julie, Ma Cong’s Folia and Samsara; Mark Hawkin’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream; Marcello Angelini’s Nutcracker and Galina; and Samsova’s The Sleeping Beauty. Olivier was an instructor at the Tulsa Ballet’s Center for Dance Education before joining NC Dance Theatre School of Dance’s faculty in 2010.
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 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.
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 began her early dance training at Ballet Arts Theatre in her hometown of Endicott, NY. While growing up her training took her to pursue summer intensives at the School of American Ballet, New York State Summer School of the Arts, Texas Christian University, as well as the Ballet West Conservatory. While on scholarship at the University of Utah, Skrabalak graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Ballet (Performing and Teaching Emphases). She had the opportunity to dance with Utah Ballet and work as a guest artist with Ballet West. She has also traveled abroad to Taipei, Taiwan performing a soloist role in Concerto Barocco.
Skrabalak’s professional experience includes dancing at the Medals Plaza in the 2002 Salt Lake Winter Olympics as well as working for Bodiography Contemporary Ballet in Pittsburgh. For seven years, Skrabalak danced principal roles for the company and then was promoted to Rehearsal Director as well as the Assistant Director of the school. She has extended her mentoring talents to Point Park University and Carnegie Mellon University, and is a certified Pilates instructor. Skrabalak is currently pursuing her Master of Fine Arts in Dance and is thrilled to be part of the faculty.
Rachel Tucker comes to Charlotte from New York City where she was an original cast member in the Broadway production of The Lion King. In addition, she traveled the country serving as the resident dance supervisor for the national touring company of the The Lion King for many years.
While living in New York, Tucker taught modern/jazz for the young adult program at the celebrated dance studio, Steps on Broadway. Her classes mix traditional jazz dance with Lester Horton-based technique. In addition, Tucker performed as a Rockette in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall, New York City. She also performed in The Wiz national touring company. Tucker was a member of the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company, where she danced works by Ulysses Dove, Talley Beatty, Donald McKayle, Eleo Pomore, Donald Byrd and Dwight Rhoden.
Tucker is also a Pilates instructor trained in both the classical and contemporary methods. This training includes mat work, as well as, apparatus.
Tucker graduated from the Baltimore School for the Arts and then received a BA in Dance Performance with a minor in Psychology from Point Park College, Pittsburgh, PA. Ms. Tucker is currently working towards a Master of Fine Arts in Dance through the Hollins University/ADF Program.
ShirLee Wu (Summer Intensive Faculty)
Shir Lee Wu, nationally celebrated master ballet teacher, received the “Outstanding Teacher Award” in both the 2003 and 2008 Youth American Grand Prix, and the “Artist Teacher Award” from the School of Dance of the Chautauqua Institute in 2004. Ms. Wu has trained many serious and talented dance students for two decades. Some of her students have become professional dancers and principal dancers with ballet companies such as Pacific North West Ballet, New York City Ballet, and Royal Danish Ballet. Many of her former students have received medals in the regional, national and international competitions of the Youth American Grand Prix.
Ms. Wu received a merit scholarship from Beijing Ballet Academy in China with Vaganova Russian syllabus, where she graduated and earned an honor certificate from the Royal Academy of Dance. She left China for freedom and was immediately invited to join the Hong Kong Ballet Company in the early 70’s as a principal/soloist and perform with British Ballerina Margot Fontynn in “Coppelia” as a soloist. She has danced many principal roles in classical ballet and contemporary repertory. She also has been invited as a choreographer with Hong Kong British Television Company for three years.
In 1975 Ms. Wu came to the United States, where her talent has been recognized by many dance legacies including Robert Joffrey, Martha Graham, and Arthur Mitchell. She was given a full scholarship to study the Western ballet syllabus under their guidance.
In 1987, Ms. Wu retired from her professional performing career, and has distinguished herself in her ability as a ballet teacher. She continues to study ballet pedagogy with Paris Opera Ballet Professor Giber Meyer and former ABT Ballet Master Jorgan Schneider and SAB faculty Suki Schorer. She pulls the best elements from different classical ballet teaching methods to apply into her teaching and has received sensational results for 25 years. She has been invited to guest teaching at Joffrey Ballet Academy Summer Program in Chicago, Oleg Briansky Summer School, Beijing Dance Academy, Sarasota Ballet of Florida, Taiwan University of the Arts, Taipei University of the Arts, Cincinnati School for Creative and Performing Arts, Hong Kong, Indonesia and Central Ohio. Her contribution to the arts and to the young dancers has been recognized and appreciated nationally and internationally.
Each year the School of Dance invites a number of internationally recognized guest teachers to teach regular and master classes to our students.
Guest Teachers who have taught at the School of Dance include:
Julie Janus Walters