Darian Aaron has a career in media that spans nearly two decades. As a writer, his byline has appeared in both print and digital formats. He has also worked in radio and television news; most recently as a general assignment reporter for CBS affiliate WRBL in Columbus, Georgia. He first earned widespread attention in 2006 after launching the award-winning blog, “Living Out Loud with Darian”—a blog created to provide a platform for stories impacting LGBTQ communities of color.
Barbi Agricola, founder of Agricola Law, concentrates her practice in the areas of plaintiff’s personal injury law, family law and criminal defense. Barbi was born and raised in Montgomery, where she attended LAMP High School, a nationally-ranked college preparatory school. She completed her undergraduate work at the University of Alabama in Birmingham, where she was accepted into the school’s prestigious University Honors Program, which only accepts fifty students a year. Barbi graduated magna cum laude with University and Departmental honors, earning a major in Political Science and a double minor in Criminal Justice and Philosophy and Law, all within the span of three years.
JANIE ALLEN ALFORD
Mrs. Alford has been with ADT as a dancer, choreographer, and teacher since 1986. She has choreographed numerous award winning works for ADT. Many of her students have successful professional dance careers working regularly in films ,TV, Broadway, and sports dance teams. She is a 2003 recipient of an Artist Fellowship from the Alabama State Council on the Arts. Her works have been selected for Regional Dance America’s Emerging Choreographers and Gala Showcases. She has received Regional Dance America’s 2001 Choreography Connection Award and the 2002 Best Overall Choreography Award at the Panoply Arts Festival. In 2010, she collaborated with Grammy-winning recording artist Beth Nielsen Chapman for “Dances of Faith” which was performed at the prestigious International Ballet Competition. She is a graduate of CCPAC and graduated summa cum laude from Auburn University of Montgomery with a BA in Fine Arts. Mrs. Alford also served as the Public Relations Officer for ADT from 1996 until 2006.
CASEY VAUGHAN BAILEY
Casey is a former ADT company member from 1995-2002. Mrs. Bailey returns after an apprenticeship with Alabama Ballet in 2002 and 4 years of training under the world renowned teacher, Magaly Suarez, in Pompano Beach, FL. Mrs. Bailey has danced leading roles in full length ballets such as Swan Lake, Giselle, La Bayadere, Le Corsaire, Coppelia, Pas De Quatre, La Vivandiere and Paquita, while working with many acclaimed choreographers. She has also performed the Balanchine classics La Source and Stars and Stripes. Mrs. Bailey was a finalist in the regional Youth American Grand Prix in 2004 and had the honor in 2006 of dancing with The Cuban Classical Ballet of Miami. Most recently, she represented the United States in the Senior Division of the International Ballet Competition in Jackson, Mississippi coached by Magaly Suarez.
After dancing with ADT for 15 years Baylee attended the University of Alabama where she majored in Public Relations and Political Science. During college she served on the executive boards for multiple student organizations including her sorority, most notably she served as president of the Student Alumni Association. She became a member of the Order of Omega, Omicron Delta Kappa, and the Carl A. Elliott honors societies, was the recipient of the 2020 NAA Senior Award, 2018 Volunteer of the year award for her work with survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault, and was elected to the 2018 homecoming court.
While earning her degree she interned for Kinnucan’s marketing department, Representative Martha Roby’s office in Washington D.C., Jeff Coleman’s congressional campaign, and the Alabama House of Representatives worked for the University of Alabama’s National Alumni Association and spent a summer studying international communications in Paris. She is currently getting her masters in marketing with a specialization in digital and social media from the University of Alabama where she serves the community as a medical advocate for the Tuscaloosa SAFE Center and was recently elected to the SGA Senate. Baylee says that she will always be thankful for her time in the studio as a child because it taught her early on just how rewarding hard work can be.
Mr. Foye DuBose began his training in his hometown of Montgomery, Alabama, with Ms. Cathy Hess Wright and Ms.Emily Caruso. Mr. DuBose’s advanced studies included scholarships to the University of Alabama - Birmingham, the Hungarian National Ballet School, and a Ford Foundation scholarship to the Pacific Northwest Ballet School under the direction of Ms. Francia Russell. As a professional dancer, Mr. DuBose has performed with both ballet and modern companies, including the Dayton Ballet, Dayton Contemporary Dance Company, Alabama Ballet (under the direction of Mr. Wes Chapman, former ABT Principal Dancer), Southern Danceworks, and Ohio Ballet. His performance credits include both the Classical and Neoclassical repertoire. He has danced leading roles in Swan Lake, Giselle, The Nutcracker, Don Quixote, Romeo & Juliet, Raymonda, and his Balanchine repertoire includes Serenade, Agon, Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux, Allegro Brillante, Symphony in C, and Tarantella Pas de Deux. As a master dance instructor, Mr. DuBose served as Ballet Master of the Alabama Dance Theatre from 2005-2014. In 2014, he was named Artistic Director of the Montgomery Ballet, where he staged his original version of The Nutcracker. As an acclaimed choreographer, his work earned him a 2007 ASCA dance fellowship, as well as having his ballets performed at the RDA/SERBA festivals. Mr. DuBose has also taught, and choreographed, all across the Southeast staging works for the Alabama Ballet, Southern Danceworks, Georgia Youth Ballet, Birmingham Southern College, Alabama Dance Theatre, and Andalusia Ballet. Mr. DuBose is excited to begin his third season with HDA and to be co-directing the new Ballet Boys program, a program that explores men and ballet along with cross-training for athletes.
J RYAN CAROLL
At 19 years old, J Ryan Carroll apprenticed with Laura Alonso's Clasico de la Havana (Havana, Cuba). He went on to dane with Wes Chapman's Alabama Ballet as a company member, American Repertory Ballet dancing soloist and principal roles, Ballet Cocierto de Puerto Rico as a Principal Soloist and Les Ballet Grandiva as a company member (male roles). Some guest artist credits include North West Florida Ballet, Portland Ballet, MObile Ballet, Western Ballet Theater of PR, CoDa21 (San Juan), and Ajkun Ballet Theater (NYC). The Ministry of Culture of Puerto Rico invited him to be the Premier Guest Artist at the 2010 International Dance Festival in San Juan where he dancd the Rose in Fokine's Le Spectre de la Rose, and the Young Man in Roland Petit's Le Jeune Homme et la Mort.
J Ryan has taugh Ballet based on the David Howard method and Hilary Cartwright's Yoga Narada throughout the US, Canada, Europe, South Africa, Puerto Rico, Mexico, and Indonesia. He has been ballet master for Tracie Stanfield's Synthesis Dance Project, and a company teacher for Ajkun Ballet Theater. He has been on Faculty for Broadway Connection and summer programs for American Academy of Ballet, Synthesis Dance Project, Western Ballet Theater of Puerto Rico, Ajkun Ballet Theater, Alabama Dane Theater, Northwest Florida Ballet, Mobile Ballet, Seiskaya Ballet, International Dance Festival (NYC) and Joffrey Ballet (NYC).
In 2007 he was invited to adjudicate for the South African Dance Championships (Durban, SA). While there, he taught Cape Town City Ballet II. In 2015 he received an invitation to guest teach at the Jakarta Intercultural School in Jakarta, Indonesia. While he taught there for the Interscholastic Association of Southeast Asian Schools Dance Exchange. In the summer of 2016, he had the please of adjudicating and teaching in Mazatlan, Mexico at Danza Sinaloa Concurso Internacional. He has adjudicated and taught master classes for Dance Educators of America, Dance Masters of America, World Dance Pageant, Starpower, Platinum National Dance Competition, and World Dance Championships.
Thaddeus Davis was born in Montgomery, Alabama. He is the Co-Artistic Director of Wideman/Davis Dance with Tanya Davis since 2003. Davis earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Butler University in 1993 and his Master of Fine Arts from Hollins University/ADF in 2011. He is currently on faculty as an Assistant Professor at The University of South Carolina. Davis continues to perform, research, choreograph, collaborate and teach. His current research explores the intersections of gender, class, race and technology thru an African American lens. His professional performance experience includes work with the following companies: Donald Byrd/The Group, Dance Theater of Harlem, Complexions Contemporary Ballet, Fugate/Bahiri Ballet NY Dance Galaxy, Indianapolis Ballet, Fukuoka City Ballet, and Atlanta Dance Theater. Davis has received multiple honors and grants for his work including: a 2013 Map Fund Grant, Jerome Robins New Essential Works Grant, University of South Carolina Arts Institute, Interdisciplinary Collaboration: Reading/Dance Collaboration, Cultural Envoy to Portugal, U.S. State Department (2007), Dance Magazine’s “25 to Watch” (2002), New York Times Top ten dance Highlight of the season.
Post-doctoral researcher at the University of Michigan, Life Sciences Institute. Building on her graduate work in biophysical chemistry, She is working with Melanie Ohi, using cryo-electron microscopy to study protein complexes. (Read More)
EMILY DAUBER FLOWERS
Joining the Alabama Dance Theatre's staff as Director of Development and Public Relations is former ADT student and company member Emily Dauber Flowers. "It's an exciting time to be coming back to the Alabama Dance Theatre. Being a serious student at ADT meant I grew up in a nurturing, creative second family. Having the chance to send my daughter to classes now, and to work with this team as we navigate the future is truly exciting!” Coming from Troy University as University Media Development Coordinator, Emily is the former Director of Development at the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts and the former Managing Director of the Cloverdale Playhouse.
After dancing with the Alabama Dance Theatre, Anna attended the University of Utah as a Ballet Major in the School of Dance on scholarship. There she performed classical works such as Balanchine's, Walpurgisnacht, and contemporary works such as Gabrielle Lambs's Springload. She graduated with a BFA in Ballet and a minor in Nutrition. She then danced for one season as a company dancer with American Neoclassical Ballet in Houston, Texas. There she performed works by Erin Boone and Kristy Bilsson. She currently resides in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Ashley McQueen, Founder/Artistic Director of Smashworks Dance, is a New York City-based performer, choreographer, and teaching artist. She holds a BFA in Dance from Webster University and an MFA in Dance from Hollins University. She directs and choreographs for Smashworks Dance, a non-profit dance company advocating for women’s empowerment through performance, and leads their Education Outreach partnership with Girl Scouts of Greater New York. She also performs as a company member with Amanda Selwyn Dance Theatre, and teaches for Notes In Motion Education Outreach. Hailed as “a dancer with the grace of a ballerina, the groundedness of an Isadora acolyte, and the impetuous musicality of someone who dances because she must” (Oberon’s Grove), McQueen has worked with choreographers such as Shawn T. Bible, Paris Wilcox, Amanda Selwyn, Maurya Kerr, Jennifer Medina, Christine Knoblauch-O'Neal, Jennifer Huffman-Olivas, Omar Olivas, James Robey, Uri Sands, and Michael Uthoff; and performed as a company member with ShawnBibleDanceCo, Common Thread Contemporary Dance, and Arova Contemporary Ballet.
Her choreography has been commissioned by organizations such as Peridance Youth Ensemble, Hamilton College, Minnesota Ballet, Big Muddy Dance Company, Arova Contemporary Ballet, Alabama Dance Theatre, and Southern Danceworks; and presented at festivals such as Dance St. Louis Spring to Dance, Midwest RADFest, NYC Transit Museum, Westfest: All Over Westbeth, and American College Dance Festival. She was twice invited by ANNONYArts to independently choreograph and direct two evening length concerts and was named a Kranzberg Exhibition Series Guest Artist, where she choreographed Laune, a site-specific dance performance on rideable lawn mowers for Laumeier Sculpture Park. The work culminated in a film installation, Harmony in 3, by Zlatko Cosic that remained on exhibition through February 2016. For four years, she and co-collaborator Thom Dancy have choreographed for Lake Arts Project Milwaukee, including War Words Dance - in partnership with Feast of Crispian and Bright Hill Press (with generous support from the National Endowment for the Arts).
“Smashworks . . . what a perfect name for these powerful sisters. McQueen’s company is tightly precise and fearless” (Front Row Center). Smashworks Dance was named a Village Voice “Voice Choices" for their evening length performance of City Stories at Center for Performance Research, and their evening length political satire For Which It Stands - featured in Time Out NY and Brokelyn’s “Top 20 Cheap Things To Do” - toured to St. Louis in Fall 2018. This same year, Smashworks was invited as a local community group to hear Michelle Obama speak on her Becoming tour at the Barclays Center. They were awarded the Theaterlab Hotel New Work residency in collaboration with Hope Salas and Justin Cimino (where they spent 40 hours exploring the fusion of dance and clown). Smashworks most recently partnered with Rebel Girls Productions to write movement activities for their most recent chapter book, “Alicia Alonso Takes The Stage,” published worldwide August 2020.
ANNE CAROLINE THOMPSON HILL
Anne Caroline (Thompson) Hill began her ballet training at the age of five under the direction of Kitty Seale and Haynes Owens at Alabama Dance Theater. She also trained with Nicholas Ade, Shawn Black, Deidre Carberry, Wes Chapman, Alan Hineline, and Darla Hoover, and received additional training with full merit scholarships at Joffrey Ballet School, Atlanta Ballet and Houston Ballet. In 2011, Anne Caroline continued her dance career with Alabama Ballet where she enjoyed performing roles including Coffee in George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker, Generosity Fairy in The Sleeping Beauty, soloist roles in Paquita, and Hot Chocolate Lead in George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker. Anne Caroline transitioned her artistic career to calligraphy in 2014, and started Blanc et Vert Calligraphy and Design. Since then, she has worked to create a business that combines her calligraphy and graphic design with the artistry and beauty she learned from her years of dancing.
Sarah currently works for Oracle as a sales manager in the cloud applications space. After ADT, she went on to Wellesley College in Massachusetts and graduated in 2015. Sarah has continued dancing through student-led dance organizations in college and now performs with Latin dance groups in the Boston area.
Meredith Huddleston was born and raised in Montgomery, Alabama, and began dancing at the age of three like most little girls. She became serious about dance when she began to train with Emily Caruso and Gary Moore while performing with the Montgomery Civic Ballet. Meredith also performed with the Alabama Dance Theatre under the direction of Kitty Seale and Ballet Master, Haynes Owens.
Meredith received her BA in Ballet Pedagogy and Performance from Brenau University where she performed with the Gainesville Ballet under the direction of Diane Callahan and began her teaching career with Miss Diane at the Gainesville School of Ballet. Aer dancing and teaching for the Gainesville Ballet and Gainesville School of Ballet, Meredith returned to Montgomery to serve as the Director of Dance at Carver Elementary Magnet Arts and as the Modern Dance Director at Carver Crea ve and Performing Arts Center.
She then went on to pursue a lifelong dream of moving to New York City to pursue her dance career. Meredith graduated with a Master’s of Fine Arts degree from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts where she was a scholarship student. Over the last 2 5 years, Meredith has taught in Atlanta, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Beverly Hills. As a native of Montgomery, Meredith is thrilled to be back in Montgomery. She served as the Co-Director of the Dance Department at Booker T. Washington Magnet Arts High School for four years and is currently the Director of the Dance Department at Baldwin Arts and Academics Magnet School. She is the proud mother of Jack, Cole, and Beau Gillet.
She is a native of Montgomery, Alabama began her dance training at Baldwin Arts Magnet School in the 6th grade. She spent her high school years studying at Alabama Dance Theatre. After graduating high school she moved to Charlotte, North Carolina to join Charlotte Ballet II. Throughout her high school years Jordan trained with the Nederlands Dans Theater, Boston Ballet, Houston Ballet, Charlotte Ballet, Portland Festival Ballet and Alabama Ballet on full scholarships. She has worked with choreographers including Desmond Richardson, Dwight Rhoden, Sol Leon, Patricia McBride, Mark Diamond, Maurya Kerr, Gioconda Barbuto, Carmen Rozenstraten, Juan Rodriguez and Gregory Dawson. Jordan graduated from the LINES Ballet Training Program in 2018. After graduating the program, she became a company member of Dawson Dance SF for two years. Taylor recently moved to New York to train with Complexions Contemporary Ballet for their 2019/2020 winter season.
She began formal dance training in West Nyack, NY with Jean and Marc Platt (an original member of the Ballet Russes de Monte Carlo and director of the Radio City Music Hall Ballet). After moving with her family to Montgomery in 1972 , she continued training with Audrey Gryder, Duane Dishion, George Verdak, Kitty Seale, and Haynes Owens. Ms. Lagrone was one of Alabama Dance Theatre's (ADT) origninal dancers, founded in 1986 by Artisitc Director Kitty Seale. In the early years of the company Seale and Lagrone studied the Russian Syllabus together under Jurgen Schneider and Janina Cunova. Ms. Lagrone danced with ADT from 1986-1997 and again from 2001-2003, first as principal dancer then as professional dancer. During her career with ADT Ms. Lagrone was fortunate to work with many respected classical and contemporary icons of the dance world, some of which include Sonia Arova, Larissa Sklyanskaya, Marianna Tcherkassky, Francesca Corkle, Magda Aunon, Magaly Suarez, Ron Cunningham, Earle Sieveling, Alan Hineline, and Leslie Jane Pessemier. Ms. Lagrone spent one season as an apprentice with Indianapolis Ballet Theatre (IN). One of the highlights of Ms. Lagrone's career was the opportunity to work with the coaches of American Ballet Theatre (ABT) in NYC, then perform the role of Giselle (Act II) with ABT principal dancer Wes Chapman in ADT's 1996 annual spring concert. Other highlights include guest performances as Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker with Springfield Ballet (MO) and Evansville Ballet Theatre (IN). Favorite roles at ADT include lead female dancer in the classical ballets Swan Lake, Les Sylphides, Cinderella, Paquita, La Bayadere, Giselle, as well as numerous modern and contemporary works. Ms. Lagrone has also enjoyed performing in community theatre productions, particularly musical theatre. She has been in productions of Stop the World I Want to Get Off, Can Can, Carousel (Louise Bigelow), Company (Kathy), The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (Linda Lou), and The Sound of Music (Liesl). In 1989 Ms. Lagrone was invited to join the factulty of Baldwin Arts & Academics Magnet School. With her mentor, Emily Caruso, she developed and implemented a nationally recognized dance program there, where she served as co-director, then director for 24 years. A number of her students have gone on to professional careers in the field of dance including professional dancers, physical therapy for dancers, nutrition for athletes, dance studio owners, choreographers, and one is the artistic director of her own dance company in NYC. Ms. Lagrone is also on the dance staff of the Alabama Institute for Education in the Arts (Randy Foster, Executive Director), whose mission is providing comprehensive arts education to the teachers of Alabama. Honors and awards include Best Overall Choreography (Panopoly, 1989), Golden Apple Award (WAKA News, 2017), and Who's Who Among America's Teachers (2002, 2004, 2005). Ms. Lagrone is most proud of the longtime work and special friendship she shared with "Miss Kitty" and the fellowship she continues to share with the dancers and colleagues who have been part of that journey.
JENNY PLUNKETT LETNER
Jenny is currently the head of the Dance Department at Trinity Presbyterian High School and the Modern Dance Instructor with the Alabama Dance Theatre. Jenny has been with ADT as a dancer, choreographer and teacher since 1989. She is a 3-time recipient overall winner with the Panoply Choreography Competition and a 3-time recipient of the RDA Monticello Award for her award winning choreography. Jenny is a 1992 NFFA Award winner in Modern Dance and a 1999 recipient of an Artist Fellowship from the Alabama State Council on the Arts.
My love for the arts began with ballet. Growing up, it was nearly impossible for me not to dance any time music could be heard. All the while, I loved creating visual works of art with my hands. I found expressing myself through these mediums more natural than expressing myself through words. I received a dance scholarship to the Savannah College of Art and Design. While there, I decided to pursue a Bachelor of Fine Arts in painting.
After graduating, fate brought me to the doorstep of simply put Paper & Gift in Atlanta, Georgia. The founder and owner, Ashley Woodman, saw and believed in my talents as a fine artist. She guided my attention to hand-lettering, illustration, and graphic design. After an unbelievably educational four years, I moved to Nashville and was hired as a graphic designer at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.
After four years, I continue to stay passionate about the work I create at the Museum. In addition to this work, I am constantly pursuing new artistic adventures. Some goals include creating typefaces, illustrating children’s books, designing book covers for international book publishers, painting large scale murals, and continuing my journey as a fine artist!
I'm a nurse at the Duke Birthing Center. I got my BSN at Duke Nursing school. My previous degree was a B.S. in Neuroscience. I am pursuing a career in health care so that I can bring wellness and holistic care to communities and populations that currently lack access to such care. While I was in nursing school I worked as a certified yoga teacher at Community Power Yoga in Durham. I'm currently pursuing my MSN for Women's Health Nurse Practitioner and Midwife at Georgetown University. I hope to integrate my knowledge of yoga, nursing, and holistic care and share it with those who need it.
ELIZABETH BETSY DRUARY MCMILLAN
Elizabeth “Betsy”, began her ballet training with the Alabama Dance Theater in Montgomery. At the age of thirteen, she was accepted into Houston Ballet Academy in the pre-professional division and Houston’s High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. McMillan was promoted to the professional division of Houston Ballet Academy and placed on a full merit scholarship while performing with the Houston Ballet. Her other training includes Joffrey Ballet NY and USA International Ballet Competition School. In 2000, she joined Ballet Magnificat! touring nationally and internationally with the company, performing in Greece, Singapore, Costa Rica, and the Czech Republic in addition to the USA International Ballet Competition Gala in Jackson, MS and most major cities across the United States. She has served on the faculty of Houston Ballet Academy, the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, Belhaven University, Ad Deum Dance Company, Point Park University’s International Summer Dance Program and as Ballet Mistress for Houston Metropolitan Dance Company. She has been guest faculty for Ballet Academy East, Ballet Midwest, Met Dance, Yale Ballet, Ballet School of Stamford and Belhaven University. She staged Paquita for Alabama Dance Theater and was Assistant Repetiture to former American Ballet Theater Principal Dancer, Shawn Black for the re-staging of Giselle Act 1 and La Bayadere Kingdom of the Shades. McMillan served as Shoreline Principal with New Haven Ballet for three years and was named Assistant Choreographer for New Haven Ballet’s 2012 production of The Nutcracker. She Co-Choreographed an original production of Cinderella and has choreographed original works for New Haven Ballet Company, Belhaven University and The Hartt School. She joined the faculty of The Hartt School in the Fall of 2014 and served on the Board of Directors of the Connecticut Dance Alliance.
McMillan is an ABT® Certified Teacher, who has successfully completed the ABT® Teacher Training Intensive in Primary through Level 3 of the ABT® National Training Curriculum. She received her certification in September 2012. She is the Founder and Artistic Director of Ballet Hartford and School of Ballet Hartford.
Currently she is a full time Academy Instructor for Houston Ballet.
LAURA KATHERINE HUNT
Originally from Alabama, Laura began her ballet training at The Montgomery Ballet at the age of 2. She then transitioned to the Alabama Dance Theatre and joined their student company to perform such roles as “Kitri” in Don Quixote, “Tinker Bell” and “Wendy” in Peter Pan, and “Clara” in The Nutcracker. She also trained at The Joffrey Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, The School of American Ballet, and Ballet Academy East. At the age of 16, Laura moved to New York City to further her training at Ballet Academy East under the incredible instruction of Darla Hoover. One year later she was offered a position at Kansas City Ballet where she performed for 8 years. Her favorite performances with the company include the title roles of “Cinderella”, “Alice” and the “Sugar Plum Fairy”. Her repertoire also includes works by George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins, Septime Weber, Edward Liang, Val Caniparoli, Twyla Tharp, and Agnes de Mille. Laura has many years of teaching dancers throughout Greater Kansas City.
Photo Credit: Philip Koenig Photography
Savanna Moore began her training with Alabama Dance Theatre at the age of six. During her career with the company, she originated roles in Cinderella, Dracula, and The Little Mermaid choreographed by Sara Sanford. Under the direction of Kitty Seale, Savanna earned scholarships to seminars with GloATL and Alabama Ballet. After graduating in 2011, she joined Alabama Ballet. Directed by Tracey Alvey and Roger VanFleteren, she toured and performed ballets such as Balanchine’s Nutcracker in the professional company. She then attended Troy University where she trained under Eli Lazar and performed in original ballets by Lazar and Sanford. In 2014, Savanna was invited to perform with Montgomery Ballet under the direction of Foye DuBose. She continued her career in ballet as a teacher with the Alabama Dance Theatre. One of her original pieces was performed in the Emerging Choreographers Showcase at the 2016 Southeast Regional Ballet Association Festival. Savanna is now a professional archaeologist, specializing in North American archaeology.
Founding Member and Collaborator of Aura CuriAtlas Physical Theatre. He is a freelance teacher and performer based in Stamford, Connecticut. He has studied and performed in the U.S. and Europe with Alabama Dance Theatre, FLIC Circus School, Familie Floz, Divaldo Continuo, Accademia dell'Arte, and Red Dot Theatre Company. He directs and performs with Westchester Circus Arts and serves as the head of their summer camps. He teaches acrobatics, contemporary, ballet, hip hop, jazz, and conditioning classes and choreographs group and solo competition dances.
JOY KENNAMER OHME
Joy Ohme has been the co-director of the Booker T. Washington Magnet High School Dance Magnet in Montgomery, Alabama since 1999. In addition to her instructional duties, she serves as the Founding Chapter Sponsor for BTW’s National Honor Society For Dance Arts in association with the National Dance Education Organization. She wrote and received an arts in education grant from the Alabama State Council on the Arts. She is a member of the Alabama Dance Council, and her choreography was presented on The Gala Concert at the 2017 Alabama Dance Festival. She is also a member of the United Nations International Dance Council. As a three year old, she began her training with the Montgomery Ballet under the direction of Gary Moore and Emily Caruso. She is an alumnus of the dance programs at both the Baldwin Arts and Academics Magnet School (under the direction of Valari Lagrone and Emily Caruso) and the Booker T. Washington Magnet High School (under the direction of Cathy Wright and Gary Moore). During her summers, Joy trained with many prestigious companies, such as Atlanta Ballet, the Boston Ballet, and the Joffrey Ballet. She received a scholarship from Southern Methodist University(SMU) and graduated from its Meadows School of the Arts Dance Program in 1998. In addition to her professional work with the Alabama Dance Theatre, she has danced professionally with various regional companies in the southeast and southwest. In 2005 she served on the Montgomery Public Schools’ committee that created the “Best Practices in Arts Education” teaching manual. This document aligned best practices in classroom instructional practice with both the National Arts Standards for Education and the Alabama Course of Study-Arts Education. Joy served as a choreographer for Frazer Memorial United Methodist Church’s Youth Worship Arts Program, under the direction of Debbie Peavy from 2005 until 2010 and still continues to choreograph for Frazer’s Holiday Musicals. Joy considers the highlight of her life to be her family. She has been married to Corey Ohme for 20 years and they have two beautiful daughters Camilla and Caroline who are company members with the Alabama Dance Theatre.
I have been teaching classical dance (ballet) for twelve years (eight of those years have been with the Montgomery Public School System). I have also taught creative movement, ballet, modern, Horton, Graham, Limon, jazz, contemporary, and liturgical dance lessons. I have been named as Who’s Who in the Nation (from Montgomery, AL) 2004 Publication for Dance during my high school years; and written two Arts Grants for Carver Elementary and Arts Magnet School that both have been selected and awarded from many submissions statewide.
A junior at Savannah College of Art and Design in Savannah, GA. She is studying Painting with the goal of becoming a creative consultant or creative director. Maya is interested in many different forms of art, that she study’s on her own time outside of her painting classes. She has done work for SCAD student films as a dancer, choreographer, and set decorator, and hopes to start making her own films soon She also has collaborated with others on photography projects and has performed at a SCAD dance show. Maya danced with ADT from age five to age eighteen, performed in numerous roles, and choreographed a few pieces. She also taught a few classes at ADT and other places around Savannah. Maya will continue to use dance as a part of her work as she continues into the artistic field. Her goal is to work with as many others as she can on collaborative projects and make her own artistic footprint on the world.
I started dancing at ADT when I was ten. In 2013, I joined the company as an apprentice. In 2015, I was awarded a scholarship to Metropolitan Ballet Theatre but was unable to attend. In the fall of that year, I made a senior company. In the summer of 2017, I was given a partial scholarship and attended Cincinnati Ballet’s summer intensive. It was an incredible learning curve in my dance career. In my time as a senior company member, I was given the opportunity to perform many dream roles including Clara in the Nutcracker, Tinkerbell in Peter Pan, Swanhilda in Coppelia, Lucy in Dracula, Beauty in Beauty and the Beast, Giselle, Sugarplum Fairy, and Dewdrop in The Nutcracker, and the title role in Little Mermaid. The summer before my senior year of high school I badly injured my ankle. I was unsure if I would be able to perform that year but thankfully with lots of help from physical therapists and my doctor, I was able to revise my role as Lucy in Dracula. I was also given the honor of performing I’ll Be Home for Christmas- a piece I have loved since joining ADT at age 10. In November of 2018, I had my first ankle surgery and was unable to perform again my senior year. In my first summer as an ADT alum, I had my second ankle surgery and choreographed my first piece, “Rook”, for the 2019 Stars on the Riverfront performance. In August 2019, I started my freshman year of college at The University of Alabama in Huntsville where I am majoring in kinesiology and minoring in nutrition. Since retiring from dance I have gotten to come back to ADT during my school holidays and teach the occasional class, which is always such a joy. As for my future, after graduating from college, I hope to enter into the medical field as either a surgeon or an anesthesiologist.
Sophia is a London based actor, dancer, and movement director who hails from Alabama.
Sophia trained as a classical ballet dancer with the Alabama Dance Theatre, where she then danced as a member of the corps de ballet for 4 years. Performance repertoire included Fokin and Petipa's original choreography of Les Sylphides, Swan Lake, and Paquita...as well as new productions of Cinderella, Peter Pan, A Christmas Carol, and contemporary works set by resident and guest choreographers. In 2008, she was accepted to and attended the Joffrey Ballet School Summer Program in NYC and in 2009 performed in dance festivals and competitions around the southeast, including SERBA, and was a placing finalist in the Dance Division of the Alabama ACES competition.
From 2009-2011 she studied on the B.A. Musical Theatre course at Faulkner University (USA) before heading to the University of Montevallo (USA) where she graduated Magna Cum Laude in 2015 with a B.A. in Music. She has studied acting and stage combat at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival since 2009 and in 2016 she graduated from the Michael Howard Studios Summer Acting Conservatory in NYC.
In 2018 she graduated from the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama with an M.A. in Music Theatre. Sophia's professional stage debut was as Mary Tudor in the Robert Richmond adaptation of Shakespeare's Henry VIII at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival (originally produced at the Folger Theatre in Washington DC). Since then, her professional acting repertoire has included film, physical comedy, musical theatre, and historical and classical drama.
Sara Sanford began her dance training under Don Steffy, former Artistic Director of the Montgomery Ballet. In 1998 she joined the Alabama Dance Theatre as a company member under the direction of Kitty Seale and Haynes Owens. In 2001 she received a Dance Magazine full scholarship to attend the Craft of Choreography Conference as a dancer. Through several summer seminars with the Alabama Dance Theatre she began her choreography training under Leslie Jane Pessemier. Numerous works have appeared at the Southeastern Regional Ballet Association Festival over the years and in 2007 her piece C’est La Vie was selected to be performed at the Regional Dance America’s National Festival in Pittsburgh. As a choreographer she has attended the Craft of Choreography Conference in Seattle, WA and Winston-Salem, NC. She also has attended the Glenda Brown Choreography Project in Kansas City, MO numerous times. Additionally, she is a Fellowship recipient of the Alabama State Council on the Arts. In 2012 her piece Way of Grace was performed at the Regional Dance Festival in Montreal. In 2017 her piece "are we human?" was performed at the National Festival in Phoenix, Arizona. Recently, she has set new works on Mississippi Metropolitan Ballet and Atlanta Dance Theatre. In addition to her contemporary and classical works she has a growing repertoire of full length ballets such as Peter Pan, A Christmas Carol, Cinderella, Dracula, The Little Mermaid, and Beauty & the Beast. She is also most recently a 2020 Fellowship Recipient of the Alabama State Council on the Arts.
WENDY WHITE SASSER
Wendy White Sasser was raised in Montgomery, Alabama, where she trained with the Alabama Dance Theatre. She was named a Presidential Scholar in the Arts and went on to continue her studies as a fellowship student at The Ailey School. While at Ailey, Wendy was chosen to participate in two videos documenting the Lester Horton technique. She was a member of Ailey 2, Donald Byrd/The Group, Complexions Contemporary Ballet and the Alvin AIley American Dance Theater. Wendy’s pictures have appeared on the pages of Dance Magazine, Vanity Fair, the New York Times and New York Times Magazine as well as the covers of Where NY and Where Philadelphia magazines. Photographs of Wendy were also chosen for Ailey Ascending, A Portrait in Motion, and Ailey Spirit, both books celebrating the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. In 2004, she was featured on a US postage stamp honoring Alvin Ailey as one of four choreographers selected by the US Postal Service to be spotlighted in their American Choreographers series. She has taught company classes for Complexions Contemporary Ballet (CCB), CCB intensives and at the Joffrey Ballet School as well as guesting with the French Academie of Ballet, the Gelsey Kirkland Academy, Broadway Dance Center, Central Ohio Youth Ballet and the Alabama Dance Theatre. Wendy is on faculty at Long Island University’s Brooklyn Campus as a Professor of Ballet.
LIZA CARDINAL SIMPLER
A native of Montgomery, AL, Liza Cardinal Simpler trained at the Alabama Dance Theatre from the age of three and was a company member from 2001-2008. She studied dance at the University of South Carolina and was a member of the USC Dance Company. She also worked as an adjudicator and student dance teacher in the Richland County School system in Columbia, South Carolina. She interned with Ballet Hispanico in New York City and the American Dance Festival in Durham, North Carolina before earning her degree in Dance Education. After graduating, Liza worked for the New Orleans Ballet Association as a teaching artist. In the summer of 2014 she returned to Montgomery and continues to work as a Dance Educator in the Montgomery Public School system with the Alabama Institute for Education in the Arts.
KATE SEALE SMITH
She is now the Artistic Director of The Alabama Dance Theatre. She teachers ballet and is a former professional dancer, Kate also does the program layout and ad sales for ADT. Kate joined ADT as a dancer in 1987. Since the age of 12, she spent the summers studying at the Joffrey Ballet and Boston Ballet schools on full scholarship. She attended Russian syllabus seminars in Houston and Tampa, as well as the National Choreography Conference. She attended the first American Ballet Theatre Intensive in NYC. She was a Dance major at University of Alabama from 1994-97 and the first Alabama Ballet apprentice, 1996-98. She has attended teaching seminars for two summers at Ballet Academy East in NYC. Her dance credits include Odette in Swan Lake, Aurora in Sleeping Beauty, Arabian princess in the Nutcracker, Cinderella title role and Swanhilda in Coppellia. She has danced in Balanchines' La Sources (lead), Stars and Stripes (lead), Valse Fantasie and Serenade, Dwight Roden's Set, Rise, Fall, and Asaf Messerrer'sSpring Waters. Coaches include Dame Sonia Arova, Magaly Suarez, Wes Chapman, Roger Van Fleteran, Alan Hineline, Darla Hoover, Sabra Perry, Haynes Owens, Foye Dubose, Sara Sanford, and Valari Lagrone. Kate is the proud mother of Bennett, Chapman, Turner, and Brooke.
Jaclyn Speights started dancing at the Armory at age five and was a company member with Alabama Dance Theatre 1995-2003. She holds a B.A. in Dance from the University of Alabama and earned her M.A. in Dance from Florida State University. In 2008 she interned at the Harkness Center for Dance Injuries in New York City. Since then, she has taught dance for the Caledonia Public Schools in Mississippi, Arkansas Festival Ballet, Jacksonville Dance Company, North Pulaski High School, and Yokota Dance Company in Japan, where she was also a director. For the past two years, she has been living in Vilseck, Germany, teaching with the SKIES dance program and, recently, completed the second year of the Laban/Bartenieff Movement Studies training in Berlin.
Ashlyn Carter is a conversion copywriter and marketing strategist specializing in wedding & creative industries. She traded Fortune 500 clients in corporate marketing to bring in more than seven-figures in her business writing for creatives like Jenna Kutcher, Beth Kirby of Local Milk, Julie Solomon, Katelyn James, Hilary Rushford, Lara Casey/Cultivate What Matters, and more. Her launch funnels have generated results for clients including upwards of $1M in revenue in a single week. She's been a contributing educator with Creative Live, ConvertKit, and HoneyBook, and have been featured in Forbes, Southern Living, Style Me Pretty, and more. Ashlyn lives in Atlanta and convinces her husband (and baby boy) to go with her to grab margs and tacos weekly. (More Information)
AMY SCHEUER SURASKY
My name is Amy Scheuer Surasky and I graduated from Montgomery Academy in 1994. That was also my last year performing with Alabama Dance Theater. Throughout my years with ADT I danced roles ranging from Reindeer, Baby doll, Red riding hood, Little Bo-peep, Sugar Plum Fairy, and Mouse for Mistletoe, as well as Cinderella in the first Cinderella Act 1 ADT performed. I have fond memories of Greensleeves, My Three Ships, Little Drummer Boy, Handel's Messiah, Scheherezade, Paquita, Four Swans in Swan Lake, many SERBA conventions, and all other performances around Montgomery. After graduation, I attended The University of Georgia from 1994-1997 studying Child and Family Development. I married Aaron Surasky in 1998. I continued my education at Georgia State University and graduated with a Masters in School Counseling in 1999. I interned at The Lovett School in Atlanta and worked for Forsyth County as an Elementary School Counselor. I have 3 children Ben (19), Sara (17), and Rachel (15). We have three rescue dogs as well. I decided to stay at home raising these children while volunteering in various positions at their schools and on different non-profit boards. I currently still volunteer at their high school as well as am on the board of the dance studio my girls attend. My daughters dance with Roswell Dance Theater in Roswell GA and I have performed for them as a party parent in Nutcracker for 12 years. My career interest evolved over the last 6 years as I became a gym member at Iron Tribe Fitness. I currently am a part-time coach for the gym and received my Level 1 certification in Olympic Weight Lifting through USAW.
He has appeared on Broadway: Kinky Boots. National Tours: Mamma Mia! (Sky), Dreamgirls, JC Superstar. Off-Broadway: For Lovers Only. Regional: The Fantasticks (Matt) Arena Stage, Thunder Knocking... (Jaguar) Cincinnati Playhouse, The Colored Museum (Junie) Crossroads Theater. Alabama State University. For Skye, Summer, Seven, and Barry!
YOLANDA HUBBERT ZINK
As a child and young adult, Dr. Yolonda Zink suffered from frequent asthma attacks that required daily medication and caused several trips to the hospital. Tired of the years of medication, she began exploring natural health care options that could allow her to experience better health. It was through chiropractic care that Yolonda was finally able to live a life free of medication and without fear.
Dr. Yolonda’s educational background consisted of undergraduate studies at New York University with a B.A. obtained from Birmingham-Southern College. After completing her Doctorate of Chiropractic at Life University in Atlanta, GA, she met and married Dr. Tom Zink.