"For more than 25 years I have watched the dedicated ADT staff grow young students into accomplished dancers and inspired choreographers; and witnessed their visionary artistry transform a city." - Leslie Jane Pessemier, award winning choreographer and Director of the Glenda Brown Choreography Project
KITTY SEALEFOUNDING DIRECTOR, BALLET, (1948-2019) Kitty Seale founded the Alabama Dance Theatre in 1986. Under her teaching and guidance the Alabama Dance Theatre continues to grow and is recognized throughout the region as a positive training ground for dancers. Kitty has been actively involved in dance as teacher, choreographer and director for the past 30 years. Her early study of ballet was with Lucie Stone, Audrey Gryder, Duane Dishion and George Verdak. More recently, she completed the fourth year of the Russian syllabus under Jurgen Schneider and Janina Cunova. Mrs. Seale has choreographed numerous works for her own and other companies in the state and region. She was selected to attend the 1980 National Craft of Choreography Conference under Ron Cunningham and the 1988 conference under Leslie Jane Pessemier. Her students have received national recognition and scholarship and have gone on to perform with nationally recognized professional groups. Kitty is a life member of The National Registry of Who’s Who. A Montgomery native and graduate of Lanier High School and Sweet Briar College, Kitty was elected to the Lanier Hall of Fame in 1997, and is a 2013 Alabama Governor's Arts Award Recipient.
KATE SEALE SMITHARTISTIC DIRECTOR, PUBLIC RELATIONS, PRE-BALLET, BALLET, Ballet teacher and 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.
SARA SANFORD ASSISTANT TO THE DIRECTOR, RESIDENT CHOREOGRAPHER, WEBSITE MANAGER, 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.
VALARI LAGRONE BALLET MISTRESS, 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.
JANIE ALFORDRESIDENT CHOREOGRAPHER, JAZZ, HIP-HOP, 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.
JENNY LETNERRESIDENT CHOREOGRAPHER, MODERN, 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.
CASEY BAILEYBALLET, 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.
PAMELA SWANDIRECTOR OF DEVELOPMENT, For the past 26 years Pamela Swan has been passionately engaged in full time service in the Montgomery community both professionally and as a volunteer. She graduated from the University of Alabama with a degree in Public Relations and Marketing. Pamela earned a J.D. from Cumberland School of Law and concentrated her legal career in the area of estate planning and probate administration. She has been an advocate for education in Montgomery's private and public schools, serving as past board chair of Holy Cross Episcopal School in the school's infancy and as PTSA president of Baldwin Arts and Academic Magnet, as well as serving on the Loveless Academic Magnet Program's LAMPlighters board. She is actively involved in Christchurch Anglican and various nonprofit organizations in the River Region. She also remains a committed Docent at the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts. Pamela is the wife of Dr. John Swan and mom to two adult children, John and Pamela.
SARAH MCQUEEN CO-WARDROBE MISTRESS, Joined ADT in the summer of 2008. Sarah has sung with the Montgomery Chorale and is currently performing with the Madrigal Voices of Montgomery. She is also a free-lance medical illustrator. She is currently working at Alabama Department of Archives and History. Sarah is married to Bob McQueen and is the proud mother of Amanda and Ashley, former company member of ADT.
EMILY WATERS CARUSOBALLET, Educated and trained in England Mrs Caruso has been an active participant in the cultural life of the communities in which she has lived. Mrs Caruso has directed,taught, and choreographed at all levels and is proud to see former students in dance companies and colleges throughout the United States.Mrs Caruso is privilaged to be spending her "retirement" years with ADT
BETSY SHEDD TAP, Betsy is a native of Fort Worth, Texas where she studied classical ballet and tap. She is a former member of Ballet Concerto, Montgomery Civic Ballet, Montgomery Performing Arts Company and a founding member of Alabama Dance Theatre. Betsy resides in Prattville with her husband Mike Shedd.
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