Dance Teacher Retreat - Grand Jeté


This year, K-12 dance teachers are invited to the Governor's
School campus for a FREE Teacher Retreat featuring clinicians Alisa Caldwell (SCGSAH Faculty), Elisabeth Boyle (SCGSAH Faculty), Stephen Pier (The Hartt School at University of Hartford), Amanda Ling (Columbia College), and Michael Blake (University of Missouri - Kansas City). Workshop sessions will cover relevant pedagogy for teaching young dancers and provide opportunities for dance educators to practice their art form.

All workshop materials, meals, and hotel accommodations are included for free with registration. Professional development credit certificates are also provided.

The Office of Outreach is excited to partner with the Dance Department during South Carolina's premier student ballet competition, Grand Jeté.

Workshop Sessions

African Dance

This enrichment course provides an opportunity to experience, and learn about traditional and neo-traditional West African dance through cultural exploration. 

This is an Intermediate-level workshop designed to give students basic knowledge and cultural awareness of movement forms that have their origins in the African Diaspora. The session will cover West African and cross-cultural African dance styles, rituals, traditions.

Music for Dancers- Translating Musicality to Space, Time, Shape, and Force

This workshop is for exploring the key elements of music to help achieve musicality in the dance studio. The objective is to provide an overview of the fundamentals of music and how they relate to dance. 

This workshop will emphasize the necessity of musicality in dance and relate core musical elements showing how to instill dance musicality- how dancers hear, interpret and dance to music. General Music Theory, various classical dance forms, musical examples and material or demonstrations will be provided. 

Teaching the Art of Ballet

Stephen Pier’s experiences as a performer, coach, teacher, choreographer, and director with companies such as the Royal Danish Ballet, Hamburg Ballet , José Limón Company and the Juilliard School provide a rich resource for the investigation of teaching ballet that transcends stylistic conventions and native limitations. This workshop will focus on the art and science of teaching classical ballet, its application to developing all forms of theatrical human movement potential, and the breaking down of various technical and performance challenges into manageable subsets. There will be ample time for questions and problem solving so participants can gain insight into the many challenges we face as teachers and the many creative solutions to them.

An outline of subjects to be covered includes:

  • Creating a cohesive class structure
  • Progressions and themes
  • Keeping your “big picture” in mind
  • Relationship between stage, rehearsal, and class
  • The importance of culture
  • The “inner game” 
Teaching the 21st Century Student

From Clinician, Michael Blake:

"I am a 64-year-old dance teacher. I'm that teacher who struggles daily to learn how to reach my students. Somehow, I don't think I'm alone. I have tried every old-school effort to reach my young students with limited results. I have learned that I must grow and learn as quickly as my students.  

In 2001, I wrote an essay chronicling my frustration and concern about not being able to reach my young students in the same ways I once had. I would like to openly discuss with 21st-century dance teachers their concerns and struggles with getting through to our young students in ways that will benefit them and the hard-working educators who teach them."

Creating Equitable Dance Landscapes

This session will include collaborative discourse on strategies for creating equitable dance experiences and spaces in studios and schools. Through a series of facilitated conversations and reflection activities the group will unpack ideas for providing equitable dance experiences, creating unbiased curriculums, and fostering safe spaces for dance students. 

For more information about Grand Jeté, click here.

**This event will follow state and local health recommendations for the mitigation of COVID-19.


This workshop is FREE to K-12 dance teachers who work in South Carolina public schools. Professional development credit certificates are also provided. 

Registration is limited to 10 participants.


March 25-26, 2023

Tentative Schedule:

March 25th
11:00 AM: Lunch (provided)
11:30 AM to 4:30 PM: Workshops
4:30 PM: Grand Jeté Competition Observation
6:30 PM: Dinner (provided)

March 26th
8 AM - 12 PM: Workshops
12:30 PM: Lunch (provided)


SC Governor's School for the Arts and Humanities
15 University St.
Greenville, SC 29601

How to Register

This Teacher Retreat has come to and end.


Alisa Caldwell

Over the last 25 years, Alisa Caldwell has created and perfected an amazing blend of African dance, contemporary movements, and creative choreography, performed to the captivating power of drum rhythms. This technique exercises both mind and body, and also feeds the spirit. She has a strong personal and professional desire to share the beauty, culture, and passion of West African dance. In 1988, Alisa began her primary dance training at the Imani School of Dance in Greenville, South Carolina, where she eventually began instructing and choreographing creative and traditional African dance routines.

Through her extensive experience in African, Creative, and Liturgical dance, she is now a much sought-after teacher, performer, and choreographer. More about Alisa Caldwell.

Elisabeth Boyle

Elisabeth Boyle is a private piano instructor and musician with 20 plus years of experience. She has worked in schools dedicated to a strong emphasis on the arts, and loves being a part of learning environments which strongly promote the arts. Her goal as a musician and instructor is to help students achieve a life-long love of music and appreciation for excellence in the arts.  More about Elisabeth Boyle.

Stephen Pier

Stephen Pier has performed throughout the world with the Royal Danish Ballet, the Hamburg Ballet, the José Limón Company and as a guest artist. His repertoire spans a vast range of styles and traditions including the works of Petipa, Bournonville, Balanchine, Cranko, Kylian, Limón, and Neumeier creating roles with some of the most influential choreographers of the day. Critically acclaimed by the press as, “a dancer of tremendous taste and insight.”, “highly defined, a tour de force”, “one of the most gifted dancers on the modern dance scene today.” Mr Pier went on to become internationally respected as a teacher and coach. He taught for the Royal Danish Ballet company and school while serving as ballet master from 1990 -1996. He served on the full-time faculty of the Juilliard School from 1996-2010, Alvin Ailey School, Martha Graham Center for Contemporary Dance, Regional Dance America, and the New York International Ballet Competition. He is a trusted guest master teacher for notable companies in Europe, America and Asia including Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Company Wayne MacGregor, Dance Theater of Harlem, Atlanta Ballet, Philadanco, Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet, Introdans, Scapino Ballet, and New National Theater Tokyo. His students have danced in companies around the world including, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, The Royal Ballet, Royal Danish Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, Forsythe Company, Netherlands Dance Theater, Martha Graham Company, Paul Taylor, Lar Lubovitch, José Limón Dance Co., Mark Morris Dance Group, Doug Varone and Dancers, Cullberg Ballet, Cedar Lake Ensemble, Bat Sheva and numerous Broadway productions.

In 2004 Mr. Pier began PierGroupDance to explore and collaborate with dancers and artists in various art forms. He has created over 75 works for the concert stage, opera, theater, and film. His work has been presented by The Hamburg Ballet (Ger.); Royal Danish Ballet, Theater, and Opera; Bat Dor (Israel); The New National Theater (Japan); the Juilliard Dance Ensemble; The Di Capo Opera Company (NYC); and the Dance on Film Festival at Lincoln Center. In 1998 he was selected to be part of The Jacob’s Pillow Choreographers Project. He co-founded and directed the choreographer’s workshop, “Danses”, at the Royal Danish Ballet 1990-1996. 

Stephen was the Artistic Director of Juilliard’s innovative Mentoring Program from 2007 - 2010 and in 2008 he began a 3-year tenure as director of Visions and Voices: Altria/ABT Women’s Choreography Project at American Ballet Theater. He has also served on the board or as a consultant for the National Association of Schools of Dance, International Association of Blacks in Dance, New Dialect, Ballet Hartford, and others. Mr Pier was recruited for the position of Artistic Director of the Dance Division at The Hartt School, University of Hartford in 2009 elevating the program as a pre-eminent conservatory of Dance in the United States.  More about Stephen Pier.

Michael Blake

Michael Blake holds an MFA in dance from Purchase College and a 2010 Bessie Award for Dance and Performance for his work with PARADIGM Dance. He began his dance career in the Murray Louis Dance Company, where he danced from 1982 to 1984. In 1985, Michael moved to Osaka, Japan, to become the manager of Studio Dancin'. In 1986 he joined the Jose Limon Dance Company, dancing in principal roles until 1991. Michael danced with Donald Byrd/The Group from 1991 to 1998. He has also danced with Wylliams/Henry Contemporary Dance Company, PARADIGM Dance, Joyce Trisler Danscompany, Shapiro and Smith, and Netta Yerushalmy. He has appeared on stage in Vinnette Carroll's, What You Gonna Name That Pretty Little Baby? Choreographed by Talley Beatty. He has performed at the Supper Club, NYC, in a national tour of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and the Public Theater's rock musical, Lenny and the Heartbreakers. He has toured with Cab Calloway in Cab Calloway's Cotton Club Review. He has appeared in the films The Tales of Cri Cri (Murray Louis/Alwin Nikolais), Unsettled Dreams (Donald Byrd), and the documentary Hanya Holm (Portrait of a Dance Pioneer). He has taught numerous workshops both nationally and internationally. He was the Artistic Director of the Jazz and Contemporary Trainee Program at the Joffrey Ballet School from 2011 to 2017. In 2018, he presented a TedTalk entitled Life is a Dance about the joy of dance over 50. He is currently featured in the HBO Max Documentary, UPROOTED – The Journey of Jazz Dance. Michael is an Assistant Professor of Modern Dance at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and a proud Actor's Equity Association member.  More about Michael Blake.

Amanda Ling

Amanda Ling is a South Carolina dance artist and educator striving to create accessible movement experiences in the community. She is the Dance Program Chair and an Assistant Dance Professor at Columbia College. She is a choreographer and the
Associate Director of The Power Company Collaborative. Her specialties lie within contemporary dance practice, improvisational methods, choreography, leadership, and feminism. Amanda curated the Columbia Dance & Improvisation Festival from 2014 to 2018 and has taught dance at Coker University and Winthrop University. She produced and performed in the Power Company Collaborative’s public art installation entitled Singing Wall for the 2019 Prague Quadrennial Formations exhibition in the Czech Republic. Amanda has performed in installations with Eileen Stanley, Moving Body
Dance Company, Sapphire Moon Dance Company, Jerome Meadows Blank Page Poetry, and with the Warp Trio. Her movement research interweaves dance and ritual with imagery, improvisation, and experimental storytelling. Amanda received an MFA in Dance from Arizona State University and a BFA in Dance Performance and Choreography from Columbia College, SC. More about Amanda Ling.

About the Governor's School's Outreach Programs

As a part of the Governor’s School’s mission to serve as a resource to teachers across the state, the Office of Outreach provides professional learning opportunities to enrich arts education in South Carolina. Learn more.

About the Dance Department

Led by world-renowned instructors, the Dance program (grades 10-12) is based in classical ballet, with the opportunity at junior and senior levels to continue with a classical ballet focus or to choose a modern/contemporary concentration. Both options offer students a systematic and diverse curriculum that is physically demanding and rewarding. They are designed to educate and prepare students for entry into the post-secondary and professional dance world. Learn more.