• Josée Garant

    Josée Garant

    Dance Dance Department Chair

    Ms. Josée Garant has had an active career as a dancer, choreographer, teacher, and administrator.  Born in Canada, Ms. Garant received an MFA in Dance from Hollins University/American Dance Festival, a BFA (honors) degree in Dance from York University in Canada, and graduated from the National Ballet School of Canada Teacher Training Program.

    In 1988, following a successful career as a freelance modern dance performer, Ms. Garant was invited by Cirque du Soleil to train in Montreal under internationally renowned artistic director Franco Dragone for the project Eclipse.  Ms. Garant trained in the art of the bouffon,  the trapeze,  the trampoline, as an acrobat, and as a Cirque du Soleil dancer.

    In 1989, Ms. Garant shifted her focus to choreography and the education of young dancers by joining the faculty of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School.  During her long association of 16 years with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, Ms. Garant created the Modern Dance and Choreographic Programs and was the director of the postgraduate Aspirant Program.  Ms. Garant choreographed new works for the professional division of the school and the aspirant program.  Simultaneously, she collaborated with Winnipeg’s GroundSwell New Music Series as a choreographer on many productions.

    From 1994 to 2004, Ms. Garant was awarded annual grants for her choreographic works from the Manitoba Arts Council and travel grants from the Canada Council for the Arts, including one that enabled Ms. Garant to travel to the Caribbean to study Afro-Caribbean dance.  During these 12 weeks, she studied with the Antigua National Dance Theatre and the Grenada Dance Ensemble and visited Dominica to meet with the artistic community.  She also sat as a Jury member for the City of Winnipeg’s Arts Council and the Manitoba Arts Council.  In 2006 Ms. Garant sat as a Jury member for the Manitoba Arts Council’s Award of Distinction.

    As a choreographer, Ms. Garant has garnered numerous awards, including the Youth America Grand Prix competition in Connecticut and the International Choreographic Competition in St-Sauveur, Québec.  In 1988, Ms. Garant was nominated by l’ADISQ for a ‘Felix’ for Stage Direction and Scenographer of the Year for her work with singer-songwriter Daniel Lavoie.

    Ms. Garant’s choreography has had an international influence.  It has been presented on many stages worldwide, ranging from the Olympia Theatre in Paris to the New York Joyce Soho Theatre.  She has created works for international dance competitions held in Istanbul, Tokyo, Jackson, Mississippi, and New York City.  Her work has been produced by diverse organizations such as the Festival of Women in the Arts in North Dakota, the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra’s Du Maurier New Music Festival, and the 1999 Pan American Games.  Her diverse achievements include Video-Clip Choreography for The Three Dance directed by Marc-Francois Tremblay and film choreography for Through My Eyes directed by CBC Award Winner Film scriptwriter Kathryn Martin.  Through My Eyes premiered in 1997 at the Local Heroes International Screen Festival in Edmonton, Canada, and was presented at the 1997 Festival des Films du Monde in Montreal, Canada.

    Before joining SCGSAH, Ms. Garant founded the Josée Garant Dance company in Miami, Florida, with a dedicated mission to educate, promote, and increase the public’s awareness, knowledge, and appreciation of contemporary dance and arts.  Ms. Garant was awarded the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs Choreographer Fellowship Award in 2008.  While in Florida, Ms. Garant also worked at Harid Conservatory and New World School of the Arts (NWSA).  Ms. Garant served on the Board of Directors for the Florida Dance Association from 2008 to 2012.

    In 2011, Ms. Garant organized a retirement celebration for the internationally recognized dancer, teacher, choreographer, author, and NWSA Dean of Dance, Daniel Lewis.  She created and directed Daniel Lewis: A Life of Dance, a tribute concert at the Gusman Center for the Performing Arts which featured performances by world-renowned dance companies, choreographers, and dancers. 

    Since Joining the SCGSAH as Chair of the Dance Department in 2012, Ms. Garant has continued to dedicate her time to dance education.  She developed a pre-professional ballet and modern/contemporary program that is inclusive and reflective of a diverse and fluid global dance community.  Ms. Garant developed and currently directs the Lowcountry Youth Dance Academy, a SCGSAH outreach program offering free pre-professional ballet training to 5th-10th-grade students in the Lowcountry of SC.  She is the Founding Executive Director of Grand Jeté; this state-wide event includes a student ballet and contemporary dance competition, dance college and trainee recruiting fair, master classes, and teacher workshops from reputable dance guest artists from across the Nation. 

    Ms. Garant currently teaches Senior Modern/Contemporary Techniques, Repertoire and Senior Audition Preparation, and Senior Dance Showcase and is a mentor for Junior Career Preparation. 

  • Uriah Boyd

    Uriah Boyd

    Dance Modern Dance Instructor

    Uriah Boyd is an interdisciplinary performance artist from Portland, Oregon. Her primary artistic mediums are dance and music, which she often integrates in live performance. She began her dance training in 2006, studying jazz, tap, ballet and modern. In 2009 she enrolled in Jefferson High School, a local performing arts school with a renowned pre-professional dance training program. While at Jefferson High, she met a filmmaker and began working on a documentary with her older sister entitled “Soar.” The film focuses on their relationship as siblings, dancers, and creative partners. Soar was released in 2014 and has aired on PBS internationally. It is still in syndication today. After graduating high school and releasing Soar, Uriah began dancing professionally. She performed and toured with numerous dance companies and collectives in Portland and the greater NW, most notably, “Rejoice! Diaspora Dance Theater.” Uriah was a founding member of Rejoice! and it was during her time with the company that she began training in folkloric dances of the African Diaspora, which is a prominent influence in her movement to this day. She began teaching in 2016 and has led contemporary dance workshops throughout the Pacific Northwest, in Mexico and Peru. Uriah travels often and enjoys connecting to new communities by way of movement and music. In recent years, music and aerial dance have become the primary creative focuses for Uriah. She’s working on more intentionally integrating her music and movement practices, and spends most of her time engaged in creative play. Uriah is currently based in Greenville, SC and has found a warm home in the live music and contemporary dance communities here.

  • Elisabeth Boyle

    Elisabeth Boyle

    Dance Dance Accompanist & Music for Dancers Instructor

    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.  

    Elisabeth is originally from the Washington, D.C. area, and has played piano since she was walking, first taught by her mother. 
    After completing a degree in Piano from Bob Jones University, she has called Greenville home, and has served in the community, volunteering for non profits, and various musical groups as collaborative pianist. Elisabeth enjoys creating original music
    and has published albums and arrangements for piano and cello. Elisabeth treasures time with her family of four, and special dog, while always searching for beauty and joy in everything, every day.

  • Christine Conley

    Christine Conley

    Dance Low Country Youth Dance Academy (LYDA) Modern Instructor

    Christine Smith Conley is a dancer, choreographer and educator located in Summerville, South Carolina. Trained in classical ballet from a young age, Christine has studied dance at Hilton Head Dance Theatre, Rollings Middle School of the Arts, the South Carolina Governor’s School for Arts and Humanities, the Classical Ballet Centre, and the University of South Carolina. Christine graduated Magna Cum Laude with a BA in Dance Education from the University of South Carolina. She also holds a K-12 South Carolina Teaching Certificate. While in school, she was an active dancer and choreographer with the UofSC Dance Company. Christine is an avid arts advocate and dance researcher. She has participated in Arts Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., and at the SC Statehouse. In 2018, Christine traveled to New York on a grant to research and write a middle school arts integrative curriculum with dance and social studies. Currently, she is a dance educator at Rollings Middle School for the Arts. 

  • Beth Dill

    Beth Dill

    Dance Yoga Instructor

    Beth Dill, owner of the Yoga East studio in Taylors, South Carolina balances life as a yoga instructor, businesswoman, mother, and wife. She began her personal yoga journey in 2008 and earned the 200-hour registered yoga teacher (RYT) certification from Yoga Alliance in 2012. Beth’s teaching involves flowing motions combining a variety of yoga styles and Pilates movements. She builds in time for relaxation and meditation which helps her students balance their minds and bodies. Regular yoga practice with Beth can help you achieve deeper and better sleep, live with greater intention, and be more present in your daily life.

  • Stephen Gabriel

    Stephen Gabriel

    Dance Lowcountry Youth Dance Academy (LYDA) Ballet Instructor

    Stephen Gabriel trained extensively with master teachers Michael Simms of the Royal  Winnipeg Ballet and Elizabeth Hard of the Kansas City Ballet and was awarded full  scholarships from both Duke University and Stephens College where he earned his B.F.A  degree in dance. His professional performing credits include seasons with the Richmond  Ballet, Ballet Omaha, and as principal dancer for Orlando’s Southern Ballet Theatre and the  Charleston Ballet Theatre. Throughout his career he danced lead roles in many of the classics  as well as works by Lambros Lambrou, Mauricio Wainrot, Lew Christiansen and NYCB’s  Christopher Fleming. Stephen has also performed for renowned modern choreographers Doug  Varone, Peter Pucci, Mark Taylor and the Humphrey-Weidman Repertory Company. During his  time with the Charleston Ballet Theatre he served as the company’s Ballet Master. Also during  his tenure, he had the honor of working closely with Repetiteurs of the George Balanchine Trust  in staging and coaching of the company’s Balanchine Repertory.

  • Robert Hazelrigg

    Robert Hazelrigg

    Dance Dance Accompanist

  • Adair Kempf

    Adair Kempf

    Dance Dance Administrative Assistant & Ballet Instructor

    Adair Kempf, from Greenville, SC, graduated from the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities in 2003, under the direction of Stanislav Issaev.  She Graduated with a B.F.A. in Dance Performance from Butler University in 2007, with honors. While there, she traveled to Poland and Russia to study dance, under the supervision of Marek Cholewa. She also performed the leading role of Swanhilda, in Butler Ballet’s “Coppelia”, for her graduation performance, and was featured in an original work by James Kudelka. In 2007 Adair moved to Charleston to join Charleston Ballet Theatre, under the direction of Jill Bahr. In 2008, Adair returned to Greenville to join Carolina Ballet Theatre, and begin teaching with DanceArts Greenville. Adair performed such roles for CBT as, Sugar Plum Fairy in “The Nutcracker”, Aurora in “Sleeping Beauty”, and Myrtha in “Giselle”. During her time at CBT, Adair worked with guest choreographer, Alonzo King in his work "Map", and with Dwight Rhoden, in his work, "Beatle Juice". After retiring from dance in 2014, Adair became rehearsal assistant for CBT for 2 years, then Associate Artistic Director in 2016. For DanceArts Greenville, Adair was made Associate Artistic Director of the school in 2017. She taught ballet to beginner ballet levels, ballet, pointe, and variations to the advanced levels, and took many students to the prestigious ballet competition, Youth America Grand Prix. After ten years with CBT and DAG, Adair returned to her alma mater, SC Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities, in the Office of Admissions and Dance Departments. She now serves as Dance Department Administrative Assistant, Ballet Faculty, Dance Immersion Chair and Summer Dance Faculty. 

  • Rebecca Lee

    Rebecca Lee

    Dance Modern Dance Instructor

    Rebecca Lee (Modern) is a native of Greenville, where she received her dance training with the Greenville Ballet, the Greenville County Schools’ Fine Arts Center, and the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts. She received her B.F.A. in Dance, Performance, and Choreography from Columbia College and her M.F.A in Dance, Performance, and Choreography from Florida State University. She has been a company member with Dance Repertory Theatre in Tallahassee, FL, and a guest artist with Wildwood Ballet and the Power Company in Columbia, SC. She has also danced with Christian von Howard in the Von Howard Project and with the Garage Girls a Go-Go in New York City. She has taught for FSU Summer Dance Intensive, FSU non-major dance classes, Tallahassee Ballet, Pas de Vie Ballet Company, Ballet Spartanburg, and Broadway South. She has also choreographed for Converse College, Columbia College, Ballet Spartanburg, Tallahassee Ballet and the Fine Arts Center. She currently teaches dance in the Greenville County Schools and at the after-school A.R.M.E.S. program at the Greenville County Schools’ Fine Arts Center.

  • Miriam Mesa Pelly

    Miriam Mesa Pelly

    Dance Dance Faculty

    Miriam Mesa-Pelly began her ballet studies in 1962 with a full scholarship to attend the National School of the Arts in Havana, Cuba. In 1970, Miriam graduated with Honors and soon after joined the world renowned National Ballet of Cuba (NBC) as a member of the corps de ballet. 

    During her career with the NBC, Mrs. Mesa-Pelly rose through the ranks, quickly becoming a First Soloist. She performed notable principal roles including Odette in Swan Lake, the Sylph in La Sylphide, and Kitri in Don Quixote. She also performed soloist and first soloist roles in ballets such as Swan Lake, Coppelia, Giselle, Pas de Quatre, La Fille Mal Gardée, Don Quixote, and Sleeping Beauty. Miriam is also very proud to have worked with prominent choreographers that include Alberto Alonso, Brian McDonald, and Alberto Mendez. In addition, Mrs. Mesa-Pelly was able to perform lead roles in iconic theaters around the globe that include but are not limited to The Kennedy Center in Washington DC., The Metropolitan Opera House in New York City, The Opera Theater of Les Champs Elysées in Paris, The Bolshoi Theater in Moscow, The Colón Theater in Buenos Aires, Teatro de La Scala in Milan, and the Bellas Artes Theater in Mexico City.
    During her career with NBC, Miriam also attended The Cuban Superior Institute of Arts. She graduated in 1992 with Honors and a Bachelor’s degree in Scenic Arts specializing in Ballet. This allowed her to not only teach ballet to aspiring dancers but also the methodology behind ballet technique to aspiring dance teachers. After retiring as a First Soloist from the NBC in 1994, she began teaching ballet technique, pointe work, and repertoire at the internationally-recognized Cuban National Ballet School in Havana, Cuba. She trained multiple dancers to participate in national and international competitions where some of them received Gold and Silver medals. In 1998 Miriam began teaching at the National Center for the Arts (CNA) in Mexico City, Mexico. While at the CNA, she taught both male and female ballet technique, pointe, and repertoire. She also trained dancers there to participate in ballet competitions around the world culminating in many of them also getting Silver and Bronze medals. Mrs. Mesa-Pelly then worked at “The Art of Classical Ballet” in Pompano Beach, USA and the Fomento Artistico Cordobes Ballet School in Cordoba, Mexico before joining the South Carolina Governor’s School of Arts and Humanities as a Ballet teacher in 2013. 

    Mrs. Miriam is also a published author. In her book “Methodological Referencial Basis of the Classical Dance Technique;” (ISBN: 970-9703-09-9), she explains in great detail the basic steps in the ballet repertoire and the proper technique to perform them. This book was written as a methodological tool to help ballet teachers in training better understand the technique they will one day teach. Other notable achievements Miriam Mesa-Pelly has accomplished include being a member of the Jury that reviews students’ thesis defense at The Cuban Superior Institute of Arts, being an adviser to the “Mexican Implementing Committee” who assigns ballet teacher’s positions within the National Center for the Arts in Mexico City, being a juror for the Valentina Kozlova Regional International Ballet Competition in New Orleans, and  creating “The Project”; a program at the CNA that identified exceptional talent regardless of their economic situation.  The students selected for “The Project” got allocated extra-curricular training and resources with the goal of getting them scholarships and professional contracts with prestigious ballet schools and companies around the world.  This was achieved by training them to be competitive in national and international ballet competitions where such prizes are awarded. 

    For virtually her entire life, Miriam Mesa-Pelly has shown unwavering passion for her craft. She has translated that passion into unforgettable performances onstage and inspiration for the next generation offstage. Evidence for this is in her many former pupils, now scattered around the world, in schools and companies (many in Soloist or Principal positions) such as the National Ballet of Canada, Cincinnati Ballet, Joffrey Ballet, Juilliard, Deutsche Oper Am Rhein, National Ballet of Mexico, Monterrey Dance Company… and the list goes on.

  • Keeley Mezzancello

    Keeley Mezzancello

    Dance Nutrition Instructor

    Keeley Mezzancello is a Registered Dietitian (RD) and a Licensed Dietitian (LD) in the state of South Carolina. She is also a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and a Certified Health Coach (Wellcoaches). She is currently a Registered Dietitian and Health Coach for Wellview Health. Keeley received her undergraduate degree in Business from Boston College and her Master's in Nutrition from Hunter College in Manhattan. She has experience in private practice combining nutritional counseling with strength and conditioning in New York City. She has also worked in a variety of outpatient settings including rehabilitative, corporate wellness, and multiple eating disorder clinics. She has provided Nutrition and Fitness education to adolescent aspiring models and attendees of Modeling Camp NYC and has lead nutrition seminars for the dancers of the Performing Arts Academy of Marin (PAAM). She holds a certificate in Adult Weight Management from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. She has served on the board of the Piedmont Dietetic Association and volunteered as a panel dietitian for LiveWell Greenville. Keeley loves the strong sense of community within Greenville, and enjoys dining out, cooking, travel, the outdoors, running, and yoga.

  • Natasha Nast

    Natasha Nast

    Dance Lowcountry Youth Dance Academy (LYDA) - Jazz Instructor

    Natasha Nast, a Baltimore, Maryland native, began her training in ballet, jazz, and tap at the age of 2 and went on to dance competitively in both regional and national competitions. She began her formal training in ballet and modern in high school at the Baltimore School for the Arts under the direction of Norma Pera, Bat Udval, Evgenia Singur, Anton Wilson, and Linda-Denise Fisher-Harrell as well as at the Russian Ballet Academy of Maryland under Svetlana Kravtsova and Vadim Pijicov. Upon graduation, Natasha joined the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre as a graduate student under full scholarship where she trained under the direction of Terrence Orr, Marianna Tcherkassky, Janet Popeleski, Andre Reyes, Marjorie Grundvig, and Dennis Marshall. There, she was one of the few dancers selected from the program to perform company roles in several classics including Swan Lake, La Bayadere, Le Corsaire, Sleeping Beauty, and The Nutcracker, as well as other works by notable choreographers such as George Balanchine’s Western Symphony, Lew Christensen’s Beauty and the Beast, and Derek Deane’s Alice in Wonderland and Romeo and Juliet. Alongside her work with the company, Natasha performed principal roles in Graduate Program productions such as the Dark Angel in George Balanchine’s Serenade, Gamzatti in La Bayadere, the title role as well as Henriette in Raymonda, the Lilac Fairy in the Sleeping Beauty, and the Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker. In 2016, she performed in a series of performances alongside Grammy Award winning recording artist, Daya, and the Pittsburgh Steelers. Natasha spent four years dancing in Pittsburgh prior to moving to Charleston in 2017 where she is currently dancing as a company member with the Palmetto City Ballet. Her repertoire with the company includes The Ringmaster in Carnival of the Animals, The Lounge Singer in French Twist, The Fairy Godmother in Cinderella, and The Red-Winged Blackbird in The Snow Queen, as well as principal roles in neo-classical works such as Why Our Walls and Accumulation. Outside of her work with the Palmetto City Ballet, Natasha has danced with Moranz Entertainment and Unbound Ballet Project and can also be seen as a featured dancer throughout season 2 of HBO’s hit television series, The Righteous Gemstones.

    Natasha has been teaching students of the Charleston and surrounding communities in ballet, jazz, musical theatre, and more since 2018. Alongside teaching daily classes, she specializes in setting classical and contemporary repertoire, choreographing original pieces, and coaching students for competitions as well as summer intensive, company, and college auditions. Natasha is currently on faculty at the Palmetto City Ballet School, Ballet Academy of Charleston, Charleston Academy of Musical Theatre, and Just Dance/Charleston Dance Center.

  • Irina Peace

    Irina Peace

    Dance Dance Accompanist

    Irina Peace is a collaborative pianist and piano teacher. She has served as accompanist for the Music Department at Converse College, Furman University, and Governor’s School. Ms. Peace has collaborated with SC Opera Company, Converse Opera, Furman Lyrical Theater, and Donetsk Opera and Ballet Theater. Ms. Peace is a native of Ukraine. She received her musical training, M.M. and B.M. in Piano Performance and Pedagogy from Donetsk State Conservatory and Kherson Music College. Prior to moving to the U.S. in 1995, Ms. Peace lived and worked in Ukraine, where she held a position as staff accompanist at Khmelnytskyi State Philharmonic and taught at Khmelnytskyi Music College.

  • Thomas Shoemaker

    Thomas Shoemaker

    Dance Dance Faculty

    Thomas Shoemaker was an acclaimed principal dancer with companies including the Atlanta Ballet, Miami City Ballet, Louisville Ballet, Augusta Ballet, and Charleston Ballet Theatre in a professional career that spanned 25 years. As a guest artist and choreographer, he has worked with numerous dance and theatre companies throughout the U.S. and abroad.  As an educator, Mr. Shoemaker has taught elementary through college-aged students in studios, schools, colleges and summer programs throughout the southeastern United States. He received a Masters of Fine Arts in Dance from Hollins University/American Dance Festival. Before joining the faculty of the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities, Mr. Shoemaker taught and choreographed for the Vanderbilt University Dance Program and was Artistic Director of Vanderbilt Dance Theatre. He also served on faculty with Middle Tennessee State University Dance Program, Austin Peay State University Dance Program, Tennessee Governors School for the Arts Summer Program, and American Dance Festival. Mr. Shoemaker also served as
 Associate Artistic Director for StillPoint Dance Theatre.

    In May 2009, Shoemaker’s ballet “just let go” was awarded “Best Ballet” at the Panoply Choreographic Competition. In 2010, he won the same award for VS.  His ballet Foreverly (based on the lives of the Everly Brothers) was awarded “Best Live Performance of 2005” by the Augusta Chronicle.

    As artistic director and ballet master, Mr. Shoemaker has staged or restaged numerous works including Nutcracker, Cinderella and Les Sylphides; George Balanchine’s Allegro Brillante and Tarantella; Fernand Nault’s Carmina Burana and many classical pas de deux.

    Mr. Shoemaker teaches Men's Ballet & B Ballet Technique, Men's Technique, Junior & Senior Men's Ballet Variation, Pas De Deux, Repertoire, Dance History, Junior Career Preparation, Aspects of Production, Coaching & Stretch & Strength, and is an Audition Preparation and Senior Showcase Mentor, and the YoungArts Coordinator.

  • Katie Stewart

    Katie Stewart

    Dance Jazz Instructor

    Katie Wilson Stewart is a native of Asheville, North Carolina, she received her Bachelor in Fine Arts from East Carolina University. She was the Studio Director of Broadway Dance Center’s Children & Teens location by Lincoln Center from it’s opening in 2017 as well as teaching on Jazz and Musical Theater faculty for the BDC Children & Teens Program and Theater Guest Faculty for BDC’s esteemed adult drop-in classes. During her 11 years based in New York City she performed both in the city and at regional theatres across the country. Katie was the Dance Captain & Swing for the national tour of Kathleen Marshall’s Anything Goes. Other favorite regional credits include West Side Story (Anita), Footloose (Urleen), The Boy Friend (Masie), and Oklahoma (Gertie). Katie was also a founding member and associate choreographer for AlmaNYC Dance Company & Artist Collective. 

    With a deep seeded passion for the history of dance in theater and commercial styles, Katie approaches teaching with an attention to the tap and jazz foundations that have inspired the greats as well as an emphasis on the current popular styles. Katie has taught Master Classes across the country in conjunction with Broadway Dance Center, Stage Door Connection, and Broadway Connection. Katie now resides in Greenville, SC with her husband, Jake and son Wesley. 

  • Ruth Story

    Ruth Story

    Dance Yoga Instructor

    Ruth began practicing yoga shortly after her son was born in 2006 and she immediately fell in love. Not only did she feel better—both physically and mentally— yoga taught Ruth to be more ‘in-tune’ with her body and mind. As a result she learned to be kind to herself and respect her own limitations with grace and confidence. This shift in her outlook continues to this day, but she has learned in order to stay connected to herself and others with calmness and clarity, she must continue with her yoga practice. 

    Ruth completed a 230-hour teacher training program with Karen Noonan of Yoganize in 2017.  She currently teaches yoga at a climbing gym in Traveler’s Rest. When she is not on her mat you can find her paddling down the river, climbing at the gym or spending time with friends and family and her beloved dog, Chewy.

  • Irina Ushakova

    Irina Ushakova

    Dance Dance Faculty

    Irina Ushakova was born in Chelyabinsk, Russia, and trained at the Perm State Choreographic College. Upon receiving her Diploma with Honors she became a soloist with Chelyabinsk State Opera and Ballet Theatre (Russia). Shortly after joining the company, she danced the roles of Maria (Fountain of Bakhchisarai), Aysha (Gayane), and Giselle (Giselle) before being promoted to principal dancer. She was awarded the Best Role of the Season prize for the role of Juliet in Romeo and Juliet. In 1986 and 1988, she became a bronze and silver medalist at the International Ballet Competition “Arabesque” in Perm, Russia. In 1989, she toured the United States with the Donetsk Ballet, followed by a tour of Israel and Turkey with the Bolshoi Ballet. She was invited to join the Donetsk State Opera and Ballet Theatre (Ukraine) as a principal dancer in 1989. Ms. Ushakova was a finalist in the 1990 International Ballet Competition held in Jackson, Mississippi.

    Since her arrival in the United States in 1990, Ms. Ushakova has been a principal dancer with both Ballet Mississippi and Tulsa Ballet. She has performed leading roles in many classical ballets such as Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, Don Quixote, Nutcracker, Coppelia, La Sylphide, and others, as well as neoclassical works such as Andre Prokovsky’s Anna Karenina, Val Caniparoli’s Lady of the Camellias, Ronald Hynd’s Rosalinda, George Balanchine’s Theme and Variations, Four Temperaments, Concerto Barocco, and Who Cares? She also has danced contemporary and modern works. In 1997, she returned to Russia as a guest artist to dance the role of Anyuta in Vladimir Vasiliev’s Anyuta with the Chelyabinsk State Opera and Ballet Theatre.

    Since 2002, Ms. Ushakova has been a faculty member of the Dance Department at the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities in Greenville, South Carolina. In 2007, she graduated from Chelyabinsk State Pedagogical University (Russia) with a Master’s Degree in Dance and Education.

    Ms. Ushakova teaches A & B Ballet Technique, Pointe, Senior Ladies Ballet Variation, Historical Dance & Character, Repertoire, Methodology, is an Audition Preparation and Senior Showcase Mentor, and the National Honor Society for Dance Arts Coordinator.

  • Sarah Walborn

    Sarah Walborn

    Dance Lowcountry Dance Academy (LYDA) Chair

    Sarah Walborn, of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania began her training at the Central Pennsylvania  Youth Ballet (CPYB) under the direction of Marcia Dale Weary. In 2007, Ms. Walborn was invited to be an apprentice with the San Francisco Ballet. She performed many roles with the company, including George Balanchine’s Diamonds and Helgi Tomasson’s The Nutcracker, Don Quixote, Giselle, and The Sleeping Beauty. After joining The Washington Ballet in 2009, Ms.  Walborn originated roles including a world premiere of Annabelle Lopez Ochoa’s Sueno de  Marmol, one of the twins in Septime Webre’s Great Gatsby, and various roles in Webre’s Alice  (In Wonderland). She has performed with the company in Balanchine’s Four Temperaments,  Christopher Bruce’s Rooster, the staging of Anna-Marie Holmes’ Le Corsaire and Don Quixote,  as well as Twyla Tharp’s Push Comes to Shove, and the pas de deux Strangers in the Night  from Nine Sinatra Songs. In 2012, Ms. Walborn joined Kansas City Ballet under the direction of  William Whitener. She originated works from Jodie Gates and Devon Carney. Ms. Walborn also  had the opportunity to perform Summer Fairy in Victoria Morgan’s Cinderella, as well as Balan chine’s Allegro Brilliante, Michael Pink’s Dracula, Donald McKayle’s Hey-Hay: Going to Kansas  City, and Lynne Taylor-Corbett’s Mercury. In 2014, Ms. Walborn began dancing with Ballet Ari zona, performing in Balanchine’s Rubies, Western Symphony, Walpurgisnacht, Stravinsky Violin  Concerto, and La Sonambula. She has also danced in Alexei Ratmansky’s Le Carnaval des An imaux, as well as the US premiere of August Bournonville’s full length Napoli. Ms. Walborn currently dances with Palmetto City Ballet. Since joining the company, she has performed the title  role in Jonathan Tabbert’s Snow Queen, as well as originating the role of Lavinia Fisher in Tabbert’s Dance Macabre, the title role in Cinderella, and the solo Split Second. Ms. Walborn has  also been featured in a film documentary as a principal dancer Why Our Walls. 


    Ms. Walborn’s extensive teaching background is influenced by Weary’s syllabus from CPYB.  She has taught in many schools across the country including The Washington Ballet School,  Kansas City Ballet School, East Tennessee Ballet Academy, Dance Conservatory of Maryland, Nuevolution in Queen Creek, AZ, Cannedy Performing Arts Centre, as well as CPYB’s Summer Intensive Program. She is on faculty for Impact Creative Arts Academy in Summerville, SC and Palmetto City Ballet School in Mount Pleasant, SC. Ms. Walborn is currently the Program Chair  for the Lowcountry Youth Dance Academy.

  • Bennett Weston

    Bennett Weston

    Dance Dance Accompanist

    Ben Weston is a Certified Associate Drumming Instructor with Tam Tam Mandingue Djembe Academy (TTM) Winston-Salem, a branch of the TTM international school of West African drumming. Locally, he runs classes, conducts workshops and presentations, and performs. At the Governor's School, he plays for West African and Modern dance classes.

  • Elizabeth Wright

    Elizabeth Wright

    Dance Modern Dance Instructor

    Elizabeth Disharoon Wright, from Baltimore, Maryland, is a graduate of the Baltimore School for the Arts and The Juilliard School, where she received Scholastic Distinction for her thesis on Nutrition and Dancers. Elizabeth is a principal dancer with the Isadora Duncan Dance Company, led by Lori Belilove. She has performed both nationally and internationally with the company since 2002, and has taught residencies and master classes for the Isadora Duncan Dance Foundation, as well as regularly teaching company class. From 2003-2011, Elizabeth was also a senior member of Jennifer Muller/The Works, creating and performing signature roles throughout the repertory, as well as teaching, assisting, and coaching, both within the company and for outside workshops and master classes. As a freelance dancer in New York City, Elizabeth also performed with Buglisi Dance Theatre, Eidelon Ballet, Fly-by-Night Dance Theater, Andrew Jannetti & Dancers, Sue Bernhard/Danceworks, Laura Glenn Dance, Saba Dance Theater, J Mandle Performance, and Nimbus Dance Theater, among others. Elizabeth has performed throughout New York City on such stages as the Joyce Theater, the State Theater, and City Center, and internationally in Italy, Hungary, Russia, Bolivia, Brazil, Thailand, and China.  In addition to numerous company residencies, Elizabeth has taught at Randolph College, Mills College, Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts School and Camp, The Ailey School, Totts Gap Arts Institute, Silva Dance Academy, and the Fine Arts Center. Her own choreography has been presented in New York City at Alice Tully Hall, the Juilliard Theater, the Clark Studio Theater, the HATCH Performance Series, and the Storm Theater on 46th Street, and also at the Kate Theater in Old Saybrook, Connecticut, where she shared a program with Julia Pond Dance. In 2015, Elizabeth relocated to Greenville, South Carolina.  In addition to teaching ballet and modern at the Fine Arts Center, she has choreographed for their annual concert at Wade Hampton High School and staged a suite of Duncan dances that were performed at Artisphere and the Kilgore-Lewis House in downtown Greenville.