Applications for LYDA 2025-2026 are closed!

About Us

The Lowcountry Youth Dance Academy (LYDA) is a SC Governor's School for the Arts and Humanities Outreach Program offering free pre-professional ballet training to 5th-10th-grade students in the Lowcountry region.  Our physically demanding yet rewarding program offers a systematic approach to classical ballet, ensuring technical and artistic growth for serious and passionate students.

  • Offers training in classical ballet, pointe, variation, modern, repertoire, and conditioning.
  • Two performance opportunities per year.
  • Taught by Governor's School faculty
  • Classes are held in Summerville at Impact Creative Arts Academy and meet 4 times per week during the school year - Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday
  • Tuition is free after a one-time $75 registration fee, and financial assistance is available



Josée Garant, SCGSAH Dance Department Chair

The Youth Dance Academy program is directed by Josée Garant, who has served as the dance department chair at the Governor's School since 2012. Under Mrs. Garant's direction, the program has developed a classical ballet program that is more inclusive and reflective of the moving trends of the 21st century. Prior to joining SCGSAH, she directed and developed programs for Canada's Royal Winnipeg Ballet's Professional Division School. Read more about Ms. Garant.

Sarah Walborn, Program Chair

Sarah Walborn 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. 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). In 2012, Ms. Walborn joined Kansas City Ballet under the direction of  William Whitener. She originated works from Jodie Gates and Devon Carney. In 2014, Ms. Walborn began dancing with Ballet Ari zona, performing in Balanchine’s Rubies, Western Symphony, Walpurgisnacht, Stravinsky Violin Concerto, and La Sonambula. 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. Read more about Ms. Walborn.

Stephen Gabriel, 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. Read more about Mr. Gabriel.

Christine Conley, Modern Instructor

Christine Smith 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. Read more about Ms. Conley.

Natasha Nast, Jazz Instructor

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. Learn more about Ms. Nast.


Impact Creative Arts Academy
100 Trolley Road
Summerville, SC 29485


Sarah Walborn

LYDA Dancers
Ballet Dancer

LYDA Application

The Lowcountry Youth Dance Academy is now accepting applications for the 2024-2025 school year.

Note: If you are applying for both the Lowcountry Youth Dance Academy (LYDA) and the Summer Dance or Residential High School Dance program at the Governor's School, then you will need to complete both the LYDA application and the Governor's School application.  

Here’s what you’ll need to complete the online LYDA application.

ID Photo

Submit a passport-style photo of yourself from the shoulders up. 

Dance Experience

No Dance experience is required. However, if you have experience you would like us to know about, you can list any classes/training/experiences you may have had in the past two years. This information is used to help us better understand your dance background. 

Parent/Guardian Contact Information

General contact information about the legal guardian(s).

Apply for LYDA 

Please submit your application as early as possible. The Office of Outreach will notify you if information is missing from your application. Incomplete applications cannot be processed.

LYDA Audition

The LYDA audition process...

will demonstrate the applicant’s physical suitability for the everyday rigor of our Classical Ballet and Modern/Contemporary programs, technical aptitude, artistic potential, and ability to take direction. The audition will include:

  • Ballet – 1 hour
  • Improv/Modern – 30 minutes
  • Interview - 5-10 minutes

Standard Dance Attire

  • Females: Black leotards, convertible pink tights, ballet shoes. For the modern center practice, applicants must be barefoot (rolled up convertible tights).
  • Males: Black t-shirts, dance belts, black convertible tights with black shoes. For the modern center practice, applicants must be barefoot (rolled up convertible tights).

After you submit your application, you will be contacted by Sarah Walborn, LYDA program chair, with more details.

Important Dates

LYDA Application Deadline: Monday, April 1st, 2024

LYDA Auditions: Saturday, April 6th, 2024 from 12:00 to 2:00 PM at Impact Creative Arts Academy


Upon acceptance of an offer of admission for the Lowcountry Youth Dance Academy, students must submit a non-refundable deposit of $75 to hold a place in the program. A fee waiver is available for eligible students.