Fredericksburg Ballet Centre

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Instructor Bios

JENNIFER CLEATON - OWNER & ARTISTIC DIRECTOR - I am celebrating my 22nd year anniversary as owner and Director. I have been teaching for over 25 years! I received my B.A. Cum Laude from Virginia Commonwealth University. I performed at Kings Dominion for four years and choreographed two shows which were performed in conjunction with the USO. I taught dance at the West End Academy of Dance in Richmond and taught creative movement and dance to local Richmond children through the YMCA. I have continued my educational training by attending various workshops with such teachers as Tremaine, Doug Varone, Susan Kicuchi (Martha Graham Company), Richmond Ballet, SYTYCD alums Kathryn McCormick, Robert Roldan, Twitch, Sonya Tayeh and more. I have two daughters of my own, a Sophomore in College and an 12th grader who dances on the soccer field. Both girls are also following in my footsteps… they are both dancers/performers at Kingsdominion.

ALYSSA ALFORD – TAP, JAZZ, BALLET– Alyssa has been dancing at FBC since she was three, where she has studied ballet, pointe, modern, tap, jazz, and musical theater.  She’s been on the FBC competition dance team for several years, where she has attended multiple competitions and conventions, learning from world-renowned choreographers.  She was chosen to participate at multiple National competitions.  Alyssa has attended summer dance intensives at Point Park University in Pittsburgh and at the Richmond Ballet, where she was taught under the artistic staff of Malcolm Burn, Judy Jacob, and others.  Her favorite rolls have included the Arabian Princess and Snow Queen in The Nutcracker, Mermaid Queen in Peter Pan, and most recently Alice in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.  She has also danced locally in the Fredericksburg area with Ms. Beverly’s Dance Matrix company.  Alyssa has been assisting and teaching classes at FBC for several years and enjoys working with FBC’s littlest dancers!

BETHANY ALLEY - JAZZ, TAP, TEAM - Ms Bethany began dancing at age 6 in Stafford, VA at The Dance Spot and then later moved to Jacksonville, NC where she danced at the Dance Theatre of Jacksonville, training in ballet, tap, jazz, contemporary, modern, and hip hop. She is a graduate of UMW in English and Elementary Education. Ms Alley was an avid participant in dance at UMW where she served as co-captain to the UMW Dance Team and the President of the Performing Arts Club.  Ms Alley also works as an instructor with the National Dance Alliance where she travels across the country to teach summer dance camps to students from middle school age to college. Through NDA, Ms Alley has gained instructional experience with focus on jazz, hip-hop, and pom, as well as team building and technique training for bettering young dancers.

EMILY BYERS - BALLET, CONTEMPORARY – Emily began her dance training at The Fredericksburg Ballet Centre at the age of three. She studied ballet, pointe, contemporary, modern, jazz, and hip-hop. During her teenage years, she studied classical ballet technique as well as pointe, modern, and contemporary at Avery Ballet. While she studied, she was chosen to train seasonally with instructors such as Dame Amy Watson, Principal Dancer of the Royal Danish Ballet, Andrea Weber, and Malcolm Burn. Among her notable performances was Malcolm Burn’s original ballet, Les Apparitions. Emily began her training in dance instruction in 2011 and worked in performing arts administration for three years. As an administrator, she organized and coordinated “Ballet & Beyond,” a local benefit concert held at the University of Mary Washington. In 2015 she was awarded the Sonja Dragomanovic Haydar Scholarship by UMW’s Friends of Dance. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from UMW in December 2017. Emily is excited to continue sharing her love of dance with FBC.

ASHLEY CLEATON - TAP, JAZZ, BALLET - Ms Ashley has been dancing at FBC since she was 2, she has studied tap, jazz, ballet, pointe, modern, hip hop as well as many other forms of dance. Ashley was on the competition team for 7 years and was captain for many individual teams as well as team captain her senior year. On the competition team she was able to take classes from world renowned choreographers and received a hip-hop scholarship from Dancemakers inc. She also has received special judges awards and the choreography award for her self choreographed solo. Ashley has choreographed and performed in the Stafford operas production of Cinderella. She has performed for King’s Dominion this past summer as a host in two shows. This will be Ms Ashley’s fourth year of teaching and sixth year working in the FBC office. She is excited to continue her work with the students of FBC after graduating from the studio herself in 2018.

CHERISH DOBBINS - JAZZ, TAP, MUSICAL THEATER, BALLET, CONTEMPORARY, TEAM- Ms. Cherish was born bouncing to the beat of the Bee Gees, and has been dancing ever since. Her talents have given her the honor of being a featured performer and choreographer on numerous stages across the globe including those in New York City, Vermont, and at The Edinburgh Festival Fringe in Scotland.  Dobbins favorite roles have included the Sugar Plum Fairy and Clara in The Nutcracker, Maria in West Side Story, Uraula's Eel in The Little Mermaid and the various featured roles in contemporary dances she has been honored to perform in. Dobbins graduated Cum Laude from Virginia Commonwealth University's Department of Dance and Choreography in 2007 and is proud to be celebrating her fifteenth year as a teacher at Fredericksburg Ballet Center and her 29th as a student!

CHRISTINA HAWKINS - BALLET - Started formal dance instruction when she was six years old and has made dancing a lifelong passion.  She started teaching ballet and tap classes at her local studio in Rapid City, SD, when she was 16.  She continued her education of dance by earning a B.A. and a M.A. from Brigham Young University (BYU), specializing in ballet and ballroom dance.  During her collegiate career, Miss Christina performed worldwide as a member of BYU Theatre Ballet and BYU Ballroom Dance Company.  As a graduate student, she taught beginning, intermediate, and advanced level ballroom dance classes.  More recently, she has been performing locally with Dance Matrix and Company (DMC) and has been a "Party Parent" in FBC's production of The Nutcracker.  She is the mother of four fantastic kids, who are also dancers.

BRIANA McCURLEY - JAZZ, TAP - Ms. Briana is a recent graduate from James Monroe High School, who has been a part of FBC for 15 years in many different ways. She was a student in all genres of dance, dance team member/captain, teaching assistant, substitute teaching staff, office staff and now a teacher of her own class. She is so excited to combine her love of dance, choreography and her love of children in her classroom this year!

TERESA MAYER - BALLET, TEAM - Miss Terry began her training at the Gainesville (Georgia) School of Ballet when she was 3. She was accepted into the newly formed Gainesville Ballet Company at the age 11, but promptly moved to Roanoke, Virginia, where she studied at Floyd Ward School of Dance. She became a founding member and principal dancer with the Roanoke Valley Civic Ballet. She attended summer intensives at Washington School of Ballet, Boston School of Ballet, Tidewater Ballet, Chautauqua Institution and Southern Ballet Theatre. She received additional training at Virginia School of the Arts, The Lynchburg Fine Arts Center and Post School of Ballet. She attended Point Park College for two years, and then transferred to Radford University where she graduated Summa Cum Laude with a BS in Dance. She danced professionally with Southern Ballet Theatre in Orlando, Florida, where she appeared in many classical and contemporary ballets including The Nutcracker, Swan Lake, Elements, and Balanchine’s Valse-Fantasie. She appeared as a dancer at Sea World, and with the Orlando Opera Company. Retuning to Roanoke, she began her teaching career at Roanoke City Schools’ Magnet School for the Visual and Performing Arts where she taught ballet, modern and jazz and directed the Magnet School Dance Company for 7 years. Terry and her husband John performed as guest artists with Southwest Virginia Ballet, Rockbridge Ballet, Lynchburg Regional Ballet Theatre, and Southwest Virginia Opera. In her final year in Roanoke, she became instrumental in opening a branch of The Post School of Ballet, becoming the manager and ballet teacher there until John’s career brought them to Fredericksburg. She taught for one year at Barton and Williams School of Dance before finding her dance home at FBC. She first appeared in an FBC production as a guest artist in 1997 as the Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker. She has taught, performed and choreographed here ever since. While teaching at FBC, she has performed as a guest artist with Dance Matrix, and taught ballet and drama at the Holy Innocents Homeschool Co-op. Miss Terry’s favorite roles include Swanhilda in Coppelia, Aurora and in Sleeping Beauty, Kitri in Don Quixote, and Titania in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. She loves passing on her knowledge of these roles and training the next generation of dancers.

BEVERLY MENDEZ - BALLET MISTRESS, MODERN - Ms Mendez has been the Ballet Mistress at FBC since 2004, she was on the Dance Faculty at The University of Mary Washington from 1998 to 2016, and she is the Artistic Director of Dance Matrix & Company in Fredericksburg, VA Beverly has studied Ballet technique her entire life and has a strong love of Ballet and it’s applications in all dance techniques. From early training with The Arlington Ballet workshop and The Washington Ballet, through professional training in NY with
Finus Jung and Robert Christopher, she has a firm understanding of ballet and can communicate it to students in a clear format. She has written a ballet syllabus for FBC based on Vaganova technique, and instituted a ballet Performance Program in 2003 that has helped students rise to pre-professional level, and greatly increased the university acceptance level of FBC’s dancers. This program continues today with a variety of Artistic Directors. Her professional teaching experience is varied, from master classes for a roomfull of strangers, to years of mentoring children into dance professionals, to guiding University students to take their work to the next level. Beverly has a love of Contemporary and Modern dance. She has a BA degree double major in Theater and Dance featuring the dance technique of Paul Taylor, and the acting technique of Sandy Meisner. She followed her dream to NYC. There she studied at the Martha Graham Studio, Eric Hawkins Studio and was a scholarship student at the Alvin Ailey Studio studying with; with Robert Christopher, Milton Meyers and Nat Horne. She studied acting at The Dramatic Workshop. She danced and choreographed professionally in NY from 1978 to 1990, when she and husband Tony moved to Fredericksburg. Ms Mendez founded a dance performance group, Dance Matrix & Company in 1993, and has developed the company into a non-profit Performing Arts Production Company producing Performing Arts Festivals since 2017, and promoting community service arts events in the Fredericksburg area..

TAYLOR MURRAY - JAZZ, HIP HOP, MUSICAL THEATRE - Ms Taylor started at Fredericksburg Ballet Centre when she was three years old and continued dancing through high school taking a variety of different classes. She started her teaching path with assisting different ballet classes her freshman year of high school, then moved onto having her own. She is currently going to college to get a degree in teaching students with Autism and is co-teacher of FBC's Darby's Dancers.

JAMES POLLARA - BALLET MASTER - Mr Jim began his dance training as a scholarship student with the Miami Conservatory and Later San Francisco Ballet School under scholarship. While at SFB James became a protege of Royal Ballet Principle Keith Martins and later joined him at the San Diego Ballet Company where he had several roles created on him. While there Jim also performed with the renowned San Diego Opera as a Principle dancer. Jim later moved to Los Angeles and moved into the contemporary arena, dancing in films, nightclubs, industrials, and numerous music videos for MTV. Jim left Los Angeles to join Nevada Dance Theater and upon his return to California, continued his classical ballet career dancing with The Los Angeles Classical Ballet, Golden State Ballet and as a principle with Ballet Pacifica under Molly Lynch where he had a ballet commissioned for him. At Ballet Pacifica Jim performed under a wealth of international choreographers in both the modern and classical repertoire. Upon moving to Virginia, Jim performed with The Virginia Ballet Theater as a principle and also as a guest with the Virginia Symphony. His classical repertoire includes principle roles in Swan Lake, Giselle, Sleeping Beauty, Nutcracker, Le Corsair Pas De Deux, Specter De La Rose, Raymonda Pas de Dix/Balanchine and various modern and contemporary ballets. He has balanced his career with a variety of teaching and coaching assignments.

CRISTI SAUNDERS - CREATIVE MOVEMENT, BALLET - Ms Cristi celebrated her 12th year in June as an instructor for FBC.  She teaches Creative Movement through beginning Ballet. She has successfully fostered the love of dance in many hundreds of children. She is the creator and director of the summer Princess Ballet Camp, a program designed to enliven creativity and encourage confidence in young children through imagery and ballet. Additionally, she has been the office manager for 18 years and is the resident costumer for the Fredericksburg Ballet Company. Participating in all areas of FBC has given her a well-rounded approach to educating the children at FBC as well as their parents. She holds a BS in nursing and biology, which has come in handy for dance injuries! She has 3 daughters of her own who danced from toddler years to adulthood.

ASHLEY SLEMP - DARBY'S DANCERS - Ashley began dancing when she was 4 years old under the direction of J. Randy Lamb, in Southwest Virginia.   She continued dancing everywhere she went from boarding school in Richmond to college in SC where she earned her Minor in Dance. Ashley was a member and choreographer for the Joni Rodman Dance Theatre, the company in residence at St. Catherine’s School. While at the College of Charleston, she was a member of the company in residence, the Robert Ivey Ballet. She began teaching dance on base while her family was stationed in Okinawa, Japan.  Today, she loves to learn the history as well as the anatomy behind the movement.  Always a student of all forms of dance, she hopes to inspire the same kind of joy in the dancers in Fredericksburg. In the summer of 2015, she was introduced to Darby’s Dancers and knew immediately she wanted to be a part of a program that made all children feel like a STAR.  Not much melts her heart more than watching our Darbys move across the floor with a giant smile or hearing the little ones giggle as they lay on the floor being mermaids.  She feels blessed to be a part of an organization that affords her the opportunity to share her passion.

JORDAN TAYLOR - HIP HOP - Mr Jordan has had a passion for dance since he was young. He has danced in many competitions with his team, Pace Setters, such as Rip the Floor and World of Dance in New Jersey. Styles he has trained in include: house, vouge, waacking, and popping & locking. He loves to share his love of dance with his students and believes that dance is an empowering activity that can enrich his students' lives.

EDWARD YATES - BALLET & CONTEMPORARY - Edward Yates is a young motivated dancer with a Bachelor’s Degree in Theatre and Dance from the University of Mary Washington. Yates is a current company member of Next Reflex Dance Collective and a freelance dancer in DC. He began his dance training while in college and at the Fredericksburg Ballet Centre. Since then he has performed in ballets such as The Nutcracker, Giselle, Don Quixote, and an American Ballet Theatre production of Romeo and Juliet in which he performed on the same stage as Misty Copeland.