Meet the 2023-24 Summer Faculty

Marlena Marshall Abaza

MARLENA MARSHALL ABAZA began her teaching career in NYC at the prestigious Ballet Academy East, working alongside top teachers in the ballet community. She was ballet director for both the Greenwich House Music School and the Roosevelt Island Cultural Center of NYC, where she taught students of all ages in classical ballet, pointe, character, and creative movement.

Ms. Abaza was the Founder/Artistic Director of Sarasota Dance Theatre from 2007-2011. The studio taught children of all abilities and developed a thriving adult program for the community. From 2011-2020 she was a faculty member of the Sarasota Ballet School, under the direction of Iain Webb. During her nine seasons she taught students in numerous levels and founded a successful RAD program. After being promoted to head of Middle School, Ms. Abaza created syllabuses, choreographed/directed annual school performances, and oversaw all aspects of the department.

Her ballet training began at the age of 8 in East Hartford, CT and later with Ballet Florida, where she was a founding company member at 15 with their acclaimed civic ballet company. Ms. Abaza's summer training included the School of American Ballet, Hartford Ballet, and on full scholarship with Ballet West. She’s had the honor of working with such teachers as David Howard and Jacques d’Amboise, who selected her at 16 to take company class with NYCB during their Florida tour.

After graduating on scholarship from the Hartford Ballet's 2 Year Trainee Program, Ms. Abaza danced professionally with the Omega Dance Company, Dances Patrelle, the Metropolitan USO, and was a guest artist for numerous productions; including dancing at the historic Shubert Theatre and the world premiere of The Yorkville Nutcracker with Jack Soto and Lourdes Lopez of New York City Ballet. Her Broadway credits include, A Tribute to Angela Lansbury, with Lauren Bacall, Nathan Lane, and Jennifer Holliday.

Ms. Abaza completed the Royal Academy of Dance’s 3-year teaching program with honors (LRAD), is an ABT certified teacher (Pre-Primary-Level 3), a licensed Silver Swans and BeMoved instructor, and a graduate of Santa Fe College. Most recently, Marlena was on faculty at the Orlando Ballet School, teaching in the school and outreach programs. She led the Come Dance With Us! (CDWU) division for students with special needs and was awarded a 2021 National Dance Foundation Scholarship, in recognition of her teaching.

Marlena is thrilled to begin her 1st season with Atlanta Ballet School and assist students in reaching their individual dance goals.

PC: Robin de Puy

ANGELA AGRESTI grew up in Indianapolis, Indiana, where she began her training at the Jordon College Academy of Dance. In high school, she transferred to North Carolina School of the Arts (now UNCSA) for ballet where she worked closely with mentor Anna-Marie Holmes. After UNCSA, Agresti went on to dance with Cincinnati Ballet for one season before moving to Amsterdam to be in Het Nationale Ballet (Dutch National Ballet) where she danced for eight years. While at Het Nationale Ballet, she danced a mix of classical ballets, Balanchine works, Hans van Manen repertoire, contemporary and neoclassical works, along with new creations. Agresti has been featured in William Forsythe’s Second Detail, Alexei Ratmansky’s Don Quichot, Shen Wei’s Sacre du Printemps, and other notable ballets, such as The Dream, Paquita and Swan Lake. During her time dancing in Amsterdam, Agresti gained experience as a choreographic assistant for multiple choreographers’ stage, film and festival works. She traveled to Riom, Switzerland, assisting works by Juanjo Arques and Peter Leung for the Origen Cultural Festival. She also worked with Peter Leung on the first ever virtual reality ballet titled Nightfall. Since returning to the U.S. in 2018, Agresti has been teaching, coaching and rehearsing dancers at the collegiate, pre-professional and professional levels. She held positions at Butler University and Anderson University, and as a company ballet teacher and rehearsal assistant at Gregory Hancock Dance Theatre. In 2018, she assisted Annabelle Lopez Ochoa in the making of Tulips and Lobster for Kansas City Ballet and re-staged the work for the company the following season. She holds certifications in the ABT National Training Curriculum for levels Pre-Primary through Level 5 and has received Basi Pilates teacher training for mat Pilates and reformer. She is certified as an integrative nutrition health coach and holds a Nonprofit Management Certificate from the University of California Irvine. Agresti is looking forward to her second season with Atlanta Ballet.

PC: Luiz Xavier

NADYNE BISPO is originally from Brazil. She began her dance training at the age of 3 years old at Balé Jovem de São Vicente, Brazil where she studied the Vaganova technique. She graduated in 2015 from the school while achieving a series of awards and accomplishments with the greatest being awarded The Best Ballerina of competition Passo de Arte-Santos with Satanella Variation.

Nadyne represented Brazil in many international competitions, two of them being Tanzolimp in Berlin and Youth America Grand Prix (YAGP) in NY where she received scholarships and contracts with companies including Boston Ballet and Atlanta Ballet. She attended both of their Summer Intensive Programs.

She joined the Atlanta Ballet in 2018 under the direction of Gennadi Nedvigin where she danced in many productions including Yuri’s Possokov’s Nutcracker, Giselle, Don Quixote, Firebird, Serenade by George Balanchine, La Sylphide, Coco Chanel the Life of a Fashion Icon by Annabelle Lopez as well as the Enchantress in Beauty and the Beast.

She is excited to share her passion for ballet and inspire others to harness their potential and enjoy the love she has experienced from the community.

SERENA CHU was born in Long Beach, New York, where she received her early training at the School of American Ballet, performed in numerous productions with the New York City Ballet, and danced in the 1990 Workshop performance of Puss In Boots by Robert LaFosse. After attending the Bolshoi Ballet program in Vail, Colorado, Chu went on to study as a scholarship student with the Bolshoi Ballet Academy in Moscow, Russia, and was one of the first Americans to graduate from the school. She was a member of Sarasota Ballet before joining Tulsa Ballet, where she danced many featured rolls in works from renowned choreographers such as N. Duato, G. Balanchine, J. Kylián, W. Forsythe, V. Caniparoli, B. Stevenson, A. DeMille, P. Taylor, T. Tharp, C. Wheeldon and S. Welch. Some favorite ballets in Chu’s repertoire include Arenal, Without Words, Lambarena, Company B, Serenade, Nine Sinatra Songs, Remansos, Por Vos Muero, and SeAthrough, a piece created on her by Tony Fabre. Chu was a guest principal with Ballet Des Moines during its inaugural years and helped build a new regional company in the U.S. Chu has been seen in Dance Magazine, the New York Times, Newsday, the cover of the Tulsa World and DM magazine. She is a YoungArts award winner, and was featured on CBS Sunday Morning. In addition to performing leading roles on the stages of the Joyce Theater in New York City, and the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., Chu has taught in many notable schools around the country, including Tulsa, Oklahoma; Salt Lake City, Utah; Des Moines, Iowa; Las Vegas, Nevada; and now in Atlanta, Georgia, where she has staged works with Atlanta Ballet 2, including their family ballets of Beauty and the Beast, The Swan Princess, and Snow White. Headshot: Ryan Morrison

Kelly Tonina Cooper
PC: Kim Kenney Photography

Originally from Chicago, IL, KELLY TONINA (K.T.) COOPER studied dance under the leadership of Ric Rose at the University of Florida. After graduating with a BA in Advertising and a Business minor, she continued her dance education at the Dance Theater of Santa Fe at Santa Fe College in Gainesville, Fl. After relocating to South Florida, she continued to choreograph for special events, including pageants, fashion shows, and festivals, before starting her own ensemble dance group, On The Verge. She joined Atlanta Ballet in 2011 and is currently the Centre Administrative Director for the Centre for Dance Education.

In addition to her work at the ballet, she serves as an executive board member for a local theatre, Out Front Theatre Company, and the National DEI Director for Stonewall Sports, Inc. In the spring of 2021, Kelly Tonina graduated with her MS in Nonprofit Administration from Louisiana State University Shreveport and is currently pursuing her doctorate in Arts Administration with the University of Kentucky.

PC: Lynda Louis Photography / Makeup: Inga Bailey Brows

MIA GIVENS was born in New York City, NY, and began her dance training at the age of two and a half years old at a local school in Atlanta, GA. At the age of six, she began to train at Atlanta Ballet, under the direction of John McFall and attended many prestigious summer intensives, including two summers with The Alvin Ailey Dance School in New York City. She performed, as a pre-professional dancer in Atlanta Ballet’s performances of The Nutcracker, Snow White, and Sleeping Beauty. During her summer intensives at Atlanta Ballet, she was selected to choreograph Class of We Made It, and Da Vinci.

While at Atlanta Ballet, she was an assistant ballet teacher where she taught ballet techniques and basic positions & movement to dancers ages 3-10. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Dance from the California Institute of the Arts, where she was selected to perform in performances of Facing Mekka, 28 Up From 9, and lead roles in Betrayal, Add Water and Stir, and De Desir D’Horizon. During her Senior year in college, she was asked to join Mouvement Perpetuelles, in Montpellier, France where she toured with the company during the 2021 season. Mia greatly looks forward to her second year of teaching.

JESSICA HE, originally from Rancho Cucamonga, California, received her early ballet training at Inland Pacific Ballet Academy. She moved to Philadelphia in 2012 at the age of 14 to enter the pre-professional training program at The Rock School for Dance Education on full scholarship, where she received multiple awards and merit scholarships at competitions, such as the Youth America Grand Prix and World Ballet Competition. Jessica danced with Houston Ballet’s second company for the 2015/16 and 2016/17 seasons, where she enjoyed touring internationally and performing a varied repertoire. One of the most memorable moments in her career thus far with Atlanta Ballet has been premiering the Principal Woman in Craig Davidson’s world premiere Remembrance/Hereafter during her 2017/18 debut season. She has since performed featured principal and soloist roles in George Balanchine’s Who Cares?, Helgi Tomasson’s 7 for Eight, Yuri Possokhov’s Don Quixote, George Balanchine’s Tschaikovsky Pas de Deux, Jiří Kylián's Return to a Strange Land, Kiyon Ross’ Sum Stravinsky, Liam Scarlett’s Vespertine and world premiere Catch, Ricardo Amarante’s Love Fear Loss, Lar Lubovitch’s Elemental Brubeck, and Yuri Possokhov’s Firebird. Jessica received praise and recognition as one of Dance Magazine’s “25 to Watch” in 2019 for her performances in Remembrance/Hereafter, Tschaikovsky Pas de Deux, and Who Cares?. She is very much looking forward to the challenges and opportunities that her seventh season with the Company will bring.

PC: Kim Kenney Photography

RORY HOHENSTEIN was born in Washington D.C., where he began dancing at the age of 6. Hohenstein furthered his training from the age of 12 at the Kirov Academy of Ballet. At 17, he joined Le Jeune Ballet de France in Paris. In 2000, he joined San Francisco Ballet as a member of the corps, being promoted to soloist in 2006. In 2008, he moved to New York, joining Christopher Wheeldon’s company, Morphoses, performing in its home seasons at New York City Center and at Sadler’s Wells in London. He spent a season dancing with the Lar Lubovitch Dance Company before joining the Joffrey Ballet in 2011, where he continued to be a leading artist with the company through the 2018/19 season. Some personal highlights include dancing the roles of Romeo in Krzysztof Pastor’s Romeo & Juliet, Riff in Jerome Robbins’ West Side Story Suite, Levin in Yuri Possokhov’s Anna Karenina and in Wayne McGregor’s Eden/Eden. This is Hohenstein’s fourth season as company repetiteur at Atlanta Ballet.

PC: Keiko Guest

JENNIFER INMAN began teaching at the Atlanta Ballet Centre for Dance Education in 2013. Before joining the Atlanta Ballet Centre faculty, she taught at the school of The Georgia Ballet for 16 years, where she also performed in the professional company for three seasons. In addition to teaching a variety of levels at the school, she also helped establish the inaugural DanceAbility class, a community program for special needs students. While at the Georgia Ballet, she had the opportunity to study with Marina Levasheva, Gina Hyatt-Mazon, and Janusz Mazon. Professional company repertory included George Balanchine’s Serenade, excerpts from Paquita and Sleeping Beauty, and the original casts of Going Bach and Carnival of the Animals.

Jennifer’s childhood training was primarily with Ballet Hysell School (the affiliate school of the New Orleans Ballet) where the faculty included Harvey Hysell, Vincenzo Celli, Diane Carney, and Barbara Forbes. She later studied with Joseph Giacobbe in New Orleans and at the Boston School of Ballet as both a summer and year-round student.

Jennifer began teaching ballet at The Lexington School of Dance in Virginia while earning her B.A. in American History and French as well as following her passion for classical music by studying music history and hosting a classical radio program.

In addition to teaching ballet, Jennifer with her husband Mark cares for their three children, one of whom is on the autism spectrum.

AARON JAMES, a creative director, choreographer, dancer, and actor, has been active in the professional entertainment industry for just over 15 years. He got his "big break" as he was a participant on MTV’s America’s Best Dance Crew in 2010 with his crew Royal Flush that he created along with his younger brother Jared James. Exposure from placing in the Top 8 on America's Best Dance Crew propelled him into a full-fledged professional dancing career that gradually led to many other opportunities in the entertainment world. Aaron has graced the stage with many big names such as Pharrell, Kanye West, Kane Brown, Little Big Town, Baby Keem, T-Pain , Jacob Latimore, and more. Aaron has choreographed for many artists such as Jack Harlow, Est Gee, and Lecrae just to name a few, as well as balancing an emerging acting career as you can find Aaron in many movies, television series & commercials currently airing on many major networks and streaming platforms. Aaron continues to expand his career as an emerging leader in Atlanta's quickly expanding entertainment industry and loves being able to share what he learns with many young performers who wish to follow in similar footsteps.

COURTNEY JOHNSON started dancing in 2012 with Sugarloaf Ballet. She studied in the conservatory program. She held many roles with their repertoire of Nutcracker and fall classic ballets they performed. In 2019, Courtney started to train with Mr. Orlando Molina until 2020. She has been with Atlanta Ballet since 2020. She has performed in multiple performances for Atlanta Ballet and Atlanta Ballet 2: Nutcracker, Don Quixote, Beauty and the Beast, and Snow White. Courtney has competed in ballet and contemporary programs. She placed Top 12 Contemporary at YAGP for 2 years, placed Top 15 Contemporary for UBC for 3 years, and placed Top 15 for UBC Classical Ballet at UBC. She also was awarded the Triple Threat Award from NYCDA. She was awarded a merit scholarship to Harid Conservatory to attend their summer intensive program.

Armoni Moody

ARMONI MOODY is an empathetic and energetic dance educator who was born and raised in Atlanta, GA. She began her formal training as a Dance and Education Studies major at Barnard College of Columbia University in New York, NY. While living in New York, Armoni also had the opportunity to train with Alvin Ailey Extension School and the absolute pleasure of serving on staff with Ailey Camp New York. Armoni earned her Master of Education in Arts Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She is the founder and director of an education brand called Mantra Movements which brings body-centered mental health and wellness support to college students of color. She is currently on staff as an Atlanta Ballet Centre for Dance Education Community Engagement Faculty teaching Kindergarten and First Grade Ballet and Creative Movement classes.

PC: Joy Paillet

AMELIA MURREN has trained in dance for 11 years and has studied the Cecchetti method, Vaganova technique, and the ABT ballet curriculum. She is a graduate of La Roche University, earning her bachelor’s degree in performing arts for dance. She is a member of Sigma Tau Delta and The National Honor Society for Leadership and Success. While at La Roche, she choreographed a piece for Human Trafficking Awareness week and performed in a piece honoring the Tree of Life Synagogue. Amelia has danced professionally in Pittsburgh through the 2019-2020 season and taught through Bodiography’s outreach program. She has performed in works choreographed by Callum Newman, Gia Cacalano, Jackie O’Toole, and Christina DiMarco. She is passionate about ballet and contemporary styles and shares this love with her students.

PC: James Keates, London UK

HAN MYERS was born and raised in Pullman, WA. She began dancing at age 6 and received formal training and mentorship throughout her youth from Crystal Fullmer, Noreen Graham, the Joffrey Ballet, Martha Graham School of Dance, and Mark Morris Dance Group. After high school, she continued her dance education at the Hartt School of Dance under the direction of Stephen Pier. During her time as an undergraduate, she worked with highly esteemed dancers, choreographers and guest faculty. After receiving her BFA in Ballet Pedagogy and Performance, Han continued to perform, choreograph and teach as a freelance artist around the United States and Europe for 7 years. Throughout these years she performed with the Atlanta Opera, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and the Martha Graham School of Dance. Her choreographic works have debuted at the Atlanta Fringe Festival, Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the Hartford Dance Collective, DanceATL: AM Collaborative, and at many venues across Washington State, Idaho, New York and Connecticut. In 2022, Myers began her graduate school journey at the London Contemporary Dance School under the direction of Dr. Katrina McPherson. Han received her MA in Screendance this past January and her filmic works have been screened across Europe and the United States at various film festivals and exhibitions. In addition to performing, teaching, filming, and choreographing dance, Han is also interested in collaborative research. This fall she will be co-hosting a session at the Southeastern College Art Conference (Atlanta, GA) with Dr. Rebecca Siefert of Governor’s State University. Han is excited to join the Atlanta Ballet as an instructor and mentor.

DENYS NEDAK was born in Odessa, Ukraine. In 2005, he began to study in the Kyiv Municipal Ukraine Dance Academy, named after Serge Lyfar. While in the Academy he was invited to perform at the National Opera House in Kyiv, where he danced his first professional performances as Paris in Romeo and Juliet and Prince in The Nutcracker. After graduation, Denys joined National Opera House of Ukraine in Kyiv, working under the supervision and guidance of a People's Artist of Ukraine, N.D Pryadchenko, to create his repertoire. In 2008, Denys became principal dancer. He has become known as a performer of lyrical-romantic repertoire at National Opera House of Ukraine. In the theatre he frequently partners with leading ballerinas, including E. Filipeva, T. Golyakova, N. Matsak, U. Lopatkina, N. Polakova, V. Part and P. Herrera. In 2011, Denys was honored with the title of Merited Artist of Ukraine. His popularity in Ukraine has led to many invitations to perform at international festivals. He is a regular guest artist at the, Rudolf Nureyev International Festival of Ballet Art in Ufa. Since 2014, Denys performed as a regular guest at the National Theater of Serbia; from 2014 to 2015, as a guest dancer with American Ballet Theatre and the Vienna State Opera; from 2016 to2017, as a guest dancer in the Finnish National Opera and Ballet; and the Norwegian National Opera & Ballet. He worked with teachers, such as N. Pryadchenko, V. Yaremenko, N. Makarova, I. Kolpakova, I. Muchamedov, M. Legris, J. Boocca, and O. Evreinoff. In 2017, Denys was honored with the prestigious title of People’s Artist of the Ukraine. He now travels frequently throughout Russia, France, Italy, Germany and Japan to show his skill. Denys’ repertoire includes: Solor in La Bayadere, Basil in Don Quixote (Nureyev), Prince in The Sleeping Beauty (Ratmansky), Prince Siegfried in Swan Lake (Nureyev), Albert in Giselle, Jose and Escamilio in Carmen Suite, Jean de Brienne in Raymonda, Conrad in Le Corsaire, Prince in The Nutcracker, Krass in Spartacus, The Golden Slave in Scheherazade and Alexandre in Lady of Camellias, as well as roles in a Classic Pas de Deux (Balanchine), a Grand Pas de Deux (Ober), Silvia Pas de Deux (Balanchine), Red Giselle as Chekist (Eifman) and Touch of illusion (Ricardo Amarante).

PC: Jarell Nikola Stevens

JULIA 'ARNESHUIA' NELSON, was born and raised in Augusta, GA where she started her intensive dance training under Sharon ‘Skepple’ Mayfield, Bessie Award Winner 1999. Coupled with her Ballet training at Augusta Ballet she graduated from Davidson Fine Arts Magnet School as “Best Female Dancer”. During this time she also received recognition through multiple Magazines and Dance competitions such as Dance American, and Urban pro-Weekly. This lead her to be accepted into the Boston Conservatory at 17 years old. Through the summers she taught dance for local studios in Georgia, California, and New York. After school, her Professional Dance career continued under the training of Garth Fagan for over a year. She has returned to Atlanta, GA to further her education in dance pedagogy through teaching and training for multiple performance art studios all while earning her certificate for Personal Training.

Kyra Opdyke
PC: Maximillian Tortoriello Photography

KYRA OPDYKE is originally from Atlanta, Georgia but began her early dance training at the Bel Air Dance Academy and The School of Pennsylvania Ballet under the direction of Arantxa Ochoa. She later returned to Atlanta and trained at the Atlanta Academy of Ballet and Dance under the directorship of Susan Beebe. She recently graduated from Butler University with a B.F.A in Dance-Performance cum laude with High Distinction and a Music minor. While at Butler, she had the opportunity to perform lead roles such as Dew Drop and Arabian Lead in The Nutcracker, Fastrada in Butler Theatre’s production of Pippin, and was cast in George Balanchine’s Serenade staged by Deborah Wingert. She also performed a new work by Jennifer Archibald titled Ourfire. Other ballets she enjoyed performing in include Giselle and Swan Lake, as well as excerpts from Don Quixote, La Bayadère, Le Corsaire, and The Little Humpbacked Horse. In addition, Kyra has attended summer intensive programs at Atlanta Ballet, Cincinnati Ballet, and The Kirov Academy. She is excited to join the Atlanta Ballet faculty and to share her love of dance with her students!

PC: Marley Carter

JOY PAILLET attended La Roche University, majoring in dance and minoring in education. During her time at LRU, she performed works by Melissa Tyler, Kelly Basil, Gia Cocalano, Callan Newman, and Christina DiMarco. She has been educating young dancers for four years and is dedicated to pedagogy. Joy also choreographed numerous pieces, including one that has been performed for the award ceremony of Talk Magazine. She currently dances and choreographs professionally with CityDance Collective and is a dance educator in the greater Atlanta Area. Her future plans include dancing professionally, until she retires, and starting a performing arts school and dance company of her own.

ANNA PENNY has been dancing and performing since the age of four years old. Starting from rhythmic gymnastics until the age of ten. She was accepted into the Belarusian State Choreography College where studied classical, character dance, modern, and other styles of ballet. During this time she traveled with the college all over Eastern and Western Europe and Asia. Anna performed in international competitions Prix De Lausanne representing the country of Belarus. She performed many roles in ballets such as Swan Lake, Nutcracker, Corsair, Sleeping Beauty, Don Quixote, and Raymonda. Anna performed for the Queen of the Netherlands and for Chelsea Clinton and participated in the movie “Russian Arc” which made the Guinness Book of World Records for non-stop taping in the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Being the Valedictorian of graduating class, traveled to the United States with the International Group of Performers in 1998. She worked and performed with the Carolina Ballet and was also teaching gymnastics and ballet to children. In 2000, danced for the movie “A Parent’s Guide to Ballet”. In 2002 Anna started a professional teaching career at places like Cary Ballet Conservatory, Florida Dance Theater, and Southern Florida College. During this time she staged many classical ballets and choreographed original ballet, character dances, and contemporary pieces. Anna had the opportunity to coach and take students to YAGP. Some of her students now perform on stages such as NYC Ballet, Atlanta Ballet, Carolina Ballet, and Los Angeles Ballet among many others.

EDUARDO PERMUY was born in Cuba where he began his training at the age of 7 at Laura Alonso's ballet school Pro-Danza, later joining the National Ballet School of Cuba and finishing at Miami City Ballet School under the tutelage of Nancy Raffa. At the age of 17, Permuy started his professional career with Miami City Ballet as an apprentice and he went to enjoy a career of 18 years also dancing for American Ballet Theatre Studio Company, Joffrey Ballet, Ballet West, Smuin Contemporary Ballet, Cincinnati Ballet, and appearing as guest artist with a few others. During this time, his repertoire included most of the classics and a vast number of ballets from the Balanchine repertoire, ranging from corps to principal roles. He also had the opportunity to perform ballets from Gerald Arpino, Robert Joffrey, Jiří Kylián, Kurt Joss, John Cranko, Frederick Ashton, Kenneth MacMillan, Twyla Tharp, Helen Picket, Nicolo Fonte, Antony Tudor, Ulysses Dove, Michael Smuin, Val Caniparoli, Alberto Alonso, Benjamin Millepied, Leonide Massine, and Amy Seiwert. Throughout his career, Permuy feels blessed to have learned from figures like Nancy Raffa, Fernanado Bujones, Martha Bosh, Sir Anthony Dowell, Christopher Carr, Eddie Villella and Clinton Luckett. In 2021, he joined Cleveland Ballet as a director of repertoire, where he had the opportunity to not only perform ballet master duties but also was able to return to the stage as a character dancer, performing the roles of Don Quijote in the ballet by the same name and Drosselmeyer in The Nutcracker. This is Permuy's second season with Atlanta Ballet.

CHANTIA L. ROBINSON has received professional dance training since the tender age of 2. As an Atlanta native with goals to master skills in both business and performing arts, she received her Bachelor of Arts Degree in English and a minor in dance, and a Master’s Degree in HR Management. She has also performed in numerous choreography showcases, concerts, and festivals with Atlanta Ballet, Spelman Dance Theatre, Modern Atlanta Dance Festival, Dance Canvas, Alvin Ailey, and more. She was a mentor for the Dance Talent Component for Usher’s New Look Foundation as well. In 2010, she gained a credited role as a dancer in Tyler Perry’s For Colored Girls. She started teaching dance at the Atlanta Ballet Centre for Dance Education and furthered her experience with the Dance Institute of Washington where she has taught all divisions: Pre-Dance, Community, Pre-Professional, Adult Classes, and Senior Citizen Outreach initiatives in the Columbia Heights community of Washington, D.C. Since 2008, she choreographs annual Spring Concert pieces for dance organizations in both Washington, DC, and Atlanta, GA. Her choreography of a trio “Nostalgia” was presented at the following locations: Institute of Peace, the French Embassy for the 25th DIW Anniversary Gala featuring Dance Theatre of Harlem, and during a collaborative workshop with the National Symphony Orchestra. In 2019, she choreographed an award-winning lyrical piece “The Kids Are Alright” for Kimmestry. It was Kimmestry’s first lyrical piece and it received an outstanding High Gold award. She has always placed her vision and passion for dance within her students and continues to motivate and inspire others through her ongoing dance endeavors. She wants to keep sharing her love for dance with youth in dance studios and community outreach initiatives.

PC: Becca Vision

Dancing since the age of six, LAY'LA (LIE-YAY-LA) KESI ROGERS is a Chicago-born - Las Vegas native. Lay'la attended the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, where she danced professionally with the Red Desert Dance Co. & West Las Vegas Arts Center while receiving a BFA in Dance Performance & Choreography. She went on to graduate from New York University, with an MA/MFA dual degree from Steinhardt School of Education & Tisch School of the Performing Arts, Lay'la has dedicated her career as a dance scholar to researching, creating, & implementing anti-racist and holistic dance pedagogy. In 2019, Lay'la had the honor of presenting twice; one in the form of a curriculum, Intercultural Pedagogy in Community Engagement (IPCE), founded on the integration of technical dance skills, student cultural heritage, and community engagement; and the other in the form of a proposal entitled, Reassessing the Dance Educators scope on Cultural integration: Retaining Students of Color in the dance classroom at the National Dance Educators Organization Conference (NDEO). Layla utilizes her gifts as a dance scholar to continue to bring awareness and allyship to causes such as BLM, women's rights, & LGBTQ+ rights in the most creative ways possible. Lay'la worked as the Inaugural IP Rights and Arts Management Associate for the Merce Cunningham Trust and danced professionally throughout the city of New York, working with choreographers Hope Boykin and André Zachary. Lay’la most recently worked for the Stephen Petronio Company as the company’s General Manager, but now lives and dances in Atlanta.

ANDERSON SOUZA was born in Santo Angelo, Brazil. Anderson received his training at the Conservatório Brasileiro de Dança under Jorge Teixeira. After graduating, he joined the Cia Brasileira de Ballet in Rio de Janeiro, dancing in principal and soloist roles and competing in national and international competitions, including the Beijing International Ballet Competition. Souza traveled with the Company to perform in Colombia, China, Israel, and France. In 2013, he joined Gelsey Kirkland Ballet. Under the unique guidance of Kirkland, Anderson matured his artistry and received praise from national critics, including those at The New York Times. He has enjoyed dancing roles in The Nutcracker (by Yuri Possokhov) La Sylphide as Gurn (staged by Johan Kobborg), Sum Stravinsky (by Kiyon Ross), Sandpaper Ballet (by Mark Morris), Tuplet (by Alexander Ekman) and the world premiere of Catch (by Liam Scarlett). Anderson is excited to be joining Atlanta Ballet for his 4th season!

PC: Matthew Spencer

CAITLIN M. SPENCER (or Dr. C.) is a choreographer, dancer, sound and visual artist, filmmaker, writer, and educator. Caitlin holds a B.A. in Dance and African American Studies from Oberlin College, and an MFA in Choreography, a graduate certificate in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, and a PhD in Educational Studies/Cultural Foundations, all from UNC Greensboro. Caitlin has been active in a range of dance communities, movement practices, and performance projects for more than 25 years and currently works as an interdisciplinary educator and artist.

Caitlin loves teaching a range of dance classes (rhythm tap, creative movement, contemporary dance, improvisation, choreography) and sees dance class as a unique place where people may come alive, thrive, and create community in all sorts of ways. Caitlin approaches the studio as a portal for practice, play, and collaboration, and seeks to support each student’s expressions, curiosities, questions, and creative processes. Caitlin’s classes are grounded in inclusive and equitable teaching practices, offer a rich interplay of choreography, improvisation, and movement techniques, and are inspired by the transformative potential of dance, movement, choreography, and art-making.

PC: Kim Kenney Photography

WESTERN-LI SUMMERTON is a pianist based in Atlanta, Georgia. Born in Bellingham, Washington, Summerton has studied with renowned pianists throughout the Pacific Northwest including Judith Widrig, Ralph Markham, Kenneth Broadway, Anita King, Jean-David Coen, and Hwakyu Lee; as well as compositional studies with Renee Favand-See and Kenji Bunch. Summerton has extensive experience in collaboration between music and dance, having played for many companies across the country, including The Portland Ballet, Oregon Ballet Theatre, NW Dance Project, Alonzo King LINES Ballet and United Ballet Theatre. In 2021, Summerton was invited to play classes for the Royal Danish Ballet and Hungarian National Ballet. In 2022, he made his debut performance with Atlanta Ballet, performing in Claudia Schreier’s Pleiades Dances. Since then, he has performed with Atlanta Ballet and the Atlanta Ballet Orchestra in works such as Justin Peck’s In Creases, Cathy Marston’s Snowblind, and Ben Stevenson’s Three Preludes. He currently serves as the Company Pianist/Music Administration Coordinator for Atlanta Ballet. Summerton holds a Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance with a minor in Business from Portland State University.

PC: Amanda Neeley (AMN Photography)

CALLA VAUGHN graduated Summa Cum Laude from Kennesaw State University in May of 2018 with a Bachelor of Arts in Dance and a minor in Accounting.

Calla has danced professionally with City Gate Dance Theater, Ballet Southeast, and most recently, with The Esthete Collective in their 2022 show Wake. In college, Calla performed with the KSU Dance Company in works by Christine Welker, McCree O’Kelley, Martha Goodman, and Dr. Ivan Pulinkala.

Growing up in Middle Georgia, Calla trained with several dance studios in the area including Academy of Dance in Warner Robins, Georgia, International City School of Ballet in Warner Robins, Georgia (now located in Smyrna), and the Madison Studio of Dance Education in Macon, Georgia. Calla also trained for six consecutive summers at the Joffrey South Summer Intensive hosted by the Joffrey Ballet in Milledgeville, Georgia. Here, she studied with such instructors as Valerie Madonia, Olivier Wecxsteen, and Elizabeth Parkinson.

Aside from performing and teaching, Calla also enjoys working in arts administration and organization. In college, Calla was a member of both Nu Delta Alpha and the National Honor Society for Dance Arts at KSU. She had the privilege of serving as a student leader in both organizations, being elected Historian for Nu Delta Alpha her junior year and President of the National Honor Society for Dance Arts her senior year.

Calla is now entering her sixth season teaching for the Atlanta Ballet Centre for Dance Education as a ballet, tap, and creative movement instructor.

Born in Russia, NATALYA VYASHENKO began her professional performing career as a dancer with the Bolshoi Theatre of Opera and Ballet of Tashkent after graduating from the National Academy. Natalya was accepted into Tashkent University in 2002, where she earned a degree in Classical Ballet Choreography and Pedagogy.

Natalya began her teaching career in 2002 when she was hired as a classical ballet and character dance pedagogue at the Tashkent National Academy. Natalya relocated to Ohio in 2005 and was named artistic director of the Ohio Youth Ballet in 2007. Natalya then started a ballet school, which she and her husband, Nurzhan, ran for ten years. In 2017, Natalya became an ABT fellow instructor, and in 2019, she joined the ABT NTC team, as a certification examination proctor. Natalya and her husband, Nurzhan, were invited to join the Fort Wayne Ballet in 2019.

Natalya joined Atlanta Ballet Academy's faculty in the fall of 2021, and she could not be more excited!

GEORGE WILSON-BERRY is a newly appointed Assistant Professor of Dance at Brenau University with an MFA from the University of Alabama. During his performance career, he was a member of the Proia Dance Project (Atlanta, GA) before joining the Roxey Ballet (Lambertville, NJ), dancing in numerous classical and contemporary roles. Following his MFA, he held a full-time faculty appointment at Alabama and completed the American Ballet Theatre’s (ABT) National Training Curriculum through Level 5.

His choreographic work has been featured at Broadway Dance Center, the Young Choreographer’s Festival, Benjamin Briones’ The Round Table, and the Alabama Dance Festival. George has created numerous dance films with select screenings at MFA Makers in Motion and the American College Dance Association’s (ACDA) Screendance Festival, where his film “Fragile” was chosen for the final night gala. His feature-length Screendance “SeaQueens” premiered in 2023 at the Historic BAMA Theatre with a live orchestra and original score by Dr. Warren Ertle.

His research has earned him several awards, sponsorships, and grants, including an Outstanding Non-Traditional Thesis from the University of Alabama College of Arts and Sciences, a Levitetz Innovation Seed Grant, and an Outstanding Research Paper from the Southeastern University Graduate Research Symposium. In addition to concert dance work, he has choreographed several musicals, including Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at Red Mountain Theatre (Assistant Choreographer/Director) and The Rocky Horror Show on the Marian Gallaway mainstage at the University of Alabama. He believes in true collaboration and the importance of the dance community existing beyond theatre walls as we fight for our art form in the vast media landscape.