Staff & Teachers
Wade Walthall received his formal dance training under a Ford Foundation Scholarship and Stipend to the School of American Ballet, the official school of the New York City Ballet. Coming directly from his academic training, he was offered a soloist position by then Director, Rudi Van Dantzig of The National Ballet of Holland. He lived in Amsterdam for several years and went on to dance an extremely varied and eclectic repertory, including works by some of the world’s foremost choreographers. After a season as the principal resident guest artist for The National Ballet of Spain, located in Madrid, Mr. Walthall returned to Seattle in the United States in 1982 as a Principal dancer for The Pacific Northwest Ballet under the Direction of Kent Stowell and Francia Russell. After his 7 year performing career with The Pacific Northwest Ballet, Mr. Walthall was a requested guest artist and performed throughout the United States. Throughout his career, Mr. Walthall has studied, worked, and performed with some of the most prestigious figures in the Dance World. He has performed with artists such as Rudolf Nureyev, Alexander Gudanov, Wayne Eagling, Merle Parke, Leslie Collier, and Karin Kain, in cities including New York, London, Paris, Rome, Toronto, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Jakarta, and Hong Kong. As an instructor Mr. Walthall has taught various dance techniques at Pacific Northwest Ballet, Ballet Austin, The Hong Kong Ballet, The Washington Ballet, and San Antonio Dance Theater. In 1986 Mr. Walthall danced the male lead in the cinematic version of the STOWELL/SENDAK/BALLARD movie: NUTCRACKER: THE MOTION PICTURE. After his retirement from the stage Mr. Walthall received a degree cum laude in dance education from The University of Washington and was a pivotal figure in the creation and development of The Evergreen City Ballet where he designed, choreographed, directed, and taught for the school and company. He is mentioned in several listings of notable personalities throughout the world including Who’s Who in America and The Dictionary of American Biography.
Lisa Sheppard Robson
Artistic Director Emeritus Ms. Robson joined Gwinnett Ballet Theatre in 1996 as guest artist and faculty member, and became Artistic Director in 1997. Ms. Robson directed GBT for 14 seasons, with the mission of bringing quality instruction and Productions to Gwinnett County. During this era, GBT fostered dancers who received admission and scholarships to many exclusive Summer Intensive dance programs around the Country, including the year round program with financial support for Nancy Casciano at School of American Ballet. GBT student, Abigrace Diprima reached the New York City finals of YAGP and performed on the Gala Program. Recent graduates have secured financial scholarships in college programs such as; Point Park University, Butler University, Florida State University, University of South Carolina, University of Georgia, and Kennesaw State University. GBT toured Europe through two tours of The Stars of Tomorrow, performing selections from GBT’s repertory. GBT alumni received contracts in the following Companies: Colorado Ballet, Ballet Arizona, Houston Ballet, North Carolina Dance Theatre, Richmond Ballet, Company C, and Ballet Theatre of Maryland. Alumni Alessandra Ball received the Bronze medal and the Grishko award in The Premio Roma International Ballet Competition held in Rome, Italy and was awarded the 2005 Princess Grace award. Alex performed on the Gala for YAGP to celebrate the careers of Patricia Mc Bride and Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux. Alumni Jessica Collado received the acclaimed status of Dance Magazine’s 25 to watch in 2009, and Best Performance in 2011, for her portrayal in Christopher Bruce’s Grinning In Your Face. GBT Alumni Dancer and acclaimed choreographer Robert Dekkers received Dance Magazine’s 25 to watch in 2011 after launching his new dance company, Post:Ballet which debuted in San Fransisco, Summer 2010. Ms. Robson is delighted for GBT to further pursue this mission with the appointment of Artistic Director, Mr. Wade Walthall. Ms. Robson first met Mr. Walthall in 1985 while dancing with Pacific Northwest Ballet where Mr. Walthall was a Principal Dancer. The excellence and artistry he embodied inspired Ms. Robson then, and she is excited that GBT’s current and future dancers will be enriched by Mr. Walthall’s wonderful skills as both a teacher and an inspiration.
Whitney Jones Snuggs
School Administrator Whitney Sue Jones came to Gwinnett Ballet Theatre as young student over 23 years ago. Now she is returning for as the new School Administrator. Jones walked into the GBT studios at the age of 4. She continued dancing with GBT under the direction of Lisa Sheppard Robson, performing roles such as the Sugar Plum Fairy in GBT’s annual production of “The Nutcracker” and many other leading roles. Jones holds a Masters of Science in Education and a Professional Training Certificate in Dance from the University of North Carolina, Charlotte in collaboration with North Carolina Dance Theatre. One of Jones’ most impressive accomplishments was not on the stage but in the classroom. She has taught ballet for GBT for the past several years, and during that time she took charge of GBT’s outreach program, The Dance Project. Ms. Jones has been in charge of this program for the past 2 years, and the Project has seen great growth and influence in the lives of many Title 1 school children over that period of time. Starting out with 20 young students, Jones has grown the program through her own efforts to reach approximately 130 young dancers. Some of these students have shown such promise that they have been brought into the GBT School’s regular curriculum on full or partial scholarships. The group performed at “Barefoot in the Park” on May 10th in downtown Duluth’s Town Green Park. The Dance Project also caught the attention of the National Endowment for the Arts which awarded the effort a matching grant last year.
Marketing Director Ms. Calmes has been involved in the arts in the Atlanta area for over thirty years. Her career has included positions with The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, the Woodruff Arts Center, the Academy Theatre, International Ballet Rotaru, the Gwinnett Philharmonic, and the Hudgens Center for the Arts among others. She has won Artworks!Gwinnett’s “Volunteer of the Year Award and is an alumna of Arts Leaders of Metro Atlanta Class of 2012, a program of the Atlanta Regional Commission. She also writes a weekly column for the Gwinnett Daily Post called “Art Beat” and also writes for “Atlanta ShowGuide Manazine.” Ms. Calmes has also maintained a presence on Gwinnett’s art scene by writing her weekly column for the Gwinnett Daily Post, “Art Beat,” for ten years. She has contributed volunteer work to the Georgia Council for the Arts and been the Chairman of Performing Arts and Volunteers for the annual “Barefoot in the Park Arts Festival” since its beginning in 2003. She is a member of the Atlanta Regional Commission’s “Arts Leadership of Atlanta.” She is also on the Board of the acclaimed Atlanta arts presenter “New Trinity Baroque” and the highly regarded “Dance Canvas.” She is married to the well known dance photographer Richard Calmes, and together they contribute to the support and elevation of dance by contributing time and work for dancers across the country.
Music Director and Conductor The founding Music Director and Conductor of the Gwinnett Ballet Theatre Orchestra, Predrag Gosta is steadily building a reputation as one of the most exciting conductors in the Southeast. He is the founder and Artistic Director of Atlanta’s acclaimed period instrument ensemble, New Trinity Baroque, as well as the Assistant Conductor of the National Philharmonic in Washington D.C. Born in Belgrade, Serbia, Gosta started playing violin at the age of six, and later continued his studies in voice, harpsichord and conducting. Educated at leading music conservatories in Europe, he is the recipient of both academic and performance scholarships from Trinity College of Music in London, Belgrade Music Academy, and Georgia State University in Atlanta. He received an undergraduate degree and Postgraduate Certificate from Trinity, three Master of Music degrees from GSU, and had attended masterclasses and summer schools in England, Germany, Russia and the United States. Gosta performed throughout the U.S. and Europe, including Boston, New York, London, and Belgrade. Most recently, he toured England, Finland, Sweden and Serbia, and guest conducted orchestras in Russia, in St. Petersburg and Moscow. He has over a dozen CD recordings to his credit and has published articles in leading music journals. He is the Artist in Residence and former Adjunct Professor at Oxford College of Emory University, and a member of Phi Beta Delta Honor Society for International Scholars and Mu Phi Epsilon International Music Fraternity.
GBT is happy to have Ms. Lillian Leung as our receptionist and invaluable friend!
David Decaminada, Pianist
David Decaminada … Originally from Columbus, Ohio,has been involved with ballet andmodern dance as an piano accompanist since 1979. In Ohio, he accompanied both modern and ballet dance at Ohio State University and The Ballet Metropolitan. His background as a pianist also includes Columbus Ohio Association for the Performing Arts, Warner Cable and St. Thomas Moore NewmanCenter.
After moving to Georgia in 1984 his associations include the Atlanta Ballet, Atlanta School of Ballet, Agnes Scott College, Georgia State University, S.E.R.B.A.(Southeastern Regional Ballet Association) and Joffrey South programs. Since 1987 David has been associated with the Emory Dance Program as one of the faculty musicians who accompanies ballet and jazz classes via piano and percussion.He has worked as an accompanist with Roswell DanceTheatre and the Tolbert Yilmaz School of Dance .
David continues his association with former prima ballerina Maniya Berredo’s MBT, Metropolitan Theatre. Most recently, David was involved with YAGP, (Youth American Grand Prix,) held at GBTGwinnett Ballet Theatre. He is, since 2013, now on board with GBT.
Rick Reynolds, Pianist
A native of Michigan, Rick moved to the Atlanta area in 1991. He began playing for ballet classes in 2000 with Atlanta Ballet. In addition to the 15 years with AB, Rick has worked with Emory Dance, Metropolitan Dance Theatre, and Alvin Ailey touring company. He is happy to now be part of Gwinnett Ballet Theatre.
Wade Walthall, Artistic Director (See bio above)
David Blumenfeld began dancing at the age of 5 with Dame Sonia Arova at the Alabama Ballet. He continued training with Wes Chapman and Roger VanFleteren when they assumed leadership over the company. He later trained with Atlanta Ballet Centre for Dance Education, and the School of American Ballet.
After 3 years at the School of American Ballet, David joined the Alabama Ballet, and later the Atlanta Ballet, where he danced numerous featured roles in classical, neoclassical, and new works.
David is the recipient of the 2001 Mae L. Wein award for outstanding promise, and was awarded the Rudolph Nureyev Scholarship while attending the School of American Ballet for the 2000-2001 and 2001-2002 school years. David also graduated with honors, and received a B.A. in Anthropology from Georgia State University in August 2007, and a masters degree in International Relations from the American University of Paris in 2011. He has worked as a public relations consultant in Paris, specializing in art, culture, and design.
Erin Sipsy Bond
Erin studied ballet for 15 years, 12 of which were at Gwinnett Ballet Theatre. During Erin’s time at Gwinnett Ballet Theatre, she was a company member for 7 years and served as a rehearsal coach and substitute teacher. She taught ballet at A Step Ahead Performing Arts for two years. Erin is currently a college student studying to be an elementary school teacher.
Jennifer Hurley Dunn
Jennifer is originally from Upstate New York and began her training with Warwick Ballet Theatre of Warwick, New York under the direction of Lucinda Henry. In 2002, she received the Silvio Petturici Performing Arts Scholarship Award. She has trained at Joffrey Ballet School, American Academy of Ballet, American Ballet Theater, and the Kirov Academy. Jennifer graduated cum laude from The University of the Arts with a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Dance Performance and Dance Education. Her dance education includes Classical Ballet, Modern, Jazz, Contemporary, pedagogy, kinesiology, and Irish Step. Jennifer was a TA at The University of the Arts for Dance History and Anatomy, and taught for CAPA performing arts high school. Jennifer moved to Atlanta after graduating and she has been a company member of Atlanta Festival Ballet Company since 2007. She has had the opportunity to perform many soloist & principal rolls including White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland, Princess Florine in Sleeping Beauty, Odette/Odile in Swan Lake, Cinderella, La Bayadere, Stars & Stripes, and the Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker. In 2014, Jennifer also took on the role as office manage & program outreach coordinator for Atlanta Festival Ballet School. Jennifer is a member of the National Dance Educators Organization, and has served as a guest teacher all around metro- Atlanta area including Gainesville Ballet Company and Dominy Performing Arts School. She also choreographed “Fame” the musical for Clayton County Performing Arts Center in May of 2015. Jennifer is celebrating her second year as Gwinnett Ballet faculty member.
Born and raised in Cheverly, Maryland Elizabeth began her training at age 6 at the National Ballet School under the direction of Helen and Pamela Moore. There she trained in the Cecchetti method taking exams through the advanced level. During her high school training, Elizabeth was accepted into Suitland High School’s Visual and Performing Arts Program where she trained in ballet, modern, jazz and African dance. Elizabeth was later accepted into the Mercyhurst College Dance Program where she studied under the direction of Tauna Hunter. While studying at Mercyhurst, she had the opportunity to perform in many classical ballets such as Coppelia, Giselle and Lake Erie Ballet’s The Nutcracker as well as many contemporary pieces by both faculty and students. In her senior year, her contemporary piece Running Up That Hill was selected to be adjudicated at the American College Dance Festival. After graduating with a BA in Dance in 2010, Elizabeth was offered a contract with Atlanta Festival Ballet. While with AFB, she has had the opportunity to dance such roles as Spanish and Arabian in The Nutcracker, Pas de Trois in Sleeping Beauty and Winter Fairy in Cinderella and the Pas de Trois in Swan Lake. Elizabeth is thrilled to be back for her third year on the Gwinnett Ballet faculty.
Rebecca Crawford Harmon
An Atlanta native, Rebecca Crawford Harman trained at Ruth Mitchell Dance Theater, Atlanta School of Ballet, Joffery Ballet School, and the Kirov Academy of Ballet under scholarship. Continuing her training at the Miami City Ballet School, she performed principal roles in such ballets as George Balanchine’s Concerto Barocco, The Nutcracker, Jewels, and Who Cares? With the Miami City Ballet she danced in Balanchine’s Stars and Stripes and The Nutcracker, and in the Miami City Ballet’s Lecture Series, the role of Odette in Swan Lake, the Sugar Plum Fairy and Dew Drop in Balanchineâ€™s The Nutcracker, and Le Corsaire Pas de Deux. Rebecca has also danced professionally with American Repertory Ballet and Ballet Arizona. Rebecca has been teaching at Gwinnett Ballet Theater since 2004, serving as a private coach, choreographer, and rehearsal assistant. She has served as a guest teacher at numerous summer intensives, including Southeast Alabama Ballet and Georgia Dance Conservatory and has coached a student to the finals of the Youth of America Grand Prix. She has her B.A. in History and her Masters in Heritage Preservation from Georgia State University.
Victoria Leigh is a former soloist with American Ballet Theatre, The National Ballet of Canada, and principal dancer in Kiel, Germany. She trained in Florida with Georges Milenoff, and later JoAnna Kneeland, who also trained her to teach. Further teacher training was included later in her work with Ruth Petrinovic. Ms. Leigh began her full-time teaching career as Assistant Professor of Dance at the University of Oklahoma. During the ten years at OU, she performed in a number of ballets and modern works, and choreographed musicals, operas and operettas, and ballets. She taught guest classes and choreographed frequently for the Bartlesville Ballet in OK, and was a guest teacher for a number of others schools and colleges around the country. She also taught at several College Dance and Theatre Conventions. The University years also opened up the opportunities to study music and kinesiology, and to develop OU’s pedagogy program. She also taught ballet history, and team-taught kinesiology for dancers, with the help of the HPER department. A move to Florida to teach for Ruth Petrinovic and her Academy of Performing Arts in Ft. Lauderdale was followed by six years of running Leigh-Franklin Academy, with her partner, James Franklin. She also taught for Ballet Florida and the Palm Beach Ballet Center before being invited by Mary Day to teach at The School of the Washington Ballet. She retired from WSB in 2006, after 13 years. During the years there she did the audition tours for the Summer Intensive programs, and helped to run the summer programs, taught in the upper division, and also some Washington Ballet company classes. Now living in the Atlanta area, she teaches part time, and continues to run Ballet Talk for Dancers, which she has done for about 15 years. ( www.dancers.invisionzone.com ) This is an educational Ballet Discussion Forum for students 13 and up, teachers, parents of students, adult students, and anyone who loves ballet!
Xavier, aka Xay Zoleil, is an Alumni of Brookwood High School in Snellville, GA. There, his mentor, Ellen Tshudy, encouraged him to take a Theatre Dance class. His passion was sparked to pursue standup comedy, acting, dance competitions, performing, and choreography. Xavier is a regular performer at the Laughing Skull Lounge and works with an improv comedy group. Xay is also a music producer, writer, and artist. He produces and writes for many local Atlanta artists in many different genres. He also writes tv show scripts with his writing partner, Zac Botta. He is currently signed to the dance agency Bloc South!
There have been many people that have inspired and encouraged him to follow his dreams. Among those, Xavier would like to recognize, his family, his 12th grade Language Arts teacher, David Thompson, and his mentor Ellen Tshudy. Xay is founder of FreshHype, an entertainment collective that specializes in choreography, improv comedy, and features a full 6 person band, dancers, actors, and other musicians!
Pablina Lopez is a native to Atlanta and a proud Alumna of the Gwinnett Ballet Theatre and Kennesaw State University Dance Company. She has had the honor of performing with the KSU Dance Company for four consecutive seasons in venues such as The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, and Rialto Center for the Arts. Pablina has trained in programs with the Gwinnett Ballet Theatre and El Ballet Municipal de Santiago in Chile. Her most recent projects include performing in CATS with the Atlanta Lyric Theater as well as her debut in Dance Canvas 2015 at the Rialto Center of the Arts, performing SITE: by Britt Whitmoyer. She also enjoys dance photography and acting on her spare time. Pablina is to receive her Bachelor of Arts in Dance and Bachelor of Science in Communications from Kennesaw State University in July of 2015.
Regine Metayer began her dance training in Port-au-Prince (PAP), Haiti at the Haitian-American Academy of Ballet & Arts. She attended Florida State University and obtained a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA). Her dance education includes Classical Ballet, Modern, Jazz, Afro-Contemporary, and African-based dance studies. She has performed in such noted works as Balanchine’s AGON, Midsummer Night Dreams, Cinderella, La Bayadere, Paquita and the Nutcracker. She has worked with such renowned national and international professionals as Garth Fagan (Bucket Dance Theater), Doug Varone, Buglisis / Foreman, Jawolee Zollar (Urban Bush Women), Tyrone Brooks (Dance Theater of Harlem), Abdel Salaam (forces of nature), Suzanne Farrell (New York City Ballet), Lisa Lockwood, Sheila Humphre y(Royal Ballet), Anjali Austin(Dance theatre of Harlem), Richard Sias, Lynda Davis, Anthony Morgan and Myra Woodruff (graham company), all of whom are well known to the international dance community. After graduating from FSU, she relocated to New York City and studied at Ballet Hispanico. In December 2003, she danced with the Dance Continuum as a contemporary ballet soloist. She also performed with Ballet NY, Brooklyn Ballet Company, ASEID and Albano Ballet. In the year 2008 she joined Ballethnic Dance Company in East point, Georgia where she was a member for 7 years . In 2010 she started performing with World ballet as a guest artist under the direction of Henry Hernandez and Elizabeth Delancy. She also performed with Ballet collective in Memphis, Tennessee under the direction of Kevin Thomas. She is currently a member of City Gate Dance Theater in Avondales, Georgia. She is the artistic director of Metayer conservatory for the arts and currently a Licentiate Member of the Cecchetti Council of America, holding three Teacher Examination Certificates.
John majored in Criminal Justice and Dance although he does not intend to teach criminals to dance! He took his first ballet classe at Gwinnett Ballet Theatre under the direction of Lisa Sheppard Robson. He has since trained at Atlanta Ballet, The University of Georgia, and has spent summers at North Carolina School of the Arts and Point Park University. John danced professionally with the Georgia Ballet and as a guest artist with Atlanta Ballet. In 2011, he earned a Master of Fine Arts in Dance from The University of Arizona. In addition to dancing, John has renewed his love for singing and acting and in 2012 performed as Billy in the musical Anything Goes on the Gwinnett Center stage and in Cats with Atlanta Lyric Theatre. In addition to teaching and performing, John has a strong interest in choreography and his ballet se faire echarper was recognized for outstanding choreography in the Access Broadway competition. In addition, his piece Let it Be was selected as a finalist in the Panoply Choreographic Competition. He often choreographs for a few of the local area high schools. John is also adjunct faculty at Brenau University in Gainesville, GA.