Staff & Teachers

 

Wade Walthall

Artistic Director

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.

Holley Calmes

Marketing Director

Lisa Sheppard Robson

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.” 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.

Predrag Gosta

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.

Lillian Leung

Receptionist

GBT is happy to have Ms. Lillian Leung as our receptionist and invaluable friend!

David Decaminada, Pianist

TEACHING STAFF:

Wade Walthall, Artistic Director

(See bio above)

David Blumenfeld

Grayson Driver

Jennifer Hurley Dunn

Elizabeth Galloway

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 Balanchine’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.

Yasmine Hassan

Victoria Leigh

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 Lewis 

Erin Sipsy

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.

John Streit

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.