North Georgia School of Ballet

Making a Pointe of Excellence in Sandy Springs

Bethany Elias

Owner and Director

Having been involved in the dance world for 30 years, Bethany began her early training at the School of Dancing Arts and later trained at the Academy of Ballet Arts in Marietta, GA as part of their pre-professional performing company.  Bethany performed leading roles such as Kitri in Don Quixote, Nikiya in La Bayadere, Jasmine in Aladdin, the lead in The Pied Piper among others. She studied ballet, pas de deux, pointe, modern, tap, jazz, character, and Afro-Caribbean dance. She continued her studies during summer intensives, on scholarship with BalletMet, and with North Carolina School of the Arts, South Carolina Summer Dance Conservatory, and the New York International Ballet Competition Summer study, studying with Melissa Hayden, Cynthia Harvey, Gelsey Kirkland, David Howard, Edward Villella, Dennis Nahat, and Marianna Tcherkassky among others.


Bethany received a scholarship to attend Birmingham-Southern College to study the Vagonova classical ballet technique with prima ballerina Mira Popovich. She graduated summa cum laude with a BA in Dance Performance, a minor in French, and as a member of the high achievement academic honor society Phi Beta Kappa. During her college years, Bethany received numerous awards including the Poinsettia Men's Club Award for Excellence in Ballet, and the Nina Karsavina Award for Excellence in Dance for 3 years in a row.


Upon college graduation, Bethany received a professional contract with The Georgia Ballet where she danced for over six years. While with GAB, Bethany performed as Myrtha in Giselle, Dewdrop in The Nutcracker, and performed in Balanchine's famous Serenade and Concerto Barocco among many others. Bethany also danced professionally for two years with the City Ballet of Los Angeles with Robyn Gardenhire (from A Dancer's Tale.) She additionally performed with CRound Danceworks and LA Unbound.


Bethany has been teaching dance for over 19 years and was previously the Ballet Mistress at British Academy of Performing Arts. She has also taught at the prestigious Long Beach Ballet and Orange County School for the Arts in California. She was the Ballet Director at Christine's School of Dance for 5 years and has taught at many other studios in Georgia and California. She has experience teaching every age and level from “Mommy-And-Me” toddlers to adults in ballet, pas de deux/partnering, pointe, modern, creative movement, jazz, and tap. Her past students have become professional ballet and modern dancers, are pursuing dance degrees from renowned dance universities, have become dance teachers and professionals on Broadway.


Bethany has choreographed and directed 11 full ballets including The Firebird, The Winter Polar Express, Cinderella, The Nutcracker, Rapunzel, The Wizard of Oz, Aladdin and Beauty and The Beast. Her choreography has been featured in the final rounds at The Panoply Choreography Festival, and CRound Balletworks. Additionally, she has choreographed for The Georgia Ballet professional company.  Bethany was also the Assistant Choreographer for Scary Movie 5 in 2013 and performed in the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, GA.


As the Owner and Director of the North Georgia School of Ballet, Bethany will continue to strive for the best instruction possible by providing a positive uplifting experience for her dancers with an individualized learning approach to build confidence and grow their love of the beautiful art of classical ballet!

Photography by Passion to Pixels

Photography by Richard Calmes

Dance Teacher
Emily Franz

Hip-Hop, Jazz and Ballet Instructor

Emily Franz trained under scholarship with the Georgia Academy of Dance and the Performing Arts in Peachtree City for ten years studying ballet, modern, jazz, hip hop, and tap. Emily received invitations to schools across the country including the Rock School, the American Ballet Theatre of New York, the Boston Ballet, and the Atlanta Ballet. She spent three summers studying at the Rock School of Dance in Philadelphia and was invited to study there on scholarship for the 2008-2009 school year. Emily was also invited to dance under professional contract with the Georgia Dance Theater for the 2009 season. Her performing credits include the Sugar Plum Fairy and Snow Queen in The Nutcracker, multiple soloist roles in Don Quixote, Three Musketeers, The Nutcracker, Symphony in C, several original pieces by Christopher Flemming of the Rock School, and several contemporary works showcased in Georgia Dance Theatre’s In The Spirit of Dance and A Celebration of Contemporary Dance series. Emily was a member of the University of Georgia Dance Dawgs from 2009-2012. The Dance Dawgs performed at all home men’s and women’s basketball games, SEC and NCAA basketball tournaments across the nation, gymnastics meets, volleyball games, football tailgates, and various campus philanthropy functions. Since beginning her teaching career with North Georgia School of Ballet in Sandy Springs, Emily has had the pleasure of performing in the studio’s annual spring performances, where she has danced the roles of The Stepmother in Cinderella, The Red Queen in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Snow White in Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, The Candlestick in Beauty and the Beast, and the Wicked Witch in The Wizard of Oz.


Emily’s teaching credits include several years with Georgia Academy of Dance’s Early Childhood Program as an Assistant Teacher for Creative Moment and Combo classes. In addition, Emily taught Hip Hop and Jazz at several camps and clinics through the Georgia Dance Dawgs and was the coach for Sigma Kappa sorority’s Greek Grind team in 2010 and 2011. She has been an instructor at the North Georgia School of Ballet since 2013, where she teaches ballet, jazz, hip hop, and tap to students of all ages.


Emily graduated from the University of Georgia in May 2013 with a BA in English, Area of Emphasis in Rhetoric and Composition, and a Minor in Communication Studies. She currently works full time for S Phase, LLC in Atlanta, Georgia.




Jennifer Smiles Plumley

Tap, Jazz, Modern and Ballet Instructor

A native of Huntsville, AL, Jennifer is a choreographer, actor, singer, dancer, and teacher of 22 years.  She holds a B.A. in theatre and dance from The University of Alabama and studied for many years at Steps, Broadway Dance Center, and New Dance Group under dance greats, such as Frank Hatchett, Stephen Harding and Brenda Bufalino.  Favorite choreography credits include: Cats, Damn Yankees, White Christmas, Annie, and Young Frankenstein (all with Atlanta Lyric Theatre), Atlanta Symphony POPS! productions of A Very Merry Holiday Pops and Classic Soul, Mr. Popper’s Penguins at Synchronicity Theatre, and The Addams Family at Jerry’s Habima Theatre. She has performed with The Gallery Players (NYC), Alliance Theatre Company (Atl), Theatreworks (National Tour), Atlanta Lyric Theatre, Stage Door Players, Theatre in the Square (Atl), and many others across the country. Favorite roles include Miss Dorothy (Thoroughly Modern Millie), Erma (Anything Goes), Lucy (You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown), Rosie (Bye Bye Birdie), and Sister Amnesia (Nunsense). Upcoming choreography projects are 9 to 5 The Musical for Georgia Ensemble Theatre and Singing in the Rain for Atlanta Lyric Theatre. Jennifer is so excited to be a part of the North Georgia School of Ballet family and looks forward to spreading her love of dance to Bethany’s wonderful students!

Hideko Suzuki

Ballet Instructor

Hideko  was born in Nagano prefecture and began her training at Houyu Ballet in Japan in 1992 and went on to garner scholarships at prestigious schools such as the San Francisco Ballet School and Royal Ballet School.


Her accomplishments are: Semi-finalist in 2005 Prix de Lausanne, 1st Place with Merit scholarships in 2005 Youth America Grand Prix in New York City, semi-finalist I USA International Ballet Competition in 2010.


She has danced many choreographers’ work such as George Balanchine, Steven McMahon, August Bournonville, and Helgi Tomasson. She have danced various contemporary dance pieces created by well-known choreographers such as Julia Adams, Matthew Neenan, and Mark Godden.


She joined Ballet Memphis in 2007 and danced with them professionally for 10 years. Through Ballet Memphis, she has danced various roles such as Little Swans in Swan Lake, Clara (Soloist) in The Nutcracker, Bluebird (Soloist) in Sleeping Beauty, Pas de deux in Flower Festival in Genzano, Soloist in Napoli, Soloist in Allegro Billiante, Russian Girl in Serenade, Cinderella in Cinderella, Juliet in Romeo and Juliet, and other repertoires in various Contemporary pieces.


Hideko is excited to begin teaching for her second season at North Georgia School of Ballet.

Beth Hughes

Ballet Instructor

Beth Hughes began her dance training in LaGrange, Georgia under the direction of Cynthia McCranie. She attended summer programs at Atlanta Ballet, Boston Ballet, Festival Ballet, International Ballet Rotaru, and the Georgia Governor's Honors Program in the area of Dance. Mrs. Hughes attended Birmingham- Southern College where she studied under Mira Popovich. She received her B.A. in Dance and was awarded the Ballet Women's Committee Award for Outstanding Achievement in Dance and the Nina Kirsanova Award for Academic and Creative Excellence in Dance. After graduation, Mrs. Hughes served as the Director of Dance Studies and primary teacher for the Gadsden Community School for the Arts from 2001-2003. Mrs. Hughes taught ballet, pointe, and variations at Birmingham Ballet for the past fifteen years. She also served as the Assistant Director from 2003-2007 and Ballet Mistress and Stage Manager from 2013-2018.


Mrs. Hughes and her family relocated to Kennesaw, Georgia in February of 2018.


Victoria Pacheco

Ballet Instructor

Victoria Pacheco has been involved in the dance world for over 14 years. She began her training at the Conchita Espinosa Academy in Miami, Fl. When she moved to Georgia, she continued her training at the Georgia Ballet and later was in Impact Dance of Atlanta’s pre-professional company and conservatory. She danced as part of North Georgia School of Ballet’s company for the past three years. Victoria has danced many lead roles such as Clara in the Nutcracker with the Georgia Ballet’s school and professional company, Jasmine in Aladdin, Snow Queen and Dewdrop in the Nutcracker, Belle in Beauty and the Beast, Dorothy and Scarecrow in Wizard of Oz with the North Georgia School of Ballet’s student company, as well as others. She has studied ballet, pointe, pas de deux, jazz, modern, tap, hip hop, character, musical theatre, flamenco, waltz, swing, and Horton. She has continued her training during summer intensives with the Georgia Ballet, with International City School of Ballet, with Sugarloaf Ballet, and on invitation with MODAS Dance. Victoria has been teaching and assisting dance for 4 years at Impact Dance of Atlanta as well as North Georgia School of Ballet. She has also choreographed for Impact Dance of Atlanta’s Recital and North Georgia School of Ballet’s 2019 original production of Aladdin.



Sarah Van Zanten

Ballet Instructor

With 23 years of dance experience under her belt, Sarah Van Zanten began training at the age of 2 at Georgia Academy of Dance and the Performing Arts under direction of Sherri Davis. Ms. Van Zanten trained there for 16 years, and was a member of their company, Georgia Dance Theater, for 5 years where she received instruction in ballet, jazz, modern, and hip-hop. While there, Ms. Van Zanten received instruction from renowned artists and choreographers such as Ramazan Bapov of the Kazakh Ballet and Moscow Theater, Tatiana Jouravel-Malinkine of the Kiev Ballet Academy and Milwaukee Ballet, and Christian Clark of Atlanta Ballet and Terminus Modern Ballet Theatre. Ms. Van Zanten has learned, under studied, and performed demi soloist and corps de ballet roles in ballets such as Copelia, Don Quixote, Giselle, La Bayadere, Mid Summer Night’s Dream, West Side Story, and the Nutcracker. Ms. Van Zanten also attended Georgia Academy of Dance and the Performing Arts’ summer intensive programs for many years learning other variations and techniques.


Ms. Van Zanten attended college at Georgia Tech where she studied International Affairs and was involved in Dance Tech and Alpha Gamma Delta Sorority. While in her sorority, Ms. Van Zanten was Alpha Gamma Delta’s Dance Chair for Mock Rock and Greek Sing competitions where her choreography won them 1st place 2 years in a row. Ms. Van Zanten has previous teaching experience at Poplar Studios 16 where she taught ages 2-16. She has subbed for many classes at NGSB and will be teaching her own classes for the 2019-2020 season. Ms. Van Zanten has also been continuing her dance education at NGSB since 2016 where she studies ballet, jazz, and hip-hop. She is married and currently works for Northwestern Benefit, a One Digital Company in Atlanta, GA.

Paola Medina

Ballet Instructor

Paola was born in Maracaibo, Venezuela and started her ballet studies at the age of 4 in 2002 at the Escuela de Ballet Clásico Grazyna Yeropunov (Grazyna Yeropunov’s Classical Ballet School). After her graduation at the ballet school in 2011, she was hired by the Ballet de Cámara del Zulia (her state’s professional company) to become part of their company where she had the chance to perform variations such as Esmeralda and Cupid, as well as teaching ballet at her previous school. She kept dancing with the Ballet de Cámaradel Zulia until she moved to the U.S. in 2015. Then, in 2017 Paola started dancing at the North Georgia School of Ballet, where she has taken part in different performances such as the Nutcracker, Wizard of Oz, and Aladdin. She has been teaching ballet for over 7 years, and loves teaching kids as well as teens and adults. She has also attended courses following topics such as choreography and anatomy in ballet. Her favorite ballets are Don Quixote, Coppelia, Giselle and Swan Lake.

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8610 Roswell Road,  Suite 710

Sandy Springs, GA 30350




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