Owner and Director of North Georgia School of Ballet
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 16 years and was the Ballet Mistress at British Academy of Performing Arts for the past 10 years. 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 10 full ballets including The Firebird, The Winter Polar Express, Cinderella, The Nutcracker, Rapunzel, The Wizard of Oz, 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.
Bethany is so excited to become the new Owner and Director of the North Georgia School of Ballet. She 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
Classical Ballet Instructor
Jennifer McDonnell has more than 25 years of experience in the world of Classical Ballet. Jennifer trained for sixteen years under scholarship with Georgia Academy of Dance and the Performing Arts under founder and director Sherri Davis. She received further training in the Vaganova method of Ballet technique under Ramazon Bapov of the Bolshoi Ballet. Jennifer spent summers training at the Boston Ballet and the American Ballet Theatre, studying under such distinguished teachers as Deirdre Carberry, Devon Carney, Jennifer Glaze and Bruce Wells. Jennifer has also received more than ten years of training in Horton and Graham techniques of Modern dance as well as more than twelve years of instruction in Tap and Jazz at the Georgia Academy of Dance and the Performing Arts.
In 2007, Jennifer was invited to join Georgia Dance Theatre. She danced under professional contract with GDT for three seasons performing various principal roles in the company’s repertoire. Jennifer’s performing credits include the title role of Sugar Plum Fairy in Georgia Dance Theatre’s production of The Nutcracker Ballet as well as principal roles in Les Sylphides, The Three Musketeers and Peter Pan, Soloist roles in Don Quixote, Swan Lake, La Bayadere, Symphony in D, The Nutcracker, and Alice in Wonderland, and several original and contemporary works showcased in Georgia Dance Theatre’s In the Spirit of Dance series.
Jennifer’s teaching experience includes more than twelve years of instructing students from the age of three to adult in many disciplines of dance, including Ballet, Pointe, Modern, Jazz, and Tap. In 2012, Jennifer received an invitation to teach at North Springs Charter High School’s magnet dance program where she taught Classical Ballet as the Artist in Residence for the 2012 season. Jennifer’s educational background includes a Bachelor of Science in Sociology with a minor in Management from Kennesaw State University.
Early Childhood and Ballet Instructor
Jennifer Kitchens was born in Plano, Texas where she began training at Ballet Dallas with her mother, Sherri. She continued training at The Boston Ballet and a Balanchine style studio, Ballet Workshop of New England. She also attended many summer intensives including Orlando Ballet, Miami City Ballet, and Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre. Jennifer graduated with her BA in dance from Mercyhurst College under the direction of Tauna Hunter. There she choreographed three works and danced in the American College Dance Festival. Jennifer is beginning her fifth season with Atlanta Festival Ballet where she has performed roles such as “Puss N Boots” from Sleeping Beauty and “Clara” from The Nutcracker. Since moving to Georgia, she has also choreographed two works for The Georgia Ballet. Ms. Kitchens has taught for North Georgia School of Ballet for two years and teaches ages two to adult in the northern Atlanta area. Jennifer loves spreading her knowledge and love of dance to others.
Jazz and Hip-Hop Instructor
Emily Franz trained under scholarship with the Georgia Academy of Dance and the Performing Arts for ten years studying Ballet, Modern, Jazz, Hip Hop, and Tap. Ms. Franz 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, and was invited to study there on scholarship for the 2008-2009 school year. Ms. Franz was also invited to dance under professional contract with the Georgia Dance Theater for the 2009 season. Emily’s 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 series. Ms. Franz was a member of the University of Georgia Dance Dawgs from 2009-2012 and was named Captain for the 2012 season. 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. In 2010, the Dance Dawgs advanced to the second round of auditions for America’s Got Talent. Ms. Franz’s teaching credits include several years with Georgia Academy of Dance’s Early Childhood Program as well as two years teaching Jazz and Hip-Hop at NGSB. In addition, Ms. Franz 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, leading the team to 4th place in 2010 and 3rd in 2011. 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 for Capgemini in Atlanta, Georgia.
Ballet and Hip-Hop Instructor
Antwan Sessions, native of Charleston, South Carolina, began his dance career in Atlanta, Georgia. Antwan received his dance education under full scholarship at RISPA , Tolbert Yilmaz, and Metropolitan Ballet Theater where he trained in many dance disciplines, including Ballet, Modern, Jazz, and Hip-Hop. Antwan has taught and danced in Atlanta, Denver, San Francisco, Mexico, Canada, China, Europe, and Africa. Antwan has taught and choreographed both solos and group numbers for the modern company at RISPA in Alpharetta, GA. While at RISPA he was also assistant to Georgina Louchiey Artistic Director/ Co-Owner. Under Ms. Louchiey, Antwan helped choreograph and run rehearsals. Antwan has danced with several awarding winning choreographers, including Tracy Vogt, Lonnie Davis Jr., Kim Robards, Kiki Ely, SYTYCD, Cirque Du Soleil, Choreographer/former dancer Stephan Reynolds, and Beyonce's choreographer Jeffrey Page. Antwan was featured in Danity Kane's D.Woods "Best You Got" video and has also danced alongside Nikki Jane.