Gay Porter, Artistic Director
Gay was trained in London, England at the Arts Educational School. Her classmates included Ben Stevenson, former Artistic Director of the Houston Ballet and David Howard known as “Teacher of the Stars” in New York and London. After an extensive career in England, Spain, France and Germany Gay came to the United States where she danced in California before coming to North Carolina. As a choreographer Gay has worked with the Charlotte Symphony, the Charlotte Opera, the Singing Christmas Tree, Central Piedmont Opera and Theatre, Actors Theatre and the Charlotte Youth Ballet. Gay is a full teaching member of the Royal Academy of Dance, London, England and holds the Advanced Teachers Certificate of the Cecchetti Council of America. North Carolina School of the Arts honored Gay as: “Teacher of the Year” in 1994. Gay is the founder and Artistic Director of the Charlotte Youth Ballet. It is the premier performing company for young dancers in the area. Gay has directed and choreographed full length productions of Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Nutcracker and Coppelia for the company. She has also created original ballets such as The Wizard of Oz, Alice in Wonderland, Thumbelina, and Pinocchio which she had also set on companies throughout the United States.
Bridget Porter Young, Assistant Artistic Director
As a child Bridget was selected to dance with New York city Ballet and Baryshnikov for the Washington Season. During this time she was invited to perform at the White House for President Carter. She has danced with Louisville Ballet, North Carolina Dance Theatre and Ocala Ballet. She toured the United States performing industrial shows and spent many summers performing in summer stock including roles such as Jeannie in Brigadoon, and Dream Laurie in Oklahoma. She also appeared on All My Children and Guiding Light while living in New York. Bridget has choreographed many short works, ballets and musicals including South Pacific, The King and I, Once Upon a Mattress, Barnum and Big River. She also choreographed and directed The Nutcracker for Pueblo Ballet. Bridget holds the Teaching Certificate of the Royal Academy of Dance, London, England and is a Licentiate of the Cecchetti Council of America. She is the Ballet Mistress for the Charlotte Youth Ballet, and the Chair of the Cecchetti Council of America, Southeast Committee.
Laura was born in North Yorkshire and trained at Richmond Dance Centre. After studying various dance disciplines from the age of 4 she gained her teaching qualifications with the British Association of Teachers of Dancing, in Ballet, Modern and Stage by the age of 18. High exam results throughout her training with the BATD resulted in invitations to scholarship awards days, receiving commendations 4 years running and being awarded runner up in the ballet scholarships. Laura’s professional training with the Urdang Academy Associates and the English Youth Ballet resulted in performances in theatres throughout London and the North East. Whilst performing was her passion, from an early age Laura decided to become a ballet teacher as she wished to inspire others with her love of dance. During the 3 years studying at the Royal Academy of Dance, Laura gained a 1st Class Honours degree in Ballet Education. She also became a Licentiate and was awarded her ARAD after gaining her Advanced 2. One of the highlights of Laura’s time at RAD was achieving the highest mark in her graduating year for her dissertation, resulting in her being shortlisted for the dissertation award. Since graduating from the Royal Academy of Dance Laura has been teaching and dancing throughout London, Surrey and Buckinghamshire.
Laura looks forward to joining the teaching faculty at Charlotte School of Ballet and meeting all her new students.
Ben began dancing at a public performing arts school is St. Louis, Mo. He attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison and subsequently accepted a full scholarship at the Joffrey Ballet School and the David Howard Dance Center in NYC. Ben danced professionally for over 12 years with North Carolina Dance Theatre and the Hartford Ballet. He retired as a principal dancer in 2004. He lives in Charlotte, NC with his wife Traci and son Joshua.
Alyce Cristina Vallejo Moran graduated Cum Laude from Florida State University with a BFA in Dance. She has worked with and performed under the direction of Suzanne Farrell, Alonzo King, Moving Poets Dance Theater, Phlava Dance Company and the San Francisco Conservatory of Dance, Performance Company. Now residing in Charlotte, Alyce is a professional freelance dancer specializing in ballet and modern. She is in her fourth season with Martha Connerton/Kinetic Works Dance Company as a principle dancer, public relations assistant, and rehearsal assistant. She also is a teaching artist for the Charlotte Symphony and MCKW, doing dance residencies throughout North and South Carolina. Alyce is a former student of the Charlotte School of Ballet and is thrilled to now be a part of the faculty.
Kayla grew up north of Boston, MA, where she began dancing at the age of 3. She danced with Karla Pattavina’s Dance Academy (Haverhill, MA) through high school and then went on to dance in college and beyond. She attended Winthrop Univeristy, where she graduated in 2012 with a degree in Theatre Education. Kayla is a professional musical theatre performer and dancer. She has performed professionally with companies in Texas, New Hampshire, and now Charlotte. She has been seen onstage at many of the theaters in town, including Children’s Theatre of Charlotte (Petite Rouge, The Reluctant Dragon), Theatre Charlotte (Hair (Jeanie), 25th Annual…Spelling Bee (Marcy), CPCC (Cabaret (Sally Bowles), Damn Yankees (Gloria Thorpe), Legally Blonde (Enid Hoopes), Guys and Dolls, Spamalot, 9 to 5) and Matthews Playhouse (Little Shop of Horrors (Audrey)). Kayla also teaches dance for all ages at the Levine Jewish Community Center and serves as choreographer for their theatrical productions. She is thrilled to be able to continue to pursue her passions for both performing and teaching in the arts – and even more thrilled to be joining the staff at Charlotte School of Ballet!
Alissa enjoyed an early career as a professional ballet dancer performing with various companies, among them the Chicago Ballet and Elements Contemporary Ballet. She received her early classical training from renowned Cecchetti teacher Rose Marie Floyd and danced as a soloist and principal with her company the Detroit Contemporary Civic Ballet from 1989-1995. Alissa attended the University of Arizona on full scholarship and graduated in 1997 with a BFA in Dance Performance, Summa Cum Laude. Dance Magazine chose her to pose for their ‘Arabesque and Attitudes’ poster in 1991. Having grown up taking her Cecchetti exams every year, she further pursued her teaching education with the Cecchetti Council of America and is an accredited ballet instructor with their methodology. It was her dance career that fostered her love for mind-body conditioning. She holds comprehensive Pilates certification from STOTT PILATES®, is a CORE BARRETM Instructor Trainer, and a Certified Yoga Instructor with YogaWorks. Since 1998 Alissa has studied extensively with the creator of the GYROTONIC® exercise method, Juliu Horvath. In 2003 she was honored by Mr. Horvath as he appointed her a Specialized Master Trainer in both aspects of his system – GYROTONIC® and GYROKINESIS® (‘yoga for dancers’). In 2003, she founded Chicago Northshore GYROTONIC®, a fully equipped Pilates and GYROTONIC studio in Evanston, Illinois. After 8 years directing her studio, she was ready to further pursue her teaching interests. Alissa has taught for the Dance Departments of Northwestern University, Florida State University, and Appalachian State University as well as for the Cecchetti Council of America’s Mid-west Committee and Summer Student Program at Hope College. In 2014, Alissa completed the Pilates for Dance Specialization from BASI Pilates and continues to apply her knowledge of dance and somatics to both professional and adolescent dancers – focusing on injury prevention and improved biomechanics. Alissa has been teaching dance, somatic movement, and body conditioning for 18 years to all ages and levels of ability. Her teaching style evokes a passion and precision that is at once; inspiring, informed and unique.
Mary McCort Reed was raised in Kingsport, TN and began her dance training at the age of five under the instruction of Charles Ryburn. She continued her training under Karen Gibbons-Brown at the Kingsport Guild of Ballet. As a junior in high school, Mary was selected to participate in the Tennessee Governor’s School for the Arts in ballet. While attending college at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, she had the opportunity to perform in The Nutcracker with the Appalachian Ballet Company and the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra. After graduating college and having a family, Mary started a beginning ballet program for adults and children at the Cleveland TN YMCA.
Mary has been in Charlotte for the last 7 years. She is looking forward to bringing her experience to the Charlotte School of Ballet and working with the young dancers.
Ellyn Lurey is originally from Nashville, TN. She began dancing at a very young age and continued through college. As a young dancer, she took part her studio’s Nutcracker each year. Rehearsals were the highlight of her week! During the summers she attended Intensives including Hubbard Street and Joffrey Ballet of Chicago. Ellyn is trained in all styles of dance with an emphasis on modern and jazz. She attended Goucher College for a year before transferring to College of Charleston. Ellyn was honored to be a part of the dance program at Goucher during her year there. At College of Charleston she continued with dance classes and was able to travel and participate with the American College Dance Festival Alliance. In her last semester, the school began to offer a Major in Dance, but Ellyn happily received a Dance Minor from College of Charleston.
Jose Rodriguez, Laura Valenti, Christine Spizzo, Alicia Delgadillo, Christine Schwaner, Tracy Gilcrest, Mia Cunningham, Joe Curry, Sarah Emery, Skyla Caldwell