After graduating from Central High School in Memphis, Katie began her professional career with the Minnesota Dance Theatre where she first discovered her passion for arts education. Later, as a performing and teaching artist for the Los Angeles Music Center under Jodi Wintz, she toured extensively within the Los Angeles County School Districts. Through these experiences and active volunteering at PS 199 in New York City, she dreamed of a new program that would develop dancers as opposed to future audience members (as was the “outreach” practice at the time).
She returned to Memphis in 1997 with that vision in mind, founding New Ballet Ensemble and School to offer a professional standard of dance training for children, regardless of race or socioeconomic status.
Katie has choreographed numerous works for New Ballet, most notably NutRemix™; Harlem, a commissioned work for the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in collaboration with the performing artists; and The Swan, created in collaboration with international star and New Ballet alumnus Charles “Lil Buck” Riley.
Katie serves on the Board of Trustees for the National Guild for Community Arts Education, as a panelist for the Tennessee Arts Commission and as an active member of Americans for the Arts. She was selected as a Scholar of the Aspen Institute in 2016. Katie is also a founding member of the Overton Park Shell and has served on the City of Memphis Youth Guidance Commission and the Cooper-Young Business Association. Katie was awarded the Tennessee Governor’s School award for excellence in teaching as Teacher of the Year in 2019 and the Thomas W. Briggs Foundation Community Service Award in 2020.
As a young dancer, Chloé was selected to train at the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities under Nijinski awardee Stanislav Issaev. Her skills were nationally recognized when she ranked among the top 12 in the 2003-05 Regional Youth American Grand Prix competition, progressing to the finals in New York City. She later earned a BFA from SUNY Purchase College in 2009.
She has been featured with the Connecticut Ballet, Charleston Ballet Theatre, Island Moving Company, Battery Dance Company, Ballet Inc., Miami Contemporary Dance Company, New York Theatre Ballet, Cuban Classical Ballet of Miami, Oakland Ballet and Nimbus Dance Works. She was also selected to perform at the International Ballet Festival of Miami from 2015 to 2020. Chloé is an American Ballet Theatre-certified ballet teacher from pre-ballet to Level 7.
From the age of three, Catherine has had a deep passion for dance. She has trained in ballet, contemporary, jazz, hip-hop and modern and utilizes her skills in each of these genres to prepare New Ballet students for their future artistic careers.
She received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in theatre with a concentration in dance from the University of Memphis in 2020. While there, she studied ballet, improvisation, dance composition, dance teaching methods, dance science and the Horton technique. Some of her previous stage credits with the University of Memphis include Momentum, Falling/Up, Lest We Forget and 5×5.
Crystal has performed on multiple stages, bi-coastal and internationally, and recently retired from a 25-year professional career as a ballerina, 23 of those years with Ballet Memphis. Crystal won the Individual Artist Award from the Tennessee Arts Commission, was named one of the Top 8 Dancers in the World to Watch by Pointe Magazine, and won an Ostrander Award for her performance as Victoria (the white cat) in Theatre Memphis’ 2019 production of Cats. Crystal performed in Hello Dolly! and was Phaedra, a Cagelle, and Dance Captain in La Cage aux Folles at Theatre Memphis, and was an ensemble member and Dance Captain in Playhouse on the Square’s 2022 production of Something Rotten. In addition to teaching ballet and Stott Pilates for over two decades, in 2019 Crystal became a teaching artist at New Ballet Ensemble both for the school and company, and in 2020, Crystal became a Licensed Massage Therapist and opened up her own business, Crystal’s Body Shop. In 2021 Crystal was voted 2nd Best Massage Therapist in Memphis by Memphis Health and Fitness Magazine. Crystal loves her sweet fur babies and her loving and supportive community!
Connor Chaparro believes dance is just another word for movement, so he started dancing before he was even born. His training included soccer, cross country, and martial arts training. He was first introduced to dancing as a technique through his brother who showed him the art of stepping. He eventually found movement through social dancing at Latino parties. His formal training began at Nashville School of the Arts, where he attended high school, and then continued his education for dance at University of Memphis. There he received his double concentration in Dance and Dance Science and is now a yoga instructor, a strength trainer, and a lover of all things movement, which he derives ideas for dance from. He received the Deans Creative Achievement award his senior year at UofM for his views on dance and his love for seeing it through everything in life. He would like to remind everyone that we are here to move and love, and from that alone, we are all dancers.
Born and raised in Memphis’ Orange Mound neighborhood, LeAnthony began his dance training in third grade at Dunbar Elementary through New Ballet’s Pathways K-12 Residency program, graduating from Melrose High School in 2017 and beginning a Teaching and Performing Artist Apprenticeship with promotion to Teaching and Performing Artist in 2021. He attended summer intensives at the Tennessee Governor’s School for the Arts, Orsolina28 in Moncalvo Italy and The Ailey School.
He has danced featured roles in NutRemix™, Springloaded, and Memphis Renaissance with the Memphis Symphony Orchestra (MSO), also performing at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (Harlem, 2014), at the Association of Performing Arts Professionals in the Alvin Ailey Studios and in “Livin’ for the City” for the National Civil Rights Museum’s Freedom Awards. “Lee” was featured in the New Ballet collaboration with Yo-Yo Ma and the MSO in 2012. He has completed American Ballet Theatre Teacher Training Level Pre-Ballet – Level 3 (ABT, Level 1).
Trained as a young artist at Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet professional division, Tamara has danced with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet (retired as a soloist in 1998) and Ballet du Nord in France. In her 18-year career, she danced a wide variety of repertoire, including one of her favorite lead roles, Maria in John Neumier’s The Nutcracker. Tamara toured extensively throughout her career, dancing in Asia, Europe and South America, averaging 150 performances per year.
She entered Memphis’ dance scene as ballet mistress at Ballet Memphis in 1999, staging many works, including Swan Lake, Giselle, and Mark Godden’s Angels in the Architecture. Tamara is also a STOTT Pilates certified instructor and trainer, and she teaches pilates at Rehab etc., located in East Memphis.
As a professional dancer, Michael has been a member and guest artist with numerous professional companies, including Alfred Gallman’s Newark Dance Theatre, Ballethnic Dance Company in Atlanta, Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble in Denver, Dancing Wheels in Cleveland, Lula Elzy Dance Theatre in New Orleans and Ohio Dance Theatre in Oberlin, among others. He is also the founder and artistic director of the Cleveland Contemporary Dance Theatre and the Greene/Medcalf Movement Project, which is also in Cleveland. Currently, Michael develops solo and duet projects for the stage and camera for Michael Medcalf/INVENTIONS. Michael is also an assistant professor at the University of Memphis’ department of theatre and dance.
As the former music director of the Nubian Theatre Company and with years of experience, John Washington champions West African dance and drumming at New Ballet. He holds a master’s degree in education from Tennessee State University and was a teacher with Memphis City/Shelby County Schools for 27 years. John is a professional musician trained in voice, keyboard, saxophone and African/world drumming. When he’s not playing instruments, he arranges and composes his own music. John has performed in Orlando at Walt Disney World’s EPCOT, in Tokyo at Japan’s Mitsubishi Mirage Bowl and in the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland. He has also played with notable jazz musicians such as Frank Foster, Dizzy Gillespie and Dr. Clark Terry.
As the former coordinator for Mississippi Boulevard Dance Ministry and a former lead dancer for the Nubian Theatre Company, Candy’ce brings a depth of knowledge and experience to her role at New Ballet. Since 2007, she has led African dance classes at New Ballet and choreography for NutRemix™. Candy’ce is also the choreographer for the Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc.’s debutante cotillions.
Jeremy’s love for dance began in the 3rd grade with an interest in animation and dubstep dance styles. He first learned about the dance culture of Memphis Jookin through experience in his North Memphis neighborhood. Jeremy was introduced to New Ballet Ensemble & School in the 6th grade when he participated in CityDance. Through CityDance, he learned how to work with choreographers and was given the opportunity to perform in his first production. Jeremy returned to New Ballet in the 11th grade and began serious training in ballet, hip hop and various other dance styles. He has been a part of many of New Ballet’s productions such as, NutRemix, Springloaded, The Dying Swan and in school productions of Peter and the Wolf, Anansi and the Sky God, ¡Jose! and more. He graduated from high school in 2019 and has continued his dance training with New Ballet as a Teaching and Performing Artist Apprentice while attending the University of Memphis.
Alexander Sherrod Bruce, also known as Asher Bruce, began his dance training at the age of 3,
becoming a student at New Ballet Ensemble & School at the age of 8. Asher’s skill set includes ballet, modern, contemporary, hip-hop, West African Dance, and flamenco. He has been featured in New Ballet productions such as NutRemix™, Memphis Renaissance, Springloaded and iJose!, as well as in local productions such as The Princess and the Pea (Theatre Memphis), Where the Wild Things Are (Bruce Institute of Higher Learning) and Mahalia (Hattiloo Theater). Asher also has experience in choreographing dances for his high school productions, Takeover Dance Krew, and summer dance camps. Asher is currently dancing as a teaching and performing artist apprentice at New Ballet Ensemble and School.
Little Rock native Rhaniyah Chism began studying dance at the age of 4 with the Centre of Dance Arts with Michael Tidwell, where she studied ballet, jazz and tap. She attended Parkview Arts and Science Magnet School with a concentration in dance while working as a fitness instructor at WOW Fitness where she led classes in hip-hop, Zumba, kids fitness and yoga. Her experience also includes studying and performing under Robin Sanders of Outloud Artistry. Rhaniyah is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Memphis in theater with a concentration in dance.
Sam joined the New Ballet family with eight years of dance training and 14 years of experience in the performing arts. Hailing from Lebanon, Tennessee, his training began in musical theater. He is currently a junior at the University of Memphis studying a double major in dance and film. Sam teaches and assists with tap classes at the New Ballet studios and ballet and creative movement at our Pathways partner schools. Contemporary is his favorite style of dance as it can take the appearance of many forms to express unique and experimental ideas. Through his work at New Ballet, he hopes to create a fun learning environment for others to explore why dance matters to them.
A native of Brandon, Mississippi, Makayla joins New Ballet with 19 years of experience in dance training, performance and education. In 2022, she was a dance educator at the Youth Actors Guild in Southaven, Mississippi, and at the Center of the Arts in Jacksonville, Florida, where she taught hip-hop, ballet and jazz for its Summer Intensive. At New Ballet, she teaches hip-hop at the studio and in Memphis-Shelby County Schools through our Pathways program. Makayla is currently enrolled at the University of Memphis where she is anticipated to graduate in Fall 2023 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts. Her education honors include the U of M’s Dean’s List, Black Scholar Unlimited nominee and Distinguished Young Women award recipient. She is a member of the U of M Rising Health Professionals, a club to help young students in the medical field give back to the community, and regularly returns to Brandon to volunteer at The Black Rose Theatre Company. At New Ballet, she hopes to reach as many young dancers as possible to keep them on the right path and show that even if they do not pursue dance as a career, the art form has many benefits applicable to everyday life.
Briana began her dance journey in middle school and later trained at New Ballet during part of her high school years. Her skill set includes hip-hop and modern. As a Teaching and Performing Artist Apprentice, Briana assists in teaching creative movement, hip-hop and West African at the studio and in school performances and workshops across Memphis.
Her goal as an apprentice is to build upon her dance techniques and garner the appropriate tools to be a prepared teacher to ensure her students have proper resources and support for future success. She particularly enjoys returning to her elementary school, Peabody Elementary, as part of New Ballet’s school performances to teach dance to the youth of today and educate them more about the art form.
In her early years of dance training and performance, Briana choreographed and performed in 13 showcases with Memphis-Shelby County School’s Creative and Performing Arts Department. She also interned with MPLOY, a locally funded initiative administered by the City of Memphis’ Office of Youth Services, to perform and choreograph works for its 2018 spring showcase.
Briana is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in psychology with minors in education and Spanish at Christian Brothers University.
Leaving a positive impact on students through the art of dance is what inspires Lauryn to teach at New Ballet. She strives to create a safe space for children to move freely and creatively and finish a class with a sense of confidence. Teaching dance to the next generation of creatives in her hometown of Memphis makes it even more personally rewarding to Lauryn.
As an apprentice, Lauryn leads creative movement classes at the studio, as well as at Dunbar Elementary School and Grace St. Luke’s. She says creative movement is her favorite dance genre because of its fluidity to discover new ways to move the body.
Lauryn is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in theater with a concentration in dance at the University of Memphis.
Lily is a Memphis native with 16 years of dance experience with a concentration in ballet. During her training at New Ballet, she served on the student board. Driven to empower the next generation of young dancers, she joined the New Ballet staff as a performing artist and Level 3 teaching assistant. In her role as a mentor, Lily hopes to inspire younger girls to prosper in dance.
Maxx Reed is a professional dancer and choreographer based in New York. At age 14, he received a scholarship to New Ballet, where he received extensive training in classical ballet and modern styles including Horton, Graham and Forsythe. Growing up in Memphis, he danced with many local hip-hop crews, molding his abilities as a street dancer. Reed gained a place in New Ballet as a Teaching Artist in 2006, creating and debuting roles in ballets such as Romeo in our version of Romeo and Juliet, as well as the Rat King, The Hero and The Cavalier in NutRemix™.
Professionally, Maxx has appeared in the ABC primetime special “Dance War: Bruno vs. Carrie Ann” and in staged productions of Cats, West Side Story, Jesus Christ Superstar, Broadway’s Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, and Beetlejuice. He has also performed live with Usher in the 2011 American Music Awards and has appeared in Michael Jackson’s biopic “This Is It”, and his music video “Hold My Hand.” Other credits include commercials for Knott’s Berry Farm and Virgin Mobile and the music videos for Beyonce’s “Who Run the World (Girls)” and The Saturdays’ “Notorious.”
Today, his choreography can be seen in ballet companies, award-winning competition studios and music videos. Maxx is on the teaching staff of STEPS in New York City and continues to return to New Ballet as a visiting Master Teacher.