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.
Asher began their dance training at the age of 3, becoming a student at New Ballet at the age of 8 and has been featured in numerous New Ballet productions such as NutRemix™, Shaft, and Springloaded, 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 their high school productions, Takeover Dance Krew and summer dance camps. While working as a Performing Artist Apprentice, Asher’s goal is to help students reach their potential as dancers.
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.
With 13 years of dance training, Isabel has worked in and competed with numerous studios throughout the Mid-South. Over the years, she has trained in ballet, tap, jazz, lyrical, Irish, contemporary, flamenco, modern and Horton techniques, each providing her knowledge to share with students in New Ballet classrooms. Isabel has performed with Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker, with Walt Disney World’s Performing Arts, and in New Ballet’s NutRemix™, Springloaded and our “Spring Forward Together” benefit at the Overton Park Shell.
Precious began studying dance at the age of 6 through New Ballet’s Pathways Residency Program with Shelby County Schools. She has gone on to perform many roles, including Mother Ginger in NutRemix™, Petrushka Remix at the Germantown Performing Arts Center, and in both Anansi and the Sky God and Martha Graham’s Panorama at the Overton Park Shell. She studied abroad at Orsolina28 in Moncalvo, Italy, with teachers Myrna Kamara, Lisa Johnson Willingham and Fatima Robinson.
Precious is a Biology major at the University of Memphis in addition to working as a Teaching and Performing Artist Apprentice. She is eager to share what she’s learned throughout her years at New Ballet with future generations. Precious is also a proud employee of Nike, a New Ballet partner.