Mary Van Dyke, Artistic Director
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Mary Van Dyke trained in classical ballet for 10 years with Pat German, Memphis Ballet under Michael and Judy Tevlin, and at the Alabama School of Fine Arts under Nureyev’s former dancer partner Dame Sonia Arova. Mary had extensive summer training in ballet, jazz and modern including four summers at the Boston Ballet School, at Joffery in NYC, Stanley Holden in LA, and in the Russian Vaganova training in Belgium with ballerina Irina Kolpakova. Mary danced professionally with Tennessee Ballet and Ballet Memphis. Her principal roles have included Tatiana in Midsummer's Nights Dream, the Sugar Plum Fairy in the Nutcracker and the Swan Queen Odette in Swan Lake. During her years with Tennessee Ballet, Mary designed a ballet program for the Memphis City School’s for the visually impaired.
Erin Walter is a coach for ballet choreography for Children’s Ballet Theater and Director of TN Ballet Theater and Youth Company, CBT’s own contemporary and classical performing troupes . She began her ballet training with Judy and Michael Tevlin at Memphis Ballet. Mrs Walter performed with Youth Concert Ballet and Tennessee Ballet. Mrs Walter attended intensive summer sessions at Ft. Wayne Ballet, Burklyn Ballet Theater in Vermont and at the San Francisco Ballet School. She graduated from Briarcrest High School and earned a B.A. in English from the University of Notre Dame in 1993. Her roles include Arabian, lead Mirleton and the Dew Drop Fairy in The Nutcracker, and solos in Les Sylphides, Raymonda and The Colors of Mozart. Erin has taught for Children's Ballet since 2004. Erin is on faculty for ballet at St. Mary's School.
Anna Palazola was born in the Ukraine. She has been teaching for Children’s Ballet Theater for since 2007. Mrs Palazola began studying ballet and character dance at the age of three years old at Yatran, a professional character dance and ballet school, in Kirovograd. She traveled throughout the USSR performing with the ensemble-performing group of her school. After graduation, she studied acting and musical theater at the Tuz Theater. Ms. Palazola received her B.A. in Nursing from the Kursk State University of Education. At this time she also worked as a teacher at the Theater and studied modern dance. While receiving her M.S. degree in education, she received 5 years of practicum teaching experience. Ms. Palazola is a classical pianist and is pursuing her degree in music from the University of Memphis. Ms. Palazola has lived in Memphis for seven years and she and her husband have two children.
Mary trained students as cofounder of her own school for six years in downtown Chicago and at the DePaul Univeristy Fitness Center. The school had the honor of special invitation to appear in the Dance Chicago Festival. Students from the school won top prizes in the Chicago semi-finals of Youth America Grande Prix and were invited to attend the finals in NYC. She also co-directed and produced the USA National Youth Ballet Competition presented by Russian Pointe and Ballet Intensive from Moscow Summer Program at Northern Illinois University and Michigan State University. Mary also trained in theater, musical theater presentation, and musical theater style jazz dance, in summers spent in Los Angeles, in New York, and at the University of Tennessee. She worked as a model for the Colors Modeling Agency in Memphis in runway, print and music videos. Students coached by Mary in her musical theater classes have received corps and lead roles in Hollywood movies, local theater/musicals, and school musical productions.
Alyssa Abbas is an instructor for Children’s Ballet Theater and Associate Director of CBT’s TN Ballet Theater. Ms Abbas is Director and Concept Director for fall and spring productions of Memphis Youth Musical Theater and one of the choreographers for MYMT’s annual summer show, “ANNIE in a Week” on the Buckman stage. Ms. Abbas began her training at Classical Ballet School in Memphis. In addition to her 10 years of classical ballet background, she studied lyrical, jazz, broadway musical theater, and tap. She has performed with Ballet Memphis, Theater Memphis, Ballet on Wheels and dances and competes professionally in ballroom dance. She recently performed a lead in Oklahoma at the Harrell Performing Art Center. Ms. Abbas is a performing member and choreographer of TN Ballet Theater and has performed the Doll, Snow Queen, Dew Drop Fairy, and Bo Peep in the annual Children’s Ballet Theater Nutcracker.
Nora Curran is ballet coach for Children’s Ballet Theater Nutcracker and CBT’s TN Ballet Theater Company. Mrs Curran received her early classical training from her mother, Vera Sohr, formerly of the Oslo Ballet, Norway. She has trained with renowned teachers from around the world, including Helena Kerolinska (Kirov Ballet, Russia), Roberta Chesnul, Christine DuBoulay and Richard Ellis (Royal Ballet, England), Vivi Flindt (Royal Danish Ballet), Patricia Sigurdsen (American Ballet Theater, New York), Alexandria Zaharius, (Missouri Concert Ballet), Jurgen Schneider (Stuttgart Ballet, Germany). She also received jazz training while performing musical theater in New York from Bob Fosse, Robert Durkin, and Suzanne Carol. Curran has performed and choreographed for the Chicago Youth Ballet, Illinois Ballet, Chicago Dance, Hinsdale Opera Ballet (Chicago), Fox Valley Theater (Chicago), Gateway Theater (New York), Salt Creek Ballet (Chicago), Principia College (St. Louis), North Central College (Chicago), Vanderbilt University. She has performed leading roles in Swan Lake, Nutcracker, and Don Quixote. Curran has been a guest teacher at North Central College (Chicago), College of DuPage, (Chicago), the Salt Creek Ballet, (Chicago), Vanderbilt University, University of Memphis, Steiger Studios (Minneapolis, St. Pau).
Curran directed her own school in Dallas, Texas, was Artistic Director of the Salt Creek Ballet western locale in Chicago, founder and Co-Artistic Director of The American School of Russian Ballet in Memphis, founder and Artistic Director of the Oakland Youth Ballet, Fayette County. Ms Curran’s students have gone on to professional careers with the San Francisco Ballet, Houston Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Joffrey Ballet, Missouri Concert Ballet, Zurich Ballet (Switzerland), Ballet Met, Duluth Ballet, Alabama Ballet, Denver Ballet, Harkness Ballet, Joel Hall, Gus Giordono, Hubbard Street, Cirque du Soleil, and many other classical ballet, Broadway and television productions.
Memphis Youth Musical Theater Vocal Coach Myra Brindley brings vast experience as a performer and voice teacher to MYMT. She is lead coach for MYMT’s annual “ANNIE in a Week” summer performance on the Buckman stage. It brings her great happiness to bring students the joy and confidence of performing on stage. Mrs. Brindley received her certification in Orff-Schulwerk at the University of Memphis and is a licensed teacher of Music Education. She is an Orff Music Specialist at the Memphis City Schools. Mrs. Brindley began her love of theater and music in high school where she took leads in Captain Lovelock and West Side Story, and the title role in Annie. With completion of her BA degree in Music Education from Delta State University, she served as choir director for New Hope Christian Academy, Memphis City Schools, Memphis Catholic Diocese, and Trinity United Methodist Church. Ms. Brindley has vast theater and performing experience including her work with the Memphis Vocal Arts Ensemble as a Soprano Soloist, Delta State University Opera Theatre, the Delta Chorale, and the Madrigal Singers. She also performed in the Divine Spiritualettes Gospel Group and in Trinity Dinner Theater.
Camilla Curran is a Vaganova trained ballet dancer and teacher. She studied with her mother, Nora Curran, beginning at age 7 and continued through her graduation from the Allegro Youth Ballet at age 18. She has attended numerous intensives and received private coaching from Russian’s famed ballet dancers Vadim Pijikov and Philip Velanov. Her performing repertoire includes Snow Queen and Sugar Plum Fairy in the Nutcracker, the White in Swan Lake, soloist roles in Don Quixote, Coppelia, and Swan Lake, and Nora Curran’s original choreography as well as her own. Miss Curran currently enjoys dancing with contemporary company Performance Art Network as well as the TN Ballet Theater. She served for several years as the Director of Dance for House of Talent. Miss Curran is also a model for AMAX and a fashion stylist and enjoys working in all areas of the arts.
Mary Van Dyke, Artistic Director
Erin Kenny Walter
Myra Ferracci Brindley
Ms Wexler began her early training in Buffalo, New York with Maris Battaglia and later as a Ford Foundation scholarship winner for two years from the School of American Ballet. She attended summer training with the Joffrey Ballet, American Ballet Theater, and Harkness House. Later she was trained in the Russian method of the Vagonova syllabus at the Buffalo Ballet Center, under the direction of Kathleen Crofton, former protégé of Anna Pavlova.. At age 15 she joined the affiliated Niagara Frontier Ballet, as corps and then soloist. At age 17, Debra was accepted into the Joffrey II Company in New York City. After an injury sidelined her she later joined American Ballet Theatre's apprentice program. Ms Wexler performed as soloist and principle dancer for ten years with Maryland Ballet Company including as Juliet in Romeo and Juliet with ABT principle dancer Clark Tippet, Swan Lake, Sugar Plum Fairy in the Nutcracker, and MacMillan's Concerto Pas de deux. While with the company, Elena Tchernichova, former ballet mistress for ABT, set her production of Romeo and Juliet, starring Natalia Makarova and Ivan Nagy. Debra was honored to be asked to understudy Makarova's role. Ms Wexler appeared in the documentary, Peter Martins, A Dancer, and was profiled in Dance Magazine's spread of the Maryland Ballet.
Her teaching career includes faculty for Baltimore School of The Arts, guest teacher for Maryland Ballet, faculty for Tennessee Ballet Company, and her own schools including Germantown Academy of Ballet, Plie, Pump and Palette, Jewish Community Center and Cordova Academy of Ballet. She has received the Tennessee Governor's School for the Arts award for Outstanding Teacher four times. She has been the local children's co coordinator for the Moscow Ballet's Nutcracker in 1999 and 2000.
Miss Evelyn has taught dance for over 20 years including running her own Community Dance School in the United Kingdom, Dance On-Studio, for 8 years. Her students performed at competitions gaining top marks & trophies. After her move to Memphis, this past year she has taught Pre-Ballet and Ballet classes for Children’s Ballet Theater.
Evelyn believes in continually learning and is currently attending classes studying Russian and the Vafanova method of Ballet with CBT. In the Summer of 2017 she successfully completed her Licentiate (Advanced Teacher) status with the National Association of Teachers of Dancing (Len Goodman is a member!) adding to her current Associate Ballet Teacher status. She is also an Associate member of the United Kingdom Alliance of Dance, Drama and Exercise and holds a Contemporary Dance Degree from Roehampton Institute of London. Evelyn teaches Ballet, Tap, Modern, Jazz, Contemporary, Disco Freestyle, Street & Song and Dance to children ages 18 months to adult.
Evelyn has a wealth of experience, qualifications and enthusiasm that she is keen to pass on to students of Children's Ballet Theater.