Our Staff

Stephen Sanford

Artistic Director

Artistic Director, WMYB and Adjunct Professor, Grand Valley State University.  Sanford trained at Southold School in South Bend, Indiana, North Carolina School of the Arts (trained under Melissa Hayden, Duncan Noble, and Warren Conover), Ballet Chicago Studio Company (mentored by Dan Duell and Patricia Blair), attended numerous summer courses including School of American Ballet, Houston Ballet, and Hartford Ballet. Sanford has had the opportunity to work with esteemed choreographers and teachers such as Kirk Peterson, Val Caniparoli, Suzanne Farrell, Daniel Duell, and Mario Radacovsky during his 14 seasons
performing as a Principal Dancer with Grand Rapids Ballet Company. Sanford has performed as a guest artist for New York Theater Ballet, Toledo Ballet, Tulsa Ballet, St. Louis Ballet, Ballet Chicago, Geiger Ballet, and Southold Dance Theater. Alongside his performing career, he taught classical technique classes at Grand Rapids Ballet School for 14 years and he has been teaching master dance classes throughout the Midwest. Sanford is currently teaching
classical technique classes at Grand Valley State University and Ada Dance Academy. Stephen
and his wife Jennifer have three daughters Julia, Elaina, Lucy and two sons Andrew and Nathan.  This is Stephen’s 5th year leading the Artistic Direction for the West Michigan Youth Ballet.  WMYB Executive Committee.

Emily Mazzullo

Office & Marketing Manager

Office and Marketing Manager, WMYB; Mazzullo is a recent graduate from Grand Valley with her BBA in Marketing with a minor in Theatre; previously served as the Summer Camp Director for her local community theatre back home (2015-2017), marketing internship with the Grand Rapids Symphony (2018),  and by Vice President of the Alpha Kappa Psi Co-Ed Business Fraternity chapter at Grand Valley (2017-2018). Mazzullo has also served as the Festival Management Assistant for the Grand Valley Shakespeare Festival (2018-2019)

Joanne Jaglowski

Stager/Choreographer

Stager/Choreographer, WMYB; A Grand Rapids native, Jaglowski spent the majority of her early ballet education with former Joffrey artists Charthel Arthur and Robert Estner. Guest teachers and artists helped her fuel her determination, and various summer scholarship opportunities, including San Francisco Ballet School and Pacific Northwest Ballet School, helped launch her professional career with Cleveland San Jose Ballet. During these years, she performed at Chautauqua and on the Drew Carey Show. Jaglowski originated solos in The Dying Swan and Marilyn (both choreographed by Artistic Director Dennis Nahat. She was honored to work with ballet greats such as John Clifford, Donald MacKayle, Fleming Flindt, and Rudy VanDanzig.

Samantha Shelton

Stager/Choreographer 

Stager/Choreographer, WMYB; Received her professional training from the Joffrey Ballet in New York and in Michigan with Rose Floyd. She also studied in London with Anita Young (Royal Ballet) and at the Cecchetti International program in England. For the past twenty years, she has been on the ballet faculty for American Ballet Theatre Summer Intensive, currently directed by Kate Lydon, setting ABT repertoire and choreographing new ballets for the final performances. Currently, she is on faculty for the ABT Summer Intensives at the University of Texas, Austin, under the direction of Wes Chapman, former ABT principal and also travels the country as an adjudicator for the ABT National Audition Tour, selecting dancers for training programs in New York, Texas, California, Florida and Alabama.  Samantha has also taught at the ABT program at the University of Alabama, directed by Carla Stallings and the Detroit Opera House/Wayne State University, directed by Alaine Haubert.  She has choreographed and taught for the professional ballet programs at the Walnut Hill School in Boston, directed by former ABT principal, Michael Owen, Ballet Tennessee, Missouri Contemporary Ballet, and Interlochen  Arts Academy and taught company class for Complexions, Ballet Hispanico and Grand Rapids Ballet.  Samantha received her first professional offer at age 17 and has performed extensively in both classical and contemporary ballets.  Classical roles include the Grand Pas from Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty, Don Quixote, Giselle and Raymonda. In her guest artist performances, she has partnered with Craig Salstein (of ABT), Arch Higgins (New York City Ballet) and Christopher Stowell (San Francisco Ballet) among many others. Samantha holds an M.F.A in Dance from the University of Michigan, where she was awarded a Rackham Thesis grant, and a B.A. in Political Science also from the University of Michigan. She has also done graduate work at New York University in Performing Arts Administration with internships in development, PR and marketing at Carnegie Hall and the Orchestra of St. Luke’s.   For six years, she served on the University of Michigan’s School of Music, Theatre & Dance Alumni Society Board of Governors and in May 2012 spent three weeks in Taiwan, teaching and presenting a piece of choreography for Tainan University. She is certified through the American Ballet Theatre National Curriculum Training Program and in August of 2014, co-taught the ABT NTC with Harriet Clark, at the Detroit Opera House. Samantha is the Artistic Director of Samantha Shelton Ballet Training Programs 
samanthasheltonballettrainingprograms.com and a Professor of Ballet at Grand Valley State University.  She has worked with the West Michigan Youth Ballet for several years, re-staging Swan Lake and assisting with productions of The Nutcracker and Cinderella.

Diane Mills

Development Director

Development Director, WMYB and President, Occupant Care, Inc.; Mills has served the Grand Rapids community since moving to Grand Rapids in 1983.  Mills has been a Board member of the Junior League of Grand Rapids (past President), Michigan Association of Junior Leagues (past Treasurer), Grand Rapids Ballet Board (Executive Committee), Forest Hills Educational Foundation Trustee (past-President).  Other organizations Mills has been involved with include Ronald McDonald House, St. Mary’s Hospital Development Foundation, CASA, and Children’s Advocacy Center.  Mills assists WMYB on a part-time basis and also owns Occupant Care, Inc., a company passionate about assisting organizations with energy efficiency and solar energy. WMYB Fund Development Committee, Community Outreach Committee, and Nominating Committee.

Laura Schwenk-Berman

Stager/Choreographer 

Stager/Choreographer, WMYB and Artistic Director of RPM Productions in Chicago.  She has been performing, teaching, choreographing, staging and rehearsing major works for over 42 years. She began her career dancing principal roles for Chicago Ballet, Garden State Ballet, Boston Repertory Ballet and for seven years with Pacific Northwest Ballet in Seattle where she performed as a soloist with Gelsey Kirkland and Mikhail Baryshnikov. She has toured as a guest artist throughout the United States and Asia.  Berman served as Ballet Mistress, Associate Artistic Director and Artistic Director of the Grand Rapids Ballet Company in the period from 1992-2010. At that time, she conducted capital campaigns to renovate the old North Star Bus Terminal into beautiful new studios and office space and build the company's LEED certified Peter Martin Wege Theatre. She was also Director of the School of the Grand Rapids Ballet Company, establishing its curriculum, syllabus, faculty and performances while placing students in ballet companies around the world.  Currently, in addition to her work with RPM, Berman is a free-lance artist who choreographs original works, stages full-length classical ballets and is an instructor and private coach. She has a master’s degree in Theatre from Northwestern University where she graduated with honors.

Lisa Peasley 

Stager/Choreographer

Stager/Choreographer, WMYB; Peasley started dancing at the age of 8. She studied ballet, tap, jazz, and lyrical dance in the Grand Rapids area until she was 15. She then moved to Arizona to study ballet at the Tucson School of Ballet. From there she moved to Phoenix and studied at the Phoenix School of Ballet. She has also lived in Indianapolis where she studied tap, jazz, and ballet at the Jordan College of Fine Arts. In all Peasley has over 30 years of teaching experience during her time in Grand Rapids, Arizona, and Indiana.

Margie Vizurraga

Stager/Choreographer  

Stager/Choreographer, WMYB and Principal Director, Ada Dance Academy; Vizurraga has over 42 years of dance teaching and choreographing experience. Throughout her career she studied and performed various forms of dance but focused primarily on Ballet and was a Ballet Major at The University of Cincinnati. She also studied dance and performed with the Chagrin Valley Dance Company, Cleveland School of Ballet, Oberlin Performing Arts Company, Cleveland State Dance Company and Fairmont Center of the Arts. Vizurraga moved to Ada/Cascade from Moreland Hills, Ohio, 19 years ago and has been teaching for Ada Dance Academy ever since.  She is committed to teaching all ages and all abilities the love and challenges of dance. She has been thrilled to work with all the wonderfully talented students of The West Michigan Youth Ballet over the past few years.

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