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.

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.

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.

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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