Our Staff

Stephen started his training at Southhold Dance Theater in South Bend, Indiana.  He then went on to North Carolina School of the Arts where he trained under Melissa Hayden, Duncan Noble, and Warren Conover. He later went to Ballet Chicago Studio Company and was mentored by Dan Duell and Patricia Blair.  Stephen has attended numerous summer courses including School of American Ballet, Houston Ballet and Hartford Ballet.  Stephen has had a strong performing career with the Grand Rapids Ballet Company.  He joined in 2001 and has been the lead man in many productions.  As principle dancer, he has had the opportunity to work with famous choreographers from all over the world such as Mario Radacovsky, Kirk Peterson and Olivier Wevers to name a few.  Stephen has performed as a guest artist for New York Theater Ballet, Tulsa Ballet, St. Louis Ballet, Ballet Chicago, Geiger Ballet, Southhold Dance Theater, and Ohio Theatre Ballet.  He has been teaching ballet since 2000.  He is currently a professor at Grand Valley State University.  Also teaching for Grand Rapids Ballet School and Ada Dance Academy.  Stephen is a family man with five children Julia, Andrew, Elaina, Nathan, Lucy and wife, Jennifer.

Artistic Director:

Stephen Sanford

A Grand Rapids native, Joanne spent the majority of her early ballet education with former Joffery artisits 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 Chautacqua and on the Drew Carey Show. Ms. Jaglowski originated solos in The Dying Swan and Marilyn (both choreographed by Artistic Director Dennis Nahat. She was blessed to work with ballet greats such as John Clifford, Donald MacKayle, Fleming Flindt, and Rudy VanDanzig.

After leaving Ballet San Jose, Joanne joined Ballet Tucson for three seasons as a dancer, teacher, and choreographer. While there, she and other dancers were coached by former ABT principals, Amanda McKerrow and John Gardner. During this time she began studying pilates training and yoga, and has since earned her 200 hr YTT certificate. Since her return to Michigan, she has taught locally for competitive and non-competitive students and studios. She has acted as ballet mistress and choreographer for both the West Michigan Youth Ballet and Michigan Ballet Academy. In the summer of 2016, Ms. Jaglowski completed Pre-primary through Level 5 of the American Ballet Theatre National Training Curriculum. In 2017 she completed her certification with levels 6, 7, and Partnering. This past summer she received her Progressing Ballet Technique certification as well.  She has guest taught at GVSU, Grand Rapids Ballet, Ballet Kalamazoo, Ballet Tucson and Ballet San Jose. She enjoys working with students of all ages and is always inspired by not only talent, but also intelligence and hard work.

Stager/Choreographer: 

Joanne Jaglowski

Laura Schwenk Berman is an 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.

Ms. 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, Ms. Berman is a free-lance artist who choreographs original woks, stages full-length classical ballets and is an instructor and private coach. She has a masters degree in Theatre from Northwestern University where she graduated with honors.

Stager/Choreographer: 

Laura Schwenk-Berman

Diane has served the Grand Rapids community since moving to Grand Rapids in 1983.  Since then, she has been a member of the Junior League of Grand Rapids, holding several board positions including serving previously as President and Past Treasurer of the Michigan Association of Junior Leagues.  Diane served on the Grand Rapids Ballet Board and executive board and was involved with capital campaigns, serving the GRB for nearly 10 years.  Diane served the Forest Hills Educational Foundation Trustee for 10 years and is a Past President.  Other organizations Diane has been involved with include Ronald McDonald House, St. Mary’s Hospital Development Foundation, CASA, and Children’s Advocacy Center.  Diane assists WMYB on a part-time basis and also owns Occupant Care, Inc., a company passionate about assisting organizations with energy efficiency and renewable energy.  

Development Director-

Diane Mills

Samantha Shelton received her professional training from the Joffrey Ballet in New York and in Michigan with Rose Marie 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 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. 

Stager/Choreographer: 

Samantha Shelton

Lisa 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 Lisa has over 30 years of teaching experience during her time in Grand Rapids, Arizona, and Indiana.

Stager/Choreographer: 

Lisa Peasley 

Margie Vizurraga has over 42 years of dance teaching and choreographing experience.  She currently teaches and is principle director at Ada Dance Academy.  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. Margie 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.

Stager/Choreographer: 

Margie Vizurraga  

Emily is a recent graduate from Grand Valley with her BBA in Marketing with a minor in Theatre. She has enjoyed her experiences working on the administrative side of the arts. Emily has previously served as the Summer Camp Director for her local community theatre back home (2015-2017). After coming to Grand Rapids, she has since utilized her leadership experience through her marketing internship with the Grand Rapids Symphony (2018) and by becoming the Vice President of the Alpha Kappa Psi Co-Ed Business Fraternity chapter at Grand Valley (2017-2018). Emily has also served as the Festival Management Assistant for the Grand Valley Shakespeare Festival (2018-2019).

Office & Marketing Manager-

Emily Mazzullo

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