Erica Fischbach enjoyed a 20 year professional ballet career with American Ballet Theatre and Pacific Northwest Ballet before embarking on her teaching career. Ms. Fischbach was named Academy Principal at the Colorado Ballet in Denver after nearly nine years as the Artistic Director of Southold Dance Theater in South Bend, IN. Ms. Fischbach has also been on the faculty of the country’s leading professional summer schools including American Ballet Theatre, Colorado Ballet, and Cecchetti Council of America, and is a current guest faculty at Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music. Ms. Fischbach is certified in the American Ballet Theatre Curriculum as well as the Gyrotonic Method. Ms. Fischbach has been recognized for her teaching by the Youth America Grand Prix, who in 2013 and 2015 honored her with the “Outstanding Teacher Award”. Ms. Fischbach’s graduating students have been accepted into professional companies and top-ranked collegiate dance programs all over the country, and many of her current students have been awarded full scholarships to prestigious year-round programs and summer intensives. Ms. Fischbach has been praised for her choreography and adaptations of the famous Classic
Ballets to incorporate dancers of all ages. She has choreographed versions of full-length classics including The Nutcracker, Swan Lake, Giselle, Coppelia, Sleeping Beauty, Don Quixote, Les Patineurs, as well as numerous original concert pieces.
Ms. Fischbach began her training in ballet and Highland Dance with Theresa Bullard’s Kalamazoo Ballet Company at the age of seven. When she was 12, her family moved to Milwaukee, where she studied at the Milwaukee Ballet under the direction of Ted Kivett and Basil Thompson. She also trained privately with former Israeli Ballet principal, Mariana Laufer, before heading off to North Carolina School of the Arts for three years where she studied primarily with one of Balanchine’s most important muses, Melissa Hayden, as well as former NYCB principal Mimi Paul, ABT’s Fanchon Cordell, and Ballet Russe’s Duncan Noble.
During her first months as a professional dancer, Ms. Fischbach had the privilege of dancing Balanchine ballets as a principal under the direction of Edward Villella before accepting a position with Pacific Northwest Ballet where she quickly rose to soloist rank. Ms. Fischbach performed principal roles in many Balanchine ballets as well as in works by the world’s foremost choreographers including Anthony Tudor, Paul Taylor, Lar Lubovitch, Jose Limon, and Lynn Taylor-Corbett. After nine years with PNB, Ms. Fischbach took two years away from company life to freelance as a guest artist, as well as teach ballet, pilates, and Gyrotonic based classes. In 1996 she was invited to join the American Ballet Theatre, where she danced many soloist and principal roles in ballets by Balanchine, Mark Morris, Lar Lubovitch, Jiri Kylian, Twyla Tharp, Agnes DeMille, Paul Taylor, and Anthony Tudor.
Ms. Fischbach had roles created for her in world premier ballets by Lar Lubovitch, Mark Morris, Twyla Tharp, Paul Taylor, and director Kevin McKenzie, and enjoyed featured roles in the full classical repertoire including Swan Lake, La Bayadere, Romeo and Juliet, Don Quixote, Giselle, Coppelia, Raymonda, and Le Corsaire. On September 8, 2001, Ms. Fischbach was featured as a principal guest artist for Twyla Tharp performing Tharp’s “Sinatra Suite” at the World Trade Center in New York City. Ms. Fischbach has appeared in several “Dance in America” films, the PNB “Nutcracker,” and “Center Stage.”
Catherine Garratt Fothergill
A native of Birmingham, Alabama, Catherine trained at the Alabama Dance Academy, and Alabama Ballet Center for Dance before completing her studies with the Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet under Marcia Dale Weary. Catherine also trained extensively at the Washington Ballet School, Miami City Ballet School, and with American Ballet Theatre prior to beginning her career with the Louisville Ballet. Thereafter, Catherine joined the Alabama Ballet under the direction of Tracey Alvey, where she rose to the rank of principal dancer. Catherine has danced leading roles in all of the paramount classical ballets, and in numerous works by esteemed choreographers such as Frederick Ashton, George Balanchine, Agnes De Mille, Frank Staff, Jirí Kylián, Twyla Tharp, and Antony Tudor, among others.
For several months of the year, Catherine travels throughout the United States and abroad as a sought after guest instructor, repetiteur and ballet mistress. She has taught for distinguished organizations of classical ballet, professional ballet companies, and semi-professional academies across the globe. Catherine has taught multiple levels of the Royal Academy of Dance syllabus and has passed numerous students with distinction. Catherine frequently assists in the staging of works for Japan Ballet Association, Balleteatro Nacional de Puerto Rico, and Les Ballets de France. Within Japan, Catherine has served as a guest instructor and ballet mistress for the Takako Classical Ballet, Chida Toshiko Ballet, and Hiroko Masuya Classic Ballet, and was a ballet mistress for the 37th annual Zendo Ballet Festival. Additionally, Catherine is a frequent guest instructor for the Cecchetti Council of America.
Catherine joined the team at Ballet Arkansas in July of 2017 as the Associate Artistic Director, after giving her final performances with the Alabama Ballet. Since that time, Catherine has been instrumental in raising the technical and artistic level of the professional dancers of the company, and was a driving force behind the rebranding of the organization. Catherine is the community cast coordinator and ballet mistress for Ballet Arkansas’ beloved holiday production of The Nutcracker, featuring over 200 local children and adults, and is the Director of Ballet Arkansas’ education programs. Catherine graduated summa cum laude from The University of Alabama at Birmingham with degrees in Sociology and International Studies.
Michael began training in central Iowa and furthered his dance education as a full-scholarship recipient of the Milwaukee Ballet School, Boston Ballet School, and the School of American Ballet. Following an early graduation from high school, Michael accepted an invitation to train exclusively with American Ballet Theatre. During his tenure in NYC, Michael instructed at both Steps on Broadway and the Peridance Capezio Center. Subsequently, Michael accepted prominent appointments and was a celebrated principal dancer in companies across the United States and abroad. While dancing the male leads in the classical staples, and in works by Ashton, Balanchine, Baryshnikov, De Mille, Dow, Duato, Fokine, Fosse, Gamonet, Kylian, Massine, Prokovsky, Robbins, Tharp, and Tudor, Michael developed a love for choreography. Within the last 12 years, Michael’s choreography has been performed in the United States, Japan, Iceland, Australia, France, Romania, Dubai, Spain, Puerto Rico, and Mexico. Michael’s choreography was highlighted in the international documentary “Dance the Dream at 50” produced by acclaimed filmmaker Richard Karz. A 2017 Ballet Arkansas Visions Choreographic Competition finalist, Michael’s work was previously selected for display at the European Contemporary Choreographic Initiative.
As an educator, Michael frequently travels throughout the United States, Canada, Japan, and France. He is a frequent guest instructor for the Cecchetti Council of America where is is the founding Artistic Director of the Enhanced Men’s Training Program. Michael is a sought after adjudicator and frequent jury member of Japan Ballet Association’s Hokkaido Ballet Competition.
After a 7 year stint as a principal dancer and choreographer with the Alabama Ballet, Michael was appointed Executive and Artistic Director of Ballet Arkansas in July, 2017. Since that time, Ballet Arkansas has substantially elevated the quality of it’s programming to include classical and contemporary masterpieces by world renowned choreographers, full-length world premieres, and a highly popular series of interactive performances devoted to young audiences. Along with his wife Catherine, Michael created the collaborative event series entitled “Motion in Main”, bringing hundreds of locals together to enjoy the best of live music, cuisine, and dance performance in the heart of downtown Little Rock’s Creative Corridor. Michael is a sought after lecturer in dance history and business, and was previously a faculty member at Samford University. Since moving to Arkansas, Michael has spoken at UA-Little Rock, The Arkansas Arts Center, The Walton Arts Center, and at UA-Pulaski Tech’s Center for Humanities and Arts.
Matthew Farmer is currently the Chair of the Dance Department at Hope College, the Co-Artistic Director of R.G. Dance Productions and the Co-Artistic Director of H2 Dance Co. Formerly the Director of Dance at Anderson University, Farmer has had great success as a director, educator, choreographer, performer, and author; co-authoring the book Introductory Modern Dance: A Teaching Manual. Formerly an Associate Director and company member of LehrerDance, Farmer has appeared in Dance Teacher Magazine, Dance Magazine Online, and Dance Magazine. Prior to dancing with LehrerDance, Farmer danced with Peter Sparling as a company member of The Peter Sparling Dance Co. While dancing for Sparling, Matthew received his MFA from the University of Michigan in Dance Performance and Choreography. Farmer received his BA in Theatre and Dance from Hope College. As a soloist and guest performer, his performance credits include Dance Chicago, Dance in the Desert Festival, Men Dance Michigan, Next Step Dance, Chicago Humanities Festival, The Rein Orange Project (Duesberg, Germany) The European Cultural Bid (Liverpool, UK), The Roof (Germany), The Summer Stage (Brugge, Belgium), and various national dance companies and festivals both home and abroad. His teaching credits include Hope College, The University of Michigan, Eastern Michigan University, Anderson University, Dancer’s Inc. National Conventions, Chicago National Association of Dance Maters, Southern Association of Dance Masters, Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp, Interlochen, and a host of festivals and master classes throughout the United States. Farmer’s choreography spans the field of dance, and can be seen on college campuses, professional dance companies, international festivals, theaters companies, competitive dance teams, and musical theater venues throughout the U.S and abroad.
Diane Van Schoor
Born in South Africa, Diane van Schoor was trained by Jennifer Louw and later at the University of Cape Town Ballet School. She danced for CAPAB Ballet performing an international repertoire culminating with principal roles. She founded her School of Classical Ballet teaching all levels through to Teacher Training and held a lectureship in Movement Studies in the Dramatic Arts Faculty at the University of Stellenbosch. Past Artistic Director of The Cecchetti Society of Southern Africa, she holds The Enrico Cecchetti Mabel Ryan Medal, Enrico Cecchetti Final Diploma and Fellowships of the ISTD and of the Royal Society for the Arts. Diane has contributed articles to various dance publications, acted as consultant for the Rhonda Ryman Technical Dictionary published in 1998 and edited a South African dance magazine. She frequently presents papers at international conferences and is an Honorary Committee Member of the Wayne State University for Fine and Performing Arts, an Advisory Panel Member for the Margaret Saul Scholarship [a professional development award in Canada], Honorary Member of The Cecchetti Council of America and a Founding Member of Cecchetti International. She is the recipient of an Arts Dedication Award 2000, for services to Ballet in South Africa and in 2011 was awarded The Enrico Cecchetti Gold Medal by the ISTD in London, a lifetime achievement award, in recognition of her promotion of classical ballet around the world.
Diane is an International Master Teacher and Examiner and has taught at many of the world’s leading schools and companies including The Royal Ballet Upper and Lower Schools, The Paris Opera Ballet School, The Vaganova Academy, The National Ballet School of Canada, The Royal Winnipeg Ballet School, Shanghai Dance Academy and The Bartholin Seminars in Copenhagen. She has been guest teacher at the Royal Ballet, Royal Winnipeg Ballet, Cleveland Ballet and Cleveland San Jose Ballet USA.
Since 2000 Diane has been on the staff of The Royal Ballet School, London, under the Directorship of Gailene Stock CBE AM. On faculty she taught the 2nd Year Diploma Course, Graduate Class at White Lodge and has choreographed for the Royal Opera House Main Stage for the school’s annual performances. She is the former Ballet Principal of The Royal Ballet Lower School, White Lodge, a post she held from 2004-2014.
Ms. Gillman began her early training in Michigan with Marjorie B. Randazzo; she was the recipient of the Hammond Scholarship allowing her to continue as a full-time student at the National Ballet School of Canada.
Ms. Gillman is a frequent guest teacher in the United States and Europe, including faculty positions at the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School, Carnegie Mellon University, Louisville Ballet School, the International Summer School of the Cecchetti Council of America, ISTD – Cecchetti, and the Kate Simmons School in England.
Ms. Gillman is familiar with Balanchine style and has training in the Vaganova and RAD methods of teaching, although her teaching preference is the Cecchetti Method.
Through many years of continued education, dedication and love of dance, Ms. Gillman has achieved an associate diploma from the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing and has also earned her Cecchetti Diploma as a dancer and teacher. Denise is a member of Ohio Dance Masters Chapter 16, Dance Masters of America and an Examiner for the Cecchetti Council of America.
Ms. Gillman is dedicated to the continuation of the art of ballet and dance education. For the past twenty years, she has grown her dance studio into a multi-location academy. Gillman’s Dance Academy is also home to M.A.G.I.C., Inc., a youth dance company founded by Ms. Gillman and community members who are invested in the non-profit, M.A.G.I.C. – Making Art Grow In Children, Inc.