Summer School Guest Faculty
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.
Based in Chicago, Tom is a freelance choreographer, teacher, and performer. He began his early training in the California desert before attending Virginia School of the Arts. Upon graduation in 2005 Tom was awarded the Margot Fonteyn Award for artistic excellence. He then danced with Richmond Ballet, Chautauqua Ballet, and Cincinnati Ballet before joining Ballet West in 2008. There he began to amass many leading roles under the watchful eye of such greats as Cynthia Gregory, Anna Marie Holmes, and Sir Anthony Dowell. Dancing everything from Kylian to Ashton, he quickly rose through the company ranks and by 2013 was promoted to principal dancer. In 2014 Tom relocated to Chicago to join the newly formed contemporary ensemble Visceral Dance Chicago. After 2 years of immersing himself in the Chicago dance scene he was invited to join the first national tour of “An American in Paris”, the four time Tony Award winning musical directed & choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon. Now back in Chicago, Tom is focusing on teaching and the development of his choreographic career. To date he has created world premieres for Ballet West, Ballet West II, Ballet West Academy, Dance in the Parks, Richmond Ballet, Utah Arts Festival, Ballet Arkansas, Charlottesville Ballet, Elite Choreographic Initiative, Arova Contemporary Ballet, Beijing Ballet Invitational, World Ballet Competition, and Youth America Grand Prix.
Christopher began his training in the San Francisco Bay area. He studied at the Joffrey Ballet School in New York City and L’Ecole des Grands Ballets Canadiens. His professional career began in Montreal, dancing with Les Grands Ballet Canadiens where he rose to rank of Soloist. While in Montreal Chris was offered a position with the Basel Ballet of Basel, Switzerland, where he performed many soloist and principal roles. After dancing in Switzerland, he joined Cleveland Ballet and danced many principal roles, ranging in scope from Prince Siegfried in Swan Lake to the Champion Roper in Agnes DeMille’s Rodeo.
While still dancing with the company, Chris was promoted to the position of Ballet Master, and soon thereafter Regisseur. Chris has taught and staged many works for companies such as the Atlanta Ballet and Ballet Nuevo Mundo de Caracas of Venezuela. Since 1995 he has been a guest teacher and choreographer for the Cecchetti Council of America’s International summer conference. During the 2001-2002 school year, Chris accepted the position of Visiting Artist at Mercyhurst College in Erie, Pennsylvania where he taught choreography as well as all levels of ballet technique.
Lynn Brennan Tabor began her training in the Cecchetti Method with Sylvia Hamer in Ann Arbor, Michigan. After graduating high school she received a scholarship to the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School, and her career included dancing with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, Cleveland Ballet and Long Beach Ballet, where she performed corps de ballet and soloist roles in ballets by Frederick Ashton, John Neumeier, George Balanchine, Agnes de Mille, Leonid Massine, Fernand Nault, Brian MacDonald, Ian Horvath and Dennis Nahat.
Lynn has taught and choreographed for New Jersey Ballet School, School of Cleveland Ballet, Cleveland State University, Long Beach Ballet and the Edinburgh Festival. She was director of the Cleveland Music School Settlement Dance Department from 1998-2003. She has taught for twenty summers at the Cecchetti Council of America International Summer School, which trains students from all around the world every July.
Lynn relocated from Cleveland to Portland, Oregon in 2003 with her husband Christopher and founded the Portland Youth Ballet in September 2007.
Ravenna Tucker Wagnon
Ravenna Tucker Wagnon is currently an Associate Professor of Dance at Belhaven University in Jackson, Mississippi where her main focus is in Ballet, Pointe, Dance Conditioning, and Classical Repertoire. Initially, she trained in Hong Kong with the Royal Academy of Dance curriculum, then attended the Royal Ballet Upper School, and finally graduated into The Royal Ballet, and eleven years later joined the Birmingham Royal Ballet. As a principal dancer in both companies, she danced the lead roles in all the classics including Swan lake, The Sleeping Beauty, The Nutcracker, Sir Kenneth MacMillan’s Romeo and Juliet, Sir Frederick Ashton’s Cinderella, Ondine, and La Fille Mal Gardee, Sir Peter Wright’s Giselle, Rudolf Nureyev’s La Bayadére Act II, Natalia Makarova’s full length La Bayadére, and David Bintley’s Sylvia and Snow Queen. Her passion is to coach students of all ages in the artistic and technical nuances of the classical repertoire. She enjoys attending various dance conferences and she participated as an evaluator in the 2018 USA International Ballet Competition held in Jackson, Mississippi. She is a certified Pilates instructor under the Body Arts and Science International organization.
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.
Kimmary Williams received her early training in Washington D.C. with Helen Moore and Pamela Moore. She continued her studies under scholarship at the Joffrey Ballet School and with notable teachers Patricia Wilde, Richard Thomas and Finis Jhung. She has toured extensively throughout the United States, Puerto Rico and Bermuda with Twyla Tharp, Connecticut Ballet and American Contemporary Ballet.
Ms. Williams also appeared as a dancer in the feature film “Hair”, choreographed by Twyla Tharp. As a teacher she has attained the Maestro Enrico Cecchetti Diploma and has taught frequently at the Cecchetti International Summer School. Her teaching credits include Connecticut Ballet as a faculty member and company ballet mistress (1979‐1984), Pacific Northwest Ballet (1984‐1990), Princeton Ballet (1990‐1991), Miami City Ballet as Faculty Principal and Nutcracker children’s ballet mistress (1991‐1996), Pittsburgh Youth Ballet (1997‐1999) and School Principal at Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre (1997‐2002). The Edinburg International Festival brought Ms. Williams and her husband, Jacob Rice, to Scotland for two summers (1996/97) to create a youth dance choreography workshop.
In 2002 Ms Williams and her husband were appointed co‐artistic directors of Southold Dance Theater, a professional school and youth company in South Bend, Indiana. During their three seasons with SDT they choreographed a new “Nutcracker”, “Graduation Ball” and a “Midsummer Night’s Dream”. Since 2004 Ms. Williams has been a guest faculty member and ballet mistress for the Trainee and Apprentice Programs at Ballet Austin. Her choreography has been featured in several of their programs. In 2005 she and her husband founded Central Maryland Youth Ballet in Columbia, MD.