Sugarloaf Performing Arts is the quality training facility that it is today because of the experience, skill and dedication of its faculty and staff. With seasoned professionals from all over the United States, we pride ourselves on offering accomplished instructors with fine arts degrees, professional teaching experience and extensive performance and choreography credits.
Michelle Bourgeois: Company Director
Howard Ethridge: Tumble Director
Mr. Howard has an extensive background in gymnastics, stretching, and conditioning. He is one of Atlanta’s top instructors for tumbling and jumps. Howard prides himself on his conditioning techniques and stresses the importance of healthy living to his students. Mr. Howard is both loved and respected by both the dancers and their parents. Mr. Howard doesn’t just teach tumbling, he gives personal attention and instruction to each and every student. We are truly honored to have Mr. Howard on our teaching roster at Sugarloaf Performing Arts.
Bartley began dancing at age four and soon started performing and competing with the Jazz Company at The Southern Strutt Dance Studio. Under Director Nancy Giles, Bartley studied Jazz, Broadway Tap, Ballet, and Tumbling. Excelling in Jazz and Tap she won multiple Regional and National Overall High Score Awards, Double Platinum and Platinum Awards at Starbound, Star Systems, Show Stoppers, LA Underground and Tremaine Dance Competitions. While the majority of her training came from Southern Strutt, Bartley furthered her studies by participating in Summer Intensive Programs with the Columbia Ballet Company under William Starret, and the University of South Carolina's summer dance workshops. Additionally, by participating in Master Classes at Southern Strutt, she had the privilege to learn from choreographers such as Joe Tremaine, Gregory Hines, Ray Leeper, and Marcea. Bartley attended the University of South Carolina from August 1994 to May 1998, and continued to study dance adding Ballet, Jazz and Modern dance classes to her schedule. She began teaching in September 1995 and as a choreographer has won High Gold, Platinum, and Double Platinum awards at Applause, Bravo, Show Stoppers, and Star Systems Competitions. She currently teaches at Sugarloaf Performing Arts and Academy of Ballet while continuing to study at Dance 101, the Atlanta Ballet, and the Georgia Ballet.
Lara Davis (Picture to Come)
Lara Davis has danced professionally with The Georgia Ballet, Refuge Dance Company, and Dance Canvas. She began her training at the Tolbert Yilmaz School of Dance in Roswell, Georgia where she was a member of the pre-professional company for eight years. She has pursued additional training through the METdance Houston Professional Intensive, American Ballet Theatre in Orange County, The Rock School, Joffrey Ballet NYC, Joffrey Ballet South, Dance Canvas, Full Radius Dance Company, the National Choreography Intensive, Point Park University, Colorado Conservatory of Dance, and the 2012 Georgia Governor’s Honors Program as a Dance Major. In 2017, she graduated from the University of Georgia with Bachelor’s degrees in Psychology and Dance Science and a minor in Dance and presented her thesis on Injury Prevention in Ballet Training. While at UGA, Lara studied abroad in Russia with the Voronezh Ballet.
Lara has choreographed in a number of settings including for the stage and for film. Lara presented her piece “Escape” set on the dancers of the Roswell Dance Theatre at the 2013 Southeastern Regional Ballet Association Festival. In 2016, she choreographed for the student film “Capriole”, which was awarded the Dean's Horizon Award at the 2016 EMST Film Festival at the University of Georgia and was presented at the 2016 River's Edge International Film Festival in Paducah, KY. Recently, her choreography "Ode to my School Days" was presented at the Dance Canvas 10th Anniversary Performance (March 2018) at the Ferst Center for the Arts as well as at The Georgia Ballet’s “Dancers Up Close” performance (April 2018).
Lara recently completed the week-long Ailey Extension Beginner Horton Teacher Training Workshop under the instruction of Ana Marie Forsythe. Currently, she teaches and dances in the Atlanta area and works as an Administrative Assistant for Dance Canvas.
is a singer/songwriter, actor, and dancer from NYC. He trained at School of American Ballet at Lincoln Center from age 9-18 and danced four seasons at Carolina Ballet under the direction of Robert Weiss. As an actor, he has appeared on Law & Order: SVU and the feature filmThe Emperor's Club. Nick is also an award-winning singer/songwriter with a major-label record deal at Streamline Records. He is label mates with Lady Gaga and Tamar Braxton, and has appeared on The Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards. Hear his music and stay in touch at www.therealnick.com Twitter/IG: @nickisthetruth
Krysten Hill (Picture and Bio to Come)
Bio Coming Soon!
Jennifer Mason was raised in Atlanta, Ga where she began her training with humble beginnings at a local dance school in Decatur. She continued to pursue her passion after being accepted on scholarship to both The Atlanta Ballet and The Alvin Ailey School. Afterward, Jennifer received her BFA in Dance from Florida State University and was blessed to work under such instructors and direction as that of Suzanne Farrell (NYC Ballet), Jawole Zollar (Urban Bush Women), and Anjali Austin (DTH). Jennifer then pursued dance in several different avenues, from a soloist with The Universal Circus, to more contemporary work with Dance Iquail (NY) and Surfscape Contemporary Dance Theater (FL). She performed more classical works with Urban Ballet Theater (NY), as well as Ballethnic Dance Company (GA). Currently, Jennifer is the Co-Artistic Director of City Gate Dance Theater Company Inc. alongside her husband, Robert Mason. She enjoys being an instructor at Sugarloaf Performing Arts as well as other professional training programs in the City!
Lauren Neese (Picture to Come)
Lauren's foundation in dance is attributed to over 20 years of dance training, including collegiate and professional experiences, layered with several years of exposure to dance education and instruction. As a Dublin, GA native, Lauren began her dance training at Fancy Dancer under the direction of Laura Soles. After an introduction to various styles of dance at a young age, Lauren was attracted to the art of classical ballet and dance en pointe. She trained with the Statesboro School of Dance under the direction of Shay T. Morgan, and performed with the Statesboro Youth Ballet for several years. Her summers were filled with dance training intensives with American Ballet Theatre, Atlanta Ballet, University of South Carolina, and Florida State University.
Lauren was accepted into the dance program and attended the University of South Carolina in 2009. In 2010, Lauren transferred to Kennesaw State University, where she was accepted into the dance program and performed with the KSU Dance Company for 7 consecutive semesters. During her time at KSU, Lauren had the pleasure of working with Ivan Pulinkala, Lauri Stallings, Stevan Novakovich, and Sandra Parks. She was also able to participate in the American College Dance Fesival (ACDF) on three different occasions, one of which being on the national level that included a performance at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. In May of 2013, Lauren graduated from Kennesaw State University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Dance. Since graduating, Lauren has trained and taught with various Atlanta ballet academies, Creative movement and Dance, and Pure Barre fitness studios. In the fall of 2016, Lauren became an Adjunct Instructor of Dance at Young Harris College where she teaches classes, choreographs, and helps create courses for the theater department and the dance minor program.
Lauren currently lives with her husband and two young children in Buford, Ga. She is excited to join Sugarloaf Performing Arts and work with the talented faculty and dedicated students for the 2017-2018 season.
Ashleigh Nyee (Picture to Come)
Ashleigh is a dedicated performer, teacher, and a proud graduate of Georgia State University. She began teaching dance as an instructor’s assistant at I-Can Dance Studios at age 14. She has since taught hip hop, ballet, tap, and tumbling to children across Atlanta, including The Dance and Arts Showcase in Tucker, GA. She is also a featured dancer in Dan Pritzher’s feature film, “Bolden!". Ashleigh can be seen on-stage alongside award winning artist CeeLo Green, or not at all as a member of iLuminate, from the 6th season of America’s Got Talent. Of all her career accomplishments, Ashleigh is most proud of teaching dance, and watching her students perform in costumes she designed through her own company, Dizzy Izzy Wear.
Reyna graduated from Brenau University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance Education. While at Brenau she was a member of Brenau Dance Ensemble where she had many opportunities to perform. Reyna began her training under the direction of Iris Hensley and Marina Levasheva at the Georgia Ballet, where she later became a company member and performed in many ballets such as The Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty, Giselle, Carmen, and Serenade. She has performed as a company member for Duende Dance Theatre in Atlanta and Bighouse Dance Theater in Gainesville, GA. She has done extensive study with Phyllis Wiekart of High/Scope Educational Research Foundation, studying Education Through Movement. Reyna has served as a movement specialist for the Atlanta Ballet’s Outreach program as well as the coordinator for Atlanta Ballet’s Center of Education “Kids In Step” program. Reyna has been teaching dance in the public school system for 10 years. She is currently director of a high school dance program she developed at North Gwinnett High school in Suwanee, GA, where she has created the first chapter of the National Honor Society for Dance Arts in Georgia. She has served as the senior thesis adjudicator and has been a guest choreographer for Brenau University. She was also summer faculty for Brenau University's arts program – Firespark. In 2009 Reyna was asked to be on the writing committee for the new Georgia Performance Standards for Dance Education.
Jennifer was born in Boca, Raton Florida and began dancing at the age of four. She has lived in Lawrenceville, Georgia since the age of 12 when she began her intensive technical training in ballet, pointe, modern, jazz, musical theatre and many other styles of dance at Sugarloaf Performing Arts. In her time dancing with Sugarloaf Ballet, she has been in a variety of productions from Pinocchio in 2004 to Sleeping Beauty in 2011. In 2009, she received the lead role of Snow White in Sugarloaf Ballet’s production of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. In addition, she has acquired numerous gold, high gold, and platinum awards for group and solo pieces at talent competitions all over Georgia. Jennifer graduated from Peachtree Ridge High School in 2010 with honors and went on to attend Kennesaw State University (KSU) in Kennesaw, Georgia. She danced with the KSU Dance Company five semesters and worked in the Department of Dance office at KSU for one year. She graduated from KSU with a Bachelor of Arts in Dance in 2014. She continued her education and fostered her love for children by attaining a second bachelor’s degree. She received her Bachelor of Science in early childhood education in 2015. Jennifer is excited to continue to foster excellence in dance education as an artistic staff member at Sugarloaf Performing Arts.
Erin Rauch (Picture to Come)
Erin Rauch is an Atlanta based performing artist and teacher. Her roots as a dancer are woven and knotted deeply in the classicism and structure of ballet, and while those technologies continue to inform her phrase-making and beliefs about movement, they have also been firmly bound to an ongoing investigation in modern and contemporary forms. Erin received her BA in Dance from Kennesaw State University in 2013. While attending university, Erin was awarded an academic scholarship for being an "outstanding scholar", and her choreography was selected to represent KSU at the American College Dance Association regional festival in 2013. At KSU, she performed in works by Ivan Pulinkala, Lauri Stallings, and Stevan Novakovich. Erin attended the American Dance Festival at Duke University in the summer of 2014, where she received training from former Forsythe dancer Elizabeth "Betsy" Corbett, Rodger Belman, Ishmael Houston Jones, and many others. Erin danced for Emily Cargill and Dancers in 2014 and performed in both the Modern Atlanta Dance Festival and the Detroit Dance City Festival. In 2015, Erin attended two weeks of summer programming at the San Francisco Conservatory of Dance, taking classes (most notably) from Bobbi Jene Smith, Summer Lee Rhatigan, Alex Ketley, Tristan Ching. Currently, Erin enjoys dancing around Atlanta in the immersive creations of Lucky Penny/Work Room resident artist Anicka Austin and teaching/choreographing for studios in the metro Atlanta area.
Janet Rowthorn (Picture to Come)
As a dance educator, Ms. Janet was the supervisor one of the first Performing Arts High School in the state of New Jersey . Ms. Janet was the former artistic director of the nationally known DENISHAWN Repertory Dancers and New Jersey Center Dance Collective. Janet worked along side of former dance historian Jane Sherman and founder Michelle Mathesius for ten years reconstructing the historical work of Ruth St Denis and Ted Shawn (the mother and father of American modern dance) and Doris Humphrey. In addition to her work with the historical modern dance, Ms. Janet received numerous Distinguished Fellowship Awards for her own choreography and grants for her company Rowthorn & Dancers. Ms Janet's work has performed by the famous New York School of Performing Arts HS- the "FAME" school and the Georgia Ballet. In addition to her performing career, she has implemented dance programs for over 40 years throughout the Northeast and Atlanta area. She was the former Founder and Artistic Director of the Bravo Dance Center located in Acworth, Georgia.
Whitney Sauve is a native of Marietta, Georgia and has trained since the age of nine in Jazz, Ballet, Lyrical and Hip-Hop. She has recently been seen working with professional artists such as "Jadi" and "The Gang of Roses" and with professional dance company "Brooks and Company Dance." She has choreographed works for Light the World Parade, Atlanta's Thanksgiving Night of Hope and the Georgia's Governors Honors Program, to name a few. Whitney is extremely excited to begin another season at Sugarloaf Performing Arts.
John Streit (Picture to Come)
Mr. Streit holds the position of Affiliate Professor of Dance at Brenau University. He earned a Master of Fine Arts degree in Dance with a Teaching and Choreography emphasis from the University of Arizona where he danced with the Arizona Repertory Ensemble and taught ballet, jazz, musical theatre and modern dance. Prior to his time at the U of A, John danced with the Georgia Ballet, was a Guest Artist with Atlanta Ballet in Michael Pink's Romeo and Juliet and has been a guest artist throughout the Southeast. Mr. Streit has danced much of the classical repertoire including principal and soloist roles in Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake, Giselle, Coppelia, La Bayadere, The Nutcracker, Romeo and Juliet, La Fille Mal Gardee, Paquita, and Cinderella among others. Mr. Streit has also performed principal roles in a variety of musicals including Anything Goes, The Addams Family, Damn Yankees, and most recently CATS as Mr. Mistoffolees at the Cobb Energy Center. John teaches all levels of ballet, modern, jazz and musical theatre and has taught as a guest teacher or on faculty at several dance schools and festivals in the Southeast as well as in Arizona. Mr. Streit just successfully completed the the Pre-Primary-Level 3 teaching certification at the ABT National Training Curriculum in NYC this summer.
Mr. Streit is also a choreographer and has created several concert works including the ballet Se Faire Echarper which won the best choreography award at Access Broadway, Let it Be which finished 1st runner-up at the Panoply Choreographic Competition and most recently Wind, Sand and Stars which was chosen to be performed at the Southeastern Regional Ballet Association Convention in 2016 in Durham, NC.
John serves as a coach for students attending the Youth America Grand Prix where he has coached Top 12 and Top 24 finalists.
John is thrilled to be working with the students at SPA this sesaon!
Rio Thompson was born in Brunswick, GA where she began her dance training at the age of three with Jessica Dominey School of Dance. While in Brunswick she also trained at Jill Stanford School of Dance under owner and director Jill Stanford. Upon moving to Suwanee, GA in the summer of 1999, she began her training with Sugarloaf Performing Arts in Ballet, Pointe, Tap, Jazz, Lyrical, and Modern under the direction of Lori Zamzow-Wire. Trained classically in the Vaganova Style with accents of Cecchetti and Balanchine, she furthered her dance career performing with Sugarloaf Ballet in roles such as Claire in the Magic of Christmas, The Fox in Pinocchio, Sugar Plum Fairy and Chinese Tea in Nutcracker Excerpts, Soloist in the Little Match Girl, 3rd Odalisque Variation/Soloist in Le Corsaire, and the lead role of Cinderella in the Production of Cinderella. She also competed in various ballet and dance competitions where she was named a Dance Olympus VIP in 2005 & 2006 and a Dance America semi-finalist for Dancer of the Year in 2006 where she performed at Disney's Galaxy Theatre. She also spent time training many summers with Dance Olympus, Sugarloaf Ballet Intensive, The Georgia Ballet, The Nashville Ballet, The Atlanta Ballet, and The American Ballet Theatre. She graduated from North Georgia College and State University (now University of North Georgia) in 2012 with a Bachelor's of Science and has returned "home" to Sugarloaf to teach and inspire young dancers.
Racehel Erin Truitt (Picture and Bio to Come)
Guest Instructors and Choreographers
In addition to the regular instructors Sugarloaf Performing Arts brings in guest instructors and choreographers throughout the year. Please inquire in the office for more information.