Dance Arts Studio Alumni
Sam Weaver has performed with ballet companies throughout the US and in Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand, Korea, Taiwan, Italy, France and Monte-Carlo. When Sam was 16, he started his ballet training at Dance Arts Studio with his mother and Kathy Padgett Lewis. He continued his studies with a major in dance at Florida State University where he was soon encouraged to go to New York to become a professional dancer. There, he got a scholarship at the NY School of Ballet with Richard Thomas and Dan Levans. Within a year, he was getting jobs as a quest artist with regional companies including: The Florida Ballet at Jacksonville, Williamsport Civic Ballet, Fokine Ballet and Scranton Ballet Theater. He also worked with the Ruth Mitchell Dance Company and the Sacramento Ballet. Soon, he moved on to dance seasons with: The Washington Ballet, Les Ballets de Monte- Carlo, The Tampa Ballet, and Ballet Colorado where he worked for 3 years as a Principal Dancer and had the fortune to dance just about every roll he ever wanted. Before he was 30, Sam had retired from performing and went back to being a stagehand. After years of being one of the Technical Directors at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center, he joined the crew of STOMP. In the past 16 years, STOMP’s Tour of the America’s has seen him working in all 50 states, Canada, Mexico, Panama, Columbia, Peru, Argentina and Brazil.
Alice Strawn Sheridan
Alice Strawn Sheridan, a native of Macon, began her training at Dance Arts Studio and Gladys Lasky School of Ballet. She attended the North Carolina School of Arts for four years where she trained with Melissa Hayden, Duncan Noble, Mimi Paul, Fanchon Cordell and other world renowned faculty members and guest artists. She spent two summers in Italy with a student company from NCSA, studying and performing. After graduating, she danced with the Milwaukee Ballet for several years under the direction of Ted Kivitt.
Recently appointed as the Artistic Director of Nutcracker of Middle Georgia, she has been the Assistant Director of Nutcracker of Middle Georgia for over 20 Years. She is celebrating her 29th year on the ballet faculty of Dance Arts Studio, and is a founding faculty member of the Middle Georgia Youth Ballet. Her students have gone on to study with such prestigious schools as the School of American Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Miami City Ballet, Boston Ballet, and the National Ballet of Canada.
John-Mark Owen began his ballet training in 1994 under the direction of Jean Evans Weaver in Macon, GA. He received a full scholarship in 1997 to attend the prestigious Chautauqua Institute where he studied with Jean-Pierre Bonnefueax, Patricia McBride, and Violet Verdy. From there he attended Nutmeg Conservatory for the Arts before he was invited to join Nashville Ballet as a trainee in 1998. He joined Ohio Ballet in 2000. After working with Peter Powlous and Zanne Colton at the Augusta Ballet he joined American Repertory Ballet under the direction of Graham Lustig. He graduated in 2009 with an MFA in Dance/Choreography from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.
Jane Caldwell came to Dance Arts Studio at age 11 and was a founding member of the Middle Georgia Youth Ballet. After graduation Jane attended the University of Utah’s Ballet Department for one year before transferring to London Studio Centre in England. There she earned her BA in Classical Ballet and toured with the studio’s company throughout England and Wales. She has also worked with Columbia City Ballet, Ballet Savannah, and Contemporary Ballet Theatre, which visited both Forsyth and Macon on tour. Jane earned her certification in Sports Massage Therapy in 2005 and is currently teaching for and performing with International Ballet Classique in Media, PA.
Mary Priestly Jarrard McLendon
Mary Priestly Jarrard McLendon began her training at Dance Arts Studio under the direction of Jean Evans Weaver and Alice Sheridan. She spent her summers training at the North Carolina School of the Arts, Boston Ballet, Washington Ballet, Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, and on scholarship with Nashville Ballet. She has also studied with Karen Burns Weaver, John Mark Owen, Pavel Rotaru and the Atlanta Ballet Centre for Dance Education. Mary Priestly continued her training at Butler University in Indianapolis, Indiana where she received a Bachelor of Fine Arts with honors in Dance Performance and was a company member of the Butler Ballet performing featured roles by choreographers Michelle Jarvis, Tong Wong, Marek Cholewa, Derek Reid, and Stephan Laurent.
After graduation, she was invited to join Nashville Ballet II where she performed in works such as Paul Vasterling’s Nashville Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty, Paquita, Romeo and Juliet and many outreach productions throughout Tennessee. After spending a year teaching full time for the School of Nashville Ballet, Mary Priestly relocated to Dallas,Texas where she is currently a faculty member with the Texas Ballet Theater School in Ft. Worth.
Courtney Dressner began dancing at age ten in her hometown of Macon, Georgia. She performed first with the Festival Ballet of Atlanta and then with Dance Arts Studio and the Middle Georgia Youth Ballet in Macon. Courtney attended Belhaven University in Jackson, MS, receiving a BFA in ballet. During summers she trained with Boston Ballet, North Carolina Dance Theatre, and the Joffrey Ballet School in New York.Courtney began her professional career with Ballet San Antonio in Texas, then moved to Seattle to perform ballet, modern, and contemporary work with Katy Hagelin Dance Company and Redd Legg Dance Company.While in Seattle, Courtney also performed with The Cabiri aerial dance troupe and appeared in a number of productions with Ballet Bellevue.
In January 2012, Courtney joined the Montgomery Ballet as a Soloist Artist. There, she has performed a number of feature roles, including Odette in Act II of Swan Lake, and the title role in the company’s full-length production of Giselle.