Jessica Pyatt Martin

Jessica Martin

Artistic Director, The Rockbridge Ballet
Executive Director, TheStudio for Dance & the Arts

Under the Direction of Jessica Pyatt Martin, the Ballet has entered a phase of explosive development. With energy, vision and determination, Martin initiated an apprentice company, hired multiple professional dancers, introduced live music, staged aerial flight work, and has begun collaborations with other performing arts organizations.

Her projects for The Rockbridge Ballet include “A Day for Dancing” community collaboration in 2010; “Signs of the Season” Movement and Language Project with the Virginia School for the Deaf and the Blind in 2011, the “Military Outreach Project” in December 2012, sending hundreds of postcards to active military, and The Kendal project in 2013 which celebrated the healing and inspirational power of movement. In 2014 and again in 2016 Martin worked with Washington & Lee University teacher education department to produce “Where the Page Meets the Stage” a creative collaboration between young authors, choreographers and company dancers. In 2018 Martin paired with local visual artists to produce “The Moving Canvas Gala.” Martin brought world renowned flight company ZFX INC. to Lexington for the Ballet’s premier of Peter Pan. In her tenure with the Ballet Martin has staged: Cinderella, Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, Nutcracker, Firebird, Snow White, Don Quixote, Peter Pan and Romeo & Juliet.

Mutual support/cross promotion among local performing artists is a theme that underlies her vision. It was her inclusive philosophy that led to the birth of TheStudio, a shared space for artists to learn, partner, and perform.

Jessica graduated from James Madison University with a double major in Dance and English. While at JMU, she was a member of its pre-professional performance group, The Virginia Repertory Dance Company as well as its Contemporary Dance and Associate Dance Ensembles. She was the Student Co-Director of JMU’s Associate Dance Ensemble and choreographed works that have been presented on the stages of JMU as well in local studio concerts. Jessica was awarded the “Most Dedicated to the Art Form” award from JMU’s Dance Theatre. She was also awarded the “JMU Dance Faculty Award”, given by dance professors to honor the student excelling in three areas: performance, choreography and teaching. Jessica has taught dance in Northern Virginia, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Salem, Harrisonburg, New Castle, Virginia Beach, Roanoke and Lexington, Virginia.


Kitty Burke

Kitty Burke

Assistant Director

Kitty is a Lexington native and former dancer with The Rockbridge Ballet with over 25 years of dance experience. In high school, she was selected to attend the Virginia Governor’s School Program for Visual and Performing Arts and served as the dance representative and speaker for the closing ceremonies.

Kitty graduated from Goucher College with a BA in Dance, with concentrations in Dance Therapy and Dance History and Criticism, and two minors in Psychology and Communications. While at Goucher, she trained and performed with an incredible selection of faculty, students, and guest artists, and performed professionally with a contemporary company based in Washington D.C. Following graduation, Kitty served a joint internship with the Development and Communications offices at Dance/USA.

In addition to serving as the Assistant Director, teaching all levels and styles of dance at TheStudio, and choreographing for The Rockbridge Ballet, Kitty works as a Realtor with Long & Foster Real Estate. She holds years of teaching and mentoring experience in the Lexington community, and loves to read, run, and spend time with her husband and two retired racing greyhounds.


Meagan Herald

Meagan Herald

Ballet Mistress 

Meagan has danced for over thirty years, beginning her career as a child in Colorado under the guidance of Christina Noel, Eve Paris and Lisi Elsey at the Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities. As a young dancer she rose to the rank of soloist performing in ballets such as Peter & the Wolf, Coppelia, Paquita, Pas de Quatre and Hansel & Gretel. During this time Meagan began to focus on teaching ballet and started apprentice teaching in 1988 under the watchful eye of Eve Paris. She was quickly elevated to teaching her own classes once she turned 18. Over her summers, she chose to train with James Clouser focusing on refining her training and which eventually led to a passion for working with beginning pointe students and nurturing an interest in injury prevention.

Throughout her training, she has studied many ballet styles including the Vaganova, Cecchetti and French methods. Although she uses all of these styles to benefit the unique needs of each student, she prefers to teach using the Vaganova method which focuses on empowering the students to learn from their mistakes. Meagan considers ballet to be an education for the mind as well as the body, reflective of the Vaganova style, spending time to discuss the intent behind the combinations given in class. She feels this is especially important in the years preceding a dancer being placed on pointe.

In addition to ballet, Meagan enjoys mathematics. The earned her doctorate from the University of Utah in 2007 and is a professor in the department of Applied Mathematics at the Virginia Military Institute. She has even been known to emphasize the importance of mathematics to her ballet students who have to learn to work within the realm of physics to create the illusion of defying gravity.


Tara Rodi

Tara Rodi

Acrobatics & Dance Instructor

Tara Rodi is originally from San Diego, California where she received her dance training at the Christa Mitrovich School of Dance in Tap, Jazz, Ballet, Lyrical and Acrobatics.

Tara’s semi-professional career began with Super Bowl XXII, which gave her the opportunity to dance with the New York City Rockettes.

As a professional she danced for USA Productions and was a professional cheerleader for the NFL San Diego Chargers. Later moving to Florence, Alabama, Tara owned and operated Tara Rodi School of The Dance for 13 years. Her competition teams and dancers earned many high score awards and scholarships throughout the Southeast. Many of Tara’s students have gone on to have professional careers in dance.

Tara has over 30 years experience as a dance teacher and choreographer.  She has a degree in Art from the University of North Alabama. Tara is also Executive Director of the Rockbridge SPCA. When not at the studio, you can find her at the shelter helping dogs and cats find their forever homes.


Rebecca DuPaix

Rebecca DuPaix

Dance Instructor

Rebecca grew up in Holladay, Utah, and has over 18 years of dance training in ballet, pointe, jazz, contemporary, and modern dance. Most of her technical training is in ballet with various companies in Utah, including The Ballet School, Ballet West Conservatory, (under the direction of Sharee Lane), The Salt Lake Dance Center, and Children’s Dance Theatre. Rebecca developed a love for the stage when she sang and danced with a performing arts studio (Clayton Productions), for 13 years and toured throughout England, Canada, Chicago, Florida, California, and Washington DC. She was a member of her High School Drill Team for 3 years serving as Head Drill Mistress and choreographed multiple numbers for competitions.

Rebecca continued her education at the University of Utah where she earned her associates degree and took dance classes from “High School Musical’s” choreographer, Bonnie Story. Rebecca got married shortly after and her dream came true when her first child was born. She loves being a mother to her 4 children. She loves teaching and seeing her students reach their goals as dancers and as people.


Evelyn Branscome

Evelyn Branscome

Dance Instructor

Evelyn is 2015 Rockbridge Ballet alumni and danced with the studio since its opening. She was a member of the company from 2009 to 2015.

She graduated from James Madison University in 2019 with a BA in dance, and in 2020 she graduated from Hollins University with an MFA in dance.

Evelyn has been trained in Ballet, Tap, Jazz, Modern, choreography, and improvisation. She has been teaching dance professionally for four years and is excited to share her knowledge and love of dance with the students at The Studio.

 


Rebecca Poulsen

Rebecca Poulson

Dance Instructor

Rebecca grew up in sunny Arizona where she received her early dance training at DCll.  She traveled for competition in jazz, lyrical, tap, tumbling, hip-hop, drill pom, and flag.  As head mistress on her drill team she had the opportunity to lead her team in the Fiesta Bowl Parade in Phoenix, AZ. She also performed in many ballet productions including The Little Match Girl.

After moving to Utah, Rebecca continued her dance training but took a break from competition to focus on cheerleading.  She excelled as a Junior Varsity cheerleader her freshmen year of high school, then as a varsity cheerleader throughout the rest of high school. In addition to cheerleading she also participated with the song leading squad as part of the Cheer-Pom team. Her team was competitive and qualified and competed at nationals in California.

During her collegiate studies at The University of Utah, Rebecca performed and trained with the Crimson Line Dance team. She performed pom cheers during timeouts and halftime shows at all home college football and basketball games. Her team joined the University of Utah football team and performed at the 2001 SEGA Sports Las Vegas Bowl. With the Crimson Line Dance team she had a once in a lifetime opportunity to perform in the opening ceremony of the 2002 Winter Olympics held in Salt Lake City, UT.

Rebecca continued her education while marrying and growing a family. She has 4 beautiful daughters and 1 more on the way. She earned her Registered Nurse degree then worked in cardiac nursing and is now the school nurse at Lylburn Downing Middle School. She had the opportunity to assist the head coach last cheerleading season at LDMS with stunting.  The cheerleaders won 4 awards in their local cheer competition and won first place over all.  Rebecca loves the art of dance and has encouraged all her daughters to dance.  She’s excited to share her passion for dance and cheerleading with our students.


Joanna Smith

Joanne Smith

Office Manager

When she took her daughter to her first ballet lesson over 20 years ago, Joanna never dreamed it would become such an integral part of her family. As a founding board member of The Rockbridge Ballet, Joanna was instrumental in securing its federal non-profit status as an organization independent from Fine Arts in Rockbridge (FAIR). She served in multiple positions of the fledgling organization from 2003-2006 including President. During her tenure, Joanna was integral in seeking out and receiving essential grant opportunities from the Virginia Commission for the Arts and Wells Fargo. In 2010, Joanna continued to work behind the scenes securing a space for what would become Rockbridge County’s first and only not-for-profit dance school, TheStudio.

After serving two more years as a board member, Joanna stepped down to serve as office manager in 2012. She shares a diverse skillset serving as bookkeeper, receptionist, registrar and marketing consultant for the sister organizations. With an eye for graphic and web design, Joanna has professionally designed programs, websites, brochures, and other promotional items for both TheStudio and The Rockbridge Ballet. As a parent and lifelong patron of the arts, Joanna takes pride in the opportunity to serve future generations of dancers. Joanna holds a BA in History from Mary Baldwin College and served in several capacities for over 18 years at the Stonewall Jackson House, including Museum Curator. She currently serves as a Records Specialist to the University Registrar at Washington & Lee University and resides in Rockbridge County with her husband, John.


Vicki Smith

Vicki Smith

Front Desk Manager 

Vicki Smith is a life long supporter of the Arts. After spending many years as a dance mom, then a dance teacher mom with the Rockbridge Ballet, Ms. Vicki is excited to be rejoining the Ballet Family as the Front Desk Manager. Vicki holds a BA from Bridgewater College and a Master of Arts in Teaching from Mary Baldwin. She has spent the last 23 years as a Pre-school Teacher. She is a past member of the Rockbridge Choral Society, and is active in her church choir. A recent empty-nester, Vicki resides in Fairfield with her husband, 2 chickens and a cat. In her free time, she enjoys Antiquing, Traveling, Baking, and a good read with her toes in the sand!