Judy Klopfenstein is co-owner of Dallas Ballet Center and artistic director of Dallas Ballet Company. Extensively trained in New York City, she performed with Neubert Ballet Theater, and locally with the Dallas Ballet. Film credits include The Anthology of American Jazz Dance. She attended Texas Woman’s University as a dance major and performed and toured with the Dance Repertory Theater. Locally Ms. Klopfenstein trained under George Skibine, Nikita Talin, and Robert Scevers.
She has directed and restaged many ballets including The Nutcracker, La Boutique Fantasque, Sleeping Beauty, La Fille mal Gardee, Graduation Ball, Coppelia, Pineapple Poll, Swan Lake, Raymonda, Le Corsaire, and Don Quixote. Ms. Klopfenstein has guest taught for numerous summer workshops and has been invited to restage ballets for many ballet schools and student companies. Students under her direction have been accepted with scholarships to workshops including SAB, Boston, Houston, Pacific Northwest Ballet, and Pennsylvania.
Brent Klopfenstein is co-owner of Dallas Ballet Center and director of the Boys’ Program. He studied under scholarship in New York City with David Howard, trained with Arnott Mader of the Royal Ballet, and American Ballet Theater, and also trained with Maggie Black. Brent’s professional experience includes the Ballet Repertory Theater in New York City, ABT II. He has performed in major ballet productions such as Nutcracker, Don Quixote, Sleeping Beauty, Carmina Burana, Romeo and Juliet, and Les Sylphydes.
Charlie Alvarez-Contreras is a fresh mind from Dallas seeking to share his knowledge and philosophy to students who want to excel in the art of dance. Charlie’s Foundation for his style comes from styles such as Locking, Popping, and Krump and other freestyle dances, which he has been training in and continues to do so. He has also been taking class constantly and seeking out knowledge from world-renowned choreographers whenever the opportunities present themselves. Charlie’s credits include winning the Dallas Hip Hop fest 2013 Freestyle Championship, placing 3rd at World Of Dance Houston 2014, receiving Best Elite Choreography Awards at Platinum Dallas 2014 and 2015. His routine was also chosen to compete in the Star Power World Championship in 2015 out 600 numbers. Charlie is excited for new opportunities to showcase his work and his dancers.
Whitney Buehrle is a native of Dallas, and trained at the Dallas Ballet Center where she studied tap, ballet, and modern. She was a charter member of the DBC Tap Connection, performing at one of the first National Tap Dance day events in Dallas, along with other local festivals as a company member. Whitney continued her study of dance at the University of Oklahoma while obtaining her Bachelor of Science degree in Meteorology. She was a faculty member at the Pointe Performing Arts Center in Oklahoma City for four years, teaching the younger dancers and assisting the Senior Tap Company. Upon graduation, Whitney returned to Dallas and DBC, and has been teaching adult beginning ballet and tap to all ages since 2006.
Laura Barbee was born and raised in Tyler, Texas. She earned her BFA in Ballet & Modern Dance from Texas Christian University. She went on to teach and perform nationally and internationally in such places as Atlanta, Edinburgh (Scotland), Guatemala, Madison, New York City, and San Francisco. Laura is also very active as a certified trainer in the GYROTONIC® Expansion System and GYROKINESIS®. Currently, she is honored to be an Adjunct Faculty member with TCU’s School for Classical and Contemporary Dance and an instructor with some of DFW’s local dance schools. As a founding member and board member for FurtherDance Fort Worth, Laura happily calls this city her home. Her greatest joy is her son.
Rachael Klopfenstein Briscoe
Rachael Klopfenstein Briscoe, the oldest daughter of Brent and Judy Klopfenstein, trained here at the Dallas Ballet Center, where she was also a member of City Dance Theater (now Dallas Ballet Company). Rachael spent her summers at the School of American Ballet, American Ballet Theater, and Ballet Austin, where she danced as a trainee for two years and was on faculty with Ballet Austin Academy teaching in the youth and children’s divisions for 4 years.
Rachael holds a BA from the University of Texas at Austin, and holds a masters in fashion merchandising from Polimoda Institute of Fashion Design and Marketing in Florence, Italy. She teaches all age groups at the Dallas Ballet Center and helps rehearse the Dallas Ballet Company in productions of the Nutcracker and other repertoire.
Janie Christy has been dancing since the age three, when her pediatrician recommended ballet lessons to remedy signs of weak ankles. Little did her mother know that giving her daughter dance lessons would be the gift that would last a lifetime. It was the beginning of a life of dancing. Growing up in Wichita Falls, Texas, Janie was trained in classical ballet by European dancers Frank and Irina Pal and performed with the Wichita Falls Ballet Theatre. Continuing to dance and teach through college, as a theatre art major, she also performed musical theatre in summer stock with the Music Theatre of Wichita, Kansas. After her marriage to husband, Glen, she continued to perform and teach ballet in Austin, St. Louis, Houston, and then in Dallas, at the Schaffenburg/Cross Dance studio and the Dallas Ballet Center. With her husband’s encouragement and business background, her dream of opening her own studio in Lake Highlands became a reality in August 1993. After celebrating the 19th year of teaching at the Janie Christy School of Dance, Miss Janie has returned to the Dallas Ballet Center to share her love of dance and music with young children.
Teresa Cocke has been interested in body movement and flexibility since she began her love of dance at age six, studying ballet, tap and jazz. Growing up in San Antonio, Texas, she continued dancing until age eighteen. She received her Bachelor of Science from Baylor University, was a personal trainer and certified aerobics instructor (AFAA) through her college years. After graduating from Baylor University she moved to Dallas, where she married her best friend, Jim. She is thankful to spend time with him and their two children, Jacob and Cassidy.
Teresa began practicing yoga in 2003 as well as mentoring with Team in Training. She gradually changed her focus from aerobic exercise to strength, flexibility and holistic care for the body and became a certified yoga instructor through Holy Yoga. She has earned both her 200hr R-HYI and her 500hr M-HYI certifications from Holy Yoga, an international Christ centered yoga ministry, as well as holds certifications in Pre-Post Natal Yoga and Touch Training. She has hosted free community yoga classes, private classes, worked with the Restart Ministries for female inmates, Simply Grace House, a ministry encouraging women residents toward sobriety, helped host Jesus at the Core in Dallas and was guest yoga instructor for Regional Dance America. She considers it a blessing to share yoga, God’s Word and grow with her fellow yogis at Dallas Ballet Center.
Laura Corley began dancing at age five and earned her BA in Dance from the University of Texas in Austin where she performed with Dance Repertory Theatre and was the recipient of the Morton Brown Dance Award. While working toward her degree, she studied under Leon Danielian, Heywood “Woody” McGriff, Yacov Sharir and Lathan Sanford, and studied briefly with Merce Cunningham, Rebecca Wright, Edward Villela, and Robert Kovich during their residencies in Austin. After graduation, Laura founded two schools: Church of the Incarnation Dance Mentoring Program providing dance instruction for underprivileged students ages 6-18 and Church of the Incarnation Dance Program providing dance instruction for young church parishioners. Laura closed the schools in 2003 to relocate to Sewanee, Tennessee where her husband earned his Masters of Divinity. During that time, Laura taught ballet for the Sewanee Dance Conservatory and assisted as a ballet teacher in the Dance Department at the University of the South. Laura joined the Dallas Ballet Center faculty in 2010.
Libby Deans returned to teach classes for children at the Dallas Ballet Center in 2013. To balance her family life she entered into the realm of choreography and performance during the interim years. Libby has been privileged to study under the direction of Cecilia Kelley of the former Sadler’s Wells Ballet in England. Locally she trained under Robert Scevers, Nancy Schaffenburg-Cross and Nathalie Krassovska as well as being a long-time attendee of Miss Cyndi’s class at the Dallas Ballet Center.
Libby has danced both classical and neo-modern works in ballet and opera performing solo and pas de deux roles in both fields of study. Among the roles she performed are Nutcracker Grande Pas De Deux, White Swan Pas de Deux, Dying Swan, Dragonfly, portions of Les Sylphides and the duck in Peter and the Wolf. Choreography opportunities include classically oriented concerts with dancers and chorus for large liturgical events, Amahl and the Night Visitors and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Other musical choreography include Hello Dolly and Fiddler of the Roof. Libby has also performed locally within musicals at Lyric Stage, Garland Summer Musicals and within an opera at the Meyerson Symphony Center as a lead character.
Ann Etgen and Bill Atkinson
The husband-wife duo of Ann Etgen and Bill Atkinson were founders of the Dallas Metropolitan Ballet and owners of the Etgen-Atkinson School of Ballet from 1960-2014. Ann Etgen was a member of the New York Metropolitan Ballet Company. She has also danced with the Alicia Alonso Ballet Company and in the Broadway productions of “Brigadoon” and “Carousel”. Miss Etgen has made television appearances in Canada and on the Omnibus “History of Dance” program for Agnes DeMille. Miss Etgen has studied in New York from such masters as Pereyaslevec, Dokoudovsky, Tudor, Caton and on the west coast from Eugene Loring. Bill Atkinson has performed with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet in Canada and with the Ballet AAA in South America. He appeared on Broadway in “My Fair Lady”, “Oh Captain” and “Happiest Girl in the World”. Also he has danced in the Texas State Fair Musicals and at the Jacobs Pillow Dance Festival in Massachusetts. Mr. Atkinson has studied from such prominent teachers as Dokoudovsky, Pereyaslevec, Caton, Vilzak and Lazowski in New York.
Gloria Buckley Ewerz has been teaching ballet at Dallas Ballet Center since 1991. She trained in Fort Worth with Margo Dean and with Bill Martin-Viscount, Nikita Talin, Robert Scevers, Franklin White, David Howard, and at the Joffrey Ballet. She also received a Harkness scholarship to study at Southern Methodist University. She danced with Ballet Concerto, Fort Worth Opera Ballet, and Fort Worth City Ballet. Gloria recently completed her Doctorate in Audiology from A. T. Still University /Arizona School of Health Sciences. As an undergraduate at North Texas State University, she earned a minor in Dance. She has danced roles in Stars & Stripes and La Bayadere, and has appeared in many Dallas Ballet Company productions such as The Nutcracker, La Boutique Fantasque, Coppelia, La Fille mal Gardee, Hansel and Gretel, and Sleeping Beauty.
Laura Freiburg is a native of Quincy, Illinois. She graduated from the University of Illinois Urbana/Champaign with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Dance. While at the University of Illinois, Laura danced with the Illini Dance Team and the Omnimov dance group. During her time in college, she taught dance in schools and worked at the Child Development Center. Laura also furthered her training at the American Dance Festival and through Ad Deum’s summer programs. After moving to Dallas, Laura has had the privilege to be apart of Dallas Black Dance Theatre’s II Company, for two years. During that time she performed and trained in Ballet, Horton, Dunham, West African, and Praise Dance. Laura has also performed as a liturgical soloist at the LCMS National Youth Gathering in New Orleans, and has performed pieces by Milton Myers, Zach Ingram, Baba Chuck Davis and Diane Maroney-Grigsby. She has been grateful to teach dance throughout the DFW community both in schools and dance studios, and is grateful to be apart of The Dallas Ballet Center.
Lauren Johnson is a summa cum laude graduate of Oklahoma City University with a bachelor’s degree in Dance Performance. Growing up with a deep passion for dance and being a part of the DFW competition circuit, she knew from a young age she wanted to be a professional dancer, singer, and actress. In her professional career, she has worked at numerous theaters and companies across the country, including Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma (Bye Bye Birdie, Sweet Charity, & Call Me Madam), American Spirit Dance Company (line captain), The Dallas Opera (Manon ballet ensemble), Mary Kay Cosmetics International Convention (arena performer), Busch Gardens Williamsburg (character dancer), and Holland America Cruise Line (featured dancer) to name a few. Currently, she is signed with Callidus Agency for TV/film/commercial work. Lauren loves to connect, encourage, and challenge students to their full potential and is thrilled to be a part of the Dallas Ballet Center family!
Meredith Knight is the modern dance instructor at Dallas Ballet Center and a Professor of Dance at the University of Texas at Arlington where she is helping build a new dance program. She performs, choreographs, teaches, writes, and designs but considers herself to be first a learner and explorer. A founding member and long-time collaborator with Big Rig Dance Collective as well as co-artistic director of REDDance, she is interested in opening minds through artistic collaborations, multimedia investigations, and a little bit of humor. Meredith continues to create works that merge traditional and experimental dance and strives to expand her ideas throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth dance community. She recently received national recognition for her collaborative choreography, Face on the Ground, through her inclusion in the 16th annual Dance in the Desert Festival in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Meredith holds her MFA in Dance from Texas Woman’s University where she was presented with the Pauline Bishop Leman Memorial Award & Scholarship (2009) and the Outstanding Graduate Student Award (2012). She is honored to have worked with artists such as Rebecca Bryant, Teena Marie Custer, Mark Dendy, Jordan Fuchs, Sarah Gamblin, and Jennifer Mabus.
Katie Lang began dancing at the Dallas Ballet Center in preschool, and continued her training studying ballet, tap, jazz, and modern with Janie Christy. She later became an assistant teacher before taking on classes of her own in high school. Katie graduated from Baylor University in 2009 with a degree in French language. During her time at Baylor, Katie completed various courses in dance technique, was a member of Baylor Dance Company, and choreographed for Baylor’s All-University Sing. After teaching ballet and jazz classes for the last 3 years, she is thrilled to begin teaching at the Dallas Ballet Center where her love of dance began.
Cyndi Jones Littlejohn
Cyndi Jones Littlejohn is a native of Dallas where she began dancing at age four. At age nine, she began professional training with George Skibene and Marjorie Tallchief at the Dallas Ballet Academy. As a student, Cyndi danced with the Dallas Civic Ballet, a regional company that later became the world class professional, Dallas Ballet, also directed by George Skibene and later Flemming Flindt. Later she attended the professional school for New York City Ballet (School of American Ballet) on scholarship. Cyndi graduated from high school early and left Dallas to join the Harkness Ballet in New York City. With the Company she toured Europe, the Middle East and the Dominican Republic.
In 1975, she returned to Dallas. That same year, Cyndi toured Central and South America and parts of the United States Some of her roles have been in Coppelia, Firebird, Giselle, The Nutcracker, Pas de Quatre, Rythmetron, Sleeping Beauty, Spring Waters, Serenade and Swan Lake. After leaving the Dallas Ballet, Cyndi began teaching for the Dallas Ballet Center in 1989. Currently at Dallas Ballet Center she is a teacher, performer, choreographer and Dallas Ballet Company. Board President. Cyndi loves spending time outdoors including gardening and boating with her family.
Terrence Martin was born in St. Thomas. He represented the Virgin Islands in the 1979 Pan American Games as a gymnast and also was a member of the Ballet Theatre of the Virgin Islands.
Currently he is certified as a Personal Fitness Trainer and instructs a stretching and conditioning class for adults. Terrence has performed since 1998 in the Dallas Ballet Company’s The Nutcracker as a guest artist in the role of Arabian.
Peggy McCaslin has been a faculty member at Dallas Ballet Center since 1971 and currently serves as Tap and Jazz Director. In 2013, Peggy received the prestigious Tap Legend Award from the Dallas Dance Council for her commitment and excellence in tap instruction. Peggy is the instructor and choreographer for The DBC Tap Connection, a tap performance group comprised of advanced tap students from the Dallas Ballet Center .The DBC Tap Connection has appeared in numerous National Tap Day events and has been invited by The Rhythm Junkies to perform in ‘Everything On Tap’ for the past five years. Peggy began her training at age ten in Tyler, Texas at the Ballet Academy under the direction of Marcia Grubb. Performing credits include four Coronations of the Tyler Rose Festival, musical productions with the Tyler Civic Theater and Tyler Junior College and numerous vocal performances with area churches and civic organizations.
Peggy studied dance, theater and voice at TCU and received her BFA. in 1972. She has studied with Fernando Shaffenburg, Nancy Schaffenburg-Cross, Victor Moreno, and Jerry Bywaters Cochran. Her Jazz training includes Gus Giordano, Luigi, Sam Fiorello, Jackie Sleight, Rhonda Miller, Bill Prudich and others. She has studied tap locally with Buster Cooper and Jackie Troup Miller and numerous others in Master Classes and workshops. Peggy’s tap students range in age from age 5 to adult and she shares her love of musical theater in her tap classes as well in various summer workshops.
Melissa is from Vestal, New York, where she has been dancing since age 4. At 14, she began training with Rafael Grigorian at the Rafael Grigorian School of Classical Ballet. She has attended summer programs at the New York State Summer School of the Arts School of Ballet, Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, Kaatsbaan Extreme Ballet, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, the Chautauqua Institution and Balletmet. In 2014, Melissa graduated from Indiana University with a Bachelor of Science in Ballet, an Outside Field in Applied Health Science, and a Minor in Psychology. While at IU, Melissa had the opportunity to train under Michael Vernon and Violette Verdy, and danced soloist and principal roles in works by Marius Petipa, Michael Vernon, Peter Martins, Martha Graham, Augustus Bournonville, Nicolo Fonte, and George Balanchine. After graduation, Melissa danced with the Colorado Ballet Studio Company for two seasons, under the direction of Gil Boggs. She has performed with the main company in works by Christopher Wheeldon, Martin Fredmann, Augustus Bournonville, and Septime Webre. Melissa is dancing her first year with Avant Chamber Ballet. She is excited to join the Dallas Ballet Center teaching faculty.
Mary Greenfield Story
Mary Greenfield Story graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from Butler University and received her Masters of Fine Arts from Southern Methodist University. Her professional career was with Indianapolis Ballet Theatre and Dance Kaleidoscope where she performed ballets such as The Nutcracker, Coppelia, Raymonda, Swan Lake, and Petrouchka. She also performed in Bernstein’s Mass with Leonard Bernstein conducting. Her training included George Verdak, Karen Kriete, Luigi, and Betty Gour. Mary Greenfield Story began teaching at the Dallas Ballet Center in 1992 and continues to teach at the Ballet Intensive Summer Workshops.
Bethany Stutsman, a Dallas native, has been dancing since the ripe age of 3 years old! She began her training at the Dallas Ballet Center where she laid her dance foundation under the direction of Judy and Brent Klopfenstein and their faculty. Bethany went on to dance competitively under the direction of Kim McSwain. In high school, she served as Junior Lieutenant and then 1st Lieutenant for the Lake Highlands Highlandette Drill Team during her three years on the line. After graduating high school Bethany attended Texas A&M University where she was one of 15 dancers chosen to be in the very first class of dance majors. While in college, Bethany spent her summers in New York City training with David Parsons at the Parsons Summer Dance Intensive as well as the STEPS on Broadway intensive. One of her greatest accomplishments has been having her choreography, Kaleidoscope’s Terpischore, selected to perform at the gala performance at the American College Dance Festival during her senior year at Texas A&M. Bethany has a huge heart for teaching and loves watching her students reach new heights technically as well as stylistically. She is beyond thrilled to join the incredible teaching staff at the Dallas Ballet Center!
Elaine Comsudi Tate is a native of New York City where she graduated from the High School of Performing Arts. With a scholarship to the School of American Ballet, Elaine studied under the direction of George Balanchine, Danilova and Stanley Williams. She performed with the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall. Elaine also performed with the New York City Ballet Company in the USSR, Israel, Yugoslavia, Italy, Greece, France, Germany, Austria, England and through the USA where her favorite ballets were Agon, Four Temperaments and Concerto Barocco.
Elaine holds a BA from Hunter College NYC and a Fellowship and MFA from SMU. Elaine taught for the Dallas Ballet under George Skibine and Marjorie Tallchief. She also taught dance at the College of Santa Fe, Brookhaven, North Texas University, Fort Worth Ballet and Booker T. Washington School of the Performing Arts. Since retiring as a DISD elementary teacher, Elaine has been so fortunate to continue to follow her passion for dance and education by working with students at the Dallas Ballet Center.
Katie West is a native of Dallas, and trained at the Dallas Ballet Center where she studied ballet, tap, jazz, and lyrical under many wonderful teachers. She was also a member of City Dance Theater(now Dallas Ballet Company) and enjoyed performing at many different venues with them. She continued her dance training in college under Tiffanee Arnold at Collin College as a member of their dance ensemble where she was trained in modern dance and continued her ballet training. She started teaching for DBC in 2002 and has continued teaching jazz, lyrical and musical theater over the years. She has been married to her husband, William, for ten years and they have three children.