top of page
  • Writer's pictureKelly King

Standing on the Shoulders of Giants

Updated: Oct 25, 2021

Ballet is an art form that is preserved and passed on through intense education. Leadership at Golden Ballet Theater has over 39,000 hours in dance education and 23 years experience in dance education.

Our Ivy League education started with private training from Marina Levasheva. I trained privately with Marina at her home in Kennesaw, GA, & while training at the GA Ballet where I danced three classical ballets per year with the professional company. I also trained at North Carolina School of the Arts, the University of Arizona under Melissa Lowe's tutelage, and currently learning from Vera Stephenson.

Marina Levasheva, my first ballet teacher at 14.

Miss Marina trained with her father, Vladimir Levashev, a world famous Ballet Master, rehearsal director, teacher and principal dancer with the Russian Bolshoi Ballet. Marina apprenticed with the Bolshoi Ballet and Moiseyev Dance Co. and earned her degree in Fine Arts and Dance at the studio of the USSR State Folk and Character Dance Academy under the artistic direction of Igor Moiseyev. She apprenticed with the Bolshoi Ballet for two years. Marina then performed with Beroizka State Academic Choreographic Ensemble for 20 years, where she not only toured 30 different countries, but also was the Rehearsal Assistant for new company members as well as a classical ballet teacher in the Vagonova technique. She later helped found the Diagilev Center Ballet School in Moscow as the Ballet Mistress in 1990. In 1992, Marina moved to the United States and began working with The (then) Academy of Ballet Arts, which is now The British Academy of Performing Arts.

Since then, she has taught and directed with several different programs including: Atlanta Ballet, Impact Dance of Atlanta, Studio D. School of Dance, Georgia Ballet, Clemson University, Michigan State University, Governor’s Honors Program, Governor’s School for Arts & Humanities in South Carolina, and many more. We are honored to have Marina on faculty at BAPA for over 30 years, and we are so grateful she shares her love of ballet with us and our dancers.

My most influential college professor:

Melissa Lowe

At age 14 Melissa Lowe moved to New York City to continue her ballet training, first at the School of American Ballet (NYC Ballet’s training program) where she studied with master teachers Stanley Williams and Alexandra Danilova, and then as a trainee with American Ballet Theatre, under the direction of Leon Danielian and Patricia Wilde.

Immediately following her high school graduation from Professional Children’s School in New York City, Ms. Lowe joined Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre as a Soloist. Positions followed as a Soloist with the Houston Ballet and Principal Dancer with Pacific Northwest Ballet in Seattle.

Ms. Lowe has performed nationally and internationally as a company member or guest artist in more than 100 different works. Her diverse repertory, spanning romantic and classical ballet to neoclassical and modern, includes works by masters such as Michel Fokine, Frederic Franklin, and George Balanchine, and by a wide range of prolific contemporary choreographers such as James Clouser, Rudi Van Dantzig, Mark Morris, Kent Stowell, Hans Van Manen, and Ben Stevenson.

From 1984 to 1987 Ms. Lowe served as an Assistant Professor of Ballet at Indiana University and Director of the Pre-College Ballet Program. Upon her arrival to the University of Arizona, Ms. Lowe established an early movement education program for children under the auspices of UA's Extended University. She now holds the position of Professor in the School of Dance where she teaches in the ballet area and team teaches a course she designed in dance pedagogy. She has been a primary student recruiter while serving as Director of Student Services and BFA Advisor. In the spirit of wellness through the arts, one of her areas of research led to the development of a movement therapy program for breast cancer patients and survivors.

Ms. Lowe was commissioned to create four dance instructional DVDs which are marketed by KULTUR International Films LTD, the world’s largest distributor for performing arts films. Her DVD entitled Creative Movement for Children: A Step Towards Intelligence, has led to several invitations in Asia, serving as a panelist and conducting workshops for teachers in early movement education in Tokyo and Hong Kong. In her capacity as Master Teacher in Ballet for nine years with the National Foundation for the Advancement in the Arts, she was instrumental in igniting professional dance careers for some of the nations’ most talented high school seniors.

Ms. Lowe, alongside her husband, Jory Hancock, is credited with building the School of Dance’s national stature, now rated one of the top college dance programs in the country. Her numerous choreographic contributions as part of the program's annual performance season also include over two decades of choreographic features with Arizona Opera, Tucson Symphony, UA Opera Theatre and Arizona Theatre Company.

Ms. Lowe has been responsible for developing a Ballet Masterwork series as part of the program’s annual season. She is committed to acquiring and licensing a range of internationally acclaimed choreographers’ works such as Christopher Wheeldon, Alexei Ratmansky, Darrell Grand Moultrie, Ben Stevenson, Jerome Robbins, George Balanchine, Jessica Lang and Nacho Duato. This impressive roster of ballet masterworks, (an extremely rare accomplishment for a college dance program), contributes powerfully to dancers’ professional training and artistic preparation for their future careers, while providing exciting seasons for our local audiences.

Vera Stephenson

Co-Director of Reverence Academy of Dance and Examiner for the Royal Academy of Dance is a graduate of the Canadian College of Dance in Toronto Canada, and the University of Memphis. A Canadian Equity dancer and choreographer who toured across Canada with the musical "Anne of Green Gables". Since then, Vera has danced in and choreographed over 40 shows. Now she is Co-Owner and Co-Director of Reverence Academy of Dance. Vera has her ARAD with the Royal Academy as well as her Teaching Certificate and her Teaching Diploma. Vera's tap choreography places 1st in regional and national competitions. Vera is also trained in ISTD Modern and National and has danced in a professional Folk Dance Group. Her love is dancing International Ballroom and Latin with her husband of 28 years, Gerry Stephenson who leads the Ballroom division of Reverence. 4 years ago, Vera co-wrote with Sheree Reed, an original Christmas show "Searching for Christmas" which is done by the community and for the community.

To help your child stand on the shoulders of giants click below:

105 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page