Cynthia has more than 13 years experience as a professional dancer and more than 27 years of experience as a teacher and ballet master. She attended the University of Utah on the Willam F. Christensen Ballet Scholarship and later graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Science from the University of Cincinnati. During her performing career with both Ballet West in Salt Lake City UT under Artistic Director John Hart and with the Cincinnati Ballet in Cincinnati, OH, she performed the entire range of the classical repertoire, many of George Balanchine’s works as well as the modern classics of Paul Taylor, John Butler, Agnes de Mille, John Neumier and Eugene Loring. In her career she was privileged to dance many featured, solo and pas de deux works under the direction of Freddie Franklin, Kirk Peterson, David Nixen and Val Caniparoli.
Cynthia has students currently training and performing with more than 20 professional companies across the US and Europe. From 2015 until the present Cynthia has served as academy principal faculty at the Ballet West Academy in Salt Lake City UT. She teaches across all levels and locations of the academy and summer intensives with an emphasis on the professional training division. In 2018 and 2019 she served as rehearsal assistant to guest repetiteurs from both the Balanchine and Gerald Arpino Trusts. In her capacity as student ballet master to the main company she oversees the participation of the children’s student roles that perform with the professional company of Ballet West. She has also served on the jury of both the Miami International Ballet Competition 2019, 2020 and the Canaan Dance International Ballet competition, 2020.
Her awards and recognition include YAGP Outstanding School Pittsburgh Youth Ballet 2014 & 2015, YAGP Outstanding School Ballet West Academy 2016, 2017, 2018, YAGP Outstanding Teacher Ballet West Academy 2017. Solo and pas de deux students coached by Cynthia have participated in the New York Finals of the YAGP in 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020.
As an instructor she has taught on the faculty of the Cincinnati Ballet Academy OH, Ballet Mississippi MS, the Mississippi Metropolitan Ballet MS, Point Park University & Point Park International Summer Intensive PA and the Pittsburgh Youth Ballet PA. As a master teacher she has taught for Nevada Ballet Theater at the Cincinnati School for Creative and Performing Arts OH, the Conservatory of Creative and Performing Arts in Pittsburgh PA, Greater York Center for Dance and Barbara Pontecorvo Ballet Studios OH. In 2016-2018 she had the pleasure of teaching at various regional locations of the Youth America Grand Prix.
Peter LeBreton Merz comes to Asheville following a five year position as the director of the Ballet West Academy. He has also served as the Artistic Administrator for the USA International Ballet Competition in Jackson MS and was head of Ballet at Point Park University.
Peter began his ballet training in his hometown of Dayton, OH, at the Schwarz School of the Dance. At the age of eight, he was chosen by Dayton Ballet’s artistic director Stuart Sebastian to appear in a new imagining of The Sleeping Beauty, which was the spark that started his life as a dancer. As a performer he worked with the Dayton Ballet, the Louisville Ballet and the Cincinnati Ballet.
He is known as a master teacher for his enthusiastic and encouraging approach to ballet training. He has choreographed over 40 original ballets across the USA and internationally. His award-winning choreography relies heavily on his background in classical ballet, but is informed by his passion for contemporary dance forms.
On top of his positions with Ballet West, the USA International Ballet Competition and Pointe Park University, he has served as a judge and Master Teacher for Youth America Grand Prix, the American Dance Competition, the American Ballet Competition, and many other organizations. He has twice been named Outstanding Choreographer by the Youth America Grand Prix. He was also honored to be named Outstanding Teacher by that organization in 2014.
He holds a BFA in Theater Design and Production from the University of Cincinnati’s College Conservatory of Music, and an MBA in Sports, Arts, and Entertainment Management from Point Park University.
Heather Maloy is the founder, resident choreographer and artistic director of Terpsicorps Theatre of Dance... and now the director of the Academy at Terpsicorps as well. Heather has taught both professionals and students at NC Dance Theatre (now Charlotte Ballet), Nashville Ballet, Chautauqua Ballet, UNC School of the Arts, Ballet Nouveau Colorado and Terpsicorps Theatre of Dance. She has an equal love for working with professionals and students, and outside of her passion for her family, lives to create ballets and coach dancers to become better artists than they ever dreamed possible. She has taught at many studios in the Asheville area since moving here to start Terpsicorps in 2003, and treasures the relationships she forms with her students.
Heather received her training at the North Carolina School of the Arts (NCSA). She began her professional career when she joined the North Carolina Dance Theatre (NCDT) at the age of 17, making her at that time the youngest dancer to be hired as a full company member in NCDT’s history. Heather stayed for thirteen years, dancing principal and soloist roles.
Mentored by NCDT artistic director, Salvatore Aiello, she choreographed her first professional work when she was only nineteen. After Aiello's death, his successor, Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux, commissioned her to create five more pieces for NCDT. She has created over 20 works for Terpsicorps including three full evening length ballets. Many of these included collaboration with musicians, composers, artists and projectionists.
Heather has also created two premieres for the Chautauqua Ballet, three ballets for the Nashville Ballet and one work each for the Wake Forest and Jacksonville College Dance Departments. She has participated in Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet’s Choreoplan 2002, the Ballet Nouveau Colorado 21st Century Choreography Competition in 2008 and the 2011 National Choreographer’s Initiative. She has also had the honor to return to UNCSA to create a new work for the Spring Dance program in 2008 and to stage her work “Le Suil Go…” for their 2007 alumni performance in Manteo, NC.
Maloy believes that dance training should be both a positive esteem building experience and a chance to learn self-discipline and respect for others. In her 13 years of teaching at various studios in the Asheville area and running the Muses of Terpsicorps, she has helped more than a dozen students fulfill their dream of becoming year round students at UNC School of the Arts' world renowned high school dance program, as well as joining the dance departments,(some on substantial scholarship) at Florida State, Boston Conservatory, the Ailey School at Fordham University and the Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet. Students she has worked with are now dancing professionally with Terpsicorps Theatre of Dance, Ballett of National Theatre Mannheim, cocodaco dance project & Lucky Plush Productions in Chicago, Carolina Ballet, Missouri Contemporary Ballet, T. Lang Dance and Staib Dance. They have also appeared on stage at Pacific Northwest Ballet, Miami City Ballet, Charlotte Ballet, Richmond Ballet, Basel Ballet in Switzerland, Elephant in the Black Box in Madrid, Spain, Pittsburgh Ballet and Lydia Johnson Dance Company in NY. Maloy's connections in the professional dance world help give the students a realistic perspective of what they will need to succeed and the tools with which to get there.
The Academy is thrilled to be adding Karen to our roster of instructors. New to Asheville, Karen is a professional ballet teacher and award winning choreographer. She is an alumna of the world renowned Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, where she was carefully trained by founder Marcia Dale Weary as both a dancer and an instructor. Singled out as a student with great potential to teach, Karen has remained a consistent presence on their faculty since 1982.
Karen continued her training at the American Ballet Theatre School under Leon Danielian, where she was noticed by Robert Joffrey and hired as a member of the City Center Joffrey Ballet Company. She worked there as a dancer, where her skills as a teacher where seen quickly and utilized to teach the children’s roles in Joffrey’s reconstruction of the ballet Pulcinella, coached by Leonide Massine. She accompanied Mr. Joffrey on the company’s ground-breaking 5-week tour of Russia in 1974.
Karen was the founder of the Alfred Ballet Academy in Alfred, NY, where she choreographed original story ballets for her students for 22 years, producing many professional dancers, some of whom have gone on to form their own dance companies. She also founded the Campbelltown School of Ballet in Campbelltown, PA and the Hershey School of Ballet in Hershey, PA, both still in existence.
Karen served on the dance faculties at Alfred University in Alfred, NY, and Hagerstown Community College in Hagerstown, MD. She created a class for HCC called “If I were a Dancer”, designed to inspire young dancers in the College for Kids program.
Jamie Brege is a dance educator, choreographer, teacher trainer, and collaborative artist newly based in Asheville, North Carolina. Most recently Jamie served as Assistant Principal for Boston Ballet School, where she taught, choreographed, and worked closely with school leadership, faculty, students, and families to ensure a high-quality dance education experience for students of all ages and abilities.
Jamie grew up in Grand Rapids, MI and began her ballet training at the Grand Rapids Ballet School under the direction of Charthel Arthur and Robert Estner. She continued her professional training through attending summer intensive programs with American Ballet Theatre, Vail International Dance Festival, and The Juilliard School.
Jamie earned her BFA from the Conservatory of Dance at Purchase College SUNY. While at Purchase, she performed works by choreographers including George Balanchine, Bronislava Nijinksa, David Parsons, and Helen Pickett. Jamie was chosen to serve as an ambassador exchange student at Western Australia Academy of Performing Arts in Perth, Australia, where she performed both classical and contemporary repertoire. Jamie holds a Master of Arts in Dance Education, Ballet Pedagogy from New York University. She is an ABT® Certified Teacher through the ABT® National Training Curriculum, Pre-primary through Level 7 and Partnering.
Jamie’s teaching credits include Boston Ballet School, Grand Rapids Ballet School, Purchase College SUNY, Boston University, Dean College, Endicott College, and Lasell University. She has served as guest faculty at American Ballet Theatre’s Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School and worked as co-artistic director of Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp’s International Ballet Ensemble, touring through Germany, France, Belgium, and Denmark. Jamie co-created, and will continue to lead, Adaptive Dance Teacher Trainings for Boston Ballet School in Boston and at schools and organizations around the country.
Vanessa Owen is originally from Amity, Pennsylvania and she received her B.F.A. in Dance from Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio. She has danced professionally with Wylliams/Henry Contemporary Dance Company of Kansas City, MO, the Washington Reflections of Washington DC, the Dayton Philharmonic’s production of Leonard Bernstein’s Mass, the Kennedy Center’s production of Children of Eden and Company E of Washington, DC. Vanessa was a recipient of a 2013-2014 Fellowship in Choreography awarded by the Virginia Commission for the Arts, and her choreography has been presented at Wright State University, the 30th Annual Choreographer’s Showcase, YES! Dance Virginia, Velocity DC Dance Festival, Malayaworks’ Intersections, Agora Dance, Shenandoah University, and Company E.
As a dancer with Company E, Vanessa performed frequently at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington DC, and worked extensively with the U.S. Department of State as a Cultural Ambassador; taking her to Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, England, Russia, Cuba, Israel, Palestine, Azerbaijan, and Uruguay. On these tours Vanessa not only performed in many concert dance and musical theater productions, she instructed intensives in contemporary dance, and choreographed and collaborated with international artists in numerous musical theater and concert dance productions.
Vanessa has been teaching dance for over ten years in multiple cities and worked as a certified Barre3 instructor in Washington, DC. She currently freelances as a choreographer and dancer and co-directs Stewart/Owen Dance with her husband, Gavin Stewart.
Gavin Stewart is a dancer, composer and choreographer from Tulsa, OK. He holds a BFA in Dance Performance from UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance and has danced professionally with Wylliams/Henry CDC, MOVE: the Company, Richmond Ballet II, Company E, and has been a company member with Terpsicorps Theatre of Dance for the past three seasons. Mr. Stewart has performed works by S. Aiello, G. Balanchine, V. Caniparoli, M. Cong, R. Erdos, J. Lang, T. Noone, Heather Maloy, and has originated roles in works by notable choreographers such as J. Archibald, J. Beamish, S. Janes, J. Peugh, W. Soleau, and E. Zandejas. Mr. Stewart's choreography has been seen on Wylliams/Henry CDC, Richmond Ballet I & II, and Company E’s dance programs in Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Russia, Azerbaijan, Palestine, Israel, Uruguay, and Cuba. In 2015 Company E appointed Gavin Composer-In-Residence, since then he has originated music for five evening-length productions. Gavin currently freelances as a choreographer and dancer and co-directs Stewart/Owen Dance with his wife, Vanessa Owen.
A native of Western North Carolina, Allison began her childhood training with Marilyn Cloutier of Sylva, NC and Walter, Linda, and Peggy Fletcher of Asheville, NC. She then spent her high school years training at the NC School of the Arts in Winston Salem and the VA School of the Arts in Lynchburg. After graduating, Allison joined Allegro Dance Theater of Chattanooga, TN as a principal dancer and soloist and toured both nationally and internationally. In 1996 she returned home to Asheville to start her lovely family and to teach and perform with the Asheville Ballet, ADDANCE, The Fletcher School of Dance, Wayne Burritt Dance, and Terpsicorps Theatre of Dance. Allison has now been training aspiring dancers of all ages and abilities for over 20 years.
Some of the amazing teachers and coaches Allison has had the pleasure of working with include Melissa Hayden, Melinda Lawrence, Gina Vidal, Trish Casey, Dianne Markham, Joan Saunders, Duncan Noble, Frank Smith, Gyula Pandi, Richard Kutch, Richard Gain, Petrus Bosman, David Keener, Mark Schneider, Alexander Bennett, Gelsey Kirkland, Ann Dunn, Brynar Mehl, and Valerie Concha.
Born in NJ, Trisha began her training with Doris Jacoby and Nichole Masters in Island Heights, NJ. At 16 she left to continue her training at Nutmeg Conservatory for the Arts in Connecticut. She spent summers studying at Nutmeg Conservatory for the Arts, ABT NY, and Joffrey San Antonio. After her studies she returned to NJ to dance for American Repertory Ballet and started teaching at the affiliated Princeton Ballet School where she served as the ballet mistress for American Repertory Ballet Workshop.
Also an accomplished pianist Trisha began playing for ballet classes at age 14. She has played for ABT, School of Pennsylvania Ballet, Princeton Ballet School, Princeton University, and was most recently the company pianist for Pennsylvania Ballet.
Rudi started her dance training in her hometown of Hendersonville, NC soon expanding into other areas such as Charlotte, NC, and Spartanburg, SC. Her training included classes at North Carolina Dance Theatre and Ballet Spartanburg, among others, studying tap, jazz, and ballet. She trained at the prestigious Point Park University in Pittsburgh, PA where she studied tap, jazz, ballet, pilates, and modern and has studied at Broadway Dance Center and Steps on Broadway in NYC, including participating in Liz Imperio’s winter dance intensive at Broadway Dance Center.
She was a competitive dancer for years, winning awards such as 4th overall tap soloist at a well-known nationals dance competition. Rudi had the privilege to study rhythm tap dance with the very talented Jason Janas and has trained and taken master classes with other greats such as Mike Minery, Tina Caspery-Cyphert, Frank Hatchett, Ayodele Casel and Jason Parsons, to name a few.
Some of her latest training includes studying the Horton technique with Raquelle Chavis, former principal dancer with the Alvin Ailey dance company, body percussion with Ryan Johnson-former member of “Stomp”, and attending the NC Rhythm Tap dance festival in 2013 and 2015 where she had the opportunity to take class from and perform for tap dance icons: Derick Grant, Jason Janas, Chloe Arnold, Nicholas Young, and Michelle Dorrance.
She has been a guest instructor at numerous dance intensives and studios, choreographer and judges for high school dance teams as well as judging for national dance competitions. Her students have won many overall awards and she has received numerous choreography awards for her routines. With a passion for dance and music, she believes it is important that your training never ends. She gives all glory and thanks to God for the talents and opportunities He provides.
Elizabeth is originally from Hendersonville, NC and holds a B.A. in Dance Studies with a minor in Spanish and in Education from Appalachian State University.
Specializing in Release Technique, she has had further training in this dance form at LaCantera in Mexico City, MX. She also has trained extensively in ballet, Limon modern technique, and jazz.
Elizabeth is a certified Classical Pilates instructor, currently teching Pilates at Rise Authentic Pilates and Sync Bodywork. he currently teaches dance and pole fitness at Empyrean Arts Studio, and modern dance to ages 6-16 at Asheville Contemporary Dance Theater.
Deirdre began to practice yoga in 1994 to acquiesce her pesky friends that insisted she would fall in love with it. Fortunately for her, they were right! From that moment began her almost 20 year love affair with the practice and teaching of yoga.
Deirdre’s passion is to create a sense of belonging in her classes by coupling her serious dedication with a light-hearted approach. Her classes are alive with questions, philosophy, and humor based on connecting real life situations to the physical practice.
Deirdre’s background as a professional modern dancer in NYC encourages her creative spirit to choreograph every “class as an intimate concoction of equal parts inquiry of the heart, humility of the mind, and precision in expression of the body” (student Kris H). She is constantly approaching yoga from different angles yet maintains a steady commitment to alignment, as well as, physical and emotional safety.
Deirdre’s gratitude, love, and adoration for her family, community and teachers is unbounded. Her strongest experiences and trainings have been in the Krisnamacharya Lineage through Ashtanga Vinyasa, Iyengar, Vini Yoga (Desikachar in Madras, India) and Anusara (formerly Certified). Deirdre, E-RYT 500 Yoga Alliance Certified, co-teaches Infusions and Teacher Trainings in the Bhavana Yoga School with Joe Taft.
Megan graduated Cum Laude from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte with a BA in Dance. After graduating, she taught various forms of dance at Roanoke Ballet Theatre and performed with Roanoke City Modern Ensemble and at the Greenbrier Resort as a Springhouse dancer.
She has studied various styles including Modern, Tap, Ballet, Jazz, Contemporary, Hip Hop, Latin styles, and Musical Theater.
Megan has performed and taught with various studios/ companies in Asheville and is thrilled to dance/ teach/ perform and looks forward to many artistic endeavors!
Zax first started breaking in Durham, North Carolina, where he was born and raised. He took his first breakdance class at 8 years old, and after taking a break for a few years, he began again at age 12, this time more disciplined and eager to learn. It wasn't until he was 15 that he actually started to listen to the music and dance on beat. Around this time he started getting involved with the local community, attending battles and jams. Zax danced all through high school, competing and performing with the Swagga Muffins, a crew of young dancers from the 9th Street Dance studio. After graduating, he began to travel the world, connecting to people across language barriers by using breakdance. He has danced and battled in Central America, Europe, and Asia.
Presently, Zax is a senior at UNC Asheville where he pursues a degree in environmental studies. He continues to breakdance as an outlet for physical creativity and personal expression, as well as practicing parkour, rock climbing, and white water kayaking.