Teachers & Staff

Mauri Connors, Artistic Director

Mauri Connors grew up dancing at Halestone under the direction of Nancy Saylor. She received her BA in dance from Connecticut College in 2015, where her undergraduate thesis was an interdisciplinary investigation into ecocentrism, sustainability, and contemporary dance that culminated in the creation of an artist book. Her current teaching and choreography are inspired by her experiences as an outdoor educator for toddlers and her investigation into contemplative ways of being in the world. At Halestone this year Mauri teaches Adult & Me, Creative Movement, Senior Company, and Halestone outreach classes at Natural Bridge Elementary School. When not at Halestone, Mauri volunteers for Blue Ridge CASA and with RACC as a volunteer stream water quality monitor.

Elizabeth Becker, Ballet I, II, III, Intermediate/Advanced Ballet, Pointe, Contemporary Ballet

Originally from North Carolina, Elizabeth graduated cum laude from Florida State University with a BFA in Dance. Although a ballet student since the age of five, since middle school she has also focused on her love of modern dance and choreography. She recently moved from NYC to Lexington, VA. In NYC, she was a Community Actionist for Gibney Dance’s ‘Hands are for Holding’ program (a violence prevention initiate in partnership with Day One and the Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence). As a Community Actionist, she performed and facilitated assemblies in middle and high schools all over NYC. She also worked as an Administrative Assistant at the American Youth Dance Theater. In May 2016, she was invited to perform with the Gibney Dance Company for the 25th Anniversary Benefit Concert in NYC. She has worked for Aruan Ortiz, a critically acclaimed jazz musician and composer (as his Audience Development Assistant) and for Ascendence Dance Chicago (as their Audience Development Director). Elizabeth has also worked for Gibney Dance as an Art-to-Tech Intern, Dance Company Fellow, and Artistic Intern. From 2014-2015, she was a Program Intern at the Doris Duke Performing Artist Awards.

Elizabeth graduated from high school from the UNC School of the Arts with a focus in contemporary dance. She spent her Spring 2014 semester, studying contemporary dance at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts where she performed with the school and choreographed site specific pieces. She has also choreographed and performed at the American Dance Festival. Photography and videography are a few of her other interests as well.

Sara Cunningham, Kinderballet

Sara Cunningham holds a Bachelor’s Degree in biology from Washington University in St. Louis, MO, where she began her training in modern and improvisational dance. She had opportunities to perform in St. Louis and Boston during the Bicentennial Festival of the Arts in 1976. She continued her education, receiving a Master’s Degree in Creative Arts in Therapy, Movement Therapy, from Hahnemann Medical College (now Drexel University) in Philadelphia, PA. Sara brought Movement Therapy to Rockbridge County in 1981 while working with special education students in the Buena Vista School System  and joining the Rockbridge Area Community Services Board. In 1994 Sara began teaching creative movement and pre-ballet at the Lexington School of Dance where she continued for seventeen years introducing summer workshops for young dancers in 2001 and becoming the Associate Director in 2010. When the two studios merged in 2011 Sara joined Halestone as their kinder ballet instructor. 

Sara has also shared her love of dance at numerous local preschools and enjoyed performing with the Rockbridge Ballet prior to beginning her teaching career. Sara’s continued work with young children over the past two decades has earned her a solid reputation in our community as a compassionate and innovative educator whose gentle influence is responsible for igniting an enthusiastic love of dance in the hearts of her students.

Laura Dueker, Creative Movement, Introduction to Dance Technique: Ballet & Modern, Junior Company

Laura’s love of dance started early, enrolling at Halestone Dance Studio at the age of 4. Halestone fostered her love of dance and inspired continued education and a career in dance. She now holds a BA in Dance from James Madison University and a MFA in Dance from Arizona State University. Laura has taught at Arizona State University and Scottsdale Community College. She performed in numerous dance companies including and festivals. Her choreography and dance for the camera work has also been seen in various locations worldwide.  She is very excited to be back at Halestone, where her love of dance was kindled and encouraged.

Nancy Saylor

Studio Owner and Artistic Director (1996 – 2016).  As an active dancer in continuous training, choreographer, theatre director, and teaching professional, Nancy depends on her experience with a broad range of contemporary somatic studies—Alexander Technique, Bartenieff Fundamentals, Body Mind Centering, Developmental Technique, Experiential Anatomy, Yoga, and Contact Improvisation—to support her artistic process and to inform her instructional methodology. Her unique teaching methods combine the use of applied dance theory and improvisational technique to foster an inventive atmosphere of creative freedom that provides an underlying support for the disciplined study of dance.  Her teaching and choreographic experience ranges from programs for preschool and school age children to dancers and productions on the university level.   Nancy holds an AA in dance from Pensacola State College in Pensacola, FL; a BFA in theatre from Auburn University, Auburn, AL; and a MALS in visual and performing arts with a concentration in dance from Hollins University, Roanoke, VA.  In addition to her university work, Nancy has studied extensively over the years with private instructors, through independent research, and in group seminars and professional workshops. Highlights of her continuing educational pursuits include attending The American Dance Festival’s six-week school in Durham, NC in both 1998 and 2001; The Zen Monkey Project Summer Intensive in Charlottesville, VA in 2000; and a 200-hour, yoga teachers certification program completed through Lighten Up Yoga in Asheville, NC in 2002. She participated in the June, 2004 Contact Improvisation Teacher’s Exchange (CITE) at Earthdance in Plainfield, MA with Nancy Stark Smith and Martin Keogh, and in the summer of 2008 she attended CI36—a ten-day, international gathering of dancers held at Juniata College in Huntingdon, PA to celebrate the 36th anniversary of Contact Improvisation as an art form.  From 1996-2004 Nancy served as the Director of the Rockbridge Modern Dance Ensemble for Fine Arts in Rockbridge (FAIR). She is the founder (2003) and Artistic Director of The Community Dance Connection Theatre (The CDCT), an independently incorporated non-profit, 501(c)(3) performing arts organization. Central to the mission of The CDCT is a desire to form vibrant links between the community and the performing arts and to unite individuals in cross-generational and interdisciplinary collaborations of purposeful artistic expression.   Nancy also teaches Halestone’s Dance Conditioning class—a combination of originally choreographed aerobic dance, pilates, and yoga—for the Physical Education Department of Washington & Lee University in Lexington, VA.

Molly Grace Smith, Introduction to Dance Technique: Tap & Jazz, Tap I & II, Jazz I & II, Clogging Workshop

Molly Grace Smith is originally from the greater area of Philadelphia and graduated from the University of the Arts in 2015.  She studied photography and is currently working in Lexington with a local artist. From age three to eighteen, Smith studied a wide range of dance styles at hometown studio, Babylon School of Dance. These styles included classical Broadway jazz and tap, along with contemporary modern and hip-hop, and of course ballet.  While growing up dancing, Molly had opportunities to work with companies like Alvin Ailey and the Radio City Rockettes during her summers and eventually found the university she attended through a dance intensive program. She is very excited to be joining Halestone this fall and to express some of her inspiration to her new friends!

Susanna Young, Introduction to Dance Technique: Modern & Tap, Intermediate Seminar in Dance Technique, Advanced Seminar in Dance Technique

Susanna Young is a choreographer, director, and performer, recently relocated back to her home in Roanoke, Virginia from Los Angeles and New Orleans. She serves as a guest-artist choreographer and associate director for the Hollins Theater Institute as well as the Director of Dance for The University of Lynchburg’s dance company, Dance Works. She earned her B.A., double majoring in Dance and Theater from Hollins University and recently completed the Certificate in New Play Directing with The Hollins Playwright’s Lab graduate program. Most recently, she’s been choreographing movement for her show, Then the Moon Swallowed, with New Noise Theater Ensemble in New Orleans for the showcase Sound Off! as well as continuing her residency with Hollins University, choreographing the musical Chicago. Other credits include: Dir., and Choreo., Men On Boats; Dir., Choreo., the children’s theater touring production of Marvelous Cornelius; Choreo. Godspell; self choreographed piece, Young Habits through the Roanoke Tinker.

Past Halestone Instructors

Bailey Anderson

Bailey is a somatically informed teacher, interdisciplinary artist and scholar. She received her MFA in Dance from the University of Colorado Boulder where she studied disability at the intersection of dance pedagogy, performance and intersectional theory. Her current process centers around the diverse experiences and knowledge that comes from disability and how disability can intersect with other ways of knowing. Her work has been presented at 9×22 Dance Lab, Minnesota Fringe Festival, The Canadian Society for Dance Studies, Sans Souci Dance Film Festival, and at the Body-Mind Centering Association Conference.

Patricia Brooks Cope

Patricia Brooks Cope earned her BA and MFA in Dance from Hollins University.  As a choreographer and teacher she has worked with the Braided Light Dance Project in Jacksonville, FL.  For Roanoke Ballet Theatre she is an instructor and co-producer of The Tinker performance series.  She is currently a visiting teaching artist of dance at Hollins University.  Her teaching goals are for students to leave having built physical strength, flexibility and stamina; developed the ability to learn and memorize choreography; and have the time to explore their own movement practice through improvisation technique.

Kathryn Brodie & Analise LaRiviere

Kathryn Brodie and Analise LaRiviere are Seniors at Rockbridge County High school who have been dancing at Halestone since they were in kindergarten. They have experience dancing in many classes such as ballet, jazz, modern, hip hop, and tap, but they have a particular fondness for clogging. They both began clogging in middle school and fell in love with the dance form. They have both enjoyed taking the class under instructor Cheryllanne Ward, and have shared their talents elsewhere. They have performed in nursing homes, talent shows and also taught a class to young children at the library where they now both work. They’re very excited for the chance to teach at Halestone and hope to share their love of clogging with many others.

Christina Hale

Christina has been dancing for over 30 years and it is her passion.  She performed as a company member in both the Southwest Virginia Ballet Company and Roanoke Ballet Theatre Company when she was younger.  She continued her dance education at Radford University.  Christina taught various levels of ballet at Roanoke Ballet Theatre for 9 years and also taught Advanced Ballet, Pointe, Jazz, Modern and Contemporary at Blue Ridge Performing Arts Academy for 2 years.  She has been a dancer and choreographer for City Modern Ensemble for the past 10 years and also serves as the Assistant Director of CME.  Recently, she started volunteering for Mental Health In Motion (a non-profit organization that uses dance to increase awareness and compassion for Mental Health conditions).   She is very excited to join the teaching staff of Halestone.

Davis Straske

Davis Straske is a senior at Washington & Lee University, majoring in psychology and minoring in dance. She dances with and serves as the co-president for the W&L Repertory Dance Company. She grew up studying jazz, ballet, musical theater dance, and lyrical at Brucie Klay’s Dance Center in Tampa, Florida. In past summers, Davis has taught dance (anywhere from jazz and tap to synchronized swimming) and technical theater at Camp Merrie-Woode in Sapphire, North Carolina.

Caitlin Smith

Caitlin Smith trained with Ballet San Antonio and Omaha Theater Ballet before graduating with a B.F.A. from Butler University.  While at Butler, she had the opportunity to participate in international tours to Poland, Russia, and China.  She has studied with Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre and Nashville Ballet and began her professional career dancing with the Minnesota Ballet from 2011 until 2013.  She then moved to Virginia and spent two seasons with Manassas Ballet Theatre.  She joined Roanoke Ballet Theatre in 2015.  Caitlin has enjoyed teaching ages three all the way up to adult classes and loves to share her passion for dance with her students.

Emily Anne Strong

Emily Anne Strong grew up in Lexington, where she attended Halestone dance studio and was one of the founding members of the Community Dance Connection Theatre. She earned her Masters in Classical and Contemporary Text from Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. She has also studied at Stella Adler Studio of Acting, Shakespeare’s Globe in London, the American Shakespeare Center, and the American Dance Festival. She has performed on stages in London and Glasgow, in short films, and in a yet-to-be-released web series. Three of her plays have been staged for the public; one as part of Stage to Page, a workshop with Playwrights Studio Scotland, for which it was competitively chosen. She is excited to return to Halestone as an instructor for adult company!

Sage Tanguay

Sage Tanguay began her performance studies in theatre and dance in early childhood at Halestone Dance Studio. After graduating from UVa’s Dance minor program and Drama Department in 2016, she now lives in her hometown of Hot Springs, where she is the host of “The Morning Dew” on Allegheny Mountain Radio.

Marla Palma

Marla Palma is a local performer in Rockbridge County. She began dancing with Halestone in 2007 and started as an instructor for Hip Hop and Jazz at Halestone for the past eight years-this will be her ninth year at Halestone as an instructor. Palma started dance at the age of three and grew up dancing with the Fairfax Ballet Company. She later continued her studies in college with Students in Motion at Old Dominion University, George Mason University Dance Company, Dance Place in Washington, DC, and has had extensive training in ballet, modern dance, and jazz then broadened her focus to lyrical, African, Hip Hop and freestyle. She taught dance for Summer FAIR in 2007 and served as choreographer for Summer FAIR in 2008 and many other local school musicals as well as contributed choreography for Halestone at Lime Kiln productions from 2008-2010 and for the Halestone Spring recitals from 2008-2016.  She is excited to continue on as an instructor with Halestone Dance Studio as it enters its 39th year in operation!

The Halestone Foundation

The Halestone Foundation is a non-profit organization that houses Halestone Dance Studio and its community outreach.

We are led by a volunteer board: Joel Kuehner - President, Ann Courtney - VP, Jess Sullivan, Don Henk, Daniel Hinkle, Stephanie Hodde and Nina Whitehead - members at large.
If you have questions about being a member of the board please contact the board at halestonedance@gmail.com

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Get in Touch

Artistic Director, Mauri Connors
halestonedirector@gmail.com

Main Email
halestonedance@gmail.com

Phone: (540) 463-7444

Mailing Address: 
P.O. Box 1583 
Lexington, Virginia 24450