Dianna George, BFA, is the Director of Great Lakes Arts & Dance – GLAD and the Artistic Director of Northern Lights Dance Theatre. She began her studies in the Cecchetti technique in Detroit with Evelyn Falatine and the Ypsilanti Area Dancers, under the direction of Marjorie Randazzo. She studied an average of 28 hours a week in classes and private coaching. She was an apprentice teacher from 1966-1971. While a junior in high school she was accepted into a professional company, the Indianapolis Ballet. The company was directed by George Verdak, formerly of Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. She danced as a member of the corps the first year, then became a principle dancer. When the Russian technique company wasn’t touring, they made their home at Clowes Hall at Butler University, where they would perform with the Indianapolis Symphony. Dianna has studied several forms of dance in New York City, Chicago, Traverse City, St. Louis, Marquette, and Petoskey. She has taken classes from over one hundred Master Teachers over the course of her career and continues to study regularly as a teacher. She had her first paying dance job at the age of 12. Her first job as a choreographer was working for a Detroit area high school while she was in the eighth grade. She also performed roles in numerous musicals and choral works. In addition, she worked as a performer and director for two seasons with Pritchard Productions, an Equity company. She has performed professionally in several capacities for Soo Theatre, and has taught in Detroit, Indianapolis, Petoskey, Harbor Springs, Charlevoix, East Jordan, Boyne City, Marquette, Pickford, and Sault Ste. Marie. She has studied theatre with several instructors in Detroit, Indianapolis, and Petoskey. She has choreographed hundreds of pieces for community theatres and schools over the years. She has also written and produced original plays and ballets in Michigan and Canada. Dianna was founder and past President of the Soo Theatre, and was resident choreographer and Dance Director at STARS from 2002-2013, when she left with Kaley Darga to begin GLAD. She loves working with her artists, whether they are 2 years old or adults. Dianna belongs to the National Dance Education Organization and is the Eastern Upper Peninsula Representative for the Michigan Dance Council. She also serves on the board of the Rotary Club of Sault Ste. Marie, is an ex-officio board member of the Sault Area Arts Council, is a sponsor for the Music in the Park series, and is a Red Coat Goodwill Ambassador for the Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce.
Kaley Darga hails from Presque Isle, Michigan. She has been dancing for 26 years and has been a dance instructor and choreographer for the past 15 years. Kaley began her training in Alpena, MI , under the direction of Christine Giordano at the Dance Centre. She continued dancing under the direction of professor Deborah Choszczyk while attending Lake Superior State University. Kaley was instrumental in the development of the Dance Minor at LSSU. She studied ballet and modern dance as president and member of the LSSU Dance Company from 2007 through 2010, and was the first student to graduate with a Dance Minor from LSSU in 2010. Kaley has danced with the Eisenhower Dance Ensemble under the direction of Laurie Eisenhower, and has attended the Michigan Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance (MAHPERD) convention for dance education in Grand Rapids and Traverse City, Michigan. Kaley began teaching dance under the direction of Dianna George in 2007 and continues this partnership as assistant director of Great Lakes Arts & Dance. Her strengths as a choreographer include her incorporation of emotion and meaning into her love for modern and contemporary dancing. She has experience with many dance styles, including modern, jazz, ballet, hip-hop, lyrical, contemporary, pointe, Hawaiian, and African dancing. Kaley was employed as a Registered Nurse at War Memorial Hospital in Sault Ste. Marie, MI , from 2010-2015. She recently earned her Master of Science in Nursing degree and became licensed as a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) in December 2014. Kaley has pursued a career as FNP in her hometown, Alpena, where her family resides. She continues to be an active member of the GLAD family and travels to Sault Ste. Marie to teach modern dance. Kaley’s mission at GLAD is to promote dance education in a positive learning environment, while providing a fun and safe atmosphere for all dancers.
Kim Badenski, BE, has been dancing since she was seven. Her studies have encompassed a wide range of dance forms, including ballet, pointe, jazz, tap, hip hop, acrobatics, modern, contemporary and lyrical. Kim began her studies with Dianna George in 2006, focusing on ballet and tap, while also assisting with Movement and Dance and Pre-Ballet classes. She became a member of Dianna’s previous dance company and served as treasurer for two years. She continued her dance education at the University of Michigan, where she studied with world-class professors. She graduated from U of M in 2013 with a Bachelor of Education in Secondary Social Studies and Psychology. Following graduation, she returned to Sault Ste. Marie to further her training with Dianna and Kaley Darga. She is an inaugural member of Northern Lights Dance Theatre, housed at Great Lakes Arts & Dance, and serves as assistant director of the company, as well as being a performer.
Kelsi Moher has been training as a serious, committed dancer for ten years. She studied Classical Ballet with Dianna George and Modern with Kaley Darga. Her natural talent, combined with her strong work ethic, has earned high praise from her audiences, her students, and her peers. She apprenticed as a teacher with Dianna George for five years, and often chose to tutor students in her spare time. She is a full-time nursing student at Lake Superior State University and a member of the LSSU Dance Company, under the direction of Deb Choszcyk.
Mary Miller grew up in the Metro Detroit area. She has been dancing for 25 years and teaching for eight. Mary was trained in Ballet, Pointe, Contemporary, Modern, Jazz, and Lyrical. Her studies began with private instruction at the age of 2 by Erica McArdie, an Oakland Dance Company member. She later advanced her training in Ballet through classes at the Royal Academy of Dance. Mary attended Arts Academy in the Woods, a performing arts high school, where she majored in Dance and minored in Art. It was there that she was trained by Samantha Sheldon, who was a principle dancer for the American Ballet Theatre. Mary spent summers in New York City studying with Luigi, Francis Roach, Derek Mitchell and David Howard. While Mary pursued her bachelor’s in Nursing at Lake Superior State University she danced for LSSU’s Dance Company. She was President of the organization for a short while. The highlight for her was performing the role of Swanhilda for the Dance Company’s Ballet Coppelia. Mary has also been training with Zumba for five years. In 2010 she earned her certification to teach. Since then she has added Aqua Zumba, Zumba Kids, and Zumba Sentao to her Zumba qualifications. She has attended the Instructors Conference in Orlando since 2011, where she has been able to meet the many faces of Zumba, including creator Beto Perez. She has spent the past few years teaching Zumba in Sault Ste. Marie. Mary’s mission for her classes is to provide a positive environment for participants to dance and have fun without realizing that they are working out.
Martina Vollman brings a wealth of experience to the studio. She began teaching ballroom fifteen years ago in Colorado, and has instructed students in everything from swing to tango, waltz, rhumba, chacha, merengue, two-step, and three-step. She has also taught locally at the First Church of Christ. Martina, along with her husband and fellow instructor Mike, have also competed in the popular “Dancing With the Stars” event for Hospice of the Eastern U.P., and have coached several other couples in the annual competition.
Originally from Menominee, Mich., Joe Sbar attended Michigan State University, where he competed in collegiate and open competitions throughout the Midwest as a member of the MSU Ballroom Dance Team. After finishing graduate school at MSU in 2011, he moved to Sault Ste. Marie and took a position as a school psychologist with the Eastern Upper Peninsula Intermediate School District. Since that time, he has remained involved with ballroom dancing by competing in open competitions, performing in the 2012 “Dancing with the Stars” event hosted by Hospice of the Eastern U.P., coaching couples for that event in 2013 and 2014, and teaching ballroom dance classes. He specializes in American-style smooth and rhythm dances, including Cha Cha, Rumba, Swing, Salsa, Mambo, Waltz, Viennese Waltz, Tango, and Foxtrot. Joe’s mission is to provide individuals of all skill levels with the technique and repertoire of moves needed to be confident, skilled dancers in any setting.
Originally from Virginia Beach, Virginia, Ashley Carlson grew up in southern culture, with an emphasis on etiquette. She was a debutant at the age of sixteen and has competed in Miss America affiliate pageants. She has been dancing since the age of three, when she began training in ballet, jazz and modern. She started studying ballroom dance in 2010, learning a variety of styles, including the waltz, swing, foxtrot, samba, salsa, rumba, bachata, merengue, American tango, and cha cha. She moved to Sault Ste. Marie in 2012, where she graduated from Lake Superior State University with a bachelor’s degree in marketing. She enjoys passing on her knowledge of etiquette in both practical everyday and business scenarios.
A native of Sault Ste. Marie, Michelle Reinhart has been involved in a wide variety of activities, including ten years of teaching freestyle dance for the Hiawatha Figure Skating Club and years of ballroom dance experience on both sides of the St. Marys River. After training with the Petoskey Country Kickers, she began “bringing country to the Sault” as far back at 1993, at a local establishment called the Red Bird Inn. She has also taught and performed at the Kewadin Casino and entertained audiences at countless other venues, from senior centers and nursing homes to parades in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., St. Ignace, Cedarville, Rudyard, Brimley, Paradise and more. She has headed several country dance seminars at Lake Superior State University and trained numerous students, including several, such as Chris Garland of Pickford and Judy Eder of the Sault, who have since become teachers themselves.