Faculty

Thomas Morrell
Director

Thomas Morrell began his dance training at Western Michigan University where he received his Bachelor of Science Degree in Education, Majoring in Physical Education and Dance. He earned his Master of Fine Arts Degree from The University of Michigan in 1981 and began dancing professionally with the Harbinger Dance Company in Detroit. He spent five years in Flint as Principal Dancer with Ballet Michigan and three more years with Memphis Concert Ballet before moving back to his native Michigan. While in Memphis, Tom became the resident choreographer for Opera Memphis. He has choreographed for the Traverse City Children's Theatre and Old Town Playhouse. His teaching career spans more than 30 years, including the Flint Institute of Music, The University of Michigan-Flint, The Harbinger School, Memphis Concert Ballet School, Performing Arts of Germantown, Charlevoix Community Education and numerous private studios. Mr. Morrell is the Artistic Director of the Northwest Michigan Ballet Theatre and also directs Ballet Royale de Courtiers, a Renaissance Court Dance Ensemble which performs at local Madrigal Dinners, and has appeared at the Michigan Renaissance Festival in Holly, Michigan. Tom has earned the distinguished honor of being named "The 1998 Michigan Dance Teacher of the Year" by the Michigan Dance Council.

Justin Koertgen
Ballet

Justin danced for the Dayton Ballet for twelve seasons. Born and raised in Michigan, he attended the Interlochen Arts Academy from 1994 -2000. Highlights from time with Dayton Ballet include the roles of “Dracula” in Dayton Ballet’s Dracula, “Laertes” in Stephen Mills’ Hamlet and featured roles in Mills’ Red Roses and Five Flights Up as well as Christopher Fleming’s Janis & Joe. Justin has taught all over the country including Huntsville Ballet, Mercyhurst University, and Interlochen Center for the Arts. He worked as the Ballet Master and the Rehearsal Assistant for the Dayton Ballet and taught for the company and school for four years. Justin has choreographed for Interlochen Center for the Arts, Mercyhurst University, and for the Dayton Ballet. He has also appeared as a guest dancer with our own Northwest Michigan Ballet Theatre. He is currently teaching at Interlochen Arts Academy.

Jennifer Lyon
Tap Dance

will teach beginning tap for ages 5-7. Born in Traverse City she trained with Tom Morrell from ages 12-17. She attended Butler University in Indianapolis where she was a member of the Butler ballet. While in Indiana, she was a guest performer with Dance Kaliedescope in Carmina Burana. She attended the College of Osteopathic Medicine at Michigan State University and continued to perform with Lansing Chamber Dance and was an instructor at DanceWorks of Michigan. After completing her Family Medicine Residency and Sports Medicine Fellowship, she returned to Traverse City.

Rachel James
Ballet

Rachel James is a native of Ontario, Canada. She studied at the National Ballet School of Canada earning a degree in Ballet Pedagogy. She also holds a BA from Mercyhurst University in Dance with a concentration in Pedagogy and Choreography. James has served as the Interim Director of Dance at Interlochen Arts Camp, and her teaching and choreography have been featured at Interlochen Arts Academy, Mercyhurst University, Cornish College of the Arts and Evergreen City Ballet. Her choreography represented Mercyhurst University at the 2014 finals of the Youth America Grand Prix. She has danced professionally in Canada and the United States notable with Zhang Ballet, ARC productions and Deborah Birrane and Unexpected Company. She will team teach young adult ballet with Justin Koertgen.

Melissa Bennett-Pensinger
Ballet

Melissa is a native of Canada and an Associate with the Cecchetti Society of Canada (A.C.S.C. –C.I.C.B.) Her teaching experience includes Academie Ste Cecile Dance Studio, Abba’s House, Emily Watson School of Dance, Essex Community Church and Assistant Teacher with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet Recreational Program. Locally, she also teaches at Camille’s Body Shop in Cedar. She has trained with Academie Ste Cecile, Royal Winnipeg Ballet Teacher’s Training Program, Kansas City Ballet School and the Cecchetti Society of Canada. Her philosophy is to use her passion for dance, movement and education to provide an informative and engaging experience allowing others to discover a new passion of their own.

Amy (Hansemann) Russell
Teacher

Amy attended Eastern Michigan University under scholarships from the Dance Department including the Linda Crum-Hemmelgarn scholarship, and graduated with a B.S. in Dance Performance in 2007. While at EMU, Amy performed in many faculty and guest artist’s works during the annual winter performance as well as the American College Dance Festival. She also had the opportunity to perform many student choreographed works as well as choreographing for the Student Works Concert. While still a student at EMU, Amy performed with Michigan Dance Collective in Traverse City under the direction of Melinda Baker & Philip Leete. Upon graduating, Amy became a company member with Detroit Dance Collective under the direction of Barbara Selinger. Along with performing with DDC for three years, she also helped teach during the workshops at the public schools. Amy also performed with the urban contemporary dance company Urban Elements for four years under the direction of Emily Fine. Amy has been teaching & choreographing all over the state of Michigan including Dance Arts Academy (Traverse City), Central City Dance (Canton), Trenton School of Dance (Trenton), Soul Step (Traverse City).

Ede Meyer
Teacher

Ede Meyer is a Master Dance Educator through Chicago National Association of Dance Masters. She was founding co-partner, co-director and dance instructor with The Dance Center from 1968-2002. Her teaching career includes Interlochen Arts Academy, Dance Collective of Leelanau and Northwestern Michigan College. Ede earned her B.A. degree from Western Michigan University and holds a Michigan Permanent Teaching Certificate. Ms. Meyer served as regional director of the Chicago National Association of Dance Masters and has been awarded a 25 year member status.

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231.929.2787

info@ballet-etc.com

869 Robinwood Ct.
Traverse City, MI 49686

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