Tennessee’s Best Summer Dance Program

Dance is a means of self-awareness and a fundamental form of communication as well as a performance art. Students of an age and readiness for the Governor’s School for the Arts are exposed to an intensive multifaceted program within a community of interdisciplinary arts professionals and aspirants – a stimulating environment which facilitates learning.

The Governor’s School Dance Experience

In addition to the technical benefits of an intensive dance program, the Governor’s School experience is intended to:

  • 1. Engage the imagination
  • 2. Encourage intellectual curiosity and creative thinking
  • 3. Improve self-discipline
  • 4. Enhance decision making particularly with regard to career choices

Governor’s School students learn that dance is inherent to our heritage and world and that of others around us. Students are encouraged to perceive, evaluate, and understand dance as a conveyor of culture. The program strives to integrate and enrich the balanced development of the whole person.

Selection Process

Applicants will participate in a two-hour dance class — including ballet and modern dance — as their audition. Girls should bring pink tights, pink ballet shoes, and point shoes. The modern section of the class will be in bare feet, so wear tights that can be adjusted for this part of the audition. Hair should be properly secured off the neck, preferably in a bun. No leg warmers, sweatshirts, or baggy plastic pants. Boys should bring white t-shirts, black tights, and appropriate dance shoes. Students must perform at an intermediate or advanced level, and must demonstrate a high level of sustained interest and involvement in dance. Please refer to the application for more specific criteria.

Dance Chair

Laurie Merriman

Laurie Merriman, Professor of Dance and Assistant Dean of the College of Fine Arts at Illinois State University, earned her B.F.A. (double major) in Ballet & Modern Dance from Texas Christian University and her M.F.A. in Dance from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She began her professional training at The National Academy of Dance in Champaign as a young ballet dancer and eventually became a scholarship student with the Joffery Ballet School and the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance. Laurie’s dual respect and love for both ballet and contemporary dance has afforded her the opportunity to perform and learn the works of many great artists in the field such as Martha Graham, Paul Taylor, Bebe Miller, Dwight Rhoden, Stephen Koester, Jose Limon, Doris Humphrey, Vaslav Nijinsky, Michel Fokine, Marius Petipa, Robert North, and Frederick Ashton (among many others).

Laurie has been the recipient of various grants and fellowships for her work in choreography, teaching, and research. Her choreographic work has been performed by the Columbus Dance Theatre, Interlochen Center for the Arts, the Shelter Repertory Dance Theatre, the University of Minnesota at Duluth, and presented at the Southwest Regional Ballet Festival, the Harold Washington Library Theatre in Chicago, Illinois State University, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Winona State University, the University of Wisconsin at LaCrosse, several American College Dance Festivals, and beyond. Since 1988, Laurie”s teaching focus at Illinois State University has been in the areas of ballet and modern dance technique, Improvisation, dance composition, and dance pedagogy. Laurie has also served as Artistic Director for Illinois State Dance Theatre for the past 20 years and remains teaching at the high school level for University High School in the area of dance.

She has served on the National Board of the American College Dance Festival, Illinois State Board of Education Dance Content Advisory Committee, adjudicator for the Springfield Area Arts Council, panelist for a variety of learning symposiums in the arts and in general education, ballet mistress for Twin Cities Ballet, Executive Director of Illinois Summer School for the Arts, Chair of the Illinois Dance Association, adjudicator for Beloit College, panelist for the Illinois Arts Council Artist-In-Residency program, and the Dance Chair for Tennessee Governor’s School for the Arts.


Gregory T. Merriman

Dance Faculty

Gregory T. Merriman is a 1983 graduate of Texas Christian University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Classical... read more

Gregory T. Merriman

Dance Faculty

Gregory T. Merriman is a 1983 graduate of Texas Christian University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Classical Ballet performance.Of the many he has studied with, Fernando Shaffenburg, Claire Duncan, Clara Cravey, Bill Martin-Viscount and Maria Grandy have been the most influential. Gregory began his early dancing career in 1977 with the Houston Allegro Ballet under the direction of Emma Mae Horn and Glenda Brown.

He was a scholarship student under the direction of Ben Stevenson at the Houston Ballet Academy and later became an apprentice to the Houston Ballet Company.Offered the Brown and Nordan Scholarships at TCU, Gregory joined the Fort Worth Ballet, dancing many of the classics as a frequent partner to Karen Schaffenburg. He was also a principle dancer with the Fort Worth Opera Ballet, under the direction of Marina Svetlova and a regular guest artist with regional companies throughout the Southwest.

General McArthur Hambrick

Dance Faculty

General McArthur Hambrick is a native of Fort Worth, Texas. He is a graduate of Texas Christian University, with a... read more

General McArthur Hambrick

Dance Faculty

General McArthur Hambrick is a native of Fort Worth, Texas. He is a graduate of Texas Christian University, with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Dance. General also studied dance at American Ballet Theatre, Dance Theatre of Harlem, and the Alvin Ailey Dance Theatre. School. He was a soloist with the Fort Worth Ballet, and Hartford Ballet Companies, Dancers Unlimited in Dallas Texas and Minnesota Dance Theatre in Minneapolis, under the artistic direction of Lise Houlton, where he was awarded the 1999 McKnight Fellowship for his achievements in the dance community. He was also the recipient of the 2001 Natalie Skelton Achievement Award and the 2001 Wyoming Arts Council Performing Arts Fellowship.  

His musical theatre credits include both the Broadway and National touring companies of Cats, Miss Saigon, and Andrew Lloyd Weber’s Phantom of the Opera. Off-Broadway he appeared in the revival of Martha Clarke’s critically acclaimed, Garden of Earthly Delights. General also toured with 25th Anniversary Tour of A Chorus Line. Regional credits include Swing, Once On This Island, Jesus Christ Superstar, The King and I and many others. He appeared as guest vocalist along with Della Reese on the PBS special; With Ozzie and Ruby: Life Is. Professor Hambrick served as director and choreographer of the former Centennial Singers, a musical theatre touring group, from the University of Wyoming. General is also the founder and director of the Joyful Noise Choral Ensemble of Fort Worth, Texas. Most recently he received his Master of Fine Arts in Dance from the University of Washington. He is currently Assistant Professor of Dance at West Virginia University.

Matt Pardo

Dance Faculty

Matt Pardo, is a 2007 graduate of the University at Buffalo with an advanced honors B.F.A. in dance. He has... read more

Matt Pardo

Dance Faculty

Matt Pardo, is a 2007 graduate of the University at Buffalo with an advanced honors B.F.A. in dance. He has danced for the Eisenhower Dance Ensemble, Groundworks Dance Theater, RG Dance Projects, and the River North Chicago Dance Company (apprentice). He was recognized as one of the “Top 100 Dancers in the World for 2010-2011” by Dance Europe Magazine. Teaching and choreographic credits include Skidmore College (Guest Choreographer 2014/2015; Guest Faculty, 2013/2014), Montclair State University, Universidad de Las Americas Puebla, the University at Buffalo, and Point Park University (Guest Choreographer 2015; Adjunct Professor 2015/2016), to name a few.

In 2011, Matt joined the Lucinda Childs Dance Company and now teaches company class for LCDC while on tour. His opera credits include the world tour of the Olivier award-winning Philip Glass opera Einstein on the Beach and performances with the Pittsburgh Opera in the Daughter of the Regiment, directed and choreographed by Séan Curran. Pardo is a co-founder of the Pittsburgh-based organization called The Blanket, a project which aims to expand the dance community in Pittsburgh. He is a proud member of the Actor’s Equity Union and is an M.F.A. candidate at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee with an expected graduation in May of 2016.

Laurie Merriman

Dance Chair

Professor of Dance and Assistant Dean of the College of Fine Arts at Illinois State University, earned her B.F.A. (double... read more

Laurie Merriman

Dance Chair

Professor of Dance and Assistant Dean of the College of Fine Arts at Illinois State University, earned her B.F.A. (double major) in Ballet & Modern Dance from Texas Christian University and her M.F.A. in Dance from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She began her professional training at The National Academy of Dance in Champaign as a young ballet dancer and eventually became a scholarship student with the Joffery Ballet School and the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance. Laurie’s dual respect and love for both ballet and contemporary dance has afforded her the opportunity to perform and learn the works of many great artists in the field such as Martha Graham, Paul Taylor, Bebe Miller, Dwight Rhoden, Stephen Koester, Jose Limon, Doris Humphrey, Vaslav Nijinsky, Michel Fokine, Marius Petipa, Robert North, and Frederick Ashton (among many others).

Laurie has been the recipient of various grants and fellowships for her work in choreography, teaching, and research. Her choreographic work has been performed by the Columbus Dance Theatre, Interlochen Center for the Arts, the Shelter Repertory Dance Theatre, the University of Minnesota at Duluth, and presented at the Southwest Regional Ballet Festival, the Harold Washington Library Theatre in Chicago, Illinois State University, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Winona State University, the University of Wisconsin at LaCrosse, several American College Dance Festivals, and beyond. Since 1988, Laurie”s teaching focus at Illinois State University has been in the areas of ballet and modern dance technique, Improvisation, dance composition, and dance pedagogy. Laurie has also served as Artistic Director for Illinois State Dance Theatre for the past 20 years and remains teaching at the high school level for University High School in the area of dance.

She has served on the National Board of the American College Dance Festival, Illinois State Board of Education Dance Content Advisory Committee, adjudicator for the Springfield Area Arts Council, panelist for a variety of learning symposiums in the arts and in general education, ballet mistress for Twin Cities Ballet, Executive Director of Illinois Summer School for the Arts, Chair of the Illinois Dance Association, adjudicator for Beloit College, panelist for the Illinois Arts Council Artist-In-Residency program, and the Dance Chair for Tennessee Governor’s School for the Arts.

Donna Carver

Dance Faculty

Donna Carver began her first stage appearance at the age of 4 performing in a stage production of “Pinocchio” in... read more

Donna Carver

Dance Faculty

Donna Carver began her first stage appearance at the age of 4 performing in a stage production of “Pinocchio” in her hometown of Tampa, Florida. Her formal dance training began at the age of 7 and she proceeded to dance with two civic ballet companies during her student years training under Alpheus Koon of American Ballet Theater and Gerald Pascual of the Chicago Lyric Opera. She went to New York City to train under such ballet luminaries as Vladimir Dokoudovsky at the Ballet Arts School, Maria Nevelska and Vladimir Konstantinov at Carnegie Hall Studios, Anatole Vilzak at the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo and David Howard at the David Howard School of Ballet. She also trained in Toronto at the National Ballet School (now School of the National Ballet of Canada) with school Principal Betty Oliphant (who was also a guest teacher at the Bolshoi Ballet) and Margaret Saul.

While performing professionally with the Florida Ballet Company, she trained with Jean Spear and the great Frederic Franklin. She passed examinations of the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing, London, England – Cecchetti Method. In Nashville, Ms. Carver founded Tennessee Dance Theater and was its Artistic Director and resident choreographer before it became the famous modern company. Tennessee Dance Theater presented the first full-length ballet ever presented in the city when it premiered its production of “Giselle” in 1989, and sponsored the first ever showcase of local choreographers during its annual Choreographer’s Showcases. Tennessee Dance Theater paved the way for other professional dance companies in the city including Nashville City Ballet, which is now known as Nashville Ballet. She also served as the Secretary and Teacher Representative to the Board of Directors for Tennessee Association of Dance as well as a judge for several talent and dance competitions in and around the city. She taught ballet technique classes in several local dance studios including Vanderbilt University, Tennessee Fine Arts Center at Cheekwood, Nashville Ballet and The Dance Center a school she owned and operated. She also worked as a Musical Theater Director for Circle Players (the oldest community-based theatre company in Middle Tennessee) for such musicals presented at TPAC as “Brigadoon”, “Camelot” and “Hello, Dolly”.

Perhaps her biggest contribution to the dance community was the creation of The Ballet Book Student Workbooks, a student workbook series that Ms. Carver spent over ten years researching, compiling and writing. The series is designed for a program of written study for the ballet student. These workbooks have been used as textbooks in public, Magnet, and Performing Arts High Schools, private schools, boarding schools, community colleges, universities and ballet schools around the country. She continues to share her knowledge with dance students and is very excited to be joining the faculty for Tennessee Governor’s School for the Arts, 2013.

Rubén Graciani

Dance Faculty

Rubén Graciani began his artistic career as a scholarship student at the North Carolina School of the Arts, where he... read more

Rubén Graciani

Dance Faculty

Rubén Graciani began his artistic career as a scholarship student at the North Carolina School of the Arts, where he majored in Modern Dance. After receiving his high school degree, Mr. Graciani was awarded a scholarship to attend The Juilliard School in New York City. In addition to the Juilliard program, Mr. Graciani studied on scholarship with several major New York dance companies, including the Martha Graham Dance Company and the Merce Cunningham Dance Company. Mr. Graciani completed his studies at the State University of New York – Purchase College, receiving a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance. While attending Purchase, Mr. Graciani was invited to perform in three International Festivals of Dance staged in Taiwan and China. Mr. Graciani was also invited to join the Kevin Wynn Collection, a New York based Modern Dance Company. After graduation, Rubén joined the Mark Morris Dance Group as a contract performer.

Mr. Graciani’s five-year affiliation with the company resulted in national and international tours. He also performed as a founding member of bopi’s black sheep/dances by kraig patterson. After ten years as a member of the New York City dance community, Rubén began graduate school at the University of Maryland – College Park. While there he presented nine works of choreography for the Maryland Dance Ensemble, and premiered two works at a self-produced concert with Connie Fink and Jennifer Dorsey. His M.F.A. thesis concert, Search for my Familiar, was performed to critical acclaim. Mr. Graciani also was a guest artist with the CityDance Ensemble at the Kennedy Center. In September of 2005 Mr. Graciani joined the faculty at Ohio University as an Assistant Professor. While there he received two Arts for Ohio Choreographic Grants, one of which resulted in the collaboration, Oyster, with composer John Orfe and the Grammy Award winning new music ensemble, Alarm Will Sound. In addition to his work at Ohio University, Rubén was a member of the Joe Goode Performance Group for two seasons, 2005-2007. Mr. Graciani’s work with the company has included contributing to the creation and premiere of new work at the company’s home season in San Francisco, two national tours of new work and repertory, a site specific performance at San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral, and teaching master classes all over the country. In the summer of 2007, he appeared as a guest artist with the Brian Brooks Moving Company at the Gwang Ju International Performing Arts Festival in Gwang Ju, South Korea. In the Spring of 2008 his first solo show was presented at the SAS Performing Arts Center in Shanghai, China.

Mr. Graciani was a company member and rehearsal director for Company Stefanie Batten Bland, from 2008-2010. Currently an Associate Professor, Rubén joined the faculty of Skidmore College in September of 2008. While at Skidmore Mr. Graciani has collaborated with renowned composer Richard Danielpour and pianist, Xiayin Wang on the work Swing and a Miss, which premiered at Skidmore College’s Zankel Music Center; worked in collaboration with the Academy ACJW for a performance of L’Histoire du Soldat, and premiered two works for Saratoga ArtsFest. Rubén’s work on dance films with his Skidmore students was recently profiled in the November 2012 edition of Dance Magazine. He has created 11 choreographic works for the Skidmore Dance Department, and he teaches Advanced Modern Technique, Contemporary Ballet, Modern Dance Partnering, Choreography, and Senior Capstone among others. In the fall of 2012 he began teaching in the Skidmore Inter-Group relations program. His recently formed dance company, RG Dance Projects, has already had two successful engagements in NYC. RG Dance Projects premiered a new work at the DanceNow Raw Materials show, and the DanceNow Joe’s Pub festival in September of 2012. RGDP won the Audience Favorite Award for the night while performing at the DanceNow Joe’s Pub Festival and was invited to perform again in the encore presentation of the best of the festival. RG Dance Projects has been awarded a residency at SILO Arts in Pennsylvania in the spring of 2013 to prepare for their inaugural full season in NYC. He currently serves on the Dance Panel of the New York State Council of the Arts.

Jennifer Ross-Craze

Dance - Guest Faculty

Jennifer’s yoga path began in 2000 with her mentor Johnny Johns at Murfreesboro’s first yoga studio.  She completed a 13... read more

Jennifer Ross-Craze

Dance - Guest Faculty

Jennifer’s yoga path began in 2000 with her mentor Johnny Johns at Murfreesboro’s first yoga studio.  She completed a 13 month 1,000 hours yoga teacher training program at the Southern Institute for Yoga Instructors with Betty Larsen and John Charping.  She is registered with Yoga Alliance at the highest level as an E-RYT® 500 (Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher at the 500 level) and maintains registry through continuing education by attending teacher trainings and workshops.  This is the highest level recognized in the discipline of yoga.  She has over 2,000 hours of yoga training (2001 to present), including a 300-hour Foundations of Yoga Therapy Program and 25 hours of Ayurveda training.

Jennifer has been teaching yoga full-time at MTSU for 15 years, instructing almost 6,000 hours and over 5,000 students.  She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology, a Master’s Degree in Health and Physical Education, a Specialist in Education Degree and has completed all her coursework towards a Doctorate Degree in Administration and Supervision in Higher Education (currently working on her dissertation). She was acknowledged as a person at MTSU who makes a real difference in students’ lives and contributes to their success for years 2011, 2013, 2014, and 2015.   She has consistently impressive student evaluations ranging from 4.6 to 4.9 (out of 5.0) for 15 years.  Jennifer created and implemented the curriculum for Beginning Yoga, Intermediate Yoga, and Advanced Yoga at MTSU.  She also co-created the Somatic Movement Education minor in the Health and Human Performance Department along with the Somatic Movement class.  In addition, she has taught in Murfreesboro’s local community for 16 years at various studios and venues.

Her teaching is a fusion of yoga styles, incorporating the alignment principles from the Iyengar tradition to the fluidity of Vinyasa with sprinklings of a modified Ashtanga method.  Jennifer’s intentions for teaching are to cultivate an atmosphere for exploration and many opportunities for growth; empowering students to become the best version of themselves on and off the yoga mat.  Her goal is to share the gift of yoga and make it accessible to everyone!

Rebekah Hampton Barger

Dance - Guest Faculty

Rebekah Hampton Barger relocated to Nashville after spending time in Oklahoma City, OK as a company member and choreographer with modern... read more

Rebekah Hampton Barger

Dance - Guest Faculty

Rebekah Hampton Barger relocated to Nashville after spending time in Oklahoma City, OK as a company member and choreographer with modern and aerial dance company Perpetual Motion Dance, and a guest performer and faculty instructor with the Oklahoma City Ballet. Upon arriving in Nashville, Rebekah founded FALL, Nashville’s first aerial and contemporary dance company. Drawing on her multi-disciplinary background Rebekah’s work blends classical and contemporary dance with a mix of aerial fabric and invented structures, examining how the use of various apparatus’ can provide a broader range of movement possibilities, create opportunities to explore more dimensions in space, and challenge dancers to experience gravity and their own physicality in new ways.

In addition to directing FALL, Rebekah is the ballet program director at Ann Carroll School of Dance, a guest instructor for New Dialect’s Contemporary Cross-Training Series, and a resident artist with abrasiveMedia.  

Lindsay McNeal Ison

Dance - Guest Faculty

Lindsay McNeal Ison, PT, MS, OCS, is a physical therapist at Susan Underwood Physical Therapy in Nashville, TN, the official... read more

Lindsay McNeal Ison

Dance - Guest Faculty

Lindsay McNeal Ison, PT, MS, OCS, is a physical therapist at Susan Underwood Physical Therapy in Nashville, TN, the official physical therapy provider to Nashville Ballet. She is a Board Certified Clinical Specialist in Orthopaedics. Ms. Ison is an adjunct faculty member at Belmont University School of Physical Therapy. She also collaborates with numerous dance schools and programs in Middle Tennessee to provide injury prevention seminars and health education.    

Jon Upleger

Dance - Guest Faculty

Jon Upleger began training seriously in 1997 under the direction of Petrus Bosman and David Keener at the Virginia School... read more

Jon Upleger

Dance - Guest Faculty

Jon Upleger began training seriously in 1997 under the direction of Petrus Bosman and David Keener at the Virginia School of the Arts. Upon graduation, he received the school’s prestigious Dean’s Award and then joined Nashville Ballet as an Apprentice in 2000. During his time at Nashville Ballet, Jon has performed roles from such varied repertoire as Romeo in Paul Vasterling’s Romeo & Juliet, the Sugar Plum Cavalier in Nashville’s Nutcracker, Prince Siegfried in Swan Lake and Albrecht in Giselle.

Other leading roles include Salvatore Aiello’s Satto, Sarah Slipper’s Ploughing the Dark, Vasterling’s Awaiting Redemption, the Protagonist in Vasterling’s Firebird, Twyla Tharp’s Sinatra Suite, Vasterling’s Cinderella, Carmina Burana, Peter Pan, and The Ben Folds Project. In addition to performing with Nashville Ballet’s company, Jon also performs with Configurations Dance Theater in New York, Missouri Ballet Theater and Terpsicorps Theater of Dance in Asheville, N.C. He also recently taught men’s class and pas de deux to students from across the country at Nashville Ballet’s Summer Intensive.    

Keith Fitzpatrick

Dance - Guest Faculty

Keith Fitzpatrick was born in Nashville, TN. A self taught dancer, he has choreographed for the Dove Awards, and the... read more

Keith Fitzpatrick

Dance - Guest Faculty

Keith Fitzpatrick was born in Nashville, TN. A self taught dancer, he has choreographed for the Dove Awards, and the CMT awards. He has also been featured in several TV spots for Toyota, WSIX, and a pilot episode of a television show. He has also taught several workshops across the country, including Dancers Rock, TAD, and Dancemasters, and is currently teaching Hip-Hop for Vanderbilt University, Austin Peay University, and several Top dance studios in the Nashville, TN area.

Keith is also a talented music producer, working with hip-hop and R&B acts in a joint venture with Skyline Music Group in Nashville, TN. With a dance style that has an urban edge, with a lyrical twist, Keith is fast becoming a very sought after and respected choreographer and dancer.

Lindsey N. Siders

Dance - Guest Faculty

Lindsey N. Siders is a Stage Manager, Lighting Designer, and Production Manager for theatre and dance. Born in Springfield, Illinois,... read more

Lindsey N. Siders

Dance - Guest Faculty

Lindsey N. Siders is a Stage Manager, Lighting Designer, and Production Manager for theatre and dance. Born in Springfield, Illinois, she is a 2015 graduate of Illinois State University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Theatre Design/Production and a minor in Dance Performance. For two seasons she has worked as the Production Stage Manager for the Peoria Ballet, and has spent the last two summers working as a Production Intern at the American Dance Festival in Durham, North Carolina. 

R. Aaron Walters

Dance - Guest Faculty

R. Aaron Walters is a Nashville based composer, producer, and performer hailing from the town of Baldwinsville, NY, just outside... read more

R. Aaron Walters

Dance - Guest Faculty

R. Aaron Walters is a Nashville based composer, producer, and performer hailing from the town of Baldwinsville, NY, just outside of Syracuse. From early childhood his artistic family encouraged musical endeavors such as piano lessons, playing drums and guitar in bands, drumming in jazz groups and musical pit-orchestras, performing as a percussionist in the high school band and marching band, and improvising and composing on a daily basis.

After graduating high school with the prestigious John Phillip Sousa and Outstanding Excellence in Music awards, Aaron went on to earn his Bachelors of Music from Ithaca college in Upstate New York, with a dual-major in Music Composition and Percussion Performance. There, he studied with the likes of Gordon Stout, Greg Evans, and Dana Wilson. One of his more notable projects was writing the film score to Townline by JD Best. He also co-founded the IC Jazz Club, and became the first student at Ithaca College to ever have an original composition win the yearly Ithaca College Concerto Competition and be performed by the Ithaca College Symphony Orchestra.

Following his graduation from Ithaca College, Aaron worked through SubCat Studios LLC, where he had the opportunity to demonstrate his unique collection of abilities. There, he produced and assistant engineered the full-length album Sea of Gold for his band, Early Bird Trio. On this album, he played guitar, bass, banjo, ukulele, organ, piano, and drum set. He also contributed vocals, and even took on the responsibility of composing and conducting the orchestral accompaniments for strings, brass, and woodwinds.

Not long after, Aaron became a musician for the Department of Dance at SUNY College at Brockport in Brockport, NY where he worked with Maria Maloney (a former member of the Trisha Brown Dance Company), dance historian and Jacob’s Pillow scholar-in-residence Maura Keefe, and world-renown choreographer and dancer David Dorfman.

Currently, Aaron is pursuing a Masters of Music in Commercial Music Composition and Arranging at Belmont University. He continues his career as a drummer, pianist, guitarist, bassist, singer, band leader, producer/engineer, and composer/arranger in recording sessions and on live stages with numerous professionals. Aaron has sold his compositions to musicians all over the world and remains a regularly gigging musician for dance, playing for several classes, professional companies, and dance conventions across the country. He is a strong advocate for a greater understanding of the connection between music and dance.

Todd London

Dance - Guest Faculty

Todd London.  As a faculty member at Belmont University School of Music, Todd London teaches applied percussion, ethnic percussion, commercial... read more

Todd London

Dance - Guest Faculty

Todd London.  As a faculty member at Belmont University School of Music, Todd London teaches applied percussion, ethnic percussion, commercial percussion seminars, and directs the Belmont World Percussion Ensemble. Todd holds the Master of Music degree from the University of Georgia with a major in Percussion Performance, and a Bachelor of Music degree from Belmont University with a major in Commercial Music Performance. As a performer, Mr. London maintains a busy schedule and has most recently been performing with the Todd London Trio, Belmont Faculty Jazz Group, Coral Bay Steel Drum Band, Deep Grooves Steel Drum Band, The Time Raiders, Matrix Percussion Trio, Nashville Praise Symphony, and Alabama Symphony.

As a composer, Todd has written music for such shows as Guiding Light and As The World Turns and has received recognition for contributions to the Guiding Light’s Emmy Award for Outstanding Achievement in Music Direction and Composition for a Drama Series on numerous occasions. He has also composed the music for two children’s ballets commissioned by the Nashville Ballet, The Singing Tortoise and The Emperor and The Nightingale.  Mr. London currently resides in Murfreesboro, Tennessee with his wife and four beautiful daughters.

Micah Snow

Dance - Guest Faculty

Micah Snow is an accomplished pianist in Nashville and the greater-middle Tennessee area. He holds a Master’s Degree in Collaborative... read more

Micah Snow

Dance - Guest Faculty

Micah Snow is an accomplished pianist in Nashville and the greater-middle Tennessee area. He holds a Master’s Degree in Collaborative Piano from Middle Tennessee State University (’13). Known for his skilled and versatile playing, Snow serves as a freelance pianist and staff musician for the MTSU School of Music and Department of Theatre and Dance, respectively, as well as the Belmont University School of Music.

He performs frequently in Nashville and throughout the southeast with Music City’s hottest wedding and event band, For A Good Time, Call, and also holds the title of pianist and organist at Vine Street Christian Church. His most recent credits include musical director for productions of The Last Five Years and assistant musical director for La Cage Aux Folles and The Drowsy Chaperone, as well as work with country entertainer Steve Azar and Rock and Roll Hall of Famers Little Anthony and the Imperials.

Billy Ditty

Dance - Guest Faculty

Billy Ditty – Costume Design.  Hailing from the coal country of eastern Kentucky , Billy studied Costume Design and Theatre at Morehead... read more

Billy Ditty

Dance - Guest Faculty

Billy Ditty – Costume Design.  Hailing from the coal country of eastern Kentucky , Billy studied Costume Design and Theatre at Morehead State University. Since then he has sewn and performed his way across the south and the country. Here in Nashville  he has had the pleasure of working on many different  types of projects from film to musical theatre to the Nashville Ballet where he is in his 4th. Season  as the draper and a designer.

Martin O’Connor

Fine Art Photographer

Dance and Fine Art Photographer. 

Martin O’Connor is a native Nashvillian whose photography began as a special interest then evolved into... read more

Martin O’Connor

Fine Art Photographer

Dance and Fine Art Photographer. 

Martin O’Connor is a native Nashvillian whose photography began as a special interest then evolved into a full-time profession. Many of his photos grace the pages of state dance organization’s brochures, and the publicity materials of Nashville Ballet, Chinese Arts Alliance of Nashville, Franklin School of Performing Arts, University School of Nashville, Vanderbilt University Dance, Middle Tennessee State University dance and theatre, Governor’s School of the Arts, and Tennessee Dance Theatre. Additional organizations displaying his work include Baptist Hospital, Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, Tennessee Oncology, and The Renaissance Center. Martin has been a fervent advocate of the art of dance for many years.

In 2008, he received the Dance Advocate Award from the Tennessee Association of Dance. When presenting this award, they noted that “… his stunning images illustrate both his passion for the art form and the beauty of the art. His eye for detail and compassionate spirit make him a popular photographer for dancers to work with.” Beginning in 2012, Martin was invited to work with the Dance Division of the Governor’s School of the Arts. He is delighted to return to MTSU this summer to photograph a new group of talented young artists. Each photo opportunity that presents itself allows him to continue his search to capture the peak of motion and the essence of line and form. www.martinoconnorphoto.com  

Fiona Scruggs

Dance Counselor

Fiona Scruggs is from Talbott, TN and is an alumna of the 2013 Tennessee Governor’s School for the Arts- Dance... read more

Fiona Scruggs

Dance Counselor

Fiona Scruggs is from Talbott, TN and is an alumna of the 2013 Tennessee Governor’s School for the Arts- Dance Division. Currently, she is a Dance Major and Honors Academy member at Radford University in Radford, VA. At Radford University, Fiona has performed in numerous pieces and shows including Dancing on the Edge, Anything Goes (the musical), Informance: Student Choreography Showcase, Evening of Ballet, Elegy, and Fall Dance Fest.

Some of her most influential mentors include Ms. Donna Carver, Ms. Lori Ann Sparks, Ms. Inessa Plekhanova, and Mr. Aleksey Plekhanov. While in high school, Fiona danced lead roles of “Rapunzel” in Rapunzel: A Tangled Tale and “Snow Queen” in The Nutcracker. Fiona also attended summer programs at Radford University Ballet Youth and Louisville Ballet. She is thrilled to be a counselor this year at GSFTA and is beyond excited to help this year’s students have as wonderful and en pointe of an experience as she did.

Kayla Motley

Dance Counselor

Kayla Motley was born and raised in Nashville. She began her training at The Dancer's School, under the direction of... read more

Kayla Motley

Dance Counselor

Kayla Motley was born and raised in Nashville. She began her training at The Dancer's School, under the direction of Jimmi Lou Tate, at the age of four until she graduated in 2015. As a Governor's School for the Arts Dance alumni, she now attends Illinois State University as a Dance Performance Major. At school, she is involved in the student company, Illinois State Dance Theatrre. She has also had the chance to experience many summer intensives and performance opportunities with Nashville Ballet, Atlanta Ballet, and the Middle Tennessee State University Opera.

Dance

Dance

Governor’s School students learn that dance is inherent to our heritage and world and that of others around us. Students are encouraged to perceive, evaluate, and understand dance as a conveyor of culture.

read more
Filmmaking

Filmmaking

Filmmaking students are introduced to both the theory and technical aspects of filmmaking. Through lectures, films and hand-on experiences, students will learn the three aspects of filmmaking: pre-production, production, and post-production.

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Instrumental Program

Instrumental Program

The School for the Arts provides educational instruction for students skilled in strings, wind ensemble, piano, and both choral and opera technique..

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Vocal Music

Vocal Music

The School for the Arts provides educational instruction for students skilled in strings, wind ensemble, piano, and both choral and opera technique..

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Theatre

Theatre

The theater school is a program of dedicated and focused study in all areas of theatrical studies, with an emphasis on the process of creating live theatre.

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Visual Art

Visual Art

Visual Arts students learn human understanding, achievement and self-development through the study and practice of visual art.

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