Faculty

Dance School Owner Cumming GA

Miss Courtney Palubiak Bromwich

Owner/Director

Miss Courtney began her formal dance training in Marietta, GA with Dance Stop Studios. She pursued dance in her collegiate years with Brenau University, Gainesville Ballet, Kris Cangelosi Dance Project, and Ruth Mitchell’s Georgia Dance Conservatory.

Miss Courtney discovered her true passion of teaching at the Sawnee School of Ballet in 2000. Under the direction of Director/Owner Joan Kall Stewart, Miss Courtney honed her teaching skills in ballet, tap, jazz, lyrical, and hip hop for dancers of all ages. Since her beginnings at Sawnee Ballet, Miss Courtney has been a respected dancer, choreographer, and teacher in the metro-Atlanta area for over 20 years. Her strengths in tap and jazz and her propensity for character pieces have earned her several choreography awards, honors, and placements throughout the years.

In 2007, Miss Courtney was invited to join the faculty of the dance program at Kennesaw State University as a guest tap teacher. Having already graduated with a B.A. in Business Management, she decided to return to KSU to further her dance education, and subsequently obtained her B.A. in Dance.

Upon her relocation to Gainesville, GA in 2011, Miss Courtney was excited to rejoin the faculty at Sawnee Ballet. In November 2012, she was honored to take over as the new owner and director. She continues the same spirit and core principals that have driven the school for so long in addition to continually applying new and fresh ideas that educate, energize, and inspire the dancers and grow their passion for dance.

In 2017, Miss Courtney stepped into the role of Artistic Director for Sawnee Ballet Theatre, the non-profit ballet company that operates out of the studio. With the help of many volunteers, grants, and fundraising, she “Cracked a New Nutcracker” with new costumes, props, and choreography.  She continues to expand the creative aspects of this production in addition to SBT’s annual spring concerts with contemporary interpretations of childhood classics such as Peter and the Wolf, Alice in Wonderland, The Tales of Beatrix Potter, and Aladdin.

Miss Courtney is a member of the Dance Festival Advisory Board at Kennesaw State University, FoCAL Advisory Council, National Dance Education Organization (NDEO), and Dance Studio Owners (DSO).

This season, Miss Courtney is most excited about the new name, look, and location of Sawnee School of the Arts! She can’t wait to teach the youngest of ballet dancers as well as some Jazz and Tap classes in the new facility. She is the also the director of the Sapphires performing program and looks forward to the Sapphire’s eighth season performing out in the community.


Dance School Director Cumming GA

Miss Joan Kall Stewart

Director Emeritus

A native New Yorker, Ms. Stewart, also affectionately known as Miss Joanie, received her formative training at the Westbury Studio of Fine Arts with Martha Manners, Lillian Waldecker and Jon Curtis. She furthered her studies at the School of American Ballet, American Ballet Theatre and the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo under the guidance of Anatole Vilzak and Ludmilla Shollar.

A performer of great versatility, Ms. Stewart worked for Broadway’s four top producers: Lerner & Lowe, David Merrick, Hal Prince, and Rodgers & Hammerstein.

Her professional credits include Broadway companies of Hello Dolly, Camelot, and National Touring Companies of Sound of Music, Fiorello, and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. She has performed with Carol Channing, Ginger Rogers, Betty Grable, Kathryn Grayson, Florence Henderson, Eve Arden, Anne Miller, Leslie Gore, Tony Randall, and Soupy Sales.

Her Summer Stock credits include Paper Mill Playhouse and Music Fair Productions of production of Half A Sixpence and Gypsy and the Atlanta’s Theatre Of The Stars as Liesl in The Sound of Music, Liat in South Pacific, Gloria Upson in Mame, and Ermengarde in Hello Dolly. Industrial show credits include The Ford Show, Coca Cola, and Canada Dry.

Miss Joanie has taught ballet in Atlanta since 1967 and directed the Sandy Springs School of Ballet for fourteen years. She was a principal dancer with Georgia Ballet, DeKalb Concert Ballet, and Chattahoochee Dance Theatre.

Miss Joanie’s choreographic works have been performed by the Georgia Ballet, Ruth Mitchell Dance Company, Phoenix Opera, Mercer University, DeKalb Concert Ballet, Chattahoochee Dance Theatre, Sandy Springs Dunwoody Civic Ballet, Sawnee Ballet Theatre, and St. Petersburg Florida’s Chamber Ballet Company.

In 1990, Miss Joanie founded the Sawnee School of Ballet, and in 1991, she formed the Sawnee Ballet Theatre presenting Cumming, Georgia with its first full length Nutcracker.

Currently, Ms. Stewart holds the title of Director Emeritus for Sawnee Ballet Theatre.

 

Mr. Malachi Aldridge

Mr. Malachi began his training at Impact Dance of Atlanta under the direction of Kari Carter. During this time, he was blessed to study ballet under a number of teachers including Amanda Neeley (Georgia Ballet) and Peter Doll (Miami City Ballet). During this time, he also studied musical theatre under the tutelage of Nick Morrett. 

He has a number of credits in classical ballet and musical theatre. His roles of note include Basilio in Don Quixote, Albrecht in Giselle, and Desiree in The Sleeping Beauty. His theater credits include Horton (Seussical), Lumiere (Beauty and the Beast), Mr. Wormwood (Matilda), and various other roles which he performed with companies throughout the Atlanta area.

Mr. Malachi currently performs as a company dancer with Room To Move Dance, located in Sandy Springs, Georgia, His modern training is primarily in Horton Technique under the tutelage and mentorship of Brandon Ellis (Alvin Ailey II). 

Mr. Malachi currently travels and teaches modern and ballet workshops in various countries (having taught in Qatar, Egypt, and Mexico from 2021-2022). He utilizes his academic background in psychology, with an emphasis on learning and behavior, to inform his dance instruction. He is also certified to teach American Ballet Theatre’s National Training Curriculum through Level 3.

Sawnee School of the Arts is excited to welcome Mr. Malachi to the studio!  He will be teaching our Company dancers Technique and Partnering on Monday evenings.


Miss Becky Binion

Miss Becky received a dance scholarship at the University of Riverside where she studied various forms of dance including ballet, tap, jazz, African and modern. She toured Southern California with the company “Groundwork” and eventually found her way to Atlanta, GA where she danced with “Gotta Dance and Co.” and “Colours Dance Theatre”. She loves to choreograph for theater and has received a Metropolitan Theatre Award for her work on “Chicago” and “Forever Plaid”. Becky currently choreographs for children’s theater at The Holly Theater in Dahlonega and Forsyth Academy of Performing Arts, where she most recently performed in Mamma Mia!. She enjoys teaching the discipline of dance while keeping it fun and is quite convinced it helps keep her young!

Miss Becky, a jack of all trades, will be in her tenth season teaching Ballet, Jazz, Tap, Modern, Musical Theatre as well as Sawnee School of the Arts newest addition – Teen/Adult Jazz Funk!


Miss Riley Cooper

Miss Riley has been described as passionate, fun, and empathetic, challenging her students to pursue excellence and to be mentally, emotionally, and physically healthy while doing so. She directly applies her courses in Biomechanics, Exercise Psychology, Exercise Physiology, and Nutrition to how she approaches the dance space. Miss Riley has trained, taught, and performed across the United States in Atlanta, Colorado, California, Nashville, and more. She founded the Gwinnett Dance Project in 2019 with the purpose of seeing performing arts continue to flourish in Gwinnett County, which is considered one of the most diverse counties in the Southeast. 

“My teaching philosophy, which extends into how I choreograph, is that teachers are to empower and equip students to embark on their own journeys of discovering who they are as individual artists. When students feel autonomy, competence, and relatedness in their environment, they are more motivated to achieve their goals. I’ve seen more efficacy in this individualized approach to learning as compared to environments where students feel they need to hide their true selves in order to “fit in”. I remind dancers that they dance for more than just whoever is standing at the front of the room, that they are humans before they are dancers, and what is going on internally will be reflected externally.”

Miss Riley graduated Georgia Gwinnett College with the class of 2021, was the Vice-President of the Student Dance Association, and is currently CPR/AED certified by the American Heart Association. She was thrilled to be invited to present at the 2020 C.R.E.A.T.E. symposium, and currently participates in undergraduate research.

Over the last two years, Miss Riley has subbed ballet and taught modern at the summer intensives.  Sawnee School of the Arts is excited to officially welcome her to the team!  Miss Riley will be teaching Modern on Thursday evenings this season.


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Miss Teresa Eckart

Miss Teresa began her ballet training at Southern Ballet Theater in Jacksonville, FL under the direction of Marta Jackson. Upon moving to Tampa, she continued her training with Carmen Morales at the School of Ballet and Spanish Dance and with Haydee Gutiérrez at the Classical Ballet Center of Tampa. In high school, Teresa was a member of the Tampa Concert Ballet Company. During her college years, she studied under Sarah Stravinska and Helen McGhee, was a member of her college dance company, and taught ballet at a local studio.

In 1983, Teresa received a BA from Randolph-Macon Woman’s College with a double major in economics and political science. Two and a half years later, she received a JD from Stetson University College of Law and began working in Pinellas County as assistant state attorney.

After relocating to Alpharetta in 1994, Teresa’s passion for dance brought her to Atlanta Ballet as she began taking classes with Carol Szkutek. She has focused on intense Vaganova training in her classes with Marina Levasheva. In addition, she also takes classes in the metro Atlanta area from various other instructors.

In the summer of 2015, Teresa enrolled at Kennesaw State University to pursue a degree in dance with a concentration in ballet. It goes without saying that she enjoys her Pedagogy class, but has found Kinesiology to intriguing as well, especially since she has a strong interest in the cross training of ballet dancers for increased strength and flexibility and injury prevention. Miss Teresa graduated summa cum laude with her B.A. in Dance in May 2019.

Teresa loves teaching ballet technique. “It is important to me to teach ballet technique,” she says “so that each dancer can reach their full potential whether they are taking classes for personal enjoyment or if they want to be a professional dancer.”

Teresa is also a classically trained pianist, training from age 9 to 18.

Sawnee School of the Arts is delighted for Ms. Teresa’s seventh season. She will be instructing our Ballet dancers from the babies on up.


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Miss Megan Foose

Miss Megan, a native of Waukesha, Wisconsin, began dancing at the early age of three and has been trained in Ballet, Tap, Jazz, Contemporary, Modern, and Pointe. Training at Accent on Dance in Wisconsin, she has traveled the country competing at both the regional and national level where she earned several National Championships.

She attended Valdosta State University in Valdosta, Georgia, on a dance scholarship, where she earned her BFA in Dance, graduating Summa Cum Laude. While at Valdosta State she had the opportunity to perform in the Modern Atlanta Dance Festival and the American College Dance Association. She has spent the last few summers training with the Radio City Rockettes through their intensive and performing professionally with Peach State Summer Theater- Most recent credits include: Disney’s Newsies and Hello Dolly!.

While teaching at the studio, she will also be dancing professionally with Contemporary Company SIDEWAYS in Roswell, GA and judging regional dance competitions for Boogie Fever and Dance Machine. She is also a certified Barre Instructor.

We are excited to welcome Miss Megan back for her third season.  She will be teaching most levels of Tap and Jazz as well as baby Ballet, Musical Theatre, and Sapphires.


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Miss Breanna Hayworth

Miss Breanna began training in classical ballet at the age of four. In 2011, she moved to Cumming, Georgia and continued her ballet training with the Sawnee Ballet Theatre. As a member of the Company, she danced lead roles such as the Pas de Trois in Sleeping Beauty, Spanish Pas de Deux in The Nutcracker, and Dew Drop in The Nutcracker.

After graduating in 2014, Breanna furthered her dance education at Kennesaw State University where she received her Bachelor’s Degree in Dance (Ballet Major) and a Minor in Business Management. While there, she danced five consecutive seasons with the KSU Dance Company, received her Pilates certification, and was an officer for the collegiate National Dance Education Organization.

Upon graduating from college Breanna immediately moved to Orlando, Florida to perform for Walt Disney World. There she had the opportunity of performing with many Disney characters in Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire, The Festival of Fantasy Parade, Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration, and Move It! Shake It! MousekeDance It!

Miss Breanna is very excited to enter into her third season with Sawnee School of the Arts and continue teaching the next generation of talented artists.  She will be teaching various ballet levels in addition to working the front desk.


Shara

Miss Shara Martin Keith

Miss Shara received her formative ballet training from Joan Kall Stewart and Dana Mott at The Sandy Springs School of Ballet and was a principal dancer with the Sandy Springs/Dunwoody Civic Ballet Company and the Chattahoochee Dance Theatre. For two consecutive seasons, she was selected by the Dekalb County Fine Arts Council to participate in the Dekalb County Young Artist in Dance Program.

A graduate of Texas Christian University, Fort Worth, Texas, with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Ballet, she was a principal dancer with Texas Christian University Dance Ensemble and studied under Fernando Schaffenburg and Lisa Fusillo. She was invited to perform in a choreographic showcase with members of the Fort Worth, Texas, Ballet Company.

Miss Shara was a principal dancer with the Georgia Ballet for three seasons and performed with the Phoenix Opera Company in productions of Hansel and Gretel and Mozart’s Magic Flute. She was a Guest Artist for The Gilmer Arts Council and the Governor’s Honors Program in Valdosta, Georgia.

Miss Shara has appeared with Sawnee Ballet Theatre in numerous principal roles in their Spring Concert and Nutcracker productions. She received her Associate Degree in Nursing from Kennesaw State College, Kennesaw, Georgia.

Miss Shara, a founding faculty member of the school, will be working with dancers in the Pre-Pointe through Company levels this year.


Brelin Zimmerman

Miss Brelin Zimmerman Knop

Miss Brelin began her training at the Sawnee School of Ballet at the age of 3 and continued through her high school years. She was a member of the Sawnee Ballet Theater for 9 seasons, starting at the Apprentice level and progressing to the Company, dancing lead roles such as Clara, Arabian, and Snow Queen in SBT’s annual production of the Nutcracker.

Miss Brelin continued her education at Brenau University and received her Bachelor’s Degree in dance. While there, she danced numerous leading roles with the Gainesville Ballet such as Snow Queen and Sugar Plum Fairy in the Nutcracker as well as Jasmine in Aladdin.  Most recently, Miss Brelin can be seen in the Netflix series Raising Dion.

Miss Brelin continues to take classes and perform throughout metro-Atlanta.  For her eleventh season with the studio, Miss Brelin will be teaching Primary through Company levels in Ballet, all levels of Stretch/Flex & Leaps/Turns, Jazz, and Sapphires.  


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Miss Jo Lambert

Miss Jo has been teaching acrobatics and tumbling to dancers, gymnasts and cheerleaders in the Atlanta area for over 10 years. She is a professional SAG-AFTRA stunt woman who has doubled actors, trained actors and performed stunts in Los Angeles, Kentucky, South Carolina and in local Atlanta productions such as Stranger Things, The Walking Dead, The Boss, Black Panther, Nancy Drew, Outcast, etc. She has also performed in various live acrobatic shows in and outside of the country.

Growing up in a military family, Jo moved all around the country and world. She was a competitive gymnast, participated in theater and dance and created her own Acro-dance performance team while living in San Diego. She also began her training in aerial silks in San Diego and later continued at the Circus Arts Institute of Atlanta. She is a member of the National Ninja league, and an official obstacle tester for American Ninja Warrior. Prior to turning her attention to stunts, dance and teaching acrobatics, Jo also trained in boxing, capoeira, mixed martial arts, parkour, breakdancing, and was a sponsored skateboarder. She continues to expand her education through dance classes, acrobatic and silks trainings and seminars. She is a strong believer in the adage Never Stop Learning! Jo loves the creativity of acrobatics and dance and loves helping her students overcome fears and gain new skills and confidence.

Sawnee Ballet is excited to welcome her back for a third season!  Miss Jo will be teaching all levels of tumbling this year.


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Miss Diane Palubiak

Miss Diane grew up in Fort Worth, Texas as the second youngest of five girls. She met her future husband on a blind date while attending Columbia College in Missouri. Together, they lived in Little Rock and St. Louis before finally settling in Marietta, GA to raise their four children.

While never having danced growing up, Diane fully embraced being a dance mom while her two eldest daughters were in the company at Dance Stop Studios. She served as wardrobe head for seven years, where she spent many a late nights sewing sequin trim to costumes. While her sewing skills were not the best, she learned how to creatively adorn costumes with hot glue, staples, and tape making for many comical, but memorable, moments. During performances, Diane could always be found backstage helping with quick changes and last minute alterations in the company dressing room. While she never had the opportunity to watch an entire show from the audience, she was the dancers’ biggest supporter from the wings.

Diane also worked at Decapo, the dancewear store owned by and attached to the studio, for six years. While managing the store, she was in charge of hiring, ordering, and maintaining inventory as well as the store’s main pointe shoe fitter. When Dance Stop relocated to the shopping center across the street and did not have room to continue the store, Diane began working at Banana Republic where she remained with the company for nearly 20 years. In 2013, she was excited to join the studio’s front office staff. As Office Manager, Diane drives over an hour five days a week, but wouldn’t change it for the world, because she loves working with her daughter.

When not working, Miss Diane loves spending time with her family and watching her three granddaughters. She also enjoys winding down by walking, purchasing scrapbook supplies, and watching Lifetime movies. We love Miss Diane, affectionately known as “D-Dog,” and know Sawnee School of the Arts would not be where it is today without her at the front desk.

 


Natalia Shevchenko

Miss Natalia Shevchenko

Miss Natalia is a graduate of the Kiev Academy in the Ukraine and was trained in the Vagonova style. She was the recipient of Laureate awards at both the National Competition of Art in Kiev, Ukraine, and Kishinev, Moldova.

As a principal dancer, Miss Natalia has an extensive repertoire including such roles as ‘Odette’ in Swan Lake; ‘Aurora’ in Sleeping Beauty; ‘Swanhilda’ in Coppelia; and ‘Juliet’ in Romeo and Juliet.

She has performed at the Mussorgsky State Theater of Opera and Ballet; Kirov Academy Theatre of Opera and Ballet; the Bolshoi Theater in Russia; the Muldova Academy Theater of Opera and Ballet in Muldova; and National Academy Theatre of Opera and Ballet in the Ukraine.

Miss Natalia’s teaching experience includes the Classical Ballet Academy of Kishinev, Muldova; the Muldova Academy Theatre of Opera and Ballet; Kiev Academy of Ballet; and the Atlanta Ballet.

She has been an instructor with Sawnee School of Ballet for the past twenty-one seasons! This year, she will be teaching Elementary Ballet through our highest level of Company on Thursday evenings.


Laurie Sowada

Miss Laurie Sowada

Miss Laurie grew up in Miami, Florida and received her training at Bobbie Alcott’s School of Dance, later becoming an assistant teacher. She continued her dance education at the Avery School of Dance in Miami, where she taught classes in pre-ballet, tap, tumbling, and slimnastics. Miss Laurie has been on faculty with Sawnee School of Ballet since the early 2000’s.

Yearly, she attended summer intensives in Aspen/Snowmass, Colorado with the Salt Lake City Ballet Company. She has performed at the University of Miami and the Vizcaya Museum in liturgical dance productions.

Miss Laurie attended St. Petersburg Junior College studying both Early Childhood Education and Finance. She was a pre-school teacher in Seminole, Florida where she created a play/learning environment for 3-4 year olds.

Miss Laurie has been working for an investment firm since 1985 with 5 years as a corporate trainer. Miss Laurie continues to take adult ballet classes and is excited to teach on Saturdays at Sawnee School of the Arts where her passion for teaching, creativity, and love of dance thrives.

 

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