Meet The Director
Melissa Braswell Gravely is the Director and Owner of the Village Dance Studios, Melissa also founded and directs the Village Performing Company and the Advanced Dancer's Program. She began her dance career at the Governor's Magnet School for the Arts and received her BFA in Dance and Choreography from Virginia Commonwealth University. She danced and choreographed with Steve's House Dance Collective for six years and currently serves as a board member for Ground Zero Dance Company.
Elana Aronovici ~ Instructor & Party Coordinator
Instructor and Party Coordinator at The Village Dance Studios, Elana Aronovici began her dance career at The Children’s Creative Workshop/Village Dance Studios. She has a BA in Dance and Arts Management from Hollins University and has studied dance in New York, London and at several dance festivals. She has her Pilates certification and is currently the Pilates coordinator and instructor at The Country Club of Virginia.
Candy Beers ~ Instructor and Dance Therapist
Candy Beers began her study of movement and the body/mind connection through modern dance. Her passion for the creative process of dance and developmental psychology led her to complete a Master's degree in Dance/Movement Therapy through Pratt Institute in New York City. While at Pratt, she studied Laban Movement Analysis, Kestenberg Movement Profile, and Authentic Movement. She is certified in Pilates through Powerhouse Pilates and has been teaching Pilates since 2004. She is also a certified Itsy Bitsy Yoga® facilitator. She brings an understanding of movement development and its connection to nurturing the whole child into all of her classes and to all of the instructors of VDS in their teacher training program. She is presently researching dance pedagogy for early childhood and creating dance curriculum and a training manual for dance educators with VDS Director, Melissa Gravely. Her goal through this research is to write a book that will bring light to the importance observation skills and self-awareness in teaching as a means to facilitate the process of creative development and self-expression in dance education.
Kate Christner ~ Instructor
Kate Kobiashvili Christner comes to us from Premiere Dance Studio in Powhatan, VA where she taught intermediate and advance ballet for the past four years. Kate began her dancing in The Woodlands Texas where she was a member and a principle dancer of The Woodlands Dance Company. Kate’s favorite roll while with the Dance Company was the Sugar Plum Fairy in Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker. She was also a member of the nationally recognized competitive dance team The Highsteppers. She spent her summers taking classes at the Houston Ballet and the South Carolina Dance Conservatory. She has a B.A from Hollins University where she continued taking dance classes.
Deandra Clarke ~ Instructor
Hip Hop Instructor at The Village Dance Studios, Deandra Clarke graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University. Upon graduation she began her professional career by founding 4 The Streetz Choreography in 2003. This professional dance company served as a way for dancers in the area to fulfill their dreams without having to leave Richmond for high profile cities such as New York or Los Angeles. Providing dancers with similar opportunities to build their dance resumes, gain experience in the dance industry and help prepare them for when they do decide to make that move into a professional dance career. She is now continuing her mission by focusing her attention on her newest projects, MOVE! Dance Workshops, a traveling dance workshop that makes stops all over the country, providing hip hop and contemporary masterclasses for aspiring and semi-professional dancers from established choreographers in the industry. Deandra is also Co-Owner of DE Management company, where she co-manages various dance crews along the east coast. In addition to her many business ventures, she still choreographs and dances regularly for several independant/local artists as well as teach weekly hip hop classes in her hometown.
Molly Grose ~ Administrative Assistant & Instructor
Instructor and Administrative Assistant, Molly Grose recently graduated with a BFA in Dance and Choreography from Virginia Commonwealth University in May 2011. During her time in college, she performed in many pieces and worked with choreographers including: Daniel Gwirtzmen, Christian von Howard, Scott Putman, and Judy Steel. She also attended and performed at the American College Dance Festival and performed with We Are Artists, founded by Autumn Proctor and Blake Roeder. For three years in college, Ms. Grose was on the VCU Dance Team, the Gold Rush Dancers, and for her last season her senior year, she was named Captain. She took part in choreographing many routines for the dancers, and teaching her teammates. Before entering college, she started dancing at the young age of four, competed and placed at many competitions through out her high school life, attended The Washington Ballet summer program, and a summer program at The Governor's School for the Performing Arts. She recently performed with Ground Zero Dance Company.
Briah Hodal ~ Instructor & Lead Ballet Coordinator
Instructor and Lead Ballet Coordinator at The Village Dance Studios, Briah Hodal began her dance career in Richmond Virginia at the Richmond Ballet where she studied for several years. She has a BFA in Theatre from VCU where she also studied dance for 3 years. She danced with the Richmond based dance company, Starr Foster Dance Project for 7 years and is still performing with various artists. She is also a certified Bikram yoga instructor and teaches in Richmond.
Suzanne McClung ~ Instructor
Instructor at The Village Dance Studios, Suzanne founded the Children's Creative Workshop at The Village Shopping Center and later co-directed The Village Dance Studios for several years. She has brought the VDS Pre-School Program to several area pre-schools and continues to inspire children through her creative movement instruction. She received her BA in Dance from Randolph Macon Women's College. Upon graduation she studied dance in New York and London. Suzanne later returned to Richmond and studied at the Richmond Ballet and Virginia Commonwealth University. She has trained dancers for over 18 years. She recently received her CORE BARRE™ certification and will be offering classes through the VDS Creative Wellness Program.
Rob Petres ~ Instructor & Assistant Director of Teen and Advanced Programs
Instructor and Assistant Director of Teen and Advanced Programs at The Village Dance Studios, Rob Petres holds a BFA in Dance and Choreography from Virginia Commonwealth University. He has taught workshops and company classes for Ground Zero Dance Company and Steve’ House Dance Collective, in Budapest, Hungary, Mexico and Istanbul, Turkey. In 1992 he co-founded the Richmond-based Steve's House Dance Collective with Ray Schwartz, where he worked as a choreographer, dancer, technical director, and lighting designer. Rob currently choreographs and performs with Ground Zero Dance Company, of which he is co-founder and co-artistic director.
Taylor Ritchey ~ Instructor
Instructor and Assistant at VDS, Taylor started dancing at the age of 6 at the Village Dance Studio. She studied dance at VDS until her graduation and participated in the Village Performing Company and the Advanced Dancers Program. Upon graduation she studied dance at Old Dominion University and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Dance. She taught dance at Art of Dance Academy in Va. Beach for 3 years before moving back to Richmond. She is excited to be back at VDS to share her love of dance with her students
Elizabeth Williams ~ Instructor
Instructor at The Village Dance Studios, Elizabeth Williams began her dance career in North Carolina and has a Bachelor of Science in Education and a Master of Arts Degree in Learning Disabilities from East Carolina University. She has trained dancers for the past 15 years in North Carolina, South Carolina and Richmond. She is also currently teaching preschool at All Saints Episcopal Preschool in Richmond.
As demand warrants, VDS often provides additional instruction through part-time and guest instructors from the field. The studio prides itself on the professionalism of its instruction and only selects highly qualified, experienced and welltrained instructors for this purpose.