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.
Molly Grose ~ Administrative Assistant & Instructor
Instructor and Assistant Director, Molly Grose 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.
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.
Elana Aronovici ~ Instructor
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.
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.
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.
Taylor Ritchey ~ Instructor
Instructor at The Village Dance Studio, Taylor started dancing at the age of 6 at VDS and participated in the Village Performing Company and the Advanced Dancers Program until her graduation. 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. She is currently studying Early Childhood Education Development at J. Sargeant Reynolds and is an instructional assistant for Early Childhood Education at Henrico County Public Schools.
Bridgette Rivers ~ Instructor
Bridgette Rivers graduated from Virginia Tech with a MS in Geography, where she performed, choreographed and was costume coordinator for the Contemporary Dance Ensemble. Before that, she was a member of professional dance companies Habit Dance Project in Buffalo, NY and Sidelong Dance Company in Winston-Salem, NC, and taught adult tap at Free Soul Dance Studio in Buffalo, NY. She studied dance for 15 years at Fitzsimmons Dance Factory in Fairport, NY, and performed with the North Carolina Ballet Theatre and the Moscow Ballet productions of the Nutcracker. At Cornell University, she earned a BS in Natural Resources, and was the president of Impact Dance Troupe, and a member of BASE and OnTap dance groups as well.
Alison Hanchey ~ Instructor
Alison Hanchey has recently returned back to beautiful Virginia, after a two year STINT where she lived abroad in North Africa. There she worked for a nonprofit organization that is designed to help university students express themselves artistically, as well as experience the creative process from other students around the world, in order to build their gifts and grow in leadership and communication. As Dance Instructor and Choreographer within that company, Alison developed a dance program for students at a local university. She offered them basic training in Contemporary, Hip Hop, Improvisation and Ballet, and taught them how to use dance to share their personal sto-ries with their culture.
Before Alison moved to Africa in August 2012, she was teaching Modern, Jazz, Ballet, and Hip-Hop dance to stu-dents from thirty-eight different countries at an international high school known as Wasatch Academy located in Mount Pleasant, Utah. In 2011, Alison received her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Dance Education from James Madi-son University, where she was actively involved in JMU’s Contemporary Dance Ensemble.
While studying at JMU, Alison traveled with her department to London, England in order to receive training from artists such as: Jamie Dryburgh, Sonia Rafferty, Ric Rose, various instructors from Laban, The Place, Greenwich Dance Agency, and Pineapple Dance Studios. Alison began formal dance training when she was eight years old, and she now teaches often at Genia Johnson Dance Company, the school that she received the majority of her training before university. Alison is honored to have been invited in to the Village Dance Studios family, and is very excited about all that this upcoming season of dance will bring!!
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.
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. Her classes can be found at creativewellnessandmindfulness.com
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.