Melissa Braswell Gravely
Owner & Director
Melissa 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 received a Partner’s in the Arts grant for her video dance piece, Without Warning. She served as a board member for Ground Zero Dance Company for many years. She teaches all levels and ages and has taught in the Richmond community for over 20 years.
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.
Emily B. Stewart
Emily joined the Village Dance Studios team at the end of 2018 and brings with her a unique but broad skill set that works well with our growing company. She comes from a background of finance through fundraising. Emily was formerly the Principal and Owner of Stewart Consulting, LLC, a political fundraising firm from 2004 through 2016 which provided a full range of services such as general campaign finance strategy, event planning, direct fundraising, and finance lobbying. Prior to forming Stewart Consulting, LLC, Emily served as a National and Statewide Finance Director on several federal and state-wide winning campaigns throughout the Southeast. Emily received a Bachelor of Arts in both Political Science and Psychology from Mary Baldwin College in Staunton, Virginia. She resides in the Fan District in Richmond, Virginia with her two Bichons Frise dogs, Grover and Oliver.
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 master classes 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 independent/local artists as well as teach weekly hip hop classes in her hometown.
Grace Carter is an alumni of the Village Dance Studios, graduating in 2013. During her fifteen years at VDS she took modern, ballet, pointe, jazz, tap, and hip hop. She was also a member of the Village Performing Company. While in high school, Grace danced for her school’s dance team. She helped choreograph dances for the team and also volunteered as an Assistant teacher at VDS. Grace then went on to James Madison University and focused her studies on Education and Dance. While at JMU she was enrolled in dance technique courses and also participated in her sorority’s annual “Greek Sing.” As a senior she was elected to choreograph for “Greek Sing.” She graduated from JMU with her Bachelor’s degree in 2017, and went on to begin her fifth year Master’s program. Grace graduated again from JMU in 2018 with a Master’s of Arts in Teaching. She will begin her career as a first grade teacher at Gayton Elementary School. Grace is excited to return to the Village as a dance teacher, working along side the other staff and dancers!
Micki Coor graduated from James Madison University in May 2017 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Theatre and Dance with a dance concentration. She trained at the Village Dance Studio under the direction of Melissa Braswell Gravely and Rob Petres, where she was a member of the Performing Company for eight years. While at JMU she had the pleasure of dancing in six Student Dance Concerts and three Contemporary Dance Ensemble Shows, New Voices in Dance. During the summer of 2014 Micki attended the American Dance Festival where she worked with choreographer Leonie McDonagh and performed “Four Fingers and One Thumb,” in the Footprints end of the summer performance. Micki was a member of the Contemporary Dance Ensemble and the Virginia Repertory Company. She had the opportunity to perform works by guest choreographers such as Danah Bella, Laurie Eisenhower, John Dixon, and Courtney White. During the summer of 2016 she attended the London Contemporary Theatre and Dance Intensive. She also participated in a Blank Canvas Workshop in Cork, Ireland where she had the opportunity to explore the misconceptions and conceptions of people with disabilities through performances in both Cork and Dublin under the direction of dance artist Mary Nugent. She taught jazz, modern and hip hop at West End Assembly of God for two years. She is currently member of Dogwood Dance Project, a Richmond-based modern dance company directed by Jason Sandahl. She is so excited to be back at the Village and can’t wait for what’s to come!
Instructor at The Village Dance Studio, 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 is a certified physical trainer and barre instructor.
Instructor at The Village Dance Studios, Kaitlyn McMillion began her training at Staunton Academy of Ballet at the age of three. There she studied classical ballet, tap, and jazz, completing all twelve years of the Performance Awards curriculum. She began teaching in 2012 at the Staunton Academy of ballet, where she taught ballet, tap, and contemporary to various age groups. Kaitlyn also spent a year dancing with the Charlottesville Ballet as a trainee and working as an assistant teaching for their academy. She is excited to join the VDS family for this upcoming season.
Instructor Natalie began her dance career at The Village Dance Studio at the age of 2 when she took her first Creative Movement class with Melissa Gravely. She danced at VDS for the next 16 years in styles including modern, jazz, tap, ballet, point, and hip-hop, while also choreographing and performing in the Village Performing Company for 11 of those 16 years. Throughout her high school years, Natalie integrated dance into her academic curriculum while dancing and choreographing for Collegiate’s Advanced Dancers Program. Natalie continued to expand her studies in dance, movement, and human anatomy while at the University of Virginia where she received a Bachelor of Science in Education in Kinesiology with a dance minor. Natalie has performed in four Dance Concerts through the UVA Drama Department, and performed and choreographed for seven performances with Mahogany Dance Hip-Hop Troupe. She also served on the Executive Board of Mahogany Dance Troupe for three years as the President, Vice President, Events Coordinator, and Historian and choreographed many dances for their biannual showcases. Natalie is thrilled to be back at The Village as her dance career comes full circle where it all began!
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 studied Early Childhood Education Development at J. Sargeant Reynolds and is an instructional assistant for Early Childhood Education at Henrico County Public Schools.
Paige Honbarrier began her training at Valley Dance Theatre in Staunton, VA at the age of six, where she studied ballet, tap, lyrical, jazz, modern, hip-hop, acrobatics, and acting. She was a member of the Valley Dance Theatre Performance Company, competing at various venues along the east coast. She also began her teaching career here in 2013 instructing lyrical, jazz, and hip-hop. Paige continued her training at George Mason University, where she received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Dance and minor in Early Childhood Education for Diverse Learners in 2019. While at school, she worked alongside renown artists, including Susan Shields, Roger Jeffrey, and Christopher D’Amboise, as well as acted as Rehearsal Director for Lucinda Child’s “Dance #1” for the annual Gala. She also had the opportunity to choreograph and perform in various student works. During her summers, she has enjoyed working at a local preschool and teaching fitness classes as a certified Zumba Instructor. Recently, she has relocated to the Richmond area and will begin her first season with Dogwood Dance Project’s Professional Company. Paige is excited to join VDS for their upcoming season!
GUEST ARTISTS & INSTRUCTORS
Kaye Weinstein Gary
Guest Artist & YogaBarre Instructor
Kaye Weinstein Gary, choreographer, performer, teacher, is artistic director of K Dance, a professional contemporary dance/theatre company which produces an international dance festival every year, bringing outstanding talent to the Richmond area. YES! Dance Festival features guest artists from Dance Magazine’s annual recognition “25 to Watch”. Richmond Times-Dispatch (2017) featured Ms. Gary in an article “Behind the Kaye…K Dance’s one-woman dynamo continues to stretch boundaries of contemporary choreography” and has been recognized by Richmond Magazine as a “Dancing Master." Ms. Gary holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in dance and has had an extensive teaching career nationally in higher education as well as private studios. She developed the modern training program at Richmond Ballet and was past acting chairman of VCU’s Department of Dance and Choreography. She earned her yoga teaching certificate from LA based YogaWorks in 2015.
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 role 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.