Colleen Smith is the Founder and Artistic Director of Ballet Palm Beach (formerly Florida Classical Ballet Theatre) and its school, Ballet Palm Beach Academy. Before establishing Ballet Palm Beach she taught for the Kansas City Ballet School in Kansas City, Missouri; served as Ballet Mistress for New Dance Ensemble in Cleveland, Ohio; began the dance department of Trinity Methodist Fine Arts School in Palm Beach Gardens and taught for numerous South Florida schools.
She has danced with Ballet Met in Columbus, Ohio; New Dance Ensemble in Cleveland, Ohio and Tulsa Ballet Theatre in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She trained in South Florida with Joan Miller, Brenda Gooden and Cuca Martinez; at the Washington School of Ballet under Mary Day, Choo San Goh and William Buckner and with the Joffrey Ballet in New York City. Her teaching mentors are Brenda Gooden, Victoria Leigh and Ruth C. Petrinovic. Colleen delights in being a part of young people’s lives, creating beautiful ballets for our community and sending dancers on to successful careers of their own.
THE FACULTY – INSTRUCTORS
Claudia Cravey – Ballet, Pointe, Company Ballet Mistress, Artistic Associate
Claudia Cravey began her career as a professional Principal Dancer at the age of 13, with the London Times proclaiming her performance “a triumph.” She performed with the Chicago Opera Ballet, Washington Ballet, Royal Swedish Ballet, in films and on television. As a soloist with the Harkness Ballet, Ms. Cravey danced in works created by many prominent choreographers, developing extremely valuable experience in an eclectic repertoire.
As Ballet Mistress for Ballet Florida for 30 years, Ms. Cravey worked and trained her dancers to reach their full professional potential. Ms. Cravey has learned the choreography for over 100 ballets with richly diverse repertories and rehearsed them with the dancers. She has worked with more than 40 of the world’s leading contemporary and classical choreographers in setting ballets and resetting ballets in the company repertory. She coached dancers in roles and taught class for the company of 22 dancers. Her dedication to the continuing technical and artistic development of the dancers created a steady growth in the Company’s artistry.
Ms. Cravey approaches each class as an individual exercise tailored specifically to the needs of the dancers present. She is dedicated to the growth of dancers not only as technicians, but also as artists. As well as correcting physical technique, she works with students and professional alike on expressing their art form through movement. Ms. Cravey is also personally interested in the development of her dancers as individuals, an approach that often extends outside the ballet studio.
Janine Harris – Ballet
Janine Harris (Ballet and Pointe) received much of her early dance training from Robert and Carol Hanlin (former dancers with American Ballet Theatre). After high school Janine danced with the University of Utah’s Utah Ballet, trained at Houston Ballet Academy for 2 years, and joined the newly formed Ballet Florida in 1986.Ms. Harris performed many leading roles with Ballet Florida including the title roles of Firebird, Carmen, Anne Frank, Juliet in Romeo and Juliet and others such as Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker. With Ballet Florida and as a guest artist, she has appeared in over half of the United States and in Europe. Throughout her long and vital career, Janine has been blessed to work one-on-one with many of the world’s most exciting choreographers including Val Caniparoli, Daniel Ezralow, Lambros Lambrou, Lar Lubovich, Sean Lavery, Peter Martins, Vicente Nebrada, Margot Sappington, Michael Smuin, William Soleau, Ben Stevenson, Norbert Vesak and Mauricio Wainrot.
Janine also enjoys her passion of photography which led her to become Ballet Florida’s official company photographer in 2004 and then Ballet Palm Beach’s photographer shortly thereafter. Janine works as one of Palm Beach County’s leading dance photographers. Her photographs have appeared in international, national and local publications, as well as, in advertisements.
As a teacher, Janine considers it a dear and extreme privilege to pass on what she was given through her incredibly diverse experience as a dancer. Janine sees dance as an ongoing exploration of life, truth, love, and beauty.
Julie Levin – Pre-Ballet, Ballet
English born Julie Levin trained (R.A.D.) in the south of England at Elmhurst Ballet School, The Royal Ballet School and Bush Davies School. Julie danced for 4 years at Israel Ballet company where she met her husband, Marshall Levin. The newly weds moved to Miami but soon relocated to Palm Beach Gardens to join Ballet Florida in its inaugural season. Julie enjoyed 6 years dancing with the company before semi-retiring to start a family.
Julie has taught at the academy for ten plus years and has completed the Petrinovic Teacher Training seminar.
Marshall Levin – Ballet, Character Artist, Artistic Associate
Marshall Levin began his ballet training with Susana Prieto at Ballet Etudes in Hialeah, Florida. He was a soloist with the Israel Ballet where he danced for three years. He returned to the United States, with his wife Julie; they then became initial members of Ballet Florida in 1986. Some of his more notable roles have been Hilarion & Peasant Pas de Deux in Giselle, Don Jose in Carmen, 3rd Sailor in Fancy Free, Le Corsair, Belong and White Swan pas de deuxs, title role in The Nutcracker, an evil step-sister in Cinderella, Tybalt, Benvolio, and Paris in Romeo & Juliet, Puck in A Midsummer’s Night Dream, and Otto Frank in Anne Frank. He has taught ballet and mime for Israel Ballet and Ballet Florida schools, Ballet Palm Beach Academy and other local dance schools. As a choreographer, he produced pieces for Ballet Florida’s Step Ahead project and for the International Salute to Vienna. Marshall and his wife, Julie Levin, ministered through Proclaim Ministries, which they formed in 1992, traveling throughout the world teaching the Gospel through mime, dance and drama. He also lectures on the Christian movement arts. Marshall has been seen performing with the Ballet Palm Beach since its inception, appearing in numerous ballets such as The Nutcracker, The Sleeping Beauty, Coppelia, Les Sylphides, Don Quixote and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Marshall was part of BPB’s Ballet Ambassadors trips to Budapest, Hungary, and Cuba.
Donna Morgan- Tap, Musical Theatre
Donna Morgan, a native of West Palm Beach, received her formal dance training and teacher’s training from Marie Hale and Lynda Swiadon at Ballet Florida and later on scholarships with Harkness House, Chicago Ballet School, Hubbard Street Dance and Houston Ballet Academy. As a professional, Ms. Morgan danced with the Chicago and Houston Ballets and was a soloist with the Louisville and Milwaukee Ballets where she danced exciting leading roles in Cinderella, Swan Lake, Nutcracker and Giselle, to name a few. Having an extensive repertoire in musical theatre, she performed in dozens of productions at Milwaukee’s Melody Top Theatre, appeared in A Chorus Line on National Tour and at Chicago’s Candlelight Playhouse, then went around the world aboard the MV Royal Oydessy as a featured Dancer/Singer in the Steppin’ Out Revue. Upon returning to the area Donna was the manager of Joy Prouty’s Fitness Connection, the Resident Choreographer of Palm Beach Opera and the Principal of the Academy of Ballet Florida until 2009. Ms. Morgan has been teaching for over 35 years at several prestigious schools around the country/county and currently teaches at the Ballet Palm Beach Academy, PGA National Resort, Florida Dance and Education Center and The PBG Recreation Center.
Charlotte Murray, Creative Movement, Ballet
Charlotte Murray was a principal dancer with Dance Alive! in Gainesville, Florida for eight years. She performed leading roles in a diverse repertoire of both classical and contemporary ballets including Terpsichore in Balanchine’s Apollo, Lilac Fairy in Sleeping Beauty, Pas de Trois in Swan Lake, Sugar Plum and Dew Drop Fairy in the Nutcracker, Green Lady in Carmina Burana, and soloist roles in Coppelia and Don Quixote. While in Gainesville, Ms. Murray attended the University of Florida and was inducted into the honorary society of Phi Beta Kappa. She graduated cum laude with a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology and is currently practicing as a speech-language pathologist in Palm Beach County.
In 1989, she received the prestigious Presidential Scholar in the Arts Award in ballet at White House ceremonies and performed at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. In 1988, she was one of only fifteen dancers chosen by Mikhail Baryshnikov to attend American Ballet Theatre’s summer program of intensive Russian training. She received scholarships to study with The School of American Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, and Houston Ballet and also, trained at The Washington Ballet. Her teaching mentors were Fiona Fairie and Magda Aunon.
Lily Ojea – Ballet, Pointe
Lily Ojea is a graduate of Ballet Palm Beach Academy, formerly known as the Esther Center, and has danced professionally with the Alabama Ballet, Hosanna Sacred Arts and New Orleans Ballet Theater. Her favorite roles include Titania in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Swanhilda in Coppelia, Juliet in Romeo and Juliet, Marzipan Lead in Balanchine’s The Nutcracker, Giselle in Giselle and Queen Esther in For Such a Time as This: The Story of Queen Esther. She is currently a company dancer at Ballet Palm Beach.
Lily has completed the Petrinovic Teacher Training Program and has taught ballet for the Alabama Ballet School and Ballet Palm Beach Academy. Lily has participated in dance mission trips to Budapest, Hungary and Cuba.
Gina Buntz- Modern, Development Director
Gina Buntz’s choreography was cited by Anna Kisselgoff in the New York Times as, “A dancer’s choreographer – the possessor of a virtuoso mind whose inventiveness is of keen interest to other dancers.” She has taught and choreographed throughout the U.S. and overseas in Europe, Korea, East Africa and Haiti. Ms. Buntz is a recipient of fellowships from the National Endoment for the Arts and the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs. She has presented her work at the American Dance Festival, Edinburgh Festival Fringe, CNDC Angers in France among many others.
Ms. Buntz has been on faculty at New World School of the Arts, Interlochen Arts Academy, Dreyfoos School of the Arts and BAK MSOA, Stephens College and the University of Michigan. For the past 8 years, Gina was Dance Chair at the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts where she mentored young dancers at the pre-professional level. As a member of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), she was part of a core group of principal dancers in the movie “Fame” who negotiated the first union salary rate for dancers in film and television.
Gina is also founding director of a new company, danceflow®, that hold dance sessions and events for non-dancers of all ages.
CONSULTANT- Ruth C. Petrinovic, Special Coach
Ruth has been associated with Ballet Palm Beach and the academy at The Esther Center for ten plus years, working with the teachers and advanced students, and participating in the preparations of performances. Her career in the field of dance training has included School Director for Ballet Florida, School Director for Richmond Ballet, Performance Director for Marin Ballet in California, and Director of Training Program at Harkness House for Ballet Arts in New York City. She was Founder and Artistic Director of the Atlantic Foundation for the Performing Arts in Ft. Lauderdale and Director of Ballet for the Greater Miami Opera. She received her ballet training in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and Santiago, Chile where she danced with Ballet Experimental. A graduate of Principia College in Illinois, she majored in Theatre and Art. She has trained countless teachers, including David Howard, the well known Master Teacher. Through the years her students have gone on to dance in companies in the United States and Europe, including American Ballet Theatre, Joffrey Ballet, Houston Ballet, Boston Ballet, Cleveland Ballet, Zurich Ballet, the Dutch National Ballet and many others. She has trained the teachers for the Alabama Ballet School in Birmingham, and has conducted numerous workshops for teachers in Florida and elsewhere in the country.