BV Blog

“Season Opening” starts off Ballet Virginia’s 21/22 performance season!

Ballet Virginia is excited for our upcoming “Season Opening” mixed repertoire performances on November 7th at 2 PM and 6 PM at the Virginia MOCA Museum Theater. The company will perform contemporary and classical works. This professional group of talented artists continues to raise the level of dance performances in Hampton Roads.

“It’s exciting to work with such an amazing group of diverse dancers from all over the country. The range these dancers have from their ballet to contemporary skills will bring so much artistry, passion and fire to the stage! Along with dynamic new works, I think Hampton Roads will be proud to call us their professional ballet company.” says Lydia Roberts Coco, Ballet Virginia’s professional company artistic director and choreographer.

Our “Season Opening” will showcase works by Ms. Coco, a former Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater principal dancer and sought-after choreographer. The feature work will be set to Ravel’s musical masterpiece, “Bolero”, and include all ten company members in innovative and mesmerizing choreography. The performances will also feature choreography by Ballet Virginia’s artistic directors, Suzanne Lownsbury and Janina Michalski who will add members of Ballet Virginia’s second company (BVII) to their works.

The Virginia MOCA Museum Theater offers an intimate setting with easy access from I-264 as well as on-site parking. The contemporary art museum is located at 2200 Parks Avenue, near the Virginia Beach oceanfront resort area.

The upcoming season, Ballet Virginia’s 14th, also includes a collaborative performance of “Bolero” with Symphonicity on October 17th at the Sandler Center, seven performances of “The Nutcracker” from December 15th to 19th at the Sandler Center, “Truth and Beauty” winter repertoire at Zeiders American Dream Theater on February 4th and 5th plus February 6th at Norfolk State University and “Sleeping Beauty” on April 9th and 10th. Live orchestra accompaniment from Symphonicity is planned for all public performances of “The Nutcracker”.

Tickets for Ballet Virginia’s “Season Opening” are on sale at EventBrite.

Celebrating our Ballet Virginia 2021 Seniors

We are so proud of you all and have truly enjoyed watching you grow up! It’s been a year like no other but you all have danced through it with grace and positivity.


We asked all our graduating high school seniors what’s next for them and to share something special about their time at Ballet Virginia. Read on to get to know these impressive young people.


Amy Strickland


I’m going to ODU this fall and I’m planning on becoming a physical therapist.

Being at Ballet Virginia has helped me learn how to work and stay positive even when things are difficult or feel stagnant.






Charlotte Mann


I will be attending the College of William and Mary this fall to pursue a degree in Elementary Education.



Some of my favorite memories at Ballet Virginia are from performing in “The Nutcracker” as a ‘Party Girl’ and part of the ‘Marzipan Corps’, as well as having the opportunity to teach in the Children’s Program this past year.

Delia Allen


I am attending Virginia Tech for Fashion Merchandising and Design.




Some of my favorite memories at Ballet Virginia were the time we had a lock-in and slept over at the studio, when we went to SERBA for the weekend, and when I got to play the role Clara in the Nutcracker. As well as the countless rehearsal memories, dressing room memories, and forever friends.


Emily Kodolitsch



I will be attending the College of Charleston and majoring in Biology.

Some of my favorite memories at Ballet Virginia are when I was helping teach younger dancers. I have learned a lot from them and have been
given the opportunity to teach my own class.






Imani David


My future plans is becoming a professional dancer and also a fashion designer




My favorite memory at Ballet Virginia is when we learned my first variation ever LOL. It was Kitri!

Jazzmin Smeltzer


Jazzmin will be attending Lancaster Bible College in the fall. She will be majoring in Elementary Education.  She will be continuing her dancing at college.

Jazzmin learned to keep going no matter what.  One of her fond memories was the December 2020 piece they performed for a virtual audience from Ms. Julia’s class.




Kaylee Bejarano


I will be attending Clemson University next fall to study business

Something special about Ballet Virginia is how much of a second family it has become for me. Being there so often, I have been able to grow really close with the other dancers and make a lot of great friendships that I am so thankful for.




Leah Trimble

Next year I will be attending college at James Madison University. I’m majoring in kinesiology and hope to one day do physical therapy on dancers.

My favorite memory will always be getting to perform Gardenia in The Nutcracker. It was a role where I felt like I could truly let go and dance. I’ll never forget how free and happy I felt in those magical moments.


-Compiled by Lisa McCarty








Costuming for “Visions of Hope” – A Visit to Wardrobe

Company dancer Hayley-Ann Vasco, took a visit to the wardrobe room to chat with the Wardrobe Mistress, Mershonda Berry, about her process for creating some of the costumes audiences will see in Ballet Virginia’s upcoming show Visions of Hope. 

Shonda has been working on costumes for Ballet Virginia for close to 10 years. Along with fellow Wardrobe Misstress Judy Fortier, if you’ve been in any of our productions, Shonda has likely had a hand in decorating, altering, or creating those costumes! 






Here’s what Mrs. Shonda had to say: 

So, what does being Ballet Virginia’s wardrobe mistress entail?

It requires creativity. I try to bring across what the choreographer wants the dancers to look like and what material we have at hand to work with. I’m a little bit more flexible because I can manipulate and draft patterns to fit that vision. 

On that same note- Do you have to make costumes from scratch or do you order costumes premade? 

We very rarely order costumes. When I work with Lydia (main choreographer for “Visions of Hope”), it’s usually things that we can make. These costumes for her gospel piece are based on a 1950s look. The company women are supposed to look like church ladies. So, I had a whole box of vintage patterns at home that I brought in so she could choose some from there. And that’s where we started for this piece. So what I make really depends on what the choreographer is looking for. 

How did you get into doing costumes?


Yeah? Your daughter?

Yes! Brianna used to do competition dancing but she started dancing here because she just wanted to focus on ballet. She came here and at the time Gina Coerse, one of the BV2 dancer’s mom was looking for someone to cut some pants out of a block of fabric. I was in the lobby at the time, altering a dress for a competition dancer from another studio when she came up and asked me if she thought that she had enough fabric to make the pants. Gina wasn’t completely sure how to do it so I taught her and that’s when she invited me to come help with the wardrobe. I’ve been doing it ever since. 

And what is your favorite part of the job?

It’s that I’m almost always on the sewing machine. Even when I’m home I quilt, I have different hobbies all involving a sewing machine. People are always asking me to alter things. So I feel pretty comfortable with it. I’ve been sewing by hand since I was 7 and I’ve been sewing by machine since I was 9. So this is the perfect job.

That’s amazing! So you touched a little bit about the process of working with the choreographer’s vision and showing patterns to Lydia. But can you explain a little bit more about how that works for some of the other pieces?

Well sometimes, the costumes are already made and I just have to adjust them slightly by adding details or alter the sizes. Occasionally a choreographer will have a vision of a character and I get to find a way to make that happen with fabric. For example, with bluebirds one year we had them in plain leotards and skirts. The choreographers told me what they wanted and I took notes. Then I did a drawing of a dancer with wings and organza on a leotard with a beak headpiece. Then I made a prototype of the costume so they could get an idea of what the costume could look like. 

So the process varies based on each choreographer’s ideas but I try my best to make them come to life. 

How many costumes do you have to make for this production?

For this show, I’m making seven from scratch for the gospel piece, “Jesus Can Work It Out”. They are all identical, just different sizes. Some of these dances have already been performed in previous years so we already have the costumes. Other costumes you see are being repurposed from other shows. Judy Fortier, my wardrobe partner, is also creating costumes for “Visions of Hope”.

Which is your favorite costume in Visions of Hope?

Probably these here that I’m making now. They are my favorite because they are patterns from the 40s and 50s before I was even born, so it’s very neat to get to work with them. And my favorite detail is that these girls get to keep these custom embroidered name tags! But I’m excited for this show- it’s going to be a good one. 


Much thanks to both Shonda and Judy Fortier for their amazing work and the endless hours they have spent making our dancers look beautiful on stage.

If you want to see these costumes in action, tickets to Visions of Hope are on sale now. In-person performances are on May 14th and 15th and a virtual viewing option is available as well. 

Visit for more information.