Coastal Virginia's Ballet Academy and Company

 (757) 446-1401  Norfolk  and  Virginia Beach

Faculty and Staff

Ballet Virginia’s faculty bring professional experience, proven training techniques, and a love of dance to the classroom.

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Suzanne Lownsbury Co-Artistic Director, Choreographer, Instructor
Read Suzanne's Bio

Suzanne Lownsbury

Ms. Lownsbury began her training with the Toledo Ballet and Charlotte Regional Ballet, continuing her studies in Tidewater Ballet Association’s residency program under the direction of Gene Hammett. Suzanne embarked on her professional dance career with Cleveland Ballet as a trainee, progressing to soloist and principal roles within a year. For the next 11 years, she danced professionally for the Cleveland/San Jose Ballet. Her many featured roles included Juliet in Romeo and Juliet, Helena in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Maria and Tzarina in Dennis Nahat’s renowned Nutcracker, Swanilda in Coppelia, the title role in Giselle and many neo-classical roles. 

Suzanne joined Virginia Ballet Theatre in 1994, dancing such roles as the Greedy One in Three Virgins and a Devil, as well as Lucy in the world premiere of Dracula. She also joined the VBT Academy faculty, becoming Assistant Director in 2000. Her teaching credits include School of Cleveland Ballet, Cleveland City Dance, Evelyn Ott School of Dance, and Virginia Governor’s School for the Arts. 

In the spring of 2008, Suzanne set out on a journey with Janina Michalski to create Ballet Virginia with the support of many devoted and dedicated parents. She is proud to be the Co-Artistic Director of Ballet Virginia along with Janina, and is looking forward to many successful years with the Academy and Company seasons. Suzanne is also extremely proud of her daughter, Jacquelyn Long, who is an alum of Ballet Virginia and is a member of Houston Ballet Company.

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Janina Michalski Co-Artistic Director, Choreographer, Instructor
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Janina Michalski

Originally from Southern California, Ms. Janina began her early training in the Los Angeles area. She trained with Joffrey Ballet under the instruction of Meredith Bayliss, Dorothy Lister, Cho-San Goh, Basil Thompson and Glenn White on scholarship. At 16 years, Ms. Bove apprenticed with Los Angeles Ballet under the direction of John Clifford, where she studied extensively with Irena Kosmovska. As a member of the Pacific Association for Regional Ballet, Ms. Bove was awarded scholarships to the Craft of Choreography Conferences sponsored Regional Dance America.

Ms. Bove danced professionally with Atlantic City Ballet, Colorado Ballet and the Cleveland Ballet, where she performed as Soloist and Principal dancer. During her professional career, Janina traveled the country as a guest dance and teacher. Following her move back to California in 1985, Ms. Bove was Co-Director of her own company and academy where she was choreographer-in-residence for six years. Upon an offer from Glenn White, Ms. Bove moved to Hampton Roads where she served as Academy Director  and rehearsal assistant for VBT’s professional company for 17 years. During this time, she was a faculty member of the Virginia Governor’s School for the Arts for 13 years.

In recognition of her talents, Ms. Bove was awarded a Presidential Citation from the Governor’s School for Visual and Performing Arts at the University of Richmond. In the Spring of 2008, Janina set out on a journey with Suzanne Lownsbury Long to create Ballet Virginia International with the support of many dedicated and talented community leaders. Janina is now Co Director of Ballet Virginia where she continues to train dancers, choreograph classical and neo-classical works, coach dancers for the Youth American Grand Prix and has co-choreographed Alice in Wonderland, The Nutcracker, Twelve Dancing Princesses, Peter and the Wolf and Sleeping Beauty.

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Lisa McCarty Children’s Program Director, Communications/Development Director, Instructor
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Lisa McCarty

Ms. Lisa started her dance training at a local dance school and quickly fell in love with ballet and jazz.  At age twelve, she began serious training at the Washington School of Ballet.  Summer intensives at Richmond Ballet, Pennsylvania Ballet, Jacob’s Pillow and Joffrey Ballet rounded out her training.

After high school, Ms. McCarty attended Point Park College as a dance major. She then went on to dance with Richmond Ballet and Nevada Dance Theatre. Ms. McCarty danced in classics such as Giselle, Swan Lake, Les Sylphides and The Nutcracker as well as many contemporary works. After several years of professional ballet work, she began working in commercial dance. 

For over ten years she performed in various Las Vegas casino shows including The Aladdin and Flamingo Hilton as well as tours to Italy, Japan, Mexico and Korea. Dancing also allowed her to travel around the world while performing on Royal Viking and Cunard Line cruise ships.  While performing in Las Vegas shows, Ms. Lisa also attended the University of Nevada, Las Vegas graduating magna cum laude with a Bachelor’s of Science in Business Administration.

Throughout her professional dance career, Ms. Lisa found time to share her love of dance with the next generation through teaching. She has taught in Richmond, Las Vegas, Northern Virginia and many studios in Hampton Roads. Ms. Lisa moved back to Virginia in 1998. She taught jazz and ballet at Virginia Ballet Theatre among other local studios before coming to Ballet Virginia.

In 2008, she became Ballet Virginia’s Children’s Program Director and Marketing Director. Ms. Lisa also serves on the adjunct faculty of Old Dominion University where she teaches various levels of ballet. In 2018, she travelled to Boston to earn a certification in Adaptive Dance and started a small dance program for children with special needs at Ballet Virginia.

She lives in the Riverview area of Norfolk with her husband, two boys and a naughty cat. She continues to teach ballet, pointe, conditioning and jazz to the newest generation of dancers while also overseeing the Children’s Program as well as the marketing and public relations efforts of Ballet Virginia.

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Lydia Roberts-Coco Modern and Ballet Instructor, Company Artistic Director
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Lydia Roberts-Coco

Ms. Roberts Coco began her training in Norfolk, Virginia. Her professional training started with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Center on a full merit scholarship. Ms. Roberts Coco was invited to become a member of the  Alvin Ailey Repertory Ensemble (the Ailey junior company) where she danced for three years. She then went on to perform with the Jamison Project under the direction of Judith Jamison.  After the passing of Alvin Ailey, Lydia was invited by Judith Jamison to become a member of the world renowned Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.

Once again under the direction of Ms. Jamison, Lydia toured nationally and internationally as a principal dancer with the AAADT for seven years again  Her credits include leading roles in Pas De Duke, Night Creature, Fix Me Jesus from Alvin Ailey’s signature piece Revelations, Suite Otis and many others. Lydia has worked with many choreographers including Alvin Ailey, Lar Lubovitch, Tally Beatty, Elisa Monte, Jerome Robbins, George Faison, and Ulysses Dove.  She has performed at renowned theatres such as Lincoln Center, City Center, Kennedy Center and The Paris Opera House.  

Lydia is honored to be Ballet Virginia’s Company Artistic Director. During the past two seasons, she has choreographed seven new works as well as set some of her best works on the professional company. The new works for this Season Opening performance include Bolero and Last Breath. “Dark Instincts“, an audience favorite, will also be returning to the stage. Moving into the third season, she continues to work towards her artistic vision of  making Ballet Virginia’s professional company something that excites and inspires the Hampton Roads community. Lydia is passionate about making sure our community knows that we have an amazing group of ethnically as well as artistically  diverse dancers . She wants to expand our audiences and eventually also tour. 

Lydia is honored to be a judge/instructor for the Universal Ballet Competition as well as an adjudicator/instructor for the West Virginia Ballet Festival and a dance instructor for Barry Robinson Center’s Next Step To Success Program. Lydia has been teaching ballet and modern at Ballet Virginia from its inception in 2008.

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Rett Hansel Facilities Manager

Additional Teaching Staff

Faculty: click here for bios

Abigail Molina
Ashley Whitlinger
Ema Amuial
Grace Atkinson
Hayley Ann Vasco
Helen Gault

Iana Niknezhad
Jackson Kettell
Janelle Jones
Jared Brunson
Jennie Teller
Julianne Bauer

Kaity McMillion Lauren Sinclair Lily Postle Rebecca Ailstock Sophia Perrotti Sydney Caggiano

Wardrobe:

Judith Fortier
Mershonda Berry

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