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MELISSA LARISH - DIRECTOR

Melissa Larish is the owner and principle ballet instructor at Ballet Arts of CNY and Artist Director of Mohawk Valley Ballet.  She has been teaching ballet in the local area for over ten years and took ownership of Ballet Arts in 2010.  She is a registered instructor for The Royal Academy of Dance, a prestigious certification requiring rigorous study and pedagogical training. She loves being able to share her extensive training and professional performance experience with the next generation of ballet dancers in her home town.

After training at Ballet Arts as a child, Ms. Melissa attended Butler University where she obtained a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Dance Performance. As part of the university's performance company, she performed principal classical roles such as Swanhilda in Coppelia and the Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker. She performed the lead role in Norman Walker's The Nightingale and participated in an international performance trip to Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia where she danced lead roles in classical and original works.  After college, Ms. Melissa joined Channel Islands Ballet in Camarillo, California where she performed soloist roles in works by Yves de Bouteilier and Phillippe Trehet, among others. Ms. Melissa and her husband Glenn returned to central New York to raise their family.

In her tenure as the owner and director of Ballet Arts, Ms. Melissa has worked to expand the academy's training and performance reach. She has expanded the syllabus to include modern dance and cross-training classes to ensure students develop well-rounded and safe technique. In partnership with the JRob Foundation, she initiated an adaptive ballet class for students with special physical or developmental needs and has begun to integrate her special needs students into Ballet Art's regular syllabus classes. She is currently working to build new partnerships in schools, arts groups, and community organizations throughout the Mohawk Valley area. 

Ms. Melissa became Artistic Director of Mohawk Valley Ballet in 2015. The non-profit, youth ballet company presents an annual production of The Nutcracker and a rotating spring production. In her first year, Ms. Melissa choreographed an all-new production of The Nutcracker which included a live children's choir during its Snow Scene through a partnership with the Westmoreland Central School Choir. She also reinstated the annual spring repertory concert Classics & Creations that offers a showcase for short classical repertory and new works created for the company. Mohawk Valley Ballet's auditions are open to all student dancers, and it is Ms. Melissa's hope that the collaboration of dancers from different studios and backgrounds working together in the company will build the overall strength and visibility of the entire dance community in central New York. 

Ms. Melissa has been invited to choreograph for musicals at area high schools including Guys and Dolls, Cinderella, and The Music Man. While helping create entertaining shows, she hopes that her work in local schools will help instill an appreciation for dance as an art form in the young people she works with.


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CAITLYN SCHRADER - MODERN INSTRUCTOR

Caitlyn is a freelance dancer, choreographer, and educator originally from Upstate New York. Most recently hailing from Melbourne, Australia, where she spent a yearlong independent study learning Countertechnique, and previously Boston, Massachusetts (USA), she received a BA from Hobart and William Smith Colleges and a MS from the University of Rochester. Before relocating to the Boston area, Caitlyn was a member of professional dance company, BIODANCE, in Rochester, New York; she then danced for Boston-based, dance company EgoArt, Inc. She has performed in works by Nathan Andary, William (Bill) Evans, Lane Gifford/LaneCo Arts (NYC), Heidi Henderson, Annie Kloppenberg, Jody Weber, and Reggie Wilson/Fist and Heel Performance Group (NYC). In addition to performance, she is also a choreographer and her work has been presented at Green Street Studios, The Dance Complex, Somerville’s ArtBeat Festival and the Atlantic Wharf (all Boston, MA, USA), as well as Nazareth College, Hamilton College, and Carrier Theatre/Civic Center (all Central/Western NY, USA). In 2016, she co-curated and co-produced her first professional concert Dance Shorts: short works, short show, average height dancers, geared towards emerging, female choreographers under 30 in the Boston dance community. Caitlyn has taught extensively within private and public institutions, providing classes in ballet, modern, and creative movement in New York, Massachusetts (most notably: Midday Movement Series/Moving Target Boston/José Mateo Dance Theatre), and Southern France for professional dancers and non-dancers alike. caitlynschrader.com