Founder and DirectorAdalhi Aranda
Adalhi Aranda, founder, and director of Bluegrass Youth Ballet is originally from Leon, Mexico. She trained under the Royal Academy of Dancing system. She continued in Guadalajara where she became a professional dancer and started teaching. There she was the founder and director of a small ballet school where she started her creative process of choreographing full-length ballets.
Adalhi moved to the US in 1994 and danced at Evansville Dance Theatre, IN where she also served as Ballet Mistress. She continued her career as a dancer and teacher when she moved to Lexington in 1999. She danced for Lexington Ballet, Ballet Theatre of Chicago, and Kentucky Ballet Theatre, where she directed the Academy.
She has attended the Vaganova Syllabus seminar in Connecticut. Adalhi has danced numerous soloist and demi-soloist roles such as Sugar Plum Fairy (The Nutcracker), Swanilda (Coppelia), Paquita, Romeo and Juliet, Dracula, Sleeping Beauty, Giselle and others.
Adalhi created Bluegrass Youth Ballet in 2003 to satisfy the need for high-quality dance education in a healthy, fun, and encouraging environment. Here the students are the priority and are provided with performance opportunities.
She has also created numerous full-length ballets, such as Pied Piper, Arabella’s Journey, Alebrijes – a dream that became art, Tales of tails, and her signature Nutcracker in One Act and Dia de los Muertos – performed for hundreds of people every year. She has also created short pieces such as Huapango, Hechizo de Luna, Banjo Fun, Four Seasons, El Baile, Ara, and many others.
Several of Adalhi’s students have followed professional careers as dancers in companies such as New York City Ballet, Dance Theatre of Tennessee, California Ballet, Anchorage Ballet, Ballet Magnificat!, Atlanta Ballet, Augsburg Ballett, and others. Her students every year are accepted in prestigious ballet summer programs such as Boston Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, School of American Ballet, Joffrey Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, Ballet Chicago, North Carolina School for the Arts, Cincinnati Ballet, Nutmeg Ballet, and others. Her students also have participated in the Youth America Grand Prix Ballet competition and have placed high in their categories, and have qualified to perform at the finals in NYC.
Adalhi has a daughter, Adalhi Elena who was born in 2003, and a son, Mariano Renato who was born in 2008.
Ballet MasterChuck Bronson
Chuck Bronson is a former co-director of the University of Louisville Preparatory Dance Academy and danced with the Louisville Ballet Civic Company. At the Academy, he taught ballet technique, pointe, and men’s technique and choreographed numerous pieces for the University of Louisville Dance Theater.
Chuck has created dance integration workshops for JCPS teachers, has lesson plans published in the KET Dance Toolkit, and has won awards for choreography including the William Habich Scholarship at the Southeastern Regional Ballet Association Festival and the Al Smith Fellowship from the Kentucky Arts Council.
Ballet MistressGretchen Gunther
Gretchen Gunther began her training on Long Island and continued at the Joffrey School, Melissa Hayden School, and as a scholarship student at Steps in New York City. During her professional career she also studied with Larissa Luvisicuk, Ilya Gaft, and Victoria Lebedeva of the Kirov Ballet. As a professional, she has danced with The Classics Dance Theatre of Connecticut, New Jersey Ballet, Staten Island Ballet, Ilya Gaft Dance Theatre, and North Atlantic ballet. She has worked with many independent choreographers as well. With over 20 years experience teaching all levels of classical ballet, Ms. Gunther teaches both pre-professional and technique classes at The School at Steps. Many of her students have graduated from the school and have gone on to careers in dance. For the past six years she has also taught at Eglevsky Ballet School on Long Island, where she rehearses the upper level students for their performances. Ms Gunther has also taught at the Ailey School, The School of Staten Island Ballet, and others throughout the Tri-State area. In 2013, she was featured in Dance Teacher Magazine in an article on alignment for young dancers. To further advance her teaching, Ms. Gunther continues to take pedagogical courses, including John White’s Vaganova Syllabus Seminar at the Pennsylvania Ballet, and has completed the Bolshoi Teacher Certification program in New York City for Levels one through three in 2018.
FacultyBillie Jean Kandravi
Billie Jean Kandravi grew up in Houston, Texas where she received her early dance from American Academy of Dance. She then pursued her love of dance at The University of Oklahoma where she graduated with her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Ballet Pedagogy in 2013. While there she performed many roles and toured to Austria with the Oklahoma Festival Ballet. After graduating she danced professionally with the Rochester City Ballet where she performed many roles from classical to contemporary and began to teach classes for Draper Center For Dance Education, which is the training school for the ballet company. While there she taught many levels in the children, student, and adult division. After many years dancing Billie Jean transitioned to teaching full time and wanted to bring the joy of dance to as many students as possible. In addition to teaching for the Draper Center, she became a children’s rehearsal assistant for the Rochester City Ballet where she staged and rehearsed many roles for the Nutcracker for five seasons. Billie Jean also became one of Rochester City Ballets outreach teachers for local schools and taught dance to children of all ages including a program for children with special needs and limited mobility. Her love for teaching didn’t stop there as she also taught for a local homeschooling community called the Grace Collaborative, where she helped launch the dance program a little over three years ago.
Billie Jean has 10 years of teaching experience and loves working with students of all ages and sharing her passion of dance with them in a positive and engaging environment!
Part-Time FacultyJeana Klevene
Jeana Klevene grew up in Central Wisconsin and furthered her dance training at the Joffrey Midwest Workshop and spent 3 summers training with the American Ballet Theatre, studying under such teachers as John Magnus, Cynthia Harvey, Charles Maple, Leslie Browne, Mia Mia Michaels, and Rebecca Wright. Jeana danced professionally with the Lexington Ballet Company for the 2001-2002 season and later returned to join their faculty from 2007-2012. In 2013 Jeana created and founded Allegro Dance Project, a non-profit contemporary dance company that specializes in and provides Inclusive Dance Outreach and Adaptive Dance classes for hundreds of children with special needs each season.
Part-Time FacultyMary Rose Stelzer-Weise
Mary Rose Stelzer-Weise began her dance training at Broadway Bodyworks in Berea, Ky and went on to dance and perform with Berea College’s Artists In Modern Motion (AIMM) and participated in a number of the college’s annual concert, Kinetic Expressions. She continued her pursuit of the joys of dance at EKU Dance Theatre, where she served for two years as a Public Relations Officer and then President, and became a passionate advocate for the arts. Ms. Mary Rose graduated from Eastern Kentucky University with a BA in Communication Studies and a minor in Public Relations.
Part-Time FacultyElvira Dale
Elvira Dale studied at the Perm Ballet Academy in Russia where she obtained her diploma of professional ballet. She specializes in the Vaganova method of ballet technique, which is the main method in the world of classical ballet. She was subsequently employed by the Donetsk Theater of Opera and ballet in Ukraine. For ten years, Elvira was a soloist dancer and has danced parts in “Swan Lake”, “Nutcracker”, “Sleeping Beauty”, “Giselle”, “Don Quixote”, and many more. She has toured all over the former USSR including such major cities as Moscow, Kiev, and Saint Petersburg, as well as New York City, Washington D.C., Philadelphia, Baltimore, Boston, and Richmond, VA. Elvira was one of Lexington Ballet’s principle dancers in Lexington, KY, where she was also a choreographer for the Ballet Under the Stars Pre-Show. Elvira has given Master’s Classes in Ohio, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Idaho. She is presently teaching at several dance studios in Pocatello and Idaho Falls.
Part-Time FacultyRosie Forte
Rosie has been a ballet
In April of 2022, she moved to Georgetown, KY with her husband and her son.
Administrative DirectorCaroline Wells
Caroline Wells has a BS in Marketing with a minor in Public Relations and Communications from Lambuth University in Jackson, Tennessee. After 7 years in management with Macy’s and Federated Department Stores, Caroline moved into the nonprofit world and spent 4 years as the Event Coordinator and Marketing Director for Jackson Downtown Development Corporation. She also worked in conjunction with ECDC and The State of Tennessee’s Main St. Department. Prior to joining BYB, she spent 3 years as the Administrative and Finance Director for The Jackson Symphony (Jackson, TN).
Enrollment DirectorJulie Stone
Julie Stone has a BS in Elementary Education with a minor in Music from Asbury University in Wilmore, Kentucky. After teaching in the Fayette County School System for five and a half years, she became a full-time stay-at-home mom. During her time at home, she was the President of LexKAGE, a local chapter of the Kentucky Association for Gifted Education, and she successfully managed their bi-annual Super Saturday events here in Lexington. She attended Western Kentucky University to study Gifted Education and Talent Development and she obtained her endorsement to teach gifted and talented students in the classroom. In November of 2021, she happily began working at Bluegrass Youth Ballet as their enrollment director. She is married to Joe and they have two children, Will and Lauren. Will is a freshman at Cedarville University and Lauren is a High School sophomore and a student at Bluegrass Youth Ballet.