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.
Andrea Halbert is a native of Lexington Kentucky and spent most of her life studying dance. Her studies included summer intensives at American Ballet Theatre, Governor’s School for the Arts, and various programs and classes at Steps on Broadway and Broadway Dance Center and she graduated from SCAPA as a Ballet Major in 2003. Andrea studied Dance Performance at Oklahoma City University with Ballet Master Jo Rowan, the late Tap Professor Robert Reed, Kay Sandel, and Patricia Oplotnik.
Her performance experience includes OCU’s touring company, Dancer and Dance Captain at Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, Middle Tennessee Performing Arts Company dancer and guest choreographer, and as a Radio City Rockette in the Christmas Across America Tour. Her teaching experience includes various dance schools in Kentucky and Tennessee, including Bluegrass Youth Ballet in 2008.
Andrea graduated from Middle Tennessee State University in Recreation and Leisure Services and Recreation Therapy in 2012 and has since worked as a Recreation Therapist with a specialization in Behavioral and Mental Health as well as a Certified Yoga Teacher.
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).
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.
Guest FacultyGrace Byars
Grace began her ballet training at Bluegrass Youth Ballet under the direction of Adalhi Aranda. She has attended summer programs such as Cincinnati Ballet, The Kentucky Governor’s School for the Arts, American Ballet Theatre’s Collegiate Summer Intensive, and Alonzo King LINES Ballet. She is a recent graduate of Goucher College, class of 2020, and holds a BA in Dance and Spanish. In her time at Goucher she performed in works by Jessica Lang, Karole Armitage, Christopher K. Morgan, Adam Hougland, Alan Hineline, Stephanie Powell, Iyun Ashani Harrison, Elizabeth Ahearn, Linda Garofalo, and Rick Southerland.
Guest FacultyAbbie Whitman
Abbie Whitman danced professionally with La Danserie, Rockford Dance Company, Nashville Ballet, Louisville Ballet, Moving Collective, and Paradise Ballet Theatre in Key West, FL. Her repertoire includes works by Petipa, Bournonville, and Balanchine along with ballets by Lee-Wei Chao, Kimberly Nygren-Cox, Domy Reiter-Soffer, and Alun Jones. She has formerly been on faculty at the Louisville Ballet School. Abbie recently started her Ph.D adventure in Physical Therapy after teaching at BYB full-time.