Begining August 1, 2022 Ballet Arts will be under new owership
Meet New Co-Owners:
Gretchen Becker and Debra Norton
We are excited to intoduce to the Ballet Arts family our new Co-Owners. Gretchen Becker and Debra Norton, fellow teachers and collegues, will be taking over BA in the Fall of 2022. Under their leadership, Ballet Arts will continue and thrive and remain the highly respected and revered educational institution it is.
Gretchen Becker is a Certified Licenced Ballet Teacher Member of the Cecchetti Council of America with completion of students’ and teachers’ exams I-VI. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of Michigan with a focus on child development and dance
Gretchen was a member of the Lansing Ballet Company II performing in Sleeping Beauty and La Fille Mal Garde. Later she performed in Martha Graham’s Panorama with the University of Michigan, Scrooge with Shawnee Playhouse in Pennsylvania, and West Side Story with Grosse
Point Theatre in Michigan.
As a dance educator Gretchen has worked for over 25 years in private and public schools. She has taught and choreographed for many schools including the Discovery Program and Calhoun School in New York City and has adjudicated for performance and competition groups including the Michigan State University Dance Team. She has been a consistent
guest teacher for Ballet Arts School of Dance sponsoring Cecchetti students for Grade V exams, substitute teaching, and adjudicating for Ballet Arts Ensemble.
Gretchen is currently a Dance Teaching Artist with Education for the Arts, Kalamazoo RESA. She teaches and develops dance residencies for K-12 programs including Aesthetic Education, PACE, and Alternative Arts Initiative. She also owns Becker’s Dance Arts, established 2016.
Gretchen and her husband Jay live in Portage with their two sons.
Debra Norton holds a Bachelor of Science Degree from Western Michigan University (WMU) and has been teaching dance in the Kalamazoo, Michigan area since 1991. Her current teaching credits include Ballet Arts School of Dance where she teaches ballet, pointe, character, jazz, and tap; Woods Lake Elementary School – A Magnet Center for the Arts where she teaches K – 5th grade and directs 3 dance companies; and Education for the Arts Aesthetic Education Program (EFA – AE) where she teaches an inquiry arts based program at schools in the Kalamazoo area. In the summer she teaches for Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp and works on the EFA – AE Summer Institute Training Team. Debra has taught for Lincoln Center Institute’s National Educator Workshop, WMU Dance Department, Kalamazoo Arts Integration Initiative, and Kalamazoo Kids In Tune.
Continuing her dance and teaching education, Debra has received many grants to attended seminars around the country with leaders in the dance and education field. She has studied creative dance with Anne Green Gilbert, music, movement and arts integration with Kerri Lynn Nichols, ballet with Jurgen Schneider, David Howard and Finis Jhung, and character dance with Vladimir Kolesnikov, Nina Kolesnikova, Mansur Kamaletdinov, and Inna Stabrova. She studied arts integration at The Kennedy Center, aesthetic education at Lincoln Center Institute, and has attended many National Dance Education Organization annual conferences. She holds several student and teacher Cecchetti certificates and in the summer of 2016 she successfully completed the ABT® Teacher Training Intensive and became certified in Pre-Primary through Level 3 of the ABT® National Training Curriculum.
Debra actively choreographs and performs in the Kalamazoo community. She has choreographed for WMU’s Theatre Department, Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra, Kalamazoo Civic Theatre, and Bach Festival. She is a member of National Dance Education Organization and Michigan Dance Council. She serves as a board member and treasurer for WMU Partners in Dance and Ballet Arts Ensemble. She was the 2014 winner of the Greg Jennings Be Great School Challenge for Kalamazoo County and the WMU’s Partners in Dance 2017 Community Dance Advocacy Award winner.
Debra and her husband Michael live in Kalamazoo and enjoy studying ballroom dance together.