MEET OUR INSTRUCTORS
Ballet Arts employs only qualified, educated, ADULT instructors in all dance styles.
GRETCHEN BECKER - Co-Owner
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 - Co-Owner
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.
Janelle began her dance training at Ballet Arts. Janelle joined the faculty of Ballet Arts in 2005. She studied under past and present Ballet Arts instructors. She also attended Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp, Dance Olympus as well as numerous master classes through the Cecchetti Council of Michigan. Janelle was a member of Ballet Arts Ensemble for 4 years where she performed in the Nutcracker, Aladdin’s Magic Lamp, Café Parisien and Peter and the Wolf. She has also been a guest performer with the Ensemble. Janelle studied the Cecchetti method of ballet and successfully passed exams in grades I, II and III. Janelle is nationally certified to teach three to seven year old students through the Little People’s Creative Workshop. Janelle teaches pre-ballet and Prepointe Ballet at Ballet Arts.
Janelle currently teaches for Gull Lake Community Schools where she teaches 2nd grade at Kellogg Elementary. She is the chair of the reading school improvement team as well as Grade Level Co-Chair. She also serves as a mentor for new teachers and is a trustee on the Gull Lake Community Schools Foundation board. Janelle has also worked with the Kellogg Biological Station (KBS) in the Research Experience for Teachers (RET) program where she worked with KBS staff to revise and enhance the Agricultural and Ecology Trail for K-5 students. Janelle has attended the EFA Aesthetic Education summer training.
Janelle holds a Bachelors of Science from Grand Valley State University a Masters Degree in Education from Aquinas College, and holds a professional teaching certificate with endorsements in Elementary Education (k-5), Early Childhood Education, and Social Studies (k-8).
She currently resides in Kalamazoo.
Cathleen holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Marietta College (Ohio). She grew up in Grand Rapids (Michigan) and studied with Sally Seven, soloist with Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo and founder of the Grand Rapids Civic Ballet. While in Grand Rapids, Cathleen was active with the Civic Theatre and summer stock’s Circle Theatre. She continued her dance studies at Western Michigan University where she appeared both as a performer and guest teacher.
A 7-year participant of the Russian Seminar with Jurgen Schneider and Janina Cunovas, Cathleen continues her education at workshops presented by leading dance professionals around the country.
Cathleen has been teaching ballet and character dance at Ballet Arts since 1982 and was co-owner of the studio from 1991-2022. In 2001, she became Artistic Director of Ballet Arts Ensemble (BAE) after serving as performer and Ballet Mistress since its inception in 1982. Her love for ballet is reflected in BAE’s repertoire. She is most noted for her productions of full-length ballets includingNutcracker, Cinderella, Peter and the Wolf, The Magical Toy Shop, The Skaters, Pas de Quatre, Les Sylphides, Red Shoes, Aladdin’s Magic Lamp, andCafé Parisian.
In 2010, Cathleen premiered a brand new production of the fairytale, The 12 Dancing Princesses. This father-daughter artistic creation—with original piano music composed by W. Dale Crooks, Cathleen’s father—brought together BAE and members of the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra (KSO) under the baton of Dr. Barry Ross.
In addition to full-length ballets, Cathleen's choreography encompasses many musical styles and subjects. Spanish Concerto, A Wee Bit of Irish, Friends, A Right to Spring, and Southern Suite are a sampling of her many works. Her mini ballet, Just Playing Around, was performed with live violin and piano accompaniment; and It's All About . . . , a piece in three sections, was created in collaboration with local artist Kirk Newman and the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts.
Her choreography has been selected on numerous occasions for performances with the KSO’s Youth Concert Series and Family Discovery Series as well as the Michigan Youth Arts Festival. The movie debut of her choreography can be seen in Cherry, which was filmed in Kalamazoo and featured at the 2010 Saugatuck Waterfront Film Festival.
In 2016, Cathleen received the annual WMU Partners in Dance Community Dance Advocacy Award that celebrates significant accomplishments in advancing and supporting dance in the greater Kalamazoo area through volunteerism, artistic achievement, teaching, and administrative leadership. She is also a member of Partners in Dance and Dance Masters of America.
Melissa grew up dancing at Ballet Arts School of Dance and was in the Ballet Arts Ensemble for 3 years in high school. She performed in BAE productions of The Twelve Dancing Princesses, Les Sylphides, and La Boutique Fantasque. She studied modern, jazz, ballet and passed the Cecchetti grade I exam. Melissa attended several summer intensives at Ballet Arts as well as the Grand Rapids Ballet and the Cecchetti Council of America.
Melissa holds a degree in Electronic Media Production with a minor in dance from Kent State University. She has worked in the special event industry for five years. She recently transitioned from her position at Wings Event Center to her new position as the Events Coordinator at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwest Michigan. This June she joined as a board member of the Ballet Arts Ensemble.
Currently residing in Kalamazoo, Melissa lives with her husband Corey and their two cats.
Seyong Kim is originally from Seoul, South Korea and is currently an Assistant Professor of Dance at Western Michigan University. He holds an MA in Dance Education from New York University and and MA in Dance from Sung-Kyun-Kwan University in South Korea. He is a CMA (Certified Movement Analyst) from Laban/Bartenieff Institute of Movement Studies, a RSME (Registered Somatic MovementEducator) at ISMETA (International Somatic Movement Education and Therapy Association), and a PBT (Progressing Ballet Technique) Certified Teacher. Seyong is an ABT® Certified Teacher, who has successfully completed the ABT® Teacher Training Intensive in Primary through Level 7 of the American Ballet Theatre’s National Training Curriculum. Additionally, he earned Diversity and Inclusion Certificate from Cornell University. Seyong has taught for Rutgers University, Kent State University, Randolph College, Peridance, Texas A&M International University, Libera University in Italy, World Dance Alliance (WDAA), Americas, American College Dance Association (ACDA), Brighton Dance
Festival, Michigan Youth Arts Festival (MYAF), Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp, National High School
Dance Festival, Alabama Dance Festival, Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company, Charlottesville Ballet, and Ballet Arts Ensemble.
As a professional dancer, Seyong has danced with Metropolitan Opera Ballet at Lincoln Center, Albania Opera Ballet Theatre, Staten Island Ballet, Baltimore Ballet, Traverse City Dance Project, Neglia Ballet, TAKE Dance, and Oakland Ballet Company. In addition, his choreographic works have been internationally invited at Landestheater Coburg Germany, Dance in ITALY Festival, Dzul International Dance Festival in Mexico, Taiwan JueDai Taipei International Dance Festival, ProArteDanza in Canada, Seoul International Dance Festival in TANK, Battery Dance Festival, Lindenwood University, Cleveland Dance Festival, Midwest Regional Alternative Dance Festival, Chicago International Dance Forum, Detroit Dance City Festival, Boston Contemporary Dance Festival, Orlando Contemporary Dance Choreography Festival, Oklahoma International Dance Festival, KYL/D Inhale on Camera, Jazz in
Lincoln Center, and Nimbus OFFLINE+ at the BAM Fisher.
Cathy Krieg began taking dance lessons at the age of three continuing into adulthood. Her training included ballet, tap, acrobatics, jazz, and modern dance. She graduated from Western Michigan University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science and Math, which included minoring in dance. After graduating she moved with her husband to start their careers in Atlanta, Georgia where she performed for one year with Ballet Garneau in Roswell, GA. After returning to Michigan years later she continued to take ballet classes at W.M.U. and ballet, tap, and jazz classes at Ballet Arts School of Dance.
Cathy began teaching Sunday School classes in 1990 for her local church and was Children’s Church Coordinator for 3 years, planning classes and Vacation Bible School for preschoolers through elementary age. She continues to teach and assist at her current church. She homeschooled her three daughters from elementary through high school, seeing them all graduate with bachelor’s degrees. Cathy was the president of the Kalamazoo Area Tutoring Association, Inc. in 2006; along with her board of directors, she hired instructors, wrote policies, managed logistics, and led the organization to incorporate.
In 2001 Cathy began teaching Pre-Ballet at Ballet Arts School of Dance under the guidance of Judi Holland, co-owner at the time. She became nationally certified to teach three- to seven-year-olds by attending the Little People’s Creative Workshop™ in Greenville, North Carolina. From 2004-2006 she also led and taught the dance program at the Portage Y.M.C.A which included Pre-Ballet, Beginning Ballet, Tap, Jazz, and Teen Dance.
Cathy danced as part of the adult cast in productions of Ballet Arts Ensemble’s The Nutcracker along with her husband and three daughters. Her daughters were students at Ballet Arts from1993 through 2010 and have all three been performing members of the Ballet Arts Ensemble. Cathy has choreographed and performed in musical productions for both children and adults in churches, private schools, and homeschooling groups. For Homeschool Performing Arts of Michigan (HPA) Cathy contributed dance choreography for the Kalamazoo productions of The Sound of Music (2004), Annie (2005), Narnia (2008), Honk! (2009), The Pirates of Penzance (2009), and Little Women, the Musical (2010).
Cathy lives in Kalamazoo with her husband Rob and enjoys spending time with her family.
Kelsey Paschich is a multi-faceted dance artist and educator originally from Albuquerque, New Mexico and currently based in Kalamazoo, MI. Paschich is an Assistant Professor of Dance at Western Michigan University and is the Artistic Director of the student performing company, Western Dance Project. Paschich holds an MFA in Dance from the University of New Mexico and a BFA (Cum Laude) from Point Park University. Paschich is 1 of 10 certified Countertechnique® teachers in the U.S. and 1 of 36 globally. Paschich received her Countertechnique® Teacher Certification in Melbourne, Australia, with founder Anouk van Dijk, in 2016.
Paschich’s foundational dance training was in classical ballet and Cecchetti. She also trained at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy in Moscow, Russia. Her international performing career spans over 20 years in contemporary, jazz, and classical ballet repertoire. Professionally, she has performed extensively with: The Moscow State Classical Ballet, Dayton Contemporary Dance Company 2, Thodos Dance Chicago, River North Chicago Dance Company, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Interdansa Dance Festival, Keshet Dance Company, ARCOS Dance, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and Lawine Torrèn (Dance Theatre Machines Media) in the Hannibal Project in Sölden, Austria. She has performed the repertory of choreographers: Robert Battle, José Limón, Ann Reinking, Lucas Crandall, Lar Lubavitch, Tamir Ginz, Margo Sappington, Johan Renvall, Kevin O’ Day, Alan Heinline, Joanie Smith, Frank Chavez, Melissa Thodos, Zac Whittenburg, Curtis Uhlemann, Robert Moses, Gail Gilbert, Donna Jewell, Erika Pujic, Lawine Torrèn, Tomaz Simatovic, and others. Paschich’s professional experience, informs her pedagogical methodology in providing a progressive and holistic education to cultivate the next generation of dance artists.
Paschich is also a choreographer and creates live & digital work that explores the moving body and its relationship to technology. Paschich's multimedia work includes: screendance, dance for film, and choreographic installations. Most recently she has been experimenting and developing work with motion capture technology in collaboration with interactive media specialist, Kevin Abbott. Her digital work has been screened in Istanbul, Lisbon, Ulm, Denver, Michigan, and across the United States. Paschich is the recipient of Distant Digital Dance Maker commission for Tanz mit dem Tiger 2021 (Ulm, Germany), Creative Living for Dancers Award 2021 (Brussels, Belgium), the Dancing Lab Residency at the National Center for Choreography at the University of Akron (NCCAkron) 2021, she was an invited presenter at the Society of Korean Dance Studies International Symposium 2021 (Seoul, Korea) and was the recipient of the National Dizzy Feet Foundation Gene Kelly Legacy Scholarship in 2016. Paschich is the Founder and Artistic Director of project_whitewall, that is an incubator for the experimentation and creation of live & digital dance.Her work often utilizes multi-media elements inspired by surrealism as the theoretical + conceptual framework. She views dance as a medium that can embolden change for a better world.
Miranda Presley holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Dance and Accounting from Alma College. She began dancing when she was three year’s old in the Kalamazoo area. When her family moved to Alma, Michigan, she found her dance family at DuHadway Dance Dimension. During her time with DuHadway she was a teacher assistant throughout middle and high school and her senior year began being the head teacher. Miranda continued teaching for three seasons at DuHadway during her time at Alma College. Miranda’s career brought her to Kalamazoo once again after graduating from Alma College to pursue her audit career in accounting. She currently is an auditor for Plante Moran and is a Certified Public Accountant.
Miranda is certified in progressive ballet technique and has a background in Cecchetti method of ballet. She successfully passed exams in grades I and II student exams. Miranda has taken dance intensives and danced competitively across the mid-west and received multiple first place overall awards prior to her degree at Alma College. While at Alma College, she graduated magna cum laude from the dance department, was in the dance honorary, and her choreography was selected amongst her peers for honors for her piece titled, the Last Goodbye.
Miranda currently lives in Mattawan with her husband Nick and their dog Lilly.
Lauren Wertz has been dancing at Ballet Arts School of Dance since 2001. Through the years she has studied multiple types of dance, including ballet, jazz, modern, and tap. She successfully passed four grades of Cecchetti. She was a member of the Ballet Arts Ensemble for three years where she performed in The Nutcracker, The Magical Toy Shop, Cinderella, and many Spring concerts. She has also participated in several alumnae dances for BAE in recent years.
After graduating high school, Lauren went on to graduate from Culinary School with honors and as a member of Phi Theta Kappa Honors Society. She continues to take ballet and tap classes. For the past year, she has served as Artistic Assistant of Ballet Arts Ensemble, and recently joined as a member of the Board of Directors for Ballet Arts Ensemble.
Lauren currently works as the Food Service Manager at Fresh Thyme Market.