Williamstown Ballet Theater
Laurie Sanford, Artistic Director
Laurie began her training in ballet at an early age in Massachusetts under the direction of Brenda Banish Barna. She developed an interest in theater and the performing arts during her time training in ballet which led to many experiences on stage in various musicals and plays with both the Simsbury Theatre Guild and the Greater Hartford JCC Theatre.
Laurie was a graduate of the Greater Hartford Academy of the Performing Arts in 1995 and went on to study theater and dance at the University of the Arts from 1995 - 1999. She has choreographed and directed works for students which have been performed in Philadelphia and New Jersey. She has taken great pride in educating students of all ages and backgrounds over the past two decades. She holds a strong belief in the importance of an arts education that is founded in traditional techniques as a basis for creative freedom and exploration
Sara Lonngren, Director of ballet
Sara began her love of dance at a very young age. Her professional training began at the National Ballet of New Jersey in Mt. Laurel NJ. From there she went on to receive her Bachelor of Fine Arts in ballet performance from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. After graduation she joined the Atlantic City Ballet where she is currently still a performing company member. While with the company she has had the opportunity to teach and choreograph for the companies studio at their international performing arts camp. Her choreography has also been featured in the Atlantic City Ballet’s Repertoire. She has been teaching in and around the New Jersey area and loves passing on to students what makes this art form so beautiful. www.acballet.org
Caitlin McElroy, Ballet Instructor
Caitlin began her early training in Voorhees, NJ, and at the age of 16 moved to Boca Raton, Florida to train at The Harid Conservatory. After graduating from Harid in 2007, Caitlin spent two years in the Graduate Program at Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School, where she had the opportunity to perform with the main company in ballets such as The Nutcracker, Laurie Stallings’ The Great Gatsby, and the North American premiere of Derek Deane’s Alice in Wonderland. In 2009 she joined the Atlantic City Ballet under the direction of Phyllis Papa and has enjoyed dancing in a wide variety of roles, her favorites being Arabian and Dewdrop in The Nutcracker, and one of Dracula’s three Brides in Dracula. Caitlin is still currently performing with the Atlantic City Ballet, and recently graduated from Atlantic Cape Community College’s Academy of Culinary Arts with an Associate’s Degree in Baking and Pastry and is a fully certified Pastry Chef.
Lora Allen, Director of modern dance
Lora Allen is the artistic director of allendance, her work has been shown throughout the US and abroad. Lora has facilitated classes and lectures at Wilson College, The Univeristy of Kansas, DeSales University, The University of Charleston, Coventry University, and Dickinson College. She was awarded a HATCH artist- in- residence with Philadelphia's Birds on a Wire Dance Theater. Lora is currently a collaborator in Project Trans(m)it: a collaborative, long-term research and performance project delving into tech-riddled space. Led by four female choreographers, their points of inquiry include transmittance of dance/movement via technology, transference of choreographic ideas in different continental spaces, what is gained/lost in these transfers, and which technological platforms are best used for which types of physical information transmission. Their most recent research, "Project Trans(m)it: creating dance collaboratively via technology – a best practices overview" was published through Research in Dance Education Journal in 2017. Lora is the co-founder and director of The Iron Factory, a performance and residency space that works to support the challenging and experimental work of performance artists with on-going classes, curated performances, and residencies . Lora was the Company Manager for The Leah Stein Dance Company for 4 years in Philadelphia PA. She has a BA in Dance from DeSales University.
Vanessa Smith, Ballet Instructor
Vanessa Smith is a native to Southern NJ, where she began her early dance training with The National Ballet of NJ (formerly Mt. Laurel Regional Ballet), which she supplemented with summer studies at the Joffrey School, NYC . Vanessa furthered her dance education at the Conservatory of Dance at Purchase College SUNY, where she earned her Bachelors of Fine Arts in dance performance with a concentration in ballet, studying with some of ballet’s finest masters including Ted Kivitt, Richard Cook, and Betty Jane Sills (a founding member of the Balanchine Trust). There she had the opportunity to perform Balanchine’s Serenade for the Trust’s celebration of Balanchine’s 100th birthday. Under the mentorship of the late and great Kazuko Hirabayashi, she also had the pleasure of working with many of today’s prominent choreographers and company directors including Nicolo Fonti, Stanton Welsh, and Jacqueline Buglisi. Miss Smith went on to perform in the International Dance Festival of Burgos, Spain where she then joined Ballet Contemporanio for a national touring season. Upon return to the states, Miss Smith began to tour nationally with Nicholas Andre Dance NYC, and Ballet for Young Audiences; with which she was involved in DRA, outreach and education in the children's dance community across the country, as well as making guest appearances as a principal dancer in many regional ballet productions. Vanessa was also a founding member, dancer and assistant director with Jessicadanser/dansfolk, NYC where she did community outreach with the Bronx Academy for Arts and Dance (BAAD). She has since taught ballet and modern dance in many prestigious institutions throughout the North East and Midwestern regions, and has earned an Associates in early childhood development and education. Respect and confidence play a key role in her classroom environment, enabling children to grow and develop with a healthy sense self-esteem. Miss Smith enjoys cooking, gardening and traveling; and loves spending time with her family. Vanessa is proud to join as a member of the Williamstown Ballet staff. She is honored to have the pleasure of inspiring today's youth as they develop into creative and critical thinkers, and is delighted to become a part of the Williamstown Ballet family! Din is a popular choice on business and tech sites. It's also a good font for creating page titles with impact.