Originally from Louisville, Kentucky, Ms. Catlett began her dance training with the University of Louisville Dance Academy under Charles Bronson and Cynthia Bronner. Her passion for teaching and choreographing led her to Radford University where she earned a B.S. in Dance Education. Ms. Catlett has performed classical roles in ballets such as The Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake, La Bayadere, Les Sylphides, Raymonda, and Les Corsaires. Ms. Catlett is currently a company member and guest choreographer for DanceEthos, a D.C. based modern dance company. Ms. Catlett has been responsible for the artistic direction at Metropolitan Ballet Theatre since spring 2012. In addition to directing The Nutcracker each season, she has since produced original ballets such as Snow White and Thumbelina, and revived Sleeping Beauty in two acts. In 2016, Ms. Catlett co-wrote, choreographed and staged an original fairytale ballet – Becoming Sugar Plum. She directs and choreographs for the Metropolitan Ballet Ensemble as well, the most recent works being Stories of Dr. Seuss, which premiered in October 2015 and “Shel” We Dance which will premiere at MBT in January 2017.
Ms. Ross came to Metropolitan Ballet in 2012 as an expert in strategic communications and marketing, with a critical understanding of business planning and years of professional experience. Prior to assuming the Executive Director role, she served as MBT’s Director of Development & Marketing and was responsible for leading MBT’s 2014 relocation project and Capital Campaign. Prior to joining MBT, Ms. Ross built a successful communications consulting practice, serving the diverse strategic communications needs of her clients, which ranged from small retailers to Fortune 50 companies, in subject matters ranging from general sales and fundraising to environmental needs. She is a graduate of the Leadership Montgomery Class of 2014 and a 2014 recipient of a County Executive’s Award for Excellence in the Arts & Humanities. Ms. Ross wholly believes in giving back to the community and is an avid volunteer for other non-profits as well, serving as President of the Board of the PTA at her childrens’ school, and volunteering for other organizations such as the Kentlands Community Foundation and Children’s National Hospital. Ms. Ross also currently is a member of Board of Directors at the Gaithersburg-Germantown Chamber of Commerce, for which she chairs the nonprofit sector group.
Staff & Faculty
Katerina Rodgaard is originally from Maryland. She began her training with Irena Prochotsky and Daweh Zhang and also at the North Carolina School of the Arts. She continued her training on scholarship at Point Park University where she received her BA in Dance with a concentration in Ballet. At Point Park she performed in many ballets to include Pequita, Carmen, The Merry Widow, Don Quixote and The Night Before Christmas. Katerina danced professionally with the River North Chicago Dance Company, Cerqua/Rivera Art Experience, Tony Powell Music & Movement, Bowen/McCauley Dance, DanceSmith, and Dakshina/Daniel Phoenix Singh & Company. She has worked with members of the Athens Opera Ballet in Greece, performed on tour in China with the Washington Potomac Dance Ensemble, and has studied extensively with Hubbard Street Dance Chicago and the Parsons Dance company in New York. In 1999, Rodgaard produced, choreographed, and directed The Kopsidas Project at the Jack Guidone Theater. In 2002 she performed on National TV for the Kennedy Center Honors Program in a Broadway tribute to Chita Rivera. Katerina has served as rehearsal director for Citydance 2 and has been a guest choreographer with DancEthos and many local schools and companies. She has taught master technique classes in the local area and abroad, most recently in Kazakhstan. Also a licensed attorney, Katerina has practiced real estate law and has worked for a national nonprofit organization doing legislative law. She enjoys her lifelong passion of dance the most and she currently continues to choreograph, teach, and direct in the DC metropolitan area.
Ms. Lipowsky has a marketing degree from American University. Before joining MBT, she worked at the Potomac Butter and Egg Company for 23 years in sales, customer service, advertising, accounts payable and accounts receivable. Ms. Lipowsky is a former MBT board Vice President and President and joined the staff as Administrator in 2005.
Erin Rochow graduated magna cum laude from Elon University receiving her B.F.A. in Dance Performance and Choreography and a minor in Communications. Before joining the MBT team in 2014, Erin was the Ballet Department Director at Ballet Petite and Youth Performing Arts School. She held an internship at the Boston Ballet School and completed the work study program at CityDance in Rockville. Erin has danced professionally with North Carolina companies and choreographers TERRANOVA Dance Theatre, Natalie Marrone and The Dance Cure, and Chris Burnside. Since moving to the DC metro area in 2012, she has performed with Ballet ADI, Moveius Contemporary Ballet, DancEthos, and choreographers Eleni Grove and Matina Phillips. Erin is currently a member of Company Danzante and the Metropolitan Ballet Ensemble.
Kyrstin grew up in Richmond, VA, where she began her love of the arts. Growing up, piano was a big piece of her life and she competed in multiple competitions hosted at the University of Richmond. As a young girl she loved dance, especially the art of Ballet, but did not officially start her training until attending Sweet Briar College. After transferring to Randolph College, she danced at The Dance Company studio in Lynchburg, VA and the Shenandoah Academy of Dance in Buena Vista, VA. She received her bachelors degree in Biology with a Chemistry minor. Kyrstin and her husband recently moved to Maryland for his military assignment. She is pursuing a career in dance and has most recently danced with Connect the Dots Dance company. In addition to helping our families in the office at MBT’s Academy, Kyrstin also teaches young dancers at our off-site class locations.
Michelle Bettin, born and raised in Baltimore, received her training from Maryland Ballet Theatre, Georgetown School of Ballet, and Kintz-Mejia Academy of Ballet.
At nineteen, Michelle was a semi-finalist in the XII International Ballet Competition, Trujillo, Peru. She later returned that year to teach American jazz dance in Lima, and Arequipa, Peru.
After receiving her BFA in Dance Performance and Choreography from Towson University, Michelle danced professionally with Ballet Theatre of Maryland, Columbus Dance Theatre, Manassass Ballet Theatre, Ballet Teatro Internacional, and RVA Dance Collective.
Apart from dancing, Michelle has been on faculty with The Washington School of Ballet, Stageworkz Theatre Arts Project, Westend Academy of Dance, Joy of Motion, and Maryland Youth Ballet. Michelle was a guest instructor with MBT before joining the faculty.
Having held a certification through the National Academy of Sports Medicine, Michelle is able to teach exercises and stretches to prevent injury and promote the best dancer her students can be.
Originally from Baltimore, Nino started dancing in 2003. Labeled as a street dancer but not limited to, he trained in various styles of Hip-Hop. In 2006 he began his Dance career and had his first official battle at the Sky Lounge. By becoming a part of such a diverse dance community, this ignited his passion for dance and competition. In 2008 he began training in Krump and Break dancing. In 2010 he was inducted into DVC, formally known as The Deadly Venoms Crew. In 2011 he competed in numerous All-Styles and Top Rock battles and was also the featured dancer in a music video. In 2013 he was a showcase street performer in the production “Working America” and later that year went on to perform on his biggest stage yet, WDSF World games 2013 Kaohsiung (World Dance Sport Federation). He was a part of the US lead HipHop team. Most recently he performed for an audience made up of many of his peers along with onlookers that love the art for its raw form at the JoJo Diggs event Diggs Deeper. He is now a HipHop and Break dance instructor/ choreographer and leading the Allstyles division of his crew DVC known as “Venom Soul” along with expanding his groundbreaking Fitness program FitHop.
Rachel Coyle is originally from Boston, MA. She began her dance training under the direction of Denise Cecere and Sandra McNaught at the Northeast School of Ballet (formally Sandra Marie’s School of Ballet). After moving to Maryland, she studied at Metropolitan Ballet Theatre & Academy with founder Suzanne Erlon. Since becoming an instructor at MBT in 2009, Rachel has performed in MBT’s productions of Alice’s Wonderland (Queen of Hearts) and The Nutcracker (Arabian, Flowers, Marzipan, Snow, and Spanish). A former preschool teacher, Rachel holds an MA from Hood College in Frederick, MD, and works in Education Studies at Westat. Rachel also teaches in MBT’s dance program at Temple Beth Ami Nursery School.
Jennifer received her training at the Lafayette Ballet School in Lafayette, IN and subsequently became a member of the Lafayette Ballet Company. There, she originated many roles in contemporary ballets by Sandra Peticolas and performed soloist roles in ballets such as The Nutcracker, Paquita, Don Quixote, and La Bayadere, as well as the Dying Swan. She attended summer intensives at Ballet Internationale, The Rock School, and American Ballet Theatre. After graduating in 2008 she performed and taught at the Lafayette Ballet School, while studying at the Herron School of Art and Design, where she earned a BFA in photography in 2012. Since moving to the DC area, she has performed works by Katie Vaught and danced with the Classical Repertory Dance Theatre, Moveius Contemporary Ballet, and Misako Ballet Company. She has also had the privilege to work with choreographers such as Emery LeCrone, Constantine Baecher, Christopher Huggins, Olivia Sabee and Michael Smith. She is currently a member of The Metropolitan Ballet Ensemble and frequently performs as a guest artist in MBT’s annual ballet productions. She has taught Ballet and Character dance at many schools in the DMV area including the Kirov Academy, Georgetown University, Maryland School of Dance, Design in Motion, and MBT. Jennifer also works as a freelance photographer and costume consultant/designer. She has created many costumes for MBT, as well as Moveius Contemporary Ballet, Maryland School of Dance, and individual clients.
Erica Molina Hudak was born and raised in the DC Metropolitan area. She studied dance at Maryland Youth Ballet and Washington School of Ballet and also has a strong foundation in modern, jazz, tap, flamenco and hip hop. As a young student, she danced at the Kennedy Center’s Opera House, with the American Ballet Theatre in their production of The Nutcracker and La Corsaire. She also performed with the Universal Ballet of Korea in their production of La Bayadere.
She attended University of North Carolina School of the Arts, where she was a contemporary major. While there she performed with Alonzo King’s Lines Ballet, Merce Cunningham Dance Company and with The Límon Dance Company. She pursued a professional career as a dancer after college in DC, where she joined DancEthos, as an original company member. Erica discovered her passion for teaching and choreographing at a young age. She has taught and choreographed at The Loudoun School of Ballet and BalletNova and currently teaches and choreographs at several DC-area studios. Erica is pleased to be joining the faculty at MBT.
Courtney Jefferies is a Maryland native and has over 17 years of dance training in ballet, modern, and contemporary. She began her dance training under Lynn Welters in Washington DC. Courtney furthered her dance studies at Metropolitan Ballet Theatre and The Madeira School, where she studied ballet, jazz, modern and other dance forms. She has had the privilege of attending summer intensives including the program with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre in New York City. In 2017, Courtney received her Bachelor of Arts in Romance Languages and Literatures from Bowdoin College. Her academic pursuits took her to Paris, France where she continued her ballet and contemporary dance studies. Returning to the United States, she lead Bowdoin’s student-run classical ballet dance company for which she worked as a dancer, choreographer, and teacher. Courtney has since returned to Maryland where she will continue performing and teaching dance. This season Courtney will be dancing with Gin Dance Company and will begin her first season with the Metropolitan Ballet Theatre Ensemble.
Photo credit: Savannah Simmons-Grover
Rachel Knudson teaches ballet, modern dance and creative dance. She holds a Master’s Degree in Dance Education from George Washington University and a Maryland Educator Certificate, Pre-K-12. She has taught and performed in the Washington, D.C. area for over 20 years.
Ms. Knudson is also a Wolf Trap Master Teaching Artist. In this capacity, she develops and leads workshops throughout the US and abroad for early childhood educators that provide strategies for integrating dance with early childhood STEM curriculum, and conducts residencies in Pre-K and Kindergarten classrooms.
Ms. Knudson danced professionally with Pacific Northwest Ballet and studied modern dance at Jacob’s Pillow and the American Dance Festival. She also attended the Teacher’s Institute at the Creative Dance Center in Seattle, Washington and most recently participated in Teaching Contemporary Limon, a workshop for teachers held at NYU in New York City. Ms. Knudson also teaches in MBT’s dance program at Temple Beth Ami Nursery School.
Shady Mohamed is a native of Egypt and has lived in the Northern Virginia area since 2013. From 2004 to 2013, Shady performed as a dance soloist and principal dancer with the Cairo Opera ballet in Egypt,and from 2013 perform as principle dancer with Charlottesville ballet,TDC and perform most of the classical repertoire and guesting everywhere in world such as: France, Spain, Italy, Belgium, Mexico, Canada, and in the U.S. His background and focus on dance instruction led him to receive his Bachelor of Art in Choreography and Dance Direction from the Academy of Art in Egypt. Besides his experience with the Cairo Opera, he is a dance instructor for ballet, pas de deux, character, modern, and hip hop with the Charlottesville Ballet Academy, Kintez&Mejia ballet Academy. Shady won first place in the Egyptian National Ballet Competition in 2010 from the Egyptian Ministry of Culture. He has also worked as a choreographer with Theatre du Vieux Moulin in Meythet, France from 2009 to 2011.
Anneliese began studying ballet locally at The Ballet Academy of Beltsville. She continued her training at Suitland High School for the Visual and Performing Arts. While there, Anneliese was introduced to Horton, Graham, Jazz, and African techniques. Mrs. Parisi would later study all of these techniques with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre. She graduated from The University of the Arts with a BFA in Ballet Performance. Anneliese has performed with Danco2 (Second Company of Philadanco), Ballet Theatre of Maryland, The Washington Reflections Dance Company, El Teatro De Danza Contemporanea De El Salvador, and Contradiction Dance. She has had the pleasure of working with artists such as Brian Sanders, Fernando Bujones, Christopher Huggins, Juan Carlos Rincones, and Keith Lee.
Julia Smith was born and raised in Beirut, Lebanon, and grew up playing in and around her father’s Biochemistry lab at the American University of Beirut. Her mother taught Theater and Communications at the Beirut College for Women (now the Lebanese American University), while also directing a children’s theater company at the American Repertory Theater of Beirut. Her first ballet class was at the age of three with Margaret Haddad, a British ballerina expatriate. After moving state side, Julia attended the Pennsylvania Ballet School (The Rock School) where she received the bulk of her ballet training with Lupe Serrano and the ballet masters at the Pennsylvania Ballet. She received a Creative and Performing Arts Scholarship from the University of Maryland where she earned her BA in Dance. She received her MFA from the University of Maryland in 2016. Julia has been teaching and performing for the past 25 years in the Washington DC metropolitan area. She has danced for Alvin Mayes, Anne Warren, Alcine Wiltz, Word Dance Theater, Tango Mercurio, DanceSmith, Tommy Parlon Dance Projects, Gesel Mason, Boris Willis, Pam England, CityDance Ensemble, DC Dance Theater (Rincones and Company), Bowen McCauley Dance, Daniel Singh, and Tony Powell Music and Movement. Julia’s choreography has been performed at Dance Place, The Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage, and The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center. Currently, Julia is Assistant Professor of Dance at Anne Arundel Community College. She is delighted to be joining the faculty at MBT.
From Almaty, Kazakhstan, Dmitriy received his early training at the A. Seleznev School of Ballet and Choreography in Almaty. After graduating, he joined the corps of the National Opera and Ballet in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan. He went on to dance as a soloist for the Russian National Ballet of Sergey and Elena Radchenko touring Russia, Asia, Europe, Australia and the United States. Dmitriy’s principal roles include Romeo in Romeo and Juliet, Prince Siegfried in Swan Lake, Prince Florimund and Blue Bird in The Sleeping Beauty, the Prince in Cinderella, and Cavalier in The Nutcracker. He has also danced leading roles in Giselle, Le Corsaire, and Diana and Acteon. Dmitriy has been a company member of the Manassas Ballet Theatre since 2013. He holds a bachelors degree in teaching and choreography from the State Pedagogical University in Chelyabinsk, Russia.
Katie began dancing at the age of 5. Her training was with Ann Brodie in Columbia, SC as a scholarship student. She later joined Columbia City Ballet as its youngest member. After moving to Greenville, SC, Katie continued her training with Greenville Ballet where she performed as a soloist in The Nutcracker. She also performed at the SERBA festival in Montgomery, Alabama and in Greenville and Charleston, SC as a part of the Spoleto Festival. Katie continued her ballet training at the Boston Ballet School as a scholarship student and the School of American Ballet, the official school of New York City Ballet. She has also taken classes and danced for David Howard, Maya Plisetskaya, Edward Villella, Suki Schorer, Antonia Tumkovsky, Elise Reiman, Andre Kramerevsky, and Radenko Pavlovich. Katie has most recently performed as a soloist for International Ballet in Greenville, SC as Manu in Le Bayadere, the Hungarian in Swan Lake, Doll and Chinese in Nutcracker, Aurora from Sleeping Beauty and in Francesca de Rimini. Katie earned her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Early Childhood Education from Clemson University, Clemson, SC. While at Clemson she also taught, choreographed and danced with the Clemson Dancers Organization. She has taught for the International Ballet Academy and served as Co-Owner/Artistic Director of Studio A Performing Arts Company, both in Greenville, SC instructing all levels of ballet. She also served as a teacher and judge for Dance Masters of America.
Margaret Russell’s professional experience includes principal and soloist roles with Manassas Ballet Theatre and Ballet Theatre of Maryland. Her roles with MBT, under the direction of Amy Grant Wolfe, include Snow Queen and Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker, Queen of the Dryads in Don Quixote, and Katrina in The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, in addition to soloist roles in Les Sylphides and The Sleeping Beauty. Her roles with BTM, under the direction of Dianna Cuatto, include Dew Drop and Snow Queen in The Nutcracker, Cinderella in Cinderella, Odette in Swan Lake, and Dawn in Coppelia. While at BTM, Margaret was also appointed Ballet Mistress for the company.
She began her training with the Gwinnett Ballet Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia under the direction of Lisa Sheppard. She has studied with Orlando Ballet, Boston Ballet, Ballet Austin, and Burklyn Ballet Theatre. Margaret performed in Austria at the Tanzsommer Festival with the Gwinnett Ballet Theatre and in Scotland at the Fringe Festival with the Burklyn Ballet Theatre.
Margaret has been teaching in Maryland and Virginia for the past ten years. She has choreographed neoclassical pieces for Manassas Ballet Theatre as well as contemporary pieces for her students who have attended the Youth American Grand Prix. Margaret is currently completing a degree in dance education at the University of Maryland Baltimore County.
Matthew grew up in the D.C. area and was very active in the arts, performing as a high school student at the Imagination Stage, The Kennedy Center, The White House, and The National Theater with productions from The Young Americans of Washington, The Musical Theater Center and Bethesda Academy of the Performing Arts. He began his dance training with Helen Hayes at Joy of Motion Dance Center before moving to New York City in 2001 to attend NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, where he was awarded a BFA in Dance and Creative Writing with minor in Musical Theatre. While at NYU, Matthew was privileged to be involved in many productions, both on stage and also exploring directing and choreography, and working with such legends as Bill Cosby, Chita Rivera, Ann Reinking, Alix Korey, and Kathleen Turner to name a few. Shifting towards contemporary and classical dance after college, Matthew joined the scholarship program at Steps on Broadway in 2006, where he was able to train with remarkable teachers including Jana Hicks, David Howard, Kevin Wynn, Max Stone, Lisa Lockwood, Milton Meyers, Robert Battle, and Jason Parsons. Matthew was a member of The Next Stage Project, a contemporary dance company directed by Jana Hicks and Marijke Eliasberg beginning in 2007 and has performed with them at New York’s City Center, Lincoln Center Lab, the River to River Arts Festival and Dance New Amsterdam. Matthew is currently on the faculty of Joy of Motion Dance Center as well as the acting Artistic Director of Off Broadway School of Dance.
Florian Rouiller is a dance teacher, choreographer, and performer who has worked extensively across three continents. Mr. Rouiller has an MFA in Dance from the University of Maryland, where he choreographed and performed the original productions Profondeur Inconnue and Wave while continuing extensive performance with local dance companies outside the university. Mr. Rouiller began his dance career with training at the prestigious John Cranko School in Stuttgart with a BFA, and performed with the Stuttgart Ballet in productions such as Sleeping Beauty and Giselle. Upon immigrating to the United States, he danced with Merce Cunningham Dance Company as an apprentice, Ohio Ballet, Joffrey Ballet of Chicago, Milwaukee Ballet, Ballet Chicago, Ballet International Eldar Aliev, Ballet Metropolitano de Caracas coach by Vladimir Luphokov and Ballet Contemporanea de Caracas in Venezuela, as well as Goteborg Ballet in Sweden. Performing soloist and principal roles and working with choreographers such as Alonzo King, Jiri Kylian, Simon Dow, Robert North, Jorma Uotinen , Jean-Paul Comelin ,Lynne Taylor Corbett to name a few….He has also performed with many companies throughout the United States and taught extensively, including at the Kirov Academy in Washington DC, the Washington Ballet School, City Dance Ensemble, and other schools throughout the Washington DC area. In the DC area, he has performed with City Dance Ensemble, Dana Tai Soon Burgess and Lucy Bowen McCauley, Karen Reedy. His piece Fragments was at the finals in the 2010 Korean Ballet competition and his Female solo Verge just won the 3 prizes at YAGP competition in 2013. He also won a 3prizes in the Men division 2015 at YAGP. Mr. Rouiller is currently teaching and choreographing in the DC area. This year he is teaching at Coppin State University, Baltimore Community College and Montgomery College. Fall 2013 Resident artist at UMBC. Currently he is working at Baltimore School of the Arts, UMBC, Ballet Royale Institute of Maryland and Coppin State University. Also he was a guest teacher at Towson University and David Elkins College. Summer 2015 Kirov academy in DC. His choreographic works has been seeing at the Kennedy Center, UMD, HCC, UMBC and Atlas Theater in DC to name a few. He is featured in Lois Greenfield new book Moving Still in NY.
Rick Westerkamp is an actor-singer-dancer hailing from New Jersey, and has been dancing most of his life. Rick holds a BA with departmental honors in Theatre and Dance from The George Washington University. Rick has danced as a company member with DancEthos, darlingdance company, Next Reflex Dance Collective, and UnevEnlane, and is the Middle School Drama Teacher/Director at Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart. Rick is a Helen Hayes-nominated actor, and he has performed with Adventure Theatre-MTC, The Hub Theatre, Imagination Stage, InterAct Story Theatre, Landless Theatre Company, Monumental Theatre Company, Red Branch Theatre Company, and Studio Theatre. This fall, Rick can be seen in Constellation Theatre Company’s production of Urinetown.
Ms. Erlon began her career in 1960 as a ballerina, choreographer, and teacher. As a 10-year member of the New York City Ballet, from 1964 to 1973, Ms. Erlon worked with George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins, Anthony Tudor, and others in more than 100 ballets, including many premiers such as Balanchine’s Stravinsky Festival. After one season with Eliot Feld, Ms. Erlon joined Ballet West as a principal dancer in 1974, working with Willam F. Christensen, Bruce Marks, Toni Lander and Bill Evans. Ms. Erlon also performed as a guest artist with several western ballet companies in Phoenix, Las Vegas, and Idaho. In 1982, Ms. Erlon co-founded the Christensen Ballet Academy in Salt Lake City. Moving to the Washington, D.C. area in 1985, Ms. Erlon taught for four years at the Washington School of Ballet and in 1989 formed Metropolitan Ballet Theatre. Her interest in choreography began while she was in Salt Lake City, creating works for Ballet West and the University of Utah. Ms. Erlon choreographed over twenty ballets for MBT during her years here, including The Nutcracker, Coppelia, Cinderella, Swan Lake (Act II) and many others.