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Mary Van Dyke 
Artistic Director/Instructor
Co-Director of the CBT Nutcracker

Mary Van Dyke trained in classical ballet for 10 years with Pat German, Memphis Ballet under Michael and Judy Tevlin, and at the Alabama School of Fine Arts under Nureyev’s former dancer partner Dame Sonia Arova. Ms Arova was one of Ms Van Dyke’s biggest inspirations for Children’s Ballet Theater’s teaching style based in the French and Russian ballet schools. Ms Van Dyke hand selects teachers carefully based on their knowledge of these styles.  Furthermore, it is imperative that all instructors must be kind and uplifting to children and teens as they teach the discipline of classical ballet. Ms Van Dyke had extensive summer training during high school and college in ballet, jazz and modern including four summers at the Boston Ballet School, at Joffery in NYC, Stanley Holden in LA, and in Russian Vaganova training in Belgium with famed ballerina Irina Kolpakova. Ms. Van Dyke studied Communications at the University of Tennessee while continuing her studies in ballet with David and Anna Marie Holmes, and UT classes in ballet, theater and musical theater style jazz. She worked as a model for the Colors Modeling Agency in Memphis in runway, print and music videos. 

Ms Van Dyke danced professionally with Memphis Concert Ballet (now titled Ballet Memphis) under direction of Dorothy Gunther Pugh, and she thoroughly enjoyed her seasons at the Orpheum Theater. Her greatest joy during this time was to have three major roles created for her including Tatiana in A Midsummer's Night Dream, the Red Queen in Alice in Wonderland, and Princess Glauce in Medea. She also performed with the Tennessee Ballet Company and the Appalachian Ballet. Her other principal roles over the years have included the Dew Drop Fairy, Snow Queen, Arabian, and Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker, Swan Queen Odette in Swan Lake and Lady Tybalt in Romeo and Juliette

Ms Van Dyke was cofounder and instructor with her former husband, a Bolshoi Ballet dancer, of a school for Russian classical ballet for six years in downtown Chicago. During that time, DePaul University invited them to open a satellite at their on-campus Fitness & Recreation Center. Ms Van Dyke designed, and then co-directed and produced the USA National Youth Ballet Competition presented by Russian Pointe as well as the Ballet Intensive from Moscow Summer Program and Russian Teacher Seminar at Northern Illinois University and Michigan State University. She returned to Memphis to be help with her parents who were happy to have grandbabies also! Ms Van Dyke started Children’s Ballet Theater 18 years ago in Memphis and each year the children in the Children’s Ballet Theater Nutcracker and the recital still bring tears to her eyes! She added the Memphis Youth Musical Theater program several years ago to bring the joy of the classics to young performers.  Many performers in the MYMT program have gone on to ensemble and lead roles in local theater companies and school musicals.

Erin Kenny Walter 
Tennessee Ballet Theater Artistic Director
Instructor for CBT & Co-Director of CBT Nutcracker

Erin Walter is an instructor and choreographer of ballet and modern for Children’s Ballet Theater. She is Artistic Director of Tennessee Ballet Theater, CBT’s own contemporary and classical performance troupe. Mrs Walter’s Memphis themed These Walls: Tales from a Juke Joint at Ernastine and Hazel’s downtown and her performance at the Annesdale received high acclaim and strong local “buzz”.
Ms Walter began her ballet training with Judy and Michael Tevlin at Memphis Ballet. Mrs Walter performed with Youth Concert Ballet and Tennessee Ballet Company. She attended intensive summer sessions at Ft. Wayne Ballet, Burklyn Ballet Theater in Vermont and at the San Francisco Ballet School.


Ms Walter graduated from Briarcrest High School and earned a B.A. in English from the University of Notre Dame in 1993. Her roles include Arabian, lead Mirleton and the Dew Drop Fairy in The Nutcracker, and solos in Les Sylphides, Raymonda and The Colors of Mozart. She has taught for Children's Ballet Theater since 2004. Mrs Walter is on faculty for ballet and dance for the 1st-8th grades at St. Mary's School. She is co-director of the Children's Ballet Theater Nutcracker at the Cannon Center. 

Alyssa Abbas

Memphis Youth Musical Theater Artistic Director
Assistant Artistic Director for Children's Ballet Theater


Alyssa Abbas is an instructor for Children’s Ballet Theater and Associate Director of CBT’s Tennessee Ballet Theater. Ms Abbas is Director and Concept Director for fall and spring productions of Memphis Youth Musical Theater and one of the choreographers for MYMT’s annual summer show, “ANNIE in a Week." Ms. Abbas began her training at Classical Ballet School in Memphis. In addition to her 10 years of classical ballet background, she studied lyrical, jazz, broadway musical theater, and tap. 
Alyssa - Snow Queen
Ms Abbas has performed with Ballet Memphis, Theater Memphis, Ballet on Wheels and dances and competed professionally in ballroom dance. In recent years she has performed as Dream Laurey and ensemble cast in Oklahoma at the Harrell Performing Art Center, and in solo and ensemble roles in The Producers at Theater Memphis. Ms. Abbas is a performing member and choreographer of Tennessee Ballet Theater and has performed the Doll, Snow Queen, Dew Drop Fairy, and Bo Peep in the annual Children’s Ballet Theater Nutcracker at the Cannon Center and roles such as Cinderella and The Bluebird Princess in Sleeping Beauty.

Ashley Hannah Davis

Instructor for All Levels

Ashley Hannah Davis, a native of Memphis, began her training at Classical Ballet under Pat Gillespie. Ashley Hannah attended summer training programs with Boston Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, and Charlotte Ballet. She trained with Ballet Memphis for 6 years before joining the company and dancing professionally for 9 seasons. There she danced in classical ballets such as The Nutcracker, Swan Lake, and Giselle. She also performed in many contemporary works including Mark Godden’s Midsummer Night’s Dream, Gabrielle Lamb’s I Am a Woman. She is a member of the Tennessee Ballet Theater under the direction of Erin Walter.

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Nora Curran

Guest Instructor for

Children's Ballet Theater

Nora Curran is Ballet Mistress for Tennessee Ballet Theater, and an instructor in the upper levels for Children’s Ballet Theater. Mrs Curran received her early classical training from her mother, Vera Sohr, formerly of the Oslo Ballet, Norway.  She has trained with renowned teachers from around the world, including Helena Kerolinska (Kirov Ballet, Russia), Roberta Chesnul, Christine DuBoulay and Richard Ellis (Royal Ballet, England), Vivi Flindt (Royal Danish Ballet), Patricia Sigurdsen (American Ballet Theater, New York), Alexandria Zaharius, (Missouri Concert Ballet), Jurgen Schneider (Stuttgart Ballet, Germany).  She also received jazz training while performing musical theater in New York from Bob Fosse, Robert Durkin, and Suzanne Carol.
Ms Curran has performed and choreographed for the Chicago Youth Ballet, Illinois Ballet, Chicago Dance, Hinsdale Opera Ballet (Chicago), Fox Valley Theater (Chicago), Gateway Theater (New York),  Salt Creek Ballet (Chicago), Principia College (St. Louis), North Central College (Chicago), Vanderbilt University. She has performed leading roles in Swan Lake, Nutcracker, and Don Quixote.  Curran has been a guest teacher at North Central College  (Chicago), College of DuPage, (Chicago), the Salt Creek Ballet, (Chicago),  Vanderbilt University, University of Memphis, Steiger Studios (Minneapolis, St. Paul).
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Ms Curran directed her own school in Dallas, Texas, was Artistic Director of the Salt Creek Ballet western locale in Chicago, founder and Co-Artistic Director of The American School of Russian Ballet in Memphis, founder and Artistic Director of the Oakland Youth Ballet, Fayette County. Ms Curran’s students have gone on to professional careers with the San Francisco Ballet, Houston Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Joffrey Ballet, Missouri Concert Ballet, Zurich Ballet (Switzerland), Ballet Met, Duluth Ballet, Alabama Ballet, Denver Ballet, Harkness Ballet, Joel Hall, Gus Giordono, Hubbard Street, Cirque du Soleil, and many other classical ballet, Broadway and television productions.

Anna Palazola

Instructor and

Director of Christ Methodist Satellite


Anna Palazola was born in the Ukraine. She has been teaching for Children’s Ballet Theater for since 2007. Mrs Palazola began studying ballet and character dance at the age of three years old at Yatran, a professional character dance and ballet school, in Kirovograd. She traveled throughout the USSR performing with the ensemble-performing group of her school. After graduation, she studied acting and musical theater at the Tuz Theater. Ms. Palazola received her B.A. in Nursing from the Kursk State University of Education. At this time she also worked as a teacher at the Theater and studied modern dance.


While receiving her M.S. degree in education, Ms Palazola received 5 years of practicum teaching experience. She is a classical pianist and is pursuing her degree in music from the University of Memphis. She has lived in Memphis for seven years and she and her husband have two children. Ms Palazola has enjoyed many years performing in various roles with the Tennessee Ballet Theater.

Steven Prince Tate

Jazz Dance and Choreographer


Steven Prince Tate’s jazz classes are super fun and build a strong technical base for dance. His contemporary choreography for Children’s Ballet Theater and Tennessee Ballet Theater productions is innovative and expressive. Steven is a Memphis, TN native and began his dance training attending Middle Tennessee State University. Steven received further training with scholarships from the American Dance Festival, apprenticed for Shelter Dance Repertory and Company Stefanie Batten Bland, and attended the Alvin Ailey school. Steven holds a degree in Theater and Dance with a minor in Gender Studies and is a member of Alpha Psi Omega Theater Honor Society.  Since 2010, Steven's many titles have included: company member for New Ballet Ensemble;

Associate Director and choreographer for Bridging Souls Productions; and as an instructor for Ohio University, University of Memphis, Crosstown Arts and High School, Project Motion, Young Actors Guild, Kipp Collegiate Elementary and Middle School, DanzHouse, STAX Music Academy, Memphis Black Arts Alliance, Company d, Dazzle Marion Visual & Performing Arts Center, and many other Memphis studios.

Mr Tate developed his own Master Class Workshops and classes including "The Move'' , “Vib-ology“, and Nu-Flo & S.T.R.U.T.  Steven’s work was featured on Essence, Yahoo! and He has choreographed for Grammy Nominated artist Southern Avenue, NBA Memphis Grizzlies’ Grizz Girls, Grandmas & Grandpas, Hot Foot Honeys, The Buckman Conservatory, MBAA (Black Broadway Cabaret), Playhouse on the Square (Ain’t Misbehavin’), Desoto Family Theatre (High School Musical Jr.), Company d, and Opera Memphis.

Nancy Miller

Music Director for Memphis Youth Musical Theater

Ms Nancy Miller is very happy to be joining our staff as Musical Director.


Ms Miller grew up in community theatre in her hometown of Crossville, Tennessee.  She and her entire family were singing and dancing in the musicals at the Cumberland County Playhouse.  Her favorite role was playing Julie Jordan in Rogers and Hammerstein's Carousel.


Ms. Miller received her BS in Music Education from Tennessee Tech University.  She received her Master of Music from the University of Memphis.  She was an Orff Music Specialist in Memphis City Schools where she received the Rotary Award for Teacher Excellence.  She then became the "Beloved Music  Teacher" at St. Mary's School.  She was known for leading the SMS Christmas Pageant and other outstanding musical programs. She is the soloist and Choir Director at Wesleyan Hills United Methodist Church. Her first productions this year with Memphis Youth Musical Theater were Annie , 101 Dalmations and High School Musical.


Libby Otto

Instructor for Ballet, Contemporary and Tap


Libby Otto began her training at four years old in Central Illinois at The Next Step Dance Studio and later on at All About Dance. She is trained in Ballet, Contemporary and Jazz, and competed competitively in these styles for three years. Ms. Otto has received a wide range of teaching experience at various studios for the past three years. Currently, she is pursuing her Bachelors in Fine Arts at the University of Memphis for Dance Science. Since beginning her collegiate education she has performed in the department’s Chroma faculty concert and in Emerge 360 student choreographed concert. She is also the Vice President of the department’s student led organization, Dance Alliance.

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