INSTRUCTORS & FACULTY OF DANCE
MIA KLINGER Artistic Director
Ms. Klinger was a founding member of the Cuyahoga Valley Youth Ballet, now renamed Ballet Excel Ohio, where she is also the Artistic Director. After training with her mother, Nan Klinger, Mia went on to study as a scholarship student with the School of the American Ballet, Melissa Hayden Studio and Steps Studio in New York City. She is a graduate of the North Carolina School of the Arts, where she performed with NCSA’s touring dance ensemble. A premier teacher and coach, Mia has studied many years under her mother Nan Klinger, John White of the Pennsylvania Academy of Ballet Society, Marcia Dale-Weary of Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, School of American Ballet, Ballet Academy East and many others. Her unequaled dedication to her school, students and instructors and her unique teaching style has brought national attention to the Cuyahoga Valley Youth Ballet and Excellence in Dance for being one of the top training schools in the country.
She has guest taught at Briansky Saratoga Ballet Center in Saratoga Springs, New York, Vevey Youth Ballet in Vevey, Switzerland, West London School of Dance in London, England and many others. Mia joined the faculty of Excellence in Dance Studio in 1989, where she has continued to meet the growing needs of the pre-professional program. Since 1989 she has introduced Variation Class, where the most advanced students learn world-renowned choreography, Men’s class and Partnering for the increasing numbers of young men studying ballet and a Choreographic Workshop in which veteran dancers create original dances and compositions for the Excellence In Dance Spring Workshop. Many of her students are now enjoying professional dance careers, excelling in college dance programs and teaching dance throughout the world.
Ms. Lott is currently working towards a Bachelor in Fine Arts for Dance at The University of Akron. She graduated with honors from Stow Munroe Falls Highschool in 2018. Most recently, Carolyn received a featured role in The University of Akron’s fall UADC performance in 2018 and 2019. Carolyn also guest performed in NEOS Dance Theater’s “Petrushka” in 2018, The All City Musical’s production of “Jesus Christ Superstar” in 2018, and The University of Akron’s Dance Institute’s production of “Snow Maiden” in 2019. She received intense classical ballet training in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio at Nan Klinger Excellence in Dance under the instruction of Mia Klinger from 2008 until 2018.
She was a member of Cuyahoga Valley Youth ballet and Ballet Excel Ohio’s youth ballet company performing at the Akron Civic each spring from 2012 until 2018. In addition, Ms. Lott attended summer intensives at BalletMet in 2014 and 2015, Pittsburgh Ballet Theater in 2016, and Cleveland Ballet in 2017. Carolyn will be dancing professionally with Ballet Legato for the 2022-2023 season. She loves sharing her joy and passion for dance with everyone she meets. Ms. Lott also enjoys spending time with family and working with children any chance she gets.
Tiffany Kmet began her long and passionate history with ballet at the formative age of eight, influenced and shaped by her teacher, Nan Klinger. Quickly falling in love with the art form, the young Ms. Kmet shined bright amongst her peers at Cuyahoga Valley Youth Ballet and broadcasted her enchanting talent in every role she received. Kmet’s aptitude for dance did not go unnoticed, as she was one of six students hand picked to perform in the presence of Mr. George Balanchine and promptly granted a full scholarship from the School of American Ballet for three consecutive summers of training. With a solid path built behind her, Kmet could only push forward. Her request for an apprenticeship with the Boston Ballet was accepted, and her dancing career took flight at a mere sixteen years of age.
Kmet toured Spain, performing principal roles as a second company member while honing in on her skills off stage with Ms. Laura Young. However, Kmet desired more, yearning to challenge herself and expand her repertoire. Fernando Bujones answered these wishes with an offer to dance as principle under his directorship with Ballet Mississippi. This professional relationship led Kmet to New York to dance in the Grand Pas de Deux as the titular role of Sugar Plum Fairy in “The Nutcracker”. Kmet then joined the Miami City Ballet, eager to expand her horizons with the rank of principal dancer once again under her belt. The blossoming young Kmet, now a driving force in the Miami City Ballet, was invited to the internationally renowned Edinburgh Arts Festival all the while being groomed for the lead role in Balanchine’s “Scotch Symphony” by none other than Patricia McBride. Edward Villella’s influence soon followed Kmet, preparing her for major roles in “The Four Temperaments” and “Serenade”.
Deciding to return to her stomping grounds, Kmet joined Ballet Met in Columbus Ohio for several years--performing in “Carmen” under David Nixon’s direction before her dancing career came to a soft close. This was not the end of Kmet’s infatuation for dance, however; in place of her love for professional dancing grew the desire to mentor the future ballerinas of America. Under the coaching of Yoko Inchino, Kmet smoothly transitioned into the most rewarding role of her life: an instructor, developing and sculpting a new generation of dancers as the Pre-Professional Director at New Albany Children’s Ballet Theater--a position in which she stayed for almost eight years. Seven of Kmet’s students moved on to professional ballet careers with illustrious companies while her other students medaled in various dancing techniques as well as continued their studies with revered dance programs around the country.
Alec Lytton is a special Lecturer in the University of Akron’s School of Dance, Theatre, and Arts Administration where he teaches ballet and modern dance. He also teaches at the University’s Dance Institute and at 8 Count Dance in Green. From 2006 to 2013 he taught and performed in the San Francisco Bay area, with important roles as a company member of Liss Fain Dance, where he was a member of its international touring company. He was a principal guest artist for Menlowe Ballet, Peninsula Ballet, and he performed for Oakland Ballet. He was an instructor at Shawl-Anderson Dance Center, Alameda Ballet Academy, and the Academy of American Ballet in the Bay area. For four seasons he was a principal dancer for Company C Contemporary Ballet, and danced works of Twyla Tharp, David Parsons, Paul Taylor, Lynne Taylor-Corbett, Patrick Corbin, and Charles Anderson.
From 2003-2000, he was a soloist with the world renowned Metropolitan Opera Ballet Company at Lincoln Center in New York. He received his BFA in Dance from the Boston Conservatory, and did his early training at The Houston Ballet Academy where upon completion was asked to join the company where he danced for one season. He also attended the prestigious High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Houston, Texas.
Bethany’s dance education began just down the road at Studio West Performing Arts Center under the direction of Mark and Erin Smith. Her training continued throughout college and graduated with a BFA in Acting and a minor in Children’s Creative Dance. After graduation she settled in the mountain west, performing at theatres in Utah and Colorado, and training with Frantic Assembly – which led to an invitation to their International Summer School. She spent 10 years with Creede Repertory Theatre as a resident actor and choreographer, working closely with their nationally recognized KID SHOW program. Some of her favorite choreography credits include The Wizard of Oz, 9 to 5, Little Shop of Horrors, and Guys & Dolls.
After relocating back home, Bethany devised and choreographed The Tree Watcher, an original physical theatre piece that was featured in the New York Times. She also worked with Tony award winning choreographer, Dave Nuemann, on the Netflix film White Noise. Most recently, Bethany joined the Reach Out and Dance! team to bring dance education to underserved classrooms in Northeast Ohio. In addition to her love of performing, Bethany is passionate about mentoring the next generation of dancers. She is thrilled to be joining the staff at Excellence in Dance!
Jessica M. Thomas began her ballet training under her grandmother, Nan Klinger, and mother Mia Klinger with the Cuyahoga Valley Youth Ballet (currently Ballet Excel Ohio) in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. For nine years, she danced principal roles for choreographers such as Michael Vernon, Tom Gold, Tom Evert, James Sewell, and Francis Patrelle. Thomas earned a double major in Performance and Choreography Dance and Communications at Coker College. Her choreography has been shown at American College Dance Festival and was a summer scholarship student with Pro Danza Italia in 2008. She was also part of Coker College’s repertory dance company and a company member of the Wanda Project, where she performed in Balletfest Atlanta, Piccolo Spoleto Dance Festival, and Alabama Dance Festival. Thomas was a member of Sapphire Moon Dance Company from 2011-2014 in Columbia, South Carolina, which has performed in NYC’s New Wave Dance Festival, Charlotte Dance Festival and many local venues. Currently, Thomas teaches at Columbia Ballet School (CBS) in Columbia, South Carolina and is the Ballet Mistress of CBS company.
Associate Professor of Dance at Kent State University, Jeffrey Marc Rockland enjoys helping students expand, discover and excel. Rockland brings his professional experience into the classroom. He sets a professional standard by which technique and artistry are achieved. Rockland had the great fortune to train with master teachers such as: Laura Alonso, Robert Barnett, William Griffith, Constance Hardinge, Benjamin Harkarvy, David Howard, Robert Joffrey, Donald Mackayle, and Lupe Serano. As Soloist with Atlanta Ballet, Universal Ballet and Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, Rockland danced established repertoire of Balanchine, Bournonville, Feld, Fokine, Najinska, Petipa and Tudor and had new works choreographed for him by choreographers including: Anastos, Bahr, Barnett, Kudelka, McFall, Munroe, Pazik and Taylor Corbitt among others. As Ballet Master for Les Ballets Jazz de Montreal, Rockland was asked to give master classes in cities all over the world. This led to his establishing connections in Asia that many years later have helped build Kent's East Meets West Program. Today, in addition to enjoying his teaching at Kent State, Rockland is a guest teacher and choreographer for conferences and festivals as well as schools, companies and universities in the United States and abroad.
Previously, Rockland was Associate Professor and Director of UNC Dance Theatre within in the department of theatre and dance at the University of Northern Colorado. While in Colorado, Rockland directed the university‘s ballet program and was Founding Executive Artistic Director of Colorado Dance Theatre and The Greeley Conservatory of Dance. Working with business partners, Rockland renovated a 10,000 square foot building (now The Conservatory Building) as a center for the arts in Greeley’s historic downtown.
Rockland holds a Bachelor of Arts and Teacher’s Certification in Ballet from Virginia Intermont College, a Master of Arts in Arts Management from Concordia University, a Master of Fine Arts in dance from the University of California Irvine where Rockland was Chancellor's Fellow and Graduate Teaching Assistant. Rockland completed a Secondary Teacher’s Certification in Dance from Pima Community College and holds national certification as a personal trainer from the American College of Sports Medicine.
In addition to his career as an educator, Rockland has enjoyed a long performance career starting at the age of 4 playing Sasha in the MGM classic, Dr. Zhivago. In his late teens, Rockland began a dance performance career which included working with Les Ballets Jazz de Montreal, Les Grands Ballet Canadiens, the Atlanta Ballet Company, the Universal Ballet (Seoul, South Korea), the Scottish-American Ballet and the Bristol Ballet Company.
For more than 30 years, he has choreographed, directed and produced dance at the professional, collegiate and high school levels. His work in developing East Meets West is focused on creating global citizens whose passion for their art combines with cultural diplomacy, diversity of expression and inclusive creative practice.
Noelle Boyages started dancing at Excellence in Dance at the age of 12 and shortly after became a company member with Cuyahoga Valley Youth Ballet, now known as Ballet Excel Ohio. Ballet quickly became her passion; she trained at several different summer intensive programs including Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, Orlando Ballet Theatre, Miami City Ballet, American Ballet Theatre (NY), and Ballet Austin.
While training with Ballet Austin for the summer, she was awarded a full scholarship to train with the company through their Butler Fellowship Program. After a career-ending injury, Noelle decided to shift gears and study at Denison University. She graduated in May with a BA in History, Women’s and Gender Studies, and Black Studies. She is very excited to rejoin the BXO community and help other young dancers work to hone their craft and pursue their passions, whatever they may be!
A native of Ohio holds degrees in both painting and dance from Ohio University. Upon graduation Tom moved to New York City to apprentice with The Murray Louis and Alwin Nikolais Dance Companies. From 1975-77 toured as a dancer and arts-in-education teacher with the Phyllis Lamhut Dance Company. His critical acclaim and maturity as a performing artist, however, developed while performing and touring nationally and internationally with "The Paul Taylor Dance Company" for eight years (1977-1985). In 1986 he founded the "Tom Evert Dance Company" and created a major body of work for which he has received Six Fellowships for Excellence in Choreography from the Ohio Arts Council and the Arts Council of Fairfax County VA.
The company (currently DANCEVERT) presents a home season and has toured extensively and is dedicated to outreach and collaborative community projects. He has been commissioned to create works for professional and pre-professional dance companies, university ensembles, and art institutions and commercial enterprises including: Cleveland San Jose Ballet, Cuyahoga Valley Youth Ballet, The Cleveland Orchestra, The Cleveland Museum Of Art, the Darius Milhaud Society, the Leonard Bernstein Festival, the Kurt Weill Festival, the Cleveland Pops Orchestra, fashion shows, civic celebrations, and the list goes on. He has been on numerous dance faculties including The Hong Kong Academy of the Arts, Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, Lake Erie College, Cleveland State University, the University of Akron, and The Paul Taylor Dance Studio in New York City, Cleveland Ballet, and The Beck Center for the Arts, Ohio Northern University, and Dennison University among many others.
Mr. Evert is regularly engaged to give master classes in tandem with company performances. After being involved in arts education programming in the schools for 31 years Mr. Evert has emerged as a prominent “teaching artist” nationally and internationally and on the artists rosters of Young Audiences Inc., The Ohio Arts Council and a Statewide Arts Talent Assessment Initiative (START-ID). Through the sponsorship of the Kennedy Center’s Ohio-State-Based Partnership, Tom has been actively presenting workshops for teachers on the integration of arts activities into the teaching of the core curriculum. Tom, who began his college career in the visual arts, designs and constructs many of the sets for his dances, is also a muralist and is a sculptor of figurative works for which he has received commissions and prizes in invitational shows.
Katie began taking ballet classes at the age of three and received the majority of her training at Nan Klinger Excellence In Dance in Cuyahoga Falls, OH. She was a member of the Cuyahoga Valley Youth Ballet, now Ballet Excel Ohio, where she performed in ballets choreographed by world-renowned choreographers. During the summers, Katie attended intensive dance programs at Lake Erie Ballet, University of Akron, Briansky Saratoga Ballet Center and Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet. Upon graduation in 2001, Katie went on to further her education on scholarship at Mercyhurst University. There, she continued her dance education, taking courses in dance, performance, anatomy, kinesiology and pedagogy. She was also a member of the Mercyhurst Ballet Theater. In 2005, she graduated with her Bachelor of Arts in Dance. Katie has danced professionally with Ballet Concerto and Pointe West Performances.
Katie has been teaching ballet in the Northeast Ohio area since 2006. In 2011, she was afforded the opportunity to teach with Reach Out And Dance®, the premier dance outreach program of Ballet Excel Ohio, where she taught dance education in Northeast Ohio public schools. From 2016-2017, she served as the Dance Program Manager for Wayne Center for the Arts in Wooster, OH.
In 2020, Katie added Certified Yoga Teacher (200 hrs) to her resume and teaches Yoga classes weekly.
Katie currently teaches ballet classes in Canton and Minerva, OH.
Joanne Hughes Morscher is a former Principal dancer with North Coast Ballet Theatre. She is originally from Buffalo, New York where she received her initial ballet training from Bernadine DeMike, Janet Springer and Ginger Burke. She continued her formal ballet training in Cleveland with Troy McCarrty, Lynn Brennan Tabor, Dee Hillier, Marguerite Duncan and Nancy Arcuty. Mrs. Morscher has taught for over 20 years throughout the Cleveland community culminating in the opening of her own school, Royal School of Ballet (RSB) in 1998 and the formation of her 501(c)3 Royal Youth Ballet Company (RYBC) in 2004. Both RSB and RYBC produced students and dancers who have been invited to prestigious summer programs, received college scholarships, competed at the Youth American Grand Prix (YAGP) ballet competition, awarded contracts with major ballet companies, have successful careers in the dance arts as well as the military and the medical profession.
Mrs. Morscher’s students have been awarded contracts to the following companies: Azugano African Contemporary Dance Company, Jennifer Muller- The Works, North Carolina Dance Theatre Trainee and Apprentice Program, Lake Erie Ballet, VERBS Ballet, MOMIX, Louisville Ballet, North Pointe Ballet, Tampa Ballet Theatre, American Ballet Midwest, Cleveland Ballet, New York City Ballet, and Texas Ballet Theater.
In addition to receiving dance contracts, students of Mrs. Morscher have graduated from the US Naval Academy, work with professional dancers as a Physical Therapist at the Cleveland Clinic, worked for The Balanchine Trust and the School fo American Ballet in administrative positions. Lastly, the Founding Directors of Dancing Classrooms Northeast Ohio, the Cleveland Dance Project (CDP) and the Movement Project are all former students.
JOANNE HUGHES MORSCHER
Ms. Nielsen grew in Stow and began her dance training at Excellence in Dance at the age of two. She made her first appearance with the CVYB in 2000, as the baby chick in Carnival of The Animals. She became a member of the company in 2003 and continued to perform with CVYB until 2005 when her family was transferred to Canada. Upon graduating at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy in Moscow, Russia, as well as the Stepanova Ballet Academy in Toronto, Canada in 2013, she took her first job as a Trainee with Carolina Ballet. She then continued her career dancing with James Sewell Ballet from 2014-2018. She currently dances with the Tivoli Ballet Theatre in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Kali Oliver hails from Akron, Ohio. She is a senior in the Ailey/Fordham BFA program. She has had the privilege of performing works by Alvin Ailey, Yoshito Sakuraba, Maurya Kerr, William Isaac, Thang Dao, Mark Diamond, and David Shimotakahara. Ms. Oliver was honored to perform Mr. Ailey’s Memoria with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater during their 2018 and 2019 New York City Center sessions.
She represented The Ailey School in the 2019 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. Ms. Oliver’s training has included five summers on scholarship at The Chautauqua Institute, two summers on scholarship at The Ailey School, and a summer scholarship at Alonzo King LINES Ballet. She is a teaching assistant at The Ailey School, and is excited to be back teaching at her home studio.
Keila Hamed-Ramos lives in Chicago and works as a Business Administrator and Teaching Artist for The Joffrey Ballet’s Community Engagement team. A 2016 Millikin University graduate, she has danced with Joel Hall Dancers, Meadows Dance Collective, Joel Valentin Martinez, Noumenon, and Mariah Eastman Dancers. She volunteers with DanceWorks Chicago and truly loves all things dance.
Scotto Hamed-Ramos was born in Akron, Ohio. He began his ballet training at Nan Klinger's Excellence in Dance Studio at the age of four, and continued training with Houston Ballet Academy.
He joined the Houston Ballet second company (HBII) in 2018. Scotto received The Royal Ballet Achievement Award for two-consecutive years with The Royal Ballet School, Covent Garden. His most memorable roles to date include dancing in the American Civil War-themed work by John Nuemier titled Yondering, Stanton Welch’s Brigade, and dancing Paul Taylor’s Bugle Boy. He is currently dancing with Alberta Ballet.
Erich Yetter discovered dance after a Texas high school football injury. He began studying with former Berlin Opera Ballet ballerina Ingeborg Heuser and continued his training with Fernando Schaffenburg in Ft. Worth, Texas; Ben Stevenson at the Houston Ballet Academy; and David Howard and Maggie Black in New York City.
Yetter danced with Ballet Met in Ohio before traveling to England and Ireland, where he danced a year in London and two years as principal dancer of the Irish National Ballet. Returning to the United States, Yetter graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Texas at El Paso before moving to Tennessee to dance with Ballet Memphis, where he was a principal dancer for twelve years. While still dancing, he received the Tennessee Arts Commission Individual Artist Fellowship Award and choreographed many pieces for Ballet Memphis, including a sparkling, full-length Cinderella. His professional experience includes dancing a wide variety of choreographic styles—from Petipa to George Balanchine to Trey McIntyre.
After leaving Memphis, Yetter worked for a decade as Artistic Director of Peoria Ballet where he brought a heightened sense of professionalism and community participation to the company. His service also included ten years on various grant panels of the Illinois Arts Council in Chicago, and in 2006 he received the ArtsPartners of Central Illinois Gem of the Arts Award. Yetter has staged and choreographed over 75 works for ballet, theater, and opera companies. In 2010, he received a Master’s of Science in Higher Education from Kaplan University in Chicago and was awarded a ten thousand dollar “Arts Works” grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to subsidize his production of Romeo and Juliet.
Yetter went on to teach graduate and undergraduate ballet technique at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio for six years. He also served on the dance faculty of the Cleveland School of the Arts, Wayne Center for the Arts, Ballet Excel Ohio and was on the Board of Directors of OhioDance. He freelanced as a choreographer and teacher throughout Northeast Ohio giving workshops at events such as the OhioDance Festival, American College Dance Festival Association, Youngstown State Dance Festival, The International Black Dance Conference and multiple summer intensive programs. Yetter has choreographed ballets for Canton Ballet, Ballet Excel Ohio, Ballet Theatre of Ohio, Ohio Northern University, Ashland Regional Ballet, The University of Akron and the Akron Symphony Orchestra. His works have been performed internationally and across the United States including Ireland, Guatemala, Illinois, Tennessee, Texas, and Ohio. In 2018, he choreographed and designed another full-length ballet, The Magic Flute, for Ballet Excel Ohio which was premiered at the historic Civic Theatre in downtown Akron. Currently, he is an Assistant Professor of Dance at Anderson University in Indiana, where his wife, Mary Ragna Yetter, serves as the University Organist.