Meet The Faculty
Barbara LeGault HRB’s Ballet Mistress is a graduate of Houston’s High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. Barbara Le Gault trained under Margo Marshall and was formerly with City Ballet of Houston. Since that time she has danced many leading roles with the Pittsburgh Ballet Theater and the Louisville Ballet. She was directed by Alun Jones and Helen Starr. In 1979 Jones paid Ms. Le Gault the ultimate compliment by creating his Cinderella especially for her. She also danced with Tennesssee Festival Ballet directed by David and Anna Marie Holmes, and with the Summer Festival Ballet in Lisbon, Portugal. Her repertoire inculdes “Don Quixote”. “Swan Lake”, “Nutcracker”, Sleeping Beauty” and “Raymonda” just to name a few. Other credits include Houston Grand Opera productions of “Mefeistofoles” and “Aida”. Ms. LeGault was on the teaching staff of American Academy of Dance NHDT headquarters from 1987 to 2006. She has been on the faculty of Ballet Center of Houston since 2008 and is ballet mistress of Houston Repertoire Ballet.
JoDee Engle is a native Houstonian and a graduate of the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. She also received her early training from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, where she studied under Lynette Mason-Gregg, Soili Arvola, and Leo Ahonen. After HSPVA, she attended the University of North Carolina School of the Arts where she ultimately received her B.F.A. in Modern Dance. While at UNCSA, she had the pleasure of working with choreographers such as Sara Hook, Mary Cochran, Murray Lewis, Bill Young, Lar Lubovitch, and performing the works of renowned choreographers like Jose Limon and Alwin Nikolais. JoDee was also a member of the Pluck Project, a student initiated and student produced project in which the graduating class presents an evening-length concert of their own work in New York City. Since her return to Houston, she has danced with the Sandra Organ Dance Company, Dominic Walsh Dance Theater, Houston Grand Opera, Psophonia, Leslie Scates, and San Diego Opera, among others. For seven years, JoDee danced with Hope Stone Dance Company, where she was rehearsal director and directed their pre-professional company, Hope Stone Dance II (h.s.d. II). She is also a dance consultant at HSPVA and teaches at several other studios in the Houston area. JoDee is a founding member of Houston Dance Collective.
Lacey Flowers was born in Maracaibo, Venezuela and was introduced to dance at age eight, but did not start her classical ballet training until the age of 21. She completed her Bachelor of Arts degree in Dance form Texas Tech Univeristy in 1986. Ms. Flowers has been formally trained in the Teaching Method of Classical Ballet and has been involved in teaching all levels of ballet for the past 25 years. She has studied under the guidance of a number of well known teachers, including spending several months studying ballet in Germany. She has taken her gift for dance to audiences across the United States and England performing numerous pieces choreographed specifically for her. She has had the honor of working with Galina Mezentseva, former Prima Ballerina of the Kirov Ballet, and was privately coached by Valery Panov. She was selected to perform the Peasant Pas de deux in Panov’s World Premiere performance of “Giselle”. Ms. Flowers has been on the faculty of Ballet Center of Houston since 1998. She truly enjoys teaching ballet!
Leah Stark joined BCH in 2006 after graduating from the University of Hawaii and moving to Texas to continue her education. She received her early ballet and teaching training in the Vaganova method from Cynthia Murphy at the Alexander Academy of Performing Arts on Maui. She went on to dance and teach with Ballet Hawaii under Artistic Director Pamela Taylor Tongg. Leah has a wonderful personality and loves teaching. Her goal is to bring imagination and caring to her students, inspiring them to want to dance and giving them the knowledge and technical skill to succeed while encouraging them to always do their very best. In addition to teaching ballet, she has also helped out in the BCH office and was the Houston Repertoire Ballet’s administrator for four years. She received her Master of Library Science degree from Sam Houston State University and currently works in the education system.
Leah Stephens Smith was born in El Paso, Texas. Her family moved shortly after to Monroe, Louisiana where she received most of her training at the Linda Lavender School of Dance. She was also a performing member for many years with Twin City Ballet. She has performed in many leading roles including: Victoria Vittum’s “Bolero” and Snow Queen in “Nutcracker” among others. Leah received 2nd place in the contemporary division of the Youth America Grand Prix in Denver, Colorado, she was also chosen to represent the Twin City Ballet Company in a collaborative work of choreography for the International Ballet Competition. Her most recent piece of choreography, “Influentia”, was selected as emerging choreography to be performed at the regional festival of the the Southwest Region of Regional Dance America in March of 2014.
Ms. Smith teaches many styles of dance including classical ballet, contemporary, jazz and tap.
Music has always been a part of Leah’s life. Because of this, she has a strong appreciation for music and what can be created through it. She is very passionate about teaching and believes in nurturing the hearts of children, while instilling in them a love for the art form and an appreciation for the beauty that is created through movement.
Ballet Center of Houston welcomed Leah to the faculty in August 2014.
Kristy Nilsson performed and trained with Atlanta Ballet and Charleston Ballet Theatre. She graduated from Univ of Oklahoma with a BFA, Dance Pedagogy and from HSPVA in Houston. Kristy has been teaching full-time since 2001 and has choreographed 100 commissioned concert ballet, contemporary, and modern dance works, plus 9 full-length commissioned narrative ballets, which have been performed by 28 companies in 11 states in the U.S. & Canada – and she has created 5 works on the professional company,The Georgia Ballet. Her choreography has won recognition from Regional Dance America, the Southeastern Regional Ballet Association, and Dance Canvas. Kristy is happily married to dance photographer, Scott Nilsson, a former dancer. They have loved living and working together in Atlanta and are now excited to move to Houston this summer.
Catherine Busch trained at the Ballet Center of Houston under Victoria Vittum and Gilbert Rome from 1994-2000. Ms. Busch was a member of Houston Repertoire Ballet from 1996-2000, dancing roles in “The Nutcracker,” “Napoli,” “Giselle,” and numerous original works by Victoria Vittum and Gilbert Rome. Ms. Busch went on to dance as a member of Chara Dance Company from 2003-2006 while earning her B.S. in Biomedical Science at Texas A&M University. She continued dance classes and received training in Pilates and yoga over the next several years as she then completed a Ph.D. in Genetics at A&M. Since graduation, Ms. Busch has worked as a professional tutor with all ages while also teaching ballet, barre, and Pilates classes. She has also taught and choreographed for dance workshops for elementary school age children every summer since 2003. Teaching and ballet are two of Ms. Busch’s greatest passions, and she is very excited and honored to be a part of training a new generation of dancers at the Ballet Center of Houston
Tessa Victoria, studied ballet at Allegro Ballet of Houston, Margo Marshall School of Dance and then finished her last five years of training at Houston Ballet. She went on to dance professionally with Ballet West, Dominic Walsh Dance Theatre, and Sponge Cake Contemporary Ballet where she was a principle dancer. She danced professionally for 13 years and then retired after having her first child; Lea. Tessa has taught for many ballet schools and is especially excited to teach for Victoria, one of her favorite ballet teachers.
Julie Hoffart received her dance training from Ballet Center of Houston. She was a member of Houston Repertoire Ballet for many years. Julie has performed the roles of Snow Queen and Clara in “Nutcracker”, the fairy godmother in “Cinderella”, a willi in “Giselle”, a shade in “La Bayadere” as well as many contemporary ballets created for HRB. She created the role of Cat in the Hat, in “Storybook Fantasy”, Puck in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, “Bolero” and “Rhapsody in Blue”. Julie is currently pursuing a career in physical therapy and returns to substitute teach for BCH.
Katie Koy has risen through the ranks at BCH since beginning her dance training at 8 years old under the guidance of Gilbert Rome and Victoria Vittum. She joined the faculty in 2007. While a student, she performed with Houston Repertoire Ballet for seven years in Sleeping Beauty, Les Sylphides, Swan Lake, La Bayadere, Cinderella and principal roles in The Nutcracker. Ms. Koy, who has danced in works by Sandra Organ, Anne Polenjenko, Leeyan Neeley, Gilbert Rome and Lynn Cote, also trained at summer dance programs at the Joffrey Ballet, American Ballet Theatre and The Washington Ballet. She has served as a ballet mistress in the past for Houston Repertoire Ballet and recently graduated from the University of Houston with a degree in Public Relations. Katie is currently on hiatus and returns to substitute teach for BCH.
Guest Teachers: Ballet Center of Houston brings in many guest teachers throughout the year. Past guest teachers have included: Rudolph Kharatian, Zachary Carroll, Clara Cravey, Steve Brule, Andrew Murphy, Sabrina Lenzi, Tina Bohnstedt, Davida Haas, Keith Cross, Kristy Nilsson, Sara Webb, and Connor Walsh just to name a few.