Artistic director

Born in Tehran, Iran, George Staib is of Armenian descent and has been living in the United States since the age of ten. He began his dance training at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania in conjunction with the Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet. Though his BA is in political science, he actively studied dance, music and theater throughout his undergraduate years. He then went on to earn an MFA in dance and choreography from Temple University where he served on the faculty upon graduation. Notable teachers include Ann Vachon, Marcia Dale Weary, and Betty Jones; company credits include Ann Vachon/Dance Conduit, Coriolis Dance Company, Gathering Wild Dance Company, and Paula Kellinger and Dancers. In addition, the fall of 2006 provided Staib the opportunity to perform with the José Limón Dance Company as a guest artist in their re-creation of Missa Brevis. He has performed his critically-acclaimed solo NarcissEros extensively at venues across the United States and Europe.

As a choreographer, Staib has been honored with awards and citations both nationally and internationally. He received top honors for choreography in the Prague Dance and Theatre Prize 2000, held in the Czech Republic. His work has also been presented in London and various cities throughout Italy. National accolades include the Governor’s Prize from the Philadelphia Council on the Arts in 1994 while still a student, the Walkley Prize and the Weiss Prize for the Arts - both for his choreography. His choreography has been extensively commissioned and produced in over 20 states and selected for ACDFA (American College Dance Festival Association) Gala Performances. Recently, Staib’s work was commissioned by Moving Current Dance Company in Tampa, Florida where it was later selected to be included in the company’s 15th anniversary “Fan Favorite” concert.

As a teacher, he served as a Guest Artist-in-Residence at Temple University, Wilson College and the University of Nevada. He was also a resident choreographer and teacher at the Las Vegas Civic Ballet for four years. Staib has an extensive background in music and has been recognized nationally for his choreographic and design contributions to high school band and colorguard programs, as well as the drum corps and winter guard activities. In addition, Staib serves on the Executive Committee for ACDFA as Vice President of Membership and served as an adjudicator for the South Regional Conference in 2013.

In 2001 he joined the dance faculty at Emory University where he teaches modern and ballet techniques, choreography, and Contemplate, Create, Debate, a freshman seminar he created to introduce students to the practice of seeing and making art. He is also a regular advisor to honor’s candidates in the Dance and Theater and Music Departments at Emory.

In 2011, Staib received Emory’s highly competitive and prestigious Winship Award for senior lecturers. He then traveled to Tel Aviv, Israel where he spent five weeks studying both Gaga technique with members of the Batsheva Dance Company and release technique with Iris Enez and leading choreographic workshops and feedback sessions. His relationship with Israeli dance continues with the recent publication of his article in the online magazine “Dance in Israel” and the incorporation of Gaga technique in his summer workshop in Sorrento, Italy. Most recently, George was invited to Stockholm to teach at one of Sweden's top colleges, Södra Latin and to set work on SARACENO DANCE COMPANY, a Swedish contemporary company. 


Company dancers

Anna Bracewell Crowder was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia and began her dance training at an early age at Decatur School of Ballet. While receiving her classical training at DSOB, she attended and graduated from DeKalb School of the Arts, where she studied under the legendary Pamela Jones Malave. Anna went on to receive a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Dance from the University of Georgia. While at UGA, she was a member of CORE Concert Dance Company (CCDC) under the direction of Bala Sarasvati, performing contemporary and aerial dance with training emphasis on LMA and Bartenieff Fundamentals. After graduating in 2012, Anna returned home to Atlanta where she began dancing with Staibdance and is currently within her 4th season with the company. Anna is also currently a dance Artist with CORE Performance Company (CPC) in Atlanta and with them has performed in theaters, museums, festivals and other site specific spaces across the U.S. and internationally. In her time with CPC, she has had the opportunity to work with notable artists such as Amanda K. Miller, Isabelle Saulle, Adolfo Vargas, Niv Sheinfeld and Oren Laor, Leslie Scates, Lori Teague, and Sue Schroder. Outside of her work with CPC and Staibdance, Anna has had the pleasure of dancing with Blake Beckham and The Lucky Penny, Erik Thurmond, and Catellier Dance Projects! Anna has also been internationally recognized in her collaborative work with Association Manifeste (Toulouse, France) in which she performed in several spaces across France and the U.S.


James La Russa began his dance training at The Atlanta Ballet and was a student of the pre-professional division by the age of 9. During his time as a student, James received full scholarships to the Atlanta Ballet School, Australian Ballet School, Atlanta Ballet Summer Intensive, Boston Ballet Summer Intensive, and the Orlando Ballet Sumer Intensive.  He’s performed in multiple works adjudicated for the Southeast Regional Ballet Association as well as Regional Dance America.  After graduating high-school, James earned his Bachelor of Science degree at Emory University where he double-majored in Dance & Movement Studies and Biology with a concentration in Pre-Veterinary Medicine.  During his time at Emory, James was part of the Emory Dance Company, Captain of the Hip-Hop dance crew TrickaNomeTry (TNT), and a company member for Staibdance. James’s academic dedication earned him numerous awards including the Friends of Dance Scholarship, Zell Miller Scholarship, William & Otis Benton Scholar, and the Sudler Prize.  After graduating, James remains in Atlanta, continuing to dance for Staibdance and working as a Critical Care Veterinary Technician in the emergency room at Briarcliff Animal Clinic.  This is James’s second season with Staibdance.


Emma Lalor is an Atlanta-based dance artist who focuses her passion for movement into improvisation, invention, floorwork and collaboration. A native of Asheville, North Carolina, Emma began her dance training under the instruction of Heather Maloy, a former soloist with North Carolina Dance Theatre and the director of Terpsicorps Theatre of Dance. Her professional aspirations led her to study at the selective and rigorous contemporary dance high school conservatory of North Carolina School of the Arts. Emma received her Bachelor's of Fine Arts in Dance from Florida State University, with a distinguished Honors in the Major. During her time at Florida State, Emma designed and embarked on a semester at London Contemporary Dance School, the first exchange of its kind within the program. She has attended a variety of intensive workshops, including Northwest Dance Project's LAUNCH, VIM VIGOR, Movement Invention Project, the Gaga Winter Intensive and San Francisco Conservatory of Dance. Emma has had the great pleasure of performing the works of George Staib, T. Lang, Trey McIntyre, Alex Ketley, Zane Booker, Heather Maloy and Ilana Goldman in national and international venues. She is delighted to begin her second season with Staibdance.


Erika Leeds has recently graduated with her Bachelor's of Fine Arts in Dance from Florida State University. She was born and raised in Boynton Beach, Florida, where she began her training at a local studio around the age of 4 studying in various styles with her main focus on ballet. Later, she attended A.W. Dreyfoos High School of the Arts for four years, during which she also trained at the Art of Classical Ballet under both Magaly Suarez and Ibis Montoto. Erika has attended numerous summer programs including, ImpulsTanz in Vienna, Austria; Staibdance in Sorrento, Italy; The American Dance Festival; San Francisco Conservatory of Dance, Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet. Throughout her time at FSU, she had the opportunity to work with choreographers such as Gerri Houlihan, Lynda Davis, Nancy Smith Fichter, and Rick McCullough, while also dancing as a member of the Tallahassee Ballet Company. During a semester long program in New York City, she had the opportunity to perform works choreographed by Jee Ahn in the Dumbo Arts Festival and KoDaFe. Immediately after graduation, Erika received her certification in the Level 1 GYROTONIC expansion system. She is currently residing in Atlanta, where she will be dancing with Staibdance, under the direction of George Staib. 


Britanie Leland began her dance training in West Palm Beach, Florida, attending the Bak Middle School of the Arts, and Alexander Dreyfoos Jr. School of the Arts. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of South Florida, with a BFA in Dance Performance, and a minor in Business Administration. During her time at USF, she performed works by faculty members, Bliss Kohlmyer, Jeanne Travers, Andee Scott, John Parks, and Andrew Carroll. She also performed guest faculty, Ben Munisteri's "Catalog," and restaging’s of the historical works, "Les Desenamordas," choreographed by Eleo Pomare and "Come and Get the Beauty of it Hot," choreographed by Talley Beatty. Additionally, she has attended and performed at the Florida Dance Festival in Tampa, FL (2012), the Dance Gallery Festival in Huntsville, TX (2013), and Staibdance Summer Intensive in Sorrento, Italy (2013).  This is her second season with Staibdance.


Amelia Reiser began dancing in the kitchen as soon as she could stand up, starting at Classical Ballet Academy under the direction of Julie Blacksten not long after. A native of Norman, Oklahoma, Amelia is a graduate of the University of Georgia where she completed a Bachelor's of Fine Arts degree in Dance. While at UGA she trained and performed as a member of CORE Concert Dance company under the direction of Bala Sarasvati. Over her 20+ years of dancing, she has had the great pleasure of working with numerous dance makers and artists including T Lang Dance, Doug Varone, Diavolo, Maryn Whitmore, Christina Noel Reaves, & Emily Christianson. Her work has been shown in festivals and venues both locally and internationally. In addition to dancing with Staibdance, Amelia teaches yoga at Decatur Yoga, and is a teacher and administrator for nonprofit Centering Youth. An avid lover of dramatic skies, mountains, and trees, Amelia spends most spare moments in her garden, or escaping the city in search of adventure and wilderness. This is Amelia's fourth season with Staibdance.


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Virginia Spinks is an Atlanta native. She began her dance training at six years old at Vista Grove Dance Centre. She is a graduate of DeKalb School of the Arts where she studied under Dean Williams, Anna Dunn, and Marci Levkoff. During this time, she also studied under Robert and Jennifer Mason of City Gate Dance Theatre and became a member of the National Dance Honors Society. She went on to earn a dual degree (BA) in Dance and Religion & Anthropology from Emory University. While at Emory, she had the chance to study with artist like Sarah Barry, Yossi Berg and Oded Graf, T.Lang,  and the Atlanta Ballet's Sarah Hillmer. Last year, she had the opportunity to apprentice with Staibdance and intern for the Summer Intensive Program in Italy. This is her premier season with the company. Outside of dance, Virginia is a professional within the non-profit scene in Atlanta, a researcher, activist, and Humanity in Action Fellow. 


Kathleen Wessel is a founding company member of Staibdance and a regular faculty member on the Staibdance Summer Intensive in Sorrento, Italy. She holds a bachelor's degree in psychology from Emory University and a Master of Fine Arts degree in dance performance and choreography from Florida State University. Kathleen has also performed as a guest artist with David Dorfman Dance, Emily Cargill and Dancers in the NYC10 Festival in New York, and Saraceno Dance Company in Stockholm, Sweden. Her choreography for dance, color guard, and musical theater been commissioned by colleges and companies across the Southeast including Spelman College, Emory University, Georgia College and State University, Emily Cargill and Dancers, Gathering Wild Dance Company, the Osceola Center for the Arts, and Central Florida Community Arts. Her work has twice been selected for American College Dance Association Gala concerts. Currently, Kathleen directs the dance program at Oxford College of Emory University and writes about dance for ArtsATL and Dance Informa magazines. She is also a certified Power Pilates instructor and a reading therapist at Syllables Learning Center.