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.
Sean Nguyen-Hilton is an artist, choreographer and teacher working in Atlanta. Locally, Nguyen-Hilton’s work has been presented at the Human Rights Campaign Gala, Atlanta Ballet’s Wabi Sabi, Atlanta Ballet’s Fellowship Ensemble, Museum of Contemporary Art GA, Emory Dance Company ,and The High Museum of Art. He is a Co-Artistic Director of Fly on a Wall, an idea house that presents and supports innovative performance. Previously Nguyen-Hilton danced for Columbia Classical Ballet, River North Dance Chicago, Armitage Gone! Dance, gloATL, and Staibdance.
In 2015 Sean was a Walthall Fellow through the Atlanta arts organization WonderRoot and a Hambidge Center for Creative Arts and Sciences Distinguished Fellow with Fly on a Wall. In 2016 ArtsATL said “Sean Hilton has emerged as one of the city's leading choreographers.” The same year, he was an Idea Capital Grant winner with Fly on a Wall. Sean is currently Artist-In-Residence at Kennesaw State University seannguyenhilton.com
Ronnie J Anderson is a graduate from the University of Georgia. He received his Bachelor's in Advertising from the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. He completed his dance minor May 2016 in the UGA Department of Dance. During his five years in UGA's Department of Dance, Ronnie has performed with CORE Concert Dance Company (Contemporary & Aerial Dance) for three years, under the artistic direction of Bala Sarasvati; Young Choreographers Series (student choreography show); Guest Artists’ works for Spring Dance Company; and the Contemporary African Dance Ensemble: New Conscious Explorations (CADE:NCE), under the artistic direction of Tamara Thomas. While participating with these various companies at UGA, Ronnie was afforded the opportunities to perform for LIMS Laban Mosaic at Manhattan Movement and Arts Center, Midtown, NYC (2015); American College Dance Association in Milledgeville and Tampa (2015 & 2017); Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts in Kingston, Jamaica (2017); American Dance Festival Summer Intensive at Duke (Summer 2017); the Collegium of African Diasporic Dance at Duke University (2018); and Brooklyn Academy of Music (2018).
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 attended Emory University where he earned his Bachelor of Arts in Dance & Movement Studies as well as a Bachelor of Science in 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 with Staibdance. James has traveled with Staib’s company to perform multiple works in Stockholm Sweden, Sorrento Italy, and all across the Southeast United States. Throughout college, 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. Since graduating college, James continues to exercise his devotion to both dance and veterinary medicine, as he works in the emergency room as a Critical Care Veterinary Technician at Briarcliff Animal Clinic. Furthermore, James has had the opportunity to work and perform with other revered Atlanta-based companies such as Fly on a Wall and Terminus Modern Ballet Theatre. This is James’s fourth 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.
Courtney Lewis hails from Baltimore, MD. She began her dance training at the age of 5 under the direction of Gloria Lang. Courtney studied as a scholarship student at The Ailey School and has participated in LAUNCH at Northwest Dance Project. She has been fortunate enough to work with many dance makers and instructors including Ana Marie Forsythe, Kevin Wynn, Milton Myers, Adrienne Hurd, Mook Dance Company, Alessandra Giambelli + Dancers, and Omar Roman de Jesus + Dancers. In addition to dancing, Courtney is a certified Pilates instructor and an integrative wellness coach. Courtney joined staibdance in 2018.
Gianna Mercandetti hails from Sarasota, FL, where she began her dance training at the Sarasota Ballet Academy. She attended Florida State University for her B.F.A. in Dance, graduating summa cum laude in 2013. During her undergraduate studies, she danced as a member of the Tallahassee Ballet, directed by Rick McCullough. In 2014, she moved to San Francisco, where she studied at the San Francisco Conservatory of Dance and worked as a satellite writer for The Dance Enthusiast. Following several months spent abroad, she returned to FSU for her M.F.A. in Dance, which she received in May 2018. Gianna has performed in works by Rodger Belman, Sharon Eyal, Tristan Ching Hartmann, Gerri Houlihan, Bill T. Jones, Alex Ketley, Ohad Naharin, Megan Carvajal, and Ryan McMullen. Her most recent choreographic works, in which she performed, include Where is here? (MFA Concert, Florida State University, 2018), am/are (co-choreographed with Jasmine A. Booker for Chorus Novae, Atlanta, GA, 2018), and She/Me/Her/I (Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota, FL, 2018). In fall 2017, she was commissioned by Sarasota Contemporary Dance Company to develop her work, us., for the company’s December production, Voices of SCD. In 2015/16, she was the rehearsal director for Alex Ketley’s Poem (Part 1), set on FSU dancers, and in 2016/17 she was Rodger Belman’s rehearsal assistant on the Bell and Belman project, involving dances made in conversation with paintings by visual artist Trevor Bell. Gianna is an avid traveler, food—especially sweet—enthusiast, Pilates practitioner, photographer, and musician. This is her first season with Staibdance.
Laura Morton, a Maryville, TN native, was trained under her mother’s direction, Amy Morton Vaughn, at Van Metre School of Dance and as a member of the Appalachian Ballet Company.Laura was a scholarship recipient and studied at many summer intensives including Houston Ballet, Boston Ballet, Chautauqua Institute of Dance, and Atlanta Ballet. At age 16, she trained with the Houston Ballet Academy where she completed her high school studies online. In 2014, she joined Atlanta Ballet’s second company and in 2016 was promoted to an apprentice. In her professional experience, Laura has been featured in celebrated choreographers such as Jiri Kylian, Liam Scarlett, George Balanchine, David Bentley, Helen Pickett, Gemma Bond, as well as Atlanta’s Heath Gill and Tara Lee. Currently, she is a ‘protégé’ with Terminus Modern Ballet Theatre. Laura was a scholarship recipient to Staibdance’s summer intensive in Italy for the past two summers and is incredibly honored to be joining Staibdance this year to continue to grow and discover with the company.
Amelia Reiser, a native of Norman, Oklahoma, began dancing at a very young age at Classical Ballet Academy under the direction of Julie Blacksten. Amelia went on to attend 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, and Dance Repertory Project under the direction of Rebecca Gose. Over her 20+ years of dancing, Amelia has had the opportunity to work with numerous dance makers and artists including T Lang Dance, Diavolo, Maryn Whitmore, Christina Noel Reaves, Doug Varone, & 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 local 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 fifth season with Staibdance.
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.