Our Staff

Michele Plescia, Artistic Director and Instructor

Michele Plescia studied ballet with Bristol Ballet’s founder and director, Constance Hardinge, beginning her studies at age seven. At age eight, she was one of a handful of Bristol students selected by Maria Tallchief, founder of Chicago City Ballet, to receive a Ford Foundation Scholarship to continue her ballet studies. Later Michele attended Sullins College as a dance major, under the direction of Madame Valentina Belova. Afterward, Michele was a member of a professional company in Arlington, Virginia, directed by Carmen Matte, former Prima Ballerina of the National Ballet of Washington, D.C. Michele has worked with Robert Barnette, Val Deacon, Ben Stevenson, and David Howard, among others. She has performed various roles in “The Nutcracker”, “Quatre Vignette”, the “Don Q. Pas de Deux”, “Les Sylphides”, and other original works.

Michele received her teaching certification from the prestigious Royal Academy of Dance, headquartered in London, England, in 2002. The internationally recognized Royal Academy of Dance is the world’s largest ballet examining and training organization. Michele passed the certification with merit.. Academy members have described her as a gracious and unassuming lady, as having a good eye for correction, as having a good rapport with her students, and as having high standards in demonstrating technique. Prior to returning to Bristol, Michele has spent the last twelve years teaching in the Chicago area, Many of her students have gone on to join regional companies and/or to major in dance in college.

[Minds Wide Open] Michele was honored by MINDS WIDE OPEN: Virginia Celebrates Women in the Arts in 2010 for her talent, creativity, and important contributions to the arts in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

“Michele is a master teacher. She is clear, concise, and commanding without being overbearing. She focuses the class motifs for her students, and her use of imagery is stellar.” – Tanya Picard, Chicago Master Teacher and Choreographer

Beth Barnette, Creative Movement and Pre-Ballet Instructor

Beth Barnette is a South Louisiana native with a diverse dance background. Folk Dancing was an activity she shared with her mother starting at a very young age, so she developed an appreciation for dance as a way to express one’s cultural roots. Dance training continued through grade school including ballet, tap, jazz, baton twirling, and gymnastics classes. In high school she joined a local clogging group, performing for various community events and eventually teaching a young group of dancers. She attended Loyola University New Orleans where she earned her BBA and graduated with honors. During these college years, Beth joined the Loyola Dance Team where she performed at sporting events and school functions. She also studied classical ballet and danced with the Loyola Ballet in such productions as Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and Paquita. Beth has passed four graded ballet teacher examinations with merit through the Cecchetti Council of America (CCA). She is currently working toward completing Grade 5 with ambitions to complete all 7 grades within the next several years. She is also a founding member of the Southern Mountain Regional Committee of the CCA, who have provided three full student scholarships and one teacher part-scholarship to the CCA International Summer Seminar in Holland, MI. Beth currently works for Cumberland Marketing in Kingsport where she provides product-based marketing tools for Eastman Chemical Company’s promotional efforts. She also teaches group fitness through Eastman’s wellness program, where she has designed her own brand of fitness class called “Dance-Fit,” a class that introduces participants to various styles of dance and movement in a fun and safe workout. Beth is excited about the opportunity to work with Michele Plescia and Bristol Ballet, teaching the Creative Movement and Pre-Ballet classes.

Pat Holden, Instructor

Pat is a graduate of the National Ballet School of Canada under the direction of Betty Oliphant and Celia Franka and continues her professional studies through frequent summer teacher’s courses at the National Ballet. Ms. Holden has been a soloist with Memphis Ballet, Tennessee Ballet, and the Memphis State Dance Company. She has served as Ballet Mistress for Memphis Ballet and Ballet South. She has taught ballet at Memphis State University, The University of Memphis, St. Mary’s Episcopal School, Lausanne Collegiate School , St. Agnus Academy and Hutchinson School in Memphis and developed after-school dance programs for Memphis City Schools. She was the owner of Ballet Workshop, also in Memphis. She has taught in East Tennessee for more than 10 years and was Childrens’ Director for The Moscow Ballet production of “The Great Russian Nutcracker” in 1999 and 2000. She received the Tennessee Governors Award for Teaching Excellence in 2002.

Rebecca Catalano, Instructor

Rebecca Catalano has been performing since she was a small child, starting in ballet at the age of 4. She studied Classical Russian Ballet for 16 years with the Louis Nunnery School of Classical Ballet where she eventually went on to teach for several years. She received her BFA in Musical Theatre from VA Intermont College and her AA in Music Education from Catawba Valley Community College. She has performed and studied many various styles of dance including Pointe, Swing, Partnering, Contemporary, Lyrical, Broadway, Fosse, & Burlesque.

Catalano has taught ballet since the age of 16 and most recently enjoyed the opportunity to teach students in the Raleigh, NC area who would normally not be able to afford tuition through a wonderful community program.

She has performed on stages across the world with the Singular Sensations Show Choir, enjoying tours in Italy, Brazil, Ireland, North Carolina, and California. Her passion is in both teaching and performance; whether she is singing a Mozart aria, belting a Broadway tune, floating across the stage en pointe, being fierce and unforgettable in a contemporary dance, or acting her heart out, the stage is her home and first love and she is thrilled to have an opportunity to share her passion, experience, and knowledge with her students!

Amanda Sells, Instructor

Amanda began her dance journey at a very early age. She developed a desire to dance as a toddler, observing her older sister's dance classes. She began to take her own classes at the age of three. Many forms of dance influenced Amanda's childhood, including classical ballet, lyrical dance, tap and jazz. She took classes at various local studios, finding her home at Highlands Ballet Company, where she became a company member as a teenager. She performed various roles in the Nutcracker, Copellia, and Mountain Ballad. At the age of 18, Amanda left the dance world to seek a career in the medical field. After becoming a registered nurse, she married and was blessed with a beautiful set of twins.

Now, as a stay-at-home mom, she has found time to incorporate dance in her adult life. She has been training in the area of latin dance over the last five years. She has enjoyed assisting her instructor in demonstrating and performing salsa, tango and bachata.

Amanda now has the good fortune of bringing her love for dance full circle. She has a passion for working with small children and is excited to introduce dance to them. She plans to use her personal experiences to instill a respect for proper technique and provide an outlet for positive self expression for the small dancers at Bristol Ballet.

Ivy Ritchie, Managing Director

Bio coming soon!