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. In high school she joined a local clogging group, performing for various community events and eventually teaching a young group of dancers.
While earning her Bachelors of Business Administration degree from Loyola University, Beth joined the Loyola Dance Team and also studied classical ballet and danced with the Loyola Ballet, under the direction of Gayle Parmelee, including productions of Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and Paquita. She also started her fitness career earning her Group Exercise Instructor certification and organizing several "Fitness Week" events for students.
Since college, Beth has continued to study, teach and perform with Baton Rouge Ballet Theater (Baton Rouge, LA), Tara Rodi School of the Dance (Florence, AL), and Gay Whitt School of Dance (Jonesborough, TN). Beth has passed four graded ballet teacher examinations with merit through the Cecchetti Council of America (CCA). She is a Certified Progressing Ballet Technique Instructor. She has also completed a 3-day intensive Dance Teacher and Health Professional Training, led by Australian Physiotherapist, Lisa Howell. Beth is currently working on her Personal Trainer Certification and continues to teach group fitness classes. She is passionate about helping dancers understand their bodies and how to move more efficiently and safely to prevent injury and ensure a lifetime of dance enjoyment. Beth is celebrating 8 years with Bristol Ballet and she looks forward to many more years of learning, teaching, and appreciating the art of dance!
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.
Amanda Hairston, Instructor
Amanda Hairston began her studies at age three under the direction of Maryann Snyder at the Bristol Ballet, where she continued her studies until the age of 16. She was then accepted into the Virginia School of the Arts where she finished her last two years of high school under the direction and instruction of Petrus Bosman, David Keener, and Martha Faesi. Amanda performed various roles includingSwan Lake’s Neapolitan Pas de Deux,a corp member in Balanchine’sSerenade, and a demi-soloist in theNutcracker's Waltz of the Flowers. Her senior year she performed in the Spring Gala as a demi-soloist in the reproduction of Kirk Peterson’s (ABT)Carmenworking alongside principal dancers of the Cincinnati Ballet. Amanda also completed various summer programs including the Joffrey Ballet School (NYC), Richmond Ballet, and North Carolina Dance Theatre.
After graduating from VSA, Amanda was accepted into the Richmond Ballet’s traineeship program, in which she received merit scholarships that increased each year. While there, she performed inThe Nutcracker, Giselle, Windows, and Sleeping Beauty. Upon completion, she decided to focus on her education. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Mass Communications at Virginia Commonwealth University.
Outside of teaching Bristol Ballet classes and working at Pulp Printhouse, Amanda’s most important job is raising her 5-year-old son, Holden. She is very excited to be a part of the Bristol Ballet staff!
Moira Frazier, Managing Director and Instructor
Moira Frazier grew up in Johnson City, TN, just a short drive from Bristol. She danced with Highlands Ballet in Abingdon, VA throughout her high school years, and performed in featured roles at the Paramount Theater in Bristol in productions such as the Nutcracker, A Christmas Carol, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Beauty and the Beast. She was also invited to perform at the Jamestown 400th Anniversary Celebration. Moira attended several ballet summer intensives at Nutmeg Conservatory in Connecticut, Louisville Ballet in Kentucky, and Joffrey Ballet School in New York City, and was an RA at the Fort Wayne Ballet intensive in Indiana.
Moira then attended Butler University, where she was a Dance Pedagogy major. She was a member of Butler Ballet, dancing in productions of Sleeping Beauty, the Nutcracker, and Coppelia. She was also part of several original works choreographed by Butler professors such as Tong Wang. Moira has studied with master teachers such as Kevin Martin, Derek Reid, Susan McGuire, Marek Cholewa, Alexi Tchernikov, Bruce Simpson, Alexander Proia, George de la Pena, and Francesca Corkle. She also completed training and practicums in Dance Education at Butler in order to be qualified to teach ballet to children ages 3 and up.
After an injury ended her performance career, Moira earned a bachelor’s degree in Religious Studies from Butler University and a master’s degree in Art History and Religious Studies from Yale University. She moved back to the Tri-Cities after graduation in 2016 and started teaching college courses at various local universities. Missing the ballet studio, though, Moira began substitute teaching at Bristol Ballet. Moira is thrilled to be back in the ballet studio regularly as Managing Director and as an instructor at Bristol Ballet.