Ashley Wyatt grew up dancing and training at local studios in Richmond, Virginia. She attended Henrico High School Center for the Arts where she studied dance for four years. After graduating from high school, she attended James Madison University and earned a B.A. in Dance and minor in Kinesiology.
While at JMU she was apart of the Associate Dance Ensemble and the Contemporary Dance Ensemble. She was also the President and choreographer for both MOZAIC and Madison Dance’s hip-hop dance clubs. She has previously performed with the Z Mullis Dance Company, Rapture, Mayzoul and RADAR dance companies. Ashley has taught many styles and levels of dance including lyrical, jazz, ballet, tap, and hip-hop. She has received several awards for Best Choreography, Best Direction and scholarships to teacher training workshops. Most recently her work was presented at the Small Plates Choreography Festival.
Ashley continues to train and learn from instructors all over. Last summer she attended The Dance Teacher's Summit in New York Center and was able to take classes from Tessandra Chavez, Martha Nichols, Denise Walls, Stacey Tookey and many other well-known choreographers. When not at the studio Ashley can be found teaching dance every day to Lower and Middle school students at St. Catherine’s school and choreographing the Upper School Musicals. She is married to Chris and they have two dancing daughters Addisyn and Ava Grace.
Jack Bettin has had the good fortune to have been mentored by three masters of ballet - Roudolf Kharatian, Linda Kintz, and Mark Mejia. These three masters instilled in him an understanding of ballet that is both deeply rooted in the Russian tradition and cutting edge in its expression.
He has also trained at The North Carolina School of the Arts, and on scholarship at the Washington School of Ballet, Kintz-Mejia Academy of Ballet, Alvin Ailey American Dance Center, STEPS on Broadway, and the Virginia School of the Arts. Additionally, he has been certified as a Corrective Exercise Specialist and Personal Trainer through the National Academy of Sports Medicine.
Jack has performed as a company member with the Sacramento Ballet, ARKA Ballet, the Omaha Theater Company, Manassas Ballet Theatre (where he met the love of his life and long time partner, Michelle), and the Columbus Dance Theatre. He has enjoyed performing in theaters from New York to California, and many places in between.
Towards the end of his performing career, Jack was hired as the Principal Instructor, Choreographer, and Manager for the Falls Church School of Ballet under Linda Kintz and Mark Mejia. Some of his students have gone on to professional careers both in the United States and abroad.
In addition to his career in ballet, Jack is a Certified Sommelier through the Court of Master Sommeliers and has worked as a Captain, Manager, Sommelier, and Wine Director in many restaurants, some of which have earned highly coveted Michelin stars. Among them are The Inn at Little Washington (three stars), Minibar by Jose Andres (two stars), and Tail Up Goat (one star). His time in hospitality has forged an awareness that extends to each individual student in his classes and has inspired him to create a reverent and welcoming culture in his school.
Currently, Jack and his wife, Michelle are serving the Richmond area as the co-owners and Principal Instructors at the Richmond Academy of Ballet.
Michelle Bettin has danced professionally with Ballet Theatre of Maryland, Columbus Dance Theatre, and Manassas Ballet Theatre, where she met her husband and dance partner, Jack Bettin.
At nineteen, Michelle was a semi-finalist in the XII International Ballet Competition, Trujillo, Peru. She later returned to Peru to teach American jazz dance in Lima and Arequipa.
She received her early training through Maryland Ballet Theatre and Georgetown School of Ballet. Michelle is a Cum Laude graduate of Towson University in Dance Performance and Choreography and has been certified through the National Academy of Sports Medicine as a personal trainer.
Later in life, Michelle studied ballet pedagogy through Mark Mejia and Linda Kintz at Kintz-Mejia Academy of Ballet.
Michelle has been the Academy Director for Metropolitan Ballet Theatre - a non-profit arts organization, and on faculty with The Washington School of Ballet, Maryland Youth Ballet, and Joy of Motion.
Together, Michelle and Jack Bettin are the proud owners of the Richmond Academy of Ballet.
WLiz Venini has been teaching in the Richmond area for over 30 years. Originally from Michigan as a young girl her passion was in figure skating. Her relocation to Richmond Virginia when she was 12 would start her long and passionate career in dance. At the age of 15 she was cast in her first professional show with theater of Virginia’s production of “West Side Story” and never looked back.
She has worked locally with swift creek mill playhouse, Byrd theater, Kings dominion before moving to DC to spend 4 years with DuPont Alley Dance Co. and working in commercial work and Industrials. After moving back to Richmond she taught at West End Academy of Dance, Regency Dance and Encore Studio. As well as marrying her husband Chas was cast by academy awards choreographer Barry Lather for his show “Retro Active”. She settled down in chesterfield with her husband and started her own studio Chesterfield dance center. When her twin girls started elementary school she decided to turn it over to Carrie Hughs and still supports the special place in her heart.
She currently teaches at MKSD but has had the pleasure of teaching students at Prestige Dance Studio, Momentum Dance Center, Jadore’ Dance Studio, Sun King Dance as well as Gym Quest. She’s proudly been the choreographer at Cosby High school’s theater department from its beginnings in 2006. Her passion and love for all dance but mostly Jazz is evident from the moment she starts to teach.
LaWanda S. Raines began her professional dance career with UJIMA Dance Theater (1994) under the direction of Carol Crawford Smith, former principal of Dance Theater of Harlem. One fated Black College Dance exchange led her to Chris Burnside, who was current department Chair of VCU. She earned a BFA in Dance and Choreography from Virginia Commonwealth University (2000). While an undergrad she was cast in ensemble, lead, and feature roles with guest artists such as Martha Graham Company, Doug Neilson, and Earl Mosley. Post undergrad performances include Fred Ho, Chris Burnside, Claves Unidos, and Sarah Pearson/Patrick Widrig Dance Theater, and VA Repertory Theatre. Mrs. Raines worked for eleven years with the Latin Ballet of Virginia, as associate artistic director, junior company director, Educational Programs Assistant, and assistant costume designer. In addition to performing in full length reparatory concerts, developing lecture demonstrations, teaching workshops, and serving as a spokesperson for television appearances.
Her chorographic journey includes Children of Eden (Manchester High School), Latin Ballet of Virginia productions (2004-2014), Langston is My Man (African American Repertory Company). Adjudicated works have been presented at Black College Dance Exchange and Star Foster Choreographer’s Showcase, Richmond Dance Festival, Krash! Dance Concert (2015-2019).
Performance includes repertory in Modern, Contemporary, Latin Jazz, Musical Theater, Hip Hop, African Caribbean, Latin Social Dances, Flamenco, and stage fighting. Her dance background includes Dance Theater, gymnastics, ballet, modern, hip hop, tap, flamenco, African Caribbean and Latin Social Dances. She worked as a teaching artist for Richmond Center stage Education Programs creating arts integration dance experiences for pre-K through middle school classroom settings. Currently she is a member of RVA Dance Collective, as well as a freelance performer and choreography. She is an adjunct faculty member at Virginia State University and William and Mary University, as well as teaching for Art In Motion Dance Academy. LaWanda has created works that deal with issues surrounding disability, dangerous relationships, marriage, poverty, and racism. Mrs. Raines received a M.F.A in Dance and Creative Process with a Certificate in Dance Production from St. Mary’s College, California, in 2016. She has been teaching, choreographing and performing in RVA since 1995, and works with all ages and all stages
Neo Lynch is a former competition dancer from Alexandria, VA where she studied jazz, ballet, tap, pointe, lyrical, gymnastics, contemporary and hip hop for 15 years. She attended Virginia Commonwealth University studying Criminal Justice, then pursued a career as a professional dancer upon moving to Atlanta in 2006. There she quickly excelled as a top industry dancer and performed with Beyonce, Ciara, P. Diddy, Nelly, Bow Wow, Keri Hilson, The Dream, and Cherish, to name a few. She has graced the stages of the MTV VMA’s, BET Awards, BET HipHop Awards, MTV's Sweet 16, MTV Japan, and Good Morning America, in addition to being a principal dancer in dozens of national and international music videos. She has toured with Ciara, Mary J Blidge, Jay-Z, New Kids on the Block, Chris Brown, and the International Raggs Kids Club Tour. Neo has been featured in commercials for Dunkin Donuts, Tyler Perry and Verizon Wireless, and was recently a hip-hop Coach on MTV’s hit series “Made.” She has worked with Frank Gatson, Fatima Robinson, JaQuel Knight, Jamaica Craft, Marty Kudelka, Jamie Parrish, and Laurieann Gibson. Her creativity, warm spirit, and certification as a personal trainer has landed her opportunities to serve as specialty choreography consultant/trainer to music videos for R&B artists Ciara, Keri Hilson, Tami Chynn and Cherish. Of all of her professional experiences, her proudest achievements have been of sharing her passion for dance with students