Meagan Helman School Director

Meagan began her early training with the Delaware Dance Company and continued her studies with Daniel Catanach of Urban Ballet Theatre and the Atlanta Ballet. She is a graduate of Goucher College, in Maryland, with a BA in Dance. While there her choreography was presented at the American College Dance Festival and she spent time abroad studying at Middlesex University in London, England.  After graduation, Meagan joined Ballet Theatre of Maryland (BTM), she was a as promoted to a principal dancer in 2006 and remained with the company until 2014. Her repertoire with BTM includes, Swan Lake, Romeo and Juliet, Coppelia, Cinderella, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Firebird, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, The Nutcracker, Carmen, and The Scarlet Letter, among many other contemporary works. Meagan served as the Ballet Mistress for BTM from 2009-2014, where she also choreographed and taught for the company and school. She has also been a guest teacher and choreographer for the Delaware Dance Company. Meagan graduated in May of 2017 with an MA in Dance from Florida State University. Meagan is currently the photographer for the FSU’s School of Dance and the performance photographer for The Tallahassee Ballet. Her dance photographs have been published in Dance Magazine, Dance Studio Life, Dance Teacher Magazine, and the Tallahassee Democrat.

MaryRebekah Wright Assistant to the Artistic Director, Community Outreach Coordinator

MaryRebekah Wright grew up in New Smyrna Beach, Florida, and began her dance training at the age of five. She studied ballet, contemporary, jazz, tap, hip-hop, and tumbling under the direction of Crystal Draper and Melissa June. She has danced with Ellen Werksmen in Chicago, with the Atlanta Festival Ballet and the Cincinnati Ballet during summers, and spent a month studying ballet and modern dance in Paris. She was a member of the Civic Ballet of Volusia County for 10 years, performing lead roles in their annual performance of The Nutcracker. She moved to Tallahassee to study with the Florida State University School of Dance and pursued arts administration and outreach education in addition to dance. In May 2016 MaryRebekah graduated from FSU with a BFA in Dance and a minor in Communications. She has experience teaching ballet, jazz, tap, and tumbling. MaryRebekah joined The Tallahassee Ballet in July 2016, when she started as the Community Outreach Coordinator. In July 2017, she attended the National Dance Institute’s Teaching Artist Training intensive in New York City. MaryRebekah was appointed to the role of Assistant to the Artistic Director in August 2017.

Cozy Bixler

Cozy began her dance training at the age of three in Jackson, Mississippi, where she participated in both local and regional competitions. After moving to Tallahassee in 1988, she continued her dance education, competing at the national level. While pursuing a degree at Florida State University, she was a member of the Golden Girls dance team which received national ranking at that time.
Cozy has been a dance instructor for over twenty years, teaching competitive ballet, tap, jazz, lyrical and contemporary dance. Her choreography has been recognized regionally and nationally, winning numerous top scores and judges’ awards. Throughout her teaching career, Cozy coached local dance teams and founded her own All-Star team.
In addition to teaching dance, Cozy has been a Pilates instructor for the past ten years and a Barre instructor for five years. She recently became a Barre teacher trainer. Cozy holds a Classical Pilates Comprehensive Apparatus and Mat Certification and multiple Barre certifications. Through these certifications, Cozy has deepened her appreciation of developing core strength, flexibility, and movement into all aspects of dance.

Hope Eltomi

Hope began dancing at the age of 6 under the instruction of Jocelyn Woodruff at Vero Beach Ballet. Throughout middle and high school she attended summer programs at UNCSA, Boston Ballet, and on scholarship at Miami City Ballet. When Hope turned 16 she furthered her professional training at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts and graduated from their program in 2008 with a concentration in ballet. Hope was able to study under acclaimed teachers such as Melissa Hayden, Frank Smith, Nina Danilova, Fanchon Cordell, and Christine Spizzo.

Upon graduation, she was accepted into FSU’s dance program and continued her education studying under their fabulous faculty. She also had the opportunity to perform in works by renown choreographers such as Darshan Bhuller and Monica Bill Barnes.

Hope joined the Tallahassee Ballet in 2013 as a Soloist dancer and was promoted to Principal in 2016. She has performed lead roles such as Snow Queen and Drew Drop in the Nutcracker, violente fairy in Sleeping Beauty, Paquita, and Nikiya in La Bayadere.

Hope is an American Ballet Theatre® (ABT) Level 3 Certified Teacher, and has been teaching dance since she graduated from FSU in 2012.

Kelly Greisl

Kelly began dancing at the age of three at the Dance Arts Center in St. Joseph, Missouri. For more than a decade she had the opportunity to learn jazz, tap, and ballet from Ms. Lynn Fankhauser. During high school, Kelly focused on musical theater having the opportunity to work closely with Director/Choreographer Garry Tiller for four years as choreography collaborator and dance captain for shows including “Anything Goes,” “Bye Bye Birdie,” “Guys and Dolls,” and more. These experiences earned Kelly the prestigious Victor Valentine Scholarship to continue her studies in the arts.

While studying Theater at Truman State University, Kelly also became inducted into the Alpha Psi Omega Honorary Theater Fraternity, performed in shows such as “Light Up the Sky,” and was selected as a regional Irene Ryan acting nominee. Through it all, she continued to dance. As a dancer and choreographer with the TSU High Street Dancers, Kelly had the opportunity to perform at Disney’s Magic Music Days in Kissimmee, where she met her now husband. Upon moving to Tallahassee, Kelly immediately became involved in local theater groups performing and dancing in a few productions. She has taught ballet, tap and jazz to young dancers in the community for the last three years.

Katerina De Lawyer

Katerina De Lawyer is excited to join the Tallahassee Ballet school faculty. She began teaching both ballet and jazz at Ballet Lubbock in 2008. In 2016, Katerina graduated cum laude from Texas Christian University with a BFA in Ballet and minor in Child Development. After graduating she joined the Central Illinois Ballet as both a company member and teaching staff. She has taught in multiple settings including Hodges Community Center, Joe Berry Dance Company, All-Star Dance Academy, the Peoria Park District, and Cornerstone Dance Academy. Katerina has taught ballet, pointe, jazz, tap, musical theater, modern, creative movement, and hip-hop to various ages. Along with dance, she also assisted at the Fort Worth Museum School an academic based pre-school. Katerina has received awards including Nordan Fine Art’s Scholarship, Excellence in Lighting Design, and given Honorable Mention for her choreography When They’re Not Watching.

Elizabeth Bernstein

Elizabeth Bernstein, a central Florida native, holds a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Dance with Honors from The University of the Arts in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She studied classical ballet at Orlando Ballet School under the direction of Peter Stark and Fernando Bujones for ten years and modern techniques with Ellie Potts Barrett. She has attended training programs at Orlando Ballet School, Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, The University of North Carolina School of the Arts, Doug Varone and Dancers, and has spent two summers studying and performing at the American Dance Festival in Durham, NC. During her time spent achieving her degree in dance under the direction of Donna Faye Burchfield, Ms. Bernstein established herself as a dance maker and educator. Over the past few years, Ms. Bernstein has worked with Jesse Zaritt, Katie Swords-Thurman, Douglas Becker, and Doug Varone. Additionally, she worked with and performed works by Jillian Peña, No Face Performance Group, William Forsythe, Gary Jeter, Sidra Bell and Chelsea & Magda, in addition to working with a collective of New York and Philly based artists in association with Philly FringeArts. She has performed at the Bob Carr Performing Arts Center, The Stevens Center (UNCSA), The Ark (The American Dance Festival), Philly FringeArts, The Merriam Theatre (Philadelphia, PA.), The Gershman Y (Philadelphia, PA.), The Barnes Foundation (Philadelphia, PA.) and multiple, smaller, site-specific performance venues throughout Philadelphia and New York. As a seasoned performer, maker and thinker, Ms. Bernstein looks forward to new experiences where she can utilize her extensive experience for more than dance performance. Her passion for dance education and theory drives her desire to obtain an MA from Florida State University and to continue pushing the boundaries in both her writing and dance making.

Julie Opiel

Julie Opiel is a native of Memphis, TN, where she trained in classical ballet with the Ballet Memphis School. Julie received her BFA in Dance at Webster University in St. Louis, where she performed in works by Alvin Ailey and Antony Tudor. Julie’s BFA capstone work, “Bound Separation,” was performed at the American College Dance Festival regional conference. After graduating, Julie returned to Ballet Memphis and danced with the company for 3 years, performing in Cinderella, The Nutcracker, The Wizard of Oz, and Swan Lake. She was also able to dance in Steven McMahon’s “Flock Together” and in Trey McIntyre’s “Pork Songs.”  She has also spent 2 summers as a company member and rehearsal director of Ashani Dances in Seattle, WA (now located in Baltimore, MD).  She has choreographed several works for the Ballet Memphis School, the professional company’s Interiorworks series, and for Racine + Southern Dance Exchange in Memphis. Julie has taught ballet and modern for the Ballet Memphis School and for the company’s Community Engagement Program. Julie is currently pursuing her MFA in dance at Florida State University.

Naomi Lebhar

Naomi was a gymnast before beginning ballet. She was selected by Ivanka Kirov to compete nationally on the Rhythmic Gymnastics team at SCATS Gymnastics in Huntington Beach, California. She went to Houston, TX for the 2002 national Junior Olympic Championships where her team received the gold and silver medals, ranking them 2nd overall. After the Junior Olympics, Naomi began formal ballet training at Huntington Academy of Dance, studying under Marnell Himes and Judith Hawkesworth.  She completed the Cecchetti exams for Levels 3-6 and attended the Cecchetti USA summer dance intensives in Sarasota, FL and Las Vegas (under full scholarship). There, she had the opportunity to receive instruction from Trinette Singleton and Kirk Peterson, and she was featured in a piece set by Trinette Singleton. She continued ballet training in Tokyo, Japan at the Kobayashi Noriko Ballet Academy. There she studied under the Royal Academy of Dance (RAD) method and completed the Intermediate exam. After high school, she was accepted into the Trainee program at Ballet Magnificat, based in Jackson Mississippi, where she trained in the Vaganova method under Jiri Sebastian Voborsky, Cassandra Voborsky, and Jennifer Tyndall for 3 years. Upon graduation, she taught ballet in Bangalore, India for a year. Naomi is an American Ballet Theatre® (ABT) Pre-primary through Level 3 Certified Teacher. She has taught ballet and gymnastics since 2012.

Amanda Ayo

Amanda Ayo, a Miami, FL native, will be graduating from Florida State University Spring 2018 with a BFA in dance and a BS in Business Management. She began intensely training at a young age and hopes to pursue her dance and business career post-graduation in New York City. She danced at Patricia Penenori Dance Center for 15 years where she learned Ballet, Jazz, Contemporary, Flamenco, Hip Hop, and Gymnastics. Growing up she attended several regional and national dance competitions; she was announced Teen Miss Headliners at a national competition. She also attended New World School of The Arts High School, and FSU School of Dance. Dance has taken her to different parts of Florida, Boston, New York and Paris. She was chosen by Florida State University graduates and professors to participate and perform in the American College Dance Association. She has experience in teaching all levels of dance students ranging from mommy and me to professional level classes.


The Nutcracker

December 8 & 9, 2018
Ruby Diamond Concert Hall-FSU
Treat yourself to one of the holiday season’s most treasured performances – The Tallahassee Ballet’s The Nutcracker.