Who We Are

Richmond Academy of Ballet is a passion project.  We are a married couple who have devoted our lives to this beautiful craft.  We've grown up with it, it has provided us with a living as performers and teachers, and now our daughter is being raised steeped in this fabulous culture. 

 

Our mission is simple - to inspire generation after generation to see more beauty in the world and then to find their own contribution to it.  We guide our students to find motivation within. Children must learn that great accomplishments are not achieved through brief fits of strenuous effort, but through consistency, discipline and endurance.  It is essential for them to experience the sense of freedom and confidence that comes from developing themselves in this way.  Having done so, no matter which path they choose in life, they will be well-prepared to succeed.

 
Richmond Academy of Ballet began in September of 2020, teaching socially distanced classes, 3 students at a time, in our parents' basement.  The families of our students supported us through word of mouth, and our school soon outgrew that tiny basement.  In April of 2021, RAB opened the doors to its permanent home at 413-C Branchway Road, conveniently located, yet tucked away near Chesterfield Towne Center.  






Michelle Bettin/ Owner & Artistic Director

 

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 that year to teach American jazz dance in Lima, and Arequipa, Peru.

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, from 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.

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Together, Michelle and Jack Bettin are the proud owners of Richmond Academy of Ballet.

 


Jack Bettin/ Owner & Artistic Director

 

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 trained on scholarship at the Washington School of Ballet, Kintz-Mejia Academy of Ballet, Alvin Ailey American Dance Center, STEPS on Broadway, the Virginia School of the Arts and also at the North Carolina School of the Arts.  Jack has been certified as a Corrective Exercise Specialist and Personal Trainer through the National Academy of Sports Medicine and as a Gravity Yoga Teacher through Yoga Teachers College.

Jack has performed as a company member with the Sacramento Ballet, ARKA Ballet, the Washington National Opera, 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 served as the Principal Instructor, Choreographer, and Manager for the Falls Church School of Ballet under Linda Kintz and Mark Mejia. Among his former students are professional dancers and performers 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, Minibar by Jose Andres, and Tail Up Goat.  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.

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Together, Michelle and Jack Bettin are the proud owners of Richmond Academy of Ballet.

 

 

 


Starrene Foster / Modern

 

A Richmond native, Starrene Foster, is a choreographer, dance educator and the Artistic Director of Starr Foster Dance. Starrene has been recognized as 2019 Choreographer of the Year by RVA Dance Awards, Richmond’s Most Prestigious 25 Arts Innovators, and is the beneficiary of the VCU Star Alumni Award, the Theresa Pollak Award for Artistic Excellence, and has been featured on PBS's Virginia Currents. For the last 16 years, SFD has produced the highly acclaimed Mid-Atlantic Choreographers Showcase which provides other dance artists the  opportunity to present work. She has received grants from the Virginia Council for the Arts for her teaching and community outreach, as well as many commissions to create new dance works for universities, professional dance companies, and independent artists. Starrene's choreography has been presented nationally which include: ShortNorthStage (OH), Stockton University (NJ), The Philadelphia Fringe Festival (PA), The Jack Guidone Theatre (DC), SUNY Buffalo (NY), The New World School (FL), Old Dominion University (VA), Cornell University (NY), James Madison University (VA), Dance Charlotte (NC), The Goose Route Dance Festival (WV), the Demetrius Klein Dance Festival (FL), University of Maryland, The Richmond Ballet (VA), University of Richmond (VA), Scranton Cultural Arts Center (PA), Baltimore Theatre Project (MD), The Lorton Workhouse (DC), International Festival of Music, Big River Dance Festival (WV) and the Festival of Choreography (NC). She has also choreographed a wealth of music videos and commercials. As a dancer, Starrene trained under many dance greats including Betty Jones, Jeff Slayton, Gerri Houlihan,  Tatiana Akinfieva, and at the Neubert Ballet Institute. She has had the pleasure of performing works by Mark Taylor, Doug Varone, Sharon Kinney, Ronald K. Brown, Mark Dendy, Pewan Chow (Hong Kong), Raul Parro (Mexico), among many others. Starrene is currently on faculty at the Department of Theatre & Dance at the University of Richmond, VCU Dance and the School of Richmond Ballet. She is an advocate for enriching the world with more art and has dedicated her life to collaborating with all types of artists and mentoring young artists. www.starrfosterdance.org

 

 

 

 

 


Alyssa Fujimoto/ Jazz & Contemporary

 

 

Originally from Salt Lake City Utah, Alyssa began her training under the direction of Bonnie Story, Rick Robinson, Linda Fenton, and Kellie Messerly. She went on to pursue her BA in modern dance from Brigham Young University, where she received both talent and academic scholarships. During her studies she received several awards including Outstanding Female Performer, and All Around Excellence in Performance. She had the opportunity to perform internationally with the university's touring dance company, and was accepted as a student faculty member.  

Following graduation, Alyssa continued her training with Repetoire Dance Theater,  Wasatch Contemporary Dance, Salt Contemporary, and Raw Moves. Alyssa performed professionally with Aspire Modern Dance Company and the Oquirrh West Project. As a performer she has studied with and performed works by Ching Ching Wong, Courtney Mazieka, Logan McGill, Miles Tracy, and Sharlee Peay amongst others. 

Professionally, Alyssa worked as the Artistic Director for the Oquirrh West Project for 3 seasons, as well as the Artistic Director for Kinuko Modern Dance for one season. Upon relocating with her family to RVA in 2019.

Alyssa has 14+ years of teaching experience. She has continued her education by attending dance educator trainings with Sarah Pickett, Repetoire Dance Theater, Salt Contemporary, amongst others. She is CLI certified in Choreography, as well as Strength Training and Injury Prevention. To ensure the safety of her students, she has also taken several YPAD Safety and Wellness courses. She is trained in Sugar Foot Therapy techniques and is currently pursuing certifications in PCT, and a Yoga Certification. 

 

Her passions are in providing a safe environment for her students to explore their artistry and technical abilities, without the fear of failure or judgment. Students are encouraged by Alyssa to push their personal boundaries to allow growth as technicians, artists and as human beings. Her choreographic works have received countless honors and awards, and have been featured across the country in both professional and studio settings. Alyssa looks forward to continuing her research and exploration of the art of movement here in RVA.

 

 

 

Allison Kahelski/ First Steps & Beginning Ballet 

 

Allison’s passion for ballet started at an early age while growing up in Chambourcy, France and Surrey, England where she was instructed in the Cecchetti and Royal Academy of Dance Methods.  She was inspired by her teachers and by the many extraordinary dancers she had the opportunity of seeing in Paris and London.  After moving back to the United States to Rhode Island she continued dancing classical ballet while being involved in theatre, musical theatre, and working with children.

She went on to study Theatre, Elementary Education and Spanish at the University of Rhode Island. While in Rhode Island she worked in the  modeling industry locally on the runway. She has always had a passion for fostering enthusiasm and love of learning in children through creative teaching techniques. Her teaching career began as a Dance/ Drama integration teacher working to teach content in the elementary school classroom while using dance, movement and drama techniques. While continuing on as an elementary school teacher, she earned her MA in Education, with most of her research focusing on integrating the Arts into core curricular subjects.

During her 14 year teaching career, she adored inspiring children from preschool age through the college level, earning the title of Teacher of the Year for her school and of one of Henrico’s Top Teachers. She also welcomed the opportunity as an adjunct professor at Virginia Commonwealth University in the Education Department for 4 years, leading a class that explored and teaching and management techniques of Math, Science, Social Studies and Language Arts using Dance, Music, Art, and Drama.

Allison believes in inspiring self-confidence and positivity in a creative, safe learning environment and looks forward to working with the dancers at Richmond Academy of Ballet.

 

Madelynne Boudreau/ First Steps & Beginning Ballet

 


Originally from Maine, Madelynne received her early dance education at a local competition studio where she trained in multiple styles of dance including Ballet, Tap, Jazz, Contemporary, Modern, and Lyrical.  She continued her Ballet training as part of Portland Ballet’s CORPS program under the direction of Roberto Forleo and then at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet under the direction of Marcia Dale-Weary.  In 2018, Madelynne joined Richmond Ballet’s Trainee program.  She has attended multiple nationally renowned summer intensives including Bossov Ballet, Bolshoi Ballet, Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet and Richmond Ballet. She is currently in her second season with Stavna Ballet.


 


Shamine Catherine Dias/ Administrative Assistant & Receptionist
 

Shamine Catherine Dias, a native of Tamil Nadu, India, is the Administrative Assistant & Receptionist for Richmond Academy of Ballet. She began her career as an English Teacher in a reputed institution after her graduation with a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature. Her interest in teaching paved the way to the pursuit of a higher degree, a Bachelor’s in Education. She encouraged, motivated & educated students as she explored the field of education for a year.

Following her passion, providing professional expertise in varied concerns, then inspired her to pursue her Master of Business Administration in Human Resources, setting her career as a Business Development Executive for the following two years.

In addition to her career, she possesses a few interests like reading books, art and painting, cooking and serving (especially Indian Cuisine), and exploring new cuisines as well. As a chocolate lover, pacifying the people’s sweet tooth with a wide range of chocolate varieties has led her to start a Cloud kitchen with her family.

Currently, at RAB she assists in the development and coordination of all administrative processes. She communicates with the clients and answers all queries , reporting directly to Michelle and Jack Bettin.  She sincerely works for the success and growth of the Academy.

email Shamine