Faculty

As the region’s premier classical ballet school and performing Company, Mobile Ballet offers the region’s most extensive curriculum of classical ballet instruction, provided by an outstanding, experienced faculty. Our faculty members come to us from many different dance training and performance backgrounds. They are carefully trained and supervised and we’re confident that they are equipped to provide your child with the finest instruction in classical ballet and Broadway-style jazz in the Gulf Coast region.

We encourage that students study with a variety of faculty members as they advance through the progression of study and the levels of our school.

Leadership

Director, Mobile Ballet School

Zoe has served on the Mobile Ballet faculty for 22 years, including 11 years as Associate Director of the Mobile Ballet School at our Eastern Shore location. As a Principal dancer with Mobile Ballet, she performed numerous roles including Clara in The Nutcracker and originated the roles of Mina in Winthrop Corey’s Dracula and Stella in Winthrop Corey’s A Streetcar Named Desire.

Zoe began her ballet studies at Lee Weatherby School of Dance at the age of five, under the direction of Ann Duke. She continued her studies with Vasile Petrutiu, Homer Garza and Winthrop Corey. Zoe attended Oglethorpe University in Atlanta and received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications from the University of South Alabama, graduating magna cum laude. She was a scholarship student at Steps on Broadway and has choreographed for Playhouse in the Park and Bayside Academy. Zoe lives in Daphne with her husband Darin and their children, Cameron and Amelia.

We are grateful for “Miss Lee” and her very significant influence on the development of a strong classical ballet community in the greater Mobile area since the 1950s. Her extensive training includes her experience as a student at the School of American Ballet (SAB) in New York, as well as the Washington School of Ballet. She founded the Lee Weatherby School of Ballet in Mobile, which trained generations of dancers in the greater Mobile area, and co-founded the Mobile Civic Ballet Company, one of our outstanding predecessor organizations.
After moving to Natchez, Mississippi, Lee co-founded the Natchez Ballet Academy and was active in the dance community as a teacher and choreographer, including serving as a longtime supporter and volunteer for the internationally sanctioned USA International Ballet Competition in Jackson, Mississippi, since its inception. The Lee Weatherby School of Dance in Mobile continued under the direction of Ann Duke, who later became the Ballet Mistress of the Mobile Ballet School and Mobile Ballet Company.
Upon her return to Alabama after her husband’s retirement, Lee joined the faculty of the Mobile Ballet School at the Eastern Shore location. We recognized Lee as the Honorary Chairman of our Nutcracker Charity Ball last year and celebrated her longstanding contribution to Mobile Ballet, as well as the greater Mobile community. We appreciate Miss Lee’s willingness to step back into a leadership role and we know she will be an incredible asset to both our students and our faculty. 

Noel is a native of Brandon, Mississippi and studied at the Mississippi Metropolitan Dance Academy under Jennifer Beasley. She graduated from the University of Alabama with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Dance, where she was a member of the Alabama Repertory Dance Theater for four years. After college, Noel danced professionally for two seasons with Alabama Ballet under direction of Tracey Alvey. With the Alabama Ballet she performed in works by George Balanchine, Teri Weksler, Christopher Bruce, Agnes de Mille and Anthony Tutor. Noel also danced with Southern Danceworks, under direction of Teri Weksler, and Sanspointe Dance Company, under direction of Shellie Chambers. While dancing in Birmingham, Noel was on faculty with Samford University and Birmingham Dance Theater. Noel is a former Ballet Mistress, Mobile Ballet Company, and Associate Director of Mobile Ballet School. As a principal dancer with Mobile Ballet, Noel was known for her roles as Swanilda in Coppelia, the title role in Cinderella, Mina in Winthrop Corey’s Dracula and the Dewdrop and Arabian in The Nutcracker.

Faculty

Sydney began her dance studies at Santa Rosa Ballet in California. She continued at San Francisco Ballet and Dance Theatre of San Francisco, where she became a company member and teacher. In 1980 she moved to New York City and studied with David Howard and Nancy Bielski while performing with Garden State Ballet and independent choreographers Diane Coburn Bruning and Darrell Barnett. At the Richmond Ballet, she danced in ballets including The Nutcracker, Swan Lake, Don Quixote and Balanchine’s Donizetti Variations. She served as a personal assistant to choreographer Jerome Robbins and his liaison with the New York City Ballet while managing his JR Robbins Foundation and the reconstruction project JR Broadway. Sydney has been on faculty at Mobile Ballet since 1996. She taught at St. Paul’s High School and at Spring Hill College as dance program director and resident choreographer. In 2014 she taught a summer intensive for Mendocino Ballet in California and in 2015 was chosen to be the Honor Dance Choreographer for the Mobile County Public School System’s Honor Dance Festival. Sydney has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Humanities from New College of California – San Francisco.

Sonja Davenport

An accomplished teacher, choreographer, and dancer with more than 25 years of experience, Mia Spicuzza Guzlas enjoyed her first ballet performance at age five.  Mia’s dance training focused on ballet and included study with Dunbar Creative & Performing Arts Magnet School, Sheffield’s School of Dance, and Mobile Ballet, where she was a member of the Mobile Ballet Company and performed in productions including The Nutcracker and Swan Lake.  As founder and the former owner of Southern Edge Dance Center in Fairhope, Mia also served as Creative Director, producing shows and coaching dance competition teams. Her additional dance performance credits include working on ESPN2 featuring Paula Abdul, MTV featuring Jessica Simpson, and So You Think You Can Dance. Mia enjoys sharing her love of ballet and her energetic personality and enthusiasm while teaching and instilling the grace, beauty and joy of dance in her students.

An experienced ballet instructor with more than 35 years of teaching experience, including a focus on ballet fundamentals in a positive, fun and nurturing environment for children ages 3 – 8, Marianna received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Ballet and Modern Dance from Texas Christian University. She then lived in New York City, where she studied dance for ten years at the Alvin Ailey Dance Center, Paul Taylor Studio, Martha Graham, Jose Limon, and the Broadway Dance Studio. Marianna also taught at several studios in New York, including Broadway Dance Studio, and performed frequently with various companies. Since moving to Mobile in 1991, Marianna has continued to teach dance at Ashland Place Ballet, founded and operated the Midtown Dance studio, and has taught ballet at St. Paul’s School since 2008. She joined the Mobile Ballet faculty in 2017.

Kimberly danced with the Mobile Ballet Company in the late 1980s. Traveling throughout the world as a high fashion model, she continued taking dance classes in Paris and New York. After moving back to Mobile to start a family, she began teaching in the Primary division at Mobile Ballet’s Eastern Shore studio.  She and her husband Jerrod have two daughters who share her love for dance and are students at Mobile Ballet Eastern Shore. Kimberly developed and teaches a creative movement and yoga class for young children called Imagination Station. She is a certified RYT 200 hour yoga instructor and registered Yoga Alliance yoga professional. She teaches Vinyasa Yoga and Mommy and Me yoga classes in the community and is excited about expanding Mobile Ballet’s classes for adults.  Kimberly also serves as the committee chairman for the Mobile Ballet Eastern Shore Barre.

A native of Brazil, Renata began studying ballet at Centro Mineiro de Dancas Classicas with Ofelia Gonzalez, former principal dancer with Ballet Nacional de Cuba. She won the Gold Medal at the International Ballet Competition in Brasilia, Brazil. She also won the Silver Medal at the Jackson USA International Ballet Competition, where she was invited to join the Jeune Ballet de France in Paris. She also won the title of Most Promising Dancer at the Nureyev International Ballet Competition in Budapest and was the Grand Prix and Silver Medal winner of the Concours International de Danse de Luxembourg. Renata was invited to join American Ballet Theater in 2001. During her 13 years with ABT, she had the opportunity to work with Natalia Makarova, Irina Kolpakova, Gelsey Kirkland, Susan Jaffe and Julie Kent. She performed in such productions as Don Quixote, La Bayadere, Le Corsaire, Swan Lake, The Nutcracker, Birthday Offering Petrouchka and Twyla Tharp’s Brief Fling. She has also performed as a guest artist with such partners as Jose Manuel Carreno, Ethan Stiefel, Angel Corella, Gennadi Saveliev and Sascha Radetsky. Ranata has taught at the Louisville Ballet School and the Fleur de Lis Academy of Ballet. Renata joined the Mobile Ballet faculty in 2015, after she and her husband moved to Mobile.

Alicia is a Mobile native and began her dance training with Gale Frey. She then continued her classical ballet training with Lori Bilbrey-Vaghefi and attended intensives along the Gulf Coast taught by Dorothy Lister of the Joffrey Ballet School, Elizabeth McCoy of Nashville Ballet and Sharon Loiacano of the Coast Youth Ballet Academy. Alicia attended the University of South Alabama and was a member of the USA Prowlers dance team for four years. In 2003, she graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education. She is currently a first grade teacher at Saraland Elementary. She has been teaching at Mobile Ballet for seven years.

Kimberley was born and raised in England. She attended The Royal Ballet School, White Lodge, and Northern Ballet. She has performed the Lilac Fairy in The Sleeping Beauty, the Mazurka and Pas de Deux in Les Sylphides, Myrtha in Giselle, the Queen in Winthrop Corey’s Snow White, as well as in productions of The Nutcracker with the Manchester City Ballet and Mobile Ballet and original works choreographed by Michael Ho and David Needham. Her musical theatre credits include The King and I, Leicester Haymarket Theater; Hot Stuff, Oldham Coliseum Theater and Leicester Haymarket Theater; and Joseph and His Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and Crazy For You at the Muny in St. Louis and Starlight Theater, Kansas City. Her television work includes Granada TV, Manchester, UK. She has also worked for the Royal Carribbean, Costa and Princess Cruises. Kimberley and her family live in Fairhope. She has been a Mobile Ballet faculty member for 11 years.

Paige received her classical training and performed with the Louisiana Ballet under Artistic Director Phoebe Brantley. She attended three Summer Programs at the School of American Ballet studying under Alexandra Danilova, Antonia Tumkovsky and Suki Schorer. Paige also trained and performed with the Eglevsky Ballet under the direction of Melissa Hayden, Edward Villella and Michael Vernon. She received the Bravo Scholarship from the University of South Florida’s College of Performing Arts, where she studied under Gretchen Ward Warren and Martin Fredmann. Paige graduated from Florida State University with a BS degree in Interior Design. She lives in Fairhope where she and her husband Bruce have raised three daughters. Paige joined the Mobile Ballet faculty in 2005.

Lauren is a Mobile native and is a Principal dancer with the Mobile Ballet Company. She began her training at the Mobile Ballet School with Winthrop Corey, Ann Duke and Lori Bilbrey-Vaghefi. She has studied in New York at the Joffrey Ballet School, Steps, and Ballet Arts at City Center, in addition to American Ballet Theatre Summer Intensive at the University of Alabama and Charleston Ballet Theater. Lauren’s featured roles with Mobile Ballet include the title role in Cinderella, Lucy in Winthrop Corey’s Dracula, Swanhilda in Coppelia, Clara, the Snow Queen, and the Dewdrop Fairy in The Nutcracker, Marie Taglioni in Grand Pas de Quatre and Winthrop Corey’s Mein Himmel pas de deux. Lauren is also a visual artist. In 2006, she received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Studio Art from Spring Hill College. In 2010, she received her Master of Fine Arts in Painting from the New York Academy of Art in New York City. Currently she is an instructor in the visual arts departments of both Spring Hill College and the University of South Alabama. She has shown her work both locally and nationally at such places as the Huntsville Museum of Art, the Mobile Museum of Art, and Mark Miller Gallery and Honey Ramka Gallery in New York City.

A former Rockette, Raley teaches jazz and musical theater at both our Mobile and Eastern Shore studios. She has been dancing 25 years and her early training was at Green Acres School of Dance and Dare 2 Dance in Robertsdale, Alabama. When Mobile Ballet expanded to the Eastern Shore, Raley attended weekly classes under the training of Zoe Lombard-Todd. She also trained at Sheffield’s School of Dance, where she won numerous awards at local dance conventions and competitions. Raley attended the University of South Alabama as a Primary and Special Education major and also performed as a member of the USA dance team. She was part of the Universal Dance Association staff, 2011-2012, where she taught hundreds of high school and college level dance teams UDA technique and choreography. In 2007, Raley received the acceptance call to dance with the Radio City Rockettes and performed for 10 seasons. She traveled with the touring casts of the Radio City Christmas Spectacular and was in the New York City cast, where she has performed in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and many other TV, talk show and national broadcast appearances and performances. She had the honor of performing next to Heidi Klum on America’s Got Talent on the Great Stage of Radio City Music Hall.