Nela Niemann - Director
Nela began studying ballet at the age of seven, when she started dancing with Miss.Dorothy Ewing of Winchester, Virginia. She continued training as a teenager at the Washington School of Ballet, Shenandoah University and the Bolshoi School of Ballet and later studied with professional companies in Washington D.C. and Zaragoza, Spain. Nela attended American University and Radford University, where she studied with Franco Jelincic and Dagmar Kessler while earning a B.S. in Psychology. She has been teaching ballet, jazz and tap since 1976, and was the director of the dance program at Zaragoza Air Force Base in Spain. She also created and supervised the Dance Department at the YMCA in Princeton for 3 years. In 1991, Nela established The Blue Ridge Studio for the Performing Arts, where she continues to teach, choreograph and direct.
Cheryl Donald's love of dance began in her home town of Rochester, New York. She then moved to Winchester, Virginia to study dance performance and dance education at Shenandoah University. As a member of the Shenandoah Dance Ensemble, she participated in many main stage performances of Ballet, Modern dance, Jazz and Tap. As a gifted choreographer, Cheryl has produced numerous group works and solos which have been performed throughout the Winchester, Clarke County and Frederick County area.
Cheryl participated in an International Tour of Russia and continued her studies abroad in Spain with Estada International De Dansa. She has also participated in the Jazz Dance World Congress for multiple summers. Cheryl joined the staff at Blue Ridge Studio for the Performing Arts in 2006, giving her the opportunity to share her knowledge, choreography and passion for dance with our students.
Kristina Wallace started dancing before the age of three and takes pride in being able to pass her love of dance on to her students. She has been choreographing and teaching various dance forms for more than 15 years, and her classes have been offered in dance studios, community centers, YMCA’s, day cares, public schools and churches in Delaware, North Carolina, Maryland and Virginia. She is thrilled to be teaching with The Blue Ridge Studio.
Kristina grew up taking Ballet, Pointe, Tap, Jazz/Hip hop, Lyrical, Character, Clogging, Liturgical and Modern as well as voice and music lessons. Kristina holds an undergraduate degree in Dance from Lees-McRae College and graduate degrees in Counseling from The University of Maryland and George Washington University. She recently returned to school and now holds a License for Professional Counseling. She is a nationally certified counselor, a rehabilitation counselor and a certified school counselor. Kristina was a member of a touring dance and performing arts group, and she has danced in Disney World. Some of her favorite performances have been in “The Nutcracker” and “The Sleeping Beauty” ballets. In addition, Kristina has a passion for Musical theater with her favorite roles being in “Oklahoma” .
Cady started dancing at the age of 6. She was a member of a YMCA based gymnastics program in Greenfield, Ma. The gymnasts were required to take ballet classes to improve their dance skills. This is when she fell out of love with gymnastics and embraced the world of dance. Over the years Cady had been trained by and has performed with multiple ballet schools. Her training began with ballet classes taught by The Stonleigh-Burnham School in Greenfield, Ma. Her training continued throughout the years with The Augusta Ballet Academy, Augusta, Ga, The Alfred Ballet Academy, Alfred Ny, The Center for Dance, Winchester, Va and The Blue Ridge Studio, Berryville, Va. She focuses primarily on Pointe technique. Her goal is to safely teach young ladies to learn the basics of Pointe work. The Blue Ridge Studio dancers who wish to dance enPointe, attend her classes to become ready for the rigorous demands of the advanced classes.
Dana Armstrong has been dancing at the Blue Ridge Studio since she was 4 years old. The Studio fostered her love for ballet and tap, and it inspired her to pursue a Dance minor at William & Mary alongside a B.A. in Journalism. While in college, Dana took numerous classes in Modern and Ballet technique, dance history, and choreography. Her dance minor culminated in a 9-minute-long choreographic piece taught and performed entirely through Zoom. She was also a teacher, choreographer, and dancer for two student-run dance organizations: Pointe Blank Dance Company (performing everything from lyrical and jazz to hip hop and pointe) and Rhythm & Taps club (teaching beginner, intermediate, and advanced-level tap dancers). Following graduation, Dana returned to the Blue Ridge Studio to pass on her love of Tap, Ballet, and Choreography to aspiring dancers in her home community.
Amy began dancing at the age of nine with Nela Niemann at The Blue Ridge Studio for the Performing Arts. She continued her dance training at Radford University, where she earned her B.F.A. in dance performance under the direction of Frano Jelincic and Dagmar Kessler. She is thrilled to return as an instructor this year at The Blue Ridge Studio!