Our Dance Department empowers dance artists by a thorough study in classical Ballet, Modern, Tap and Jazz along with classes in Social Dance, Improvisation, Choreography, and Anatomy of Movement. A strong foundation in technique enables students to support the artistic expression required in the ever-changing art of dance. Master classes and guest choreographers expose our students to a rich and diverse training in other genres of dance. Our rigorous training maximizes academic and artistic potential, preparing graduates for acceptance to conservatory and university programs and to work professionally in the field of dance.
Experience a comprehensive dance department taught and directed by disciplined and experienced professionals with programs in ballet, jazz, and modern dance with three levels of instruction and application in each genre. We also offer tap, social dance, improvisation, choreography, and anatomy peppered with master classes. Dance students graduate audition-ready, prepared for higher education and performance alike.
BETHANY HANSEN, MFA
Dance Department Chair, Teacher
Bethany J. Hansen, a graduate of Brigham Young University (BA) and Jacksonville University (MFA), is a sought-after teacher, choreographer, and performer. Bethany is the Head of the Dance Department and Dance Conservatory Director at the Salt Lake School for the Performing Arts (2007-present). Bethany is also the Assistant Chair of the Dance Department at Westminster College (2014-present). Previously she taught at Ricks College and Brigham Young University – Idaho (2000-2004). Bethany has received many awards including the 2019 Utah Dance Education Organization Teacher of the Year representing Higher Education, 2016 Howard Gilman Fellowship supporting her MFA, the Sorenson Legacy Award for Excellence in Arts Education 2016 Outstanding Secondary Dance Educator and the SPA Legend award from the Salt Lake School for the Performing Arts.
Her graduating students have gone on to dance professionally with Repertory Dance Theatre, The Walt Disney Company, Table of Silence Project in NYC, Houston Texan Cheerleader (NFL), Vitacca Ballet, Central West Ballet, Oklahoma City Ballet, Movement Talent Agency, and Stiletto Entertainment; while others have continued their collegiate study on scholarship at Trinity Laban Conservatory (London), Ailey/Fordham University (NYC), Marymount Manhattan College (NYC), North Carolina School for the Arts, The Hartt School (Connecticut), Boston Conservatory, CAL Arts (California), University of the Arts (Pennsylvania), Brigham Young University, University of Utah, and many other distinguished programs.
As a choreographer, her work has been performed throughout the United States and Canada. She is honored to have trained with Pat Debenham, Peggy Hackney, Alonzo King, Ana Sanchez-Colberg, Christina Teague-Mann, Cari Coble, and John Paul Zaccarini to name a few. She has guest performed with Repertory Dance Theatre, Jacksonville University, and with Bay Area Dance in San Francisco.
Her movement can be described as powerful and driven by force, using momentum in an expansive and creative way, playing with the architecture of the body and space fused together by detailed transitions. Yet it finds a controlled release by accessing proper anatomical alignment.
Jessie Metcalf Mccullough is a fully certified Giordano Jazz dance instructor (NGCP) who has been teaching dance in the Salt Lake area for over 15 years. A US-UK Fulbright award recipient, Jessie holds a Bachelors of Science in Dance Performance from Southern Utah University (graduating summa cum laude and Outstanding Scholar for the Department of Performing and Visual Arts) and a Masters of Arts in Dance Studies from the University of Roehampton in London (graduating with distinction). As a professional performer, Jessie traveled the world from 2004-2012, as a dancer for Carnival Cruise Lines and as a dancer, dance captain and company manager for Holland America Line.
Jessie's primary training was with Lori-Mead Metcalf and Jillana Webb at the Salt Lake Dance Center. She has received additional training with Ballet West, Broadway Dance Center, Dance Attic (London), Giordano Dance Chicago, Pineapple Studios (London), Repertory Dance Theatre and Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company.
When she is not teaching or performing, Jessie enjoys choreographing for concerts, musicals, and competition teams throughout Utah. Her credits include Big Fish, Chorus Line, Guys and Dolls, Catch Me If You Can, Bye Bye Birdie, The Music Man, Annie, Beauty and the Beast, as well as multiple competition numbers, musical reviews, and her own artistic works.
Michelle Armstrong began her early ballet training with Susan Wright and later with Willam Christensen. Under Mr. C’s direction, Michelle danced many leading roles in his original ballets such as “Maggie’s Dream”, “Orpheus”, and “Old Vienna.”
Michelle was a guest artist with the Utah Opera dancing in “Die Fledermaus”, “Aida”, and “Faust.” From 1985–87 Michelle danced with Ballet West and in 1988 with New York City Ballet under the direction of Jacques d’Amboise. In 1991 Ms. Armstrong partnered and studied with Anatoli Kucheruk of the Kiev Ballet, Russia. She has over 20 years of training in the Russian Method of Ballet and is currently teaching this technique at The Ballet Centre.
In 1992 Ms. Armstrong was named Artistic Director of The Ballet Centre where she is the principal choreographer, producing and directing many one-act ballets. In 2002 Michelle Armstrong was awarded a position in the “Ballet Intensive from Moscow” under the direction of Dmitri Roudnev and Svetlana Osiyeva.
Michelle has a BFA in ballet-teaching emphasis, from the University of Utah, and is certified in the National Teaching Curriculum with ABT. In 2016, Michelle traveled to St. Petersburg, Russia to study ballet pedagogy under Mr. Oleg Vinogradov, Artistic Director of Mariinsky Ballet Theater-St. Petersburg, and his highly qualified faculty of Russian ballet masters.
Jessica is from Las Vegas, NV where she too went to a performing arts school, so feels right at home here at SPA. She graduated from the University of Utah with a BFA in Modern Dance. After graduating she moved to San Francisco where she did freelance dance projects for a year and a half. She did the Nuova Officina Della Danza program in Torino, Italy for 4 months in 2017. There she was able to study with choreographers from all over Europe and Israel in all different forms of contemporary dance. Since returning from Italy, Jessica has been teaching creative dance at Tanner Dance.
Jessica is excited to be here at SPA! Her teaching philosophy is that the classroom/dance room should be a safe place for students to explore their creativity. Dance is empowering. Through dance technique and creative exercises, she aims to pull students out of their shells and helps them to see their potential. She strives to teach students the tools they need to be successful adults such as: problem solving, working with people, and trying new things.
Begin Your Student's Path at SPA
Registration at the Salt Lake School for the Performing Arts is easy, we are here to help walk you through it. The very first step is to fill out the registration form so that we have enough information to be able to serve you. You can do so by clicking the above link.
Applications for admission need to be received prior to registration. New student and late registration is ongoing. Please contact Linda Gunderson for more information.