Bonita Simpson, owner and director of Bonita’s School of Ballet (1992), founded Monroe City Ballet (2004) and the Union County Youth Ballet (1992). She is certified by American Ballet Theatre through the National Training Curriculum Program, Primary through Level 5. She is also certified as a ballet teacher through the Royal Academy of Dance and the Cecchetti Council of America. Simpson trained at the Charlotte School of Ballet under Gay Porter Speer. In her earlier training, Simpson attended summer programs at the North Carolina School of the Arts. She has continued her training with summer Teacher Intensives with Finis Jhung, Ballet Magnificat, and Pacific Northwest Ballet. Since she founded the Union County Youth Ballet, Simpson has directed and choreographed numerous full-length productions including The Nutcracker, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, The Wizard of Oz, Beauty and the Beast, and There is a God.
Tara has been dancing with Bonita’s School of Ballet since its inception in 1993. She has studied the Royal Academy, Cecchetti, & ABT methods of classical ballet. Tara is an ABT certified teacher, who has successfully completed the American Ballet Theatre Teacher Training Intensive in Primary through Level Three of the ABT National Training Curriculum. She is also certified in Progressing Ballet Technique method of training. Tara has also been trained in contemporary ballet, modern, jazz, tap, and lyrical. Tara is daughter of Owner/Artistic Director, Bonita Simpson. She is married to Grant Beaver, and they have one daughter, Aria.
Helms teaches Intermediate-Advanced ballet and pointe classes at Bonita’s School of Ballet. She is certified by American Ballet Theatre through the National Training Curriculum Program, Primary through Level 5. She has studied Royal Academy of Dance and Vaganova (Russian) methods of classical ballet as well as modern, jazz, tap and ballroom dance. Amy also works at the Union County Public Library in Monroe. She is married to District Court Judge Tripp Helms; they have three children; Max, Zealy and Henry.
Skyla Caldwell, A.R.A.D. (Associate of the Royal Academy of Dance), trained at the Charlotte School of Ballet under Gay Porter Speer and The Point Park Conservatory in Pittsburgh, PA as a scholarship student under the direction of Robert Munoz. Skyla has danced for NCDT as an apprentice under Salvatore Aiello and Jerry Kumery. Caldwell has also danced at the National Ballet of Cuba under Laura Alonzo in Havana, Cuba, and is associated with the Royal Academy of London. Caldwell danced with numerous companies and has choreographed and taught for many companies in Charlotte and surrounding areas.
Leone began her training in Tacoma, WA under Jan Collum. After dancing the role of Cinderella in Washington, the choreographer, Tom Pazik, director of Atlanta Ballet II, invited her to study in Atlanta. After graduating from high school, she danced with the Atlanta Ballet and the Ballet Rotaru, touring Romania and performing at the George Enescu Festival in Bucharest. For three years Ms. Leone moved back to the West coast and danced as a soloist with the Oregon Ballet Theatre under the direction of James Canfield. After relocating to North Carolina she performed as a guest artist with area companies and was a member of the Moving Poets Theatre of Dance. Currently, Ms. Leone is Co-Director of the Charlotte City Ballet Company and on faculty at Bonita’s School of Ballet and other studios in the Charlotte area. Ms. Leone has been a guest choreographer for the Charlotte Philharmonic Orchestra, the Charlotte Civic Orchestra, and the Union County Youth Ballet. When not teaching, Ms. Leone enjoys the opportunity to work with other dancers and has Guest taught and held Master Classes and Intensives in Washington State and throughout the Southeast.
Elizabeth Roach is a native of North Carolina and an alumna of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts where she graduated with honors with a BFA in contemporary dance. She has received scholarships and participated in a variety of dance summer activities, such as: The American Dance Festival, Limon Summer Workshop, The London Contemporary Dance School, and most recently she has participated in the Methodist Liturgical Dance Workshop. Recently, she choreographed with members of the Bill T. Jones Company in a workshop known as “Thinking, Making, Doing Together” at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. Elizabeth has had the pleasure of working with Doug Elkins and Company, The Limon Company, Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, Au Deum Dance Company and choreographers of The Place of London, Europe. Since Graduation, Elizabeth has been a full-time dance teacher at various dance studios in the Charlotte area, a member of The KYNETIC Works Dance Company of Charlotte, North Carolina. Elizabeth teaches beginning through advanced classes in modern at BSOB. Elizabeth is an ABT certified teacher, who has successfully completed the American Ballet Theatre Teacher Training Intensive in Pre-Primary through Level Three of the ABT National Training Curriculum.
Joel Paulus is a dancer, singer, actor, musician, choreographer and teacher originally from Baytown, Texas. Mr. Paulus has performed with many regional and civic ballet companies across the United States including Rochester City Ballet, North Star Ballet, and Contemporary Ballet Theater of New York. In New York when not dancing freelance, he could seen performing for three seasons as a supernumerary with the Metropolitan Opera and American Ballet Theatre. He was also a member of Dance Spectrum, At Marah Dance Theater and in conjunction with the Jose Limon Dance Company danced in There is a Time for the C.S. Lewis Institute in Cambridge, England. Other credits include choreography for the NIV Kids Club video series, the Lincoln Center Out of Doors Festival, and various regional musical theater productions ranging from Pirates of Penzance to South Pacific. Places of study include: City Ballet of Houston, Joffrey Ballet School as full scholarship trainee, Broadway Dance Center, Steps, a BFA in Musical Theatre/Dance emphasis, and an MA in Christian Apologetics researching the theological value of ballet. Mr. Paulus’ studies afforded him the opportunity to glean from a spectrum of dance luminaries including David Howard, Elenor D’Antuono, Fernando Bujones, Donald McKayle, and Charles McGowan. He has taught ballet classes in the greater Houston, Charlotte, and New York areas. Mr. Paulus has received a PhD in Theology and the Arts and is an Artist in Residence with the Union County Youth Ballet.
Alex White is a New York native raised in the south Bronx. He attended UNCC as a nursing major. A lover of all things active, he played basketball, ran track and boxed competitively. He eventually found his true love of the arts. Alex has been a part of many major productions including the movie, Alvin and the Chipmunks, along with a host of Broadway shows (most recently The Lion King) and toured with Disney. He has been teaching in the southeast region for the past four years at numerous dance studios in the Charlotte area. He has also trained traditional African dance, ballet, jazz, and most notably, hip hop since 2012.
Rebecca has danced with Bonita’s School of Ballet since the age of 3. While there, she trained under Bonita Simpson, Skyla Caldwell, Lisa Leone, and Amy Helms. She has also trained extensively in pointe, modern, jazz, and contemporary dance styles. Rebecca danced in 16 productions of the Union County Youth Ballet’s The Nutcracker, performing roles such as Clara, Sugar Plum, Snow Queen, and many others. She has also danced roles in ballets such as Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty, as well as community performances in local churches and nursing homes. Rebecca was married in June of 2014 to her husband, Forrest Kiker. They have one son, Cory, and are expecting their second child in August 2020.
Madelyn Beck is a Monroe resident who studied ballet at Bonita’s School of Ballet beginning at age 5 and furthered her passion for dance and using the arts for God’s glory through training at Ballet Magnificat in Jackson, Mississippi for three years after high school graduation. During her time training at Bonita’s School of Ballet, she had the opportunity to dance various roles in the Union County Youth Ballet’s Nutcracker. She also was able to attend several summer workshops at Ballet Magnificat which God used to greatly prompt her next step to their trainee program. While training with Ballet Magnificat, she had the privilege of dancing locally and internationally. This fostered a love for the nations and taught her how dance can be used as a tool to share a beautiful message! She had the opportunity to assistant teach during high school and continued once completing the Ballet Magnificat Trainee program. She loves investing in the dancers and seeing their growth in dance ability, character, and joy of using the talent given to them by God!
Kate is originally from the New Haven, CT area where she grew up dancing and training under Lorraine Judd. She received a BA in Humanities with a concentration in Theatre Arts from Albertus Magnus College in New Haven, CT as well as a Dance Performance certificate from Naugatuck Valley College. She performed and worked technical theatre in numerous shows in the CT area. Training includes: tap with Dianne Walker, modern with Earl Mosley’s Institute of the Arts and members of Momix Company and Pilobolus, ballet with Susan Shields of Baryshnikov’s White Oak Dance Project and Kate Lydon of American Ballet Theatre and hip hop with Brian Friedman and Rennie Harris Puremovement.
After performing and teaching at various CT dance studios, she and her husband Kristopher, opened their own dance studio, CT Dance Force, in Hamden, CT in the fall of 2004. With a focus on technique and performance, the studio ran successfully for 9 years until Kate and her family moved to NC in the summer of 2012.
Since moving to NC, Kate took a few years off from dance to focus on raising her children, Aidan and Juliana. She was the volunteer coordinator and board member at Matthews Playhouse from 2012-2017. She is currently a volunteer and board member with Matthew’s Helping Hands, an area non-profit for children and families with special needs, and recently started teaching dance again in area studios. Kate is passionate about teaching proper dance technique, sharing dance history with her students and is an advocate for performing arts accessibility for all.
Zealy Helms danced with Bonita’s School of Ballet for 15 years, performing with Union County Youth Ballet and Monroe City Ballet. She has continued to dance and teach after graduating and is now pursuing a degree in Elementary Education from Wingate University.
Mary Beth King
Mary-Beth started dancing at the age of seven. Her love for dance started with her cheer dance classes. She began competition classes at the age of 14 and has continued to further her dance education ever since. Mary-Beth minored in dance at Western Carolina University and was a part of the WCU dance team, which went to Nationals. She has been teaching dance for the last nine years at several studios. Along with teaching, Mary-Beth has performed with local Charlotte artists, Breakin Convention, Charlotte Checker CheckMates, Corporate Events, Taste of Charlotte, Best of the Best Awards and at CIAA. Mary-Beth’s motto is, “You can’t teach passion, but you can inspire others by sharing yours.” As a teacher, she strives to inspire her students to reach their full potential and to push themselves to be the best dancers and people they can be.