Diggs School of Dance currently has five teachers with extensive training in all forms of dance. The teachers work together to align curriculum throughout the classes to ensure a quality dance education for the students.
Debbie Diggs is the owner and operator of Diggs School of Dance. Debbie received her dance training from Ballet Florida, Ballet Royal, and the Cecchetti Council of America. She has studied with Marie Hale, Lea Darwin, Gus Giordano, Alvin Ailey, Jo Rowan, and Edith Royal. Her teacher training has included Dance Masters of America, Cecchetti Council of America, the Vaganova School of Teaching, University of Nebraska, and Kent State University.
Danile Giesy, Co-Director of Bayside Youth Ballet, began her training in Norfolk, Virginia. She has been performing professionally since 1981 and teaching dance since 1983. Danile has performed with Chamber Ballet, Ballet Tidewater, Young Audiences of Virginia and Richmond Ballet. She has taught for Tidewater Ballet, Chamber Ballet, and the Governor’s School for the Arts, and is currently teaching at TRDance Center and for Sun King Dance. Danile is a third generation certified classical Pilates instructor and was recently certified as an EBAS (Elemental Body Alignment System) instructor.
Hope Andrews Hunter is a native of Gloucester, Virginia, and began studying at Diggs School of Dance in 1993. She performed a variety of solo and ensemble roles in ballets such as Giselle, Nutcracker, and The Snow Maiden with Bayside Youth Ballet. Hope attended Shenandoah University and graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor of fine arts in Dance Education and a minor in psychology. Hope has choreographed for a variety of musicals and dance companies as well as directed dance programs at two camps in Pennsylvania. Hope is the Director of Dance and the Fine and Performing Arts Lead for Woodside High School in Newport News.
Caitlin Beadle Nichols is a resident of New Kent, Virginia and danced with Diggs School of Dance and Bayside Youth Ballet for 8 years. During her time with BYB, she danced in many soloist roles such as the Sugar Plum Fairy and Odette from Swan Lake. In addition to performing with the company, Caitlin began teaching for Diggs as a student teacher in 2004 and continued to teach all levels at the school for the next 4 years. In 2008, her husband’s career moved them to Hawaii, where Caitlin joined the faculty at Ballet Hawaii where she instructed all levels, including pre-professional, and performed with Ballet Hawaii as well as Onium Dance Project. Since 2008, Caitlin has also pursued a career in retail leadership and is currently the General Manager for Ulta Beauty in Newport News, Virginia.
Kara Drummond Royall began her dance training in Mathews at Diggs School of Dance in 1987. From 1995-2003 she performed as a member of the Bayside Youth Ballet. Kara studied at East Carolina University as well as Radford University, and holds a Bachelor’s Degree of Fine Arts in Dance Performance. Performing credits include a soloist role in Bayside Youth Ballet’s Paquita, Marzipan in Radford University Ballet Theatre’s The Nutcracker, and Zaneeta Shinn in Court House Players’ The Music Man. Kara has fifteen years’ experience in dance instruction in the local area, and has choreographed for local dance organizations and community theater productions. Kara is the Director of Etudes Ballet School in Kilmarnock.
Kathy Sawyer Holtgrave trained at the Academy of Tidewater Ballet, North Carolina School of the Arts, School of American Ballet, and the Joffrey Ballet. She danced professionally for eighteen years with Joffrey Concert Group, San Antonio Ballet, Northwest Florida Ballet, and as principal dancer with Louisville Ballet. She worked with notable dancers and choreographers, including Mikhail Baryshnikov, Nicholas Beriozoff, Frederic Franklin, Niels Kehlet, and Sallie Wilson. In addition to dancing title roles in the majority of the classics, her repertoire includes works by Frederick Ashton, George Balanchine, John Cranko, and Antony Tudor. Based in Louisville, Kentucky, Kathy currently teaches and coaches both locally and nationally. She has been a guest instructor for Corpus Christi Ballet, Northwest Florida Ballet, Santa Barbara Festival Ballet and Virginia Ballet Theatre, and has been a faculty member for Kentucky Governor’s School for the Arts. In addition, she serves as Ballet Mistress for Nutcracker Key West.
Suzanne Lownsbury, Co-Artistic Director Ballet Virginia International, began her training with the Toledo Ballet and Charlotte Regional Ballet, continuing her studies in Tidewater Ballet Association’s residency program under the direction of Gene Hammett. During her residency, she earned a scholarship to the Joffrey Ballet School in New York City. Suzanne embarked on her professional dance career with Cleveland Ballet as a trainee, progressing to soloist and principal roles within a year. For the next 11 years, she danced professionally for the Cleveland/San Jose Ballet. She has toured throughout the United States and Europe including a tour to the Edinburgh Festival. Her teaching credits include School of Cleveland Ballet, Cleveland City Dance, Evelyn Ott School of Dance, and Virginia Governor’s School for the Arts .
Lauren Morris graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University cum laude with a BFA in Dance and Choreography and received recognition with the Outstanding Performer Award. Morris’ solo work, Within Roots premiered at the American College Dance Festival and is the 2012 recipient for the Michigan Dance Council, Maggie Allesee New Choreography Award. She graduated from the University of Michigan with a MFA in Dance Choreography. Morris is on the dance faculty at The College of William and Mary and is producing her work in the Richmond and Washington DC area.
Scott Putman, Artistic Director of Amaranth Contemporary Dance, and Associate Professor at VCU Dance and Choreography. Mr. Putman is the creator and master teacher of the Elemental Body Alignment System© (EBAS). He received his BA from Columbia College, Chicago and MFA from University of California, Irvine where he was a Chancellors Fellow and a William Gillespie Scholar.
Lydia Roberts-Coco began her training under the direction of Thaddeus Hayes in Norfolk, Virginia. She briefly trained with ODU Ballet and Tidewater Ballet. She began her professional training with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Center with a full scholarship. Ms. Lydia was invited to become a member of the Alvin Ailey Repertory Ensemble; Ailey’s junior company where she danced for three years. She then went on to perform with the Jamison Project under the direction of Judith Jamison for one year. Ms. Lydia was also invited by Judith Jamison to dance with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. With her partner Desmond Richardson, Lydia traveled abroad to perform Pas De Duke (a ballet created for Mikhail Baryshnikov and Judith Jamison choreographed by Alvin Ailey) for various guest performances. After retiring from AAADT, Ms. Lydia taught ballet, modern and jazz at the Russell School of Ballet (home of the Fairfax Ballet in Fairfax, Virginia). Currently, Ms. Lydia teaches modern and ballet at BVI.
Heidi Winton-Stahle began her training in Saratoga Springs, NY with world-class teachers Melissa Hayden, Elizabeth Carroll, Felix Smith, Tomislav Vuchovich, and Michael Steele. At age 17 she was accepted into The Boston Ballet School where she trained for 6 months. At 18 she joined The Louisville Ballet and performed in many classical works including Serenade, La Sylphide, Billy the Kid, and Romeo and Juliet and The Nutcracker. After two years of performing with them she set off for college at The University at Buffalo to pursue a degree in dance. In 2000 she started Sun King Dance, which focuses on providing learning opportunities for adult students. Currently she lives in Richmond, VA.