Diggs School of Dance currently has four 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, TRDance Center and for Sun King Dance. Danile is a third generation certified classical Pilates instructor and a certified 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.
Emma Pearson began her dance training at the age of 5 and became a member of Bayside Youth Ballet when she was in fourth grade. Emma is also the Dance Captain for the company. She completed her teacher training from Diggs School of Dance and has been teaching at the studio for the past year. Emma will be teaching FUNdamentals, Ballet, Jazz and the Danspiration classes. She also attends Thomas Nelson where she plans to study marine bilogy/ecology.
Melody Thompson has been dancing since she was 6 and became a member of Bayside Youth Ballet when she was in fourth grade. Melody has also been a choreograher for the company. She completed her teacher training from Diggs School of Dance and has been teaching at the studio for the past year. Melody teaches FUNdamentals, Ballet, and Jazz, and also attends Thomas Nelson where she plans to become a school teacher.
Kamilah Turner was born in Oxford, England but grew up in Mathews, Virginia where she began her dance training at Diggs School of Dance. She was a member of the Bayside Youth Ballet and performed in the community and neighboring cities. Upon graduation she attended college at NC School of the Arts to study ballet and transferred to NY to receive her BFA from Alvin Ailey/Fordham University. She apprenticed with Urban Bush Women and performed with the national tour of Elton John and Tim Rice’s “Aida.” She danced with Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble for 5 1/2 years where she was assistant rehearsal director to the company. She joined the Brazilian dance company DanceBrazil in 2013 where she danced in Salvador, Bahia and toured the US. She lived in London, UK and performed in the West End’s Disney’s The Lion King where she was an ensemble dancer for 2 years. She is currently performing on Disney Cruise Line going into her 3rd year as a performer.
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.