Samantha is a native from St. Augustine, Florida, and began her studies with the Leonard’s School of Dance. At a young age, her family moved to Lake Charles, Louisiana and she continued her studies with The Lake Charles Ballet Society where she became the youngest company member. In 1982, Samantha was accepted into the Houston Ballet School and later became a company member for three seasons 1986-1989. After dancing in Houston, Samantha danced at Boston Ballet from 1989-1991 and then moved to Arizona where she danced with The Tucson Ballet under the direction of Mary Beth Cabana for five seasons. In 2000-2005, Ms. Austin danced in New Orleans, Louisiana, with The Delta Festival Ballet.
Throughout her career, Samantha was offered full scholarships with the Boston Ballet, Oakland Ballet, Atlanta Ballet, Joffrey Ballet. She has had the great pleasure of working with world renowned choreographers throughout the United States including Robert Joffrey, David Howard, Peter Martins, Michael Utoff, Ben Stevens, Edward Villella, Peter Stark, Soili Arovola, Leo Aron, Jan Miller, Suzanne Farrell, Christine Lidvall, Marjorie Mussman, Anthony Ferro, Zac Ward, Ramon Sagarra, Mary Margret Holt and Richard Englund. Her repertoire includes major roles in Giselle, Swan Lake, La Bayadere, Nutcracker, Paquita, Coppelia, The Sleeping Beauty, Holberg Variations, Jewels (Rubies), Fire Bird, Serenade, La Fille Mal Gardee and Don Quixote.
Upon moving back to her home town in 2005, Samantha began her teaching career, along with attending Florida School of the Arts to major in costume design. Samantha teaches classical ballet for The Florida Ballet Conservatory and Debbie’s Dance Company in Jacksonville Florida. She has appeared as a guest artist throughout the Northern Florida and Louisiana to teach master classes and set choreography pieces.
In 2010, Samantha became the owner and founder of JBdesignS. She designs and builds classical and contemporary costumes for local studios, universities, performing arts middle and high schools, and prestigious ballet schools and companies throughout the United States. Samantha is married to her husband Lorin Austin and resides happily in Elkton Florida.
Boys and Outreach Programs
Mr. Byrd received his training at The Florida Ballet under the direction of Laurie Picinich Byrd and Debra Webb.
While at The Florida Ballet, Mr. Byrd performed with The Florida Ballet 2 Company. Credits include The Nutcracker, Giselle Peasant Pas, Dracula, Romeo and Juliet, Beauty and the Beast, Peter and the Wolf, The Taming of the Shrew. In addition, Mr. Byrd has performed in various contemporary and liturgical pieces.
He has attended Master Classes with Davis Robertson, Artistic Director of Joffrey Ballet Concert Group and Mr. James Kinney, Broadway choreographer.
Currently, Mr. Byrd is teaching at The Florida Ballet Training Center in Jacksonville, offering instruction in the Boys program and outreach classes.
Pre-Primary, Primary, Modern Faculty, and Progressing Ballet Technique
Katharine Graham graduated magna cum laude from Goucher College in May 2016. Her studies at Goucher included a dance major with emphasis on performance and choreography and a minor in communications. While in attendance she had the privilege of performing works by choreographers such as, Ronen Koresh, Michou Szabo, Gina Patterson, and Darrell Grand Moultrie. She attended the American College Dance Association’s Mid-Atlantic conference 3 out of her 4 years of study, performing works for adjudication and taking a variety of classes from different artists around the country.
In Spring 2015, Ms. Graham spent the semester abroad studying dance at the University of Roehampton in London. Ms. Graham’s training has also stemmed from numerous intensive programs that she has attended including, Doug Varone and Dancers, Bates Dance Festival, and the Paul Taylor summer intensive. Ms. Graham received her Progressing Ballet Technique certification for Junior, Senior, and Advanced programs in April 2017.
Kate Fisher Levitz
Kate Fisher Levitz is a native of Jacksonville. She grew up in Riverside, studying ballet with Thelma Baggs. Over the years of her performing career, she has performed numerous roles in classical ballets with regional companies including Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, Nutcracker, Les Sylphides, Grand Pas De Quatre, as well as contemporary works.
After earning Masters Degree in Dance at Florida State University, Ms. Levitz studied in New York City with Finis Jhung, at the American Ballet Theatre with Maria Swoboda and in modern dance at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Center and the Cunningham School. She was one of the original members of the Joyce Trisler Danscompany.
Ms. Levitz has taught at Jacksonville University, Huntingdon College, and Florida State University where she directed the dance department’s touring company for three years and mentored M.F.A. concerts. Kate also worked with Contemporary Dancers of Canada, teaching ballet and modern dance, and directing their Apprentice Programme and touring the Province of Manitoba.
Ms. Levitz is an accomplished choreographer, having set her works on several regional ballet companies and winning the prestigious Choreographic Fellowship from the State of Florida to produce an evening of her own works. Ms. Levitz has a long association with the Ballet Arts Center of Jacksonville and the Jacksonville Ballet Theatre as dancer and choreographer. Most recently she was director of the Braided Light Dance Project.
Ms. Levitz is an ABT® Certified Teacher, who has successfully completed the ABT® Teacher Training Intensive in Primary through Level 5 of the ABT® National Training Curriculum.
Savery Morgan began his dance education at the age of 16 in Jacksonville, Florida. He received intense training from Jacksonville Centre of the Arts (JCA) under the direction of Kezia Rolle. While training at JCA, he attended Douglas Anderson School of the Arts where he was a member of the Tap Ensemble and Dance Theater. Shortly after graduating from Douglas Anderson, he was offered an apprenticeship with Laurie Byrd at The Florida Ballet. As an apprentice, he performed in “Taming of the Shrew” and “Dracula.”
In the summer of 2004, Mr. Morgan was offered a contract with the Dance Theater of Harlem’s “Dancing through Barriers Ensemble.” Under direction of Author Mitchell, Mr. Morgan experienced neo classical ballet by great choreographers such as George Balanchine, Robert Garland and Author Mitchell. Mr. Morgan’s performance credits with Dance Theater of Harlem include, “Dialogues” choreographed by Glen Tetley and “South African Suite” choreographed by Author Mitchell. While living in New York, Mr. Morgan was appointed as the Artistic Director for Footprint Dance and was also a part of the artistic development team for Dance Space.
After one season with the “Dancing through Barriers Ensemble” Mr. Morgan was offered a contract by Nena Gilreath and Waverly Lucas II co-founders of Ballethnic Dance Company in Atlanta, GA. He made his debut with the company in the Urban Nutcracker as the Urban Gardner and leader of the Radiant Russians dancers in 2005. In 2007, Mr. Morgan premiered as Nutcracker and as the Chocolatire in the same production. Other performing credits with Ballethnic Dance Company include, “Waltz Tango” choreographed by Waverly Lucas, “Epiphany I and II”, “Jazzy Sleeping Beauty”, “The Leopard Tales” and as Will Parish in Pearl Cleagues, “Flyin’ West the Ballet”.
Mr. Morgan continues to make appearances as a guest artist with the Florida Ballet of Jacksonville, the Cavalier with the Greensboro Ballet NC, the Arabian soloist with the First Coast Nutcracker and many regional and national companies around the U.S. He is a guest instructor in many academies and pre-professional institutes around the nation. Mr. Morgan and his business partner Dewitt Cooper III are celebrating their 11th year serving as co-founders and directors of Jacksonville Florida’s CooperMorgan Dance. Each year the two Jacksonville natives host a summer intensive catering to young local and international artists of dance.
Heather grew up in upstate New York where she began her training with Bill Hotaling. In 1995 she graduated with honors from SUNY Brockport with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance. There, she studied with Timothy Draper, Randy James, Clyde Morgan, Susannah Newman, Sondra Fraleigh, among many others. While at Brockport, she performed and toured with the school's two performing companies, DANSCORE and SANKOFA.
After graduation from Brockport, she taught dance and theater in Jacksonville, FL from 1995-1999. Heather then spent the next 5 years managing the dance program at Berwick Academy in Southern Maine and choreographed for the Portsmouth School of Ballet, Portsmouth, NH. She has continued her studies in dance at Bates Dance Festival, The Florida Dance Festival, The Portsmouth Percussive Dance Festival and The FDEO conference where she has participated in Master Classes with Robert Atwood, Terry Creach, Clyde Evans Jr., Danny Buraczeski and Desmond Richardson.
Since returning to the Jacksonville area, Heather has taught at Douglas Anderson School of The Arts and is currently a member of the faculty at St Johns Country Day School, as well as the Artistic Director at Arts Edge. She has been a member of The New Hampshire Dance Alliance and is currently a member of The National Dance Educators Organization, The Florida Dance Educators Organization and The Florida Dance Association. Heather Olschewske is an ABT certified teacher, who has successfully completed the ABT® Teacher Training Intensive in Pre-Primary through level 3 of the ABT® National Training Curriculum.
At the age of 13, Paige Ricci began studying ballet under Kim Pauley at The American Academy Ballet in her hometown of Charleston, West Virginia and continued her training at Point Park Summer Dance Intensive and Boston Ballet. She attended Butler University in Indianapolis, Indiana under a talent scholarship and graduated in 2003 with a Bachelor of Science in Arts Administration with a concentration in dance. While at Butler, Paige performed lead roles with the Butler Ballet. Her professional career includes dancing with The Charleston Ballet, Ballet Internationale, and freelance dancing with the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra and several ballet and modern companies. She has performed corps and soloist roles in ballets such as Paquita, Les Sylphides, Nutcracker, Raymonda, and Giselle.
Teaching since 2005, Paige has taught at the American Ballet Theatre’s Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School and their outreach program in New York City public schools, Florida State College at Jacksonville and Jacksonville University. In January 2010, she received her Master of Arts in ballet pedagogy from New York University in collaboration with the American Ballet Theatre. Paige was one of 20 students chosen to be in the inaugural class and fully certified in the ABT® National Training Curriculum. While at NYU/ABT, she studied with principles of ABT’s Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School and creators of the ABT® National Training Curriculum – Raymond Lukens and Franco DeVita – and with choreographer Jessica Lang. An ABT® certified teacher, Paige has successfully completed the teacher training in primary through level 7 of the ABT® National Training Curriculum. She has taught in and around northeast Florida and acts as an Ambassador for the NYU/ABT master’s program. Most recently, she was a guest teacher at the 2011 Florida Ballet Summer Intensive and is currently an adjunct professor at Florida State College at Jacksonville.