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.
Pre-Primary, Primary, Adult Ballet and Adult Jazz Faculty
Amanda Baillie, Jacksonville native, began her dance education at the age of 5. She immersed herself into serious ballet training under the guidance of Laurie P. Byrd at The Florida Ballet Training Center as a scholarship recipient from 2001-2010 where she performed in numerous Florida Ballet productions. Credits include Taming of the Shrew, Giselle, Sleeping Beauty, Paquita, Snow White and La Bayadere.
After graduating from Douglas Anderson School of the Arts, Ms. Baillie attended Florida State University in pursuit of a Bachelor's degree in Theater. As a student, Ms. Baillie devoted her free time to teaching and choreographing for various theater companies and performance groups in the surrounding Tallahassee area such as the Quincy Music Theater, Reverb Acapella, RAA Middle School, and Legacy School of Performing Arts.
While in Tallahassee, Ms. Baillie served as the Assistant Artistic Director of the Ballet Arts Conservatory of Tallahassee where she was gifted the opportunity to travel to San Jose, California to complete her ABT® Teacher Training Intensive in Pre-Primary through level 3 of the ABT® National Training Curriculum.
Dierdre Miles Burger
ABT® Curriculum Advisor, Ballet Faculty, YAGP Coach
Born in Burlington, Massachusetts, Dierdre Miles began her formative dance training with Margaret Prishwalko Fallon and the Boston Ballet School on a Ford Foundation Scholarship. At the age of fourteen, Ms. Miles became an apprentice with Boston Ballet and following her graduation from high school, she joined the company as a full-time member. From 1978 until 1982 Ms. Miles danced in New York City and with Houston Ballet before returning to Boston Ballet in 1983. During her career she danced countless principal roles but was most known for her portrayal of Juliet in Romeo and Juliet, the Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker, and the Principal Stomper in Twyla Tharp’s Brief Fling. In June of 1993 Ms. Miles retired from performing and joined Boston Ballet’s Artistic Staff. In 1998, she was promoted to Artistic Coordinator and in September 2002 was appointed Principal of Boston Ballet School. While in this position, she established Boston Ballet School Ensemble, Boston Ballet Trainee Program, and instituted a new school curriculum.
In the summer of 2006 she left Boston to relocate to Florida with her husband David. During this time, Ms. Miles Burger became an ABT® Certified Teacher for Primary through Level 7 of the ABT® National Training Curriculum and was later appointed to the prestigious Board of Examiners for the curriculum.
During 2008 and 2009, Ms. Miles Burger was invited to Orlando Ballet as a guest ballet mistress and taught in Orlando Ballet School’s Summer Program. In July 2010, she was appointed Director of Orlando Ballet School. Under her leadership OBS has grown and developed programming, most notably “Come Dance with Us” for children with physical challenges and the OBS Academy which develops young dancers for professional careers. At the 2014 Youth America Grand Prix regional semi-finals in Tampa, FL Ms. Miles Burger was awarded “Outstanding Teacher”.
Ballet and Outreach Faculty
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.
Mr. Byrd is an ABT® Certified Teacher, who has successfully completed the ABT® National Training Curriculum Teacher Training Intensive in PrePrimary through Level 3. Currently, Mr. Byrd is teaching at The Florida Ballet Training Center in Jacksonville, offering instruction in the Boys program and outreach classes.
Ballet and Outreach Faculty
Rebekah is originally from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. She began her training at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet under the direction of Marcia Dale Weary. While dancing at CPYB she performed the Sugar Plum, Dew Drop, and Arabian in George Balanchine's Nutcracker and the lead role of Cinderella.
She continued her training with the San Francisco Ballet School. After spending one year in the school, she was asked to join the trainee program. While in San Francisco, Bekah performed the lead role of the Liberty Bell in Stars and Stripes, as well as, had the opportunity to perform in The Nutcracker, Romeo and Juliet, and Swan Lake with the Company.
After two years in San Francisco, Bekah joined Boston Ballet II. While in Boston, she performed The Nutcracker, La Bayadere, and A Midsummer's Night Dream. Later Bekah joined Ballet Theatre of Maryland as an apprentice and was promoted to demi-soloist. During her time at BTM, she performed roles such as Spanish in the Nutcracker, The Diamond Fairy in Sleeping Beauty, as well as, several other featured roles in original works.
After spending some time at BTM, Bekah joined Corpus Christi Ballet as a Principal. During her time at CCB, she performed roles such as Sugarplum Fairy, Snow Queen, and the lead role of Giselle.
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.
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.