I was born and raised in Richmond Virginia, to two lovely individuals, Lashawnda and Jimmy. Being one of five siblings, and countless cousins, life was always interesting. As a child, I spent my summers in rural Mississippi with my youngest sister. There, my imagination really came to life. My passion for theatre and performing arts blossomed during my academic career at The University of Virginia’s College at Wise. During my studies at UVA-Wise, I was afforded the opportunity to perform in several productions, one of which I played the lead role. The play was an original mashup, titled, Our Town/Hell House. I was given the opportunity to play Elsa. During my college career, I became involved in political activism. Learning how to motivate a community using nontraditional approaches of theater and engagement, was not only exciting, but eye-opening. Moreover, I have studied improvisational theater, as well as, aspects of comedy. I participated in a vocal ensemble for five years here in Richmond. I have experience with musical theater, as well as, many other dance forms, such as traditional African dance, ballroom dance, and interpretive dance. Today, I am married to a lovely woman, Valerie, and have the privilege of still calling Richmond my home. All in all, I can take on many forms. What I add to any production is what I have learned from life- willingness, playfulness, hard work, and compassion.
Kaitlynn DavisTeaching Artist
Since my teenage years in Medellin, Colombia, teaching has been my passion. Helping others learn brought self-fulfillment, a sense of purpose, and created a platform for creativity. I attended La Universidad de Antioquia in my home city. I have a bachelor’s degree in Mathematics Education. After college, I moved to New York City, where I studied English as a Second Language at NYU. After the birth of my first child, I moved to RVA. The last 14 years, I have dedicated my time to teaching art and Spanish to children. Currently, I am finishing the Teaching Licensure Program at the University of Richmond. I am also teaching Spanish online, making art, and enjoying being part of an incredible Dancing Classroom team. My personal goal as a teacher is to inspire students to take their knowledge beyond the classroom and to cultivate enough curiosity so that my students blossom into lifelong learners.
Corinna SherlipTeaching Artist
Chantell has been in and around Dancing Classrooms for more than 13 years. She has taught in Ellensburg Washington, Greater Seattle area and now in the Greater Richmond area. Life has given her many opportunities to teach and learn in many genres: from studio dance to college level to outreach programs. She loves the challenge of bringing dance to those who have not had the opportunity. She helps them learn in a fun and easy environment how to find success and appreciation of dance. When she is not teaching, Chantell enjoys camping, hiking, biking and swimming with her family. She has 3 children and a wonderful, supportive husband. She resides in Charlottesville and lives by the mantra “Will drive to Dance”.
Chantell RayTeaching Artist
She has had the opportunity to teach dance to a wide range of individuals: Detroit Ballroom to adults; theme-based choreographed dance to elementary students through an arts education program; swing, foxtrot, cha cha to cardio doctors in preparation for a dance competition called Dancing with the Docs; soul line dancing to senior citizens in residential community centers; merengue and line dancing to children and adults with disabilities at a summer residential camp; and swing, waltz and rumba to debutantes. She is excited about continuing to spread her passion for movement through Dancing Classrooms.
Jewel BarberAssistant Director, Teaching Artist
Mariya Vysotskaya is a champion professional ballroom dancer, instructor, coach and social entrepreneur. She is the Founder and Executive Director of Dancing Classrooms Greater Richmond, which has taught thousands of young people the value of teamwork and discipline as they learn to lead, follow and succeed through the art of ballroom dance. Mariya is a native of Kaliningrad, Russia. She competes as a professional, teaches, both adults and children and coaches to the current United States Amateur Champions. Mariya’s greatest joy is helping children, particularly those who may face disadvantages, know that through hard work they can succeed. Mariya says that when two people move across the floor to beautiful music, they are sharing their humanity. Being able to see past race, position, language, size, and focus on the humanity of another person is a skill that will prepare our children to take their place in a complex and diverse world.