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
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
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.