Cornelia Sampson, Artistic Executive Director of Michigan Ballet Theatre, began her training in Detroit with Violette Armand. She was trained and examined in the National Academy of Ballet Syllabus. She continued her studies at Les Grand Ballet Canadienne in Montreal, in New York at the School of American Ballet, official school of New York City Ballet, and as a scholarship student at Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo where she was accepted into the company. Ms. Sampson has taught master classes for many organizations including, Interlochen Arts Academy, American Ballet Theatre, Oakland University, Flint Institute of Music and Dance and Burklyn Ballet Theatre. She founded the Rochester School of Dance, Cornelia’s School of Dance and Michigan Ballet Theatre. Ms. Sampson has staged and choreographed many works for MBT including a TV version of the Nutcracker that aired prime time on national TV. Her students have been accepted into major companies including American Ballet Theatre, New York City Ballet, the Joffrey Ballet Co. Pacific Northwest Ballet Co., Miami City Ballet and Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre. As a private coach, her dancers have won numerous 1st place awards and medals in recognized competitions. Ms. Sampson was named Outstanding Choreographer for her piece titled “After the Ball” and received the awards for Best Teacher and Best School at the Youth America Grand Prix competition.


Jennifer Ristoski, ballet instructor, and native of Michigan, received her training at the Rochester School of Dance and was a principle dancer with Michigan Ballet Theatre, under the direction of Cornelia Sampson. She also studied with American Ballet Theatre, and Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre. She continued her professional career at North Carolina Dance Theatre, where she worked with Jean-Pierre Bonnefous, Patricia McBride and Mark Diamond. Ms. Ristoski, a certified American Ballet Theatre instructor,  currently teaches and coaches at RSD. Her pieces have won top awards in recognized competitions.

Andrew Kaczmarek, ballet instructor, trained with Cornelia Sampson at the Rochester School of Dance and was a principal dancer of Michigan Ballet Theatre, Rochester School of Dance’s resident ballet company. Andrew has been featured in soloist and principal roles in MBT’s Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty, Coppélia and contemporary works choreographed by Michael Hicks and Deborah Dawn. Andrew was asked to participate with National City’s Stars of Ballet and Broadway with Meg Paul and Ron DeJesus and in 2008 was awarded 3rd place at Youth America Grand Prix Semi-finals in Chicago, Illinois performing Nutcracker Snow Pas de Deux. He later studied on full scholarship with American Ballet Theatre, Boston Ballet, Gelsey Kirkland Academy of Classical Ballet, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre and School of American Ballet. Andrew was accepted into Boston Ballet in 2009 as a trainee. In 2010, he joined GKA in New York city as a studio company member.  Andrew currently teaches at Rochester School of Dance after returning from Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre.

Amy Dwelle, children’s ballet instructor, began her dance training with Rose Marie Floyd in Royal Oak, Michigan. There she performed leading roles in ballets such as The Nutcracker and Sleeping Beauty, earned a scholarship to the Cecchetti Council of America’s summer intensive, and received Highly Commendable scores on Cecchetti’s ballet technique exams. Amy attended Western Michigan University on scholarship and graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance in 1992. She taught ballet, jazz, and modern at various local studios and was a member of Eisenhower Dance Ensemble before earning her Masters in Physical Therapy from Oakland University in 1997.

Kathy Fush, children’s pre-ballet and creative movement instructor, began her training at The Romeo Civic Dance Center and Jacqueline Ammond’s Studio. She continued her training at Marygrove College, Oakland University, and with notable professionals Gus Giordano, Nate Horn, Milton Meyers, and Marie Windsor. In addition to currently teaching at the Rochester School of Dance, she has taught at Oakland University, Cornelia’s School of Dance, Romeo Civic Dance Center and the Romeo Community School System.

Lyrical & Contemporary

Jamie Marino, a three times 1st place, overall top score winner of the Senior Solo Division at Applause, LA Dance Force, Headliners and Dance Masters Competitions. Received a full scholarship to The Edge Performing Arts Studio in Hollywood, CA, where she studied with professionals, Bill Prudish, Keith Clifton among other notables and performed with Mandy Moore, now affiliated with “So You Think You Can Dance” in several productions. Her career continued in New York where she received a full scholarship to the Alvin Ailey School. Her professional work in NY included performing in the Fringe Festival, The Cosby Show, the off Broadway production of “The Amy Goodheart Show” a Coke commercial that aired on TV and modeling for Dance Spirit Magazine.

Sylvia Suttle began her dance studies in Regensburg, Germany at the Tanzschule Krippner with Eva Eger primarily focusing on Modern Dance. Ms. Suttle has worked with Robert Wechsler; Director, Choreographer, and Dancer with Palindrome and Motion Composer in 2007; studied with Andrew Palermo, company owner and Director of Dre. Dance in 2009. She danced with the Henry Ford College Dance Company from 2011-2012. Ms. Suttle is also a dance assistant for Portia Field-Anderson at Oakland Community College from 2010 till today, and has been teaching Company Classes and a Freelance Choreographer since 2008. She has choreographed works that were performed in Germany for the University of Regensburg, in Michigan for the Berman Center for the Performing Arts, Jewish Community Center, Henry Ford College (Full Circle Dance Company), Oakland Dance Festival (ODF) American College Dance Festival Association (ACDFA) had her pieces performed at Artlabj Festivals, and for the Fulbright Scholars Foundation. SDC Dance Company was founded in early 2013 by Artistic Director Sylvia Suttle.

Molly McMullen began her dance training at South Dayton School of Dance in Dayton, Ohio. While there she was able to train and dance frequently with Dayton Contemporary Dance Company members. Molly has attended various summer intensive programs including Ballet Chicago, DCDC, Parsons Dance, Paul Taylor and Hubbard Street Dance Chicago. She has performed in several RDA ballet festivals and in 2006 received the Jeraldyne Blunden Award, which allowed her to attend the National Craft of Choreography Intensive on full scholarship. She graduated from Point Park University magna cum laude in 2012 with a BFA in Dance. She has had the great opportunities of performing works by George Balanchine, Doug Varone, Darrell Grand Moultrie, Ron de Jesus and Edgar Zendejas.


Michael Hicks, jazz instructor, is a former faculty member of Wichita State University in Kansas and the Virginia School of the Arts. An outstanding member of the “Mid-American Dance Theatre”, Hicks has performed with national touring companies of “Jesus Christ Superstar”, “The Wiz” and “Kiss Me Kate” and has held the title of “Mr. Michigan Talent” and “Mr. North American Talent”. In addition to appearances on TV and the National Auto Show circuit, his students have won numerous 1st place and overall awards in recognized competitions.


Linda Fornier, tap instructor