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About your Director :


 VALARIE SIMPSON - Valarie's dance training began in Florence, SC. She was a soloist with the Florence Civic Ballet Company and twice danced the leading role in their production of "The Nutcracker." In Charleston, SC Valarie danced with the Robert Ivey Ballet Company. Valarie's special training includes The Koslovs, Patricia Miller former principal with the Joffery Ballet, Gus Giordano, Roland Dupree and others. She has owned and operated her own dance studios in Nebraska and North Carolina. Since living in Richmond, she has taught classes at the Richmond Dance Center, directed a dance program for competitive gymnasts at the Virginia International Gymnastics School, Inc. and taught classes as a member of the adjunct faculty of J.S. Reynolds. Valarie has also worked as a producer and host of several radio and television programs in the Richmond area. Valarie has done special choreography projects for University of Richmond, as well as HS show choirs and musicals in VA, NC, SC and NE. She was also a regional and National judge for Showstoppers Talent Competition in the mid 80's. School of Dance Arts is now in its 19th year. Valarie is married and the mother of three.

Ms. Valarie teaches ballet, lyrical, conditioning & pointe classes at SODA!


Instructors :

 instructor pic 2016 edited-1

                Bethany            Stephanie            Ryan            Valarie               Brittany

            McLaughlin      Alexander        Claytor     Simpson           Ward                                                   

                 Kim Moncrief and Brenda Hamilton - Not Pictured  



Brittany Ward -  Brittany is a native of Springfield Virginia and found her love of dance while at Heartbeats Music and Dance. She has studied ballet, tap, jazz, lyrical, hip hop, contemporary, modern, tumbling and musical theatre. Brittany is also an accomplished musician, she plays the violin and piano. She currently attends VCU, and plans to major soon in physical education / exercise science, with a concentration in physical therapy. Brittany has taught dance in Springfield and Richmond Virginia, and was a substitute dance instructor at SODA last season. We're happy to have her teaching at School of Dance Arts this season!


Ryan Claytor - Ryan's love for dance began at an early age, while studying dance at The Richmond Ballet. She has formal training in all aspects of dance, including choreography and performance. Ryan obtained her BA in dance at James Madison University. She was selected and worked with many choreographers, including Aaron Smith and Stephanie Martinez of Chicago IL on a piece called "ReKonstruction."  Ryan was awarded a special scholarship in the fellowship program at The Alvin Ailey School in New York. While there, she trained in Horton, Ballet, Pointe, Jazz, and repertory workshop. She also performed in an end- of - program production at Alvin Ailey. She has worked as a choreographer for show choirs in our area and she began teaching at SODA in our Summer program. We're happy to have her artistic talents at SODA!


Stephanie Alexander - Stephanie is a native of Mechanicsville and started dancing when she was 4 years old! She studied ballet, tap, jazz, lyrical, modern and musical theatre under the direction of Peggy Thibodeau. In high school, Stephanie was a dance captain for her high school show choir, as well as a choreographer for children's activites at her church. Stephanie earned an English degree at Christopher Newport University in Newport News, VA. While at CNU, Stephanie took credited dance classes to sharpen her technique. She also participated in many showcases and performances at CNU too!  Stephanie is a creative writer for Snow Companies and she began teaching at SODA last season. She's a passionate dance Instructor and enjoys working with our SODA dancers!