Sugarloaf Performing Arts is the quality training facility that it is today because of the experience, skill and dedication of its faculty and staff. With seasoned professionals from all over the United States, we pride ourselves on offering accomplished instructors with fine arts degrees, professional teaching experience and extensive performance and choreography credits.
Michelle Bourgeois: Company Director
Howard Ethridge: Tumble Director
Mr. Howard has an extensive background in gymnastics, stretching, and conditioning. He is one of Atlanta’s top instructors for tumbling and jumps. Howard prides himself on his conditioning techniques and stresses the importance of healthy living to his students. Mr. Howard is both loved and respected by both the dancers and their parents. Mr. Howard doesn’t just teach tumbling, he gives personal attention and instruction to each and every student. We are truly honored to have Mr. Howard on our teaching roster at Sugarloaf Performing Arts.
Erin Rauch is an Atlanta based performing artist and teacher. Her roots as a dancer are woven and knotted deeply in the classicism and structure of ballet, and while those technologies continue to inform her phrase-making and beliefs about movement, they have also been firmly bound to an ongoing investigation in modern and contemporary forms. Erin received her BA in Dance from Kennesaw State University in 2013. While attending university, Erin was awarded an academic scholarship for being an "outstanding scholar", and her choreography was selected to represent KSU at the American College Dance Association regional festival in 2013. At KSU, she performed in works by Ivan Pulinkala, Lauri Stallings, and Stevan Novakovich. Erin attended the American Dance Festival at Duke University in the summer of 2014, where she received training from former Forsythe dancer Elizabeth "Betsy" Corbett, Rodger Belman, Ishmael Houston Jones, and many others. Erin danced for Emily Cargill and Dancers in 2014 and performed in both the Modern Atlanta Dance Festival and the Detroit Dance City Festival. In 2015, Erin attended two weeks of summer programming at the San Francisco Conservatory of Dance, taking classes (most notably) from Bobbi Jene Smith, Summer Lee Rhatigan, Alex Ketley, Tristan Ching. Currently, Erin enjoys dancing around Atlanta in the immersive creations of Lucky Penny/Work Room resident artist Anicka Austin and teaching/choreographing for studios in the metro Atlanta area.
Bartley began dancing at age four and soon started performing and competing with the Jazz Company at The Southern Strutt Dance Studio. Under Director Nancy Giles, Bartley studied Jazz, Broadway Tap, Ballet, and Tumbling. Excelling in Jazz and Tap she won multiple Regional and National Overall High Score Awards, Double Platinum and Platinum Awards at Starbound, Star Systems, Show Stoppers, LA Underground and Tremaine Dance Competitions. While the majority of her training came from Southern Strutt, Bartley furthered her studies by participating in Summer Intensive Programs with the Columbia Ballet Company under William Starret, and the University of South Carolina's summer dance workshops. Additionally, by participating in Master Classes at Southern Strutt, she had the privilege to learn from choreographers such as Joe Tremaine, Gregory Hines, Ray Leeper, and Marcea. Bartley attended the University of South Carolina from August 1994 to May 1998, and continued to study dance adding Ballet, Jazz and Modern dance classes to her schedule. She began teaching in September 1995 and as a choreographer has won High Gold, Platinum, and Double Platinum awards at Applause, Bravo, Show Stoppers, and Star Systems Competitions. She currently teaches at Sugarloaf Performing Arts and Academy of Ballet while continuing to study at Dance 101, the Atlanta Ballet, and the Georgia Ballet.
Rio Thompson was born in Brunswick, GA where she began her dance training at the age of three with Jessica Dominey School of Dance. While in Brunswick she also trained at Jill Stanford School of Dance under owner and director Jill Stanford. Upon moving to Suwanee, GA in the summer of 1999, she began her training with Sugarloaf Performing Arts in Ballet, Pointe, Tap, Jazz, Lyrical, and Modern under the direction of Lori Zamzow-Wire. Trained classically in the Vaganova Style with accents of Cecchetti and Balanchine, she furthered her dance career performing with Sugarloaf Ballet in roles such as Claire in the Magic of Christmas, The Fox in Pinocchio, Sugar Plum Fairy and Chinese Tea in Nutcracker Excerpts, Soloist in the Little Match Girl, 3rd Odalisque Variation/Soloist in Le Corsaire, and the lead role of Cinderella in the Production of Cinderella. She also competed in various ballet and dance competitions where she was named a Dance Olympus VIP in 2005 & 2006 and a Dance America semi-finalist for Dancer of the Year in 2006 where she performed at Disney's Galaxy Theatre. She also spent time training many summers with Dance Olympus, Sugarloaf Ballet Intensive, The Georgia Ballet, The Nashville Ballet, The Atlanta Ballet, and The American Ballet Theatre. She graduated from North Georgia College and State University (now University of North Georgia) in 2012 with a Bachelor's of Science and has returned "home" to Sugarloaf to teach and inspire young dancers.
is a singer/songwriter, actor, and dancer from NYC. He trained at School of American Ballet at Lincoln Center from age 9-18 and danced four seasons at Carolina Ballet under the direction of Robert Weiss. As an actor, he has appeared on Law & Order: SVU and the feature filmThe Emperor's Club. Nick is also an award-winning singer/songwriter with a major-label record deal at Streamline Records. He is label mates with Lady Gaga and Tamar Braxton, and has appeared on The Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards. Hear his music and stay in touch at www.therealnick.com Twitter/IG: @nickisthetruth
Bio Coming Soon!
Robyn Higgs was born and raised in New York. At the age of 13 she started her career in dance at the Vennettes Cultural Workshop and the Long Island H.S for performing arts (B.O.C.E.S). Upon graduation from high school, she was awarded a scholarship with The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater where she trained and performed. After leaving Alvin Ailey she toured the U.S and Europe as a principle dancer with the “Dance Brazil’ dance company. Robyn also performed as a background dancer with several prominent R&B recording artist. In 2000, she performed in the Millennium half time presentation
For the past 20 years Robyn has served as an invited teacher and speaker at various dance workshops and conferences throughout the U.S and Jamaica and is a member of “Passion for Christ” dance company.
In 2011, Robyn founded and serves as artistic director of LiveLoveDance!, a non-profit outreach organization that affords underprivileged children the opportunity to learn and enjoy the various disciplines of dance .
Robyn is a passionate teacher who loves children and enjoys sharing her love for dance. With over 25 years of professional dance experience and 20+ years of experience teaching dance to youth and adults, Robyn brings a wealth of professionalism and leadership to the art of dance.
Jennifer Mason was raised in Atlanta, Ga where she began her training with humble beginnings at a local dance school in Decatur. She continued to pursue her passion after being accepted on scholarship to both The Atlanta Ballet and The Alvin Ailey School. Afterward, Jennifer received her BFA in Dance from Florida State University and was blessed to work under such instructors and direction as that of Suzanne Farrell (NYC Ballet), Jawole Zollar (Urban Bush Women), and Anjali Austin (DTH). Jennifer then pursued dance in several different avenues, from a soloist with The Universal Circus, to more contemporary work with Dance Iquail (NY) and Surfscape Contemporary Dance Theater (FL). She performed more classical works with Urban Ballet Theater (NY), as well as Ballethnic Dance Company (GA). Currently, Jennifer is the Co-Artistic Director of City Gate Dance Theater Company Inc. alongside her husband, Robert Mason. She enjoys being an instructor at Sugarloaf Performing Arts as well as other professional training programs in the City!
Robert Mason started dancing later in his life but was quickly fastened to the training regimen and expectation thereof. After his initial start with Spirit Wings Dance Company in Maryland, Robert attended The Atlanta Ballet and The Ailey School on full scholarship to continue his training. While at Atlanta Ballet, Robert worked alongside company members and directors in such memorable works as Romeo and Juliet, The Nutcracker, and 1001 Nights. As a dancer at the Ailey School, Robert was a member of the Student Performance Company and performed in distinguished works such as Memoria and Stack Up. During this time, Robert also pursued his musical theatre ambitions appearing in Black Nativity and Dream Girls, produced by Jamandi Productions. Soon after, Mr. Mason began to choreograph recognizable works such as Hunger, 9th Ward, and Asylum (a full length ballet). After touring with the cast of The Color Purple, he settled in Atlanta with his wife, Jennifer Mason, and created City Gate Dance Theater, a contemporary ballet company and ballet cinema group.
Jennifer was born in Boca, Raton Florida and began dancing at the age of four. She has lived in Lawrenceville, Georgia since the age of 12 when she began her intensive technical training in ballet, pointe, modern, jazz, musical theatre and many other styles of dance at Sugarloaf Performing Arts. In her time dancing with Sugarloaf Ballet, she has been in a variety of productions from Pinocchio in 2004 to Sleeping Beauty in 2011. In 2009, she received the lead role of Snow White in Sugarloaf Ballet’s production of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. In addition, she has acquired numerous gold, high gold, and platinum awards for group and solo pieces at talent competitions all over Georgia. Jennifer graduated from Peachtree Ridge High School in 2010 with honors and went on to attend Kennesaw State University (KSU) in Kennesaw, Georgia. She danced with the KSU Dance Company five semesters and worked in the Department of Dance office at KSU for one year. She graduated from KSU with a Bachelor of Arts in Dance in 2014. She continued her education and fostered her love for children by attaining a second bachelor’s degree. She received her Bachelor of Science in early childhood education in 2015. Jennifer has decided to return to Sugarloaf as full time artistic staff, stage manager, and school administrator with the intent of combining her passions for dance and love of educating.
Reyna graduated from Brenau University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance Education. While at Brenau she was a member of Brenau Dance Ensemble where she had many opportunities to perform. Reyna began her training under the direction of Iris Hensley and Marina Levasheva at the Georgia Ballet, where she later became a company member and performed in many ballets such as The Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty, Giselle, Carmen, and Serenade. She has performed as a company member for Duende Dance Theatre in Atlanta and Bighouse Dance Theater in Gainesville, GA. She has done extensive study with Phyllis Wiekart of High/Scope Educational Research Foundation, studying Education Through Movement. Reyna has served as a movement specialist for the Atlanta Ballet’s Outreach program as well as the coordinator for Atlanta Ballet’s Center of Education “Kids In Step” program. Reyna has been teaching dance in the public school system for 10 years. She is currently director of a high school dance program she developed at North Gwinnett High school in Suwanee, GA, where she has created the first chapter of the National Honor Society for Dance Arts in Georgia. She has served as the senior thesis adjudicator and has been a guest choreographer for Brenau University. She was also summer faculty for Brenau University's arts program – Firespark. In 2009 Reyna was asked to be on the writing committee for the new Georgia Performance Standards for Dance Education.
Whitney Sauve is a native of Marietta, Georgia and has trained since the age of nine in Jazz, Ballet, Lyrical and Hip-Hop. She has recently been seen working with professional artists such as "Jadi" and "The Gang of Roses" and with professional dance company "Brooks and Company Dance." She has choreographed works for Light the World Parade, Atlanta's Thanksgiving Night of Hope and the Georgia's Governors Honors Program, to name a few. Whitney is extremely excited to begin another season at Sugarloaf Performing Arts.
Guest Instructors and Choreographers
In addition to the regular instructors Sugarloaf Performing Arts brings in guest instructors and choreographers throughout the year. Please inquire in the office for more information.