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Justine Ward Stewart - Director

Justine began dancing at the age of 2 and then later in 1979 she began her classical ballet training with Sharon Long in Tupelo MS, where she continued her dance education throughout High School and early college.

She continues her dance studies in order to better herself and her students traveling to teachers workshops and hosting regular master classes with other dance professionals.. During her career she has had the priviledge of studying with many different professional dancers and companies in workshops and performances. Most noteably training with dancers such as Anne Burton Avery of the Atlanta Ballet, Linda Divin of Ballet Austin, Finis Jhung of the Joffrey Ballet, David Howard of The Royal Ballet, Bob Rizzo, and most recently Mia Miachels choreographer and judge of "So You Think You Can Dance".

She has attended master classes and workshops with the Joffrey Ballet, Ballet Magnificat, and Ballet Mississippi, to name a few. She has performed with Ballet Mississippi, and was an active member of The Mississippi Dance Association for many years.

Justine spent 9 years as a member of the Tupelo Ballet Company where she participated in the Nutcracker for over 10 years performing many different roles including several solo performances. Stewart has also danced in a variety of other performances such as Coppelia, Cinderella, Swan Lake and others. And of course, The New Albany Ballet Company now performs its own Nutcracker annually where she continues to share her love of dance with the students and the community.

She is proficeint in many different forms of dance arts including Classical Ballet, Jazz, Modern, Lyrical, Tap, Musical theater, and Character. She also choreographs regularly for local high school and community theater musicals in Union, Pontotoc, and Marshall Counties,  as well as working with color guard, majorette, and dance teams throughout North Mississippi.

Justine began teaching in 1993 in Tupelo and opened up her own studio in New Albany in 2006. Her vision is to continue to advance the dance program here developing a great love for the arts in Union County and especially an appreciation for New Albany's own community Ballet and Dance Company. Justine has 3 children, Kai, Layla, and Jon Christian.

Dolan Shoemaker

Dolan began his dance training at MUW and then went on Scholarship to continue his training with the Pittsburg Ballet Theater School. He then went on to work on his professional dance career in Jackson, MS as a soloist for Ballet Mississippi. Later he co-founded the Mississippi Metropolitan Ballet in Madison, and is currently serving as Artistic Director of the dance department for the Academy of Competitive and Performing Arts in Starkville MS.

During his career he has performed various roles in such ballets as: The Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty, Coppelia, A Mid Summer Nights Dream, and Swan Lake to name a few. Mr. Shoemaker is very dedicated and also, very good with the students he coaches. He will continue to work and teach here in New Albany to push our students to their full potential.

Rani Higgins

Rani Higgins has spent the last decade at the New Albany School of Ballet as a student and has now turned her focus to sharing her love of ballet with other aspiring dancers. 

Rani is a current New Albany Ballet Company member serving as Ballet Mistress. She has studied many summers with a variety of guest artists and teachers including a summer with the Joffrey Ballet School and has danced various principle roles in a variety of full length ballets such as "Cinderella", Aurora in "Sleeping Beauty", Glinda in "Wizard of Oz", The Sugar Plum Fairy in "The Nutcracker", Titiana in "A MidSummer Night's Dream", and many other roles. She is now ready to continue helping other dancers grow and learn from her experiences.


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