DOROTHY GUNTHER PUGH (CEO & Founding Artistic Director) is a native Memphian who began her ballet training with Edith Royal of Orlando, Florida and later studied with Louise Rooke and Memphis Ballet. After graduating cum laude from Vanderbilt University, she studied with Raymond Clay and Donna Carver, and performed with Dance Concert Theatre. She completed teacher-training courses at the Royal Academy of Dance in London and with New York ballet master David Howard. Dorothy has appeared on several national dance panels, including PBS NewsHour, the National Endowment for the Arts Dance Panel and the Glass Slipper Ceiling Symposium. A member of the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce, she has received the Women of Achievement Award for Initiative and the Gordon Holl Outstanding Arts Administrator’s Award, and is a recipient of a fellowship from the Center for Social Innovation at Stanford University Graduate School of Business. She is a fellow in the National Arts Strategies’ Chief Executive Program™ and was named a 2012 Legends Award winner from the Women’s Foundation for a Greater Memphis. In 2013, she received the Briggs’ Foundation Community Service Award. She is the 2015 chair of the Artistic Directors’ Council for Dance/USA, the nation’s largest dance service organization for professional dance companies. Dorothy appeared in many roles with Ballet Memphis before leaving the stage.
STEVEN MCMAHON (Associate Artistic Director) has created more than a dozen ballets for Ballet Memphis, including his first full-length ballet, Wizard of Oz as well as Soul Selects Her Own Society, Confluence, The Royal We and Peter Pan. His other new ballets for Ballet Memphis include Carnival of the Animals, Romeo and Juliet and Cinderella. Steven also has choreographed many original works including The Lovely Story of Us, which was performed in Helsinki, Finland, at the International Ballet Competition, and two of his works, Being Here With Other People and Confluence, have been performed at the Spring to Dance Festival in St. Louis. His works also have been performed at Organizacion Para La Artes in Guatemala and at other venues around the nation. His first ballet, What Your Soul Sings, premiered at Ballet Memphis’ Interiorworks. Steven, who is originally from Glasgow, Scotland, is also a dancer with Ballet Memphis and joined after completing his training at The Ailey School in New York City.
TAMARA HOFFMANN (Senior Ballet Mistress) Tamara was born in Rochester, Minn., and began dancing at the age of 4. She trained at numerous schools before completing her training at Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet professional division. Tamara then danced professionally with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet and Ballet du Nord in France. In her 18-year career, she danced a wide variety of repertoire until retiring from the stage in 1999. As a soloist at the Royal Winnipeg, she toured extensively in Asia, Europe, South America and Russia, averaging 150 performances per year. Some of Tamara's most memorable roles were Clara in John Neumeier's Nutcracker and the lead role of the Waltz Girl in Balanchine's Serenade. Tamara has been ballet mistress for Ballet Memphis since 1999 and has staged many works for the company, including Swan Lake, Trey McIntyre's The Naughty Boy, and Mark Godden's Angels in the Architecture. She is also director of the Pilates Centre of Ballet Memphis and a STOTT PILATES® instructor trainer. The Pilates Centre has been designated a licensed training center for STOTT PILATES® instructors and is the only teacher certification program in Tennessee.
BRIAN MCSWEEN (Ballet Master) most recently was Associate Artistic Director with the Joffrey Concert Group as well as a guest teacher with the Grand Rapids (Mich.) Ballet and an adjunct professor of dance at Grand Valley State University (Mich.). He danced professionally with the Joffrey Ballet in a variety of roles including the Stepsister in Sir Frederick Ashton’s Cinderella, Twyla Tharp’s Deuce Coupe, the Snow King and Drosselmeyer in Robert Joffrey’s The Nutcracker, and Tybalt in John Cranko’s Romeo and Juliet, among many others.
JANET PARKE (School Principal and Junior Company Director) is now in her 34th season with Ballet Memphis. Parke trained at the Fort Wayne Ballet Academy, Texas Christian University and the Atlantic Foundation for the Performing Arts in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., under the direction of Ruth C. Petrinovic and Brenda Gooden. She has taught all levels of ballet school at the Atlantic Foundation for the Performing Arts, the Fort Wayne Ballet Academy, Rhodes College, St. Mary’s Episcopal School and Ballet Memphis. She also has published To The Pointe, a guide to the fitting, care and wear of pointe shoes. Parke has choreographed more than a dozen ballets for Ballet Memphis including Coppélia, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Nutcracker and Starlight. In addition to serving as school principal and teaching in the Ballet Memphis School, Janet directs and choreographs the Junior Company.
NIKKI LEWIS (Curriculum Developer & Teaching Artist) was born and raised in Memphis, and studied at Ballet Memphis School under Janet Parke on full scholarship. As a member of the Junior Company, she danced in student and professional productions including Nutcracker and South of Everywhere. She graduated from East High School and earned a degree in dance education from University of Tennessee at Martin. Nikki creates school curricula centered around Ballet Memphis productions as well as heads up the Company’s work with Knowledge Quest and Leadership Empowerment Center afterschool programs and other youth programs. For Ballet Memphis School, she teaches Discover Dance and Ballet for Older Beginners. Her early dance experience was with Watoto de Afrika children’s dance troupe, founded and directed by Donald O’Conner. She is a licensed K through 12 dance teacher.
ELIZABETH MENSAH (Community Enrichment Associate) joined Ballet Memphis after dancing as a trainee with the Joffrey Ballet in Chicago. She was a panelist on creating authentic diversity in dance companies at the 2014 Dance/USA conference. In 2012, she was a dancer/mentor in the Urban Bush Women Summer Leadership Institute in New Orleans, as well as a recipient of a 2012 Emerging Artist Grant from the Jeniam Foundation. While with the Joffrey, she was featured as Carabosse in Alexei Kremnev’s Sleeping Beauty, and in works by Francisco Avina. Other training includes the Joffrey Ballet School in New York City where she studied on full-merit scholarship. She is a certified STOTT PILATES® instructor for the Pilates Centre of Ballet Memphis.