Executive Director/Artistic Director of Performing Arts
Leanna hails from the San Francisco Bay Area where she began her extensive training in the performing arts. She studied under exceptional instructors including: Yehuda Maor and Kristine Elliot (ballet), Ina Krause and Florence Riggs (voice) and Howard Fine and Jay Goldberg (acting). She had the honor of being awarded a scholarship to hone her acting skills under the incomparable Uta Hagen.
A true triple threat, she made her professional debut at age 17 as Maggie in A Chorus Line. Her performing credits include principal roles in the Broadway National Touring companies of Cats (1991-1993), Jerome Robbins’ Broadway (1991) and Grease (1996), where she played Patty Simcox, and was first understudy in the role of Sandy, to an up and coming, but still unknown, Sutton Foster. Favorite roles performed with regional theatre companies throughout the country include Eva in Evita, Polly in Crazy for You, Maria and Liesl in The Sound of Music, and Tzeitel in Fiddler on the Roof. Over her 20 year career she had the pleasure of sharing the stage with many celebrities, and Tony Award Recipients including: Sutton Foster, Marissa Jaret Winokur, Bebe Neuwirth and Donna McKechnie to name a few. She also worked under the legendary Jerome Robbins.
She retired from performing 15 years ago and was inspired to teach. She has been in the studio ever since, passionate to create a nurturing environment while instilling strong technique and artistry. She has shared her expertise and experience in numerous ways, including: teaching dance in multiple private studios, as the Associate Director of Worship Arts at First United Methodist Church, teaching private voice lessons, directing and choreographing for local community theatres and as Performing Arts instructor at both Hickory Day School and St. Stephen’s Lutheran School. She became Artistic/Executive Director of Hickory Ballet and Performing Arts in January of 2018.
Artistic Director of Ballet/Director of Educational Outreach
Adrienne Lowman, from Virginia, started dance lessons at a young age. She trained at Avery Ballet throughout high school under her teacher and mentor, Lisa Snape Avery. She also attended summer intensives at Richmond Ballet, BalletMet, American Ballet Theatre, and Joffrey Ballet. In 2003, she joined the Nashville Ballet 2 company performing in such productions as Nutcracker, Romeo and Juliet, and Sleeping Beauty, as well as the children’s ballets Jack and the Beanstalk, Degas and the Little Dancer, and the Singing Tortoise. In 2007, Adrienne moved to North Carolina, where she met Melissa and Michael French. In 2011, she graduated Summa Cum Laude from Appalachian State University with a degree in Spanish Education and taught Spanish at Bandys High School for the last six years. Adrienne has performed the Nutcracker, Coppelia, Alice in Wonderland, and Cinderella with the New Art School of Ballet. In choreography, she has participated in projects for the last four summer intensives, including pieces in collaboration with the Hickory Museum of Art. Mrs. Lowman choreographed the spring productions of Peter and the Wolf in 2016 and Coppelia in 2018. In fall of 2018, Adrienne was named Artistic Director of Ballet and Educational Outreach for the Hickory Ballet and Performing Arts. Over the past 8 years, she has taught each level at the school and has a true passion for teaching the next generation of dancers.
Miss Kelly is certified by Dance Masters of America and has been teaching for 26 years. She comes to us from Grand Rapids, Michigan where she taught at Hearts in Step Dance Academy for 15 years. She teaches ballet, tap, and jazz, and loves the youngest to the oldest students!
Susie Eichman began dancing at the age of five in Whiteville, NC. There she studied ballet, tap, jazz, and lyrical. She graduated from East Carolina University with a Bachelor of Science in Dance Education. After college, she started a business teaching dance at daycares. She also taught dance at Mount Tabor High School for eight years. She was a dancer for the Kynetic Dance Ensemble, where she helped create company repertoire, which is still being performed today. She has continued to be engaged in dance as a substitute teacher and is active in multiple community activities.
Deanna Graham is a Pilates instructor who enjoys working with children and adults, with a special focus on body alignment, flexibility, and core strength. She graduated with a physical therapy degree in 1994 from St. Louis University and practiced in Hickory for 11 years, with the latter years focused in Outpatient Orthopedics. She received a Pilates certification through the Physicalmind Institute and the IWA, and has multiple years experience teaching Pilates, as well as acrobatics and core strengthening to the community. In addition, she enjoys practicing yoga, and loves to promote a lifelong commitment to fitness.
Charlton is a native of Hickory, NC. He graduated from Hickory High School then later attended UNCG on a music scholarship. While there, he was introduced to tap dancing and immediately gravitated toward the percussive art form. In 2001, he moved to NYC to focus solely on learning this uniquely American style of dance. Charlton trained at Steps on Broadway from master teachers and performers including: Derick Grant, Lynn Schwab, Andrew Nemr, and Ayodele Casel. These artists greatly influenced Charlton and helped him develop his own signature voice in tap. He enjoys sharing his knowledge of tap dance and helping others discover movement through rhythm.
Rochelle Walton has been dancing since she was three years old. Originally from South Florida, she trained under Magda Aunon for eight years, from age 10-18, at Magda Aunon’s School for Classical Ballet. A graduate of Lenoir-Rhyne University, with a double major in Elementary Education and Vocal Performance, Walton was part of the Lenoir-Rhyne A Capella Choir and also the Playmakers. After graduating, Walton taught in Hickory Public Schools for 7 years before marrying and starting a family. She currently stays home with her four children, ages 2,6,7,8.
Malin Wellman has been costuming since 1992, currently serving as: Wardrobe Mistress for Hickory Ballet & Preforming Arts Academy, Head Costumer for CAST, local crew Head Wardrobe, & repairs dry goods. She taught sewing, costume design, wardrobe & theatre; and worked for Tweetsie Railroad, Candlewood Productions, & others including HCT, Lenoir-Rhyne, The HUB, & FPA. Malin has also built several Mascot Costumes, winning a NC Regional Artist Grant in 2005.