Leanna Polk Bodnar

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.

Adrienne Lowman

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 NutcrackerRomeo 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.

Kevin Martin

Resident Master Class Instructor

Parents who were dance teachers greatly influenced Kevin Martin’s chosen career.

Born in Los Angeles and raised in North Carolina, he trained for classical ballet from the age of eight. Inspired by the defections of Rudolf Nureyev and Mikhail Baryshnikov, he moved to New York for further study following high school. Accepted into a six-year program by the famed Vaganova teacher and translator John Barker, Kevin recognized that this was an unparalleled opportunity for real training at a time when ballet was exploding in America.

Kevin soon enjoyed a constellation of teachers, mentors and coaches, and six years later, in 1981, he was part of an elite group which represented the United States as a competitor in the International Ballet Competition in Moscow, held on the stage of The Bolshoi Theater. The teachers and dancers he met in that month have become close colleagues and friends.

Subsequently, Kevin has been a principal or guest artist at noteable ballet companies including: Ballet Spectacular, Washington Ballet, Cincinnati Ballet, Louisville Ballet, Bay Ballet Theater, Nashville Ballet, Lake Erie Ballet, Fort Wayne Ballet, Delta Festival Ballet, Ballet Mississippi, Charleston Ballet, and Lexington Ballet.

After 18 consecutive years of dancing and touring nationally, Kevin joined the prestigious Nutmeg Conservatory for the Arts in Torrington, Connecticut in 1992, where he founded the Conservatory’s Men’s Division, and joined the international faculty in providing professional-level ballet training to young dancers, emphasizing both classical ballet and performance skills.

Kevin’s students may be seen performing in renowned ballet companies all over the world, such as American Ballet Theater, New York City Ballet, Berlin Opera Ballet, Royal Danish Ballet, Lyon Opera Ballet, Vienna State Ballet, ABT Studio Company, American Repertory Ballet, Ballet Met, Ballet NY, Ballet West, Boston Ballet, City Ballet of San Diego, Dance Theater of Harlem, Dayton Ballet, Suzanne Farrell Ballet, Fort Worth Ballet, Hartford Ballet Joffrey Ballet, Les Ballets de Monte Carlo, Les Grands Ballet Canadiens, Lexington Ballet, Los Angeles Ballet, Miami City Ballet, Momix, NC Dance Theatre, Oklahoma Ballet, Ohio Ballet, Orlando Ballet, Pennsylvania Ballet, Richmond Ballet, Sarasota Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, and Washington Ballet.

Kevin now lives in North Carolina full time, teaching, coaching and working as artistic advisor for over a dozen groups. He serves as Resident Master Class Instructor for Hickory Ballet & Performing Arts where he instills a love of the art of classical ballet.

Allison Andrews

Voice/Musical Theatre

Allison Andrews is the Theatre Arts teacher at Bandys High School, the Choir Director at Friendship UMC in Newton, and teaches private voice. She earned her BA in Theatre Arts Education from Catawba College and has been in public education for several years. Her directing credits include Seussical, Into the Woods, The Sound of Music, Once on This Island, The Fantasticks, Cinderella, and more. Allison is very excited to be teaching this summer with Hickory Ballet and Performing Arts!

John Coffee


Mr. Coffee has diverse musical experience.  His international touring credits include 42nd Street, where he originated the role of “Oscar” in the historic Moscow production. Other credits include the North American tours of Evita (2009) and 3 Mo’ Divas (2006-2010)—both as Assistant Conductor. Nationally, he served The Full Monty as Music Director for NETworks. John’s Off-Broadway experience includes Naked Boys Singing, Danny & Sylvia and The Danny Kaye Musical. Also, he held the position of Assistant Conductor for Into The Woods in Portland, Maine (2010) and Nine in Brugge, Belgium (2009)—both with the Intermezzo Music Festival. Mr. Coffee has performed as the Concert pianist with various orchestras and legendary artists such as Aaron Copland and Leonard Bernstein. He has authored four musicals of his own including We Are The People, Too. He worked as an arts administrator in addition to serving on the board of the North Carolina Theatre Conference.  John holds his Masters in Piano Performance from Juilliard. John returned to Hickory in 2011 and teaches Piano lessons as well as theory and vocal coaching at Hickory Arts.

Steven Corey

Ballet/Pas de Deux

Steven Corey is trained in Classical Ballet, Men’s Class and Pas De Deux Classes. He danced In The Nutcracker as the Sugar Plum Cavalier, The Nutcracker Prince, Rat King & Arabian Dancer. He has danced as the Spanish Prince and Puss in Boots in Sleeping Beauty.

Susie Eichman

Pre-school Dance/Modern

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


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.

Bonnie Harper


Bonnie is trained in many areas of dance: tap, jazz, lyrical, contemporary, ballet and acro.  She has experience as the director of dance companies as well as competition dance teams. She was the dance team coach for Walter M. Williams High School in Burlington and Ferris State University in the state of Michigan.  She has produced works of choreography for many dance studios as well as theatres in Michigan, North Carolina and South Carolina. She has alumni students who have pursued professional careers on So You Think You Can Dance, Broadway, National Tours, Cruise Ships, Disney World, UNC Dance Team, Appalachian State University Hip Hop Team, UNC-Asheville Cheerleading Team, as well as furthering their training at North Carolina School of the Arts, Juilliard, PACE, and Dance Workshops like New York City Dance Alliance, and Shock. She has over 30 years of experience and her love for teaching the art of dance is apparent to all.

Hannah Kevitt


Hannah is so excited to be joining the team at HBPA. She recently received her 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Certification after her run of ‘A Chorus Line’ at Heritage Theatre Festival. Hannah first got involved with yoga through different musical theatre and film opportunities. She then pursued a Yoga Certification as another income source, but what she found was so much more. She fell in love with the practice of Yoga and the calmness of the mind, body, and spirit connection. As a performer, Hannah thinks that Yoga coincides beautifully with the very active lifestyles of dancers, singers, or anyone! So come get Zen in Hannah’s class.

Gregory Knight


Gregory started playing the piano when he was four.  At eleven, he began studying at Lenoir-Rhyne College under Dr. Thelma Rast, with whom he continued until his graduation in 1983 with a Bachelor of Arts in piano performance.  While in college, Gregory was a recipient of the Hickory Music Club Award, as well as the winner of an eight-state concerto competition.  Gregory was selected as a finalist in the 2016 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition for Outstanding Amateurs, where he was also awarded the Creative Programming Award.  Also in 2016, the city of Lenoir, North Carolina, presented Gregory with a Pinnacle Award for lifetime achievement in music.  In October 2016, Gregory was invited by WDAV to perform and record on Van Cliburn’s own piano, CD 375.   In March, 2017, Gregory was invited to perform an all-Chopin recital at the Gasteig Performance Center in Munich, Germany as part of the Mein Pianoforte Pianomarathon Internationaler Meisteramateure festival.  Gregory has performed in Bass Performance Hall and Van Cliburn Recital Hall in Fort Worth, Texas, and as guest soloist with the Fort Worth Symphony and the Western Piedmont Symphony.  In addition, he performs regularly with a variety of local musical groups, including Puddingstone and the Caldwell Men’s Chorus. He has appeared extensively over the years with choral groups, schools, stage shows, and various other soloists and musical groups.  In October 2014, Gregory was featured on American Public Media’s Performance Today, the most-listened-to classical music radio show in America, reaching over 1.4 million listeners each week.  His performances have also been broadcast on WDAV’s Carolina Live program.

Thomas Michaels


Thomas Michaels is currently pursuing an undergraduate degree in Piano at UNCSA and has been performing on the stage in one way or another since he was 5 years old. He has been tapping for just about as long, since age 6, and has trained under a variety of teachers in North Carolina and New York.

Eva Peterson


Eva began her training at the age of 10 at Ann Freeman Dance Academy. In 2014 she began at the New Art School of Ballet with Michael and Melissa French. She began assisting in classes in 2015, and a year later began teaching Pre-Ballet and Ballet 1. In February of 2015 she was accepted into the American Ballet Theatre`s Summer Intensive. Last year, she performed the role of Dew Drop Fairy in Sleeping Beauty and will perform Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker in 2017 with Hickory Ballet Academy.

Charlton Seaver

Advanced Tap/Rhythm

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.

Rhonda Smith


Rhonda began the study of piano at age 5 and has never stopped. She has performed as a soloist and accompanist in venues from gospel choir to Big Band. She has studied jazz piano, gospel piano, classical piano, and classical organ. Rhonda is a Colleague in the American Guild of Organists, a Certified Music Teacher with the American College of Musicians, and holds membership in the The Choristers Guild,  and the American Guild of English Handbell Ringers. She is President of the Western North Carolina Chapter of The Fellowship of United Methodist Musicians. Her degrees include a BA in Music Education/Bible (HSBC), a MA in Sacred Music (BJU), a MA in Liberal Studies (UNCG), an EdS in Higher Education/Music (ASU) and a Graduate Certificate in Christian Studies(Asbury Theological Seminary). She was Commissioned as Provisonal Deacon of the United Methodist Church in June 2013. She has served FUMC, Hickory, NC since 2006.

Rochelle Walton

Office Manager

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.

John David Welch

Voice/Musical Theatre

John David Welch, a former student at the Manhattan School of Music and Middle Tennessee State University, is well-versed in vocal technique in both classical and contemporary music and has taught private voice and piano, provided musical direction for multiple theatrical productions including Beauty and the Beast, Evita!, Jesus Christ Superstar, and has cultivated a performing career playing roles such as Tony in West Side Story, Horton in Seussical, and Tamino in Mozart’s The Magic Flute. John David is a firm believer that everyone has the ability to be an excellent musician and performer once given the proper tools.

Malin Wellman

Wardrobe Mistress

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.

Jeremy Whitener

Voice/Musical Theatre

Jeremy is the music teacher at Sherrills Ford Elementary where he enjoys sharing his love for music and theater with the amazing children of SFES. Jeremy studied vocal music education and vocal performance at UNC-Greensboro where he performed a variety of repertoire from music theater, opera, and contemporary a capella. He has taught voice and piano throughout Catawba County. Some of his most recent roles include Gaston (Beauty and the Beast), Bernardo (West Side Story), Orin Scrivello DDS (Little Shop of Horrors), Donkey (Shrek the Musical), and Corny Collins (Hairspray).