International Dance Day

This project is supported by the United Arts Council of Catawba County, through the North Carolina Arts Council a division of the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, with funding from the state of North Carolina from the National Endowment of the Arts.

Come celebrate International Dance Day with Hickory Ballet and Performing Arts!  This community event will showcase several dance styles in a day long festival of master classes!  Everyone welcome, no dance experience necessary.

Date: April 29th

Time: 9am-4pm

Click HERE for the full schedule of classes!

Cost: FREE

Wear: Any clothes you can move in! Bring dance shoes if you have them.  If not, socks or bare feet may be encouraged depending on the style.

Location: HBPA Studios, 116 3rd St NW Hickory NC

Click HERE for parking info.

We are excited to welcome the following Teaching Artists to our International Dance Day Festival:

Tamara Williams,  African Brazilian

Associate Professor Tamara Williams earned her BFA in Dance from Florida State University and received her MFA in Dance from Hollins University in collaboration with The American Dance Festival, The Forsythe Company, and Frankfurt University. She is a certified GYROTONIC(R) Trainer, Reiki Practitioner, and capoeirista.

Williams’ performing career includes work with Alpha Omega Theatrical Dance Company, David P. France Dance company, Errol Grimes Dance Group, Millicent and Company, Angela’s Pulse, Maverick Dance Experience, and Urban Bush Women’s apprentice company. Her choreography has been performed nationally and internationally including Serbia, Switzerland, Trinidad & Tobago, Jamaica, Mexico, and Brazil. In 2011, Williams created Moving Spirits, Inc., a contemporary arts organization dedicated to performing, researching, documenting, cultivating, and producing arts of the African Diaspora.

Williams has trained intensely in Salvador da Bahia, Brazil in Silvestre Technique and African Brazilian dance. She is a 2012 recipient of the Artist Residency Fellowship at the Dance & Performance Institute in Trinidad, a 2013 recipient of the Harlem Stage/Aaron Davis Hall Fund for New Work grant, and a 2014 and 2015 Community Arts Fund Grantee by the Brooklyn Arts Council. In 2015, Moving Spirits, Inc. was accepted as Company-in-Residence at the Jamaica Center for Arts & Leadership in Jamaica, Queens. Williams was a 2015 Turkey Land Grove Foundation recipient in which she participated in a seven-day dance writing residency in Martha’s Vineyard, and a 2015 Fall Space Grant recipient, awarded by the Brooklyn Arts Exchange. She is a recipient of the Digital Making Grant from UNC Charlotte’s College of Arts + Architecture and several Mini-Diversity and Chancellor Diversity Challenge Fund grants from UNC Charlotte’s Diversity Fund. She has received two Faculty Research Grants to further her studies of African American ring shout traditions in the Carolina’s low country and West Africa. Williams has received several Culture Block grants from Mecklenburg County’s Arts and Science Council to offer free African Diaspora dance and music programming for communities around Charlotte. In 2020, Williams was awarded the College of Arts + Architecture 2020 Board of Governors Teaching Award.

Williams’ research has been published in The Dancer-Citizen Journal and her book Giving Life to Movement, analyzing African-Brazilian dance histories and cultures, was published by McFarland Press in 2021. Her monograph, The African Diaspora and Civic Responsibility: Addressing Social Justice through the Arts, Education and Community Engagement, is currently under contract with Lexington Books. This latter text investigates how African American, African-Brazilian, Haitian, and Latinx artists and scholars address civic responsibility and social justice issues through the arts. Williams’ research on African American Ring Shout traditions has been disseminated at several colleges and universities in the United States and Brazil. Her article, “Reviving Culture Through Ring Shout,” was published in the scholarly journal, The Dancer-Citizen.

Williams has researched and developed various community programs focusing on marginalized people in New York City and Charlotte. The programs provide opportunities for underserved communities to learn and practice dances of the African diaspora; histories and cultures which are strategically neglected in US education systems.


Ritu Mukherjee, Bollywood

Nrityangan Cultural Academy was founded in 2001 by Smt. Rituparna Mukherjee.  Affiliated with Pracheen Kala Kendra, a premier educational organization dedicated to the promotion and preservation of fine arts, Nrityangan has been providing classical Kathak and modern Bollywood training for students age 5 through adults. The founder and Creative Director, Ritu, provides group and individual training, understanding the strengths and skills of each student.  Her affectionate manner and attention to detail builds dancers and individuals who are proud of their cultural heritage and eager to share their traditions with the community. All students at Nrityangan participate in cultural festivals during the year such as the annual Festival of India in Charlotte. Their talents are also showcased in Nrityangan’s annual recital and fundraiser, which brings together over a hundred dancers, working together to tell a story and raise funds for local and global organizations. Last year, Nrityangan’s annual recital raised over $40K to support Maiti Nepal and Treehouse Children’s Advocacy Center.

For those students on the kathak track, their years of training and hard work culminate in a Rang Manch Pravesh, or a graduation ceremony highlighting the skills they have built.  Ritu works with each of her rising graduates, one-on-one, to carefully select and choreograph complex classical works.  The end result:  truly spellbinding performances that demonstrate the student’s technical strength, innate skill, and grace.  In addition, Nrityangan is available to perform at, or choreograph dances for private events and weddings.

Ritu Mukherjee, was born in a small town in West Bengal.  She completed her Masters in Zoology under Calcutta University.  She was trained in the Indian Classical Dance Kathak by Rabindra Bharati, Dance Professor Dr. Jayanta Mukherjee, and Other renowned teachers like Late Sri Bela Arnab, Shoma Chatterji, Dr. Malabika Mitra Sen, Keya Chandra and Sri Jayanti Mukherjee.

 Ritu has won several Kathak dance competitions. ​ In 1993, ​she won the All India Jawahar Lal Nehru Dance competition and was the recipient of the​ ​ National dance scholarship.  After getting married to Dr. Arindam Mukherjee, she moved to the US in 2001. She started teaching dance in Santa Barbara, California, merely out of her passion for teaching others the art of dance.  A year later, when ​she moved to Charlotte with​ her family, she founded the Nrityangan Cultural Academy, and has truly made a lasting imprint on the Indian cultural scene in Charlotte.

 She is not only a mother of her own 3 children, but she also looks ​upon each of her Nrityangan students as her own. Her affection and dedication to their dance ​education is evident in each of her interactions . Today, Ritu Mukherjee trains many students between the ages of 5 -54 and continues to mentor on several Indian Dance projects in Hickory University. In spite of her busy schedule, Ritu volunteers as the Cultural secretary of Hindu Center of Charlotte.  Srishti, has worked with the Indian association of Charlotte and is a cultural committee member of the Asian Dragon Boat festival.

 Ritu has performed at the Charlotte International school, Charlotte Prep school, Charlotte Latin and Mecklenburg Schools, Passport to the World show at JC Smith University Charlotte, International day Dance and Music by Mecklenburg Library, Festival of India Charlotte, Raleigh, Microsoft Companies, AXA , AAPI, Hindu Center, Srishti, Nuvyug and so on.​…

Mischa Xiong, Hmong Traditional Dance

Mischa has been doing Hmong dance for 6 years. She started Hmong dancing in elementary school but did not start teaching Hmong dance until her junior year of high school. She became the leader of the Hmong Dance Troupe at Challenger Early College High School. In this role, she is tasked with choreographing all of their dances as well as teaching them to her fellow students.

Kaitlyn Hall, Jazz

During Kaitlyn’s 13 years as a studio dancer, she received the privilege to perform in the 2010 Orange Bowl with Kool and the Gang, Disney World in Orlando, multiple local parades, and hundreds of dance competitions.

Following her studio dance career, Kaitlyn attended Western Carolina University and joined the university’s dance team. While earning her bachelors of science degree in Criminal Justice and Criminology, she continued to stay active in the dance department and was hired as the choreographer for the Catamount Singers & Electric Soul. Kaitlyn was also chosen as a selected spotlight artist for a university film festival documentary that described her life as a dancer.

During Kaitlyn’s junior year of college, she received her first dance teaching job and became the contemporary instructor for Triple Threat Performing Arts Academy. Within her first year teaching, Kaitlyn choreographed the studio’s first ever national championship winning routine in 2015, which later received its own proclamation from Jackson County, North Carolina.

Following her time at WCU, Kaitlyn briefly danced professionally with Baran Dance Company, a professional contemporary dance company located in Charlotte, NC. She has also adjudicated for multiple competitions and taught for Dance Machine as a convention instructor. Kaitlyn also choreographs for the Clover High School indoor drumline, who recently won WGI World Championships in 2022.

This year, Kaitlyn will be starting her tenth year as a choreographer. Throughout her years of teaching, her routines have won multiple national titles, judges awards, and monetary scholarships. Kaitlyn continues to pursue her passion in dance by teaching and adjudicating through her business, “Choreo By Kait”!