Dance Department Faculty

(Click on any faculty member's name to see a list of achievements.)

Krista Bower Krista Bower (2007) - Chair and Professor of Dance

MFA in Choreography, Jacksonville University
BFA in Dance, Belhaven University


Krista Bower earned an MFA in Choreography from Jacksonville University and a BFA in Dance from Belhaven University. Bower was a recipient of the Jacksonville University Dean's Award for Excellence in 2011 and 2012. As a student at Belhaven, she received the Bezalel Award for outstanding artistic achievement and the Daniel Award for outstanding scholastic achievement. Bower has presented her research at the Congress on Research in Dance, Society of Dance History Scholars, and National Dance Education Organization conferences.

Bower performed with Living Water Dance Company in Jackson, Mississippi from 2005 - 2006. In 2008, she co-founded Front Porch Dance, a Mississippi-based contemporary dance company. She enjoys the opportunity to collaborate and perform with dancers, musicians, and visual artists throughout the state. Bower owns and directs the Yazoo City School of Dance, which trains students of all ages and employs two Belhaven University dance graduates as instructors.  In 2006 and 2010, Bower served on the staff of the  USA International Ballet Competition, and she was the Dance School Administrator for the 2014 USA IBC Dance School and Teacher Training Program. Krista is also a founding instructor of the Dance for Parkinson’s program in Jackson, MS.

In 2016 and 2011, Bower received Performing Arts Fellowship from the Mississippi Arts Commission, merit-based awards given to "professionals producing works of high artistic quality." In 2013, the Mississippi Business Journal named Bower one of "Mississippi's 50 Leading Business Women."

Departmental Duties:

  • Chair of Dance Department
  • Resident Choreographer
  • Dance Ministry Ensemble Co-Director (2013-2016)
  • Faculty Advisor for DOXA Club


  • Modern Dance Technique
  • Improvisation
  • Performance
  • Teaching Methods for Modern Dance
  • Graduate Pedagogy


Laura Morton (2004) - Associate Professor of Dance Laura Morton
BS in Psychology, University of Houston
MS in Applied Exercise Physiology, Mississippi College

Laura Morton’s background includes extensive training in classical ballet, jazz, and modern from prestigious dance educators such as Anne and Nicholas Polajenko, ABT’s Alexander Minz, and at Ballet West with director Bruce Marks and Toni Lander. Her professional credits include Milwaukee Ballet, Delia Stewart Dance Company, Houston Metropolitan Dance Company and Ad Deum Dance Company. She has also earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from the University of Houston and a Master of Science degree in Applied Exercise Physiology from Mississippi College.

Morton has taught nationally and internationally. Her teaching credentials include serving on the faculties of Summer Arts Session (Ravensburg, Germany), Pacific Northwest School of Ballet (Seattle, WA), Evergreen City Ballet (Auburn, WA), Houston Metropolitan Dance Center, (Houston, TX), Houston Ballet Ben Stevenson Academy (Houston, TX), and Ad Deum Dance Company (Houston, TX). While holding these various positions, her responsibilities included instructing, rehearsing, restaging classical ballets, choreographing, as well as lighting designer and stage manager. All of these responsibilities enabled her to share the invaluable information passed on to her by the many remarkable teachers that have mentored her as well as her own years of teaching experience.

Morton’s goal as a dance educator is to expand her students’ knowledge of their body in motion by means of anatomical and kinesiological principles. She integrates a theory-practice approach that promotes active learning and practical application of concepts. Her personal teaching method not only reflects a comprehensive and analytical approach to instructing and explaining technique but also a sincere concern for the overall health and wellbeing of her students. Blending dance science and artistic expression in her technique classes empowers dancers to realize and develop their potential as dance artists.

Departmental Duties:

  • Director of the Ballet Division
  • Resident Choreographer
  • Senior Project Mentor
  • Student Advisor


  • Ballet Technique
  • Pas de Deux
  • Dance Kinesiology
  • Principles for Dance Health
  • Dance Pedagogy
  • Teaching Methods—Ballet
  • Performance
  • Jazz Technique
  • Composition II
  • Choreography
  • Graduate Choreography


Kellis McSparrin Oldenburg Kellis McSparrin Oldenburg (2021) - Assistant Professor of Dance
MFA in Dance, Tisch School of the Arts, New York University
BFA in Dance Performance and Choreography, University of Southern Mississippi 


Kellis McSparrin Oldenburg is a dancer, choreographer, and teacher originally from Clinton, Mississippi. She got her start in the performing arts as a three-year singer/dancer in Clinton High School’s nationally renowned Attache show choir. She continued her study of dance at the University of Southern Mississippi and graduated Summa Cum Laude with a BFA in Dance Performance and Choreography. Following her undergraduate studies, she earned an MFA from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts in 2012. Oldenburg is a former adjunct instructor of dance at Belhaven University (2013-2015) where she taught modern, jazz and performance techniques, graduate pedagogy, and served as a faculty choreographer, rehearsal director and senior thesis advisor. She also served as an adjunct instructor at the University of Southern Mississippi, teaching modern and ballet techniques, dance appreciation as well as fulfilling the roles of the Repertory Dance Company Director and Production Director (2014-2016). Most recently, Oldenburg has broadened her virtual pedagogy by designing and instructing Online Dance Appreciation at USM (2016-2021). She is also a certified yoga instructor and has orchestrated her own freelance choreography and teaching business for the past twelve years, specializing in contemporary, ballet, jazz, hip hop, musical theatre and show choir.

In 2015, Oldenburg relocated to New Orleans, Louisiana, where she was selected as a company member of the Marigny Opera Ballet, a contemporary ballet company based out of the Marigny Opera House. During her 5 years with the company, she served as Rehearsal Director, resident choreographer and principal dancer. She originated several roles in the company’s repertory, including Proserpina in Orfeo (2015) and Giselle in Giselle Deslondes (2016). Three of the works that she created for MOB received awards for choreography from the New Orleans Gambit Tribute to the Classical Arts (outstanding short choreography- Tells, premiered in January 2018, outstanding full-length choreography- Follies of 1915, premiered November 2018, outstanding short choreography nominee- Sacred Harp, premiered December 2019).

Most recently, Oldenburg accepted an Assistant Professorship in the Belhaven University Dance Department in Jackson, MS. Her life has come full circle, bringing her back to her home state to pursue her love of teaching in higher education. Oldenburg lives in Clinton with her husband, Kirk, and their son, Ryder.

Departmental Duties:

  • Resident Choreographer
  • Senior Project Mentor
  • Student Advisor


  • Modern and Jazz Technique
  • Composition I and II
  • Performance 


Erin Rockwell Erin Scheiwe Rockwell (2008) - MFA Program Director and Professor of Dance
MFA in Dance, California State University, Long Beach
BA in Dance, St. Olaf College
Pilates Certification, Body Arts and Science International (BASI)


Erin Scheiwe Rockwell graduated Summa Cum Laude with a MFA in Dance from California State University, Long Beach (2008) and Cum Laude with a BA in Dance from St. Olaf University (2001). Her choreography has been presented nationally by several dance companies, schools, and festival. During her four years between degree programs, Rockwell lived in New York City where she enjoyed choreographing for a dance theatre company called Notes In Motion and performing with a variety of independent choreographers. Recently, Rockwell was honored to present her choreography at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington D.C. for the American College Dance Association National Conference.

While studying in California, Rockwell obtained her comprehensive Pilates teacher training with dance specialization through Body Arts and Science International and taught Pilates and modern dance at CSULB. She studied with master Pilates instructor and dance scientist, Karen Clippinger, who developed a dance specific repertoire based on classical Pilates philosophy and technique. With background in both classical and dance specific Pilates repertoire, she appreciates working with diverse populations to help individuals and groups achieve their specific fitness goals.

Throughout her career, Rockwell's interest in technology has inspired her to direct and edit several short dance films, attended and present work at international film workshops/festivals, as well as fuse screendance within her stage choreography. She has developed curriculum for Belhaven's dance department aiming to expand student's knowledge and creative potential to support their academic and choreographic pursuits.

In 2008, Rockwell co-founded a dance company called Font Porch Dance (, a Mississippi based dance collective aimed at creating approachable dance art that promotes awareness and appreciation of contemporary dance. The company continues to present original choreographic work throughout Mississippi often in collaboration with local musicians and visual artists. In addition to sitting on the company's Board of Directors, Rockwell is co-director, choreographer, and performer.

Departmental Duties:

  • MFA Program Director
  • Director of the Modern Division
  • Resident Choreographer
  • Senior Project Mentor
  • Student Advising
  • Website Coordinator


  • Modern Dance Technique
  • Improv II
  • Advanced Improvisation
  • Modern Partnering Techniques
  • Composition I
  • Choreography
  • Dance and Technology
  • Choreography with the Camera
  • Performance
  • Graduate Choreography
  • Graduate Seminar
  • Graduate Performance Media Techniques
  • Graduate Dance and Technology


Ravenna Wagon Ravenna Tucker Wagnon (2006), Professor of Dance
Masters of Creative Industries, Queensland University of Technology
Pilates Certification, Body Arts and Science International (BASI)
Associate of The Royal Academy of Dance (ARAD)
Royal Ballet School Teachers’ Course for Professional Dancers (TCPD).
The Commonwealth Society of Teachers of Dancing Diploma (C.S.T.D.)

Office: 601-965-1420

As a dancer, Malaysian-born Ravenna Tucker, began dance training in Hong Kong then at the Royal Ballet Upper School in London. In 1978 she won the Adeline Genée Gold Medal Competition, and in 1979, the French Foundation Prize at the Prix de Lausanne. She joined The Royal Ballet in 1979, and was named “Dancer of the Year” by Dance and Dancers magazine in 1984. On promotion to principal dancer in 1985 she danced the title roles in the Royal Ballet versions of the classics. In 1990, she joined the Birmingham Royal Ballet until 1996. Tucker has also performed with Singapore Dance Theatre, International Dance Day 2001 in Manila, Rose Borromeo Dance Company (Flamenco), Ecnad Project Ltd., Project Dance London (2011), the inaugural Mississippi Dance Festival (2012), in several Belhaven Community Dance Concerts, and with the Belhaven University Dance Ensemble in Erin Scheiwe Rockwell’s Threads of Resemblance (2010) and Liz Lerman’s Still Crossing (2018).

Wagnon taught full-time at LASALLE-SIA College of the Arts in Singapore for nine years, and has guest taught for Singapore Dance Theatre, Debra Colker Dance Company, the Mississippi Dance Festival, the Alabama Dance Festival, American College Dance Association 2013 and 2016, competitor classes of the USA International Ballet Competition in Jackson in 2010 and 2014, and for The Cecchetti Council of America Summer School 2019.

Wagnon has served as Secretary for the Dance Association (Singapore)/World Dance Alliance Asia-Pacific Dance Bridge 2001 conference, Artistic Committee of Singapore Dance Theatre, and as Artistic Director of Singapore Dance Legacy: The Unsung Heroes – Tony Llacer in 2004. She has examined for the Royal Academy of Dance Solo Seal and judged various ballet competitions in Britain, Hong Kong, and Malaysia. She was a member of the selection committee in 2010 and an evaluator in 2014 and 2018 for the USA International Ballet Competition in Jackson, Mississippi.

Wagnon is a certified teacher for the Royal Academy of Dance, the Commonwealth Society of Teachers’ of Dancing (Australia), Body Arts and Science International (BASI) Pilates, and holds a Masters of Creative Industries from Queensland University of Technology in Australia. She is currently a Professor of Dance at Belhaven University and is married to Stan Wagnon.

Departmental Duties:

  • Student Advisor
  • Senior Project Mentor


  • Pilates Mat
  • Ballet Technique
  • Pointe Technique
  • Variations
  • Conditioning for Dancers
  • Senior Project
  • Performance
  • Dance History (Ballet)


Clara Grace WattsClara Grace Watts (2015) -Assistant Professor of Dance
MFA in Performance and Choreography, Belhaven University
BFA in Dance Education, University of Southern Mississippi


Clara Grace Watts, a Mississippi native, received her BFA in dance education from the University of Southern Mississippi. She holds her dance licensure, K-12, and was the first dancer to have completed the dance education program at USM in three years. Prior to Belhaven University, Watts’ taught dance within the public school system for both middle and high school. Watts’ received her MFA in dance from Belhaven University, and she was honored to present her scholarly research at the National Dance Education Organization conferences, as both an individual and a panelist. 

In addition to her collegiate duties, Watts’ continues to pursue other avenues of performance and instruction, such as showchoirs, musical theater, colorguards, winterguards, dance studios, and high school bands. Her performance with the 2008 Phantom Regiment Drum & Bugle Corp in their show "Spartacus," where they won the Drum Corps International World Championships, stands as an highlight in her career. She currently serves as the resident choreographer for the Jackson Academy band program and the Mississippi Lions' All-state Band, who are the reigning international champions.

Departmental Duties:

  • Resident Choreographer
  • Senior Project Mentor
  • Student Advisor 
  • NHSDA Faculty Sponsor
  • Departmental Library Liaison


  • Modern Technique
  • Dance Composition I & II
  • Performance
  • Dance History I & II
  • Looking Into Dance


Specialty Instructors

Owen Rockwell, Specialty Instructor for Dance and Music Owen Rockwell

Owen Rockwell, DMA is Specialty Instructor of Dance and Music at Belhaven University where he serves as Director of Music for the Department of Dance and Director of Percussion Ensembles in the Department of Music. He provides music for modern dance classes, coordinates musicians and musical activities within the department of dance, teaches private percussion lessons, and coaches the Belhaven Percussion Ensemble. In 2014, he began the Belhaven Night of Percussion (and Classical Guitar), a much anticipated, annual event held in the Belhaven University Center for the Arts.

“Doc Rock,” as his students affectionately refer to him, is a versatile performer and experienced music educator committed to challenging his students towards musical excellence and lifelong personal growth. His former students are high school band directors, graduate students, and professional performers throughout the country.

Additionally, Dr. Rockwell teaches as an Adjunct Instructor at Jackson State University, where he was formerly an Assistant Band Director with the famed “Sonic Boom of the South” marching band, and Instructor of Music from 2006-2012. While there he has taught Graduate and Undergraduate applied percussion lessons, Honors Music Appreciation and Percussion (Methods) Class

Rockwell performs regularly with the Mississippi and Meridian (MS) Symphony Orchestras, as well as his jazz trio, the Vibe Doctors. He has appeared on NPR, PBS, and participated in the 1994 World Cup opening ceremonies in Orlando, FL as a snare drummer with the World Finalist, Magic of Orlando Drum and Bugle Corps. In July of 2016, he was interviewed on ”The Mississippi Arts Hour,” an radio show produced by Mississippi Public Broadcasting (MPB) that features Artists and Arts organizations from around the state.

He can also be heard on several recordings, including Vibe Doctors (Elegant Trainwreck label, 2015), The Celestial Sliphorns (Sea Breeze Jazz label, 2007), with Universal Republic label recording artist Matt Wertz on his collaborative recording, Damascus Road (Windmill Music label, 2001), and on his own solo percussion recording: Owen Rockwell, Percussion (produced by the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, 2001).

He is the recipient of many awards recognizing his skill as a performer. In 2015, Rockwell was granted a Performing Arts Fellowship by the Mississippi Arts Commission (MAC). While a graduate student at the University of Illinois, he was named the 2000 “Debut Artist,” the School of Music’s highest honor for a student performer each year, culminating in a professional “Debut” recital, held in the Foellinger Great Hall in the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

Rockwell earned the Master of Music and Bachelor of Music degrees in Percussion Performance from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. His primary teachers were marimba virtuoso William Moersch, and long-time percussion educator and scholar Thomas Siwe. Prior to moving to Jackson, MS, he worked as a free-lance musician and educator in New York City, Washington, D.C. and Nashville, TN. In 2015, he completed the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Percussion Performance and Pedagogy, at The University of Southern Mississippi where he was a student of Dr. John Wooton.


Elizabeth Sweatt (2016) - Specialty Instructor of Dance Elisabeth Sweatts

BFA in Dance, Belhaven University
Company Member, Ballet San Antonio
Company Member, TALK Dance Company


Elizabeth Sweatt began her training in Shizuoka at the age of 7. Elizabeth received dance and academic scholarships to attend Belhaven University in Jackson, MS. While at Belhaven she performed in numerous new ballets and modern works set by choreographers from around the country. Elizabeth danced with Ballet San Antonio and with TALK dance company for a number of years. She has taught and choreographed extensively around the US as well as in many parts of Asia. Elizabeth has returned to Mississippi and is currently an instructor of dance at Belhaven University.

Departmental Duties:

  • Dance Ministry Ensemble Co-director
  • Ballet Technique
  • Pointe Technique
  • Modern Technique
  • Performance


Mia Whitehead (2012) - Specialty Instructor of Dance Mia Whitehead

Belhaven University Dance Apprentice Program
Ballet San Antonio
TALK Dance Company
Shachah Touring Company of Asia


Mia Whitehead began dancing under her mother, Melvina Whitehead and at Ballet Magnificat! School of the Arts. She completed Belhaven University’s Dance Apprentice program, receiving extensive training under Lauri Worrill-Biggs and Laura Morton. While at Belhaven she received scholarships to Joffrey Ballet School, Nashville Ballet, and Dance Theatre of Harlem. Miss Whitehead danced professionally with Ballet San Antonio and TALK Dance Company, expanding her horizons not only by dancing but by teaching on a national and international level. She values the lives of her students, and seeks to provide an environment for them to learn and develop their discovered and undiscovered gifts.

Departmental Duties:

  • Rehearsal Director
  • Assistant Director of the Dance Ministry Ensemble


  • Ballet Technique
  • Pointe Technique


Adjunct Faculty

Anne Bishop (2019)- Graduate Teaching Assistant Anne Bishop

Anne Bishop earned a Master of Arts in Teaching Dance at New Mexico State University where she worked with Debra Knapp, and guest artist, Bill Evans. She has taught modern dance at New Mexico State University and at the University of Texas at El Paso. Anne danced and created with Youth With a Mission and was a company member of Project in Motion in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Her love for new challenges comes from experiencing dancing twenty feet above the audience. The Graduate Teaching Assistant opportunity at Belhaven University has her heart and mind dreaming of new ideas coming to life.


Layne Dobbins - Adjunct Instructor of Dance Layne Strode photo

From West Monroe, Louisiana, Layne began her training at Linda Lavender School of Dance. She was a member of the competition team and Twin City Ballet Company. Layne participated in the National Dance Festival in Montreal, Canada as well as a craft and choreography intensive in Salt Lake City, Utah. Currently a fifth year instructor with the Universal Dance Association, Layne enjoys teaching at their summer camps, heading camps, and working the National Dance Team Competition.

Layne received her Bachelors of Fine Arts in Performing Arts with a concentration in Dance and Choreography and a minor in Psychology from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. In 2017, Layne directed and choreographed her first crowd-pleasing piece, “From End to End,” which was performed at the ULL Spring Concert, An Evening of Dance. This piece was also performed at the American College Dance Association South Region Conference 2018. Her choreography, “Syntax," opened the show for An Evening of Dance 2018. Layne is attending Belhaven University to pursue a Master of Fine Arts in Dance.


Carleigh Dunbar (2014) - Adjunct Instructor of Dance Carliegh Dunbar

Carleigh Dunbar grew up in Murfreesboro, TN with a diverse training background in dance and musical theatre and received her BFA in Dance from Belhaven University. In addition to performing and presenting choreography at the American college Dance Festival Southern Regional Conference, she was a member of the Belhaven Bal Malhada Dance Ensemble’s 2014 dance tour of South Korea. She is currently an Adjunct Professor of Dance at Belhaven and dance instructor at public and private schools throughout the Jackson area.


Marlita Hill - Adjunct Instructor of Dance Marlita Hill photo

Marlita is an author, choreographer, and educator. She is the creator of the Kingdom Artist Initiative (KAI), which mentors professional artists of faith in building a healthy, undivided relationship between their faith and art career. She also forms instructional partnerships with colleges, artist organizations, and churches, providing curriculum to help disciple their marketplace artists. She has authored three books, including her latest, Defying Discord: Ending the divide between your faith and “secular” art career (Jan 2018). Her books have been used for college ministry courses, small groups, and dance ministries.

Marlita is currently receiving her MFA in Dance from Belhaven University. She is the Associate Director with Edge Project, produces a weekly podcast, The Kingdom Art Life, and is the Artistic Director/Choreographer for Speak Hill Dance Project, through which she showcases her own work and provides master classes, guest choreography, and residencies.

For over twenty years, she has served God as a dance artist in the church and marketplace; and, through that experience, now mentors artists around the world.


Sol Nazario, Adjunct Dance Instructor

Sol Maisonet (2010) - Adjunct Instructor of Dance

Sol Maisonet is originally from San Juan, Puerto Rico. She started teaching Classical Ballet in the year 1977 and has coached many professional dancers in several ballet companies in Puerto Rico, Colombia, Costa Rica, and the USA. During her 25 years as professional dancer, the Puerto Rico Institute of Culture awarded her several times to travel to New York City to train under Madame Maggie Black, Ramón Segarra and David Howard. As Principal dancer with Ballet Puertorriqueéo, Ballet Theatre Municipal of San Juan, Ballet Concierto, and Ballets of San Juan, Maisonet has performed leading roles in well-known ballets, including Waltz of Ravel, Symphony in Three Movements, The Nutcracker, Les Sylphides, Swan Lake, Rites of Spring, Tango Expectro, The Merry Widow, and George Balanchine's Rubies, Serenad, Who Cares, as well as other companies' repertoire.

In 1984, the Colombia Government invited her to perform with The Ballet National of Colombia in Bogotá under artistic director Ramon Segarra. Several ballets where choreographed for her during her one year as Principal Dancer. In 1988 Maisonet was invited to represent Puerto Rico, with Ballets de San Juan, at the 5th Iberoamerican Festival, Oscar Lopez in Barcelona, Spain and finished as a finalist with Petra Bravo's (a Cuban choreographer) piece, Que Signo Lleva el Amor (what is the sign of love). In 1993, Maisonet, co-founded with choreographers Gabry Christa, from Holland, and Gloria Llompart the company called Danzadentro in San Juan, Puerto Rico. She performed the company's repertoire in Puerto Rico and New York City until 1995 when she once again represented Puerto Rico in Barcelona, Spain with her own choreography, Una Vez al Mes. On another two occasions, she was chosen to represent Puerto Rico with Petra Bravo's Un Solo Dueto and the Virgin Islands with Gabry Christa's Matutina in the Latin-American Dance Congress held in Caracas, Venezuela. In 2001, Maisonet moved to Jackson, Mississippi to join the premier Christian Ballet Company, Ballet Magnificat, where she was the Ballet Mistress and Principal for their School of the Arts until December, 2009. In January 2010, she joined Belhaven University's Dance Department faculty as Adjunct Instructor of dance.


Arianna Marcell (2018) – Adjunct Instructor of Dance Arianna Marcell

Arianna Marcell is an artist and educator who values community engagement, collaborative exploration, and individual empowerment. Marcell graduated with honors from Belhaven University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance. She was a member of the National Honor Society for Dance Arts™ and received the Bezalel Award for Artistic Achievement, Diakonos Award for Service, and Daniel Award for Academic Excellence.

Marcell received additional dance training at the American Dance Festival, Dallas Black Dance Theatre Summer Intensive, Doug Varone and Dancers Summer Intensive, and Bates Dance Festival. Marcell performed in a work by South Korean choreographer Sung Yong Kim during the American College Dance Association's 2016 National College Dance Festival at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.  She was also a featured performer in a repertory house piece set by Rennie Harris.

Marcell served as the 2014 USA International Ballet Competition (IBC) Dance School Assistant. In 2016, she was the Artistic Manager for the USA IBC's Reunion Gala in honor of Nina Ananiashvili and the State Ballet of Georgia. Marcell taught ballet, modern, and jazz as a guest instructor at Pearls Dance Academy in Bridgetown, Barbados. Arianna Marcell’s most recent work was as the Administrator of the 2018 USA IBC Dance School.


Cynthia Newland Cynthia Newland (2003) - Adjunct Professor of Dance

Ms. Cynthia A. Newland, earned her MFA in Dance from Arizona State University, with an emphasis on choreography and performance and BFA in Dance from George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia.

Prior to her appointment at Belhaven University Ms. Newland served as director for New Field Dance Theater, East Bay of San Francisco. For nearly three decades she has traveled nationally and internationally as a teacher, choreographer, and performer working with varied arts organizations and institutions such as Campus Crusade for Christ, Children of the World, International Christian Embassy, Intervarsity, Operation Mobilization International, International Christian Dance Fellowship, Youth With a Mission, Project Dance, Christians in Theater Arts, and in Korea, Dong Ah Institute of Media and Arts, Hang Yang ERICA University and FEBC.

A portion of her work and artistic endeavors has been in the realm of inclusive dance where she has created numerous choreographed works for people with and without disabilities, which have been presented in the United States through VSA International and USA International Ballet Competition.

She has received recognition as a recipient of the Higher Education Awards from the Mississippi Alliance for Arts Education including the Lifetime Achievement Award and the Humanities Teacher Award by the Mississippi Humanities Council. At Belhaven University she has served on the Faculty Council and Education Advisory Council. She is a board Member of USA IBC (International Ballet Competition) and Mississippi Alliance for Arts Education, and member of ACDFA, Alabama Dance Council, CORD, Dance Camera West, NDEO, Performing Arts Medical Association and Screen Dance. Ms. Newland has also been a presenter for NASD's Annual Conferences.

Currently she teaches part time at Belhaven while traveling nationally and internationally providing dance training, presentations and choreography, as well as offering equipping tools for all ages on “Nourishing the Body, Soul and Spirit”.


Emma Salinas - Adjunct Instructor of Dance Emma Salinas

Emma Salinas is originally from Alamo, California and holds a B.F.A. and M.F.A. in Dance from Belhaven University with an emphasis in choreography and performance. Salinas has performed across the United States and in over ten countries at notable events such as Project Dance, Busan International Dance Festival, KUNA: National Festival, and MODAFE International Festival. She also spent a season performing with Ad Deum Dance Company as a main company member during their 2019-2020 season.

One of her numerous passions includes passing on the legacy of dance to the community around her in an accessible and relatable manner. This passion has driven her as a teacher as well as to work with a wide array of people ranging in age and abilities through ministry. In addition to performing, choreographing, and teaching dance, Salinas has experience in dance production influenced by her time shadowing companies such as Paul Taylor, Shen Wei, and Pilobolus during her production internship at the 2013 American Dance Festival.



Victoria Fauntroy (2020)- Dance Athletic Trainer Victoria Fauntroy

Victoria Fauntroy graduated Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science in Athletic Training from George Mason University in Fairfax, VA in 2018 and graduated in May 2020 with a Master’s of Science in Exercise, Fitness, and Health Promotion from George Mason University. Tori is a Board-Certified Athletic Trainer, certified in First Aid/CPR/AED use and Mental Health First Aid.

Victoria continues to expand her knowledge in athletic training through continuing education courses and dance specific education at the National Athletic Trainers’ Association and International Dance Medicine & Science annual conferences. She also works to give back to the dance community through research focused on dance health and health for dance, currently with two manuscripts published in peer-reviewed journals. Fauntroy provides vital attention and work in the care, evaluation, treatment, and prevention of dancers’ injuries. Fauntroy also assists dance students and faculty with conditioning and strengthening programs and is the lab instructor for Dance Kinesiology.


Lesley Raybon (2019)- Director of Dance Costuming Lesley Raybon

Lesley Raybon earned a BFA in Theatre from Southwestern University in Georgetown, TX. After graduating, she moved to Jackson, MS for an internship at New Stage Theatre. After working there on and off for several years, she became the Resident Costume Designer and remained for eight seasons. During her time at New Stage, she designed costumes for over 65 productions of various styles and time periods. She is excited to start a new chapter here in Belhaven University's Dance Department.



Kathryn Wilson (2018) - Director of Dance Production Kathryn Wilson photo

Kathryn Gurtler Wilson earned a BFA in Dance from Belhaven University and was awarded The Diakonos Award her senior year (2014). After graduation, she was an apprentice with Sarasota Contemporary Dance (Formerly Fuzion Dance Artists).

Kathryn is founder and co-director of Kinetic Etchings, a non-profit contemporary dance company in Jackson, MS. She is a Mississippi Arts Commission Teaching Artist and a Visiting Artist at the Mississippi Children’s Museum. She has served as a Whole School Arts Integration Dance Instructor and was the instructor for the City Dance Program for the USA International Ballet Competition from 2016-2018. Kathryn is BASI Pilates Certified and is the only Aerial Silks instructor in the Jackson area.

Kathryn served as the Assistant Stage Manager for the International Ballet Competition (2014/2018) and worked in technical roles for Ballet Mississippi and the Mississippi Opera.


Megan Voos - Administrative Assistant for Dance and Visual Arts Megan Voos