Meet our amazing Teachers and Staff

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Faculty Headshots: Paul Sasso, MV Photo Concepts

I want to learn to dance from these teachers!
Nancy Tolbert Yilmaz

An accomplished dancer and performer, Nancy has given the gift of dance to thousands of students. Nancy is incredibly driven and pours her heart into her hard work in everything she does at Tolbert Yilmaz School of Dance. The school has grown, evolved and excelled under her leadership and passion for the education of young dancers.

Beyond the walls of our studio, Nancy has shared her expertise with thousands of other dancers and dance education professionals through her 10-year tenure as president of SERBA, the Southeast Regional Ballet Association (now known as RDA/SE, Regional Dance America/Southeast). Upon completion of her term in the Southeast Region, Nancy stepped up to the National Board of Regional Dance America. She is a true leader of today’s dance industry who has been honored many times for her contributions to the arts at the local, state, regional and national levels.

In her years on stage as a dancer, Nancy’s extensive dance training centered on Ballet, Tap, and Jazz. She studied with notable teachers such as Robert Joffrey of the Joffrey Ballet New York, David Howard, Pittman Corry, Igor Schwezoff, Gabriela Taub-Darvash, and many more.

Nancy has performed and worked with The Sid and Marty Krofft Productions, Walt Disney Productions, Southern Ballet of Atlanta, Cobb-Marietta Ballet as well as Donny and Marie Osmond, Peggy Fleming, Ernest Borgnine, Tina Turner and Tony Orlando – just to name a few. She was also featured performer in the Opening and Closing Ceremonies for the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games, performing with Gloria Estefan, Little Richard, Stevie Wonder, B.B. King, Faith Hill, Celine Dion and Gladys Knight.

Nancy brings to the Tolbert Yilmaz School of Dance a vast knowledge of theater and dance, and a love for the performing arts which is surpassed only by her concern for the development of each individual student.

Mary Lynn Taylor

Mary Lynn Taylor, “Mrs. Mary,” is a gifted and inspiring teacher, beloved by the students at the Tolbert Yilmaz School of Dance. Teaching many classes of our youngest dancers, Mrs. Mary has truly influenced countless dancers who dance and choreograph professionally worldwide today. Her caring and consistent manner is the complete and perfect combination for students to learn and excel in their dance careers.

Mary Lynn has been teaching ballet for over 40 years, at The Tolbert Yilmaz School of Dance for 38 years. She feels blessed to be part of the Tolbert Yilmaz School of Dance family and is grateful to have raised her three daughters in such a rich dance environment from when they were three years old until they graduated from high school. As with so many of her students, Mrs. Mary saw how much dance training enhanced her daughters’ poise, grace, memory skills, confidence and time management.

Mary Lynn Taylor began her dance training at the Atlanta School of Ballet. She then studied for ten years at the Decatur School of Ballet. She was chosen to be a member of the Decatur-Dekalb Civic Ballet Company for five years. Upon her high school graduation Mary Lynn enrolled at Texas Christian University where she graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, majored in Ballet and minored in Theatre Arts. Her curriculum included special courses in dance teaching, modern technique, acting, pas de deux, choreography and pantomime.

She auditioned and was chosen to be a member of the Fort Worth Ballet Company. She performed in The Nutcracker Suite, Coppelia, Aurora’s Wedding and many other ballets. While residing in Texas, she taught at the Lena Pope Children’s Home, Texas Christian University Ballet Department, and was director of the ballet division of the Redon Cudney Performing Arts Academy. Before joining our teaching staff, she was invited to be a guest teacher at the Lilburn School of Ballet and Southern Ballet.

Kassandra Taylor Newberry

Kassandra Taylor Newberry is an Atlanta-based choreographer whose concert and theatrical work has been performed throughout the United States, Canada, Austria, Chile, Germany, and Italy. Dance Informa describes her unique choreography as “blend[ing] undeniable technique and form with sharp, decisive steps.” Mrs. Newberry’s work has been honored as a nine-time recipient of RDA’s “National Choreographic Recognition: Best Choreography” Award, four-time recipient of Project Tier’s Outstanding Choreography Award, the National Choreography Intensive’s “Choreography Connection” Award, Youth American Grand Prix’s “Outstanding Choreographer”, and the Monticello Choreography Award. Multiple works have been selected to be performed at The Kennedy Center as a part of the national American College Dance Festival as well as the International Ballet Competition in Jackson, MS. She has had work commissioned by Point Park University, CONCEPTS Choreographic Showcase (Winston-Salem), State Street Ballet (Santa Barbara), Southeast Alabama Dance Company, and other regional ballet companies. In 2012, she was commissioned to create a dance flash mob on 2,000 dancers which was performed in Montreal, Canada.

Mrs. Newberry danced professionally as a founding company member with Winston Salem Festival Ballet, Dance Theatre of Pittsburgh as well as Pillow Project Dance Theatre. Upon graduating magna cum laude with a BFA in Dance from Point Park University, Mrs. Newberry joined the trainee ensemble at Alonzo King’s LINES Contemporary Ballet in San Francisco before becoming ballet mistress for the Salt Lake Ballet Conservatory, the High Point Ballet, and Winston Salem Festival Dance Center. She has taught at numerous summer programs including Alonzo King’s LINES summer intensive, Commercial Dance Intensive, and the National Choreographic Intensive where she was also the Assistant Director of Operations. In 2013, Mrs. Newberry was named the Assistant Artistic Director and Resident Choreographer for Roswell Dance Theater in Atlanta, where she resides with her husband and kids.

Tracey Bayly

Tracey Yanckello Bayly is originally from Pittsburgh, PA, where she began her dance training at the Doris Singer Dance Studio. She expanded her training by attending the Pennsylvania Governor’s School for the Arts and Pittsburgh Renaissance Youth Ballet on a full scholarship. She was also a part of an academic intensive with The Pittsburgh Dance Alloy her senior year in high school.

Tracey attended Mercyhurst College on academic and dance scholarships and majored in Dance. While in school, she was a guest performer with the Erie Civic Ballet in their production of The Nutcracker. By her senior year she had won ballet scholarships to four different companies around the country. David Howard himself also selected her to attend his school on a full scholarship. She began teaching for the Mercyhurst Conservatory during her time there and graduated Cum Laude, with a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts. She was a guest performer with Erie Civic Ballet and an assistant at the PA Governor’s School for the Arts for three years.

After college, Tracey accepted a position as a soloist with the Columbia City Ballet in Columbia, South Carolina. In her ten years with the company, she danced leading roles in major classical ballets, as well as having several original works set on her by the director and guest choreographers. Several new ballets that were created during her time there were Dracula, Dracula’s Revenge, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Hunchback of Notre Dame and Pocahontas. Some other works that Tracey has performed in are Cinderella, Giselle, Firebird, Midsummer’s Night Dream, Nutcracker, Rite of Spring, Romeo & Juliet, Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake, and Where the Wild Things Are. She was a guest performer for the Peoria Ballet, dancing lead roles in their Nutcracker and Swan Lake productions.

While dancing with CCB Tracey taught for the Columbia Conservatory of Dance, and guest taught at the Peoria Ballet. She had her own school in Johnsonville, South Carolina called the Indiantown Ballet where she drove every week to a rural town bringing the arts to this small community.

In 2000, Tracey moved to Atlanta and began teaching for the Atlanta Ballet, Griffin Ballet Theatre, Roswell City Dance and Roswell Dance Theatre. Tracey found her home with the Tolbert Yilmaz School of Dance and the Roswell Dance Theatre. Presently, Tracey is the Ballet Mistress of RDT and the Director of their PreProfessional Company. She has staged and directed Cinderella, Coppelia, Giselle, Paquita, Sleeping Beauty, Alice In Wonderland and excerpts from La Bayadere, Le Corsaire, and Swan Lake. A lot of her time is spent coaching students one-on-one to help dancers meet their goals. Tracey also enters select students in the Youth America Grand Prix each season. The studio’s success is a group effort and she enjoys being a part of its tremendous accomplishments.

Robert Gosnell

Robert Gosnell began his training with the High Point Ballet in his home state of North Carolina, where he also continued to study at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts from 1993-1998. In addition, Robert has expanded his dance career with The School of American Ballet, The Rock School of Pennsylvania Ballet, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago and The Atlanta Ballet. Robert then joined The Nashville Ballet in 1999, where he danced until 2007. Robert was featured in ballets by David Allan, Salvatore Aiello, Sir Frederick Ashton, Winthrop Corey and Paul Vasterling.

Robert has additionally performed with several regional companies such as Atlanta Dance Theatre, where he also served as an Associate Director/Resident from 2010-13, Roswell Dance Theatre and High Point Ballet. He has also has served as the Youth Cast Rehearsal Master for Nashville Ballet’s Nutcracker. From 2004-2006, Robert participated in the National Choreographers Initiative in Irvine, California, where he worked with Val Canaparoli, Anne Marie DeAngelo, Gina Patterson, Peter Pucci, Luca Vegetti and Molly Lynch. He was also a featured artist at the 2004 and 2008 Southeastern Regional Ballet Association’s annual festival.

In the summers of 2007 and 2008, Robert had the honor to return to UNC School of the Arts, along with other alumni, to be a part of UNC School of the Arts performance series in Manteo, NC. In the summer of 2009, he had the opportunity to perform in Arezzo, Italy with Amaranth Contemporary Dance based in Richmond, VA. Currently, Robert is focusing on his choreography. His work has been shown at Denver School of the Arts, RDA/Northeast Festival, SERBA Festival, and the National Regional Dance America Festivals. Robert continues to be on staff with N-House Productions and Commercial Dance Intensive, both under the direction of Casey Noblett. And he proudly serves as a guest faculty member at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts Summer Intensive, Preparatory Program and the Festival of NC Dance. Robert is the Ballet Master and Guest Artist for Roswell Dance Theatre.

Gia Mongell Binner

Gia Mongell Binner made her Broadway debut shortly after graduating from The Juilliard School. As an original cast member of An American in Paris, Gia performed Christopher Wheeldon’s Tony Award-winning choreography at The Palace Theatre on Broadway as well as on the 69th Annual Tony Awards, serving as a swing and assistant dance captain across the run of the show. She was later invited to join the US National Tour and the show’s final run at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris, France. New York theatre credits include I Married an Angel at City Center Encores! (choreographed by Josh Bergasse), Cendrillon at The Metropolitan Opera, and roles in concert pieces by Twyla Tharp, Pina Bausch, and Nacho Duato while at Juilliard. Gia has played Kristine in A Chorus Line at Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera (under the direction of Baayork Lee) and also appeared in Misty Copeland’s commercial campaign for Under Armor, the premiere party for the 20th Century Fox feature film Deadpool and Legacies on the CW.

Originally from John’s Creek, Georgia, Gia grew up studying under Jonnie Kelley at The Dancer’s Studio/Backstage. Upon graduating with her BFA in dance from Juilliard, she was awarded the prestigious Joseph W. Polisi Prize for exemplifying an “Artist as Citizen.” Giving back to the next generation of dancers, Gia has taught on faculty for Lincoln Center Education’s Middle School Arts Bootcamp which provides Art Education for Title I schools in New York City. She has also served as an adjunct professor at Hunter College and has been a long-time faculty member for NHouse Productions/Commercial Dance Intensive under Casey Noblett. She currently is the Director of the Commercial Dance Intensive’s On Location programming which brings the best in the commercial dance industry from New York and LA to the comfort of local dance schools throughout the US. Gia holds an MFA in Choreography and Performance with a focus in Film from Hunter College. Her all original movie musical Meet and Run, available on iTunes and Spotify, premiered in NYC in April of 2022.

Gia and her husband Maxwell have recently relocated to Midtown, Atlanta. Gia looks forward to giving back to the communities that nurtured her love of dance as a young person while also exploring Atlanta’s multifaceted commercial dance/film scene. She is so thrilled to be teaching at TYSOD and working with the Roswell Dance Theatre Modern Company.

Michelle Bauer

Michelle Bauer is on our studio office staff, helping at the Front Desk and with the after-school program. Michelle also is an administrative assistant to the Modern Company Director.

Likesa “Pumkin” Byrd

Likesa Pumkin Byrd is a native of Atlanta, Georgia. Discovering her passion for dance at age 3, Pumkin has been blessed to have it take her around the world. She is trained in ballet, jazz, modern (Graham, Dunham), African and self-taught in hip hop. Dance has given Pumkin the opportunity to travel to places such as Paris, South Africa, Japan, Germany and the rest of the globe while dancing and choreographing for such artists as Mary J. Blige, Ciara, Kandi and more.

Pumkin has been an instructor at Tolbert Yilmaz for over 17 years, where she teaches jazz and hip hop for ages 5- adults who are just not ready to stop moving! When Mrs. Byrd is not in the dance studio, you can find her on the stage of her church “Metro City Church” where she loves worshiping the Lord thru dance alongside her husband and best friend Marcus Byrd (and 2 daughters Kyla & Kimorah), in the recording studio making music with her music group The Gang of Roses, in the design studio creating new edgy designs for her Christian Rock clothing line Designs by Fé designsbyfe.com or on some movie set expanding her acting career. Her motto is “God..Family..Career.. in that order!”

Jon Caspian

Born and raised in Woodstock, GA, Jon Caspian began dancing at age 9 at Dancentre South under the direction of Marcus Alford, who was a company member with legendary jazz dancer and choreographer, Gus Giordano.

Having been homeschooled since childhood, after obtaining his GED at 15, he pursued a B.A. in Dance at Birmingham-Southern College, training under Mira Popovich in the Vaganova Technique of Ballet.

Shortly after graduation, Jon became a dancer with Royal Caribbean Productions. Over the next three and a half years, Jon performed in back-to-back contracts on the Enchantment of the Seas, Grandeur of the Seas, Rhapsody of the Seas and the Azamara Quest. After meeting his now wife, Ria, on the Azamara Quest, Jon and Ria moved to New York City to pursue performing opportunities.They have lived, performed, and taught in Georgia, and also Ria’s hometown of Cincinnati, OH.

He now resides in Marietta, GA where he has been a dance instructor/choreographer at various studios. In addition to teaching, Jon owns a media company creating social media content and advertising for businesses, as well as dance photography for students and professionals.
Jon and Ria are expecting a baby boy January 19th 2023!

Jeanne Deitrich

Jeanne received her ballet training at Tolbert Yilmaz School of Dance/Roswell Dance Theatre, Atlanta Ballet Centre for Dance Education, Cincinnati Ballet and American Ballet Theatre. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Arts Management, from Brenau Women’s College and graduated from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music with a Master of Arts degree in Arts Administration. She has worked in New York City with Frank Salomon Associates as a concert and artist manager, Eliot Feld as a ballet company manager, and with the New York City Ballet as a finance associate. While in New York, she studied ballet with Diana Cartier, Douglas Wassell, and Jack Hertzog among other notable instructors at American Ballet Theatre. Her studies continued with Carol Szkutek at Atlanta Ballet when she returned to Atlanta. She has staged ballets for several companies to present for RDA/SE festivals.

Jeanne began her Pilates training in New York with Romana Kryzanowska and Edwina Fontaine to complement her ballet studies and continued after moving home to Atlanta. While recuperating from a severe dance injury, Jeanne focused on her Pilates studies and realized it was essential in creating a balanced, strong body to support the rigors of ballet. She decided to become a Pilates instructor to help young dancers connect the strength of Pilates to the athleticism and artistry of dance. She received her certification with Romana’s Pilates in 2003. In 2015, Jeanne completed a new program of study to become one of the first Pilates for Dressage ® Level 1 Associate Instructors.

Jeanne began her adventure into costuming during college under the tutelage of Sarah Timberlake of Timberlake Studios. She loves to create bespoke costumes for the Roswell Dance Theatre dancers, playing with color, texture and light to accentuate the choreography. Costuming gives Jeanne a unique connection to the dancers, and she loves teaching them about the different stages and steps it takes to costume a show.

Jeanne is an ABT® Certified Teacher, who has successfully completed the ABT® Teacher Training Intensive in Pre-Primary through Level 3 of the ABT® National Training Curriculum during the summer of 2021. She looks forward to continuing her studies of the higher levels and hopes to eventually present a class of students for an exam with the ABT® National Training Curriculum Master Teachers.

Cassondra Dilworth

Encouraged by a desire to use all of her gifts, Cassondra Dilworth has had the opportunity to wear many hats. Entrepreneur, teacher, dancer, choreographer, producer, actress, creative director, and web designer. he truly believes that “we are not one dimensional beings, if you are not evolving, then you are not growing.” She takes pride in being multi-faceted and lending her talents to accommodate the various needs of each client, in order to bring forth their vision and help cultivate their brands. Currently, she is co-owner of Respire Massage and Spa (which has been recognized as one of the top spas in the United States), a product specialist for Regen the Body luxury product line and Just Get Poppin Gourmet Popcorn.

Born in Mississippi, but Atlanta bred, her creative talents originated through her love for dance. Her training began in the genres of ballet, tap and jazz and evolved later in Horton, hip hop, step, lyrical, contemporary and African dance. She began training at the early age of 3 under Rhonda Levy at College Park School of Dance, member of the drill team, cheerleader squad, and has danced and performed for various events and productions.

At the young age of 13, her teacher, Mrs. Culpepper, approached her and simply said, “You are going to be the choreographer for the school’s production of Purlie.” Cassondra was shocked and terrified all at once, and overwhelmingly honored that she had that much faith and trust in her to complete the task. She was then accepted into Northside School of the Performing Arts (which later became North Atlanta High School) as a dance major, and her world was forever changed. Under the influence of the great and late Gary Harrison, founder of the Gary Harrison Dance Company, she truly learned to trust her creativity and grew immensely as an artist, performer and dancer.
After high school, she was accepted to Georgia Southern University and majored and graduated with a BA in Secondary Education with a minor in African American Studies. While attending GSU, she was co-founder of the dance company Queens, in conjunction with Umoja Performance Company, which continued and grew several years after the founding members graduated. Queens was a great contribution to growing and building the arts community for the campus and surrounding areas. After graduation, she became one of the original members of the Culture Shock Atlanta Hip Hop Dance Troupe, and its co-artistic director. It is there, where her creative and choreography skills blossomed even more. She expanded her understanding of the entertainment business by becoming an intern for So So Def Records, mentored under Nicole Wilson and Bart Phillips.

She and other CSA alums were brand ambassadors and dancers for Colomer USA for the multicultural hair care line known as the Arosci Division with Revlon. Cassondra later became a lead choreographer, model and the dance captain. The dance family that she formed from CSA curated a partnership and the creation of Trilogy Inc, a hip hop dance company committed to training, choreography and artist development. The catalog of work they created gained the attention of many and also provided opportunities to work with many artists, companies and brands. Trilogy would help build and shape the Atlanta arts and dance community, and contributed to the growth of one of the largest dance studios in the Southeast, Gotta Dance Atlanta. This partnership and relationship helped train and influence the careers of many dancers who are still making their mark on the dance industry today.

Cassondra has worked with artists with exposure on stage, in theatre, film, videos, production and event planning. Some of the artists include Black Eyed Peas, DJ Taz, Kilo, Outkast, Eshe, Arrested Development, Juanita Bynum and Micah Stampley, just to name a few. Her experiences have included stage performance, plays, tours, videos and movies, such as The Notebook and various choreography showcases and conferences including Passion to Dance and The Carnival: Choreographer’s Ball in Los Angeles, CA. Her desire to help dancers and artists honor their bodies and temples lead to her passion for massage therapy.

Cassondra prides herself in being a team player and helping others shape and bring their vision to life. The experiences that she has encountered from all of these roles have shaped her, as they do anyone, but they also inspired her to constantly search and tap into all her talents. She will always desire to shape and build artists, dancers and creatives to bring forth the talents they possess.

Jeffery Duffy

Jeffery Duffy is a native of Atlanta, Georgia. His transformative years took shape at The Dance Theater of Harlem at the age of 16, where he was asked to train under the tutelage of Virginia Johnson, Keith Saunders, Robert Garland, Endalyn Taylor, and Michelle Lucci. Early on, Duffy performed for lecture demonstrations with the Dance Theatre of Harlem Ensemble and Outreach, alongside learning the works of Arthur Mitchell, Robert Garland, and George Balanchine.

To continue on his path of training, Jeffery was accepted and graduated with his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance from The Juilliard School. There, he was exposed to an extensive variety of movement pedagogy, functional anatomy, music theory, music and dance composition, and dance history. The engaging professors included: Risa Steinberg, Lawrence Rhodes, Milton Myers, Terese Capucillli, Francisco Martinez, Laura Glenn, Linda Kent, and Alphonse Poulin. Alongside his studies, Duffy performed the works of Jose Límon, Martha Graham, Larry Keigwin, Elliot Feld, Darell Grand Moultrie, Monica Bill Barnes, and Paul Taylor. Though, most performing took place at the Peter J. Sharp Theater on Campus, Jeffery also took advantage of unique opportunities and played: The Guggenheim Museum in New York City; The Pritzker Pavilion in Chicago, Illinois; The David H. Koch Theater; The Assembleé Internationale 2013 in Toronto, Canada; and Place Des Arts in Montreal QC, Canada. Jeffery Graduated the Juilliard School with an Alan D. Marks Entrepreneurship Grant, Robert and Mercedes Eichholz Arts Entrepreneurship Prize, and as a McCallum Theater Choreography Festival Winner with co-creator, Alexander Jones.

Following his collegiate training, Jeffery joined Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, under the Direction of Glenn Edgerton. While a dancer at Hubbard Street, Jeffery became experientially exposed to the works of William Forsythe, Crystal Pite, Jiri Kylian, Alejandro Cerrudo, Penny Saunders, Brian Brooks, and Nacho Duato. Duffy also choreographed his own work for Hubbard Street’s Inside/Out Program. While at Hubbard Street, Jeffery toured throughout Germany and the United States. He Premiered the American debut of William Forsythe’s
N.N.N.N. and he is a recipient of the honorable Princess Grace Award: Dance Fellowship 2016. The following year, Jeffery then went on to be named “Top 25 to Watch” for 2017, by Dance Magazine.

The Summer before joining Hubbard Street, Jeffery became a certified GYROTONIC Instructor, under the tutelage of Dawn Strom. He began a part-time practice at The Chicago Center for Body Movement.

Jeffery had been teaching dance since college, and regularly began teaching Gyrotonic as well. He has taught “Movement Fundamentals”, “Modern Dance Technique”, “Improvisation”, “Contemporary Partnering”, “Jazz”, and “Ballet Techniques”. He’s taught at Spelman College, Cobb County Center for Excellence in the Performing Arts, Atlanta Ballet School and Summer Intensives, Lou Conte Dance Studio, Impassioned Dance Center, and Eglevsky Ballet.

Inspired by the choreography of Andy Blankenbuehler and the writing of Lin-Manuel Miranda, Jeffery joined the First National Tour of Hamilton: An American Musical, where he played some of the countries world renowned theaters including the John F. Kennedy Center Opera House, The Orpheum Theater in San Francisco, The Pantages in Los Angeles, and both of the Fox Theaters in St. Louis and Atlanta. While on tour Jeffery gladly participated in EduHam Talkbacks for students; Appeared in Hamilton: The Exhibition in Chicago, Illinois; & Performed for benefit concerts in Los Angeles and Atlanta for Broadway Cares.

Following his two year run with HAMILTON, Jeffery began freelancing based out of New York City. Jeffery rang in the year of 2019 by performing in the “Fox New Years Party with Steve Harvey” choreographed by Dana Wilson; Blood Orange’s music video “HOPE” with choreography by Emma Portner; He premiered the new work “WATCH” in Stuttgart, Germany by ARIAS company, choreographed by Bryan Arias where he performed and composed part of the score. Jeffery was brought in as a Consultant for New York University’s School of Professional Studies, Leadership and Management Course; where using movement, he taught master students to understand supportive behaviors for effective leadership. Jeffery has also taught masterclasses at NYU Tisch School of the Arts; Cobb County Center for Excellence in the Performing Arts, Braswell Arts Center in Basel, Switzerland, and MOVE(NYC) under the direction of Nigel Campbell and Chanel DaSilva.

Following, Jeffery rejoined HAMILTON’s Chicago company where he was an offstage swing.

Jeffery has since relocated to Atlanta with his family to continue integrating movement and dance into his life and to the lives of others.

Patricia Leigh Dwyer

Patricia began studying dance at the age of five with Joan Alund School of Dance in Albany, New York (Joan Lather, aka, Ms. Puffie). In 1965 she began her teaching career with that school. After returning from Atlanta where she studied with the Atlanta Civic Ballet, she opened her own New York studio in 1969. In addition to teaching classes at her two studio locations, she also taught Tap, Ballet, Jazz and Ballroom classes for area schools, colleges and cultural organizations for 28 years.

In addition to studying with the Atlanta Ballet and Mr. Robert Joffrey, Ms. Dwyer has trained with such well-known performers and teachers as Jacques D’Amboise, Edward Villella, and Patricia McBride. She has studied tap with some of the best artists, instructors and choreographers in the country including stage and screen legends, Al Gilbert, Gene Nelson and Henry LeTang. Ms. Dwyer owes her expertise in Broadway Jazz and Musical Comedy to Peter Gennaro and Ms. Gwen Verdon. For over 40 years she has had the privilege and honor to have as her jazz dance mentor the legendary Jazz Dance Master, Luigi, in NYC.

An award-winning choreographer, she has choreographed nightclub acts, musicals, and stage shows in many major cities across the country in addition to choreographing for local schools and community theater production in New York. She was named “Choreographer of the Year” by Talent America in NYC.

Autumn Eckman

Autumn Eckman is an Assistant Professor of Dance at Kennesaw State University. She received her classical training from the Houston Ballet Academy, Tom Pazik, Kathryn MacBeth, Patricia Bromley and Susan Bebee. She had the privilege to dance with Giordano Dance Chicago where she also served as Assistant Artistic Director, Resident Choreographer and Director Giordano II, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Luna Negra Dance Theatre, Lucky Plush Productions, Ron De Jesus Dance, State Street Ballet and The Cambrians. Her choreographic commissions include original eleven original Giordano Dance Dance Chicago as well as for companies State Street Ballet (Artist-In-Residence), DanceWorks Chicago, Visceral Dance Chicago, The Cambrians, Chattanooga Ballet, Kit Modus, Big Muddy Dance Co., Wylliams-Henry Dance Company (supported by New Dance Partners), Missouri Contemporary Ballet, Gainesville Ballet, Washington & Lee University, Stephens College, Western Michigan University, Grand Valley State University, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point and the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

Her choreography has been presented at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Bates Dance Festival, Performática (Mexico), Solo Duo Dance Festival (NYC), Detroit Dance City Festival, Charlotte Dance Festival, Blackbox International Theatre & Dance Festival (Bulgaria), Dance Gallery Festival (TX), Men In Dance Festival (WA), as a Finalist of the McCallum Choreography Competition (CA) and with JUNTOS Collective (Guatemala) where she served as Outreach Choreographer in 2019. Autumn collaborates with composers on original works including David K. Israel, Dan Myers, Anton Faynberg, Evan Bivins, Joseph Venegoni, Travis McFarlane, Tom Andes and Dr. Michelle Gott. She holds an MFA in Choreography from the University of Iowa.

Akeem Edwards

Akeem Edwards is a native of Jacksonville Florida. He began his training at the age of 16 at the Northside Centre of the Arts and after a year progressed to the Jacksonville Centre of the Arts Pre-Professional Program. Under the direction of Kezia Rolle, he received training in ballet, modern, jazz, salsa, West African, tap, and hip-hop styles.

He has received his Bachelor’s of Arts in Psychology with a minor in Criminal Justice from Florida Atlantic University, where he also founded Pulse Dance Troupe, a registered student organization for dance. He served as the Artistic Director and Choreographer for 3 years, while also serving as the Lead Instructor. Edwards continues to mentor the group remotely as they head into their 10th season. While at the University, he trained under the Director of Dance, Clarence Brooks. Akeem danced four seasons with the Repertory Dance Theatre Ensemble and upon graduation relocated to Atlanta, GA.

After relocating to Atlanta in 2016, Edwards began his professional teaching career and commercial dance career. He has worked with Netflix, Showtime, B.E.T.,The Imagine Music Festival, Debbie Allen, Anthony Burrell, Tyler Perry, Derek Blanks, Vivian Green, Leah Culver, Juel D. Lane, Great Good Fine Ok, Cleo Parker-Robinson, Milton Myers, Rachel Truitt, Kavin Grant, RAW Artists ATL, HeroTheBand, Michael B. Jordan, and many others.

In 2019, he relocated to New York to become a company member of Garth Fagan Dance, the concert touring company of the choreographer for the Lion King on Broadway. While in the company, he trained intensely and became proficient in the Fagan technique.

After 2 years, he has relocated back to Atlanta to continue his commercial dance career as well as share and educate the next generation of dancers. He is elated to be teaching at Tolbert-Yilmaz SOD and looks forward to seeing growth in all of his students!

Lynn Gillen

Lynn Gillen is the General Manager of the Roswell Dance Theatre.

Hillary Gustin

Hillary Gustin manages the TYSOD after-school program and is on our studio office staff, helping at the Front Desk.

Kyme Hersi-Sallid

Kyme is what you call a true “Triple Threat”. She is a graduate of the acclaimed New York City High School of Performing Arts, and trained in New York City at the Alvin Ailey School of Dance where she was awarded three consecutive full scholarships. She has performed nationally and internationally as a dancer, singer and actress, and her Broadway credits included the Tony Award-winning musical Black and Blue, Oh Kay!, and Honky Tonk Nights. Kyme has also toured with the Broadway shows Sophisticated Ladies, Ain’t Misbehavin’, and Bubbling Brown Sugar to name a few.

As an actress, Kyme landed the leading role of Rachel Meadows in Spike Lee’s film School Daze, where she played opposite Laurence Fishburne. Her portrayal of Rachel Meadows earned her an NAACP Image Award nomination. This film propelled her into the acting arena and eventually led her to move to Los Angeles, CA. In Los Angeles, while she happily became a wife and mother, Kyme landed guest star and recurring roles on all of the top T.V. shows. The list includes: 24, NYPD Blue, Providence, JAG, The Guardian, Frasier, Malcolm in the Middle, E-Ring, The Parkers, Judging Amy, Family Law and many more.

Kyme’s love for the arts inspired her to found a very successful performing arts academy in a Los Angeles charter high school. This allowed her to pass on her knowledge as an artist and to mentor students into the top arts colleges and universities in the country. Kyme now resides in Decatur, GA with her loving family and is the Director of the Rhythm Keepers and Junior Rhythm Keepers tap companies. She continues to teach and mentor children and adults as she shares her passion and passes on the fruits of her experience and success. She is requested throughout the United States to teach master classes to thousands of children and teachers, and is also a respected adjudicator for national dance competitions.

Jena Michele Kovash

Jena Michele Kovash’s early training began at the Janet Herbez Dance Studio in Gretna, LA, and then at Highland School of Dance and Harrison Arts Center at Lakeland High School in Lakeland, FL. Jena graduated cum laude from Florida State University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance. At FSU, she focused on the diversity of her performance, appearing in classical works such as Giselle and Swan Lake, modern works by Garth Fagan and Sean Curran, and many contemporary ballets. Professionally, she has danced with Ballethnic Dance Company, Brooks & Company Dance, Rule of 3 Productions and Griffin Ballet Theatre in Georgia. Believing that classical ballet establishes the technical foundation for the next generation of dancers and grande confidence for life, Jena is proud to teach ballet technique to all age groups.

Susie Pryor

Susie Pryor is on our studio office staff, helping at the Front Desk .

Leah Redner

Leah Sabiston Redner began ballet classes at age 3 in Raleigh, N.C. After moving to Atlanta she continued to study ballet where she flourished under the instruction of Iris Hensley, founder of the Georgia Ballet. Leah also studied under Robert Barnett, Anne Burton-Avery, Leon Fokine, and Terrell Paulk. She has taken Master classes from David Howard and Gus Giordano and numerous other notable teachers while attending SERBA Festivals. Leah has performed with the Roswell Dance Theatre and Cobb Marietta Ballet in various roles in Cinderella, Coppelia, Piquita, Giselle, and The Nutcracker. Leah is honored to be on the faculty of the Tolbert Yilmaz School of Dance for the last twenty-one years. She also has a BBA from Kennesaw State University. Leah is grateful for the support of her husband Ron and children, Ryan and Regan.

Daet Rodriguez

Daet Rodriguez was born in Cuba and began his training at the Cuban National Ballet School. Former teachers include Jorge Rodriguez Vede (father), Clara Díaz (mother), Fernando Alonso, Alberto Alonso, Laura Alonso, Pablo More and Lázaro Carreño.

Mr. Rodriguez’s professional career began with Ballet de Camagüey in Cuba. He danced principal roles of: Colas in La Fille Mal Gardee, Prince Siegfried in Swan Lake, Franz in Coppelia, Prince Nutcracker, Cavalier in The Nutcracker, Prince Desire in Sleeping Beauty, Grand Pas de Paquita, Don Quixote and Giselle.  Other performances include Carmen choreography of Alberto Alonso, Tango Episodios, Formas para Concierto, Images, Nicis Dominus of Jorge Lefebre, Sinfonía en D of Menia Martínez, Otelo of Francisco Lang and Vivaldiana of José Antonio Chávez.

In 1995 Mr. Rodriguez joined the ballet company Teatro Centro de Arte – Leon Febres Cordero in Ecuador. During his years with the company he performed Walpurgisnacht Ballet of Balanchine, Concierto de Aranjuez of Lotka, Grand Vals of Bruce Steivel and in all the principals’ classics of the repertory. He performed musicals including Cats, Annie, Aladdin, The King and I, The Beauty and The Beast and Latinos.

Mr. Rodriguez’s professional career has extended to Cuba, Jamaica, Argentina, Chile, México, Canada, USA, Martinique and Guadalupe.  In 2001 Mr. Rodriguez and his wife, Margit Peguero, opened their own Ballet School Cuballet-Ecuador.  Presently the school has over 200 students enrolled in Ballet and Contemporary programs.

In August 2015, Mr. Rodriguez became Artistic Director of the Georgia Ballet and faculty member at The School of Georgia Ballet.

Roscoe Sales

Roscoe Sales is a graduate of the North Carolina School of the Arts, where he earned his BFA degree in dance. He also studied at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Center. He has performed with the Dance Theatre of Harlem, North Carolina Dance Theatre, The Metropolitan Opera Company in Porgy and Bess, and Ballethnic Dance Company. He has also guest performed with the Greensboro Ballet and High Point Ballet, among others.

Roscoe joined the teaching staff of the Tolbert Yilmaz School of Dance several years ago and instructs students in ballet and partnering classes.

Lindsay Sharrock

Bio coming soon

Pam Tiedemann

Miss Pam’s students, some of our littlest ballerinas, love her fun personality and engaging classes.  Like many of her students, she began her own dance career at age 4 and never left the dance floor.  Until the age of 18 years old, Ms. Pam danced with the Tulsa Ballet. While at the University of Oklahoma, she continued to dance and then went on to dance with the Colorado Ballet for two years. As evidenced by her 18-year plus career at Tolbert Yilmaz School of Dance, Miss Pam has a lifelong passion for dance and teaching her precious Princes and Princesses.

Jenna Werner

Jenna Werner graduated Summa Cum Laude with a BFA in dance from Belhaven University, with a minor in Sports Medicine and Exercise Science. At Belhaven, Jenna trained in Vaganova Ballet technique as well as Horton, Graham, Cunningham and Bartenieff Modern Techniques. She danced for many renowned choreographers including Steve Rooks of Martha Graham Dance company and Bill Wade, founder of Inlet Dance Theatre. She even performed contemporary works at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. Meanwhile, her choreography was chosen many times to represent Belhaven at various dance conventions and Festivals including American College Dance Association in 2019.

Upon graduation, Jenna moved to Atlanta to pursue a career in teaching, choreographing and performing. She has taught contemporary, modern, and jazz in the north Atlanta area ever since. Teaching is where Jenna combines the various modern, jazz, and ballet techniques she learned throughout her dance journey with the injury prevention techniques she learned from her sports medicine minor.  In addition to teaching, Jenna is a company dancer with City Gate Dance Theatre, which performs contemporary ballet works in the Metro Atlanta area. As much as she loves performing, there is nothing she loves more than helping students build a strong technical foundation to find their voices as artists.

Cristina Yilmaz

Cristina is the Business Manager for the Tolbert Yilmaz School of Dance.

Claire Young

Claire Young is a TYSOD and RDT Alumni who graduated from the school in 2007. She went on to earn her BFA in Ballet Performance from the University of Oklahoma.

At Oklahoma, Claire performed principal roles with the University’s ballet company, the Oklahoma Festival Ballet. Her first principal role was her freshman year performing the Dew Drop Fairy in the Nutcracker. Her favorite roles at the University were The Sylph in the Sylph and Scotsman pas de deux from Graduation Ball, Girl in Blue in Mary Margaret Holt’s Carmina Burana, and the Lilac Fairy in Sleeping Beauty.

After college, Claire joined the corps de ballet at the Columbia City Ballet where she danced in William Starrett’s Dracula, Sleeping Beauty, Romeo and Juliet, The Little Mermaid, and The Nutcracker. While her husband was finishing his degree at Auburn University, she joined the Montgomery Ballet so that she could commute from Auburn. At Montgomery, Claire performed many soloist roles including: Little Bo Peep (Marzipan Soloist) in The Nutcracker, Big Swan in Swan Lake, and the soloist in Darrin McIntyre’s Liberty Bell.

When her husband’s job moved them to Chattanooga, she joined the Chattanooga Ballet as principal dancer where she remains a principal guest artist. Her favorite roles with the Chattanooga Ballet include: Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker, Raymonda in Raymonda, and the principal Sylph in Les Sylphides.

Claire is so happy to be back in Roswell at the studio she grew up in, helping the next generation of ballerinas fulfill their dreams!