Tess (Terri) Post, originally from Norfolk, Virginia, received her early ballet training at the Norfolk Civic Ballet. She continued her studies and professional career in NYC with many legendary teachers and directors. Tess opened The Post School Of Ballet in 1987 and in 1990 founded the Southwest Virginia Ballet Company, serving as Artistic Director until 2006, when she and her husband
Gene moved to upstate NY.
Mrs. Post is thrilled to be back in the Roanoke Valley and teaching
at The Dance Centre of Southwest Virginia.

Tess Post

Sandra Smeltzer

Mrs. Smeltzer holds a B.A. in Ballet from Virginia Intermont College, where she graduated summa cum laude, and an M.A. in Dance from Cincinnati Conservatory of Music. She performed throughout seven seasons with the Bristol Ballet, under the direction of the late Constance Hardinge. Bristol Ballet was one of fhe original honor companies of the Southeastern Regional Ballet Association, an organization of highly acclaimed pre-professional ballet companies. Mrs. Smeltzer has studied with such notables in the field of dance as: Oleg Sabline, James Truitte, Robert Barnett, Robert Joffrey, Frederick Franklin, George Zoritch, Sally Brayle-Bliss, Edward Villella, and many others. Mrs. Smeltzer is a former Assistant Professor of Dance at Virginia Tech, where she received a Certificate of Teaching Excellence from the College of Arts & Sciences. She has taught on the faculties of Virginia Intermont College, Academy of Virginia Beach Ballet, Emory & Henry College, UVA-Wise, and Washington and Lee University. She is a former Artistic Director of Virginia Tech Dance Theatre, and Washington and Lee Jazz and Tap Ensemble. She is a former Associate Director of Southwest Virginia Ballet.

Szalay A native of Venezuela, Szalay was born to Hungarian parents and is a native of La Guaira , Venezuela where he started dancing in local school by Ms. Machado .He received a scholarship at Ballet Nacional of Caracas, coached by Vladimir Isayev and many other national and international teachers. There he danced many of Nebrada's choreographed pieces. Later he traveled to New York City to be coached by Madame Darvash and performed with New York Dance Theatre directed by Frank Ohman.
After New York, Szalay was company dancer with Richmond Ballet from 1996 to 2006 where he was an inspiration for many choreographers and he danced pieces from Balanchine, Burn, Canaporoli, Lang, Soleau, Stevenson, Orff, Wainrot, Winslett and many others. He was also a guest performer and choreographer with the Latin Ballet of Virginia .
He has guest taught in South Carolina, Philadelphia, Virginia School of the Arts, Washington and Lee University and St. Paul's Ballet Company. Szalay served as a coach, choreographer for the School of Richmond Ballet and other Richmond dance schools. He served as Artistic Advisor for Chesterfield Ballet School . Szalay coached the Wheel Chair Miss Richmond. He currently teaches at The Dance Centre of Southwest Virginia. In summer 2016, he was invited to guest teacher in Murcia, Spain at Robles Ballet School.
Szalay for the past 10 years enhanced the lives of many 4th graders through his instruction of the Minds In Motion program in Richmond, Charlottesville, Martinsville, Salem and Roanoke City Schools. Beginning in 2012, Szalay developed a Spanish language, choreographed movement program called Dance Espanol for 4th graders in public schools. In 2013 created a Ballet program for Middle School in Roanoke City Public Schools.
January 2007, Szalay became Artistic Director of Southwest Virginia Ballet in the Roanoke Valley, since he has brought SVB to be recognized locally, regionally, nationally and internationally. In 2009 he was awarded the Perry F. Kendig Awards for Outstanding Performing Artist and in 2010 named the best Local Celebrity for Charity Events by the Roanoker Magazine.
Szalay is a Resident Artist for Carilion Clinic Healing Art Program. Board member of Thursday Morning Music Club as Dance Chairman - Footnotes and Roanoke City Public School Education Foundation, Inc.
Szalay's choreography credits include : The Long Christmas Ride Home , for Flournoy Playwright Festival, Ties: A Railroad Ballet, Cinderella, Coppelia, Romeo and Juliet, Miss Richmond Pageant(2002-2003), the Miss Virginia Pageant(2009-2012), Like Winter Waiting ( 2012- 2014), Sewing Seeds with Ann Waldrop, Dominos for Charlottesville Ballet. Holidays Pops, Peter and The Wolf, Carmina Burana with Roanoke Symphony Orchestra, Excerpts of Act II of The Nutcracker, Firebird and Under the Tent with Roanoke Youth Symphony, Nick Cave, Norman Rockwell and many others for Taubman Museum of The Art. La Traviata and South Pacific for Opera Roanoke. His newest project for 2017 is a commission to choreograph for an original score in remembrance of the Virginia Tech tragedy.

Pedro Szalay

Carrie Jensen

Carrie Jensen received her classical ballet training at the Helena Baron School of Ballet in NJ. She was invited and joined ABT’s Studio Company in January 1999 and in May 2000 joined American Ballet Theatre under the direction of Kevin McKenzie as a member of the corps de ballet. During her career, she danced in a variety of classical and contemporary ballets in ABT’s repertoire working with renowned dancers and choreographers such as Gelsey Kirkland, Natalia Makarova, Alexei Ratmansky, Twyla Tharp among others until retiring from the company in 2010. She also performed in the filmings of ABT’s The Dream and Swan Lake.
Jensen has taught and served on the faculty for the American Ballet Theatre Gillespie School in Irvine, CA, the School of International Ballet in Redlands, CA, and the Cleveland Ballet Conservatory. She is an ABT® Certified Teacher, who completed the ABT® Teacher Training Intensive in Primary through Level 7 of the ABT® National Training Curriculum.

Founding and Former Instructors

Monica Tortolero

Prima ballerina of Venezuela at the National Ballet of Caracas – Teresa Carreño.  She was born in Venezuela. She began her training at the age of seven in Caracas and began her professional career at the age of 13. She danced with the Youth Ballet of Venezuela, directed by Vladimir Issaev actual Artistic Director of the Arts Ballet of Florida, National Ballet of Caracas directed by Vicente Nebrada and the Contemporary Ballet of Caracas. Monica have been coached and trained by remarkable artists such as Vicente Nebrada, Vladimir Issaev, Ruta Butviliene, Rumen Rachev, Zane Wilson, Willy Burman at the Ballet Nacional de Caracas. She danced as a principal at the National Ballet of Caracas- Teresa Carreño from 1991 to 2004 after that she dance with The Contemporary Ballet of Caracas, Her repertoire includes works of George Balanchine, Vicente Nebrada, Alberto Mendez, Oscar Araiz and principal roles such as Odette/ Odile in The Swan Lake, Kitri in Don Quixote, Swanilda in Coppelia, Juliet in Romeo and Juliet, Sugar Plum in The Nutcracker Ballet among others. Mrs. Tortolero has danced extensively abroad at many festivals and galas, including The International Gala in Washington D.C at the Kennedy Center as prima ballerina representing her country, receiving a representative ovation from the public and critics. She was also invited as an international guest artist to participate in the 80th anniversay at The Lituanian National Opera and Ballet Theatre in Vilnius, where she danced together with the stars of the Moscow Ballet, Saint Petersburg, Riga, among others. 

She received the award "National Artist Award Venezuela” as Best Classical Dancer of the Year in 1997  and “The Arts and Letters Major Competition” as Best Neoclassic Pas de Deux in 2005.

In her role as a teacher, she began her position as a ballet teacher at the Emil Friedman School in their Ballet Dance Program for middle and high school students, as well as being part of the staff of teachers at DANZARTE, Classical Ballet Academy in Caracas.

She obtained different accreditations and international certifications of methodology for teaching classical ballet such as the "American Ballet Training Curriculum (ABT)" and the Russian Vaganova certification method for Ballet Teachers granted by Ballet Master Mr. Vladimir Issaev. Recently she obtained the certification as a teacher of the method "Progressive Ballet Technique (PBT)”.

Laurence Blake (Educator/Choreographer), a native of Virginia, attended the North Carolina School of the Arts in Winston-Salem, NC.  During his senior year, he toured nationally with the Agnes DeMille Heritage Dance Theater and upon graduation was asked to join the North Carolina Dance Theater. After two seasons with NCDT, Laurence joined The Joffrey II Dancers and joined The Joffrey Ballet in the fall of 1977. He has danced ballets by such notable choreographers as Glen Tetley, John Cranko, Twyla Tharp, Sir Fredrick Ashton, Agnes DeMille, Gerald Arpino and Robert Joffrey. 

He has taught both nationally and internationally, most notably at the BalletKadiem in Stockholm, Sweden; Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, CA; University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ; Governors Magnet School of the Arts, Norfolk, VA; Orange County High School of the Arts, Los Alamitos, CA; Regional Dance America/ Pacific Festival, Bremerton, WA; the Conservatory of Performing Arts, Pasadena, CA; Nevada Ballet Theater; and Island Moving Company, Newport, Rhode Island.

Laurence served as Assistant, Associate and Interim Dean of the Sharon Disney Lund School of Dance at the California Institute of the Arts, as well as served on faculty from 1982 until his retirement in 2017. Laurence taught ballet and contemporary dance, composition and choreography at CalArts.

As Resident Choreographer for the Los Angeles Chamber Ballet, he has received nominations for the Lester Horton Award for Outstanding Choreography for his ballets “TUNNEL”, “BLACK ANGELS” and “THE NUTCRACKER”. Laurence has served as Associate Artistic Director of the Pasadena Dance Theater where he has choreographed several ballets for the company. His ballet “HOLBERG SUITE” was awarded the National Choreography Plan Award ‘97. The Regional Dance America/Pacific region presented his ballet “ORIGINS” at the International Ballet Competition in Jackson, MS in June 2006. Laurence has been commissioned to choreograph work on the Island Moving Company, Los Angeles Chamber Ballet, Hawaii Ballet Theater, Inland Pacific Ballet, Cal State University Long Beach, Loyola Marymount University and the Houston School of Performing and Visual Arts.  

Isabel Meyers

Isabel Meyers is a contemporary and modern dance artist and choreographer. She grew up as a student of the Academy of Dance in Warner Robins, Georgia, and went on to earn her degree in Dance from Hollins University in the spring of 2021. For three years, she served as the co-director of the Hollins Repertory Dance Company, where she organized and choreographed company performances and taught dance classes in her community. She is an alumna of American Dance Festival and Bates Dance Festival, and she is certified in the National Dance Institute Art of Teaching. 

Laurence Blake

Sara Early