ARTISTIC DIRECTOR / LEAD COACH
Ron Jones studied ballet in Detroit Michigan with Sandra Severo under a full scholarship awarded by the Ford Foundation. Ron's first job was with the Atlanta Ballet under the direction of Robert Barnett where he rose to Principal Dancer status. He danced in South America and Haiti with Ballet Spectacular dancing with Grace Doty in Spring Waters and Norbert Vesak's Rachmaninoff. He studied at the Joffrey Ballet School in NYC under a full scholarship and performed with the Joffrey Ballet's youth company in Newport Rhode Island in the Vanderbilt Mansion. When Ron married Kathleen Monahan they moved to Pittsburg to accept a soloist position for Ron with the Pittsburg Ballet Theatre. The Director offered Ron a promotion to Principal Dancer but the Jones's missed the south and decided to accept an offer from the Augusta Ballet as Associate Director. Ron and Kathleen opened the Columbia County Ballet in 1985. Together they have helped found the Columbia County Arts, the Augusta Dance Coalition, SAIL, and Hope Ballet. Ron was awarded Outstanding Artist of the Year by the Arts Council. Today the ballet presents Ron's original work, the Roar of Love, as well as his version of Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker. Ron and Kathleen share the satisfaction of having trained and sent dance students into the the professional world of dance as well as students that have entered many professions over the years and still thrill to return as Alumni both onstage and behind the scenes.
Megan Furno has been at CCB for 19 years. She trained under the direction of Ron Jones and has accurately duplicated her training and beautifully implemented it into her teaching at CCB. Megan has taught all levels at the academy and within the company, starting with PreBallet I all the way through Senior Company. Megan is also heavily involved backstage during performances as a Backstage Director where she has also made sure to include her husband, PJ Furno, in all the fun and backstage excitement! Megan has a Bachelors in Health Information Administration, a Masters in Public Health, and is a Black Belt in Lean Six Sigma. In addition to teaching and volunteering at CCB, Megan is a Performance Improvement Specialist at Augusta University Medical Center. In her "spare time" Megan enjoys spending time with her family and making frequent trips to Disney World. One of the greatest joys in Megan's life is her daughter, Jocelyn, who has already, at the age of 3, shown a true love of ballet and has shared the stage with her mom in the 32nd Roar of Love.
Gabriel Kellen Hughes began his dance training as a young boy under the direction of Ron Jones at the Columbia County Ballet. He attended Davidson Fine Arts and graduated a year early from this prestigious school. While dancing under the direction of Ms Sharon Mayfield, DFA Modern Dance Instructor and Choreographer, Gabriel progressed to become one of the Dance Departments leading male dancers.
Gabriel initiated and oversees the Modern Dance Classes at the Columbia County Ballet. He has attended summer workshops in L.A., Columbia and Atlanta and apprenticed under his uncle Stephen "Stevo" Jones, L.A. Hip Hop Dancer, Choreographer and Actor (Jasper Tarik in Step Up: All In) Gabe has performed the roles of Peter in Peter Pan, The Mad Hatter in Michael Viator's ALICE, the Russian Trepak as well as the Cavalier in The Nutcracker, the Celebrant, Fenris Ulf, White Stag & ASLAN in the Roar of Love and the Beast in Beauty and the Beast.
Gabriel daily studies the Mixed Martial Arts. He has trained and competed in Georgia, California, Texas and Florida.
"Through dance I aim to grow in character and as a human being physically. Dance has taught me to control every inch of my body and has benefited everything I've done. I hope to instill in my students an outstanding work ethic. I also wish to build them as people so they are more aware of the world around them and can confidently pursue their goals."
PreBallet, Elementary Syllabus, Pre-Pointe, Office Assistant/Receptionist
Gracie Hill began her dance training at the Columbia County Ballet at the age of 3. Her instructors have included Ron & Kathleen Jones, Renee Toole, Lia Daniele, Megan Furno, Gabe Hughes, Michael Viator, Matthew Conway and Rebecca Moffatt. Gracie has also studied at the Joffrey Ballet Summer Intensive and Ballet Fest 2016 in Atlanta, GA with Juan Sanchez and has taken Masters Classes with Valery Lantranov, Wendy Whelan, Francis Lawrence, Abby Lee Miller, Christin Arthur, Dana Tai Soon Burgess. Her performing experiences include dancing roles in the Roar of Love, The Nutcracker, Freedom, Peter Pan, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, ALICE, Runaway Horses, and Beauty & the Beast. Among her favorite roles she has danced are Lucy, Susan, the Robin, Flower Princess and the Maiden in the Roar of Love, Alice in ALICE, and the Chinese, Marzipan and Dew Drop in The Nutcracker. Gracie's priorities in her own dancing are first to honor the Lord and to lead an active and healthy lifestyle. She plans to pursue a college degree with a minor in dance, and to be a good role model to her students and younger dancers. She encourages her students to respect others, to have a good time, to work hard, to be a good encourager and to never give up. Gracie's favorite past times include hanging out with friends & family and studying the Bible.
Advanced/Intermediate, Pointe Curriculum, Coach
Renee Toole was the Principal Dancer with the Augusta Ballet for years. Among her memorable roles are the Sugar Plum Fairy in Balanchine’s Nutcracker with partner Ron Jones; Myrtha, Queen of the Willis, and Giselle in the classic story of Giselle; Carmen in the tragic story of Carmen; Swanhilda in Coppelia; and one of the five featured dancers in Tony Farrell’s unforgettable Red Wagon. Mrs Toole is the Fine Arts Program Coordinator and Lead Dance Teacher at Davidson Fine Arts. She is a member of the National Dance Association, the Royal Academy of Dance and Phi Delta Kappa.
Intermediate Technique, Pointe
Anna Moldovan began her dance training as young child with Kathleen Jones at the Columbia County Ballet. Other instructors have included Ron Jones, Renee Toole, Michael Viator, Megan Furno, Lia Daniele & Jessica Carroll. Anna has attended Summer Intensives at Ballet Magnificat in Jackson Mississippi as well as with the Charlotte Ballet. Anna's favorite roles to have performed are Belle in Beauty and the Beast, Lucy, Robin and the Maiden in the Roar of Love, Clara and the Dew Drop in the Nutcracker and Lady Magnolia in Michael Viator's Alice. Anna's goal in performance is "...to give the audience a visual for the story we are telling."
Her goal as an Instructor at the CCB studios is "to instill within my dance students a love of dance and an appreciation for the hard work and discipline that it requires to become a dancer." When Anna is not dancing, she enjoys hanging out with friends and family, shopping and cooking.
Courtney O'Neal grew up in the Augusta area. She and her husband James are raising their 4 children, ages 9-14. Mrs O'Neal joined the ballet staff in in 2004 as CCB's receptionist. She loves working with children and started volunteering for the "Roar of Love" backstage in the dressing rooms her second year with the ballet. Soon after she began volunteering for other annual performances where needed. She finds satisfaction in helping the younger dancers prepare for their performances and relishes their good success. She says of her own family, "My children have all taken classes at CCB and absolutely love to perform!" When she is not at the studio Ms Courtney enjoys spending time with her family, going to the lake and being a Mom!
Corrie Polhill began her dance training with the Colton Ballet at the age of 5. Four years later she enrolled with the Columbia County Ballet and is currently a leading dancer with the performing company. She has trained with Julia Iseman, Ron Jones, Renee Toole, Lia Daniele and Megan Furno. She also attended USC summer dance conservatory in 2016. Several of her favorite roles to have performed are the White Witch and the Maiden in the Roar of Love, the Queen of Hearts in Michael Viator's ALICE, the Enchantress in Beauty and the Beast and Arabian in The Nutcracker. Corrie hopes to instill within her students a love for dance and to give them a positive experience in every class they attend. She strives to encourage the determination and passion for dance within them. Through her own dancing Corrie hopes to make the audience smile and take them to a happy place where they can enjoy the show. "I also want to inspire little girls who are fascinated by tutus and pointe shoes to become ballerinas themselves."
Sophia Hill began her dance training at the Columbia County Ballet as a young child. She studied under Kathleen Jones, Ron Jones, Renee Toole, Lia Daniele, Megan Furno, Gabe Hughes, Michael Viator, Matthew Conway & Rebecca Moffatt. In addition, she attended Summer Dance Intensives at Ballet Fest 2016 in Atlanta, GA with Juan Sanchez and has taken Master Classes with Wendy Whelan, Francis Lawrence, Abby Lee Miller, Christin Arthur & Dana Tai Soon Burgess. Sophia has performed in many ballets with CCB. Among her favorite roles have been Lucy, the Robin, the Flower Princess and the Maiden in the Roar of Love; Chinese, Marzipan & Arabian in The Nutcracker, and Babette in Beauty & the Beast. When Sophia is not dancing she enjoys hanging out with friends & family and shopping. When asked why she dances Sophia replies, "for the Lord: to inspire younger dancers and to be the best I can be." As an instructor at CCB, Sophia hopes to instill within her dance student's good teamwork, patience, perseverance and optimism.
Jessica Hughes grew up at the Columbia County Ballet. She was 5 years old when her parents opened the doors of what has become recognized in this community and beyond for excellence both in ballet training and in theatre performance. Jessica danced in the inaugural performance of The Roar of Love when it was first presented in the ballroom of the historic Bon Air Hotel in 1986. She danced the role of a Star. She progressed through Narnia until she became the first White Witch to command a pack of male wolves. Jessica lead the performing company in initiating its first Nutcracker in which she danced the Snow Pas de Deux. Kathryn McBeth, retired Principal of the Atlanta Ballet and one of Jessica's favorite Guest Instructors, set Tom Pazik's Cinderella on CCB and personally coached Jessica in the same starring role which she had premiered in Atlanta years earlier. Jessica has lead the Performing Company through many years of new productions during her dancing years working with numerous Guest Choreographers and bringing to the stage many premier works. She has taught every level of ballet within the school and conducted rehearsals for her father until moving into an administrative position. Jessica served as the ballet's Receptionist and Office Manager until she recommended Courtney O'Neal as her ideal replacement. She then moved into the role of Executive Director. Jessica gives countless hours to the ballet as a Volunteer Stage Manager, carefully coordinating the endless technical elements of each production. She also serves as advisor to her parents formatting systems to assist in the school and performing company's progress and goals. It is common knowledge among those that are most closely invested in the business of the Columbia County Ballet that Jessica is one of the most potent 'secret weapons' within the ballet's continuing success. Jessica is married to Brock Hughes, Founder & CEO of Augusta Corporate Housing. They are proud parents of two sons, Gabriel & Isaiah. The peak of activity at the Hughes household begins each January as they prepare to host dozens of Australian visitors who will arrive in time for the Masters Tournament. For Jessica, the comforts and satisfaction of her home and family are transported each year to her other favorite place on earth, the beach.
Advanced/Intermediate, Pointe, Coach
Lia Daniele has performed with the famed Joffrey Ballet and around the world in both contemporary dance and musicals. She has taught in NYC at Alvin Ailey, Broadway Dance Center as well as in Las Vegas, Pittsburg, Delaware & Virginia. Among Ms Daniele's major choreographic works are Zephyr's Pond, Joy to the World and Holiday IN! 'Ms Lia' moved to Augusta in 2017 with her husband who is part of the Fort's Cyber Intelligence Staff. She is the Lead Dance Instructor at SAIL, a charter school for arts infused learning which opened in August 2017. Ms Lia is a Guest Instructor and Coach and teaches weekly at Columbia County Ballet.
MEET OUR STAFF
The Columbia County Ballet has assembled over the years a staff of excellence both administratively as well as in the classroom and production studios.
Our Office Staff are thoroughly trained to address the needs of our newest students and their families as they enter the school for their first dance experience at CCB.
The Ballet's Production Team engages throughout the season to help prepare the finest presentations.
The Ballet's Founding Directors' combined expertise forms the basis of a thorough and meticulous training system which spans from the youngest pre-ballet student through the levels of graded technique and into the demanding skill level of the pre-professional.
Teachers trained within the system are carefully aligned to instruct the level of dancer they are most effective in working with.
Guest Instructors work with advanced levels weekly at the studio. Instructors with years of preparatory training instruct the graded levels of technique and the younger pre-ballet students.
Michael Viator began his dance training with the Columbia County Ballet at the age of 9. He became a trainee in the Instructor's program and upon successfully completing the course joined the CCB Instructional Staff. His gift for choreographing dance emerged as a natural progression of his unfolding talent. At age 16 Michael choreographed a full-length ballet for the entire company, Freedom, celebrating the spirit of the American people. It was from this considerable accomplishment that Artistic Director, Ron Jones, recognized a strong talent within Michael that complimented his ability to dance. Michael since has choreographed full length story ballets for the Columbia County Ballet including ALICE and Beauty and the Beast. He has recently been commissioned by Mr Jones to create a new production of Cinderella to herald the 100th birthday celebration of Augusta's Imperial Theatre. Michael currently dances with Ballet Magnificat in Jackson, Mississippi and will embark on a European tour with the company this coming spring of 2018.
Stephen Jones began dancing in his hometown of Augusta, GA where his parents own the Columbia County Ballet. His early training concentrated on classical ballet. He performed roles that include the Jester in Cinderella, the Cavalier in The Nutcracker and the Prince in Swan Lake. Stephen was invited by a local competition school to perform at a dance convention. Out of a crowd of over 500 young dancers he was awarded a scholarship to attend the Performing Arts Center under the direction of Joe Malone in Los Angeles. Stephen initiated a new class in his parents school upon his return from L.A. called Hip Hop. He based his program on the popular moves he had recently experienced drawing inspiration from from local bboys. Soon he was hosting sessions of hip hop dancers all over the city. Stephen moved to Atlanta and within his first year was performing with brands and artists including Coca Cola, Letoya Luckett, Dierks Bentley, Ginuwine, Ashlee Simpson, Cherish, and Sean Garrett. A big break came with a seven year run with R&B artist, Lloyd. It was Lloyd who coined Stephen's new name...Stevo. Stevo began dancing in movies such as Footloose (the remake) and Step Up 3D. He worked as resident development and movement coach for Zone 4 Entertainment and Crown World Entertainment, and became known as the developer and stage choreographer for the young upcoming Jacob Latimore. Stevo's own choreography earned numerous credits from artists and events including Lloyd, Cherish, GA Lottery, and the movie American Reunion. He founded ESP Entertainment , a music production and entertainment company, with young music producer....Jamie Newman. They went on to achieve gold and platinum album credits with artists such as Jamie Foxx, Menudo, Nickelodeon, Cherish, Rick Ross and Trey Songs. Stevo moved to Los Angeles in 2011 and danced for Kelly Rowland, Mark Ballas, Becky G, and the now established adult artist, Jacob Latimore. One of the highlights of his touring opportunities was dancing with Lindsey Stirling across the globe. He fondly remembers lifting her overhead while she played her amazing fiddle. Stevo auditioned to dance in the Liongate's franchise film Step Up-All In. Weeks later he received a call back to audition for the role of the lead antagonist, Jasper Tarik. Being cast into this role of a lead actor and dancer now opened a new world of recognition and success. Stevo has traveled and performed throughout Europe, Africa, the Mideast and the United States. These days he can be found touring the U.S. and Europe and reaching out to students and fans to share his knowledge and experience. The art of dance and the business of the entertainment industry are for Stevo an inheritance.