Mariclare Miranda Director, Columbia Conservatory of Dance
Mariclare Miranda – Prima Ballerina of Columbia City Ballet from 1997 to 2006 – began her ballet training with Columbia City Ballet-founder and Artistic Director Ann Brodie. In 1976 she joined the Columbia City Ballet, becoming a soloist in 1980, principal dancer in 1982, attained the rank of ballerina in 1984 and became prima ballerina in 1997, going on to dance every ballerina role in the Company’s classical repertoire. She has portrayed a myriad of roles in Executive & Artistic Director William Starrett’s original ballets, including Beauty & the Beast, Dracula, Dracula’s Revenge, Aladdin, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Pocahontas, A Tribute to Fred Astaire, Don Juan, Frankenstein and Off the Wall & Onto the Stage. Choreographer Norbert Vesak chose her to dance in his ‘Belong’ pas de deux, a work which won a gold medal for choreography at the 1980 International Ballet Competition in Varna, Bulgaria. In 1997, she won the prestigious South Carolina Arts Commission Fellowship. Miranda was recently featured on the cover of three compact discs produced by David Howard and has starred in many television works, notably A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Swan Lake, Beauty & the Beast and Romeo & Juliet for SCETV. She is a Founder and Principal Instructor of the Columbia Conservatory of Dance. She retired from the stage in March of 2006, dancing her final performances as the title role in Giselle. At her retirement gala, she was awarded the Key to the City of Columbia and the Order of the Palmetto. Since retirement, she has served as Ballet Mistress of Columbia City Ballet and as a guest instructor and choreographer.
William Starrett Director, Columbia Conservatory of Dance
Dancer, teacher, choreographer, community leader. While all true, those descriptors don’t even begin to paint a complete picture of William Starrett. From his start at San Francisco’s Ballet Celeste and the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, through appearances as a principal for the Joffrey Ballet and as a member of American Ballet Theatre under the direction of both Lucia Chase and Mikhail Baryshnikov, to guest appearances with more than 40 of the world’s most renowned ballet companies, Mr. Starrett’s talent as a dancer has earned rave reviews from coast to coast as well as a medal at the very first US International Ballet Competition in Jackson, Mississippi. Today, though, Mr. Starrett’s formidable reputation revolves most often around his choreographic and directorial accomplishments. As director and primary choreographer for the past 20 years, he has created or staged more than 50 works – including 15 original, full-length ballets, 10 classical full-length ballets and 16 original narrated one-act ballets for children – in locations throughout the United States and Europe. Columbia City Ballet’s Educational Outreach Program, which Mr. Starrett implemented in 1989, has introduced ballet to more than half a million schoolchildren in the Southeast. He is the co-owner of Columbia Conservatory of Dance with Ballet Mistress Mariclare Miranda. In 2002, Mr. Starrett was honored by South Carolina’s governor with the Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Award for achievement in the arts. Mr. Starrett is the official arts correspondent for WACH Fox News and the host of the weekly Arts WACH with William, a segment of WACH Fox News Good Day that airs Thursday mornings and gives an in-depth look at unique visual and performing arts events in the Midlands.
Sharon Jones Born and raised in Columbia, SC, Sharon is no stranger to the dance world. With over 25 years of teaching experience, Sharon trained at local studios through high school and continued taking dance classes at the University of South Carolina with Susan Anderson and a local studio with Wrenn Cooke. In 1989, Sharon took over Sha-Mar Dance Studios in Irmo, SC, and went on to own it for 7 years.
In 1999, after a short hiatus from teaching, Sharon joined the staff of the Columbia Conservatory of Dance. In 2002, she was appointed head of the Tap Department and in 2003 took over as Artistic Director of the Columbia City Tap Company. In 2005, to expand the Tap Company, she and her daughter Ashley created CC Dance Company–a company that grew to over 60 members–who competed in jazz, tap, ballet, lyrical, hip hop and musical theatre. Many of her students have taken top honors at regional and national competitions in the southeast. Sharon is currently the Director of Columbia Conservatory Dance Company. She is also a judge for Kids Artisic Revue National Dance Competition.
Sharon’s former students have danced with the Columbia City Ballet, Robert Ivy Ballet, and on Broadway. Current students can be seen in local theatre productions as well as local and national television commercials. Sharon’s stage credits include Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat, The Wiz, Mrs Stahlbaum in The Nutcracker and Berthe in Giselle.
To stay aware of the latest teaching methods and dance trends, Sharon attends local and national dance conventions and workshops. In addition to teaching, Sharon owns Movements Dance & Activewear, a retail dancewear store in Irmo, South Carolina.
Carol Anne Cooley Born and raised in Columbia, SC, Carol Anne started dancing at the age of three at the Columbia Conservatory of Dance. At the age of eight she began competing with the Columbia City Jazz Company, continuing until age eighteen. Being a part of this company allowed her to work with world renowned choreographers such as Mia Michaels, Jason Parsons, Tyce Diorio, Mandy Moore, Lauren Adams, Desiree Robins, Doug Caldwell, Dee Caspery, and Nick Lazzarini. Carol Anne competed at competitions such as Star Systems, Showstoppers, Tremaine, Company Dance, New York City Dance Alliance, Showbiz, Jump, L.A. Underground, and Encore. She won various scholarships at Tremaine and Jump and danced in the opening number of Showstoppers Nationals in Myrtle Beach. Carol Anne also had the opportunity to travel overseas to dance in Plovdiv, Bulgaria; Munich, Germany; Singapore, and at the Tanzsommer Dance Festival in Vienna, Austria. After completing high school, Carol Anne attended Columbia College in Columbia, SC, where she received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Dance Performance and Choreography. As a part of the Columbia College Dance Company, she performed at the American College Dance Festival Association at Florida State University and the University of Mississippi. Carol Anne has also performed at the SCAPHERD Dance Festival in Myrtle Beach, SC and had her choreography showcased at the SCADancing Festival at Coker College in Hartsville, South Carolina. Currently, Carol Anne dances with “The Power Company,” a professional contemporary dance company in Columbia, SC.
Jordan Hawkins, born and raised in Irmo, SC, began her dance training at the age of 3 at the Columbia Conservatory of Dance under the direction of Mariclare Miranda and William Starrett. During her high school years she competed as a senior member of the CCDance Company. She was awarded numerous platinum and top first awards for both group and solo routines including jazz, tap, lyrical, and ballet. In 2008 she was named Senior Miss Superstar at Star Systems and Miss Dance at Kids Artistic Revue. Jordan also received full scholarships to Adrenaline Dance Convention. In 2004 she was invited to attend the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities summer dance intensive and also participated in classes at Steps on Broadway, Broadway Dance Center and the New York City Rockettes. She was most recently a guest artist with South Carolina Contemporary Dance Company. She will be entering her third consecutive season with the Columbia City Ballet.
Autumn Hill is a native of California where she began her dance training with tap, jazz, and musical theatre. Upon acceptance to the School of San Jose Cleveland Ballet, she was named the Bess Cartwright Scholarship recipient. There she trained in the Bournonville technique under the direction of Lise La Cour former director of the Royal Danish Ballet School. During her time as a student at Ballet San Jose (formerly San Jose Cleveland Ballet) she joined the company as a trainee, performed with the second company in New York, and was invited to join as an apprentice in 2004 by Artistic Director Dennis Nahat. In order to pursue her studies, she attended The Boston Conservatory of Music on scholarship studying with notable teachers such as Luis Fuente, Adriana Suarez, and Jennifer Scanlon. There she performed soloist roles in an array of pieces including Martha Graham’s Night Journey staged by Yuriko and Antony Tudor’s Dark Elegies staged by Donald Mahler. Upon graduating in 2008 Magna Cum Laude with a BFA in dance, she joined BalletRox in Boston, MA where she rose to be the youngest African-American female principal in BalletRox history. There she served on the faculty of Boston Ballet’s Centre for Dance Education and BalletRox’s official school where she taught tap, jazz, and ballet. In 2009, Miss Hill was invited by William Starrett to join Columbia City Ballet and in 2012 joined the faculty for the Columbia Conservatory of Dance. She also currently serves as the Quality Control Manager for Creative Movement and Dance Inc., offering quality dance programs for private schools, day care, and recreational centers throughout South Carolina.
Kathryn Smoak, born in Columbia, began her dance training at the Columbia Conservatory of Dance under William Starrett and Mariclare Miranda. She joined the company in 1998, and was promoted to Soloist in 2002. As a dancer with the Columbia City Ballet, Kathryn has performed such roles as Leopard Maiden in Dracula; Cupid in Don Quixote; Chinese, Russian, Spanish, Clara, and Dew Drop Fairy in Nutcracker; Songbird Fairy in Cinderella; Peasant Pas De Deux in Giselle, and Alice in Alice and Wonderland. She is praised by reviewers for her lively stage presence and quick footwork. Critics have also written “she may be petite in size, but her dancing is colossal in strength and stamina.” In addition to being a professional dancer, she holds a degree in Journalism from the University of South Carolina. Kathryn was named a “Young Dancer to Watch” in 2002 by International Pointe Magazine, and was awarded the South Carolina Arts Commission Individual Artist Fellowship in Dance Performance in 2006.