Ballet Arts
School of Dance
Established 1975

Home of Ballet Arts Ensemble


Judi began dancing in Grand Rapids at the Phil Oosterhouse Studio. She studied the Cecchetti method of ballet and has taken student exams and has her fourth teachers certificate in the method. Judi previously served as co-chair of the Western Michigan Committee. She has also attended the Russian Ballet Seminars and the David Howard Dance Intensive at Western Michigan University.

Her dancing continued in college and later as a member of Ballet Arts Ensemble as well as a former member of the board of directors. Judi also performed with the Oosterhouse company. She began teaching at Ballet Arts in 1977 and became co-owner in 1991. Her primary interest and expertise is in pre-ballet.

She has participated in the MAGIK (Making Arts Grow in Kalamazoo) Program and in other dance related programs in area public schools. Judi also coached Freshman, JV, and Varsity Cheerleading at Mattawan High School for eight years. Judi is presently a MHSAA, Michigan High School Athletic Association competitive cheer judge.

She currently resides in Kalamazoo with her husband, Steve, and they have two daughters, Janelle and Katie.


                                      ARTISTIC DIRECTOR/BALLET ARTS ENSEMBLE 

Cathleen holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Marietta College (Ohio).  She grew up in Grand Rapids (Michigan) and studied with Sally Seven, soloist with Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo and founder of the Grand Rapids Civic Ballet.  While in Grand Rapids, Cathleen was active with the Civic Theatre and summer stock’s Circle Theatre.  She continued her dance studies at Western Michigan University where she appeared both as a performer and guest teacher.  A 7-year participant of the Russian Seminar with Jurgen Schneider and Janina Cunovas, Cathleen continues her education at workshops presented by leading dance professionals around the country.

Cathleen has been teaching ballet and character dance at Ballet Arts since 1982 and became co-owner of the studio in 1991.  In 2001, she became Artistic Director of Ballet Arts Ensemble after serving as performer and Ballet Mistress since its inception in 1982.  Her love for ballet is reflected in BAE’s repertoire.  She is most noted for her productions of full-length ballets including Nutcracker, Cinderella, Peter and the Wolf, Red Shoes, Aladdin’s Magic Lamp, La Boutique Fantasque, and Café Parisian.  Her choreography has also been selected on numerous occasions for performances with the Kalamazoo Symphony’s Youth Concert Series and Family Discovery Series as well as the Michigan Youth Arts Festival.
  Her most recent choreography can be seen in the movie Cherry, filmed in Kalamazoo and featured at the 2010 Saugatuck Waterfront Film Festival.

athleen is a member of Partners in Dance, Michigan Dance Council, and Dance Masters of America.



Debby Norton (Ballet, Pointe, Cecchetti, Character, Jazz, Tap, Adult) is a native of Muskegon where she studied the Cecchetti method of ballet along with tap, jazz, modern, gymnastics, baton, and ice skating. While in Muskegon she danced in local theater productions, including musicals with the Muskegon Civic Theater. Currently a member of Ballet Arts Ensemble, her past performing credits include the Muskegon Community College Modern Jazz Company and Western Michigan University Ballet Theatre.

Debby holds a Bachelor of Science degree from WMU in retailing with a minor in Dance. Summer studies have included the CCA Summer School, Russian Ballet Seminars, and David Howard Intensives. Five years ago Debby began weekly training in the Alexander Technique which she continues to pursue.

Professionally, Debby has passed student exams and holds three teaching certificates in the Cecchetti method and is an active member of the Cecchetti Council of America, previously serving as co-chair of its Western Michigan Committee. Debby has been a board member of Ballet Arts Ensemble for the past nine years where she currently serves as treasurer. She holds a position as ballet instructor at WMU and teaches creative dance in Kalamazoo Schools as part of the Education for the Arts program.

Debby and her husband Mike live in Kalamazoo. 


Cathy graduated from Western Michigan University in 1981 with a Bachelor of Science degree, which included a minor in dance. She began taking dance lessons at the age of three. Her training included ballet, tap, acrobatics, jazz, and modern dance. After graduating from W.M.U. she performed for one year with Ballet Garneau in Roswell, Georgia. After returning to Michigan she continued to take classes at W.M.U. with Eugene Mills. She continued her instructional training by attending the Little People’s Creative Workshop™ in Greenville, North Carolina.

Cathy has taught children’s church classes for preschoolers through elementary age since 1990 and has home schooled her daughters through high school. She has choreographed amateur musical productions for both children and adults in local churches, private schools and for Homeschool Performing Arts of Kalamazoo. Cathy began teaching Pre-Ballet at Ballet Arts in 2001 and Beginning Ballet, Tap, Jazz, and Teen Dance at the Portage Y.M.C.A. in 2004.

Cathy lives in Kalamazoo with her husband Rob and their three daughters. All three girls have been students at Ballet Arts since 1993 and have been performing members of the Ballet Arts Ensemble. 


Michele began her dance training at the age of three, in her hometown of Rochester, NY. Michele has studied ballet, tap, jazz, modern, hip-hop, pointe, and creative dance. During her years in New York, she had the opportunity to work with dancers such as, Frank Hatchett, Savion Glover, and Garth Fagan. Michele was also selected to dance in Paris, France with Universal Dance Association at the age of 17.

After New York, Michele continued to dance at Hope College in Holland, MI, where she received the Distinguished Artist Award. She graduated from Hope College with a B.A. in Dance Performance/Choreography and a minor in Spanish. During college, Michele continued to perform and choreograph for both the student and faculty concerts, in addition to local dance productions. After college, she performed with local Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids dance companies. Michele also taught creative dance, jazz, tap and modern at local dance studios.

For the past eight years Michele has continued to enrich the lives of Kalamazoo students through her teaching with the Education for the Arts program. She continues her own personal dance education enrichment by continually attending professional workshops around the country.

Michele currently resides in Portage with her husband, Marc, and their two children, Alexandra and Gregory.  



Janelle began her dance training at Ballet Arts where she continues to take classes. She was a member of Ballet Arts Ensemble for 4 years where she performed in the Nutcracker, Aladdin’s Magic Lamp, Café Parisien and Peter and the Wolf. She has been a guest performer with the Ensemble as well. As a Cecchetti student, she passed grades I, II and III of the Cecchetti method. Janelle is nationally certified to teach three to seven year olds through the Little People’s Creative Workshop. Janelle teaches preballet and beginning teen ballet at Ballet Arts.

Janelle currently teaches for Gull Lake Community Schools where she teaches 2nd grade at Kellogg Elementary. She is a School Improvement CoChair, a trustee on the Gull Lake Community Schoools Foundation board.

Janelle holds a Bachelors of Science from Grand Valley State University a Masters Degree in Early Childhood Education from Aquinas College, and holds a Professional Teaching Certificate. She currently resides in Kalamazoo.



Christian began her dance training at the age of 3 at Susan Vaughn School of Dance in Jackson, MI. She continued her dance education in college at Western Michigan University. She has taken classes in various styles including ballet, tap, jazz, hip-hop, and modern. Throughout her dance career, she has attended the Chicago National Association of Dance Masters summer intensives and teacher training where she has had the opportunity to study with dancers such as Mark Yonally, Lyn Cramer, and Jeremy Plummer. During her high school years, Christian was a performing member of the Rustic Groove Dance Company, a modern dance company from Jackson, MI.

In addition to her dance knowledge, Christian also has experience in the world of colorguard. She was a member of Interplay Winterguard of Grand Rapids from 2013 to 2015 where she won multiple State Championships and a World Championship. Christian also enjoys teaching colorguard at South Haven High School where she has been on staff since 2012.

Christian has a Bachelor of Science from Western Michigan University in Biology and Environmental Studies. She currently lives in Kalamazoo and is employed by MPI Research as a Research Technician. 

Modern Workshop Guest Teachers 2017-18

November - Dasan​ ​Mitchell
October - Corey​ ​Baker​ ​(Neumann)​
September - Caitlin​ ​Hopkins