Meet our Artistic Staff
Mitch Flanders - Artistic Director
Mr. Flanders began his training with the Atlanta Ballet and on scholarship at the School of American Ballet in New York City. After graduation, he was invited to dance with the Eglevsky Ballet under the direction of Edward Villella. There he danced leading roles in many Balanchine ballets including Serenade, Four Temperaments, Allegro Brillante and Swan Lake where he partnered NYC Ballet principal dancer, Allegra Kent. He later joined the Chicago City Ballet, directed by Maria Tallcheif. While at CCB, he was a frequent partner of Suzanne Farrell, NYC Ballet Prima Ballerina. He partnered Ms. Farrell in Cinderella as the prince in Paul Mejia’s acclaimed full length version. He was also featured with Ms. Farrell in a PBS “Dance in America” series special Eight By Adler. also, while in Chicago, he was featured guest dancer with the Lyric Opera in Chicago.
Mr. Flanders has been a principal dancer with the Los Angeles Ballet, and worked as a guest artist throughout the U.S. touring with Mikhail Baryshnikov and Gelsey Kirkland and in Europe performing in Rome, Paris, Berlin, Geneva, Vienne and Tunis Tunisia. He performed with the Metropolitan Opera in New York City for five years sharing the stage with many of the world’s greatest singers including, Luciano Pavarotti, Placido Domingo, Jose Carreras, Mirella Freni and leading directors James Levine and Franco Zeffirelli. His television credits include “Live at the Met” with the opera Aida, and Lyric Opera of Chicago’s “Eugene Onegion”.
His teaching experience includes, The New Jersey Ballet School, New Dance Studio NYC, Providence Ballet, and ballet master for the The Ballet Rotaru of Atlanta and the Georgia Ballet. he has served as the grant panelist for the Georgia Council for the Arts for three years and for the last 17 years has been the artistic director of the Griffin Ballet Theatre, owner of Studio D School of Dance and director of Festival Dance Camp at the University of Georgia. As artistic director of GBT, he has created and staged many full length ballets such as Peter Pan, Robin Hood, Coppelia, Cinderella, The Little Mermaid, The Armed Man, and Nutcracker. The Griffin Ballet Theatre prides itself as being one of the top professional and pre-professional companies in Georgia. His dancers have been accepted into the countries top dance schools such as American Ballet Theatre, Houston Ballet, The Rock School, Joffery Ballet and Georgia Governor’s Honors Scholarship Programs.
Ashley Barnes - Ballet Mistress
Ashley is originally from Griffin, Georgia where she began her dance training at the age of four under the direction of Mitch Flanders. She has been a teacher for the past fourteen years at Studio D. Ashley has been a company member of The Griffin Ballet Theater for the past nineteen years where she has taught extensively as the Ballet Mistress for the past five years and held the position of Assistant Ballet Mistress for the previous 2 years. Ashley has been a staff member and ballet instructor for the past ten years with Festival Dance at UGA. She has had the honor to serve as an adjudicator for the Governors Honors Dance program over the past several years. She continues her dance education studying under various teachers such as; Kat Wildish, Patricia Miller, Paulo Manso De Sousa, Finish Jhung, David Howard, Carol Szkutek and Anne-Sophie Rodriguez. Ashley helps with the establishment of new companies such as Phyzix Urban Dance Theater and Lamorris Namari.
Ashley has had the honor to dance the title roles in Cinderella, Firebird, Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland, The Little Mermaid, Giselle. As well as Swanhilda in Coppelia, the Fairy Godmother in Cinderella, Wendy in Peter Pan, Sugarplum in Nutcracker, Lilac Fairy and Soloist role in Don Quixote. Ashley also has performed as Peter Pan and in Giselle with Savannah Danse in Savannah, Ga. Also as the principal role in Griffin Ballet’s performances of Columbia City’s Dracula and The Lion King.
Along with her dance career she has also been involved in commercial modeling and music videos. Ashley also serves as the Choreographer and Assistant Director for the past five years at Oak Hill Baptist Church for an annual cast of 75 performers.
Lorraine Davis - Assistant Ballet Mistress
Lorraine Casablanca began her diverse dance training at age seven with the Doris Russell School of Performing Arts. There she had the great opportunity to study with Doris Russell herself, one of the original Rockettes to perform in New York City. She continued her studies under the direction of Magdalena Maury at The Studio – Home of The Georgia Youth Ballet Company, of which she was a founding member. Here she studied with prestigious teachers such as Jonsie Pollock, Finis Jung, Tom Clower, Julianne Kepley, Carol Szkutek, Ellie Lazar and Alicia Alonso. Lorraine also spent many summers at ballet intensives such as Ballet Magnificat! and Fort Lauderdale Ballet Classique, under the direction of nationally recognized master ballet instructor Magda Aunon.
Looking to further her dance career, at age fifteen, she accepted a highly coveted spot as a student in the pre-professional program at the Atlanta Ballet Centre for Dance Education, receiving many opportunities to grow as a dancer and performer. Lorraine then continued her training, on a full scholarship, to Brenau University, where she majored in Dance Performance. Although ballet was the main focus of her training, she pursued other forms of dance to present herself as a diverse dancer and later, instructor.
For nine years, Lorraine taught ballet, modern and jazz with the Classical Dance Theatre, under the direction of Yasmin Hassaan. There she was also a principle dancer with the Southeastern Ballet Company, a professional company directed by Ms. Hassaan.
In addition to teaching ballet, jazz and modern, at Dance Contempra for 5 years, Lorraine was also an instructor at Woodward Academy. There she has worked with the Honors Dance Program, for four years, teaching and choreographing original works. She continues to choreograph pieces, including a piece that won her the Grassroots Award for Choreography. Lorraine also gives private instruction as well as creating independent choreography. She continues to perform professionally with Griffin Ballet Theatre and throughout the Atlanta area. She enjoys sharing her love of dance with students of all ages and hopes to encourage, inspire and motivate her students to reach their full potential. Along with Studio D, Lorraine teaches intermediate, advanced and company dancers at Compass Dance Academy, a faith-based dance studio in Tyrone. Lorraine is enthusiastically looking forward to her fourth year at Studio D School of Dance and her third year as Assistant Ballet Mistress for Griffin Ballet Theatre.