Caroline Calouche, CC&DC Director, has taught contemporary dance, Pilates, Gyrokinesis and ballet at UNC Charlotte, Winthrop University, The Belmont School of Ballet, Gaston Dance Theatre and The School of North Carolina Dance Theatre. Her dance and fitness teaching background has allowed her to become a sought after aerial dance instructor. Not only has Caroline developed a safe method and syllabus of teaching Aerial Silk, Sling, Trapeze, Lyra, Corde Lisse and Spanish Web, she is able to teach students how to incorporate floor work with their apparatus to seamlessly move from the ground up and back again. With her strong anatomy and physiology background, Caroline focuses on proper alignment in the air and on the ground to prevent injury and promote efficient movement. Caroline’s aerial and dance training is diverse. In the air, she has worked with Juliana Hane, Nicole Merman, Elsie and Serenity Smith, Christine van Loo, Caroline Wright, Jamie Hodgson, Tanya Burka, Cheetah Platt, Kevin O’Connor, Allie Cooper, Nancy Smith and Susan Murphy. While on the ground, Caroline’s influential teachers range from Leah Cox (Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company), Elizabeth Corbett (Forsythe Composition), Libby Farr (Ballet), Andrew Harwood (Contact Improvisation), Fernando Bujones (Ballet), Elizabeth Gillaspy (Ballet), Susan Douglas Roberts (Contemporary), Brenda Daniels (Modern Dance) to name a few on an endless list of amazing teachers!
Carlos Alexis Cruz holds an MFA in Physical Theatre (2007) from the Dell’Arte International School of Physical Theatre where he studied a range of movement techniques including Commedia dell’Arte, Laban, Lecoq-based theatre dynamics, Alexander Technique, as well as an extensive voice training in the Linklater voice method. As part of his thesis project, Cruz went on to train Circus Arts and Chinese Acrobatics under the tutelage of Master Coach Lu Yi at the San Francisco Circus Center. He specialized in the disciplines of Aerial Straps (Sangles Aériennes) and Acrobatic Rope(Corde Lise), and developed his thesis on the study of the convergence between Circus and Theatre.
In the professional realm, he was a fulltime company member of the Do Jump! Dance Theatre, and Imago Theatre, touring nationally and internationally, and was awarded a Princess Grace Acting Fellowship prize in 2011 for his unique physical acting work with the Miracle Theatre Group, the premiere Latino Theatre Company in the Pacific Northwest. Cruz is the 2014 Arts and Science Council McColl Award winner with which he developed a community powered contemporary circus company/show, the Nouveau Sud project, from and about the city of Charlotte and the evolving concept of what is often referred to as the New South. The Nouveau Sud project had its debut production in April 2016, and it has been an ongoing initiative, with shows in 2017 and 2018.
Carolina Quirós Otárola, Program Director, began her dance life at age 6 at the Conservatory of Castella in Costa Rica taking classes in ballet and creative movement. She graduated from this institution in 2005 with a Bachelor in Media Education and a Medium Art Technician with an emphasis in Dance- Ballet and Piano. She graduated from the School of Dance at the National University of Costa Rica. She has danced professionally with the National Dance Company of El Salvador and "Metamorfosis" directed by Sol Carballo Bolaños, where she developed as a dancer and aerialist. She now lives in Mooresville with her husband and two children.
Skyla Caldwell, A.R.A.D. trained at the Charlotte School of Ballet under Gay Porter Speer and The Point Park Conservatory in Pittsburgh, PA as a scholarship student under the direction of Robert Munoz. Skyla has danced for NCDT as an apprentice under Salvatore Aiello and Jerry Kumery. Caldwell has also danced at the National Ballet of Cuba under Laura Alonzo in Havana, Cuba, and is associated with the Royal Academy of London. Caldwell has danced with the Moving Poets Theater of Dance for the last eight years and is currently serving as the Ballet Mistress of the Union County Youth Ballet.
Javier Gonzalez began his career in dance in 2008 studying hip-hop and various Latin Style Dances. In 2009 He became a company member of Ballet Folclórico de las Americas and LeColours Latino Dance. He was the principal dancer for the modern department at CPCC Dance Theater from 2010 to 2015. He has also danced with ECHO Contemporary Dance Company and the Moving Poets of Charlotte as well as a guest dancer for Carnaval Carolina, Charlotte’s largest Latin festival. He has been a backup dancer for Latin artist including Las Fenix, Jorge Celedon and former Miss Universe Alicia Machado. On the side Javier enjoys teaching dance to Latin girls preparing them for their quinceañeras celebrations.
Jackie O’Toole was born and raised in Philadelphia, PA where she began her formal dance training. She received her B.A. in Dance and B.A. in Communications from Coker College. She received her M.F.A. in Dance Performance and Choreography from Florida State University. Ms. O’Toole’s choreography has been presented in venues including the Cloud Dance Festival in London, the White Wave Festivals in New York City, and the American College Dance Association Festivals. She has set choreography on the dance programs at West Chester University, Winthrop University, La Roche College, and was on the dance faculty at the American Music and Dramatic Academy’s Los Angeles campus (AMDA). Ms. O’Toole was chosen as a fellow for the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Minority Serving Institution’s Inaugural program ELEVATE. She is currently the resident choreographer for Carowinds Amusement Park for SCarowinds and Winterfest shows. Ms. O’Toole received her certification in Lester Horton Technique through the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and is a 200-hour Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT) through Yoga Alliance. She is a proud member of Bodiogragraphy Contemporary Ballet’s Charlotte Company and is an Assistant Professor of Dance at Johnson C. Smith University.
Sarah Small began dancing in high school’s musical theatre program at Rockdale County High School. She has performed in the Georgia Thespian Conference as part of Opening Number and in the state-wide Main Stage winning show, Georgia Music Educators Association (GMEA) Teacher’s Convention and Columbus Symphony Orchestra Women’s Choir. Sarah majored in Music Education at Columbus State University as a vocal performance and education student. She is currently a dance major at CPCC under the direction of Clay Daniel and Tracie Chan. She began as an aerial student with CC&Co. in 2011 and began teacher training in 2012. Sarah is thrilled to share her love of dance and aerial with all of her students.
Kristin Bridges is from Winston-Salem, NC and discovered her passion for the arts through community theatre. She attended UNC Greensboro for Theatre and The American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York for Musical Theatre Performance. While in New York she worked with HHC Marketing, Telsey Casting, and was Marketing and Creative Director for Finger Lakes Musical Theatre Festival. She moved to Charlotte in 2016 and discovered her love of Aerial Arts with Aerial CLT. She is a professional petsitter and also a volunteer for the Humane Society of Charlotte and Blumenthal Performing Arts.
Akinyemi Blackshear is an arts administrator, dancer, choreographer, and artist based in Savannah, GA. He is passionate about the power dance and the arts can have in improving communities and hopes to be an active agent in that change. After completing his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in dance at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Akinyemi interned at Jacob’s Pillow, which sparked his love of marketing, and transitioned as their Marketing Assistant full-time. After working at Jacob’s Pillow, Akinyemi moved to Savannah, GA, to continue working in the arts. In his free time, Akinyemi enjoys choreographing, running, baking, and trying new vegan recipes. Akinyemi is excited to merge his love of dance and marketing by joining the Caroline Calouche & Charlotte Cirque and Dance Center administrative team.
Byron McDaniel is originally from Columbia South Carolina where he began training in classical ballet at the age of five. He later was accepted into the Governor’s School of the Arts in Greenville South Carolina under full scholarship. Since then Byron has traveled around the world as a professional dancer and aerialist for Celebrity Cruise lines. Byron Is now in school full time for physical therapy and is very excited to be teaching at CC&DC!
Phillip McRorie is a dancer and bodyworker working in and around Charlotte, NC. He began his dance education at Appalachian State University as a Dance Studies major studying various dance styles, as well as composition and choreography. While in Boone, Phillip was able to study and perform with the Western Carolina Youth Ballet and Verge Dance Collective. After graduating from Appalachian, Phillip moved to Asheville and acted as a resident choreographer and dancer for the Asheville Ballet and Operations Assistant with Terpsicorps Theatre of Dance. As a resident choreographer, he was able to produce various contemporary and modern pieces for the company. Following performing in Asheville, Phillip performed with Caroline Calouche and Co. in Charlotte and began teaching at various studios in and around the area.