The Company

Summer Intensive Renowned Faculty


Internationally-renowned Master Teacher and Chair of the Department of Ballet, Indiana University
Michael Vernon studied at the Nesta Brooking School of Ballet and the Royal Ballet School in London with such legendary teachers as Dame Ninette de Valois and Leonide Massine. He performed with the Royal Ballet, the Royal Opera Ballet, and the London Festival Ballet before coming to New York in 1976 to join the Eglevsky Ballet as ballet master and resident choreographer. He was artistic director of the Long Island-based company from 1989 to 1995.
He has choreographed many ballets for the Eglevsky Ballet, in addition to ballets for many other professional companies in the United States and worldwide. Mikhail Baryshnikov commissioned him to choreograph the successful pas de deux In a Country Garden for American Ballet Theatre (ABT). His solo S'Wonderful was danced by ABT principal Cynthia Harvey in the presence of President and Mrs. Reagan and shown nationwide on CBS television. He also served as the assistant choreographer on Ken Russell's movie Valentino, starring Rudolph Nureyev and Leslie Caron.
Vernon continues to teach classes at New York-based Steps, works regularly for the Manhattan Dance Project, and is artistic advisor to the Ballet School of Stamford. Since 2000, he has taught and choreographed the ballet company and ballet school at the Chautauqua Institute. His annual activities also include a long association with Ballet Hawaii.
Vernon was company teacher for the ABT from 2001 to 2002 and worked as a company teacher for the Metropolitan Opera Ballet from 1994 to 1998. He was also a guest teacher for the Juilliard School in 2001 and has had long associations with Dance Theatre of Harlem and the Alvin Ailey Company and School.


Company Artistic Director


Robert Weiss began his career as a professional dancer at the age of 17, when he joined the New York City Ballet at the request of George Balanchine. He remained with the company for 16 years, rising to the rank of Principal Dancer. During this time he performed principal roles in over 40 ballets, some of which were created for him by both Balanchine and Jerome Robbins. His career took him next to the Pennsylvania Ballet in Philadelphia, where he served as Artistic Director for eight years.


As a choreographer, Mr. Weiss has created over 20 ballets, including commissions by American Ballet Theatre, the New York City Ballet, Bejart’s Ballet of the 20th Century, The Caramoor Festival, the Palm Beach Festival, Stars of American Ballet, and Philadanco Dance Company, among others. He is also the recipient of two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships for choreography. His other achievements include choreography and staging for the New York City Opera as well as choreographing and acting for a feature film starring Anthony Quinn.



Mr. Weiss has received great critical and audience response for his Carolina Ballet world premieres including Romeo & Juliet, Messiah, Stravinsky’s Clowns, Carmen and The Kreutzer Sonata, and in 2001 the brand new Nutcracker and Firebird were added to that impressive list. In 2002 he premiered Stravinsky’s Clowns and Grosse Fuge; and in the 2003-2004 season he premiered Des Images, based on the paintings and sculpture of Edgar Degas, and Reflection, an homage to his mentor George Balanchine. During the 2004-2005 season Weiss premiered Symposium to rave reviews and critical acclaim. In May 2005, Robert Weiss premiered a new full-evening Swan Lake created on Carolina Ballet and he received the Medal of the Arts from the City of Raleigh Arts Commission. During Carolina Ballet's eighth season Robert Weiss created Petit Ballet Romantique to selections from Leo Delibes' ballet scores in October 2005; he choreographed Tempest Fantasy in February 2006 to the Pulitzer Prize winning score of Paul Moravec; and he created a brand new Cinderella in May 2006 to a commissioned score by Karl Moraski. The company was invited to tour China in fall of 2006 (September 28-October 15 including the cities of Beijing and Shanghai) and a summer residency was established on the campus of UNC Wilmington for Carolina Ballet to start in July 2007.




Artistic Director


Margaret Severin-Hansen, from Huntington, Long Island, studied dance at the Huntington School of Ballet until she went to the School of American Ballet. In 1997 she was invited to study at The Royal Danish Ballet in Copenhagen, Denmark. In 1998 she joined Carolina Ballet as an apprentice and rose through to principal dancer in 2002. Ms. Severin-Hansen’s principal roles include Giselle, Juliet, Princess Aurora, the Firebird, the Sylph, Swanhilda, Cinderella, Carmen, Odette/Odile, the Sugar Plum Fairy and many principal roles in Balanchine ballets such as Rubies, Square Dance and Who Cares? just to name a few. In January 2009, Ms. Severin-Hansen was one of eight graduates of the School of American Ballet personally invited by Peter Martins to perform with New York City Ballet dancers in the 75th Anniversary Celebration of the school.



Managing Director


Shelley Jacobsson has served as the Ruth S. Shur Summer Intensive Program Coordinator in Raleigh, NC since 2010, supporting its growth into the nationally recognized program it is today. She has also been the manager of youth performers associated with all Carolina Ballet productions since 2008, including Nutcracker with over 160 student cast members annually. Before moving to the Raleigh area, Ms. Jacobsson served as a Business Manager for the Times Mirror, a division of the Los Angeles Times, in southern California. Shelley is wife of Eric, and a mother of three amazing kids, Kate, Alec and Em.



Ballet Master


Marin Boieru began his ballet training in Romania and later trained at the Kirov Ballet in Leningrad. He has performed as a principal for such companies as the Pennsylvania Ballet, Maurice Bejart’s Ballet of the 20th Century, Roland Petit’s Ballet Company of Marseilles, France and Opera of Bucharest. He is the winner of the gold medal at the prestigious Varna and Moscow Ballet competitions. He came to Carolina Ballet after seven years as principal dancer for the Miami City Ballet under the direction of Edward Villella. Mr. Boieru has been Ballet Master for Carolina Ballet since its founding in 1998. He has also been a guest master teacher for the North Carolina School of the Arts and the South Carolina Governor’s School.



Ballet Master


Debra Austin received a scholarship to the School of American Ballet when she was 12, and at 16 was hand picked by George Balanchine to join the New York City Ballet. While at New York City Ballet, Debra danced many principal roles by both Balanchine and Jerome Robbins. She has also been a principal dancer with Zurich Ballet in Switzerland, and Pennsylvania Ballet and has danced principal roles in works by all of the major choreographers. She went on to assist Lynne Taylor-Corbett in Ms. Taylor-Corbett’s ballet The Dancing Princesses, and in Florida was a preliminary judge for the National Foundation for the Advancement of the Arts. Ms. Austin has been Ballet Master for Carolina Ballet since its founding in 1998. She has also been a guest master teacher for the North Carolina School of the Arts and the South Carolina Governor’s School.





Natalie Morton began her ballet training at The Ballet School of Chapel Hill under the amazing guidance of M’Liss Dorrance and Jennifer Potts. She went on to attend Meredith College where she fell in love with Modern and Contemporary Jazz and continued to pursue and develop her love of theatre. She dabbled in the New York world and returned home to North Carolina where she has been lucky enough to be a part of many performing opportunities including Laura Dean Dancers and Musicians, Whirlwind Dancers, choreographer Killian Manning, and The Dance Cure. She currently teaches at The Ballet School and has been a guest teacher at Cary Ballet Conservatory, International Ballet Academy, and Carolina Ballet’s Young Dancer summer intensive. She is also a certified Pilates instructor, licensed Zumba instructor, wife to one, Mitchell Morton, and mother to Quinn and Avery Morton.





Loretta Jo, E-RYT500, is dedicated to teaching and connecting through yoga and helping students and teachers use the practice of yoga as a means for personal and professional transformation. She is happily obsessed with exploring and sharing yoga and is locally recognized as a master of yoga sequencing. Each practice is designed to provide students an opportunity to seek a balance of mind, body and spirit – and each practice is unique, enabling students to build stamina, increase physical strength, improve concentration, and build confidence — what Loretta Jo calls the magic of Yoga — ‘Yoga-Mojo’.


Loretta Jo is an advanced Yoga teacher having taught over 6000 teaching hours. Her sequences include purposeful movement with attention to alignment and modification options. Her personal journey includes the love of mantra, mudras and yoga mythology and classes may include a variety of each and a story or two.





Melissa Verdicchio is a mother of four children, originally from Long Island, NY. She and her retired military husband met at Villanova University where they were were fortunate enough to have traveled the world before settling in beautiful North Carolina. Melissa’s passion for yoga began over 10 years ago with Power Yoga and Ashtanga when she attended classes after the birth of her third child. Subsequently, the benefits, competing in Half-Ironman and Marathon races, years of teaching children and adult fitness and the peacefulness found in a focus of breathe all led her to her first 200hr YTT. After completing her first teacher training, her desire to learn and share with her students led her to complete a second with Nicole Nichols of Republic of Yoga in May 2014. She acquired the accreditation of being a Yoga Alliance 200 E-RYT at this same time. Bringing yoga to everyone from birth to adults has become a passion. Through the connection with body, mind and breathe, Melissa fosters an honest comfortable non-judgemental yoga class. Her classes provide an environment where balance, confidence, strength and focus become tools used on and off the mat. Being a student of yoga as well as a teacher, has brought her to attend many additional trainings that she brings confidently into her classes. A few of these trainings include Yoga 4 Cancer, Yoga for Athletes, Yin and Resortative, Safe Assist and Injury Prevention in Yoga, Sequencing and Trauma, PTSD and Connected Warriors Training. In addition, she has completed three children’s yoga certifications including YoKids with whom she is an Ambassador. Several of the teachers she has had the honor of studying with are Seane Corne, Jason Crandell, Dharma Mittra, Kino Macregor, Aadil Palkhivala, Maty Ezraty, Sarah Powers, David Keil and Rodney and Colleen Yee.





After spending years working all over the country in the fitness industry, I fell in love with yoga 9 years ago for the mindfulness and balance it brings both on and off the mat. I learn, live, and teach the ancient sciences of ayurveda and yoga together to help restore inner balance of body, mind, and spirit. I firmly believe that yoga is for everyone and that if you can breathe and feel, you can do yoga.





Artistic Director of the North Carolina Dance Institute received a Bachelors’ of Fine Art from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts with the Chancellors Award for Excellence. Kirstie was coached by Agnes de Mille as the Lead Cowgirl in "Rodeo" and played Ado Annie in "Oklahoma". Kirstie studied on scholarship at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre and attended Jacobs Pillow.
She performed nationally and internationally most notably as the White Cat, Victoria, in Cats and West Side Story in the US, Paris, Rome, Amsterdam, Munich, and Glasgow, Scotland. She served as the Assistant Director for the original Jerome Robbins choreography for West Side Story.
In 2001, Kirstie co-founded North Carolina Dance Institute and has taught thousands of children and adults throughout North Carolina. Students experience a positive and high-energy environment with respect towards traditions and discipline of dance. In 2003, Kirstie was awarded "Community Dance Educator of the Year" by the Dance Association for North Carolina Educators (DANCE). Kirstie trained with the National Dance Institute Teacher Training Program in NYC and believes highly in their teaching methodologies that dance can promote confidence, discipline, enrich children's lives and spark their artistic dreams for the future. Between 2005-2007, Kirstie was appointed by National Dance Institute founder, Jacques d'Amboise, as the Artistic Director for North Carolina Arts In Action. As the founding NCAIA Artistic Director, she choreographed and directed "Moving to the Masters" and "Got Jazz!".





Willie Hinton, a native of New York began dancing at the age of 16 at Enloe Gifted & Talented Magnet High School in Raleigh, NC. He was also a scholarship student at the American Dance Festival Durham, NC (1989). Upon graduating Willie attended the University of the North Carolina School of the Arts Dance (1990). Willie has toured nationally as well as internationally with The Rebecca Kelly Dance Company (NY), Jubilations Dance Company (NY), The Philadelphia Dance Company (Philadanco), and Dance Kaleidoscope (IN). He was also a guest dancer with Chuck Davis’s African American Dance Ensemble (NC), and was a soloist in Binghamton’s New York’s TriCity Opera Company’s production of Samson & Delilah. Among many of Willie’s accomplishments he was nominated and won the "Artsy" award for "Best Choreography’’ in the Richmond community given by Richmond’s VA Theater Critics Choice members for his choreography for the African American Repertory Theater’s "Black Nativity". It was also awarded a citation from Christopher Newport University for being an outstanding educator. The American Dance Festival in Durham North Carolina awarded him the 2013 Dance Professional Workshop scholarship in honor of Baba Chuck Davis. Having studied and danced with legendary choreographers, and teachers, Willie is truly honored to be able to continue on the path, of artistic expression, motivation, and inspiration that was instilled in him, by so many amazing artists. Presently he is on staff at Longleaf School of the Arts, City Ballet and Cary Ballet Conservatory.



Faculty will also include additional guest teachers and artists from Carolina Ballet.