The Ballet Center Faculty

Garance Nienhuis, Studio Owner and Director

Garance is passionate about teaching dance & life skills to all her students and makes it a priority to develop a connection with every student. In December 2014, she received the Champion for Youth Award which celebrates and recognizes extraordinary commitment and dedication demonstrated on behalf of youth in the community. She was presented by the Coalition for the Advancement of Student Activities’ Student Leadership Training Program.

Garance began her training at age 8 at the Royal Academy of Dance in The Netherlands before immigrating to the United States in 1980. Garance trained with Gretel van Bruggen, Herci Marsden, Patrick Notaro, and Donald Acevedo.  She danced with the State Ballet of Rhode Island from 1985-1996 where she became soloist in 1992 and and principal dancer in 1994.

In 1996 Garance ventured into the realm of modern dance while working for choreographer Sally Mayo with Sally Mayo & Company Dancers in Disport.  In 1997 she performed as Heloise’s dancing double in the world premier of the musical Rage of the Heart. From 1996-1999 she was a frequent guest artist with Spindle City Ballet.

Garance was a board member of The Bristol Theater Company from 1997-2005 and choreographed their productions of Evita and West Side Story.

Garance started teaching in private studios throughout  New England in 1989 and in 1992-93 she was the Regional Director for Creative Dance for Children, bringing creative movement to children in daycare centers throughout Rhode Island and Massachusetts.  In September of 1997, she opened her own studio in Bristol, Rhode Island. Garance has also been a substitute ballet teacher for the ballet classes Roger Williams University dance program.

Garance resides in Warren with her two daughters, Anneke and Amelie.

Diane Campagna, Instructor

Growing up in Colorado, Diane studied tap, ballet, and jazz at Miller’s Dance Studio. She attended Brigham Young University and the University of Colorado at Boulder where she continued her dance training and began studying ballroom dance and modern.  She started teaching in 1999 at Steppin’ Out Studio in Portsmouth, Rhode Island and has been a member of Dance Masters of America since 2001. In addition to teaching dance, Diane has choreographed and directed numerous productions for the Bristol Theater Company where she serves on the Board of Directors and for Caron Productions. Diane teaches Jazz, Tap and Ballet at The Ballet Center since 2007.

Shane Farrell, Instructor

Shane is a Rhode Island native who studied at the Brae Crest School of Ballet and has performed in most major full-length ballets. His television and film credits include MTV’s MADE, FOX’s So You Think You Can Dance, and the 2010 film Hachi. Shane performed for ten seasons with Island Moving Company including several national and international tours. In 2016 and 2017 he toured Kazakhstan performing at the World Expo in Astana and choreographing a flash mob in metro stations throughout Almaty in a collaboration with IMC, Samruk Dance, and the U.S. Consulate.

His choreography for IMC includes five world premieres: Pheromone, Luminous, Queens Are Made of Distance and Greasepaint, Pavo Cristatus, and Black Moon Lilith, as well as Jack and Jill from Mother Goose. Other choreography includes America’s Junior Miss Pageant, Providence College, Wheaton College and Salve Regina University. We are thrilled to have Shane join return for the 2021/22 Season and will be teaching our Advanced Ballet and All Contemporary classes!

Eivar Martinez, Instructor

Eivar Martinez graduated from the Youth Ballet of Venezuela and was offered a contract with the National Ballet of Caracas under the Artistic Director Vicente Nebrada, where he quickly rose to the rank of principal dancer. He was featured in Nebrada’s Coppelia, Nutcracker, Don Quiote, Swan Lake, Romeo and Juliet, Cinderella, Paquita, Diana and Actaeon, Le Corsaire, Balanchine’s Tchaikovsky Pa De Deux, Nuestros Valses among others.

Eivar has toured Europe, the USA, China and South America. As a finalist competitor in the June 2000 New York International Ballet Competition, critics noted his technical virtuosity and athleticism. Mr. Martinez danced for three years as a member of Tulsa Ballet where he was featured in many classical ballets as well as Lila York’s Celts, Paul Taylor Company B, Balanchine’s Who Cares? and contemporary works by Nacho Duato.

Eivar then joined Festival Ballet Providence as a principal dancer in the 25th season, where he appeared in numerous classical ballets, Anthony Tudor’s Leaves Are Fading, Agnes De Mille’s Rodeo, Spring Waters, and Victor Plotnikov’s Carmen and Coma. Mr. Martinez went on to perform as principal dancer with Dance Alive National Ballet and guest principal artist with Kentucky Ballet Theatre and Minnesota Ballet. Eivar is thrilled to be able to pass on his knowledge and love of classical ballet to inspire our new generation of dancers. We are beyond happy to have Eivar return for his second season and will be working with the Advanced Ballet and Pointe Classes!

Jennifer Cotoia, Instructor

Jen grew up in Bristol, RI where she started ballet at the age of 7 with Garance. She then continued dancing and teaching for Danceworks School of Dance for 20 years including ballet, jazz, contemporary, modern, and tap to all ages. Jen has a BA from Rhode Island College in Elementary Education with a concentration in Special Education. She currently teaches grade 4 in Bristol where she also was the coordinator for the Chance to Dance Program for many years. Jen is a graduate of the Dance Teachers Training of Boston Certification Program and has competed many of her dance groups and soloists in dance competitions earning high scores and special judges awards. Jen has been a substitute teacher at The Ballet Center in the past and is so excited to be able to join the team as the advanced Jazz Instructor! Her daughter, age 3, will also be joining The Ballet Center this fall for her first ballet class.

Anneke St. Angelo, Instructor

Anneke is a Psychology major at the University of Rhode Island and is Garance’s eldest daughter. She started dancing (officially) at her mother’s studio since age 2.5 studying Ballet, Pointe, Jazz, Contemporary, Tap and Hip Hop. Anneke has been an assistant to our Tiny Toes, Fancy Feet and Young Children’s Hip Hop classes for years. In 2018/19 she started working as a Junior Instructor for the Tap/Jazz Combo classes, Fancy Feet Ballet and All Boys Hip Hop!  Anneke has been teaching as a Senior Instructor since 2020.  Her classes are high energy, detail oriented and positive, bringing all her students on a fantastic dancing journey! Anneke teaches the young children’s Tap, Jazz and Hip Hop classes and is super excited to get started with her new groups this year!

Todd Hall, Permanent Guest Instructor

Originally from Barrington, Rhode Island, Todd trained at the School of American Ballet in New York City, Joffrey Ballet School, and the School of the Boston Ballet.  He has performed with Boston Ballet and Washington Ballet and as a guest artist with a numerous American ballet companies. He has danced such roles as Albrecht in Giselle, the Prince in Swan Lake, the Cavalier in The Nutcracker, and Franz in Coppelia. Todd currently teaches and choreographs throughout the Northeast and overseas. Todd has been a guest instructor at The Ballet Center since 1997 working mostly with the advanced levels.

Chelsea Goodman, Junior Instructor

Chelsea is a senior at Mt Hope High School and has been dancing for 13 years, all at The Ballet Center. She has performed such memorable roles as Clara, Dew Drop Fairy, Arabian Variation & Snow Queen in our Nutcracker and this year will perform the role as our Sugar Plum Fairy! Chelsea has been a class assistant to our Tiny Toes and Fancy Feet levels since 2016. Chelsea will be teaching our Saturday Tiny Toes and Fancy Feet classes!

Erin Gildea, Instructor

Erin holds a BA from Butler University in Dance Pedagogy, is the creator and director of the Dance Program at The Wheeler School. She is the Adaptive Dance Teacher for Festival Ballet Providence which teaches dance to children with Down’s Syndrome. She spent a semester abroad at the Rimsky-Korsakov Conservatory in St. Petersburg, Russia and has been a company dancer at Festival Ballet Providence.  She teaches at studios throughout New England and joined our Faculty as a ballet instructor in 2015.

Past and Guest Faculty
  • Todd Hall
  • Roger Fonnegra
  • Patrick Notaro
  • Richard Anton Marsden
  • Donald Acevedo
  • Jordan Nelson
  • Julia Guiheen
  • Amy Burns
  • Katie Wind
  • Ophelia Fernandes
  • Ashley Rice
  • Casey Harkness
  • Gina Carbone
  • Audra Morrow
  • Jessica Fontaine
  • Francesca Bernardo
  • Caley Patton
  • Rodney Gore
  • Timur Kan

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