Sarah Westhora

Sarah Westhora

Ballet Director/Vice President
Since 1988, Sarah has contiguously studied various styles of dance, including classical ballet, tap, and ballroom. Sarah began serious ballet training when 8 years old. Studying under Artistic Director Susan Connally, Sarah performed with the San Antonio Metropolitan Ballet (formerly the San Antonio Dance Theater) as a junior apprentice. She then studied with Julie Rutherford Blacksten and danced with the Classical Ballet Academy in Norman, Oklahoma.
While in college, Sarah danced as a ballroom team member of the Pacific Ballroom Dance Company in Washington under the tutelage of Cheri Ponder and Paul Hart. Sarah studied briefly at the Cache Valley School of Ballet in Logan, Utah. She also trained with Patrice Degraff, an instructor in the Imperial Russian method. She has attended Master Classes at the San Fransisco Ballet, the Denver Ballet, and Ballet West.

In August of 2007, Sarah moved to Tooele County with her husband Darren and three children. She has since instructed hundreds of youth and adults in classical dance and directed multiple performances of: Nutcracker 2008-2011, 2013-2015; Sleeping Beauty 2009, 2013; Swan Lake 2010, 2014; Cinderella 2011, 2015; Giselle 2012; as well as her own ballet based on Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol (2012).

In addition, Sarah has coached ensemble groups, pas de deux and soloists for Youth America Grand Prix competitions hosted by the San Francisco Ballet, Colorado Ballet, and Ballet West.

Sarah bases her instruction on a comprehensive syllabus, drawing from the major schools and methods of ballet: French, Bournonville, Cecchetti, Vaganova, and Balanchine. She strongly feels classical ballet training to be the foundation of all other types of dance and a vital part of every dancer’s repertoire.

Melinda Palmer

Melinda Palmer

Melinda Palmer

Instructor

Melinda Palmer has loved the arts as long as she can remember. She began her formal training at the age of 4 in Southern California. In high school she was the dance captain for Show Choir and studied classical ballet extensively at the Inland Pacific Ballet Academy in Montclair, California. While at IPBA she also had a chance to study jazz, character, modern, and Pilates, trained by Kelly Lamoureux, Sarah Spradlin and Victoria Koenig, co-founder of the Los Angeles Chamber ballet. Throughout college, Melinda also studied modern, folk dance and of course, ballet. As a young mother, Melinda tried to take any opportunity to dance at the community schools of Reparatory Dance Theater and Ballet West in Salt Lake City. Melinda moved to Tooele in 2006 with her husband Jason and one daughter, and has been blessed with three more children since that time. She is a senior at USU-Tooele, studying Accounting and Economics.

Melinda found Tooele Valley Academy of Dance in 2009 and was immediately impressed to find ballet being taught so masterfully to the youth of Tooele County. Her oldest daughter began studying under Sarah Westhora in 2011. Melinda was a member of TVAD’s company in 2013-2014, and danced the role of the Sugar Plum Fairy in Nutcracker 2013 and Mother Queen in Swan Lake 2014. Melinda has had the opportunity to teach on occasion at TVAD and is thrilled to be able to join Ms. Sarah in teaching the youth of Tooele County the rich profusion of benefits that come from the love of and participation in the arts.

Christin Saling

Christin Saling

Christin Saling

Instructor

Christin Saling is a mother of four wonderful girls, all of whom attend Tooele Valley Academy of Dance. She has performed with TVAD as the Mouse King in two previous Nutcracker productions and as Rothbart, the evil sorcerer in Swan Lake 2014. She continuously performs with various musical theatres throughout the Salt Lake area and locally with LaForge Encore Theatre Company. She teaches preschoolers as her day job, focusing on those with special needs. Christin started dancing at the age of 5 with Pamela Giles here in Tooele and focused primarily on ballet until she was 11. Since then she has studied with four additional ballet instructors as a youth and through college. While the majority of her dance experience comes from theatre she has also trained in gymnastics and tumbling. Performing on stage she has learned a little bit of everything; ballet, ballroom, jazz, modern, tap, and of course “broadway.” That makes her quite an eclectic addition to TVAD. Through her love of the theatre she has realized that it takes performing from the inside out to make you the best. Her hope is to create well rounded dancers who are passionate, animated, and captivating.

Andrea Rawlings

Andrea Rawlings

Instructor

Andrea Rawlings grew up in Orangeville, Utah, in a house with five brothers and no sisters. To help balance out the testosterone, she began to study ballet at the age of five. She immediately fell in love and spent the rest of her childhood dancing whenever and wherever she could, including down the aisles of the grocery store while her mother shopped.

Andrea studied ballet for sixteen years at the College of Eastern Utah (Now USU Eastern) under Carolyn Gwythers and Kandice Olsen. She attended CEU as a college sophomore for one year, then left the stage in 2000 to pursue a degree at Utah State University. There she met Jeremy Rawlings, the love of her life, and the two were married in the fall of 2002. They have lived in Tooele for ten years and are currently doing their best to raise five terrible, wonderful children.

At Utah State Andrea became involved in service groups and developed a deep love of service. When she moved to Tooele she started a non-profit group to help local families fighting cancer. She is the president and director of Kickin’ Cancer’s Can, which is now coming up on its seventh year.

Andrea loves Tooele Valley Academy of Dance and their classic approach to ballet. She is happy to return work with and guide all the amazing young talent TVAD has to offer.

Madisen Liddell

Madisen Liddell

Instructor

Madisen Liddell has been dancing since she was 3 years old in various styles of dance. She joined TVAD in 2011 and has been studying ballet ever since under the direct tutelage of Ms. Sarah. Madisen has been an assistant instructor for the past four years. She has performed as a soloist in many of the Academy’s productions including the roles of prima ballerina Ebene Star in A Christmas Carol Ballet this past winter and the title role of Giselle last spring. She has also performed as Sugar Plum Fairy, Nutcracker 2015, Spring Fairy, Cinderella 2015; Odile, the Red Swan, Swan Lake 2014 and Fairy of Purity, Sleeping Beauty 2013. Madisen danced a contemporary ballet number at YAGP Colorado 2015 as well as Cupid’s Variation from Don Quixote and performed at Capital Theatre last year, dancing a Pas de Deux from both Le Corsaire and Giselle, as well as a Variation from La Raymonda and a Contemporary Ballet Solo. In addition to instructing and performing, Madisen plans on double majoring in nursing and dance throughout college.