David Keary

Artistic & Executive Director

David Keary began his ballet training with the Jackson Ballet under the direction of Albia Kavan Cooper, and later the first professional dancer under the direction of Thalia Mara. He completed his training at the School of American Ballet, the official school of the New York City Ballet. Mr. Keary was invited by George Balanchine to join the New York City Ballet where he performed the extensive repertoire of the NYCB and performances on the PBS series Dance in America. While a student at the School of American Ballet, he was invited to perform as guest artist to honor Princess Grace of Monaco. Before joining NYCB, he performed with Natalia Makarova’s Company Makarova and Company at the Uris Theatre in New York.
He also appeared in the film, Reflections of a Dancer: Alexandra Danilova. Mr. Keary later joined the Fort Worth Ballet as principal dancer, where he performed ballets by George Balanchine including Allegro Brilliante, Concerto Barocco, Rubies (Emeralds), Scotch Symphony, Square Dance, Who Cares, and works by choreographers such as Lew Christiansen, Lambros Lambrou and Michel Rahn. Upon returning to Mississippi, he completed his undergraduate studies at Millsaps College and later received a Juris Doctorate from Mississippi College School of Law. He was the first legal intern at the Court and later served as a law clerk to Justice James W. Smith at the Mississippi Supreme Court.
In 1994, Mr. Keary transitioned and restructured Ballet Mississippi from a professional company into a professional school. He was appointed Artistic Director of Ballet Mississippi and he choreographed a full-length production of The Nutcracker. Ballet Mississippi presents an annual Spring Gala, which highlights the emerging talent in the school while presenting classical, neoclassical and emerging choreographic works. Guest artists from the New York City Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, Boston Ballet, Miami City Ballet and many other companies have performed with Ballet Mississippi. Ballets performed include Le Jardin Animee from the ballet Le Corsaire, Act II from Giselle and Swan Lake, Act III Sleeping Beauty. Mr. Keary served on the faculty International Dance School of the 2006 USA International Ballet Competition, where he has also taught classes for the competitors since 1998. Mr. Keary teaches throughout the United States and provides consulting work for many ballet schools and performing artists. Aside from his work at Ballet Mississippi, he is a jazz guitarist with Swing de Paris, Jackson’s version of a Hot Club of France which features the gypsy jazz music of Django Reinhardt.

Elizabeth VanDeburgh

Director of Marketing

Elizabeth began her dance training with Ballet Mississippi under the direction of David Keary. She has attended several summer intensive programs including Briansky Saratoga Ballet, The Jilliana School, and the USA IBC’s Dance School. While dancing with Ballet Mississippi, she performed in Swan Lake, Act II Giselle, Le Corsaire, Act III Sleeping Beauty, and The Nutcracker. In 2007, she traveled with members of Ballet Mississippi to Solleftea, Sweden to perform the Pas de Trois des Odalisques from Le Corsaire and Christofori’s Dream for Sweden National Day.
She accepted a scholarship to study dance at Birmingham-Southern College where she received a BA in Dance and a BS in Business Administration. At BSC she studied under Mira Popovich, Ruth Henry, and Teri Weksler. She has choreographed several pieces for the BSC dance program’s student workshop performances. Elizabeth performed Pel Mel at the Alabama Dance Festival in 2008. While at BSC she danced in many original works including Roger Van Fleteran’s Concerto in E, Without Words, Teri Weksler’s Tintinnabulation, and Jacqueline Lockhart’s The Catalyst.
Elizabeth completed her MBA at Millsaps College in 2014. She served as the Participant Coordinator for the 2014 USA International Ballet Competition and as the Vice President of the Friends of the USA IBC Board. She currently has the honor of serving as the Artistic Manager for the 2018 USA IBC.

Julie Moran

Teaches Creative Movement through Foundations I

Julie is a graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi. She obtained her BFA in Dance Performance and Choreography with a minor in Psychology. Much of her studies have included professional performance and technical training, dance composition, artistic development, teaching strategies, and the art of creating an effective and challenging learning environment. Ms. Moran’s teaching philosophy is built on the foundation of diversity through artistic expression, a comfortable yet challenging learning environment, and the establishment of personal relationships with all students in order to foster the highest artistry. Ms. Moran was a member of USM’s Repertory Dance Company for four years.
Ms. Moran performed a work choreographed by Sarah Carlson entitled Vortex at the American College Dance Festival in 2006. She has studied under many artists including Shapiro and Smith Dance Company, Trebien Pollard, Sarah Carlson, Urban Bush Women Dance Company, Ray Schwartz, Diane Stroo, and Mark Heim.

Cherri Barnett

Associate Artistic Director

Cherri Barnett began her dance training with the incomparable Linda Lavander Ford and Madame Cecelia Kelly with the Twin City Ballet of Monroe, LA. Ms. Barnett earned a BFA in dance from Texas Christian University where she also performed with the Fort Worth Ballet under the direction of Fernando Schaffenburg.
In 1982 Ms. Barnett joined Ballet Mississippi’s professional company under the direction of Charles Dickson and Alan Woodard, where she became a principal dancer. She remained with Ballet Mississippi for nine years. Her many ballets include: The Nutcracker, Cinderella, Paquita, Raymonda, Divertimento, Firebird, Graduation Ball, Coppélia, Daughters of Morning, Eventide, Traffic, Snow Maiden, and personal favorites, Alan Woodard’s Reverie and William Dollars’ American classic, Le Combat. Barnett, with Madison Mayor Mary Hawkins Butler, pioneered what is now the Madison Square Center for the Arts, where she has taught dance for 15 years.
In 2003 Ms. Barnett established dance in the curriculum of St. Andrew’s Episcopal School, where she now teaches students from the middle and upper schools. She has served as a dance school administrator for the International Dance School, is a Past President of Friends of the IBC, and currently has the honor of serving on the IBC’s Board of Directors.
Ms. Barnett has also received recognition as an emerging choreographer in the Southwest Regional Dance Association. In 2007 she was invited by Mr. Keary to join Ballet Mississippi.

Anna Simpson

Director of Lower School

Anna Simpson began her dance training in 1997, at Ballet Magnificat, then continued in 2001 at Mississippi Ballet Theatre under the instruction of Susan Stowe, Susan Durrapse, and Courtney Hogue. Throughout high school and the beginning of college, she studied classical ballet as well as worked as an intern and instructor at Ballet Mississippi under the instruction and mentorship of David Keary and Cherri Barnett. During her time at Ballet Mississippi, Anna performed in The Nutcracker, Le Corsaire, Act II Swan Lake, and variations from The Sleeping Beauty.
Following graduation from Clinton High School in 2010, Anna continued her dance career by training with Belhaven University, then the University of Southern Mississippi. Anna relocated to Hattiesburg, MS in 2011 to further her education at USM, receiving her Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication Studies. While in Hattiesburg, Anna taught ballet classes with Stretch-n-Grow, as well as Group Exercise classes with the USM Payne Center. Upon her return to Jackson, MS, Anna has been teaching all levels of ballet students, including the lower school students of Ballet Mississippi.

Board & Staff

Ballet Mississippi Board of Directors

2014 / 2015 Season

Keishunna Randall, President

Stacie Novosel, Vice President

Edward Payne, Secretary

Alex Martin, Treasurer

Shellye Beach

Mary Helen Bowen

Doris Brickell

Barbara Craft, M.D.

Betsy Edge

Cindy Funkhouser

Madeline Katool

Cora Jeanne Miller

Debbie Rayner

Katie Bryant Snell

Margaret Taylor

Cassandra Walter

Van White

Ballet Mississippi Staff:

Artistic and Executive Director, David Keary

Associate Artistic Director, Cherri Barnett

Director of Marketing, Elizabeth VanDeburgh

Director of Lower School, Anna Simpson

Office and Box Office Manager, Lynda Wright

Accountant, Alice Lusk

Guild President (2016-17), Carrie Blount