Directing the Charlotte Youth Ballet for 33 years, Gay Porter has dedicated her life to dance. Mrs. Porter was trained at the Arts Educational School in London, England and began her professional career at Stratford-on-Avon in a musical version of Wind in the Willows. As a member of the British Equity, her career took her to the British Isles and London’s West End for the original productions of The King and I and Kismet. She also danced in Spain with Festival Ballet, the Ballet de M. Grandjear and in Germany. Mrs. Porter’s vast dance career included ﬁlm and television, and she swam and danced in the Esther Williams Spectacular in London.
After coming to the United States, Mrs. Porter danced with the Southern California Ballet. She then moved to Charlotte and danced for six seasons as a resident member of the Charlotte Summer Theater, performing in a different musical every week at Ovens Auditorium. Mrs. Porter has directed works with the Charlotte Regional Ballet, the Central Piedmont Community College and the Charlottetown Players. Her credits include The Hollow Crown, The Glass Menagerie, l’Enfant Prodigue and Trial by Jury. Mrs. Porter has choreographed many Charlotte Opera productions, the Lollipop Concerts with the Charlotte Symphony, and over thirty ballets for Youth and Regional Ballets. She founded the ballet department at Central Piedmont Community College where she taught for thirteen years.
As Artistic Director of the CYB, Mrs. Porter has created and/or produced over 30 Nutcrackers and numerous storybook ballets. In addition to her non-proﬁt work, Mrs. Porter continues to operate and teach at her highly reputed school, the Charlotte School of Ballet. She has prepared many dancers for professional or pre-professional careers; and she has been a role model and mentor for hundreds of others. In 1994, Mrs. Porter received the prestigious North Carolina School of the Arts Teacher of the Year Award.
Since she danced as a child with Baryshnikov and the NYC Ballet and performed at the White House for President Carter, Bridget has made dance and performance a priority.
She has danced with the Louisville Ballet, North Carolina Dance Theater and Ocala Ballet and made many guest performances. She has toured the US performing industrial shows and summer stock roles. As an actor, Bridget appeared on All My Children and Guiding Light. As a choreographer, she has worked on many musicals and ballets including South Pacific, The King and I, and Big River. She also choreographed and directed the Nutcracker for Pueblo Ballet in Colorado and South Dakota. Her short ballet works have been selected and performed at the North Carolina School of the Arts Festival of Dance in Winston Salem sixteen times. Bridget holds the Teaching Certificate of the Royal Academy of Dance, London, England. She is a licentiate of the Cecchetti Council of America and is also current President of their Southeast Committee. She is an affiliate of the American Academy of Ballet, and is certified in the ABT National Training Curriculum for levels pre primary through grade three. Bridget currently teaches dance at her school The Belmont School of Ballet in Belmont, NC.
Mary McCort Reed was raised in Kingsport, TN and began dancing at the age of five under the direction of Charles Ryburn. She continued her instruction in ballet with Karen Gibbons-Brown at the Kingsport Guild of Ballet. While attending the University of Tennessee Mary was invited to perform with the Appalachian Ballet, where she first performed in The Nutcracker.
After graduating with her bachelors degree in Architecture, Mary moved to Cleveland, TN. While there she developed a beginner adult and young dancer ballet program for the Cleveland YMCA. Mary moved to Charlotte in 2007 and soon found Ms. Porter and the Charlotte School of Ballet.
Mary and her daughter, Raleigh, became a part of the Charlotte School of Ballet family and shortly thereafter joined the Charlotte Youth Ballet.
She has enjoyed many years of teaching ballet and performing alongside her daughter. Mary is very excited to be making this move and taking on the role of Ballet Mistress for the Charlotte Youth Ballet.