Our Team

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Laura Armistead – Grand Jeté Founder & President

Laura with kidsLaura ArmisteadGrand Jeté barre fitness and boutique is an offering imagined by dancer and artist, Laura Roy Armistead.  Wanting to serve others while remaining passionate about her life’s work, Laura decided to open Grand Jeté in the picturesque English Village of Mountain Brook, Alabama. Laura desired to create a beautiful studio and boutique environment where anyone would feel welcome and excited about engaging in an intense, fun workout.  It is with great happiness that Laura opens Grand Jeté and introduces a superb team, eager to lead you through a workout like no other!

Johanna Dobbin – Instructor – Petit Jeté and Barre

Johanna DobbinsDancing since the age of three, Johanna Dobbin began her training at Children’s Dance Foundation located in Birmingham, Alabama.  After several years of studying various forms of dance, she completed her education in classical ballet under the instruction of Roger Van Fleteren, and her mother, Tara Fasshauer, at the state’s premier ballet school, Alabama Ballet.  Continuing her dedication to health and fitness, Johanna branched out into other forms of exercise and added pilates, yoga, and weight training to her regimen. A graduate of University of Alabama at Birmingham, Johanna studied psychology and accounting before receiving her BS in Psychology.  In the summer of 2011 she married MD/PhD student, Zachary Dobbin, and the couple welcomed their first child, Julia, in March.  With knowledge of various techniques and methods, Johanna’s focus is to encourage a mind and body connection through her teaching.

Whitney Wright Owenby – Instructor – Junior Jeté, Barre, Boutique

Whitney OwenbyWhitney is excited to share her love of health, movement, and style at Grand Jeté.  She has been dancing since the age of 4 and now enjoys Kinesis, yoga, and any upbeat fitness routine.  Growing up in Birmingham, Alabama, she studied ballet at a local studio and continued practicing tap and jazz.  Whitney was a Dorian at Mountain Brook High School and danced in her spare time while attending Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas.  She graduated with a degree in Psychology and has since spent her time working with children.  Her hobbies include interior design, cooking, Auburn football, and playing Wii with her husband.  Whitney and Jason were married in October 2010 and attend Mountain Brook Community Church, where they met.  Whitney is passionate about eating disorder awareness and prevention and hopes to support women in their struggle.  She is eager to help you look and feel your best while experiencing all Grand Jeté has to offer.

Katie Dudley – Instructor – Barre and Boutique

Katie DudleyKatie has more than 10 years of intense dance training at such institutions as American Ballet Theater, Alabama School of Fine Arts, Goucher College, DanceAspen and also professional performing experience with the Alabama Ballet. She attended Goucher College and then earned her Masters in Business Administration from UAB. After working for a number of years in retail merchandise planning at such companies as Gap Inc., Southern Progress and Hibbett Sports, Katie had a son and decided to take some time to focus on family and fitness.  She also loves cookies!

Caroline Russell – Instructor – Yoga and Barre

CarolineI was born in Albany, Georgia where I began dancing at a young age.  My love of dance took me to Atlanta where I attended Georgia State University and joined their ballet company.  I later moved to Athens, continuing my education at the University of Georgia, and met my husband, Jason.  While there, I discovered pilates and yoga.  We now live in Birmingham with our three-year-old son, Jameson.  I’ve been practicing barre at Grand Jeté since April 2011 and am excited to join the team of instructors.  In my free time, I enjoy long walks with my sister, trying new recipes, and entertaining friends.  I look forward to having each of you in class soon!

Christi Myers – Instructor – Barre

Christi MyersChristi is a senior sports medicine major and nutrition minor at Samford University.  She is on the colorguard at Samford, and a former member of the Varsity Track and Field Team.  She spent fourteen years as a competitive gymnast, and is passionate about music, fitness, and serving others.  Christi plans to attend medical school and hopes to open a sports medicine clinic of her own someday, as well as travel to under-served countries to perform medical missions.

 

Caitlin Stone – Instructor – Barre

At the age of eight, Caitlin began studying classical ballet at Children’s Dance Foundation in Birmingham. She continued her training with Alabama Dance Academy, Alabama Dance Theater, and Alabama Ballet School where she studied under notable instructors including Tara Fasshauer, Pamela Merkel, Dame Sonia Arova, Kitty Seale, Haynes Owens, Roger Van Fleteren, and Wes Chapman. Caitlin is a graduate of Auburn University where she earned her Master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology and currently works as a full-time Speech Pathologist with nursing home and rehab patients. Aside from Grand Jeté, she enjoys other forms of fitness such as running, yoga, pilates, and crossfit. She enjoys spending time with her friends, family, and Great Dane. Caitlin is grateful for the opportunity to share her enthusiasm for ballet and fitness with Grand Jeté!

Paige Price – Instructor – Barre

I’m a student at Samford University, majoring in biology with a minor in nutrition. Growing up, I participated in ballet, gymnastics, and cheerleading – however, I was diagnosed with an unfortunate illness that separated me from doing the activities that I love. A few years down the road, I discovered “barre fitness”, and found that it not only helped to heal me physically, but mentally as well. I have a continuously growing passion for the technique and I truly believe that with time and effort, Grand Jeté will benefit anyone! Grand Jeté is an ‘all-in-one’ regime: incorporating grace and beauty with an incredibly effective work-out!

Jenna Witcher – Instructor – Barre

Jenna WitcherGrowing up I was a dancer for six years and a cheerleader for nine years, but it wasn’t until college that my passion for living a healthy lifestyle developed.  I began running on a daily basis, and ran my first half-marathon as a junior in college.  I have learned to love exercising, and I look forward to helping other women truly enjoy getting in shape and accomplishing their goals.  In May of 2011, I graduated from Samford University with a degree in Marketing and Public Relations, and a concentration in Health Care.  The following June I married my best friend and the man of my dreams, Adam!  I’ll go ahead and tell you that these classes will be tough, but I look forward to meeting you and taking this big leap with you

Vivian Givhan – Instructor – Barre

Vivian GivhanVivian Givhan began her dance training at the Birmingham Ballet Academy. She later joined Children’s Dance Foundation’s student ensemble, where she studied ballet and modern dance under Shellie Chambers, Michelle Hamff Knutson, Melissa Turnage, and Rhea Speights.  She graduated magna cum laude from The University of Alabama with a degree in English in May 2013.  She has practiced barre fitness at Grand Jeté since March 2011. She also enjoys weight lifting, yoga, and dancing alone in her apartment to The Rolling Stones. Vivian is honored to be a part of the Grand Jeté team and looks forward to working with the Grand Jeté clients!

Susanna Whitsett – Instructor – Yogalates and Yoga

SusannaSusanna brings a life-long love of movement and dance to yoga instruction. Beginning at age 4, Susanna began ballet in her hometown of Tuscaloosa, Alabama and continued dancing throughout her youth with the Tuscaloosa Community Dancers. Later, she studied dance at Birmingham-Southern College, graduating 1992. For many years following, Susanna taught ballet, gymnastics, aerobics, yoga and Pilates to various ages and stages of dancers and fitness-seekers. She has taught and led workshops for the Birmingham Botanical Gardens, McWane Center, Homewood Community Center, Creative Montessori, the Girl Scouts, the Altamont School, the JCC, Head Over Heels, Villager Yoga, and Children’s Dance Foundation. Susanna teaches regularly for the Mountain Brook YMCA and weekly classes through her own community yoga organization, “Yoga Friends”. Since 2001, Susanna’s focus in teaching has rested with yoga and Pilates. She holds certifications through AFAA, Yoga Kids, and Yoga Ed. Susanna has an appreciation of the changes and challenges brought on through aging and physical circumstances; careful attention to postural alignment, core strengthening, and self-awareness are fundamental in her approach to teaching.

Laura James – Instructor – Barre

Laura JamesLaura began dancing as a child at Mobile Ballet School in Mobile, Alabama. As Laura advanced her training she was selected as a member of the Mobile Ballet Junior Company where she performed in various classical ballets such as The Nutcracker. In high school Laura diversified her dancing experience as a member of her school’s dance team and as a cheerleader. Laura graduated magna cum laude from The University of Alabama in May, 2004 with a major in Finance and a minor in Economics. After college Laura’s love of dance and fitness transitioned into running and strength training. Laura’s strong belief in goal setting and continuously pushing your limits led to her completion of two half marathons.  In 2007 Laura received her Certified Financial Planner’s designation; currently she works as a financial advisor at Chappelle Consulting Group. Laura’s strong belief in social commitment led to her participation in various community activities such as Junior League, Rotaract, and the Financial Planning Association. Laura currently serves on the board for the FPA of North Alabama as the Program Director and is a member of the Junior Board for the Birmingham Botanical Gardens. She lives in Mountain Brook with her husband Clarence James. Laura can’t wait to share her love of dance and fitness with all of Grand Jeté’s clients as she works to help them meet their individual fitness goals.

Donna Christian – Instructor – Yoga

Donna'sTeamPhotoA passionate dancer since the age of seven, Donna left Southern California in ninth grade to study ballet with Dame Sonia Arova and Thor Sutowski at the Alabama School of Fine Arts. She has also studied with Ballet West and the School of American Ballet. Upon graduating from ASFA, she enjoyed a rewarding career with the Alabama Ballet as a soloist and later as principal ballerina, performing leading roles in Nutcracker, Giselle, and Swan Lake among others.

Donna discovered barre classes three years ago and loves how they have helped her regain her dancer’s body. Her latest passion is yoga, which she has been practicing for the past five years, inspired by the strong yoga community in Birmingham. She recently completed her 200-hour Yoga Alliance teacher training at Balance Health Studio in Seagrove Beach, Florida. She teaches a vigorous, soulful vinyasa flow style class, inspired by her dance background and accessible to all fitness levels. She emphasizes breath-initiated movement, honoring your body, moving with precision and grace, great playlists, and a fun, sweaty workout.

She says, “I am am thrilled to be part of the team at Grand Jeté because I think the combination of barre classes and yoga is unbeatable. It calms my mind, keeps my body energized, toned, supple and strong, and reignites my creativity.”