The Creative Arts Guild Dance Department 2016 Faculty

The Creative Arts Guild Dance Department is excited to announce its staff for the 2016-17 school year.  In addition to Guild Dance Director Jessie Fincher, Paige Retchko will be returning for her fourth season with the dance department as our Assistant Dance Director.

Jessie FincherJessie Fincher Dance Pose

Guild Dance Director and Guild-North Center Director has an extensive background in Classical Ballet, Pointe, Modern, Jazz and Tap Dance. She began her dance training at the age of 3. Over the years she has worked with such notable instructors as Robert Barnett (Former Artistic Director of Atlanta Ballet), Mary Munro (RAD), Maniya Barredo (Joffrey Ballet, Atlanta Ballet), Nicholas Pacana, Cornelius Carter and Carl Ratcliff. Her studies continued with Diane Callahan (San Francisco Ballet), Carol Smiarowski, Heidi Longwith, Stanislav Issaev (Moscow State Ballet Theater), Amy Card Lillios, Andrea Pell, Vincas Green, Jolie Long and Martha Goodman.

In 1999, Ms. Fincher earned her B.F.A. in Dance Pedagogy from Brenau University after being awarded a four year dance merit scholarship. Her studies included Ballet, Modern and Jazz Techniques, teaching internships with Gainesville School of Ballet, Ballet Terminology, Anatomy and Physiology, Kinesiology for Dancers, Music for Dancers and Improvisation as well as Dance Practicum, Choreography and extensive performance credits. While attending Brenau University, she performed soloist roles with Gainesville Ballet and Brenau Dance Ensemble as well as making guest appearances on other projects. Ms. Fincher was also a substitute dance instructor for Brenau University and Gainesville School of Ballet.

Since moving to this area, Ms.Fincher has taught and choreographed for Dalton School of Ballet, Baker-VanCura Ballet Centre, Mountain Laurel Dance Studios, Bessy Smith Hall and created a dance program for The Lutheran School in Chattanooga, TN. She has also judged for the state of Georgia in the Georgia Governor's Honors program for many years.  Ms. Fincher also served 3 terms as well as two additional guest terms as a dance panelist for Georgia Council for the Arts. Since 2001 and prior to joining the Guild, she owned and directed Dalton School of Ballet and Ballet Dalton. In 2005, she merged Dalton School of Ballet with the Creative Arts Guild and became the Director of Dance.  In addition to her position with the Guild, she is also an adjunct professor at the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga teaching Dance Tech I and II classes.


Paige RetchkoPaige Retchko

Paige Retchko received her early training in St. Marys, Georgia under Monica Harris. Some of her early performance credits include Chinese Soloist, Marzipan, and Sugarplum Fairy from "The Nutcracker Suite." Later, she attended Brenau University Women's College where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Dance Studies. While at Brenau, Paige studied Ballet from Carol Smiarowski, Dianne Callahan, and Nikki Bybee; she also learned the joys of Modern dance from Vincas Greene and Jolie Long. Paige was a member of the Brenau Dance Ensemble, an educational outreach program that created lecture-demonstrations to encourage dance in education. She also performed in several student concerts and faculty concerts while in college. Paige was a member of several guest choreographer pieces including "Joiners" by Melanie Lynch of Zoetic Dance Ensemble and "Newspapers" by Gladys Bailin who trained under Alwin Nikolai. Some of her favorite pieces have included "Dixit Diem" by Vincas Greene and "Les Fleurs" by Jolie Long. Paige also spent a summer at the American Dance Festival, where she took part in "The Pearl Primus Project" overseen by Ursula Payne. While there she also trained with Brenda Daniels, formerly of the Merce Cunningham School, and Makehda Tomas, from Urban Bush Woman. Other training experiences include Roger Belman, Mark Dendy, and Gerri Houlihan, Lonnie Davis, and Matthew Rose.  Paige is returning for her fourth season as a Guild dance department staff member.


Heather Hayes

Heather Hayes has been dancing since the age of three. She received her instruction in ballet, jazz, and tap at Mountain Laurel Studios in Cleveland, Tennessee with Heidi Longwith, Ballet Tennessee in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and summer intensives including Walnut Hill, American Ballet Theatre, Nashville Ballet, and Governor’s School for the Arts. She was a principal dancer for the Appalachian Ballet Company for ten years.  She has been seen as the Arabian Princess, Snow Queen, and Marzipan in The Nutcracker. Mrs. Hayes has also danced the Prayer solo variation in Coppelia, a fairy in Sleeping Beauty, a soloist in Paquita, and Snow White in Snow White. She has formerly taught tap and jazz at Van Metre School of Dance for six years, and currently teaches ballet at Tennessee Youth Ballet. Mrs. Hayes also obtained a bachelor’s and master’s degree in education from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville and is a second grade teacher in Bradley County as well as pursuing a doctorate in administration.  Heather joined the Creative Arts Guild Dance Department in 2016.


Christopher ShawChristopher Shaw

Christopher Shaw, from Chattanooga, TN is a Hip Hop dancer with 19 years of experience. Chris started dancing at the age of 5 and has extensive experience in contemporary forms like popping, locking, breakdance, and waving; he also has an impressive background in Choreography and in Competition.