Ashleigh Yvette Whitworth was born and raised in Marietta, GA, and began her formal dance training at the Ruth Mitchell Dance Studio (now Georgia Dance Conservatory) at age seven. In 2007, Ashleigh moved to Philadelphia to attend The University of the Arts under the Presidential Scholarship and Stone Dance Scholarship. Performance highlights at UArts include dancing principal roles in the works of Twyla Tharp, Louis Johnson, and William Forsythe. Ashleigh graduated in May 2011 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Modern Dance Performance and a Minor in Philosophy and Religion, earning the Stella Moore Prize for Four-Year Achievement, Outstanding Performance in Modern Dance, Outstanding Performance in All Dance Styles, the Choreography Prize, and the President's Award. She also had the honor to address the University of the Arts Graduating Class of 2011 as the Valedictory Speaker. Ashleigh has previously danced with Zane Booker's Smoke, Lilies and Jade Arts Initiative (Philadelphia, PA) and Heidi Cruz's Dance Spora (Trenton, NJ); she has also worked as rehearsal director for UArts on projects under Douglas Becker (Ballet Frankfurt) and Sidra Bell (Sidra Bell Dance NY).
In 2014, Ms. Whitworth was named Artistic Director of GA Metro Dance Theatre (previously Ruth Mitchell Dance Theatre). She currently teaches at Georgia Dance Conservatory.
Assistant Artistic Director
Gray Stoner was born and raised in Atlanta and started dancing at age seven. She originally got into ballet to help her gymnastics training but quickly fell in love with the art of dance. From then on, Gray received her dance training from Georgia Dance Conservatory (formerly Ruth Mitchell Dance Theatre). She received additional training from The Joffrey Ballet, Nashville Ballet, Complexions Contemporary Ballet and was selected to participate in Regional Dance America's Craft of Choreography.
Ms. Stoner continued dancing and her education at The University of Arizona where she graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance and a minor in Elementary Education. While completing her BFA, she performed in signature pieces of highly regarded choreographers including Sam Watson, James Clouser and George Balanchine.
After graduation, she became a company member of Atlanta Dance Collective and started teaching at Georgia Dance Conservatory. In 2016, she accepted the position of Assistant Artistic Director of GA Metro Dance Theatre.
Lisa A. Toups
Artistic Director Emeritus
Lisa A. Toups is an experienced and award winning teacher and choreographer. She is certified by Dance Masters of America and her choreography has been featured by the Southeast Regional Ballet Association. She was recognized at the International Dance Festival in Los Angeles, California for her dedication to the art of dance, her unique style of choreography and her promotion of anti-violence through dance. Several of Ms. Toups' students have performed professionally with leading dance companies and on Broadway. She has coached students into the finals of the Youth Grand Prix and other technical dance competitions. Whether it is a full scholarship to a dance college or acceptance into a professional company, her students are consistently prepared for any dance endeavor they choose.
Ms. Toups is a past faculty member of the Cobb County Center for Excellence in Performing Arts at Pebblebrook High School and has been the featured jazz instructor for the Georgia Governor's Honors Program. She serves on the advisory board of the Kennesaw State University Dance Department. Ms. Toups is the Artistic Director Emeritus of the Georgia Metropolitan Dance Theatre and is currently the Director of Georgia Dance Conservatory, both located in Marietta.
"Lisa Toups is a master teacher and choreographer. With her innate sense of creativity, she is able to create dances that showcase the incredible talents and skills of her dancers."
~ Earl Reece
Executive Director of The Strand Theatre
Chair of the Education Task Force for the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre