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For over three decades, CARE Ballet has stood as a beacon in the dance community. We're not simply an institution; we're a platform where your ballet skills come alive on stage. Our dedicated Directors and exceptional instructors are celebrated for their devotion to fostering well-rounded dancers, guiding growth in both technique and artistry. We're thrilled to partner with families like yours on this journey.

CARE Ballet Directors

Mary Jo Priest has been teaching throughout West Michigan since 2001. After training on scholarship at the School of the Grand Rapids Ballet, she was a company apprentice. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Dance from GVSU in 2007. Throughout her training, Mary Jo performed soloist roles in the Nutcracker, Cinderella, Les Patineurs, Sleeping Beauty, Giselle, and the principal role in George Balanchine’s “Valse Fantasie.” She also participated in workshops such as Joffrey Midwest and the Paul Taylor Summer intensive in NYC. Mary Jo has performed locally with DITA (Dance in the Annex) and she was cofounder and choreographer for the Grand Rapids Dance Project. She also teaches modern and jazz but her true passion is classical ballet. Mary Jo has helped to facilitate and choreograph for many children’s ballet productions including The Nutcracker, Don Quixote, Swan Lake, Cinderella, Coppelia and Sleeping Beauty. Her former students have moved on to win awards, scholarships and professional dance opportunities. Mary Jo is excited to be joining the faculty at CARE Ballet.

After 25 years of inspiring young dancers on stage, Mrs. Genson-Wadsworth retired as Artistic Director of CARE during the 2017-18 season. She began her training locally with Florence Cassell, Zita Harris, and Sally Seven. She continued her studies in New York City with Vincenzo Celli, himself a student of Enrico Cecchetti. She also took instruction in the Russian technique from Richard Thomas and Barbara Fallis. Genson toured New York and New Jersey with the Young Ballet, an ensemble group which performed lecture demonstrations and classical variations from most of the white ballets. After her return to Grand Rapids, Judy joined Grand Rapids Civic Ballet in 1972 where she was principal dancer performing virtually all of the works in the Company’s repertoire. She was named the director of Grand Rapids Civic Ballet Junior Company at its inception in 1981 and assistant to the director of the main Company in 1982. After hanging up her toes shoes in 1987, Genson was the Acting Artistic Director until she became the Company’s Business Manager.

In addition to being Technical Director/Production Manager for CARE, Trent Wadsworth is the Manager and Technical Director for the East Grand Rapids Performing Arts Center and manages Pioneer Auditorium in East Grand Rapids. Trent works with Creative Mercenaries and has worked with Grand Rapids Civic Theatre, Circle Theatre, Grand Rapids Jewish Theatre, Grand Valley State University, Grand Rapids Ballet, Cornerstone College, West Michigan Jazz, and is a member of the United States Institute of Theatre Technology.

CARE Ballet Board of Directors

Gerri Rhein - President

Jaci Tyler - Vice-President

Justin Foster - Treasurer

Secretary - Sarah Hodgkins

Dianne Brady-Peters

Amanda Carton

Kristy Greenberg

Judy Genson-Wadsworth

Trent Wadsworth

CARE Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Statement

CARE Ballet is dedicated to fostering a diverse, inclusive, and equitable workplace where everyone, regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, identity, education, or disability, feels valued. We are committed to providing equal employment opportunities and advancement in all departments and programs, valuing diverse life experiences, and ensuring all voices are heard. As leaders in the nonprofit sector, we strive to model diversity and inclusion, actively addressing any inequities within our policies, systems, and services. Our commitment includes pursuing cultural competency, transparent communication, expanding diverse leadership, and advocating for policies that promote diversity, inclusion, and equity. This aligns with our mission and reflects our dedication to cultural equity.

CARE Statement of Non-Discrimination Policy

CARE Ballet is committed to non-discrimination in all activities and operations, ensuring an inclusive environment. As an equal opportunity employer, we actively oppose discrimination in employment based on various factors, and we participate in AccessGR, a program promoting accessibility to arts and cultural experiences. Our performances at the East Grand Rapids Performing Arts Center comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

CARE Ballet Non-Profit Information

We are committed to maintaining transparency in our financial operations, ensuring that every dollar donated is utilized effectively and responsibly to further our mission.

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