Sean France, Artistic Director
Sean France, a third generation performer and teacher, was raised in a well-known theatrical family. A family whose history includes grandparents and vaudevillians Jerome & France. Sean’s father Richard France, a renowned Broadway performer and dancer, and Sean’s mother, choreographer and performer Ellen Ray, whose credits include working with Jack Cole, Bob Fosse, Jerome Robbins, Fred Astaire and Sean’s Late godfather, the incomparable Gene Kelly. Sean’s dance training began with his parents at the France Academy of Dance. At the age of nine he began to study ballet, tap and jazz. In 1978 and 1979, Mr. France was awarded full summer scholarship to the San Francisco Ballet School. In 1981 he was awarded a full scholarship and monetary stipend to study at the Houston Ballet Academy. He finished his studies at the Centre International de Dans with Rosella Hightower, in Cannes, France. Mr. France graduated from the CID where he performed the lead roles of Hightower’s Coppelia and Bejart’s Firebird.
Mr. France has danced principal and soloist roles with the following ballet companies: the Royal Swedish Ballet, the Norwegian National Opera Ballet, Ballet Nuevo Mundo of Caracas, the National Ballet of Venezuela, the Athen’s Ballet of Greece, Cleveland Ballet, Oakland Ballet and the Grand Rapids Ballet. In addition, Mr. France has been principal guest performer with numerous regional, civic and international companies and ensembles. The San Francisco Chronicle states “Sean France was a stand out! He shows cool charm and vast reserves of elegance. His pirouettes and lively landings were among the evening nicest pleasures” (The San Francisco Chronicle 1997). Besides Mr. France’s training and dance experience he is also a diverse and talented choreographer. His works are dramatic, passionate and unforgettable.
Recently, France has turned toward directing. In 2000 he was appointed Visiting Professor of Dance at Grand Valley State University where he helped create the GVSU dance program from its inception. He was also choreographer for Grand Valley Opera Theater, and Ballet Master of the GVSU Dance Ensemble. In 2004, after auditioning with the Cedar Lake Ensemble in New York City, Mr. France was engaged as Ballet Master for Cedar Lake II Ballet Company. Then, in 2006, France co-founded the Missouri Contemporary Ballet, a professional company located in Columbia, Missouri. In 2006 he was also asked to build a dance program at Presser Performing Arts Center in Mexico, Missouri, and in 2007 he started Dance Studio of Columbia in Columbia, MO. After returning to Michigan in 2011, he opened the Studio France School of Dance in Montague, MI, where he is currently owner and director. France teaches all levels of ballet, pointe technique, men’s ballet technique, variations and pas de
Jennifer has been dancing since age 3, and has trained in ballet, jazz, and tap throughout her life. She furthered her training at Studio France in 2011 and began teaching in fall of 2012. Jennifer is an award winning photographer and an amazing artist. She teaches all levels of ballet and can also teach tap and jazz.
Austin Panavong is a freelance dancer, choreographer, and teacher from Zeeland, Michigan. They have attended the University of Kansas and Western Michigan University for dance with focuses in contemporary choreography and performance as well as lighting design for dance. Currently, they are based in the West Michigan area teaching and choreographing at various studios and programs for dance.