Mr. Jordan began his early training with William Martin-Viscount and the Fort Worth City Ballet. He also studied with Margo Dean and performed with Ballet Concerto. He trained extensively in Dallas with such teachers as David Kirby, Jane Quetin and Key Meersman. He then moved to the University of Arizona in Tucson where he majored in ballet and modern dance. Upon returning to Texas, he joined the Dallas Metropolitan Ballet under the direction of Ann Etgen and Bill Atkinson, where he spent nearly six years before founding his school, The North Central School of Ballet and the North Central Civic Ballet Company. Mr. Jordan has received and accepted many honors in the field of dance including full scholarships to study with the Kiev Ballet, U.S.S.R., the Joffrey Ballet in New York, and the Hartford Ballet.
He has staged numerous classical works including, The Nutcracker, The Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Paquita. Les Sylphides, Les Patineurs, Giselle and Coppelia as well as many of his own original ballets including, Liberty, Tribute, Baby’s Got The Blues, Etudes on Ivory, Journey and La Danse d'Amour. Mr. Jordan is also well known for his coaching abilities in classical and neo-classical Pas de Deux. He has also choreographed and staged numerous musicals including Rent, Titanic, Chess, Guys and Dolls, Hello Dolly, and Once Upon a Mattress.
He has served as President of the Affiliate groups for the Arts Council of Northeast Tarrant County. He has also served as the Vice-President of Membership for the Dance Council. Mr. Jordan also served on the Board of Directors of Regional Dance America for many years. In 1999, he received the Northeast Arts Treasure Award for outstanding commitment to the arts and education in the community and the prestigious Distinguished Teacher Award from the National Foundation for Advancement of the Arts. Mr. Jordan is also involved in numerous charitable organizations and community groups. He has also served on the Executive Board of Directors for the Greater Keller Chamber of Commerce.
Maura McKenna Larsen
Ms. Larsen joined the staff of North Central Ballet in August 2006.
She was trained at the School of American Ballet and Joffrey Ballet School in New York City. Her professional experience includes dancing as a principal with the State Ballet of Missouri and also as a principal with Fort Worth Dallas Ballet. Maura taught students at the Fort Worth Ballet School, many of whom went on to dance with Fort Worth Ballet and New York City Ballet.
Lea Essmyer is originally from northern New Jersey. She has had most of her ballet training from Master Gabriella Darvash, as well as the Joffrey Ballet School in NYC. She danced with the Dayton Ballet under the direction of Dermot Burke. She has also danced with the Roxey Ballet and Repertory Dance Theatre. Some of her favorite repertory includes, "Walpurgis Night," Paul Mejia's "Serenade in A," Christopher Fleming's "The 3 Musketeers," Septime Webre's "Peter Pan," as well as "Dracula," "Othello," and numerous versions and roles in "Nutcracker." Most recently she had a ballet choreographed on her, "Kaguya Hime." Lea is currently a freelance artist in the DFW area..
Erin King received most of her training at North Central Ballet under Leslie M. Jordan III and Nicole Cook Buyskes. Her favorite performance with the company was Mr.Jordan's original ballet, "Swing Brother Swing." She also spent a summer training at the North Carolina School of the Arts, with Nina Danilova, Warren Conover and B.J. Sullivan. In 2005, she organized and conducted a ballet workshop for underprivileged girls in Gatchina, Russia to share her love of dance. Erin danced at the University of Central Oklahoma with the Kaleidoscope Dance Company under the direction of the late Jamie Jacobson. There, she had the privilege of participating in excerpts from José Limon’s “Psalm,” set by original company member Alice Condadina. Erin is married to a fellow artist, and they have two busy, beautiful children.
Joli Drain embraced a love for dancing as a young child. Motivated by receiving a ballet scholarship from her local studio she became passionate about classical ballet and began training at the Fort Worth City Ballet with William Martin-Viscount and later continued with the Texas Ballet Theatre (formerly Fort Worth Ballet) under the artistic direction of Paul Mejia. She moved to St. Louis and fulfilled a childhood dream of dancing on the stage of the Muny Opera by performing with Italy’s La Scala Ballet Company in its tour of Swan Lake. Having a zeal for working with children, she started her career in teaching dance in 1988. In 2002 she formed a Christian dance program in Louisville, Kentucky named Grace In Motion. The program started with 15 children as a trial and grew to over 60 students in it’s second year. Since returning to Texas in 2004 she has taught in local schools and has volunteered by teaching tap and ballet lessons to the residents of Christ’s Haven for Children.Joli has a degree in early-childhood development from the University of North Texas where she also took ballet and modern dance classes. She is a former kindergarten teacher and homeschool mom. Joli has been married for 18 wonderful years to her high school sweetheart and has four amazing children.
Kirsten began her ballet training in Holland, Michigan, studying under Rick and Lara Faucher, and James and Lucia Martin at Turning Pointe School of Dance. She advanced her summer training at Ballet Magnificat, Ballet Austin and Joffrey Midwest; additionally, Milwaukee Ballet and Gelsey Kirkland Ballet , both on Merit Scholarship.
In 2009, Kirsten joined Milwaukee Ballet II where she performedSpring Fairy in Michael Pink’s world premiere of “Cinderella”,’ in addition to dancing in Pink’s “The Nutcracker”, and Trey McIntyre’s “Wild, Sweet Love.” She also understudied “Lost Boy” for Pink’s “Peter Pan”.
Kirsten then relocated to New York City, honored to be classically coached by Gelsey Kirkland and to perform in her studio company from 2010-2012. Her repertoire included soloist roles in Swan Lake, La Sylphide, La Bayadere, Paquita, Napoli Pas de Six and The Nutcracker,among others.
Ms. Conrad’s tenure at The Sarasota Ballet from 2012-2014 afforded her the privilege of performing ballets in neoclassical and contemporary styles, including George Balanchine’sSerenade, Who Cares, and Four Temperaments. She also danced in Sir Frederic Ashton’s La Fille Mal Garde, Les Rendezvous, Façade, Illuminations and Sarasota’s Sir Frederic Ashton Festival; Antony Tudor’s Gala Performance, Agnes De MillesRodeo and Matthew Hart’s world premiere of John Ringling’s Circus Nutcracker. Ms. Conrad had the opportunity to dance featured roles in recent works by Kelly Yankle, “Ne Me Quitte Pas’, a contemporary Pas de Deux, and Ricki Bertoni’s “RagTop”, a stylized 1920’s ballet.
Kirsten was recognized as an “Ascending Artist” in 2012 by Gaynor Minden, and also photographed for their promotional materials. In July 2011 , she was highlighted inPointe Magazine’s fashion spread. Kirsten also modeled for noted NYC photographer Tatiana Shoan, for 4 window photo installations, commissioned by DUGGAL, 23rd st, NYC, 2012.
Kirsten currently lives in Keller, Texas and is a member of Avant Chamber Ballet under the direction of Katie Puder. She also works Paul Mejia and performs with Mejia Ballet International. Ms. Conrad takes joy in working with young, aspiring artists & is thrilled to join the faculty of North Central Ballet for her second season.