423-476-3030        Heidi@tnyouthballet.com   

  Staff • Tennessee Youth Ballet

The Nutcracker Heidi Longwith
Heidi's dance education began in Cleveland, Tennessee with Carolyn Clark School of Dance. She attended the International Academy of Dance directed by Anna Marie Holmes, and from there Heidi studied at Walnut Hill School of Education and Performing Arts under Sydelle Gomberg. After the completion of her education at Walnut Hill she moved to Georgia and studied with The Atlanta Ballet under the direction of Bobby Barnette, Marrilee Smith, and Mary Munroe. While in Atlanta she attended Robert Archard's City Center where danced as a company member. From Atlanta Heidi moved to New York City where she continued her training at Steps with Doug Caldwell and Zenna Rommett, and Peridance with Margo Sappington. In 2007 Heidi became a Zena Rommett certified Floor Barre Instructor. Currently, she is the Artistic Director of the Tennessee Youth Ballet.

... read more about Heidi

The Nutcracker 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 and is a second grade teacher in Bradley County.

The Nutcracker Ashley Armstrong
Ashley Armstrong began her dance training in San Diego, California at San Elijo Dance Academy's ballet program. Her roles there included the Chinese soloist and Ballerina Doll in the Nutcracker; Balanchines' Symphony in C and Serenade; as well as original contemporary choreography by Benjamin Houk. She performed on stage in Peter Pan as Tinkerbell, as well as in Annie, Fiddler on the Roof, and Caberet. At the age of 13 she began her summer training with some of the largest ballet companies in the nation including the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, the American Ballet Theatre in New York, Kaatsbaan Extreme Ballet and the Boston Ballet. Ashley is well versed in both the Balanchine and Americana Classical Styles of Ballet. In addition to her ballet training she has studied and performed both rhythmic and Broadway tap and jazz. Ashley attended San Francisco State University where she studied Biological Anthropology before she returned back to her hometown. Before moving to Tennessee, Ashley was the Director of Choreography for STAR Repertory Theatre in Escondido, California, where her most recently choreographed shows such as 13 the Musical and Little Shop of Horrors were nominated for "Best Choreography" for the National Youth Arts Awards. In addition, Ashley was the head pre-pointe and pointe teacher of Evolution Dance Center in La Costa, California. Ashley moved to the Chattanooga area in July of 2014 with her husband, Zack. Ashley loves this part of the country, and has made her home here with her husband and their two rescue dogs. Ashley looks forward to once again being able to help students reach their ballet goals and stay strong and healthy for years to come.

The Nutcracker Bethany Marie Kline
Bethany began her dance training at the age of nine. She studied ballet, tap and jazz with Heidi Longwith. She began teaching at the age of eighteen. This fall Bethany will begin her eighth consecutive year teaching with TYB. She has performed numerous shows as a member of the Tennessee Youth Ballet Company. Most notably among them, she has danced multiple roles in the TYB's annual production of the Nutcracker since it first became a Cleveland tradition. She has also danced on several occasions with the Chattanooga Ballet in their production of the Nutcracker. Bethany is twenty-five and married to Taylor Kline with two children, Elizabeth and Zachary. Her favorite style of dance is lyrical.

The Nutcracker Madyson Foster
Madyson Foster began her dance training at Mountain Laurel Studios with Artistic Director, Heidi Longwith. In the summers of 2005 and 2006, she attended Walnut Hill Summer Intensive in Natick, Massachusetts under the direction of Michael Owen. The next summer she attended Orlando Ballet in Tampa for three weeks where she studied under Peter Stark, Bruce Marcs, and Oliver Munoz. For the rest of that summer she studied at Joffrey Midwest in Flint, Michigan with John Magnus and Judy Rice.After attending Joffrey Midwest, she was offered a place in the Joffrey Ballet School in New York. For the Nutcracker seasons of 2007, 2008, and 2009, she was selected to dance the roles of Clara and Sugar Plum Fairy by Heidi Longwith.
She graduated from Cleveland High School as a Raider Scholar, Tennessee Scholar, and with Distinguished Honors.
She attended Mercyhurst College for her freshmen year of college with an academic and dance scholarship. She studied ballet, dance conditioning, and production practicum with Tauna Hunter and Michael Gleason. She was elected to be the Freshmen Dance Representative by her peers. She transferred to Birmingham-Southern College for her remaining college years with an academic and dance scholarship. She graduated in May 2013 with degrees in Dance Performance and Business.


"I began dancing almost as young as I could walk. I became involved with Heidi and Mountain Laurel Studios as a pre-teenager and can honestly say it had a drastic impact on my life. The art and discipline of dance and Heidi's focused instruction molded me in ways I wouldn't recognize until many years later. I pushed myself further than I knew I could go, learned how to stay poised in tough situations, and thought outside of myself as I interpreted and performed Heidi's choreography - all while knowing the expectations were nothing less than 100% discipline, self-control, and personal best. I cherish those lessons and catch myself longing for that regimented time in my life. As a Doctor of Pharmacy, I know that I owe many parts of my work ethic and discipline in no small part to my years dancing under Heidi. I truly consider my time at Mountain Laurel Studios some of the most formative years of my life."
-- Catherine Wattenbarger


"Thanks to Mrs. Heidi and her mentoring, I was set up for life with my dance career. Heidi was the instructor that put me in my first pair of pointe shoes which ignited my desire to dance as a career. She was the first to start me as an assistant teacher which led me to my passion for teaching. She was the one who trained me with excellence so I was able to get my dance degree on scholarship. I have known Heidi since I was very little and have had the pleasure of moving from student and teacher to friend and colleague. I'm incredibly grateful for the part Mrs Heidi and Mountain Laurel Studios (now Tennessee Youth Ballet) have played in my life. Life lessons are learned in dance class, not just plies. I'm so thankful to have had Heidi as a guiding star throughout my life."
-- Jessie Fincher, Artistic Director of Ballet Dalton