With her formal training in both Cecchetti and Royal Academy of Dance styles, “Miss” Sandy’s life has revolved around the ballet. Born in West Palm Beach most of her training was with mentor “Miss” Chela Jacobo in Stuart, Florida. After getting a taste of professional training at the Ballet Etudes Repertory Company in Norwalk, Connecticut Sandy began teaching and found her career. In her travels, she taught dance throughout the Middle and Eastern United States before moving to the BVI in 1987. Realizing the need for artistic outlets, especially for the children of the community, Mrs. Lyons founded the BVI Dance School. Together with a staff of qualified and remarkable teachers, Mrs. Lyons has watched the BVI Dance School grow from just a handful of students to the successful and recognized school that it has become.
“Miss” Sandy later founded the BVI Children’s DanceFest which is a favorite of the Community drawing large crowds annually to this live performance. With the success and popularity of the DanceFest, “Miss” Sandy, along with several community members, realized the opportunity to help foster, enhance and support the performing art of dance by founding the BVI DanceFest Committee and Fund. This organization provides scholarships and financial aid to local dancers and groups as well as supports events that contribute to dance education of the people of the BVI.
has been dancing since the age of four under the direction of Ms. Sandy Lyons at the BVI Dance School where she is now an instructor. Sylvanna is also employed at the Elmore Stoutt High School where she teaches both English and Theatre Arts. A graduate of the H. Lavity Stoutt Community College, Class of 2014, Sylvanna ultimately plans to pursue a Bachelor’s Degree in Performing In her leisure time, she enjoys dancing, singing, acting, reading, modeling and, of course, pageantry.
Born in Nairobi, Kenya “Miss” Jo-Ann’s first dance teacher, Russian born Madam Zerchovich was her mentor from the age of 4 along with Eileen Keegan, whom she met in Durban, South Africa when her family left East Africa in 1966. Miss Keegan taught Ms Downing the Love of Dance. Trained and qualified as an Advanced Cecchetti Method teacher, she joined The National Arts Performing Council in 1996 (Durban) where she danced professionally for several years before going on to perform in Europe. Jo-Ann then moved into Contemporary Dance, Flamenco, Hip Hop and Jazz and joined a touring Dance Group before opening her own Ballet School in Durban. “Miss” Jo-Ann has now lived on Tortola for the last 17 years and has been an Advanced Class teacher, with the BVI Dance School, for much of this time.
Heather Butcher has been involved in dance for over thirty years. “Miss” Heather is a native of Barbados and has trained there, as well as in Jamaica and the USA. She has conducted several workshops across the Caribbean and has traveled extensively with the Barbados Dance Theatre Company. Ms. Butcher relocated to the BVI in 1993 and has been sharing her experience and knowledge with the BVI Heritage Dancers, The St. Georges School and Liturgical Dancers, as well as teaching with the BVI Dance School.
Originally from Trinidad and Tobago, Amanda began dancing at age four at the Caribbean School of Dance in Trinidad. There, she studied extensively in ballet, jazz, modern. She continued her love of dance, earning degrees in Accounting and Dance from the University of South Florida in Tampa. There, she worked with several wonderful instructors, who danced in companies such as Alvin Ailey Dance Company, The Anna Sokolow Company, David Dorfman Dance, American Ballet Theatre and many others. She continued her studies in New York City, California, Miami, Bolivia, Brazil and Costa Rica. Amanda has worked with many choreographers such as Maria Colaco, John Malashock, Jeanne Travers, Jen Salk, and John Parks. She has trained with Jana Hicks, the Moving Current Dance Company, Shapiro and Smith Dance Company and Ana Prada.
These days Amanda shares her love of dance as owner of Frangipani where she teaches Aerial Arts and dance. She also teaches with the BVI Dance School, Firebird Performing Arts and choreographs for the CADA Players group in the BVI.
Sarah Holt Jones
Born Durban, South Africa 1984, Sarah started dancing at the age of 5. She was trained by her mother, Jo-Ann Downing and had the opportunity to perform in many shows during her primary and high school years. After gaining a degree in Hotel School, Sarah realized that she had not satisfied her passion for dance and so she returned to Tortola, 6 years ago, whereby she has continued her dance career. She is now a dance teacher, training with Sandy Lyons at the BVI Dance School, becoming one of many alumni students to return to the BVI to teach there.
Sara Smith was raised in the BVI, and has trained in multiple styles of dance including Ballet, Contemporary, Modern, Hip Hop, Afro-Caribbean, Dancehall and many more. She has been a part of The BVI Dance School as a student since 2007 and became a dance teacher in 2014. She has participated in dance crews: JAD, Geek Squad and Tune House and has performed for multiple BVI Events over the years; such as the annual BVI Dance Fest, CADA Players Productions, Galas, Shows and many more venues. She is currently pursuing her career as a professional dancer and hopes to continue to share her knowledge in the performing arts community. When not teaching in the BVI, she studies dance at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, where she will graduate with a BFA in Dance in 2021.