About Us


Our History

The River City School of Dance and the River City Youth Ballet Ensemble were established in 1995 by Michelle Raider. Since that time, the School and Ensemble have provided quality dance education to hundreds of area students. The School and Ensemble are headquartered at 4110 MacCorkle Avenue, SE, in Charleston, but promote dance throughout the State of West Virginia through out-reach programs and performances. The Ensemble is recognized as the Official Youth Ballet for the State of West Virginia by order of the West Virginia Legislature.

Our Founder

Ms. Raider was a student of Andre Van Damme in Charleston, WV, at an early age, then continued her dance education at the Walnut Hill School for the Arts in Boston, Massachusetts, graduating with a major in dance. After high school, Raider studied with Nicholas Pacana and the Atlanta Ballet, and David Howard and L’Ecole Superior of Montreal. She has danced with the Charleston Ballet and the Boston Ballet and has taken lead roles in several productions, including Sleeping Beauty in New York City. She has been teaching since 1993. In 2008, she was featured on the cover of the West Virginia Executive magazine as one of their class of Young Guns.

The River City School of Dance

The School offers classes for kids aged three and up, including pre-ballet/tap and jazz funk, which is a precursor to hip-hop. Older dancers can take classes in tap, jazz, hip-hop, contemporary and ballet. Dancers aged seven and up can audition for roles in many productions a year, in addition to the school’s recital. The instructors of these classes have wide experience and credentials. One holds the advanced certificate from the Royal Academy of Dancing in London. Another studied with the Lexington Ballet and the Radford University Ballet Company. Another, in addition to college study in dance, trained with choreographers from “So You Think You Can Dance”. Another was privately coached by a former principal dancer with the Atlanta Ballet. Another, in addition to a bachelor’s degree in Dance, had four years of training in New York City. Two other current intructors, we are proud to say, started their dance training at the River City Youth Ballet Ensemble.
Watch this site for information on August open houses and registration. The School season begins around the time school starts, but students can enroll in
classes at any time.

The River City Youth Ballet Ensemble (RCYBE)

The RCYBE is a non-profit organization registered as a charitable organization with the West Virginina Secretary of State’s Office. It is a pre-professional ballet company for dancers ages 11 to 22 in Kanawha and surrounding counties.

Our Mission

Our mission is to provide West Virginia youth with a high-quality dance education while giving our communities access to the live arts.

Our Motto

West Virginia Dancers for West Virginia Audiences

The RCYBE frequently performs with other youth organizations, such as the WV Youth Symphony and the Appalachian Childrens Choir. As further service to our communities, the RCYBE frequently performs at various other venues, such as library programs, FestivALL, Charleston Town Center, Tamarack, Snowshoe Institute, Multi-Cultural Festival, Museum in the Community, the Mound Festival, Clay County High School, Montgomery, and Clendenin.
Our students have performed in the Moscow Ballet’s production of the Great Russian Nutcracker and a tour company’s local production of “The Wizard of Oz”. Nina Danilova of the North Carolina School for the Arts, Peter Frame of the New York City Ballet, and teachers from the Moscow Ballet have held summer classes at the studio, drawing dancers from all areas of the State.
Company members have been accepted to notable summer dance programs, including Boston Ballet, School of the New York City Ballet, American Ballet Theater, Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, Walnut Hills School of Performing Arts, Virginia School of the Arts, School of the Washingon Ballet, Ballet Met, and Interlochen. Dancers have also won scholarships to take classes at the Joffery Ballet, North Carolina School for the Arts, Pointe Park College Summer Dance Program, Cedar Lakes Fine Arts Camp, and the WV Dance Festival.
The Ensemble traditionally offers a fall and a spring production in Charleston. Check this site for dates and venues.
The RCYBE depends on financial support from the community to help under
write the costs of mounting the performances and to provide scholarships for talented dancers who could not otherwise participate in the program. Checks should be made payable to RYCBE and mailed to Donors will receive a letter from RCYBE acknowledging the contribution for tax purposes.