About Us

Meet The Encore Dance Competition Directors

standing_ovation_few_proudIn 1997, after years of consulting with dance professionals and fellow studio owners, ENCORE Dance Competition for the Stars became a reality with the premiere of the first competition in Charleston, South Carolina. With its rich southern history, Grand Finals are held each summer in eastern US coastal cities.

Now, in its 22nd successful season, ENCORE is ranked one of the top competition dance companies in the United States. By combining quality, nationally acclaimed judges with a warm, friendly staff and professional atmosphere, our goal has always been to strive for excellence and to provide all participants with great pride and encouragement to be the best that they can be.

"By learning from our own personal experiences in the competition business, we have molded ENCORE into the ideal competitive environment with 'Gracious Attention in the Southern Tradition,' as quoted by Dance Spirit Magazine. As we continue to grow and become even better, we will never lose sight of the personal attention and southern hospitality, which we attribute to our success."

Rhonda Marchant

Rhonda Head Shot_new2Dancing since the age of 3, Rhonda is the former owner of Candice Ralston Dance Studios in Batesburg, South Carolina and previous owner of The Stepping Out Studio in Lexington, South Carolina. She has studied tap, jazz, and ballet with Naomi Calvert, Ann Brodie, and summer studies in New York at the Broadway Dance Center and Steps. She is also a USC Cum Laude Graduate with a degree in Broadcast Journalism. She has worked for the SC ETV network as a host for the Carolina Journal show but has followed her heart to continue her career in dance with her own studios and competition with her former dance instructor and inspiration - Naomi Calvert. In 1989, she founded her very own Stepping Out Dance Companies to promote excellence in training and to provide students with more performance opportunities and community involvement. These teams consisted of 80 students who won numerous awards and national titles and were featured performers at Walt Disney World, the State Fair, the Miss SC pageant, aboard several cruise ships and at countless festivals and benefits. A former Junior Miss and State Talent Winner, Rhonda has been successful in training many statewide and national talent champions including five SC Junior Misses and Overall Talent Winners, and America's Junior Miss Overall Talent Winner in 2004. As a performer, choreographer and director, Rhonda has been involved with many college and community theater productions such as "Grease," "Oliver," "Fame," and "42nd Street." Rhonda now resides in Hickory, North Carolina with her husband, Andy, sons Aulston and Dillon, and daughter Mary Elle. In Hickory, she is also the founding director of the liturgical dance ensemble at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church.

Naomi Calvert

staff_naomi"Ms. Naomi" began her dance training with Stanley Donan who directed such Academy Award-winning classics as "Royal Wedding" and "Singing in the Rain." She has also studied with Ophelia Broom Harper and Tim McCoy - Vera Ellen's principal instructor- and Timmie Everett.

Ms. Calvert co-owned and directed the reputable Calvert-Brodie Dance Schools for over 30 years and has also played a leading role in dance education working with both public and private schools as well as choreographing musicals for numerous Community Theaters and Colleges. Her choreography for the USC Concert Choir was showcased during two of its highly acclaimed world tours.

Her stage career includes leading roles in "Mame," "Guys and Dolls," "Damn Yankees," "Legends," "Annie," and "The Wizard of Oz." Ms. Calvert and her husband, James, are the very proud parents of Stacey Calvert who is a former soloist with the New York City Ballet and the very proud grandparents of their first grandchild, Ayla.

With a family history in dance, Ms. Naomi is thrilled to spread her love and appreciation of the arts through the spirit of competition for she believes that "you mustn't stop until you reach the top of the sky… for that is where the STARS shine!

Susan Barnes

staff_susanSusan began her dance training with Candice Ralston and Rhonda Ralston Marchant at the age of 2. She has been dancing for 24 years, and was an award winning soloist and founding member of the Stepping Out Dance Company. Susan was the Overall Talent winner and Top Ten finalist at South Carolina’s Junior Miss, and was a cheerleader for the University of South Carolina Fighting Gamecocks. Susan graduated from the University of South Carolina in May 2004 with a bachelor of science in Business Administration and a directed study in Public Relations and Retail. Susan has performed on many stages across the southeast and has also choreographed and directed musicals for many schools and community theaters. She is a former instructor at Stepping Out where she directed the Stepping Out Tap Companies. Susan continues to teach private lessons and is currently a group fitness instructor with The FIRM.  She is proud to be a business partner with Encore DCS which brings a third generation of dance experience to the corporation. Susan resides in Lexington, SC with her husband, Adam, and their children.

Jessica Bolton Schaefer

staff_jessicaAs one of the new Northeast Directors of Encore DCS, Jessica's experience includes over 20 years of ballet, tap, jazz, hip hop, modern and lyrical experience in many theater productions, competitions, workshops including Town Theatre and USC. She trained in New York City during summers at Broadway Dance Center and became the featured dancer for Dance Theatre of Columbia for 5 years. Jessica earned a B.A. in Dance and Theatre and a Masters Degree in Early Childhood Education from the University of South Carolina and previously had taught dance at Bailey Fine Arts for 10 years, at Irmo Middle School, Nursery Road Elementary School, 2nd and 3rd grades at Lake Murray Elementary, Stepping Out Dance Studio and Divine Playhouse. She has choreographed dances for South Carolina Junior Miss and many high school dance teams.