Born in Upstate New York, Lisa Snape Avery's passion for dance began at an early age. Her professional training and career led to performing opportunities throughout the country until an injury abruptly ended her performing career. Rehabilitating with Dance Medicine Specialists in San Francisco, California, Mrs. Avery received extensive training through rehabilitation in Pilates and strengthening. Struggling to find her place in the dance world, the time in rehabilitation also allowed Mrs. Avery to began teaching and choreographing. Her success in her new passion led to positions in prominent schools throughout the United States.
Eventually settling in Virginia, Mrs. Avery met Mrs. Sonja Dragomanovic Haydar. Mrs. Haydar was a Prima Ballerina and choreographer for the Salzburg Opera and the Dresden State Opera. Coming to the United States in 1961, she joined Frederic Franklin to organize the National Ballet, of which she was ballet mistress, and the National Ballet School, which she directed. In 1968, Mrs. Haydar came to Mary Washington College (Now University of Mary Washington), where she devoted 20 years to the students of MWC developing a highly reputed program for ballet training and performance.
Sharing each other’s enthusiasm and knowledge of dance, Mrs. Avery and Mrs. Haydar collaborated on the establishment of Avery Ballet. In 1995, Avery Ballet began providing the Fredericksburg area with a professional training program for young dancers with a challenging curriculum rooted in traditional and original choreography across many styles of dance. Mrs. Haydar remained a prominent figure and influence at Avery Ballet as the Artistic Advisor until her death in 2005.
As Avery Ballet entered their 21st season Amy P. Watson, Principal Dancer with the Royal Danish Ballet became the new Artistic Advisor of Avery Ballet. Miss Watson, brings international experience and expertise to Avery Ballet, joining Mrs. Avery to continue the legacy of Avery Ballet.
Mrs. Avery has remained dedicated to the dreams she shared with Mrs. Haydar to have the school and its students achieve national standing. Not only has Avery Ballet achieved national standing, but international standing! Alumni from Avery Ballet are enrolled in professional ballet schools and performing with dance companies throughout the U.S. and abroad.
Avery Ballet has been repeatedly commended for its community outreach programs. Benefit performances over the years have raised monies for UMW Dance scholarships, the Virginia Wounded Warrior Program, the Multiple Sclerosis Society and Head Start. Avery Ballet has also raised funds for auditory verbal schools for the deaf, a cause close to Ms. Avery’s heart.