Julie A. McFarland
Artistic Director • Teaching Artist • CEO
“Black Hill’s own,” Ms. Julie was first introduced to dance in Rapid City at the Academy of Dance Arts, the studio she now owns and operates with more than 400 eager, lovable students.
Ms. Julie auditioned for and trained with the prestigious University of Utah’s ballet department, and performed with Ballet West, Utah Opera and Ballet West for Children. Her scholarship training includes work with American ballet icons: Willam F. Christensen (founder of Ballet West, San Francisco Ballet and Pacific Northwest Ballet), Toni Lander & Bruce Marks (Royal Danish Ballet), Suzanne Erlon (NYC Ballet & Balanchine ballerina), Jacqueline Weber (Royal Winnipeg Ballet) and Li-Chou Cheng (Beijing Ballet). Her 36 years as a professional instructor in the Salt Lake Area and Black Hills are supplemented by her undergraduate degree in child psychology and decades of experience in family advocacy and business management.
Julie choreographed and starred in Stephanie Lien’s 2004 New World Opera, producing twenty-one full-length productions over the past eighteen years. Her professional collaborations include live productions for the Black Hills Symphony Orchestra in Amahl & the Night Visitors, Winter Dreams and Halloween concerts. With the Orlando Chamber Soloists, she choreographed for their Latin Fire and Venice to Vienna Summer residencies. She has privately coached multiple Miss S.D. scholarship pageant winners, Youth American Grand Prix competition solo, duo and team dancers, skaters, and nationally qualified gymnasts to award-winning recognition.
Julie is the only South Dakotan and one of three Americans in 2007 to graduate with tap masters certification from the American Tap Dance Institute’s higher education division of the National Tap Ensemble, USA’s national tap company. Julie was honored with the National Federation of State High School Officials Association distinction as an Official of the Year in 2009. She serves on the Board of Directors for Black Hills Dance Theatre, and held office on the Executive Board for four of seventeen years. As liaison for the South Dakota Arts Council’s Dance on Tour Program and Committee Chairperson, she was responsible for bringing companies such as River North Chicago, Trey McIntyre Project, Alonzo King’s LINES, Repertory Dance Theatre, Paul Taylor and Mark Morris dancers to South Dakota in performance, residencies, master classes and community outreach. In 2016 she founded the inaugural chapter of the National Dance Education Organization’s (NDEO) National Honor Society of Dance Arts (NHSDA) for high school students in our State.
Academy graduates have been scholarship students at leading universities and continue to perform with dance companies. Their ongoing success and connection speaks to Ms. Julie’s joy-filled mission: to provide quality professional dance experiences for students throughout South Dakota and Wyoming communities, one lovely step at a time!