Julie H. Knowles

Julie Hunt Knowles, Artistic Director

Julie H. Knowles
Artistic Director

Julie H. Knowles is a native Memphian, a graduate of Lausanne Collegiate School, and holds a BA degree in Communications from Memphis State University. Julie began dancing with the Bischoff-Carroll Dance Centre in the 70s under the direction of Jane Bischoff and Kim Carroll. She also studied with Michael and Judy Tevlin, the founding directors of the original Memphis Ballet. At 15, she joined the Memphis Ballet Company under the direction of the Tevlins, and she completed her Royal Academy of Dancing advanced soloist examinations and Dance Education Syllabus with Honours under Mignon Furman.She went on to perform with other companies including Tennessee Ballet, Lafayette Festival Ballet, Huntsville Ballet, Birmingham Ballet and Joffrey II. As a jazz and tap dancer, she has performed in professional theatre and industrial shows. She was personally selected by the legendary godfather of modern jazz dance, Gus Giordano, to dance with the Giordano Jazz Dance Company in Chicago. Julie has also has been featured as a principal actress for API, CBS Television, NETWorks, and Blink Multimedia. During the late 80s and into the early 90s, Mrs. Knowles was a Production Director for artists such as Pat Metheny, Richard Marx, REO Speedwagon, The Call, The Smithereens, Cheap Trick, Jay Leno, Bobcat Goldthwait, REM, Michael Winslow, Najee and others.

As an instructor, Mrs. Knowles’s students have gone on to dance with American Ballet Theatre, Boston Ballet, Joffrey Ballet, Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, North Carolina School of the Arts, The Julliard School, and Houston Ballet among many other prestigious companies and organizations. In addition to her students’ classical dance success, you will find CAA dancers performing at DisneyWorld, on Broadway and in professional careers including entertainment law, event production, and managing their own studios.

She maintains membership in Royal Academy of Dancing and is the current Artistic Director of the Collierville Ballet. She holds membership in several professional organizations and non-profit boards. Mrs. Knowles is a certified dance professional, certified personal trainer, and has earned a black belt in Shotokan Karate. In addition to her professional entertainment career, Mrs Knowles is a Youth Group Leader at her church, enjoys event planning, gardening, and producing internet content and podcasts. Mrs. Knowles has been married to Tom Knowles for 33+ years and together they have four amazing adult children. Romans 8:14-18

Abby Pohlman Fortney

Abby Pohlman Fortney
Assistant Director

Mrs. Fortney is a native of Germantown, TN and began dancing at the age of 3. She comes from a long family history of dancers including her sister, mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. Abby trained locally with Dance Dynamics, Classical Ballet under the direction of Pat Gillespie, and Ballet Memphis. Upon completing high school, Mrs. Fortney attended Middle Tennessee State University and was a member of their MTSU Dance Company. Mrs. Fortney has attended several SERBA (Southeastern Regional Ballet Association) conferences and taught with the Lausanne Collegiate School Summer Program, The Goddard School in Collierville, TN and St. George’s Independent School extra-curricular programs.

Mrs. Fortney serves as the assistant director with the Collierville Ballet, a regional non-profit youth ballet company. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree degree from the University of Memphis and is currently working towards her Master’s degree. Abby is thrilled to be a dance instructor at Collierville Arts Academy and enjoys sharing her love for the dance arts with all of her students. Ms Abby and her husband, Jimmy, are the proud parents of an adorable daughter who just loves to dance!

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Collierville Ballet is a regional youth ballet company based in Collierville TN. Collierville Ballet serves metro-Memphis and West Tennessee communities.

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