The Hope Garden Staff

Fran Ichijo, Artistic Director

 Frances Drayton Ichijo (Mme Ichijo) began her dance training in 2nd grade in the suburbs of Philadelphia in 1960. After getting a degree in Dance and Art at Hamilton College and performing with Kirkland Dance Theater, she continued her classical ballet training in NY under Patricia Wilde, Michael Maule, and Nancy Clemens at the then American Ballet Theater School. After auditioning for Adrienne Dellas in New York, she went on to become a founding member and soloist with the Universal Ballet Company in Seoul, Korea, from 1978 -1986, while also assisting her mentor, Mme. Dellas, as Ballet Mistress of the company. For two years, she was director of the Sun Hwa Arts Ballet School which trained dancers for the company (UBC). Her students have gone on to dance in companies all over the world including Stuttgart, Basel, Atlanta, Ohio, and Washington, DC. Her performances include Giselle, La Sylphide, Pas de Quatre, Coppelia, Dellas’ Monument,and as a Step Sister in Cinderella, and many more.

ForeignDancers.jpgMiss Fran has taught classical ballet to aspiring dancers for more than 40 years in Korea, New York, and the Washington, DC metropolitan area. She is a proponent of the  Vaganova system of ballet, and received her teaching certificate with commendation from the Academie de Danse Classique de Princess Grace de Monaco, under the tutelage of Marika Besobrasova in the 1980’s.

She started Hope Garden Ballet Academy in 1998 in Poolesville, Maryland, and launched the Hope Garden Children’s Ballet Theatre in 2008.  Mme Ichijo won the prestigious "Lifetime Impact Award" in 2016 from the Montgomery County Arts Council, Executive's Awards, for helping children in the arts, and influencing audiences throughout the county.  Her unique use of traditional classical ballet repertoire incorporated into stirring story ballets is a trademark of her work.  She has created over 6 full length ballets, including the local favorite, "A Christmas Carol", performed at the Fitzgerald Theater in Rockville every  fall (November or December) as well as over 80 vignettes and choreographic works for students and professionals. 

She currently resides in Poolesville, Maryland with her husband, and very special son, Kenji!

Photos at right, former student, Hye-young Kim, Principal of The Atlanta Ballet.

Adrienne Dellas, Artistic Advisor

 A Master Teacher, Choreographer and Director for the past 50 years, Adrienne Dellas has trained and coached dancers all over the world. Being invited to be the Director of Ballet for the well-known Little Angels School in 1976, she then went on to found and establish the internationally acclaimed Universal Ballet Company in Seoul. During this period as Artistic Director she choreographed over 37 works for the company and school.

Madame Dellas came back to America to help bring into existence and develop the world-renowned Kirov Ballet Academy in Washington, D.C. She taught an incredible cast of young dancers, who are now principle dancers in major ballet companies throughout the US and Europe.

The famed star Debbie Allen asked her to become the Director of the exciting Debbie Allen Dance Academy in Los Angeles in 2001. Master Teachers of ten different dance disciplines taught the multi-talented student body under her direction.  Her list of successful students from D.A.D.A. spans the worlds of Classical Ballet, Broadway, and Musical Theater.

Adrienne Dellas Thornton has lived  most recently in the Pennsylvania’s Susquehanna Valley teaching and coaching at such prestigious schools as Pennsylvania Regional Ballet, Hope Garden Ballet of Maryland, Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, Harrisburg Ballet Theater, and Kennedy Center’s Imagination Celebration programs, while continuing to choreograph works for the Kirov Academy of Ballet, Washington, DC, and Debbie Allen.

Coming full circle, Mme Dellas was the Artisitic Director of the famed Kirov Academy of Ballet in Washington, DC., where she was guiding the school to new heights and achievements for the past 3 years.


              Mr. Runqiao Du, Guest Ballet Teacher 

Runqiao Du was born in Shanghai, China. At the age of 11, he was selected and awarded a scholarship to study at the famed Shanghai School of Dance. Upon graduating with honors in 1989, Mr. Du moved to the United States to begin his performing career with The Washington Ballet. During his nearly 20 year tenure with TWB, he performed various leading roles in classical and neoclassical ballets including Romeo in Romeo and Juliet, Albrecht in Giselle, Prince Charming in Cinderella, Oberon in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and the Cavalier in The Nutcracker.


He has also had the opportunity to dance leading roles choreographed by some of today’s most influential choreographers including works by Christopher Wheelden, Nacho Duato, Mark Morris, Edwaard Liang, Septime Webre and Twyla Tharp. 

In 2000, while maintaining his position with The Washington Ballet, he accepted an invitation from the legendary ballerina, Suzanne Farrell, to join her brand new company The Suzanne Farrell Ballet as a principle dancer. Under her coaching, Mr. Du danced some of the most important works created by George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins and Maurice Bejart. 

In 2008, after his illustrious performing career, Mr. Du accepted a lecturer position from the Dance Department of the Towson University where he teaches Ballet Technique to the top level BFA Majors. He also teaches Ballet Repertory, Men’s Ballet Technique, Partnering, and is the Artistic Director of the Towson Dance Company for the fall semester. In the Dance Department, Mr. Du plays a major role in creating a curriculum structure of male dancers. He has written a brand new course DANC 343 Ballet for Men to train the male ballet students in college. 

Mr. Du joined the American Dance Institute faculty in 2009 and was the Artistic Director of the ADI Ballet School from 2010 to the Spring of 2015. He also formed Ballet ADI, the resident company of American Dance Institute in 2010. The company produces two highly acclaimed productions each year since its creation. In 2010, he completed an entire production of The Nutcracker for the ADI School students. The School performed The Nutcracker annually in ADI Theater as well as benefit performances in Children’s Inn at NIH and Walter Reed Amy and Naval Hospital in Bethesda MD. Mr. Du has been a guest artist and guest teacher nationally and internationally. His choreographic work has also been presented in various companies, festivals, and competitions, including the Millennium Stage at The John F. Kennedy for the Performing Arts Center. As well, He currently teaches at Berrends Dance Center in Olney, MD, and us a guest teacher at Hope Garden.


Dustin Kimball, Ballet Instructor, Partnering

 Dustin began dancing at age twenty at the River City Dance Center while attending the University of Maine at Orono. Over the next several years he studied at the Center for Ballet Arts of Fairfax in Fairfax, Virginia and the Rock School for Dance Education in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Mr. Kimball currently dances with Bowen McCauley Dance under director/choreographer Lucy Bowen McCauley in Arlington, Virginia. He also teaches dance and performs with the Center for Ballet Arts of Fairfax in Fairfax, Virginia.

Mr. Kimball has worked with several choreographers in the DC–Metro area including Alvin Mayes, Kelly Mayfield of Contradiction Dance, and Peter DiMuro of Liz Lerman Dance Exchange.


Claire Jones, Ballet Instructor

Claire Jones has taught ballet at all levels for HGBA. Claire’s dance training includes 16 years at HGBA, 2 years at Maryland Youth Ballet, as well as course work and internships with Alvin Mayes, Tony Wilson, Alison Crosby, Karen Reedy, and Adrienne Clancy. She has performed with Joffrey and American Ballet Theatre in The Nutcracker, as well as with Deep Vision Dance Company and ClancyWorks Dance Company. Claire holds a BA in dance from UMBC, having graduated Magna Cum Laude with a minor in theatre. In her senior year at UMBC, Claire was a finalist in the American college Dance Festival, performing at the Kennedy Center. Claire is currently a choreographer for MCPS and teaches Musical Theatre dance for Montgomery County Recreation. Currently dancing with Bowen McCauley Dance, Claire brings a wealth of performing experience and technical knowledge to her roles and teaching, delivered with fun and energy.


   Lynn Schaeber, Contemporary Dance

 Lynn D. Schaeber is a Teaching Artist with her MFA in choreography and performance from Temple University.  With a passion to inspire students to push beyond their perceived limitations, Lynn has created successful performing arts programs in Higher Education, Pre-Professional, K-12 schools both Nationally and in Europe.  In addition to teaching contemproary and ballet at Hope Garden, Lynn also teaches Dance at Montgomery County College. 

Althea Corlett, Guest Instructor

Althea has taught all levels at Hope Garden. She is from Malta, a little island in the heart of the Mediterranean. She graduated from High School there and decided to come to the States after meeting and auditioning with Miss Fran in Italy in the summer of 2006. Althea started dancing at the age of 9 in the Olivia Dow School of Russian Ballet in Malta, under the direction of Mme. Dow and her husband and Artistic Director, John Baldacchino. Since then she has danced in numerous original and classical ballet performances such as “The Sleeping Beauty” as the Violente fairy and performed the title role in the first ever live adaptation of "Barbie of Swan Lake" at the prestigious Mediterranean Conference Center.

Since teaching at Hope Garden, Althea has increased her enthusiasm for dance and choreography. She hopes to encourage her students and any dancer to become the best that they can in what they love doing most!  She currently dances and teaches in Germany, Malta and other places in Europe where she lives with her husband.


Jessica Moes, Ballroom, Ballet and La Blast!

Miss Jessica comes to Hope Garden from her home town of Toronto, Canada where she studied classical ballet (and other styles including jazz, modern and flamenco) for over 25 years.   She received her pre-professional dance training at George Brown College School of Dance, furthered her studies at the School of Atelier Ballet and the adult ballet program at Canada’s National Ballet School, and continues to take classes in the DC area. She has enjoyed a 20-year career as a fundraising executive, working for many years with the National Ballet of Canada, Opera Atelier and Canada’s National Ballet School.  

What is little known about Miss jessica is that she has studied and performed belly dance for the past 10 years with Sahara Dance in DC, and as guest artist with International U2 Tribute Band, Elevation, in Canada and across the USA. One of the highlights of Miss Jessica's life took place in 2005 when she was invited on stage to dance in her costume with Bono at a U2 concert at the Air Canada Centre in front of 20,000 people!

In 2010, Miss Jessica went to New York to further her studies through American Ballet Theatre’s demanding classical ballet teacher training program.   She is now an ABT® Certified Teacher, who has successfully completed the ABT® Teacher Training intensive in Primary through Level 7 and Partnering of the ABT ® National Training Curriculum.  Miss Jessica loves classical ballet with a passion and is delighted to share that joy and firm knowledge with her students.

Miss Jessica is also certified in Ballroom, and La Blast.

She teaches the adult ballet to great acclaim, and belly dancing on occasion as well!