Barbara’s Conservatory of Dance Mission
Our staff is dedicated to providing both the serious and the casual dance student with excellent training. We want all of our students to experience the incredible joy of movement through the study of dance. Our completely graded system of instruction guarantees the steady progress of each individual. Dancing will provide increased muscular strength, improved rhythm, better coordination and posture control, discipline of mind and body, self-confidence, and aesthetic values that last for a lifetime. We keep dance clean, fun, dynamic, exciting, challenging and suitable for the whole family. All members of our staff follow the same syllabus of instruction under the American Ballet Theatre National Training Curriculum. Children ages 3-6 years of age participate in the Children’s Division. A variety of coursework is available in our student and adult division. Visit the classes portion of our website to learn more about the opportunities offered in each division. Please contact us if you have any further questions
Barbara’s Conservatory of Dance Faculty
Lacee Sandgren, Artistic Director
Lacee began her dance training at the age of 3 at Barbara’s Conservatory of Dance located in Topeka, Kansas. Under the direction of Barbara Ebert, she joined the civic company, Ballet Midwest when she was 12. As a junior in high school, Lacee was a Topeka Performing Arts Center Young Artist of the Year scholarship recipient. She continued dancing with Ballet Midwest through college, when she was promoted to the Assistant Artistic Director. Lacee also trained with Sean Duus, Stefani Schrimpf, and Kimberly Cowen at the Kansas City Ballet as well as Krystyna & Jerel Hilding at the University of Kansas. Each summer for 10 years, Lacee attended Ballet Magnificat’s Summer Dance Intensive to study under the direction of Kathy Thibodeaux, Sol Nazario, and Jiri Sebastian Voborsky. Lacee was honored to dance in their pre-professional division several of those years, receiving multiple full merit scholarships and completing their teacher’s certification.
After graduating high school, Lacee attended the University of Missouri-Kansas City in their Conservatory of Music and Dance on scholarship, primarily studying under Paula Weber, Ronald Tice, Sabrina Madison-Canon, DeeAnna Hiett, Michael Simms, Jamal Story, and Gary Abbott. As a conservatory dancer, Lacee performed many classical and contemporary works by well-known guest artists and faculty members. While in college, she served as a leader for Campus Crusade for Christ. She received the honor of being asked to dance and share her testimony for thousands of college students at both the Denver Christmas Conference and the Big Break Conference. In May 2012, Lacee graduated with her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance with a ballet emphasis and a Business Administration minor.
Upon graduation, Lacee was invited to join Paradosi Ballet Company located in Washington State. For two seasons, she danced professionally and toured extensively with the company, both in the states and internationally. While on tour, Lacee was asked to teach many Master Classes offered by Paradosi in the cities they performed. Lacee’s degree in dance and teaching experience was highly regarded by Paradosi’s directors. They hired her to head the company’s school, Surrendered School of the Arts, both as Principal and as a primary instructor. Under her direction, the school doubled in size and expanded to five campuses. Her business minor also proved advantageous as she was employed as Assistant Business Manager. In the spring of 2014, Lacee was hired to tour with The Thorn Productions Tour Cast across the United States in their nationally recognized, multi-million dollar production. She also organized and led dance classes for the communities where The Thorn performed.
Lacee Ebert is an ABT® Certified Teacher, who has successfully completed the ABT® Teacher Training Intensive in Pre-Primary through Level 5 of the ABT® National Training Curriculum.
Lacee is very excited to be in her hometown of Topeka to expand her career as director of Barbara’s Conservatory of Dance and of Ballet Midwest. She brings to Topeka many new and exciting ideas to enhance the professionalism of the school and the company. “I am thrilled to be able to use the knowledge I obtained from my degree in dance; to instill the invaluable skills I learned by teaching and choreographing in many studios across the nation; and to share my experience as a professional dancer with my students here in Topeka.”
Barbara Ebert, Artistic Director Emeritus
Barbara Ebert was born in Topeka, where she studied music and took her initial ballet training under June Horwitz. She continued her study of dance and received her early performing experience in Kansas City, Lawrence and Tulsa, Oklahoma, throughout her junior high and senior high school years. At the University of Utah, she trained in all major styles of dance with a major in ballet with an emphasis in choreography and teaching. The ballet program at the University of Utah is one of the top ten in the world and is of an extremely vigorous and professional nature. While at the University, Mrs. Ebert studied all major styles of dance. Supplementary classes equally important to a well-rounded teacher were included in her college training. Some of the most important, she feels, were dance analysis, teaching techniques, choreography, anatomy for dancers, lighting and production, contemporary trends in dance, pantomime, dance history, and French as well as a variety of classes in music, art, and theater. Out of Mrs. Ebert’s freshman class of approximately 200, only 7 were accepted to complete their degree. Earning her degree in 1973, Mrs. Ebert was the first ballet major allowed to complete her degree in three years. While attending college, she also performed for Ballet West and taught classes as a Teaching Assistant at the University for two years. In addition, she has studied with Dinna Bjourn (Royal Danish Ballet), John Callander (New Zealand Ballet), Eugene Collins (Ballet Russe), Bill Evans (Utah Repertory Dance Theatre), Phillip Keeler (San Francisco Ballet), Bruce Marks (Amerian Ballet Theatre), Toni Lander Marks (Royal Danish Ballet), Ruth Page (Ruth Page Ballet), Kathy Thibodeaux (Ballet Magnificat), Terry Thomas (Royal Winnepeg Ballet), and Andrea Vohdenal (Ballet Russe).
Mrs. Ebert established a private dance studio, Barbara’s Conservatory of Dance, with students coming from all over NE Kansas to study. Through her fifty years of teaching dance in the Topeka area, Mrs. Ebert has had many students attend prestigious summer intensives, many with full merit scholarships. These include Alvin Ailey, Ballet Magnificat, Ballet West, Boston Ballet, Joffrey Ballet, Kansas City Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, San Antonio Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, Tulsa Ballet, and many others. Many of her students have continued on in professional dance careers or with college degrees in dance. She has also been employed to teach ballet classes at Washburn University, Cair Paravel Latin School, and Topeka Latin School and is available for teaching Master Classes.
Inception of Ballet Midwest, Inc.
Because of the emerging potential in dancers who attended her private studio, Barbara’s Conservatory of Dance, and that which she saw in other community dancers, Mrs. Ebert with the help of family and interested friends, formed Ballet Midwest, Inc. in January 1977. “I danced and studied through my high school and college years with the dream of coming back to Topeka to develop a school and company where serious as well as casual dance students could receive the finest classical training. That dream has become a reality,” she said. Mrs. Ebert became Artistic Director of Ballet Midwest at its inception and continued to choreograph and stage for the company through it’s fortieth season in 2016-17. The company, now under the artistic director of Lacee Ebert, is run by a volunteer Board of Directors independently from Barbara’s Conservatory of Dance. Mrs. Ebert remains actively involved as an Artistic Director Emeritus.
Mrs. Ebert choreographed and directed the first Topeka production of the “Nutcracker Ballet” for Dance Arts of Topeka, Inc in 1974 and 1975. She also choreographed, directed, and performed in “Ballet for Children”, a lecture demonstration series that was taken to 26 elementary schools. Ballet Midwest repeated this series in 2000 and 2001. As Artistic Director, Mrs. Ebert was responsible for the overall artistry of the Company. She has choreographed or staged fifty-eight repertory pieces and ten full-length classics for Ballet Midwest. Assisted by company dancers, she also enjoys doing educational programs for interested groups.
Mrs. Ebert, over forty of her students and nine of her teachers have attended a summer intensive at Ballet Magnificat, America’s premiere Christian Ballet Company, in Jackson, Mississippi. Inspired by the company, Mrs. Ebert added nine levels of liturgical classes at Barbara’s Conservatory of Dance. These classes, as well as the studio’s touring company, Cleargold, have performed at area churches, nursing homes, and present a concert each Christmas and Easter that is open to the public.
Mrs. Ebert retired at the end of the 2017 season, but still enjoys teaching ballet and pas de deux two nights a week at Barbara’s Conservatory of Dance.
Alexandria Brant began her training at Barbara’s Conservatory of Dance at age seven. She instantly fell in love with ballet and enjoyed performing in Ballet Midwest’s Nutcracker and Spring Ballets under the direction of Barbara Ebert. She performed a number of leading roles,
including Juliet in Romeo & Juliet. While in high school, she received the TPAC Young Artist Award and Scholarship in the dance category.
Alexandria furthered her training at the University of Missouri-Kansas City’s Conservatory of Music and Dance. She studied closely with Paula Weber and David Justin. While at UMKC, she was selected to represent the conservatory at two Kansas Dance Festivals and the American
College Dance Association Festival. She also had the honor of dancing the role of the First Violin and Pas de Deux in Balanchine’s Concerto Barocco. Alexandria has spent her summers studying at Kansas City Ballet, The Rock School for Dance Education, and Ballet Magnificat!. During her second summer at Ballet Magnificat!, she was on scholarship and in their Pre-Professional Program. Alexandria graduated in May 2018 with a Bachelor’s in Fine Arts degree in Dance and Choreography from UMKC.
After receiving her degree in dance, Alexandria moved to Hartford, Connecticut to dance professionally with Ballet Hartford. She had the opportunity to work closely with wonderful choreographers, including Silas Farley of New York City Ballet, and Michelle Thompson Ulerich of Ballet Austin. While in Connecticut, Alexandria also had the opportunity to co-found New England Ballet Collective. She enjoyed touring the New England area performing at festivals and serving as the Treasurer for the company.
Teaching has always been a passion for Alexandria. She enjoyed teaching and assisting classes at Barbara’s Conservatory of Dance in high school. She continued to teach during her time in college and even taught master classes while living in Connecticut. She is so happy to
be back in the Midwest to share her passion for dance with her students. In February of 2020, Alexandria went to New York City to participate in American Ballet Theatre’s teacher certification program.
Alexandria Brant is an ABT® Certified Teacher, who has successfully completed the ABT® Teacher Training Intensive in Pre-Primary through Level 3 of the ABT® National Training Curriculum.
In 1980 Heather began her dance training at Barbara’s Conservatory of Dance. She has trained
in various dance forms including ballet, pointe, jazz, modern, lyrical, pas de deux and tap.
Heather spent many years dancing as a company member of Ballet Midwest. Some of her
favorite roles include Spanish and American Beauty Rose from Nutcracker and Stepsister and
Stepmother from Cinderella. Heather continued her dance training at the University of Kansas
where she trained under Jerel Hilding and Patrick Suzeau.
After many years as a studio assistant, Heather began teaching classes at Barbara’s in 1991. In
1995 she also became the Assistant Artistic Director for Ballet Midwest where she helped Miss
Barbara stage and choreograph many Nutcrackers and spring ballets. In 2002, when Heather’s
family moved to the Kansas City area she continued sharing her love of dance. She has taught
at several studios in the Kansas City area including DanceWorks Conservatory, A Fairytale
Ballet and Kansas City Dance Expressions, where she was the director of the ballet program for
two years. Heather has also conducted dance workshops for area Girl Scout troops and
In 2008 Heather began working as a paraprofessional at Shawnee Mission West High School in
Overland Park. This will be her fourth year as the school’s Job Coach. She loves helping
students find things they are passionate about and helping them succeed at work in the
Heather has two amazing kids both of whom spent time dancing at the studio. Now, her son
Owen works as a carpenter with Rau Construction and her daughter Sierra is a professional
dancer dancing with Ballet Quad Cities this season.
Heather is happy to be returning for her second year to share her love of dance with everyone at the studio this fall.
In 2000, Christina began taking ballet and tap classes at Barbara’s Conservatory of Dance. Since then she has studied in various forms of dance, including: ballet, pointe, tap, liturgical, jazz, lyrical, modern, and Broadway jazz. This year will mark the beginning of Christina’s eighth year as a Barbara’s Conservatory of Dance instructor and eighteenth year as a student.
Christina was accepted into the Ballet Midwest Company in 2008. During her last ten years as a company member she served two years as a company representative to the Ballet Midwest board. Her time with Ballet Midwest provided her with the incredible experience of performing in several full length classical ballets, including: The Nutcracker (17 times), Cinderella (2 times), Sleeping Beauty (2 times), Swan Lake (2 times), Romeo & Juliet (2 times), Billy the Kid, Coppelia, and Giselle.
Christina is an Assistant Artistic Director for Ballet Midwest’s Nutcracker Ballet and has served as the assistant director for various spring ballets. Under the leadership of Owner and Artistic Director, Lacee Sandgren, Christina choreographed and taught rehearsals for several productions. She is greatly looking forward to the next season and its anticipated excitement.
Christina graduated from Washburn University, in 2017, with her Bachelors of Business Administration, majors in Management, Marketing, & Entrepreneurship, and a minor in music. In 2019, she completed her Masters of Business Administration. Christina is employed by Washburn University as the Student Success Evaluation & Retention Specialist.
Dance has taught Christina many life lessons through the years. Many of which have served her in every area of life. The most notable include: diligence, determination, respect, hard work, and creativity.
Holly Noel Harmison began her early dance training at Barbara’s Conservatory of Dance in Topeka, KS. Holly’s primary training focus fell in ballet supplementing her dance education with jazz and tap. While at Barbara’s Holly also was a company member of Ballet Midwest, a non-profit pre-professional ballet company, and performed with the company for 7 seasons.
In 2002 Holly decided to continue her passion for dance at University. There her focus evolved to modern dance and choreography. Holly graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Dance from the University of Kansas in the fall of 2006.
In 2008 Holly joined Kansas City Contemporary Dance, under the Artistic Direction of Michelle Diane Brown. Then from 2010-2015, along with Allison McKinzie and Maggie Osgood Nicholls, Holly served as Co-Artistic Director of the company.
Throughout her professional career, Holly has studied with numerous artists such as Bill Evans, Peter Kalivas, Sara Stackhouse, Wally Cardona, Kate Scarpatoskaw, Patrick Suzeau and Muriel Cohen, Willie Lenoir, Michelle Diane Brown, Suzanne Ryan Strati, Susan Warden, Rachael Grisi Dugan, Leigh Murray, and Katie Metzger.
Along with her choreography and performance career, Holly is an instructor of dance. Currently, she teaches the contemporary and modern curriculum at Barbara’s Conservatory of Dance in Topeka, KS and is contracted by the US Army to teach Creative Movement, Tap, Jazz, and Ballet for SKIES Unlimited at Fort Leavenworth. Holly lives in Weston, MO.
In 1999 Madison began her ballet education at Barbara’s Conservatory of Dance and performed in Ballet Midwest’s Nutcracker as the Candy Cane Doll. Her love of the beautiful art of ballet only grew from there.
Madison has had various amounts of training in ballet, pointe, pas de deux, tap, lyrical, and liturgical. For three years she had the privilege of attending Ballet Magnificat!’s Summer Dance Intensive, a professional Christian company based out of Jackson, Mississippi. The final year she placed in level 10, the highest level available to two-week students. While in Jackson, she not only grew in her own dancing but learned so much that she’s been able to implement into her own teaching. From the time she began assisting studio classes in 7thgrade and teaching as a freshman in high school, it has been a passion. The thrill of seeing her students grasp new concepts and thrive in them can be paralleled by none.
Outside of the studio, Madison enjoys cooking, being involved in Bible studies, dance parties and reading books with her three children, long walks with her husband Michael, and family dinners with her parents and 7 younger siblings. She is looking forward to starting another season as an instructor at Barbara’s Conservatory and an Assitant Director with Ballet Midwest. To God be the glory!
Lexi is jumping into the new dance season at Barbara’s Conservatory with fresh new ideas for hip-hop and more. Lexi graduated from Washburn University with her Bachelor of Fine Arts with an emphasis in photography and is currently working freelance in that field. Lexi was a member of the Washburn University Dancing Blues dance team for 4 years and acted as Captain during her 4th year.
Her training began at the Knoxville Performing Arts Institute with Jackie Crabtree who studied under Bob Fosse. Here in Kansas, Lexi had several performance opportunities dancing in both studio and Company productions at Barbara’s Conservatory from age 9 through 17 and as a Ballet Midwest Company member and Company Representative from age 11 through 16 when she started college.
Lexi spent several extended summer visits in LA training at the highly acclaimed Millennium Dance Complex. Millennium is known as the hub for professional dancers and choreographers to find their backup dancers, take classes, teach workshops, and practice for their tours and videos. Lexi took professional-level classes and participated in the certification courses taught by instructors like Shane Sparks, David Moore, Super Dave, and Michael Menna; all leading artists and choreographers in the hip-hop and pop industry.
In recent years Lexi was the Assistant Artistic Director for a local dance production for at-risk youth that combined multiple dance styles into one production. Lexi has won several awards for her choreography in both state and national competitions, in a variety of dance styles and has started working with students outside the classroom to both further their skills and techniques as well as to choreograph competition-winning routines for their competitions and contests.
Lexi is beyond excited to begin this new year and to work with all of the new and returning students that come into her classroom. Dance and teaching have been a passion and a way of life for Lexi since she was very young and she is honored to be able to pass that love on to others who share that passion! “To Dance is to Pray, To Pray is to Heal, To Heal is to Give, To Give Is to Live, To Live is to Dance.” ~MariJo Moore