The Ballet Company


Mindi Mende,

Founding Artistic Director           

ECB’s Board of Directors:

    Dr. Ivis Alvarez

    Mrs. Theresa Graham

    Mrs. Mindi Mende

    Mr. Rick Mende

    Mrs. Cyndi Sauer

    Dr. Brenda Zenk


ECBF is committed to enriching the lives of individuals through the art of dance in northeast Florida and beyond. The foundation fosters an appreciation and an aesthetic awareness for the arts.  This is achieved by providing a high standard of artistic instruction and performance opportunities for artists and students, allowing them to discover and develop their talents for the benefit of their community.

East Coast Ballet’s professional company members inspire others through performances, building relationships with young adults and children in classes and workshops, and reach out to the community through special projects throughout the year.   Scroll to the bottom to meet the company.

MEET THE DIRECTORS: Rick & Mindi Mende

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Our non-profit foundation relies on the generous support of individual giving and corporate sponsorship.  All donations are tax deductible and are dedicated to outreach, scholarships for individuals who otherwise are unable to afford dance training, performance costs, and the continued development of our professional company, to house dancers that give our student base future career opportunities as professional dancers.  East Coast Ballet does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, gender, age, or national origin.

Rick & Mindi Mende are the founding directors of East Coast Ballet School and Company.  Mr. Mende holds a degree in Human Resources with an emphases in education, training, and development.  Mrs. Mende is classically trained by her mother, Katha Morrill.  She has followed a professional dance career path from corps de ballet, principal, ballet mistress, instructor, choreographer, and director over the past 33 years.  In addition to classical ballet, she studied jazz, tap, and musical theatre under acclaimed instructors Hilary Cartwright, Edward Villella, Conrad Ludlow, Kelly Brown, Wilhelm Burmann, David Holliday, and Olga Kostritsky.  Mrs. Mende toured throughout the US, Asia, and South & Central America via secular and Christian platforms.  Mrs. Mende has performed and choreographed for various venues: theatre, TV, video, industrials, and film productions.  In 1989, she invented and patented the Jazz Pointe Shoe, known today as the Dance Sneaker.  Rick and Mindi developed and patented a tight design, which is currently on the market by BodyWrappers.  Their joy is in guiding, training, and mentoring students, many of whom have gone on to excel as accomplished performers, choreographers, instructors, and directors in professional dance endeavors, such as: FALL, a Nashville Arial Company, ABT NY Company, OKC Ballet, Ballet Magnificat, Ad Deum, Joffrey, and East Coast Ballet!  Rick and Mindi are passionate about directing performances that touch the heart of performers and audience.  They aim to encourage all to attain a meaningful relationship with the Lord, Jesus Christ.

Braden Mende is an accomplished dancer who trained at the East Coast Ballet School.  He received and attended several full-scholarships to train around the country including: American Ballet Theatre in NYC, Harid Conservatory, Ballet Magnificat, and Miami City Ballet.  At age twelve, Braden was chosen as the Nutcracker Prince for Miami City Ballet's 2009 production of George Balanchine's The Nutcracker in a tour of eighteen performances in Naples, Miami, and Ft Lauderdale. Braden danced for Next Generation Ballet in Tampa, 2013.  Braden is in his third year as an ECB company member.  He has danced as the Toymaker and the Toymaker’s Son in Spellbound, and the Nutcracker Prince and Cavalier in ECB’s The Nutcracker. Braden loves using dance as a tool to spread the Gospel. 

Monet Mende began dancing at East Coast Ballet at the age of three.  She has trained at many well-known institutions for summer intensives, such as: American Ballet Theatre in NYC, Miami City Ballet, Joffrey in Chicago.  She was accepted into the highest level at Next Generation Ballet in Tampa in 2013 and Ellison Ballet in NYC for their year-around-program in 2014. In 2014-15 Monet danced professionally with Oklahoma City Ballet.  She is an ECB 3rd year company member with ECB’s professional company. Her roles have included Clara, Snow Queen, Arabian, Sugar Plum, Mrs. Staulbaum in The Nutcracker; Clown, Princess, Evil Magician in Spellbound; and Genevieve in ECB’s version of Coppélia. Monet loves sharing the love of Jesus through teaching and mentoring the students of East Coast Ballet’s school and performing in ECB's professional company.

Stephanie Doherty is an East Coast Ballet third year company member during her fifth year with the professional company.  She trained under Boris Chepelev and Janna Kirova in Melbourne, Florida. Stephanie also trained at Ballet Magnificat. Before relocating to dance for ECB, Stephanie studied at the Storling Dance Theater’s Artist Development Program in Kansas for two years. Her prominent roles with ECB include: Chinese in Spellbound; Mrs. Staulbaum, Mirliton, Snow Queen, Lead Arabian, Mouse King, Lead Mirliton, and Flowers in The Nutcracker; and Coppélia in Coppélia. Stephanie is a very talented choreographer and instructor at ECB School.  She is known for unique dance storytelling and pageantry.  Her passion is to mentor and use her talents to glorify the Lord.

Aly Khedr graduated from The Academy of Arts in Cairo at the Higher Institute of Ballet as a soloist in 2000.  He was a two time finalist (1998-1999) in the Arab Republic of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Culture Ballet Competition. He became a professional dancer with the Cairo Opera Ballet in 1999. He advanced to soloist roles in the following ballets: Fritz, Chinese, Arabian, Russian, & Mr. Staulbaum in The Nutcracker, Friend of Basil and Gega Dance in Don Quixote, Mercurio in Romeo and Juliet, Gladiator in One Thousand and One Nights, Spartacus, variation of Gopak in Taras Bulba.  Aly was a soloist in modern works: Dance Qu’on Croise, Malge Tout, Rite of Spring, and Tango du Reve.  His dance travels include:  Germany, Austria, Italy, Greece, Chine, Turkey, USA, Prague, India, Jordan, Lebanon, Canada, Georgia, Armenia. In 2014, Aly participated in the Arabic version of “So You Think You Can Dance!”   Aly is happy to be dancing with East Coast Ballet, and we are blessed to have his expertise.

Heidi-Erin Alford Skursky began dancing at age three in Dayton, Ohio at Pontecorvo Ballet Studios and attended summer intensives at Chicago Ballet, RDA, and Alvin Aliey.  At age ten, she was chosen to dance with the pre-professional company Gem City Ballet. Heidi graduated with honors from Friends University in Wichita, KS with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Ballet & Drama. She danced professionally with Ballet San Antonio, Corpus Christi Ballet, and joined ECB Company as a teacher and company member in Spring 2017. Heidi's dance repertoire includes: Swan Lake, Cinderella, Giselle, Sleeping Beauty, La Bayadere, Coppelia, Raymonda, Paquita, Dracula, and Don Quixote.  She has been cast in prominent roles such as: Snow Queen, Sugar Plum Fairy, and Black Swan. Heidi is excited to share her passion for dance with others.   She thanks God for everything He has allowed her to accomplish.  

Heather Gorres trained at New Paltz School of Ballet in NY State along with summer intensives at Nashville Ballet, ABT, Ballet Magnificat!, Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, NYSSSA, and Ballet Regent. Heather graduated Magna Cum Laude from Mercyhurst University with a BA in Dance and a concentration in Choreography. She was a member of the Nu Delta Alpha dance honors society and the Liturgical Dance Ensemble. Heather has performed professionally with Avant Chamber Ballet, Tampa Ballet Theatre, Nashville Dance Initiative, Dance Theatre of Tennessee, and Lake Erie Ballet. Her favorite roles include Snow Queen and Dewdrop Fairy in The Nutcracker, Myrtha in Giselle, the principal in Nilas Martins’ Shostakovich Pieces and Hazel Sabas-Gower’s Green. Heather is thrilled to be joining ECB, excited to see where God leads the company.

Brooke Fitzgerald began dancing at East Coast Ballet at the age of twelve.  She was accepted as a trainee this year in ECB’s professional company.  Brooke is a Sophomore in high-school and dances with the ECB professional dancers from 12:00-3:30, as well as, ECB’s after-school advanced level program part of the week from 5:00-8:00. Brooke has attended Ballet Magnificat, Joffrey, ECB’s summer intensives.  She has danced prominent roles in ECB productions including: Older Clara, Younger Clara, Snow Queen, and Lead Gingerbread in The Nutcracker, solo variations, to include: Blue Bird, Le Corsaire Adage, and Grand Pas de Deux.  Brooke is loved by all her dancing peers and has a tremendous reputation.  She is delighted to be using her gifts and talents to the glory of God!

Dan Doherty has been performing with East Coast Ballet company dancers since The Nutcracker 2013. He played the father of Clara & Fritz, Mr. Staulbaum in ECB’s The Nutcracker.  Dan has played the Mouse King and the Cavalier in the Heaven Scene in year’s past. He played the role of Dr. Coppelius in Coppélia and the Pirate in Spellbound, and Goliath in Dancing Through The Bible.  He has extensive training in college cheerleading and is acquainted with ballet, partnering, mime, and ballroom techniques. He enjoys a successful career as a professional 3D artist and volunteers for a homeless ministry in his spare time.