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About Us


Rising Starz Owner - Kathy Richards


After studying dance in the East Alabama area for 13 years, she discovered that her training had been grossly inadequate to pursue her dream of being a professional dancer. At 16 years old, she started over with her training and hung on every word and morsel of information that she could find. She studied anatomy, physiology, and biomechanics while she competed in gymnastics at Auburn University and earned her degree in education.

Six months after graduating from Auburn, she became the head gymnastics coach at Furman University after only haven taken her first steps on a balance beam at age 18. Her eye for understanding human movement and ability to communicate that to students of all ages has made her a nationally respected teacher, choreographer and judge. Rising Starz becomes the answer that parents and students have been looking for. It boasts one of the top teaching faculties in the Southeast.

 Ballet Program Director     

Paulo Manso de Sousa


Paulo Manso de Sousa was born on the Island of Madeira, Portugal. He joined the Oakland Ballet Company at the young age of 15, working with legends, like Leonid Massine, Eugen Loring, Anna Sakolo and others.  Later he  danced with Marin Civic Ballet, Puerto Rican Dance Theater, Ballet Today, Garden State Ballet, Metropolitan Opera Ballet, Eglevsky Ballet, The Eliot Feld Ballet, The Festival Dance Theater Ballet, Alaska Dance Theater, Columbia City Ballet, Ballet Concierto Dominicano, Ballet Concierto de Puerto Rico, Connecticut Ballet, Ballet Oklahoma, Charleston Ballet, Boca Ballet, Southern Ballet Theater, toured with Edward Villella and Dancers, Dennis Wayne’s DANCERS, Fernando Bujones,  Miami City Ballet, and Ballet Biarritz. He has worked with Finnish National Ballet, Rotterdam Dance Academy, was Artistic Director of Compamia de Danca de Aveiro in Portugal, where he has choreographed four original works, one of them a colaboration with University of Avairo and the Filarmonia das Beiras for the Mozart year. He has worked as Ballet Master with Nevada Ballet Theater, Companhia Portuguesa de Bailado Contemporaneo National Ballet of Belgradeand and Ayumi Ballet in Tokyo Japan. He has taught at the Vaganova, Escola De Danca do Conservatorio Nacional, Escola Superior de Danca, Companhia de Danca de Lisboa, Companhia de Danca de Almada, Ballet Gulbenkian, Centro Em Movimento, Forum Danca, CeDeCe, Cinevox Junior Company in Switzerland, Companhia de Danca de Aveiro, Atlanta Ballet, Emory University,  and the University of Georgia. Plus many more! As a choreographer, he has collaborated with flutist Nestor Torres for Juego Del Arte, Teatro Avante, Artz-In-The-Hood, Alaska Dance Theater, Sangre De Cristo Civic Ballet, Miami Hispanic Ballet, and New World School of the Arts, Maximum Dance Company, LAMBDA Showcase, and Discovery Channel. Paulo was commissioned to create the image of First Night at the Colony Theater 2000, and works for the Red Cross Dance for Life Gala at the Gussman Theater 2001, 2002, 2003, for Dia Mundial da Danca for the Auditorio Municipal Eunice Munoz, and Hansel & Gretel for the Voorhees Ballet Theatre. Mr. Manso de Sousa has an extensive repertory in classical ballet, contemporary ballet and modern works from Balanchine to Paul Taylor. He has appeared in MTV music videos with Gloria Estefan, Laura Brannigan, Indoor Life, and Puma to name a few.

Residing in Newnan, Georgia, Mr. Manso de Sousa brings his vision and renowned international artistic experience to Southern Arc Dance Theatre and Southern Arc Dance Center, which he founded in 2013 to share his passion for dance and to educate a new generation of dancers. Mr. Manso de Sousa continues to be requested as guest instructor and guest choreographer, nationally and internationally.


 Fine Arts Academy Director

Amber Hanel


Amber works throughout the Southeast region as a producer and director. She grew up in Macon, GA dancing and twirling.  She says working in the Theatre Industry for the past 15 years has been an amazing adventure. For the past 7 of those years, along side producing and directing, she has been teaching dance, performing arts, color guard, and twirling choreography.  Amber has coached competitive dance and baton twirling along the Eastern Coast of the US, and throughout the Mid Western States. She also prepped the Australian World twirling team for the 2003 World Championships with coaching / choreography. She was Feature Twirler for Northwestern State University, and had the pleasure of performing for the Perth Wildcats Professional Basketball team in Western Australia. She began working in the theatre industry in Perth, Australia while completing her degree at the Western Australia Academy for Performing Arts. She co-founded Sculpted Entertainment, a film & theatre company founded in Shreveport, LA. From 24 Hour Playwriting Festivals to educational tours dealing with bullying, Amber has enjoyed finding funding for projects that will positively affect audiences. She also enjoys producing murder mystery dinner theatre, packing houses every weekend they run shows for public and private events! Sculpted Entertainment has recently moved their home office to the East Coast, where they are excited to begin producing work in the region. In 2008, she began working with youth theatre programs in North Louisiana, and then with the Waco Children's Theatre in 2012. Teaching, directing, and marketing for the LSU Summer programs and Waco Children's Theatre prepared her for the current work she is doing with the Rising Starz Fine Arts Academy 

Twirling Academy Directors
Holly Mims Mullen

She was a competitive baton twirler beginning at the age of 7.  Throughout her competitive years, she won several awards such as Miss Majorette of Alabama, Miss Majorette of the South and many state and regional twirling and strutting titles.  In college she was a majorette with the Auburn University Marching Band.  Holly has also had the privileged of teaching camps and clinics on 7 different college campuses.  As a certified judge for the National Baton Twirling Association, she has been able to judge on the state, regional and national level.  

Angela Gavin Smith
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