SVB Dancer

Photo by McDilda Photography

Southwest Virginia Ballet is a non-profit charitable 501(c)3 organization dedicated to providing professional instruction and performance opportunities to the youth of Southwest Virginia.



  • artistic Director
  • Rehearsal Assistants
  • Board of Directors

Pedro Szalay - Artisitic Director

PedroA native of Venezuela, Pedro Szalay was born to Hungarian parents and is a native of La Guaira, Venezuela where he started dancing in local school by Ms. Machado .He received a scholarship at Ballet Nacional of Caracas, coached by Vladimir Isayev and many other national and international teachers. There he danced many of Nebrada's choreographed pieces. Later he traveled to New York City to be coached by Madame Darvash and performed with New York Dance Theatre directed by Frank Ohman. 
After New York, Szalay was company dancer with Richmond Ballet from 1996 to 2006 where he was an inspiration for many choreographers and he danced pieces from Balanchine, Burn, Canaporoli, Lang, Soleau, Stevenson, Orff, Wainrot, Winslett and many others. He was also a guest performer and choreographer with the Latin Ballet of Virginia .
He has guest taught in South Carolina, Philadelphia, Virginia School of the Arts, Washington and Lee University and St. Paul's Ballet Company. Szalay served as a coach, choreographer for the School of Richmond Ballet and other Richmond dance schools.  He served as Artistic Advisor for Chesterfield Ballet School . Szalay coached the Wheel Chair Miss Richmond.  He currently teaches at The Dance Centre of Southwest Virginia.  In summer 2016, he was invited to guest teacher in Murcia, Spain at Robles Ballet School.
Szalay for the past 10 years enhanced the lives of many 4th graders through his instruction of the Minds In Motion program in Richmond, Charlottesville, Martinsville, Salem and Roanoke City Schools. Beginning in 2012, Szalay developed a Spanish language, choreographed movement program called Dance Espanol for 4th graders in public schools.  In 2013 created a Ballet program for Middle School in Roanoke City Public Schools.
January 2007, Szalay became Artistic Director of Southwest Virginia Ballet in the Roanoke Valley, since he has brought SVB to be recognized locally, regionally, nationally and internationally.  In 2009 he was awarded the Perry F. Kendig Awards for Outstanding Performing Artist and in 2010 named the best Local Celebrity for Charity Events by the Roanoker Magazine.
Szalay is a Resident Artist for Carilion Clinic Healing Art Program. Board member of Thursday Morning Music Club as Dance Chairman - Footnotes and Roanoke City Public School Education Foundation, Inc.
Szalay's choreography credits include : The Long Christmas Ride Home , for Flournoy Playwright Festival, Ties: A Railroad Ballet, Cinderella, Coppelia, Romeo and Juliet, Miss Richmond Pageant(2002-2003), the Miss Virginia Pageant(2009-2012), Like Winter Waiting ( 2012- 2014), Sewing Seeds with Ann Waldrop, Dominos for Charlottesville Ballet. Holidays Pops, Peter and The Wolf, Carmina Burana with Roanoke Symphony Orchestra, Excerpts of Act II of The Nutcracker, Firebird and Under the Tent with Roanoke Youth Symphony, Nick Cave, Norman Rockwell and many others for Taubman Museum of The Art.  La Traviata and South Pacific for Opera Roanoke.  His newest project for 2017 is a commission to choreograph for an original score in remembrance of the Virginia Tech tragedy.

Sara Cate Bingham - Rehearsal Assistant

Sara Cate Bingham was raised in Roanoke, Virginia and has been dancing since the age of two. She began taking ballet class in our old Salem location when it was formerly known as the Post School of Ballet, owned by Tess Post. She joined Southwest Virginia Ballet at age 9 with Pedro Szalay and graduated in 2014 from Patrick Henry High School. In August of 2014, she joined Arts Ballet Theatre of Florida where she was able to perform many classic ballets choreographed by Vladimir Issaev, Vicente Nebrada, Petipa, Alberto Mendez, and many others. She was also a teacher for ages 2-7 at Vladimir Issaev's School of Classical Ballet as well as at Pear Programs in Miami. In 2016, Sara joined Richmond Ballet where she had the opportunity to perform in Stoner Winslett's The Nutcracker and Malcom Burn's La Bayadere. Shortly after, Sara joined Ballet de Santiago (Artisitc Director- Marcia Haydee) in Chile as a corps de ballet member, where she stayed until 2020. During her time there, she was able to perform in several ballets as a corps de ballet or soloist including Swan Lake, The Magic Flute, Raymonda, The Nutcracker, Don Quixote, Romeo and Juliet, Serenade, The Taming of the Shrew, Cinderella, The Rite of Spring, The Firebird, La Sylphide, and La Casa de Los Espiritus. This gave her the opportunity to work with several world-renowned choreographers and perform the works of Marcia Haydee, John Cranko, Luis Ortigoza, Eduardo Yedro, Peter Schaufuss, Glenn Tetley, Jaime Pinto, Maurice Bejart, and George Balanchine. She was also able to attend many national tours in Chile as well as international tours in Brazil and Colombia. Throughout Sara's entire professional ballet career, she has been studying towards her degree in Health Sciences through Radford University Carilion, with hopes of a career as a physical therapist in the future as she graduates this May. Sara is looking forward to this new chapter in Roanoke, both with Southwest Virginia Ballet as well as with where her studies may take her.


Southwest Virginia Ballet is overseen by a volunteer Board of Directors.  Board members represent SVB with the highest standard of ethical conduct.  This means being correct from the standpoint of law, making sound financial decisions, and modeling honesty and integrity.

Executive Board
     Executive Director - Carol Jessee
     President - Peter Jessee
     Artistic Director -  Pedro Szalay
     Treasurer - Beth Kelley
     Secretary - Lenore Willis

Board Members
     John Bouldin
     Sam Cannon
     Katherine Fox
     Susan Jennings
     Nancy Kelderhouse
     Jessica Mather
     Lauren Maxwell
     Megan Potter
     Matt Schallon
     Spencer Wiegard