At just 28 and 33 years old, Gray Stoner
and Ashleigh Whitworth traded their pointe
FEBRUARY/MARCH 2021 | COBB LIFE 35
shoes for high heels in buying storied
Marietta Square dance company
In the summer of 2019, friends and co-workers
Ashleigh Whitworth and Gray Stoner took a trip to Stoner’s
family beach condominium relishing a vacation from their
roles as artistic director and assistant artistic director of the
Georgia Metropolitan Dance Theater.
Well, not relishing it, entirely.
That fateful trip sealed the deal for the studentsturned
colleagues-turned-friends to have an honest and
life-changing discussion about their next career moves.
“We were in the ocean and just chatting and we knew
the owners of GMDT and the studio (Georgia Dance
Conservatory) were probably ready to retire and likely sell,”
Stoner said. “They, Billy and Lisa Toups, had owned studios
for over 40 years in different areas, so they were ready, and
we were ready, having grown up at GMDT and GDC and
now loving what we were doing in our roles. So it just
seemed like good timing and we decided then that, if they
decided to sell, we wanted to buy.”
And so they did.
In August 2019, Stoner and Whitworth became the
official owners of both GMDT and GDC, located in the
nearly 9,000-square-foot historic building at the corner of
Mill Street and West Park Square on the Marietta Square.
The two organizations are separate but still very much