2022 Festival Faculty

Meet the 2022 Regional Dance America Festival Adjudicators, Faculty, and Accompanists!

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  • Accompanist
  • Adjudicator
  • Ballet
  • Character
  • Contemporary
  • Faculty
  • Hip Hop
  • Jazz
  • Latin
  • Men's Class
  • MidStates
  • Modern
  • Musical Theatre
  • Northeast
  • Pacific
  • Pointe & Variations
  • Repertory
  • Southeast
  • Southwest
  • Wellness

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Richard Abrahamson

Richard Abrahamson, Staff Musician for the Dance Division, Meadows School of the Arts, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas, joined Meadows in 1978. He teaches Musical Concepts in the creative track of the program, and coordinates the Division’s staff of professional musicians. Mr. Abrahamson’s community activities include teaching, voice coaching and rehearsal, and choral direction.  Richard was a faculty member of the Joffrey Ballet summer workshop in San Antonio, Texas from 1986 until 2016; additionally, he served as music director for the performance art program at the Perry-Mansfield School and Camp in Steamboat Springs, Colorado from 1993 until 1995. From 1986 until 1989, Abrahamson was a Music Director for Peace Child, an international youth cultural exchange program, extensively touring the former Soviet Union under the auspices of the Soviet Ministry of Culture. He is a member of the International Guild of Musicians in Dance and the American Guild of Organists. Mr. Abrahamson studied organ, harpsichord, and piano at the Oberlin College Conservatory of Music, Texas Christian University, and The Juilliard School.

Amy Aldridge

Amy Aldridge was born in Richmond, VA and began her dance training at the School of the Richmond Ballet and spent her summers studying at the School of American Ballet and the Boston Ballet School. She is a graduate of the University of the North Carolina School of the Arts, where she received the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence.

Aldridge joined the Philadelphia Ballet, formerly the Pennsylvania Ballet, in 1994 and was promoted to Principal Dancer in 2001 performing principal roles in numerous works, including The Taming of the Shrew, Cinderella, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, La Fille mal Gardée, Alexei Ratmansky’s Jeu de Cartes, and Jiří Kylián’s Petite Mort. She has always had a passion for the Balanchine ballets and has danced principal roles in The Nutcracker™, Square Dance, Slaughter on Tenth Avenue, Ballo della Regina, Stravinsky Violin Concerto, Rubies from Jewels, Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux, Allegro Brillante and Theme and Variations. Aldridge has had the privilege of working one on one with many renowned choreographers over the years including Peter Martins, Arthur Mitchell, Christopher Wheeldon, William Forsythe, Liam Scarlett, and Twyla Tharp and has created original roles in ballets for Dwight Rhoden, Trey McIntyre, Matthew Neenan, Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, David Dawson, Alonzo King, and Jorma Elo.

Aldridge has appeared internationally as part of the Sintra Festival in Portugal, the Northwest Phalen Tanz Festival in Germany (with choreographer Kevin O’Day) and with the Stars of New York Ballet in London. In May 2004, she performed as a guest artist with New York City Ballet dancing Tarantella as part of the George Balanchine Centennial Celebrations. She has also appeared with BalletX in Neenan’s Broke Apart, Elo’s Scenes View 2, and at Jacob’s Pillow in Summer 2006.

In May of 2017 Aldridge retired from the Philadelphia Ballet with George Balanchine’s Rubies pas de deux and Tarantella. After 23 years on the stage, she was presented with a City Citation from Mayor Jim Kenney and continued to work with the Philadelphia Ballet, teaching company class and coaching the Balanchine repertoire. She is currently a faculty member at the Philadelphia Dance Academy and serves as an Adjunct Associate Professor at University of the Arts.

Justin Allen

Born in Baltimore Maryland, Justin began his dance training at the Baltimore School for the Arts.  He decided he wanted more serious ballet training and in 2004, he began training at The Rock School for Dance Education where he had the opportunity to dance different styles of ballet and finish his education in the Rock Academics Program Alliance.  Justin studied at The Rock School for 4 years.  He spent his summers training with the Miami City Ballet School from 2004-2008.  In 2008, Justin got his first opportunity to dance as a professional guest artist with The Dayton Ballet, which led to his first professional contract.  In 2009, Justin joined The Ballet Theatre of Maryland where he performed many soloist roles.  In 2010, Justin joined The Rock School as a full-time Faculty and Choreographer.  Justin was the recipient of The Joffrey Ballet’s 2013 Choreographers of Color Award. Among many other awards, Justin has been awarded Outstanding Choreographer at the YAGP Philadelphia competition. in 2021 Justin was promoted to Co-Artistic Director and Resident Choreographer of The Rock School for Dance Education.

Lauren Anderson

Native Houstonian, Lauren Anderson danced with Houston Ballet from 1983 to 2006, performing leading roles in all the great classical ballets, appearing across the world to critical acclaim audience, and in the process, becoming one of Houston Ballet’s most beloved stars.

She trained exclusively at Houston Ballet’s Ben Stevenson Academy from the age of seven. She joined Houston Ballet in 1983 as a Corps de Ballet, 1987 was promoted to Soloist and in 1990 became the first African-American to be promoted to principal dancer at Houston Ballet. She is also one of the few African-American ballerinas at the head of a major ballet company anywhere in the world.

In January 2007, Ms. Anderson assumed her new role of in Houston Ballet’s Education and Community Engagement program where she conducts master classes at area schools, and lectures to students on dance and her historic career as one of America’s most distinguished African-American ballerinas.

In the spring of 2016, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture awarded her with a permanent exhibit.

*Southwest Adjudicator* Penny Askew

Penny Askew is the Owner/Director of Askew Ballet Academy in Oklahoma City. She holds a Master of Fine Arts degree in Dance/Choreography from the University of Iowa, and was named the Outstanding Choreographer of the Regional Dance America National Craft of Choreography Conference in both 1996 and 1998. Over 20 of her ballets have been selected for performance at Regional Dance America/Southwest and National Festivals, and her works have been commissioned by Western Arkansas Ballet, Canton Ballet, Baton Rouge Ballet Theatre, Texas Dance Theatre, Allegro Ballet of Houston, Victoria Ballet Theatre, Twin City Ballet, Chamber Youth Ballet, The University of Iowaʼs Dancers in Company, Bucknell Dance Company, and Ballet Quad Cities.

From 1988-2015, Askew was the Artistic Director of Western Oklahoma Ballet Theatre (Regional Dance America/Southwest member, 1981-2011) and its affiliated school in Clinton, Oklahoma. From 2015-2020, she was the Director of The Oklahoma City Ballet Yvonne Chouteau School, and a Ballet Master for Oklahoma City Ballet. She also directed OKCBʼs Summer Intensive and Young Dancer Intensive programs, in addition to overseeing all school operations. She is an American Ballet Theatre® Affiliate Teacher, who has successfully completed the ABT® Teacher Training Intensives in all levels of the ABT® National Training Curriculum. She has taught at Oklahoma City Ballet’s Summer Intensive, AileyCamp New York, Western Arkansas Balletʼs Lorraine Cranford Workshop, The Glenda Brown Choreography Project, the University of Iowa, for RDA/SW and RDA/NE Festivals, and at the 2017 National Festival in Phoenix, for which she also served as the Northeast regionʼs adjudicator.

Her students have been selected to attend many prominent national training programs and university dance programs, and have danced and choreographed professionally with ballet, modern dance, and musical theatre companies. Her work with Western Oklahoma Ballet Theatre garnered her a 2008 Oklahoma Governorʼs Arts Award, and she was also the recipient of Regional Dance America/Southwestʼs Stream Award for service and artistic excellence in both 1996 and 2011. She opened Askew Ballet Academy in the fall of 2020, and also works as Program Director and Ballet Master for Central Oklahoma Dance Company.

Jill Eathorne Bahr

Jill Eathorne Bahr served as Resident Choreographer of Charleston Ballet Theatre since its inception as a professional ballet company in 1987. Bahr been awarded two National Endowment for the Arts Choreographic Fellowships, four Monticello Choreographic Fellowships, the William Habich Choreography Award, the South Carolina Arts Commission Choreography Fellowship in 1997 – the first time offered in 10 years, two Astral Choreography Awards, and was part of the Celebration of the Uncommon Woman in Oregon. Bahr was most recently awarded the Verner Award from the SC Arts Commission recognizing outstanding achievement and contributions to the arts in South Carolina and a second choreography fellowship from the same organization in 2009. Her choreography can be found in the repertoire of Atlanta Ballet, Boston Ballet, Dayton Contemporary Dance Company, Ballet Eddy Toussaint USA, Central Indiana Dance Ensemble, New American Youth Ballet, Florida Ballet , Eugene Ballet, Indianapolis Ballet Theatre, Nevada Dance Theatre, North Carolina Dance Theatre, State of Alabama Ballet, Ballet Omaha, Midland Festival Ballet, Victoria Ballet Theatre, Joffrey II Dancers and the Fort Wayne Ballet. She has taught at many colleges including University of Akron, the University of South Florida, the University of Maryland/ Baltimore and has adjudicated numerous American College Dance Festivals and Regional Dance America Festivals. Bahr recently served on the National Endowment for the Arts Dance Panel. She served as one of the 5 National Adjudicators at the Regional Dance America Festival that was held in Montreal in May of 2012. Jill served as the Adjudicator of the RDA Mid-State Region in 2014, and the Adjudicator of RDA Southeast 2015. She will be one of the 5 National Adjudicators at the Regional Dance America Festival that will be held in Phoenix in May of 2017. She will serve as Adjudication for Regional Dance America SW in March of 2020.

She is currently collaborating with Ramona Pansegrau Music Director of Kansas City Ballet on a new full length Aladdin and the Magic Carpet for Midland Festival Ballet.

Ananda Bena-Weber

Ananda Bena-Weber is an interdisciplinary performing artist who has performed in a diverse array of productions and venues throughout the United States and abroad.  Her touring solo work, Fancifool!, recently won ‘Best Variety Show’ and was a Critic’s Choice pic at the United Solo Theatre Festival in NYC. Ananda has performed choreographic works by: Gregory Hines, Bob Fosse, Jerome Robbins, Fred Astaire, Hermes Pan, John Cranko, Bill ‘Bo Jangles’ Robinson, Jimmy Slyde, Marius Petipa, Sam Weber, Rosine Bena, Lynn Dally and many more.  An accomplished teacher, Ananda teaches a variety of subjects and has taught classes and workshops throughout the US and Europe.  Ms. Bena-Weber was a professor of dance at Marymount Manhattan College, and a teaching artist for the Dance Theater of Harlem and Mark Morris Dance Center in New York for 16 years. She currently teaches at Alonzo King Lines Ballet. Ananda is the Associate Artistic Director of the Sierra Nevada Ballet, and an adjudicator for Regional Dance America.  She specializes in applying deep relaxation and specific alignment to ballet technique to heal and prevent injuries and to maximize pleasure in movement. Ms. Bena-Weber is a member of Actors Equity Association, the International Association of Dance Medicine and Science, and a board member of North American Performing Arts Managers and Agents.


Gail Bradley, RD, LD

(Nutrition for Dancers)

Gail A. Bradley received her Bachelor of Science Degree in Nutrition with a minor in Athletic Training from the University of Nevada, Reno in 1997 and completed her Dietetic Internship at Washoe Medical Center in Reno, Nevada in 1998. As President of Essential Nutrition, LLC her mission is to encourage others to become active participants in their own health care empowering them to consider every aspect of their health, diet and overall lifestyle to make the best choices to increase healing and improve their health, well–being and live their life to the fullest. She is an active member of the Dietitians in Integrated and Functional Medicine, Sports and Cardiovascular Nutrition and Nutrition Support which are Diagnostic Practice Groups with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Sarah Braverman

Sarah Braverman grew up in Los Angeles, California. She trained extensively in the Royal Academy of Dance, under the direction of Bernadette Hill and JoAnna Jarvis, completing all exams through Advanced II with distinction. Sarah moved to NYC in 2004 to attend Marymount Manhattan College, under the direction of Katie Langan, graduating cum laude with a BFA in Dance with a concentration in ballet and an Arts Administration minor in 2008. During her time at MMC Sarah had the privilege of performing works by Robert Battle, Stephen Petronio, David Parsons, David Marquez, Graham Lustig and Joao Carvalho. Sarah joined NYC based modern dance company Parsons Dance from 2008 – 2018 where she enjoyed ten seasons of extensive national and international touring, performing and teaching master classes and intensives all over the world. During her tenure at Parsons, she had the honor of creating and performing works by Robert Battle, Trey McIntyre, Kate Skarpetowska, Monica Bill Barnes, Natalie Lomonte, Ephrat Asherie and Omar Roman de Jesus. She joined the cast of NYC’s off Broadway production Queen of the Night as a guest artist, dancing the principle role from 2015 – 2016 and has been featured in Dance Magazine, Dance Spirit and the New York Times. She is a certified Pilates and Barre instructor and loves incorporating these skills into training young dancers.


William Burden

Formal dance training for William began at the Creative & Performing Arts H.S. under the direction of Ms. LaDiva Davis. He attended the Rock School of Dance Education and was a scholarship student at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Center. William also has many years of training with Tap Team Two & Company co-directed by his father, Robert Burden. William has been a company member with Eleone Dance Connection, Eleone Dance Theater/Artistic Director Shawn Lamere Williams and Spectrum Dance Theatre under the artistic direction of Mr. Donald Byrd. For more than a few times William has been the recipient of the Marion Anderson Award in Philadelphia. Most recently William received his Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of the Arts.

Rebecca Burgess, MS LCMFT

Rebecca is a Licensed Clinical Marriage and Family Therapist. She received her Bachelor of Science in Exercise Physiology from the University of South Carolina and earned her Master of Science from Friends University in Marriage and Family Therapy. She owns a private practice in Lawrence, Kansas where she provides mental health counseling for teenagers, adults, couples and families. Rebecca helps those suffering from a wide range of mental health difficulties from anxiety disorders and depression to trauma and relationship distress, and is trained in specialized trauma treatments. She also spends time mentoring and supervising new therapists as a Registered Clinical Supervisor, and speaks to groups of all kinds about anxiety, depression and shame.

Rebecca loves the outdoors and the arts. On her time away from the office you will find Rebecca with her husband, who is also a mental health clinician, and her three teenage children who have each been involved in the arts including dance. She has always had a particular love for ballet since she was a little girl, and holds a deep respect for dancers.

Carrie Cameron, DPT, ATC

(Foot & Ankle Injury Prevention)

Dr. Carrie Cameron has always been fascinated with mixing the world of art with science, which is reflected in both her professional skills and demonstrated in the positive outcomes of her patients. The foundation of her clinical approach is the belief that the body is beautifully made and masterfully crafted to do amazing things. As a result of her passion for sports and dance medicine, she has a history of guiding athletes and dancers through an injury and back to personal peak performance. She utilizes treatment techniques across a multidisciplinary spectrum tailored to treat the person as a whole. These techniques include manual therapy, exercise prescription and bio-mechanics that not only help her patients reach their healthy living goals, but contribute to a foundation of sustainable performance. Her career has taken her to both coasts and across the country working with athletes, dancers and performers at all levels. In her spare time, Carrie enjoys the outdoors with her wonderful husband, Marshall, and their son, William. She appreciates her daily run for both its physical and mental joys and fits in a 5-K or half marathon when she can.

Kevin Carpenter

Kevin Carpenter is a full-time staff accompanist at the School of American Ballet. He also accompanies classes at Ballet Academy East, and The Julliard School and the Company of American Ballet Theater and the New York City Ballet. He spends as much of his summers as possible working with dancers at Burklyn Ballet Theater in Vermont under the direction of Joanne Whiteside.

Born in Dallas and raised in Brazoria, Texas, Kevin studied piano with Marjorie Fix, Lee Rickaway, and Rachel Woods. During junior high, he also played trombone, baritone, and tuba. In high school he began to pursue his passion for musical theater, after being cast as Charlie Davenport in “Annie Get Your Gun” under the direction of Marilyn Foreman Ocker. After his freshman year, he studied voice with Catherine Wafford, competing for and earning a place in three Texas All State Choirs.

At the University of Houston, Kevin studied voice, opera, and composition. During this time, he performed extensively as a soloist with many performing arts organizations. His interpretations of Bach, Britten, Mendelssohn, and Rorem were highly regarded.

After moving to Austin, Texas, Kevin worked as an assistant to the Director of Music at First United Methodist Church and studied dance music with the incomparable Marietta Drummond. Here he discovered his love for dance and his affinity for accompanying dancers, especially in classical ballet. After seven years as a staff accompanist at Ballet Austin, and playing several summer intensives for American Ballet Theatre, Kevin set his sights on a career in ballet in New York City.

In addition to playing dance classes, he arranges music for his husband’s choreography, as well as teaching voice.

Adam Cates

Adam Cates has an extensive background in commercial and not-for-profit theatre, opera, television, events, and arts education.  He called New York City home for two decades before returning to his hometown, Reno, NV, where he is the Education & Development Manager for the Pioneer Center for the Performing Arts. Adam’s Broadway creative credits include the musicals A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder (Tony: “Best Musical”),Anastasia, and Anything Goes with Sutton Foster & Joel Grey (Tony: “Best Revival/Choreography”). He co-wrote the libretto for The World According to Snoopy, starring The Peanuts™ characters, and authored the guidebook for young performers, The Business of Show.  Adam choreographed the American transfer of the Olivier-winning play Jeeves & Wooster, and productions at Lincoln Center, regional theatres, and opera companies across the US.  His National Tour credits include A Gentleman’s Guide…The Wizard of Oz, and assisting and performing opposite Tommy Tune in Doctor Dolittle. Television credits include 90210 (CW), Live from Lincoln Center (PBS), and Chicas de Viaje (Viacom/Argentina).

Adam holds an MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts and a BA in Theatre. Teaching experience includes faculty positions at Pace University, Broadway Dance Center, Steps on Broadway, Marymount Manhattan College, Commercial Dance Intensive, and Theater Arts Preparatory School, and guest artist residencies at The Juilliard School, Texas State University, UC Irvine, and UNR.  The City of Reno declared November 24th, 2014 “Adam Cates Day” in recognition of his contributions to the arts.
www.adamcates.com @adamcnyc

Patience Clements

Accompanist Patience Clements has been playing for dance since 1976. Born in Washington, DC, she began as class pianist for the George Washington University dance program, The McLean School of Ballet and American University. After moving to Nashville she became company pianist for The Nashville City Ballet and The Nashville Ballet. She also began playing for festivals and summer intensives including TAD, SERBA, Chautauqua NY, Little Rock AR, The Centennial Arts Program and the International Ballet Competition in Jackson MS. Currently residing in Charleston SC, she was company pianist for The Charleston Ballet Theatre and has accompanied Jill Bahr, Patricia McBride, Daniel Ulbricht, Susan Jaffe, Paul Vasterling, Thom Clower, Mel Tomlinson and Gelsey Kirkland. Patience has five recordings of original music for ballet class. In 2014, she collaborated with Kylie Morton Berry on an adjudicated piece for SERBA “Dissonance and Harmony”.

Adrian Ciobanu

Adrian Ciobanu was born in Cluj, Romania, where he graduated with honors from the Liceul de Choregrafie, Octavian Stroia, under the direction of his father, Florin Ciobanu. He performed with the Romanian Opera Ballet for one year then moved to the Hungarian Opera Ballet for five years, where he achieved the rank of principal dancer. He toured throughout Europe including France, Hungary, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Romania, and the Czech Republic.

In 1996, Mr. Ciobanu became a member of the Sarasota Ballet, dancing major principal roles as well as creating many roles. His repertoire includes major classical and contemporary ballets by such choreographers as Robert North, Alberto Alonso, Katherine Posen, Steven Mills, Todd Allen, and Ament Istvan. Beginning in 2002, he taught and coached for Sarasota Ballet School, Dance the Next Generation, and local and regional schools throughout Florida. In 2003, Mr. Ciobanu was promoted to Principal of Academy, Sarasota Ballet, where the number of students doubled and the budget increased significantly under his direction. He staged full-length productions for the Academy, including Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Alice in Wonderland, The Nutcracker, La Boutique Fantasque, and Paquita. In 2008, Mr. Ciobanu was promoted to Ballet Master of Sarasota Ballet and worked extensively with the Company. He worked with such stagers and choreographers as Hans Van Manen, Monica Parker, Alexander Grant, Dominic Walsh, Sandra Jennings, Joyceanne Sidimus, Julian Moss, Andre Prokovsky, Gilles Maidon, Jackie Hollander, Donald Mahler, and Margaret Barbieri. Since relocating to Houston, Mr. Ciobanu has been the Co-Director of Uptown Dance Centre and Uptown Dance Company for the past seven years. In 2018, he spearheaded and directed an outreach program with Royal High School in Brookshire, Texas, for The Nutcracker Suite with their Performing Arts Program as well as with area elementary school students, in collaboration with Uptown Dance Company.

*MidStates Adjudicator* Thom Clower

Known as one of the most energetic and inspiring teachers across the country, Thom Clower’s “evangelistic” approach to teaching has touched the lives and careers of dancers around the world for 40 years. With extensive training in the Vaganova, Balanchine, Cecchetti, and Bournonville styles, Mr. Clower combines the qualities of each one to present a technique that is true and versatile.

Making his stage debut at the age of six, Mr. Clower began his professional training with George Skibine and Marjorie Tallchief at the Dallas Civic Ballet in 1968. He received a Ford Foundation Scholarship to the School of American Ballet in New York for two consecutive years, and also studied in Paris, Amsterdam, and London. He joined Dallas Ballet in 1978 where he spent eleven seasons performing with the company under Mr. Skibine and Flemming Flindt, and served as assistant Ballet Master for Dallas Ballet’s 1980 South American tour.
As Ballet Master, Mr. Clower assisted Flindt in staging his full-length NUTCRACKER, THE THREE MUSKETEERS, and PHAEDRA, and personally administrated the staging of Alvin Ailey’s THE RIVER, John Cranko’s JEU DE CARTES, Jeri Kylian’s ENGULFED CATHERDRAL, Fokine’s PRINCE IGOR and LES SYLPHIDES, and many others.

Mr. Clower served as Founding Artistic Director of the restructured Ballet Dallas and the affiliate school, the Dallas Conservatory of Ballet. Under his direction, Ballet Dallas was the resident professional ballet company for the Dallas area for eight years, carrying on the traditions of the former company. Mr. Clower served as Ballet Master for Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, working closely with founding Artistic Director Lou Conte. In this capacity, he was primary teacher for the company and rehearsal director for works by Twyla Tharp, Nacho Duato, Daniel Ezerlow, and Kevin O’Day. Mr. Clower then served four seasons as Artistic Director of Yuma Ballet Theatre (AZ), and Ballet Master of the affiliate school, Dancers Workshop. He was a regular guest teacher at Allegro Ballet of Houston from 2009-2018.
As a representative of the George Skibine Trust, Mr. Clower helps maintain the integrity of Mr. Skibine’s ballets, staging them across the country.

He has served on selection panels for the City of Dallas, Tarrant County, and both the Texas and Arizona Commission on the Arts Peer Review Panels. He was awarded the prestigious Legacy Award for Achievement in the Arts by the Dallas Dance Council in 2000, and placed in the Yuma Ballet Theatre’s Hall of Fame in 2005. Since 2017 he has served on the Board of Directors of the Dance Council of North Texas, focusing on their scholarship program.

Brandi Coleman

Brandi Coleman is assistant professor of jazz dance in the Division of Dance at Southern Methodist University where she teaches Jump Rhythm® Technique – a jazz-rhythm-based movement approach that transforms the moving body into a rhythmically accurate percussion instrument. She was a performing member, rehearsal director, and associate artistic director of Jump Rhythm Jazz Project, a Chicago-based dance company founded by Billy Siegenfeld, that celebrates the communal core of jazz performance – dancing, singing, and storytelling in rhythmically syncopated bursts of energy.

Brandi received an Emmy Award in the category of “Outstanding Excellence On Camera/Performer” for her work in the multiple-Emmy-Award-winning documentary, Jump Rhythm Jazz Project: Getting There, produced by HMS Media and aired on PBS. She has performed at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts as a part of the JUBA! Masters of Tap and Percussive Dance concert and has toured nationally across the United States and internationally with JRJP to Finland, Italy, and Canada. As a teaching artist, she has led more than 40 choreographic and teaching residencies at universities across the country and internationally where she teaches technique classes and repertory to students in the areas of dance, musical theatre, and acting. She also served as adjunct lecturer at Northwestern University, Carthage College, and as a visiting guest artist at Stephens College.

Her emotionally-expressive choreography, often set to jazz, blues, and funk music, has been presented at the Southern Theater (Minneapolis), Links Hall (Chicago), New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, River Center Theatre for the Performing Arts (Baton Rouge), Moody Performance Hall, the Eisemann Center for Performing Arts, and the Montgomery Arts Theater (Dallas), Northwestern University, Stephens College, Carthage College, University of Dubuque, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Western Virginia University, and Southern Methodist University. This year, she will be making new work for Decidedly Jazz Danceworks in Calgary, Alberta, Canada and for the dancers at Salve Regina University in Newport, RI.

Brandi’s pedagogy, writing, and choreography centers the origins of jazz dance that are specifically born of the African American experience; she upholds a deep respect and understanding for the intertwining of the historical, socio-political, and cultural contexts that are at the core of jazz dance. Her creative and scholarly research examines the performative nature of gender, gender expression and representation in jazz dance pedagogy, performance, and choreography, and the intersection of race and gender as it pertains to the commodification of the female moving body in jazz dance. Her writing, “Performing Gender: Disrupting Performance Norms for Women in Jazz Dance through Gender-Inclusive, Human-Centric Choreography” is included in the book Rooted Jazz Dance: Africanist Aesthetics and Equity in the Twenty-First Century, edited by Lindsay Guarino, Carlos R.A. Jones, and Wendy Oliver, (University Press of Florida, 2022).

Brandi holds a BA in Dance, Northeastern Illinois University, Chicago, IL and an MFA in Performing Arts: Dance, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

As a founding member of Louisiana Dance Theatre, under the artistic direction of Carol S. Anglin, she attended and performed at many Regional Dance America/SW Festivals, including the first National Festival in Houston, TX. RDA/SW played a central role in her personal and artistic development as a young dancer. She was honored to teach for Baton Rouge Ballet Theatre’s RDA/SW Festival in 2016 and Collin County Ballet’s RDA/SW Festival in 2018. Brandi looks forward to working with the many wonderful dancers at RDA/SW Festival 2022!





Jefferson Dalby

Jefferson Dalby accompanies ballet classes using a wide range of music, from Ragtime and Celtic to Aretha Franklin and the Beatles, as well as ballet classics and improvisation. For modern dance classes he plays percussion and electronics in addition to piano. Mr. Dalby began as a dance accompanist at Texas Christian University in 1979 and has been a staff accompanist at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts since 1992 and at the American Dance Festival since 1987. He has played for Erik Bruhn, Violette Verdy, Donald McKayle, Yazuko Hirabayashi, and Mark Morris. His website is BalletClassMusicforFree.com.

Richard DiFiore

Richard DiFiore is the Music Director and Principal Pianist in the Dance Department at Mercyhurst University. Richard has a master’s degree from the University of Florida in Piano Performance, and he has studied with Boaz Sharon, Willis Bodine, Douglas Fisher, and Timothy Hoekman. Mr. DiFiore has been in high demand as a dance accompanist for many years and has played for many festivals including the Chautauqua Institute and Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts School and Camp in  Colorado. In addition, Richard is an active vocal coach and collaborative pianist.

Boyko Dossev

Boyko Dossev is an Assistant Professor at the University of Oklahoma School of Dance. He serves as the Director for the Oklahoma Festival Ballet and as the School of Dance Summer Intensive Director. Dossev taught at Harvard University and danced with the Boston Ballet before joining the OU School of Dance. Dossev’s choreography was performed on many national and international stages, including Semperoper Ballet Dresden, Hamburg Ballet, and the Boston Ballet, to name a few. He teaches classes and master classes nationally and internationally and is ABT certified teacher.

Dossev is a Gold Medalist from the prestigious Varna International Ballet Competition and holds a Bachelor’s in Ballet Pedagogy, a Master’s in Choreography, and a Master’s of Science in Corporate and Organizational Communication.

Tedrick Evans

Tedrick Evans was born in Tallahassee, Florida.  Growing up he wasn’t much of a talker, but as an artist, his head was always on a new project that challenged his mental and visual skills. Tedrick didn’t get into street dancing until later in his teen life.  At first, dance was just a hobby he did when he wanted to feel good while the music was playing, but eventually, through college, his love for art became more dance focused and eventually joined a dance team and started competing, and creating choreography for teens, and young adults.  This led to awards, and opportunities that he didn’t expect at first, but was grateful to have experienced.  After graduating college, placing dance on hold and moving to another city to work in a business career, he, eventually, knew this wasn’t all he wanted to do, and got back into dancing, and focused heavily on teaching the future of the dance community.  During these years, as a coach he provided the tools to help his clients and team members win pageant awards, world of dance competitions, and taught in various parts of Florida.  He also had the opportunity to dance within the Millenium Tour, and the Super Bowl.  Some call him a humble spirit, as he never really brings up his accolades in conversation, and one of his biggest moments is being recognized for his work, to be able to teach for a festival/convention such as Regional Dance of America. He plans to use this moment to show his unique style of choreo blending all styles with storytelling and mixing rhythm, grooves, lines, and funk to the future dancers of the community.

Katia Garza

Born in Piedras Negras Coahuila, Mexico, Katia Garza began her training in Monterrey Mexico in the Escuela Superior de Musica y Danza de Monterrey graduating in 1995. The same year she joined Ballet de Monterrey and after 6 months became soloist and a year later principal dancer under the direction of Fernando Bujones. She was invited by the Compania Nacional de Danza in Mexico City, Panama Ballet Company and Lexington Ballet Theatre as a guest artist.

In 1998, performed as a guest Panama’s Ballet Company and start dancing in the Youth Ballet of Monterrey the same year.

In 1999, Katia won the silver medal in International Ballet Competition in Peru being the only medal that year being the only medal award that year.

Katia was a finalist at the 2002 International Ballet Competition in Jackson, MS.

In 2004 Casa de Mexico and the Mexican Consulate in Orlando gave her an award for her contribution to the community and the arts in the city.

She has the opportunity to be a guest teacher in Tokyo, Japan from 2006 to 2009. Performing in an International Gala in this country in 2009.

In 2006 performed in Puerto Rico for the first time and is being coming back every year to perform and choreograph.

In 2008 was a finalist at the “Hispanic women award Ceremony” in Central Florida.

In 2009 the Mexican Consul gave her the award “Angel de la Independencia” for hire with her art the Mexican community and being a model for them in Central Florida.

In 2010 received the award of Outstanding Female in the Arts in the “Hispanic Women that make the difference” in Central Florida.

She worked as a teacher and Principal Dancer at Orlando Ballet from 2000 to 2013.

Right now Katia is the Artistic Director and School Director of Mobile Ballet in Alabama.

Her repertoire as a principal character includes Don Quixote, Giselle, Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake, La Fille Mal Gardee, Coppelia, Cinderella, Corsario, Flames of Paris, La Bayadere, Firebird, La Vivandiere, Esmeralda, Arlequinade , Nutcracker, Sinatra Songs, Serenade,Who cares, Upper Room, Festival Fantasy, Balanchine Tarantela,  among others.

She has the opportunity to work as a choreographer at Ballet of Monterrey (Mexico), Youth Ballet of Monterrey, ESMD, Tallahassee Ballet, Franceschi Arts Academy ( Puerto Rico)  Orlando Ballet, Orlando Ballet 2, Orlando Ballet School, Northwest Florida Ballet, Jackson Mississippi Metropolitan Ballet, Corpus Christi Concert Ballet, Midland Festival Ballet (Texas), Russian Academy (Sarasota),Studio 321 (Indiana), UNAM ( Mexico ), Company Taller Coreografico de la UNAM (Mexico), School of Ballet Indiana, Mobile Ballet among others.

Some of her full length choreographies are Midsummer Night’s Dream,The Little Mermaid, La Bayadere, Luca Bottleblue (Original Story), Paquita, Corsaire 2nd act, Don Quixote, Raymonda, La Esmeralda, Giselle and since 2000 is being making neoclassical solos for competitions all around in USA.

After 13 years out of her country, she was chosen as one of the most successful Mexican choreographers out of the country invited to choreographed a ballet the Universidad Autonoma de Mexico. After this opportunity and success her piece was elected as a repertory of the famous company Taller Coreografico de la UNAM.

She has won the Outstanding teacher award in Youth American Grand Prix Semifinals 2015 (Atlanta), 2017 (North Carolina), 2018 (Houston), 2019 (Houston).

IRG productions made a documentary “Katia Garza My life in Dance” already premier in Mexico and USA an inspirational documentary katiagarzamovie.com

Francisco Gella

Francisco Gella’s distinguished thirty-year career as a compelling dancer, award-winning choreographer, and widely recognized dance educator, began when he took his first formal dance class during his freshman year at the age of nineteen. His innovative choreography and highly effective teaching methods are sought after by professional companies, universities, arts high schools, ballet conservatories, and studios across North America and around the globe.

A 1996 graduate with a BA in dance from the University of Washington, Francisco is a past company member with the Philadelphia Dance Company (PHILADANCO); Repertory Dance Theater; and Ballet Pacifica. He has been a guest performer with Spectrum Dance Theater; Chamber Dance Company; Seattle Opera; Pennsylvania Ballet; California Ballet; Laguna Dance Festival; and National Choreographers Initiative. In 1998, Francisco performed as a principal soloist at the Closing Ceremonies in the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics in Japan and was featured in a PBS Dance in America Special in Daniel Ezralow’s holiday satirical work entitled the X-mas Philes.

Throughout his twelve-year professional performance career, Francisco was privileged to dance in the works of world-renowned choreographers including William Forsythe, Dwight Rhoden, Milton Myers, Talley Beatty, Anthony Tudor, Alwin Nikolais, Gene Hill Sagan, David Parsons, Ronald K. Brown, Bebe Miller, Jawole Zollar, George Faison, Murray Louis, Zvi Gotheiner, Lucinda Childs, Shapiro & Smith, Bill Evans, Laura Dean, Daniel Ezralow, Barak Marshall, Sophie Maslow, Viola Farber, Ford Evans, Susan McClain, Elisa Monte, Stephen Mills, Sarah Slipper, Ann Marie D’Angelo, Shaun Hounsell, Choo San Goh, Luca Vegetti, and Christopher D’Amboise..

 Francisco’s choreographic commissions include Ballet Idaho, PHILADANCO, Repertory Dance Theatre, Ballet Pacifica, California Ballet, Ballet West Trainee Company, Pennsylvania Ballet’s Shut-Up and Dance Production, PHILADANCO’s Danco on Danco program, Laguna Dance Festival, art´Emotion Choreographic Workshop, Palm Springs International Dance Festival, Palm Desert Choreography Festival, Tucson Regional Ballet, Harvard Ballet Company, University of Utah Ballet Ensemble, Brigham Young University Contemporary Ensemble, Utah Valley University Synergy Dance Company, University of Washington Faculty Concert, Irvine Valley College, Ballet East, DANCO/II, South Bay Ballet (now Ballet California), Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing & Visual Arts, Orange County School for the Arts and Douglas Anderson School of the Arts.

Among the recognition he has received includes numerous choreography awards at the Youth America Grand Prix International Ballet Competition including Outstanding Choreographer, and the Outstanding Choreography Award at the National Regional Dance America Conference in 2007.  In 2013, Francisco premiered ‘Concentric Harmonies’ at Celebrate Dance in Los Angeles, a work that went on to receive the Grand Prize at the McCallum Theatre Choreography Festival in 2014. In 2014 and 2015, his work ‘Solstice’, performed by the Phoenix Ballet had its world premier at the 60th Anniversary Gala of the Beijing Dance Academy and its European premiere at Poland’s prestigious Lodz International Ballet Festival. In May 2016, his work ‘Souvenirs de Mouvement’ was selected as a featured performance at the nationally recognized Booker T. Washington High School of the Performing & Visual Arts’ annual ‘Flying Horse Gala’. In 2018, Francisco’s work ‘Timelapse’, performed by the Douglas Anderson School of the Arts, was selected for the gala performance at the National High School Dance Festival.

Francisco’s commission ‘Between the Lines’, set on PHILADANCO (The Philadelphia Dance Company) and which premiered at the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts and at the BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival in 2015, was selected by PHILADANCO’S Artistic Director Joan Myers Brown as the company’s sole performance at the opening to the Democratic National Convention in 2016.  In the spring of 2019, Francisco was invited to be the resident artist at the Palm Springs International Dance Festival where his new work ‘Particles’ had its world premiere. In the spring of 2020, Francisco was invited back to the festival in Palm Springs to premiere another original work. Prior to its live premiere, Francisco’s ‘Particles’ was produced as a dance on film and in 2018, was selected for inclusion in the San Francisco Dance Film Festival and the LA Dance Shorts Film Festival.

In addition to a successful performance and choreographic career, Francisco is a renowned educator, artistic director, and arts entrepreneur. He is the founding co-artistic director of Zeitgeist Dance Theatre launched in January of 2020. He is also the founding artistic director of NUEVO School of Contemporary Dance and COLABO Youth Dance Collective (2008-2015). As Chief Creative Officer of Francisco Gella Dance Works, he has created numerous influential educational programs; Ballet+ (beyond technique) workshops, the Preprofessional Dancer Institute, New Year’s Training Camp, Seattle Dance Advance, the New Century Dance Project (a festival for choreography and performance) and the College Dance and Career Prep program.  Additionally, Francisco is the lead ballet and modern faculty member, and adjudicator for the 24 Seven Dance Convention. Born in Bacolod City, Philippines, Francisco now resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Otis Gray

Otis Gray holds Bachelor of Music degrees in Piano Performance and Music Education from Southern Methodist University. For over 30 years, he has played piano for dance companies, workshops, universities, and festivals, some of which include the Juilliard School, Northwestern University, University of Oklahoma, Dance Theatre of Harlem, Complexions Contemporary Ballet, Ballet West, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, International Ballet Competition in Jackson Mississippi, Boston Ballet, Paul Taylor Dance School, Steps on Broadway, Dallas Ballet Center, Dallas Black Dance Theatre, Hathaway Academy of Ballet, Ballet Academy of Texas, & various Regional Dance of America festivals. Otis sells Steinway & Sons pianos in North Texas, specializing in helping families find the perfect piano for their home.

Alan Hineline

A lifelong advocate for the arts, Alan Hineline delivers a rare blend of artistic experience and business expertise with a proven track record of motivating organizations to achieve their artistic and strategic missions.

As director of artistic programming for Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet (CPYB) Hineline works with artistic leadership to seek and develop repertory that strengthens the overall educational experience of CPYB students.

Alan’s versatility and musicality have made him a sought-after choreographer both nationally and abroad. His body of work has been seen in the repertories of over thirty companies including American Ballet Theatre Studio Company, Pennsylvania Ballet, Atlanta Ballet, Ballet Philippines, Richmond Ballet, Cincinnati Ballet/Beyond Ballet, Kansas City Ballet, Oklahoma City Ballet, The Juilliard Dance Ensemble, Sacramento Ballet, Charleston Ballet Theatre, Alabama Ballet, Sarasota Ballet, Ballet Concierto de Cuba, Dances…Patrelle, Berkshire Ballet, Utah Regional Ballet, Goucher College, University of South Carolina and a host of companies in Regional Dance America (RDA). For CPYB Hineline has created over twenty-five works. His works have been performed internationally and at the New York International Ballet Competition, the Aoyama International Ballet Festival in Tokyo, Japan and the International Ballet Competition in Jackson, Mississippi.

As chief executive officer of Ballet San Jose, Hineline led all aspects of the organization’s mission fulfillment – working closely with trustee and artistic leadership on strategic initiatives, board development, financial stewardship, institutional marketing and fundraising campaigns, and artistic programming. Hineline served as CEO for CPYB from 2009 to 2014. His strategies to expand the CPYB profile and develop financial support of the organization’s mission put CPYB on a path toward long-term sustainability and viability for future generations of students and audience members. Previously, Hineline lead Ballet Philippines, in Manila, as chief operating officer and artistic director. In his role, he oversaw a complete rebranding of the organization including repertoire expansion, artistic development of the company artists, and a heightened institutional profile.

Hineline is the founder of Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet’s choreographic initiative, ChoreoPlan and served as the organization’s resident choreographer from 1997 – 2014. Among his many awards is the Choo-San Goh Award for Choreography from the Choo-San Goh and H. Robert Magee Foundation, as well as multiple National Choreography Awards from Regional Dance America.

Ian Howells

Ian Howells is a pianist/accompanist based out of New Jersey. He is a graduate of the John J. Cali School of Music at Montclair State University. Dubbed a “musical chameleon,” he developed his love for music from a young age, experimenting with multiple instruments before taking a further interest in piano. Upon entering college, he took a fond interest in playing and studying jazz whilst still influenced by his classical roots. Ian is currently a staff pianist for dance at Princeton University and Rutgers University and Princeton Ballet School, as well as a staff pianist for musical theater at Rider University’s School for Performing Arts.

Charmaine Hunter

Charmaine Hunter began her formal dance training at the Hartford Ballet School under the leadership of then Artistic Director Michael Uthoff and teacher Truman Finney. Through the support of Michael Uthoff, Charmaine moved to New York City to study with Arthur Mitchell Artistic Director of the Dance Theatre of Harlem while continuing her formal education at the Professional Children’s School. Dance Theatre of Harlem attracted some of the world’s finest dance educators. She had the opportunity to study under teachers such as Karel Shook co-founder of the Dance Theatre of Harlem, Frederick Franklin, Suzanne Farrell, Tanaquil LeClerque, Carmen DeLavellade, Mary Hinkson, Alvin Ailey, and William Griffith just to name a few.

She rose through the ranks quickly from corps-de-ballet eventually becoming one of the company’s leading ballerinas and finally as the company’s Ballet Mistress.

She electrified audiences with her performances in a broad spectrum of roles. She is best known for her role as The Firebird choreographed by John Taras (Ballet Master with American Ballet Theater) and Medea, choreographed by Michael Smuin (former Artistic Director of San Francisco Ballet.) Additional ballets include Fall River Legend by Agnes De Mille, Billie The Kid, Le Biche, Voluntaries by Glen Tetley, and a long list of Balanchine ballets just to name a few.

During her 27-year career with the Dance Theatre of Harlem, she had opportunities to affect the arts in the U.S. and abroad launching programs specifically for young people with little to no access to the arts. The now famous Dancing Through Barriers, DTH’s outreach program had its start in Johannesburg South Africa.

In 1988, Dance Theatre of Harlem was invited to perform in the former Soviet Union as part of the United States Cultural Exchange Initiative in which Ms. Hunter played a major role as principal dancer.

In November 2000, Charmaine traveled to China conducting extensive outreach and educational activities as teaching artist and principal dancer in addition to teaching master classes at various schools in Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong.

During her tenure at the Dance Theatre of Harlem, Miss Hunter was invited to serve as Ballet Mistress and principal teacher at the Jones-Haywood School of Dance in Washington D.C. the country’s first ballet school founded by two African American women, Doris Jones and Claire Haywood.  Although the school was founded to bridge the gap and open doors for young African Americans to learn the artform of classical ballet, it was open to everyone. These two women were the pioneers in creating a platform for people of color to train and compete on an international level.

In January 2001, Ms. Hunter was invited to Canada by Mirvish Productions the Toronto based Production Company to direct the resident show Disney’s The Lion King at the Princess of Wales Theater. She held this position for 3.5 years until the production moved to Amsterdam Holland.

Ms. Hunter then moved to Macau China to oversee the implementation of the Sands Corporation  entertainment at the new Venetian Macau, one of the Sands Corp largest properties in the world with 20 performance venues.

Ms. Hunter relocated to Las Vegas Nevada after being offered the position of Casting director and talent scout with the Cirque du Soleil. She served as the company’s talent scout for dance as well as Dance Master for the artists in the productions on the Las Vegas Strip. She was also overseeing the classes and training of dance artists on the production of ‘A New Day’ at the Coliseum in Caesars Palace which featured Celine Dion.

Charmaine then Co-founded the Las Vegas Contemporary Dance Theater with fellow dancer Bernard Gaddis formerly of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. LVCDT is a multi-cultural institution that attracts professional dancers and students from around the world.

After the launch of Las Vegas Contemporary Dance Theater (LVCDT), Ms. Hunter was appointed the position as teaching artist with Disney Musicals in Schools with Disney Theatricals and Wolf-trap Early Childhood Education through the arts with The Smith Center of Performing Arts. She traveled nationally training classroom teachers on various methods used to incorporate dance in early childhood curriculum and expanding on the STEAM programs. Her position as teaching artist, lead to many other opportunities which carved another path in directing and management.

Charmaine has returned to the professional concert dance world after accepting a full-time faculty position as Upper School Principal and co-director with Texas Ballet Theater under the guidance and leadership of Ben Stevenson O.B.E. Director Emeritus of Houston Ballet.

Ms. Hunter then moved home to Orlando Florida to be with her family. She accepted a position with the Orlando Ballet as Director of Community Engagement under the Artistic Direction of Robert Hill and Director of Schools Phillip Broomhead. She will serve as the organization’s Director of Community Engagement where she will coordinate and oversee all arts in education and community programs. In addition, Charmaine will teach various levels in the academy of Orlando Ballet training the dancers of tomorrow. She is thrilled to be home with her family in Orlando and looks forward to an amazing future with the Orlando Ballet School.

Gary Jeter

Gary W. Jeter II began dancing in 1997 at Pebble Brook High School for the Performing Arts in Mableton, Georgia, where he graduated in 1999. Gary attended the Ailey fellowship summer program and was a member of Eleone Dance Theater. He received a full director’s scholarship to the University of the Arts where he graduated in 2003 with a BFA degree. After graduation he was asked to join Philadanco (Philadelphia Dance Company) where he was a principal dancer from 2003-­2007. Gary moved on to dance with Complexions Contemporary Ballet from 2007-2014, and in November of 2013 premiered his first ballet for the company titled “You Do What You Can”. In addition, Gary has restaged Complexions Contemporary Ballet repertory at The University of the Arts, Point Park University and Complexions. He has assisted Dwight Rhoden and Desmond Richardson on choreographic projects nationally and internationally and is still connected with the company by position of Artist in Residence. Gary was awarded the National Choreographic Award in Montreal at the 2012 National Festival for his work “Broken Dolls”. Gary joined BalletX in August of 2014, where he danced until 2018. Gary has choreographed works for Eleone Dance Theater, Danco 2, The University of the Arts, Complexions Contemporary Ballet, Philadelphia Dance Theatre, Complexions summer program, and the Come Together Festival amongst others. In 2018 Gary transitioned from BalletX to join the faculty of the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, where he is now a Visiting Assistant Professor. In the summer of 2020 Gary graduated from the University of the Arts graduate program receiving his MFA in dance. Gary’s style/method of moving is influenced and inspired by many years of dancing in diverse and extended ways. A merge of everything he has found beneficial and enjoys.

Nao Kusuzaki

Born in Ehime, Japan, Nao Kusuzaki began her ballet training at Yatsuzuka Ballet in Japan. In the U.S., she trained with The Washington School of Ballet in Washington D.C. and with Boston Ballet School in Boston, MA. She joined Boston Ballet as corps de ballet in 2001, then was offered a position with Houston Ballet in 2004 where she was a soloist from 2009-2016. Her featured roles include: The Sugarplum Fairy, The Snow Queen, Nikiya, Madame Butterfly, Suzuki, Odette/Odile, and The Lilac Fairy as well as in contemporary works by Jiří Kylián, William Forsythe, Stanton Welch, Twyla Tharp, Mark Morris, Christopher Wheeldon, and other renowned choreographers. Nao produced Dance for Hope, a benefit concert in response to the 2011 Japan Earthquake and Tsunami. In 2015, she co-created and featured in TSURU, commissioned by Asia Society Texas, and in July, 2017, she directed and danced in Japan Dance Project: Stanton Welch x Kenta Kojiri x Dancers from Houston Ballet held in Chiba-City, Japan as part of Sister City anniversary celebration. In November, 2017, she directed and danced in the revival of TSURU at the Miller Outdoor Theater, Houston, TX, where Nao was commended by the Consulate General, Japan. Nao is passionate about sharing her knowledge of dance to the next generation of dancers. She is a ballet instructor and coach in the Greater Houston area, including University of St. Thomas Dance Department, Dance of Asian America, Bayou City Ballet School among others. She is a certified GYROTONIC® trainer in level 1 and specialized equipment, and encourages cross training to support dance and healthy lifestyle. Nao is Founder and director of Creative Minds Collaborative Inc. (CMC), a nonprofit organization which seeks to create meaning across artists, educators, and supporters of the arts utilizing dance as a main medium. During 2020, CMC launched Artists Open House series to maintain connection amongst community members and their artists, and to create meaningful interaction both over online platforms and in person.

Robert LaFosse

Robert La Fosse performed with American Ballet Theatre as a principal dancer for six years. In 1986, he was invited by Jerome Robbins to join the New York City Ballet as a principal dancer. Through out his career he has danced leading roles in many of the full-length classical ballets, including the U.S. premiere of Sir Kenneth MacMillan’s Romeo and Juliet. He has performed in works created by many choreographers including George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins, Anthony Tudor, Merce Cunningham, Sir Kenneth MacMillian, Sir Frederick Ashton, Twyla Tharp, and Paul Taylor.  Mr. La Fosse has also starred in the Broadway productions of Bob Fosse’s Dancin’ and in Jerome Robbins’ Broadway, for which he received a Tony Award nomination for Best Actor. Some of his television appearances include: ‘American Ballet Theatre in San Francisco’, Twyla Tharp’s Push Comes to Shove, and the ‘Live From Lincoln Center’ telecast of ‘Ray Charles in concert with the New York City Ballet’. He appeared as Dr. Stahlbaum in the film version of George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker. In addition to performing, Mr. La Fosse is also a choreographer. He has created over 100 works for Ballet, Broadway, Opera, Film and Television. The New York City Ballet has performed 10 of his ballets. In 1987 he wrote his autobiography entitled “Nothing to Hide.” He currently teaches at American Ballet Theatre’s Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School.

Laurie LeBlanc

Raised in Delaware and Central Pennsylvania, Laurie LeBlanc’s ballet training included Michael Lopuszanski, Harry Asmus, Chérie Noble, and Marcia Dale Weary, director of the Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet. At the age of sixteen, Ms. LeBlanc joined Pennsylvania Ballet (now Philadelphia Ballet), and worked there under the artistic direction of Benjamin Harkarvy, and then Robert Weiss. During her time there, she worked with such notable choreographers as Benjamin Harkarvy, Merce Cunningham, John Butler, Peter Martins, Choo San Goh, Lynn Taylor-Corbett, Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux, and Peter Anastos. Ms. LeBlanc was cast in Balanchine ballets including Concerto Barocco, Allegro Brilliante, Square Dance, Four Temperaments, Serenade, Scotch Symphony, Pas de Dix, Raymonda, Rubies, Western Symphony, Stars and Stripes, and Divertimento #15, dancing featured roles in many of them, as well as in Paul Taylor’s Arden Court, David Lichine’s Graduation Ball, Merce Cunningham’s Arcade and Benjamin Harkarvy’s Recital for Cello and Eight Dancers.

Following her first attempt at choreographing as a student at CPYB, she was awarded an Emerging Choreographer scholarship award by the National Association of Regional Ballet, with a repeat of the honor a few years later. Ms. LeBlanc was one of the first choreographers to participate in a choreographic residency program called the Carlisle Project founded by Barbara Weisberger, attending many of their workshops and choreographing several ballets for CPYB. She was also a recipient of a fellowship grant from PA Council on the Arts.

After several years with the Pennsylvania Ballet, Ms. LeBlanc joined Pacific Ballet Theatre (which became Oregon Ballet Theatre halfway through her tenure) in Portland, Oregon, under the direction of James Canfield. She performed soloist and principal roles in José Limon’s Moor’s Pavane, Charles Bennett’s Albinoni Adagio, Joseph Wyatt’s Violin Concerto, Phillip Jerry’s Cabachon, Dennis Spaight’s Gloria and Rhapsody in Blue, James Canfield’s Romeo and Juliet and others, as well as choreographing five ballets for the company. From 1997-1998 she served as the company’s Acting Artistic Director and upon James Canfield’s return the following season, became the company’s Resident Choreographer and company teacher, while serving as a part-time faculty member of Portland State University. Following a season as a soloist with Ballet Arizona in Phoenix, AZ, under the direction of Jean-Paul Comelin, she moved to New York. The next few years were spent touring in Andrew Lloyd Weber’s Phantom of the Opera, continuing as a swing with the show on Broadway and in the touring companies, at Paper Mill Playhouse in their production of Brigadoon, in Nicholas Hytner’s National Tour of Carousel, and the Los Angeles Opera in their production of Countess Maritza, choreographed by Danny Pelzig.

Ms. LeBlanc and her husband, an actor, raised their family in the Los Angeles area, where she is the Associate Director and primary faculty of California Dance Academy. She is a coach for the school’s YAGP participants and choreographs for California Dance Ensemble, their non-profit performing company. Her students have been awarded scholarships for or been accepted into nationally recognized summer intensive programs such as School of American Ballet, and the schools of San Francisco Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, Joffrey Chicago, Houston Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Ballet West, Washington Ballet, Pittsburgh Ballet and Boston Ballet and Academie Princess Grace in Monaco. Her students and choreography have placed in the finals of Youth American Grand Prix, California Dance Classics, and ADC/IBC and several of her students are now dancing professionally or participating in reputable dance programs in colleges across the United States. In 2021, Miss LeBlanc received the Award for Outstanding Teacher at the YAGP semi-finals in Los Angeles. She has been a guest teacher for many schools over the years and has been a regular summer guest faculty member of Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet.

Ashley Lindsey

Ashley Lindsey is a choreographer, educator, and creative artist. Originally from Raleigh, North Carolina, and a graduate of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. His performing career began in 2007 when Artistic Director Carla Maxwell invited him to join the Limón Dance Company. During his time with the company, he was honored to perform featured roles in works by José Limón, Anna Sokolow, Jonathan Fredrickson, Donald McKayle, and Clay Taliaferro in theaters across five continents. He went on to work with notable choreographers Lar Lubovitch, Helen Simoneau, Hinton Battle, Grady Bowman, and Jessica Gaynor.

Ashley has taught master classes and workshops throughout North and South America, Europe, and Asia. He is currently on faculty at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts and is the Director of UNCSA’s Summer Dance Program and Professional Studies Workshop.
As a choreographer, his work has been commissioned by various companies and educational institutions, including the Limón Institute, Houston Met Too Dance Company, The University of North Carolina Greensboro, Elon University, and The University of North Carolina School of the Arts. Additionally, his work has been presented at the Reverb International Dance Festival, Capezio Ace Awards, and The White Wave International Dance Festival.

Other choreographer credits include Greensboro Opera’s Porgy and Bess, The Miss North Carolina Scholarship Pageant, movement direction for supermodel Miranda Kerr and the short films “Drilling Holes Into the Sun,” “Pantsuit Power” – North Carolina, “Better” and ” Triune.”

*Pacific Adjudicator* Carla Stallings Lippert

Carla Stallings began her training with Marquerite Phares in Sacramento, CA. As a member of the Theater Ballet Association, a student company directed by Mrs. Phares, she attended the Pacific Regional Festival for many years. Through the Festival Carla was awarded scholarships to New York City Ballet’s School of American Ballet and the American Ballet Theatre School. These led to her joining American Ballet Theatre as an apprentice. She soon entered the corps de ballet and was subsequently promoted to soloist.

Carla went on to join Boston Ballet as a principal dancer. Her repertoire included the principal roles in Swan Lake, Giselle, Nutcracker, La Sylphide, Sacre du Printemps, and many more. She also had the privilege of touring with Mikhail Baryshnikov, Rudolph Nureyev, and Fernando Bujones and of working with the many up and coming choreographers that competed in the Boston Balletʼs International Choreographers Competition.

Ms. Stallings-Lippert loves giving back to students through teaching, and has taught at schools and summer programs across the nation throughout her career. In addition to teaching at Severance Fresno Ballet School, Carla currently coordinates and teaches for American Ballet Theatreʼs summer intensive program in Tuscaloosa, AL, and is an American Ballet Theatre Certified Teacher for Pre-Primary through Level VII. She also has co-directed the local Nutcracker for 10 years with over 100 students involved.

Having danced with many great artists and performed a great many roles and variations in her career, Carla takes special joy in coaching dancers in the classical repertoire and helping them reach their personal best both artistically and technically.

*Southeast Adjudicator* Armando Luna

Armando Luna began his training in Houston, Texas with Margo Marshall then with Soili Arvola and Leo Ahonen. His professional dance career spans 35 years. He danced professionally with Ballet Austin, BalletMet, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, and Atlanta Ballet. He toured with Ballet Spectacular, performing with Rudolf Nureyev and Alexander Godunov and performed as a guest artist with Irish National Ballet and Ballet Arizona. He has partnered notable Ballerinas Cynthia Gregory and Marianna Tcherkassky. Since his retirement as a dancer from the Atlanta Ballet in 1998, he has continued to perform character roles in John McFallʼs The Nutcracker, Michael Pinkʼs Dracula and Romeo and Juliet, Christian Holderʼs Transcendence, Yuri Possokhovʼs Don Quixote and Bruce Wellʼs Beauty and the Beast.

Armando has been the principal teacher of the Atlanta Ballet Centre for Dance Education since 1998. Many of his students have moved on to dance professionally with Atlanta Ballet, New York City Ballet, Houston Ballet, Alabama Ballet, and Texas Ballet Theatre. As an award-winning choreographer, he has worked in the US and Europe and has created over 50 works for the Atlanta Ballet Centre for Dance Education, ranging from Classical, Neo-classical, and Contemporary Ballets to story ballets such as Babar the Elephant, which was performed by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. His ballets have been featured at Chautauqua Dance Salon, CPYBʼs Choreoplan, Regional Dance Americaʼs Festival Gala and JCMʼs ArtCAN, to name a few. In addition, he has created works for many college dance programs which include Emory University, Texas Christian University, Goucher College, and Agnes Scott College. Armando received his BA in Dance from KSU in 2015 and is currently working with the classic rock band Kansas, choreographing a pas de deux danced to their famous song Dust In The Wind as the band plays live. This work premiered in Atlanta in 2018 to begin the Point of Know Return tour, then was performed in Nashville, and most recently in 2019 on the west coast. Armando is also in the planning stages of a collaborative project for Earth Day 2020, with his son, Dante Luna, who is a musician and composer in Los Angeles.

Addul Manzano

Addul Manzano began his ballet training at the age of eleven in Santiago de Cuba. Shortly after, he was selected to attend the National School of Ballet in Havana, Cuba. Upon graduation, Mr. Manzano was offered a position with the National Ballet of Cuba under the direction of Alicia Alonso. During that time, he toured North and South America performing many soloist roles in Swan Lake, Don Quixote, Cinderella, Giselle, Coppélia, Themes & Variations, Poema de Fuego, and Canto Vital.

Since arriving in the United States, he has danced for Columbia City Ballet as a Principal, Arthur Mitchell’s Dance Theatre of Harlem in NYC where he toured the U.S., England, Ireland, Scotland, and Greece, Washington Ballet, Ballet NY, Sarasota Ballet of Florida and North Carolina Dance Theatre (Charlotte Ballet). He has performed numerous principal roles including George Balanchine’s Agon, Apollo, and The Four Temperaments; Jonathan Harker in Dracula; The Prince in Cinderella; and Snow King and Sugar Plum Cavalier in Nutcracker.  Some of Addul’s favorite performances include George Balanchine’s Rubies, Alonzo King’s SALT and Dwight Rhoden’s Artifice.

Addul has taught and choreographed for Charlotte Ballet School, Sarasota Ballet’s Next Generation, Philadelphia Dance Theatre, Ballet Conservatory of Asheville, Chautauqua Ballet, and Cary Ballet Conservatory. He is currently on faculty with Sarasota Ballet of Florida instructing in the conservatory and the Sarasota Ballet trainees and second company dancers.

Nathalie Marrable

Born and raised in South Africa, Nathalie Marrable grew up in the easy-going surfing town of Jeffrey’s Bay. At 13 she left home after being scouted by premier danseur John Magnus of The Joffrey Ballet who provided full scholarship to study in the USA. After graduation from Boston Ballet School, Nathalie danced classically with professional companies such as Boston Ballet, Alberta Ballet, The Goh Ballet Youth Company, English National Ballet, Ontario Ballet Theatre & Canadian Symphony Orchestra. After a time on the road, she moved to London, England where she danced with Synergy, a modern ballet company, as Soloist. While in London Nathalie caught the eye of pop queen Madonna who hired her over 700 hopefuls to be her body & movement double. Nathalie worked with Madonna’s team in commercials, stage & tv, most recently on a series of Japanese Brillia Mare Ariake ads by Steven Klein.  In 2006 she landed her first major theatre role for the tour of Dirty Dance Nights, which would go on to be the smash-hit Dirty Dancing on Broadway. She has since performed in over 100+ stage productions around the world, winning rave reviews for her portrayal of various characters, most notable Kitty in Tony Award-winning show The Drowsy Chaperone.

In 2010 Nathalie was selected as a backing vocalist for singer Michael Buble. As part of The Bublettes, she performed at the Vancouver Winter Olympics Closing Ceremonies, broadcast to 20 million people worldwide. She has sung for various bands/singers on stage & tv including Janelle Monae, Pussycat Dolls live, The Agency & Candy Girl Cabaret. She has performed as a showgirl with The Thursford Christmas Spectacular and in Paris, France in various reviews. Her solo burlesque show Le Cabaret Suzy Q was featured at Des Wintergarten Varieté in Berlin, Germany (2012-2015). Nathalie has choreographed and creatively directed live stage & television productions for fashion house Dosso Dossi with supermodel Miranda Kerr, Koc Festival, Miss Turkey Elidor, Adidas, Smirnoff for Madonna (MDNA), British Petroleum (BP), Sony Experia, Ziynet Sali, Hale Caneroğlu, Yuksek Sadakat for Eurovision, maNga for RedBull Soundclash, Tarkan, Star TV, The Beyaz Show, equity musicals Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, South Pacific and more.

In 2012 she began collaborating with Turkey’s reigning recording artist Kenan Doğulu and creatively directed a 10 dancer, 16 city tour for Fanta Coca Cola. She has been featured in magazines abroad such as Marie Claire, Kadinca & 10SAYFA.  As an actress/dancer she has appeared in episodes for Disney, Hellcats, Superman, Doctor Who, Eureka, Flash Gordon. Film credits include Center Stage II, Night At the Museum, Step Up & Life Movie Network. She is guest faculty for DeSales University, University of Hartford, and an adjudicator for Showbiz National Dance Competition. After two years as Female Swing u/s Olga with the Tony Award-winning musical “An American in Paris”, Nathalie just finished performing in “My Fair Lady” 1st National Broadway Tour.  Dancers can find her Cabaret Burlesque classes at Broadway Dance Center in midtown Manhattan. She was seen most recently in the National Ad campaign for design house Kate Spade.  www.nathaliemarrable.com  / Instagram @nmarrable


Kati Hanlon Mayo

Kati Hanlon Mayo trained at The Boston School of Ballet under the direction of E. Virginia & Violette Verdy. At the age of 15, she became a member of Boston Ballet 2 and performed regularly with The Boston Ballet. In 1992, Kati was invited by Salvatore Aiello to join North Carolina Dance Theatre (now Charlotte Ballet) as a principal dancer. That same summer, she also became a member of The Chautauqua Ballet Company under the direction of Jean Pierre Bonnefoux.

Throughout her 17 year career at Charlotte Ballet Kati performed principal roles in ballets choreographed by George Balanchine, Alonzo King, Alvin Ailey, William Forsythe, Dwight Rhoden, Agnes DeMille, Jacqueline Buglisi, Jean Pierre Bonnefoux and Nacho Duato. In 2000 and 2004, Kati was named Best Performing Artist by Charlotte Magazine. The New York Times reviewed that she “ruled the stage with benign classical authority” and Dance Magazine heralded her as a “performer of stunning versatility and dramatic power.”

Kati began teaching at the Charlotte Ballet Academy upon its inception in 1993. She is currently an instructor for the main company along with the Advanced and Pre-Professional Division. Many of her students have gone on to professional careers with companies throughout the world, including: New York City Ballet, Nederland Dans Theater, San Francisco Ballet and Houston Ballet. Kati has been a guest teacher for The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and she is a repetiteur for the Salvatore Aiello Trust. She is a certified instructor of Dance for Parkinson’s Disease through The Mark Morris Dance Group and she also completed her instructor certification with Progressing Ballet Technique.

Robert Mckee

Robert Mckee attended Point Park University and is a former company member of Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago. He has been a guest dancer and choreographer most recently with Chicago Dance Crash, Cerqua Rivera, and other Independent projects. Robert began an interest in teaching and choreography at a very young age. Influenced by percussive rhythms and dynamic shapes, he finds himself always inspired to create.

Robert has been on faculty at the Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago, a teacher for Chicago National Association of Dance Masters, and teaches throughout the Chicagoland area. He has worked with Rockford Dance Company, The Giordano Project, Giordano Juniors, McDonald Dance Academy, Barrington High School, Northshore School of Dance Performing Ensemble, the Giordano on Giordano choreography showcase, Riverside Brookfield High School, Northern Illinois University and Framework Dance Chicago.

Maribel Modrono

Maribel Modrono, a native of Cuba, was raised in Miami, Florida. Modrano trained at School of American Ballet as a scholarship student. She danced with the Fort Worth Dallas Ballet and was then invited by Edward Villella to join the Miami City Ballet. She has been favored to dance leading roles in Balanchine ballets including Jewels, Apollo, Square Dance, The Four Temperaments and Concerto Barocco. Maribel joined Pittsburgh Ballet Theater in 1997 and received acclaim for her portrayals in Swan Lake as Odette/Odile, Madame Butterfly, Don Quixote as Kitri and Aurora in Sleeping Beauty and as “Marie” in Terrence S. Orr’s production of The Nutcracker.

Gia Mongell

Gia Mongell made her Broadway debut shortly after graduating from The Juilliard School. As an original cast member of An American in Paris, Gia performed Christopher Wheeldon’s Tony Award-winning choreography at The Palace Theatre as well as on the 69th Annual Tony Awards, serving as a swing and assistant dance captain across the run of the show. She was later invited to join the US National Tour and the show’s final run at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris, France. New York theatre credits include I Married an Angel at City Center Encores! (choreographed by Josh Bergasse), Cendrillon at The Metropolitan Opera, and roles in concert pieces by Twyla Tharp, Pina Bausch, and Nacho Duato while at Juilliard. Gia also appeared in Misty Copeland’s commercial campaign for Under Armor, the premiere party for the 20th Century Fox feature film Deadpool and Legacies on the CW.

Upon graduating with her BFA in dance from Juilliard, she was awarded the prestigious Joseph W. Polisi Prize for exemplifying an “Artist as Citizen.” Giving back to the next generation of dancers, Gia serves on the dance faculties of Lincoln Center Education’s Middle School Arts Bootcamp and NHouse Productions/Commercial Dance Intensive. She is currently pursuing her MFA in Dance from Hunter College. Originally from John’s Creek, Georgia, Gia grew up studying under Jonnie Kelley at the Atlanta Dance Theatre. She has many fond memories attending RDA as a young dancer where she performed pieces by Melissa Hale Coyle, Leslie Jane Pessemier, Martha Goodman, Roger Van Fleteren, Paul Appleman and Winthrop Corey. She is thrilled to have this full circle moment and be back teaching for RDA!



Martin Morgan

Growing up in Plano, Texas, the majority of Martin’s childhood was focused on activities other than music. His first experience playing music began around the age of seven with classical piano lessons. While classical music was the starting point of his musical education; jazz, soul, R&B, country, rock, and gospel music became important influences. Martin attended the University of North Texas and graduated in the Spring of 2015 with a Bachelors of Music in Composition. Since then, he has been freelancing in the Dallas area, where he strives to contribute musical material in whatever medium that may be.

Natasha Musaelyan

Natasha Musaelyan was born in Baku, Azerbaijan.  Ms. Musaelyan graduated from the Azerbaijani Academy of Music, and later earned a master’s degree with an emphasis in piano performance, pedagogy, accompaniment, and chamber music ensemble.  For ten years Natasha taught at the College of Music in Azerbaijan.  Ms. Musaelyan has accompanied many internationally recognized ballet teachers, as well as played for many Regional Dance America Northeast Festivals.  Currently, she works at the University of Akron and Kent State University.

Cassidy Noblett

Cassidy Noblett was born into the world of dance where he began writing his story in his mother’s studio in North Carolina. It was in this space where he got a taste of all styles and disciplines, and where his love for dance was pioneered in the footsteps of his older sister, Casey. A door opened and life offered his family a chance of a lifetime, and they traveled to New York City to study under the tutelage of Jacques d’Amboise at the National Dance Institute. As his love for dance kept growing, he shifted his education to a program that nurtured creativity, self-expression, hard work, and versatility through the forms of classical dance at North Carolina School of the Arts. On his summer breaks, he would continue his training in the commercial art form at Steps and Broadway Dance Center. After his first year of college was completed, he decided to move back to New York and start his adventure as a professional dancer. He has found himself on a path of exposure through so many different avenues. He has worked in television on such shows as the Super Bowl, Saturday Night Live, Dancing with the Stars, Glee, True Blood, So You Think You Can Dance, America’s Got Talent, American Idol, the Voice, and Ellen and even on awards shows like the MTV VMA’s and Movie Awards, AMA’s, EMA’s, BET Awards, the Billboard Awards, Fashion Rocks, and the Grammys. He has had the opportunity to be on the big screen in such movies as “La La Land,” “Harley Quinn’s Birds of Prey,” “Valley Girl,”  Katy Perry’s “Part of Me 3D,” Beyonce’s “I Am Yours,”  “Behind the Candelabra.” His favorite part of his journey has been touring the world with such artists as the Spice Girls, Janet Jackson, Beyonce, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, and Jason Derulo and has worked with other artists like Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Jennifer Lopez, Miley Cyrus, the Black Eyed Peas, Nicki Minaj, Estelle, Snoop Dogg, Kanye West, Nichole Scherzinger, and Tamar Braxton. Not only does he believe in working hard for his own goals, but also for the future and rights of all dancers in the industry.  He has been an activist in fighting for dancer’s rights since he began and continues to help elevate the industry’s landscape.

Cassidy has been shifting to choreography and directing the last few years. He has worked on such projects as Katy Perry’s “Dark Horse” music video, Divas’s Live with Mariah Carey, Bebe Rexha, Jojo, and Serayah, the AMA’s with Shania Twain, the Little Mermaid Live,  Hailey Steinfield’s “Most Girls” Summer Tour, Gloria Trevia’s “Diosa de la Noche” World Tour, Instagram’s Vertical Format Launch, iHeart Radio with Thomas Rhett, MTV Movie Awards w/ Amy Schumer, and Pink’s “Beautiful Trauma” lyric video.

Jared Oaks

Jared Oaks, one of the leading young ballet conductors in the United States, is Music Director of Ballet West. Since joining the company in 2008, Jared has maintained a rigorous conducting schedule, in addition to playing for rehearsals and classes. He has conducted performances for Houston Ballet and The Sarasota Ballet; and he has worked with the Anchorage Symphony Orchestra, the Chicago Sinfonietta, the Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra, among others.

Jared’s numerous compositions include chamber ballets for Ballet West, Charlotte Ballet, and Mid-Columbia Ballet. He is passionate about choral music, local history, and poetry. Jared is also a fellow of the American-Scandinavian Foundation and co-founder of the Composer Discovery Initiative.

Ceyhun Özsoy

Ceyhun Özsoy was born in Adana, Turkey. He began his ballet education at the Ankara Government Conservatory where he studied with Molly Lake, Travis Kemp, Angela Bayley and Beatrice Appliard Fenmen. After nine years of study, he graduated with an excellent degree in 1968.  In the summer of 1972 he earned his bachelor’s degree from the conservatory. By invitation of Dame Ninette de Valois, he studied with the Royal Ballet Company of London, England.  He danced with the Turkish National Ballet Company in Ankara for 18 years as a soloist and as principal dancer.  He also acted as ballet master for the company in the later years. Ceyhun also danced with Bayarische Staatsoper Company in Munich, West Germany.

During his career, he performed major roles in many of the classics such as Swan Lake, The Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty, Giselle, La Fille Mall Gardee, Romeo and Juliet, Paquita, Don Quixote and Coppelia, to name a few. He has worked with great masters of the ballet world, including Dame Ninette de Valois, Anton Dolin, John Gilpin, Alfred Rodrigues, John Neumeier, Ronald Hynd, Sandor Toth, Irina Hudova, Nina Tchokolova, Sulamith Messerer, Nicolay Kharitonov, Aleksander Prokofiev, Vladimir Tsoukanov, and many more.

After moving to the United States, he taught classes at Colorado State Ballet School in Denver, Colorado and was a faculty member at the University of South Florida, Dance Department in Tampa, Florida. He served as ballet master for Delta Festival Ballet in New Orleans for eight years, from 1982 until 1990.

In 1990 Ceyhun moved with his wife and family to Duncanville, Texas and founded Ozsoy School of Ballet. After 31 years (1990-2021), the studio is now closed. He was employed by Texas Christian University as part-time faculty for fifteen years. Ceyhun was an artistic advisor to Carol Smitherman Anglin’s Louisiana Dance Foundation in Shreveport from 1992 until 2016 when the company was retired. He was the Jury member for the 5th International Ballet Competition in Istanbul, Turkey. In addition to being director of his school, he was a part-time faculty member at Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing Arts in Dallas from 1999 until the spring of 2017. He has been one of the company instructors for Dallas Black Dance Theatre since 2010. He was a permanent summer faculty member at Joffrey Ballet School’s summer intensive program in New York City from 1997 until 2019, as well as one of the auditioners traveling around the country and the world for their summer program. In 2017, he assisted in founding the Joffrey Ballet School’s year-round trainee program in Frisco, Texas, and is currently the Principal Ballet Teacher for the program. He has recently been a guest master teacher for The Compañia Nacional de Danza in Mexico City and the Mexico City Ballet. He has also guest taught at many ballet schools throughout the United States at various summer programs and dance festivals.

Elaine Kimble Peaks

Elaine Kimble Peak received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance with a minor in Film Studies from The Conservatory of Music and Dance – University of Missouri-Kansas City.  She has had the privilege of working with contemporary choreographers Robert Battle (Alvin Ailey), Joshua Beamish (MOVE: the company), Mary Pat Henry (San Francisco Ballet), Gary Abbott (Deeply Rooted), Frank Chavez (River North), Deeanna Hiett (Alvin Ailey), Rodni Williams (DCDC), and Ronald Tice (Zurich Opera-Ballet) to name a few.

As a choreographer, Elaine has been honored with many accolades including the Youth America Grand Prix “Outstanding Choreography Award” for her work “Up to Here”.  Her piece “Been Here Before” received the “Best Contemporary Performance of the Year” nomination from the Industry Dance Awards. Performance and choreography credits include Joffrey San Francisco, Joffrey WEST, Wylliams/Henry Contemporary Dance Company,  Quixotic Fusion, Kansas City Youth Ballet, Pacific Festival Ballet, DEFY Dance Project, Heartlines Dance Company, and Seamless Dance Theatre.

Mina Polevoy

Mina Polevoy is originally from Ukraine. She is an expert pianist with more than 40 years of playing piano. Mina holds a master’s degree in Music Education from Rovno Musical Pedagogical Institute in Ukraine.

She currently works at SMU for the dance department as a staff musician and has been playing the piano for classical ballet classes for over 25 years. Her talent has been recognized in her home country as well as in the Dallas area.

In her leisure time Mina enjoys cooking and baking for her family. She is married and has a son. Mina lives with her husband and her dog Bear.


Janet Popeleski

Ms. Popeleski is celebrating 35th years with Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre and 50 years working as a professional in balle! In addition to her duties as School Principal, teaching and coaching dancers, she has staged many ballets for the Pre-Professional Showcases and annual Spring Performances. Ms. Popeleski, originally from Connecticut, began training with the Hartford Ballet and continued on full scholarship with the School of American Ballet in New York. Upon graduation, she joined American Ballet Theatre, where she eventually danced some soloist roles. She then embarked on an international career, becoming a Principal dancer with Iranian National Ballet – Teheran, Scapino Ballet – Amsterdam, Deutsche Oper Berlin, and Zurich Ballet.  While residing in Europe, Ms. Popeleski was Artistic Advisor to the Xanten Festival in Germany, coordinating and dancing in a series of Gala Evenings, touring through Germany, Switzerland and Holland.  She has appeared in various ballets and gala performances partnered by Steven Annegarn, Miguel Campaneria, Vladimir Gelvan,

Alexander Godunov, Jonas Kage, and Rudolf Nureyev.  Miss Popeleski’s repertoire included many full length classical ballets, Balanchine ballets and contemporary pieces, which has enabled her to share a wide range of styles with her students.

Nycole Ray

A Detroit native, Nycole Ray graduated from The California Institute of the Arts with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in dance. She received additional training at the California State Summer School of the Arts, Wayne State University, and as an exchange student at the London Contemporary Dance School in England. Mrs. Ray has performed with the Bruce Wood Dance Project, Walt Disney World Entertainment, Christopher, and Friends directed by Christopher L. Huggins, the Lula Washington Dance Theater, Dayton Contemporary Dance Company II, and the Zadonu African Dance Company. She has worked with noted choreographers such as Donald McKayle, Dianne McIntyre, Christopher L. Huggins, Alonzo King, Donald Byrd, Bruce Wood®, Rennie Harris and Camille A. Brown. In addition to her concert dance performances, she has appeared in music videos, industrials in the U.S. and Europe.

Nycole created Nineteenth   in commemoration of the centennial of the ratification of the 19th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, giving women equality and the right to vote through a grant provided by the 19th Amendment Centennial Fund in 2020, as well as works for the University of Dallas, Wayne State University, Dallas Black Dance Theatre, DBDT: Encore!, Milwaukee Dance Connection and Detroit Renaissance High School. Mrs. Ray was commissioned by The Dallas Opera to choreograph Samson and Delilah and has had collaborations with the Dallas Museum of Art, creating Frida, Frida and Frida based off the Mexico exhibit in 2017, Art on 5th Avenue. based on the contemporary jewelry designs of Author Smith, The Subtle, The Sum…Give More Than You Take, based off of the Jim Hodges: Give More Than You Take exhibit in 2013, The Line of Beauty that Runs Through, based off of the works from The Body Beautiful in Ancient Greece exhibit along with works from their permanent collection in 2013, Le Afrique Masquerade for The Art of Disguise exhibit of African Masks in the fall of 2010 as well as a commissioned work for the Dallas Holocaust Museum in 2009. Nycole is the 2013 recipient of the Natalie Skelton Award for Artistic Excellence from the Dance Council of North Texas.

Mrs. Ray was a featured choreographer for the Ninth FINTDAZ Festival in Iquique, Chile in 2016 as well as the Tenth Annual Choreographers Choice Series in Dallas; and premiered work in Vienna’s 2003 International Black Dance Festival and has shown work at Lincoln Center’s Out of Doors Festival. She accompanied Dr. Chuck Davis, as an invited guest, during his annual pilgrimage to Africa, and has been a teaching Assistant and adjunct at Texas Woman’s University. Mrs. Ray received the 2011 Artful Dancewear Teachers Scholarship through The Dance Council of North Texas to continue her studies and is a certified Dunham Technique Instructor.

Nycole Is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., and is the Director of Dallas Black Dance Theatre’s Summer Intensive program and has served in the past as Rehearsal Director for the Bruce Wood Dance, Assistant Rehearsal Director for Dallas Black Dance Theatre and the Director of Bloom, Dallas Black Dance Academy’s Performing Ensemble. This is her 11th year as the Artistic Director of DBDT: Encore! and is a guest artist with DBDT. In 2021, Nycole has been named one of the Women Who Make Dallas Great by D Magazine in 2021. This marks her 24th season with Dallas Black Dance Theatre.

Derek Reid

Derek Reid, Associate Professor of Dance, began his training at the Jones-Haywood School of Ballet in his native Washington, D.C. He subsequently studied in intensive programs with Rosella Hightower in Cannes, France, Milwaukee Ballet, Richmond Ballet and Butler University, from which he received a B.F.A. in Dance. Mr. Reid’s professional dance career spanned fourteen years, during which time he performed with the Louisville Ballet, Pennsylvania Ballet, Dance Theatre of Harlem, Les Grands Ballets Canadiens and Ballet Met in Columbus, Ohio. He performed and created leading roles in works by such internationally acclaimed choreographers as Choo San Goh, William Forsythe, Jiri Kylian, Nacho Duato, James Kudelka, Mark Morris and Ohad Naharin. His repertoire ranged from the classical to the contemporary, as he performed roles as varied as the prince in The Nutcracker to roles in works by choreographic masters such as Antony Tudor, Vaslev Nijinsky, Irina Nijinska, Agnes de Mille, and George Balanchine.

Mr. Reid’s television credits include PBS’s production of Dance Theatre of Harlem’s Fall River Legend,choreographed by Agnes de Mille, as well as the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s Dancers for Lifegala, in which he performed the pas de deux from Nacho Duato’s Rassemblement. Another highlight of his career was dancing Duato’s CorPerdutat the Acropolis in Athens, Greece with the Gala des Etoiles. Prior to teaching at the Fort Wayne Ballet, Mr. Reid taught summer workshops at the Northwest Florida Ballet. His choreographic contributions at the Fort Wayne Ballet include Ceremony, Jeux d’Enfants and The Firebird. Mr. Reid teaches Ballet Technique and Dance History.

Israel Rodriguez

Born in Camaguey, Cuba, Israel Rodriguez began his classical ballet training at the age of eight at the famed Vocational Art School, where he won the school’s Best Performer Award in recognition of his critical command of requisite ballet skills. Israel began his professional dance career with the Ballet de Camaguey under the direction of Fernando Alonso, where he performed as a Soloist.  His abilities earned him the opportunity to tour with the Ballet, and he performed in many different countries including Greece, Brazil, Japan, and Mexico.  In 1994, Israel became a Principal dancer with Ballet de Monterrey in Mexico under the direction of Fernando Bujones.

Israel came to the United States in 1998, performing with Ballet Theatre of Lexington for one season, followed by a year with Louisville Ballet in Kentucky. In 2000, he accepted a position with Orlando Ballet, where he performed as a Principal dancer until 2006.

As a Principal dancer and guest artist with more than 27 years of experience, Israel has received rave reviews from several arts critics and has been featured in publications including the Orlando Sentinel, Dance Magazine, Dance Spirit, and International Dance Magazine.  Over his extensive professional dance career, Israel has performed Solo roles and as a Principal dancer in virtually all of the ballet classics including Coppelia, Don Quixote, Giselle, La Bayadere, La Fille Mal Gardee, Les Sylphides, Le Corsaire, Serenade, Napoli, Tarantella (Balanchine),  Paquita, Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, Polovitzians Dances and The Nutcracker. Israel was the first male dancer in the United States to perform the full-length ballet Spartacus.

Israel also has had the opportunity to be a guest teacher and choreographer at Patel Conservatory, Pulse Dance Studio, 5D Dynasty Dance Center, Dance Center of Orlando, Momentum Live, Starz Dance Galaxy, Inwood Dance Company, Franceschi Art Academy, Art of Movement, Dance United of Orlando, Escuela Rusa de Ballet (Mexico), Pavlova Hippodrome (Mexico), Marycarmen Escuela de Danza (Mexico), Corpus Christi Concert Ballet, and Kosovo National Ballet Company, among others.  He  was invited to assist the Kosovo Ballet Company and their choreographers with their presentation of Fly to The Light. During his time working with the Company, he was also tasked with teaching the ballet troupe and enhancing their skills. He also serves as an ongoing guest dancer and choreographer for the Company in Kosovo, including productions of Don Quixote, Spartacus and Liria Ime (Mi Libertad). Earlier this year, Israel was recognized with the Outstanding Teacher award in the Youth American Grand Prix Semifinals.

Before joining Mobile Ballet as Ballet Master, Israel served as the Dance Program Director of Skyra Studios in Orlando, Florida.  He continues traveling to dance and choreograph in Japan, Puerto Rico, Kosovo, Mexico, and throughout the United States. Israel and his wife Katia Garza, Mobile Ballet’s Artistic and School Director, now call Mobile, Alabama their home.

Christopher Rollins

Christopher Rollins is a Dallas native who started is career in the arts at a young age. In that time he has many opportunities to share his talents a with multitude of local  and international artists. With his passion, he continues to work in many genres of dance which show the connection of movement and artistry through rhythm and music.

*Northeast Adjudicator* Stephen Rooks

Steve Rooks began his dance training in Washington, D.C. He continued his training in New York City as a scholarship student at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Center. Mr. Rooks danced and toured with the Alvin Ailey Repertory Ensemble, and the Martha Graham Dance Company, where he performed for over a decade and achieved the rank of Principal Dancer.

Mr. Rooks has created a number of dances including “Cool River” that premiered at Lincoln center in 1996, and later became a part of the Graham Company repertoire. He was a 2004 winner of the National Choreographic Competition at Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, and created two solos for the 2004 Youth American Grand Prix Ballet competition. Mr. Rooks is currently Chair of Dance and Resident Choreographer at Vassar College, and has been a guest teacher with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, The Martha Graham Dance Company, the American Academy of Ballet, Ballet Nacional de Mexico, the North Carolina School of the Arts, and the International Summer School in Sydney, Australia. He has been awarded Vassar Research grants to travel to Riga, Latvia, Lusaka, Zambia, and in 2014 to Turku, Finland, where he choreographed “Plate Tectonics” on 24 dancers. As part of the Masterworks Festival, Mr. Rooks was commissioned to create ballets for a number of contemporary composers including Clarice Assad, Piet Swerts and David Skidmore – all to live orchestra.

Mr. Rooks has served as an adjudicator for the American College Dance Festival, and a solo “Vista” was created for Aran Bell (ABT) for the 2014 International Ballet Competition in Jackson, Mississippi. Four contemporary solos were submitted to the 2016 Youth American Grand Prix.

Amirah Sackett

An internationally recognized hip-hop dancer, choreographer, and teacher, Amirah Sackett explores and embodies her Muslim American identity through combining hip-hop movement and Islamic themes. She reached viral video fame after being featured on POPSUGAR Celebrity, The Huffington Post, AJ+, and Upworthy. Amirah was named one of “17 Muslim American Women Who Made America Great in 2016” by The Huffington Post. Sackett was honored to be a TEDx speaker, guest lecturer and teacher at Harvard University, and a cultural diplomat with the U.S. State Department in Bangladesh, Malaysia, and Kuwait. Most recently, she had the honor to represent the U.S.A. as a cultural performer, in United Arab Emirates, at the Expo 2020 Dubai, the S.W.A.N.A.’s region’s first World’s Fair. Based in Chicago, Amirah continues to teach the next generation and encourage emerging artists to use hip-hop culture as a way to uplift, inspire, and create social change.

Jessica Saund

Jessica Saund began her early dance studies with California Ballet and continued her training on full scholarship at the Kirov Academy of Ballet in Washington, DC. In 1996, she joined the Washington School of Ballet under the direction of Mary Day. That same year, Ms. Saund took the Gold Medal in the junior division at the 2nd International Ballet Competition in South America. In 1999, she was invited to dance with Le Jeune Ballet de France in Paris before joining the English National Ballet, where she remained for 5 years. In 2006, she joined American Ballet Theatre.

Ms. Saund has performed in every full-length ballet in the classical repertoire. She has performed leading roles in the works of George Balanchine, Mikhail Fokine, Anthony Tudor, Sir Kenneth MacMillan, Jerome Robbins, Sir Frederick Ashton, and John Cranko, and has worked with and/or created roles for many of the greatest living choreographers, including Twyla Tharp, John Neumeier, Mark Morris, Jiri Kylian, Lar Lubovitch, James Kudelka, Benjamin Millepied, Christopher Wheeldon and Alexei Ratmansky. Ms. Saund also worked for many years with her mentor and coach David Howard.

In addition to performing as a guest artist with several U.S. ballet companies, Ms. Saund has modeled for Barney’s New York, Vogue, Glamour, YSL, Seiko, and Bloch Ballet in both print and television advertisements. Ms. Saund has been a guest teacher at ABT studio company, English National Ballet, Steps on Broadway, Ballet Arts NYC, and throughout London and across the US.

Natalja Sawal

From Russian Origins, Natalja gravitated early on towards music studies and by the time she graduated from school, she was the 1st place recipient in Pianoforte- Contemporary music.

From there she moved to Leipzig, Germany where she got a Master’s Degree in Ballet Accompaniment, as well as a degree in Psychology and Improvisation at the Hochshule fur Music & Theatre- F. Mendelssohn B.- more so, she did Ballet at the Leipzig Opera Ballet School. During these years she toured all over Europe and won many Piano Competitions.

The year 2000; a new century, a new land, same passion. Natalja still pursuing her artistic career, landed at the Maryland Youth Ballet Academy in Bethesda, MD-USA, where she stayed until 2006. While honing her skills, she became member of the Salsumba Dance Company and was crowned the Salsa Champion from 2003 to 2006, all the while teaching the Ballroom Dance Company in Washington DC.  As a natural evolution, after a few years as a teacher and performer, she became an Independent Instructor and a Competitor.

Member of the NDCA, (National Dance Council of America, Inc) and a DIVIDIA Instructor (The Dance Vision International Dance association), Natalja went on to win several dance competitions, in a variety of styles, from NY to Texas. The latter is where she resides presently and where her dedication to her craft made her quite the name in the Professional Dance field.

She has won an array of awards spanning over the years from 2008 to 2018, winner as the Best Teacher is one of them. Her expertise in Ballroom, Western and Classical styles made her one of the most respected and recognized names on the professional dance floor.

Whether she is playing the piano, dancing or teaching to her pupils, Natalja embodies the consummate artist, professional from the top of her fingertips to the tip of her toes, her passion and her calling still her whole soul.

Adam Sklute

Since 2007, Adam Sklute has expanded Ballet West’s outlook, repertoire, and visibility with exciting company premieres, increased touring, heightened public exposure, and a greater focus on the Ballet West Academy.

Sklute began his training in Oakland, California and was with The Joffrey Ballet for twenty-three years starting in New York as a dancer where he was one of the last two artists personally chosen by Robert Joffrey for his company. He became Ballet Master in 1995 and was part of the team that moved the company from NY to Chicago. In 2004 he became the Associate Director of the Joffrey Ballet. Sklute has extensive television and film credits and is an Adjunct Professor at The University of Utah as well as a teacher, lecturer, coach and judge for ballet schools, competitions, and companies worldwide.

Sklute was listed as one of the 25 Movers and Shakers of the Utah Arts Scene in 2007. In 2014, he was named one of Utah’s Enlightened 50, and he received the Utah National Guard’s Bronze Minuteman Award for outstanding service to Utah and the nation. Sklute was awarded the Utah Diversity Connection’s Business Award for “Outstanding Commitment to Diversity Initiatives,” and Westminster College’s MLK Unsung Hero Award for his ongoing work to promote inclusivity and diversity in ballet and in our community. Most recently, Sklute was included in Deseret Magazine’s 25 Changemakers of the West for his efforts to build greater equity and inclusion in classical ballet. In 2016, Sklute took on the dual positions of CEO and Artistic Director of Ballet West for the year.

Sklute has introduced BW to new and renowned contemporary choreographers such as Jennifer Archibald, David Bintley, Ulysses Dove, Nicolo Fonte, Jirî Kylián, Jessica Lang, Mark Morris, Twyla Tharp, and Natalie Weir to name a few, while expanding the company’s Balanchine, Robbins, and Cranko repertoire and adding early 20th century and Diaghilev-era masterpieces. In addition, Sklute conceived and produced his own new versions of Swan Lake, The Sleeping Beauty and Giselle. He has honored the history of Ballet West with a reconstruction of Willam Christensen’s lost ballet The Firebird, and he conceptualized and oversaw new sets and costumes for Christensen’s historic production of The Nutcracker while working with the Christensen family to modify the “Chinese” variation to create a greater celebration of Asian culture. Sklute developed Ballet West’s wildly successful annual Family Series, its Innovations and Works from Within programs, and in 2017, Ballet West unveiled the new International Choreographic Festival which invites companies to join Ballet West and present new and emerging choreography from around the world together on the same programs.  

Under Sklute’s leadership, Ballet West has toured extensively to major venues including four engagements at Washington DC’s Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (2008, 2012, 2014, 2018); Chicago’s famed Auditorium Theater with two different programs (2013); twice at New York City Center’s Fall for Dance Festival (2009, 2011); twice to New York’s Joyce Theater (2013, 2017); twice to Victoria, British Columbia (2015, 2018); and many more. Notably in 2016, Ballet West was invited to Havana, Cuba to take part in the renowned Cuban International Ballet Festival.

In 2009, BW graced the cover of Dance Magazine for the first time in 25 years. This was repeated in 2013, and again with Pointe Magazine in 2019. The company has garnered numerous reviews and articles in such publications as The New York Times, The Washington Post, Dance Magazine, Ballet Review, and Pointe Magazine. Ballet West was the subject of the BBC Worldwide Production’s docudrama television series Breaking Pointe that aired on The CW channel for two seasons (2012, 2013), and in 2020, Ballet West was the subject of In the Balance, an online serialized documentary about the company successfully and safely producing live performances during the time of COVID.

In 2015, Ballet West moved into the new Jesse Eccles Quinney Ballet Centre. The result is a building that houses six large studios, administrative offices, a costume shop, dressing rooms, and a physical therapy suite to serve BW, BW II, and the BW Academy, all connected to the company’s home venue – The Janet Quinney Lawson Capitol Theatre. Following the success of this project, Sklute oversaw the development and building of three satellite locations for the Ballet West Academy.

The Frederick Quinney Lawson Ballet West Academy has grown in scope and size since Sklute took the helm. Under Sklute’s guidance, the BWA student enrollment is more than five times what it was prior to 2007, and it has expanded its facilities to four different campuses, bringing students from around the world to study in Utah. Sklute developed BWA’s successful trainee program and expanded BW’s second company, Ballet West II, to a touring ensemble in its own right. Currently 95% of the main company has come out of BWII with a third of them being graduates of the Academy Trainee Program.

Mark Simon

Mark Simon has been a dance class accompanist for over 30 years. He has had the pleasure of working with members of The Martha Graham Dance Company, Paul Taylor Dance Company, Gus Giordano Company, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Pilobolus, Momix, Bill T. Jones, Repertory Dance Theater,  Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company, Bella Lewitsky Dance Company, and Jose Limon Dance Company.

He has participated in festivals and workshops in multiple cities where he had the opportunity to work with such artists as Lula Washington and ballet dancer/teacher Stanley Holden. He studied dance, music, and theater. While doing so, Mark was invited to accompany modern classes, and has been playing ever since. His approach is simple: He wants to create a “groove” to inspire  movement.

Christine Spizzo

Certified, ABT National Training Curriculum; Adjunct faculty, UNC School of the Arts; Ballet faculty, Dancers’ Edge (Kernersville & WS)

Born in Belleville, Illinois, dancer Christine Spizzo trained at the San Francisco Ballet School, the NC School of the Arts (now UNCSA), and at the School of American Ballet in New York. Upon graduation, she joined the National Ballet of Washington (DC), and the Ballet Repertory Company (NY), ultimately joining American Ballet Theatre in 1975. A soloist with ABT, Spizzo appeared in numerous Live From Lincoln Center and Dance in America telecasts, as well as the Herbert Ross films “The Turning Point” and “Dancers,” and in Baryshnikov’s “Nutcracker” and “Don Quixote” video films. Spizzo was a Principal dancer with Ballet Arizona from 1988-1990, and with the Nureyev & Friends North American tour in 1990. She performed in the Broadway company of “Phantom of the Opera” from 1990-2000. Also during that time, she was an adjunct professor at both NYU and SUNY/Purchase.

In 1996, she served as Artistic Coordinator of ABT’s inaugural Summer Intensive Program, and has remained a principal teacher in all subsequent ABT Summer Intensives (NYC, NC, TX, ALA). She is a certified ABT National Training Curriculum Instructor, Primary-L8.
In 2000, Spizzo joined the dance faculty at UNCSA, where she worked for 10 years, receiving the Excellence in Teaching Award in 2006. She taught in the School of the Arts’ Preparatory Dance Program for several years, and, periodically, still teaches ballet at UNCSA. She is also on faculty at the Dancers’ Edge dance studio in Kernersville and Winston-Salem. Christine is actively engaged as a Guest teacher and stager of classical ballet repertoire at various schools throughout North Carolina, as well as in New York, New Mexico, Arizona, Texas, and California. She has been on the ballet faculty of the Southeast Regional and Southwest Regional Ballet Festivals since 2014. Spizzo is the owner and co-founder, along with Mark McCullough, of Studio Elevé.

Jamal Story

Jamal Story trained at the Lula Washington Dance Theatre in Los Angeles and holds degrees in Dance Performance and TV/Radio Communications from Southern Methodist University. He has performed with Complexions, Dallas Black Dance Theater, Fort Worth/Dallas Ballet, Donald Byrd/theGroup, Madonna’s 2001 Drowned World Tour, and Cher’s Living Proof: The Farewell Tour and is currently the dance and aerial supervisor for her Here We Go Again tour.  He continues arts advocacy as the chair of the National Dance Committee for SAG-AFTRA, and has written two books, 12:34 and Toss in the Ether, both available on his website http://www.jamalstory.com/online-book-store.

TJ Tekurio

TJ Tekurio is a native to South Florida. His early training experience includes Houston Ballet, Harid Conservatory, Virginia School for the Arts, Paul Taylor, Dance Theatre of Harlem, River North Jazz Dance Chicago, Dance Now Miami, and has his BFA in Choreography & Performance from Towson University.

TJ started his early dance career on luxury cruise ships where he was a dancer and company manager. He then transitioned to choreographing, staging, and directing events with Holland America Line. This allowed him to work with great professionals like Tabitha and Napoleon, John Charron, Jill Hillier, Melanie Lewis, and many more through out Los Angeles. He has continued to choreograph and direct many award winning shows and events for Celebrity Cruise Line, Miami Beach Gay Pride, Holland America Line, and most recently, Assistant Choreographer for Carnival Cruise Lines’ newest ship, Mardi Gras.

He has more recently worked as a Product Manager and Producer with Don Casino Entertainment Agency where he helped successfully build a new on-line market with specialized content, new programing, and exciting visuals. He continues to mentor and teach children and adults around South Florida at Dance Dimensions, Fort Lauderdale Children’s Ballet Theater, and with The Broward Center for the Performing Arts. He also has partnered with AvMed Insurance Company to curate a Senior Citizen Health and Wellness series for their clients called Purposeful Movement. The program is designed to gently elongate, stretch, and strengthen the body and mind, to help with everyday tasks. Mobility is Stability!

TJ has also crafted classes for “All Abilities” students, with Wings of Friendship, highlighting the capacity of movement and the joy it brings to any age group. He is now embarking on a semester-long program where he is writing a class syllabus for 3rd-8th graders in the public school system, integrating arts into the daily classroom lessons, as well as performing arts teaching.

In his spare time, TJ created and produced  EASE Podcast, which helps demystify the entertainment industry showcasing  professionals in the field. He is also the proud Co-Creator and Co-Host of TidalWave, a broadcasted visual podcast breaking down familiar entertainment topics and lifting up creatives in the community.

TJ continues to produce work, create programs, curate experiences, and can be seen and heard all over the world. tjtekurio.com @tjtekurio (IG/FB) @EASEpodcast (IG/FB)

Konstantyn Travinsky

Ukrainian pianist, Konstantyn Travinskyy has won prizes in numerous piano competitions across the globe including, 1st prize at the Sorantin Music Competition, 3rd prize at the California International Young Artist Competition, 4th prize at the Valesesia-Musica International Competition (Italy) and 1st prize at the International Wideman Piano Competition in Shreveport, Louisiana.

Konstantyn was invited to study with Vladimir Viardo, Artist-in Residence of the University of North Texas, where he completed his Master’s degree in May 2010 and is currently pursuing his Doctorate degree in piano performance. He is a recipient of Toulouse Graduate School scholarship as well as College of Music and Viardo Fellowship Foundation scholarships.

In addition to his competition accomplishments, Konstantyn made several major performances in the U.S. including his Chicago debut at the Dame Myra Hess Series which was broadcast live on the city’s classical radio station, WFMT. His orchestral performances include appearances with the Domenico Cimarosa Symphony Orchestra in Italy, the National Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine, the University of North Texas Symphony Orchestra and the Shreveport Symphony Orchestra. After his performance with the latter The Shreveport Times stated, “He has a wonderfully precise style of fingering and approach, equally adept at capturing the drama of the work as well as its melodic content.”


Eric Trope

Eric Trope is a freelance dancer, choreographer, repetiteur, and teacher. He finished his eighth season with the Miami City Ballet in April of 2021. He previously danced with the Pennsylvania Ballet for four seasons and most recently was a guest artist with BalletX. Eric has danced a vast amount of repertoire including works by Balanchine, Robbins, Forsythe, Ratmansky, Taylor, Kylian, Peck, and many others. Some of his featured roles include Riff in Robbins’ West Side Story Suite, Phlegmatic in Balanchine’s The Four Temperaments, Johnny in Taylor’s Company B, the Paul Taylor solo in Balanchine’s Episodes, and “Taylor” in Justin Peck’s Rodeo. Eric has toured extensively including the NY State Theater and NY City Center in NYC, the Music Center and Segerstrom Center in LA, and the National Arts Centre in Ottawa.

Eric’s latest choreographic work was seen at the Nantucket Atheneum Dance Festival in July of 2021, after receiving a commission for winning their 2020 “Choreo-contest.” Eric also premiered a piece for the Miami City Ballet School and Apprentice Program for their spring showcase in June of 2021. Earlier that year, Eric premiered Fire and Gold for the Miami City Ballet outdoor pop-up series at the Wynwood Walls. He was also selected to participate in the 2016 Fall Session of the New York Choreographic Institute, an affiliate of the New York City Ballet. He also made works for the Mainly Mozart Festival, Dimensions Dance Theater of Miami, Louisiana Delta Ballet, the New World Symphony, and the fundraiser Shut up and Dance.

Eric has been a guest teacher at the Rock School for Dance Education, the Finnish National Ballet, Maryland Youth Ballet, Ballet Elite, among many others. In March 2021, Eric began staging Justin Peck’s Heatscape for the Finnish National Ballet; the ballet is set to be performed in Helsinki in September 2022. Finally, Eric is a cofounder of Buddy System, a nonprofit focused on food insecurity that was started in response to the Miami community’s immense need during the COVID-19 Pandemic. www.erictrope.com

Elena Turnanova

Elena Tumanova is from Moscow, Russia and obtained her musical training at the Moscow Academy of Music as a Pianist, Composer and Sound Engineer. Ms. Tumanova also trained at the Moscow Conservatory of Dance which led her to becoming a Dance Accompanist. Ms. Tumanova played for a Character Dance Youth Group, Moiseev Ensemble and has a special place in her heart for accompanying character dance.

In 1997 Ms. Tumanova moved to the USA where she played for Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Salt Creek Ballet & The Ruth Page Center for the Arts. Ms. Tumanova’s favorite type of classes to play for are ballet, character and improvisational dance and she has played for many MidStates Regional Dance America Festivals over the years.

Sharon Walsh

Sharon has over twelve years of experience playing piano for ballet companies across the U.S. The companies she has played for include Tulsa Ballet, Kansas City Ballet, Marymount Manhattan College, Ballet Hispanico & the Juilliard School. Currently she plays at the Canton Ballet in Canton, Ohio. Sharon is known for her sight-reading, classical ballet knowledge, improvisation, and fun arrangements.

Jayson Weir

Jayson Weir has accompanied many ballet companies and studios throughout America including Ballet West, Utah Metropolitan Ballet, BYU Theatre Ballet Aspen, Santa Fe Ballet, Sacramento Ballet, Jacqueline Colledge School, RDA’s National Choreography Intensive, and Sierra Nevada Ballet.

Geneva Winters, DPT

(The Ellové Technique)

Geneva Winters is a physical therapist in Reno at Sports & Performance Physical Therapy. She has danced most of her life and received her BA in dance in Baltimore then completed her Doctorate of Physical Therapy at the University of Nevada Las Vegas. Geneva completed a clinical rotation at Sports and Performance Physical Therapy under Carrie Cameron and has completed courses in treating dancers and injury prevention. She has also conducted research on dancers and cardiovascular endurance. Outside of work, Geneva enjoys going line dancing and participating in CrossFit. Due to her background in dance, Geneva enjoys working with performing artists to help them perform at their best.

Tracy Vogt

Originally from Erie, Pennsylvania, Tracy attended the School for the Performing and Visual Arts and was given scholarships to study at the Erie Civic Ballet School and Erie Bayfront Ballet. Ms. Vogt received scholarships to the PA Governor’s School for the Arts, Jacob’s Pillow Modern Intensive, Point Park Summer Dance, and attended the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, PA. She was also a scholarship student at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Center in New York, NY, where she was personally chosen to demonstrate the Martha Graham technique by School Director Denise Jefferson.

For twelve years, Ms. Vogt was a principal dancer and Assistant Rehearsal Director with the Philadelphia Dance Company (PHILADANCO). She was also a Rehearsal Director and principal dancer with the Wylliams Henry Contemporary Dance Company in Kansas City, MO, and Cleveland Contemporary Dance Theater. Also, she danced with Verb Ballets in Ohio under the direction of Hernando Cortez. Ms. Vogt has demonstrated technique classes for Master Teachers, including Yuriko Kikuchi, Mary Hinkson, Pat Thomas, and Milton Myers. She received the Philadelphia Rocky Award for Dance Excellence and has performed lead roles in works by Martha Graham, Paul Taylor, David Parsons, Gene Hill Sagan, Elisa Monte, Talley Beatty, George Faison, Bill T. Jones, Dianne McIntyre, Christopher Huggins, and many other diverse contemporary choreographers.

Ms. Vogt has taught at the Regional Dance America National, Southeastern, and Northeastern ballet festivals, numerous schools, summer intensives, and universities nationally and abroad. Most recently, Ms. Vogt taught in Uganda, Rwanda, and Guinea, Africa, for the NGO MindLeaps, implementing and facilitating educational programs for refugees and children in post-conflict developing countries. She was Dance Director for North Atlanta High School in 2009 and taught at the Roswell Dance Theatre and the South Carolina Governors School for the Arts and Humanities from 2012-2020. Ms. Vogt was also the Director of the Roswell Dance Theatre Modern Company from 2015-2021.

Ms. Vogt choreographed numerous contemporary solos and ensemble works for Youth American Grand Prix, Regional Dance America, Regional High School Dance Festival, World Ballet Competition, and the Universal Ballet Competition. She created highly successful college audition solos for students that received scholarships and attended Juilliard, New York University, and Ailey at Fordham University, to name a few. She has also choreographed for Dance Canvas, Atlanta Dance Connection, Rockford Dance Company, Erie Contemporary Ballet, and International Ballet in Greenville, South Carolina. Ms. Vogt is thrilled to be back in Pennsylvania as the Rehearsal Director of Philadanco and the Director of Contemporary Dance at String Theory Performing Arts School while pursuing her MFA in dance at Hollins University.

Gabriella Yudenich

A native of southern New Jersey, Gabriella Yudenich began her dance training at age seven at The Rock School for Dance Education. She also trained under the guidance of her mother, Barbara Sandonato. Ms. Yudenich attended The School of American Ballet under full scholarship for two years. She also completed summer sessions at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, The School of American Ballet, and American Ballet Theatre and performed with Dances Patrelle in New York City, dancing soloist roles in the Yorkville Nutcracker.

Ms. Yudenich performed with Pennsylvania Ballet (recently renamed Philadelphia Ballet) in George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker™, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and John Cranko’s The Taming of the Shrew before becoming the first member of Pennsylvania Ballet II, the Joyce and Herbert Kean Trainee program. As a member of Pennsylvania Ballet II for two seasons, she performed in lecture demonstrations throughout the region, as well as in the Company’s full-length productions. She became an Apprentice in September 2003 and was promoted to the Corps de Ballet in September 2005 and to Soloist in 2007.

Ms. Yudenich has performed in many classical and contemporary ballets including Christopher Wheeldon’s Swan Lake, Polyphonia, and After The Rain, Twyla Tharp’s In the Upper Room, Push Comes to Shove, and 9 Sinatra Songs, Matthew Neenan’s Carmina Burana, Jiří Kylián’s Forgotten Land (Black Couple), and many pieces from the Balanchine repertoire, including Who Cares?, The Four Temperaments (Choleric), and Agon (First Pas de Trois), Jewels (Rubies, Emeralds, and Diamonds), Theme and Variations, Serenade,  and Square Dance, among others . Her lead roles include Myrta in Giselle, Lilac Fairy and Diamond in The Sleeping Beauty, William Forsythe’s Artifact Suite (1st Pas De Duex), Titania and Hippolyta in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Sugarplum Fairy and Dewdrop in George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker™. She also created a role in the world premiere of Jorma Elo’s Pulcinella.

Ms. Yudenich is a true product of Pennsylvania Ballet history. Her mother, Barbara Sandonato, was a star member of Pennsylvania Ballet throughout the 1960s and early 1970s, and her father, the late Alexei Yudenich, was also a leading member of the Company during that time.