Sara Clayborne, Co-Director
Originally from New York, Sara trained at the Ballet School of New York under the direction of Diana Byer and Sallie Wilson. In 2001, she graduated from the Professional Children’s School in New York City and began to dance professionally with New York Theatre Ballet. While dancing with NYTB, Sara had the opportunity to tour the United States and perform at the Florence Gould Hall in New York City. In 2004, Sara moved to Richmond, Virginia to join the Richmond Ballet trainee program. While at the Richmond Ballet, she performed with the professional company in such ballets as The Sleeping Beauty, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and original choreography by Richmond Ballet faculty. She danced with Richmond Ballet for two years before being asked to join Starr Foster Dance Project. In 2007, Sara co-founded the Charlottesville Ballet, putting her myriad of experiences to work while keeping her love of performance alive in her dual role as dancer and director. She retired from the stage in 2012 in order to devote her time to the growth of Charlottesville Ballet.
Emily Hartka, Co-Director
Emily Hartka fell in love with ballet at the age of five. She began dance classes at Roanoke Ballet Theatre in her hometown of Roanoke, VA and continued her training with Unurbat Gunaajav and Michele Goacher. She performed in collaborative shows with Opera Roanoke, the Mill Mountain Theatre, and with Radford University as the Snow Queen in The Nutcracker. She attended summer intensives at the Richmond Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, and on scholarship with the Dance Theatre of Harlem. Emily spent her senior year of high school at the Virginia School of the Arts in Lynchburg, VA under the late Petrus Bosman. Upon graduation, she joined the Richmond Ballet as a trainee, performing in Don Quixote, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Balanchine’s Valse Fantasie and Who Cares?, and in many new works by Richmond Ballet faculty. She also enjoyed working with school children in Richmond Ballet’s Minds In Motion program.
Caitlin Lennon, Associate Director
Caitlin Lennon, originally from Bozeman, Montana, began her intensive training at the Queen City Ballet in Helena, Montana. She spent her summers studying at Juilliard, American Ballet Theatre in New York, Atlanta Ballet, Houston Ballet, and Ballet West on scholarship. Her travels across the country ended at the Richmond Ballet, where she was accepted into the trainee program on full scholarship and danced for two seasons. She also taught dance in the public schools with Richmond Ballet’s Minds In Motion program from 2007-2015. In 2008, Caitlin joined the Charlottesville Ballet as a founding member of the professional company. From 2015-2019, Caitlin worked as the Company Manager for the professional company, in addition to continuing her performances as a dancer. In March of 2019, Caitlin retired from the stage and received a promotion to Associate Director of the organization. Caitlin is looking forward to continuing her work with the Charlottesville Ballet for her 12th season!
Kristina Edwards, Artistic Associate
Kristina Ancil Edwards, originally from Pittsburgh, PA, received her formal training with Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School, where she completed both the Schenley High School and Graduate Programs. She has performed professionally with the Pittsburgh Opera, Louisville Ballet, American National Ballet, Chicago Ballet, Albany Berkshire Ballet, Peoria Ballet, Nomi Dance Company, Chicago Folks Operetta, the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Winifred Haun & Dancers, ClancyWorks Dance Company, I.C. Movement Project, Company E, and Motion X Dance DC. Kristina has had the pleasure of teaching ballet and contemporary extensively throughout the Chicago and the Washington D.C. metro regions. Her credits include Visceral Dance Center, The Washington School of Ballet, BalletNova, and adjunct faculty at George Mason University. In addition to performing and teaching, her choreography has been featured on the dancers of Nomi Dance Company (2012, 2013), Classical Repertory Dance Ensemble (2016, 2017, 2018), Errant Movement (2016), and Motion X Dance DC (2018). Kristina, along with her husband and son, recently relocated to Richmond, where she serves as adjunct faculty at Virginia Commonwealth University and guest teaches in the city. She is absolutely thrilled to be part of the Charlottesville Ballet faculty and enjoys leading company class!
Anna Finan, Artistic Associate
Anna Finan began her dancing career at an early age at the National Ballet School in Bytom, Poland. At the age of 14, she participated in the acclaimed international ballet competition, the Prix de Lausanne in Switzerland, where she reached the half-final and was offered a scholarship to study at the Hamburg Ballet School in Germany. After graduating from the school, she joined the Hamburg Ballet company directed by the renowned American choreographer John Neumeier. There she performed group and soloist roles in various classical and modern ballets such as The Nutcracker, Swan Lake, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and The Little Mermaid while traveling with the company around the world. While dancing, she studied towards a Bachelor of Business at the Open University. Upon her graduation, she left dancing to pursue a second career, becoming a credit risk manager at Germany’s largest bank, Deutsche Bank AG. Her love for movement never halted and so she became a certified Vinyasa Yoga instructor, expanding her knowledge to pre- and post-natal Yoga practice. She moved with her husband and little boys from Stuttgart, Germany to Charlottesville, VA in April 2016. She is currently studying towards the NASM Personal Trainer Certification. She loves teaching dance and passing on her lifelong ballet experience.
Mari Mori, Artistic Associate
Mari Mori began her ballet training at the Yasuko Miyashita Ballet School in Kyoto, Japan. She studied with Hideo Fukagawa and subsequently joined his ballet company. She continued her studies with Madam Nora Kiss, Jean Clould Ruiz, and Finis Jhung. Mari danced with the American Repertory Dance Theatre and the Covenant Ballet Theatre in New York. After moving to the East Coast, she taught at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, Wake Forest University, and the North Carolina Dance Festival. Mari moved to Lynchburg, VA in 2009 to teach at Sweet Briar College and the Virginia School of the Arts (VSA). Upon the closure of VSA, she founded Central Virginia Ballet in 2011 to continue to provide instruction to her Lynchburg-area students. She is very happy to serve as Artistic Associate this season.
Kerry Shea, Artistic Associate
Kerry Shea’s company credits include Ballet West, Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, Sacramento Ballet, CONTINUUM Contemporary Ballet and Lydia Johnson Dance. She served as Associate Artistic Director of LJD. Kerry performed the classics as well as an extensive list of George Balanchine’s repertoire. For the documentary “Sensuality and Nationalism in Romantic Ballet”, and Ballet Archives, Kerry performed the solo “L’esmerelda” and pas de deux “L’torrolene”. Graduating with high honors, she earned her BFA in Ballet Performance from the University of Utah. She is a Certified Progressing Ballet Technique Teacher and Pilates Instructor. She is passionate about training dancers with the proper biomechanics for peak performance, injury prevention and rehabilitation. This year she was honored to join Doctors for Dancers as an International Dance Specialist. In Charlottesville, Kerry enjoys teaching from her boutique Pilates studio.
Anna Sides, Artistic Associate
Anna Sides danced professionally for 14 years and has taught for 30 years throughout the United States. The bulk of her training was from The National Academy of Arts in Champaign, Illinois under the direction of Petrus Bosman. Anna danced professionally with Ballet West, Ballet Memphis, Maryland Ballet, and Festival Ballet of Rhode Island. Highlights of her performing career were Sir Frederick Ashton’s Monotones II, Swanhilda in Coppelia, Flower Festival Pas de Deux, and the Maiden in The Maiden Who Descends from Heaven, as well as several Balanchine ballets. Anna was also a guest Ballet Mistress with Missouri Ballet Theatre and currently runs a traveling ballet school in Highland and Pocahontas counties. Anna is delighted to continue her work with the professional company and has been an Artistic Associate since 2015.
Keith Lee, Artist Laureate
Keith Lee is a master teacher and choreographer originating from the Bronx, New York where he trained at the High School of Performing Arts in NYC. In 1969 Mr. Lee joined American Ballet Theatre and was promoted to the rank of soloist the following year. He then pursued his career at Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre as their ballet master. He has choreographed works for American Ballet Theatre, the Washington Ballet, the Geneva Ballet, the Oakland Ballet, the Garden State Ballet, Alvin Ailey Repertory Ensemble, the Lexington Ballet, and the Charlottesville Ballet. Mr. Lee now calls Central Virginia home, and continues to work as a freelance choreographer, teacher, and performing arts coordinator.
Jeffrey Boynton, Lighting Designer
Jeffrey Boynton has over 20 years of experience in lighting design and applies his expertise and passion for lighting to a wide range of applications. He works nationally and internationally on live theater and dance performances, landscapes and light, long range planning projects, lighting for museums, educational facilities, restaurants, private homes, transit and public works, renovations, large scale festival sculpture lighting, festival power and ambient lighting, lighting masterplans, lighting controls design and programming, and custom luminaire design. Rooted in a history of modern dance, dance theater and contact improvisation, he is also a dancer and facilitates movement meditation locally as a certified teacher of 5Rhythms®. Jeffrey lives in Charlottesville with his beloved Samantha and their children.
Taylor Horne, Stage Manager
Taylor Horne is originally from Raleigh, North Carolina. She started dancing when she was very young, and in middle school joined the competitive company at her local studio, Dance Dynamics Inc. In college, she was a member of both the UNCW dance company and varsity dance team. She graduated with a degree in elementary education and taught kindergarten in NC before moving to Charlottesville in June 2018, joining the Charlottesville Ballet staff as an administrative assistant shortly thereafter. Since then, she has joyfully added the role of stage manager to her title. Whether assisting patrons at the front desk or running a production backstage, she is always delighted to be a part of the Charlottesville Ballet team.
Katherine Nies, Accompanist
Katherine Nies is a classically-trained musician with more than 17 years of experience in piano performance, vocal performance, and accompanying. She graduated summa cum laude from Albertus Magnus College with a Bachelor of Arts in English, Spanish, and Creative Writing. After spending a summer studying linguistics at Georgetown University, Katherine combined her love of music and visual arts by diving into cinematography, producing two short films, acting and singing in West Side Story, and Shakespeare’s The Tempest, and performing with orchestras and other ensembles. She has been a resident of New England, D.C., and Honolulu, and is now back in Virginia, collaborating with musicians and performing. She is thrilled to be a part of Charlottesville Ballet’s wonderful community of artists.
Ali Brent, Finance Manager
Ali Brent grew up in Greene County and fell in love with ballet at a young age. She studied dance in Charlottesville at “The Dance Studio” under Nan Rennie and Daphne Sandridge, and at Mary Washington College (now the University of Mary Washington). After college, Ali enjoyed working with children at a home for abused and neglected youth, and then with the elderly at an assisted living home. She then worked at Capital One, which led to a position in finance with the Marine Corps, where she met her husband. In 2005, the Brents moved back to Greene County to raise their family. As Charlottesville Ballet’s Finance Manager, Ali enjoys serving the community and furthering the organization’s goal to make dance accessible to everyone.
Cassidy Burk, Communications Coordinator
Cassidy Burk, a native of Leesburg, Virginia, trained for 15 years at The Dance Academy of Loudoun where she fell in love with all styles of dance. While in high school, in addition to her dance training, Cassidy was her school’s yearbook editor-in-chief where she developed a passion for graphic design and book layout. After attending Point Park University and graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in ballet and jazz, Cassidy joined the Charlottesville Ballet as Company Artist and CBA Faculty member. After helping to make the performance programs on the side during her first years at Charlottesville Ballet, Cassidy pioneered the role of Communications Coordinator, and is excited to continue that role this season!
Suzanne Gandy, Community Sponsorships
Suzanne has worked in advertising, marketing, and public relations in the private and public sectors from Richmond to San Francisco. She is a graduate of Lynchburg College and Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership at the University of Virginia. Suzanne now focuses her skills and passion to cause-based marketing and community building. Suzanne can attest to the growth path and talent in Charlottesville Ballet: she’s followed Co-Director and Co-Founder Emily Hartka from her early years of dance, through their artistic success, to their new chapter in Lynchburg as Resident Company at the Academy Center of the Arts. Suzanne is helping Charlottesville Ballet fortify Lynchburg’s cultural renaissance and bring professional dance back into Lynchburg through awareness, outreach, and community support.
Feleacia Quezergue, Chance To Dance Coordinator
Feleacia Quezergue is originally from San Antonio, Texas. She trained at the North East School of the Arts and spent summers at Houston Ballet, Cincinnati Ballet, and Harid Conservatory. Feleacia is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma where she received a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Dance with a minor in Nonprofit Organizational Studies. She is delighted to combine her love of dance, her passion for teaching, and her interest in developing nonprofits with her multiple roles at Charlottesville Ballet.
Heather Rogers, Costume Manager
Heather Rogers began dancing at the age of four and attended schools in Florida, Georgia, and eventually Virginia. She spent two seasons with Charlottesville Ballet as an Apprentice and began teaching with Charlottesville Ballet Academy when the school opened in 2011. Heather is an American Ballet Theatre Certified Teacher in Pre-Primary through Level 3 and loves spreading the joy of dance to her students. In 2014, she happily accepted a larger role at Charlottesville Ballet and joined the administrative team. When she’s not teaching, Heather works around the studio on various tasks and manages CBA’s many costumes.
Kathryn Tokar, Patron Services Coordinator
Kathryn Tokar began her early training at the Beck Center for the Arts in Lakewood, Ohio, under the tutelage of Melanie Szucs. She continued her training at Ohio Dance Theatre and completed summer intensives at Cincinnati Ballet, Next Generation Ballet, and American Ballet Theatre. Kathryn also holds a B.A. in Dance Performance and a minor in Biology from Mercyhurst University. Kathryn began her professional career as a founding member of the new Cleveland Ballet and also danced with Lake Erie Ballet and North Pointe Ballet. Kathryn joined Charlottesville Ballet as a Trainee for the 2017-18 season, and she is delighted to share her love of dance by performing with the professional company, teaching in the Academy, and assisting with the growth and development of the organization.