Artistic Team & Staff

Artistic Team

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 and began dance classes at Roanoke Ballet Theatre in her hometown of Roanoke, VA. She attended summer intensives at the 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 and danced as a trainee with the Richmond Ballet. In 2008, she relocated to Charlottesville to found the Charlottesville Ballet and to attend the University of Virginia, where she completed her Bachelor of Arts in Nonprofit Management & Arts Administration. Emily serves as Co-Director and leads the marketing and development efforts of Charlottesville Ballet. In 2019, she completed training in the Dance for PD® program by the Mark Morris Dance Center in Brooklyn, NY and is excited to grow the CB’s Movement for Parkinson’s program. Emily is thankful to all who have made this journey possible and looks forward to the Ballet’s 14th season.

Keith Lee, Artist Laureate, Director of Diversity & Inclusion, and Resident Choreographer

Keith Lee–Artist Laureate, Resident Choreographer, and Director of Diversity & Inclusion–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. Mr. Lee is excited to expand his role of Director of Diversity & Inclusion for the Charlottesville Ballet.

Caitlin Lennon, Artistic Associate & Director of Repertoire

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 Motionprogram 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 accepted the role of Director of Repertoire, continuing her work with the professional company and trainee program. In addition to her work with Charlottesville Ballet, Caitlin is a licensed Realtor ® in the state of Virginia. Caitlin is looking forward to her 14th season with Charlottesville Ballet!

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!

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.

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.

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!

Amanda Green, Patron Services Coordinator

Amanda Green grew up in Lynchburg, Virginia where she fell in love with performing. She danced with Seven Hills Dance Studio and spent many of her high school days in play rehearsals. Amanda attended the University of Georgia, majoring in Political Science and Social Science Education. She performed with the UGA theater department and both choreographed and performed for Athens’ Town and Gown Players. After graduation Amanda began teaching high school Government and Economics outside of Augusta, GA and obtained her Master’s in Educational Leadership from Augusta State University. When Amanda moved to Charlottesville in 2009 she chose to stay at home with her children (now 12, 10, and 6). Amanda now designs jewelry for her Etsy shop, ChalantAG. She is so excited by Charlottesville Ballet’s mission to make dance more accessible to the community and to join the CB community as Patron Services Coordinator.

Amy Martel, Operations Manager

Amy Martel loves athletic endeavors of all kinds and deeply appreciates the combination of athleticism and beauty of expression that dance communicates between participants and audience. Originally from Massachusetts, her family moved to Greene County when she was 6 years old. She took several years of ballet in her youth, and has enjoyed basketball, track, rugby, triathlons and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Amy has spent most of her career serving children and families as the front office manager for a K-8 private school and most recently as assistant manager of a mixed martial arts gym. After living in Minnesota for the last 20 years, Amy is thrilled to be back in Greene with her family. She brings enthusiasm and warmth to her role as development coordinator for Charlottesville Ballet, with a special fondness for relationship building.

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.