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. 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 and has enjoyed witnessing and being part of the growth of the organization. In addition to her roles on the stage and in the studio, Caitlin is thrilled to begin her fourth year as Company Manager for the 2018-2019 season.  

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.

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 pwith 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.

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.

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, DC, and Honolulu, and is now back in beautiful Virginia collaborating with musicians and performing. She is thrilled to become a part of Richmond Ballet’s Minds in Motion and Charlottesville Ballet’s wonderful community of artists.