Meet the Artists

Company Artists

Kate Arnson

Kate Arnson is originally from San Diego, California. She began dancing at City Ballet of San Diego and then went on to work with Kathryn Irey at Stage 7 School of Dance, where she spent the majority of her training. After two seasons as an apprentice with City Ballet of San Diego and one season with Ballet Tucson, Kate re-joined City Ballet of San Diego as a company member, performing in ballets such as Swan Lake, Giselle, Don Quixote, Carmen, and George Balanchine’s Serenade, Emeralds, Four Temperaments, Walpurgisnacht, and La Source. While performing with the company, Kate also taught in City Ballet’s outreach program and coached their junior professional company. In 2017, Kate joined Charlottesville Ballet, performing in The Nutcracker, Cinderella, Snow White, and other original works. Kate is BEYOND excited to be back performing for Charlottesville Ballet.

Izabelly Gleed

Izabelly began her dancing career at the age of four, in Vila Velha, Brazil. She graduated in 2009 from the School of the Bolshoi Theater in Brazil and then in 2012 from the Escuela Nacional de Cuba. She also holds a bachelor’s degree in communications studies. Professionally, Izabelly has danced multiple lead and corps roles, and in 2015 she was brought on to Lake Erie Ballet in Erie Pennsylvania as an instructor and company artist. In 2017 she moved to Charlottesville to perform as a Company Artist with the professional company and to be on faculty at the Academy. Izabelly is happy to be back for the 6th year with Charlottesville Ballet.

Jessica Grant

Jessica Grant is a native of Staunton, Virginia. She began her dance training at the Ballet Box and studied under the tutelage of Jann Shenk. At age fifteen, Jessica began dancing with Rockingham Ballet Theatre, where she performed leading roles including Cinderella, the Sugar Plum Fairy, and Swanhilda in Coppelia. She holds degrees in both Dance and Cybersecurity. Jessica enjoys opportunities to continue refining her artistry and attended the Compass Coaching Project with Dominic Walsh during the summer of 2018. Jessica is also on faculty at Charlottesville Ballet Academy and enjoys sharing her love of dance with others. Jessica joined Charlottesville Ballet in 2013 as a Trainee and is excited for her tenth season with Charlottesville Ballet as a Company Artist.

Yui Kaito

Yui Kaito is originally from Tokyo, Japan. Yui began her training at Tateda Ballet Studio, before moving to Calgary to complete her education at the Alberta Ballet School. She was invited to join Alberta Ballet Trainee, which led to her dancing with Alberta Ballet. Also she took the exam of Cecchetti Advanced 2. After she graduated school, she joined Kentucky Ballet Theatre in Lexington, KY. She has performed leading roles in the company, some of her most memorable roles with the company to date include The Nutcracker, William Tell pas de duex, Carmen, Diana and Actaeon Pas de duex, and The Little Mermaid.

Michael (Mikey) Knight

Michael (Mikey) Knight began his ballet training at NEW Fusion Performing Arts in Green Bay, WI. Upon graduation Mikey relocated to Chicago, IL for an apprenticeship on Elements Contemporary Ballet. He has had the opportunity to travel to Sichuan, China to dance and instruct at Sichuan University. Upon his return Mikey relocated to Madison, WI to dance as Principal Dancer and Associate Artistic Director of Madison Contemporary Dance. Michael then joined Kanopy Dance Company in 2019 as Principal Dancer. He debuted in a variety regional premiers, including works set by Martha Graham Program Director Lone Larson, and the Martha Graham Director of Development A. Apostle. He recently relocated to Virginia and is thrilled to be joining the esteemed ranks of the Charlottesville Ballet!

Derek Lauer

Derek Lauer first began dancing at his mother’s studio in Flagstaff, Arizona. After graduating from the Virginia School of the Arts in Lynchburg, VA, he joined Milwaukee Ballet II. Derek then danced with New York Theatre Ballet, where he performed leading roles in Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and The Nutcracker. From 2010 to 2013, Derek danced with Ballet Tucson in Arizona, where he appeared in Three Virgins and a Devil, Anthony Tudor’s Continuo and Fairy Doll, and August Bournonville’s Flower Festival. For the next five seasons, Derek danced with City Ballet of San Diego, where he performed Romeo in Romeo & Juliet and Rothbart in Swan Lake, as well as roles in George Balanchine’s Allegro Brilliante, Serenade, Rubies, Emeralds, Four Temperaments, and Square Dance. Since joining Charlottesville Ballet in 2017, Derek has performed leading roles such as Cavalier in The Nutcracker and Prince Charming in Cinderella. Derek is thrilled to be back in Charlottesville for the company’s return to the stage.

Maurissa Powell

Maurissa Powell was born and raised in Madison, Wisconsin. She trained at The School of Madison Ballet under W. Earle Smith and Rachelle Butler, and summer programs at The Jillana School, Ballet Chicago, Oregon Ballet Theatre, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, Fort Wayne Ballet and Lines Ballet. Maurissa is a former Brown Girls Do Ballet Ambassador, a National medalist for Ballet at NAACP’s Afro-Academic, Cultural, Technological and Scientific Olympics, and a 2021 Lauren Anderson Scholarship winner. Maurissa has performed with Madison Ballet, Ruth Page Civic Ballet Training Company, Charlottesville Ballet and most recently performed at the Kennedy Center’s Reframing the Narrative with Ballethnic Dance Company. She is excited for her first full season with Charlottesville Ballet!

Kathryn Tokar Conley

Kathryn Tokar began training with Melanie Szucs at the Beck Center for the Arts in Lakewood, Ohio. She spent summers at Cincinnati Ballet, Next Generation Ballet, and ABT, and graduated from Mercyhurst University summa cum laude with a B.A. in Dance Performance and a minor in Biology. Under the direction of Tauna Hunter at MU, Kathryn performed at the YAGP Finals and the NYCDA Destiny Rising Gala. She began her career as a founding member of the new Cleveland Ballet, and then Lake Erie Ballet, with her mentor Lesley Bories-Scalise. Kathryn joined Charlottesville Ballet in 2017 as a Trainee and is thrilled to begin her next season with the company. She also performs with Deos Contemporary Ballet in Michigan over the summers. Her favorite roles include Snow Queen, Dew Drop (The Nutcracker), and an Ugly Stepsister (Cinderella).

Trainee Artists

Guest Musicians from The Charlottesville Symphony

Benjamin Rous, Violin

Ben Rous has served as the Music Director of Charlottesville Symphony and Associate Professor of Music at UVA since 2017. During an eight-year tenure as Resident Conductor of the Virginia Symphony Orchestra, he conducted a range of Classics, Pops and ballet performances. An accomplished instrumentalist, Rous has concertized on violin, viola and keyboard instruments. He has served as guest Principal 2nd violin with Mahler Chamber Orchestra, where he performed under the batons of Claudio Abbado and Daniel Harding, including a teaching residency with El Sistema in Caracas. At Harvard, he performed on baroque violin with the Harvard Baroque Chamber Orchestra as section leader and soloist, and was a member of the Arcturus Chamber Ensemble for a decade. Rous earned the Doctor of Musical Arts in orchestral conducting at the University of Michigan while studying harpsichord and pursuing dance. He has collaborated with the Charlottesville Ballet since 2020 on numerous projects and is excited to serve as CB’s conductor for The Nutcracker in December 2023.

Shelby Sender, Piano

Shelby Sender received her Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Piano Performance at the University of Maryland after receiving her Master of Music degree from the University of Maryland and her Bachelor of Music degree from Ithaca College. She frequently works with the Charlottesville Opera and Victory Hall Opera in addition to her work teaching and performing internationally. Shelby is the choral and orchestral pianist at St. Anne’s-Belfield, the co-founder of Mosaic Children’s Choir, and she currently maintains a private studio in Central Virginia. In 2022, Shelby accompanied dancers and singers in Charlottesville Ballet’s inaugural Outdoor Series at Merrie Mill Farm & Vineyard, and she is excited to work with the Ballet again this spring.

Danielle Wiebe Burke, Viola

Danielle Wiebe Burke is a Mexican-Canadian violist who began musical studies on violin at an early age. At fifteen, she discovered her love for the viola and has performed as a soloist throughout Europe and North America. Danielle is a distinguished chamber musician and also holds the John C. Jamison Principal Viola Chair in the Williamsburg Symphony. She has a Bachelor of Music from New England Conservatory and both Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees from Yale University. Danielle plays a 2009 Stefan-Peter Greiner viola, and this is her second appearance with the Charlottesville Ballet.

Jeannette Jang, Violin

Jeannette Jang grew up in Mequon, WI, and studied with Mimi Zweig at the String Academy of Wisconsin and soloed with such groups as the Milwaukee Chamber Orchestra and Madison Symphony. She received her Bachelor of Music from the University of Wisconsin and her Master of Music from the University of Michigan. She was a Fellow with New World Symphony in Miami Beach where she served as concertmaster under conductors Michael Tilson Thomas, Leonard Slatkin, David Robertson, and James Conlon. She has participated in such summer festivals as Tanglewood, Breckenridge Music Festival and Peninsula Music Festival, and she acted as concertmaster of Ash Lawn Opera, Colorado College Music Festival, and Spoleto Festival USA. Jang served as violin faculty at UVA and sat as concertmaster for the Charlottesville Symphony in 2020. She is a member of the Richmond Symphony and during the summer performs with the Wintergreen Music Festival and Shenandoah Valley Bach Festival.

Adam Carter, Cello

Adam Carter maintains an active career as a recitalist, chamber and orchestral musician, and teacher. Recent engagements include recitals and chamber music performances at UNC-Chapel Hill, Wake Forest University, the University of Virginia, High Point University, Randolph College, Bridgewater College, Hampden-Sydney College, Eastern Mennonite University and many more. As a teacher, Carter is on the faculty at the University of Virginia as Lecturer in Cello. Prior to his appointment at UVA, he was adjunct professor of cello and bass at Ripon College in Wisconsin. He received his Bachelor’s degree and Master’s degree with distinction from the Eastman School of Music, and completed his Doctoral degree at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Adam is currently the principal cellist of the Charlottesville Symphony and has performed with the Richmond Symphony, Madison Symphony, Winston-Salem Symphony, Erie Philharmonic and Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra.


Sara Clayborne, Silence We Made

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 BeautyA 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.

Brandye Lee, Requiem des Roses

Brandye Lee holds a Master of Fine Arts degree from University of California at Irvine focusing on issues of equity and diversity in ballet and she is a cum laude alumna of Smith College (Economics & Afro-American Studies). A native of Washington, DC, Brandye received her formal dance training as a scholarship student at Jones-Haywood School of Ballet, Dance Theatre of Harlem and The Ailey School. She a was a featured dancer with Ailey II and Disney’s blockbuster “The Lion King” – National Gazelle Tour. While touring with The Lion King, Brandye served as the company’s outreach coordinator, creating unique behind-the-scenes experiences that included the show’s phenomenal cast, crew and orchestra members.

Throughout her travels, she has produced numerous concerts benefiting community arts and education organizations. Brandye has been a guest performer and teacher in many of the 47 states she toured, including at Flint Institute of Music, Dance Institute of Washington, Dance Theatre of Lynchburg, Troy D. Brown’s Art of Technique, Deeply Rooted Dance Theater, George Mason University, University of Tennessee, Fisk University, Rhodes College, Marymount University, and countless others. Most recently, Brandye served as Rehearsal Director for Memphis, Tennessee’s groundbreaking ballet company and conservatory, Collage Dance Collective. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including Sidwell Friends School’s Distinguished Alumni Award. She is also a New Memphis Institute Fellow and served two terms as a commissioner for the Memphis City Beautiful Commission.

In 2021, Brandye was on faculty for Charlottesville Ballet’s Summer Intensive program and we are honored to showcase her choreography for the professional company’s 2021-22 season. Through her lifelong passion of dance, she continues to find innovative ways to let her life speak and serve her community.

Keith Lee, A Windswept Remembrance & JAG

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. Mr. Lee is excited to expand his role of Director of Diversity & Inclusion for the Charlottesville Ballet.

Ruth Sherman, Falling Leaves

Ruth Olga Sherman was Miss Dance of New England 1999. She performed with Gus Giordano Jazz Dance Company and Chicago Tap Theater for four seasons. After graduating from Northwestern, Ruth returned as an Adjunct Faculty Jazz teacher. As well, she taught at Giordano School and Master classes in Hawaii, Florida, Latvia, Germany, Mexico and Bruges. In 2008 Ruth moved to Berlin, Germany where she performed with Schindowski Ballet and Sidi Larbi Eastman Company in the Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen at the Deutsche Oper in Berlin, Germany and La Scala in Milan, Italy. In 2019, Ruth was the Resident Supervisor for the Alonzo King Lines Summer Program, and in 2020 Ruth received her Masters in Dance pedagogy and choreography from Mills College. In addition to teaching in the Academy, Ruth works with the professional company and will be choreographing for the trainee program this season.

Pedro Szalay, Cinderella

Szalay was born to Hungarian parents and is a native of   La Guaira, Venezuela where he started dancing in local school by Ms. Machado.  He received a scholarship at Ballet Nacional of Caracas, coached by Vladimir Isayev and many other national and international teachers. There he danced many of Nebrada’s choreographed pieces.  Later he traveled to New York City to be coached by Madame Darvash and performed with New York Dance Theatre directed by Frank Ohman. After New York, Szalay was company dancer with Richmond Ballet from 1996 to 2006 where he was an inspiration for many choreographers and he danced pieces from Balanchine, Burn, Canaporoli, Lang, Soleau, Stevenson, Orff, Wainrot, Winslett and many others. He was also a guest performer and choreographer with the Latin Ballet of Virginia.