Meet the Artists

Introducing the Professional Company of the 2017-2018 Season


Cassidy Burk

Originally from Northern Virginia, Cassidy trained for 15 years at The Dance Academy of Loudoun where she fell in love with all styles of dance. Cassidy spent summers training on scholarship with American Ballet Theatre, Charlotte Ballet, The Rock School, and Joffrey. In 2013, she placed in the New York City finals of the Youth America Grand Prix and was invited to perform at the International Ballet Fest in Miami, Florida. In 2016, she graduated from Point Park University where she received a Bachelor of Fine Arts on scholarship for ballet and jazz. During her time at Point Park, Cassidy performed works by faculty members Peter LeBreton Merz, Garfield Lemonius, Ron Tassone, Susan Stowe, and Keisha Lalama, as well as guest artists Septime Webre, Matthew Powell, and Emery LeCrone. Cassidy joined Charlottesville Ballet in 2016 as a Trainee and was promoted to an Apprentice the same year. She returns as a Company Artist for the 2017-18 season.

Cassidy’s performances for the 2017-18 season are graciously sponsored by Ken & Susan Wrisley. Sponsor your favorite artist through our Sponsor A Dancer program!


Regina DuPont

Born in Cincinnati, Ohio, Regina DuPont began her training at the Anneliese von Oettengin School of Ballet in Cheviot, Ohio under the direction of Cornelia Berns and Laura Hughes. She attended multiple summer intensive programs, all on scholarship, at Cincinnati Ballet, Ballet Tech of Ohio, and Tevlin Ballet. She danced with the Tevlin Ballet pre-professional company for two years before attending the University of Cincinnati, College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) as a Ballet Performance Major in 2011. Some of her favorite roles while at CCM were Kitri in Don Quixote, Nikita in La Bayadere, the Russian Girl in George Balanchine’s Serenade, and a principal role in Twyla Tharp’s The Story Teller. She was also chosen to perform in an original choreographic work by Michael Bearden at the Beijing International Dance Festival in Beijing, China. Regina joined Charlottesville Ballet as a Trainee in 2015 and is thrilled to return for her third season as a Company Artist.

Regina’s performances for the 2017-18 season are graciously sponsored by Susan Proctor. Sponsor your favorite artist through our Sponsor A Dancer program!


Emily Hartka

Emily Hartka, Co-Director and Company Artist, 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 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 direction of the late Petrus Bosman. After graduation she danced as a trainee with the Richmond Ballet. In 2008, Emily 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 the Co-Director of Charlottesville Ballet, teaches for the Chance To Dance outreach program, and performs with the professional company. Emily is delighted to achieve balance through her multiple roles as administrator, teacher, and performer, and she is thankful to all who have made this ten year journey possible.


Derek Lauer

Derek Lauer first began dancing at his mother’s studio in Flagstaff, Arizona. After graduating from 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 August Bournonville’s Flower Festival. Most recently, Derek danced with City Ballet of San Diego, where he performed Romeo in Romeo & Juliet, Rothbart in Swan Lake, as well as roles in George Balanchine’s Allegro Brilliante, Serenade, Rubies, Emeralds, Four Temperaments, and Square Dance. This is Derek’s first year as a Company Artist with Charlottesville Ballet.


Caitlin Lennon

Originally from Bozeman, Montana, Caitlin Lennon began her intensive training at the Queen City Ballet. While a student there, she was given the honor of performing such roles as the Sugar Plum Fairy, Dew Drop, and the Snow Queen in The Nutcracker, as well as Aurora and the Lilac Fairy in Sleeping Beauty. Caitlin competed in the Youth America Grand Prix in 2006 and placed in the Top 12 in both classical and contemporary. She spent her summers studying at Juilliard, American Ballet Theatre, 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. Caitlin joined Charlottesville Ballet as a founding member of the professional company in 2008. This is Caitlin’s tenth season dancing with Charlottesville Ballet, and she is thrilled to be continuing her role as Company Manager for the 2017-18 season.


Nanae Matsushima

Nanae Matsushima was born in Hokkaido, Japan. She began dancing at the age of three and continued her training in Hokkaido until 2012 when she relocated to Calgary in Alberta, Canada to train at the School of Alberta Ballet. In 2014, Nanae was offered a trainee position at the American Repertory Ballet (ARB) in Princeton, NJ and moved to the United States. While at ARB, Nanae danced the role of Kitri in Don Quixote, as well as roles in The Nutcracker, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and The Firebird. Nanae joined Charlottesville Ballet as a Company Artist in 2015 and has performed numerous leading roles including the the Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker, Kitri in Don Quixote, and Snow White in Snow White. This is Nanae’s third season as a Company Artist with the Charlottesville Ballet.

Nanae’s performances for the 2017-18 season are graciously sponsored by Joe & Sharon Mott. Sponsor your favorite artist through our Sponsor A Dancer program!

Special thanks to our corporate sponsor Poarch Law for helping our international artists perform across Central Virginia.  For more information about their immigration services, visit


Izabelly Possatto

Izabelly Possatto was born in Vila Velha, Brazil where she trained and danced professionally with Espaço da Dança under the direction of Alessandra and Liliani Cunha. She graduated in 2009 from the School of the Bolshoi Theater in Brazil and then in 2012 from the Escuela Nacional de Cuba. Izabelly has also participated in several international dance competitions including Festival de Dança de Joinville, Festival Internacional de Cabo Frio, Seminário de Dança de Brasília, Passo de Arte, Conselho Brasileiro de Dança (CBDD), and the 2011 Youth America Grand Prix finals held in New York City. Izabelly has performed principal roles in Don Quixote, La Bayadere, Diana and Acteon, La Esmeralda, La Fille Mal Gardee, Flower Festival, Spring Waters, and Polovetzian Dances. This is her first season as a Company Artist with Charlottesville Ballet.

Izabelly’s performances for the 2017-18 season are graciously sponsored by Penny & Dutch Dorschel. Sponsor your favorite artist through our Sponsor A Dancer program!


Feleacia Quezergue

Feleacia is originally from San Antonio, Texas, and she trained at the North East School of the Arts until graduating high school. She spent summers at Houston Ballet, Harid Conservatory, and Cincinnati Ballet. Feleacia is a recent graduate of the University of Oklahoma where she received a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Dance with a minor in Nonprofit Organizational Studies. At the University of Oklahoma, she performed with the resident ballet company Oklahoma Festival Ballet under the direction of Mary Margaret Holt. While at the University of Oklahoma, Feleacia served as President of the Fine Arts Diversity Council, Student Liaison for the School of Dance Directors Search Committee, and Wardrobe Crew Head for the drama production Trojan Women. In addition to dancing with the professional company, Feleacia is on faculty and staff with Charlottesville Ballet Academy. This will be Feleacia’s first season as a Company Artist with Charlottesville Ballet.



Promise Smith

Promise began dancing at the age of five and began studying on full scholarship at The Rock School For Dance Education in Philadelphia at thirteen. Promise attended summer intensives at Chautauqua, American Ballet Theater, Orlando Ballet, Richmond Ballet, and The Rock School. In 2013, she won second place in Contemporary at the Youth America Grand Prix (YAGP) competition and was one of 30 YAGP finalists in New York City the following year. From 2014-2016, Promise was a member of Joffrey Ballet’s studio company in Chicago, where she performed with the company in Christopher Wheeldon’s Swan Lake and The Nutcracker. She also had the pleasure of touring with the company to the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. Promise continued her training with the Richmond Ballet as a trainee during the 2016-17 season. This is Promise’s first year as a Company Artist with Charlottesville Ballet.



Kate Arnson

Kate Arnson is originally from San Diego, California. She began her training at City Ballet of San Diego and then went on to train with Kathryn Irey at Stage 7 School of Dance. After spending 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 local ballet outreach programs and worked with City Ballet’s junior professional company. This is Kate’s first year as an apprentice with Charlottesville Ballet.


Jessica Grant

Jessica is a native of Staunton, Virginia. She began her dance training at the Ballet Box when she was three years old and studied many styles of dance under director Jann Shenk. She has completed RAD examinations, passing with merit, from Level 3 through Intermediate. 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 attended Richmond Ballet’s summer intensive in 2011 and 2012. She graduated in 2016 with an A.A. in Dance from Piedmont Virginia Community College and continues to pursue a second degree in technology. She loves to share her passion for dance through teaching and is on faculty at Charlottesville Ballet Academy. Jessica also teaches for Charlottesville Ballet’s outreach program Chance To Dance. Jessica joined Charlottesville Ballet in 2013 as a Trainee and she is excited for her fifth season with Charlottesville Ballet as an Apprentice.

Jessica’s performances are generously sponsored by Bill & Tricia Van Ryn and the Seideman family.  Sponsor your favorite artist through our Sponsor A Dancer program!


Maya Hawkins

Maya is originally from Memphis, Tennessee where she grew up dancing at Ballet Memphis from the age of three. She was promoted to the Junior Company of Ballet Memphis, where she performed a variety of classical and contemporary roles. Prior to graduating from high school, she joined the Collage Dance Corps and studied under Kevin Thomas. At Collage Dance Collective she performed contemporary pieces by a variety of choreographers including Kevin Iega Jeff. After graduating from high school, Maya studied at the Pennsylvania Ballet School under the direction of Arantxa Ochoa. She then joined The Washington Ballet (TWB) for the 2015-16 season as a trainee and danced roles in Septime Webre’s The Nutcracker, Carmen, Coppelia, and George Balanchine’s Serenade. After her season with TWB, Maya joined Cincinnati Ballet as a trainee, where she performed in Kirk Peterson’s Coppelia, Victoria Morgan’s The Nutcracker, and excerpts from Sleeping Beauty and Swan Lake. Maya has attended summer intensives on scholarship at Dance Theatre of Harlem, Orlando Ballet, Milwaukee Ballet, Alvin Ailey, Carolina Ballet, and Alonzo King Lines Ballet. This is Maya’s first season with Charlottesville Ballet as an Apprentice.


Laura Janson

Laura performed as a soloist with Continental Ballet Company for four years and most recently as a company member with Ballet Minnesota. She has also performed with Saint Paul Ballet, Metropolitan Ballet, Minneapolis Ballet Dancers, and served as Co-Director of Cities Classical Dance Ensemble, a collaborative contemporary ballet company that provides professional dancers and choreographers an opportunity to create new works. Laura attended summer programs on full scholarship at the Joffrey Ballet School in New York City and Saint Paul City Ballet, and she also holds a Bachelor of Arts in Dance from the University of Minnesota. While in college, she was awarded an Undergraduate Research Opportunities Grant for choreography in conjunction with an internship with Shapiro and Smith Dance Company. The Metropolitan Regional Arts Council also presented her with a grant for the production of L’Affaire de Ballet by Cities Classical Dance Ensemble. Laura is excited for her first season as an Apprentice with Charlottesville Ballet.  


 Trainee Class of 2017-18

(Names listed from left to right, back row first)

Rebecca Lucas

Feather Weldon

Kathryn Tokar

Taylor Kramer

Jean-Marie Bralley

Emily Dismuke

Samantha New



Special thanks to Liz Knutsen for creating Charlottesville Ballet’s artist portraits!


© 2018 Charlottesville Ballet built by Red Garrett