Meet the Artists of UpFront: Heartbeats
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 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 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 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 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 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).