Sara Jansen Clayborne
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.
Sara is passionate about health and wellness and is a NASM-certified personal trainer. She is delighted to work with the company’s Medical Director to create a periodization model of cross training for the Charlottesville Ballet and to use her personal training background to set dancers on a path to better health. In addition to her role as Co-Director for the professional company, Sara is the Principal of Charlottesville Ballet Academy (CBA). She has taught dance for over a decade and is an American Ballet Theatre Certified Teacher in Primary through Level 7 of the ABT National Training Curriculum. She is excited to put the ABT Curriculum into practice, both at CBA and within the professional company. Sara looks forward to nurturing the growth and appreciation for dance among peers and in the community.
Heather Rogers, Lead Faculty
Heather Rogers began dancing at the age of four at her local dance studio in Ridge Manor, FL. She then moved on to dance with South Georgia Performing Arts, the South Georgia Ballet, and later at Charlottesville’s Wilson School of Dance. Heather spent two seasons as an Apprentice with Charlottesville Ballet and was on faculty at The Dance Barn from 2009-2011. She began teaching with Charlottesville Ballet Academy when they opened in 2011. Heather is an American Ballet Theatre Certified Teacher, who has successfully completed the ABT Teacher Training Intensive in Pre-Primary through Level 3 of the ABT National Training Curriculum.
Ms. Heather’s teaching and costuming for both the professional company and CBA dancers is sponsored by Shawna Holland.
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. This is Kate’s third season with Charlottesville Ballet.
Cassidy Burk grew up in Leesburg, Virginia and trained for 15 years at The Dance Academy of Loudoun where she fell in love with all styles of dance. It was here that Cassidy first had the opportunity to teach dance to kids of all ages. She attended Point Park University, where she performed the lead roles of Juliet in Nicolas Petrov’s Romeo & Juliet, Giselle in Giselle, and Lead Russian Girl in George Balanchine’s Serenade. After graduating from Point Park University in 2016 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in ballet and jazz, Cassidy joined the Charlottesville Ballet as a dancer and faculty member. She is thrilled to be teaching for her fourth year at Charlottesville Ballet Academy.
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 journalism. 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. Izabelly is excited to be on faculty at the Academy and perform as a Company Artist with the professional company.
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. At age fifteen, Jessica began dancing with Rockingham Ballet Theatre where she performed leading roles. That same year she began a dance program at the Augusta County Parks and Recreation for young dancers to explore their own passions. Jessica joined Charlottesville Ballet Academy as a faculty member in 2013 when she first joined Charlottesville Ballet as a Trainee. In 2015, she became an instructor for Charlottesville Ballet’s Chance To Dance program, where she is able to teach children who would not normally have access to dance education. She is currently an Apprentice with the professional company and has recently completed her Associate’s Degree in dance from PVCC. Jessica is an American Ballet Theatre Certified Teacher, who has successfully completed the ABT Teacher Training Intensive in Pre-Primary through Level 3 of the ABT National Training Curriculum. Jessica enjoys teaching the amazing students at CBA and is excited for the upcoming year!
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 August Bournonville’s Flower Festival. Most recently, 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. This is Derek’s third year as a Company Artist with Charlottesville Ballet and he enjoys teaching the Ballet for Boys and Partnering classes at CBA.
Feleacia is from San Antonio, Texas, where she trained with Christopher Fairbank. As a freshman in high school she was admitted to the North East School of the Arts as a dance major under the direction of Dena Mabry and Carolyn Gresham. She also received summer training at Houston Ballet, Cincinnati Ballet, and Harid Conservatory. Feleacia is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma where she received a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Dance with a minor in Nonprofit Organizational Studies. While at the University of Oklahoma, she performed with Oklahoma Festival Ballet under the direction of Mary Margaret Holt. She performed numerous works by faculty members Clara Cravey-Stanley, Jeremy Lindberg, and Ilya Kozadayev, as well as guest choreographer Jock Soto. Feleacia is currently a company artist with Charlottesville Ballet. This is her third year on faculty and staff at Charlottesville Ballet Academy.
Anna Sides danced professionally for 14 years and has taught for 30 years throughout the United States. Anna danced with Ballet West, Ballet Memphis, Maryland Ballet, and Festival Ballet of Rhode Island. The bulk of her training was from The National Academy of Arts in Champaign, Illinois under the direction of Petrus Bosman. Other notable teachers include Robert Dicello, Christine Hennessey, Maria Youskevitch, Wayne Stewart, Karen Brown, Denise Shultz, Francesca Corkle, Michelle Lucci, Victoria Simmon, Francia Russell and Elaine Thomas. 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. Balanchine Ballets include: Who Cares?, Allegro, Pas de Dix, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. =Anna has taught in Utah, Tennessee, Maryland, Washington, Rhode Island, North Carolina, Missouri, Virginia and West Virginia. She worked as guest Ballet Mistress with Missouri Ballet Theatre for several seasons and is currently running a traveling ballet school in Highland and Pocahontas counties, The Dance Academy. Students from The Dance Academy have attended summer intensives with Ballet Magnificat, The Rock School of Dance Education, and University of North Carolina School of the Arts. Anna has worked with Charlottesville Ballet’s professional company since 2015.
Born and raised in Chester, Virginia, Desmin found his love of dance later in life at the age of 18. After attending college and earning his bachelor’s degree in computer science, he decided later on that he would make dance a major part of his life and career. Desmin’s background in dance comes from attending numerous workshops and dance programs throughout the Washington D.C. area and North Carolina, where he was exposed to many different styles of dance including modern, contemporary, breaking, housing, free-styling, and more. Desmin has trained and performed in numerous Virginia groups such as Blank Canvas of VCU and Pace Setters in Fredericksburg. He currently dances professionally with RVA Dance Collective. Now living in Richmond, Desmin teaches hip hop and enjoys sharing his passion of choreography and movement. Desmin continues to seek training, teaching, and performance opportunities throughout Virginia and is eager to see what lies ahead. This is his third year as an instructor at Charlottesville Ballet Academy.
Kathryn began her 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, completed summer intensives at Cincinnati Ballet, Next Generation Ballet, and American Ballet Theatre, 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 Mercyhurst, Kathryn performed at the Youth American Grand Prix (YAGP) Finals and the New York City Dance Alliance (NYCDA) Destiny Rising Gala at the Joyce Theater, and she was one of two dancers offered an apprentice contract with the Liaoning Ballet of China. Kathryn began her professional career as a founding member of the new Cleveland Ballet and then performed with Lake Erie Ballet, under the direction of her mentor, Lesley Bories-Scalise. She has experience teaching ballet throughout the Cleveland and Erie areas and served as a faculty member at McDowell Intermediate High School’s Creative Performing Arts program in Erie. Kathryn is thrilled to perform with Charlottesville Ballet for her third season, teach at the Academy and Chance To Dance outreach program, and assist with the growth of the organization as Development Coordinator.
Casey is originally from Dallas, Texas. She began dancing at age two and proceeded to train in a variety of styles. She attended Texas Ballet Theater School for one year before being offered a contract with the company. During her three seasons at Texas Ballet Theater, she performed in multiple ballets choreographed by Artistic Director Ben Stevenson, OBE. She also attended summer programs at the Kirov Academy in Washington, DC, Joffrey Ballet School, Kaatsbaan Extreme Ballet, and Alonzo King LINES Ballet. She then continued her studies in San Francisco at the LINES Ballet Training Program. Upon completing the program, she stayed in the Bay Area as a Freelance Artist. She performed with Oakland Ballet Company for two seasons, as well as Copious Dance Theater, a modern dance company. Additionally, was a Principal Guest Artist with Western Ballet and Orinda Ballet Academy. For the past five years, Casey has been a Dancer and Dance Captain for Royal Caribbean, performing on ships all over the world. After visiting nearly 50 countries, she is excited to settle down and join the team at the Charlottesville Ballet Academy.
Lori Jablonski, Academy Manager
Lori, originally from Rochester, NY, began dancing at the age of seven. She holds a B.A. in Dance and Entrepreneurial Studies from Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA. Lori performed in numerous concerts choreographed by Muhlenberg College students, faculty and guest artists and was a member of the Muhlenberg Dance Association and the Muhlenberg tap company, Copasetic Rhythms. Lori danced for the Walt Disney World Company in Orlando, FL before moving to Charlottesville in 2006, where she continued her dance training, teaching, and performing with various companies including inFluxdance, Miki Liszt Dance Company, R Squared, and UpRooted Dance. Lori also served as Director of Operations for Miki Liszt Dance Company. In addition to dance, Lori studied graphic design at Parsons The New School for Design. Lori joined the Charlottesville Ballet staff in 2016 as the Academy Manager.
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.
Suzanne Gandy, Community Sponsorships
Suzanne has worked in advertising, marketing, and public relations in the private and public sectors from Richmond to San Francisco. She is a graduate of Lynchburg College and Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership at the University of Virginia. Suzanne now focuses her skills and passion to cause-based marketing and community building. Suzanne can attest to the growth path and talent in Charlottesville Ballet: she’s followed Co-Director and Co-Founder Emily Hartka from her early years of dance, through their artistic success, to their new chapter in Lynchburg as Resident Company at the Academy Center of the Arts. Suzanne is helping Charlottesville Ballet fortify Lynchburg’s cultural renaissance and bring professional dance back into Lynchburg through awareness, outreach, and community support.
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!
Kathryn Tokar, Development 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.
Heather Rogers, Administrative Assistant & Lead CBA Faculty
Heather Rogers began dancing at the age of four and attended schools in Florida, Georgia, and eventually Virginia. She spent two seasons with Charlottesville Ballet as an Apprentice and began teaching with Charlottesville Ballet Academy when the school opened in 2011. Heather is an American Ballet Theatre Certified Teacher in Pre-Primary through Level 3 and loves spreading the joy of dance to her students. In 2014, she happily accepted a larger role at Charlottesville Ballet and joined the administrative team. When she’s not teaching, Heather works around the studio on various tasks and manages CBA’s many costumes.
Ms. Heather’s teaching and costuming for both the professional company and CBA dancers is sponsored by Shawna Holland.
Taylor Horne, Administrative Assistant
Taylor is originally from Raleigh, North Carolina. She started dancing when she was very young, and in middle school joined the competitive team at her local studio, Dance Dynamics. 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 shortly thereafter. She is excited to be back in a dance environment as a full-time Administrative Assistant.
Feleacia Quezergue, Chance To Dance Coordinator
Feleacia Quezergue is originally from San Antonio, Texas. She trained at the North East School of the Arts and spent summers at Houston Ballet, Cincinnati Ballet, and Harid Conservatory. Feleacia is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma where she received a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Dance with a minor in Nonprofit Organizational Studies. She is delighted to combine her love of dance, her passion for teaching, and her interest in developing nonprofits with her multiple roles at Charlottesville Ballet.
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.
Katherine’s musical accompaniment for the professional company and CBA dancers is graciously sponsored by Clifford Arnold & Kate Tamarkin in honor of Rachel L. Duncan.