Academy Faculty & Staff
Sara Jansen Clayborne, CBA 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. In addition to her role as Co-Director for the professional company, Sara is the Director of Charlottesville Ballet Academy (CBA). She has taught dance for over twenty years and is an American Ballet Theatre Certified Teacher in Primary through Level 7 of the ABT National Training Curriculum. Sara is also active in the community and enjoys supporting local entrepreneurs. She serves on the board of Community Investment Collaborative and is a graduate of the CIC entrepreneur workshop. Sara looks forward to nurturing the growth and appreciation for dance among peers and in the community.
Keith Lee, Artist Laureate and Director of Diversity & Inclusion
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 pioneer his new role of Director of Diversity & Inclusion for the Charlottesville Ballet.
Heather Rogers, CBA Principal
Heather Rogers began dancing at the age of four at her local dance studio in Florida. She then continued her training, with a focus in ballet, tap, and jazz, with South Georgia Performing Arts and eventually locally in Charlottesville. Heather danced for two seasons as an apprentice with Charlottesville Ballet and was also a faculty member at The Dance Barn from 2009 to 2011. At this time, she discovered her true passion for teaching dance. When Charlottesville Ballet Academy (CBA) opened in 2011, Heather was one of the first on faculty, and she has taken pride in instructing hundreds of CBA students the past decade. In June of 2020, Heather and her husband, Nick, welcomed their son Wilson, who has both intellectual and developmental disabilities. Through their journey to his diagnosis, Heather was made aware just how few activities are available for children with disabilities. With many members of the Charlottesville Ballet team, they launched the Adaptive Dance Program in the Fall of 2021. She is excited to help bring dance to children with disabilities and special needs, not just in Charlottesville, but across the country, through in person and Zoom classes. Heather is an American Ballet Theatre Certified Teacher and has successfully completed the ABT Teacher Training Intensive in Pre-Primary through Level 5 of the ABT National Training Curriculum. Heather has also completed Boston Ballet’s Adaptive Dance Teacher Training course.
Cordelaine Klyne, Academy Manager
Cordelaine Klyne, originally from Marshall, VA, began her dance training at the age of three. She studied under Cynthia Kiehnau at Virginia Civic Ballet, and she is certified through Grade 7 in the Cecchetti Council of America syllabus. Cordelaine is studying at the University of Virginia, pursuing a major in Commerce with concentrations in Marketing and Management and a minor in Dance. She acts as Treasurer for the Dance Committee at UVA as well as Rhapsody Ballet Ensemble, and she is a Miller Arts Scholar for dance. This will be her second year working at Charlottesville Ballet, and she is absolutely thrilled to be a part of this amazing community!
Jane recently moved to Central Virginia after growing up in the Boston area. She danced at the Boston Ballet School as a child, and in undergrad at Sarah Lawrence College she rediscovered her love of dance. She graduated in 2021 with a degree in the Liberal Arts, concentrations in Urban Planning and Dance. After spending a few years travelling in Europe and working in Boston, she’s settled in Virginia and spends most of her time working on an organic farm and taking care of her goddaughter. She’s happy to stay connected to the dance world through the Charlottesville Ballet!
Kate Arnson, Pre-Professional Program Manager, Manager on Duty
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 teaching for Charlottesville Ballet.
Jeanne was born in Paris, France, and moved to Virginia when she was a year old. She began dancing with the Charlottesville Ballet Academy at the age of three when it opened in 2011. Since then, she has performed in numerous productions with the Charlottesville Ballet, trained in their Pre-Professional Program, and joined the Trainee Program. She has attended summer intensives at The University of North Carolina School of the Arts, The Washington School of Ballet, and Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre. In addition to her role as a Trainee with the Charlottesville Ballet, Jeanne is a faculty member at Charlottesville Ballet Academy teaching classes for its youngest students. She’s excited to be returning and can’t wait to be back in the studio!
Maria W. Chee received her Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of California, Riverside. She holds a master of arts in anthropology in addition to a master of arts and a bachelor degree in dance. She started dance classes in 4th grade, completed her undergraduate curriculum in modern, jazz, folk dance, ballroom, improvisation and choreography, anatomy, growth and development, and athletic injuries with simultaneous private ballet studio lessons three times per week. She finished her master degree curriculum in ballet, modern, jazz; dance production; as well as dance history and research. She had taken classes at the Martha Graham School in New York, intensive summer sessions with Bella Lewinsky, members of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, and Ballet Jazz of Montreal. Ms. Chee performed and taught various dance forms during her undergraduate career. She has more than ten years of experience as a state credentialed teacher in adult education and as a lecturer in anthropology as well as ethnic studies at various universities and colleges. She is the recipient of several fellowships and grants including a Fulbright, and has published peer reviewed journal articles, chapters in edited volumes, and a book. Ms. Chee joined the University of Virginia as a general faculty from 2005 to 2019. Maria leads the Ballet’s “Silver Swans” CB Moves classes in partnership with the Center at Belvedere.
Emily Cloyd grew up in Vienna, VA, training at The Russell School of Ballet. After receiving her high school diploma with a concentration in ballet from The University of North Carolina School of the Arts, she performed with Ballet Austin, first as a trainee and then as an apprentice, before joining Nashville Ballet’s Second Company, NB2. She then returned to her home state of Virginia, receiving her BA and Master of Public Health from the University of Virginia. While at UVA, Emily performed with the university’s Dance Department and served as the president of Rhapsody Ballet Ensemble, a student-run ballet performance organization. She joined CBA’s faculty in 2021 and is excited to be back for this upcoming year!
Bio coming soon!
Bio coming soon!
Izabelly Gleed, By-Placement & Student Division Manager, Manager on Duty
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.
Riley Gonzalez began her journey with Charlottesville ballet in 2012, taking classes at the very first CBA location in Standardsville, Virginia. She continued training with the academy, taking part in a multitude of shows, as well as the summer intensive. Over the years, her love for dance only grew more. She continued dance in other avenues of her life, choreographing for her local high school, as well as Live Arts Theatre. She began teaching when she moved to Maui Hawaii, taking on a Creative Dance class, which was an elective at a high school. She then began choreographing and teaching at local theatres in her town such as the Iao Theatre and ProArts Playhouse, also on the island of Maui. Riley is thrilled to be teaching with this amazing group, and can’t wait to continue to learn and grow within the CBA family!
Jessica Grant, Student Ensemble Manager, Manager on Duty
Jessica Grant is a native of Staunton, Virginia. She began her dance training at the Ballet Box and studied under 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. She loves sharing her passion for dance with others through performances and teaching. Jessica joined Charlottesville Ballet in 2013 and is looking forward to her tenth season with Charlottesville Ballet as a Company Artist and Academy Faculty.
Rainah was born in Alice Springs, Australia and relocated to Harrogate, England when she was two. She began dancing at age three with the Katrina Hughes School of Dance and Performing Arts studying, and taking examinations, through the British Ballet Organization. She later moved to New York where she completed the Integrated Program at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy. She relocated to Charlottesville, VA a few years later where she continued her education at PVCC and the UVA graduating with a BA in Drama and a minor in American Sign Language and Deaf Studies. She currently teaches classes within the First Steps Division and subs an array of styles. She is also a theater director, playwright, performer and proud dog mom.
Ava Griebel, originally from Hanover, PA, began performing at the age of five. She went on to become a soloist with Antelope Valley Ballet. After finishing her training with Marat Daukayev School of Ballet she attended the Grad Program at Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre. She was with Ballet Idaho as a Trainee and Ballet Teacher for the academy. Her past repertoire includes numerous roles in The Nutcracker, most notably SugarPlum. She was Principal in Balanchine’s Valse Fantasie. Others include: Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, Romeo and Juliet, Rodeo, Balanchine’s Serenade, Rite of Spring, and several contemporary dances. Ava is an ABT® Certified Teacher, who has successfully completed the ABT® Teacher Training Intensive in Pre-Primary through Level 3 of the ABT® National Training Curriculum. She is excited to start working as a Trainee and Teacher with the Academy for the season!
Mary Hein began her dance training in Maryland at the National Ballet School under the direction of Pamela Moore where she earned her Enrico Cecchetti Diploma. She then attended Point Park University’s College of Performing Arts where she received a BA in Dance with concentrations in ballet and jazz. Following graduation, Mary danced for Charlottesville Ballet as a company artist from 2013-2015. During her time with the company, Mary taught several classes at CBA and choreographed for the professional company including a reimagining of Firebird in collaboration with co-director, Sara Jansen Clayborne. Mary choreographed for the Oratorio Society of Virginia’s production of Arthur Honegger’s King David in 2015 and for the Charlottesville Opera’s production of Oklahoma in 2017, both in collaboration with the Charlottesville Ballet. Mary has taught all over the country, and is thrilled to be working with the students of CBA again.
Grace Hopper was raised in Enumclaw, Washington. She grew up dancing at the small town’s ballet studio, performing in various productions with their youth company Plateau Ballet Repertory Theater through her school years. After graduating, Grace spent the 2021-22 season dancing in Santa Barbara, California as a trainee with State Street Ballet. With SSB, she performed in The Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty, and their trainee performance. During that season, she also danced yes with Selah Dance Co., a modern dance company in Southern California. With Selah, she performed in a modern adaptation of Rite of Spring, as well as choreographing and dancing small works with the company in community shows throughout the spring of 2022. Grace is so excited to join Charlottesville Ballet as a trainee and faculty member this season!
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.
Bio coming soon!
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 teaching in the Academy.
Bio coming soon!
Amy Martel, Concierge & Facilities Manager
Bio coming soon!
Ada Morrell grew up in Charlottesville, VA studying with Albemarle Ballet Theater. In 2013 she left ABT and studied other forms of dance throughout her teenage years such as hip hop with Music Resource Center and Latin dance with Charlottesville Salsa Club. After graduating from high school and spending two years traveling she came back to Charlottesville for an intensive at ABT before leaving to study dance professionally in college. She spent her first year of college in North Carolina studying with Asheville Ballet and helping them with productions. She transferred to and studied dance with Virginia Commonwealth University for her second year of college. During the pandemic she started attending school online and moved to Los Angeles where she danced with choreographer Jasmine Alburquerque. She has been on a dance hiatus of sorts due to multiple injuries that prevented her from studying dance professionally any further but is slowly re-entering the dance scene and very excited to be doing so with Charlottesville Ballet. She’s now living back in Charlottesville full time and finishing up her last year of undergraduate online studying eco-psychology.
Dr. Tabitha Newman began dancing in Stafford, VA at Barton & Williams School of Dance. She trained in and performed jazz, ballet, lyrical and pointe including with the company troupe. She then served as a captain on her high school dance team and took ballet courses at James Madison University, while competing with the national award-winning JMU Dukettes dance team and earning a degree in physics. She later coached the University of Virginia Dance Team, earned advanced degrees in Materials Science & Engineering and continued her dance education through immersing herself in modern, contemporary, tap, hip hop and salsa dancing as well as earning a Pilates mat instructor certification. Tabitha is now a civil servant, mother and dance instructor for over 15 years. Her daughters dance at CBA and she enjoys teaching a variety of dance styles to a range of dancer ages and skill levels. She focuses on coordination development in young dancers, self awareness and confidence-building in teens, as well as performance quality and healthy, efficient use of the body to execute special skills for more advanced dancers.
Adriana Portwood, originally from São Paulo, Brazil, moved in 2021 to Charlottesville. She started her dance studies at the age of three and never stopped. Adriana is Silver Swan Licensee and Teacher Member of Royal Academy of Dance, UK. With this renowned membership, she is allowed to prepare students to apply for the Royal Academy of Dance Internacional Exams. Adriana is also a licensed Physical Education Teacher with a permit to teach dance for children with special needs. Over the years, Adriana had the opportunity to participate in several dance festivals throughout Brazil and the world, including Disney Performing Arts in Orlando, Florida (2019), and the Joinville Dance Festival in Joinville, Brazil (which is the largest dance festival in the world), as a choreographer and dancer.
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!
Ruth Olga Sherman was Miss Dance of New England 1999. She performed with Gus Giordano Jazz Dance Company and ChicagoRuth 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.
Anna is from Raleigh, NC and attended The National Academy of Arts in Champagne, Illinois. While at the academy she trained under Petrus Bosman, Christine Hennessey and Robert Dicello among many others. Anna danced professionally for 14 years with companies throughout the US. Some of her favorite principle roles include contemporary pieces such as A Maiden Who Descended from Heaven and Graceland to story ballets such as Coppelia and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. After retiring from Ballet West in 2001 Anna moved to Virginia to be closer to home. She has been teaching for over 30 years, all levels from children through adults and professionals. Anna is thrilled to be teaching in Charlottesville on a regular basis now!
Bio coming soon!
Shania was born and raised in Reading, PA but currently resides in VA. She officially began her choreography journey at the age of 15 when she created the first ever dance/step team at her highschool. Shania has starred as one of the Dynamites in ‘Hairspray’ and Vanessa in ‘In the Heights’ as well as co-choreographing for the musical. Shania currently is the Head Dance Coach and Head Cheer Coach at Averett University in Danville, VA. She runs workshops at studios all down the east coast, choreographing for competition teams, working as a featured choreographer for Lynchburg Dance Connections, etc. Shania has officially kicked off her own choreography business ‘Shania Lee Choreography’ and works in every area whether that be with studios, for weddings, “girls night out parties”, quinceaneras, etc. She does it all! You will find her in a different state/city everyday dancing!
Kathryn Tokar Conley
Kathryn began her training at the Beck Center for the Arts in Lakewood, Ohio, under the tutelage of Melanie Szucs. She continued training at Ohio Dance Theatre, completed summer intensives 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 Tauna Hunter’s direction at Mercyhurst, Kathryn performed at the YAGP Finals and for the New York City Dance Alliance at the Joyce Theater. She began her career as a founding member of the new Cleveland Ballet and then performed with Lake Erie Ballet, under the direction of Lesley Bories-Scalise, and served on faculty at McDowell Intermediate High School’s Creative Performing Arts program. In addition to serving on faculty at CBA, Kathryn teaches in the Movement For Parkinson’s program and is working on her master’s degree in Arts in Medicine through the University of Florida.
Exodis Ward is dancer from El Paso, Texas. She was first introduced to the dance world at age 11, when she took her first ballet class. Since then, she’s attended the Jillana School, Dance Theatre of Harlem’s summer intensive as a scholarship recipient, and was one of the first recipients of the Lauren Anderson Scholarship as a member of the Ruth Page Civic Ballet Training Company. Most recently, she joined Charlottesville Ballet mid-season (2022-23) to perform in Cinderella, choreographed by Pedro Szalay. Exodis holds a degree in Multimedia Journalism (summa cum laude) and aspires to become a versatile dancer, with the ability to do anything. She’s elated to join Charlottesville Ballet first her first full season.
Sherry has been an active student, teacher, dancer, and advocate in the dance community in Central Virginia for over three decades. Sherry serves on the Charlottesville Ballet board of directors and has a 30+ year career in critical care nursing in the PACU, STICU, and NNICU at the University of Virginia hospital. Sherry began dancing at the age of 5 and studied ballet with Finish Jhung, Michael Vernon, and Dawn Hillen. She has studied jazz with Luigi, Frank Hatchett, Josh Bergasse, and Chet Walker, and many others and she taught dance in the Charlottesville community for over twenty years. In 2011, Sherry began studying the Zena Rommett Floor-Barre® Technique. In 2019, Sherry completed Dance for PD® training at the Mark Morris Dance Center in Brooklyn, NY; she is thrilled to be teaching for the Movement for Parkinson’s class and Chance To Dance outreach classes – both part of the CB Moves community engagement program.
Photo credits: Alisa Foytik, Peter Davis, Liz Knutsen, and more!