CBA Faculty & Staff


Faculty

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

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 second season as an Apprentice with Charlottesville Ballet.

Cassidy Burk

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 third year at Charlottesville Ballet Academy.

LizC webElizabeth Grande

Elizabeth is a native of Dalton, Massachusetts and began dancing at the age of three. Her first professional training experience was with the Bossov Ballet Theatre in Pittsfield, Maine where she studied for three consecutive summers. She has also completed summer training with American Ballet Theatre, Ballet Austin, and José Mateo Ballet Theatre. In 2007, she decided to broaden her dance education and was accepted as a dance major at the Hartt School at the University of Hartford. There she performed a variety of roles in numerous works, including the lead in Raymonda, the Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker, and roles in Sleeping Beauty, Don Quixote, Giselle, Les Sylphides, Bolero, Steps in the Street, and Dark Elegies. During this time, she also performed as a guest artist with the Eastern Connecticut Ballet and the Hartford Symphony Orchestra. In May 2011, she graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Ballet Pedagogy. She then began her professional career, dancing three seasons with Ballet Theatre of Maryland, as well as two seasons with the Charlottesville Ballet. Elizabeth continues to perform as a freelance dancer, most recently sharing the stage with the Roanoke City Ballet. Alongside her performance career, Elizabeth spent three years on faculty for BTM, and is the author of a dance blog entitled “The J.O.D. – The Joy Of Dance.” This will be her fifth year as a faculty member for the Charlottesville Ballet Academy.

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. 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!

Yoka Hirayama

Yoka Hirayama was born in Tokyo, Japan and trained at the Homura Tomoi Ballet School in Osaka until 2015. She attended the Jacob’s Pillow Ballet Program and the Joffrey Ballet NYC summer intensives on full scholarship. From 2015-2017, Yoka danced with the Joffrey Academy of Dance in Chicago as a Trainee, where she performed in Christopher Wheeldon’s The Nutcracker and as the Waltzgirl in George Balanchine’s Serenade. During the 2017-2018 season Yoka continued her training with the Milwaukee Ballet Ⅱ, where she performed Michel Pink’s La Boheme and The Nutcracker. This is Yoka’s first season with Charlottesville Ballet and she is excited to teach for CBA and the Chance To Dance program.

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 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 second year as a Company Artist with Charlottesville Ballet and he enjoys teaching the Ballet for Boys and Partnering classes at CBA.

Richard Matthews

Richard “RG” Matthews hails from Lithonia, GA. He graduated from The University of the Arts in Philadelphia with a B.F.A in Dance under the direction of Donna Faye Burchfield, and with a minor in Creative Writing with Honors. Richard has danced with Eleone Dance Theatre, Atlanta Dance Canvas, Ballethnic Dance Company and performed works by Tommie-Waheed Evans, Gary Jeter, Wayne St. David, Kyle & Dinita Clark, amongst others. He has also attended intensives such as the Earl Mosley Institute of the Arts, Dance Canvas DC Next, and the Georgia Governor’s Honors Program. Richard has also danced professionally with Norwegian Cruise Line and RWS Entertainment Group. This is Richard’s first season with Charlottesville Ballet as an Apprentice and he also works in the Chance To Dance program.

Izabelly Possatto

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.

Emily Pozek

Emily trained at the Virginia School of the Arts in Lynchburg, VA for high school before dancing professionally for the Walt Disney World Company in Orlando, FL.  She earned her Associates of Arts degree from Valencia College and danced in masterworks from Shapiro Smith and David Parsons. Emily earned her BFA and Masters degrees from the University of Florida, where her capstone project examined dance and Alzheimer’s disease. She was the Dancer in Residence for the Center for Arts in Medicine at UF Health Hospital and the lead instructor for Dance for Life, a dance class for people living with Parkinson’s disease and their caregivers. Emily’s passion lies in how dance can shape communities, and she has worked in juvenile detention centers, schools and community centers as a champion in arts education. Emily has taught dance for over a decade and was most recently an adjunct professor at the University of Florida in the School of Theatre and Dance.  She is a certified Cecchetti instructor and travels across the U.S. and abroad as a master teacher and dance judge. In 2018 she earned her 200 hour yoga teaching certification and enjoys teaching yoga as well as including into her work within the dance studio. Emily is thrilled to relocate to Virginia this year to create the position of Outreach Manager at Charlottesville Ballet in addition to her teaching roles in the company, academy, and outreach programs.

Feleacia Quezergue

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 second year on faculty and staff at Charlottesville Ballet Academy.

Anna Sides

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.

Desmin Taylor

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 second year as an instructor at Charlottesville Ballet Academy.

Kathryn Tokar

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 second season, teach at the Academy and Chance To Dance outreach program, and assist with the growth of the organization as Development Coordinator.

Casey Turner

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.   

Staff

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.

Emily Pozek, Outreach Manager

Emily trained at the Virginia School of the Arts in Lynchburg, VA for high school before dancing professionally for the Walt Disney World Company in Orlando, FL.  She earned her Associates of Arts degree from Valencia College and danced in masterworks from Shapiro Smith and David Parsons. Emily earned her BFA and Masters degrees from the University of Florida, where her capstone project examined dance and Alzheimer’s disease. She was the Dancer in Residence for the Center for Arts in Medicine at UF Health Hospital and the lead instructor for Dance for Life, a dance class for people living with Parkinson’s disease and their caregivers. Emily’s passion lies in how dance can shape communities, and she has worked in juvenile detention centers, schools and community centers as a champion in arts education. Emily has taught dance for over a decade and was most recently an adjunct professor at the University of Florida in the School of Theatre and Dance.  She is a certified Cecchetti instructor and travels across the U.S. and abroad as a master teacher and dance judge. In 2018 she earned her 200 hour yoga teaching certification and enjoys teaching yoga as well as including into her work within the dance studio. Emily is thrilled to relocate to Virginia this year to create the position of Outreach Manager at Charlottesville Ballet in addition to her teaching roles in the company, academy, and outreach programs.

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 is thrilled to pursue more of her passions by expanding her role to Communications Coordinator for the 2018-19 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 our full time Administrative Assistant.

Liz Grande, Administrative Assistant

Elizabeth is a native of Dalton, Massachusetts and began dancing at the age of three. Her first professional training experience was with the Bossov Ballet Theatre in Pittsfield, Maine where she studied for three consecutive summers. She has also completed summer training with American Ballet Theatre, Ballet Austin, and José Mateo Ballet Theatre. In 2007, she decided to broaden her dance education and was accepted as a dance major at the Hartt School at the University of Hartford. There she performed a variety of roles in numerous works, including the lead in Raymonda, the Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker, and roles in Sleeping Beauty, Don Quixote, Giselle, Les Sylphides, Bolero, Steps in the Street, and Dark Elegies. During this time, she also performed as a guest artist with the Eastern Connecticut Ballet and the Hartford Symphony Orchestra. In May 2011, she graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Ballet Pedagogy. She then began her professional career, dancing three seasons with Ballet Theatre of Maryland, as well as two seasons with the Charlottesville Ballet. Elizabeth continues to perform as a freelance dancer, most recently sharing the stage with the Roanoke City Ballet. Alongside her performance career, Elizabeth spent three years on faculty for BTM, and is the author of a dance blog entitled “The J.O.D. – The Joy Of Dance.” This will be her fifth year as a faculty member for the Charlottesville Ballet Academy.

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.

Special Thanks to Liz Knutsen and Keith Alan Sprouse Photography for the portraits of our CBA Faculty Members!  

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