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.
Amelia Anderson has grown up in Charlottesville, Virginia, and is very excited to be returning to the Charlottesville Ballet Faculty for a second year. She started ballet at age thirteen and immediately fell in love with dance. Amelia began a mentorship in 2020 with Kathryn Tokar assisting with Charlottesville Ballet Academy’s First Steps Division. She then discovered her passion for teaching and is thrilled to be guiding students in the First Steps and Children’s Division as she continues to develop her own skills in the Academy. Amelia has attended several Summer Intensives at Charlottesville Ballet and has also performed in the Nutcracker as a Sugar Plum Fairy Attendant. Amelia plans to study ballet and psychology in college after she graduates from high school this year.
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 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.
A dancer and performer for over 20 years, Katie seamlessly translated her love of performance into a career in dance instruction and group fitness. She has taught tap, jazz, ballet, hip hop dance, as well as gymnastics & cheerleading to children and adults in the U.S. and Europe. She has also choreographed, directed, and performed in several musical theater productions on both continents. She even spent four years as an NFL cheerleader for two different professional football teams. In addition to working for CBA, Katie is a fitness coach and group fitness instructor for her personally own business, The Graceful Athlete. Katie earned a B.A. in Musical Theater and a B.A. in Childhood Education from California State University, Chico, and has earned ACE Group Fitness and Personal Trainer Certifications. She is absolutely thrilled to be joining Charlottesville Ballet Academy and looks forward to bringing the passion and love of dance to our community soon!
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!
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 seventh year at Charlottesville Ballet Academy.
Greta Campbell grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio where she began her dance training at Cincinnati Ballet. She danced with the academy performing solo roles in the Nutcracker, Coppelia, and Don Quixote. She also performed with the professional company in Beauty and the Beast and The Nutcracker. While with Cincinnati Ballet, Greta developed a love for teaching in the children’s division. Currently enrolled as a student at the University of Virginia, Greta is thrilled to be back for her second year at Charlottesville Ballet.
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.
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!
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 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.
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.
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.
Lucy Lucas, originally from Sterling, Virginia, began her dance training at the age of four. Lucy’s first school was a Vaganova Academy where she acquired her ballet foundation. In 2019, Lucy moved to Studio Bleu Dance Center where she trained in Classical Ballet under Troy Brown. Through Studio Bleu Dance Center, she found mentorship with Troy Brown, Kimberly Rishi, and Roger Jeffrey. Lucy has competed at Youth American Grand Prix and Universal Ballet Competition. At UBC she was placed top fifteen under the senior classical division. Lucy has attended American Ballet Theatre and Boston Ballet’s summer intensives along with New York Dance Project’s summer intensive where she received a scholarship. She has taught Classical Ballet at Studio Bleu Dance Center for the past two years. Lucy is currently a Trainee at Charlottesville Ballet for the 2022-2023 season along with being a part of Charlottesville Ballet Academy’s Staff and Teachers.
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!
Kobe Ritter is an Indianapolis, Indiana native. He began his training at age 14 and began seriously pursuing ballet at 16 under Jakob Pringle at Central Indiana Academy of Dance. Kobe finished his training at En Pointe Indiana Ballet, under the artistic direction of former Principal Dancers Robert Moore and Pollyanna Ribeiro. In 2018 Kobe trained for the summer at Joffrey Texas and in 2019 attended the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre Intensive summer program. From age 20-22, Kobe was a principal guest artist, and has performed in Fairbanks, Alaska, and with multiple companies in Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. Kobe is very excited to join Charlottesville Ballet’s company and Academy faculty for the upcoming season.
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.
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!
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 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.
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.
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.
Lori Jablonski, Academy Manager
Lori, originally from Rochester, NY, graduated from Muhlenberg College with a Bachelor of Arts in dance and a minor in entrepreneurial studies. She was a member of the Muhlenberg Dance Association, Copasetic Rhythms tap company, and the Muhlenberg Ballet Ensemble, and was selected to perform at the American College Dance Festival. Lori danced for the Walt Disney World Company before moving to Charlottesville in 2006, where she danced with inFluxdance, R Squared, UpRooted Dance, and Miki Liszt Dance Company, where she also served as Director of Operations. Lori taught dance in New York and Virginia. She also studied graphic design at Parsons The New School for Design and recently completed Boston Ballet’s Adaptive Dance Teacher Training. Lori joined the Charlottesville Ballet team in May 2016 as the Academy Manager.
Cordelaine Klyne, Administrative Assistant
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!
Photo credits: Peter Davis, Liz Knutsen, and more!