CBA Faculty & Staff


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.

Kate Arnson

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.

Abigail Brent

Abigail Brent began dancing with Charlottesville Ballet Academy at its inception in 2007, at the age of three. She was invited to join the Pre-Professional program when it was created in 2015. She spent summers training on scholarship with American Ballet Theatre, Joffrey, School of American Ballet, and Chautauqua. In 2018, she joined Charlottesville Ballet as a Trainee and was promoted to Apprentice in 2019. She has enjoyed performing many roles, including The Nutcracker’s Clara and Spanish, and a Step-Sister in Cinderella. After assistant teaching at CBA last year, Abigail is thrilled to be teaching for the 2019-2020 academic year.

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 fourth year at Charlottesville Ballet Academy.

Maria Chee

Maria W. Chee holds a Ph.D. in anthropology, a master of arts in anthropology, a master of arts in dance, and a bachelor degree in dance. She started dance classes in 4th grade, completed her undergraduate dance curriculum in modern, jazz, folk dance, ballroom, improvisation and choreography, growth and development, and athletic injuries with simultaneous private ballet studio lessons three times per week; and finished her master degree curriculum in ballet, modern, jazz; dance production; as well as dance history and research. She has 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 teaching experience as a state licensed teacher in adult education and as a lecturer at the college level. She has been a member of the Charlottesville International Folk Dance since January 2014.

Anna Finan

Anna Finan began her ballet training at the National Ballet School in Bytom, Poland. She studied the Vaganova technique with Elisabeth Lebik, former principal dancer of the Silesian State Opera. At the age of 14, she participated in the acclaimed international ballet competition, the Prix de Lausanne in Switzerland, where she reached the half-final and was offered full scholarship to study at the Hamburg Ballet School in Germany. There she fine-tuned her technique and artistry with Marianne Kruse, Kevin Haigen and Ingrid Glindemann. After graduating from the school, she joined the Hamburg Ballet company directed by the renowned American choreographer John Neumeier. There she performed group and soloist roles in his various classical and modern ballets such as The NutcrackerSwan LakeA Midsummer Night’s Dream, and The Little Mermaid as well as works from other choreographers like La Bayadere staged by N. Makarova and Jewels by G. Balanchine. Upon retiring from the stage, she pursued a second career, becoming a risk manager at Germany’s largest bank, Deutsche Bank AG. Yet, her love for movement never halted. She travelled to Thailand to became a certified Vinyasa Yoga instructor and, after moving to Charlottesville, VA with her husband and two boys in April 2016, she become NASM-certified personal trainer, Progressing Ballet Technique certified teacher and studied the American Ballet Theater National Training Curriculum in Pre-Primary though Level 3 with Franco De Vita and Raymond Lukens. She loves teaching dance and passing on her lifelong ballet experience.

Danielle Garza

Danielle Garza is from San Antonio, Texas and graduated Summa Cum Laude from Sam Houston State University with a B.F.A in Dance. As a Houston Texas resident, she danced professionally for a variety of artists. She was a company member with METdance, and performed in works by Camille A. Brown, Joshua E. Peugh, Robbie Moore, Katarzyna Skarpetowska, Mario Zambrano, and Dominic Walsh to name a few. Danielle danced for NobleMotion Dance for five seasons and served as the Managing Director of the company for three. Additionally, she worked for Earthen Vessels- Sandra Organ Dance Company, Frame Dance Productions, and Aimed Dance. Outside of concert dance, Danielle was hired by the Los Angeles based company Kreate Inc. to perform at events such as Super Bowl LI and SXSW.

Alongside performing, Danielle also choreographs, judges, and teaches dance teams across the nation with MA Dance. She has been educating young dancers since 2011 and her award winning choreography has been showcased throughout the state of Texas.

Izabelly Gleed

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 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!

Emily Hartka

Emily Hartka fell in love with ballet at the age of five and began dance classes at Roanoke Ballet Theatre in her hometown of Roanoke, VA. She attended summer intensives at the American Ballet Theatre and on scholarship with the Dance Theatre of Harlem. Emily spent her senior year of high school at the Virginia School of the Arts in Lynchburg, VA and danced as a trainee with the Richmond Ballet. In 2008, Emily relocated to Charlottesville to found the Charlottesville Ballet and to attend the University of Virginia, where she completed her Bachelor of Arts in Nonprofit Management & Arts Administration. She serves as the Co-Director of Charlottesville Ballet and recently retired from dancing with the professional company to focus on the growth and development of the organization. Emily is thankful to all who have made this journey possible and she looks forward to the season ahead.

Mary Hein

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, but is thrilled to be permanently back working with the Charlottesville Ballet Academy again.

Olivia Hill

Olivia Rivard Hill, began her training in childhood in Madison, WI. She continued  at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities receiving a B.F.A. in Dance, B.A. in French Studies and Minor in Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies. Internationally she has trained in Paris at Studio Harmonic and the Centre de danse du Marais while also instructing her own modern dance technique classes for adults. First as a scholarship student and second as a teaching assistant, she participated for five summers at the American Dance Festival performing the works of Erick Hawkins and Trisha Brown. In addition to her experience as a professional dancer, Olivia’s choreography has been presented with Kanopy Dance, Bare Bones Dance Collective, and Liz Sexe Dance Company.  Her dancing and choreography have spawned collaboration with composers, musicians, photographers, and videographers. She has served as faculty at Kanopy Dance, University of Wisconsin-Continuing Studies, and currently at UVA teaching Dance for Fitness. In addition to dance Olivia is a certified barre instructor. 

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

Tabitha Newman

Tabitha Newman holds a Ph.D. from the University of Virginia. She has been a dancer, choreographer, instructor and coach for over 25 years. Tabitha’s training began at Barton & Williams School of Dance, where she received jazz/lyrical instruction from B&W Owner, Jan Williams, and ballet instruction from The Joffrey Ballet former company artist, Elizabeth Gaus. Tabitha’s focus in group precision and competition spanned 10 years as a dance team member, captain and collegiate coach. Tabitha took accredited dance courses at James Madison University and competed with the NDA national award-winning JMU Dance Team, The Dukettes (2000-2004). When she attended graduate school at the University of Virginia, Tabitha was UVA’s Virginia Dance Team Coach (2006-2008) and dance instructor for 5 years (2006-2011) in Charlottesville, VA. Locally, she has performed at the Pavillion, Paramount and PVCC theaters. Nationally, she has performed at the 2000 Presidential Inaugural Parade, at Disney World’s Epcot, at competitions in Orlando and Daytona Florida, during NCAA basketball and football games and more. Tabitha has continued her education through classes at Broadway Dance Center in New York City, Power Pilates Mat Instructor certification and yoga practice. She has lead mini camps and judged dance team tryouts, studio auditions, and high school competitions throughout VA. Her stylistic specialties include group, precision, contemporary jazz and hip-hop performance.

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 third 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 third 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 third 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.

Sherry Whaley

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 and is now teaching this highly-regarded therapeutic method for dancers at Charlottesville Ballet Academy.  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.


Lori Jablonski, Academy Manager

Lori, originally from Rochester, NY, began dancing at her local studio 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 and performing with various modern dance companies including inFluxdance, Miki Liszt Dance Company, R Squared, and UpRooted Dance. Lori also taught dance at Charlottesville Performing Arts School for several years and 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.

Taylor Horne, Administrative Assistant

Taylor Horne is originally from Raleigh, North Carolina. She started dancing when she was very young, and in middle school joined the competitive company at her local studio, Dance Dynamics Inc. 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 as an administrative assistant shortly thereafter. Since then, she has joyfully added the role of stage manager to her title. Whether assisting patrons at the front desk or running a production backstage, she is always delighted to be a part of the Charlottesville Ballet team.

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.

Margaret Ennen, Administrative Assistant

Margaret began dancing at the age of three in Chesapeake, Virginia and received her training from the Governor’s School for the Arts and Academie de Ballet. While at the Governor’s School, she performed with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet and students from the Royal Birmingham Ballet as part of a collaboration with Virginia Arts Festival. For the past two years, she has been a trainee with BalletMet in Columbus, Ohio, where she had the opportunity to perform George Balanchine’s Serenade and Edwaard Liang’s Dorothy and the Prince of Oz, as well as excerpts from Raymonda and La Bayadere.  Margaret has also attended summer programs with Kansas City Ballet, Texas Ballet Theater, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, and Charlotte Ballet. Margaret is very excited to be joining Charlottesville Ballet this year as a trainee and administrative assistant!

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.

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