UpFront: Heartbeats

UpFront: Heartbeats

Celebrate love with your valentine “up front” in Charlottesville Ballet’s intimate studio theatre with an evening of wine, romance, and dance! Experience an hour-long dance performance with contemporary choreography and classical favorites, all while savoring delectable hors d’oeuvres and exquisite wine from DuCard Vineyards. Following the performance, you can meet and mingle with the talented dancers of Charlottesville Ballet.


“I love seeing the athleticism of the dancers and feeling the energy, all just a few feet away from my seat.”

“Dance, food, and wine in one evening? My Valentine’s plans are set!”


Company Artists

Say Ayers

Say was born and raised in North Carolina. She began her professional training at Graceful Expressions Dance Education. She studied under Kat Daniels, April Sweitzer, and Willie Hinton. She trained in ballet, musical theater, jazz, tap, modern, and contemporary dance. During high school Say performed with Carolina Ballet under Robert Weiss in works such as Sleeping Beauty and Romeo and Juliet. After high school, she spent three years with US International Ballet and was instructed by Deborah Berger, Stella Johnson, and Nancy Podrasky. She then joined Charlottesville Ballet and spent two years as a trainee. Say is honored to begin her professional career by returning to Charlottesville Ballet. She is very eager for this season!

Say’s 2023-24 season performances are sponsored by Bill Gray.

Jeanne Berthy

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 professional productions with the Charlottesville Ballet, trained in their Pre-Professional Program, joined the Trainee Program in 2020, and she’s excited to be joining the company as a Company Artist for the upcoming season! Jeanne is also a faculty member at the Charlottesville Ballet Academy, teaching classes for its youngest students. She is excited to be a part of programs that benefited her so much as a student, and is excited for the upcoming academic year and season!

Jeanne’s 2023-24 season performances are sponsored by Penny & Dutch Dorschel.

Kathryn Tokar Conley

Kathryn Tokar began training with Melanie Szucs at the Beck Center for the Arts in Lakewood, Ohio. She spent summers 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 the direction of Tauna Hunter at MU, Kathryn performed at the YAGP Finals and the NYCDA Destiny Rising Gala. She began her career as a founding member of the new Cleveland Ballet, and then Lake Erie Ballet, with her mentor Lesley Bories-Scalise. Kathryn joined Charlottesville Ballet in 2017 as a Trainee and is thrilled to begin her next season with the company. She also performs with Deos Contemporary Ballet in Michigan over the summers. Her favorite roles include Snow Queen, Dew Drop (The Nutcracker), and an Ugly Stepsister (Cinderella).

Kathryn’s 2023-24 season performances are sponsored by Penny & Dutch Dorschel.

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 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 Charlottesville Ballet and to be on faculty at the Academy. Izabelly is happy to be back for her 7th year with Charlottesville Ballet.

Izabelly’s 2023-24 season performances are sponsored by Penny & Dutch Dorschel.

Jessica Grant

Jessica began her dance training at the Ballet Box when she was three years old and studied many styles of dance under director Jann Shenk. She completed RAD examinations, passing with Merit, from Level 3 through Intermediate. At age fifteen, she began dancing with Rockingham Ballet Theatre, where she performed leading roles, including Cinderella, the Sugar Plum Fairy, and Swanhilda in Coppelia. Jessica graduated in 2016 with an A.A. in Dance from PVCC. In 2018, she attended the Compass Coaching Project with Dominic Walsh. Since joining Charlottesville Ballet in 2013, she has performed numerous roles in The Nutcracker, Cinderella, Snow White, The Firebird, and other original works. She is very excited for her eleventh season with Charlottesville Ballet!

Ava Griebel

Ava Griebel, originally from Hanover, PA, began performing at the age of five. Her training has spanned various styles and genres to include ABT Curriculum, Vagonova, Complexions Contemporary Ballet, Horton, jazz, lyrical, and tap. Ava went on to become a soloist with Antelope Valley Ballet. At the age of 16, she finished her training with Marat Daukayev School of Ballet and attended the Graduate Program at Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre for two years. She was with Ballet Idaho as a trainee and ballet teacher for the academy for a year before settling in Virginia. She joined Charlottesville Ballet as a trainee for the 22-23 season and as a teacher with CBA.

Her past repertoire includes numerous roles in The Nutcracker, most notably the Sugar Plum Fairy, a principal dancer in Balanchine’s Valse-Fantaisie, and other roles in Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, Romeo and Juliet, Rodeo, Balanchine’s Serenade, Rite of Spring, and several contemporary pieces.

Yui Kaito

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. While at Alberta Ballet School, Yui passed the Cecchetti advanced examination and was invited to join the Alberta Ballet Trainee Program, which led to her dancing with Alberta Ballet. After graduating from school, she joined Kentucky Ballet Theatre in Lexington, KY where she performed leading roles. Some of her most memorable roles with the company to date include Sugar Plum Fairy (The Nutcracker), and Diana and Actaeon pas de deux. In 2022, she joined Charlottesville Ballet as a company artist and teacher at Charlottesville Ballet Academy.

Yui’s 2023-24 season performances are sponsored by Paul & Annie Sartori.

Michael (Mikey) Knight

Michael (Mikey) Knight began his training at NEW Fusion Performing Arts in Green Bay, WI. Upon graduation, Mikey relocated to Chicago, IL for an apprenticeship at Elements Contemporary Ballet. Mikey then relocated to Madison, WI to dance with Madison Contemporary Dance, where he held the title of Assistant Director. Shortly after, he joined Kanopy Dance Company as a principal artist. While dancing with Kanopy, he vigorously studied the Martha Graham technique under the guidance of Co-Directors Lisa Thurrell and Robert Cleary. As the principal dancer, he danced title roles in a variety of premieres and classical restagings, including Pascal Rioult’s Views of the Fleeting World, Lone Larson’s Song of Tears, Stanley Love’s Adam and Steve, and Lisa Thurrell’s The Maw. During the pandemic, Michael was fortunate to appear in projects by former Les Ballets Trockadero De Monte Carlo originator Brian Norris. After relocating to Virginia, Michael joined the Charlottesville Ballet. He has been honored to dance the roles of Cavalier in The Nutcracker, Prince Charming in Pedro Szalay’s Cinderella, and as a soloist in Sara Clayborne’s The Silence We Made. He is so excited to continue his training under the esteemed artistic faculty, and performing throughout Virginia with Charlottesville Ballet!

Mikey’s 2023-24 season performances are sponsored by Lewis & Bobbi Dunn.

Lucy Lucas

Lucy Lucas, from Sterling, Virginia, began dancing at the age of four. Her first introduction to ballet was through a Vaganova academy where she acquired a ballet foundation. In 2019, Lucy found training and mentorship under Troy Brown. In 2022, she joined Charlottesville Ballet’s 2022-23 season as a trainee, CBA faculty member, and administration staff. Lucy is continuing her work as a staff member at Charlottesville Ballet Academy, and is a company artist for Charlottesville Ballet’s 2023-24 season.

Daniel Miller

Daniel Miller has been studying ballet for six years. He is very excited to begin his professional career with Charlottesville Ballet. He has trained around the Southeast with companies such as the Professional Training Program of Terminus Modern Ballet in Atlanta, Georgia, and most recently he spent two years as a trainee with Richmond Ballet in Richmond, Virginia. When he is not onstage he is often working backstage or in the lighting booth. He has designed the lights for numerous shows, winning awards at regional and international competitions. Lastly he would like to thank his mother for passing on her love for dance to him and inspiring him every day to keep pushing and never give up.

Maurissa Powell

Maurissa Powell is originally from Madison, Wisconsin where she trained at The School of Madison Ballet and summer programs at The Jillana School, Ballet Chicago, Oregon Ballet Theatre, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, Fort Wayne Ballet and Lines Ballet. Maurissa is a national medalist for Ballet at NAACP’s Afro-Academic, Cultural, Technological and Scientific Olympics, and a Lauren Anderson Scholarship winner. Maurissa has performed with Madison Ballet, Ruth Page Civic Ballet, Ballethnic Dance Company, and Charlottesville Opera. She joined Charlottesville Ballet as a company artist and academy teacher in 2022. She is excited to return for her second full season in Charlottesville!

Maurissa’s 2023-24 season performances are sponsored by Martin & Tina Harkless, Susan Proctor, and Bob & Janis Chevalier.

Trainee Artists

Isabella Becchi

Isabella Becchi received her training at New Jersey Ballet, The Kirov Academy, and Ballet Central New Jersey. She was previously a trainee with Ballet de Catalunya. She also attended numerous summer programs, such as Vaganova Academy’s Russian Masters Ballet, The Royal Danish Ballet, and Boston Ballet. In addition to dancing as a trainee with Charlottesville Ballet, she is a student at UVA. 

Kaitlyn Dixon

Kaitlyn Dixon grew up in Virginia and has been dancing for fourteen years. She was an apprentice with Asaph Dance Ensemble in Manassas, Virginia and also gained experience through summer intensives with The Washington Ballet, Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, and Ballet Austin. Kaitlyn began the Charlottesville Ballet trainee program in 2021.

Gabriella Fedewa

Gabriella Fedewa began her training at the age of three at the River Raisin School of the Arts. During this time, she studied the Cecchetti method and completed her grade 6 ballet exam. She also performed lead roles in ballets such as The Nutcracker, Alice in WonderlandPeter PanCoppélia, among others.  Gabriella received a BFA in dance with a concentration in ballet at the University of South Florida and was awarded a General Business Certificate. She has also attended several ballet summer intensives such as Orlando Ballet, Charlotte Ballet, Pittsburgh Ballet Theater, Boston Ballet, Texas Ballet Theater, Cincinnati Ballet, and Tampa City Ballet. This is Gabriella’s first year as a trainee at Charlottesville Ballet. She also is on the administrative team and teaches at Charlottesville Ballet Academy.

Miriam Gildea

Miriam Gildea began her ballet training at the age of three in Waynesboro, Virginia. She has since studied under Natalia Baskatova and Katerina Fedova with the Russian Ballet, Inessa Plekhanovaand James Robey at Radford University, and Pamela McCray with Staunton Academy of Ballet. She performed in numerous ballets including her seasonal favorite The Nutcracker, and others including La Bayadere, Coppélia, and Serenade, dancing corps de ballet roles and as a soloist. It is her “pointe” in life to dance with joy and to spread the magic of ballet to others.

Gillian Grossman

Gillian Grossman began her ballet training at the age of seven in Williamsburg, Virginia and attended summer intensives at Kirov Academy of Ballet and The Dallas Conservatory. After graduating from her home studio, S. I. Dance in Williamsburg, she started training professionally at the Richmond Ballet where she performed in many ballets including Balanchine’s Serenade and Stoner Winslett’s The Nutcracker. This is Gillian’s first year at Charlottesville Ballet as a trainee and she is so excited to pursue her dream as a dancer.

Eden Heille

Eden Heille started dancing at the age of eight in Minneapolis, MN and spent the last seven years of her training at Ashley Ballet Arts Academy in Golden Valley, MN. Eden spent various summers at the schools of Boston Ballet, Ballet West, San Francisco Ballet, and Tulsa Ballet, where she trained under the direction of Peter Stark, Larissa Ponomarenko, Patrick Armand, Christopher Hird, and Sofiane Sylve. She had the opportunity to perform leading roles in ballets such as The Nutcracker, La Fille Mal Gardee, Le Corsaire, Dracula, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Little Humpbacked Horse, Sylvia, Cinderella, Paquita, Giselle, and Raymonda. Eden joined Tulsa Ballet as a trainee in 2019 and Twin Cities Ballet as an apprentice from 2021-2023. She is excited for her first season as a trainee with Charlottesville Ballet in 2023, and she is also on faculty at Charlottesville Ballet Academy to share her years of experience teaching dance and the joy that it brings to students of all ages.

Grace Hopper

Grace Hopper started dancing at seven years old in the small town of Enumclaw, WA. In middle and high school, she danced with the town’s youth company Plateau Ballet Repertory Theatre. In 2021, Grace moved to Santa Barbara, CA to be a trainee at State Street Ballet, and also performed in various modern performances with Selah Dance Collective. This is her second season as a trainee with Charlottesville Ballet.

Erica Kline

Erica Kline was born in Marlton, New Jersey. Her love of dance began at an early age, appearing in The Nutcracker at the age of six. She started her ballet training at the Bowman School of Dance and attended numerous summer programs including The Rock School for Dance Education, as well as Boston Conservatory. She has danced with several professional ballet companies including America Swiss Ballet, United States International Ballet, and Columbia Classical Ballet. She is looking forward to her first season as a trainee with Charlottesville Ballet.

Maggie Lampl

Maggie is native to Columbia, South Carolina and began her training at the University of South Carolina Dance Conservatory. She also danced with Columbia City Ballet II from 2016-2018. She attended the University of South Carolina and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Dance Performance and Choreography.

Harleigh Marshall

Harleigh Marshall, originally from Dayton, Virginia, has been dancing since she was four years old. She trained with Rockingham Ballet Theater, Staunton Academy of Ballet, Richmond Ballet, Dance Works Chicago, James Madison University, and Hollins University. This is Harleigh’s second season with Charlottesville Ballet as a trainee.

Evelyn McKemie

Evelyn McKemie is a native Virginian. She trained for six years at Avery Ballet under Lisa Snape Avery. She has spent summers training at The Washington School of Ballet, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, and Richmond Ballet. She also attended the Kennedy Center’s Master Class Series and Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre Company Experience. She graduated Summa Cum Laude from Germanna Community College in 2021. This is Evelyn’s second season as a trainee with Charlottesville Ballet.

Nekya Perry

Nekya Perry has been dancing for nine years and has trained in the disciplines of ballet, jazz, tap, modern, contemporary, hip hop, and Hungarian character dance. She is originally from Hampton, Virginia, but spent 6 years in Columbia, South Carolina training with Southeastern School of Ballet under the tutelage of Hillary Krieger-Toth, Gabor Toth, Terrance Henderson, and many acclaimed guest artists. She also danced with Joan Kathy Dance Center (Leesville, LA) and Performing Arts Connection (Hampton, VA). Nekya was an apprentice with contemporary company YUHAS and Dancers for their 2019-2020 season. This is Nekya’s first season as a trainee with Charlottesville Ballet.

Hope Roberts

Hope is originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and started dancing at age five at her hometown studio Abby Lee Dance Company. After high school, she moved to New York City to train with Dance Theatre of Harlem. Hope continued her ballet training under Marica Dale Weary with Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, and Richmond Ballet as a trainee. Hope started her professional career with Conflux Dance Theater as a founding member. She is now excited to join Charlottesville Ballet as a trainee this season!

Exodis Ward

Exodis Ward is from El Paso, Texas and took her first ballet class at the age of eleven. She has attended summer intensives at The Jillana School and Dance Theatre of Harlem, and Exodis was also one of the first recipients of the Lauren Anderson Scholarship at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts. She recently graduated summa cum laude from the University of Texas at El Paso with a bachelor’s degree in Multimedia Journalism. Upon graduation, she joined Charlottesville Ballet as a trainee in Spring 2023 and is excited to return this season.

Artistic Team

Sara Clayborne, Director/Co-Founder & Choreographer

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 2013 to devote her time to the growth of Charlottesville Ballet. 

Sara is an American Ballet Theatre Certified Teacher in Primary through Level 7 of the ABT National Training Curriculum and puts the ABT Curriculum into practice both at Charlottesville Ballet Academy and within the professional company. Sara is also a graduate of the Community Investment Collaborative (CIC) entrepreneurship program and currently serves on the CIC board of directors. Sara looks forward to nurturing the growth and appreciation for dance among peers and in the community.

Emily Hartka, Director/Co-Founder

Emily fell in love with ballet at the age of five in her hometown of Roanoke, VA and began dance classes at Roanoke Ballet Theatre then continued her training with Unurbat Gunaajav and Michele Goacher. She played violin in the Roanoke Youth Symphony and performed dance roles in collaborative shows with Opera Roanoke, Mill Mountain Theatre, and Radford University. Emily attended summer intensives at the Richmond Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, and on scholarship with the Dance Theatre of Harlem. She spent her senior year of high school at the Virginia School of the Arts in Lynchburg, VA under the late Petrus Bosman and then joined the Richmond Ballet as a trainee.

In 2008, she relocated to Charlottesville to co-found the Charlottesville Ballet and to attend the University of Virginia, where she completed her Bachelor of Arts in Nonprofit Management & Arts Administration. She danced in the professional company throughout its first decade and retired from dancing in 2018. She continues to lead the organization’s marketing and development efforts and is thankful to all who have made this 16-year journey possible!

Keith Lee, Director of Diversity & Inclusion, and Resident Choreographer

Mr. Lee hails from the Bronx, NY and began training at the High School of Performing Arts in NYC. In 1969, Mr. Lee was the first Black soloist to join the American Ballet Theatre and he went on to dance with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre. His repertory included the choreography of such luminaries as Alvin Ailey, George Balanchine, Agnes DeMille, Lar Lubovitch, Jerome Robbins, and Antony Tudor, as well as performance credits in theater and broadway musicals. He has served as ballet master for Ailey and Dallas Black Dance Theatre, and Capitol Ballet, and has been teaching and choreographing for dance companies across the world.

Mr. Lee has called Central Virginia home since 1994, and he was named Artist Laureate by the City of Lynchburg where he continues to work as a freelance choreographer, master teacher, and performing arts coordinator. He has shared his vision and 50-year dance legacy with the Charlottesville Ballet since 2008, and he serves as Resident Choreographer and Director of Diversity & Inclusion for the entire organization. 

Caitlin Lennon, Artistic Associate & Director of Repertoire

Caitlin Lennon, originally from Bozeman, Montana, began her intensive training at the Queen City Ballet in Helena, Montana. She spent her summers studying at Juilliard, American Ballet Theatre in New York, Atlanta Ballet, Houston Ballet, and Ballet West on scholarship. Her travels across the country ended at the Richmond Ballet, where she was accepted into the trainee program on full scholarship and danced for two seasons. She also taught dance in the public schools with Richmond Ballet’s Minds In Motion program from 2007-2015. In 2008, Caitlin joined the Charlottesville Ballet as a founding member of the professional company. From 2015-2019, Caitlin worked as the Company Manager for the professional company, in addition to continuing her performances as a dancer. In March of 2019, Caitlin retired from the stage and accepted the role of Director of Repertoire, continuing her work with the professional company and trainee program. In addition to her work with the Ballet, Caitlin is a licensed Realtor® in the state of Virginia. Caitlin is looking forward to her 16th season with 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.

Lori Jablonski, Company Manager

Originally from Rochester, NY, Lori began dancing at the age of 7. She trained in and taught multiple genres and completed Boston Ballet’s Adaptive Dance Teacher Training program. Lori holds a B.A. in Dance with a minor in Entrepreneurial Studies from Muhlenberg College. She was a member of the Muhlenberg Dance Association, Copasetic Rhythms tap company, and Muhlenberg Ballet Ensemble. Lori danced for the Walt Disney World Company in 2004-2006. She then moved to Charlottesville dancing with inFluxdance, R Squared, UpRooted Dance, and Miki Liszt Dance Company (MLDC). Lori’s previous arts administration experience includes Director of Operations for MLDC, Office Manager for Charlottesville Performing Arts School, and Academy Manager at Charlottesville Ballet since May 2016. Lori became a Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) this past summer and is excited to take on her new role this year as Company Manager.

Kerry Shea, Artistic Associate

Kerry Shea’s company credits include Ballet West, Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, Sacramento Ballet, CONTINUUM Contemporary Ballet, New York Theatre Ballet, and Lydia Johnson Dance, where she also served as Associate Artistic Director. Kerry performed the classics as well as an extensive list of George Balanchine’s repertoire, plus a featured artist for the documentary Sensuality and Nationalism in Romantic Ballet. Graduating with high honors, Kerry earned her BFA in Ballet Performance from the University of Utah. She is passionate about training dancers with the proper biomechanics for peak performance, injury prevention, and rehabilitation. She is a certified Progressing Ballet Technique Teacher and Pilates Instructor, and this year she was honored to join Doctors for Dancers as an International Dance Specialist. Kerry enjoys coaching the Charlottesville Ballet dancers and teaching clients both virtually and in Charlottesville from her boutique studio Kerry Shea Pilates.

Julia Mitchell, Guest Choreographer

Julia Mitchell is a master teacher and choreographer based in Richmond, VA. She trained with The Academy of Ballet in her hometown of Fredericksburg, VA and continued her studies at the School of the Richmond Ballet. She spent her summers training around the nation with Boston Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, Ballet Met, Suzanne Farrell, and Juilliard. In 2003, Julia graduated from Indiana University with a Bachelor of Science in Music (ballet performance) and an outside field in Public Affairs. At Indiana University Ballet Theatre, she had the opportunity to study with and perform under some of ballet’s most stellar performers and teachers: Violette Verdy, Leslie Peck, Jacques Cesbron, Glenda Lucena, Anya Evans, and Julie Kent. Some of her many roles include Nutcracker, Carmina Burana, Les Sylphides, Concerto Barocco, Walpurgisnacht, Les NoceWest Side Story, and original works by the faculty. Julia is also a master teacher and is devoted to teaching the classical ballet pedagogy and traditions to students of all ages. She is on faculty and was the former program director at the West End Academy of Dance in Richmond, VA, where has taught ballet, pointe and variations since 2006. She has taught and choreographed for numerous companies and training schools including the Virginia School of the Arts, Appomattox Regional Governor’s School, Orange School of the Performing Arts, Metropolitan Ballet Theatre, and Charlottesville Ballet.  Julia has created three works for Charlottesville Ballet including Palette of Influence (2013), Next Step (2016), and Phantasm (2019); she is thrilled to be working with the company this season and re-staging Palette of Influence.


Christina Fleming, Soprano

Christina is a classical singer and voice teacher based in Charlottesville, Virginia. She began voice training and performing in 1995 and currently studies with Metropolitan Opera soprano Danielle Talamantes. She also spent the last 9 years exploring The Alexander Technique and is now an AmSat certified teacher. Christina joined the faculty of Robert Fripp’s 2022 Guitar Craft Course as an AT teacher and voice instructor and is returning in April 2024. 

Christina made her Carnegie Hall concert debut in July 2015 in addition to performing the role of Countess Almaviva in The Marriage of Figaro at Lincoln Center. Other roles include: Donna Elvira from Don Giovanni, First Lady and Pamina (cover) from The Magic Flute, and Le Feu and La Bergère from Ravel’s L’enfant et les sortilèges. Though her roots are in classical music, Christina also spent several years singing and co-writing for the electronic goth rock band In Tenebris, and writes/sings/plays the piano for the dark cabaret project, Please Don’t Tell. 

Singing the second movement from Górecki’s Symphony of Sorrowful Songs means a lot to Christina in its dedication to the bond between mother and child and the strength that can be drawn from that relationship. She lost her own mother in January 2020.

Anna Hennessy, Violin

Anna Matijasic Hennessy, M. M., is an eclectic violinist. Having performed in such diverse roles as teacher, arranger, composer, actor, soloist, and improviser, she prides herself on being a musical nomad. Whether performing chamber music at the Kennedy Center, on tour with a rock band in Europe, playing jazz with her guitarist husband in Duo Boheme, conducting student orchestras or accompanying a cabaret in drag (Cabaret Filet, 2009), she has made the stage her home for over two decades. Anna considers the violin not so much a tool of expression, but rather a conduit for the ineffable, somewhere between human and the divine.

Katherine Nies, Piano

Katherine Nies is a classically-trained musician with a passion for the visual arts, languages, and storytelling. Her passion for music traces back to early memories of her mother’s Peruvian and Puerto Rican folk songs on the guitar and listening to her father composing jazz piano late at night. Originally from the DC area, Katherine received her classical training under Hsien-Ann Meng, Gerda Bansleben, and Marianna Prjevalskaya. She studied creative writing and playwriting under award-winning authors Susan Letzler Cole and Sarah Harris Wallman. Katherine’s finesse with improvisation and collaboration has allowed her to perform with creatives from all over the world including the Metropolitan Opera, the Kennedy Center, Richmond Ballet, and Broadway. Katherine’s film and music projects with Charlottesville Ballet include Dancing through the Looking Glass (a collaborative art film about women artists during the pandemic), RBG (a choreographed work inspired by Ruth Bader Ginsburg), and Sorrowful Songs (influenced by Henryk Gorécki’s work about a young girl finding hope while in a Gestapo prison cell). Katherine has released singles from her first album Storms in My Attic (coming October 2024), and you can also find her directing theater and choral music, and spending time outside in the Blue Ridge with her daughter. Katherine is honored to celebrate 10 years with the Charlottesville Ballet, and you can see her latest projects on her website: www.katherinenies.com

Shelby Sender, Piano

Shelby Sender received her Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Piano Performance at the University of Maryland after receiving her Master of Music degree from the University of Maryland and her Bachelor of Music degree from Ithaca College. Shelby is an instructor of piano at the University of Virginia, where she teaches private lessons and keyboard skills classes.She frequently works with the Charlottesville Opera and Williamsburg Symphony Orchestra in addition to her work teaching and performing internationally. Shelby is the choral and orchestral pianist at St. Anne’s-Belfield, the co-founder of Mosaic Children’s Choir, and she currently maintains a private studio in Central Virginia. In 2022, Shelby first accompanied dancers and singers in Charlottesville Ballet’s inaugural Outdoor Series at Merrie Mill Farm & Vineyard, and she has continued to work with the Ballet on collaborative projects over the past two seasons.