Devon Carney, Artistic Director
Grace M. Holmes, School Director
Kimberly Cowen, Principal & KCYB Director
Racheal Nye, Principal & YAGP Coordinator
Dmitry Trubchanov, Men’s Program Coordinator & Associate Director Kansas City Youth Ballet
Lynley Von Engeln, Children’s Division Coordinator
Irina Brouhard, Music Coordinator


Edina von Hofman, School Administrative Manager
Lynley Von Engeln, School Coordinator
Jessica Bacus, Bolender Center Administrator
Erin Steeley, Johnson County Administrator
Nora Burkitt, Adaptive Dance Coordinator & Administrative Assistant
Brigitte Benyei, Courtney Davis, Hope Deyoung-Daniels, Grace Reed, Taryn Ouellette, Katie Romey, and Charlie Weitkamp, Administrative Assistants



• Andi Abernathy
• Blair Armstrong
• April Berry
Chelsea Brown
• Tara Burgat
Nora Burkitt
Christina Burton
Tess Butterfield
Pamela Carney
Tamara Carson
Courtney Collado
Mary Kay Cottrill
Kimberly Cowen
Courtney Davis
• Hope DeYoung-Daniels
Sean Duus
Stephanie McKinney Eppler
• Lauren Gray
Racheal Nye
Tempe Ostergren
Taryn Ouellette
Jennifer Owen
Nadine Price-Rojas
Tina Ray
James Kirby Rogers
Suzanne Ryanstrati
• Sonja Schulz
Lisa Sirridge
Erin Steeley
Liz Trevino
• Dmitry Trubchanov
• Laura Vernaci
Lynley Von Engeln
Marisa Whiteman
• Chelsea Brown (Ballet)
Christina Burton (Contemporary, Jazz, Hip Hop)
Pamela Carney (Ballet)
Tamara Carson (Flamenco)
• Courtney Collado (Reformer)
Mary Kay Cottrill (Ballet)
• Hope DeYoung-Daniels (Ballet)
Sean Duus (Ballet)
Maureen Hall (Ballet)
• Debbie Jacobs-Huffaker (Ballet)
Kramer Kreiling (Ballet)
• Grace Lewis (Reformer)
• Christina Neil
Taryn Ouellette (Ballet/Reformer)
Liz Trevino (Ballet/Tap)
Lisa Sirridge (Reformer)
Brian Bates
• Robert Beasley
Samuel Beckett
Irina Brouhard
John Currey
Inna Daniels
• Alyssa Murray
Andrew Ouellette
William Puckett
Angie Roustio
Jaclyn Rylee
Evangelos Spanos
Cameron Thomas
Jordan Voth
Yee-Sik Wong
• Xiangyu Zhao



Kimberly CowenPrincipal & KCYB Director
Kimberly Cowen, a native of St. Louis, Missouri, received most of her ballet training from Nathalie LeVine. She has also studied at St.Louis Ballet under Ludmila Dokoudovsky and Antoni Zalewski, at Pacific Northwest Ballet with Fleming Halby and Nina Danilova and at The Joffrey Ballet with Francesca Corkle and Winthrop Corey. She studied at the Kansas City Ballet School with Todd Bolender, Una Kai and Lisa Dillinger before joining the Kansas City Ballet in 1991, where she danced for 20 years. Ms. Cowen has danced as Swanilda in Coppélia, Odette in Swan Lake, Titania in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty, the title role in Giselle, Carmen and Romeo & Juliet. She has had the pleasure of dancing a wide variety of styles by famous choreographers such as George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins, Anthony Tudor, Todd Bolender, David Parsons, Paul Taylor, Merce Cunningham, Twyla Tharp, Vincente Nebrada, Nacho Duato, Margo Sappington, Trey McIntyre, Jessica Lang, Val Caniparoli, Mary Wigman and William Whitener. Ms. Cowen began teaching at the Somerset Ballet in 1998 and joined the KCBS staff in 2002. Ms. Cowen is responsible for the students of the Upper School and is the director of the Kansas City Youth Ballet. She is dedicated to teaching the next generation of dancers and passing on all she has learned in her time as a student and a professional.


Racheal NyePrincipal and YAGP Coordinator
Racheal Nye is a Principal of Kansas City Ballet School, where she oversees the Pre-Professional Division’s Daytime Program and is a Children’s Coach for company productions. She is a graduate of the Kirov Academy in Washington D.C., where she attended on full scholarship and studied with Nikolai Morozov, Alla Sizova, and Elena Vinogradova.  She then joined Ballet Internationale in Indianapolis and continued training with Irina Kolpakova and Vladien Semenov. In 2000, Racheal joined Nevada Ballet Theatre and was promoted to principal in 2006. Racheal has danced leading roles in Giselle, Swan Lake, Don Quixote, and Cinderella, Balanchine’s Serenade and Who Cares? and has performed internationally including Luxembourg, Korea, and Portugal.  Her students have been awarded scholarships to international ballet schools as well as received recognition in both Regionals and Finals of the Youth America Grand Prix competition. She is Pilates and PBT certified.

Dmitry TrubchanovDmitry Trubchanov, Men’s Program Coordinator & Associate Director Kansas City Youth Ballet
Dmitry is from Saint Petersburg, Russia. At the age of 9 he was accepted to the Academy of Russian Ballet (the school of the Kirov Ballet). After eight years of hard ballet training, Mr. Trubchanov joined the famous Kirov Ballet Theater, where he toured extensively around the world. In 1995, Mr. Trubchanov was invited as a guest artist to perform with Universal Ballet Company in Seoul, Korea. Mr. Trubchanov has performed in various galas and festivals including The Stars of Kirov Ballet held in Innsbruck, Austria and Syracuse, Sicily, International Ballet Festival in Miami, Florida and International Dance Festival in Vail, Colorado. He was also a guest star at a several gala performances in Fukuoka, Japan. In 2004, Mr. Trubchanov was featured in the recreation of George Balanchine’s La Sonnambula, which was filmed for the Balanchine Trust archives. Also, he was a part of documentary “Do Not Go Gently” featuring legendary Frederic Franklin, CBE. It aired on PBS in 2007 and was nominated for the best documentary at the Wisconsin Film Festival. Most recently, Mr. Trubchanov was a Principal dancer with the Colorado Ballet in Denver. Throughout his career Mr. Trubchanov has danced numerous classical and contemporary ballets and has won acclaim from critics worldwide.

lynleyschafferLynley Von Engeln, School & Children’s Division Coordinator
Lynley Von Engeln, originally from the Philadelphia area, fell in love with the arts at the young age of 10, when she began taking classes at a local dance studio. New Horizons Dance Alliance, formerly Broadway Dance Academy, gave her the opportunity to study various dance disciplines. Through the direction of George Thompson and Tara Keating, formerly with Pennsylvania Ballet, she developed a strong passion for ballet. At 14 Lynley was accepted into the Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Performing Arts’ dance program and spent her high school career studying ballet and modern under teachers Kim Maniscalco, Amy Lawrence, Yu Hong, and Dana Nederostek. Lynley attended classes and summer programs at Joffrey Ballet, Virginia School for the Arts, STEPS in New York, and Koresh School of Dance. Following a mentor from VSA, Lynley found her way out to the University of Missouri-Kansas City to study under Paula Weber, Ron Tice, DeeAnna Hiett, and Sabrina Madison-Cannon. At UMKC, she danced in numerous pieces including Balanchine’s Valse Fantasies, Antony Tudor’s Dark Elegies, and Paula Weber’s To Each Her Own. As Conservatory Dance Association President, she was responsible for sending UMKC to Regional College Dance Festivals in 2011 and 2012 and organized their trip to the Kennedy Center for Nationals. In May of 2012, Lynley graduated with a BFA in dance began working as a Ballet Instructor and Administrative Assistant at the Kansas City Ballet School. She is happy to be bringing dance into the lives of Kansas City’s dance students.

erinkaneErin Steeley, Johnson County Administrator
Erin began dancing at an early age with Maxine’s Studio of Dance in Southern New Jersey. In 2003, she joined the Vineland Regional Dance Company where she received trained under Maxine and Kimberly Chapman, Daniel Marshall, Jeffrey Gribler, and other respected teachers. Erin traveled the United States with the VRDC for performances and further training. During this tenure, she also attended summer dance programs at Atlantic Contemporary Ballet Company, Craft of Choreography, and the Rock School of Dance Education. Erin attended the University of Missouri-Kansas City and graduated in 2014 with a BFA in Dance, minor in Business. While in the program, she performed in Antony Tudor’s Dark Elegies, George Balanchine’s Serenade, and works by Paula Weber, Sabrina Madison-Cannon, Mary Pat Henry, and other choreographers. In 2014 Erin joined Störling Dance Theater, where she danced with the company for 5 seasons. Currently, Erin performs with VidaDance Company (since 2015), and in the summer of 2019 she was named Rehearsal Director for VidaDance Company. Erin is the Johnson County Administrator for Kansas City Ballet, and is she is honored to be part of Kansas City Ballet School’s faculty and to pass down her passion for dance and dance education for students of all ages.

Jessica Bacus, Bolender Center Administrator
A native of Kansas City, Jessica Bacus received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from UMKC. After graduation, she worked as a substitute teacher for the Kansas City Missouri Public School district where she co-founded an after school theatre group at Longfellow Elementary School. While there, she choreographed and co-directed productions of Cinderella, The Nutcracker, Beauty and the Beast, and Alice in Wonderland. In 2013, she received her Masters degree in Elementary Education from Rockhurst University graduating Summa Cum Laude. In 2014, she joined Kansas City Ballet as a teaching artist in the Reach Out and Dance program where she taught until 2017. In her time at Kansas City Ballet, she has worked as Head Student Coordinator for the Kansas City Ballet’s productions of Alice (In Wonderland), The Nutcracker, Swan Lake, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Sleeping Beauty, and Peter Pan.

Andi Abernathy, Contemporary/Improv/Modern
Andi Abernathy was born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri. She teaches and choreographs all over the country as a partnership with her sister, Stephanie, and they both hold a true passion for the art of dance very close to their hearts. Andi grew up training in the greater Kansas City area at Priscilla and Dana’s School of Dance, and then went on to further her dance education and pursued a degree in Modern Dance as a graduate from the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory of Music and Dance. She and Stephanie have been rewarded on numerous occasions for their innovative, dynamic, emotional choreography both on a regional and national level. She has had the privilege of teaching for many outstanding companies all over Kansas City including the Kansas City Ballet, UMKC, and Defy Dance Project. She has also choreographed works for “A Modern Night at the Folly,” Kansas City Ballet “New Moves,” “Dance in the Park,” KC Fringe Festival – “Synergy,” Soul de Soul Dance Convention, “Open Stage at the J”, and have been featured on KCPT’s “Arts Upload” television show. Andi has trained many dancers throughout her career that have gone on to become very successful artists, who are a part of such programs as NYU Tisch School of the Arts, Chapman University, Pace University, UMKC, and the hit television shows “So You Think You Can Dance” and “Dancing with the Stars.” As a current Co-Artistic Director of both her professional contemporary dance company located in Kansas City called HEARTLINES Dance Company and her pre-professional dance company called Artists Revealed, she stays extremely busy training and choreographing on amazingly talented dancers who continue to inspire her every day.

Blair Armstrong, Jazz/Hip Hop/Contemporary/Improv
Blair began dancing at age 2 in Topeka, Kansas. She danced competitively in jazz, hip hop, ballet, modern, lyrical, and tap for several different studios around Kansas before she moved to Lawrence to attend college at the University of Kansas. Blair graduated with a degree in speech language hearing and a minor in applied behavioral science. One of Blair’s biggest passions with dance, her degree, and her life in general is making connections with people and showing them the light they have inside themselves. At age 18, Blair’s choreography and teaching career began. She performed and choreographed for Point B Dance Company and local artists in both Kansas City and Lawrence, set pieces for competitive dance studios, and volunteered her time helping with Salvation Army’s children’s dance team. Blair continues her dance training at Empire Dance Academy and dances professionally for the company That’s Entertainment KC. She is a firm believer in receiving training from as many instructors and styles as possible. The more knowledge you can gain, the more you can share, and the more you can incorporate into your own choreography and improv. Ways to describe Blair as a teacher is high energy, encouraging, and accepting. She creates a class that is a judgement free zone and an environment that nurtures growth and creativity. When Blair is not teaching or dancing she is working at a school as a speech and language therapist. She thinks that self expression is one of the most beautiful things humans have the capability to do. In the future, Blair wants to tie in her two passions by creating a space where adults and children with special needs have their own safe space to express themselves freely.


Chelsea Brown, Ballet
Chelsea began her training locally at The Culture House Academy of Performing Arts, graduating from their pre-professional Artist Development Program. She received a scholarship to study as a dance major at Oral Robert’s University, graduating with a BA in Dance Performance. At ORU she had the pleasure of performing under local and guest artists such as Amy McIntosh, Roman Jasinski, David Parsons and Bill Evans. Chelsea thoroughly enjoys the opportunity to translate her love of dance through teaching at the Kansas Ballet School.


Tara Burgat, Jazz/Hip Hop/Contemporary
Tara Burgat is a freelance performer and choreographer in the Kansas City area, most recently seen in West Side Story with the Lyric Opera of Kansas City. Currently, she is on the teaching staff of Johnson County Theatre In the Park and Madison Avenue Performing Arts. Tara has also performed with City In Motion, That’s Entertainment, Point B Dance Company, and several others. Her dance training ranges in all styles from Jazz to Hip Hop, Modern and even Traditional Indian Folk styles. She was highly involved in Theatre growing up which fed into her love of performing and now fosters her passion for building quality performance in aspiring young performers. Above all, her biggest emphasis in any style is the ability to captivate the audience with the story and character at hand.

Nora Burkitt, Ballet/Modern/Jazz

Nora, a Kansas City Ballet Academy graduate, earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts at the Conservatory of Music and Dance at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. There she studied under Paula Weber, Gary Abbott, Mary Pat Henry, DeeAnna Heitt, Ronn Tice, Sabrina Madison-Cannon and David Justin. She had the honor of performing many pieces by her professors in her four years there. As well as studying at UMKC, Nora trained at Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and was a member of the Kansas City Youth Ballet. Nora attended the American College Dance Association in 2016 and participated in KC’s Fringe Festival in 2015 and 2016. Nora is going into her third year as a company member with KC Contemporary Dance Company. She is one of the Administrative Assistants for the Kansas City Ballet School. Nora is also the Adaptive Dance Coordinator for the Kansas City Ballet School and has assisted and taught for two years and plans for many more with the program. Nora enjoys teaching to kids of all ages and all abilities and is thrilled to pass on her love of dance.

christinaburtonChristina Burton, Jazz/Modern/Contemporary/Hip Hop
Christina is a graduate of the University of Missouri-Kansas City with a BFA in Dance with an emphasis in Musical Theatre. She is member of Actors Equity Association and is represented by Exposure Model and Talent Agency. Regional musical theatre credits include: The Dawning of Aquarius, Sing Out Sister, Tin Pan Alley, Judy Barbra Liza!, Mary Poppins, Everyday Rapture (Regional Premier), Cinderella, 1776, Kiss Me Kate, The Man of La Mancha – Aldonza, The Most Happy Fella, Pippin, Footloose, Working, Grease, Cats, Jekyll and Hyde. Christina has been a Guest Artist for Wylliams/Henry Contemporary Dance Company and has been featured in ads for Lee Jeans and Rock & Republic, as well as commercials for Mazuma Credit Union and Brown Mackie College. She has choreographed and performed in numerous industrials with EPIC Entertainment Inc. and is the director/choreographer for Starlight Theatre’s Starlight STARS of Tomorrow. Her choreography credits include: A Christmas Cabaret, Jekyll and Hyde, Blood Brothers, You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown, Working, The Most Happy Fella, Grease, Xanadu, 2 by 5, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, Hands on a Hard Body, A Spectacular Christmas, Vegas Baby!, A Grand Night For Singing, The Kansas City Youth Ballet, Starlight Theatre’s Blue Star Awards, Starlight’s Children’s Theatre production of Disney’s Aladdin at the Kauffman Center for Performing Arts and AMC’s Wanda Gala in Beijing. In addition to teaching here at KCB, Christina is also an Adjunct Instructor of Dance at UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance.

tessbutterfieldTess Butterfield, Ballet
Tess received a dance scholarship to the University of Missouri-Kansas City with the honors of receiving the UMKC Conservatory Chancellor’s Scholarship and graduated with a BFA in Dance. She has also received scholarships to the Alvin Ailey American Dance Center,  American Dance Center, Gus Giordano, School of American Ballet and acceptance to the Mid-America Dance Company. Tess has performed and competed nationally earning awards for her dancing and choreography. She has choreographed and taught for the George Caleb Bingham Academy of the Arts and has also performed in productions of Guys and Dolls and Wizard of Oz. Tess has also enjoyed dancing some of her favorite ballets such as Swan Lake, The Nutcracker and Carmina Burana.  She has studied with Tatiana Dukoudovska, Mary Pat Henry, Paula Weber, Gus Giordano and the late Leni Wylliams. Tess has been teaching for the Kansas City Ballet since 2005 as well as the Kansas City Ballet’s “Reach Out and Dance” program which brings dance education to public schools in the Kansas City Area.  Tess is excited to share her experience and her passion for dance to others and feels very blessed to be teaching dance to all ages at Kansas City Ballet.

pamcarneyPamela Royal Carney, Ballet 
Pam, a native of Houston, Texas, got her early training with Margo Marshall and performed with Greater Houston Civic Ballet. During the summers, she trained with world-renowned teachers such as Anna Marie Holmes, Robert Joffrey, David Howard and many others in New York and Europe. At 18, she joined Boston Ballet in the corps de ballet.  She was soon promoted to soloist and performed with Boston Ballet for 13 years.  She had the opportunity to perform in all the great classics of ballet such as Swan Lake, Giselle, Sleeping Beauty, Don Quixote as well as contemporary pieces such as many of George Balanchine works. Pam toured with Boston Ballet all over the world, including China, Hong Kong, Israel, Italy, France, England and many other cities in Europe, Mexico and the US.  After retiring from dancing, Pam and her husband, Devon Carney, had two wonderful children, Lauren and Ryan. Since then, she has taught ballet for many years with Boston Ballet School and Cincinnati Ballet Academy.

tamaracarsonTamara Carson, Flamenco
A graduate with distinction from the University of Missouri-Kansas City Dance Division & L’Academia del Arte-Barcelona, Spain. Tamara was Artist-in-Residence for the University of Kansas and the Leavenworth public school system, as well as a faculty member of the Conservatory of Music UMKC 1994-2000.  She is delighted to be on faculty for the KCBS Academic program, Studio Classes and Summer Intensive programs since 2004. Her performance resume includes work with the Frankfurt Opera of Germany, the Kansas City Lyric Opera, Salina Symphony and Kansas City Symphony, the Kansas City & St Louis Guitar Societies and numerous festivals.  She’s worked for decades throughout the region as a pioneer in bringing flamenco and Spanish dance to this area.   Because of her experience as an educator and working artist, she was appointed to the Missouri Arts Council from 1994 to 1999.  Tamara is currently on the Missouri Arts Council Touring Artist Roster with Ole’ Music and Dance of Spain, she performs as a guest artist with Ron Radford’s Viva Flamenco!, Las Tres Gitanas, Alma Flamenca & De Los Barrios and is the Director of Ole’ Music and Dance of Spain.

Courtney Collado, Ballet/Pilates/Conditioning
Courtney Collado is a professional dancer, Master Pilates Instructor, choreographer and dance educator from New York City. As a young dancer and scholarship student, she attended and trained with the Academy of the Colorado Ballet (Denver, CO), Boston Ballet School (Boston, MA), Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble and David Taylor Dance Theater (Denver, CO), Contra Costa Ballet (Walnut Creek, CA), and Jacob’s Pillow (Lee, MA). At age 14, Ms. Collado attended the Walnut Hill School for the Arts in Natick, MA as a boarding student, enrolled in pedagogy classes and danced with the National Youth Ballet for 4 years. Upon graduating from Walnut Hill, Ms. Collado attended the Tisch School for the Arts at New York University where she worked with notable choreographers and dancers and created several works. She earned her BFA in Dance in 2001 and went on to dance professionally with many modern dance companies and choreographers in New York City until 2010, when she took a hiatus to earn a pre-medical degree in Biology. During her performance career, Ms. Collado also earned her certification as a Pilates instructor and became a Master Trainer for Pilates Academy International and several other corrective-exercise modalities. Ms. Collado moved to Kansas in 2012, welcomed her son, Kellan, into the world that May, and moved to Kansas City, MO in 2013. Partnering with fitness facilities and dance schools, she taught and coached ballet, modern dance, and choreography intensives and has also led anatomy and injury-prevention workshops around the country at dance studios, Pilates and yoga studios, and as a guest lecturer at universities. In 2017, Ms. Collado relocated to Columbus, Georgia, where she joined the Fine Arts faculty at Wynnton Arts Academy as the dance director, taught Biomechanics for Dancers as an Assistant Professor at the Columbus State University theater department, and instructed advanced-level classical ballet and coached YAGP contestants at the Columbus State University Dance Conservatory. She is currently earning her MFA in Dance from Hollins University as a low-residence student, spending summers dancing and studying in Roanoke, VA and Frankfurt, Germany.

Mary Kay Cottrill, Ballet
Having been exposed to a variety of classical ballet forms, The Royal Academy of Dancing, Cecchetti and Vaganova, has made Mary Kay a versatile dancer. She began her dance training with Audrey Share in Southern California receiving “Highly Commended and Honors”. MK is the first graduating class of the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts. She has received scholarships and awards from the School of American Ballet, Chicago City Ballet, Marin Ballet, Ballet West, Houston Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Hartford Ballet and the Norris Foundation Dance Award. Her professional career includes the Long Beach Ballet, performing in the Rite of Spring, Song of Norway, and The Nutcracker. She then moved to Chicago to join the Chicago Lyric Opera Ballet, under the direction of Maria Tallchief, as a soloist performing in Aida, La Sonnambula, and Faust. MK has also danced with the Pennsylvania-Milwaukee Ballet, Ballet West, Tau Dance Theatre, Hawaii State Ballet, Corpus Christi Ballet, Ballet Florida, The Long Beach Ballet Ambassador Tour to China, Paradise Dance Theatre, Key West Contemporary Dance Company and Key West Dance Collective. Some of her roles include Firebird, Sugar Plum Fairy, Autumn, Giselle, Blue Bird, La Bayadere Pas de Deux, Les Sylphides, Romeo & Juliet, Paquita, Swan Lake and L’Histoire du Soldat. She has choreographed Tales of the Carnival Animals; Forbidden Dragon; Dark to Light; Skyfall; Gently Weeps; All of Me; Because; Lakme; Bolero; Fly Me to the Moon; Scent of a Woman; Jewels; The Museum; Arts Alive; Shade of Winter; Earth Festival; Neon; Dubzilla; 2 n 1; Paquito Paquita; The Gift; Crazy Diamonds; Dueling Plums; Magenta; Mirlitons; Carol of the Bell; Atom Heart. Credits from Television, Movie and Theatre include Fame, Class Acts, Clio Award, Levi’s, National Geographic Documentary, Liberty House, Six Weeks, The King and I and Flower Drum Song. Mary Kay has taught for over 16 years from ages 3 to 70. She attended the ABT National Training Curriculum in NYC and the Academy of Russian Ballet Teachers Seminar in St Petersburg, Russia. She is very excited to be living in Kansas City, having the opportunity to share with the next generation of students at KCB and the R.O.A.D. Scholarship Program.

Courtney Davis, Ballet
Courtney grew up in Kansas City training at Someset Ballet under the direction of Jane Pierce. Her teachers included Peggy Ply, Kimberly Cowen, Maura Landers and Debbie Jacobs. She spent her summers studying at Ballet Met, Pacific Northwest Ballet School, The HaridConservatory, Ballet Austin and Charleston Ballet Theater. She attended the year round program at The Harid Concervatory during her Junior year of high school and studied under Olivier Pardina, Svetlana Osiyeva and Victoria Schneider. Her senior year she stayed in Kansas City and studied at the Kansas City ballet and was a student apprentice with the company and got to perform Sleeping Beauty, The Nutcracker and Carmina Burana with the company. After graduating high school she studied as a trainee at Ballet Austin and got to train with Truman Finney, Lynne Short, Stephen Mills and Michelle Martin. She spent the next two years dancing with Charleston Ballet Theater under the direction of Jill Bahr and Patrica Cantwell. She got to perform The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Copelia, The Nutcracker, Serenade, A  Street Car named Desire, and a soloist in a piece Off the Cuff choreographed by Jonathan Tabbert. She is thrilled to be back in Kansas City and working at the Kansas City Ballet.

seanduusSean Duus, Ballet
Sean Duus, a native of Mesquite, Texas, began teaching in the Kansas City Ballet School in 1987. Sean received his early dance training from George Skibine, Marjorie Tallchief and Kevin Brown, and received scholarship offers from The School of American Ballet, Houston Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, Boston Ballet, American Ballet Theater, and Pacific Northwest Ballet. Sean was a principal dancer in the Kansas City Ballet from 1986- 2001.He danced the principal male role in numerous ballets including: The Nutcracker, Coppelia, A Midsummer’s Night Dream, Apollo, Con Amore, Combat, Sleeping Beauty, Serenade, The Still Point, An American in Paris and Firebird. He had the great opportunity to work with many great choreographers such as Todd Bolender, Alvin Ailey, Margo Sappington and Ann Reinking. Sean was certified as a teacher in Jacques D’Amboise’s National Dance Institute teacher training program in Santa Fe in 2000, and teaches the Kansas City Ballet’s “Reach Out and Dance” program which brings dance education to public schools in the Kansas City Area. He is a frequent teacher of master classes and Ballet workshops throughout the United States.

stephanieepplerStephanie McKinney Eppler, Ballet
Stephanie received her early dance training at Somerset Ballet Centre in Prairie Village, Kansas under the direction of Jane Pierce.  Her studies continued at Milwaukee Ballet School, Boston Ballet School, and as a scholarship recipient at the Joffrey Ballet School in New York City.  Stephanie earned her Bachelor of Science in Arts Administration with a concentration in Dance Performance on scholarship at Butler University in Indianapolis, Indiana.  While attending Butler, Stephanie danced with the Butler Ballet Company, Ballet Internationale, the Indianapolis Opera, and Dance New Amsterdam (formally Dance Space Center) in New York City.  Upon the completion of her undergraduate degree, Stephanie returned to Kansas City to work and teach with Kansas City Ballet during the original acquisition of Somerset Ballet, now the Johnson County Campus.  Stephanie continued teaching dance throughout Oklahoma and Tennessee before completing her Masters in Business Administration at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, Tennessee.  She is thrilled to be back home in Kansas City and once again teaching at the Kansas City Ballet School.

Sidney Haefs, Ballet
Sidney Haefs began her classical ballet training at the Santa Clarita Ballet Academy at the age of 3 ½. She holds her Royal Academy of Dance Advanced 2 with Distinction.  In the spring of 2018, Sidney graduated from the University of Utah Magna Cum Laude with a BFA in Ballet as well as a minor in Human Development and Family Studies. In addition, she completed courses pertaining to ballet pedagogy, ballet history, kinesiology, music for the ballet class, and human development.  Sidney also performed in many productions during her time at the University. These include, the lead in Balanchine’s Walpurgisnacht, Ilya Kozadayev’s Harmonic Inspirations, Melissa Bobik’s Legacy, and the lead of The Black Swan in the University of Utah’s Production of Swan Lake Act III. She has also performed in Bournonville’s Le Conservatoriate, as well as Val Caniparoli’s She’s So Fine pas de deux.  Sidney has also attended various summer programs including American Ballet Theatre in Irvine, Boston Ballet Summer Dance Program, Ballet West, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, and The University of Utah SI. Sidney is currently a trainee with the Kansas City Ballet for the 2018/19 season.


Maureen Hall, Ballet

Maureen Hall, a native of Kansas City, trained at the Somerset Ballet Centre (under Jane Pierce and Peggy Ply) and at the Kansas City Ballet School.  She had the privilege of learning and performing in many classical ballet roles as a member of the Somerset Ballet Company, including Princess Aurora (Sleeping Beauty), Myrtha (Giselle), and Marie Taglioni (Pas de Quatre).  Maureen studied on full scholarship at the Joffrey and Milwaukee Ballet schools.  She was offered a Trainee position at the Milwaukee Ballet but chose to attend the University of Kansas on a full 4 year dance scholarship.  While at KU, she studied and performed alongside former Joffrey principal dancer, Jerel Hilding.  She received the Elizabeth Sherbon Award, an honor given to one Senior a year for excellence in the academic classroom and dance studio.  She received her BA, graduating with distinction.  Maureen continued her professional career in Dallas, Texas as a member of The Dance Consortium.  She performed a mixed repertoire of classical and contemporary works, and was a featured dancer in their holiday production of “The Littlest Angel”.  She also began doing lecture demonstrations in schools throughout Dallas, something she would continue to do later with Wylliams/Henry Dance Theatre in KC.  Maureen was one of 3 female dancers chosen for the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, starring the Rockettes.  She spent four years dancing to Christmas Carols, wearing pointe shoes in a very heavy costume, and portraying a shepherd with a real sheep!  Maureen has taught ballet for over 20 years.  She hopes her students continue to love and appreciate ballet as much as she does!

Grace Haverty, Jazz/Contemporary/Hip Hop
Grace is a dancer, choreographer and teacher from Olathe, Kansas. She graduated from the University of Kansas with a degree in Dance and has performed and directed numerous productions there with the University Dance Company. Grace recently trained at Broadway Dance Center in New York in their Professional Semester training program. Locally, Grace has had the privilege to perform in shows at Starlight Theatre and at the KCP&L Plaza Lighting Ceremony. She has choreographed pieces for local dance teams and has taught at several studios in the Kansas City area. Grace has additional training in voice and acting and is passionate about sharing her love of the arts.

Debbie Jacobs-Huffaker, Ballet/Pilates/Reformer/Conditioning
Debbie Jacobs-Huffaker holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance from Wichita State University. Debbie has extensive experience as a dance educator. She has taught all ages and experience levels, from beginner to professional. Debbie has served as an Adjunct Instructor of Dance at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and Avila University. She has been on the faculties at Legacy School of the Arts, Somerset Ballet and The Wichita Children’s Theatre and Dance Center. Debbie has also been a guest instructor and coach for numerous dance studios. Her professional credits include: Mid-America Dance Theatre, Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Theater in the Park, Starlight Theater, and Wylliams/Henry Contemporary Dance Company. Debbie is also a comprehensively certified Pilates instructor through Classical Pilates Education and the University of Nevada Las Vegas, D.K. Body Balancing Method. She is dedicated to developing strong technical dancers and is excited to share her expertise and enthusiasm for dance with her students. Debbie is honored to be on the faculty at the Kansas City Ballet School.

Lexi James, Ballet
Lexi James is originally from Olathe, Kansas and trained at Legacy School of the Arts where she studied on scholarship. In addition, Lexi spent summers at the Glenda Brown Choreography Project, Giordano Dance Chicago, and Hubbard Street. After studying for two and a half years at the University of Missouri-Kansas City’s Conservatory of Dance, she transferred to the University of Missouri-St. Louis to finish her dance degree and began dancing professionally with Common Thread Contemporary Dance Company. Lexi graduated magna cum laude with a BA in Dance in 2015 and has since performed works by Jennifer Medina, Jennifer Huffman-Olivas, R. Vance Baldwin, Lindsey Hawkins, and more. She has also enjoyed teaching at several studios in the St. Louis and Kansas City areas. After 4 years in St. Louis, Lexi is thrilled to be relocated back to Kansas City to continue her professional career as a company member with KC Contemporary Dance and is excited to continue sharing her passion for dance with the Kansas City community.

tobinjamesTobin James, Modern
Tobin James graduated from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia with a BFA in Modern dance. While in Philadelphia, she was also a member of the Philadelphia Dance Company (PHILADANCO). After college she attended the Martha Graham Center for Contemporary Dance where she received a full scholarship and completed their training program. She danced with The Martha Graham Ensemble (Graham 2) before launching a freelance career in the Christian music industry as a dancer and choreographer. As a solo dance artist she accompanied musical artists such as Steve Green, and Bill and Gloria Gaither. She performed and choreographed on video projects for Ron Kenoly, and Cece Winans. She toured for five seasons with “The Young Messiah Tour” featuring Sandi Patti, Larnell Harris, and Carman, to name a few, and staged the dance for the Emmanuel tour. For four years Tobin was the Dance Coordinator for the Christian Artists’ Music Seminar in Estes Park, Colorado. Tobin was a full scholarship recipient for the NARB Craft of Choreography conference. She has choreographed for Philadanco, Ballet Magnificat, Sight and Sound Theatres, The Continental Singers, Dramatic Truth School of the Arts, The Culture House Academy of the Performing Arts and Störling Dance Theater. Tobin is currently the Associate Artistic Director of Störling Dance Theater, most known for their landmark production, Underground which she co-choreographed with Artistic Director Mona Störling-Enna. This wife and mother of four, in her spare time, serves as an Adjunct Professor for The University of Missouri-Kansas City’s Conservatory of Music and Dance, where she teaches Graham based modern technique. She is on the Modern faculty for The Kansas City Ballet School, Dramatic Truth School of the Arts and The Culture House Academy of Performing Arts. She has taught for the Southwest Festival of Regional Dance America and continues to teach for various organizations at workshops, and intensives.

floklenkenFlo Klenklen, Ballet
Flo Klenklen began her association with the Kansas City Ballet as a dancer under the direction of Tatiana Dokoudovska while earning a B.F.A. in dance and pedagogy at the Conservatory of Music, UMKC. In 1981 when Todd Bolender took over as artistic director and opened a school, Flo gladly hung up her pointe shoes when asked to teach and work as administrator for the school. Fueled by the great artists who helped Mr. Bolender organize the school: Diana Adams, Una Kai, Jonathan Watts, along with many guest teachers, Flo enjoyed teaching a full schedule, assisted in Nutcracker rehearsals, in Kansas City and St Louis, and organized summer courses in both cities. In 2000 Flo retired from the school and for the next five years organized a summer course in Crested Butte Colorado in conjunction with the company performing at the Crested Butte Music Festival under the direction of William Whitener.

Haley Kostas, Contemporary/Improv/Jazz
Haley Kostas is a Greek American choreographer, dance artist, and educator based out of Los Angeles and Kansas City. Haley attended the University of Missouri – Kansas City (UMKC), Conservatory of Music and Dance, along with training abroad at The London Contemporary Dance School. Haley’s choreography and works have been presented and commissioned by UMKC Dance Conservatory, Kansas University, Kansas City Fringe Festival, and City in Motion’s Dance in The Park. She has worked alongside internationally recognized choreographers in the creation of new works and large scale productions such as live performances for The Juilliard School, Axis Connect, Britney Spears “Circus Tour” at Madison Square Garden, PINK, the TV series SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE, and her own choreographic debut of the feature film DANCE OFF. Professionally, she has danced in works by choreographers and companies including: Peter Chu, Aszure Barton, Justin Giles (Soulescape The Company), Marguerite Derricks (Nip/Tuck Promo Season 6), Jaci Royal (Royal Flux Dance), Andrew Winghart, Adam Parsons (The Commonality Dance Company), Derryl Yeager (Odyssey Dance Theater), and musical artists such as Katy Perry, Capital Cities, and Flight of The Concords. Kostas is a nationally published writer with works featured in DanceSpirit Magazine and Dance/USA’s 2018 e-journal “the green room.” She is also an internationally recognized dance educator who continues to share her philosophy of dance education and movement methods throughout the concert dance community. Her teaching credits includeserving as an adjunct professor at the UMKC Dance Conservatory, faculty member at Kansas City Ballet, founder & director of Defy Dance Project, and guest teacher for Muse Dance Project, Harbour Dance Centre of Vancouver, Canada, and Pineapple Studios of London, England. Her most recent work, “in the red” a collaboration with musician and composer Conner Giles, debuted at the 2018 Kansas City Fringe Festival held at The Todd Bolender Center for Dance & Creativity. Kostas is currently training under Peter Chu of Chuthis, and studying Gaga, the movement language of Ohad Naharin (Batsheva Dance Company), as a vital element of her teaching philosophy is “forever being a student” as she continues to expand her own dance education and movement research.

kramerpruitt2Kramer Kreiling, Ballet/Jazz
Kramer began dancing at age 3 and studying with Kansas City Ballet at age 9. She was a member of the Kansas City Youth Ballet. During her time at Kansas City Ballet she performed many roles in The Nutcracker and was a student performer in several company productions. She has also studied at Orlando Ballet, Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet and Ballet Austin, and has performed in Austria and Germany with the Young Tanzsommer Festival. She is a Summa Cum Laude graduate of Stephens College with a BFA in Dance. While at Stephens she had the opportunity to perform many featured roles and work with artists from all around the world. After graduating, Kramer danced with Störling Dance Theater. She is delighted to share her passion of dance through teaching.

hannahlareauHannah Lareau, Contemporary/Hip Hop/Improv

Hannah’s dance background is primarily in jazz, hip hop, musical theater, and contemporary.  She graduated from MidAmerica Nazarene University with a bachelor’s degree in Intercultural Studies and a minor in Theater.  She currently teaches for Kansas City Ballet, as well as works as a freelance artist; dancing, choreographing, modeling, and teaching workshops and master classes. Hannah has worked with the tiniest of kiddos through adults and loves teaching all ages. She has danced with AIM Dance Company, Gurukul classical Indian dance company, That’s Entertainment, Epic Innovative Events, Illuminate Dance Collective, and trained as a commercial dancer in LA. Hannah choreographs not only for her students, but also dance teams, musical theater camps/productions, individuals, video projects, weddings, freelance performances, fundraisers, etc. One of her favorite teaching opportunities is her volunteer teaching throughout the city. Her inspiration to dance and to teach is this; “There is no other avenue in which I can express, inspire, and be inspired as there is with dance: it is my passion, energy, challenge, and release.”

Susan Lewis Sands, Ballet
Susan Lewis began her ballet training in Massachusetts under the direction of Jaqueline Cronsberg of The Ballet Workshop. She spent four summers studying at the School Of American Ballet before attending full time at age sixteen. Susan was hired by Todd Bolender to join the Kansas City Ballet in 1985 where she spent her entire career dancing various roles as a principal with the company. Susan began teaching for the Kansas City Ballet School in 1991, and continued teaching upon retirement with the company in 1996.


skylertaylorSkyler Linn, Ballet/Jazz
Skyler earned her B.F.A in Dance from the University of Missouri-Kansas City with the honor of receiving the UMKC Conservatory Chancellor’s Scholarship and Ovation’s Award.  Skyler has also been on full scholarship at Kansas City Ballet School, Joffrey Ballet School, The Ailey School, and the RDA Craft of Choreography Conference.  As a Student Apprentice with Kansas City Ballet, she performed in Todd Bolender’s The Nutcracker, La Fille Mal Gardee, and Voyager.  Skyler has toured in The Nutcracker with the Albany Berkshire Ballet Company and performed with the Wylliams Henry Contemporary Dance Theater.  Skyler danced as an Apprentice with the Sarasota Ballet Company and later enjoyed being the assistant to the Education Director and an instructor with the Sarasota Ballet School. With over 10 years of experience, Skyler has taught at numerous schools and is also a certified Pilates instructor in Classical Pilates Education and DK Body Balance.  Skyler truly enjoys teaching all ages and dance styles and is dedicated to education in the arts. She feels privileged to be on staff at Kansas City Ballet.

Amanda Moder, Ballet
Amanda is honored to teach at the Kansas City Ballet School. Outside of KCBS, she dances professionally with Dramatic Truth Ballet Theatre and VidaDance, is a published, contributing author for Brio Magazine, and works as a registered dietitian. Amanda attends Heartland Community Church, where she is actively involved in creative ministries. Originally from Rochester, Minnesota, Amanda trained with Allegro School of Dance and Music, where she performed many roles including Clara and the Sugar Plum Fairy in “The Nutcracker.” In college, Amanda earned a minor in Dance and a minor in Biology along with her Bachelor of Science degree in Community and Medical Dietetics (nutrition). Amanda has performed nationally and internationally through Project Dance, including Project Dance Paris 2016 and Project Dance NYC 2017. She is passionate about the art of dance and its power to deliver messages, tell stories, inspire depth, and affirm identity. She most looks forward to getting to know her students this year and sharing the amazing gift of dance with them.

Erin Muenks, Ballet/Adaptive Dance

Erin Muenks grew up dancing at a Kansas City studio where she later taught and choreographed ballet and modern dance.  Erin continued her interest in choreography as a student at the University of Missouri- Kansas City Conservatory of Music and Dance, where she earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Dance and Choreography.  Erin’s choreography was awarded a scholarship to the Artist INC program and was featured in A Modern Night at the Folly. She was later chosen as a resident of the Charlotte Street Foundation Urban Culture Project for two consecutive years.  Her work has also appeared in the Kansas City Fringe Festival, Kansas City Women’s Chorus concert and with C. Round Ballet Works in California. Erin began teaching dance in high school and has taught ballet and modern to young children in the Kansas City area ever since.  After assisting in various special education classrooms for several years, Erin is currently working towards a Master’s degree in Early Childhood Special Education through the University of Kansas. Erin is passionate about making the art of dance accessible to all children and is thrilled to have the support of Kansas City Ballet School!  

Christina Neil, Ballet/Anatomy
Christina began her dance training in Jefferson City, Missouri under the direction of Karen Boyer.  She attended summer dance intensives at Kansas City Ballet School, Peoria Ballet,  The Jillana School, and Ballet West among others.  She then received a BFA in Ballet from the University of Utah with emphases on Teaching, Performing and Character Dance with a Mathematics minor. She continued on to earn a MFA in Ballet, also from the University of Utah, with emphases on Teaching and Scholarly Research.  While at the University of Utah, she studied under many great teachers including: Conrad Ludlow, Sharee Lane, Maureen Laird, Carol Iwasaki and Attila Ficzere. She also performed extensively throughout Utah and internataionally with the Character Dance Ensemble.   She then went on to perform with Eidolon Ballet in New York City. While in NY, she also had the opportunity to perform with many emerging choreographers as a freelance artist.  Christina has taught ballet throughout her performing career, most notably at Ballet Academy East in New York City and the University of Utah’s Tanner Dance.  She also attended the Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet’s Teacher Workshop to further her education. She is currently an adjunct professor at the Conservatory of Music and Dance at the University of Missouri – Kansas City and happy to be a part of the Kansas City Ballet School.

Tempe Ostergren, Ballet
Tempe Ostergren studied on full scholarship at The School of American Ballet in New York City. After graduating, she went on to join the Pacific Northwest Ballet in Seattle where she danced numerous solo and principal roles. Among some of her favorites were Sugar Plum in Stowell’s Nutcracker, Balanchine’s Divertimento #15, Martin’s Fearful Symmetries, Stowell’s Quaternary, and Caniparoli’s Torque.  She then joined Boston Ballet where some of  her repertoire included Dew Drop and Snow Queen in The Nutcracker, Stepsister in Kudelka’s Cinderella, Effy in La Sylphide, Jumping Girl in Balanchine’s Who Cares?,  Wheeldon’s Polyphonia, soloist ballerina in Tharp’s In the Upper Room, Kylian’s Falling Angels and Six Dances as well as numerous roles in the classics such as pas de trois in Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty, and Amour in Don Quioxte.  With Kansas City Ballet, Ms. Ostergren was thrilled to perform the title role in Giselle, Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker, and Waltz Girl in Serenade.


Taryn Ouellette, Ballet/Pilates Reformer/Conditioning
Taryn began dancing in Iowa City, IA, at Terpsichore School of Dance, as well as at the University of Iowa. She continued her training in Kansas City, at Somerset Ballet Centre, the Kansas City Ballet School, and at the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance. She attended summer intensives and workshops at the Kansas City Ballet School, Milwaukee Ballet School, Connecticut Ballet, and Ballet Nouveau Colorado. She has had the privilege to train extensively in New York, at Steps on Broadway and at Peridance Capezio Center, also pursuing opportunities as a freelance artist. Taryn has enjoyed having the opportunity to work with Kansas City area dance companies, including Storling Dance Theater and City In Motion. Taryn has been teaching ballet for over ten years, and is an American Ballet Theatre certified teacher, having successfully completed the ABT teacher training intensives in Primary through Level 7 and Partnering, of the ABT National Training Curriculum. She attended the Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet’s Teachers Workshop, studying the CPYB teaching syllabus and methodologies developed by Marcia Dale Weary. Taryn is a certified Pilates instructor, with training through both Stott Pilates and the Kane School. She received her Pilates training and certifications in NYC, where she also attended the Functional Anatomy for Movement and Injuries (FAMI) workshop at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in 2010 and 2012. Taryn greatly enjoys teaching people of all ages and abilities, and is very happy to be a part of the Kansas City Ballet School.

jennowenJennifer Owen, Ballet
Jennifer Owen’s ballet career has taken her around the globe. After training with Pacific Northwest Ballet School, San Francisco Ballet School, School of American Ballet, and the Bolshoi Ballet Academy, she went on to dance with the Russian State Ballet, Moscow Renaissance Ballet, Kansas City Ballet, Hong Kong Ballet, BalletMet, and had the unique experience of appearing as a guest artist with the National Ballet of Turkmenistan. Notable roles danced include the title role in Giselle, Kitri in Don Quixote, principal roles in George Balanchine’s Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux and Donizetti Variations, and the central pas de deux in Todd Bolender’s Arena. She has choreographed over thirty new works for Owen/Cox Dance, as well as nine works for Kansas City Ballet’s “In the Wings” choreographic workshop, and a winning entry for the 2006 Columbus Choreography Project. Owen is the recipient of a 2000 Princess Grace Honorarium. In the spring of 2014 she and her husband, Brad Cox, welcomed their baby daughter, Cecilia.

nadineprice-rojasNadine Price-Rojas, Ballet/Jazz
Nadine was born in England UK. She began her training at the age of three, and later went to train at Bush Davies Performing Arts and The Royal Ballet, London. During her graduating year, she performed Cinderella at the Royal Albert Hall before her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. After receiving her teachers diplomas in both R.A.D and I.S.T.D., Nadine went on to tour extensively with various dance and entertainment companies worldwide, dancing with the Dublin City Ballet, then onto London’s West End Cats and Me And My Girl. She has performed at Wembley Stadium, NEC Birmingham, UK, Milan Opera House, and Loews, Monte Carlo. She has also acted in numerous European television shows, commercials and movies roles. Nadine would later become Lead Dancer, Line Captain and Choreographer on major cruise lines such as Cunard, Royal Caribbean, Princess and Carnival, performing various Broadway and Vegas-style shows. In 1994 Nadine moved to Kansas City, opening a yoga studio and starting ballet programs for local studios. She continued her passion and toured with Mikhail Baryshnikov in the White Oak Project and has worked with touring Broadway shows that visit the midwest region. She currently owns a production company, directing and choreographing shows for private events groups.

tinarayTina Ray, Ballet
Tina Ray has fond memories of her first ballet class at the age of 3 with Gardner Schneider-Cole in Slidell, LA. As a young student she danced with the Picayune Ballet Company and performed throughout Mississippi and Louisiana, including the1984 World’s Fair in New Orleans. She studied dance at the University of Southern Mississippi before opening her own school of dance where she directed the Picayune Youth Ballet Company for 10 years. She received her teacher’s training from the International Ballet School in Jackson, MS and enjoyed spending several summers studying ballet in New York with various teachers. She danced with the New Orleans Ballet, under the direction of Allison Gonzales from 1994 to 1999. Tina enjoyed dancing in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Alice in Wonderland, Billy the Kid, and Sleeping Beauty as The Lilac Fairy. Tina’s students were often featured in the New Orleans Ballet’s performances. While with the New Orleans Ballet, she enjoyed teaching and performing with the outreach program for the Orleans Parish Public Schools which brought dance education and appreciation to elementary school students who would not otherwise have the opportunity. Tina loves sharing her lifelong passion of ballet with her students. She is thrilled and honored to be teaching for The Kansas City Ballet School.

Suzanne Ryanstrati, Modern
M. Suzanne Ryanstrati studied ballet under George de la Pena, Todd Bolender, and Una Kai and modern under Bill Evans, Armando Duarte, David Dorfman, Tyrone Aiken, Alan Sener, and Bella Lewitsky. At the age of 19 she had her first professional dance contract under Neil Hess in Texas. Later she toured with the Bill Evans Dance Company, performing modern, jazz, and rhythmic tap in the United States and Japan. Suzanne studied Evans, Limon, Horton, Cunningham, Graham and Falco modern dance techniques. Suzanne holds a Master’s of Fine Arts in Dance Choreography from the University of Iowa, where she studied dance pedagogy in modern and ballet, and taught modern dance and tap for 3 years. Her continued interest in education led her to the Bill Evans Summer Teacher’s Intensive, Avodah: Dance Midrash with JoAnne Tucker and sessions with Carol Roderick of Colorado State University. Suzanne’s choreography has been performed in eight states (including New York) and internationally, most recently in London and at the Lone Star Ballet in Texas. Suzanne directed 3 dance companies including her own company called Ryanstrati & Company featuring dancers with and without disabilities, which is her passion.

Sonja Schulz, Ballet
Sonja Schulz is a dancer, aerialist, teacher, choreographer and certified yoga instructor, originally form the Chicago area. She graduated from the University of Iowa wither her BFA in Dance, BA in Economics and 200-hour Hatha Yoga Teaching Certification in May of 2019. Sonja is currently living in the Kansas City area pursuing teaching positions within dance, yoga and aerial, and performing professionally. She is currently performing with Quixotic Fusion and Kansas City Contemporary Dance! Here at Kansas City Ballet School, she is teaching Fundamentals of Dance, Pre-Ballet and Level 1 at the Johnson County location. She is very excited to be part of the KCBS faculty and sharing her love for teaching dance to others and educating them on the importance of this art form. Outside of dancing and teaching at multiple locations, Sonja loves to be outside and run, explore Kansas City and relax.

lisasirridgeLisa Sirridge, Pilates Reformer/ Conditioning
Lisa is a former ballet and modern dancer who performed professionally with local dance companies starting with the Kansas City Civic Ballet (now known as the Kansas City Ballet). During this time she received her dance education through UMKC’s Conservatory of Dance under the leadership of Tatiana Dokoudovska, the founder of the Kansas City Civic Ballet. In later years, her dance experience continued with Westport Ballet and City in Motion. She has also performed with the Lyric Opera,Missouri Repertory Theater, as well as in Starlight Theater productions. After many years of performing, she turned her passion for dance towards choreography and staging of various local productions, most recently The American Girl Fashion Show. Lisa is a Stott’s Pilates instructor, trained in Mat, Reformer, and Cadillac.


Liz Trevino, Jazz/Tap/Ballet/Pilates
Liz was a principal dancer and rehearsal director for the famed Gus Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago from 1991-1994, was an instructor in the School, and was the Administrative Assistant to the company. Also while in Chicago, she was a founding member of the tap company that is now the performing entity of the Chicago Human Rhythm Project. She also danced at Andy Williams’ Moon River Theater, Music Theater of Wichita and James P. Productions. She graduated cum laude and as Outstanding Senior in Dance from Oklahoma City University. After her performing career, she returned to OCU for 6 1/2 years as an Instructor of Dance and choreographed numerous operas for the Oklahoma Opera and Music Theater Company. She then became the Director of Dance and Department Head of Fine Arts at St. Gregory’s University where she stayed for 10 years.  Next came 3 years as a Lecturer in Dance at Creighton University in Omaha as well as instructor at Robin Welch Dance Arts. Liz is also a Pilates instructor with training through Balanced Body and Stott and is the Wellness Coordinator/Pilates Instructor at Performance Rehab where she works with many professional dancers. Liz is thrilled to be part of the prestigious faculty at Kansas City Ballet School and is excited to share her knowledge and passion for all forms of dance with all of her students.

Laura Vernaci, Ballet
Laura is a Kansas City native, who began dancing at age 5 and started training at Kansas City Ballet at age 14. She apprenticed with the company her senior year of high school, performing in Todd Bolender’s The Nutcracker and Giselle. She also studied on scholarship at American Ballet Theatre, Charlotte Ballet, and The Jillana School. She continued her dance education at Butler University in Indianapolis, IN, performing with Butler Ballet in productions including Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake, and The Nutcracker. In her last year of college, Laura was offered a company contract with Minnesota Ballet. She toured in Allen Fields’ The Nutcracker, and performed in ballets such as Coppelia, Cinderella, George Balanchine’s Who Cares?, and Antony Tudor’s Little Improvisations, as well as world premieres by Robert Gardner and Penelope Freeh. Laura has taught ballet and pointe technique for more than 10 years at various studios throughout the country. She has also choreographed for school performances, dance competitions, and pageants, and has trained in numerous other styles, including jazz, modern, contemporary, tap, flamenco, and folk. She is honored and excited to return to Kansas City Ballet to share her love and knowledge of dance with current students.

brianbatesBrian Bates, Pianist
Mr. Bates is a songwriter/arranger who studied at UMKC with Gerald Kemner (composition) and Ruth Ann Rich (piano.) Mr. Bates brings a unique creative energy to the ballet classroom in that he has composes many of the pieces he uses in class. His standard repertoire is drawn from a large source of influences and styles in order to give students a variety of musical experiences. Mr. Bates also serves as the Assistant Choir Director /Accompanist for the Center School District and is the pianist for the First Baptist Church of Independence. He has played for KCBS since 1999.


sambeckettSam Beckett, Pianist
Sam Beckett enjoys putting his B.S. in Theory/Composition and Piano Performance from William Jewell College (’87) to good use as Adjunct Music Theory Instructor at Penn Valley College in Midtown, and in recent performances as a featured soloist with the Kansas City Ballet (Triple Play/Poulenc; Allegro Brilliante/Tchaikovsky-Oct ‘13; Wunderland/Glass; and The Four Temperaments/Hindemith-May ‘15). This year will be his 2nd year to play on a regular basis for KCB II classes, which this year broadens into classes for Trainees. Piano tuning, studio work, church performances (featuring his own compositions and arrangements performed alongside family members), private lessons, ROAD (Reach Out And Dance) classes, and playing in the Penn Valley Community College Jazz Band (on trumpet!) round out his schedule. As always, his association with KCB is one of great pride.

irinabrouhardIrina Brouhard, Pianist 
Irina Brouhard was born in the southern Ural Mountains of Central Russia. She began playing the piano at the age of 7. She attended Magnitogorsk College of Music graduating Suma Cum Laude and was only one of only 20 accepted at Novosibirsk Conservatory of Music. After graduation, Irina went to the Armenian University as Concert Master for the Choral Department. In 1998, Irina accepted a position at the Magnitogorsk Ballet and Opera Theater as a Concertmaster but quickly rose to the position of Artistic Director. Irina also was Concertmaster at Magnitogorsk Conservatory of Music, a member of the Philharmonic Society of both Magnitogorsk and Chelyabinsk, and performed all over the Ural region and Siberia, Moscow and St. Petersburg.

johncurrey2John Currey, Percussionist
John Currey holds a master’s degree in percussion performance from the Conservatory of Music at the University of Missouri-Kansas City where he teaches percussion for the Conservatory’s Community Music & Dance Academy. Numerous performance credits include with the Kansas City Symphony, Czech National Orchestra, newEar contemporary chamber ensemble, American Ballet Theatre, Caribbean Steel pan band, and the Kansas City Brass. He is a member of the Tri-Percussion group, Kansas City Brassworks, Flamenco de los Barrios, Broken String Latin-Jazz trio, and is Director of Marimba Sol de Chiapas marimba band. In addition to his Modern Dance accompaniment for the Kansas City Ballet School, Mr. Currey accompanies for the UMKC Conservatory Dance Department, and for the Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey outreach programs and AileyCamps. John’s dance accompanying has been featured in numerous Modern Dance Master Classes, including for members of the Lar Lubovitch Dance Company, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, and Paul Taylor Dance Company. Mr. Currey has accompanied for dance greats David Parsons, Leni Wylliams, Denise Jefferson, Edgar Anido, Troy Powell, and others, and his dance accompanying earned him a commission to co-write music for the Wylliams/Henry Dance Company. Teaching credits include at Graceland College in Lamoni, Iowa, Pittsburg State University, as an Adjunct Assistant Professor at UMKC, and as an Arts Educator for Kansas City Young Audiences.

innadanieslInna Daniels, Pianist
Ms. Inna Daniels was born in the former Soviet Union and earned her Master of Arts in Piano from the Baku Conservatory of Music. Her principal training was in solo piano performance, accompaniment and music instruction, with further studies in music composition. Prior to moving to Kansas City she worked as a musical educator, and an accompanist for the state rhythmic gymnastics team, as well as a ballet company. She also worked as a principal pianist at the National Academic Theatre and College of Ballet in Armenia. Inna has been an employee of the Kansas City Ballet (formerly State Ballet of Missouri) since September of 1993. She is employed as a professional musical accompanist for both the training academy and the ballet company. She has also worked for ballet companies such as Joffrey Ballet, Hubbard Street Dance Company, Salt Creek Ballet in Chicago, Houston Ballet and Miami City Ballet.

williampuckettWilliam Puckett, Pianist
Mr. Puckett has been performer in many musical venues from the Classical Concert stage to the Rock Music Arena, and has worked with several ballet schools in Santa Cruz, CA and the University of California. A working musician for over 30 years, he is also a Studio Owner/Engineer in North Kansas City and a Sound Designer supporting the Electronic Music Industry. A composer as well as a pianist, Will has many original pieces, arrangements, and music for dance and film ranging from whimsical to more serious moods.


angieroustioAngie Roustio, Pianist
Mrs. Roustio received the Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Illinois in Piano Performance and the Master of Music degree from Southern Illinois University in Piano Performance and Chamber Music/Accompanying.  She has been the studio accompanist for voice and string professors’ undergraduate and graduate students.  She studied piano under, among others, Dr. Linda Perry, and Ruth Slenczynska, former student of Rachmaninoff, and was the winner of a concerto competition.  She has accompanied college choirs, including the Southwestern Illinois College choir under director A. Dennis Sparger, conductor of the Bach Society of St. Louis.  Ms. Roustio has accompanied and adjudicated recitals, juries, contests/competitions and master classes, including the Inside Music Series at the Kauffman Center, for ballet, voice, and various instruments.  She has been a rehearsal accompanist for opera theatre and has played with the pit orchestra for many musical productions.  Ms. Roustio was the accompanist  for the Ballet Conservatory in Independence, Mo., a Royal Academy of Dance studio.  She also played for their Examinations in Dance.  She was a member of the Illinois State Music Teacher’s Association and was the chair of their Southern District Piano Competition.  She has been in recital with violinist Nicholas Currie, substitute member of the National  Symphony Orchestra and member of the Baltimore Opera Company Orchestra.  Ms. Roustio taught at the SIU-E Keyboard Development Program, at Southwestern Illinois College, and in her private studio.  She is the accompanist for the Young MeisterSingers Children’s Choir, a children’s choir who has performed with the Kansas City Symphony Orchestra and Chorus and the Kansas City Chorale. Mrs. Roustio and her husband have four children and live in Independence, Mo.

jaclynryleeJaclyn Rylee, Pianist
Jaclyn Rylee began her piano training in Kansas City under the direction of Mrs. Estelle Majors at the age of five.  She studied jazz at the Conservatory of Music with George Salisbury before attending KU for two and one half years, majoring in music.  Twenty five years ago, Jaclyn decided to turn her hobby into a part-time career.  She has played locally for musicals at Theatre in the Park, Waldo Astoria, musical competitions, numerous weddings, retirement/nursing homes, country clubs and restaurants, and still does. She has been an accompanist for the Kansas City Ballet since October 2011.


evangelosspanoEvangelos Spanos, Pianist
Evangelos Spanos is a highly talented and educated international performer whose work crosses over geographical, stylistic and temporal boundaries.  Conferred with a doctorate with honors by the University of Kansas (D.M.A. 2011), Spanos has dedicated his career to nurturing and advancing music through performance, creation, scholarly inquiry and pedagogy.  He continuously performs, teaches and promotes a wide repertoire of classical music as well as piano music by Greek composers.  His teacher and mentor, Sequeira Costa, a Distinguished Professor of Music at the University of Kansas, has had a long, distinguished career as a concert performer on the World stage. Costa himself was a child prodigy and student of the surviving pupil of Franz Liszt, Jose Vianna Da Motta.  Sequeira Costa later studied with the renowned Marguerite Long, Jacques Février and Edwin Fischer.  Today, both Costa and Spanos continue in the tradition influenced by Liszt. Professor Dinos Mastroyiannis of Volos, Greece (student of Brazilian maestro Roberto Szidon, himself a pupil of Claudio Arrau) is another distinguished musician who is more than willing to lend Evangelos support in launching his career.

Born in Larissa, Greece, Spanos holds degrees from the University of Kansas (Doctorate of Musical Arts, Honors, 2011 and Master of Music 2005), the Music Conservatory of Volos, Greece (Piano Diploma, Highest Distinction, 2002) and Music Conservatory of Larissa, Greece (Degree in Music Harmony, 1998).


Jordan Voth, Pianist
Kansas native Jordan Voth joined the accompanist staff of the Kansas City Ballet in the summer of 2015. A 2012 graduate of Wichita State University, Jordan received first prize in the 2006 Andersen Concerto Series and was named the piano division winner of the 2010 Yamaha Young Performing Artists Competition. Before arriving in Kansas City to begin a Master of Music at UMKC in 2013, Jordan studied at the International Keyboard Institute and Festival at Mannes College in New York City and participated in master classes with Leon Fleisher, Alon Goldstein, and Lowell Liebermann. Since 2013, Jordan has served as a modern dance accompanist at UMKC where he worked with Peter Anastos on a production of Yes Virginia, Another Piano Ballet, and where he currently pursues a Doctorate degree in piano performance under the direction of Dr. Robert Weirich.

Yee Sik Wong, PIanist
Yee Sik, a native of Hong Kong, China, began accompanying ballet classes in 2007 while she was pursuing her D.M.A. in Piano Performance and Pedagogy at the University of Iowa. After graduating, she joined the Tulsa Ballet as a Company and Center for Dance Education pianist for five seasons. Yee Sik is thrilled to have joined the Kansas City Ballet as a pianist in June 2016. In 2012, Yee Sik was the pianist for the Tulsa Ballet’s production of Dracula, for which her playing was praised. She was also the piano soloist with the Tulsa Symphony for the Tulsa Ballet’s production of Lady of the Camellias in 2013. Tulsa World called her “the true musical hero of the evening.” Yee Sik has served as a dance accompanist at the Interlochen Arts Camp, the Dance Department of the University of Iowa, and the University of Iowa’s Youth Ballet. During her last year at the University of Iowa, she worked closely with international ballet mistress and choreographer Deanna Carter for the completion of her doctoral thesis entitled “The Art of Accompanying Classical Ballet Technique Classes.” In April 2015, Yee Sik collaborated with international ballet mistress Stephanie Murrish, releasing four CDs for ballet technique classes entitled “Inside Ballet Studio.”

Xiangyu Zhao, Pianist
Coming from China, Mr. Xiangyu Zhao started to learn piano at the age of four and came to the United States in 2008. Mr. Zhao received his Bachelor of Music at the University of Northern Colorado in 2013, studying with Dr. Lei Weng. During his time in the United States, Mr. Zhao has earned several awards from Steinway music piano concerto competition in Colorado, Jefferson City Symphony Orchestra Competition, the Concerto/Aria Competition at UMKC, and was the winner of the MTNA Young Artist Piano Competition in Missouri in 2017. He is the alternate winner of the 2016 Chancellor’s Concerto Competition and performed with UMKC orchestra in Helzberg Hall in April 2017 and the MTNA Young Artist Piano Competition in the West Central region. Mr. Zhao was awarded the Undergraduate Academic Excellence Award from the international department at the University of Northern Colorado, and was selected to play in the 29th gala concert as the only solo performer. He was also interviewed by UNC’s school newspaper The Mirror for his freshman recital. Besides his study at school, Mr. Zhao participated in several music festivals, including the International Keyboard and Institute & Festival at Mannes, Montecito International Music Festival, and 2018 &2019 Gijón International Piano Festival where he gave a whole concert in Candás, Spain. He has taken master classes with outstanding professors and artists, including Olga Kern, Jerome Rose, Stanislav Ioudenitch, Norman Krieger, Logan Skelton, Peter Takács, and Frank Weinstock. Mr. Zhao has also selected as one performer of the UMKC piano department to give a group presentation at the 2015 MTNA National Conference in Las Vegas. In addition to his piano study, Mr. Zhao has studied composition with the worldly well-known composer Dr. Chen Yi since 2013. He has performed his own music and several works by composition students, faculty members in Composers’ Guild and Music Nova concerts at UMKC. He has also performed piano works by guest artists such as Lowell Liebermann and Tania León and played for the composers in person. He held a full composition recital with his own music in May 2017, including a song cycle based on Chinese poems and a seven-movement oboe quartet. Studying piano with Dr. Robert Weirich, Mr. Zhao finished his fourth year of doctoral study at the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance and is now working on his doctoral projects, including a recording of the entire Transcendental Études by Franz Liszt and a score edition of Quatre Études, Op. 7 by Igor Stravinsky.