Ballet Austin Academy

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Directors

Stephen Mills, Artistic Director (Bios)
Cookie Ruiz, C.F.R.E.,
Executive Director (Bios)
Michelle Martin,
Associate Artistic Director (Bios)
William Piner,
Academy Director (Bios)
Vicki Parsons, Butler Community School Director (Bios)

Stephanie Locklear Albrecht, Project Coordinator & Customer Relations
Eve Anderson,
Academy Registrar & Schools Customer Relations
Lucy Wilson, Schools Customer Relations
Rachel Beale, Schools Customer Relations

Vlada Sheber, Pilates Program Director (Bios)
Toni Bravo, Leaps & No Bounds Program Director (Bios)
Joan Wolfe, Creative Ballet Director (Bios)
Joshua Piper, Pianist Coordinator (Bios)

Faculty

Ian Bethany
Orlando Julius Canova

Ed Carr
Ashley Gilfix
Jennifer Hart
Melanie Hovis
Libby James
Nick Kepley
Allisyn Paino Martin
Chelsea Renner
Magdalena Riley
Lisa del Rosario
Christopher Swaim
Hallie Ward
Jaime Lynn Witts


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William Piner, Academy Director
Mr. Piner graduated from Butler University's prestigious dance program in 1982 and had a wide and varied professional performing career with companies such as Ballet Austin, the Hartford Ballet and Dance Kaleidoscope, Indiana's only professional modern company. A member of Actor's Equity Association, Mr. Piner also enjoyed a career in musical theatre before retiring to direct Ballet Austin Academy. He has been teaching extensively since 1982, including seven years on faculty at Butler University's Jordan College Academy of Dance in Indianapolis. In 1992, Mr. Piner was appointed Director of Ballet Austin Academy. Under his direction the Academy has grown to become one of the largest classical ballet schools in the country.

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Vicki Parsons, Butler Community School Director
Vicki Parsons is the Director of Ballet Austin's Butler Community School. Her primary role is to develop, implement and manage dance and fitness programming in the Butler Community School, and through classes and community-based programs, promote the value of life-long health and well-being through a wide variety of movement styles to a multi-generational enrollment.

Ms. Parsons joined the staff of Ballet Austin in 1999 after working as a Ballet Austin volunteer for two years. Ms. Parsons has over 25 years of experience working in the field of Long Term Care, specifically in direct care as a Recreation Therapist, using therapeutic recreation as a treatment intervention to improve overall wellness. Promoting physical activity to people of all ages continues to be an interest to her. Ms. Parsons taught at Austin Community College for 13 years and worked with several non-profit organizations to develop and present workshops on lifelong health and well-being.  She holds current certifications as a Senior Fitness Instructor, a Youth Fitness Specialist, and a Group Exercise Instructor.  She is also a certified Fitness Business Manager, and has completed her certification in Advanced Sports Nutrition.

Ms. Parsons’ love for developing programs and people is an enjoyable part of her role at Ballet Austin. She is currently teaching the Off Campus Physical Education TEKS classes for the Ballet Austin Academy, and teaches the BCS Better Balance & Movement Workshop.

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Toni Bravo, Leaps & No Bounds Program Director
Maria Antonieta (Toni) Bravo is the Leaps and No Bounds Program Director. Ms. Bravo is originally from Mexico City and holds a Master's Degree in Theatre History and Criticism, with a minor in Dance Pedagogy (University of Texas, 1987). Since 1975, she has taught and performed as a professional dance artist in Mexico, England, Israel, Costa Rica, Germany, Spain and throughout the United States. Ms. Bravo began teaching for the Ballet Austin Academy in 1990 and, since 1991, the City of Austin has funded her performance and educational projects. In 1991, 1992 and 1998, she received awards from the Texas Commission on the Arts for her workshop projects with the Travis County Juvenile Court and Austin Housing Authority Education Department. Ms. Bravo spearheaded Ballet Austin's in-school movement programs, which are currently conducted in a number of school districts throughout the Greater Austin area. She continues to develop curriculum as well as train and monitor Academy faculty.

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Vlada Sheber, Pilates Program Director & Certified Core Connections® Pilates Instructor

Originally from the Ukraine, Ms. Sheber received her training in classical ballet from the State Classical Ballet College of Russia (Voronezh). Vlada performed as a soloist in the Donetsk Ballet Theatre before immigrating to the United States. She was a member of Ballet Austin from 1992-2003 and danced a variety of classical and contemporary roles, including the original Lady Capulet in Stephen Mills' Romeo and Juliet.

 

In 2002, Vlada received her diploma as a Certified Core Connections® Pilates Instructor from the Core Connections® Comprehensive Teacher Training Program at the Pilates Center of Austin.  There she studied under Wendy LeBlanc-Arbuckle.  In 2002 Vlada worked in a physical therapy clinic with Allison Bennett (Women’s Health specialist) and joined the Ballet Austin Pilates Studio as an instructor.  In 2005 she was acknowledged as a "Pre-eminent Purveyor of Pilates" by Austin Monthly Magazine.  In 2007 Vlada was appointed Director of the Butler Community School’s Pilates Program.  She also designed the layout of the Pilates studio.  In the summer of 2009 Vlada attended a workshop conducted by Wendy LeBlanc-Arbuckle and Michele Larsson that gave her additional insight into working with older clients. In 2009, Ballet Austin’s Pilates studio was chosen as “Best Pilates Studio in Austin” by Rare Magazine.

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Joan Wolfe, Creative Ballet Director
Joan Wolfe is the director of the Creative Ballet Division at Ballet Austin Academy. In this role she guides children ages three through five in her thematically based Creative Ballet classes, as well as oversees and trains Ballet Austin Academy instructors in her creative movement curriculum. In partnership with Ballet Austin Academy and the University of Texas, Ms. Wolfe also advises Dance majors in a six week Creative Ballet pedagogy practicum.

Ms. Wolfe's teaching methods center around the needs and sensitivities of the young child, an insight gained through her extensive experience as an early childhood educator.

Prior to moving to Austin, Ms. Wolfe resided in San Francisco and the Bay Area teaching in private preschools and dance studios, as well as performing with independent choreographers. Ms. Wolfe received her BFA in Dance from the University of Colorado at Boulder and continued her studies in Dance Therapy at JFK University in Orinda, California. Ms. Wolfe joined Ballet Austin Academy in 1997.

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Joshua Piper, Pianist Coordinator
In his role as Pianist Coordinator for Ballet Austin, Joshua Piper accompanies dance classes and manages accompanist schedules for the Ballet Austin Company, Ballet Austin Academy, and the Butler Community School. In addition to working for Ballet Austin, Joshua is also the pianist for the Tosca Tango Orchestra, works with the Vintage 15 jazz big band, is staff organist and pianist for Asbury United Methodist Church, plays for Royal Academy of Dance exams, and teaches a small group of piano students ranging from children to adults. A dog-lover and avid runner, in 2011 Joshua completed the Austin Marathon, and one can often find him running along the Town Lake Trail, or at the Auditorium Shores Dog Park with Samantha, his corgi-mix. He holds a BA in Piano Performance from Bethel College in North Newton, Kansas.



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Jennifer Hart, Ballet Instructor
Jennifer Hart came to Ballet Austin from Minnesota Dance Theatre in 2007. Ms. Hart trained with Minnesota Dance Theatre, Pacific Northwest Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, Maggie Black and Toni Pierce of Alvin Ailey. She danced professionally with Minnesota Dance Theatre, Ballet of the Dolls, L.A. Chamber Ballet and numerous independent choreographers. She has been commissioned for choreography by: Minnesota Dance Theatre, the Walker Art Center for its Momentum Series, James Sewell Ballet as part of the Jerome Foundation Grant, Ballet Arts Minnesota's Springboard program, and Metropolitan Ballet in Minneapolis/St. Paul. She has also been selected twice by New Choreographers on Point in New York to present work as part of their Ballet Builders series. In the spring of 2007, she choreographed a full-length production of A Midsummer Night's Dream for Metropolitan Ballet.

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Melanie Hovis, Creative Ballet & Pre-Ballet Instructor
Melanie Hovis starting studying ballet in her home town of Columbus, Texas at Live Oak Dance Center. She began pursuing a professional career in ballet by attending summer intensives with Ballet Austin, Texas Ballet Theater, the Joffrey Ballet School and American Ballet Theatre. She continued her ballet training with Ballet Austin Academy's Upper School and Trainee Program. While studying in Austin, Ms. Hovis also had the opportunity to begin a teaching career, training under Joan Wolfe to teach Creative Ballet. She also trained with Toni Bravo and Lynne Short which allowed her the opportunity to teach Pre-Ballet and Lower School classes. An injury inspired Ms. Hovis to transition from pursuing a performing career to a career in teaching.  Ms. Hovis is excited to return to Ballet Austin where she can continue to expand her teaching experiences and opportunities.

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Libby James, Ballet Instructor
Libby James graduated magna cum laude with a B.F.A. in Ballet from Texas Christian University. She danced with the Colorado Ballet for two years, performing in ballets such as Romeo and Juliet , The Sleeping Beauty , Serenade , Stars and Stripes , and Alvin Ailey's The River . Ms. James was a member of Texas Ballet Theater (formerly Fort Worth/Dallas Ballet) for three years. She performed roles such as the Spring Fairy in Cinderella , Clara in The Nutcracker , and one of the couples in Ben Stevenson's Four Last Songs.

This is Ms. James sixth season with Ballet Austin Academy.

 

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Nick Kepley, Ballet Instructor
Born in Asheville, North Carolina, Nick Kepley studied with Sandra Miller and attended summer programs at the School of American Ballet, American Ballet Theatre and Juilliard. He danced professionally with Ballet Austin and Kansas City Ballet, performing works by George Balanchine, Twyla Tharp and Dwight Rhoden, among others. In 2008, he relocated to New York City where he has performed with the New York Philharmonic in Camelot (PBS Great Performances) and on Broadway in Mary Poppins.

As a choreographer, Mr. Kepley has created works for Ballet Austin II and Ballet Austin’s Trainee Division, Kansas City Ballet’s “In the Wings” program, Manhattan Youth Ballet, Northeast Ballet and Quixotic Performance Fusion. He recently worked as an assistant choreographer of the Tony-Award winning Broadway production of Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella. Mr. Kepley is the founder and artistic director of MOTION Dance Theatre, a summer dance company and choreographic laboratory based in Asheville, NC. He joins the artistic staff of Ballet Austin this season as ballet master of Ballet Austin II ballet instructor in the Academy.

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Allisyn Paino-Martin, Ballet Instructor
Allisyn Paino-Martin started her dance training in New York with Ali Pourfarrokh and Kaleria Fedicheva. She has performed principal roles with the Fedicheva Ballet Company, The Indianapolis Opera and Butler Ballet. She graduated Magna Cum Laude with a B.F.A. from Butler University. Since joining Ballet Austin in 1996, Ms. Paino-Martin has performed works by many choreographers including Stephen Mills, George Balanchine, Dwight Rhoden, Thaddeus Davis, Twyla Tharp, and David Parsons. She has danced the roles of The Chosen One in Mills’ The Rite of Spring; Kate in The Taming of the Shrew, Helena in  Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Painter in Cult of Color: Call to Color.

In 2005  Ms. Paino-Martin had the honor of dancing the role of The Survivor in the award winning Light / the Holocaust and Humanity Project. In May of 2009 she retired from the stage dancing the lead role in Stephen Mills’ Cinderella. Her teaching credits include being on faculty of the Ballet Austin Academy and working as guest faculty at Butler University. Since her retirement she has joined the Artistic Staff as the Rehearsal Director of Ballet Austin.

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Magdalena Riley, Ballet Instructor

Magdalena Riley was born in Leszno, Poland fifteen minutes after her fraternal twin sister, Maria. She grew up in Baltimore where she started training at the Peabody Conservatory which offered the RAD curriculum and at the Baltimore School for the Arts. At Peabody and BSA she had the good fortune of studying under many talented and dedicated teachers and also had the opportunity to perform in many original and restaged works by the likes of Gus Solomons Jr., Lisa De Rebiere, David Grenke, Hinton Battle, Anton Wilson, Ron Cunningham, Jon Clifford, and David Parsons to name a few.

After a year spent at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts she left dancing to earn a BA degree at the New College of Florida where she focused on American literature and philosophy. She also picked up her Ballet studies with Pavel Fomin at the Sarasota Ballet. Magdalena spent eight years in San Francisco taking class with wonderful teachers such as Augusta Moore, Arturo Fernandez, and Summer Lee Rhatigan. While there she performed in the work of Robert Moses, Yannis Andoniou and Arturo Fernandez, and spent two home seasons performing with Alonzo King's Lines Ballet. She started teaching upon relocating to Austin and deeply enjoys sharing her knowledge and experience with students of all ages.

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Lisa del Rosario, Pre-Ballet & Certified Feldenkrais® Instructor
Lisa del Rosario began her dance studies at the Margo Marshall School of Ballet and the Cleveland San Jose School of Ballet. She continued her training as a Heywood “Woody” McGriff Presidential Scholarship student at the University of Texas at Austin where she received her BFA in Dance. She also studied classical piano and violin for many years and in her later years Pilates, Yoga, Tai Chi, qigong, Droznin System, Vipassana Meditation, and the Feldenkrais Method® of movement education.

She currently is a member of DA! Theatre Collective and Sheep Army/Elsewhere Dance Theatre, and also performs her own solo work, along with independent choreographers, locally, nationally, and internationally.  Lisa has taught and choreographed at the Dougherty Arts School, the McCallum High School Fine Arts Academy, Tapestry, and the Texas Arts Project at St. Stephen's Episcopal School. Lisa is thrilled to be in her ninth season teaching at Ballet Austin Academy.

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Hallie Ward, Pre-Ballet Instructor
Hallie began her dance training in Houston, Texas under the instruction of Beth Gulledge-Brown. She recently graduated with honors from the University of Texas at Austin with a BFA in Dance and the Business Foundations Certificate and was a recipient of the Leon Danielian Endowed Presidential Scholarship in Dance. With UT’s Dance Repertory Theatre, she had the honor of performing works by Paul Taylor, Alex Ketley, Ohad Naharin, Andrea Beckham, David Justin, Yacov Sharir, and many other choreographers. Hallie has participated in summer intensive programs with LEVYdance, San Francisco Conservatory of Dance, and Tulsa Ballet. Hallie has previously taught Creative Ballet in Austin under the training and instruction of Joan Wolfe and she is thrilled to now be teaching Pre-Ballet at Ballet Austin Academy.

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