Kembe was born and raised in Portland and received her first serious ballet education from Mary Cain, and then Jacqueline Schumacher of the Portland Ballet School. During her years of training in Portland, she was privileged to study with many well known master teachers: Fleming Halby, Melissa Hayden, Charles Bennett, and John Marshall, to name a few. Performance opportunities in classical dance, in Portland, were limited in the 70’s and early 80’s, so Kembe turned her attention to musical theatre where she either danced, or played trumpet in the orchestra.
Her background includes eight years of piano studies and ten years of instrumental study and performance. Kembe has three children, a grown son, and two teenage daughters. She has taught for Oregon Ballet Theatre since 1990.
Elise’s dance training began at one of only two Denishawn studios in the country. One of her first professional performances was at Jacob’s Pillow for Ted Shawn’s anniversary tribute in 1972. After graduating from Walnut Hill School for the Performing Arts in Natick, Massachusetts, Elise studied under scholarship with the School of Hartford Ballet. She went on to receive her BS in dance at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York, studying with Melissa Hayden and Elizabeth Carroll. Elise moved to New York City in 1978 and studied with David Howard, Lawrence Rhodes, and Maggie Black.
Elise’s professional career began with Garden State Ballet in 1978 where she spent three years, dancing several solo roles including the Sugar Plum Fairy in their Nutcracker. After marrying and moving to Boston, her career continued with Boston Repertory Ballet and New England Ballet, before moving on to Hartford Ballet. Elise moved with her family to Portland in 1986 where she danced with Ballet Oregon under the direction of Dennis Spaight.
During Elise’s career, she performed ballets from notable choreographers such as George Balanchine, Lew Christensen, William Dollar, Peter Anastos, and Peter Martins. Elise has been in the faculty of Oregon Ballet Theatre since 1998.
A native of Newport, Oregon, Valerie studied at Newport School of Dance, the HARID Conservatory and also attended summer programs at OBT, Eugene Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet and Hartford Ballet. Valerie was a company member at OBT from 2001 – 2007. Prior to joining OBT, she performed with the Fort Worth/Dallas Ballet and Hartford Ballet, where she was a recipient of the Directors Award. She has danced as a guest artist with the National Opera Ballet de Bordeaux in France and teaches ballet, flamenco and choreography at summer programs in Newport and McMinnville, Oregon and Sitka, Alaska.