Katarina Svetlova ǀ School Director

Ye Li ǀ OBT2 Rehearsal Director


Administration

Katarina Svetlova | School Director
James Holstad | School Administrator
Sean Surprenant | School Registrar
Colleen Hanlon| OBT2 School Performance Coordinator

Pianists

Irina Golberg | Principal Accompanist
Garnet Hayes, Karen Lam, Ayako Matsuo | Lead Accompanists
Naama Friedman, Ray McKean, Corin Parker, Alec Pemberton, Jeremy Reinhold, Tiffany Sanford, David Saffert | Accompanists


Senior Faculty


Zachary Carroll| Ballet

Zachary began his formative dance training with the legendary Ballet Russe dancer George Zoritch in his native Tucson, Arizona, and continued at The National Ballet School in Toronto, Ontario. Throughout his 25+ year performing career, he performed as a soloist and principal dancer with Oregon Ballet Theatre, Ballet Arizona, Minnesota Dance Theatre, and Ballet West. As a member of Portland’s own Bodyvox for more than a decade, he toured widely, performing in Germany, Italy, India and Japan. He also served as the director of Bodyvox 2 for 4 years. Zachary has been on the faculty of Columbia Dance, New Vision and daVinci Arts Middle school, and is a current member of faculties of The Portland Ballet, Open Space, OBT and BodyVox. Zachary holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in dance from St Mary’s College, where he graduated with honors. He is a frequent guest teacher for schools and Summer Intensives both in  Portland and throughout the country.


LeeWei Chao | Ballet
Born in Taipei, Taiwan. LeeWei Chao started his ballet training at age 15 with Ms. Xiao Lee, who brought from Russia the Vaganova ballet method to Taiwan. After dancing with Taipei City Ballet, and Henry Yu Dance Company, he joined Singapore Dance Theater. In 1996, Lee Wei joined Joffrey Ballet Concert Group in New York City, followed by dancing with Joffrey Ballet Chicago, and Milwaukee Ballet. Mr. Chao started his choreography work while he was dancing with Milwaukee Ballet Company. As a choreographer, LeeWei’s works have been performed by Milwaukee Ballet, Ballet Nouveau Colorado, Oklahoma City Ballet, New Mexico School of the Arts, TCU Residency and others. In 2014, LeeWei received a National Choreography Recognition Award from Regional Dance America. LeeWei has taught at Milwaukee Ballet, Alonzo King LINES Ballet, LINES Ballet Training Program, LINES Ballet Summer Program, LINES Ballet BFA Program Dominican University, Stanford University, National University of Taipei, Taiwan, ODC Dance San Francisco, San Francisco State University, Smuin Ballet, and others. LeeWei was featured in the August 2018 issue of Dance Teacher Magazine, and in the May 2021 of Pointe Magazine. He is currently a faculty member with NW Dance Project and BodyVox.

Kasandra Gruener | Ballet

A native Oregonian, Kasandra began her career as a teaching artist of dance in 1972 after growing up with ballet training in Astoria and Portland. Since that time she performed internationally with San Francisco, CA based Margaret Jenkins Dance Co, developed her own dance company, Henry Harris Green, and toured nationally as an Artist in Schools funded by the National Endowment for the Arts. In the Bay area she taught at MJDC studios and Marin Ballet among others. She received a BA in Dance from Mills College- Oakland, CA, and an MA in Contemplative Education from Naropa University- Boulder, CO. Locally she has received two awards from Young Audiences honoring her commitment to arts integration in the Portland Metro community, and received Oregon Dance Education Organization’s esteemed Lifetime Achievement Award. Ms. Gruener helped start the Northwest Teaching Artist Network and was instrumental in initiating and developing Regional Arts and Culture Council’s The Right Brain Initiative, representing RBI at a national conference held at John F. Kennedy Center for the Arts in Washington D.C.

After 29 years as a teaching artist and arts administrator with Oregon Ballet Theatre, Ms. Gruener retired from her position as the DIrector of Education Outreach (now titled Education and Community Engagement) in 2020. During her tenure with OBT she engaged with a full range of students, educators and families. Her work occurred in therapeutic care centers, Head Start centers, public and private schools, after school programs, college settings, and educator conferences. During that time she created performances for student audiences, wrote curriculum study guides for classroom teachers, and mentored a staff of teaching artists who provided dance residencies in schools, primarily Pre-k-5, that aligned with national standards for dance in education and arts integration with school curricula. This work impacted over 30,000 people annually. Kasandra believes that the lifelong study of and participation with dance benefits all humans, allowing each learner the opportunity to integrate one’s body, mind and emotional spirit into a balanced, creative, and powerful whole.


Elise Legere | Ballet
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. Elise continued her ballet training with Melissa Hayden and Elizabeth Carroll while attending Skidmore College. She later earned her BS degree from Skidmore College, University Without Walls. 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. During Elise’s career, she performed ballets from notable choreographers such as George Balanchine, Lew Christensen, William Dollar, Peter Anastos, and Peter Martins. After marrying and moving to Boston, her career continued with Boston Repertory Ballet and New England Ballet, before moving on to Hartford Ballet. Elise and her husband moved to Oregon in 1986 with their infant daughter. She resumed her dancing career with Ballet Oregon under the direction of Dennis Spaight. Elise has been on the faculty of Oregon Ballet Theatre School since 1998.

Valerie Limbrunner-Bartlett | Ballet
A native of Newport, Oregon, Valerie studied ballet at Newport School of Dance before graduating from The HARID Conservatory in Boca Raton, Florida. Valerie danced with Hartford Ballet, Texas Ballet Theatre, Oregon Ballet Theatre, and had the privilege of dancing as a guest artist with The National Opera Ballet de Bordeaux, in France. Valerie holds a Bachelor’s degree with a triple major in Exercise Science, Community Health, and School Health Education, and a Master’s degree in Public Health. She instructs full-time at Portland Community College in the Physical Education and Exercise Science departments in a variety of lecture and laboratory courses. Outside of the studio she enjoys hiking, baking, reading, and spending time with her family. Valerie is passionate about teaching a balance of technique, artistry, and joy to dancers of all ages and levels.


Josie Moseley | Modern

Josie Moseley has captivated audiences for more than 35 years with her solo performances and group pieces set on various artists and companies worldwide. As a teacher and choreographer, she explores movement that is expansive, passionate, and humanistic. White Bird brought her company to the stage for the first time with sold-out performances. Josie was greatly honored to create a work, under a commission, for the Martha Graham Dance Company. Dance Magazine recognized her as one of the “100 most influential choreographers of 2010.” Josie’s work has been funded by numerous foundations, individuals, presenters, and public organizations. She has created many works for some of Portland’s most respected dance companies and dance artists. Her work continues to be performed both nationally and internationally. Josie’s teaching career has included serving on the faculties of Reed College, University of Portland, University of California Berkeley, Mills College, Shawl Anderson, Oregon Ballet Theatre, The Portland Ballet and BodyVox.

Lisa Sundstrom
Lisa Sundstrom | Ballet
Lisa Sundstrom received her early training in her hometown of Astoria, Oregon and at The Marin Ballet in San Rafael, California. Hand-picked by American Ballet Theatre Artistic Director, Mikhail Baryshnikov at 16, for the American Ballet Theatre Scholarship Program, she went on to tour extensively nationally and internationally with ABTII then ABT, performing a wide range of corps de ballet, soloist and principal roles. She joined Pennsylvania Ballet (now Philadelphia Ballet) as a soloist and was quickly promoted to principal dancer. Ms. Sundstrom’s principal repertoire includes Odette/Odile in Swan Lake, Swanhilda in Coppelia, The Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker, Titania in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and the title roles in Romeo and Juliet and Cinderella. She performed numerous George Balanchine ballets and works by Paul Taylor, William Forsythe, Agnes de Mille and José Limón. Ms. Sundstrom worked with choreographers Twyla Tharp, Anthony Tudor, Kenneth MacMillan, Merce Cunningham, Ben Stevenson, Lynne Taylor-Corbett and James Kudelka and was privately coached in roles by Gelsey Kirkland, Suzanne Farrell, Robert Joffrey and Peter Martins. In addition, Ms. Sundstrom appeared several times on PBS “Dance in America,” was featured in Dance Magazine and interviewed on radio. Her image appears on postcards, posters and books by renowned dance photographer, Harvey Edwards. Ms. Sundstrom began her 35-year teaching career as a full-time faculty member at The Rock School of the Pennsylvania Ballet and at University of the Arts in Philadelphia. She returned to Oregon to attend college, and shortly thereafter directed Portland Festival Ballet, where she staged The Nutcracker and presented their company at the Pacific Regional Dance America Festival in Southern California. In 2014, Ms. Sundstrom was invited to teach at Oregon Ballet Theatre School and was named OBT2 Program Director and OBT School Principal Teacher in 2015. While teaching in the school, she rehearsed, coached and staged works for OBT2, booking 20-30 presentations annually, educating audiences and building community relationships throughout the Portland Metro area. She brought OBT2 on tour to Astoria, Bend, Hood River, Lincoln City and Olympia, WA, inviting local dance troupes to open the performances. Ms. Sundstrom’s students have gone on to dance professionally in the US and abroad. As a guest teacher, she has worked in the US, Asia and Europe. Ms. Sundstrom is passionate about sharing her knowledge and helping dancers of all levels reach their highest potential.


Melissa St. Clair | Composition, Improv
Melissa St. Clair has been a company member with Company We Keep, Broadway Dinner Theatre in California, and V. Keith Martin’s Northwest Repertory Dance Company. She was a guest dancer with Perseverance Theatre in Juneau, Alaska, touring under a Ford Foundation grant. Ms. St. Clair’s training includes scholarships with Jacob’s Pillow, Repertory Dance Theatre in Utah, Bates Dance Festival, and the Alvin Ailey Dance School. She also trained at Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company. Ms. St. Clair taught modern dance, improvisation, and choreography at Portland’s Jefferson High School for nearly three decades and served as artistic director of the company now known as JD II. Ms. St. Clair also has taught at Portland State University, the University of Portland, and Dancers Workshop. Other posts include serving as guest teacher for the Goethe Institute in Kyoto, Japan, and choreographing and producing her own shows as well as setting choreography for the Northwest Conservatory, ARTBEAT, ArtQuake festivals, Tygres Heart Shakespeare Company, Broadway Rose Theatre, the Jefferson Dancers, and the Oregon Ballet Theatre’s Moving Signatures season. Ms. St. Clair has been in Who’s Who Among American Teachers and has produced her own work with dancers in Portland, Oregon. Some of her works has included CATCH EM IN THE ACT, ST. CLAIR IN COMPANY, AND PRESENT JOURNEY. Ms. St. Clair taught for over six years under John Magnus improvisation/ composition to the students at Portland Festival Ballet.

Robyn Ulibarri | Contemporary, Ballet
Robyn Ulibarri began her dance training at Southwest Washington Dance Center, and began teaching in 1990. She developed a love for musical theater while attending Centralia College, and has appeared in and choreographed numerous productions. Robyn earned her B.A. in dance from Columbia College Chicago in 2004 and has taught for various studios, theater camps, Portland’s S.U.N program, community colleges, and community centers for the last 25 years. Robyn began at O.B.T. in 2011, specializing in work for OBT’s partnership with the Right Brain Initiative.


Joseph Wyatt | Ballet
Joseph Wyatt began learning about dance and ballet at Eugene Joseph’s Trinidad Dance Theatre. Since then, he has spent most of his life studying, dancing professionally, and teaching ballet. Although he danced in Mexico City as the principal dancer of La Compania Nacional De Danza; and in Portland, Oregon, as principal dancer of Pacific Ballet Theatre, his most important achievement was being a member of the Dance Theatre of Harlem in New York City. He began his career there, danced several principal roles, and toured the U.S., Europe, and Japan. His life’s work now is teaching Ballet. He was the Ballet Master of the Dance of Harlem, the first Director of the School of Oregon Ballet Theatre, and owned his own dance studio. He retired from professional dance, and begun guest teaching around the U.S. and at family studios and dance company in the Caribbean. He brings a love of teaching all ages of dancers. He has taught ballet to students from age eight to adult, pre-professional, and to seasoned professional dancers. He has also choreographed at all levels from young students to professional dancers. He looks forward to teaching each class.

 

Faculty


Grace Armstrong | Ballet
Grace Armstrong is from Shoreline, Washington where she began training with Olympic Ballet School. As a student there she competed in the Youth America Grand Prix and was awarded Top 12 in the semi-finals. Grace continued her training at Indiana University where she worked closely with world renowned professional dancers Carla Korbes, Kyra Nichols, Michael Vernon, Sarah Wroth, Sasha Janes and Christian Claessens. While at IU she performed a wide variety of ballets including Martha Graham’s Diversion of Angels, George Balanchine’s Walpurgisnacht, and Jerome Robbins’ Antique Epigraphs. Grace participated in many intensives throughout her training, and in 2019 she was chosen to attend a Forsythe intensive in Madrid. In Spring 2020, she graduated from Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music with a Bachelor of Science in Ballet with an Outside Field in Arts Management. During her time at IU, she was an instructor with Indiana University’s Pre-College Ballet Program from 2017-2020. After graduation, she joined OBT2. Grace continues to teach at local studios in the Portland area and is thrilled to be a part of OBT School’s faculty!


Claire Donovan | Ballet
Claire Donovan is originally from Louisville, Kentucky where she began training at the Louisville Ballet School and later studied with Kristen Wenrick. She moved to Winston-Salem, North Carolina at 16 to attend the high school boarding program at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts under the direction of Susan Jaffe. After high school, Claire was accepted into Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music Ballet Department where she performed notable roles in Jerome Robbins’ Fanfare and Antique Epigraphs, Mark Morris’ Sandpaper Ballet, and Anthony Tudor’s Dark Elegies. Claire was a recipient of the Premier Young Artist Award through the Jacob’s School of Music. Claire graduated in May of 2020 with a Bachelor’s Degree of Science in Ballet Performance and an Outside Field in Psychology. After graduation, Claire accepted a position with OBT2, Oregon Ballet Theatre’s junior company. Claire has received wonderful opportunities performing with OBT as well as the second company in George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker and The Four Temperaments, and Ben Stevenson’s Dracula. Claire has attended summer programs at Houston Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Boston Ballet, Lines Contemporary Ballet, and Oregon Ballet Theatre. Claire began her teaching journey when she enrolled in three semesters of ballet pedagogy at Indiana University. Since then, she has enjoyed teaching at Indiana University’s Pre College-Program, Louisville Academy of Dance, Sultanov Russian Ballet Academy and Hillsboro Dance Center. She is thrilled to join the faculty at Oregon Ballet Theatre’s School and share her passion and love of ballet.

Jill Giedt | Ballet
Jill is a passionate creative with a focus on movement, dance and cultural exploration. She holds a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Directing. Jill taught, directed and choreographed musical theatre for over a decade at Park Academy. She currently teaches at Portland Public Schools through community outreach with OBT and is a resident artist with Young Audience where, through creative movement, she teaches a program that honors the African American experience and the lessons of resilience. In her youth, Jill was a member of the American Contemporary Ballet Company where she trained with Elizabeth Abts. She also studied and performed African dance with Obo Addy.


Heather Jackson | Ballet
Heather trained on scholarship at Rock School of Pennsylvania Ballet and at 14 became a Ballet Major at the University of Utah where she earned her BFA. She performed with Utah Ballet and Ballet West while in Utah. Before leaving Salt Lake, Heather was an administrator and instructor at the School of Ballet West until her move to Oregon in 2003 where she started working with BodyVox. While dancing with BodyVox Heather enjoyed working with skinner|kirk DANCE ENSEMBLE, The Portland Opera, and other choreographic projects. During her time with the company, Heather led the creation BodyVox’s Junior Artist Generator program and directed them through 2022. Ms Jackson has enjoyed teaching ballet since she was 17 and truly has a passion for it. Her well-rounded training and career gives her the ability to understand students from all backgrounds.

Amelia Logan | Ballet & Contemporary
Amelia Logan (Unsicker), a Portland native, is an alum of the Oregon Ballet Theatre School where she trained under the tutelage of Damara Bennett, Elise Legere, Tracey Katona and many other well-respected ballet educators. Amelia holds a Master of Fine Arts in Dance from the University of California, Irvine and a Bachelor of Science in Biology with a minor in Dance from the University of Oregon. She is also a Certified Pilates Instructor. As a student with OBTS, Amelia performed in George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker, Raymonda, and La Source, as well as Swan Lake, Il Distratto, Peter and the Wolf, and Snow White. Amelia danced as a soloist with Ballet Fantastique. She later joined the Agnieszka Laska Dancers, where she performed The Rite of Spring in Portland, Chicago and throughout Poland. Amelia has worked with many respected choreographers, and has presented her own choreography at festivals and showcases across the country. She is currently the director of the dance program at Ida B. Wells-Barnett High School, co-directs Pathways Dance Company, holds the role of Secretary on the board of the Oregon Dance Education Organization (ODEO), and is a Dance Wire Ambassador. Amelia has been teaching ballet along the West Coast for fifteen years, and she is delighted to be part of the OBTS faculty; to share her passion and love of ballet with the OBTS students.

Franco Nieto | Contemporary
Princess Grace Award winner Franco Nieto was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. He made the unconventional switch from football to ballet in his teenage years and has now taught and danced in over 10 different countries and performed with the likes of Lady Gaga and Sir Elton John. He spent 10 years as a principal dancer with NW Dance Project in Portland, Oregon, where he toured the world and worked hand in hand with the leading minds in choreography to create and bring to life countless original works. His early training came from the Vancouver School of Arts & Academics and Columbia Dance, and his formative line of choreography was born from his mentorship with Tracey Durbin. He graduated with a BFA in Jazz from Point Park University. Franco, is a founder and Artistic Director of Portland’s newest contemporary dance company and School, Open Space Dance.

Seth Parker | Ballet
Seth Parker is originally from Ohio and began his dance training in 1992 at The School of Cleveland San Jose Ballet. At 18, Mr. Parker began his professional career with the Ohio Ballet and continued two years later with Ballet San Jose, originally Cleveland San Jose Ballet under the direction of Dennis Nahat. There he rose to Soloist performing many roles in works by renowned artists such as Antony Tudor, Twyla Tharp, Dennis Nahat, Flemming Flindt and George Balanchine. He has also been a guest artist with Oregon Ballet Theatre in James Canfield’s Romeo and Juliet and their debut of Septime Webre’s ALICE (in wonderland). Mr. Parker’s professional teaching career has always been nurtured by the hearts and minds of his students since beginning at the USDAN Center for the Performing Arts in New York. His partnership with dance instructors and artists in Reno, NV are responsible for one of the most successful dance schools in that region.

Jessica Post | Jazz, Pilates, Contemporary
Jessica Post holds an MFA in Dance from the University of Michigan where she taught as a Graduate Student Instructor and received the Rackham International Research Award. She also holds a BFA in Dance from Cornish College of the Arts where she was selected to perform in the restaging of works by Martha Graham and José Limón. Jessica performed professionally in Chicago with The Dance COLEctive and Esoteric Dance Project and has presented her choreography throughout Chicago and Michigan. Jessica is a dedicated dance educator with teaching experience including Oregon Ballet Theatre School, Multnomah Athletic Club, Portland Community College, Eastern Michigan University and Hillsdale College. She continues to expand her interest in teaching movement methods and has completed a comprehensive Pilates certification and GYROTONIC® Level 1 certification.
OBT Company Members: Zuzu Metzler and Bailey Shaw 

Guest Faculty


Kembe Adam | Ballet
Kembe is a native Oregonian who was privileged to study both music and dance throughout her childhood. She eventually turned her attention full time to ballet and then, in 1990, began teaching at Oregon Ballet Theatre School. She is valued for her work with our young students, teaching them classroom deportment while instilling a love of dance.


Alison Roper | Ballet
Alison Roper was born in Portland, Maine, and began her ballet training at age five with local teachers Jon and Linda Miele. She received her formal dance training from The Portland School of Ballet, Boston Ballet School and Oregon Ballet Theatre School. She joined Oregon Ballet Theatre in 1996 and was promoted into the corps in 1997. She was honored by Dance Magazine in 2002 as one of “25 to Watch,” and in 2007 was promoted to principal dancer. Her repertoire includes principal roles in works by George Balanchine, Christopher Wheeldon, William Forsythe, Jerome Robbins, Sir Frederick Ashton, Helen Pickett, Kent Stowell, Peter Martins, Nacho Duato, Paul Taylor and Bebe Miller. She has originated leading roles in ballets by James Kudelka, Nicolo Fonte, Trey McIntyre, Yuri Possokhov, James Canfield and Christopher Stowell, among others. In 2014, Ms. Roper was honored with a full-evening performance series celebrating her 18 year career. In addition to her performances with OBT, Ms. Roper spent her summers touring with Trey McIntyre Project from 2005-2008 and has since worked as a repetiteur and ballet master for that company. In 2010-2011 she danced with Morphoses; The Christopher Wheeldon company. Ms. Roper is currently on the Faculty for the School of OBT and works as OBT’s Major Gifts Officer and choreographs for OBT School and OBT2.