Ballet West Names Scholarship in Honor of Bené Arnold

Last week, Ballet West named an Academy scholarship in honor of the legendary Department of Ballet Distinguished Professor Emerita, Bené Arnold. One of the most respected and distinguished ballet teachers in the United States, Ms. Arnold danced for the San Francisco Ballet and then became their Ballet Mistress. In 1962 she moved to Salt Lake City and helped guide Ballet West through its infancy with Mr. C in the role of Ballet Mistress. Ms. Arnold still returns to teach at the Summer Intensive and to assist with choreography.

Bene Arnold BW 1 Bene Arnold BW 2 Bene Arnold BW 3

(Photos courtesy of Ballet West)

Character Dance Ensemble Visits Hungary on Research Excursion

The University of Utah’s Department of Ballet Character Dance Ensemble recently returned from a research excursion to Hungary. Eight members of the company traveled to Budapest for a week-long workshop at the Hungarian Dance Academy. While at the academy, the dancers studied ballet, folk dance, and also added new choreography to their performance repertoire, featuring the Hungarian Csárdás. Read more and see images here.

Ballet Senior Showcase

Wednesday, May 6th – The Department of Ballet Senior Showcase
Featuring the graduating class of 2015! Admission is free. Read more here.


Ballet Senior Showcase 2015

Utah Ballet ‘Choreographers of the Far East’

Utah Ballet 145In Spring 2013, the University of Utah Department of Ballet presented 8 contemporary series performances of ‘Choreographers of the Far East’ that was directed by Professor Jay Kim and featured 25 Utah Ballet Company dancers and 6 Department of Ballet men.  This production featured four works that included three World Premieres created by choreographers all hailing from Asia.


Guest choreographer Ma Cong from Beijing, China, is Principal Dancer and Resident Choreographer with Tulsa Ballet Theatre and has been voted one of the ‘25 to Watch’ by Dance Magazine for both his dancing and choreography. Utah Ballet had the honor of presenting Ma Cong’s creation Passion There.


Guest choreographer Dr. Jung Shik Roh is from Seoul, Korea and received his Ph.D. in Dance in 2007 and has 11 years of higher education.  He is the General Director of the Roh Dance Project, and serves as Artistic Director of the Tetmaroo Dance Company, the resident Modern Dance Company of Sejong University of Seoul, Korea where he also serves as Modern Dance faculty.  Utah Ballet had the honor of presenting two World Premiere works by Dr. Roh that included Transcendence and The Permeation of Consciousness.


In addition, Professor Jay Kim, from Seoul, Korea who served as Artistic Director of Utah Ballet for the 2012-2013 season, presented the World Premiere work Binari.

Utah Ballet Performs in Seoul, Korea

Korea 145In May 2013, by invitation, Professor Jay Kim took 11 Utah Ballet dancers and 9 Character Dance Ensemble dancers to Seoul, Korea and participated in a 10-day international exchange and joint presentation performance with the Korean Ballet Theatre in Seoul, South Korea.  Together dancers performed at the Nowon Cultural Art Theatre, a 1000 seat auditorium, for two performances that were presented for the people of Seoul.


Two of Utah Ballet’s ‘Choreographer of the Far East’ works were presented including Jay Kim’s original choreographic work ‘Binari’ and Dr. Jung Shik Roh’s original choreographic work ‘Transcendence’ along side classical works that were presented by the Korean Ballet Theatre.  Dancers attended joint company classes with the Korean Ballet Theatre and a Master Class Workshop Series hosted by the leading professors and ballet masters of Korea at the Sejong University that included Ballet, Modern, and Korean Folk Dance classes that offered our students an enriching educational experience.


Professor Jay Kim, Utah Ballet’s Artistic Director for 2012-2013, spent twelve years of his esteemed performing career that spans thirteen countries with the Universal Ballet Company as a Soloist and Korean Ballet Theatre as a Principal.  Students also attended performances of ‘Shim Chung’, The Blindman’s Daughter, presented by the most esteemed ballet company of Korea, the Universal Ballet Company, at National Theater of Korea.


Professor Kim traveled with the students, guided them through classes, introduced them to master teachers and directors, and offered a more personal perspective on living and working in Seoul.  Students also visited temples and museums, bus toured around the city, and had free time to explore Seoul and engage in authentic cultural exchange and exposure throughout Seoul.  Students remarked that observing the quality and refinement of the ballet dancer in Korea was eye opening and that the entire tour experience was an inspirational highlight in their careers.

Sharee Lane

Sharee 145Sharee Lane was a soloist dancer and staff member with Ballet West, and the School Director of the Ballet West Conservatory.  Currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Modern Dance at the University of Utah, she teaches ballet technique, advanced principles of teaching, and co-directs, as well as choreographs for the Department’s Performing Dance Company.  Her choreographies have been performed for the Berlin State Ballet School in Berlin, Germany, with her latest choreography Affinity, being restaged for the University of Cincinnati’s Conservatory of Music in fall 2012.  Professor Lane has been a recipient of three Thomas D. Dee Grants, and in 2006, received the prestigious Philip and Miriam Perlman Award for Excellence in Student Counseling and Advising.  Nominated for he College of Fine Arts Scholars Program, Professor Lane has presented her research “Through the Looking Glass: Examining the Impact of Mirrors in Technical and Artistic Development in Female College Ballet Dancers” for the Corps de Ballet International Conference at Western Michigan University and the Hawaii International Conference on Arts and Humanities.  Professor Lane, and colleague Professor Olaf Hoefer, has successfully initiated a cultural exchange program between the University’s Department of Modern Dance, the Berlin State Ballet School and Ballet West, for students, teachers, and musicians.  As well as being a frequent guest teacher for the Aspen Santa Fe Ballet and Ballet West, Professor Lane continues to be an adjudicator for the Montana Dance Arts Association and for Music-Fest in Spokane, Washington.

Shaun Boyle

ShaunShaun Boyle has performed with both classical ballet and contemporary dance companies including BalletMet, Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet, Cherylyn Lavagnino Dance, and The Dario Vaccaro Dance Project amongst others. She has also performed in projects such as David Dorfman’s ‘Underground’ at the BAM Nextwave Festival and recently in one of the London 2012 Olympic Torch Relay performances in England. Shaun’s choreographic work has been showcased at the Joyce Soho Theater in New York, The Big Chill Festival in England, The Bonnie Bird Theatre and The Robin Howard Theatre at The Place in London, Officina Giovani in Italy, Markgrafentheater in Germany, and both Dance City and St. Mary’s Heritage in Newcastle, England. Shaun was also a recipient of The Field’s Artist Residency grant in New York, the Djerassi Resident Artists Program in California, and the prestigious choreographic initiative, DanceLines, at the Royal Opera House in London where she received mentorship from choreographer, Wayne McGregor. Shaun received her BFA in Dance with Honors from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and her MA in Choreography with Distinction from The Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance in London. Shaun Boyle’s honors include The Bessie Schonberg Memorial Endowed Fellowship awarded by the Djerassi Resident Artists Program, the NYU J.S. Seidman Award, the Tisch Alumni Certificate of Achievement Award, and nomination for the Princess Grace Award.

程思 Cheng Si (Lyn)

Cheng BW

程思 Cheng Si (Lyn) – received her early training in ballet at Shenyang College of Music in China, then studied at the Beijing Dance Academy Ballet Department from 1999 to 2006.  She received her bachelor’s degree in 2003 and her master’s degree in 2006.  During her years as a student she appeared in many performances at the Beijing Dance Academy and received a First Grade  Scholarship, the staff’s title of honor for excellent regiment, was recognized as an outstanding member title of honor, and graduated as a National Honored Graduate. Lyn became an Instructor in the Ballet Department of Beijing Dance Academy in 2006. She teaches basic ballet technique, pointe, repertoire and other courses, and has been recognized as “Excellent Teacher” and “Education Evaluation Excellent Individual” of the Beijing Dance Academy.  Lyn has completed various academic research projects and has published many papers in The Journal of Professional Dance. This year she is the only professor from the Beijing Dance Academy who qualified to be a visiting scholar. We are honored to have Lyn as a visiting scholar in the Department of Ballet for the 2013-2014 academic year.  As such she is welcomed to attend any class, so that she will learn about the department’s curriculum and be able to take that knowledge back to the Beijing Dance Academy.  As a visiting scholar Lyn will be honoring us by sharing her knowledge and co-teaching the upper-division Technique classes and guest teaching in all levels of Pointe and Variations.

程思 Cheng Si (Lyn) Joins the Faculty

Cheng BWThe department of Ballet would like to welcome 程思 Cheng Si (Lyn) as a Guest Faculty Member. As a visiting scholar Lyn will be honoring us by sharing her knowledge and co-teaching the upper-division Technique classes and guest teaching in all levels of Pointe and Variations.

Richard Wacko

Professor – Richard Wacko earned an MFA from the University of Utah, a B. Admin from Athabasca University and a Diploma in Marketing Management from the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology.  Early studies began at the Ukrainian National Federal School of Dance and continued at the Alberta Ballet School.  He received private instruction with Maria Bokor at the Dance Art Academy, and has studied in Kiev, USSR, at the Virsky State Academy, and at Les Ballets Russes de Montreal.  He has served as artistic director of the Cheremosh Ukrainian Dance Ensemble and the Volya Ukrainian Dance Ensemble.  In addition to giving master classes in character and classical folk dance, Rick has also been a guest choreographer for dance companies in Canada and the United States.  He is the Artistic Director of departments Character Dance Ensemble and is the departmental Graduate Advisor.  In addition to studio classes Richard also instructs Ballet History, Technology-Multimedia and Portfolio Design. He recently published a CD ROM on Character Dance and co- published several audio CD’s on Character Dance. Under his leadership, CDE has toured to Canada, England, Russia, Spain, Japan, Greece, Costa Rica and China.



Jay Kim

Assistant Professor – 

Professor Kim’s career as a professional dancer includes having been awarded a total of 9 medals in international dance competitions, including 2 Grand Prix and 7 Gold Medals earning the top placing medals in Ballet, Modern, and Korean Folk Dance categories from 1989 ‐1998. His professional dancing career spans across 12 years dancing as a Soloist with Universal Ballet Company of Seoul, Korea across 13 countries on the major stages of the world including America, Austria, Canada, England, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Korea, Spain, and Switzerland. He also danced as a Principal dancer with Korean Ballet Theatre for 4 years, performed Principal Guest Artist engagements throughout Korea and America, and danced with Korean National Ballet Theatre and Dayton Ballet Theatre in the states. Throughout his career Jay has performed a repertoire of over 40 ballets including 13 full lengths, 20 ballets, and 8 Balanchine ballets. He was featured in over 12 media works which highlights include a dance review in the New York Times, a book feature in Dance in Korea, featured articles in Dance and People , Dance Forum, Madame Figaro, and Debebe magazines, and was featured in a live 30‐minute television talk show appearance on ‘Arirang International’ television stations program ‘Heart to Heart’.


Professor Kim earned his MFA with an emphasis in Teaching and Choreography from the University of Utah. He earned his BFA from the Sejong University, in Seoul, Korea, with a focus in Ballet, Contemporary, Modern, and Korean Folk Dance. Jay received his fundamental training from the Kirov Academy of Ballet in Washington D.C. and the Dance Arts Institute in Kwang‐Ju, South Korea.


He currently is Assistant Professor at the University of Utah Department of Ballet. He has previously served as Artistic Director of Utah Ballet, Director of the Metropolitan Ballet Academy and Theatre, Adjunct Faculty at the Sejong University, Director of the Art Ballet Center in Seoul, Korea and Ballet Faculty at the Academy of Nevada Ballet Theatre among others.


He has staged over 25 ballets of the classical and contemporary repertoire. His original choreographic works include ‘Binari’, ‘Etudes’, ‘Elegy’, ‘The Human Experience’, and ‘Metamorphosis’ that have incorporated the use of multimedia, creative lighting, self-designed and created costumes, and art installations. In 2011 Oakland University’s Great Lakes Dance Festival commissioned his choreographic work Elegy where he also served as guest faculty and instructed technique and choreography.


Since 2012 Jay has continued to serve as a committee member and as faculty for the Korea International Ballet Competition, a UNESCO‐registered event in its 6th year held annually in Seoul, Korea. Jay instructs ballet technique classes to both competitors and workshop participants and serves on the organizational committee.


In spring of 2013, as Artistic Director of Utah Ballet, Professor Kim presented 8 contemporary series performances of  ‘Choreographers of the Far East’ that featured 25 Utah Ballet Company dancers and 6 Department of Ballet men in a production with three World Premieres created by choreographers all hailing from Asia. Works included ‘Passion There’, by guest choreographer Ma Cong from Beijing, China, ‘The Permeation of Consciousness’ and ‘Transcendence’ , by guest choreographer Dr. Jung Shik Roh from Seoul, Korea, and ‘Binari’, by Professor Kim.


In summer of 2013, by invitation, Professor Kim took 11 Utah Ballet dancers and 9 Character Dance Ensemble dancers to Seoul, Korea and participated in a 10‐day international exchange and joint presentation performance with the Korean Ballet Theatre in Seoul, South Korea. Dancers presented Professor Kim’s original choreographic work ‘Binari’ and Dr. Jung Shik Roh’s work ‘Transcendence’ along side classical works presented by the Korean Ballet Theatre at the Nowon Cultural Arts Theatre, a 1000 seat auditorium, for two performances for the people of Seoul. Dancers participated in joint company classes with the Korean Ballet Theatre and a Master Class Workshop Series hosted by the leading professors and ballet masters of Korea at the Sejong University that included Ballet, Modern, and Korean Folk Dance classes. Students also attended performances of ‘Shim Chung’, The Blindman’s Daughter, presented by the Universal Ballet Company, at National Theater of Korea.


In November 2012, while serving as Artistic Director, Jay co‐directed and co‐staged a classical full-length production of ‘Swan Lake’ for Utah Ballet for 8 performances. The performances were received with glowing reviews to a house filled to capacity. ‘The Daily Utah Chronicle’ featured an article stating “…The Department of Ballet created a world of believable serenity and beauty through set scenery and stunning costumes… the dance company put on a fabulous show, one that is sure to leave you mesmerized and fully invested in the love story of Odette and Siegfried” by Lynette Randall. Additionally, while serving as Artistic Director of Utah Ballet, Jay established an Outreach Program that enabled 1200 public school students and local dance students to attend free performances of Utah Ballet throughout the year.


Jay is thrilled to serve as an Assistant Professor at the Department of Ballet at the University of Utah where he instructs Technique to Upper and Lower Divisions, Men’s Class, Partner Adagio, Choreography, and Introduction to Production.



Maureen Laird

Associate Professor  (Currently on Sabbatical)- Maureen Laird received her early training at Point Park College and the Pennsylvania Ballet School. She continued her studies at David Howard’s School and Melissa Hayden’s Studio in New York and then went on to study at the University of Utah. Maureen performed with the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, Ballet El Paso, and the American Dance Ensemble as a Soloist before dancing with Ballet West from 1980-87. While with Ballet West, Maureen appeared in the Peasant Pas de Deux in Giselle, White Girl in Etudes, Waltz Pas de Deux, Lead Merliton, the Doll Solo in Nutcracker, Blue Girl in Les Patineurs, the Moth Fairy

in The Dream, Bluebird Pas de Deux in Sleeping Beauty, and the title role in Pineapple Poll. Maureen teaches at the Ballet West Conservatory and the Department of Ballet teaching pointe and technique classes for upper and lower-division ballet students. In addition, she teaches dance conditioning classes and her research interests include dancer transition and health issues.



Conrad Ludlow

Emeritus Professor – Conrad Ludlow had an illustrious twenty-year career as a principal dancer with both San Francisco Ballet and New York City Ballet, where he was especially known for his skill in partnering. He established exciting partnerships with such well-known ballerinas as Violette Verdy, Melissa Hayden, Maria Tallchief, Allegra Kent, Suzanne Farrell, and Patricia McBride. Now a professor, Mr. Ludlow joined the University of UtahBallet Department (Salt Lake City) in 1985 as resident choreographer, afterfounding and directing Ballet Oklahoma. During his tenure as a professor, he frequently acteds as artistic director for Utah Ballet and Ballet Ensemble productions. Conrad retired in 2010 but has continued to participate, co-teaching the advanced ballet for non-majors (attended by retired Ballet West dancers) and co-teaching a graduate seminar.





















Rob Wood

Associate Professor Lecturer – Rob Wood has directed the music program in the Ballet Department for the last twelve years. He is currentlyAssistant Professor Lecturer in the Department of Modern Dance as well. Rob’s professional music-for-dance career spans 30 years having worked closely with many professional dancers, teachers, and directors. This includes recording ballet CD’s with international master teacher David Howard, which are marketed worldwide by Roper Records in New York City. It also includes performing on stage with ABT Principal Ethan Stiefel at the Vail International Dance Festival. He has accompanied classes taught by such teachers/directors as Willam Christensen, Alonso King, Laura Alonzo, Bruce Marks, Toni Lander, Edward Villela, Violette Verdi, Gilbert Meyer, Suki Schorer, Patricia Wilde, Darla Hoover, Margo Sappington, Patricia Neary, Gretchen Ward-Warren and many others. For much of 2004 – 2012 he has served as Music Director of RDA’s National Choreography Intensive working closely with renowned choreographers Alan Hineline, Kathryn Posin, Janis Brenner, and Nellie Van Bommel. Rob travels nationally every year being in demand as a ballet accompanist at nationally recognized festivals and workshops. He is known for the wide variety of inspiring music that he brings to the ballet class.


As Director for Music Rob oversees all the accompanists for the Department andteaches undergraduate and graduate level courses in music theory and music for ballet.



Maggie Wright-Tesch

Associate Professor Lecturer – Maggie Wright Tesch danced her entire 18-year career with Ballet West, 12 as a Principal Artist. During her career she performed the leading roles in the classics The Sleeping Beauty, Giselle and Swan Lake as well as all the full lengths in the repertoire. She worked with and was coached by noted choreographers including Ben Stevenson, Ronald Hynd, Val Caniparoli, Andre Prokovsky, Hans Van Manon, Ted Branson, Glen Tetley, Eddy Toussaint and Christopher Bruce. She was noted for her versatility transitioning from classical ballet into Balanchine-style works and contemporary ballets with equal acclaim. She performed extensively throughout the United States including The Kennedy Center, Wolf Trap and Art Park in New York with the company and as a guest artist, as well as throughout China and Edinburgh, Scotland. She was invited in 2000 to perform the title role of Andre Prokovsky’s Anna Karenina with Guangzhou Ballet in Guangzhou, China being the first ballerina to guest with that company


While still performing, she completed a BFA in Ballet from the University of Utah and her Polestar Pilates Certification that included 750 training hours. After retiring after the birth of her second child in 2006, she was invited to teach ballet technique, pointe and Pilates based conditioning at the University of Utah’s Ballet Department as an Adjunct Professor. With her kids in school, she was promoted to Associate Professor/Lecturer in 2012 and continues as one of the primary instructors for many of the university’s undergraduate studio courses as well as the graduate course, Pointe Methodology, for which she redesigned the syllabus. She has written and been awarded 2 grants, regularly sits on both College and Department committees and developed a year-round Professional Trainee-Track in conjunction with Ballet West’s Professional Training Division.


She continues to teach regularly at Ballet West for the company and spent time as rehearsal assistant and class teacher for Ballet West II. She is now the primary liaison between Ballet West and the University of Utah for the Summer Intensive assisting with auditions on both coasts as well as teaching. She is sought after locally for Master classes and coaching for which she has been noted:


“It was clear they had received the kind of excellent care and coaching from Tesch that artists welcome. By this I mean coaching in style, approach (what to think, feel, anticipate in each phrase or section), and overall interpretation. (Dean Speer)

She privately coaches all levels of ballet technique including preparing dancers for competitions. She has coached dancers for both the Prix de Lausanne, YAGP and in June 2012, a dancer she coached was awarded 3rd prize in the Beijing International Ballet Invitational and another placed Top 12.


Maggie Wright Tesch is an ABT Certified Teacher, who has successfully completed the ABT Teaching Training Intensive in Primary-Level 7 and Partnering of the ABT National Training Curriculum.




Calvin Kitten

Assistant Professor Lecturer – Calvin Kitten began his dance training at the California Ballet School in San Diego and furthered his training at the Tbilisi Choreographic Institute in Soviet Georgia and also at the Joffrey Ballet School in New York.  Calvin was then invited to join the Joffrey Ballet, and danced with them, both in New York and Chicago, from 1991-2010.


During his 19 years with The Joffrey, Calvin performed works by Arpino, Balanchine, Massine, Cranko , Ashton, Tharp and Kudelka, dancing many principal and soloist roles including Apollo (Apollo), The Green Table (Profiteer), La Vivandiere Pas De Six, Les Patineurs (Boy in Blue), Les Presages, The Nutcracker (Snow Prince, Cavalier), Parade(Chinese Conjurer), Prodigal Son (Prodigal Son), Square Dance (Lead Couple), Romeo & Juilet (Mercutio),Taming of the Shrew (Lucentio), Tarantella, and Tchaikovsky Pas De Deux.


Calvin received two Ruth Page Awards for his 1997 performance of the Chinese Conjurer in The Joffrey’s reconstruction of Leonide Massine’s Parade and for his portrayal as the title character in George Balanchine’s Progidal Son.  He has also been featured on the cover of Dance Magazine and was named one of the “25 Dancers to Watch” in 2001.  Calvin has been on the faculty at Chicago Ballet Arts, The Ruth Page Center of the Arts, California Ballet, Ballet West Academy, Regional Dance America, and the Joffrey Academy of Dance, among others. Calvin is one of a few repetiteurs entitled to reproduce Gerald Arpino’s works.


In the Department he teaches all levels of Technique, Men’s and Partnering classes, regularly directs the Graduate and the Senior Shows and in 2012-2013 will co-direct Ensemble.



Michael Bearden

Michael Bearden for WebVisiting Assistant Professor – Michael Bearden received his early training at the Academy of Ballet Arkansas and then became a student in the University of Utah Ballet Department. From there, he was hired by Ballet West where he had a distinguished fourteen year career. Michael Joined Ballet West in 1999, was promoted to Soloist in 2004, and to Principal in 2008. As a Principal Dancer at Ballet West, Michael performed leading roles in ballets by some of the world’s greatest choreographers including Balanchine, Ashton, Tudor, Forsythe, Stevenson, Welch, Dove, Tetley, Tharp, Kylian and Christopher Bruce. Michael’s performance highlights with Ballet West include Oberon in Sir Frederick Ashton’s The Dream; Pinkerton in Stanton Welch’s Madame Butterfly; Whip Boy in Glen Tetley’s The Rite of Spring; Tie Boy and Ghost in Christopher Bruce’s Ghost Dances; a principal role in Ben Stevenson’s Three Preludes; the Prince in Stevenson’s Cinderella; The Lover in Antony Tudor’s Lilac Garden, The Husband in Tudor’s Echoing of Trumpets, The Painter in his Offenbach In the Underworld; and a leading role in George Balanchine’s Concerto Barocco.


While still dancing for Ballet West, Michael taught as an adjunct faculty member at Brigham Young University and Utah Valley University and was a guest teacher at Ballet Arkansas. In 2011 he became Artistic Advisor for Ballet Arkansas and in 2013 was appointed Artistic Director for Ballet Arkansas.


Michael is an active choreographer. Most recently, he created and expanded a new work for Ballet West Artists, the Company’s 2010 and 2012 “Innovations” program — Descent, set to the music of Dmitri Shostakovich. While serving as a visiting faculty member he will set an original work on Utah Ballet.


Micheal has a strong interest in project management. In 2005, Michael led a team of Ballet West dancers in organizing a special performance to benefit Utah Cancer Foundation. The event, “A Dance for Life,” raised more than $20,000. In 2007, he was the project manager for Ballet West’s 2007 calendar, which highlighted the Artists of Ballet West in some of Utah’s most memorable settings.


Michael’s additional interests include golfing and mountain climbing. In 2007, he summited Mt. Rainier in Washington, and in 2009 he successfully climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, Africa’s tallest mountain.

Jan Clark-Fugit

Adjunct Professor – Jan Clark-Fugit received her formation at the National Ballet in Washington D.C. and at the age of 14, joined the Denver Civic Ballet’s junior company under the direction of American Ballet Theatre’s Enrique Martinez. She later became a member of Ballet Colorado and was promoted to Principal dancer. Performing leading roles in classical and contemporary genre including “The Nutcracker” , “The Sleeping Beauty” and “Swan Lake”, Jan went on to perform as a Principal in Central City Opera productions under the auspices of the Metropolitan Opera in New York.


Jan holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in dance from the Loretto Heights College and a Master of Fine Arts degree in Ballet from the University of Utah, with an emphasis in teaching and choreography.


A teacher of national renown, Jan has served on the faculties of several universities and colleges including the University of Utah and the University of Hawaii. She created and implemented a four year syllabus for ballet students majoring in teaching dance for Loretto Heights College, Denver Colorado. Jan was a prominent member on the faculty of the Ballet West Christensen Academy and the Division of Continuing Education programs at the University of Utah directed by Willam Christensen. She was a full-time instructor for The School of Ballet West under directors Bruce Marks and John Hart.


Jan taught for Ballet West’s summer intensive programs in Aspen Colorado and toured extensively with Ballet West as the rehearsal assistant to children performing with the company. Jan co-owned and directed The Ballet School in SLC for ten years, creating a graded syllabus for children ages 6 and older making it one of Utah’s premiere academies for training young professionals. Most recently Jan formed Classical Ballet Classes, where she taught and mentored select students to achieve great success in ballet companies, trainee programs, and colleges nationwide.

Annie Breneman


AnnieAdjunct Assistant Professor – Annie Breneman received most of her early ballet training from Joan Miller’s Palm Beach Ballet Center, Florida. She graduated from Alexander Dreyfoos School of the Arts High School, in Florida. She received a scholarship to attend the University of Utah, and later graduated with a BFA in Ballet, with a Performing and Teaching emphasis. After her freshman year, she was hired by Ballet West as an Apprentice. She was promoted to Soloist in 2005. Annie recently retired from Ballet West after dancing with them for 13 years. Some of her favorite roles were “Giselle,” in Jonas Kåge’s Giselle, “Snow Queen,” in Willam Christensen’s The Nutcracker, “Fairy Godmother,” in Ben Stevenson’s Cinderella, “Lilac Fairy,” in Jonas Kåge’s Sleeping Beauty, and “Liberty Bell,” in George Balanchine’s Stars and Stripes. She also enjoyed working on contemporary choreography, such as works by Christopher Bruce, William Forsythe, Hans van Manen, Val Canaparoli, James Canfield, Nicolo Fonte, and many others.  Annie has taught over the last twelve years at various local dance studios in Utah and most recently spent the last year teaching in the Ballet program at Utah Valley University. She is constantly inspired by students wanting to learn about ballet and how their body moves, which has led to her returning to University of Utah to pursue her Master’s degree in Exercise Physiology. Annie will be teaching Technique, Pointe, and Health and Wellness during 2013-2014.

Brenda Butcher

Brenda Butcher photo

Adjunct Assistant Professor – Brenda graduated from the University of Utah in 2004 with a BFA in Modern Dance and a minor in Health Promotion and Education. Since that time she has received certification from the Aerobic and Fitness Association of America (mat pilates, group fitness, youth aerobics), from Streamline Bodyworks (pilates) and in Zumba Fitness.  She teaches pilates at the University in both the Exercise and Sports Science Department and the Ballet Department.  She has taught pilates and well as jazz and modern dance at Salt Lake Community College. She also has extensive experience teaching young children, currently teaching ballet at Tanner Dance and having served as Nutcracker Rehearsal Mistress for Ballet West. In the Ballet Department Brenda teaches Mat Pilates (Balle 3000) and Pilates Reformer (Balle 3300).





Sarah Franco

Adjunct Assistant Professor – Sarah Franco Adjunct Assistant Professor– Sarah Franco teaches the Kinesiology course (Ballet 4400).  She graduated from BYU with a BA in Ballet Performance in 2004 and received her MFA in Modern Dance from the University of Utah in 2007.  While in the Modern Dance Department Sarah was the Teaching Assistant for Pamela Geber’s Kinesiology class and Kaye Richard’s Dance Conditioning class and taught both classes herself in the Fall of 2008.  From 2007 – 2008 she was a full-time visiting faculty member at the University of Oregon teaching Ballet, Jazz, Modern, Composition, and Repertory classes in addition to completing her own choreographic research. Currently she teaches Utah Dance Artists, serves as a Judge and Master Teacher for the Releve Dance Competitions, and actively engages in choreography.

Kimberly Ballard

Adjunct Assistant Professor – Kimberly received her BFA in Ballet with emphases in Performance, Teaching, and Character Dance in December of 2009 and her MFA in Ballet Performance in December 2011 from the University of Utah.


Kimberly began her dance education in southern California at the Looking Glass Studio of Performing Arts and The School of International Ballet, where she was a member of the Redlands Festival Ballet.  She has attended summer programs with The Harid Conservatory, Boston Ballet, and Ballet West. While participating in the Youth America Grand Prix competition she placed in the top twelve, top twenty-four, and has competed in the final competition in New York City.


While at the U of U she was a member of Utah Ballet for three years, performing in principal, soloist, and corps de ballet roles for classical and contemporary works.  She was also a member of the Character Dance Ensemble for three years.  Kimberly has traveled to Spain to study Basque dance, Canada to perform in the Vaganova Dance Society’s 20th anniversary gala of Don Quixote, and Germany for a week-long foreign exchange with the Berlin State Ballet School. Kimberly has also served as ballet mistress for Utah Ballet and was a frequent choreographer, and performer, for the University’s student choreographed production, Ballet Showcase.


Kimberly’s professional performing experience includes two seasons of performing with Aspen Santa Fe Ballet in their performance of The Nutcracker, and two years as a trainee with Ballet West. She is currently a member of Ballet West II.


Kimberly teaches the on-line Ballet History course (Ballet 4410).





Cati Snarr

Adjunct Professor – Cati Snarr began her career at 15, dancing with Ballet West at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. During her ballet career she has danced many roles including,Myrtha in Giselle and Swanilda in Coppelia.  She is versatile in Ballet, Jazz, Lyrical, Tap and Musical Theatre and has both worked and appeared in TV and film. Her talent in these areas has taken her across the US, Russia and Europe.  Her favorite roles have been Anita in Westside Story and on roller skates in Starlight Express.  Some of her choreography credits include: The 2002 Winter Olympic Opening and Closing Ceremonies where she received an Emmy Award for choreography, Singin’ in the Rain, The King and I,  Ceremonies for the Utah/Moscow Youth Games, to name a few and even helped cast the dancing in Legally Blonde II.  Throughout her career she has received National and International credits; with Ballet West she was invited to The Edinburgh International Festival in Scotland, where she taught dance in 20 primary schools. While in the UK, she was invited to teach Master Class for the Central Ballet of London. She continues to teach master class and choreography across the country for many National Conventions.  Cati continues her long association with Ballet West teaching in the educational outreach program “I CAN DO,” as well as the Ballet West Academy. She is also the Ballet Mistress for the Nutcracker children, and is on staff at the University of Utah and local studios.

Lisa Hoyt

SAMSUNGAdjunct Assistant Professor – Originally from Salt Lake City, Lisa Hoyt began her serious dance training at Christiansen School of Dance where she began performing with the International Folk-Ballet.  At the age of twelve Ms. Hoyt started studying with Ballet West Conservatory/Academy.


As a Willam Christensen scholarship recipient, Lisa received her BFA in Ballet, with a business minor, from the University of Utah.  While working on her undergraduate degree, Lisa performed with Utah Ballet and Character Dance Ensemble at the University of Utah.  At that time she also joined Easter Arts, a classical Middle Eastern performing groups, for which she has made award-winning choreography. Currently she serves as Eastern Arts’ Assistant Artistic Director of the dance division and she performs with them both nationally and internationally. After graduation Lisa Hoyt danced with Nevada Ballet Theatre in Las Vegas, Nevada.  Following her time with NBT, she earned an MFA in Ballet from the University of Utah. During her studies she was honored to hold the position of Ballet Mistress for both Utah Ballet and Character Dance Ensemble.  Lisa has taught throughout Utah and currently serves on the faculty of Ballet West Academy where she teaches character dance and ballet.

Allison Farnsworth

Adjunct Assistant Professor – allison_farnsworth_300Originally from Memphis, Tennessee, Allison Farnsworth received her ballet training and began teaching at Ballet Memphis School, where she performed with the Ballet Memphis Junior Company. She also attended summer programs at Tennessee Governor’s School for the Arts and Kansas City Ballet. She received her B.A. in Dance from Brigham Young University, where she performed with Ballet Showcase Company, and was featured as a soloist in works such as Paquita and Le Corsaire. She also explored choreography by setting multiple pieces on the company, and earned the Ballet Division Achievement in Choreography award.  During her undergraduate years, she supplemented her studies by performing with Burklyn Ballet Theatre.


Allison continued her studies at the University of Utah, earning a Master of Fine Arts degree in Ballet Teaching and Choreography. She also worked as a Graduate Teaching Assistant in the Ballet Department, where she taught the non-majors in ballet.  She served as Ballet Mistress for Utah Ballet, and her choreography was featured in many Showcase performances.  Allison has been a guest teacher for summer programs at Brigham Young University and Ballet West.


She currently teaches and choreographs at many studios in the Salt Lake area. Allison will be teaching advanced ballet to non-majors in the Ballet Department.


Sara Parker

Sara Parker 145Adjunct Instructor – Sara earned her B.S. in Dance from University of Oregon in Eugene, OR where she was awarded the Lotta Carll scholarship for artistic growth and development. While living in Eugene, Sara toured with the University of Oregon Repertory Dance Company (UORDC) as well as locally with Ballet Fantastique and Dance Northwest.


Upon graduation, Sara re-located to Portland, OR where she started the modern and ballet program at Vega Dance+Lab, served as guest choreographer to local dance companies, and began her own modern dance company called Torsades dePointes Dance. Her work has appeared at The Hult Center (Eugene, OR), Lincoln Performance Hall (Portland, OR), and Conduit Dance Inc. (Portland, OR).


Sara has danced in the works of Sharee Lane, Walter Kennedy, Donna Marissa Bontrager, Anita Sanford, Amy Stoddart, Rita Honka, Coco Loupe, and guest appeared in the BodyVox2 self titled show.


Sara is currently a graduate student in the Department of Modern Dance at the University of Utah. She will be teaching Modern Dance for Ballet Majors in 2013-2014.


Michael Bearden Joins The Faculty

Michael Bearden for Web


The University of Utah Department of Ballet

would like to welcome Visiting Assistant Professor Michael Bearden

Congratulations to 2013 Graduates

We extend our congratulations to all the graduates from in the University of Utah Ballet Department.


Two students are receiving the MFA degree and twenty –eight students will receive the BFA. This is the largest BFA graduating class in recent memory.  Even more impressive is that half of them have either a double-major (8) or a minor (6). The double majors include: Mass Communication, Exercise and Sports Science, Political Science, Economics, English, Computer Science, and Marketing. The Minors include: Nutrition, Psychology, Entrepreneurship, and Human Development.


A number of our graduates have already received professional dance contract offers from organizations such as, Montgomery Ballet, Sarasota Ballet, Charlottesville Ballet, and San Antonino Ballet..  Their success is a testament to their hard work and to the quality of the Ballet program.


Well done!

Congratulations Rachel Osterman

Rachel Osterman

Congratulations  Rachel Osterman

Congratulations to Ballet BFA student Rachel Osterman
on receiving the Student Mentor of the Year Award
of the 2013 U of U Student Leadership Awards!



Utah Ballet Opens Next Week!

Choreographers of the Far East – Ma Cong, Dr. Jung Sik Roh, & Jay Kim.

March 22, 23, 28, 29, 30 – Tickets @, 801.581.7100


Character Dance Ensemble

The Character Dance Ensemble is a group of dedicated ballet majors from the Department of Ballet at the University of Utah, who are also completing a specialized emphasis in the art of character dance.
 Character dance is stylized folk or ethnic dance for the ballet stage.

The Ensembles mandate is varied. Our mission is to first provide dancers with academic and performance-related opportunities in different dance styles from around the world. This is important for the development of versatile dance technique. Another important aspect is to enrich the student experience through travel and cross cultural interaction.

The Character Dance Ensemble also fulfills the Ballet Department’s mission of Community Outreach, and has provided over 250 performances locally since its inception in 1995.

CDE also meets the U’s new Internationalization initiative, with recent visits to the Beijing Dance Academy, Beijing, China, the Royal Ballet School, London, England, Vaganova Society workshop, Saint Petersburg, Russia, Eibar, Spain, Tokyo, Japan, Athens, Greece, Vancouver, Canada and San Juan, Costa Rica.

The Department of Ballet was pleased to welcome back Gerard Cuesta, Basque and Spanish dance master, to work with CDE. This was his second visit to share his knowledge and expertise with the Character Dance Ensemble (see photos below).

The Character Dance Ensemble travelled to Kiev, Ukraine – May 6-16, 2012 (photos below).  They participated in classes at the Kiev National M.P. Dragomanov University with ballet masters Voronov and Tarasov. Classes included character dance, ballet, and historical dance. They learned choreographic etudes from Poland, Ukraine, Gypsy Romani, Spain, Cuba and Egypt. They also attended performances of the Kyiv Opera and Ballet, the State Honored Virksy Ukrainian Dance Company, and the Veriovka Folk Choir and Dance Ensemble. The Department of Ballet students were privileged to interact with Ukrainian students, and visited various historical and liturgical sites around Kiev.  In addition CDE participated and performed at a live simulcast performance, organized to raise funds for orphaned children.  CDE hopes to continue its international exploration initiative.

If you would like to Donate for Character Dance Ensemble to help fund their international exploration, Click Here









The Department of Ballet offers various scholarships to both entering and continuing students. Entering students are considered for departmental scholarships based on merit as demonstrated in their application materials and at their audition. Entering students should also complete FAFSA information to the University by February 15 in order to ensure the greatest opportunity for the University’s financial support.

The Department of Ballet can only offer scholarships to students who have been accepted to the University of Utah. The deadline for priority application is December 1.

Continuing students are considered for Departmental scholarships based on their accomplishments within the university, within the department and upon consideration of their Scholarship Application.

Application for Department scholarships require a 500-word essay telling, “Why you want to dance at the U of U, what your aspirations are while you are here and after graduation.”

Those attending auditions that are not held at the MCD will need to send in a DVD or video links to with elements of the required DVD Audition and a clip from a performance where they are highlighted within a 4-month period prior to the due date on February 24, 2015 in order to be considered by the faculty for scholarships.

Initial scholarship awards are made during March, 2015.

Kelly Boal Master Class – February 9, 2013

Kelly Boal Master Class – February 9, 2013

Kelly Boal trained with Olga Kostritsky in her home town of Buffalo, New York and at the School of American Ballet under Suki Schorer, Alexandra Danilova and Stanley Williams among others. She joined the New York City Ballet in 1984 and received a promotion to the rank of soloist in 1989. During her career with NYCB she performed numerous works by George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins and Peter Martins and created original roles in works by Twyla Tharp. In 1991 she left NYCB to pursue freelance opportunities which included national and international touring with Heather Watts and Darci Kistler, guest appearances with the Dutch National Ballet and France’s Ballet du Nord, and regular appearances in the Montreal Gala des Etoiles.

Ms. Boal has served as a faculty member for the Stamford City Ballet school in Connecticut and for the Pacific Northwest Ballet School in Seattle, where she currently teaches advanced students technique and variations.


Kelly Boal Master Class Application



SATURDAY, FEB. 9TH – COMMUNITY MASTER CLASS (intermediate/advanced) – $25

Community Master Class check-in @ 8:30am – Class from 9:00 am-10:30 am


SATURDAY, FEB. 9TH – COMMUNITY MASTER CLASS (advanced) + AUDITION MASTER CLASS (for students auditioning for UofU) – $25

Auditioning Student Master Class check-in @ 10:30am (unless you are auditioning) – Class from 11:00 am-12:30 am



Saturday Teacher’s Observation – 9:00am-1:00pm

Live To Dance 2013 Concert Opens January 31st!

Be sure not to miss this year’s LIVE TO DANCE Jazz Dance Concert! It’s a high energy jazz dance concert featuring the University of Utah jazz dance students. It will include Hip Hop, Lyrical, Contemporary, Bollywood, Fosse, Broadway, Thrash and more!! Choreography by Director of Jazz, Tamara Squires, as well as guest artists Eldon Johnson, Lilian Manansala, Alissa Tucker, Jackie Bohn, and Tamra Callahan.


Thursday, January 31st at 5:30pm
Friday, February 1st at 7:30pm
Saturday, February 2nd at 7:30pm


Purchase tickets HERE.



Ballet Ensemble

The University of Utah’s Ballet Ensemble performances showcase the dancing of three-quarters of our department majors, from our lower division up to our Ballet West Joint Trainees.  Ballet Ensemble presents works from local, national and international choreographers as well as works contributed by department faculty.

All students auditioning for performances are given the opportunity to learn and perform one of the works on the Ballet Ensemble program as part of the Department of Ballet’s robust performance calendar.









Utah Ballet

As the resident ballet company of the University of Utah, Utah Ballet presents sixteen performances in two series each academic year in the Marriott Center for Dance, Hayes Christensen Theatre. Performances include  works choreographed by the faculty and world-renowned choreographers as well as classic and full length ballets restaged by faculty members and guest repititeurs.

Utah Ballet is one of many performance opportunities available to students in the Department of Ballet, with participants selected via an audition process overseen by our faculty.

Upcoming Utah Ballet performances dates –

Thursday, November 13 – 5:30 pm
Friday, November 14 – 7:30 pm
Saturday, November 15 – 2:00 pm and 7:30 pm


Utah Ballet Dazzles Donors

On November 14, 2012, the Utah Ballet, under the direction of Jay Kim and Victoria Stocki, performed Swan Lake Act III for donors who contribute to the College of Fine Arts at ‘The Dean’s List Fall 2012 Event’ held by Raymond Tymas-Jones, Dean of the College of Fine Arts and hosted by Heidi Makowski, Director of Development of the College of Fine Arts. Guests watched the performance, had a chance to come on stage to chat with the dancers in costume, and together enjoyed light refreshments in the lobby.  Comments from those who attended include, “The Act III was a great act to feature since it showcased so many different dancers and had those wonderful and beautiful sets… The production was so professional, I thought the dancers just shined….  We loved going on stage and having the experience of seeing the dancers, and their costumes, up close…  The students couldn’t have been more charming…  The dancers were coached and prepared wonderfully.  It was perfect!“

Utah Ballet’s ‘Swan Lake’ Sells Out MCD

Utah Ballet, the Department’s premier company, presented Swan Lake to a sold-out theatre, in a private performance to donors to the College of Fine Arts, and to grade school children courtesy of a generous grant from the Sorenson Legacy Foundation.  An excerpt was also featured at the College of Fine Arts Assembly, honoring distinguished alumni.  Congratulations are due to Utah Ballet for such lovely productions during Fall, 2012. Read more and see photos under About Us / Utah Ballet


Ballet West Summer Program



The Department of Ballet Teams up with Ballet West each year for our incredible Summer Intensive.
Intense training, invaluable experience.




Summer Intensive Participants will:

  • Learn from the internationally-renowned faculty of the University of Utah Department of Ballet, the Ballet West Academy, and the dancers and artistic staff of Ballet West, featuring Artistic Director Adam Sklute
  • Experience a comprehensive curriculum at the University of Utah’s world-class dance facilities and audition for admittance to the Department of Ballet.
  • Earn college credit. (Qualified college students.)


To be eligible for University of Utah credit you must be a new incoming
ballet student accepted as a ballet major the following fall or be currently
enrolled in the academic year immediately preceding the summer intensive.

Any student who has withdrawn from the University program and who are
returning to the Department of Ballet as a full-time student must complete
one academic year prior to being able to sign for summer credit.

  • Be considered as candidates for Ballet West II.
  • Stay in the same lodging accommodations used by the athletes of the 2002 Winter Games.
  • Enjoy Utah’s great outdoors.


Current University of Utah ballet majors need not audition, and may register to receive credit.

For more information:
Please call 801-581-8231 or email

Ballet West/UofU Ballet – Joint Trainee Program

The U and Ballet West have formalized a Joint Trainee Program that allows a select few students to take classes both in the Ballet Department and with Ballet West’s Professional Trainee Division. The students are also eligible to perform with both Ballet West and the Department of Ballet.


This year there are three “Joint Trainees” —  Leah Bonli, Molly Huemphner and Janelle Melvin – who were already enrolled as University students when they caught the eye of BW Artistic Director Adam Sklute.  They have been able to learn company roles in Ballet West’s Nutcracker, will serve as supernumeraries in Cinderella and will be featured in BW’s family series Aladdin. On December 6 – 8 they will be dancing lead roles on campus in Les Sylphides, Arpino’s Birthday Variations, and a world premier choreographed by Utah Regional Ballet’s Heather Colledge Gray.


Many ballet companies have established “trainee” programs to support the training of pre-professional dancers.  However, the young people who take this path miss the opportunity to receive a college education.  The Joint Trainee Track was developed by Mr. Sklute and Maggie Wright Tesch, former principal artist with Ballet West and a university faculty member, in order to give students the best instruction from both the academic and professional worlds.


Ballet Joint Trainee Program Brochure


Daily Utah Chronicle Nov 18, 2013

Dylan Griffen of the Daily Utah Chronicle writes up the Fall ’13 performance of Utah Ballet

Live To Dance NEWS


Professor Rick Wacko, Artist-In-Residence at CSU

During the month of September, Professor Richard Wacko traveled to CSU to be an artist-in-residence, conducting lectures on character dance history in relationship to dance history, teaching masterclasses, and setting traditional character choreography on CSU dance students.

CSU students will be performing his choreography in November. Click here for more info.

CDE Performs for UN Day

CDE recently performed for invited guests at a celebration for UN Day in Utah.  This event titled “Solutions for a Prosperous World” was held in

the Panorama Room at the Olpin Union on campus, and featured speakers, Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon and Michael Beard.  CDE performed several international choreographies from Italy, Belorussia and Uzbekistan.


Tamara Squires/Students, Perform For U President

Tamara Squires, Director of Jazz Dance has been asked to perform and choreograph for the Inaugural President’s Dinner at the Grand America. She will be performing with the Jazz Dance faculty and students. It is part of Inaugural Week. The theme this year is ‘Imagine U’ and will explore the wonderful relationships that exist between faculty and students all over this campus.


Performers to include:

Tamara Squires – Director of Jazz Dance

Jackie Bohn – Jazz Dance Assistant Teacher

Alissa Tucker – Jazz Dance Assistant Teacher

K.D. Rhodes – Jazz Dance Student

Lisa Hawkins – Jazz Dance Student


Read the full letter below. Also, check out some snapshots from last year’s ‘Live To Dance’ Jazz Dance Concert.


Freshman Choreographs/Performs In Music Video

Chanel Kostich, Department of Ballet Freshman, was selected by Empath Media LLC to dance in a new music video with the band Cedar Breaks a local Utah band featuring unique, fresh, new age folk with strong harmonies & themes that cause thought & reflection. Chanel did an amazing job choreographing on herself to the song “Always Mine” from the bands debut CD, “Tyme Aspects of Home” which was released September 2012.


The shoot was held on the Bonneville Salt Flats, west of the Salt Lake Valley. Chanel, who only had two-weeks total to choreograph, rehearse, polish, and perform her piece, was a great representative of the quality of students we have attending the U of U Department of Ballet. It took from 8:00 am until 6:00 pm for the full video shoot. She danced the piece over and over wearing holes in two pairs of techniques shoes (because of the terrain and the risk of injury, pointe shoes were not used.) This video will feature Chanel, her dancing and campus life.


Chanel has been invited to participate in future videos with the band. We congratulate her on this project and those that she will do in the future.


As soon as we receive a copy of the finished product we will post it for you to watch and enjoy.




Laura Katz Rizzo – Dept. of Ballet Visiting Scholar

Professor Laura Katz Rizzo of Temple University will be visiting scholar / master teacher in residence from October 24 – 26, 2012.  She is a ballet choreographer, scholar and pedagogue.  Holding a Ph.D. in Dance Studies and a graduate certificate in Women’s Studies, she will lecture and lead discussions about the agency of women in classical ballet, with particular attention to the ballets the department is presenting this semester.  She is certified in the Vaganova method of classical ballet pedagogy and by the ABT Teacher Graining Intensive Primary through 7 and Partnering, and will also offer master classes to our students.  Her teachers included Maria Tallchief, Allegra Kent, Larissa Sklyanskaya and Ben Stevenson.  She performed professionally in several classical ballet companies, including Ballet South, the Russian Ballet Theater of Delaware, the Santa Fe Opera Company and several contemporary and baroque companies.  Her repertoire includes principal roles in The Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake, Cinderella and many other classical and contemporary ballets.


Dr. Laura Katz Rizzo Temple University Bio Page


Laura Katz Rizzo is a ballet choreographer, scholar and pedagogue.  She has received certification in the Vaganova method of classical ballet pedagogy, which she studied under John White and Margarita de Saá, as well as being an ABT certified teacher who has successfully completed the ABT Teacher Training Intensive in levels Primary through 7 and Partnering of the American Ballet Theater National Training Curriculum. She began her ballet training under Hortensia Fonseca at the Maryland Youth Ballet, later studying with Maria and Marjorie Tallchief, Melissa Hayden and Allegra Kent at the Chicago City Ballet, Helgi Thommason, Christopher Boatwright and Larissa Sklyanskaya at the San Francisco Ballet, and Ben Stevenson and Rosemary Miles at the Houston Ballet. As a student, she performed with The Joffrey Ballet and New York City Ballet. She has performed professionally with several classical ballet companies, including Ballet South, the Russian Ballet Theatre of Delaware, the Santa Fe Opera Company, and The Ballet Theatre of New Mexico, and several contemporary and baroque dance companies, including Dance Theatre X, Opus I Contemporary and Sprezzatura Dance Ensemble. Her repertoire includes principal roles in The Sleeping Beauty, The Nutcracker, Les Patineurs, Firebird, Swan Lake, Cinderella, Dark Elegies, Raymonda, Paquita, and many other classical and contemporary ballets.


Dr. Katz has a BA in History and English from the University of New Mexico, an Ed. M from Temple University and a Certificate in Women’s Studies and Ph. D. in Dance Studies from Temple University.  She has trained in archive and oral history work through the Legacy Oral History Project, and written articles, book reviews and teaching guides for dance publications and institutions such as Dance Chronicle, Playbill Magazine, Critical Correspondence: Movement Research Journal and The Brooklyn Academy of Music.  She has participated in interviews and panels on dance for The National Museum of Women in the Arts and WRTI Radio, and presented papers, choreographic work and taught master classes at some of the following institutions: The University of Pennsylvania, The University of Chicago, Sarah Lawrence College, The University of the Arts, The University of Utah, Franklin and Marshall College, Muhlenberg College and the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.


In addition to her faculty position at Temple University, Dr. Rizzo has taught at Mount Holyoke College, Bryn Mawr College, Drexel University, the Pennsylvania Academy of Ballet, the Dance Theatre of the Southwest, Ballet Theater of New Mexico, among other institutions.

Gerard Cuesta Workshop With CDE

The Department of Ballet was pleased to welcome back Gerard Cuesta, Basque and Spanish dance master to work with CDE.

This was his second visit to share his knowledge and expertise with the Character Dance Ensemble.


Thank you Gerard!


Elementary Students Attend Ballet Performance

On Friday September 28, 2012 three hundred children from East Midvale Elementary School, a Title I school, attended a performance of ballet.  They watched nine original works that ballet majors had choreographed, cheering loudly for each performance.  Rachel Osterman, Sorenson Dance Scholar, had provided their teachers with instructional material about ballet prior to the show.  She also served as MC, introducing the children to the theatre and hosting Q & A after each work.  The students identified “classical” and “contemporary” works, happy and scary music, and asked many interesting questions.  They wanted to know how our dancer kept so straight, what the ladies’ pointe shoes were made of, why the men wore tights, and how the dancers all managed to stay together.  Our dancers had an opportunity to impress upon them that hard work and practice pay off!


One of the teachers reported: “The kids were excited by what they saw and came back to school twirling and standing on their toes, as well as talking about lighting, costumes, and creating straight lines, among other things.”


This performance was made possible by the generosity of the Sorenson Legacy Foundation.


Photos by Professor Richard Wacko.



Sandra Birch Allen – Distinguished Alumna, Ballet

Sandra Birch Allen, BFA 1964, MFA 1967, Associate Professor of Dance at Brigham Young University, was named the 2012 Distinguished Alumna of the Department.  Sandra began teaching at BYU in 1968, and rose to be the Ballet Division Administrator, basically creating, nurturing and growing the program of ballet studies at BYU for the past 44 years. The University of Utah Department of Ballet particularly wishes to honor Sandra Allen’s leadership in ballet studies in higher education.


Prior to her studies at the University Sandra was one of the charter members of the Utah Civic Ballet, the predecessor to Utah’s Ballet West.  During her studies and for a year following her graduation with the MFA, Sandra continued to perform with the Utah Civic Ballet, performing demi and solo roles in many of Willam Christensen’s classic works.


While at BYU Sandra also served as Associate Chair of the Dance Department, choreographed over 20 original works, restaged over 13 works for BYU Theatre Ballet, and wrote two textbooks: Reference Resource for Teaching Ballet Part I: The Teaching of Ballet, An Eclectic Approach, and Part II: Ballet Methodologies, A Comparative Analysis. In 2011 she received the Gerrit de Jong, J.r Gratitude Award. In 2008 the  CORPS de Ballet International, the organization of ballet professors in higher education, bestowed its Outstanding Service Award on Sandra.  


While visiting our campus on the occasion of the award, Sandra delivered a compelling lecture about the history of ballet in high education and Willam Christensen’s place within that history.