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Our Dancers

Meet the Athletes Behind the Artistry

Valentin Batista
Company Dancer

Valentin Batista

Company Dancer

Valentin Batista

Valentin Batista started ballet at the age of five at a small studio in Buenos Aires with his first teacher Sara Rzeszotko. At age twelve, he began furthering his training at the school of Teatro Colon of Buenos Aires. In 2012, Valentin joined Houston Ballet’s Ben Stevenson’s Academy. Three years later, he became a second company member with Orlando Ballet. He has attended summer intensives at Houston Ballet, Ellison Ballet in New York City, Orlando Ballet, and Jacob’s Pillow. Valentin has competed in American Dance Competition, and with coaching from Olivier Muñoz, he won first place in the senior classical category. Valentin joined Texas Ballet Theater in 2017.

Tell us about yourself and your career as a dancer.

I started training in Argentina under Sara Rzeszotko, and she has always inspired me. At the age of 14, I moved to the United States to train at Houston Ballet Academy. I trained there for three seasons with Andrew Murphy and Claudio Munoz. In 2015 I went to Orlando Ballet and spent 2 seasons there. I’ve been with TBT since September of 2017.

When did you know you wanted to become a professional dancer?

When I was 11, I was accepted into the Teatro Colon School. There, I was more exposed to the art form and it made me realize that’s what I wanted to do.

What are some of your favorite roles you have performed?

The Indian boy in Christopher Bruce’s Ghost Dances, Bluebird in Ben Stevenson’s The Sleeping Beauty, and dancing in Ben Stevenson’s Mozart’s Requiem.

What do you believe is necessary to be a great performer?

Passion and good guidance.


Allisyn Hsieh Caro
Company Dancer

Allisyn Hsieh Caro

Company Dancer

Allisyn Hsieh Caro

Caro began dancing at the age of three in Huntsville, Alabama. She later trained at the Boston Ballet School and later enrolled at the Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet under Marcia Dale Weary. Some of her favorite roles and works include Ohad Naharin’s Minus 16, Anitra in Ben Stevenson’s Peer Gynt, George Balanchine’s Theme and Variations and Serenade, Glen Tetley’s Voluntaries, Val Caniparoli’s Lambarena and Without Borders, Christopher Wheeldon’s DGV: Danse a Grande Vitesse, and William Forsythe’s In The Middle, Somewhat Elevated. She is a GYROTONIC® instructor. In her spare time, she enjoys family time with her husband Max and daughter Lola. Caro joined Texas Ballet Theater in 2010.


Katelyn Clenaghan
Company Dancer

Katelyn Clenaghan

Company Dancer

Katelyn Clenaghan

Katelyn Clenaghan is a native Texan from Weatherford. She began dancing at the age of four. She has trained at several small schools in the Fort Worth area until getting a traineeship with Texas Ballet Theater. Ms. Clenaghan has enjoyed performing roles in many of Ben Stevenson’s ballets. Among her favorites are Anitra in Peer Gynt, Myrta in Giselle, Flora in Dracula, and Cinderella in Cinderella. Her repertoire also includes leading roles in George Balanchine’s Serenade, Apollo, Allegro Brillante, and Theme and Variations; Evelyn in Val Caniparoli’s Lambarena and the Pas de Trois in Glen Tetley’s Voluntaries. Ms. Clenaghan joined Texas Ballet Theater in 2002.

What are some of your favorite roles you have performed?

My favorite roles include Anitra in Peer Gynt, Flora in Dracula, Myrta in Giselle, Cinderella, and Cleopatra. 

When did you know you wanted to become a professional dancer?

I didn’t, it just kind of happened!

What do you enjoy outside of dance?

I love photography and making costumes.


Carl Coomer
Company Dancer

Carl Coomer

Company Dancer

Carl Coomer

Coomer began training at 13. In 1998, he attended the Royal Ballet School on scholarship under the direction of Dame Merle Park and later, Gailene Stock. He danced with Houston Ballet for six seasons before joining Texas Ballet Theater in 2007. He has performed several lead roles in Ben Stevenson and other ballets, including Madame Butterfly and Tutu; Dream, Ghost Dances and Hush; Études; Voluntaires; The Concert; Lambarena and Without Borders; Crash; Grosse Fuge, and Svadebka and Petite Mort. He has choreographed three works for TBT: Evolving (2012), Clann (2014) and Henry VIII (2018).


Jiyan Dai
Company Dancer

Jiyan Dai

Company Dancer

Jiyan Dai

Dai started ballet in China. At 14, he won his first medal at Japan’s IBC. At 19, he graduated from Beijing Dance Academy, earning a bachelor’s degree. He won a gold medal in 9th “Taoli Cup” China NDC, and received a Special Artistry Award in Vaganova IBC Russia. In 2009, he joined Universal Ballet, South Korea, and received the review, “but perhaps the biggest discovery in the 70 dancer company is Jiyan Dai, a young Chinese dancer of fabulous ballon, exactitude, and finesse.” In 2012, he joined Tulsa Ballet, then Texas Ballet Theater in 2014. He has choreographed many pieces for Texas Ballet Theater School, performed in over 13 countries and been a guest artist in Germany and at Queensland Ballet in Australia.

When did you know you wanted to become a professional dancer?

I knew after I graduated from college when I was 19 years old.

What are some of your favorite roles you have performed?

I loved dancing in Ben Stevenson’s Swan Lake and William Forsythe’s In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated.

What do you believe is necessary to be a great performer?

Always challenge yourself and always practice.

What do you enjoy outside of dance?

I enjoy photography, scuba diving, snowboarding, and exploring technology.


Alex Danna
Company Dancer

Alex Danna

Company Dancer

Alex Danna

Alex Danna began dancing at the age of sixteen in New Orleans, Louisiana with the New Orleans Ballet Association. He then attended the Houston Ballet Academy for two years on scholarship. In 2016, he was accepted into the Texas Ballet Theater company where he has performed roles such as: Alcebiades in Ben Stevenson’s Cleopatra, Ghost in Christopher Bruce’s Ghost Dances, and a Blue Fairy Shadow in Will Tuckett’s Pinocchio. In 2016, he officially became a member of Texas Ballet Theater.

Tell us about yourself and your career as a dancer.

I truly love what I do, and I feel so blessed to be in a comfortable space to be vulnerable and grow as a dancer and artist. My career, just like any other, has greeted me with many challenges. The work has very arduous technical elements, but perseverance and smart work should be your guide and with those two ingredients you can have a fortuitous and enjoyable career.

What do you believe is necessary to be a great performer?

Passion. Hard and smart work. Creativity.

Best advice you've ever been given?

Don’t take yourself too seriously.


Amanda Fairweather
Company Dancer

Amanda Fairweather

Company Dancer

Amanda Fairweather

Originally from Orange, California, Amanda began training at the Academy of Dance under Merle Sepel and Rebecca Tsivkin where she studied RAD, completing solo seal. Amanda attended SUNY Purchase College, graduating cum laude. In 2011, after attending Texas Ballet Theater Summer Intensive, she was asked to join the company as a trainee. Amanda has enjoyed performing Ben Stevenson’s Romeo and Juliet balcony scene, Dracula, Jiri Kylian’s Petite Mort, Christopher Wheeldon’s DGV: Danse a Grande Vitesse, William Forsythe’s In The Middle, Somewhat Elevated, Herald Landers’ Études, Ohad Noharn’s Minus 16 and Val Caniparoli’s Without Borders. She is married to fellow company member Riley Moyano.

What is your favorite thing about ballet?

Using your imagination to tell a story.

What are some of your favorite roles you have performed?

A bride in Dracula, Carabosse in The Sleeping Beauty, Four Last Songs, and Juliet in Romeo and Juliet’s “Balcony” pas de deux.

Best advice you've ever been given?

Have a thought with every movement.

What do you enjoy outside of dance?

I enjoy walking the dog, relaxing and spending time with my husband.


Alexandra Farber
Company Dancer

Alexandra Farber

Company Dancer

Alexandra Farber

Alexandra Farber, originally from Washington, D.C., began her training at Maryland Youth Ballet and Houston Ballet II. Alexandra has also attended various summer programs, including those offered by the School of American Ballet, San Francisco Ballet School, and Houston Ballet’s Ben Stevenson Academy. She has performed as Odette/Odile in Stevenson’s Swan Lake, Svetlana in Ben Stevenson’s Dracula, Sugar Plum, Snow Queen, and Clara in Ben Stevenson’s The Nutcracker, Winter Fairy and Cinderella in Ben Stevenson’s Cinderella, in William Forsythe’s In The Middle, Somewhat Elevated, Ben Stevenson’s Twilight Pas de Deux, and Ben Stevenson’s Four Last Songs.  She has also performed leading roles in George Balanchine’s Allegro Brillante, Jerome Robbins’ The Concert, Glen Tetley’s Voluntaries, Carlos Acosta’s Carmen, Christopher Wheeldon’s DGV©: Danse à Grande Vitesse, Ben Stevenson’s Alice in Wonderland, Carl Coomer’s Henry VIII, and Lew Christensen’s Beauty and the Beast.

When did you know you wanted to become a professional dancer?

I suppose forever, because each year my family would ask if I wanted to take ballet again and each year I could never imagine life without it. I continued that way until I realized the next step was to pursue a professional career.

What are some of your favorite roles you have performed?

It is so difficult to choose, because every role is unique and special, but if I had to pick five of my favorites they would be Odette/Odile in Ben Stevenson’s Swan Lake, Sylvie’s role in William Forsythe’s In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated, Aurora in Ben Stevenson’s The Sleeping Beauty, the principal pas de deux in Glen Tetley’s Voluntaries, and the third pas de deux in Christopher Wheeldon’s Danse à Grande Vitesse.

Do you have any pre-show rituals?

Two things: for one, I say a short Hebrew prayer, and usually while the orchestra tunes—this makes me feel connected, to the moment and the music. Two, I read once about how ballerinas from long ago would spit on their ribbons in order to keep them secure, so I will very lightly put my hand to my mouth and then to my ribbons to honor that tradition—it makes me feel connected to those ballerinas who came before me.

Best advice you've ever been given?

To find the moments of calm when things are really intense; in dance and in life.


Dustin Geradine
Company Dancer

Dustin Geradine

Company Dancer

Dustin Geradine

Originally from Tallahassee, Florida, Dustin Geradine joined Texas Ballet Theater in 2010. He received his professional training from the Tallahassee Ballet and the Harid Conservatory, where he studied on full scholarship. Mr. Geradine has enjoyed performing in Glen Tetley’s Voluntaries, Ben Stevenson’s Peer Gynt and Val Caniparoli’s Lambarena.

When did you know you wanted to become a professional dancer?

When I was in the second grade I went with my class to see The Nutcracker at Ruby Diamond Auditorium. I was so amazed at the beauty, strength and grace of the production. I knew I wanted to be a part of it.

What do you believe is necessary to be a great performer?

I believe in order to become a great performer one must develop a deep, driving desire to master your craft, being willing to be vulnerable at times, and never hold back.

Best advice you've ever been given?

Ballet is constantly in motion and always evolving. You must be strong but flexible and open to new ideas.” -Olivier Pardina

What do you enjoy outside of dance?

I enjoy spending my time working in my garden, cooking, cycling, playing video games, reading and spending time with my cat.


Laura Gruener
Company Dancer

Laura Gruener

Company Dancer

Laura Gruener

Gruener received her training from Philadelphia Dance Theatre under the direction of Joy Capponi. She has attended various summer programs, including Texas Ballet Theater, Houston Ballet and Boston Ballet on scholarship. She was awarded the Jonathan Phelps memorial scholarship for excellence in contemporary dance at Regional Dance America, was a Youth America Grand Prix finalist from 2005-2012, and was featured as a cast member on the Ovation original series “A Chance to Dance.”  Gruener has most enjoyed performing in the world premiere of Garrett Smith’s Imbue, Christopher Bruce’s Rooster and Christopher Wheeldon’s DGV©: Danse à Grande Vitesse. She is originally from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Gruener joined Texas Ballet Theater in 2013.

Tell us about yourself and your career as a dancer.

Originally, I am from Philadelphia where I lived until I was 18. After going to Indiana University for one year, I received my job with Texas Ballet Theater and decided to accept. I have been dancing with Texas Ballet Theater for 7 seasons now.

What is your favorite thing about ballet?

There is always something to improve upon.

What do you believe is necessary to be a great performer?

Fearlessness!

What do you enjoy outside of dance?

I enjoy trying new restaurants and traveling.


Cristian Jimenez
Company Dancer

Cristian Jimenez

Company Dancer

Cristian Jimenez

Jimenez began training at Ballet School of Santiago in Municipal Theater and became a part of Santiago Chamber Ballet. After graduating, he joined the Ballet of Santiago for four seasons. In 1992, he received a scholarship from Houston Ballet Academy and performed in The Nutcracker and the world premiere of Ben Stevenson’s Alice in Wonderland. In Paraguay, Jimenez performed principal roles at Classical and Modern Municipal Ballet of Asunción, National Ballet of Paraguay and Ballet Uninorte. In Venezuela, he performed as a principal with Ballet Contemporáneo de Caracas directed by Maria Eugenia Barrios. In 2009, Jimenez joined the Classical Ballet of Venezuela led by Nina Novak. Jimenez is originally from Chile.


Carolyn Judson
Company Dancer

Carolyn Judson

Company Dancer

Carolyn Judson

Judson moved to Texas from California in 2001 to train at Houston Ballet’s Ben Stevenson Academy. She joined TBT in 2003.  During her time here, she has most enjoyed performing in Ghost Dances, choreographed by Christopher Bruce, Three Preludes, Image, and the title roles in Romeo and Juliet, Cinderella, and Cleopatra, all of which were choreographed by Ben Stevenson.  Judson has also had opportunities to work with Twyla Tharp and the Queensland Ballet. In her free time, she is a GYROTONIC® instructor, holistic health coach, and is married to company manager, Justin Urso, with whom she has a daughter, Evelyn and a son, Judson.

When did you start dancing?

I started dancing when I was 3.

What is your favorite thing about ballet?

I love how it is a team effort. It takes all 40+ of us to put on a show, so we work together and support, trust, and rely on each other every day. It’s also nice to be surrounded by so many people who share the same passion and drive to do our best job. It is such a special profession.

When did you know you wanted to become a professional dancer?

I trained with the Houston Ballet Academy where I met Ben Stevenson. After working with him and falling in love with his choreography, I knew I wanted to dance professionally.

What do you believe is necessary to be a great performer?

Drive, belief in what you are doing, work ethic, passion, and the courage to show all sides of yourself to a theater full of people.


Alexander Kotelenets
Company Dancer

Alexander Kotelenets

Company Dancer

Alexander Kotelenets

A native of Kiev, Ukraine, Alexander Kotelenets began his training at the Kiev State Ballet School. After coming to the United States, he continued his training at Houston Ballet’s Ben Stevenson Academy and was a company member with Houston Ballet before joining Texas Ballet Theater in 2003. Mr. Kotelenets has performed in a number of Ben Stevenson ballets, with favorite roles as Romeo and Tybalt in Romeo and Juliet, Frederick in Dracula, Peer in Peer Gynt, the prince in Swan Lake, the prince in The Sleeping Beauty, and partnering his wife, Heather Kotelenets who danced with the company for 13 years, in the Ave Maria pas de deux. He also has performed in Texas Ballet Theater’s premiere of Glen Tetley’s Voluntaries and George Balanchine’s Theme and Variations.  He and his wife Heather have two daughters, Mila and Emma.


Adeline Melcher
Company Dancer

Adeline Melcher

Company Dancer

Adeline Melcher

Melcher began training in New Orleans, Louisiana under the guidance of Myra Mier. She attended several ballet summer intensive programs, including Kirov Academy of Ballet, American Ballet Theater NYC, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Sarasota Ballet, School of American Ballet, Houston Ballet and Texas Ballet Theater. At 16, she became a student of Houston Ballet’s Ben Stevenson Academy. Melcher joined TBT in 2016. She has performed in ballets such as Ben Stevenson’s Dracula and Swan Lake, Harold Lander’s Études, Ohad Naharin’s Minus 16, Christopher Bruce’s Rooster, Garrett Smith’s Imbue, and Alexei Ratmansky’s Seven Sonatas.

What do you believe is necessary to be a great performer?

I believe that in order to be a great performer you have to have an open mind and absorb information like a sponge. We are lucky enough to be surrounded by so many artists with different strengths. I love seeing what makes that particular dancer’s specialty look so effortless, strong, emotional, etc. It’s inspiring!

Best advice you've ever been given?

Follow your dreams! I did!

What do you enjoy outside of dance?

I love finding vintage clothing! Whether that means going to vintage stores or estate sales, I love the hunt!

Tell us a fun fact about yourself. Something people wouldn't suspect!

My parents were originally told, based on the ultrasound, that I was going to be a boy. On April Fools Day 1997, the joke was on my parents when a little girl was born (me)!


Beñat Andueza Molina
Company Dancer

Beñat Andueza Molina

Company Dancer

Beñat Andueza Molina

Andueza is originally from the Basque Country. He joined the Dutch National Ballet Trainee Program under the direction of Jean-Yves Esquerre where he had the opportunity to learn from Dutch choreographers, as well as William Forsythe, and danced in Christopher Wheeldon’s Scenes de Ballet. One year later, he joined Atlanta Ballet 2, where he performed in Bruce Wells’ Beauty and the Beast and Anthony Tudor’s Continuo. He also danced in company productions such as John McFall’s The Nutcracker, Yuri Possokhov’s Don Quixote, and Craig Davidson’s world premiere Remembrance/Hereafter. He also participated in Atlanta Opera’s Carmen. Andueza joined TBT in 2018. In 2019, he performed with TBT in William Forsythe’s In The Middle, Somewhat Elevated and Andre Silva’s 11:11.


Riley Moyano
Company Dancer

Riley Moyano

Company Dancer

Riley Moyano

Riley Moyano began his training in his hometown of Naperville, Illinois at the school of DanceWest Ballet with his parents Regina and Ricardo Moyano. He continued his training at Point Park University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, performing Trey McIntyre’s Blue Until June. Since joining Texas Ballet Theater in 2011, Moyano has been delighted to perform in Glen Tetley’s Voluntaries, Sir Kenneth MacMillan’s Gloria, Ronald Hynd’s The Merry Widow, Jiri Kylian’s Petite Mort, Val Caniparoli’s Without Borders, Ohad Naharin’s Minus 16, William Forsythe’s In The Middle, Somewhat Elevated, Christopher Bruce’s Ghost Dances, and as Caesar in Ben Stevenson’s Cleopatra. Moyano is married to fellow Company member Amanda Fairweather.


Paige Nyman
Company Dancer

Paige Nyman

Company Dancer

Paige Nyman

Paige Nyman began dancing at the age of three in Kansas City, Kansas. At sixteen, she was offered a scholarship to the Harid Conservatory and studied there for two years under Svetlana Osiyeva, Oliver Pardina, and Victoria Schneider. Since joining Texas Ballet Theater in 2009, favorite roles have included the title role in Ben Stevenson’s Cinderella, the Pas de Trois from Dracula, the Pas de Trois from Four Last Songs, and Laila from Laila and the Swan, as well as Waltz Girl in George Balanchine’s Serenade, The Wife in Jerome Robbins’ The Concert, and featured roles in Christopher Bruce’s Rooster and Ghost Dances. She has also loved performing in Ben Stevenson’s The Sleeping Beauty, Peer Gynt, Swan Lake and Romeo and Juliet, as well as William Forsythe’s In The Middle, Somewhat Elevated, George Balanchine’s Allegro Brilliante, Glen Tetley’s Voluntaries, Jiri Kylian’s Petite Mort, Harold Lander’s Études and as the title role in Carlos Acosta’s Carmen.

What is your favorite thing about ballet?

I love the process of taking a character or a role that I don’t understand, and becoming as familiar with it as I am with my own natural tendencies.

Do you have any pre-show rituals?

I am pretty superstitious about the order that I do things before shows. I always have to put my left eyelash on first, my left earring in before my right, and my right shoe goes on first.

Best advice you've ever been given?

In the midst of all the movement, don’t be afraid to be still on stage. It gives you the opportunity to establish yourself in the space and for the audience to see you. Also, spend time visualizing how you want yourself to look on stage. Creating a mental image is a powerful tool for confidence in the actual movement.

Tell us a fun fact about yourself. Something people wouldn't suspect!

I love clocks—I have 9 in my house as of now, although only 5 of them are running. But all of the running ones are 3-5 minutes fast. They keep me guessing!


Dara Oda
Company Dancer

Dara Oda

Company Dancer

Dara Oda

Dara Oda, originally from Naperville, Illinois, began her training at the School of DanceWest Ballet under Ricardo and Regina Moyano. She was awarded cash and program scholarships at the Regional Dance America festival and received further training from summer programs at Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, Joffrey Ballet, and Texas Ballet Theater. In 2014, Ms. Oda graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Belhaven University. Since joining Texas Ballet Theater in 2014, she has enjoyed performing in Ben Stevenson’s Swan Lake and Four Last Songs, Christopher Bruce’s Ghost Dances, Glen Tetley’s Voluntaries, and Ohad Naharin’s Mabul duet.

Tell us about yourself and your career as a dancer.

I grew up in the Chicago suburbs and attended the same dance school from when I was 3 to age 18. I dabbled in a few other hobbies growing up, but dance was always my first love—and the only thing I ever stayed seriously committed to. Towards the end of high school, I didn’t feel ready to audition for ballet companies but also didn’t want to give up my dreams of dancing professionally, so I decided to attend college as a dance major to further my training and get my degree at the same time. Those four years in college truly shaped me into the dancer I am today and I joined TBT the summer after I graduated. At first it was a bit intimidating starting my career a few years later than many of my fellow dancers, but now I’m confident that college was the right path for me.

What is your favorite thing about ballet?

It can be very difficult and frustrating, but so incredibly rewarding. Nothing beats that post-show adrenaline high!

Best advice you've ever been given?

One of my professors in college, Caleb Mitchell, encouraged me to find a company where I would continue to receive training to keep me improving, instead of being left to figure things out on my own. I’m thankful to have found a place like TBT where I’m challenged both technically and artistically.

Tell us a fun fact about yourself. Something people wouldn't suspect!

My husband and I love dogs and currently foster boxers through North Texas Boxer Rescue.


Samantha Pille
Company Dancer

Samantha Pille

Company Dancer

Samantha Pille

Samantha began training with Patty Pille’s School of Dance at age two. By eight, she was accepted into The School for Creative and Performing Arts and performed many leading roles. Ms. Pille also trained with San Francisco Ballet, Boston Ballet, and the English National Ballet. At 14, she joined Cincinnati Ballet. After joining TBT, she performed principal roles in DGV©: Danse a Grande Vitesse, Tiger Lily in Alice in Wonderland and Odette/Odile in Swan Lake. She also performed Esmeralda pas de deux, Don Quixote, and End of Time in Germany at the Theater Münster, and was a guest artist with Queensland Ballet in Australia as the Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker. She joined Texas Ballet Theater in 2016.

Do you have any pre-show rituals?

Meditation.

What do you believe is necessary to be a great performer?

A love for what you’re doing and the willingness to pour yourself into it.

What is your favorite thing about ballet?

Having an outlet to express myself.

Tell us a fun fact about yourself. Something people wouldn't suspect!

I used to ride horses competitively.


Katelyn Rhodes
Company Dancer

Katelyn Rhodes

Company Dancer

Katelyn Rhodes

Originally from Fort Worth, Katelyn Rhodes began her training at North Central School of Ballet and Trinity Valley School of Ballet. She continued training at Texas Ballet Theater School and Texas Christian University, where she was a Nordan Fine Arts scholar.  Since joining Texas Ballet Theater, Rhodes has enjoyed performing roles such as the Snow Queen and the Lead Flower in Ben Stevenson’s The Nutcracker, the Summer Fairy in Cinderella, and the Rooster Girl in Christopher Bruce’s Rooster. She has also enjoyed performing in Ben Stevenson’s Swan Lake and Dracula, George Balanchine’s Serenade and Rubies, Jirí Kylián’s Petite Mort, William Forsythe’s In The Middle, Somewhat Elevated, Harald Lander’s Études, Glen Tetley’s Voluntaries, Ohad Naharin’s Minus 16, and Christopher Wheeldon’s DGV©: Danse à Grande Vitesse. Rhodes joined Texas Ballet Theater in 2013.

When did you start dancing?

 I took my first ballet class when I was 3 years old.

What is your favorite thing about ballet?

I love the discipline and athleticism, but I also love the camaraderie that comes with performing. Being part of a production involving so many wonderful people is what makes ballet fun for me.

What do you believe is necessary to be a great performer?

A willingness to step outside of your comfort zone and not worry about what other people will think. Vulnerability, essentially.

What do you enjoy outside of dance?

I took an interest in calligraphy a few years ago, so I love any chance to work on embellishing my writing style. I’m also a bit of a clean freak, so I enjoy organizing around the house. And who doesn’t love the occasional nap?


David Schrenk
Company Dancer

David Schrenk

Company Dancer

David Schrenk

David Schrenk is originally from Jacksonville, Florida and began his training at Florida Ballet Training Center. At age 10, he started ballet to aid his gymnastics training, but eventually transitioned to dancing. At age 17, he joined Houston Ballet’s second company. Schrenk joined Texas Ballet Theater in 2015.


Cara Shipman
Company Dancer

Cara Shipman

Company Dancer

Cara Shipman

Cara Shipman, originally from New Jersey, came to Texas Ballet Theater through the TBT School Summer Intensive Program. After studying at the New Jersey School of Ballet and Joffrey Ballet School, she was chosen to join the Gelsey Kirkland Academy Studio Company. Career role highlights include William Forsythe’s In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated, Christopher Bruce’s Ghost Dances and Rooster, and Ben Stevenson’s The Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake, and Dracula. She joined Texas Ballet Theater in 2013.

What is your favorite thing about ballet?

I love the discipline ballet instils through the technique of the sport while also giving me the chance to express myself and different personalities through movement.

Do you have any pre-show rituals?

I like to get to the theater at least an hour and a half before the show, which is super early for most people! But I like to get my makeup done early and spend time warming up, rolling out my muscles, making sure I’m set with costumes, etc. I don’t like to be rushed and I take comfort in knowing I have everything in a row before the curtain goes up. I will sometimes go over choreography if I’m doing a bigger role or try certain things if I feel I need to, and I always take time to center myself before stepping on stage whether that is through breathing exercises or prayer.

What do you enjoy outside of dance?

I love to cook! Cooking and baking are two of my favorite escapes and they give me a chance to express myself and make something special for my friends and family. I once made a six course dinner for some of the dancers and it was one of the most challenging and rewarding evenings.

Tell us a fun fact about yourself. Something people wouldn't suspect!

I’m currently taking online college classes and am working towards a Bachelor’s in Communications with a focus on New Media. My after-ballet dream career would be to work for Bon Appétit Magazine with this degree under my belt.


Andre Silva
Company Dancer

Andre Silva

Company Dancer

Andre Silva

Andre Silva is originally from Brasilia, Brazil, and began training at Royal Academy of Dance at age four. He continued training at The Harid Conservatory and the Ben Stevenson Academy. From 2003-2009, Mr. Silva performed several leading roles as a Texas Ballet Theater company member. He was the first recipient of the Booz Allen Hamilton International “Rising Star Award” and was a Silver Medalist at the International Ballet Competition in Shanghai. From 2009-2014, Mr. Silva joined Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal and then Germany’s Ballet Augsburg. He has choreographed works for Les Grands Ballets de Montréal, Uptown Dance in Houston, and TBT’s Professional Training Division and Main Company. Mr. Silva joined Texas Ballet Theater in 2003.

What is your favorite thing about ballet?

The magic.

What are some of your favorite roles you have performed?

The Prince in Swan Lake, Bella Figura, and In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated.

What do you enjoy outside of dance?

Painting, interior designing, hairstyling, and fashion.

Tell us a fun fact about yourself. Something people wouldn't suspect!

My mother went into labor while teaching a ballet class, so you could say I was born dancing.


Philip Slocki
Company Dancer

Philip Slocki

Company Dancer

Philip Slocki

Philip Slocki is originally from Clear Lake, Texas, and began dancing at the age of seven. At age 12, he studied ballet at Kirov Academy of Ballet in Washington, D.C., where he continued his training until age 18. Since joining Texas Ballet Theater, he has enjoyed performing roles such as Reinfield in Ben Stevenson’s Dracula, Bluebird in The Sleeping Beauty and Agnus Dei in Mozart Requiem. Slocki joined Texas Ballet Theater in 2008.

What do you believe is necessary to be a great performer?

To be genuine.

Do you have any pre-show rituals?

I have a routine, some things I physically do like touching the stage floor and other things are how I prepare mentally.

Best advice you've ever been given?

The only person you should compete against is the person you were yesterday.

What do you enjoy outside of dance?

I enjoy the outdoors, playing guitar, and spending time with my dog Marty.


Kyle Torres-Hiyoshi
Company Dancer

Kyle Torres-Hiyoshi

Company Dancer

Kyle Torres-Hiyoshi

Kyle Torres-Hiyoshi is originally from Buffalo, New York, and began his training at the American Academy of Ballet. At age 15, he continued his dance education at The School of American Ballet at Lincoln Center after being offered a full scholarship. He danced with ABT’s Studio Company as well as Boston Ballet II. Mr. Torres-Hiyoshi then joined Sarasota Ballet form 2014-2017, where he danced titled roles in George Balanchine’s Rubies and Diamonds, Sir Frederick Ashton’s Sinfonietta, Valse Nobles et Sentimentales, Scene de Ballet, and Anthony Tudor’s Continuo. His favorite ballets include Balanchine’s Stars and Stripes, Jiří Kylián’s Wings of Wax, and Alexander Ekman’s Cacti. He joined Texas Ballet Theater in 2017.


Joamanuel Velázquez
Company Dancer

Joamanuel Velázquez

Company Dancer

Joamanuel Velázquez

A native of Bayamon, Puerto Rico, Jomanuel Velazquez began his training with Ballet Concierto de Puerto Rico. He later attended the Virginia School of the Arts on full scholarship, then joined Texas Ballet Theater as a trainee. He has since enjoyed performing in Ben Stevenson’s Don Quixote, Dracula and Swan Lake. He also enjoyed dancing Pinocchio in Will Tuckett’s Pinocchio. Mr. Velazquez is married to company member Nicole Von Enck and joined Texas Ballet Theater in 2007.

What is your favorite thing about ballet?

The ability to tell a story through movement and emotion.

What are some of your favorite roles you have performed?

My very favorite is Petite Mort, along with Renfield in Dracula, Pinocchio, Mozart’s Requiem, Voluntaries, and Minus 16.

What do you believe is necessary to be a great performer?

Experience, imagination, and confidence.

What do you enjoy outside of dance?

I enjoy photography and backpacking.


Nicole Von Enck
Company Dancer

Nicole Von Enck

Company Dancer

Nicole Von Enck

Nicole Von Enck is originally from Cleveland, Ohio, and began her professional training with Joanne Hughes Morscher at the Royal School of Ballet. In 2008, she joined North Carolina Dance Theatre for two years as an apprentice, and after attending Texas Ballet Theater School’s Summer Intensive, joined the Company. Some of Nicole’s favorite roles include Odette/Odile and Neapolitan from Ben Stevenson’s Swan Lake, Cinderella in Ben Stevenson’s Cinderella, the Prima Ballerina in Ètudes by Harald Lander, Third Pas de Deux in Christopher Wheeldon’s DGV©: Danse à Grande Vitesse, Britten Pas by Ben Stevenson, Petite Mort by Jiri Kylian, Flora from Ben Stevenson’s Dracula, Pas de Trois from Voluntaries by Glen Tetley, Pas de Trois, Pas de Quartre from Gloria by Sir Kenneth MacMillan, and My One and Only variation from George’s Balanchine’s Who Cares. Ms. Von Enck is married to fellow Texas Ballet Theater company member Jomanuel Velazquez and joined Texas Ballet Theater in 2010.

When did you start dancing?

I started dancing when I was 5 years old. I loved going to watch the ballet ever since I was 3 and I could never seem to stop moving around!

What is your favorite thing about ballet?

It’s hard to pick one thing! I think one of my favorites is that I get to be part of something so much bigger than myself. Every ballet we do is made up of so many parts. No matter what role I have, I get the privilege of participating in the big picture that the audience then gets to enjoy and react to.

What do you enjoy outside of dance?

Traveling! During our weeks off, my husband, fellow company member Joamanuel Velázquez, and I love to go on adventures together. We really enjoy camping and wildlife as well as experiencing new cities. Also, we really cherish the time we get to spend when we visit our families. During work weeks I really love spending time with our Bible study group. And we really cherish the time we spend at home with our newborn daughter.

Tell us a fun fact about yourself. Something people wouldn't suspect!

I really love home renovation projects! We bought a fixer-upper several years ago and we have really enjoyed redesigning the space.


Hannah Wood
Company Dancer

Hannah Wood

Company Dancer

Hannah Wood

Hannah Wood began her ballet training at North Atlanta Dance Academy in Alpharetta, Georgia. She spent eleven years training and performing in North Atlanta Dance Theater productions. At age fourteen, she began her studies at The Harid Conservatory of the Arts. Three years later, she joined Houston Ballet’s Ben Stevenson Academy, and in 2014 was selected to become a member of Houston Ballet’s second company. During her time at Texas Ballet Theater, Ms. Wood has enjoyed performing in many ballets, including Ben Stevenson’s Dracula, Christopher Bruce’s Ghost Dances, Christopher Wheeldon’s DGV©: Danse à Grande Vitesse and William Forsythe’s In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated. She joined Texas Ballet Theater in 2015.

What do you believe is necessary to be a great performer?

You need to be able to let go of the outside world, and put yourself in that moment on stage. You need to not only dance beautifully, but to show your heart whether you are portraying a character or just getting the chance to show your true love for dance.

Do you have any pre-show rituals?

Before I do anything to get ready I make sure I take off all my jewelry and put it in a special little box my mom gave to me. Also, before I go on stage I do an exercise in the wings to help establish my balance.

What do you enjoy outside of dance?

I love watching movies old and new. Quentin Tarantino and Wes Anderson are definitely two of my favorite directors today.

Tell us a fun fact about yourself. Something people wouldn't suspect!

I have an orange tabby cat named Opie. I named her after Opie Taylor from The Andy Griffith Show, one of my favorite childhood shows!


Brett Young
Company Dancer

Brett Young

Company Dancer

Brett Young

Brett Young is from Houston, Texas, where he began his dance training, studying at Houston Ballet’s Ben Stevenson Academy and the High School for Performing and Visual Art. Upon graduating high school, he attended the University of Oklahoma where he continued his training in OU’s School of Dance under the tutelage of Director Mary Margaret Holt, Steve Brule, and Clara Cravey-Stanely. Upon graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, Young joined the ranks of Texas Ballet Theater where he has performed works by Kenneth MacMillan, Glenn Tetley, Ohad Naharin, George Balanchine, Garrett Smith, Val Caniparoli, and Jerome Robbins. During his time with Texas Ballet Theater, he has most enjoyed dancing in Ben Stevenson’s story ballets performing the pas de trois in his Swan Lake and the role of Pothinus in Cleopatra, Jiri Kilyan’s Petite Mort, as well as Rooster from Christopher Bruce’s Rooster and one of the Ghosts in Mr. Bruce’s Ghost Dances. Young joined Texas Ballet Theater in 2013.

What is your favorite thing about ballet?

There’s no one favorite thing about it for me, so I will round down to 5. First, the aspect and opportunity for sharing (whether with the audience or fellow dancers), dedication, the endeavor of exploring a different aspect of your persona, the all-around craft inherent in it from rehearsal in the studio to the process on stage, and lastly that it can very often be a sort of conglomeration of all the other art forms in addition to being highly athletic and demanding physically.

What do you believe is necessary to be a great performer?

Imagination, dedication, passion, and diligence. And loads of patience.

Do you have any pre-show rituals?

Eh, depends on the show. Mostly improvisational.

What do you enjoy outside of dance?

Reading, gardening, cooking, wood-working, community, time in The Word. Movies and other areas of the arts as well.


Apprentices

Celeste Gaiera
Apprentice

Celeste Gaiera

Apprentice

Celeste Gaiera

Celeste Gaiera began her dance training at age five in New Zealand under the inspirational guidance of Marian McDermott. After arriving in the United States, she joined a full-time ballet training program in Portland, Oregon. She then moved to San Francisco to train on scholarship at Marin Dance Theater under the direction of Margaret Swarthout and Lynn Cox. Celeste was selected to join Pittsburgh Ballet Theater’s Graduate Program on scholarship, where she enjoyed many opportunities to perform with the company and work with artistic director, Terrence S. Orr. Throughout her training, Celeste has attended many summer intensives, including Houston Ballet, Miami City Ballet, American Ballet Theater, and Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre. Celeste attended Netherlands Dance Theater in 2016, where she performed works by Paul Lightfoot, Sol León, Mengahn Lou, and Crystal Pite.

When did you start dancing?

I started dancing before I could walk. My parents tell me I would hold onto something to stand and bounce to the music!

What is your favorite thing about ballet?

One of my favorite things about ballet is how incredibly challenging it is to pursue and master. It requires an intense level of discipline, yet the result is an inner freedom and creativity. The reward of ballet is indescribable, the only way I can verbalize it is that it embodies wisdom.

When did you know you wanted to become a professional dancer?

I knew I wanted to become a professional ballet dancer at age 11 while dancing in New Zealand.

Do you have any pre-show rituals?

I always bring my peppermint essential oil and take a smell of it before every performance. It helps clear up sinuses, stimulates the brain, and makes me feel alert and ready to go!


Rieko Hatato
Apprentice

Rieko Hatato

Apprentice

Rieko Hatato

Rieko Hatato began dance training at age five in Japan. She was trained by Yoko Tsukamoto at Yoko Tsukamoto Theater de Ballet Academy in Nagoya. From 2013 to 2015, she performed main roles in FirebirdThe Nutcracker, and Coppelia with Artistic Director Hideo Fukagawa. She has won many medals in competitions in Japan, a bronze medal in the Moscow International Ballet Competition in 2013, and was a finalist in the USA International Ballet Competition in 2018. Before coming to the US, she performed as a guest dancer with Russian Ballet Theater in Cyprus in 2017. She then joined Arts Ballet Theater of Florida for the 2017/18 season and Texas Ballet Theater for the 2018/19 season.

When did you know you wanted to become a professional dancer?

I knew as soon as I started dancing.

Do you have any pre-show rituals?

Drink hot tea and take a deep breath before getting on the stage.

What do you believe is necessary to be a great performer?

Dancing with love.

Tell us a fun fact about yourself. Something people wouldn't suspect!

I was a swimmer when I was little.


Nineh Irving
Trainee

Nineh Irving

Trainee

Nineh Irving

Nineh Irving was born in South Africa and moved to the United States at the age of three in 2001. In 2007, she started her ballet training at the Ballet Palm Beach Academy in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. In 2015, she joined the main company of Ballet Palm Beach as a trainee and continued in this position until 2017. During this time, she trained at American Ballet Theatre’s 2016 Summer Intensive. In 2017, she attended Texas Ballet Theater’s Summer Intensive, during which she was offered a Professional Division position with Texas Ballet Theater School. In this position, she performed in numerous Professional Division productions as well as in Texas Ballet Theater’s Beauty and the Beast and Ben Stevenson’s The Nutcracker. In the winter of 2017, Nineh began her first season with Texas Ballet Theater.

What is your favorite thing about ballet?

My favorite thing about ballet is the ability to express myself in a unique way, as well as the amazing community I get to be a part of every day.

When did you know you wanted to become a professional dancer?

When I was about 16, I quit ballet and after about 7 months, I realized how unhappy I was without it. I started going back to classes and decided that I wanted to do it for as long as I can.

What are some of your favorite roles you have performed?

Some of my favorite roles include a swan in Ben Stevenson’s Swan Lake, and Arabian in Colleen Smith’s The Nutcracker.

Tell us a fun fact about yourself. Something people wouldn't suspect!

My favorite place to go EVER is 5 Below. I am still not sure why.


Adam Phillips
Apprentice

Adam Phillips

Apprentice

Adam Phillips

Adam started dancing at age 11 in Dallas, Texas. He trained at the Ballet Academy of Texas under the direction of Lisa Slagle and Allan Kinzie. From 2016-2018, Adam trained on a full tuition scholarship with the Pacific Northwest Ballet Professional Division, under the direction of Peter Boal. While there, he worked with world-renowned choreographers and performed with the company. In 2016, Adam won second in the Youth American Grand Prix Senior Classical Male Division at the Dallas, Texas semifinals. Adam has attended many summer intensives including The School of American Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, and Ballet Austin. He joined Texas Ballet Theater in 2018.

When did you know you wanted to become a professional dancer?

I knew when I was accepted into the Pacific Northwest Ballet’s professional division program in 2016.

What are some of your favorite roles you have performed?

Ivan in Ben Stevenson’s The Sleeping Beauty and Clarinet in Fanfare.

Best advice you've ever been given?

Don’t dance for others. Dance for yourself.

What do you enjoy outside of dance?

I enjoy researching and building computers, baking, and gaming.


Henry Winn
Apprentice

Henry Winn

Apprentice

Henry Winn

Henry started dancing at age seven in Salt Lake City, Utah, with Ballet West Academy under the direction of Peter Christie, Jan Fugit and Jeff Rogers. While at Ballet West, he performed many roles with the company including Don Quixote, The Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake, Cinderella and The Rite of Spring.  While at Ballet West, Henry was invited to perform The Nutcracker with Ballet West at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. Henry attended many summer intensives including The School of American Ballet in New York City, Houston Ballet, and Boston Ballet. From 2017 to 2019, Henry trained with Boston Ballet under the direction of Peter Stark, where he performed with Boston Ballet and Boston Ballet II. Winn joined Texas Ballet Theater in 2019.

What is your favorite thing about ballet?

I love the performance.

When did you know you wanted to become a professional dancer?

I knew when I was about 14.

Best advice you've ever been given?

Relax!

What do you enjoy outside of dance?

I like skiing.


Trainees

Elizabeth Donner
Trainee

Elizabeth Donner

Trainee

Elizabeth Donner

Elizabeth Donner, born in New Orleans, Louisiana, began her dance training at Jefferson Ballet Theatre under the direction of Kimberly and Kenneth Beck. She attended multiple summer intensives, including Houston Ballet and Boston Ballet. Elizabeth continued her training at The Harid Conservatory in Boca Raton, Florida before joining Texas Ballet Theater’s Professional Division. During her year there, she had the opportunity to perform with the company in Ben Stevenson’s The Nutcracker as well as many other Professional Division productions. She joined TBT as a trainee in 2019.

What is your favorite thing about ballet?

I love the process of trying to improve in class and working in rehearsal, but performing is my favorite thing about ballet.

When did you know you wanted to become a professional dancer?

I think I knew that I wanted to be a dancer when 12-year-old me would force my mom to sit on the couch and watch me do ridiculous and dangerous things in pointe shoes.

What do you believe is necessary to be a great performer?

Musicality and expression.

Best advice you've ever been given?

Develop a thick skin and believe in yourself.


Daniel Kubr
Trainee

Daniel Kubr

Trainee

Daniel Kubr

Daniel was born and raised in Switzerland. He started dancing recreationally at the age of six, but did not start professional training until the age of 17 at the Theater Basel in Switzerland. After one year, in 2015, he moved to Carlisle, Pennsylvania, to train at the Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet (CPYB) under the direction of Marcia Dale Weary. At CPYB, in addition to Weary, he trained with Simon Ball, Nicholas Ade, and Darla Hoover, amongst others. His training also included summer programs at Pacific Northwest Ballet, Ballet Academy East, and Alonzo King Lines Ballet. In 2018, Daniel joined Cincinnati Ballet as a second company member. Some of his favorite ballets he has performed in include George Balanchine’s Who Cares?, Gregory Dawson’s Strange Love, and Septime Webre’s Peter Pan. Daniel joined TBT in 2019.

When did you know you wanted to become a professional dancer?

I wasn’t aware of the professional world of ballet until I was 17. That’s when I saw my first ballet performance when Ballet Zurich performed Heinz Spörli’s Swan Lake. I was awestruck by the dancers’ physicality, acting ability, and artistry. After that I started researching ballet companies and watched every video of ballet performances and dance insights I could find. I’ve had a passion for ballet ever since.

What do you believe is necessary to be a great performer?

A great performer is fearless, ever-curious and generous.

What do you enjoy outside of dance?

I enjoy hiking, baking, and spending time with friends.

Tell us a fun fact about yourself. Something people wouldn't suspect!

I can both ski and snowboard, but refrain from doing so due to the risk of injury.