Born in California, Leyna Woods began her ballet training at the age of twelve at a local studio on scholarship. At fourteen, she was selected to be privately coached by a former dancer of American Ballet Theatre, Christina (Gibbs) Lyon. Under Lyon’s tutelage, Woods attended American Ballet Theater’s Detroit Summer Intensive (2006) and Kirov Academy of Ballet’s Summer Intensive (2008). A generous sponsorship to attend these intensives was provided by David Howard. In 2009, Woods was hired by the Crystal Cathedral to perform as a dancer in the Glory of Christmas productions. From 2006-2010, Woods founded and directed a small troupe of dancers, called Rejoice Ballet Troupe, which ministered to nearby nursing homes and churches. Most recently, Woods received further training and dance education at Belhaven University where she graduated in 2014 with her Bachelor of Fine Arts. Here she studied under the instruction of Laura Morton, Caleb Mitchell, and Ravenna Tucker. She was awarded the Bezalel Award (2010) and the Daniel Award (2014) and represented the university at two American College Dance Festival Associations (ACDFA). In 2012, she accompanied a group of Belhaven students and faculty to perform and host outreach events in South Korea.
Emily Aubrey grew up in Sandown, NH and completed her early pre-professional training at Boston Ballet School under the direction of Margaret Tracey. During her time at Boston Ballet School, Emily performed with the Boston Ballet Company in Balanchine’s “Coppelia,” Mikko Nissinen’s “The Nutcracker,” and the “Night of Stars Gala.” After graduating high school, Emily trained in Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School’s Graduate Program under the direction of Marjorie Grundvig and Dennis Marshall, where she performed with Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre Company in “The Nutcracker” and “Giselle” while teaching on Children’s Division faculty. After completing the Graduate Program, Emily attended the University of Hartford’s Hartt School, where she graduated summa cum laude with a BFA in Dance Performance and Ballet Pedagogy. During her time at the Hartt School, she studied with distinguished faculty including Stephen Pier, Hilda Morales, Nina Watt, Miki Orihara, Ralph Perkins, Debra Collins-Ryder, and Elizabeth McMillan. While pursuing her BFA, Emily was awarded the Elena Delvecchio Rusnak Dance Education Scholarship and performed repertory by many prominent choreographers including George Balanchine, Antony Tudor, Martha Graham, Arthur Saint-Leon, Gemma Bond, Norbert de la Cruz III, Claudia Schreier, and Manuel Vignoulle. Emily has performed as a company artist with SundanceX (Boston, MA) under the direction of David Sun, and has appeared as a guest artist with Vivid Ballet (Hartford, CT) and Ballet Theatre Company (West Hartford, CT). This will be her first season with Ballet Hartford.
From Michigan, Caroline Sheridan was classically trained in the Cecchetti Method at The Link School of the Arts, under the direction of Betty Mitchell. She went on to attend the University of Utah on scholarship and obtained her BS in Economics and BFA in ballet performance in 2013. While attending the University’s ballet department, Caroline had the opportunity to perform several reputable ballets, including Val Caniparoli’s ‘Lambarena’, Gerald Arpino’s ‘Birthday Variations’, and Mikhail Fokine’s ‘Les Sylphides’. Upon graduation, Caroline accepted a contract to perform with Central West Ballet in Modesto, CA, under the direction of René Daveluy and Leslie Ann Larson (both former dancers with Ballet West). Over the course of five seasons with CWB, Caroline performed a diverse range of contemporary works as well as classical ballets such as ‘Giselle’ and ‘Swan Lake’. Caroline distinguished herself in the solo ‘I’ll Build a Stairway to Paradise’ from George Balanchine’s ‘Who Cares?’, receiving critical acclaim from George Balanchine Trust repetiteur, Zippora Karz. Caroline Sheridan was promoted to principal artist with Central West Ballet in 2016 and went on to be featured in many roles including the ‘Sugar Plum Fairy’ in ‘The Nutcracker’, ‘Dawn’ in ‘Coppélia’, and ‘Fairy Godmother’ in ‘Cinderella’. Caroline Sheridan is also an accomplished choreographer; her work has been performed on stages both nationally and internationally.
Angela Mia belmonte
Angela Mia Belmonte grew up in Clinton NY. She trained in classical ballet at Munson Williams Proctor Arts Institute from 2004 to 2013 with Nancy Long and Lynn Bollana. In addition she trained in jazz and modern with Kathy Ryan. At the Arts Institute she performed as the Snow Queen, Sugar Plum Fairy and many other leading roles. In 2013 Angela Mia worked with Artistic Director, Larry Keigwin of Keigwin + Company and performed his original work Pivot Step. She spent several summers studying at Saratoga Summer Dance Intensive in Saratoga NY. During her time there she studied ballet under former New York City Ballet dancer Melinda Roy and Roberto Munoz, Simon Ball, Ashley Bouder. She was featured as “Little Stars” lead in George Balanchine’s Stars and Stripes at the Saratoga Summer Dance Intensive performance. Angela Mia received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance from Belhaven University. While at Belhaven she studied under professors Ravenna Tucker-Wagnon from the Royal Ballet, Caleb Mitchell from Houston Ballet and more. During her time there she performed many original works by Choreographers Vincent Hardy, former Complexions Contemporary Ballet dancer and Elizabeth McMillan, Artistic Director of Ballet Hartford.
Alexandria Brant, originally from Topeka, Kansas, began her training at Barbara’s Conservatory of Dance. Under the direction of Barbara Ebert, while performing many lead roles with the civic ballet company, Ballet Midwest including, Juliet, in Romeo and Juliet. Alexandria furthered her training at the University of Missouri-Kansas City’s Conservatory of Music and Dance studying under Paula Weber and David Justin. While at UMKC, she was selected to represent the conservatory at several Dance Festivals including the American College Dance Association Festival. In 2018 she performed 1st Violin and the pas de deux in Balanchine’s Concerto Barocco at UMKC. Alexandria has spent her summers studying at Kansas City Ballet, The Rock School for Dance Education, and Ballet Magnificat! where she was awarded a scholarship and placed in their Pre-Professional Program. Alexandria graduated in May 2018 with a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts degree in Dance and Choreography from UMKC. This will be her first season with Ballet Hartford.
Rorey Fraser originally from Buffalo New York started his training in 2008 at Neglia Ballet with Sergio Neglia and Heidi Halt- studying in classical ballet and modern. In 2015 he attended Chautauqua’s School for Dance under the direction of Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux, and received a traineeship with Charlotte Ballet. He spent three years in their pre-professional division, working up to an apprenticeship, with Sarkis Kaltakchian, Laszlo Berdo, Kati Mayo, Traci Gilchrest, and Anita Pacylowski. dancing works by Mark Diamond, Sasha Janes, Peter Chu, Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux, and dancing Balanchine’s Raymonda set by Patricia McBride.
Originally from Frederick, Maryland, Rachael began her dance training under the direction of Joyce Morrison at the Frederick School of Classical Ballet. While performing as a member of the Urbana High School Dance Company under the direction of Stephanie Weigelt, she was named a Maryland All-State Dancer . She furthered her dance training attending summer intensives at the Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, North Carolina School for the Arts, the Kansas City Ballet School, and Complexions Contemporary Ballet. Rachael then went on to graduate from Mercyhurst University in 2013 with a BA in dance. As a member of the Mercyhurst Dancers, Rachael was fortunate to perform Gerald Arpino’s Viva Vivaldi, set by Cameron Basden, and 6-1 by Martin Lofsnes. Rachael was also given the chance to perform with the Lake Erie Ballet and the Mercyhurst Ballet Theatre, allowing her to work with artists such as Thom Clower, Alethea Bodine, and Holly Anderson. Since graduation, she has danced with BalletFleming under the direction of Christopher Fleming and the Fort Wayne Ballet under Karen Gibbons-Brown. Rachael has also guested with the Albany Berkshire Ballet, Connect the Dots Dance Company, Deos Contemporary Ballet, and Three Rivers Dance.
Ms. Kroeger received classical training in Fort Worth, Texas, at Gayle Corkery School of Ballet, under Gayle Corkery, Carrie and Li Chou Cheng and Margo McCann. She received additional training at Texas Ballet Theater's summer intensive programs. In 2013, Ms. Kroeger graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Dance from Belhaven University and has most enjoyed performing George Balanchine’s Serenade and Walpurgisnacht. Since graduating, Ms. Kroeger has performed with Ballet Concerto under Margo and Webster Dean, Ballet Frontier of Texas under Chung Lin and Enrica Tseng, Zion Dance project under Vincent Hardy and Avant Chamber Ballet under Katie Cooper. This is her first season dancing with Ballet Hartford.
Juliet Mazzola is originally from Bennington, Vermont and began her training at the Berkshire Dance Theater. She has spent summers studying at the Boston Ballet School, Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, Colorado Ballet, Ballet X and studied as a Trainee at the Joffrey Ballet School. In 2018, Juliet graduated from The Conservatory of Dance at SUNY Purchase College with a BFA in Dance and a Concentration in Ballet. While studying at Purchase she spent a semester abroad at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts. She has performed many works by various artists including George Balanchine, Gerald Arpino, Michelle Thompson Ulerich, Bettijane Sills, Iratxe Ansa and Taryn Russell. Juliet is looking forward to beginning her professional career with Ballet Harford this fall.
Lea-Janell Mitchell is originally from East Lansing Michigan. She grew up dancing with Capitol Ballet Theatre of Michigan and Happendance. After graduating from high school in 2011, Lea moved to Connecticut where she attended The Hartt School for Performing Arts on scholarship. Lea graduated in May of 2015 with a BFA in Dance Performance and Ballet Pedagogy. She has performed in 15+ classical ballets, some under the direction of artists such as Angel Corella, Laura Alonso, Xiomara Reyes, Hilda Morales and Stephen Pier. More recently, she has danced professionally with Fort Wayne Ballet and danced leading and soloist roles such as Dewdrop, Chinese and Snow Crystal in The Nutcracker, Little Swan in Swan Lake and been a lead in select contemporary works.
Erin Moody of Natick Massachusetts began her study of dance at Walnut Hill Dance Academy with Kathryn Stark and graduated from the high school division at Walnut Hill School for the arts under the direction of Michael Owen and Denise Lewis. Erin went on to obtain her BFA in ballet performance at the University of Cincinnati’s College Conservatory of Music. There she was given the opportunity to perform guest roles in Dayton Ballet’s The Nutcracker. During her third year, she studied abroad at The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in Glasgow. In Scotland she trained with and performed works by instructors Louisa Ross, Fabrice Maufrais and Diana Loosemore, of Scottish Ballet.
Born in Phoenix, Arizona and raised across the US, Sarah Nulsen began studying ballet at 10 years old. After continuing her training at The Hartt School on a Performing Arts Scholarship, she received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance Performance. Sarah has had the opportunity to perform soloist roles in classic works by Doris Humphrey, Jose Limon, Marius Petipa, Martha Graham, and Michel Fokine. She has enjoyed the collaborative processes of creating original roles and performing in works by Adam Barruch, Alex Springer + Xan Burley, Brian Arias, Katie Stevinson-Nollet, and Stephen Pier. This is her first season with Ballet Hartford.
Emily Orzada is originally from Newark, Delaware where she began her ballet training at Mid-Atlantic Ballet under the direction of Patrick Korstange. While training at Mid-Atlantic Ballet, she attended many summer intensives including the American Repertory Ballet, the Atlanta Ballet, The Rock School for Dance Education, and Ballet Austin. After high school, she studied at The University of the Arts as a Dance major and was mentored by Michael Sheridan, Eva Szabo, Arantxa Ochoa, Denis Gronostayskiy, and Alexander Iziliaev, along with many other ballet, modern, and jazz instructors. In 2014, Emily joined the Ballet Theatre of Maryland as a trainee with Artistic Director, Dianna Cuatto. While at BTM, she performed with the company in their performances of The Nutcracker, A Mid-Summer Night’s Dream, Cinderella, Carmen, and Sleeping Beauty, to name a few. During the 2017-18 season, she was an Apprentice at Fort Wayne Ballet, with Artistic Director, Karen Gibbons-Brown. Where she danced in many productions, her favorite role being the lead Mazurka in Coppelia, mentored by Ms. Eleonora Pokhitonova. During the summer of 2018, Emily performed with Three Rivers Dance, a summer dance project in Fort Wayne, Indiana. This project brought all genres of dance together for the Fort Wayne community. This will be Emily’s first season with Ballet Hartford.
Daniella Parisot, originally from Redding, CT, received her early dance training at the Ridgefield Conservatory of Dance studying classical ballet and modern. She then went on to obtain a BFA in dance performance with a ballet pedagogy emphasis from The Hartt School Dance Division at The University of Hartford. Daniella graduated magna cum laude in May of 2018. During her time at The Hartt School, she had the opportunity to perform new and restaged works by world renown choreographers such as George Balanchine, José Limón, Claudia Schreier, Norbert De La Cruz III, Hilda Morales, Ralph Perkins, Katie Stevinson-Nollet, Stephen Pier, and Elizabeth McMillan. She has also attended many summer intensives including San Francisco Conservatory of Dance, Boston Ballet and Henny Jurriëns Stichting in Amsterdam, Netherlands. In March of 2018 she had the wonderful opportunity to perform an excerpt of Claudia Schreier’s new work, “Arcadia,” at The Joyce Theater in New York City, as a part of Destiny Rising for New York City Dance Alliance. This will be Daniella’s first season with Ballet Hartford.
Elizabeth (Betsie) Stevens, originally from Rochester, NH, began her classical ballet training at age 11 with Northeastern Ballet Theatre under former Boston Ballet principal dancer Edra Toth. While with NEBT she had the honor of performing many lead roles such as the Sugar Plum Fairy, Cinderella, and Puck. Stevens graduated from Belhaven University in Jackson, MS with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance (2018) while training under Laura Morton, Caleb Mitchell, and Ravenna Tucker-Wagnon. While at Belhaven Stevens received the Bezalel Award (2017) for outstanding artistic achievements, the Daniel Award (2018) for scholastic achievement, and graduated with the National Dance Honors Society. Stevens has attended the professional Bates Dance Festival (2016) and recently represented Belhaven at the Alabama Dance Festival and the National American College Dance Association Festival at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC (2018).
Erica was born in Manchester, CT. She started ballet at the age of 7, at Toriography Dance Center in Vernon, CT. She began her pre-professional ballet training at the Massachusetts Academy of Ballet in Holyoke, MA and has danced professionally with Mystic Ballet in Mystic, CT and Dimensional Dance in Hartford, CT. Erica has served on faculty for Toriography Dance Center, Mystic Ballet School, and the Massachusetts Academy of Ballet.
After training in ballet for seven years at a variety of studios, Aria joined Marin Ballet to train under the artistic direction of Cynthia Lucas. While with Marin Ballet, Aria performed lead solo roles in The Nutcracker Ballet choreographed by Julia Adam, including Chinese (lead soloist), Arabian (lead soloist), and French Flute (“Goose,” lead soloist). Marin Ballet provided Aria with an opportunity to work and train with Sandra Jennings of The Balanchine Trust, under whose direction she learned and performed Balanchine’s Diamonds and Serenade. In 2015, Aria accepted a trainee position with Ekklesia Contemporary Ballet, and performed numerous repertory works with the company and second company. In 2016, she continued her training at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, where she performed in Alan Hineline’s The Sleeping Beauty and in three original works by Melinda Howe. She has trained at multiple Summer Dance Intensives, including Ballet Austin, San Francisco Ballet, Marin Ballet, Houston Ballet, and Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet. In 2018, Aria accepted an apprenticeship with Ballet Hartford and a teaching position with Westbrook Dance Academy. She is very excited to do what she loves best and share her passion for ballet.
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