Ballet Austin Academy
William Piner, Academy Director
Bill Piner graduated from Butler University’s prestigious dance program in 1982 and had a wide and varied professional performing career with companies such as Ballet Austin, the Hartford Ballet and Dance Kaleidoscope, Indiana’s only professional modern company. A member of Actor’s Equity Association, Bill also enjoyed a career in musical theatre before retiring to direct Ballet Austin Academy. He has been teaching extensively since 1982, including seven years on faculty at Butler University’s Jordan College Academy of Dance in Indianapolis. In 1992, Bill was appointed director of the Ballet Austin Academy. Under his direction the Academy has grown to become one of the largest classical ballet schools in the country.
Michelle Martin, Associate Artistic Director and Faculty Chair
Michelle Martin had her early dance training at the Alberta Ballet School and danced with the Alberta Ballet Company for four years before joining the Indianapolis Ballet Theatre (IBT) in 1982. While with IBT and, subsequently, the Hartford Ballet in Connecticut, she performed leading and soloist roles in Romeo and Juliet, The Nutcracker, The Sleeping Beauty and The Moor’s Pavane as well as creating roles in many original works. Martin’s teaching credits include guest-teaching engagements at schools and universities in Canada, South Carolina, Michigan, and throughout Indiana and Texas. She was on faculty at Butler University in Indianapolis for five years. Martin began her tenure with Ballet Austin in 1991 as a dancer with the Company and in 1992 she was appointed ballet mistress and curriculum director of the Academy. In 1999 she founded Ballet Austin II, Ballet Austin’s apprentice program, providing professional development for the 10-member second company and designing educational programming for presentation in schools. Martin has served on the Texas Commission on the Arts advisory panel for Arts Education and is a recipient of the Austin Under Forty award for contributions in the area of the Arts and Entertainment. Martin was appointed associate artistic director of Ballet Austin in 2000.
Jennifer Hart, Curriculum Manager / Resident Instructor
As curriculum manager, Jennifer Hart oversees syllabus for the Ballet Austin Academy’s Elementary, Intermediate and Advanced Divisions. She also teaches all levels of the school as well as Ballet Austin’s Butler Fellowship post-Program and its second company.
In addition to teaching, Hart pursues an active career as a choreographer. Hailed as a choreographer “with an imagination so exuberant that one could not be sure how one movement led to the next” and “not only inventive but heart-rending,” Jennifer Hart has been commissioned by Ballet Austin, Ballet Austin ll, Ballet Nouveau Colorado (now Wonderbound), James Sewell Ballet, Minnesota Dance Theater, The Walker Art Center’s Momentum Series, The McKnight Fellowship for Dancers, Metropolitan Ballet Project, University of Kansas, University of Massachusetts, Lawrence Ballet Theatre, and Merick Strategies for its production of Leonard Bernstein’s “Mass” and “Icons of Broadway Holiday Spectacular.” Upcoming commissions include Ballet Austin and Halcyon Dance Project in San Francisco, California.
In 2011, Hart was awarded a New York City Ballet Fellowship and won third place at the Saint-Sauveur International Choreography Competition. She received second place at Ballet Nouveau Colorado’s choreography competition, and was one of three winners of the University of Kansas’ competitive choreography competition. She was chosen three times to present work at Ballet Builders, New Choreographer’s on Point in NYC. She was commissioned by University of Massachusetts in the fall of 2013; the work was chosen for the National College Dance Festival at the Kennedy Center, June 2014.
In 2014, she formed Performa/Dance with Ballet Austin dancer Edward Carr. Performa/Dance launched its inaugural show. Ignite: Three Works, in June, 2014. Her work for Performa/Dance was awarded four Austin Critic’s Table awards for Best Short Work (“On Truth and Love”and “Camille: A Story of Art and Love”), Best Choreographer (“Fellow Travelers” and “Murmuration”), and Best Dance Concert (Ignite: Three Works). Along with her work in concert dance, she has choreographed and performed cabaret shorts for nightclubs and television. She recently choreographed and co-directed the epic Bernstein’s Mass, a work involving 300 performers.
She trained at Minnesota Dance Theatre, Pacific Northwest Ballet and San Francisco Ballet. Her performing career includes Minnesota Dance Theater, Ballet of the Dolls, and L.A Chamber Ballet, as well as independent choreographers.
Katelyn Rustagi, Senior Programs Manager / Resident Instructor
A native of Beaumont, Texas, Katelyn began her dance training at Beaumont Ballet Theatre and continued through Beaumont Civic Ballet and Texas Ballet Theatre. She earned her Bachelor’s of Arts in Dance Performance, graduating Summa Cum Laude from Oral Roberts University in 2012. After graduation, Katelyn went on to teach ballet at Tulsa Ballet’s Center for Dance Education, and the School of Nashville Ballet where she was the Children’s Program Coordinator. Katelyn joined Ballet Austin in 2018 to teach in the Academy. She now leads the Pre Ballet curriculum and supports the various programs of the Academy. Katelyn strives to make every child feel seen, known and wanted in her classroom.
LB Flett, Young Children’s Program Manager / Resident Instructor
LB (Laura Beth), embarked on her dance journey at the age of four in her hometown of Shreveport, Louisiana. While studying a variety of dance genres, her primary training was in Ballet. She continued her studies at The University of Texas at Austin, where she earned her BFA in Dance with a specialization in Dance Education. Since graduating in 2017, LB has devoted herself to crafting enriching dance experiences for young children. She has created and taught development-focused creative dance curricula to young students in Montessori schools, public schools, extracurricular programs, and dance studios. LB started teaching in the Young Children’s Program in 2018. During that time, she has trained with Anne Green Gilbert, the renowned creator of the Brain-Compatible Dance Education and the BrainDance. Through her many years of studying and teaching this method, LB has witnessed its remarkable impact on children’s holistic development, fostering not only deep and embodied learning but also nurturing a genuine love for dance. In her role as the Young Children’s Division Program Manager, LB is thrilled to bring her expertise in curriculum-building, child development, and dance education to best support Ballet Austin teachers, students, and families.
Siobhan O’Donnell, Academy Registrar
Siobhan studied dance for 13 years, including two summers at Ballet Austin. She also had the pleasure of teaching ballet to students of all ages at the Ballet Conservatory of South Texas from 2013 to 2017. While completing her Bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology at the University of the Incarnate Word, Siobhan began working in the group fitness industry. Over the next five years, she gained invaluable experience through teaching Barre classes and managing multiple Boutique Fitness studios in San Antonio. Siobhan will always have a passion for movement and the Arts, so she is thrilled to join the team at Ballet Austin. As Academy Registrar, she hopes to help promote creativity and wellness while assisting students, parents, and staff.
Jessica O’Brien, Academy Administrator
Jessica was born and raised in Austin, Texas, where she trained and performed in musical theatre all around the city. She grew up in Round Rock, Texas and is an alumni of Cedar Ridge High School’s Visual and Performing Arts Academy where she trained under award-winning director and choreographer, Kristie Copeland. Her love for her family and friends has kept her close, as well as her deep roots in the theatre community here in Austin. Her passion for singing, acting, and dancing has cultivated a love for instilling it into the next generation and watching them grow in their bent for the Arts as well. She has worked with many arts education organizations in teaching and administrative roles here in Austin, as well as in New Orleans such as NOLA Microschools, The Paramount Theatre, TexArts and much more! In 2019, Jessica was also The Female Residential Director for Texas Arts Project, a 3-week sleepaway summer intensive for students training in Musical Theatre. She most recently was a Chaperone for Ballet Austin’s 2022 Summer Intensive where she fell in love with the atmosphere Ballet Austin provides for the community at large and within. Jessica hopes to provide a warm and nurturing experience for both the students and their families, as they grow here at Ballet Austin.
Hannah Neuhauser, Academy Associate
Hannah Neuhauser is a Doctoral Student in Musicology at UT Austin with scholarly interests in children’s media and film music. She earned her Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance from Millikin University in 2018 and her Master of Arts in Music History at California State Long Beach in 2020. Most recently, she has presented at the Music and the Moving Image conference on the 1951 Hollywood ballet arrangement of George Gerswhin’s orchestral poem, An American in Paris (1928). Outside of her scholarly pursuits, she served as the Student Representative (2021-23) of the American Musicological Society Southwest Chapter and Student Co-Chair for the Society for American Music (2022-24). She actively strives to improve communication between academic and independent scholarship, demonstrating the intrinsic need for connection and education in all circuits of our communities. She has worked as a Curatorial Assistant for the Harry Ransom Center, as well as a Teaching Artist and a Stage Manager for various Austin nonprofits; including, but not limited to, Hideout Improv Theatre, Inversion Ensemble, and the Gilbert & Sullivan Austin Society.
Amy Stelly, Academy Associate
Amy is a seasoned professional with a rich history in human resources and education, whose journey in the professional world has been marked by her positive attitude and her value for collaboration and efficiency. She has earned recognition for her diverse skillsets through a variety of leadership and training roles. Amy had the privilege of growing up and dancing in Opelousas, Louisiana for 13 years and found a source of joy, discipline, and a sense of belonging that she carries with her to this day. Her passion for dance has remained unwavering, inspiring her repeatedly with its expressiveness. Amy is grateful to have the opportunity to bring her dedication to Ballet Austin as an Academy Associate. Amy hopes to contribute to Ballet Austin’s mission of involving and strengthening the community through the creation and experience of dance and the encouragement of health and well-being through problem-solving, collaboration, and excellence. She looks forward to assisting the Academy and providing a warm, welcoming experience for students and their families as they explore and deepen their relationship with dance and hopes to help them to foster a lifelong passion for it.
Venese Alcantar, Instructor
Venese is currently a Graduate Student in the Movement as Social Justice program at the University of Texas at Austin. She earned her BFA in Dance at UT Austin, with a specialization in Dance Education and Culturally Responsive Pedagogies. Venese was an artist in residence with Russian Contemporary Company, Pantera, while conjunctively teaching at Kazan University of Culture and Art, in Kazan, Russia. In addition, some of Venese’s teaching experience includes the teaching residency at the Beulah School of Natural Sciences, adjunct at the Colorado Springs Conservatory, the Positive Note Program for people with mixed abilities, instructor for the Mathtastic education-through-dance program, Danza facilitator for the Danza program at the Indigenous Cultures Institute and a DEL Summer Arnhold Fellow.
Her work has shown at the Ohr-O’keefe Museum of Art, the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, the UCCS Galleries of Contemporary Art, The Mesa House, the Ent Center for the Arts at UCCS, Cossit Hall at Colorado College, Millibo Art Theatre, Bijou Street, the Terri Goodhue Gallery, and most recently The B. Iden Payne Theatre. When Venese isn’t busy with creative pursuits, she can be found frolicking with her kiddos on the trails. She would like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land we move and create on.
Ian J. Bethany, Company Dancer and Instructor
Ian J. Bethany is from Long Island, N.Y. He started dancing as a tap and jazz student at Robert Mann Dance Centre. He started ballet at the age of 12 at Tap to Pointe Dance Center. Ian then went on to train at the Frank Ohman School of Ballet, at the School of Ballet Chicago with Daniel Duell and Patricia Blair, at Ballet Academy East with Darla Hoover and Francis Patrelle, and then as a full scholarship student in the Professional Division of Pacific Northwest Ballet School with Peter Boal, Elaine Bauer, Marjorie Thompson, Bruce Wells, and Nicholas Ade. With Ballet Austin, Ian has enjoyed performing in George Balanchine’s Agon and Allegro Brillante, Nicolo Fonte’s Lasting Imprint, Annabelle Lopez Ochoa’s Requiem for a Rose, Gabrielle Lamb’s Dovetail, Bradley Shelver’s The Last Just, Stephen Mills’ Carmina Burana, The Magic Flute, and The Nutcracker, and the Bluebird Pas de Deux in The Sleeping Beauty. Ian has performed with project-based company Performa/Dance, has sung with the Austin Opera, was seen as Dream Curly in Zilker Theatre Production’s presentation of Oklahoma!, and does numerous juggling gigs around Austin. He also teaches in the Ballet Austin Academy. Ian would like to thank Jesus Christ, his wife, Grace, and his family for the support they give him each day.
Colin Canavan, Company Dancer and Instructor
Colin is from Reading, MA. At age 15, he attended Walnut Hill School for the Arts in Natick, MA. Colin graduated from Indiana University’s Jacob’s School of Music in 2022 with a BS in Ballet Performance, Arts Management, and Human Resource Management. At IU, he has performed roles such as the principal in Donizetti Variations, Prince Siegfried in Swan Lake, Prince Charming in Sasha Jane’s Cinderella, and corps roles in other Balanchine, Robbins, and Wheeldon works. Colin was one of eleven dancers chosen by Annabelle Lopez Ochoa to attend the Jacob’s Pillow Contemporary Ballet Program in 2021.
Alexa Capareda, Ballet Master — Ballet Austin TWO and Butler Fellows / Resident Instructor
Alexa was born in the Philippines, where she began her dance training at Ballet Regina, following the Royal Academy of Dance curriculum. At age 16, Alexa started a three-year traineeship with Ballet Austin while attending college at the University of Texas. She attended the study program of the Ecole Superieure de Ballet Contemporain de Montreal in Canada, where she trained under renowned classical and contemporary artists and performed with Le Jeune Ballet du Quebec in works by Gioconda Barbuto, Shaun Hansell, and Jean-Louis Morin. While in Montreal, she performed as a guest soloist with Ballet Ouest in their production of “The Nutcracker.” In 2011, Alexa joined Mario Radacovsky’s newly formed contemporary company, Balet Bratislava, in Slovakia, as one of 16 original company members. Aside from working with Radacovsky on the company’s repertoire of neoclassical and contemporary works, Alexa had the privilege of performing Jiri Kylian’s Falling Angels and Six Dances and performing creations by Libor Vaculik, Sarka Ondrisova, and Jan Durovcik.
Alexa has extensive training in dance and choreography, having participated in top-notch summer programs and workshops at Springboard Danse Montreal, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, and Northwest Dance Project. Shortly before leaving Balet Bratislava, Alexa received 3rd place in the 2013 Festival of Choreographic Miniatures choreography competition held in Belgrade, Serbia.
Alexa has been teaching ballet and contemporary at Ballet Austin’s Butler Center for Dance & Fitness since 2013. She also dances professionally with Austin-based Arcos Dance, and has performed with Andrea Beckham Dance Collaborative and Jennifer Hart’s Performa/Dance. Alexa received a BA in English with high honors from the University of Texas-Austin in 2015.
Danielle Cortier, Instructor
Danielle is originally from South Bend, Indiana. After graduating from Ball State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Dance Performance and a minor in Dance Education, she moved to NYC where she worked as a freelance performer and dance educator for 13 years. On top of freelance performance work, she danced with several companies including Eidolon Ballet in Concert and Mariana Bekerman Dance Company. She has performed all over NYC and the East Coast, including the Lincoln Center “Out of Doors” Festival, Jacob’s Pillow, and City Center Studios. She has also performed abroad in Japan. Danielle’s national credits include back up dancing for Twenty One Pilots on Late Night with Seth Meyers. Teaching has always been a large part of her life, and she taught at Ballet Academy East on the Upper East Side during her time in NYC. Danielle enjoys teaching students of all ages in many forms of dance including Ballet, Jazz, Tap, Modern, and Contemporary. She has been a Dancer, Assistant Choreographer, and US Company Manager with Keiko Fujii Dance Company based in Osaka, Japan since 2015.
Gabrielle Carrasco, Teaching Assistant
Gabi was born and raised in El Paso, TX and recently moved to Austin, now pursuing her Bachelors of Arts in Psychology with a focus on Child Psychology. She began training at a young age in Ballet and Tap, at the Elite Academy of Dance and as she grew older, she branched out to other styles, fostering her passion for contemporary and modern styles. She has competed for the majority of her youth years and acknowledges that she wouldn’t be at this place in her life without all the wonderful dance instructors who have influenced her. She is thrilled to be on the opposite end this time getting to work with children who hope to find a home in dance the same way she did!
Katie Deuitch, Company Dancer and Instructor
Katherine is originally from St. Paul, Minn. She began her pre-professional training at Minnesota Dance Theatre under Lise Houlton. She became an apprentice with MDT in 2013, where she danced works by Loyce Houlton, Lise Houlton, Elliot Feld, and Emery LeCrone, among others. In 2014, she was invited to attend the School of American Ballet. While at SAB, she participated in multiple Choreographic Institute’s where she originated roles by Dana Genshaft and Peter Walker. She also appeared in SAB’s annual Workshop performance in Jerome Robbins’ Fanfare as well as George Balanchine’s The Four Temperaments. As an apprentice with Ballet Austin, she has had the opportunity to dance works by Stephen Mills, Michelle Thompson, Thang Dao and Septime Webre. Most recently, she appeared in Jennifer Hart’s Fellow Travelers with Performa/Dance.
Marissa Ramirez, Instructor
Marissa Ramirez was born and raised in Laredo, Texas where she was trained in Ballet, Tap, Jazz, Lyrical, Contemporary, Modern, and Hip Hop. Her career started as an assistant for her home studio at 16 years old where she then developed her skills into a full time instructor. She has been teaching dance ever since! She discovered her passion for choreography when she was unable to afford to hire a solo choreographer one year; so, she took matters into her own hands and earned her first choreography award at 16.
Marissa is a recent graduate from The University of Texas at Austin (Hook ‘em!) where she was able to work within the dance program as well as choreographing professionally around Austin. After graduating, Marissa took her dance teacher skills into the classroom–focusing on special education; by her second year, Marissa had the honor of earning an EANESpiration Educational Impact award. Marissa takes pride in giving youth and teens of ALL abilities the chance to lead, learn, thrive, and grow through the magic of performing arts. Her passion for dance shows in the studio where she encourages her dancers to be both confident and creative. Now, Marissa teaches dance at studios around Austin as well as pursuing a professional dance career.
Lisa del Rosario, Resident Instructor
Lisa del Rosario began her dance studies at the Margo Marshall School of Ballet and the Cleveland San Jose School of Ballet. She continued her training as a Heywood “Woody” McGriff Presidential Scholarship student at the University of Texas at Austin where she received her BFA in Dance. She also studied classical piano and violin for many years and in her later years Pilates, Yoga, Tai Chi, qigong, Droznin System, Vipassana Meditation, and the Feldenkrais Method® of movement education. She currently is a member of DA! Theatre Collective and Sheep Army/Elsewhere Dance Theatre, and also performs her own solo work, along with independent choreographers, locally, nationally, and internationally. Lisa has taught and choreographed at the Dougherty Arts School, the McCallum High School Fine Arts Academy, Tapestry, and the Texas Arts Project at St. Stephen’s Episcopal School. Lisa is thrilled to be teaching at Ballet Austin Academy.
Aisling DiRico, Resident Instructor
Aisling began training at the age of 6 at Ballet Austin Academy, then continuing on at The University of North Carolina School of the Arts. She trained under many great teachers including Melissa Hayden and Nina Danilova. After graduating from the high school program, Aisling began her professional career with the Kansas City Ballet. During her 15-year professional career, she performed in many ballets including principal and soloist roles in classical favorites such as The Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty, and Giselle. Some of her personal favorites were Afternoon of a Faun, The Concert by Jerome Robbins, Agon, Stravinsky Violin Concerto, Slaughter on 10th Avenue by George Balanchine, and The Dying Swan by Mikhail Fokine (staged by Elaine Bauer).
Aisling began teaching in 2003 at Kansas City Ballet’s summer program in Crested Butte Colorado and immediately fell in love. Watching her students learn and thrive was invigorating and gave her a sense of pride and admiration. Aisling’s teaching credits include Kansas City Ballet Academy, Dance Works Academy, and the Kansas School of Classical Academy where she had the pleasure of teaching students from around the globe. Aisling is extremely excited to be a part of the Ballet Austin faculty and to be able to share her knowledge with the next generation of dancers at her Alma Mater.
Alexis “Lexi” Eicher, Company Dancer and Instructor
Alexis “Lexi” Eicher is a current dancer in her second season with Ballet Austin II. She grew up in Fort Wayne, IN where she began both her dance training and her teaching career, undertaking many children’s classes at multiple studios during high school. In 2021, she graduated from Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music with a Bachelor of Science in Ballet & Psychology. During college, she performed works by renowned choreographers such as George Balanchine, Antony Tudor, Martha Graham, Jerome Robbins, and Christopher Wheeldon. She also took three years of ballet pedagogy courses and taught the Pre-College Program’s Introductory to Ballet classes. She moved to Austin in the fall of 2021 and is beyond excited to share her love of ballet and passion for teaching with the young children of Austin.
James Fuller, Company Dancer and Instructor
James Fuller is from Irvine, Calif., and was trained at Ballet Pacifica Conservatory. In 2004, James received a Youth America Grand Prix scholarship to study at the Boston Ballet School, where he completed his final year of training. James apprenticed with Oregon Ballet Theatre for a year before enrolling at Harvard University. At Harvard, James performed works by choreographers such as Paul Taylor, Martha Graham, George Balanchine, and Alvin Ailey. In the summers, James studied modern dance with the Paul Taylor Dance Company, American Dance Festival, and Beijing LDTX. James directed the Harvard Ballet Company in 2009 and graduated in 2010 with a Bachelor of the Arts in Philosophy, a secondary field in dramatic arts, and a language citation in Urdu-Hindi. Since joining Ballet Austin, James has performed in original works by Stephen Mills, including Though the Earth Gives Way and Four Mortal Men, danced the role of Albrecht in Giselle and the main pas de deux in Christopher Wheeldon’s Ghosts, performed with the National Choreographers Initiative, and choreographed for Houston City Dance.
Emmalie George, Instructor
Emmalie grew up in Houston, TX where she began dancing at Boni’s Dance and Performing Arts Studio in The Woodlands, TX. From a young age, she knew she wanted to pursue a career in dance, and trained with The Houston Metropolitan Dance Company, as well as performed in their youth company, from 2009-2012. Emmalie graduated from the high school program at The University of North Carolina School of the Arts in 2015, under the direction of Susan Jaffe and Brenda Daniels. Here she had the opportunity to work with many esteemed choreographers and was given the opportunity to dance works by Merce Cunningham, George Balanchine, Lucinda Childs, and Twyla Tharp.
After graduating from UNCSA, Emmalie left North Carolina to train at SUNY Purchase in Harrison, NY. There she had opportunities to work with many prestigious artists and choreographers throughout the summers as well as her time at Purchase. She had the wonderful opportunity to dance in a work commissioned by the Eryc Taylor Grant Foundation, which was performed at the Martha Graham Studio Theater in October of 2018. Emmalie graduated Magna Cum Laude from Purchase in May 2019, with her BFA in dance, and has now been teaching in the Greater Austin area for about four years. Emmalie is an ABT Certified Teacher, who has successfully completed the ABT Teacher Training Intensive in Pre-Primary-Level 3 of the ABT National Training Curriculum. She hopes to continue progressing through the program, bringing the highest quality of ballet training to her students.
Fay Leonard, Instructor
Ms. Fay fell in love with ballet while listening to her mom read tales of world-famous mouseling, Angelina Ballerina, and has not stopped dancing ever since. She began her formal ballet training at Temple Terrace Ballet, where she has continued to give back to her hometown community through teaching, choreographing, and performing for the past several years. She has also had the privilege of teaching ballet, jazz, acro, tap, and musical theater for Show on the Road, Tampa, and Suncoast Dance Academy. Ms. Fay recently graduated from the University of South Florida with her BFA in Dance Performance, ballet concentration, and her minor in Global Studies in Education. She has not only had the joy of training under esteemed USF faculty members in Tampa, FL., but also under a diverse body of professional dancers, choreographers, and teachers in Paris, France. In addition to her training, Ms. Leonard has performed with Tampa City Ballet and Brandon Ballet in her hometown of Tampa, Florida. Ms. Fay is passionate about cultivating imagination, ingenuity, and creativity in young students through the performing arts, and can’t wait to share that passion with her new dance community in Austin!
Emily Lofton, Instructor
Emily Lofton is a life-long dancer originally from Texas. She graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 2020, earning her BFA in Ballet Pedagogy with a special focus in early childhood development. She is delighted to be teaching Pre Ballet and the Young Children’s Division for Ballet Austin with an ultimate goal of fostering acceptance, creativity and a love for dance in each student she meets.
Sahel Flora Pascual, Company Dancer and Instructor
Growing up in the Philippines, Sahel started her dance training with Maritoni Tordesillas and later, Lisa Macuja-Elizalde and Osias Barossa at Ballet Manila. She continued at the School of American Ballet, performing featured roles in George Balanchine’s Emeralds, Divertimento No. 15, Valse Fantaisie, Symphony in C, and Peter Martin’s Sleeping Beauty. Sahel performed with the New York City Ballet in their 2022 Spring Gala and Stravinsky II Festival and originated featured roles with the New York Choreographic Institute. Sahel is also a student at Columbia University specializing in developmental and sociocultural psychology with a focus in dance pedagogy and an interest in choreography.
Alison Spell, Instructor
Born and raised in Austin, TX, Alison discovered her love for movement when she took her first dance class at the age of 5 years old. Over the course of her training, she became proficient in ballet, tap, jazz, contemporary, hip hop, and pointe. By the time she reached high school, she was traveling and earning awards state-wide with her studio’s invitation-only company performance team.
After graduating high school, she continued her dance education at the University of Ulster in Northern Ireland where she deepened her understanding of dance fundamentals and developed her pedagogical practice. Eventually, she returned to the states and leaped into using her newfound knowledge to create her own dance classes.
This was a pivotal experience in Alison’s dance journey, as she uncovered her passion for teaching and working with children. Subsequently, she transferred to the College of Education at the University of Texas in Austin and earned her degree in Applied Learning and Development in 2014.
Since then, Alison has allowed her passion for movement and education to guide her professionally. She’s worn many hats over the course of her 12-year career: professional dancer, barre & Pilates instructor, preschool teacher, and most recently, manager of a children’s dance academy in Los Angeles, CA; but where she feels most at home is in the dance studio, sharing the joys of dance with her students.
From once a tiny dancer herself, twirling in the aisles at Ballet Austin performances growing up, to now joining its faculty as the Young Children’s Division dance teacher, Alison is honored to bring her knowledge, experience, and passion for dance to the students and families of Ballet Austin
Jadelyn Stanfill, Instructor
Jadelyn’s journey in dance began at a young age while living in Spain where she first fell in love with ballet. After her family relocated to Texas she continued to train in various genres beyond ballet such as pointe, jazz, contemporary, modern, character, and hip hop. Jadelyn was highly trained at a Cuban ballet school in San Antonio, Texas where she competed at the international student level across a wide range of categories and genres. Her experiences in the competitive arena have fostered a deep understanding of the art form, honing her skills and shaping her perspective as an instructor. One of the most memorable moments in Jadelyn’s career was receiving an invitation to showcase American ballet in Cuba. This incredible opportunity allowed her to represent her country and captivate audiences with her grace and artistry. It was a humbling experience that further fueled her passion for ballet and instilled in her a commitment to sharing its beauty on a global scale.
As an instructor, Jadelyn’s primary objective is to inspire and nurture her students’ love for dance. She firmly believes in cultivating a supportive and inclusive environment where each student feels empowered to explore their potential and express themselves through movement. Jadelyn feels immensely privileged to be part of the vibrant community of artists and dancers at Ballet Austin. Guiding aspiring dancers on their transformative journeys is an honor she cherishes deeply. With her guidance, passion, and expertise, she aims to inspire the next generation of dancers, fostering their self-discovery, artistry, and boundless potential through the universal language of dance.
Christopher Swaim, Ballet Austin Rehearsal Director / Resident Instructor
Christopher Swaim is originally from Bryant, Ark., where he began his training with Kirt and Linda Hathaway at the Academy of Ballet Arkansas. He then went on to graduate with distinction from the University of Oklahoma with a B.F.A. in Ballet Pedagogy. Swaim has danced a variety of soloist and principal roles across classical, contemporary, and modern repertory, including works by Stephen Mills, George Balanchine, Twyla Tharp, Justin Peck, Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, Nicolo Fonte, Amy Seiwert, Ben Stevenson, Miguel Terekhov, Pam Tanowitz, Sidra Bell, and Septime Webre. While at Ballet Austin he had the pleasure of touring the globe, performing at the Kennedy Center in our nation’s capital with The Suzanne Farrell Ballet and again with Ballet Across America III, and guesting with Ballet Arkansas and Amy Seiwert’s company, Imagery. In May of 2019, he retired from the stage after 15 years with Ballet Austin as Albrecht in Giselle. Swaim teaches in the Ballet Austin Academy and has guest taught across the country.