Company Dancers

Company Dancers

2019-2020 Season

Marianne Bassing

Marianne Bassing grew up in Marin County California, training at Marin Dance Theatre. While training Marianne received full scholarship, and the 2nd Level award at NFAA. Marianne continued her training at the Joffrey Trainee program in Chicago. Marianne began her professional career as an apprentice with the Dresden Semper Opera, performing works by director, Aaron S. Watkins, and works by George Balanchine. She then moved to the Estonian National Ballet as a Corps De Ballet dancer under the directorship of Thomas Edur, where she performed works by Tiit Härm, Ronald Hynd, Gyula Harangozó, Kenneth MacMillan, John Cranko, Ben Stevenson, as well as Thomas Edur. Marianne was given the opportunity to perform soloist roles in Thomas Edur and Jvgeni Neff’s La Bayadere, Wayne Mcgregor’s Symbiont(s), and Robert Binet’s Voces Intimae. This will be Marianne’s first full season with Oakland Ballet.


Samantha Bell

Samantha Bell, from Orange County, California, trained with the Anaheim Ballet on full scholarship and joined their company in 2008. She won third place at Youth American Grand Prix and went on to the New York City finals. From 2010-2015, Samantha danced with the State Street Ballet of Santa Barbara (SSB) where she performed soloist roles including the Autumn Fairy in Rodney Gustafson’s Cinderella and Bianca in Robert Sund’s Taming of the Shrew. She originated the lead role of Mrs. Medlock in Josie Walsh’s premiere of The Secret Garden. Samantha’s piece, titled Pistolero, became the first-ever dancer choreographed creation to be added to the company repertoire. She toured extensively with SSB, including a two month tour of China. Samantha has danced in television, film, as well as the MTV Video Music Awards. Bell has performed with Menlowe Ballet, Western Ballet and ARC Dance in Seattle. Since joining OBC in 2017, Bell has been featured in leading roles such as Shere Khan in Jangala and the Bride in Luna Mexicana. This is her third season with Oakland Ballet.


Skylar Burson

Originally from Long Beach, CA, Skylar Burson began his formal training at Lauridsen Ballet Centre in Torrance, CA under the artistic direction of Diane Lauridsen. After graduating from Long Beach City College, Skylar’s aspirations of dancing professionally came true when he joined Utah Metropolitan Ballet. Throughout his training and professional career, he has worked with renowned choreographers such as Garrett Ammon, Jacqueline Colledge, Heather Gray, Alan Hineline, Robert Kelley, Eva Stone, and Repetiteurs of the George Balanchine Trust. Skylar was also selected to perform in Garrett Ammon’s Winter with Wonderbound in Denver, CO. He has set original works on South Bay Ballet and Utah Metropolitan Ballet II that were selected to perform at RDA/P annual festivals and was the Ballet Master for South Bay Ballet for two years. Skylar is looking forward to joining the Oakland Ballet for the 2019-2020 season.


Vincent Chavez

Vincent Chavez was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico where he grew up competing on the local Rodeo circuit.  Once he chose ballet over broncos, he received his formal dance education and training from Dance Theater Southwest (Albuquerque), Ballet Hispanico (New York), Academy of Nevada Ballet Theatre (Las Vegas) and Alonzo King LINES Ballet Training Program (San Francisco). As a result of his strict training and creative educational experiences, Vincent was chosen to perform with leading dance companies including Robert Moses’ Kin, Oakland Ballet Company, Dance Theater of SF, Menlowe Ballet, Nevada Ballet Theatre and New Mexico Ballet Company. His artistry has earned him the opportunity to work with several renowned choreographers, including Graham Lustig, Robert Moses, Michael Lowe, James Canfield, Garrett+Moulton, Gregory Dawson, Molissa Fenley, Val Caniparoli, Amy Seiwert and Christopher Huggins. In addition to his notable dance career, Vincent works independently as a San Francisco Bay Area Dance Artist, teaching, choreographing, collaborating, and performing throughout the United States.



Christopher Dunn

Christopher Dunn has danced as a principal dancer with Reno Dance Company (RDC) productions in Reno, NV since 2002 – dancing classical and contemporary works. He also danced professionally on the Royal Caribbean International Cruise Line, and various productions throughout Nevada and California. He has taught jazz, tap, ballet and hip-hop at numerous schools, including the University of Nevada, Reno. In the Bay Area, Christopher has danced with Napoles Ballet and Peninsula Ballet. He joined Dance Theatre of San Francisco in 2013 as a founding member. Christopher also serves as Oakland Ballet’s Wardrobe Manager and resident Costume Designer.



Karina Eimon

Karina Eimon began her studies at four years old with Ayako Takahashi at Ayako School of Ballet in Belmont, California. During her time in school, Karina placed in the Top 3rd of YAGP SF for five consecutive years, and spent her summers at Ballet West, Houston Ballet, Colorado Ballet, and Kaatsbaan Ballet. When she was 17, she competed in the Jackson International Ballet Competition (2014) and received a contract with Ballet Memphis. Since then she has danced with Milwaukee Ballet and Colorado Ballet, and has also traveled through Europe to study Forsythe choreography and improvisation technique. She is thrilled to be back dancing in her hometown.


Adele Hall

Adele Hall is from Los Angeles, California.  She trained at Westside School of Ballet, and later at the Colburn Dance Academy under the direction of Jenifer Ringer, James Fayette, and Benjamin Millepied.   She also trained at the San Francisco Ballet School, School of American Ballet, and Boston Ballet School summer programs on scholarship. At Colburn, Adele had the opportunity to perform soloist and corps roles in a variety of iconic ballets by George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins; and to receive coaching in contemporary dance from artists of the LA Dance Project.  Adele has danced professionally with State Street Ballet and San Diego Ballet, performing a range of classical and contemporary works.  She is thrilled to be performing the Nutcracker with Oakland Ballet this season.


Tori Jahn

Tori Jahn, a native of Freehold, New Jersey, received her training at American Repertory Ballet’s Princeton Ballet School and was a trainee and apprentice with North Carolina Dance Theatre under the direction of Jean Pierre Bonnefoux. She has danced professionally with North Carolina Dance Theatre, Lustig Dance Theatre, Oakland Ballet, and ARC Dance. She has been featured in works by choreographers Graham Lustig, Edwaard Liang, Alex Ketley, Gerard Theoret, Bat Abbit, and Marie Chong. Tori is thrilled to return to dance with Oakland Ballet this Nutcracker season.




Paunika Jones

Paunika Jones was born and raised in Miami, Florida, and is an alumna of the New World School of the Arts. After graduating, Paunika danced with Oakland Ballet from 2005-2007 and moved on to Dance Theatre of Harlem, where she ascended through the ranks from a member of the professional training program to principal dancer. From there, she worked in various ballet, contemporary, and dance theater companies, both nationally and internationally. During her ever-expanding career, Ms. Jones has developed a love for ballet and dance instruction, yoga, GYROKINESIS, and overall well-being. She plans to further her studies in these areas and continue blooming artistically, which includes cultivating her own dance / performance art company.



Sharon Kung

Sharon Kung was born in New York, and currently resides in the bay area. She received her early training at the Jean M Wong School of Ballet in Hong Kong, and continued in the bay area before graduating Magna Cum Laude from the University of California, Irvine with a BFA in Dance Performance and a BA in Economics. Her repertory includes works by George Balanchine, William Forsythe, Bob Fosse, Yayoi Kambara, José Limon, Graham Lustig, Dexandro “D” Montalvo, Robert Moses, Donald McKayle, Crystal Pite, and Amy Seiwert. Her experience includes Dance Theatre of San Francisco, KAMBARA + DANCERS along with freelance projects in Amsterdam, Hong Kong, Morocco, and San Francisco. This is Sharon’s eighth season with Oakland Ballet Company.



Katya Mayer

 Katya Mayer began her training at Tulsa Ballet under the directorship of Moscelyn Larkin. She continued her training throughout the country under teachers such as Linda Copp, Ruth Mayer, Rebecca Wright, and Sharon Randolph and through summer programs with American Ballet Theater, Atlanta Ballet, and Harid Conservatory. Since graduating from the University of Chicago (B.A. in Mathematics) she has performed with Joffrey Ballet in Chicago, Kansas City Ballet, and locally with Menlowe Ballet, Bay Pointe Ballet, Western Ballet and various choreographers.




Jackie McConnell

Jackie McConnell, from Salem, Oregon, trained with Pacific Northwest Ballet School and received her BFA from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. She danced with Nevada Ballet Theatre, Cherylyn Lavagnino Dance, based in New York City and toured with the Portland-based company, Bodyvox. In the Bay Area, she has danced with Company C Contemporary Ballet, Post: Ballet, Garrett and Moulton Productions, Menlowe Ballet and the San Francisco Opera. She currently dances with Diablo Ballet as well as Oakland Ballet.




Constanza Murphy

Constanza Murphy trained at The North Star Ballet in Fairbanks, Alaska before attending the University of Utah. She has danced with several classical and contemporary companies throughout the country, including Ballet San Antonio, Missouri Contemporary Ballet, and Bay Pointe Ballet. Her career has been highlighted by roles such as Tinkerbell, Lucy, and Swanhilda, as well as opportunities to dance in works created by Amy Seiwert and Renaud Doucet. She last danced with Oakland Ballet Company in 2013 and is very happy to return for her second season. 




Aidan O’Leary

Aidan O’Leary recently completed his BFA at the Alonzo King Lines Ballet BFA Program at Dominican University, where he studied and performed works by Arturo Fernandez, Gregory Dawson, and Laura O’Malley, among many others. During his time there he performed classical and contemporary works with Stapleton Ballet, SAFEhouse Arts, and Grace Cathedral’s San Francisco Movement Arts Festival. Since graduating he has been active around the SF dance scene, performing with Quirk Dance, Man Dance Company, Kathy Mata Ballet, and CRAFT Dance Series. This is his first season with Oakland Ballet.




Thom Panto

An Atlanta native, Thom Panto started dancing at age 11 and began his training with the New Mexico Ballet Company under the direction of Patricia Dickinson. After attending and graduating from the School of American Ballet, he moved to Los Angeles and received a degree in Business: Merchandise Marketing from University of California, Los Angeles with a minor in fashion design from the Fashion Institute. While in Los Angeles, he trained and studied with Marat Daukayev of the Kirov Ballet. Thom joined the Atlanta Ballet in 2007. After eight seasons performing principal and featured roles he joined the Kansas City Ballet as principal for two seasons. His repertoire includes principal roles in John McFall’s Jupiter, Tealia, Firebird, and THREE, The Nutcracker, Christopher Hampson’s Sinfonietta Giocosa, Helen Pickett’s Petal & Camino Real, Ben Stevenson’s Three Preludes, Dark Angel in Balanchine’s Serenade, Principal Man in Christopher Wheeldon’s Rush, Paris in Ballet De Monte Carlo’s Romeo et Juliette, American Ballet Theatre’s Alexei Ratmansky’s Seven Sonatas, Principal Man in Balanchine’s Theme and Variations and The Royal Ballet Wayne McGregor’s Eden/Eden.




Brandon Perez

Brandon Perez, born and raised in San Mateo, California, started his dance training at Tiffany’s Dance Academy in South San Francisco – learning many different styles of dance under Jessi Rodriguez, Claire Calalo Berry, and Hannah Varga, and tap and musicality with Loree Kenagy. As his focus shifted more towards ballet, he began training at The Academy of Ballet in San Francisco working with Zory Karah, Richard Gibson, and Connolly Strombeck. Brandon is an advocate for bullying prevention and depression awareness and shares his story freely in the hope that he can help others through any trouble and heartbreak they may be experiencing. This is Brandon’s second season with Oakland Ballet.


Yanis Eric Pikieris

Yanis Eric Pikieris was born in Miami, Florida and began his training with his parents, Marielena Mencia and Yanis Pikieris, at the Miami Youth Ballet. He also trained at Miami City Ballet School and at Charlotte Ballet Academy with Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux and Patricia McBride. As an Apprentice with Charlotte Ballet, he performed in Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux’s ‘Peter Pan’ and ’The Nutcracker,’ Alonzo King’s ‘Chants’ and George Balanchine’s ’Tarantella.’ He joined Dimensions Dance Theatre of Miami in 2016 for it’s inaugural season and has since performed works by Gerald Arpino, Vicente Nebrada, Septime Webre and George Balanchine, among others.


Jazmine Quezada

Jazmine Quezada is from Ventura County, California where she began her ballet training at age 11 with Ventura County Ballet and was the first to receive the Ron Noblin Full Scholarship Award with Ventura County Ballet. Jazmine attended American Ballet Theater’s New York summer intensive in 2011 and was accepted to the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School at ABT that same year. She then attended the Joffrey Chicago International summer dance intensive on full scholarship and in 2016 she moved to San Francisco to continue her training on scholarship at the San Francisco Ballet School. Jazmine has performed San Francisco Ballet productions such as The Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty, and the 2018 Gala, and danced the lead role of Grace in Helgi Tomasson’s Meisten Mozart. With the Oakland Ballet, she has performed the role of Luna in Luna Mexicana, and the Monkey Queen in Jangala.  This is Jazmine’s second season with the Oakland Ballet Company.




Rachel Seeholzer

Rachel Seeholzer was born and raised in Los Angeles, California where she first began her classical dance training. She set her focus in ballet after high school and traveled to further her training in cities such as Chicago, Seattle, San Francisco, Charlotte and Richmond. Rachel began dancing professionally in 2014 and has had the pleasure of working with the Charlottesville Ballet, The Suzanne Farrell Ballet, and RVA Dance Collective. She has worked with acclaimed choreographers and teachers such as Daniel Duell, Sheila Rozann, Alonzo King, Patricia McBride, Suzanne Farrell, Kim Jones, Starr Foster, Colby Damon, and Maggie Small. In 2011 Rachel was given the opportunity to set a contemporary piece on the trainees and apprentices of the Charlotte Ballet, and continued choreographing in 2013 when asked to create the ballet production of The Nutcracker on the Degas Dance Studio in Encino, California. In the last year, Rachel again took a chance and created a classical ballet piece on the trainees of the Charlottesville Ballet. Rachel guested for Stavna Ballet in their 2017 production of Peter Pan, originating the role of Tiger Lily, and guested again in 2018 in Stavna Ballet’s production of Snow White as the Cardinal Bird.







Audrey Sides

Audrey Sides was born and raised in Oakland, CA and started her dance training with Ronn Guidi followed by Denise and Joral Schmalle at the Oakland Ballet School. She then trained at Oakland School for the Arts with Reginald Ray Savage until she began studying at the San Francisco Ballet School. After five years in the SFB School, Audrey spent two seasons as a Butler Fellow at Ballet Austin, where she got to perform in new works as well as in staples of the company’s repertoire. Throughout her training, Audrey has done summer programs at Orsolina28, LINES Ballet, DanceWorks Chicago, San Francisco Ballet, the Harid Conservatory, and more. Audrey is currently based out of Chicago, where she is dancing with the Hubbard Street Professional Program under Alexandra Wells.



Ashley Thopiah

Ashley Thopiah has a BFA in Dance Performance from Butler university. She began her dance training at the Christine Rich Studio Dance Academy. She has performed at Dance Chicago and has trained during the summer at State Street Ballet, Joffrey Ballet, and Hubbard Street Dance Chicago. Ashley has performed corps, soloist, and principle roles in ballets including Swan Lake, The Nutcracker, Giselle, La Bayadere, Cinderella, and George Balanchine’s The Four Temperaments. Ashley has choreographed pieces for Butler’s dance department, including Jyoti and Ekta. Her choreography modern and Bharatanatyam, a form of classical Indian dance to express two distinct but intertwined aspects of her identity. Both styles use motion and gestures to express various features of human emotion and illuminate two cultures coming together. During the summer of 2018, Ekta was performed in the National Opera House in Warsaw, Poland, across Prague, Krakow, Poznan, and Bratislava