Oakland Ballet Teaching Faculty
Britt Juleen spent most of her performing career as a First Soloist ballerina in Europe at the Dutch National Ballet in Amsterdam and in Germany’s Dresden SemperOper Ballet’s exquisite Opera House. She also performed with Ballet Arizona, Ballet Gamonet in Miami, Florida, and the contemporary dance companies iMEE and Jacoby&Pronk. Since moving to the Bay Area in 2012, Britt has most notably been on faculty at Alonzo King’s LINES Ballet, ODC, and San Jose State University. She studied teacher training at ABT’s National Training Curriculum and holds an M.F.A. in Dance through Hollins University. Alternate studies of somatic movement education such as The Feldenkrais Method, and Body-Mind Centering are of great importance to her, allowing her to enrich traditional ballet technique with an individual sense of authentic expression and kinesthetic development. Ms. Juleen is profoundly honored to have been selected as Berkeley Ballet Theater’s new Artistic Director.
Kaori Ogasawara was born in Japan and she studied ballet with her grandmother, Kazue Ogasawara, and Takao Hisamitsu. In 1993, she came to the United States to train at the Boston Ballet School and later danced at Boston Ballet before joining Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre in 1999 with her husband, Christopher Rendall-Jackson. She was promoted to soloist in 2004. After joining PBT, she performed many featured roles including the Sugar Plum Fairy and Marie in Terrence S. Orr’s The Nutcracker, Myrtha in Giselle, Mercedes in Don Quixote, Svetlana in Ben Stevenson’s Dracula, and Queen of Hearts in Derek Dean’s Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland. She also had many opportunities to dance George Balanchine’s ballets including the Russian Lead Girl in Serenade, Sylvia Grand Pas de duex, Theme and Variation, Divertimento No. 15, and Who Cares?. Kaori has also performed in contemporary ballets by choreographers such as Paul Taylor, Dwight Rhoden, and Jean-Christophe Maillot. She is currently working with Berkeley Ballet Theater, Shawl Anderson Dance Center, Oakland Ballet Company, ODC, and New Ballet Ensemble in Memphis as a guest teacher and choreographer. She and her husband are the proud parents of two children, Emiya and Hana.
Coral Martin is a Bay Area native who began her classical ballet training at Berkeley City Ballet with Grace Doty. Coral furthered her studies at Contra Costa Ballet School with Zola Dishong and Richard Cammack, at Oakland Ballet School with Ronn Guidi, and at the Ballet Studio San Francisco with Henry Berg. In addition, she attended intensive summer courses at San Francisco Ballet School, Boston Ballet School, Exploring Ballet with Suzanne Farrell, American Ballet Theater, the Rock School of Pennsylvania Ballet, Dance Theater of Harlem, and Alonzo King LINES Ballet, among others. Since graduating Cum Laude from Harvard University with Highest Honors in Social Anthropology and Visual Art, Coral has enjoyed furthering her maturation as a dancer through freelancing opportunities and fellowships in the San Francisco Bay Area, Boston, New York City, and Paris. In addition to performing, Coral is also passionate about teaching dance to artists of all ages. This is Coral’s second season performing with Oakland Ballet.
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.
Hailing from Maysville, Kentucky, Calvin Thomas received his foundational training at the Otto M. Budig Academy of Cincinnati Ballet. He has supplemented his studies at Boston Ballet School, The School of American Ballet, Ballet Austin Academy, & The School of Oregon Ballet Theatre. Performing with the Cincinnati Ballet, Ballet Austin, Company C Contemporary Ballet and NY Theatre Ballet are among some of the highlights of his career. His repertoire includes works by Thang Dao, Gregory Dawson, Yuri Zhukov, and Maurice Causey among others. When not dancing he still enjoys time in the studio sharing knowledge and teaching the next generation of dancers. He has been on faculty with the Contra Costa Ballet Centre for over three years. Calvin is excited and blessed to take the stage with Oakland Ballet Company.
Oakland Ballet Company Artistic Director
Since his appointment as Artistic Director in 2010, Graham Lustig has revitalized Oakland Ballet Company and helped the organization reclaim its position as a leading San Francisco Bay Area arts institution and first-rate dance company. Lustig’s stewardship has brought the company long-term vision and a reputation for nurturing community-based programming, deep audience engagement, and organizational stability. For the past six seasons, Mr. Lustig has presented his critically-acclaimed production of The Nutcracker at Oakland’s Paramount Theatre, as well as an annual spring season rooted in contemporary works, including the 50th Anniversary program, Five Decades of Dance (2015); Oakland-esque (2014), Diaghilev Imagery (2013) and Forwards! (2011). In collaboration with Oakland Unified School District, under Lustig’s watch, Oakland Ballet has expanded its educational outreach program, Discover Dance, to provide educational arts programs to more than a dozen area schools annually. Educational events such as in-school assemblies and open rehearsals reach more than 5,000 local school children each year. Trained at the Royal Ballet School in London, Mr. Lustig danced with the Dutch National Ballet and Birmingham Royal Ballet before embarking on a freelance choreographic career that has included operas, ballets and musicals. He serves as a founding member of the Artists Committee of Americans for the Arts, and has served numerous times on the Dance and Policy Panel of the National Endowment for the Arts.
Bat Abbit’s professional career began with the Nashville Ballet, continued with the North Carolina Dance Theatre where he was a soloist, and finished with the American Repertory Ballet. He has performed roles such as Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and created the roles of Fritz and The Nutcracker in Graham Lustig’s The Nutcracker. Since becoming a Ballet Master he has staged Mr. Lustig’s Evening and Cinderella for Singapore Dance Theatre, as well as countless other ballets for American Repertory Ballet. Mr. Abbit has created works of his own, including Jump, Frog, Jump! for young audiences and a full length Coppelia for Carolina Ballet. He has served on faculty at the School of the Nashville Ballet, Dance Place the official school of the North Carolina Dance Theatre, the Princeton Ballet School, and Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers University.