Company Dancers

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  Evan Ambrose started his ballet education at the age of 18 in his hometown of Huntsville, Alabama. He danced with the Huntsville Ballet company and school under the direction of Phillip Otto and Rachel Butler. Evan furthered his dance training with The Charlotte Ballet as a Trainee for their 2017-2018 Season, where he worked with teachers/choreographers such as, Peter Chu, Dwight Rhoden, Laszlo Berdo, Mark Diamond, and the legendary Patricia McBride. After his traineeship, he spent the 2018-2019 school year at The Rock School for Dance Education. Evan spent two seasons (2019-2020, 2020-2021) as a Company Artist with the Alabama Ballet under the Artistic Direction of Tracey Alvey. This is his first season with the Oakland Ballet.

 

Evan Ambrose

  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.

 

Samantha Bell

  Phil Chan is currently a ‘21/’22 Visiting Scholar at the A/P/A Institute at NYU, and the Manhattan School of Music’s ‘21’/’22 Citizen Artist. He is a graduate of Carleton College and an alumnus of the Ailey School. As a writer, he served as the Executive Editor for FLATT Magazine and contributed to Dance Europe Magazine, Dance Magazine, Dance Business Weekly, and the Huffington Post. He was the founding General Manager of the Buck Hill Skytop Music Festival, and was the General Manager for Armitage Gone! Dance. He served multiple years on the National Endowment for the Arts dance panel and the Jadin Wong Award panel presented by the Asian American Arts Alliance. He serves on the International Council for the Parsons Dance Company, the Advisory Board of Dance Magazine, and was a 2020 New York Public Library Jerome Robbins Dance Division Research Fellow. His next project, the “Ballet des Porcelaines,” will premiere at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in December 2021.

Phil Chan

  Lawrence Chen grew up in Southern California, studying ballet under the care of Victor and Tatiana Kasatsky since the age of thirteen. He went on to compete in the YAGP, placing in the Top 12 Pas De Deux in the New York Finals of 2014 as well as in the Top 3 soloist at regional venues for several years. At Pomona College, Lawrence obtained a BA in chemistry with mathematics, took on collegiate ballroom, and performed as a principal dancer for the Inland Pacific Ballet under the watchful eye of Victoria Koenig. Lawrence currently teaches ballet at various schools, tutors high school STEM subjects, and performs with Oakland Ballet Company.

 

Lawrence Chen

  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. 

 

Christopher Dunn

  Karina Eimon is a classical and contemporary dancer and teacher from the Bay Area. She began her training at Ayako School of Ballet in Belmont, California and continued her studies at Milwaukee Ballet II and Colorado Ballet’s pre-professional program. She spent two summers in Madrid studying Forsythe improvisation techniques. Karina’s professional experience includes Ballet Memphis, Colorado Ballet, Milwaukee Ballet, Ballet Des Amerique, and the Oakland Ballet.

 

Karina Eimon

  Paunika Jones was born and raised in Miami, FL. Is an alumnus of New World School of the Arts. After graduating, she began her dance career at Dance Theatre of Harlem under Direction of the late Arthur Mitchell, where she ascended the ranks from Dancing through Barriers Ensemble®️ training program to Principal Dancer. From there, she worked in various ballet, contemporary and dance theatre companies nationally and internationally. Such as Dance Theatre of Harlem, Collage Dance Collective,Complexions Contemporary Ballet,Ballet Noir,DEMA,Urban Jazz Dance Company,Brooklyn Ballet, Sign Dance Collective and Columbia City Ballet.

 

Paunika Jones

  Cortney Taylor Key is a graduate of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, with a Bachelors in Fine Arts in contemporary dance performance. While in attendance at UNCSA, Cortney performed works by Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, Thang Dao Danse Theater, George Faison, Alfred Gallman, Juel D. Lane. She has had apprenticeships with both Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company and The Francesca Harper project. Cortney trained at the Dance Theatre of Harlem School in the professional training program as well as STEPS on Broadway studying with Master Teacher’s Elena Kunikova and the Late Willy Burrman. Cortney has worked with several project based companies in New York City such as Konverjdans, Gleichdances, Brooklyn Ballet, and the legendary Arthur Mitchell in “ The Arthur Mitchell Project in addition to guesting with Collage Dance Collective, Columbia City Ballet,The Arthur Mitchell Project, New York Dance/Lab and #Queertheballet.

 

Cortney Taylor Key

  Theresa Knudson is from Orange County, CA, received her ballet training from Lois Ellyn and attended summer programs at American Ballet Theatre NYC, Boston Ballet, Jose Límon West, and Ballet Austin. She began her professional career with Nouveau Chamber Ballet where she performed principal roles in Lois Ellyn’s The Nutcracker, Appalachian Spring, Cigale, among many others. Ms. Knudson has since performed professionally with Wonderbound, Diablo Ballet, ARC Dance, Raiford Rogers Modern Ballet, Oakland Ballet, Menlowe Ballet, Mark Foehringer Dance Project, and Marika Brussel. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration from California State University, Fullerton. Theresa co-founded & operates BlackBox Studios in Oakland, and is the founder of Halcyon Dance Project. Ms. Knudson is also the Co-Founder and Executive Director of Ballet22

 

Theresa Knudson

  Elkey Love hails from Queens, NY, and started dancing at the age of 19 at Miami Dade College. He continued his training at the Thomas Armour Youth Ballet, He has attended numerous summer programs such as Dance Theater of Harlem and American Dance Festival as a scholarship student. Elkey graduated with his BFA focused in dance from New World School of the Arts.

 

Elkey Love

  Laura Lunde is originally from Walnut Creek, California. She began her early training with Danville Ballet, Central West Ballet, Contra Costa Ballet, and the Kirov Academy of Ballet in Washington D.C. under the Artistic Director Oleg Vinogradov. In 2008, Ms. Lunde toured internationally with the Tasmanian Classical Ballet in Australia. She has worked with professional companies across the United States such as Manassas Ballet Theatre, Sierra Nevada Ballet, Columbia City Ballet, Ballet Tucson, and currently with Oceanica Ballet in San Francisco. Ms. Lunde has been featured in principal roles such as the Sugar Plum Fairy in “The Nutcracker”, Kitri from “Don Quixote”, Odette from “Swan Lake”, pas des deux from “Spring Waters” as well as roles from many other classical and contemporary works including George Balanchine’s “Concerto Barocco”, “Walpurgisnacht”, and “Donizetti Variations”.

 

Laura Lunde

  Alexandra Martin began her pre-professional ballet training at San Francisco Ballet School, and continued her studies in the Vaganova method at City Ballet School in San Francisco. She was then invited to train abroad in Moscow, Russia at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy on scholarship. She attended summer intensives at these schools, in addition to the Academy of Ballet in San Francisco, on scholarship. She has performed with San Francisco Ballet, Mariinsky Ballet, the Mikkeli Ballet Gala in Finland, and others. She holds a B.A. in Russian Language and Literature from UC Santa Barbara and St. Petersburg State University in Russia. She is a recipient of the prestigious Kathryn Davis Fellowship for Peace from Middlebury College. She is coached by renowned ballerina Lorena Feijóo. 

 

Alexandra Martin

  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 with aB.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.

 

Katya Mayer

  Constanza Murphy trained at The North Star Ballet in Fairbanks, Alaska before attending the University of Utah. She has danced with several classical, contemporary, and opera 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. Constanza is returning to Oakland Ballet for her fourth Nutcracker.

 

Constanza Murphy

  Aidan O’Leary 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 second season with Oakland Ballet.

 

Aidan O’Leary

  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.

 

Jazmine Quezada

  Rachel Seeholzer was born and raised in Los Angeles, California where she first began her classical dance training at age nine, and continued her training with the Ballet Chicago Studio Company, Pacific Northwest Ballet School, Alonzo King Lines, North Carolina Dance Theatre (now Charlotte Ballet) and Richmond Ballet. She has danced professionally with the Charlottesville Ballet, The Suzanne Farrell Ballet, RVA Dance Collective, Oakland Ballet, Virginia Repertory Theatre, Stavna Ballet, and James Sewell Ballet. She has worked with acclaimed choreographers and teachers such as Daniel Duell, Sheila Rozann, Alonzo King, Patricia McBride, Suzanne Farrell, Kim Jones, Graham Lustig, Colby Damon, Maggie Small, and James Sewell.

 

Rachel Seeholzer

  Jared Sutton is originally from Oak Park, Michigan and moved to Charlotte, North Carolina at age nine and began his ballet training with the Charlotte Ballet. He attended summer programs at Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, Nutmeg Conservatory, Chautauqua Institution, and San Francisco Ballet. He spent two years at the North Carolina School of the Arts in the high school program before joining Charlotte Ballet II.

 

Jared Sutton

  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 Swan Lake, The Nutcracker, Giselle, La Bayadere, Cinderella, and George Balanchine’s The Four Temperaments. Joining Oakland Ballet in 2019, she has performed Luna Mexicana, The Nutcracker, and Borderlines by Graham Lustig. As a choreographer, Ashley has created two works for Butler University’s dance department, Jyoti and Ekta. Using both modern dance and Bharatanatyam, a form of classical Indian dance, she expresses the two distinct but intertwined aspects of her identity. Both styles use motion and gesture to express emotion and illuminate the joining of two cultures. During the summer of 2018, Ekta was performed in the National Opera House in Warsaw, Poland, across Prague, Krakow, Poznan, and Bratislava.

 

Ashley Thopiah