Raised in, Milwaukee, Acee Francis Laird joined the Milwaukee Ballet School in 2007 where he received training from Mireille Favarel, Rolando Yanes and Karl von Rabenau. From 2008 through 2011 and again in 2013 Acee participated in the Milwaukee Ballet Summer Intensive Program, as well as D. Management’s International Summer Program in 2011. Acee was also awarded the Peter Schetter Scholarship for the 2011-2012 Milwaukee Ballet School year. In 2009 and 2011, Acee danced as Her Cavalier in the Makaroff Youth Ballet’s presentation of the Nutcracker. Acee’s other roles have included Gargoyle in Snow White, March Hair and King of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland; Russian, Waltz of the Flowers, Spanish and Cavalier in the Nutcracker. In D. Management's International Summer Program he performed as a toreador in Don Quixote; and as a peasant Pas De Deux Duet in Giselle. In 2014 Acee performed in Summer Dances at the University of Milwaukee. In 2012 Acee was accepted into the Nancy Einhorn’s Milwaukee Ballet II where he has had the pleasure to perform in the Nutcracker as the Arabian, the More in Michael Pink's Don Quixote, in Michael Pink’s Giselle, and in Isaac Sharrat’s Greener Grass. Acee spent the summer in Chicago dancing with the Hubbard Street Dance Company’s Summer Intensive. Acee has recently graduated from New York City's at Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre’s Independent Study Program.
Allison Piccone is from New Jersey. She received her training under David Gallagher at Ballet NJ, where she performed lead roles in full length ballets such as The Nutcracker and Coppelia. She has attended summer programs at Princeton Ballet School, Pennsylvania Ballet, and Alonzo King LINES. Upon graduating high school, she was accepted into Princeton Ballet School’s Trainee Program. Allison began her professional career as an apprentice with American Repertory Ballet in 2014. Since then she has also worked with Ballet Inc., Rebecca Kelly Ballet and Loco7 Theatre Company. Allison is currently dancing in New York with Amaris Dance, Ballets with a Twist, and Brooklyn Ballet.
Angelique Smith hails from the Washington, DC metropolitan area where she received training from the Dance Institute of Washington under the direction of the late Fabian Barnes and has gone on to perform on the stages of the Kennedy Center, the Carter Barron Amphitheatre, and the Warner Theatre. Angelique was accepted into Dance Theatre of Harlem's Residency and received four consecutive scholarships to their Summer Intensive program in New York. Angelique received her B. A. in Communication Arts and Photography at Marymount Manhattan College and has continued her ballet training with Broadway Dance Center, Steps on Broadway and currently, Brooklyn Ballet.
Bobby “Anime” Major is a dancer from the Bedford-Stuyvesant/Bushwick section of Brooklyn who uses a mixture of popping and flexing to create a style that reflects various moods of the human condition. His first teacher, Vibez, taught him how to Bone Break. He was then inspired to learn popping from Mike “Big Mike” Fields. Under Mike’s tutelage he learned many fundamental aspects of popping which includes hitting, robotic dime-stopping, joint isolations, strobing, ticking, and stop motion/animation. He’s excited to join the cast The Brooklyn Nutcracker this year!
Christine Emi Sawyer, a New Jersey native, received the majority of her training in NYC at the School of American Ballet as well as the School at Steps under Leslie Browne, Ethan Brown, and David Howard on full scholarship. She attended summer intensives such as American Ballet Theatre NY, Kaatsbaan, North Carolina Dance Theatre, and Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet. While still in high school, she performed as a guest artist in the Nutcracker with Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, the Belle Meade Ballet Company in New Jersey, and the Nolte Dance Academy in Iowa. Christine was a company member with the State Street Ballet in Santa Barbara, CA from 2006-2011. She then moved to Los Angeles and danced in companies such as Anaheim Ballet, Pasadena Dance Theatre, and Santa Monica Contemporary Ballet and was a performer at Disneyland and Universal Studios Hollywood. She has also been a freelance artist performing principal roles such as Sugar Plum and Snow Queen in the Nutcracker. Christine has just moved back to the NYC area and has since performed with Brooklyn Ballet and iKADA Contemporary Dance Company.
Cortney Key is a native of Charlotte, NC. She studied under the instruction of Susan Thorsland and Kim Hotchner at The Northwest School of the Performing Arts middle and high school. Ms. Key graduated from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, with an Arts Certificate in contemporary dance performance. While at UNCSA, she had the honor of apprenticing with Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company and FrancescaHarper project . Ms. Key has also had the privilege of performing choreography by Janet Wong, Antonio Brown of Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, Thang Dao Danse Theater, George Faison, Alfred Gallman, David Robertson and Juel D. Lane of Camille A. Brown & Dancers. Ms. Key is looking forward to what the future will bring. She thanks her loved ones and educators for their infinite support.
Courtney Cochran was born in Sacramento, California and began her dance career at the age of 5. She spent her early ballet training at Deane Dance Center and was a member of their pre-professional company Crockett Deane Ballet. With CDB, she was chosen as an emerging choreographer at Regional Dance America's festival. Courtney attended Dominican University of California as part of the Alonzo King LINES Ballet Bachelor of Fine Arts Program. She then went on to spend two years in Dance Theatre of Harlem's Professional Training Program under the direction of Robert Garland. Courtney is an aspiring choreographer and wants to use her talents for dance therapy and outreach.
Dylan Santos Originally from Sao Paulo Brazil, started dancing at the age of 13 years old at the Centro de Danca Pavilhao D in Sao Paulo Brazil, under the direction of Ricado Scheir. Youth American Grand Prix Finalist in NYC, Mr Santos received several scholarships to study ballet. Trained at the Harid Conservatory, Houston Ballet, Joffrey Ballet and Orlando Ballet, Mr Santos is currently a company member with the dance theatre of Harlem. Mr Santos has worked with many great teachers and choreographers such as Claudio Munoz, Lauren Anderson, Stanton Welch, Robert Hill, Deidre Miles Burger, Olivier Munoz and Helen Pickett. He has performed the repertory of Nacho Duato, George Balanchine, Marius Petipa and many others.
Elisabet Rubio is originally from Havana, Cuba and is a graduate of The Cuban National Ballet School. She interpreted different artistic roles within the company’s classic repertoire and worked with other Cuban and emerging choreographers. Ms. Rubio was part of the cast of Ballet Laura Alonso (Center of Pro Dance of Cuba). She has performed in the ballets Dracula, The Nutcracker, Les Sylphides, and Yarini choreographed by Ivan Alonso. During Cuballet Summer 2012, she danced in Sleeping Beauty in the roles of the Fairy of the Beauty, Pas de Sept and Snow White. She was recently awarded a Merit Scholarship for her outstanding ability from Ballet Hispanico.
Eliza Sherlock-Lewis Tollett, native of Massachusetts, initially trained at Walnut Hill School of the Arts, spending summers at School of American Ballet, Miami City Ballet, and Boston Ballet School on scholarship. She holds a BFA in Dance from NYU Tisch School of the Arts with a double major in French. While pursuing her degree, Eliza danced professionally with Cherylyn Lavagnino Dance and Bugge Ballet. Eliza had the opportunity to perform professionally with New York Theatre Ballet, Richmond Ballet, Charlotte Ballet, Artisan Dance Company, and as a character dancer in The Sleeping Beauty with American Ballet Theatre. She has also worked with several contemporary companies including Thomas/Ortiz Dance, Armitage Gone! Dance, and Brooklyn Contemporary Ballet Collective. Eliza is very excited to be joining Brooklyn Ballet for this year’s production of The Brooklyn Nutcracker.
Born in Rio de Janeiro, Brasil Ingrid Silva began ballet studies at the age of 8 at Projeto Dancando Para Nao Dancar. Silva studied at Escola de Danca Maria Olenewa, Centro de Movimento Debora Colker on full scholarship and at age seventeen joined Grupo Corpo as an apprentice. Following high School, she attended Univercidade da Cidade. Silva attended the Dance Theatre of Harlem Summer Program on full scholarship in 2007, joined the Professional Training Program and Dancing Through Barriers Ensemble in 2008 and became a member of the professional Company in 2013. As guest artist, Silva performed with Dancando Para Nao Dancar in Brasil, Armitage Gone!Dance, and The Francesca Harper Project. Silva’s work with choreographers includes Arthur Mitchell, Donald Byrd, John Alleyne, Darrel Grand Moltrie, Francesca Harper, Robert Garland, David Fernandez, Carol Armitage, Deborah Colker, Rodrigo Pederneiras and many others. With Dance Theatre of Harlem Silva has danced Principal roles in George Balanchine’s Glinka Pas de Trois and Agon, Robert Garland’s Return, Ulysses Dove’s Dancing on the Front Porch of Heaven and John Alleyne’s Far but Close. Soloist roles include Alvin Ailey’s Lark Ascending, Donald Byrd’s Contested Space, and Darrel Grand Moltrie’s Vessels. As a cultural ambassador for the U.S State Department Silva has performed and provided community outreach in Jamaica, Honduras, and Israel. She performed at the Brasil Foundation’s Lincoln Center 2014 Gala and was featured in the Brasilian film Mare Nossa Historia de Amor. She was featured recently in Vogue and Glamor magazines in Brasil.
James “J-Floats” Fable started dancing in his junior year at Edward R. Murrow High School, after seeing a friend performing a wave. He has participated in several dance competitions, including Boogie Nation and Kings of New York and was the winner of Second Annual Street Dance Competition, Back to the Streets Vol. 2 in 2013. He plans to continue climbing the ranks in the competitive dance world and hopes that he will bring a unique flavor to his field.
Katie Norton-Bliss began dancing in her hometown of Providence, RI with Mary Paula Hunter’s East Side Ballet Studio and Jump! Youth Dance Company. She went on to train at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet for her last two years of high school. In 2015, Katie graduated from the University of Cincinnati’s College Conservatory of Music with a BFA in Ballet. After graduation, she danced with Dissonance Dance Theatre in Washington, DC. Katie now lives in Brooklyn, and has recently danced in Wildberry Productions’ Utopia, as well as multiple works with Billy Blanken’s Sheep Meadow Dance Theatre.
The storyteller Keenen “Sylinsah” Thomas is an innovative scientist of the new dance generation. Representative of the Litefeet art form since the young age of 20, he has been successfully involved in cultural movements who protect the Litefeet Youth and through his leadership has helped and improved the lives of communities and neighborhoods in need of inspiration and goals to achieve. Anime lover, Keenen's style is the human reproduction of a dancing superhero. Flexible and peculiar ankle moves, an uncommonly bright self expression and a magnetic groove that translates the voice of the younger street dance community are all elements that establish Keenen's animated and sophisticated character. Besides teaching his enlightened litefeet style professionally, he has been and still is protagonist of notorious dancing competitions, battle winner and judge.
Kendra Ross is a proud Detroit native working as a dancer, teaching artist, choreographer, facilitator and community organizer in her current home, Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn. As a dancer in New York City, Kendra has worked with Urban Bush Women, Andrea E. Woods/ Souloworks, Vissi Dance Theater, and Motion Sickness with Monstah Black, MBDance, Moving Spirits Dance Company.and as a guest artist with Oyu Oro. In 2013 she also danced in a European tour with DJ Kid Koala in Vinyl Vaudville 2.0. Kendra is currently a company member of Ase Dance Theater Collective. Kendra’s choreographic work has been presented at the Detroit Performing Arts High School, Joffrey Summer Intensive, Halftime Performances at Florida A&M University, the off Broadway show 7 Sins, and Museo de Arte in Salvador, Brazil. Her community work began as a member of Urban Bush Women’s B. O. L. D Network co-teaching dance workshops and co-facilitating community engagement workshops. Along with sharing her art world-wide, Kendra serves as the Founder and Director of STooPS, an outdoors-based community building event that uses art as a catalyst to strengthen ties between different entities in Bed-Stuy.
My name is Ladell Thomas, a. k.a Mr. Ocean. I was born on the Island of Trinidad and Tobago, living in the United States for over 20 years. I first started Dancing in High School. The style I taught myself had been Dancehall, which I danced for about 6 years until I found a crew out of Lehman College called Hip Hop theory where I first learned how choreograph. After 3 years I joined another Dance group named Precision out of Brooklyn College. Through that journey I realized I wanted more from Dance, so I started to pick up the style of popping. Daniel E. Kelly also known as Future, helped mentor me in my pursuit. I also met many other mentors and friends like Brian Green, Damon Frost, Salah, Big Mike, Og Hitmaster Fish. Since becoming a professional dancer, I have danced for Illuminate (Americas Got Talent), The Lincoln Center Flash Mob, choreographed by Buddha Stretch, The Breaking Convention at the Apollo, Fiyah Dancehall Theatre Company, Brooklyn Ballet, Arts Horizon and I also did a few years of street hitting.
Maxwell Dennis Simoes grew up in Philadelphia, PA where he first discovered his passion for dance and began performing around the age of 12. He attended the Creative and Performing Arts High School (CAPA), where he trained in all genres of dance. During this time, he also began training with ballet mentor, Olga Kresin and Lev Assuaulyak. He went on to place gold at the Tanzfesttival Berlin Tanzolymp and placed as a finalist in the YAGP NYC final competition. Following graduation from CAPA, Max was accepted into the Rudra Bejart school in Lausanne, Switzerland. With the Bejart Ballet Lausanne, he preformed pieces by Maurice Bejart including, 'Bolero', 'Le Sacre du Printemps', and 'Petruschka'. He has also worked with such companies as Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montreal, Eglevsky Ballet, Ballet Inc., Complexions Contemporary Ballet, & Performa 15 feat. David Hallberg/Francesco Vezzoli. In July 2014, Max moved to NYC, where he started performing aerial ballet pieces on the lyra and silks in addition to performing with Brooklyn Ballet. He continues to strive toward excellence for his next performing endeavors, as well as his drive and interest for teaching and coaching children.
Mike “Big Mike” Fields is a performing artist and teacher, born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. Specializing in hitting, animation, waving and isolations, he combines storytelling and comedic elements in his dancing. He was a member of Hip-Hop Connections, a group that brings educational performances to schools around the tri-state area. He has worked with artists such as Chaka Khan and Busta Rhymes, and he has performed at venues such as Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), Brooklyn Museum, Dance Theatre of Harlem, Galapagos Art Space, Hip-Hop Theater Festival, and Dance Theatre Workshop, among others. He is currently a performer and collaborator with Brooklyn Ballet and is a faculty member at Takalaland Dance Studio in Flushing, Queens.
Miku Kawamura began dancing ballet at the age of six in Japan. Her early training included the Sapporo City Ballet and many prestigious summer programs on full scholarship including Pacific Northwest Ballet and The Royal Ballet School. She was a semi-finalist at the renowned Prix de Lausanne (2004), Best of 12 at the Youth America Grand Prix NY final (2002), and has received awards at the NBA All Japan Competition (second prize) and the Japan Grand Prix (second prize). She received a full scholarship to the Harid Conservatory in Boca Raton, Florida, and since graduating Ms. Kawamura has performed many classical and contemporary roles with K-Ballet Company under director Tetsuya Kumakawa in Tokyo. Since she arrived in NYC, she has been a dance soloist of Albano Ballet, Brooklyn Ballet, and Neville Dance Theater.
Miranda Bishop (apprentice) was born and raised in Northfield, New Jersey. She began her serious dance training at the Atlantic City Ballet under the direction of Phyllis Papa where she studied ballet, pas de deux, contemporary, character and ethnic dance. At the age of 15 she became a trainee with The Atlantic City Ballet. She performed in ‘Nutcracker‘, ’Dracula’, ‘Sleeping Beauty’, ‘Mountain Legend’ and ‘It’s a Shore Holiday’. Miranda attended summer intensives at The Atlantic City Ballet and Pittsburgh Ballet Theater. She attended The Rock School for Dance Education on partial scholarship under the direction of Bojan and Stephanie Wolfe Spassoff competing in YAGP Philadelphia regionals and dancing in The Rock’s ‘Nutcracker of 1776’. Since moving to New York Miranda has had the opportunity to dance in ‘The Table of Silence’ at Lincoln Center with Buglisi Dance Theater. Presently she studies dance at Steps on Broadway while participating in their work study program.
Nakotah Larance is from the Native American tribal nations of Hopi and Tewa. He is an 8 time World Hoop Dance Champion and is the current reining champion. He had earned his titles at the Annual World Championship of Hoop Dance held every year at the reknowned Heard Museum in Phoenix, Arizona. In 2004 he was invited to perform on NBC's “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” as “The Most Interesting Person in Arizona”. In 2005 he was invited to compete on the PAX network's “America's Most Talented Kids”. He won the competition with the highest score in the history of the show. He followed that with major roles in many film and television productions although his first love has always been Dance.
In 2009 Nakotah signed a contract with Cirque Du Soleil to be the principal dancer for the Big Top show “Totem”. He traveled the world for three years with CDS and is now a special performer for them and most recently was the lead dancer in their 2015 Pan American Games Opening Ceremonies. In 2015 Nakotah combined his love of Hip Hop dance with Native American Hoop Dancing to create the fusion of Hip Hop Hoop Dance. Nakotah currently travels the world representing Native American Culture and is the master instructor for his youth group “The Pueblo of Pojoaque Youth Hoop Dancers”.
Paunika Jones was born in Miami, Florida and began dancing at the age of 2 years old. She is an alumnus of New World School of the Arts. Her professional experience includes: former principal dancer with Dance Theatre of Harlem, Oakland Ballet, Complexions Contemporary Ballet, Ballet Noir, Columbia City Ballet, Collage Dance Collective, Sign Dance Collective. In addition to dancing with Brooklyn Ballet she is working closely with her mentor, Arthur Mitchell, on an up and coming project. As she continues to expand her source of movement and wellness through GYROKINESIS® and Yoga, she cultivates the beginnings of her own Dance/Performance Art Company.
Sira Melikian is a NYC based Middle Eastern Belly Dance performer, instructor and choreographer. In addition to regular event performances, she has enjoyed taking the art of belly dance to the theater stage. She has worked with the Metropolitan Opera, several Off Broadway productions and theatrical Belly Dance shows. Film/TV experience includes Sex and the City 2, the Dr Oz show, The Colbert Report, Late Night with Conan O'Brien, and MTV. She has loved Fantasia and the Nutcracker Suite from a young age and is honored to be joining the Brooklyn Ballet's production. For more information visit www. bellydancernyc.com
Sydnie L. Mosley is an artist-activist and educator interested in work that is both artistically sound and socially aware. As a performer, she danced with INSPIRIT from 2010-2013, and continues to be a guest artist for Brooklyn Ballet, since 2009. She is a teaching artist for the DreamYard Prepartory School and designed and teaches Barnard College's Dance in the City Pre-College Program. An advocate for the field, she served on the Dance/NYC Junior Committee 2011-2015 serving as Vice Chair in her last year. She creates with her Harlem-based contemporary dance company SLMDances whose works have investigated topics such as street harassment, the policing of women’s bodies, and the economics of the dance field.
Tristan Grannum is originally from Brooklyn, New York. He began training in classical ballet at the age of 14 at Fiorello H. Laguardia High School for Performing Arts and Manhattan Youth Ballet. Over the years he has trained year round at CPYB, The School of Pennsylvania Ballet and Dance Theatre of Harlem. He has also attended many notable ballet summer intensives on full scholarship; Harid Conservatory, San Francisco Ballet, Joffrey Ballet of Chicago, and Charlotte Ballet. Though this is the beginning of his professional career, Tristan aspires to dance in Europe in the coming years.
Born in Havana, Yinet Fernandez began her studies in 1999 at the “Alejo Carpentier” Provincial School, with teacher Tatiana Gonzalez and continued at the National School of Ballet, under the guidance of Normaria Olaechea, Mirtha Hermida, Marta Iris Fernandez, Fernando Alonso and Ramona de Saa, among other outstanding teachers. During her academic years, she won prizes including: Third place (2004) and 2nd place, Second category “Variation” and Silver Medal (2006) in the competitions of the International Encounters of the Academy for the Teaching of Ballet, celebrated In Havana. In 2007 he participated in Encounters of Academies held in Mexico City, where Yinet obtained a Diploma of Recognition. In 2008 he joined National Ballet of Cuba, under the artistic and technical direction of Alicia Alonso, with whom he has performed all over America and Europe.
Yuriko Sakai was born in Kyoto, Japan. She began her ballet training at the age of 3 years old at the Hiroko Mizuno Ballet Academy, and later continued at the Ballet School Benedict-Manniegel in Germany. She moved to New York City to study dance at the Peridance Capezio Center Certificate Program, where she graduated in 2016.
Emily Oleson (MFA, CMA) is Assistant Professor & Program Coordinator for Dance,starting the new major in American Vernacular Dance at Davis & Elkins College. A crossover dancer interested in a broad range of styles, from Appalachian flatfooting to urban dances, Oleson received her MFA in Dance at University of Maryland, College Park in 2012. Her performance highlights include Aulney-All- Blues Festival in France, a 2014 tour with The Carolina Chocolate Drops, the Newport Folk Festival,and the San Francisco Jazz Center. The Meaning of Buck Dance, her collaboration with Urban Artistry, Good Foot Dance Company and Baakari Wilder was a US State Department Arts Envoy to Russia in 2014. Emily co-founded Good Foot Dance Company, a trio dedicated to “trad dance theater,” in Charlottesville, VA in 2005 with her husband Matthew Olwell, and her choreography has been showcased at theAmerican College Dance Festival, Performatica Festival in Cholula, Mexico, Strathmore Music Center, Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts, Wheatland Music Festival, Lake Eden Arts Festival, the Dance Flurry, Floydfest, the VA Repertory Dance Company, and in Battle of the Crews: USA vs. France. Her work was featured in the Brooklyn Ballet’s 2015 season in New York and her teaching was featured in the March 2014 issue of Dance Teacher Magazine. She founded the Davis & Elkins Dance Festival in 2014.
Andrew Sheron (musician) is a composer, multi-instrumentalist and producer. His latest solo release, a full length cyclical concept album titled “The Late Great Bloomer”, is the worlds first record tracked, mixed and mastered in a fully binaural (3D) sound, using novel technology from his time working at Princeton University's 3D Audio and Applied Acoustics Labratory. His upcoming projects include a new EP entitled “Small Life” and a collaboratoin with Alash Ensemble- master throatsingersfrom the Republic of Tuva- combining American old-time and bluegrass with Tuvan folk music. This is Andrews second season with Brooklyn Ballet
After falling in love with the guitar at age 10, Gabe Schnider (musician) has performed/recorded with artists such as Wynton Marsalis, Joshua Bell, Bill T. Jones, Damian Woetzel, Arturo O'Farrill, Jon Batiste and Stay Human, & Ben Folds, among others. He is a regular performer/bandleader at Jazz at Lincoln Center and has worked in New York City and beyond at venues including Carnegie Hall and The Kennedy Center.