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THE DIRECTOR
SYLVIA PALMER ZETLER National Ballet of Canada, Fellow and Examiner, Cecchetti USA & C.I.C.B.

Ms Palmer performed for many years with the National Ballet of Canada, CBC TV, and the Canadian Opera Company. Her training was with Kay Armstrong in Vancouver, B.C., the National Ballet School in Toronto, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School, and many of the foremost European teachers in London and Paris. Her formal education culminated with an M.F.A. Degree in Creative Teaching Techniques under the direction of Erling Sunde and John Hart, CBE, both of the Royal Ballet, England. Sylvia holds the degree of Fellow with Cecchetti USA and CICB and is an Examiner for CUSA. She has been the recipient of two Canada Council of the Arts grants for the furtherance of the dance arts. Her students grace the stages of many companies in the U.S. and Great Britain.

FACULTY
WENDY CORMIER, MFA

Ms Cormier earned her MFA in Ballet and Character Dance from The University of Utah. She has taught in Hawaii, Utah, and Georgia. She is recipient of the California State PTA Honorary Service and Continuing Service Awards for her work with children.


CLAUDIA DYSON-HIGHTOWER

Claudia credits her artistic energy to her six major mentors: Johnson, Vivian Valade, Day Power, Eileen Figliolino, Louis McKay and Bill Heiden. She's continually performing, choreographing and teaching both nationally and internationally, and taking dance class herself. (Heaven forbid if she ever became a Dance Droid Stiffo.) She is certified in her profession and teaches ages 3-73. Her students can be seen on Broadway, on TV and in the movies.


KIRSTEN HEINRICH

Kirsten has worked with several dance companies across the U.S., including Tennessee Dance Theatre, Philadanco II, San Diego Ballet, and San Diego Opera. Currently she performs with an international touring company "2nd Nature Productions/The Loving Garden," as a stilt dancer. Kirsten has taught modern and classical ballet throughout the country to gymnasts, ice skaters and dancers of all different levels and abilities, including San Diego Ballet and City Ballet of San Diego. She has also choreographed many pieces in San Diego ... even winning "Best Choreography 2008" for Hollywood's Best New Talent. For this, she was invited to dance with her dancers at the Kodak Theater.


SHARLENE STAR O’KEEFE, MFA

Sharlene received her MFA Degree from UC Irvine with an emphasis in Education and Curriculum Development. She also holds a BFA in Dance Performance from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. She is a Certified Kindermusik Educator and a Certified Language of Dance (LOD) Specialist. Sharlene has many years of experience teaching all ages from infants to pre-professional in many disciplines of the arts including dance, drama, music and visual art. She was the Director of The Center for Creative Arts for nine years and was previously a member of the Dance Faculty at Mira Costa College. Her background includes extensive study and practice in ballet, jazz, tap, modern, musical theatre, acting, choreography, pedagogy, kinesiology, art, art history, child development, curriculum development and working with at-risk and special needs children. In all disciplines, Sharlene strives to inspire students to develop their talents through hard work, positive attitude, a supportive environment and a consistent base in technical training.


KELSEY OTTLEY, MFA

Ms. Ottley trained at BMDC from the age of three and received honors marks on her professional Cecchetti examinations. She performed soloist and principal roles with Southern California Ballet and attended summer intensives on scholarship at Marin Dance Theatre, Ballet West Academy, and Houston Ballet Academy. At age 17, she joined Houston Ballet II where she received two awards from the NFAA and a scholarship from the Tiger Woods "Start Something" Foundation for her achievements in ballet. Ms. Ottley then attended the University of Utah on a full scholarship, graduating with a BFA in 2009. While in Utah, she performed principal roles with Utah Ballet, taking her to Seoul and Tokyo for International Galas. Ms. Ottley also performed for two holiday seasons with Aspen Santa Fe Ballet and one season with San Diego Opera. Her recent credits include work by LINES Ballet's Gregory Dawson and former Joffrey & Forsythe ballerina, Jodie Gates. In 2012, Ms. Ottley received her MFA in Dance from UC Irvine, where she was a Medici Scholar.


ALEXANDRA PARRA

Alexandra Parra has been a teacher at BMDC for over 8 years and was a member of Southern California Ballet for many years. She has choreographed for The Nutcracker, the Miss Poway Pageant, and the Miss Washington National Teenager Pageant. She was awarded honors on her Intermediate Major and Advanced 1 Cecchetti exams and has taken her Cecchetti Teaching Certificate exam. while in college, Alexandra has performed many dance roles including her favorite solo roles of Black Swan, the Sugar Plum Fairy, and Paquita. Alex was crowned Miss California National Miss 2011 where she also won the talent competition dancing "Esmeralda." She went on to win the national title of Miss America's National Miss 2012. Alex has been recognized for her outstanding community service by State Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher. She has also been awarded numerous leadership scholarships and serves on several research teams at CSU San Marcos where she attends. Alexandra's academic goal is to obtain her Doctorate in Physical Therapy.


NANCY ROBINSON

Nancy Robinson studied ballet in Los Angeles with Robert Rossellat, a student of Preobrajenska and Espinosa in Paris. At the age of fifteen she received a Ford Foundation Scholarship to San Francisco Ballet School and was accepted into San Francisco Ballet Company the following year. Ms. Robinson danced as a soloist there for seven years, then as Principal dancer with the City Center Joffrey Ballet Company, which made her an internationally acclaimed ballerina. She has toured Vienna, London, and several major United States cities. During her career, she danced in principal roles such as Astarte Pas de Deesses (Joffrey), Moves and Interplay (Robbins), Time Cycle (Bolender) several works by Arpino, Nutcracker-Sugar Plum Fairy (Christensen), and other works by Fokine and Ailey. Later she was Ballet Mistress at Pacific Northwest Ballet Company and The Los Angeles Ballet.


ANDREA ROSE

Andrea Rose trained in classical ballet, jazz, modern and character at BMDC for eleven years. She received the California Arts Scholarship to train at CalArts in Valencia in 2003 and 2004 and was a member of the Varsity Tour de Force Dance Team at Rancho Bernardo High School. She was awarded Palomar College’s Dancer of the Year in 2009 where she was a featured dancer and choreographer in various performances. Andrea is graduating from CSU San Marcos with a degree in Medical Anthropology and intends to obtain a graduate degree in Food Studies. She is currently a member of CSUSM’s highly ranked competition dance team and performs as a guest artist with Axxiom Dance Collective.


SUZAN STONE, BFA

Ms. Stone received a BFA in ballet under the tutelage of Erling Sunde at USIU. She was a soloist with San Diego Ballet and created the role of Cinderella in Mr. Sunde's ballet. She has special skills with working with the very young ambitious students, and has taken them successfully into Cecchetti Standard exams.


KIRSTEN ROBERTS (THORNE), DPT, ACUSA

Kirsten began dancing in South Africa at the age of 4, and has been training at BMDC since she was 8 years old. She has completed all of the Cecchetti dancing examinations including the most advanced level, receiving her Final Diploma in the Cecchetti Method in March 2012. She also has her Associate teaching certificate in the Cecchetti teaching method which she received in 2009, and enjoys teaching students of all levels. Kirsten has been a member of the San Diego Ballet since 2004 and has enjoyed many soloist roles in various productions. She also performs regularly as a member of Southern California Ballet, with her favorite roles including Sugar Plum Fairy in Nutcracker and Tatiana in A Midsummer Nights Dream. Kirsten graduated from the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences with her Doctorate in Physical Therapy in 2010. She has a passion for helping and educating all her patients, and particularly dancers on injury prevention and extending their dance careers painfree.


JUSTIN VIERNES

Justin has been entertaining audiences nationally and internationally since the age of 5. He began his dance career at the age of 16 and is extensively trained in ballet, jazz, modern and hip hop. He has danced for Vitality Dance Company, Fusion Dance Company, Khamla Somphanh, Sondra Kazama, d'Shire Dance, Sound Dance Company, Yolande Snaith, DK Dance, Patricia Rincon Dance Collective guest artist for Long Beach CC and Chapman College in Orange California. Justin's dancing has taken him to Kazakhstan as a U.S. Cultural Envoy, San Miguel de Allende, Buenos Aires, and on stages all over the Nation. Justin dances for companies The PGK Dance Project and Malashock Dance. He is A.D. of brown paper bag dance co.


BROOKE WELTY, BFA

After graduating with a BFA in Dance from The University of California, Santa Barbara, Brooke moved to New York City to pursue her professional career. In NYC she performed with Eva Dean Dance from 2003-2007 throughout the east coast and abroad. It was with Eva Dean she learned and performed "Bounce". After her run with Eva Dean she joined a Vaudavilian Theater of Variety in Downtown Manhattan from 2006-2010 called The Box. As the dance captain at The Box she performed and traveled to destinations including London, Moscow, and Instanbul. Brooke is ecstatic to be back in Southern California and is honored to be a part of BMDC.


QI ZHANG, MFA

Ms. Zhang began dancing at age 11 in Liaoning, China. She received her BFA in Dance Performance and Education from the prestigious Beijing Dance Academy, studying both classical Chinese and modern dance. For 4 years, she performed as a principal dancer for the Beijing Youth Dance Troupe where she was featured in productions worldwide. Qi has received the "Wenhua Award" for best performance from the Chinese National Government and the Chinese Minister of Culture and the "Silver Medal Award" from China's National Dance Competition. She was also featured as a solo dancer in Puccini's Italian opera "Turandot" in Florence for a documentary by two-time Academy award winning director Allan Miller. In 2006, Qi received an award from the Asia and Europe Foundation to collaborate with other international artists in Warsaw, Poland. Ms. Zhang lectures at CalArts, CSSSA, Beijing Dance Academy, and SIAS International University. She earned her MFA in Dance, Choreography, and Production from CalArts, graduating as a scholarship recipient and top of her class.

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