Ballet East Dance Company

Celebrating 40 years of "bringing arts to the community and the community to the arts".

LANNA AHLBERG LANNA AHLBERG grew up in San Marcos, Texas where she started Ballet, Tap, and Jazz at the age of three. At age seven, she moved to Austin with her family where she continued to dance with D’Ette and Co Dancers. There, she was introduced to more forms such as Contemporary, Modern, and most importantly, Pointé. Under her instructor Paula Sansom, she performed in annual renditions of The Nutcracker and competed in local competitions en Pointé. Lanna also attended summer conventions like the Junior and Senior Ballet Austin Summer Intensives, as well as the Texas Association of Teachers of Dance. In the summer of 2014, she was nominated for the Junior Ballet Scholarship, ultimately winning it the following summer. During the Spring season of 2018, Lanna began her journey at Lotus Contemporary Performing Arts. This is her fourth season with Melissa Villarreal who helps her continue to grow as a dancer and a person every day. This past summer, Lanna completed an aerospace program with NASA at the Houston Johnson Space Center. She is now a senior at The Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders, and has been accepted into Texas A&M University where she will most likely attend next fall.
ANNA DEYOE - PEDRAZA Growing up in the Rio Grande Valley, Anna started dancing at the age of four with Dancentre of Edinburg. There she practiced ballet, jazz, tumbling, flamenco, tap, modern, lyrical, and hip-hop. She helped choreograph and starred in A Chorus Line as Cassie Ferguson with her high school Theater Department. Then her senior year choreographed her high school’s production of Grease the Musical along with playing the character Cha-Cha DiGregorio. For two years she also choreographed three pieces in Dancentre of Edinburg’s annual production of Peter and the Wolf in her home town. Throughout high school she danced in the Ritmo Dorado Competition Team learning swing and folklorico. She studied musical theatre and learned Broadway Jazz with The University at Austin and multiple workshops. Recently, Anna moved to San Marcos and is currently a sophomore studying at Texas State University. Currently earning a degree in Environmental Studies, Anna worked with Lotus Contemporary Performing Arts. She now joins Ballet East in her first season and is excited to continue improving her dancing skills with talented and hardworking people.
MARINA DEYOE - PEDRAZA Marina grew up in Rio Grande Valley, where she first starting dancing at the age of four. She danced ballet, tap, swing, and folklorico all through high school. She then went to college in Long Island, New York, and graduated from Hofstra University with a BFA in Theatre Performance. Since moving to Austin, she has been puppeteering with Glass Half Full, and acting with Salvage Vanguard Theatre, Theatre en Bloc, Generic Ensemble Company, and Teatro Vivo. Marina performed with Lotus Contemporary Performing Arts for two seasons and is grateful that she was accepted with open arms, and pushing her to be a stronger dancer and human. She now joins Ballet East under the continued direction of Melissa Villarreal and looks forward to the new chapter of Ballet East.
KALANI HAWKS VILLAFRANCA KALANI HAWKS VILLAFRANCA is originally from Magnolia, Texas where she started her dance training at the age of 3, studying ballet, tap, jazz, and lyrical at Boni’s Dance Studio. While attending high school at St. John’s School in Houston, Texas Kalani performed and choreographed for the school’s modern dance company, Terpsichore and continued her ballet and jazz training with master classes and workshops at Houston Metropolitan Dance Company and Sam Houston State University. At Tufts University in Boston, Massachusetts, Kalani studied modern dance and classical ballet with Daniel McCusker of Jacob’s Pillow. As a member and then president of Tom Ticket II, Tufts student-run musical theatre company, Kalani choreographed more than 15 full –length musical theatre productions, including Chicago and West Side Story. Kalani moved to New York after graduation where she continued her training with classes at various studios, including Steps on Broadway, Broadway Dance Center and Peridance. She moved to Austin in 2005 and danced with ReleaseMotion Dance Company and Tutto Theater Company and has performed repeatedly in the Big Range Austin Dance Festival. She joined BE in their 2011-2012 season and moved to Spain afterward to study abroad. Upon her return to Austin, she rejoined BE in their 2013-2014 season and danced through May 2015. She joined Lotus Contemporary Performing Arts in her premiere performance of “Ella”. Her greatest choreography is raising 3 beautiful children, while also opening her own law firm. Kalani re-joins Ballet East and is thrilled to continue her journey of dance.
SAMANTHA HUERTA GUERRERO Raised in Austin, Texas where she began dancing at the age of five, Ms. Guerrero studied many forms of dance such as ballet, jazz, tap, modern, and musical theater. At the age of 10 she joined her first dance company, Believe In Me, starring in three productions. There she studied under Tamara Barrington, Laura Agnew, Leticia Rodriguez, and Valdo Perales. Ms. Guerrero attended high school at the McCallum Fine Arts Academy performing in over 12 productions. After high school she took three years away from dance to focus on her education at The University of Texas at Austin. To refocus on dance, Samantha took many major and non-major dance courses at the University. She studied modern and contemporary dance with Lorn MacDougal and Andrea Beckham. In May 2013, Samantha graduated from The University of Texas at Austin with a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry. After college, Samantha continued to focus on dance performing five seasons with Ballet East Dance Company. Ms. Guerrero then joined Lotus Contemporary Performing Arts company for its first premiere performance in May 2015 and has spent the last few years dancing with Lotus. In April 2020, she returned to the Ballet East family with its new transitions under Melissa Villarreal.
DESIREE KIBBEE Raised in Palm Bay, Florida, Desiree Kibbee began dancing at the age of seven learning ballet, jazz, lyrical, and even gymnastics, at Heather’s Dance Studio. Moving to Texas at age twelve, she continued to study dance at Frances Lea Dance Center for six years. Here she explored new styles such as: tap, clogging, contemporary, modern, and musical theater, and danced competitively with her studio for three years. New to the Austin area she is currently a freshman at the University of Texas at Austin pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Biology with hopes to minor in dance. Excited to experience different forms of expression in her movement, she joined Lotus Contemporary Performing Arts where she has trained under Melissa Villarreal. She happily continues her new chapter of dance with the Ballet East Family alongside Villarreal.
MARY KATHERINE OCHOA MARY KATHERINE OCHOA began dancing at the age of four and has trained in ballet, tap, jazz, lyrical, and modern dance. In her hometown, she continued to study and teach dance through grade school and into college. After moving to Austin, Mary Katherine trained with ACC's dance department as well as at Texas State University, whose program emphasizes Erick Hawkins modern technique. In 2008, she graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in Dance. Mrs. Ochoa danced formerly with Ballet East Dance Company between 2012 and 2015. During this time she had the pleasure of mentoring and creating choreography for Ballet East's Junior Company, BE II. She is happy to be returning from a 4 year hiatus in which she had her third daughter, Cypress, who is now three.
LUIS ORDAZ LUIS ORDAZ GUTIERREZ A native of Mexico City, Luis moved to Austin at a very young age and flourished artistically under the tutorship of his mother; a trained dancer from the prestigious Bellas Artes in Mexico. Luis trained in a variety of artistic disciplines throughout his childhood leading to a concentration in visual arts and music. Years later at the age of 16, due to his talent and dedication, Luis landed his first professional role as co-founder and scenic director of ProyectoTeatro, Austin's leading Spanish-language theater company. Continuing to excel at a rapid rate, he moved up department by department until finally taking helm of ProyectoTeatro in 2007 as Artistic and Executive director; being 21 years of age. Luis has directed over 30 productions, and has had the opportunity to travel to New York City, Mexico, Panama, and Thailand. In 2011 he received the MACC Emerging talent award. His multi-faceted interest in the arts led him to partner with Ballet East in the 2012 summer production of “Hear Me, See Me”, which sparked him to hone his artistry in dance again. Since reigniting his passion for dance, Luis has worked with Ballet East Dance Company, Chamacos Dance Company, and Lotus Contemporary Performing Arts, as a dancer and actor.
MICHELLE PHILLIPS KIRKENDALL MICHELLE PHILLIPS-KIRKINDALL began her dance journey as a graduate of the Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. Her dance career includes training at the North Carolina School of the Arts, Arizona State University, Alvin Ailey American Dance Center and Dallas Black Dance Theater. As a performing artist she has been part of numerous productions including the Dallas Morning News Dance Festival and Dallas Place and Pearl Primus. She began her journey with Ballet East Dance Company in the mid 1990’s where she performed in several choreographies before returning to Dallas. Upon her move back to Dallas, Michelle began her studies in the medical field and successfully became a Registered Nurse. Recently, she has moved back to Austin, and with the passing of Mr. Rodolfo Mendez, she has emerged out of retirement as a performing artist, to honor the legacy of Rodolfo Mendez. She has joined Melissa Villarreal in the preservation of the mission of Ballet East and is also a company teacher of Ballet East and offers technique in Ballet, Horton, and Graham. She would like to thank her husband, Tim, for his constant love and support. She is also the proud mother of two beautiful daughters.
RACHEL SAATHOFF RACHEL SAATHOFF is a native Texan who moved to Austin to attend college at the University of Texas. She graduated with a BA in Theatre and Dance and a BS in Public Relations. Now she is an expert pointe shoe specialist at Movin’ Easy Dancewear by day and a fierce dancer by night. She has had the privilege of dancing with Ballet East, under the direction of Rodolfo Méndez, since 2015. She thanks Rudy for giving her the opportunity to work with talented local choreographers over the years like Amberlee Cantrell, Andrea Ariel, Lindsey Taylor, and Meghan Bowman. Since then she has studied and performed with Melissa Villarreal of Lotus Contemporary Performing Arts. Other projects include Aztlan Dance Company’s Loteria Landia 2017 and Vitality Exhale Dance Company’s collaboration with Ballet Afrique for the Bailando International Dance Festival in Corpus Christi. She also loves to volunteer as a back-up dancer each year for Dragoween, a drag show and local fundraiser for the Austin Roundup. Her newest venture includes social dancing and Friday night Salsa Cubana classes taught by Aurelio Planes Rodriguez and Arianna Nuñez Jordan of Chamacos Dance Company.
DANIELE SPIVEY-SORRELLS DANIELE SPIVEY-SORRELLS is originally from Detroit, Michigan and began dancing in the Detroit Public School system with the M L King High School Dance Workshop Program. While the Dance Workshop Company’s focus was Modern Dance, Daniele was introduced to other forms of classical dance training including Ballet, Dunham, and Jazz. During her high school years, she participated in many master classes, workshops and concerts. Daniele attended college in Ohio and received her BS in Psychology and her Master’s in Business and Organizational Leadership. While in college she competed in the Miss Ohio Organization scholarship pageants (1998-2001) where dance was her talent. During her 11 year stay in Ohio, she taught weekly lyrical dance classes at the local YMCA as well as danced, choreographed and taught liturgical dance classes at her local church. Daniele moved to Austin in July, 2007 and currently works for Western Governors University mentoring and supporting academically adult learners enrolled to achieve their undergraduate Business degrees. She was previously the principle dancer for a local Contemporary Dance Company as well as principle dancer in the drama dance, Sister Moses; The story of Harriet Tubman. She has studied with Dallas Black Dance Theater and with the Amazing Grace Liturgical Dance Company in Atlanta, GA. Daniele serves as the Director of Mercy Moves Liturgical Dance Company. She also dances with her church's dance ministry team and teaches monthly dance technique classes, as well as choreographing for many of the church's major productions. Daniele is married to Aaron Spivey-Sorrells and they have one son and what she calls, two, "bonus" daughters.
DANIELA TAMAYO DANIELA TAMAYO was born in Austin Texas and started to take ballet, modern, jazz, and tap classes at the age of 4. Around the age of 11 she began to take theater classes with Proyecto Teatro where she kept practicing her dancing and acting. Later on at the age of 12 she began to take classes with the Ballet East Company and performed as a member of the BE2 group. Once she got to High school she joined the Ballet Folklorico Competition team for her school and competed around Texas, she also auditioned and made the Austin High school Red Jacket Drill Team where she danced Contemporary, Jazz, Hip-hop, & Lyrical. Daniela is now 20 years old and is currently attending Austin Community College. She continued her dance studies with Lotus Contemporary Performing Arts her freshman year of college and is excited to be part of the transition of Ballet East Company. Daniela will be transferring to Texas State University in the fall of 2020 where she will major in Business Administration with a minor in international business.
JANELLE TOWNSEL JANELLE TOWNSEL From the shores of West Michigan, Janelle comes from a vast background of dance and fitness training.  Her dance education and performance experience come from many forms of dance including Ballet, Jazz, Tap, Modern, Latin, Cheer, Pom-pom, and Liturgical to name a few.  Her early years of dance began at the Sika School of Dance with the Cecchetti ballet technique. Being a daughter of a dancer, she credits her love of dance to her mother who gave birth and quite literally arrived back in class two weeks later, with baby in tow.   Janelle continued her dance training in college and graduated from Western Michigan University with a Bachelors in Interpersonal Communication with minors in Dance and Spanish. While in the Midwest Janelle taught at various dance and fitness studios. Since moving to Austin, she has been a teacher and principal dancer for a local Contemporary dance company. Her theory is that dancers are complexed thinkers. “We have to balance strength, flexibility, remember choreography while mastering tiny details of stylized movement, all while making it look pleasing to the eye.  I strongly believe that if you are taught to understand where movement comes from and why you can then start to respect it, master it, and enjoy each small accomplishment … ESPECIALLY when it comes to Ballet!”

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