Ballet East Dance Company
Celebrating 40 years of "bringing arts to the community and the community to the arts".
Angela Benz began dancing at the age of 12 in Bakersfield, CA, where she had the opportunity to annually perform in Bakersfield’s Nutcracker with the Bakersfield Symphony Orchestra. After high school, she moved to Philadelphia and graduated with a dance degree from Eastern University. During her time at Eastern, she studied abroad in Sydney, Australia at the Wesley Institute of Performing Arts. While in Philadelphia, Angela was a member of MM2 Dance Company and Philadanco II, where she had the opportunity to study under Pat Thomas, Donald Lunsford, Milton Meyers, and Joan Myers Brown. After college Angela moved to Orlando, FL to be a character performer at Walt Disney World. She moved to Austin in 2014, performed around the world on 4 different continents and with local companies such as Afrique Gninze (3 years), Ballet East (2 years), and Chaddick Dance Theater (7 years). Mrs. Benz’ currently has 2 little boys with her husband Aaron, too many dogs, and is thrilled to be returning to Ballet East this season!
Raised in Austin, Texas where she began dancing at the age of five, Ms. Huerta 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. Huerta 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. Huerta 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. Ms. Huerta began teaching company classes and coaching company dancers in 2021. In January 2022, she was named as the Associate Artistic Director of Ballet East Dance Company. Samantha debuted her first choreography and creative work in June 2022.
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. She moved to Austin in the fall of 2017 to pursue a degree at The University of Texas at Austin and began dancing for Lotus Contemporary Performing Arts under Melissa Villarreal. Since 2021 she has graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Biology and happily continues her new chapter of dance with the Ballet East Family alongside Villarreal.
Nicole Lozo originally comes from Anderson, Indiana, where she started her formal dance training under LouAnn Young and was a member of the Anderson Young Ballet Company. She was a principal dancer in ballets such as The Nutcracker and Cinderella, as well as works choreographed by Lyn Wiltshire, Bill Evans, Trinette Singleton, and Nana Badrena. Ms. Lozo continued her dance studies and received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance in three years with High Honors from the University of Texas at Austin. After graduation, she served as McCallum Fine Arts Academy dance teacher for four years. It was during this time she met Melissa Villarreal and Rodolfo Mendez at Ballet East. Ms. Lozo had the opportunity to dance works by Francisco Gella, Gina Patterson, Lyn Wiltshire, Melissa Villarreal, Regina Larkin, and Hope Boykin. She also enjoyed exploring other facets of dance by training and competing in Latin dancing around the US and internationally, as well as dancing for the San Antonio Spurs. Ms. Lozo continued her passion for teaching dance and taught at Small Middle School for 10 years and nurtured her love for performing with Ballet East. Through this time, she obtained her Master of Education in Educational Psychology at UT and transitioned her career to school counseling. She’s now in her 9th year as a school counselor and is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Registered Play Therapist with a part-time private practice. Ms. Lozo is a proud mom to two amazing kids, an 18-year-old daughter and 15-year-old son. She is thrilled to be back dancing and performing with Ballet East.
LUIS ORDAZ GUTIERREZ
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.
Jessilyn started dancing at the young age of two in Cincinnati Ohio. During middle & high school she attended summer programs at Joffrey Ballet School in New York, and Next Generation Ballet, led by Peter Start in Tampa FL. At age 16, she toured with East Coast Ballet as a lead in their original work “Spellbound”. She attended Douglass Anderson School of the Arts as a dance major, and at 17 received a scholarship to become a trainee with Joffrey Ballet school and moved to New York. There she trained under teachers including Desmond Richardson, Michael Blake, and Era Jouravlev. She performed for well-known choreographers including, Sekou Miller, Lane Gifford, and Bradley Shelver. She went on to dance professionally and toured with a Florida based company called Unforced Rhythms, was featured in a commercial alongside Alicia Keys, appeared in ads for Samsung, photographed by Ruddy Roy for National Geographic, guest choreographer for Long Islands Jericho High Schools’ dance program, and performed as a background dancer for Karen Hornsby. She has taught and choreographed for studios from Florida, to New York City, and is now in Austin
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