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Faculty

Laura Greenwell, SPB School Director and Ballet Instructor  |  lgreenwell@spballet.org
Laura is trained in classical dance from Ballet Arts Minnesota, under the direction of Bonnie Mathis, Christina Onusko and Lirena Branitski. She continued her studies with the Butler Ballet, the dance department of Butler University in Indianapolis. For more than ten years she has been teaching Vaganova-based Russian ballet and pointe, and has been creating classical and contemporary ballet works for various dance schools. Laura is an American Ballet Theatre® Certified Teacher, who has successfully completed the ABT Teacher Training Intensive in Primary through Level Seven of the ABT(R) National Training Curriculum. She is also a designated Project Plié ABT ballet teacher, with the ability to identify promising young dancers in order to expand racial diversity and inclusion in the classical ballet community. Laura was a Sage Awards panelist for the Twin Cities community from 2013-2014 and recently guest taught for the St. Paul Conservatory for Performing Artists. Laura has most recently danced as a company member with St. Paul Ballet. In addition to ballet experience, she has extensive character dance training, and has been privately coached by Lirena Branitski. She focuses her teaching of ballet and character dance on the unique combination of proper technique, artistry and passion for dance.

 


Lirena Branitski, Ballet Instructor
Lirena was born and trained in the former Soviet Union. She was first soloist of the Kiev State Theatre of Opera and Ballet and a frequent guest performer on the stage of the famed Bolshoi Theatre. She has performed on stages throughout Europe, Canada and South America and has a vast performance repertoire of soloist and principal roles in both classical and contemporary ballets performing under all the master Russian choreographers, including the world-renowned Peter Gusev, Vakhtang Tchabukiani, Raisa Struchkova and Alexander Lapauri. After emigrating to the U.S. in 1980, Ilrena taught at her own school as well as Minnesota Dance Theater. From 1989 to 2006 she taught and choreographed at Ballet Arts Minnesota. At Minnesota In 2012, she was the recipient of the Special Citation at the 2012 SAGE Awards.

 


Mary Coats, Young Children’s Instructor  | mcoats@spballet.org
Mary studied dance at Luther College, Decorah IA, graduating in 1984. Mary has studied at the Summer Dance Institute in the Brain-Compatible Dance Education developed by Anne Green Gilbert and is certified in yoga. Mary also uses the Kodaly method of music education. This is her 12th year at SPB and hundreds of young dancers have been introduced to music and movement as a means of expression and group interaction for their physical, emotional and social well-being. Not only has Mary worked in the studio classroom, but also preschool environments, workshops and festivals, churches, junior high and senior high schools, and camp settings.

 


Jayson Douglas, Ballet Instructor
Jayson is from Paterson, NJ where he began his training at Dance World Academy. He went on to further his training in New York City at Steps on Broadway, Broadway Dance Center and Alvin Ailey. Jayson also attended Point Park University to study dance as his major. While there he also attended summer programs at Dance Place, Orlando Ballet 2, and Boston Ballet all on full scholarships. Jayson’s professional career began as a Trainee with North Carolina Dance Theatre, now known as Charlotte Ballet. Jayson then went on to dance for Lexington Ballet, Ballet Theatre of Maryland, Ballet Nouveau Colorado and one of the top 25 to watch companies named in Dance Magazine, Company C Contemporary Ballet, there he was featured in Twyla Tharp’s “Surfer in the Styx”. He has also performed around the world on cruise lines as a dancer and aerialist. He is a resident choreographer with MidState Ballet, Sarah Berges Dance, and teaches masterclasses around the country as well as internationally. In April 2014 he toured to Paris with Sarah Berges Dance. He most recently danced with Jose Mateo Ballet Theatre and Bowen McCauley Dance. He is delighted to join James Sewell Ballet for his first season and looking forward to many more.

 

Rose Hartnett, Ballet and Modern Instructor
Rose studied classical ballet and contemporary dance with Ballet Arts Minnesota and Minnesota Dance Theatre for over a decade, where she began assistant teaching during her training. She continued her study of ballet and expanded her modern dance training by earning her BFA in Dance at Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University. Rose graduated Summa Cum Laude from Rutgers University, where she was the student director of the University’s performing dance company and instructed dance in high schools in the New Jersey area. She has trained in a wide variety of modern dance techniques, and has also trained with Miami City Ballet School and Zenon Dance School. She has performed works by Jessica Lang, Chien-Ying Wang, Keith Thompson, George Balanchine, Lirena Branitski, Julia Sutter, Jeffery Hankinson, and Loyce Houlton. Rose has been teaching in the Twin Cities area since 2016.

 

Helen Hatch, Ballet Instructor
Helen Hatch is a dancer, choreographer, and teacher based in Minneapolis. A Minnesota native, Helen began her training at Ballet Arts MN and graduated Cum Laude with Dance Department Honors from the Ailey/Fordham BFA program in New York. From 2011-2017, Helen was a member of Minnesota Dance Theatre (MDT), dancing an eclectic range of repertory while also creating her own work and teaching in the Performing Arts Division at the MDT School. Helen’s choreography has been presented at the Ailey Citigroup Theater, the 2011 Jacob’s Pillow Inside/Out Festival, the MN Fringe Festival, throughout Mexico and Guatemala by the Juntos Collective, and most recently at Minnesota Dance Theatre.  In 2012, Minnesota Monthly named her one of their “10 Artists to Watch” stating that she “embod[ies] ballet’s tension between technique and emotion. In her own choreography, blending ballet with vigorous American movement, this edginess leaves you breathless.”

 

 

Katherine Krieser,  Ballet Instructor
Katherine began her ballet training in 1988 at Minnetonka Dance Theatre and School and was a member of its Youth Ballet Company. In 2000, she was invited to be a part of the Mid-States Regional Dance America (RDA) Honors Company. The Honors Company rehearsed at Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan and performed at the International Ballet Competition in 2001 in Jackson, MS. In 2002 her choreography was chosen to be performed in Chicago, IL in the emerging choreographer’s show at the RDA Festival. Katherine attended training programs with American Ballet Theatre in Orange County, CA and New York City, NY where she worked with prestigious faculty including David Howard and Rebecca Wright. In 2005 Katherine attended the Washington School of Ballet in Washington, D.C. on full scholarship and performed George Balanchine’s Serenade and Septime Webre’s Nutcracker with the Washington Ballet Company. Since 2004 she has danced professionally with multiple professional ballet companies in the Twin Cities, choreographing and co-producing several shows, and has been teaching ballet and choreographing on students since 2006. In addition, Katherine holds a B.S. in Genetics and Biochemistry and a M.S. in Molecular Biosciences from the University of Minnesota and has a career in Clinical Laboratory Products.

 

Anton Harrison LaMon, Ballet Instructor, Ballet for Athletes and Boys Club
Anton Harrison LaMon is a dancer and performing artist currently residing in the Twin Cities. He began his dance training in Lancaster, California studying tap, ballet, and jazz. He then went on to study at The Debbie Allen Dance Academy where his love for Musical Theater began to grow. After relocating to Bloomington, Indiana where his focus was on Classical Ballet, under the direction of Doricha Sales, he joined the Indiana University Pre-College program and then later- after attending The Alvin Ailey school summer intensive- LaMon then joined The IU Ballet Theater under the caring faculty of Jacques and Virginia Cesbron, Violette Verdy, Michael Vernon, and Goaping Wang. His performing credits Include the national tour of Twyla Tharp’s ‘Movin Out’, The Broadway cast of ‘The Phantom of the Opera’, Arena Stages Innagural production of ‘Oklahoma!’, Ordway’s ‘A Chorus Line’, Netflix ‘Lady Dynamite’, as well as performing with The James Sewell Ballet and Minnesota Dance Theatre. When teaching his focus is strong on intention, strength, artistry, musicality, performance, and the emotional quality that drives movement.

 

Laurelie MacKenzie, Young Children’s Instructor
Laurelie is extremely passionate about dance, music and education. Laurelie is a Certified Youth Advacates In Dance instructor. She is an early childhood focused educator and is Music Together, Music Funtime and Dancersise trained. Laurelie has enjoyed teaching for more than a decade. She implements positivity and enthusiasm while integrating a kind, sincere, and holistic approach that nurtures the personal uniqueness of each child while still  incorporating the importance of technique. She is grateful for the privilege to foster the benevolence of dance and include its multifaceted benefits on individuals’ morale, connections and healthy expression.

 

Kerry Parker, Ballet Instructor
Born and raised in St Paul, MN Kerry has been a company member of Pacific Northwest Ballet, Vienna State Opera Ballet, and Ballet of the Dolls.
Kerry spent her early years studying with Jo Savino, Janet Smith, Frank Bourman, Bonnie Mathis, Lirena Branitski, Sylvia Bolton, David Voss, and Loyce Houlton. She also spent time studying at Milwaukee Ballet School, School of American Ballet, and Pacific Northwest Ballet School. She’s been teaching all levels of ballet to all ages of people for close to twenty years. She also teaches the Gyrotonic Expansion System at Embody Minneapolis.

 

Leta Triebold, Ballet Instructor
Leta began dancing at the age of five, training in tap, jazz, lyrical, modern, ballet, and pointe at Short Dance Studios and St. Croix Ballet. She has been dancing professionally since graduating high school, performing with Continental Ballet, St. Paul Ballet, Ballet Minnesota, Metropolitan Ballet, and Minneapolis Ballet Dancers. Leta has performed in the classical ballets of the Nutcracker, Cinderella, Coppelia, Giselle, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Paquita, Sleeping Beauty, and Swan Lake, as well as some contemporary works. Leta is committed to sharing her passion for dance with her students while helping them to attain the highest level of technique.

 

Barbara Weinstine
Barbara received her training with the Andaházys and is dedicated to the rich tradition of the Russian method, on which she bases her teaching. Barbara has studied with artists including Gabriela Komleva, Luba Gulyaeva, Marina Stavitskya, Alla Sizova, Vladimir Davidoff, Jurgen Schneider, and Carol Roderick. Barbara performed in classical ballets and original works including, Les Sylphides, Pas de Quatre, Scheherazade, Los Seises, Vivaldi Concerto and Miraculous Stag. She is proficient in knowledge and implementation of the Vaganova Syllabus.

Guest Faculty

Malika Benachour, Guest Teacher
Malika is a former student of the Cassandra school of Middle Eastern Dance and former member of the Jawaahir Dance company. She danced for nine years under the direction of Cassandra Shore and performed in different theaters of the Twin Cities. Her dancing includes oriental style as well as folkloric dances from North Africa and the Arab World. Born and raised in France, Malika is of Algerian descent and enjoys  being consulted for cultural and linguistic questions aiming at the cultural growth of young dancers.

 

 

 

 

Musicians

Franco Holder, Head Accompanist
Franco enjoys working with musicians, dancers, artists, and children alike. He has collaborated on performances for the Schubert Club, Kenwood Symphony Orchestra, New Age Art Salon, Nimbus Theater and is a past winner of the Artistic Ambassadors Competition. Franco also regularly performs for the MNKINO Film Festival which brings filmmakers, composers, and musicians together to create new short films with original scores that are performed live with orchestra. He has directed music for many musicals–most recently Nunsense, Into the Woods, and Pump Boys and Dinettes. Currently, Franco is working on a solo album featuring arrangements of the music of composer, George Walker to be released later this year. Franco is organist at Crown of Glory Lutheran Church.

Lidia Gelfand
Bio to come.

Michael Koerner
Bio to come.

Melanie Safar
A lifelong musician, Melanie began her piano training at the age of seven.  She has been accompanying ballet for over twenty years.  It is her great joy to be part of the artistic journey of so many dance students!  Melanie also enjoys singing and is a part of the music program at Macalester Plymouth United Church.

Staff

Laura Greenwell, School Director  |  lgreenwell@spballet.org

Andrea Lane, Office Manager  |  alane@spballet.org

Maria DeLaundreau, School Director Assistant  |  mdelaundreau@spballet.org

Gus Franchere, Administrative Assistant  |  gfranchere@spballet.org

Kristin Johnson, Administrative Assistant |  kjohnson@spballet.org

 

Photographers

Lori Gleason
David Trayers