Menlowe Ballet Dancers
Samantha Bell, from Orange County, CA, trained with the Anaheim Ballet on full scholarship and joined their company in 2008. She won third place at YAGP San Francisco and went on to the New York City finals three times. From 2010-2015, Samantha danced with the State Street Ballet where she performed soloist roles including the Autumn Fairy in Cinderella and Bianca in Robert Sund’s Taming of the Shrew. Her ballet, Pistolero, became the first-ever dancer choreographed work to be added to the repertoire. Samantha toured extensively with the company, traveling both nationally and internationally. In 2014, she performed alongside Iggy Azalea and Rita Ora in their number one hit, Black Widow, at the MTV Video Music Awards. Samantha holds a BA in History from UCSB and is a certified Zumba instructor. She joined Menlowe Ballet in 2015.
Mae Chesney, from Baltimore, Maryland, began training at the Gniasdowski Studio of Ballet and continued her studies at the Baltimore School for the Arts. She has attended training programs with Alonzo King LINES Ballet, Joffrey Ballet and Washington Ballet. Mae earned her BFA in Dance from the University of Cincinnati College–Conservatory of Music. There, she worked with Maureen Fleming, Frederick Franklin, Vivi Flindt, Ka Ron B Lehman, Deirdre Carberry, and Jiang Qi. Mae was a principal dancer with Columbus Dance Theatre and Peninsula Ballet Theatre, performing leading roles in The Nutcracker, Swan Lake, Le Corsaire, and in George Balachine’s Walpurgusnacht and Pas de Dix. Recently, she performed with Unfinished People in the Salon at LEVYdance. Mae joined Menlowe Ballet in the spring of 2015.
Coreen Danaher is a freelance dancer from Vallejo, CA, now based in New York. After receiving a mark of Distinction on the Advanced II examination in the Royal Academy of Dance syllabus and attending the Adeline Genee Awards competition, Coreen went on to work professionally with a number of Bay Area companies and choreographers. She performed with the Oakland Ballet under the direction of Graham Lustig, and appeared in a variety of classical and contemporary repertory with Menlowe Ballet under Michael Lowe. Recently she has appeared with the Barak Ballet in Los Angeles and with BalletNY in Manhattan. She has performed works by Val Caniparoli, Nicolo Fonte, Dennis Nahat, John Butler, and Stanton Welch, among others. Coreen is is happy to rejoin Menlowe Ballet for their premier of “It’s a Wonderful Nutcracker.”
Matthew Doolin, from Jacksonville, Florida, began his training with Kim Okie McDonough at Dansations Performing Arts Center. He attended Lavilla School of the Arts and Douglas Anderson School of the Arts before joining Orlando Ballet II in 2007 under Peter Stark. Matthew won Silver and Bronze medals at YAGP in 2009. Under a full artistic scholarship, Matthew graduated with honors from Butler University with a BA in Dance Pedagogy in 2013. While at Butler, Matthew studied and performed with the Beijing Dance Academy and the Hong Zhou Dance Center in China. He danced Nacho Duato’s Por Vos Muero as well as principal roles in The Nutcracker and Giselle. Matthew has danced with Company C Contemporary Ballet, Oakland Ballet, New Mexico Ballet, and Post:Ballet. He recently served as interim Ballet Master for Juneau Dance Theatre. He joined Menlowe Ballet in the fall of 2015.
Brian Gephart, from Kernersville, North Carolina, received his formal training at the North Carolina School of the Arts (now University of NCSA). After graduating from the High School Program in 2007, Brian danced with Houston Ballet II before joining the Joffrey Ballet of Chicago. With the Joffrey, Brian had the privilege of performing works by choreographers including Frederick Ashton, Gerald Arpino, George Balanchine, Robert Joffrey, Lar Lubovitch, Paul Taylor, Jerome Robbins and Christopher Wheeldon. In 2011, Brian travelled to Canada to dance with Atlantic Ballet Theatre of Canada in Moncton, New Brunswick. He now lives in New York City where he is dances with The Metropolitan Opera. Brian joined Menlowe Ballet in the Fall of 2014.
Julie Giordano, from Scottsdale, Arizona, began studying at age three with Nina Marlow and Rena Becker at Nina Marlow School of Ballet. Her training continued at Master Ballet Academy under Slawomir and Irena Wozinak. She attended intensive programs with American Ballet Theater Alabama, Ballet Arizona, Joffrey Midwest, Master Ballet Academy, Ballet Austin, and State Street Ballet. Julie danced professionally with State Street Ballet and with Ballet Tucson where she had the joy of working with John Gardener and Amanda McKerrow. There, she performed ballets by George Balanchine and Anthony Tudor, and appeared in productions of Giselle, Swan Lake, Esmeralda, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Graduation Ball. Julie joined Menlowe Ballet in 2013.
Patience Gordon, a Bay Area native, trained at Ballet Petit for 12 years under Peggy Peabody, Omar Shabazz and Joy Gim. She attended summer programs at Ballet Arizona, and at the Bartholin International Ballet Seminar in Copenhagen, Denmark. Patience danced with Ballet Arizona’s studio company during their 2014-2015 season, performing in George Balanchine’s Walpurgishnacht and in August Bournonville’s Napoli. She performed with the Oakland Ballet Company for two seasons. Patience joined Menlowe Ballet in the fall of 2015.
Peter Hershey began his training at the Seiskaya Ballet Academy in St. James, New York. He attended high school at the Nassau B.O.C.E.S. Cultural Arts Center and went on to attend the School of American Ballet and The Juilliard School. He received additional training and mentorship from Francis Patrelle and Johan Renvall. As a member of Ballet San Jose for twelve seasons, Peter was known for dancing the role of Johnny in Dennis Nahat’s Blue Suede Shoes. His repertoire included principal roles in The Nutcracker and Rodeo, as well as soloist roles in works by George Balanchine, Jessica Lang, Donald McKayle, Dennis Nahat, Twyla Tharp, and Stanton Welch. As a closing member of Company C Contemporary Ballet, he was featured in works by Charles Anderson, Maurice Causey, Susan Jaffe, Charles Moulton, and Yuri Zhukov. Peter teaches ballet throughout the Bay Area and is on the faculty of Menlo Park Academy of Dance. He danced with Menlowe Ballet in 2012 and 2013, and rejoined the company in the fall of 2015.
Mariko Ishikawa, a San Francisco native, received her training at the Ayako School of Ballet. She competed in the Youth American Grand Prix Finals and in 2012, she won the San Francisco Beach Blanket Babylon Scholarship for the Arts. She has performed leading roles with the Albany Berkshire Ballet, Man Dance Company and Peninsula Youth Ballet. She joined Menlowe Ballet in 2012.
Terrin McGee-Kelly, from Antioch, California, began her classical ballet training at Delta Ballet Academy with Helga Ishikata, Helen Piernik, and Michael Lowe. She continued her studies with Arlene Newhouse at Ballet Celeste International and the Joffrey Ballet. Terrin has appeared with Theater Ballet of San Francisco, Oakland Ballet, Peninsula Ballet Theater, Black Diamond Ballet, Moving Arts Dance, Ballet San Jose, and San Francisco Opera. She has been a featured dancer in music videos and national commercials, holds numerous titles in the Miss America Organization, and is a recipient of the coveted Leni Arnhym Classical Performer Award. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Saint Mary’s College. Terrin has been with Menlowe Ballet since it’s inception.
Ali McKeon, from Maui, Hawaii, studied at the Maui Academy of Performing Arts. She trained at American Ballet Theater, LINES Ballet, San Francisco Conservatory of Dance, Post:Ballet, and Hubbard Street Dance Chicago. As a student at Stanford University, she trained under Kristine Elliott, Muriel Maffre, Robert Moses, and Diane Frank, and performed in Robert Moses’ This State of Annihilation, and as a soloist in original work by Amy Seiwert. Upon graduating, Ali received the Louis Sudler Prize in the Arts. In 2014, she graduated from the University of California Irvine’s Master of Fine Arts program in dance with a full scholarship. There, under the mentorship of Jodie Gates, Ali began developing her own choreographic voice. She now serves as a guest lecturer at West Valley College, and is a freelance choreographer. Ali joined Menlowe Ballet in 2015.
Stefanie Maughan, from Fullerton, California, began training with Lois Ellyn. She studied at Anaheim Ballet under the direction of Larry Rosenburg, and explored contemporary movement under the mentorship of Amy Nakamura. Stefanie has competed extensively in national competitions, and has attended summer training programs with Boston Ballet, Alonzo King LINES Ballet, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Complexions Contemporary Ballet, BODYTRAFFIC, and ODC. While attending UC Irvine’s Claire Trevor School of the Arts, Stefanie worked closely with Jodie Gates, Tong Wang, and Diane Diefenderfer. She has performed with Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, Anaheim Ballet, the Crystal Cathedral, and Long Beach Ballet. In June 2014, Stefanie graduated from UC Irvine with a Masters in Fine Arts in Dance. She is certified to teach Pilates and Yoga and is passionate about the importance of mind-body conditioning for dancers and performers. Stefanie joined Menlowe Ballet in 2015.
Lauren Mindel was born in the San Fernando Valley to a mother on the high school Pom Squad and a father who danced on American Bandstand. She studied ballet, jazz, contemporary, tap, hip-hop and character with teachers including Lynn Brilhante, Anne Barrett, Amy Bouris, and Michael Lowe, at Joan Robinson Borcher’s California Academy of Performing Arts in Moraga. At American Ballet Theater and LINES Ballet Intensives, Lauren studied with Lawrence Pech, Christine Spizzo, Kara Davis and Carmen Rozestraten. Lauren is a recording artist and actress, and is pursuing a B.A. through the LEAP Program at Saint Mary’s College. She teaches and choreographs for students at The Menlo Park Academy of Dance. Lauren joined Menlowe Ballet in 2011.
Bondy Owens Juarez, from Vista, California, began training with New West Ballet School, followed by San Elijo Dance and Music Academy. In 2006, she joined the newly-formed Los Angeles Ballet Company led by Colleen Neary and Thordal Christensen. There, she danced in Neary/Christensen’s The Nutcracker, Bournonville’s La Sylphide, in numerous George Balanchine ballet’s including Concerto Barocco, Serenade, Rubies, Four Temperaments, Who Cares?, and Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No.2., and in original works by Jennifer Backhaus and Melissa Barak. Bondy graduated from UCLA in 2010 with degrees in World Arts and Cultures and European Studies. In 2012, she received her MFA in dance from UCI after presenting her master’s thesis concert, Corps Concepts. Bondy teaches and choreographs and enjoys working with students throughout the Bay Area. She joined Menlowe Ballet in the fall of 2015.
Chantelle Pianetta, a Bay Area native, began her training at the Contra Costa Ballet School. At age 14, she was accepted into the School of American Ballet in New York City. There, she performed with the New York City Ballet in George Balanchine’s Serenade and Scherzo a la Russe, Christopher Wheeldon’s Scenes de Ballet, and Susan Stroman’s Double Feature. In 2008, Chantelle enrolled in Columbia University’s School of General Studies and was a member of the Columbia Ballet Collaborative. Chantelle joined Company C Contemporary Ballet in 2010, where she originated leading roles in works by Susan Jaffe, Charles Anderson, Patrick Corbin, and Brian Reeder. She has also performed as a principal guest artist with the Oakland Ballet, Contra Costa Ballet, and Central California Ballet. Chantelle joined Menlowe Ballet in 2015.
Derek Sakakura, from Walnut Creek, California, began his ballet training with Lareen Fender. He continued his studies at San Francisco Ballet School and Houston Ballet Academy. Derek’s career began in a Broadway National Tour of The King and I, choreographed by Lar Lubovich and Jerome Robbins. He went on to perform with the Joffrey Ballet of Chicago, Ballet Austin, Ballet Met, SF Opera Ballet, Diablo Ballet, and as a guest artist with numerous companies. Derek has performed leading roles in Balanchine’s Rubies and Stars and Stripes; Stanton Welch’s Maninyas, and Play; Stephen Mill’s and David Nixon’s A Midsummer’s Night Dream; Christopher Wheeldon’s Mercurial Manoeuvres, and Val Caniparoli’s Tears from Above. Currently, Mr. Sakakura serves as Ballet Director for Fusion Dance Project. As a teenager, with aspirations of dancing professionally, Derek met Michael Lowe. Since that time, the two have looked forward to an opportunity to work together. Derek joined Menlowe Ballet in the fall of 2015.
Christina Schifano, from Setauket, New York, began dancing at age nine at Seiskaya Ballet Academy. She attended Edward Ellison’s Professional Training Program and was awarded full scholarships to attend American Ballet Theater and Bolshoi Ballet Summer Intensives. In 2008, she won First Place at the Youth America Grand Prix Regional Competition in New York. This resulted in a contract with The Washington Ballet where she danced alongside David Hallberg in the ballets Celts and La Sylphide. She joined Colorado Ballet’s Studio Company in 2009 and in 2011, joined Colorado Ballet, where she performed roles in Jewels, Sleeping Beauty, The Nutcracker, Swan Lake, Don Quixote, Theme and Variations and Romeo & Juliet. Christina performed with Peninsula Ballet Theatre in 2013, and joined Menlowe Ballet in 2014.
Demetria Schioldager, from Los Angeles, CA, trained in Royal Academy of Dance under Patricia Caballero. She spent summers studying with American Ballet Theatre, Pacific Northwest Ballet, School of American Ballet and San Francisco Ballet. After earning a Bachelor of Science Degree in Ballet from the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University, Demetria joined Nevada Ballet Theatre. While at University, she performed the role of Odette in Cynthia Gregory’s staging of Swan Lake. Demetria has performed leading roles in George Balanchine’s Serenade, Rubies, Concerto Barocco, Valse Fantaisie, and Four Temperaments under the direction of Sandra Jennings, Mimi Paul and Elyse Borne. Demetria joined Menlowe Ballet in 2013.
Leigh Whiting trained at Southeastern School of Ballet in Columbia, South Carolina under the instruction of Hillary and Gabor Toth. She received her first professional contract with James Canfield’s Nevada Ballet Theatre. During her four seasons there, she performed featured roles in Canfield’s Cyclical Night, Degas Impressions, 4 Songs, Trois Gnossiennes, and The Nutcracker. Leigh collaborated with Cirque du Soleil as both a dancer and choreographer, and most recently danced for Convergence Ballet Company performing works by Daniel Marshalsay and Kevin Jenkins. Leigh is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree through the LEAP program at St. Mary’s College. She joined Menlowe Ballet in 2015.