FACULTY

About Our Instructors
 

Bay Ridge Ballet's world-class, skilled instructors are highly qualified with extensive training and experience. Coming from diverse backgrounds, our faculty gives a well-rounded dance education that inspires students to achieve their maximum performance level and reach their goals.      

Click on the links below to learn more about our amazing faculty!

BRIANNA ANDERSON

VALERIE E. BALOGA

ERIK BARRAGAN

OLIVIA DUFFY

LORENA JARAMILLO

VERONICA JIAO

JESSICA LEE

MONICA LESSARD

MAXINE MONTILUS

HANNA OLDSMAN

SARA PEREZ

LATOYA ROBERSON

TARA LYNN STEELE

MEGGI SWEENY SMITH

SAM TURNER

AURORA VAUGHN

KAT WILDISH

INNA YURENEVA

Read about BRB and our Founding Director Patricia Foster-Grado HERE

 
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BRIANNA ANDERSON 

Originally from Oklahoma City, OK, Brianna received her B.F.A in Dance from the University of Oklahoma and additionally trained with Alonzo Kong’s LINES Ballet, Oklahoma Arts Institute, and the Lula Washington Dance Theater. 

 

She has performed with Dayton Contemporary Dance Company II, Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble, General Mischief Dance Theater, and Dzul Dance among others.  She has performed works by Alvin Ailey, Martha Graham, Darrell Grand Moultrie, Milton Myers, Christopher Huggins, and Mark Dendy.  As a choreographer, she has presented work through Jennifer Muller's The Hatch series, Ballet Inc., ModArts’ Collective Thread, and Awaken Dance Theater. 

 

In addition to performing and choreographing, Brianna is a certified IM=X Pilates trainer, has served as rehearsal assistant for former Ailey dancer Andre Tyson, and participated in the 2019 New York Fashion Week as a runway model for Melange Movement.

 
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VALERIE E. BALOGA

Valerie E. Baloga is a tap dancer based in Brooklyn, NY. She comes from Pennsylvania where she was a tap dance student and performer under the direction of Nicole Hockenberry.

 

For more than a decade Valerie has been studying tap dance in New York City and has had the great pleasure of working and performing with tap dancers from around the world, most notably with Germaine Salsberg’s Les Femmes.

 

In addition being on faculty at BRB, Valerie is an instructor at The School at Mark Morris Dance Center. Other teaching credits include Spoke the Hub in Park Slope and various community outreach residencies in Brooklyn public schools.

 
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ERIK BARRAGAN

Erik Barragan was born in Guayaquil, Ecuador and is a now local Bay Ridge parent with inspiring musical talent! Mr. Erik has been singing and playing music for children since 2010. Erik has studied guitar with many talented teachers in NYC and loves playing for both children and adults.

Check out Mr. Erik on his YouTube channel "Hello Hello Mr. Erik" and then join us in class for some fun! 

 

Erik is looking forward to bringing his talent and service to the neighborhood through Bay Ridge Ballet. His class "Move and Groove with Mr. Erik" offers babies and toddlers, along with their grown-up, a chance to dance, shake and learn different Spanish words each week! 

 
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OLIVIA DUFFY 

 

Olivia Duffy holds a Bachelor of Arts in Dance with a minor in Biology from Marymount Manhattan College. As a native New Yorker, she began her ballet training at The Staten Island Ballet and went on to study at The Rock School, Joffrey Ballet School, Alto Jonio Dance in Italy and with Gelsey Kirkland.

 

In addition to working with children as both a ballet teacher and academic tutor, Olivia has the joy of performing with various dance companies in the New York City area including Staten Island Ballet, Victoria Ballet Theater, and Yuka Kawazu’s Danse en L’air. 

 

Olivia is absolutely thrilled to be on the Bay Ridge Ballet team!

 
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LORENA JARAMILLO

 

Lorena Jaramillo is a Brooklyn based dance and teaching artist. Born in Mexico City, she began her classical ballet studies under the Royal Academy of Dance curriculum. She later moved to the United States to earn her undergraduate degree in Dance from Marymount Manhattan College under the direction of Katie Langan, where she graduated with a gold key in Dance Studies. 

She is currently in her third season with dance-theater collective Sydnie L Mosely Dances, Queens-based contemporary dance company Nicole Kadar and Dancers, and is in constant collaboration with Harlem based artist Reza Farkhondeh, dancing in his pieces "Obscure and Back" and "Dancing on Paper". She has performed at the Clark Theater in Lincoln Center, The Brooklyn Children's Museum and the Queensboro Dance Festival and performed works by Jenn Freeman, Nancy Lushington, Anthony Ferro and Annie Doss. In addition to Bay Ridge Ballet, Lorena is Teaching Artist with Amanda Selwyn’s Notes in Motion.

 

Lorena is an advocate for arts accessibility and education which has led her to teach and perform with various activist organizations in the US and Latin America. She sees dance as an embodied practice of joy!

 
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VERONICA JIAO

Born on the unceded, native land of the Kusso (Charleston, SC), Veronica (she/her/hers) is a Filipino-American dance creative and educator.

 

As a performer, she has danced on tour with the Broadway musical Anastasia, aboard the Disney Dream with Disney Cruise Line, and has danced for RWS Entertainment Group and the Tallahassee Ballet.

 

As an educator, Veronica has taught ballet, tap, jazz, acro, and contemporary in many studios across the NYC and NJ areas. Veronica navigates many creative spaces, and is very excited to join the Bay Ridge Ballet family!

 
JESSICA LEE

Jessica Lee is a dance artist, educator, and arts administrator based in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. She grew up studying ballet at Connecticut Dance School in Fairfield, Connecticut and holds a BA in Dance and Environmental Studies from Middlebury College.

 

Jessica is currently a Creative Partner with dance-theatre collective Sydnie L. Mosley Dances (SLMDances) and teaches creative movement and modern dance to 4 – 14-year-olds at BAX | Brooklyn Arts Exchange. She is an Arts and Production Organizer with PURPOSE Productions and works closely with Paloma McGregor on the Angela’s Pulse Team. Additionally, Jessica is the Co-Director of The Sable Project, an alternative off-grid summer artist residency in Vermont.

 

Her artistic work and teaching practice are grounded in rigorous play, fueled by the joy of movement, and dedicated to inclusive community building.

 
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MONICA LESSARD

 

A New Hampshire native, Monica is currently the resident jazz teacher for the Joffrey Dance Academy and the elective dance teacher at Fort Hamilton High School in Brooklyn, NY. From 2015-2017 she worked at The Nancy DeBenedittis Elementary School in Corona, Queens, where she designed and implemented a dance curriculum and shared her love of dance with children in grades K-5.

Through her unique experiences in the studio and now in the public school sector, she has become an arts advocate in NYC shedding light on the importance and impact of arts education, and is a true believer that learning in, through and about dance enriches education, working and life itself.

A 2007 dance performance (ballet/jazz) graduate of Point Park University’s Conservatory of Performing Arts (Pittsburgh, PA), Monica received her Masters in Arts Education at Hunter College, as part of the Lincoln Center Scholars Program (2017).

You can catch Monica in BRB's Nutcracker performances, in addition to sharing her expertise in Jazz Technique with our school!  

 
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MAXINE MONTILUS

 

Maxine Montilus is a native of Brooklyn, New York and a first-generation Haitian-American.  Maxine has a B.F.A. in Modern Dance Performance from The University of the Arts, an M.A. in Arts Management from City University London, and an M.A. in Dance Education from Hunter College via the Lincoln Center Scholars program.  She has also had the opportunity to study Cuban folkloric dance, music and culture through the annual “Dog Aguas” program founded by Danys “La Mora” Perez from 2010-2012, which took her to Havana, Matanzas and Santiago de Cuba; and has studied Haitian folkloric dance with various master teachers, such as Nadia Dieudonné, Adia Whitaker, Peniel Guerrier and Julio Jean. In 2018, she received the Travel and Study Grant from The Jerome Foundation, which allowed her to participate in Vinn Pran Baget, a Haitian folkloric dance and music program directed by Dieufel Lamisere.

 

Maxine is a 2014 EMERGENYC artist with New York University ’s Hemispheric Institute for Performance and Politics.  As a dancer, Maxine has performed with Ase Dance Theatre Collective, Balasole Dance Company, KaNu Dance Theater and Tamara LaDonna Moving Spirits. Maxine performed with SpeakDance Collective in the Festival of Art and Folklore in Santiago de Cuba in April 2016. She was featured in the theatrical production “La Sirene: Rutas de Azucar” produced by Lukumi Arts in December 2016 at JACK Art Space, and in February 2017 at HERE Arts Center.  She also performed in Jean Claude Eugene’s production “Zatrap: HaitiTrauma” at The Landon School in Bethesda, Maryland in October 2017 and Queens Museum Theatre in May 2018.

 

As a choreographer, Maxine has presented work at the "Being Bushified!"​ culture and community series hosted by Urban Bush Women, "The Makings of You"​ (at Dance New Amsterdam) and "Epic Narratives"​ (at The Actors Fund Arts Center) with Tamara LaDonna Moving Spirits, "Shadow of a Pearl"​ and "Malgre Tout"​ with KaNu Dance Theater at Jamaica Performing Arts Center, The Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance, La Mama Experimental Theatre Club, Harlem School for the Arts with Haiti Cultural Exchange for their annual Selebrasyon Festival, and the inaugural Rex Nettleford Arts Conference in Kingston, Jamaica. Maxine is also a member of Dance Caribbean COLLECTIVE, through which she has presented choreography in their annual New Traditions Showcase from 2015-2017.  In 2014, she choreographed BallyBeg Production's third play and Equity-approved showcase, "The Taste Of It", and was a 2015 nominee for Outstanding Choreography/Movement in The New York Innovative Theater Awards for her work in the production. In 2017, Maxine served as the Afro Cuban/Haitian Folklore consultant for choreographer Camille A. Brown in her work for the Tony-Award winning musical “Once On This Island”.

 
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HANNA OLDSMAN

Hanna Oldsman trained in the Vaganova method at the Kirov Academy of Ballet in Washington, D.C. and with Natalya Stavro in New York City. She has performed with several companies in New York, including the Staten Island Ballet, Julia Bengtsson Dance, Victoria Ballet Theater, Mooney Cooley Dance, and Danse En L'air, dancing both contemporary repertory and classical ballets such as Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake, Flames of Paris, and Le Corsaire.

 

Hanna also holds a BA summa cum laude from Barnard College in English literature and has received the Bolshoi Ballet Academy Teacher Certificate. 

 

Teaching children across the NYC area, Hanna loves to inspire young dancers to move. 

 
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SARA PEREZ

Sara Perez started dancing at the age of 3 in Plano, Texas. Perez in well versed in classical and contemporary Ballet, Modern and Jazz. 

 

Perez has studied under the masters behind Joffrey San Antonio and Paul Taylor New York. Graduating from the University of Oklahoma, she received a BFA in Ballet Pedagogy and moved to NYC in 2011.

 

Since moving to New York City she has danced with Exit 12 Dance Company and Community Dance Project. In addition to dance companies Perez has choreographed and danced in several music videos by TV On The Radio, Tiny Victories, Sun Sheds and Sannhet.

 

Perez teaches private Ballet lessons to all ages and all levels around the city and is thrilled to be on BRB's faculty! 

 
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LATOYA ROBERSON

LaToya began her ballet training in her hometown of Shreveport, Louisiana. LaToya has been a student at many prestigious dance schools including Pittsburgh Youth Ballet, North Carolina School of the Arts, Dance Theater of Harlem and The Ailey School, where she received the the Judith Jamison Fellowship. Studying at these schools has given LaToya the privilege of studying under and dancing for dance greats such as Melissa Hayden, Gelsey Kirkland, Arthur Mitchell, Ronald K. Brown and Judith Jamison. Since finishing her training, LaToya has gone on to perform on stage as well as on television. She has been a featured dancer on Live! With Regis and Kelly and the MTV Video Music Awards. She has danced with Contemporary Ballet Theater and Genesis Dance Company. She has also had the opportunity to dance as a guest artist in roles for ballets such as Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, Firebird, Gaite Parisienne, The Nutcracker, Giselle and more.

 

LaToya has been on staff and guest teacher at numerous dance schools including Shreveport Metropolitan Ballet, Theater School of Dance and Santa Clarita Ballet, Los Angeles Ballet Academy and the Dance Teacher Web Live teachers’ conference every year in Las Vegas. She is currently a staff member of D’Valda and Sirico Dance and Music Centre in Fairfield, CT under the direction of Angela D’Valda Sirico and Steve Sirico (founders of Dance Teacher Web) and is the Ballet Department director at Dance Impressions in Union, NJ. She holds a certification in Ballet Teaching and Registered Teaching status with the Royal Academy of Dance (London, England).

 
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TARA LYNNE STEELE

 

Tara Lynn Steele or Ms. TL, hailing from Marietta, GA is a passionate mover of all styles. Dance is her chosen language—and she is always eager to share wiggles with the next generation.

 

A proud graduate of The University of Alabama (double major in Musical Theatre & Dance) - Ms. TL says roll tide! After school she traveled the world on a cruise ship and then moved to the big Apple. She has danced on stages far and wide—across the states and as far as Shanghai, China!

 

Collaboration and Creativity are driving forces in all that she does, and she is excited to share the joyous art of dance with BRB!

 
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MEGGI SWEENEY SMITH 

Meggi Sweeney Smith, from Carrollton, MO, has premiered as a solo artist on a national and international level for companies such as the New York Baroque Dance Company, Cohen/Suzeau, and CorbinDances. In addition to performing with the Sokolow Dance/Theater Ensemble, and Kazuko Hirabayashi Dance Theater, she has also performed works by Wally Cardona, Douglas Dunn, Doris Humphrey, Eleanor King, José Limón, Kate Skarpetowska, Ernestine Stodelle, and more.

Her interest in modern dance and historic work began during her BFA in dance and minor in music, which she received from the University of Kansas with highest honors. She completed her MA in Dance Education from NYU Steinhardt developing her thesis Teaching Artistry Through Historic Modern Forms of Dance: Humphrey, Limón, and Sokolow. 

 

Meggi currently teaches as an adjunct professor at NYU and with the Limón4Kids program in the public schools around NYC. As a guest teacher/performer she has worked at the New York State Summer School of the Arts (NYSSSA), Chamber Music Society at Lincoln Center and the NYC Philharmonic.

 

Meggi also works as a consultant/choreographer in the field of historic Baroque dance with groups such as NYU Tish, Amazing Grace the musical and Yale Repertory Theater. Her research has been presented at the National Dance Education Organization and as a contributor on Dancetime Publications’ Dance Culture Editorial.

 
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SAM TURNER

Sam Turner began training in music and dance at the Alexander W. Dreyfoos Jr. School of the Arts, the Academy of Ballet Florida and Boston Ballet; performing in works by Marie Hale, Gerri Houlihan, Gina Buntz, Jeff Satinoff and Kathryn Posin. After high school, he was accepted into the Ballet program at Indiana University Jacobs School of Music in Bloomington Indiana. There he was coached and mentored by Violette Verdy, Guillaume Graffin, John Clifford, Julie Kent, Jacque Cesbron, Iris Rosa, George Pinney, and performed principal roles within the classical, contemporary and African diaspora repertoire. Graduating with a Bachelors of Science double focusing in Ballet and Fitness: Kinesiology, Sam moved back to the east coast where he has had the pleasure of working with leading choreographers including Mark Morris, Elisa Monte, Jennifer Archibald, and Karen Gayle. Company credits include Chicago Dance Theatre-Chicago IL, Roxey Ballet-Lambertville NJ, American Repertory Ballet-Princeton NJ and Elisa Monte Dance Company-NYC. While with these companies, Sam has toured throughout the United States, Canada, Italy, France and Greece performing in works choreographed by Graham Lustig, Twyla Tharp, Lisa de Ribere, Elisa Monte and Tiffany Rea-Fisher. Stage and industry credits include The Radio City Christmas Spectacular by Linda Haberman, Cirque du Soleil at Radio City by Benoit Lusignan, Iphigénie en Tauride at Lyric Opera of Chicago by Robert Carsen and Philippe Giraudeau, and Orfeo ed Euridice at The Metropolitan Opera by Mark Morris. During this time, Sam was invited to perform original works with  xodus dance collective created by artistic director and professor Karen Gayle at the Inside/Out Festival at Jacob’s Pillow, DUMBO Dance Festival, and at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre in Toronto, CA for The International Association of Blacks in Dance Festival.

Sam’s passion for dance paved the way toward dance education at both academy-based and competitive dance institutions; teaching virtually and directly at dance schools including The Joffrey Ballet School-NYC, American Youth Dance Theater-NYC, Joffrey SPECTRUM-NYC, STEPS on Broadway Youth-NYC, The Harlem School of the Arts-NYC DOE, Ballet Tech-NYC DOE, TAG Young Scholars-NYC DOE, Indiana University Jacobs School of Music Ballet Theater IUBT, Princeton Ballet School-NJ, Kicks Dance Studio-NJ, Diva Dance-NYC and Art of Dance-NJ.

Sam is an ABT® NTC Fellow & Affiliate Teacher certified in Pre-Primary through Level V of the ABT® National Training Curriculum and has successfully presented students for examination. Under his mentorship, several students have been coached and accepted into prestigious arts institutions such as the Professional Performing Arts School, Fiorello H. Laguardia High School of Performing Arts, ABT® Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School and various Ivy League Universities nationally and abroad.

 
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AURORA VAUGHAN

Originally from Silicon Valley, California, Aurora Vaughan (she/they) is currently a freelance dance artist based in New York City.

 

She graduated in May 2021 with a BFA in Dance from the University of Southern California Glorya Kaufman School of Dance and a Performance Science Minor from the USC Marshall School of Business, which includes studies in biology, psychology, and business, with the intent of optimizing mindsets, maximizing performance and creating a culture of high performance within organizations.

 

While in school, they had the honor of performing works by Crystal Pite, William Forysthe, Sonya Tayeh, Jiri Kylian, Andrew Winghart, and Barak Marshall. Since moving to Brooklyn in 2021, she has danced with Nimbus2, MEAGmove, EM Dance, and Terre Dance Collective, as well as performed works by Tracy Stanfield.

 
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KAT WILDISH

Kat Wildish is a New York City master ballet and pointe technique teacher for students of all ages & levels. She currently teaches at Pace University, Peridance Capezio Center, Gibney Dance and Harlem School of The Arts. 


She performed with New York City Ballet, American Ballet Theater, and numerous international companies including Zurich Ballet, Metropolitan Opera Ballet, and The Eglevsky Ballet (under artistic director Edward Villella).

Learn more about master teacher Kat Wildish at katwildish.com! 

 
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INNA YURENEVA

Inna Yureneva graduated the Bolshoi Ballet Academy in Moscow. During her time as student in Moscow, Inna performed in numerous productions of the Bolshoi Theater. In the summer of 2002 she immigrated to New York with her family. Since then she performed with many national ballet companies including the Metropolitan Opera.

 

In 2015 Yureneva received a degree in classical ballet pedagogy from the Bolshoi Ballet Academy in Moscow. In 2018 she completed a certification program in Vaganova Ballet Academy in St. Petersburg as well as teacher certification from the American Ballet Theater (ABT) National Training Curriculum. In 2019 Inna participated in IDA competition in Florence, Italy as a ballet juror.

 

Ms.Yureneva has extensive teaching experience, working with students of all ages and skill levels, both in the United States and abroad. From 2012-2021 Inna acted as an Artistic Director of the Bolshoi Ballet Academy of annual summer intensive program in Connecticut and Teacher Certification program in New York.