Apprentices and Trainees
Ryan Walker was invited to join SNB as a Trainee in 2010 and was raised to Apprentice in 2012. He began life as a gymnast. Soon after, he realized it was more fun to perform on stage then swing from a bar, and he began performing in local children’s theater and taking singing, acting, and dancing lessons.
He became entranced with ballet when he was cast as a soldier in SNB’s “Peanutcracker, the Story in a Nutshell”. After seeing the ABT II Company when it performed in Reno, he decided to specialize in ballet. He has trained extensively under the mentorship of Rosine Bena and under her advisement has attended the American Ballet Theater’s Summer Intensive for the last two years, allowing him to train under Alaine Haubert, Ted Kivett, Warren Conover, Samantha Shelton, and Robert LaFosse.
He has had the pleasure to be included in SNB’s summer productions, “Peanutcracker, the Story in a Nutshell”, “The Nutcracker According to the Duke and Count”, and most recently in “Giselle”. He is also honored to have placed in the top twelve in the Youth American Grand Prix regional competition for the last three years and to qualify for the 2013 New York Finals.
Clara Bachman - SNB Apprentice has been dancing since she was four years old. She began serious ballet training with Rosine Bena at age eight and has performed various children’s roles in SNB’s Peanutcracker (including the lead child role of Clara) and the role of the young Jean Parrish in A Painter’s Love Story. In addition, she has danced in SNB’s Giselle; the Unicorn, Gorgon and the Manticore; The Nutcracker -According To the Duke and Count and in Flurries and Flowers in the Peanutcracker. She has competed in the Youth American Grand Prix in San Francisco for the past two years. Clara officially joined SNB as a Trainee in 2010 and was raised to apprentice in 2012.
Callie Cuff- SNB Apprentice Callie Cuff began dancing at the age of three with the Ballet Conservatory of Saddleback Valley in Aliso Viejo, CA . At age 8 and a year after moving to Reno, Callie started training in ballet with Rosine Bena at In Motion Studio of Dance in Reno and became part of the performance dance team, training also in jazz, hip hop, lyrical and modern. In 2009 Callie joined SNB as a trainee, performing with the company on their Artown and Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival Programs. In 2010 she moved her training with Rosine Bena to Western Nevada Performing Arts Center where she continued with ballet and joined the Performance team in Jazz and Lyrical. Callie first performed in the PEANUTCRACKER in 2011 and will perform this year in both Flurries and in Flowers. Callie was raised to Apprentice in July of 2012 and performed in SNB’s production of GISELLE at Sand Harbor and will perform for the first time in SNB’s The Nutcracker -According To the Duke and Count dancing the part of Rosie Roulette. Callie plans to compete in the Youth America Grand Prix in February of 2013.
Kaitlin Vairo- SNB Apprentice Kaitlin Vairo has danced since the age of three at Western Nevada Performing Arts Center directed by Gina Kaskie-Davis. In addition to studying ballet, Kaitlin has trained in Jazz, Tap, and Musical Theater dance and has performed in a variety of productions such as Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, Cinderella, Oliver, and Hairspray. As she matured, Kaitlin began to study ballet more seriously under the guidance of Rosine Bena and was made an SNB trainee in 2010 and raised to apprentice in 2012.Kaitlin has performed in numerous SNB productions including various roles in Peanutcracker- The Story in a Nutshell, and A Painter’s Love Story, various year’s productions of Dancing By The River, The Nutcracker- According to the Duke and the Count and Giselle. Vairo enjoys writing and playing piano and guitar. She will appear as one of the Flurries and in Flowers in SNB’s 2012 Peanutcracker-The Story In A Nutshell and as Bonnie Bow in The Nutcracker- According to the Duke and Count with the Reno Jazz Orchestra.
Natalie Gray (SNB Company Artist) Natalie Gray joined Sierra Nevada ballet in 2012 performing as one of Giselle’s Friends in SNB’s Sand Harbor production of GISELLE. Natalie began her ballet training under the direction of Lynda Yourth at Dance Arts Academy in Reno, NV and attended summer programs at Nevada Performing Arts, Atlanta Ballet, The Joffrey Ballet, Sacramento Ballet, and Oregon Ballet Theater. In 2009 she danced with Oregon Ballet Theater in Portland, OR. In addition to her work with SNB, Natalie is currently studying dance at the University Of Nevada-Reno and is pursuing a career in the field of liberal arts. Natalie will be featured as a Spanish Princess in SNB’s PEANUTCRACKER and as Lana Russell in SNB’s The Nutcracker-According To The Duke and Count with the Reno Jazz Orchestra
Destiny Gillin, SNB Company Artist, is one of the newest members of SNB. She appeared for the first time with SNB in the 2012 production of GISELLE. Destiny is presently a junior at the University of Nevada and halfway through her Business Marketing degree with a Dance minor. She has been dancing since childhood at The Dance Zone in Las Vegas, NV. Destiny was a member of a competitive dance company for over 5 years traveling throughout the U.S. and enjoys all genres of dance. She believes that dance is a part of her soul and feels blessed to perform on stage with Sierra Nevada Ballet and share her passion with the audience.
Maggie Tietz - SNB Company Artist,
Maggie has been dancing since she was a young child at local dance studios in Montana and Nevada. She began training with Rosine Bena in the summer of 2004 at In Motion School of Dance in Reno and was accepted into Sierra Nevada Ballet as a trainee in September of 2005. Maggie trains with Bena and was raised to an apprentice in September of 2006 and company member in 2007. Maggie has performed in multiple ballets with the SNB company including A Painter’s Love Story, Gershwin Concerto, and Paging Mr. Stair. She was featured in Romeo and Juliet as Rosaline and as the Girl Doll and a Flower in Peanutcracker – The Story In A Nutshell. She was featured as The Doctor’s wife in The Unicorn, The Gorgon and The Manticore and as the Duck in Peter and The Wolf.
Daniel Miller - SNB Company Artist, started his performance career as a member of his high school color guard in Sparks, NV. After graduating he went on to be a member in a couple of professional color guard's that traveled around the country performing for thousands of audience members. He discovered his love for dance while in those groups and started to focus his training on dance technique. He joined the Wing and a Prayer Modern Dance Company based in Reno, NV in 2009 where he started to learn the basics of modern technique. He enrolled in the University of Nevada - Reno dance program also in 2009 where he performed in various ballet, jazz, and modern pieces choreographed by faculty and guest artists. He has also danced in programs around the Reno area including OPUS Reprise (2010) and Dancing in the Park: Four Rooms Dance Collective (2011. Daniel joined SNB in July of 2012 and performed in SNB’s Dancing By The River and Giselle. Daniel will be featured as the lead father and the Spanish Prince in SNB’s Peanutcracker and as Clark Flynn in the Nutcracker-According To The Duke and Count.
Shaynee Copple-SNB Company Artist, Shaynee Copple was born and raised in Reno and has danced since the age of nine. She has trained in classical ballet, jazz, tap and hip hop and has taught ballet classes to young students at Ballet Nevada. She graduated from Truckee Meadows Community College High School and joined SNB in June of 2012, performing in Giselle and SNB’s Dancing By The River. Shaynee will be featured as the Mechanical Doll, a Chinese Princess and in Waltz of the Flowers in SNB’s PEANUTCRACKER and as Joan Loco in the Nutcracker-According To The Duke and Count. In addition to her work with SNB is currently seeking a degree in elementary school education at TMCC.
Jessie Lesar - Company Artist Jessie Lesar is a long time member of SNB. She started her ballet training at the age of six at Nevada Festival Ballet and continued training at Ballet Nevada/Nevada Performing Arts. In 2004 Jessie began training with Rosine Bena in Sierra Nevada Ballet. She also trained with summer intensives offered by Ballet Nevada/Nevada Performing Arts, Sierra Nevada Ballet, and spent two summers in Alabama at the American Ballet Theater Summer Intensive. She has performed with Nevada Festival Ballet, Ballet Nevada/Nevada Performing Arts, Nevada Ballet Theater, Oakland Ballet and Garden City Ballet. Jessie has appeared in numerous Sierra Nevada Ballet productions including Peanutcracker: The Story in a Nutshell, A Painter’s Love Story, Dancing By The River, The Unicorn, the Gorgon, and the Manticore and Giselle. She is currently studying to be a dance major at the University of Montana where she performed in six productions and performed in the final gala concert at the American College Dance Festival Northwest Regional conference. Jessie joined SNB as a trainee in 2004 and has been a full company member since 2009.
Debbie Albers – SNB Company Artist, joined SNB in 2012 and was immediately featured as one of Giselle’s friends in SNB’s production of GISELLE in July. Debbie started dancing in Reno at the age of seven when her family moved to the area from Merced, California. Debbie trained for several years under the tutelage of Miriam Allen and Barbara Land at the Conservatory of Movement in Reno and with former ballet dancer and teacher Cheryl Bruce. Debbie has performed in productions of The Nutcracker, The Secret Garden, Beauty and the Beast, and as part of Reno’s annual Artown summer Festival of the arts. While studying at the University of Nevada, Reno, Debbie performed many different dance styles of dance in the university’s dance concerts working with artists such as Kristen Avansino, Barbara Land, Jon Lehrer, Jennie Pitts, Rob Schultz, and Martina Young. Debbie performed one of the leading roles in the world premiere of Shanghaied and also performed at Jacob’s Pillow with Cari Cunningham’s Bellē Contemporary Dance Company. This is Debbie’s first season with SNB as a company member and she is delighted to be part of such a talented and wonderful group of dancers.
Kiara Riske –SNB Company Artist, Kiara Riske began dancing when she was three years old, joining Gina Davis at WNPAC when she was five. She has been studying ballet with Rosine Bena for 10 years. She joined SNB four years ago as an apprentice and was raised to a first year company member in September of 2012. She has performed in numerous SNB performances including; A Tribute to Roy Orbison, A Painters Love Story, The Unicorn the Gorgon and the Manticore, Giselle’ and various roles in SNB productions of The Peanutcracker- The Story in a Nutshell including soldier, Clara, Flowers, Chinese Princess and Snow Flurry. Kiara has also appeared with Western Nevada Musical Theater Company in their acclaimed 2011 production of Phantom of the Opera. She will appear in SNB’s 2012 PEANUTCRACKER in Snow Flurries and Flowers and will be featured as ‘Rachel Ribbon’ and the ‘Grandmother’ in the Nutcracker-According To The Duke and Count. When not dancing, Kiara is an honors student with plans to study physics and engineering.
Jaime Laxalt - Company artist
Jaime Laxalt joined SNB in 2015 as a full company member. Jaime started her multi-disciplinary dance study at a young age in northern New Mexico. As a teen she studied with Judy Mann, and was cast as an angel and soldier in New Mexico Ballet’s Nutcracker. After leaving New Mexico, she obtained a history degree at Princeton University where she also performed and choreographed with university dance troupes Expressions Dance Company and DiSiac Dance Company in a wide variety of dance styles. Jaime obtained her Masters in U.S. Foreign Policy from American University and began studying with Linda Kintz and Mark Mejia of the Kintz Mejia Ballet Academy, performing many various roles in annual Nutcracker productions including Snow, Flowers, and Spanish, as well as original choreography for various other productions. When her professional military defense career sent her to London, she was fortunate enough to study under Evgeny Goremykin, formerly a principal with the Bolshoi Ballet. After her return and her marriage to a native Nevadan, she studied at The Rock Center for Dance in Las Vegas before moving to Reno in December 2014. In addition to working with SNB, she works remotely for her previous D.C. employer on defense and international affairs issues, and is the proud mother to a 2 year old little girl named Sophia.
RACHAEL SPEIDEL - Dance Artist/Principal
Rachael Speidel joined Sierra Nevada Ballet as a principal in the summer of 2008. She is a native of Michigan and was trained at the Flint School of Performing Arts, Pennsylvania Ballet, Milwaukee Ballet and the Joffrey Ballet School. She has performed with a number of ballet companies throughout the USA. She began her career as a trainee with the Milwaukee Ballet then going on to dance with Ballet Wisconsin, Channel Islands Ballet, Oakland Ballet, Les Grands Ballet Canadiens de Montreal and Ballet de Teatres Generalitat Valenciana in Spain. In addition to the classical repertoire, she has performed soloist and principal roles in numerous works by such notable choreographers as George Balanchine, Yves de Bouteiller, Philip Trehet, Bronisloava Nijinska, Eugene Loring, Jean Paul Comelin and Twyla Tharp. Rachael was featured in Flower Festival, Percussivelund, After The Ball Is Over, West Side Story Medley and was featured in SNB’s work, LOSS, created by Rosine Bena in 2008 through the NAC Performing Arts Fellowship. In addition to her work with SNB, Rachael continues to perform with various companies throughout the USA and Canada.
ERICA CHIPP - A native to Nevada, Erica trained with Rosine Bena and other teachers in the northern Nevada community. As she advanced, she continued to train at The Harid Conservatory in Boca Raton, FL. In 2004, she began her professional career at Festival Ballet Providence, under the direction of Mihailo Djuric, where she had the privilege to perform featured roles in ballets such as Balanchine's Rubies, Donizetti Variations and Tarantella, Agnes DeMille's Rodeo, Anthony Tudor's The Leaves Are Fading, Eldar Aliev’s 1001 Nights, and several world premieres by Gianni Dimarco and Viktor Plotnikov. Some of her favorite roles have included a stepsister in Plotnikov’s Cinderella, the Cowgirl in DeMille’s Rodeo, and Pippi Longstockings in Colleen Cavanaugh’s Pippi. After six seasons with Festival Ballet Providence, Erica moved back to the West Coast to join Smuin Ballet in San Francisco where she currently dances. Erica has performed for several years with SNB dancing many featured roles in ballets such as PERCUSSIVELUND, MOZARTINA and TAKE ME TO THE RIVER. She has performed in Le Corsaire and Raymonda with Petrov Ballet, and the Sugar Plum Fairy in her hometown Nutcracker with Pinkerton Ballet Theater. She was overjoyed to be back in her home community this past summer, working once again with Rosine Bena and SNB on the beloved role of Giselle.
ALEXANDER BIBER-Dance Artist /Soloist
Alexander has trained exclusively with Rosine Bena at Western Nevada Performing Arts Center in Carson and at In Motion Studio in Reno. Alex was taken into the SNB Apprentice Program in June of 2003 and appeared with the Apprentice Company and the professional Company since. Biber was raised to the company in 2006 and to soloist in 2008. He created the role of the Wolf in Peter and The Wolf and was featured in Tarentella For Three and SNB’s A Celebration of Gershwin, Take Five, Mozartina and Take Me To The River. He has danced the roles of the Russian Prince, Snow Prince, Rat King, Flower Prince, Lead Father and Chinese Prince in the Peanutcracker-The Story In A Nutshell. He created roles of the Count and the Gorgon in the SNB 2007 production of The Unicorn, The Gorgon and The Manticore. Alexander was also featured in After The Ball Is Over, West Side Story Medley and SNB’s work, LOSS, created by Rosine Bena in 2008 through the NAC Performing Arts Fellowship. Besides his work with SNB, Alex performs with the Bruka Theater and teaches all levels of ballet at schools in the community.
Sierra Nevada Ballet Permanent Guest Artists
SAM WEBER – First Permanent Guest Artist
Sam Weber is SNB’s first Permanent Guest Artist and is a founding member of the Company. He was one of the first permanent guest artists of The Reno Ballet under the direction of Rosine Bena. Weber danced with the Joffery Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, Sacramento Ballet, Peninsula Ballet Theatre and The Jazz Tap Ensemble. Besides being a fine ballet dancer, Weber is considered one of the greatest Tap dancers in the world. He is known as “the fastest feet in tap”. He dances all over the USA and Europe and receives standing ovations and rave reviews wherever he performs. He has done numerous TV appearances (including Mr. Rodgers Neighborhood) and stared in the German film, TWO IN TAILS. He is one of the few tap artists to perform Morton Gould’s Concerto for Tap Dancer and Orchestra throughout the US and Europe. Weber has performed with SNB since 2001. Sam appears regularly with Sierra Nevada Ballet and the Jazz Tap Ensemble and guest performs as a master tap dancer throughout the USA and Europe.
DOMINGO RUBIO - Domingo Rubio is SNB’s second Permanent Guest Artist as of May 2005. He has danced professionally for some 20 years. Domingo has danced with the Joffrey Ballet and Ballet Hispanico and was featured in the Robert Altman film, THE COMPANY. Rubio danced the role of Maxfield Parrish in A PAINTER’S LOVE STORY and was a featured artist in SNB’s Dancing By the River and A Celebration Of Gershwin. Mr. Rubio has choreographed several works for SNB including the audience favorite, PRELUDE, a pas des deux for himself and SNB principal, Ananda Bena-Weber which premiered in Reno in July of 2005. In addition to performing as a ballet dancer, he is a concert pianist, composer, choreographer and visual artist. He has illustrated several books on ballet and exhibits his sculpture art work throughout the USA. In addition to his work with SNB, Mr. Rubio teaches ballet and guest performs with dance companies throughout the USA.
First Principal Dancer
ANANDA BENA-WEBER -Guest Artist Ananda Bena-Weber is principal dancer artist with the Sierra Nevada Ballet and a founding member. She has danced professionally as a soloist with the Reno Ballet when it was formed in 1994/95 and 1996. She danced with Perspectives Dance Theatre and Fascinating Rhythm Productions. She has appeared as featured soloist with Sam Weber performing in Morton Gould's "Concerto for Tap Dancer and Orchestra" throughout the SF Bay Area. She has appeared in principal roles in several original dance works such as Dreams, Take Me To The River, Dancing In The New Millennium, GSR, Back Street, Laura, Blue Rondo, Armando’s Rumba and classics such as The Nutcracker, Les Sylphides, Romeo and Juliet and Paquita. Ms Bena-Weber is an award winning artist and has performed acting, singing and dancing featured roles in over 30 theater productions in the SF Bay Area. A gifted choreographer, Ananda has choreographed several works for the professional ballet company, Sierra Nevada Ballet, and for the San Francisco State Drama Department, Peninsula Ballet Theater School Performing Group and San Mateo High School performing arts program. Bena-Weber is a Magna cum Laude graduate of San Francisco State University, has attended Columbia University Masters Program in Drama and studies acting at the Linkleter Center in New York City. She has taught at Mary Mount College and guest teaches all levels of ballet and related dance classes and acting (without words) throughout the US. She has performed leading acting roles with Nevada Shakespeare Company and has been featured as a Principal dancer with the Sierra Nevada Ballet company since 2001. In addition to SNB, Ananda is a member of the Jazz Tap Ensemble.
LAURA LUNDE- Dance Artist/Soloist
Laura joined SNB as an apprentice in the summer of 2007 and was raised to the company in September of that year. She was raised to soloist in 2009. Laura’s early training was in Washington DC. at the Kirov Academy. She trained with Rosine Bena in Reno and in Carson City since 2007. She has performed In SNB’s summer series in 2007 and 2008 and was featured as a Snow Flurry and The Doll in Peanutcracker, in America (West Side Story Medley) and as the Cat in Peter and The Wolf.
Courtney Jankovic, a native of Cleveland Ohio, received the majority of her dance training at the School of Cleveland San Jose Ballet under the direction of Dennis Nahat. Other schools she spent formative years at were Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre and North Carolina Dance Theatre as a scholarship recipient. She then proceeded on to dance professionally with several companies including the Minnesota Ballet, Ohio Dance Theatre, Sierra Nevada Ballet and Fargo Moorhead Ballet. There she enjoyed touring and performing solo and principal roles in various ballets such as Swan Lake, Coppelia, Carmen, Cinderella, Dracula, George Balanchine’s Valse Fantaisie, Giselle, and the Nutcracker, featured as Sugar Plum, Snow Queen, and Arabian, as well as numerous other repertoire works. Some of her favorite roles include Aurora in Ohio Dance Theatre’s production of Sleeping Beauty and the title role in The Firebird. Most recently, Courtney had the opportunity to perform overseas in Australia with the Tasmanian Classical Ballet Company featured as a soloist in Les Sylphides, Peter and the Wolf, and the premieres of Illusions and Ode to V. Currently, she continues to dance and perform with Ohio Dance Theatre and Sierra Nevada Ballet. She also serves as a dance instructor and choreographer in the Northeast Ohio area.
Susan Mazer – Composer/Musician
Susan Mazer has been SNB’s Composer in Residence since 2001. Born in Detroit, Michigan, Susan Mazer graduated from Wayne State University and was awarded a graduate fellowship to Stanford University, where she completed her Master of Arts degree. Following graduate school, she performed professionally as a jazz harpist in the San Francisco, California, Lake Tahoe, and Reno, Nevada, areas. Her work in healthcare began in 1980, when she developed the workshop, "Music: A Life-Altering Decision," at the request of the Center for Health Awareness in San Jose, California. That workshop, which is accredited for nurses and physicians, became the foundation for Healing HealthCare Systems. Since 1980, Susan has developed other educational programs that have been presented to over 5,500 nurses and healthcare professionals in the U.S.She has also developed and presented programs in substance abuse prevention for students (K-12), which have been attended by over 80,000 students and are endorsed by the U.S. Department of Justice as a Promising Program Against Violence (PAVNET).As president of Healing HealthCare Systems, Susan oversees the sales, marketing, sound system design, and product development for the company. She, together with Dallas Smith, is a facilitator and speaker for their various educational programs.
Dallas Smith –Composer/ Musician Dallas Smith has been SNB composer in Residence since 2001. Born in Columbus, Georgia, Dallas attended Florida State University and then went on to study in Germany, India, and Sweden. Following schooling, he performed as a woodwinds jazz musician in the San Francisco Bay area, India, Japan, and Europe.From 1987-1992, he was the chairman of the Department of Recording Studies at Sierra Nevada College in Incline Village, Nevada. Dallas has taught CEU and CME courses for nurses and physicians since 1989, and has been asked back to do further training at such facilities such as the Texas Medical Center in Houston, Texas; St. Charles Medical Center in Bend, Oregon, and Union Hospital in Lynn, Massachusetts. As executive vice president of Healing HealthCare Systems, Dallas is the producer of audio/video programming for The C.A.R.E. Channel, C.A.R.E. With Music, and C.A.R.E. on Hold. He also co-facilitates the HHS educational programs.
Andy Heglund - Composer/Musician
Andy Heglund has been SNB’s Composer in Residence since 2007. He is Assistant Professor at the University of Nevada, Reno where he teaches percussion, directs the UNR Percussion Ensemble and Jazz Big Band 1. He has a Doctor of Arts in Music from the University of Northern Colorado and a Masters of Music in Jazz from the University of North Texas. He performs with the Collective, the Reno Jazz orchestra, the Ed Corey Trio, Susan Mazer and Dallas Smith, the Reno Philharmonic, and the Discover Music Percussion Ensemble. Andy performed with SNB as a musician since 2003 and became SNB’s third Composer in the summer of Residence in 2007. He composed the all percussive score for PERCUSSIVELUND in 2007
Anna Peralez – Company Artist Anna Peralez joined Sierra Nevada Ballet as a full company member in the spring of 2014. She grew up in Northern California and began her dance training under the tutelage of Melinda Neal in Fairfield, California. She was a founding member of Halal Ballet Theatre and has performed with Project Dance NYC, The Dance Network, and many dance productions in the area including Caesars Entertainment, Champagne Productions, BLV Productions and Karen Burns Productions. She has danced solo and ensemble roles in the ballet repertoire, including The Nutcracker, The Enchanted Garden and The Wizard of Oz, and in contemporary productions such as A Classic Christmas Celebration, Folies & The Musical Aladdin. Ms. Peralez has performed in California, Texas, Nevada and New York and was a guest solo artist with The Project Dance Foundation in New York City. She has performed in SNB’s BREW, BRATS and BALLET; DUKE’s PLACE; SWAN LAKE and PEANUTCRACKER.
AMANDA JONES - Company Artist
Amanda Jones joined SNB in 2014 as a full company member. Amanda first trained with the Lake Charles Civic Ballet in Louisiana with Lady Leah Lafargue and Lady Holly Kaough.. She joined Ballet Wichita under the direction of Jill Landrith in 2004, and performed as a soloist with the company from 2005-2008. In Ballet Wichita, she had the opportunity to perform in multiple productions of the Nutcracker as a soloist in Chinese, Waltz of the Flowers, and Snow. Amanda has been featured in SNB’s Peanutcracker, Duke’s Place and Brew, Brats and Ballet. In addition to her love of ballet, Amanda pursued academics from 2008-2014 and obtained her bachelors in biochemistry at Brigham Young University-Hawaii and master’s of physician assistant in pediatrics at the University of Colorado Denver. In addition to working with SNB, she currently works as a pain management and physical rehabilitation physician assistant for SpineNevada.