Sierra Nevada Ballet Company
Sam Weber | 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.
Ananda Bena-Weber | Principal
Ananda Bena-Weber is a founding member and principal dancer with the Sierra Nevada Ballet. She has performed as a dancer with such companies as: The Jazz Tap Ensemble, The Outlet Dance Project, The Reno Ballet, Peninsula Ballet Theatre, Fascinating Rhythm Productions, and others. Roles in regional theater include: Rosalind (As You Like It), Arkadina (The Seagull), Olga (Three Sisters), Juliet (Romeo and Juliet), Lady Anne (Richard III), Lola (Damn Yankees), Helena (A Midsummer Night’s Dream), Ophelia and Horatio (Hamlet), and the title role in Medea. Ananda has performed choreographic works by: Gregory Hines, Bob Fosse, Jerome Robbins, Fred Astaire, Hermes Pan, John Cranko, Alonzo King, Bill ‘Bo Jangles’ Robinson, Jimmy Slyde, Marius Petipa, Sam Weber, Rosine Bena, Lynn Dally. Education includes: Goddard College MFA (Interdisciplinary Arts), San Francisco State University BA (Theatre Arts and Russian Language and Literature), Shakespeare and Co, American Conservatory Theater, Moscow Art Theater School, British American Drama Academy at Oxford University, Linklater Center of Voice and Speech, and Terry Schreiber Studio. Ananda is an adjunct professor of dance at Marymount Manhattan College, and a teaching artist for the Mark Morris Dance Center and the Dance Theater of Harlem. Ananda is a member of the Actor’s Equity Association.
Domingo Rubio | Permanent Guest Artist
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.
Erica Chipp | Principal
A native to Nevada, Erica trained with Rosine Bena and other teachers in the northern Nevada community. Through high school she continued her training at The Harid Conservatory in Boca Raton, FL. In 2004, she began her professional career at Festival Ballet Providence 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 is currently going into her sixth season. During her time at Smuin she has performed several ballets by world renowned choreographers such as Helen Pickett, Ma Cong, Jiri Kylian, Val Caniparoli, Amy Seiwert and Michel Smuin. As a guest artist, Erica has performed the lead in both Le Corsaire and Raymonda with Petrov Ballet, and the Sugar Plum Fairy in her hometown Nutcracker with Pinkerton Ballet Theater. Throughout the years, Erica has performed with SNB dancing many featured roles in ballets such as PERCUSSIVELUND, MOZARTINA and TAKE ME TO THE RIVER. Every summer Erica is overjoyed to be back in her home community working with Rosine Bena and her SNB family where she has danced the beloved roles of Giselle, Coppelia and Juliet in Romeo & Juliet.
Maykel Solas | Principal
This is Maykel’s sixth year as a principal dancer with SNB. He has performed leading roles in SNB’s Giselle, Swan Lake, Coppelia and Dancing By The River. Maykel Solas joined Silicon Valley Ballet (then known as Ballet San Jose) for the 2005/2006 Season. He was a Principal Dancer with both the Ballet Nacional del Peru and Ballet Municipal de Lima, where he danced all the principal roles in Giselle, Swan Lake, La Bayadere, Le Corsaire, The Nutcracker and other classical and neoclassical repertoire. He toured with the Ballet Municipal de Lima to Quito and Guayaquil in Ecuador and to the first Ballet Festival of Barranquilla, Colombia in 2005. Mr. Solas began his ballet training at the Escuela Provincial de Arte in his native Pinar del Rio, Cuba, and then continued in the Escuela Nacional de Arte (National Arts School) in Havana, where he graduated in 1998. During his years at the Ballet School, he received classes from the most important Cuban teachers such as Alicia Alonso, Loipa Araujo, Josefina Mendez, Orlando Salgado, Martha Garcia, and Jose Luis Zamorano, as well as touring to the Dominican Republic. As a student he won a silver medal in the 1997 Ballet Competition of Havana. After his training, he joined the Ballet Nacional de Cuba, with which he performed for two years. In 2000, he danced with the Compañia Nacional de Danza in Mexico City and in 2001, Mr. Solas moved to Peru and won the silver medal in the twelfth International Ballet competition of Trujillo. (Photo courtesy of SVB by Chris Hardy)
Alexander Biber | Principal
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.
Mauro Villanueva | Principal
This Mauro Villanueva’s third year performing with Sierra Nevada Ballet. Mauro grew up in San Antonio, Texas and began his dance training at the age of six with Shawn Knife. At age nine he joined the University of Incarnate Word Ballet School directed by Buddy and Susan Trevino, Co-Founders of The Joffrey Workshop Texas. He trained there for seven years and attended The Joffrey Workshop Texas in the summers and studied for two years at the Nutmeg Conservatory in Connecticut. In August of 2000 Mr. Villanueva joined the Joffrey Ballet as an apprentice and two years later received a full company contract. During his thirteen years at the Joffrey Ballet he danced many ballets throughout the world by renown choreographers, was a union representative for the artists twice, and was one of two dancers chosen to participate in the search for the new artistic director. He has appeared as a representative for the Joffrey Ballet and on television and radio in Chicago, San Antonio, and Manila, Philippines. Mr. Villanueva retired from the Joffrey Ballet in May of 2013 to pursue a career as an independent artist. Besides his work with SNB, he is an educator, coach, choreographer and has been named Co-Director of The Joffrey Workshop Texas.
Oliver Adams | Principal
This is Oliver Adam’s fifth year with Sierra Nevada Ballet. Born in Stroke-On-Trent, England, Oliver trained at Jill Clewes School for Dance and the Elmhurst School for Dance in Association with the Birminham Royal Ballet. He has danced professionally with the Birmingham Royal Ballet , the Slovak National Ballet and the Sacramento ballet. He has danced many leading roles including David Bintley’s Flowers of the Forest, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Jiri Kylian’s Un Ballo and the Blue bird in Sleeping Beauty. He has danced featured roles in SNB’s Giselle, Coppelia, Swan Lake, Romeo and Juliet and Dancing By the River.
Molly Arbogast | Character Principal
Laura Lunde | Soloist
Laura Lunde has been a dancer with Sierra Nevada Ballet since 2007. She is originally from the San Francisco Bay Area in California. She began her early training with Danville Ballet, Central West Ballet and Contra Costa Ballet. She finished her year round training at the Kirov Academy of Ballet in Washington D.C. under Oleg Vinogradov. In 2008, she toured internationally as a soloist with the Tasmanian Classical Ballet. She has worked with Sierra Nevada Ballet, Manassas Ballet Theatre, Columbia City Ballet, and joins Ballet Tucson in 2016. Laura has been featured as Hermia in “A Midsummer Nights Dream”, Summer Fairy in “Cinderella”, soloist Willi in “Giselle”, Dawn in “Coppelia”, among many other soloist and principle roles in contemporary and classical ballets.
Courtney Jankovic | Soloist
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.
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.
Daniel Miller | Demi-soloist
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). Most recently he has performed as a part of the Great Basin Movement Project in various works as well as solo works for the Downtown Dance Collective. Daniel joined SNB in July of 2012 and performed in SNB’s Dancing By The River, Giselle, Swan Lake and this year’s Romeo and Juliet. 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.
Becca Kitchen | Demi-Soloist
Shaynee Copple | Demi-soloist
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. 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.
Abigail Ringle | Demi-Soloist
Todd Lani | 2nd Year Company Corps
Company Artist. This is Todd Lani’s second year as a full Company member of Sierra Nevada Ballet. He began studying ballet in 2005 under Rosine Bena at Western Nevada Performing Arts Center in Carson City where he also studied Jazz, Tap, Hip Hop and Contemporary dance and attended numerous competitions and conventions under the direction of Gina Kaskie-Davis. Todd studied ballroom dance at Yaple’s Ballroom Dance in Carson City, NV. In 2013, Todd was invited to join SNB as an Apprentice and was promoted to full company in 2014. Throughout the years he has performed in numerous SNB performances including; The Nutcracker -According To the Duke and Count, Swan Lake, Romeo and Juliet and various roles in the SNB production of The Peanutcracker- The Story in a Nutshell from as early as 2005 to the present. Todd’s Peanutcracker roles include : a soldier, Fritz, the Military Doll, the Rat King, the Chinese Prince, the Nutcracker, the Flower Prince and the Spanish Prince. In addition to his work with SNB, Todd continues to study dance at WNPAC, primarily focusing on ballet. He shows an aptitude and has interest in working with young dancers, and has often acted as a substitute teacher with lower level ballet students at WNPAC. In 2016, Todd will compete in the Youth American Grand Prix and continues to be an outstanding student who realizes the importance of a good education. Todd manages to balance a professional ballet career with a strong education and continues to grow as an instructor of ballet under the tutelage of Rosine Bena. Todd intends to pursue a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in the area of ballet.
Becca Kitchen | Demi-Soloist
Kaitlin Vairo | Company Corps
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.
Carlee Bertero | Company Corps
Carlee Bertero began working with SNB as an Apprentice in 2012 but her love of ballet started at the age of three when she first began studying dance. Carlee trained in all styles of dance including Modern, Jazz and Musical Theater at Fascinating Rhythm’s School of Performing Arts and, in addition to her present work with the SNB apprentice program, has trained in ballet with Cheryl Bruce and Anette Eichler.
A talented singer, Carlee performed in the WCSD Honor Choir and in the Concert Choir with Kris Engstrom where she appeared in the musicals Oklahoma and Suessical at the Billingshurst Theater. Other productions include The Snowman, Jungle Book and The Night Before Christmas. Carlee performed for the first time with SNB in the 2012 summer production of GISELLE and will appear in the SNB 2012 Holiday productions of PEANUTCRACKER and The Nutcracker –According To The Duke and Count with the Reno Jazz Orchestra
Mai Girard | Apprentice
Arthur Reloj | Character Principal & Corps
Abriana Vietti |
This is Abrina’s first year as an SNB Apprentice. She began her dance training when she was 4 years old. In 2008 she started training at Western Nevada Performing Arts Center directed by Gina Kaskie-Davis. There she began training in ballet under Rosine Bena’s direction. Her talent in ballet became more and more evident and she was invited to join SNB as an Apprentice in June of 2015. In addition to her study of ballet, Abriana has trained and performed in Jazz, Tap, Musical Theater, Partnering, Hip Hop, Ballroom, Lyrical and Contemporary. Abriana has participated in the SNB productions of Peanutcracker, Duke’s Place, Dancing by the River and Romeo & Juliet.
Jaime Laxalt | Company Corps
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.
Emilee Bryan | Apprentice
Sierra Nevada Ballet Composers & Musicians
Cami Thompson |Guest Artist/Singer with Composers
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 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 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