Sara Knight - Artistic Director
Sara Knight is a graduate of England's Royal Ballet School, an Associate of the Royal Academy of Dance ( A.R.A.D.), graduate of the Royal Ballet School Teacher's Training Course ( R.B.S. Dip. TTC.) and first British graduate of Russia's Vaganova (Kirov) Ballet Academy. Sara is a recipient of the Royal Ballet School Award for Excellence personally awarded by Dame Ninette de Valois, founder of the Royal Ballet.
Upon graduation Sara was accepted to the Eifman Ballet Theatre. She remained in Russia and went on to become soloist with the Leningrad State Ballet Theatre and the Russian Ballet of St. Petersburg. In Western Europe she danced with England's Northern Ballet Theatre and was principal dancer with the European Ballet of London. In the USA, Sara has guested as principal dancer with Configuration Dances and Rebecca Rice Dance Company.
Sara has been invited to teach world wide including: Boston Ballet Company, Boston Ballet School, Tulsa Ballet Center for Dance Education, Cincinnati Ballet School, Laban Centre London, Northern Ballet Theatre of England, Arts Educational School of the UK, Boston Conservatory, and The International Festival of France. Sara has also served as Ballet Mistress for both London's Central School of Ballet and Ellison Ballet of NYC. She was the Artisitc Director for the Ballet School of Stamford as well as the Co-Founder and Artistic Director of the Greenwich Ballet Academy.
In September 2010, Sara founded SLK Ballet... A school for gifted dancers to prepare for a career as a professional ballerina. Sara continues to teach worldwide.
Larissa Ponomorenko - Classical Ballet
Larissa Ponomarenko, of Odessa, Ukraine, joined Boston Ballet’s artistic staff as ballet master for the 2011-2012 season. Larissa is from Odessa, Ukraine and a graduate of Vaganova Ballet Academy in St. Petersburg. After working with Donetsk Ballet in Ukraine, she danced with Mississippi Ballet and Tulsa Ballet before joining Boston Ballet as a principal dancer in 1993.
Ponomarenko danced with Boston Ballet for 18 years. Her versatile repertoire includes Odette and Odile in Swan Lake, Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty, Juliet in Romeo and Juliet, the title roles in Giselle andCinderella, Medora in Le Corsaire, Swanhilda in Coppélia, Nikiya in La Bayadére, and countless other roles. Ponomarenko has also performed a wide repertoire of Balanchine works including Symphony in C, Who Cares?, The Four Temperaments, Diamonds, Divertimento No. 15, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Serenade. She has danced works by John Cranko, Antony Tudor, Paul Taylor, Mark Morris, Christopher Wheeldon, and Twyla Tharp, among many others. Over the years, Ponomarenko has worked closely with Boston Ballet Resident Choreographer Jorma Elo and has served as a muse for almost all of his ballets. She has also created roles in original works including Rhyme, choreographed for her by her husband, Viktor Plotnikov.
Ponomarenko has appeared internationally in galas, festivals and as a guest artist with English National Ballet in London, NBA Ballet Company in Tokyo, Opera Theatre of Rome, and Teatro Comunale of Florence in Italy. She was nominated for Benois de la Danse award in 2005 and is a recipient of the E. Virginia Williams Inspirational Award.
Catherine Batcheller - Classical Ballet
Catherine Batcheller is in her 5th year as Dean of the Cincinnati Ballet’s Otto M. Budig Academy. Catherine brings over 30 years of professional experience with her.
Catherine’s international career as a principal dancer spanned some of the world’s leading ballet companies. She danced with the San Francisco Ballet and the Stuttgart Ballet as well as the Birmingham Royal Ballet, and she worked with some of the most distinguished choreographers of our time such as William Forsythe, Jiri Kylian, Maurice Bejart, Sir Peter Wright, David Bintley and Wayne McGregor. She also performed many works by John Cranko, Sir Kenneth MacMillan, Frederick Ashton, George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins.
She has been invited to teach across the country including the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, Atlanta Ballet, Boston Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, Walnut School for the Arts, Indiana University, and Portland Ballet as well as internationally for the Stuttgart and Alberta Ballet. In 2001, she co-founded and co-directed Configuration Dance, and directed Configuration Dance Studio, the school associated with the company in Massachusetts. Prior to joining Cincinnati Ballet, Catherine was the Artistic Director at Ballet Conservatory of South Texas in San Antonio, a pre-professional company and ballet academy. She also holds a M.A. from Birmingham University, England. Catherine trained with Victor Marino, the Cleveland Ballet School, Washington School of Ballet and San Francisco Ballet as well as summers at SAB, ABT and Joffrey where she studied on scholarship.
Viktor Plotnikov - Classical Ballet/Pas de Deux/Choreography
Viktor Plotnikov was born in Kharkov City, Ukraine, and began his training at
the age of 11 at the Kiev-Ukraine School and continued at the St.
Petersburg Ballet Academy. From 1987 to 1990, he was a soloist with
Donetsk Ballet Company in the Ukraine. In 1990, he joined Ballet
Mississippi as a principal dancer. He appeared as a guest artist with
Tulsa Ballet Theatre and Dance Inc., and toured Russia and the U.S. In
1993, he joined Boston Ballet as principal dancer. As a choreographer,
he has created works specifically for Boston Ballet dancers, members of
Boston Ballet II, as well as for institutions throughout the Boston
region, including Boston Ballet's Grand Studio, Dance on the Top Floor
and Boston Conservatory. He also created works for the 2002
International Ballet Competition in Jackson, Mississippi, two one-act
ballet's, My Impressions, set to symphonic Pink Floyd and Short Stories for A Small Magazine for
the Dancer's Resource Fund, and for the well-received choreographic
event Raw Dance in collaboration with Boston Ballet and Boston Center
for the Arts. More recently, he has created works for the Bolshoi Ballet
workshop, Richmond Ballet and Festival Ballet Providence. After winning
the Choreography Prize at the 2005 Helsinki International Ballet
Competition, Plotnikov went on to win the Best Choreography Award at the
World Ballet Competition and a prize at the International Choreographic
Competition in 2007.
Brett Bauer - Classical Ballet/Pas De Deux
Brett Bauer began life in Berkeley, California, but grew up in Stamford, Connecticut. He began dancing at the age of five preferring tap, jazz and hip hop at first. That changed at the age of eight when he began ballet. When he was eleven he began private training which enabled him to enter the National Ballet School of Canada in Toronto. He spent three years there, followed by a year with the Kirov Academy in Washington D.C. Brett then toured with Suzanne Farrell in the Fall of 2001, and finally spent a post high school year training with the San Francisco Ballet School and working with the company.
Mr. Bauer joined the corps de ballet of San Francisco for the 2002 Season. During his tenure there he performed numerous ensemble and principal roles in ballets by: Sir Fredrick Ashton, Stanton Welch, Christopher Wheeldon, Helgi Tomasson, Mikhail Fokine, Roland Petite, John Neumeier, Paul Taylor, Mark Morris, Peter Martins, Jerome Robbins and George Balanchine. In addition, he enjoyed performing with the company in Athens, Paris, London, Shanghai and Beijing as well as appearing in the PBS special of "The Nutcracker" as the Arabian trio.
In 2010 Mr. Bauer moved his talents to Portland for the opportunity to work with Christopher Stowell at Oregon Ballet Theater. He joined as a Soloist, but was promoted to Principal at the end of his first season. Since that time he has enjoyed performing in lead roles including Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, Square Dance, Stravinsky Violin Concerto, and Giselle. He has travelled with the company to Korea as well as performing throughout Oregon and Washington. Most recently in June 2013 he will dance at the Kennedy Center with OBT for the “Dance Across America” festival in a piece choreographed by James Kudelka.
Mr. Bauer continues to build his teaching ability as well as dabble in choreography. His natural curiosity, humor, integrity and vision keep him engaged and engaging to be around.
Alexander Glaz - Classical Ballet/Pas De Deux
Alexander Glaz is originally from the Ukraine. He began his dance
training in New York City and has gone on to dance professionally with
various companies throughout Europe, Asia and North America. Among
these companies are the Croatian National Theatre of Zagreb, Les Grands
Ballets Canadiens De Montreal, Dance Theatre of Harlem and North
Carolina Dance Theatre. Alexander is also a certified yoga instructor,
having studied extensively in India, Europe, United States and Canada.
He currently teaches in dance schools and companies throughout the
boroughs of New York and develops dance education and outreach programs
for public schools.
Robin Cantrell hails from St. Paul, Minnesota and began her dance training at Midwest Youth Dance Theater. She attended the University of Utah as a Willem F. Christensen scholarship recipient and received a BFA in ballet performance. Robin has been a member of City Ballet of San Diego, Ballet Deviare, Rioult, Collective Body Dance Lab and currently dances for Battery Dance Company and Rebecca Kelly Ballet. She taught and presented her own work in over 35 countries worldwide. Robin is also the artistic director of her own dance company, Indelible.
Mira Bai Cook - Contemporary
Mira Cook joined Battery Dance Company in 2010. A native of Austin,
Texas, she studied and performed with Ballet Austin and the Austin Dance
Ensemble and danced in California with City Ballet of San Diego and
Liss Fain Dance of San Francisco. With Battery Dance Company, she has
performed and taught Dancing to Connect workshops in Algeria, Namibia,
Tanzania, Malaysia, Singapore, Zambia, Lesotho and at Gramercy Arts High
School in Manhattan. She was Battery Dance Company's
artist-in-residence at Bayridge Elementary School for the Arts in
Brooklyn, NY, during the 2010-11 school year. Mira's choreography was
presented in Battery Dance Company's 2011 New York Season and has also
been presented by City Ballet of San Diego, The Austin Dance Ensemble
and SUSHI Performance and Visual Art. Mira is a singer/composer and has
performed her work in New York City and has released a solo album,
"Signs". She also creates dance videos as co-director of
duetproject.com with fellow BDC artist Robin Cantrell.
Bafana Solomon Matea - Contemporary
Bafana Matea joined Battery Dance Company in 2004 and has performed in the U.S., Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia with the Company. He was born in Mamelodi, South Africa and is a Cecchetti Advanced Dance Graduate of the Pro Art Alphen Park School in Pretoria and the recipient of an Alvin Ailey South African Dance Fellowship. His previous company affiliations have been with Elisa Monte Dance and Ballet Hispanico. His choreography has been presented by Battery Dance Company in New York City, Africa and Europe. His pedagogical experience is vast, having taught master classes and led Dancing to Connect workshops internationally with Battery Dance Company in Algeria, China, DRC, Germany, Hungary, Israel, Japan, Kenya, Namibia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Swaziland, Taiwan and in American schools and colleges in New York and New Jersey. He trained German dance teachers in the skills of teaching DtC workshops in Frankfurt and Potsdam in 2010 and Spanish dance teachers in Madrid in 2011.
Carmen Nicole - Contemporary
Carmen Nicole joined Battery Dance
Company in 2008 and since that time has performed, choreographed and
taught dance technique and Dancing to Connect workshops at the
professional, conservatory, university, high school and secondary school
levels in Africa, Asia, Europe and the U.S. In 2010, she trained
professional dancers from Beijing Dance LDTX and Guangzhou Modern Dance
Companies in China in the skills of Dancing to Connect; and in 2011
trained dancers from Alas Abiertas in Madrid, Spain. She has created
choreography with members of the National Ballet of Algeria (Le Ballet
de L’ONCI), with Bone Marrow in Nairobi and with Aboriginal dancers in
Taichung, Taiwan and taught master classes for the Yuko Takahashi Dance
Company in Sendai, Japan. She has served as BDC’s teaching artist at
several New York City public high schools and has led Dancing to Connect
projects in Algeria, China, DRC, Germany, Japan and Kenya, and her
choreography has been presented by BDC in its New York Season as well as
on tour. She has taught classical ballet and Pilates in New York City,
and is a Guild Certified Feldenkrais PractitionerTM and Holistic
Nutritional Counselor. She is pursuing an undergraduate degree from
Empire State College, New York, and is writing a thesis on Dance and
Community focusing on increasing HIV/AIDS awareness through dance in
Sean Scantlebury - Contemporary
Sean Scantlebury, a member of Battery Dance Company since 2003, is a performer and teacher who is equally adept within the styles of modern, ballet and hip-hop. A native of Barbados, Sean is a naturalized citizen of the U.S. He moved to New York City as a child and at the age of 8 was invited to study at the New York City Public School for Dance. He became a member of Ballet Tech, the Company directed by Eliot Feld, performing in the Company's Joyce Theater seasons in New York for 10 years. During his first season with Battery Dance in 2003, he took part in a residency in Krakow and Poland, performing for the European Conference on Tolerance. Since then, he has performed, taught and led Dancing to Connect workshops in Algeria, Australia, Burma, Cambodia, China, Germany, Ghana, Hungary, India, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Laos, Malaysia, Mongolia, Morocco, Namibia, Philippines, Poland, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Swaziland, Taiwan, Tanzania, Tunisia, Uganda and Vietnam. His hip-hop classes have served as a magnet for urban youth everywhere. In New York, he has served as Battery Dance's teaching artist at public schools including Washington Irving High School, P.S. 257 in Brooklyn, I.S. 162 in the South Bronx for three years at the Millennium High School in Lower Manhattan.
Clement Mensah - Contemporary
Clement was born and raised in Ghana, West Africa. He
moved to the Netherlands at the age of 11. After high school and graduating
from CIOS (sports academy) he went to Amsterdam School of Arts and graduated in
June 2008. He came to the Alvin Ailey School in 2007 as an exchange student
where he received a fellowship to study. He was member of the Student
Performing Group at the Alvin Ailey School while apprenticing with Bill T.
Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company in 2008. He has also been part of the Francesca
Harper Project, danced with Elisa Monte Dance Company from 2008 until the
summer of 2010 performing both national and international. Clement joined the
Matthew Westerby Company in 2009 and led the hugely successful
Project Poetry Live
in partnership with the Litchfield Performing Arts, Connecticut. He has taught
workshops and master classes at different institutions and schools such as
Dance Wave in Brooklyn, NY., Alvin Ailey School, The Theater School in
Amsterdam, Codart in Rotterdam and artist in residence at Dancers’ Workshop, WY
and Bennington College, VT as well as assisting teachers and teaching at the
Center for Advance Training (C.A.T.) at Trinity Laban. Mr. Mensah became
international student mentor to Codarts in Rotterdam, Holland after receiving
his MA degree in Dance Performance at Trinity Laban School of Contemporary
Music and Dance in London in 2011 and joined Reggie Wilson/Fist and Heel
Performance Group in that same year. As a former member of Ronald K.
Brown/Evidence A Dance Company, Clement performed with the Limón Dance Company
as a guest artist in the fall of 2012 and joined Battery Dance Company at the
beginning of 2013. He is very grateful for the wonderful opportunities of teaching,
performing and choreographing.
Alyssa Epstein - Musical Theatre
Alyssa Epstein, originally from New Jersey, began her training at the
New Jersey School of Ballet under the direction of Carolyn Clark. Her
studies continued as she was accepted to attend both the Jazz and
Contemporary programs at the School at Jacob's Pillow. She now holds a
BFA in Dance from the University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign. She
spent 7 years kicking up her heels as a Radio City Rockette. During her
time as a Rockette, she had the opportunity to tour around the country
performing and teaching. She was seen on national television programs
such as the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, The Today Show and the
Rachael Ray Show. Her voice can be heard on the Rockettes Sing Your
Christmas Favorites cd! Outside of Radio City she has performed dance
works by Twyla Tharp, Mark Morris, Tere O'Connor, Heniz Poll; as well as
worked with Broadway Choreographers Randy Skinner and Chet Walker.
Favorite regional musical theater performances include 42nd Street,
Crazy For You, Showboat and The Merry Widow. Alyssa is also a certified
Jessica Howard was the three-time Rhythmic Gymnastics National Champion,
Goodwill Games Bronze Medalist, World Championship Finalist, and served for six
years on the USA Gymnastics Board of Directors as an Athlete Representative.
She began her career in ballet, and continued to train in the Vaganova
style with her Russian and Bulgarian coaches until her retirement from
competition in 2003. In addition to her distinguished career as a gymnast,
upon her retirement Jessica also performed on Broadway, toured, and has worked
with USA Gymnastics as a consultant to help prepare their National Teams for
World and Olympic competition. She currently lives in New York City, and has
taught at The School at Steps, Ellison Ballet, Gelsey Kirkland Academy, SLK
Ballet, Premiere Division, and also works privately with dancers and athletes
in advanced training programs. Last year Jessica co-founded Ballet Extensions
to help driven students achieve their maximum flexibility and strength
potential. Jessica received her early training in Jacksonville, Florida, but
later split her time between Sofia, Bulgaria and the US Olympic Training Center
to prepare fully for her international assignments.
Renee Liguori trained
professionally with Ellison Ballet and SLK Ballet, both in New York City.
graduation from Ellison Ballet in 2010, Renee received a full time contract to
both Orlando Ballet in Florida, and Nashville Ballet, Tennessee, choosing
She worked as a
professional dancer with Nashville Ballet and danced all the classics as well
as some contemporary works.
Due to an injury
Renee retired from the stage early to receive surgery and trained as a teacher
with Sara Knight and SLK Ballet. She recently returned to the stage to dance
the lead in Paquita. She remains a freelance dancer and is now a full time
member of faculty with SLK Ballet.
Renee is also a
graduate student at Fordham University where she is a Psychology major and will
graduate in 2015.
SLK BALLET NYC 380 BROADWAY NY, NY 10013 646.863.2032