Dancers

Principal dancer

Leyna Doran

Born in California, Leyna Doran began her ballet training at the age of twelve at a local studio on scholarship. At fourteen, she was selected to be privately coached by Christina (Gibbs) Lyon, former dancer of American Ballet Theatre. Under Lyon’s tutelage, Doran attended American Ballet Theatre’s Detriot Summer Intensive (2006) and Kirov Academy of Ballet’s Summer Intensive (2008). A generous sponsorship to attend these intensives was provided by David Howard. In 2009, Doran was hired by the Crystal Cathedral to perform as a dancer in the Glory of Christmas productions. From 2010-2014, Doran received further training and dance education at Belhaven University. At Belhaven, she studied under the instruction of Laura Morton, Caleb Mitchell, and Ravenna Tucker. She represented the university at two American College Dance Associations (ACDA) and was awarded the Bezalel Award (2010) and the Daniel Award (2014). In 2012, she accompanied a group of Belhaven students and faculty to perform throughout South Korea. Upon graduating summa cum laude with her Bachelor of Fine Arts (2014), Doran worked as a company artist with Ekklesia Contemporary Ballet. She began teaching at several ballet studios in the area alongside instructing ballet classes for different dance organizations at Yale University. In 2016, she began dancing for Vivid Ballet (Ballet Hartford) gaining opportunity to perform around the country. She performed choreography from Elizabeth McMillan, Silas Farley (New York City Ballet), Stephen Pier, Vincent Hardy (Complexions Contemporary Ballet), Steve Rooks (Martha Graham Dance Company), Michelle Thompson Ulrich (Ballet Austin), Caleb Mitchell (Houston Ballet), Miro Magliore, Victor Lozano (Julliard), and others. Most notably, Doran performed at the White House for an event held by the First Lady. In 2017, she was promoted to Principal Dancer and Ballet Mistress. Doran has been invited to teach at studios and summer intensives in PA, AL, CA, and CT. She has attended Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet's Teacher Training Course and studied the syllabi of Marcia Dale Weary under Darla Hoover, Alecia Good-Borgrove, and Rose Taylor. She continues to instruct and choreograph on a regular basis for dance schools in the Hartford area. In 2019, Doran became Artistic Director of Ballet Hartford and has been grateful to carry the company forward with excellence and joy.

Company Artists

Isabel Amador

Isabel Amador was born and raised in Houston, Texas. She attended the High School for Performing and Visual Arts where she was fortunate enough to perform works by Larry Kegwin and Jose Limon. She graduated from Butler University in 2018, where she received a BFA in Dance Performance and a minor in Business Administration. While at Butler, she expanded her repertoire with roles in ballets such as Sleeping Beauty, Giselle, and Gerald Arpino's Viva Vivaldi. She previously had the opportunity to study abroad and train at the Polish National Ballet and the National Theatre Ballet in Prague. After graduating, Isabel joined City Ballet of San Diego for their 2018-2019 season, where she performed works such as Balanchine's The Four Temperaments, Swan Lake, and Carnival of the Animals. Isabel is excited to start her second season with Ballet Hartford and to continue exploring the East coast.

Angela Bravo

Angela Mia Bravo grew up in Clinton NY. She danced in Utica, NY at Munson Williams Proctor Arts Institute from 2004-2013. She received her training in ballet from Nancy Long and Lynn Bollana and in jazz and tap from Kathy Ryan. At MWPAI, Angela Mia performed many leading roles. Angela Mia spent the summers of 2010 to 2012 at Saratoga Summer Dance Intensive in Saratoga NY. During her time there she studied ballet under former New York City Ballet dancer Melinda Roy. She had many opportunities to learn repertoire that NYCB was performing. She worked with with Robert Munoz, Simon Ball, Ashley Bouder, and more. Angela Mia performed George Balanchine’s Stars and Stripes as “Little Stars” lead at SSDI. Angela Mia then received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance from Belhaven University. While at Belhaven she studied under many professors including Ravenna Tucker-Wagnon (Royal Ballet) and Caleb Mitchell (Houston Ballet). From 2017-2019 Angela Mia was a Company Artist with Ballet Hartford (formerly Vivid Ballet). And in 2019 she was part of New England Ballet Collective. She is looking forward to another season with Ballet Hartford as a Company Artist.

Hannah bush

Hannah Bush began her serious training at Myers Ballet School and Northeast Ballet in Schenectady, NY. After graduating with a B.F.A in Dance Performance from Belhaven University, Hannah joined Ballet Theatre of Indiana as a founding company member. Hannah has performed and taught in the classical and commercial genre throughout Europe, China, Africa and Canada. She has worked administratively for Russian Ballet International and Joffrey Ballet. Hannah has completed a teacher training course through Bolshoi Ballet, Levels One through Three, and is an ABT® Certified Teacher, who has successfully completed the ABT® Teacher Training Intensive in Pre-Primary through Level Three of the ABT® National Training Curriculum. Hannah Bush is also the author of Ballet Etiquette: A Primer for the Student.

Sharah Defoe

Growing up in Saginaw, Michigan, Sharah began dancing recreationally at the age of 12. However, her pre-professional ballet training began at age 16 when she was enrolled into the Flint Institute of Music under the direction of Karen Mills Jennings. After graduating from high school in 2015, she was offered a full scholarship as a trainee with the contemporary ballet company Collage Dance Collective. While performing with Collage, Sharah worked with and performed pieces choreographed by Kevin Iega Jeff, Andrea Long, Darell Moultrie, and Joshua Manculich. In 2016, Sharah received a scholarship to continue refining her ballet technique at the world-renowned school of classical ballet, Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet. During her two years at CPYB, Sharah trained under the tutelage of Marcia Dale Weary, Alicia Good-Boresow, Darla Hoover, Melinda Howe, Amanda Edge, and many other highly acclaimed ballet instructors. While dancing with CYPB, She had the privilege of performing in Balanchine’s The Nutcracker and Alan Hineline’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Sleeping Beauty, and A Mid-Summer Night’s Dream. She furthered her dance training by attending various summer intensives including CPYB, Bolshoi Ballet NY, Ad Deum Dance Company, and Zion Dance Project. In 2019, Sharah was offered a trainee position with Ballet Hartford. Since then she has been promoted to apprentice and then Company Artist. This is her third season performing with the company.

libby kroeger

Ms. Kroeger received classical training in Fort Worth, Texas, at Gayle Corkery School of Ballet, under Gayle Corkery, Carrie and Li Chou Cheng and Margo McCann. She received additional training at Texas Ballet Theater's summer intensive programs. In 2013, Ms. Kroeger graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Dance from Belhaven University and has most enjoyed performing George Balanchine’s Serenade and Walpurgisnacht. Since graduating, Ms. Kroeger has performed with Ballet Concerto under Margo and Webster Dean, Ballet Frontier of Texas under Chung Lin and Enrica Tseng, Zion Dance project under Vincent Hardy, Avant Chamber Ballet under Katie Cooper, Ballet Project OC, and Roanoke Ballet Theater under Sandra Meythaler. Ms. Kroeger is thrilled to begin her third season with Ballet Hartford.

Apprentices

FElicia isotti

Felicia Isotti is a recent graduate of The University of Hartford with a degree in Ballet Pedagogy. In her early dance training at Northeast School of Ballet, Felicia focused on classical ballet but also had the opportunity to study various other styles of dance. She participated in local productions as well as performed classical and contemporary works internationally through their exchange program to Ruray, France. She has attended several summer training programs located throughout the United States including UNCSA, Joffrey Academy of Dance Chicago, Pennsylvania Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, and Compass Coaching Project. Throughout her college career Felicia danced in diverse repertoire created by Hartt School faculty/guest choreographers and the master works of Martha Graham, Lar Lubovitch, and George Balanchine. She was able to foster both her love for performing and teaching as a pedagogy major. She was fortunate enough to be mentored as an intern at The Hartt School Community Division, The Magnet School, and Spectrum in Motion. Felicia is so excited to begin her professional career and enter her first season with Ballet Hartford!

Rachel Russell

Born and raised in Houston, Texas, Rachel started dancing at 3. She spent her formative years studying Royal Academy of Dance technique until high school when she joined Vitacca Dance Project’s pre-professional company. After graduating from the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, Rachel moved to Hartford to further her dance education at the University of Hartford. While dancing at the Hartt School, Rachel got opportunities to perform guest choreographed pieces and worked with artists like Lucy Bowen, Claudia Schrier, and Francesca Harper. In addition, Rachel has performed diverse repertoire including classical excerpts from Napoli, and Le Corsaire; along with historic modern works by Jose Limon and Martha Graham which include: There is Time, Dances for Isadora, Appalachian Spring and Chronicle. As a Pedagogy major, Rachel has taught at the Hartt School Community Division and the University of Hartford Magnet School. As a teacher at a local studio, Rachel has found joy in using her knowledge of pedagogy to shape the technique of today’s children! She is really excited to begin her second season with Ballet Hartford!

alisa nipp

Originally from Southern California, Alisa Nipp began dancing at the age of 4. At age 8, Alisa began training at Pacific Ballet Conservatory for the next ten years under Maryann Bayless (PNB), Jane Matty (Dutch National Ballet), and Julie Binowitz (Pennsylvania Ballet). Alisa then moved to Jackson, MS, where she was taught by Ravenna Tucker-Wagnon (The Royal Ballet) and Laura Morton (Milwaukee Ballet) at Belhaven University and has performed choreography by Vincent Hardy and Marlita Hill with the Belhaven University Dance Ministry Ensemble. In 2018, Alisa had the honor of performing in Imag[(i)n]e by Erin Schiewe Rockwell at The Kennedy Center through the American College Dance Association (ACDA). While dancing with the Belhaven University Dance Ensemble, Alisa danced the role of a Little Swan in an excerpt from Swan Lake and Lucy Pevensie in Laura Morton’s ballet Into the Light based on C.S. Lewis’s book The Lion, Witch, and the Wardrobe. In 2019, Alisa graduated from Belhaven University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance and with honors from National Honor Society for Dance Arts. For the next two years, she danced in Chicago, IL, with Ballet 5:8 as a trainee 2019-2020 and as a company apprentice 2020-2021. During her time with Ballet 5:8, Alisa worked closely with Julianna Rubio Slager, Brette Benedict, and Kim Sagami (The Joffrey Ballet), performing in feature roles in Slager’s Brothers & Sisters and Beyond the Nutcracker, Benedict’s Into the Process, and Kevin Jenkins’s Still Waters. Other works include Slager’s premiere shows of Golden Sessions, Reckless, and Dry Bones. Alisa is excited to join Ballet Hartford as an apprentice for the 2021-2022 season and looks forward to all that this season holds.

Trainees

Martina Berger

Martina Berger, a native of Rockford, Illinois, developed a love for dance at a young age. Over the years, her training has taken her many places, including summer intensives with American Ballet Theatre, Ballet 5:8, and the Orlando Ballet. She holds a BFA in Dance Performance from Northern Illinois University and also recently graduated from Ballet 5:8's Trainee Program. Martina is grateful to be joining Ballet Hartford for the first time this season, and she is looking forward to new opportunities to share!

Amelia Blair

Amelia Blair from Newton, Iowa, began her dance training at the age of eleven with a local studio. Throughout high school, Ms. Blair continued her training with Grace Ballet Studio in Ankeny under the instruction of Ms. Anna Horvath. During her time at Grace Ballet, Ms. Blair took RAD exams (earning the Merit Award in her Intermediate exam), was part of the student company, danced the lead role of the Snow Queen, and competed in local competitions (where she won various awards) as well as in the Indianapolis Youth America Grand Prix (2015 and 2016). She danced corps de ballet and solo roles in The Nutcracker, Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, as well as in excerpts from Stars & Stripes and Don Quixote. She was involved in Iowa Dance Theatre’s productions and received additional instruction from Ballet Des Moines and Ms. Ami Yaro. Ms. Blair attended summer intensives with Kansas City Ballet and Zion Dance Project to further her training. Upon receiving a scholarship to continue dancing, she moved to New York in 2016 to become a trainee with Light of the World Ballet under Ashley Rollinson Sunada. She performed on tour with LWB in Israel (2017), China (2019) and danced the lead role in resident choreographer Cayla Noreau’s ballet, Creation’s JOY. Ms. Blair was promoted to company apprentice with LWB in 2018, company member in 2019, and placed on their teaching and administration staff. She is excited to continue dancing and begin her second season with Ballet Hartford!

ella Gorney

Ella Gorney was raised in Atlanta, Georgia and started her serious dance education at the age of 13 with a local dance school, training under Sherri Davis, Nichole Martin, Grayson Davis (ABT), Pedro Gambino, Abigail Tan-Gambino, Nathan Griswald and many others. Throughout her dance training with the Georgia Academy of Dance and the Performing Arts, Ella took part in many ballets such as The Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty, Coppelia, and Romeo and Juliet, along with various contemporary pieces as well. While with the local studio, she was invited into the conservatory program and got the opportunity to dance among professional artists and observe rehearsals. Ms. Gorney was soon after accepted in the professional training division at Terminus Modern Ballet Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia, where she learned many new contemporary techniques and met her private instructor Jessica Saund. While in the early beginnings of the pandemic, Ms. Saund helped Ella maintain her training and taught her discipline through the art of ballet. This previous year, Ella danced at The Nutmeg Conservatory under the teachings of Joan Kunsch, Timothy Melady, Cassandra Kane and Kate St. Amand. During her time at Nutmeg she was able to perform several soloist pieces of La Bayadere including, Gamzatti, Water Girl variation and the second Shade, along with the Shade Trio and Corpe de Ballet. Ella has also attended multiple summer intensives including The Nashville Ballet, The Charrlotte Ballet, BalletWest in Salt Lake City, Utah and Ballet Austin. Ella is currently a homeschooled senior in high school, and is continuing to further her dance education as a trainee with Ballet Hartford. She is so excited for this year with the company!

Kyra rosenberg

Kyra Rosenberg, originally from Southington, Connecticut, began her dance training recreationally at a local studio. From there, choosing to focus on her pre-professional ballet training, she attended Nutmeg Conservatory and Bossov Ballet Theatre. After graduating in 2019, Kyra moved to Toronto, Canada to attend George Brown College’s Dance Performance program. After one year, she accepted an intern position with Ballet Hartford. Kyra has had the opportunity to study under the instruction of Victoria Mazzarelli, Natalya Getman, and Cynthia Macedo and has performed in a variety of classical repertoire such as Balanchine’s The Nutcracker, Don Quixote, Sleeping Beauty, and Giselle. She has also trained and performed in modern dance under Lauren Cook, Hanna Kiel, and Clayton Winters. Kyra is grateful and excited to start this upcoming season as a Trainee with the company.

Caroline schroer

Caroline Schroer began her training at the New Paltz School of Ballet (NPSB) in New Paltz, NY. She attended summer intensives at the New York State Summer School for the Arts (NYSSSA) under the direction of Daniel Ulbricht and Amanda Edge, and Cincinnati Ballet under Catherine Batcheller. Caroline performed Chinese in The Nutcracker, Friend and Wili in Giselle, and other featured roles in various styles with The Mercyhurst Dancers. She attended Mercyhurst University on both academic and dance scholarships, graduating with honors and earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance Performance with a minor in Musical Theatre. Caroline studied with Tauna Hunter, Noelle Partusch, Lesley Bories-Scalise, and Jennifer McNamara, and also had the opportunity to travel with The Mercyhurst Dancers to Ireland, where she premiered an original work of choreography. She has experience as a ballet and jazz instructor at NPSB and served as a Resident Advisor at Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre’s Intensive Summer Program. Caroline will be teaching dance classes in the Hartford area, and she is excited to begin dancing with Ballet Hartford this season.

margaret vivian

Margaret Vivian is originally from Albany, New York, where she began her dance education at the School of the Albany Berkshire Ballet, under the direction of Madeline Cantarella Culpo, Diedre Duffin and Anna Acker. She spent her summers attending dance intensives at American Ballet Theatre, Carolina Ballet and New York State Summer School of the Arts, where she experienced masterclasses with internationally recognized artists such as Susan, Brooker, Wes Chapman, Amanda Edge, Jenifer Ringer, Samantha Shelton, Robert Weiss, and Daniel Ulbricht. Margaret continued her training on scholarship at Mercyhurst University, where she graduated with honors and earned a B.F.A. in dance and a minor in political science. She has appeared with Ballet Concerto, SoMar Dance Works and The Mercyhurst Dancers, and the Albany Berkshire Ballet in the premiere of Paula Weber’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Her personal performance highlights include the role of “Giselle’s friend” in Giselle, Michael Gleason’s Symphonie Italienne, and Soaring by Mark and Solvieg Santillano. Margaret has presented her choreography in Dungarvan, Ireland and at the American College Dance Association conference. She is excited to begin her performance career with Ballet Hartford, and later hopes put her political science background to use for arts advocacy.

interns

rachael mullen

Rachael grew up dancing competitively at Northstar Dance Academy. She continued her training at Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts Half Day program from 2019 - 2021. During her time at GHAAHD she had the opportunity to perform in choreographic works by Larry Keigwin, Jeanne Giroir, and multiple pieces choreographed by her fellow peers. In summer 2020 she attended Ad Deum Dance Company’s virtual summer intensive where she trained with accomplished teachers such as Steve Rooks, Randall Flinn, Shizu Yasuda, Laura Morton and many more. Rachael is super excited to be joining Ballet Hartford as an intern this season!

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