Resident Ballet Mistress
Bette-Ann Libin, a lifelong resident of the Greater Hartford area, is the ballet mistress and principal ballet teacher for Ballet Hartford. She is the founder and artistic director of Studio of Dance Ballet School and West Hartford Youth Ballet, and serves as a ballet teacher on the faculties of School of Ballet Hartford and Hartford's Youth Arts Institute. She formerly served as ballet mistress and executive director of Ballet Theatre Company, which she also founded. Ms. Libin began her serious training at The School of the Hartford Ballet, whose Teacher Training Certificate Program she later graduated from before beginning her teaching career at The School of the Hartford Ballet, Hartt School, and Watkinson School. Her extensive mastery of the Vaganova pedagogical method can be traced back to the training she underwent with such noted ballet masters as Sharon Dante, Enid Lynn, Michael Uthoff, Diane Fleming, Wang Shao Pen, Jeanne (Tears) Giroir, Sandra Ray, Lisa Bradley, Judith Gosnell (Kempe), David Howard, Rebecca Wright and Truman Finney. Ms. Libin is ecstatic to bring the pioneering work of Agrippina Vaganova to Ballet Hartford.
faculty and Rehearsal Director
A Connecticut native, Stephanie Gagliardi began her formal traning with the School of the Hartford Ballet at the age of 13. She has attended notable summer intensives such as Boston Ballet, Atlanta Ballet, Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, and Princeton Ballet. In 2004, she was awarded the Nora Orphanides Scholarship and was invited to study at the Princeton Ballet School for two years where she had opportunity to perform with the American Repertory Ballet. Mrs. Gagliardi obtained her B.F.A. from the University of Hartford's the Hartt School on merit scholarship where she graduated magna cum laude in 2011. While an undergraduate, she was invited to join the Hartt School's Community Dance Division faculty in 2008. During this time she discovered a passion for teaching students of all ages, served as a college mentor, and worked with the Boys and Girls Club of Hartford. She has also taught for Ekklesia School of Ballet (formerly Christian Academy of Dance), Eastern Connecticut Ballet, and Premiere Dance School. Mrs. Gagliardi was a Company Artist with Ekklesia Contemporary Ballet from 2013-2017. She performed in original works by choreographers such as Vincent Hardy, Steve Rooks, Caleb Mitchell, Elizabeth McMillan, and Elisa Schroth. In 2017, she danced with Arrows International ministering throughout the Philippines and Malayasia. Also a yoga instructor, Mrs. Gagliardi received her certification through West Hartford Yoga's Teacher Training Program in 2018.
Photo Credit: Dan Fine Photography
Rene Olivier's professional career started in 1990 with the Natal Performing Arts Council, in South Africa. From there, she joined Alberta Ballet, in Canada for their 1998-1999 season. She joined Tulsa Ballet Theater in 1999. While a Soloist, she got the opportunity to teach for Tulsa Ballet Theater Center for Dance Education's Preparatory Level. In 2010 she became a full time faculty member at Charlotte Ballet Academy. Ms. Olivier taught and choreographed for all Levels year round, as well as for their Summer Intensives. She acted as assistant repetiteur for visiting artist Valentina Kozlova, who set Corsaire, La Bayadere, Raymonda and Paquita, for Charlotte Ballet's Summer Intensives. She got the opportunity to set Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux's, Danses Brillantes on Charlotte Ballet Company, alongside Sarkis Kaltakhtchian. In addition, she became an adjunct faculty member at The University of North Carolina at Charlotte from 2012. Currently she is a faculty member at the Hartt Community School. She choreographed Carnival of the Animals for Level A, B & C, Division I. In 2019 she got invited to teach as adjunct faculty for The Hartt School Dance division.
Dancing offered Ms. Olivier the opportunity to perform in countries like China, India, Italy and Alaska. Some of her favorite roles included the lead in George Balanchine's Rubies and Serenade, Lady Capulet in Michael Smuin's Romeo and Juliet, Titania in Mark Hawkins, A Midsummer Night's Dream. Featured roles in Jerome Robbin's In the Night, Twyla Tharp's Nine Sinatra songs and Paul Taylor's Carmina Burana, as well as Ma Cong's Carmina Burana. She is the recipient of the 1997 FNB Vita Award, for her performances in The Playhouse Dance Company.
A native of Armenia, Sarkis Kaltakhtchian studied at the Choreographic Institute of Yerevan, where he graduated with honors. Thereafter, he joined the Armenian National Ballet. In 1989, Kaltakhtchian was invited to join Ballets Classique de Montreal. He also performed with Banff Festival of the Arts, Classical Ballet of Costa Rica, Ottowa Ballet, Hartford Ballet, Charlotte Ballet and Tulsa Ballet Theatre.
As a soloist and principal dancer, his repertory included the works of George Balanchine, Marius Petipa, Choo-San Goh, Alonzo King, Val Caniparoli, William Forsythe, Paul Taylor, Nacho Duato and Jean- Pierre Bonnefoux. In July 1998, Kaltakhtchian performed for the First Lady Hillary Rodhman Clinton at the White House Millennium Council. Kaltakhtchian started teaching while still dancing, under the guidance of Maxim Martirosian, former Artistic Director of Bolshoi Ballet School.
After retiring from the stage in 2005, Kaltakhtchian became the Head Instructor of the Centre for Dance Education at Tulsa Ballet, and Director of Tulsa Ballet II. He has been a guest faculty with the Chautauqua Institution in New York since 2008. He joined the faculty of Charlotte Ballet Academy in 2010, and was named Artistic Vice Principal in 2014.
Caleb Mitchell was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan where he received early ballet training at the age of 16 under Rose Marie Floyd. After graduating cum laude in 1998 with a BFA in dance from the University of Arizona, Caleb joined the Houston Ballet under Ben Stevenson, O.B.E.-emeritus and later Stanton Welch, artistic director. During his tenure with Houston Ballet (1998-2007), Mr. Mitchell performed many featured roles in works by George Balanchine, Sir Kenneth MacMillan, Sir Frederick Ashton, Ben Stevenson, O.B.E., Glen Tetley, William Forsythe, Paul Taylor, Christopher Bruce, Ronald Hynd, Lila York, Natalie Weir, Julia Adams, Trey McIntyre, StantonWelch, James Kudelka, and David Parsons. In 2007, Caleb was awarded a Chancellor's Distinguished Fellowship (Helen Russell Scholar)at the University Of California- Irvine. While pursuing his degree at UCI, Caleb danced in featured roles by Professor Jodie Gates (Joffery Ballet, Frankfurt Ballet) and William Forsythe. In June 2009, Mr. Mitchell received a MFA in dance, and soon after became full-time dance faculty at Belhaven University in Jackson, Mississippi. Currently, at Belhaven University, Mr. Mitchell serves as *tenured Assistant Professor of Dance. Guest teaching and choreographic projects include works set on Neos Dance Company, Hosannah Sacred Arts, dancers from the Houston Ballet, Houston Ballet II, Houston Metropolitan Dance Company, Ad Deum Dance Company, Le Lien Ballet Theater, Masterworks Art Festival, and University of California, Irvine. He has also served as guest faculty teacher for the Cecchetti SummerInternational Festival at Hope College and Elvis Cirque du Soliel. During his tenure at UCI, Mr. Mitchell was Ballet Master for Professor David Allen (former National Ballet of Canada, Diamond Project), and in 2008 was awarded the Medici scholar grant to do choreographic research with world renowned choreographer Alonzo King (Lines Ballet)and Jacopo Godani (Frankfurt Ballet) for his thesis. Caleb’srecent choreographic project "Sanctuary", a world premiere, was a collaborative with world renowned choreographer Dr. Donald McKayle and performed by the Etude Dance Ensemble and the UCI Symphony Orchestra at UCI Irvine in April 2009. Creations and guest teaching also include SERPA (2013), Adelphi University, Dance Arts Conservatory, Uptown Dance Company, Brigham Young University, and Southern Methodist University.
Noted for her ‘powerful flair’ and ‘elegant exactitude’, conductor HANNAH SCHNEIDER is the founder and music director of Oxford Alternative Orchestra. She began her musical career in violin performance at the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory in the studio of Vladimir Ivanov and Alyena Chvertok. Turning her attention to conducting, she was mentored by Valery Gergiev while working as his personal assistant at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia. In 2016, she was elected as a Rhodes Scholar and moved to the UK, where she earned a master’s degree in music from the University of Oxford, and also won the conducting competition which awarded her the music directorship of Oxford University Philharmonia for 2017-2018. In her first year in Oxford, she founded Oxford Alternative Orchestra, an ensemble dedicated to exploring the intersection of new music, social impact, and marginalised communities. Acclaimed for its ‘norm-defying performance contexts’, the orchestra has given charity performances across Oxfordshire and on tour in Scotland. Schneider is an avid conductor of opera, and has recently conducted the Oxford premiere of Harrison Birtwistle’s The Corridor with 472 productions, and Verdi’s La Traviata. Highlights of the upcoming season include debut performances with the Maykop Philharmonic Orchestra (Russia), the Oxford Philharmonic Orchestra (UK), Ballet Hartford (USA), Lviv-INSO Orchestra (Ukraine), and two collaborations with The People's Opera: Mozart's Don Giovanni and Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin, as well as concerts with Oxford Alternative Orchestra. Schneider is currently pursuing a doctorate in music at the University of Oxford, specialising in Soviet Opera.
Elizabeth (Betsy) began her ballet training with the Alabama Dance Theater in Montgomery. At the age of thirteen, she was accepted into Houston Ballet Academy in the pre-professional division and Houston's High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. McMillan was promoted to the professional division of Houston Ballet Academy and placed on a full merit scholarship while performing with the Houston Ballet. Her other training includes Joffrey Ballet NY and USA International Ballet Competition School. In 2000, she joined Ballet Magnificat! touring nationally and internationally with the company, performing in Greece, Singapore, Costa Rica, and the Czech Republic in addition to the USA International Ballet Competition Gala in Jackson, MS and most major cities across the United States. She has served on the faculty of Houston Ballet Academy, the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, Belhaven University, Ad Deum Dance Company, Point Park University's International Summer Dance Program and as Ballet Mistress for Houston Metropolitan Dance Company. She has been guest faculty for Ballet Academy East, Ballet Midwest, Met Dance, Yale Ballet, Ballet School of Stamford and Belhaven University. She staged Paquita for Alabama Dance Theater and was Assistant Repetiture to former American Ballet Theater Principal Dancer, Shawn Black for the re-staging of Giselle Act 1 and La Bayadere Kingdom of the Shades. McMillan served as Shoreline Principal with New Haven Ballet for three years and was named Assistant Choreographer for New Haven Ballet's 2012 production of The Nutcracker. She Co-Choreographed an original production of Cinderella and has choreographed original works for New Haven Ballet Company, Belhaven University and The Hartt School. She joined the faculty of The Hartt School in the Fall of 2014 and served on the Board of Directors of the Connecticut Dance Alliance. McMillan is an ABT® Certified Teacher, who has successfully completed the ABT® Teacher Training Intensive in Primary through Level 3 of the ABT® National Training Curriculum. She received her certification in September 2012. She is the Founder and Artistic Director Emerita of Ballet Hartford and the School of Ballet Hartford. Currently she is a full time Academy Instructor for Houston Ballet.
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