Biographies for the Teachers of The School of the Sacramento Ballet
Melanie began her training at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet under the world reowned direction of Marcia Dale Weary. Her performance experiences included dancing at the International Ballet Competition in Jackson, Mississippi in both 1994 and 1998 as well as having the opportunity to partner with artists such as Albert Evans and Marcelo Gomes in George Balanchines, The Nutcracker. Melanie joined The Sacramento Ballet as an apprentice in 2000 and immediately got offered principal and soloist roles, Blue Bird Pas de Deux in Sleeping Beauty and the Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker. As a company member the following year, other principal roles included The Four Tempermants, Concerto Barocco, Tschaikovsky Pas de Deux, Tarantella, Agon, Serenade, Stars and Stripes, Allegro Brillante, A Midsummer Nights Dream, as well as Ron Cunninghams Carmina Burana. After six seasons with the company, Melanie began teaching for various ballet schools within the region and enrolled with Sacramento City College. Not only has Melanie been affiliated with The Sacramento Ballet, she has also performed with Music Circus in their 2006 production of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum as Tintinabula and choreographed two productions for The Sacramento Opera. Melanie is thrilled to step into the role of School Prinicpal and looks forward to working with the students at every level atThe School of the Sacramento Ballet.
Vanessa Bautista has danced for Red Bucket Dance Theatre, and performed student through pre-professional roles with Pacific Northwest Ballet and Sacramento Ballet. Vanessa studied on full scholarship with Pacific Northwest Ballet and The Rock School of the Pennsylvania Ballet, in addition to attending summer sessions with David Howard, Finis Jung, and Ballet Academy East. Vanessa attended both U.C. Davis studying Chicano Art, and CSUS where she earned her B.A. in Theatre and Dance, and was awarded the Merit Scholarship in 2010. During her time at CSUS Vanessa founded the contemporary dance company Ballet Underground, and her choreographic work was showcased at the Cesar Chavez Art and Music Festival. Her choreography was also chosen to represent CSUS at Mayor Kevin Johnson’s For Arts Sake presentation in 2012. Vanessa served as a Kennedy Center Teaching Artist for the Any Given Child initiative, and currently coordinates Education and Outreach for Sacramento Ballet, in addition to her position on Faculty with the School of the Sacramento Ballet. Vanessa lives in Sacramento with her three wonderful children.
Maia Wilkins trained with the Joffrey student and apprentice companies before joining The Joffrey main company. During her 18-year history with The Joffrey Ballet, Maia Wilkins danced featured roles that showcased her artistic range and physical versatility. From Balanchine pointe to Pilobolus bare feet; favorite ballerina fairies to flying on a trapeze, she has gotten to work with numerous répétiteurs and choreographers. Maia Wilkins is honored to continue Gerald Arpino’s legacy as a repetiteur for his works and the Gerald Arpino Foundation. In 2006, along with Gerald Arpino, Wilkins was named one of the Chicagoans of the year for her important contribution to the arts in Chicago. She can be seen in the feature films Save the Last Dance and Robert Altman’s The Company. As a freelance artist, Wilkins enjoys performing and teaching throughout the country. Maia loves dancing both on stage and off with her husband and fellow artist Michael Levine.
Michael Levine is from Grass Valley, California. He trained and danced with Sacramento Ballet and San Francisco Ballet before joining The Joffrey Ballet. As a principle with the Joffrey Ballet Levine had the pleasure of dancing numerous leading and historical rolls. He has been involved with many world premier collaborations with The Joffrey Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, and other independent choreographers. Levine has received recognition for his technical ability and classical line as well as for his excellent character portrayal. As a freelance artist, Levine enjoys performing teaching, coaching and helping lead workshops throughout the country. Micheal Levine’s photography captures moments from his unique, experienced dancer perspective. Levine enjoys sharing time both on stage and off with his beautiful wife Maia Wilkins.
Sunchai Muy started his ballet training at 16 with the Long Beach Ballet under the direction of David Wilcox and Shani Englert. He He began choreographing at the school and his choreography was chosen to be perfromed at the Regional Dance America/Pacific.He has recieved scholarships to great summer programs including Craft of Choreography, Ballet Austin, and Boston Ballet. He joined the Sacramento Ballet in 2002 where he worked with a wide variety of choreographers including Dwight Rhoden, Trey McIntyre, Val Caniparolli, Septime Webre and Ron Cunningham. He traveled and danced with Hollan America Line. He has returned to teach at The School of the Sacramento Ballet.
Joanna Summerhays began lessons with Marguerite Phares at age five, and in these early years discovered her love for dance. At age ten she joined Phares Theatre Ballet and danced with this company for the next several years. In 1985, Joanna also joined Laverne Krei’s tap company, and was awarded scholarship and first place in local and national competitions. For the past 18 years Joanna has worked for several dance studios as teacher and choreographer for ballet, tap, musical theatre, and lyrical dance. Among the hundreds of students Joanna has taught, many have received scholarships and have become professional dancers and teachers. Joanna is a caring and devoted teacher, guided by her love for the arts and a desire to inspire in her students ~ the joy of dance.
Born and raised in Sacramento, Karen began her dance training with Pennie Davies. She trained locally with Bobbi Bader, Sue Geller, Cliff Klein, and Carol Pompei. Karen graduated with honors from San Jose State University with a B.A. and M.A. in Theatre Arts/Dance. Karen has studied and performed works by MIna Garman, Greg LIzenberry, Claire Whistler, Kay Clark, Duncan MacFarland, Bill Evans, and Cliff Keuter. She has performed with Janlyn Dance Company as well as other regional modern companies in the San Francisco/Bay Area. Karen has over 35 years of teaching experience. She has taught all ages ranging from pre-school to pre-professional students as well as at the college level and senior adults. Karen has a passion for teaching dance and is thrilled to be on staff at The School of the Sacramento Ballet.
Michael Separovich was born and raised in Sacramento, California. He trained with Marguerite Phares until continuing his training at The Juilliard School where he received his BFA in 1996. Upon graduation he moved to Chicago to dance for Hubbard Street Dance Chicago. He then moved back to his home town of Sacramento and danced for Sacramento Ballet for 7 seasons. He then moved to San Francisco and danced for Robert Moses’ Kin, Amy Seiwert’s im’ij-re, Mark Foehringer and the San Francisco Opera until his retirement. He is now a faculty member of both the Sacramento Ballet and Hawkins School of Dance.
Anne Siebum a Sacramento native started dancing at the age of 5 as rehabilitation for a badly broken leg. A love for dance was born. At the age of 12 Anne started ballet training with Marguerite Phares and a year later joined the Phares Theater Ballet. In 1993 she joined the Sacramento Ballet as an apprentice. Anne is excited to be on faculty at the Sacramento Ballet to share her love of ballet.
Natalia has been training in the classical art of ballet since the age of 6. She completed her training with Deane Dance Center & joined the Sacramento Ballet at the age of 18, simultaneously beginning her teaching career as well. She performed in Ron Cunningham’s Carmina Burana, The Firebird, Alice In Wonderland & The Nutcracker (for 12 consecutive years!), Balanchine’s Four Temperaments, Serenade & Stars & Stripes. She trained with Joffery New York, Tokyo Ballet School & Regional Dance America, where she won a full scholarship for her student choreography Mark 4+1 at age 16. She won full scholarship to Craft of Choreography in Austin, Texas with Alan Hineline & Jerome Begin. She has choreographed for ballet and musical theatre companies in the area, as well as performed. Though her focus remains in ballet, her true love, she has trained in many styles of dance.
Becky Quinn began dancing when she was 3 years old in the Sacramento area. She danced ballet, tap, jazz, and lyrical for 10 years at Sue Geller and Ovations Dance Studio. She participated in Sacramento Ballet’s Nutcracker, performing as a Mother Ginger’s Child, Party Child, Clara, Chinese Attendant, and Angel. She is currently a senior liberal studies student at Sacramento State, studying to get her Multiple Subject/Special Education Credentials. While she has always loved working with children, in recent years she has discovered her love for teaching children the art of dance and movement. She has enjoyed helping at and running summer dance camps in past years. She eagerly looks forward to teaching the Tutu Toddlers, Creative Movement, and Pre Ballet classes.