Biographies for the Teachers of The School of the Sacramento Ballet
Maia Wilkins – Principal
Maia Wilkins’ illustrious career includes experience with some of the biggest names in American Ballet. Wilkins has taught and helped with dance workshops and performances of all levels throughout the country including: Sacramento Ballet, Ballet West, Point Park University, Southern Methodist University, Oklahoma City Ballet, Eugene Ballet, Lou Conte Dance and The Joffrey Ballet. Ms Wilkins is honored to continue Gerald Arpino’s legacy as a repetiteur and board member for the Gerald Arpino Foundation.
Maia Wilkins danced with the Joffrey Ballet from 1986-2008. during her history with The Joffrey Ballet, she danced featured roles that showcased her artistic range and physical versatility. Ms Wilkins has been described by Dance Magazine as “a classical ballerina of the highest order” and “an artist of incomparable magic.” She worked with numerous repetiteurs and choreographers including pieces by Tudor, Parsons, Tharp, Kylian, Ashton, and Nijinsky. Working with Gerald Arpino and performing his ballets was one of the greatest joys and influences on her career. Maia Wilkins has performed for Joffrey and Arpino ballets than any other ballerina.
Ms. Wilkins received the Ruth Page Dance Achievement Award twice. She has appeared twice on the cover of Dance Magazine and has been one of its “25 to Watch”. The Chicago Tribune named her one of the tope ten artists in Chicago and 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. Wilkins can be seen in the feature flims Save the Last Dance and Robert Altman’s The company as well as the documentary Joffrey: Mavericks of American Dance.
Maia Wilkins was born and raised in Truckee, California. She received her formative training with Maggie Banks in Reno, NV. She also studied with Stanly Holden, the School of American Ballet, Dame Margot Fonteyn, Luigi, David Howard and Tina Bernal. She loves dancing with fellow artist and husband Michael Levine and their two sons.
Born and raised in Sacramento, Jennifer has been dancing since she was 5 and has trained under Melanie Haller at Sacramento Ballet School since she was 10. She is currently working to get her B.A in Dance and dancing in the Polar Express Experience in Sacramento. She is excited to be on the faculty of Sacramento Ballet School and share her love of dance.
Diego Campos is a Mexican performing artist, choreographer, and movement educator based in Sacramento. He received a B.A. in Dance from Sacramento State University, and he has presented his work locally, regionally, and internationally. He is currently the Artistic Director of Infinite Motion Dance Company, Founder of Impulse | Anima, and is also a dancer with the Linda Bair Dance Company and Lorelei Bayne Projects. Outside of the stage, Diego enjoys playing chess, writing, and helping people learn Spanish.
Anthony Cannarella, a native of Madison, Wisconsin, trained at the Monona Academy of Dance and the Rock School for Dance Education in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. After graduating from the Rock, Anthony joined the Sacramento Ballet in 2014. He performed the role of Peter in Ron Cunningham’s Peter Pan, as well as the Nutcracker Prince, Lead Russian, and Lead Spanish in Ron Cunningham’s The Nutcracker. Anthony’s repertoire includes George Balanchine’s Stars and Stripes and The Four Temperaments, Septime Webre’s Juanita y Alicia, and Ma Cong’s Blood Rush. Anthony recently went on tour with Amy Seiwert’s Imagery to the Joyce Theater’s Ballet Festival in New York City and to the historic Jacobs Pillow.
From a young age of 4 years old, Agata Grzelak began her training in multiple disciplines such as ballet, pointe, modern, jazz and character under the artistic direction of Ayako Takahashi, and faculty, which included Michael Lowe, Maria LeMance, Audie Atienza, and Mariko Takahashi. Her training extended to San Mateo High School where she learned and performed tap, musical theatre jazz, and lyrical with Robyn Tribuzi. In 2010 she quickly immersed herself in the Sacramento State Dance program and began training under esteemed faculty members such as Nolan T’Sani, Lisa Ross, Randee Pauve, Lorelei Bayne, Dr. Linda Goodrich, Philip Flickinger and Ed Brazo. Agata has performed in numerous works on and off campus throughout the years at venues like CSUS University Theatre, Crocker Art Museum, ODC Theatre for guest artists such as Pepper Von, Nhan Ho, Holly Johnston, Kim T. and Naimah Kisoki. In spring, 2013, Agata was the very first recipient of the new Department of Theatre and Dance Joseph Allen Long Scholarship, recognizing excellence in Dance. In fall of 2014, she graduated with her Bachelors of Arts in Dance. More recently she performed “Resilience” (2016) with Sacramento Contemporary Dance Theatre under the artistic direction of Jacob Montoya. Agata has had opportunities to choreograph her own works including the most recent, “Immortelle” (2016), which was performed by the dancers of Two.4 Dance Theatre. Agata is currently the dance teacher at St. Francis High School in addition to Sacramento Ballet. She is thrilled to be a part a talented and esteemed Ballet School and looks forward to a wonderful year ahead!
Originating from Carlisle, Pennsylvania, Kayla Hallman trained for twelve years under the direction of Marcia Dale Weary at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet. While with CPYB, Ms. Hallman performed roles in various storybook ballets including Cinderella, The Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake, Giselle, Carnival of the Animals, and Snow White, among many others. She also performed soloist roles in Kiyon Gaines’ 4 in Five and Jeffrey Cirio’s 7 Ways of Departure. Ms. Hallman was privileged to dance in several George Balanchine works which include Allegro Brillante, Serenade, Who Cares?, Walpurgisnacht and Raymonda Variations along with principal roles in Emeralds and Valse Fantaisie. While training with CPYB she performed Balanchine’s The Nutcracker for twelve years that concluded by performing principal roles such as Sugar Plum Fairy, Arabian Coffee and Lead Marzipan. After graduating high school in 2015, Ms. Hallman moved to Austin, Texas where she spent two years as Butler Fellow at Ballet Austin. She was honored to perform in the snow and flower corps of Mr. Mills’ The Nutcracker as well as various roles in La Bayadere, Esmerelda, and Peter and The Wolf. Along with dancing, Ms. Hallman has also taught various classes during her last year at CPYB and taught in the Ballet Austin Academy during the 2016-2017 season. Ms. Hallman is excited to sub at the Sacramento Ballet School, offering her passion for ballet, love for hard work, and joy for life to all students.
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.
Bruce L. King
Born in Los Angeles, Bruce L. King began his early classical ballet training under the tuteledge of prominent Ballet Russe Alumni: Tatiana Riabouchinska, George Zoritch, Milada Mladova, and David Lichine. He later added advanced study with Robert Rossalaut, Natalie Claire, and Alfredo Corvino. At the American School of Dance, King was a pupil of Eugene Loring who encouraged him to attend classes at Interlochen Arts Academy and California Institute of the Arts.
Bruce L. King’s professional career included dancing for Les Grands Ballets Canadiens under Brian MacDonald and the American Ballet Company with Eliot Feld. King also danced with State Ballet of Oregon, Nevada Festival Ballet, and the Theatre Ballet of San Francisco. He has danced throughout much of Southern California with companies in Santa Barbara, Ventura, San Diego, and Los Angeles. Here in Sacramento, he danced for Phares Theatre Ballet, Capitol City Ballet and the Capital Ballet Company.
In 1993, King retired from the rigors of dancing to dedicate himself to teaching the art of classical ballet for companies, schools, studios and colleges. He has taught in Canada, France, and throughout much of the U.S. He works effortlessly with all ages and is strongly influenced by the French Method of Ballet Training.
As a professional actor and character dancer (Actors Equity and A.G.M.A. unions) King has danced much of the classical repertory, including the premier character roles: Herr Drosselmeyer, Dr Coppelius, Von Rothbart, Von Helsing, and Don Quixote. For Sacramento Ballet, King has performed in Ron Cunningham’s Romeo and Juliet, Don Quixote, and The Nutcracker.
Professor King holds MFA, MA, BA degrees in the Theatre Arts and is a Stage Fencing master with over 100 full contact sword fights to his credit including Ron Cunningham’s exciting swordplay in Hamlet.
Born in Pasadena California, Susan began her ballet training at 4 years old. Throughout her school age years she trained in Royal Academy of Dance under Wendy Robinson. At 16 Susan recieved CEU’s at Ambassador College Dance Dept. in ballet, musical theater, and character dance. Recognizing her dedication to ballet her sister gifted her the opportunity to study in Scotland at Stirling University where she toured with members of the Scottish Ballet at The Edinburgh Festival where she performed the principal role as the maiden in Death and the Maiden.
While studying classical Russian Vaganova method under Vladimer Luppov in Pasadena, Susan was also studying Spanish Flamenco with Roberto Amaral, and jazz with Jaime Rodgers in Los Angeles. The early 1980’s was heyday of MTV music videos which brought many opportunities for her as a LA based dancer to shine at celebrity events and fundraisers with Zina Bethune Theatredanse.
Wanting to deepen her classical ballet roots, Susan went to New York City for intensive training of Cecchetti method under Maestro Vincenzo Celli and Richard Thomas.
Susan joined The Long Beach Ballet where she performed classics such as the Nutcracker and Coppelia when she met contemporary choreograper Francisco Martinez. Susan then joined Francisco Martinez Dancetheater pushing her classical training towards a more expressive contemporary style.
Susan joined The Eugene Ballet Company in Eugene Oregon and after went on to perform with Ballet Oregon under Dennis Spaight.
Susan discovered her love and natural ability for teaching early on in her career. She joined the teaching staff at the Long Beach Ballet as well as The Eugene Ballet Company School. In Oregon Susan taught for the June Taylor School of Dance in Portland, preparing students for RAD examinations as well as character dance and classical Spanish Dance.
Upon relocating to Prescott Arizona, to raise her 3 small children near family, Susan started her own dance and music conservatory, Yavapai Dance Arts. Bringing classical ballet, musical theater, and Spanish flamenco to a small community.
In 2001 Susan and her family moved to Mendocino County where Susan taught for The Mendocino Ballet for 15 years while continuing to travel to Spain and New Mexico to follow the excetional teachers of Flamenco, La Tania and Julia Chacon.
In 2010 Susan was Awarded a GASP (Get Arts in the Schools) grant from Mendocino County
Arts Council Acting as an independent Teacher
to teach an interactive educational program introducing the history of dance through a demonstration using live music, song and dance to school age children in Mendocino County.
Once back in San Francisco, Susan taught briefly for Bay Pointe Ballet in South San Francisco before relocating to Sacramento where she is ecstatically pleased to be a part of The Sacramento Ballet’s rich history training a new generation of promising young dancers.
Sitsa La Tour
Sitsa LaTour began ballet training at the age of five. She has trained with Crockett-Deane Ballet, The Ailey School in New York and The School of the Sacramento Ballet. Sitsa possesses a profound love for the artistry, discipline, and humanity that classical ballet training offers and feels passionate about sharing this love with her young students. She seeks to acknowledge the indivual expression in each child and strives to create a learning environment which fosters cooperation, artistic expression, intrinsic motivation, and compassion. Besides teaching classes at the CLARA, Sitsa teaches for The Sacramento Ballet in Residence program at the Davis Art center, and she is the teacher and assistant coordinator for The Sacramento Ballet’s Leaps and Bounds program. This program works to promote cultural and economic diversity in ballet by providing free weekly classes to underserved youth at Title 1 schools in the Sacramento community. In addition to her strong commitment to ballet, Sitsa is an accomplished bass player, drummer, and singer and enjoys recording, touring, and performing with her bandmates and family.
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.
Having trained and studied for most of her childhood, Chrystal only fully realized where her love of ballet would take her after she graduated with Honors from CSU-Chico with a BA in Communication Design/Media Arts. Re-igniting her passion for dance, she continued her training under Ms. Heidi LuMaye and had the opportunity to attend summer sessions with Israel “El” Gabriel and Alan Schofield. In addition, trips to New York to attend classes from renowned artists such as David Howard, Finis Jung, Wilhelm Burman, Gelsey Kirkland, and Alexandre Proia contributed to her ongoing experience. She began teaching ten years ago and is still in amazement over where her love for dance has taken her, working with children and sharing in the dedication and hard work with her students on a personal and individual level.
Isabella Velasquez is from Orange County, California. She began her training at the Maple Conservatory of Dance in Irvine under the direction of Charles Maple. She then studied for a year as a trainee with the Washington Ballet in DC, performing multiple reps with the company such as Push Comes To Shove by Twyla Tharp and original works by Septime Webre. After, she joined the graduate program at Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, where she performed with the company for two years. Isabella joined the Sacramento Ballet in 2014. Her performance highlights include Kitri in Don Quixote, Snow Queen and Rose in Ron Cunningham’s The Nutcracker, jumping soloist in Gerald Arpino’s Viva Vivaldi! and Balanchine works such as The Four Temperaments, Concerto Barocco, and Stars and Stripes.