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Academy Director

Sarah Hairston Berkley

Born in Charleston, South Carolina, Ms. Hairston began her early ballet training at Charleston Ballet Theatre. At the age of 9, she continued her training in Columbia, South Carolina under the direction of Ann Brodie at the Calvert Brodie School of Dance and later went on to graduate from North Carolina School of the Arts. Upon graduation, Ms. Hairston joined Boston Ballet II where she danced for a year and in 2001 joined Cincinnati Ballet as a Corps de Ballet member. Ms. Hairston was promoted to Soloist in 2006 and later to Principal in 2010 after a successful debut as Princess Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty. Throughout her performance career, she held featured roles in the breadth of classical repertoire including Myrtha and Giselle in Giselle, Odette/Odile in Swan Lake, the Lilac Fairy, Carabosse and Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty, Snow Queen and the Sugarplum Fairy in The Nutcracker and Juliet in Romeo and Juliet, among others. In addition to the classics, Ms. Hairston’s Balanchine repertoire includes the Siren in Prodigal Son, the Second Movement in Symphony in C, Emeralds in Jewels, Dark Angel in Serenade and “The Man I Love” in Who Cares?. Ms. Hairston has also performed in work by such notable choreographers as Adam Hougland, Luca Vegetti, Jessica Lang, Amy Seiwert, Val Caniparoli and Yuri Possokhov. She danced with Cincinnati Opera for many seasons and choreographed its production of Die Fledermaus in 2016. Since 2006, Ms. Hairston has been an instructor in Cincinnati Ballet’s Otto M. Budig Academy and was promoted to the role of Academy Director in 2016.