Meet the Otto M. Budig Academy staff
Cincinnati Ballet’s Academy Staff works to ensure the professional and artistic growth of Otto M. Budig Academy students.
Vice President of Academy + Education: Ginger Johnson 513-562-1125
Academy Director: Sarah Hairston 513-562-1119
Academy Principal: Zack Grubbs 513-562-1105
Assistant Academy Principal: Dawn Kelly 513-562-2005
Student Services Manager: Maura Korn 513-562-1120
Youth Programs Manager: Kara Jones Louis 513-562-1101
Academy Registrar: Elizabeth Metz 513-562-1133
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 the North Carolina School of the Arts.Read more
Born and raised in Dallas, Texas, Zack Grubbs began his dance training at Tuzer Ballet to supplement his education as a competitive gymnast. He continued his ballet training at the University of Utah under Attila Ficzere and trained with companies across the country including Boston Ballet, where he was a company dancer for four years. Grubbs came to Cincinnati Ballet in 2002, was promoted to Soloist in 2005 and Senior Soloist in 2008.Read more
Born in Boston, Massachusetts, Dawn Kelly received the majority of her training at The Boston Ballet School where she studied under famed teacher and coach Tatiana Legat and her daughter Elena Solovieva.Read more
Donna Anderle is an accomplished dancer, teacher and choreographer. She has been with the Otto M. Budig Academy since 2002 and teaches Children’s and Main Division classes as well as Ballet Basics for adults. She has also taught with Cincinnati Ballet’s outreach and CincyDance! programs. Donna has a BFA in Fine Arts from Drake University, where she majored in Theatre. From 1989-2004 Donna was the Director of Dance at the Summit Country Day School, where she directed and choreographed numerous musicals, liturgies and theatrical events. She operated her own dance studio in Anderson Township for many years and has been on the dance faculty of Northern Kentucky University and Ballet Theatre Midwest. She is nationally known as a liturgical dancer, artfully weaving together elements of Scripture, ritual and liturgical movement. For the last 20 years, Donna has performed, choreographed and given workshops for national and regional liturgical conferences including the LA Congress, the National Middle School Convention, the National Association of Pastoral Musicians, National Catholic Education Association, the National Catholic Youth Conference, the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry and the East Coast Conference. Her work is compiled in four choreography books and videos, which are published with Oregon Catholic Press, and she is a member of the North American Academy of Liturgy. Donna is the co-founder of The Good News Company, a touring performance troupe whose presentations are based on self-esteem and values building for children.
Rosa Compostella was born in Verona, Italy, and graduated as a ballet teacher from the Accademia Nazionale di Danza (National Dance Academy) of Rome. She taught in different ballet schools in the Verona area before moving to the United States with her family. Rosa has taught at Ballet Tech Ohio for eleven years, primarily to young students age 6 to 14 and to adults. She joined the faculty of the Otto M. Budig Academy in 2009. Rosa believes in preparing students with a solid and correct technique from the early stages of learning ballet and enjoys providing such foundations for future learning.
Isabele Elefson was born in Brazil and began her ballet training in the Royal Academy of Dance system, then continued her studies with Halina Biernacka. Isabele danced with The Classical Ballet of São Paulo, Cisne Negro Cia de Dança, Ballet Theatre of Chicago, and the Civic Ballet of Chicago. She has danced lead roles in Giselle, Coppélia, The Nutcracker, The Sleeping Beauty, Les Sylphides, Paquita, La Fille Mal Gardée, and Cinderella, among others. Isabele has over 15 years of teaching experience, currently teaching at Cincinnati Ballet and the University of Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music. She is also a co-director for Dance Academy of Libertyville, IL, and Ballet Theatre of Illinois. Isabele holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from FAAP University in São Paulo, Brazil.
Kerry Enders has over 35 years of dance experience and over 25 years of dance teaching experience. She holds a Bachelor of Performing Arts; Dance from Oakland University in Michigan. She has studied many styles of dance, but her love of ballet began in college when she studied under Iacob Lascu. After college she went back to Dancin’ as the Director of Dancin’ Ballet Company. Her other studies include Rochester School of Dance, Eisenhower Dance Ensemble, American College Dance Festival, Dupree, Dance Olympus as well as the Dance Teacher Summit in New York with world-renowned dance educators and choreographers. Kerry is the former owner of Kerry’s Dance Stages and Oakland Regional Ballet in Michigan. During her time as a studio owner she created ballet productions such as Alice in Wonderland, Coppélia, and an annual Nutcracker as well as original works such as La Petite Fée, (The Little Fairy) and The Pirate Ballet. More recently, Kerry trained ballet company dancers at 2nd Street Studio of Dance in Michigan. She has a passion and joy for training dancers of all ages and loves to share that energy with all her students. She recently relocated to Cincinnati and is very excited to be a part of the Academy staff at Cincinnati Ballet!
Donna Grisez began her professional career as a principal dancer with the Tulsa Ballet before joining Cincinnati Ballet in 1977. As Principal Dancer under the direction of David McClain and Frederic Franklin, she danced classical and contemporary works by choreographers Frederic Franklin, George Balanchine, Ruth Page, James Truitte and Lester Horton. Donna has been teaching dance for over 30 years. Her teaching credits include the University of Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music, Northern Kentucky University, Contemporary Dance Theater, The School for Creative and Performing Arts, and the Otto M. Budig Academy. Donna is co-creator of Ballet Moves, a partnership between Cincinnati Ballet and the Physical Therapy Department of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. She was instrumental in establishing CincyDance!, Cincinnati Ballet’s outreach program that has brought dance classes to children from a wide range of ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds for over 20 years. She graduated with a BFA and MA from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.
Born in Oxford, Ohio, Julia Gundzik began her dance training at Ballet Tech of Ohio and Ballet Center of Houston. She attended the Nutmeg Conservatory to begin her full-time dance training before joining the Washington Ballet’s Professional Training Program, where she performed corps de ballet roles in many company productions. Julia is now a member of Cincinnati Ballet’s Professional Training Division.
Sasha Hart received her classical ballet training from the Joffrey School in New York City and the School of American Ballet. As a young dancer, George Balanchine cast her as Clara in the New York City Ballet’s Nutcracker. She attended the Pennsylvania Ballet’s scholarship apprentice program and received her degree in dance performance from Indiana University. There, under the direction of John Kriza and Marina Svetlova, she performed leading roles in Graduation Ball, Giselle and The Nutcracker. At the Bavarian State Theatre in Munich, Germany, she danced in ballets including Coppélia, Swan Lake, Don Quixote, Cinderella, Abraxas, and Undine, as well as many operas and operettas. Sasha received a dance pedagogy degree from the Munich Conservatory and became a certified dance instructor for children and adults. She headed the dance department at the Country School in Los Angeles and choreographed a variety of shows for schools as well as professional dance events for American Eagle Productions. She owned her own ballet school in Cincinnati for 27 years and is currently an instructor at the Otto M. Budig Academy, Uptown Arts, and Xavier University.
Karen Williamson Kurelis received her BFA from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music at the time when CCM was the official school for Cincinnati Ballet, studying with David McLain, David Blackburn and Oleg Sabline. She learned the Horton modern technique from James Truitte, who was considered the authoritative figure in Horton, which led to work with Dayton Contemporary Dance Co. Ohio and with Joyce Trisler Danscompany in New York, under direction of Milton Myers. Karen has taught the Horton Technique at Alvin Ailey in New York (working closely with Ana Marie Forsythe) and in Taiwan as part of a teacher collaboration. Karen received her MFA in performance from George Mason University. She has taught as adjunct at George Mason and as a full-time Associate Professor of Dance at Northern Illinois University.
Alyssa Manguiat is from Mason, Ohio and began training at Cincinnati Ballet’s Otto M. Budig Academy when she was 7 years old. She trained in the Main Division under Sarah Hairston, Zack Grubbs, and Dawn Kelly, and continued on to the Academy’s Professional Training Division in 2017. After training as a PTD for a year, she joined Cincinnati Ballet’s Second Company, where she worked closely with the company for two years. During the 2020-21 Season, she joined the main Company as an Apprentice, and also joined the Academy faculty as a teacher for Level 1. She is so excited to come full circle and teach in the Academy she grew up in!
Visit Alyssa’s Company Dancer Profile
Lizzy Moeller is a Northern Kentucky University graduate with a BFA in Theatre and Dance and a BA in Communication Studies. Moeller has been dancing for the past 17 years and has been teaching dance for 11. Moeller has taught pre-ballet, ballet, pointe, jazz, hip-hop, tap, contemporary, salsa, waltz, West Coast Swing, and Pilates. She has trained with Thomas Bell, Tracey Bonner, Heather Britt, Jay Goodlett, Jacqui Haas, Julie Keeney, Ka-Ron Lehman, and Renee McCafferty. Moeller fell in love with dancing at a young age but discovered that her true passion lies with sharing her love of dance with others. Alongside her teaching at the Otto M. Budig Academy, Lizzy teaches at Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy, Prestige Dance Center, and in her hometown of Batesville, IN.
Christina LaForgia Morse
Christina LaForgia Morse started dancing at the age of 11 in Summerville, South Carolina. She went on to spend her high school years at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts where she was awarded the Dean’s Merit Scholarship. Upon graduating from UNCSA, she spent three seasons dancing professionally with the Charlotte Ballet (formerly known as North Carolina Dance Theatre).
Since joining Cincinnati Ballet in 2014, Tina has enjoyed the opportunity to perform works by choreographers such as George Balanchine, Jerome Robins, Ohad Naharin, Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, Jennifer Archibald, Kate Weare, Amy Seiwert, Nicolo Fonte, Ma Cong, Adam Hougland, Trey McIntyre, Myles Thatcher, Taylor Carrasco, and David Morse.
Tina has had the privilege of dancing with summer companies such as Heather Maloy’s Terpsicorps in Asheville, NC, Amy Siewert’s “Sketch 7” tour which performed in San Francisco, The Joyce Theater and at Jacobs Pillow and has also enjoyed having the opportunity collaborating with the Kansas City Dance Festival and Moving Arts Cincinnati.
Visit Tina’s Company Dancer Profile
David Morse trained with Charlotte Ballet Academy under Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux, Darleen Callaghan, Mark Diamond, Patricia McBride and Kathryn Moriarty. Morse spent his summers training at The Chautauqua Institution and danced with Charlotte Ballet II for two seasons before joining Charlotte Ballet, where he performed leading roles in a variety of classical and contemporary works. His choreography has been performed around the U.S. by professional companies, pre-professional schools and universities, and his work has been presented at Regional Dance America’s South Eastern Regional Ballet Association for six years. Regional Dance America awarded him the Habich-Corey Choreography Award and the Project Tier Award for Excellence in Choreography. Morse has taken part in two sessions at the New York Choreographic Institute creating new works for School of American Ballet (to a commissioned score by Michael Gilbertson) and New York City Ballet. Also an accomplished pianist, Morse served as a ballet class accompanist at Charlotte Ballet, The Chautauqua Institution and Regional Dance America. He has served as a guest accompanist for Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, Ballet Academy East and New York City Ballet. Morse was promoted to Soloist for Cincinnati Ballet’s 2017-2018 Season.
Visit David’s Company Dancer Profile
Patty Pille is a native of Cincinnati where she was trained in classical ballet, jazz, tap, modern and hip hop. After a knee injury sidelined her professional path, she opened her own dance studio in 1993. During Patty’s 20+ years at her studio, she won multiple awards for choreography and has helped develop many students to be successful in a professional dance career. Patty has been a teacher at Cincinnati Ballet for over 15 years and has enjoyed teaching ballet and jazz classes with the Otto M. Budig Academy, as well as teaching during the Summer Intensive programs.
At the age of 14, Jennifer (Porteous) Rutherford moved to New York City to train at The School of American Ballet, after being invited there with a full scholarship. Jennifer was asked to join the New York City Ballet at 17 years old. While in NYCB, Jennifer performed in many different Balanchine ballets, as well as Jerome Robbins ballets. She was hand chosen by Robert Lafosse for his ballet Symphony in 5 Movements. Jennifer received stellar reviews by The New York Times, singling her out for her performances in the company. Since retiring as a performer, Jennifer has been the Children’s Nutcracker coach at Cincinnati Ballet, and has taught ballet for over 15 years. She has also choreographed for Exhale Dance Tribe, based out of Cincinnati.
Amy Seiwert enjoyed a nineteen-year performing career dancing with the Smuin, Los Angeles Chamber, and Sacramento Ballets. As a dancer with Smuin Ballet, she became involved with the “Protégé Program,” where her choreography was mentored by the late Michael Smuin. She was Choreographer in Residence there upon her retirement from dancing in 2008 until 2018. Named one of “25 to Watch” by Dance Magazine, her first full evening of choreography was named one of the “Top 10” dance events of the year by the SF Chronicle. Other awards include a Bay Area IZZIE Award for Outstanding Choreography and a “Goldie” from the San Francisco Bay Guardian. Her ballets are in the repertory of Ballet Austin, BalletMet, Smuin, Washington, Atlanta, Oakland, Sacramento, Colorado, Louisville, Cincinnati, Carolina, Oklahoma City, Milwaukee and American Repertory Ballets as well as Imagery, Robert Moses KIN and AXIS Dance. Seiwert served as Artistic Director of Sacramento Ballet from 2018-2020.
Kate Stark is a professional freelance dancer, actor, singer, and choreographer, who works regionally with companies like Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, the Carnegie, Pones Inc., Cincinnati Landmark Productions, and Madcap Puppets. She has studied a wide range of dance styles from ballet to ballroom to rhythm tap and loves the variety that musical theatre encompasses. A few of her favorite roles to date are Jean MacLaren in Brigadoon, Judy Turner in A Chorus Line, and Texas in Cabaret. In addition to her work at Cincinnati Ballet, Kate teaches dance classes for Persons with Parkinson’s disease and is the resident choreographer at Notre Dame Academy in Covington. She is a 2017 Legacy Next Generation Leader Award recipient.
Shauna Steele is Associate Professor of Dance and Chair of the Dance Department at the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music (CCM). From 2011-18 Steele served as the Dance Program Director and Associate Professor of Dance at Anderson University in Indiana. She is also the Founder and Artistic Director of Mocha Dance Project – which pursues projects engaging the fusion of photography, video, dance and collaboration – and was the Associate Director for RusticGroove Dance. She was the Artistic Director of Parallel Differences youth dance and Associate Instructor for the Indiana University African American Arts Institute’s dance company. Her choreography has appeared in Robert Hay-Smith’s Pollen: The Musical, RADfest, The Tank NYC, Midwest RADfest, the Arizona Positivity Project and the Ypsilanti Fringe Festival. She served as dance faculty at Grand Valley State University, Eastern Michigan University, Anderson University and the University of Michigan’s MPulse summer dance institute.
Steele received her MFA in Dance Choreography and Performance with a focus area in History and Technology from the University of Michigan in 2006, and a BGS in Arts and Humanities with a focus area in Cultural Anthropology and Dance from Indiana University in 2002. She is a member of the American College Dance Association, World Dance Alliance and the National Dance Education Organization.
Kyle Stevenson was born and raised in Cincinnati and began dancing at the age of 6. Some of his credits include Rasta Thomas Bad Boys of Dance, Cincinnati Ballet, International Ballet Festival of Miami, Royal Caribbean Cruise lines, Celebrity Cruise lines, SeaWorld Orlando, The Walt Disney Company, Don Arden’s Jubilee, and Frank Marino’s Divas Las Vegas. Kyle is a proud member of Actors Equity Association (AEA) and has been seen on tv and film. Kyle is extremely honored to be teaching at Cincinnati Ballet where his love of dance began!
Claire Wyatt has studied Ballet, modern, Yoga, and Pilates. She danced with the Otto M. Budig Academy through high school, then studied elementary education at Northern Kentucky University. She currently teaches Kindergarten in Kentucky and is finishing her master’s degree at Georgetown College in working with students who speak English as a second language. This is her sixth year teaching Children’s Division classes with the Academy.