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Faculty

KATHERINE GIESE, Executive/Artistic Director

Originally from San Antonio, Texas, Katherine Giese graduated from Northern Arizona University with a degree in Arts Management with a Theatre Emphasis and a Minor in Dance. She has worked with Flagstaff Festival of the Arts, the Joffrey Ballet Workshop, Northern Arizona University Orchestra, and the University of Incarnate Word Dance Department. Upon moving to Albuquerque in 1996, she began teaching, dancing, and choreographing with Ballet Repertory Theatre. Katherine has danced featured roles in Macbeth (Lady Macbeth), The Nutcracker (Snow Queen), Lumina by David Chavez (Fertility Pas de Deux), Casa de Bernarda Alba (Magdalena), Paquita (Soloist), the 1997 Bravo award-winning production of Cinderella (Stepmother), and the 2003 production of Cinderella (Stepsister). She has choreographed The Nutcracker and numerous one-act ballets and concert pieces for BRT, and has collaborated with other choreographers on Enchanted Tales of the Southwest and a children's version of Alice in Wonderland. Throughout her career at BRT, she has served in a number of roles, including principal dancer, resident choreographer, ballet school instructor for ages three to adult, Educational Outreach Director, Director of the Children's Division, Ballet Mistress, and Administrative Assistant. In 2004, Katherine became Executive/Artistic Director. During her tenure, she has broadened and enhanced the quality of ballet training, increased enrollment in BRT's academy and enhanced the quality of company productions, resulting in sold out performances for the last four seasons. With more shows performed to broader audiences, BRT has become the premier ballet company and ballet academy in Albuquerque. Katherine trained with Susan and Buddy Trevino, Maureen Price, Sharon Randolph, Jillana, Gretchen Warren, Alex Ossadnik, and Jayne Lee. Besides Ballet Repertory Theatre, she has performed with Bill Evans for New Mexico Ballet Company, Contemporary Dance Ensemble, Canyon Movement Company, and the Incarnate Word College Ballet Company. As a child, she performed with San Francisco Ballet in A Midsummer Night's Dream, and with the Berlin Ballet inLa Sylphide featuring Rudolf Nureyev and Eva Evdokimova. 



EVELYN CISNEROS-LEGATE 

Born in Long Beach California and raised in Huntington Beach, Cisneros began studying ballet at the age of 8 in an effort to overcome her profound shyness. Cisneros later received full summer scholarships to the San Francisco Ballet School and the School of American Ballet and upon completing her high school education, she began her apprenticeship with the San Francisco Ballet in 1976. In 1977 she joined the Company under the directorship of Co-Artistic Directors, Lew Christensen and Michael Smuin. Cisneros soon began dancing principal roles, many choreographed for her by Smuin himself. She performed her original roles in national television broadcasts of A Song for Dead Warriors and The Tempest, as well as the title role of Cinderella and noteworthy “live broadcast” from the White House in 1982. Her success continued under San Francisco Ballet Artistic Director, Helgi Tomasson, appointed in 1985. She has danced the title roles in a diverse repertoire of classical ballets such as Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, Romeo and Juliet, La Sylphide, Cinderella and La Fille Mal Gardeé. Numerous resident and visiting choreographers have created works for her including Tomasson, Val Caniparoli, James Kudelka, Stanton Welch and Mark Morris. Her contemporary repertoire included works by George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins, and Jiri Kylian. She has toured the world performing with the Company and as a guest artist.

Cisneros has been featured on the covers of Dance Magazine, Ballet News, and Hispanic Magazine, and received numerous awards for her community activism and artistic achievements. She is held in high regards by the Hispanic community of the Bay Area and serves as a role model to many. Cisneros holds honorary doctorate degrees from Mills College and the University of California Monterey Bay. In May of 1999, Cisneros retired from the San Francisco Ballet with a Gala performance in her honor, and in celebration KQED produced a half hour documentary of her life, entitled Evelyn Cisneros, Moving On.

Following retirement in 1999, Cisneros became the host of KQED’s monthly current events program “Bay Windows”. During this time, Cisneros also became an artistic consultant with San Francisco Ballet, where she hosted and provided content for Family Connection workshops, pre-performance talks, Community Matinees and the Ballet’s popular Casual Friday Program. In November 2001, Cisneros was appointed Ballet Education Coordinator in the San Francisco Ballet Center for Dance Education. In this capacity, she would host programs, prepare and present content for Community Matinee Performances, movement workshops and discussions for SF Ballet’s popular Family Connections Series, and for Dance Education on Tour. Miss Cisneros was also part of a team of educators training ballet docents involved in the IMPACT program. She prepared study guide content to educate students and teachers about the key elements of ballet, including music and terminology.

Since 2000 Cisneros has taught at summer intensive programs for the The Boston Ballet School in Boston, Kansas City Ballet in Crested Butte Colorado and in Kansas City, City Ballet School in San Diego and a week-long intensive in Carmel Ca. Regular teaching engagements include the New York City Ballet Workout at the Bay Club in San Francisco for five years, Smuin Ballet SF, Boston Ballet School and Company, and NDI New Mexico in Albuquerque. She has staged ballets for Val Caniparoli and Michael Smuin for the following ballet companies: Pacific Northwest Ballet, State Theatre Ballet in South Africa, Northern Ballet Theatre in Leeds England, Cincinnati Ballet, Ballet Florida, Kansas City Ballet, Ballet West, and San Francisco Ballet. Cisneros also has taught company class for the following ballet companies: Boston Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, State Theatre Ballet in South Africa, Northern Ballet Theatre in Leeds England, Cincinnati Ballet, Ballet Florida, and the Kansas City Ballet.

Cisneros was Academy Director for Ballet Pacifica in Irvine California and served as Ballet Pacifica’s Company Artistic Director, producing the Nutcracker performed at the Barclay Theater for 21 performances. She has also co-authored “Ballet for Dummies” with conductor Scott Speck, which is available at most bookstores and at Amazon.com.

Cisneros choreographed the popular Peter and the Wolf, Carnival of the Animals, and co-choreographed El Salon Nuevo Mexico with Dr. Stephen Legate to praises for their tribute to Hispanic and New Mexico culture. A strong partnership on and off the stage Cisneros has been married to retired principal dancer and Chiropractor Stephen Legate D.C. for over 20 years. Together, they have started a mentoring and coaching service in New Mexico, Prima Ballet New Mexico. They are passionate about empowering the next generation of dancers and sharing their years of experience. They have a son and daughter, who are their ultimate accomplishments and joy.





CHRISTINA ENDLER 
bio coming soon











BETH GRIFFIN  

Beth began her ballet studies with Terrell Paulk of the Atlanta Ballet. She performed in his regional company for many years, dancing roles in Les Sylphides, Swan Lake, Giselle, Cinderella, Graduation Ball, Coppelia, Sleeping Beauty, Paquita and many original and contemporary works. She later joined the Las Cruces Chamber Ballet and continued study with Marc Ligon of American Ballet Theater, Andree Harper of Ballet El Paso.  Throughout her years of study, she had the privilege of studying with Robert Barnett, Wei Dong Cheng as well as famed icons Alexandra Danilova and Robert Joffrey. She continued her study of dance at the University of Texas ultimately graduating with a BSEd in biology from Columbus State University. She choreographed for that university’s “Nunsense”, the Springer Opera House’s “Christmas Carol” and “A Doll’s House”, as well as producing choreography for the Miss Georgia Scholarship Pageants, all in her home state of Georgia. She established the Columbus Ballet Conservatory under the continuing education wing of the university and wrote the curriculum that is still in use today.  During that time, she cofounded the Columbus Ballet with Maria Hirsh of Ballet de San Juan. Since her move to Albuquerque she has served as an instructor at Ballet Repertory Theatre.


CECELIA JARAMILLO
bio and picture coming soon



JENNIFER LEACH  

Jennifer Leach has been dancing as long as she can remember and first started at Fishback's. She began dancing at Ballet Repertory Theatre in 2003. While dancing with the company, Jennifer performed in The Nutcracker, Beauty & the Beast, Sleeping Beauty, and Swan Lake to name a few. In addition to earning her BS in Community Health Education from the University of New Mexico, she committed time to earning her Minor Degree in Dance. Jennifer has been teaching with BRT's children’s division for the past eleven years.

 





STEPHEN LEGATE
bio and picture coming soon


TRACY MENSCHING

Tracy has been an instructor with Ballet Repertory Theatre of NM since 1996 and performed in roles in the company for The FirebirdTriptych, and The Nutcracker.  She also danced with the New Mexico Ballet Company for many years, and was an original member of their Jr. Company.  She has danced lead roles in The Nutcracker and The Sleeping Beauty for various ballet companies, plus A Christmas CarolThe Legend of Sleepy Hollow, and Carmina Burana with NMBC under the direction of David Chavez.   Tracy also performed in over twenty Albuquerque Civic Light Opera Productions during the 1970’s 80 and 90’s, and toured with Summer Stock productions of “My Fair Lady” and “George M.”  She has been a guest artist for Ballet Lubbock, Texas Ballet in Houston, and the Asian American Ballet Company in Los Angeles, Ca. Her early training was here in Albuquerque with Suzanne Johnston, Cecelia Jaramillo, Bill Potenziani, David Chavez, Soili Avrola, and Leo Ahonen.  Tracy also attended the Southwest Ballet workshop with Bill Martin Viscount and the Joffery Ballet workshop with Robert Joffery and Diane Oreo.  She was lucky enough to study with many world renowned guest teachers in her dance career.


SARAH MORRIS

Trained as a second-generation Balanchine dancer, Sarah Morris joined the Fort Worth/Dallas Ballet in 1993.  Her repertoire included classic Balanchine ballets and original works by artistic director, Paul Mejia.  Among her favorite roles were soloist in Balanchine’s La Valse, Mother in Mejia’s Les Noces and Stepsister in Cinderella.  She later joined the Bruce Wood Dance company, a modern troupe heavily influenced by Twyla Tharp, Alvin Ailey, and Lar Lubovitch.  During her professional dance career and since, she has enjoyed teaching ballet classes, staging, rehearsing, and auditioning children of all ages for musical theater and dance productions in a variety of venues.  Sarah has taught all levels of ballet and choreographed numerous dance pieces in Texas, Idaho and now, New Mexico.  Along with over a quarter century of teaching experience, she has also directed a non-profit dance studio for low income families, coordinated an outreach program to children in public schools, created an authentic after school dance program, directed a youth dance ensemble and served on the Board of Idaho Dance Theatre.  She is excited to bring her experience and join the staff at Ballet Repertory Theatre!


COREY NAGEL

Corey Nagel has her B.S. in Dance from Illinois State University and has been on the dance faculties for ISU, Loyola University Chicago, Harper College, Columbia College Chicago, and the University of Chicago.  Ms. Nagel had the opportunity to study with Gus Giordano, Lea Darwin, Patty Obey, Pirkoff Lawlor, Birute Barodicaite, Nana Shineflug, Rosemary Doolas, and Joel Hall while growing up around the Chicago area.  She is a co-founder of Dance for Life/Next Generation and the McLean County Dance Association and developed the children’s program for two prominent Chicago studios. Ms. Nagel has worked with dancers from all over the states, been guest choreographer for multiple high schools, and has served as an adjudicator for dance festivals, dance companies, and dance scholarships.  She is passionate about her art, thrives on building strong dancers, and loves sharing her knowledge of dance.


OLANIKE ONIMOLE 

As a native of New Mexico, Olanike began her dancing career at BRT at five years old. With BRT, she has performed in The Nutcracker, Coppelia, Alice in Wonderland, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Wizard of Oz, Swan Lake, Pasion, and Tchaikovsky & Shakespeare. She recently graduated with a degree in Exercise Science from Anderson University in Indiana, and plans to continue her education to pursue a career in Physical Therapy. After a four-year hiatus from dance, Olanike is excited to return to BRT to teach and dance with the company.




LEZLIE BRINSON SCHREIBER  

Originally trained in RAD ballet technique, Lezlie went on to perform ensemble, soloist and principal roles, in regional and semi-professional dance companies in Louisiana, Oklahoma, and New Mexico, including NMBC and Tim Wengard Modern Dance Co. She began teaching Ballet in Albuquerque NM alongside her work as an Occupational Therapist. Following her passion for teaching she gave up her OT work to serve as Artistic Director for Jana’s School of Dance, followed by establishing her own school of Ballet in Germany some years later for the US military community. Returning stateside and after a long love affair with parenting, Lezlie returned to the dance world dancing, guest performing and creating independent projects around Albuquerque while refreshing her ballet pedagogy skills. Lezlie became an ABT® Certified Teacher, successfully completing the ABT® Teacher Training Intensives in Pre-Primary through Level 5 of the ABT® National Training Curriculum. More recently she taught for NDI and now teaches exclusively for BRT.  In addition to her passion for teaching ballet, Lezlie has a strong interest in art and serves on the board for Art in the School. 



 
TOMAS TAFOYA

Tomas Tafoya, a native of Albuquerque, grew up dancing at Sandra’s School of Dance where he danced on their nationally recognized competitive teams. The team’s highest achievement was being the only team in the state of New Mexico to rank in the top 50 by the Federation of Dance Competitions. Mr. Tafoya has been a guest teacher to numerous studios and schools in New Mexico, passing on his love and passion for dance. Between 2013-2015 Tomas traveled all over the world with The Silhouettes – runners up on America’s Got Talent Season 6 –, including a tour of Ireland, the Polish Academy Awards, and many more. In 2015 Tomas joined BRT as a company dancer and has performed lead roles in BRT’s productions of The Nutcracker, The Little Mermaid, Coppélia, Alice in Wonderland, and their contemporary concerts. With BRT, Tomas is also an instructor, Jr. Company Rehearsal Assistant, and has choreographed. He is currently pursuing his doctorate degree in Physical Therapy.



ASHLEY TORREZ

Ashley Torrez was first introduced to the art of ballet while in third grade, where she was awarded a full scholarship to train at Ballet Repertory Theatre as part of their City Dance Program. As a young dancer she performed for BRT in The Nutcracker, Manuel Flores’s Coppélia, and as Thumbelina in Celia Dale’s Tales of Hans Christian Anderson. Although Ashley’s life shifted away from ballet and along the way she became a pharmacy technician and a mother of two, she came back to BRT and reignited her passion for dance in 2014. Since returning she has danced in The Nutcracker, The Little Mermaid, and as a Twin in Alice in Wonderland. This is her second season as a member of the company and is also an instructor at Ballet Repertory Theatre. 


GIACOMO ZAFARANO


Giacomo Zafarano began performing at a young age with in-school music and drama programs. His ballet training began with the Ballet de Santa Fe Youth Company under the direction of Endelecia Prince. After graduating from the University of New Mexico with a B.A. in Linguistics, he performed professionally in Las Vegas and in commercial, industrial, and theatrical venues across the United States. Since joining BRT, he has danced featured roles in Swan Lake (Prince Siegfried), Romeo & Juliet and Other Games of the Heart (Romeo), Alice in Wonderland (Mad Hatter) and has performed in The Nutcracker, Seasons, Elementals, and Mythical Wonders. Giacomo is a licensed New Mexico real estate broker and continues to expand his intellectual, athletic, and artistic boundaries through the performing arts. Giacomo is a member of the American Guild of Musical Artists, AFL-CIO.
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