FACULTY & STAFF
ALEXEI KREMNEV (Ballet, Men's, Partnering, Pointe, Variations, Choreography, Character, Body Conditioning, Repertoire)
ANNA REZNIK (Ballet, Pointe, Variations, Body Conditioning, Repertoire) Click here for bio
DIANA STETSURA (Ballet, Pointe, Variations, Character, Repertoire)
Diana Stetsura graduated with honors from the prestigious Perm State Choreographic Institute, Russia, under the guidance of legendary pedagogue Ludmila Sakharova. Upon graduation, she was accepted as a Soloist with the Kremlin Ballet, Moscow, where she was coached by the world-famous ballerina, Ekaterina Maximova. Ms. Stetsura was a Principal dancer with Bolshoi Theatre of Belarus, Columbia City Ballet, and Milwaukee Ballet, and a Soloist with Ballet Internationale, where she was coached by Irina Kolpakova, Ballet Mistress to ABT’s Principal dancers. She has performed the principal roles in all of the major classical ballets, touring throughout Asia, Europe, and North America. Ms. Stetsura earned the prestigious Diaghilev Prize at the first international competition in Moldova. She also received the highest award in the country of Belarus for the best stage debut for her performance of the title role in Giselle. Ms. Stetsura has appeared in three films in Belarus. She also earned a Silver medal at the prestigious ballet competition “Arabesque” for her contemporary piece, which was created on her by the same choreographer who choreographed all of the dancing for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.
VICTORIA FORNELLI (Ballet, Pointe, Variations, Repertoire)
Victoria began her ballet training with Sherry Moray at the Von Heidecke School of ballet at age 12. Continuing her studies with Artistic Director Wes Chapman and Roger Van Fleteren as a member of The Alabama Ballet, Victoria was a semi-finalist at the 1998 International Ballet Competition in Jackson, Mississippi. In 1998, she accepted an invitation from Kevin McKenzie to join American Ballet Theatre. Her work with the company included Giselle, Swan Lake, Don Quixote, La Sylphide, Le Corsaire, Romeo & Juliet, La Bayadere, Etudes, Gaite Parisienne, Fall River Legend, Symphonie Concertante, Anastasia, The Snow Maiden, Diversion of Angels, and Tharp's Push Comes to Shove. Victoria later danced on Broadway in The Phantom of the Opera and portrayed the role of Emily in the major motion picture, 'Center Stage'. She has been teaching in the Chicago area since 2004. In 2014, Victoria accepted an invitation from Alexei Kremnev and Anna Reznik to join the faculty of the Joffrey Academy where she spent three years in the pre-professional ballet division.
During her career, Victoria has had the pleasure of working one on one with such names as Cynthia Harvey, Wes Chapman, Robert Hill, Natalia Krassovska, Gloria Govrin, Septime Webre, and Roger Van Fleteren to name a few. Former private lesson students are now dancing in professional companies.
MEDINA IRSALIEVA (Ballet, Pointe, Variations, Repertoire, Character)
Medina Irsalieva is one of the most knowledgeable teachers for young dancers. She was educated and graduated from the legendary Vaganova Ballet Academy in St. Petersburg, Russia, and received a Master’s Degree in Teaching and Choreography from the world-famous Russian Academy of Theatrical Art (GITIS) in Moscow. Medina has taught as a faculty member at the State Ballet Academy, Salt Creek Ballet, and the Joffrey Academy of Dance under the direction of Alexei Kremnev and Anna Reznik. She had an illustrious career as a Principal Dancer with the Kyrgyz Opera Ballet Theatre and currently, is helping the YAGP to launch their first semifinals in Kyrgyzstan.
LUDMILA LUPU (Character, Ballet, Pointe, Variations, Repertoire)
Ludmila Lupu is a graduate of the Ballet Academy of Moldova. Ludmila has completed 9 years of classical ballet training in the following disciplines: Classical Ballet, Pointe, Variations, Pas-de-Deux, Historical Court Dance, Character Dance, History of World Theater, History of Ballet, Ballet, and Piano Classes, along with general education classes. As a student, Ludmila participated in a number of ballet performances at The National Academic Theater of Opera and Ballet of the Republic of Moldova, as well as traveled with the ballet company of the theater throughout the Soviet Union. The training program at the Ballet Academy of Moldova was based on the Vaganova Syllabus. Ludmila’s first ballet teacher was Tatyana Petuhova, a renowned ballet pedagogue, a graduate of Kyiv Ballet Academy, and later on, Ludmila was taught by Sophia Horisova, a graduate of the Vaganova Academy of Ballet, St. Petersburg, Russia.
Upon graduation, Ludmila was employed as a soloist for 15 years by the leading ballet company of Moldova - The National Academic Theater of Opera and Ballet of the Republic of Moldova. Throughout these years, she participated in the following ballet performances: Don Quixote, Paquita, Swan Lake, Spartacus, Giselle, Coppelia, Sculptures of Roden, Romeo and Juliet, La Bayadere, Sleeping Beauty, Chopeniana, and Serenades by Balanchine. Ludmila traveled to numerous European countries with the theater.
Ludmila has started her pedagogical career in ballet at The University of Ljubljana, Slovenia, and, after emigrating to the United States, she has taught at the Joffrey Academy of Dance, Salt Creek Ballet School, Faubourg School of Ballet, Dance West Ballet School, and Chicago Ballet Conservatory of Mohler Ballet School.
Among the staged works are excerpts from Paquita (Regional Dance America Competition, 2008), excerpts from Don Quixote (Regional Dance America Competition, 2010), The Waltz of the Flowers, The Russian Dance, and Final Waltz and Apotheosis from The Nutcracker (performance directed by Linda Cunningham, Chicago Ballet Conservatory, 2017, 2018, 2019).
Ludmila prepares dancers for participation in such dance competitions, as the Youth America Grand Prix, where her students placed in the top three in 2018 and 2019, as well as numerously - in the top of twelve.
Ludmila is currently employed as a teacher of character dance at the Trainee Program, as well as at the Pre-Professional Division of the Joffrey Academy of Dance. She also teaches Ballet, Pointe, Variations, Repertoire, and Character Dance at Chicago Ballet Conservatory.
CAROL DILTS (Creative Dance, Pre-Ballet)
Carol Dilts has been studying ballet since age 11, beginning her studies at Indiana Ballet Theatre and the Joffrey Ballet, respectively. She additionally has studied with American Ballet Theatre, Academie Americaine de Danse de Paris, and Giordano Dance Chicago. She has been trained in the ISTD, Cecchetti, and Vaganova techniques extensively, and has performed in a wide repertoire of contemporary works by choreographers such as Amanda Touhy, Wade Schaaf, and Ronn Stewart. Miss Dilts has been working with Alexei Kremnev and Anna Reznik since 2015 and was a dancer with the A&A Ballet's Youth Company during the 2016-2019 seasons.
JESSICA BREWSTER (Jazz, Contemporary, Lyrical)
Known for her contagious energy and dedication to her students, Jessica is passionate about creating a space where dancers can become honest storytellers. Since finding her calling in teaching over eight years ago, she has made it her focus to train students who use a clear vocabulary of refined technique as the backbone for authentic movement. This drive stems from her own multi-faceted education. In her formative years, training intensely in both ballet technique at the Faubourg School of Ballet and in the convention circuit with Perseverance Dance Company, she learned the value of placement within the confines of contemporary movement. Her dedication to these disciplines led her to many title wins and afforded her the opportunity to perform the work of such choreographers as Dee Caspary, Sonya Tayeh, Mandy Moore, and Travis Wall, and most recently garnered her recognition as the recipient of numerous choreography awards, including the Outstanding Choreographer Award in 2020 from the Youth America Grand Prix. Now, blending an MFA in Art from the Cranbrook Academy of Art—as well as a Minor in Dance—with lifelong mentorship from such instructors as Watmora Casey, Nickie DelRe, Tatyana Mazur, Missy Ridgway, and Lizzie MacKenzie, Jessica brings a unique voice to the instruction of dance. Her students are artists who move to be moving. Jessica hopes to impart this rare form of work ethic and open vulnerability into every student that sets foot in her classroom.
MEI-KUANG CHEN (Modern)
Ms. Chen was born in Taipei, Taiwan; where she began her dance training in Chinese opera dance and ballet. Ms. Chen moved to the United States in 1993. Since then she has earned a BFA in Dance from Ohio State University and a two-year scholarship to complete the MFA program from the dance department at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana. Upon graduating Ms. Chen danced professionally with Hedwig Dances from1999-2007, becoming the Artistic Associate for the company in 2002. She was hailed at her debut by the Chicago Sun-Times as a “dancer of tremendous authority.” Throughout her dance career, Ms. Chen had the opportunity to perform and create some original dances with many of the leading contemporary choreographers: Bill Young, Jan Erkert, Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, Renee Wadleigh, Jan Bartoszek, just to name a few. In 2003, Ms. Chen received the prestigious Chicago Dance Achievement Award and was honored by the Taiwanese Cultural Center for outstanding contributions that same year.
Ms. Chen enjoys collaborating and performing with many international dance artists as well. The most recent were Jin-Wen Yu and Chong-Fu Zhang, both former Cloud gate dance members of Taiwan, as well as with Maray Gutierrez and Victor Alexander from Cuba. The commission work with Cerqua Rivera Dance Theater in 2013 was also a rewarding experience.
MARIANA OLIVEIRA (Contemporary, Choreography, Improvisation)
Originally from Brazil, Mariana Oliveira studied at the Royal Academy of Dance in London and was a trainee dancer at the National Dance Company of Wales. In 2009 she founded The Union Project Dance Company. She has been commissioned to create new works for the Richmond Ballet, Kansas City Ballet, Milwaukee Ballet, Arkansas Ballet, and Joffrey Ballet Academy under the direction of Alexei Kremnev and Anna Reznik. Mariana is a recipient of the NYU Center for Ballet and the Arts Fellowship, as well as the Kansas City University Choreographic Fellowship. Her works have also been presented at the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival.
MEREDITH HARRILL (Contemporary)
Meredith Harrill (Orlando, FL) began her dance training at Central Florida Ballet Academy. She continued her training on scholarship at the Kirov Academy of Ballet of Washington DC. Ms. Harrill was a trainee with Joffrey Ballet Chicago (under the directorship of Alexei Kremnev and Anna Reznik) and BalletMet Columbus and was given the opportunity to perform with both companies in several productions. Meredith joined State Street Ballet of Santa Barbara in 2013 and was a soloist in several pieces including works by Autumn Eckman, Edgar Zendejas, William Soleau, and Gina Patterson.
Ms. Harrill has received awards from both Youth America Grand Prix and World Ballet Competition and has attended summer programs at Lines Ballet, The Juilliard School, and Hubbard Street Dance Chicago. Meredith joined Visceral Dance Chicago in 2017 and is now in her second season.
PAIGE FRASER (Contemporary)
Paige Fraser is a professional dancer and emerging choreographer originally from the Bronx, NY. In 2017 she was named by Dance Magazine as one of the “25 to Watch”. Fraser is a 2016 Princess Grace Foundation Dance Fellowship awardee. She was a scholarship student at ABT, DTH, Complexions, Jacobs Pillow, and Juilliard summer intensives. Fraser attended Dominican University/Alonzo King's Lines Ballet and has a BFA cum laude from Fordham University/Alvin Ailey. Fraser performed in Beyoncé's "Bow Down" 2013 tour opener and on an episode of Empire. She has been featured in Dance Magazine, Elle.com, Essence, and Lucky. She is the featured dancer in the INTEL campaign “Experience Amazing”. Paige Fraser danced with Ailey II in 2011-2013. She was a founding dancer of Visceral Dance Chicago, where she danced 6 seasons. She is making her musical theatre debut in West Side Story at the Lyric Opera. Fraser has presented professional works at Links Hall, The Atheneum, and Northwestern University. She enjoys teaching and choreographing. She is the founder of The Paige Fraser Foundation, an NFP that aims to create a safe space for dancers with or without disabilities.
MYLES LAVALLEE (Contemporary)
Myles Lavallee began his training in Arizona at various dance schools and later studied at the School of American Ballet in New York City for two years. In 2011, Myles joined Ballet Arizona, where he danced for 4 seasons under the direction of Ib Andersen. In 2015 Myles joined Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montreal. There he performed works by Ohad Naharin, Stephan Thosse, Jean Christophe Maillot, Ken Osala, Shen Wei, and Jiri Kylian. Myles has also choreographed for Ballet Arizona for the Artist Relief Fund Benefit and Innovations program, as well as for Les Grands Ballets in À Suivre. Myles has also performed as a guest artist with Robert Dekker’s Post: Ballet in San Francisco. This is his first season with Hubbard Street Dance Chicago.
BRAEDEN BARNES (Contemporary)
Braeden Barnes, a native from Chicago, Illinois, received his training from Faubourg Ballet, Academy of Dance Arts, San Francisco Ballet School, and Houston Ballet school. Braeden was then accepted into the Joffrey Ballet training program under the directors Alexei Kremnev and Anna Reznik. During his time there, he did works by Francisco Avina, Ronn Stewart, Amy Hall, and Diana Princeton.
Braeden has worked professionally with Balletmet, Ron de Jesus Dance, Billy Elliot the Musical, Cocodaco Dance Project, LEVELdance, and Nevada Ballet Theatre. During his time at these companies, Braeden has worked with choreographers such as James Canfield, Paul Vasterling, Adam Pelty, Sam Watson, Andre Kastan, Gerald Charles, Eddy Ocampo, Danielle Agami, and Kevin O’Day. He is currently working with Visceral Dance Chicago and it is his third season with the company.
Braeden has also danced professionally in major cities such as Milwaukee, Columbus, Portland, Montreal, Lancaster, Palm Springs, and Las Vegas. During his travels, he has worked and danced works by choreographers such as Jose Navas, Matthew Neenan, Sarah Slipper, Banning Bouldin, Yoshito Sakuraba, Lucas Crandall, and Ronn Stewart.
Braeden Barnes is also a choreographer based in Chicago, IL. His choreography has been featured on stage in such cities as Chicago, Las Vegas, New York City, Denver, and Atlanta. He has choreographed for festivals such as Dance Chicago, Dance
Canvas and REVERBDance Festival in New York, where his work won the First Place audience choice award.
He has choreographed on various companies such as Visceral Dance Chicago, Nevada Ballet Theatre, Cirque Du Soleil, LEVELDance, Cocodaco Dance Project, and in New Dances, a collaboration between Thodos Dance Chicago and Dance Works Chicago.
In 2016, He started his own company, Symbiosis, which is based in Denver, CO.
KYM COSTA (Pilates, Yoga)
Kym was a professional Ballet Dancer having danced for the Civic Ballet at The Ruth Page Foundation in Chicago and freelancing with small companies around the US. Kym studied with several prominent ballet companies including the Joffrey Ballet and the Pennsylvania Ballet and started teaching Ballet at the age of 16. Kym used her strong background as a Dancer to transition into the Fitness Industry.
As a Fitness Professional, Kym used her knowledge of movement to instruct a variety of exercise classes including step, hi/low, cardio dance, Ballet Barre, slide, sculpt, interval, stretch, Spin, circuit, water, walking, boxing, and treading. She studied anatomy, physiology, and proper biomechanics receiving several fitness certifications including NASM Personal Trainer, ACE Instructor & Personal Trainer, AFAA Instructor, Spinning, N’Stretch, and CPR.
Kym ranked nationally as a Sports Aerobic Competitor and coached and choreographed for other competitors while managing Group Exercise Programs at several upscale health clubs managing teams of over 60 instructors. Kym was the Co-Captain and Choreographer for Reebok’s Performance Team and traveled nationally to conduct master classes and presentations for Fitness Workshops.
In1998, Kym turned her focus from mainstream fitness to the mind/body exercises of Yoga and Pilates. She received her first Pilates Certification from the Physical Mind Institute and devoted herself to Pilates and Yoga as a serious student as she had in Dance.
In 1999, while living in Los Angeles, Kym studied at The Yoga Place, YogaWorks, and The Yoga Centre. Kym has been fortunate enough to take workshops from several masters including Anna Forrest and Tim Miller. While in New York, Kym studied at Jivamukti Yoga Center and in Chicago studies at Yoga View and 105F.
In 2000, after completing over 800 hours of apprenticeship from the training centers in Chicago and New York, Kym received her certification in the Authentic Pilates Method of Body Conditioning now called Romana’s Pilates. Romana Kryzanowska was Joseph Pilates’ protégé and Juanita Lopez was Romana’s highest-ranking instructor and is a “Teacher to Teachers”. These two Masters are the teachers with whom Kym spent the most time shaping her teaching style and giving her knowledge needed to maintain the integrity of the exercises and continue the “work”. Kym feels extremely grateful to have studied under Romana and Juanita’s instruction.
In 2008, Kym began studying the link between nutrition and fitness performance, injuries, and disease realizing there is a difference between being fit and being healthy. Kym teamed up with a company that provides programs, products, and services to help all people maximize their physical performance and reach their optimal health. Kym provides presentations and workshops to help all types of people become or stay healthy and fit.
Today, Kym owns Pure Pilates Chicago, LLC where her focus is personalized attention to each student’s body, needs, and goals. She strives to provide each workout with precision & flow while using the breath & control. The concentration needed to move from the center is the ongoing challenge and keeps workouts fresh, interesting, and effective.
Kym believes that regardless of your age or level of fitness – from sedentary senior to professional athlete/Dancer – she can help increase your quality of life/performance by providing you with an energizing Pilates workout focusing on what your body needs.
JOCELYN GARNER (Pilates)
Jocelyn Garner has been performing and teaching dance for many years, both in private and academic settings. She earned her Ph.D. at Laban/City University, London, focusing on the influence of somatic practice on motor learning, motor control, and creativity in dance. She completed her B.A. in Performing Arts, with a dance concentration in Colorado, and her M.A. in Dance Studies at Laban. She is a guild certified teacher of the Feldenkrais Method and holds a BASI Pilates teacher certification in addition to completing her Certificate in Dance Education in the Cecchetti Method of classical ballet through the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dance. Throughout her studies and training, she has performed and taught dance around the world. Prior to her return to the States, she was a full-time member of the Faculty of Education at the Royal Academy of Dance, her role being central to ballet training and dance science studies. She also taught at private dance schools throughout London. Jocelyn is an adjunct professor in the dance program at Northwestern University, a distance learning tutor for the Royal Academy of Dance, and a Pilates instructor.
KELLI BARTON SCHNEIDER (Physical Therapist)
Kelli is the facility manager and a physical therapist at Athletico Printers Row, just three blocks from A&A Ballet. She grew up in Cincinnati and trained in a variety of dance styles from three years old through high school with a focus on ballet, partnering, and contemporary. She chose to continue dancing throughout college at the University of Cincinnati as she pursued her BS in Health Sciences and Doctor of Physical Therapy. Following graduation from the University of Cincinnati, she relocated to Chicago to join Athletico Physical Therapy with a special focus on performing artists including treatment, screenings, and injury prevention.
In March 2018, Kelli completed her first publication “Physical Therapy Rehabilitation of an Adolescent Pre-professional Dancer Following Os Trigonum Excision: A Case Report” which was published in the Journal of Orthopedic & Sports Physical Therapy. Through her training at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Kelli developed a focus on biomechanical principles. By evaluating surrounding regions that contribute to dysfunction, patients are able to return to the previous level of function faster and decrease the risk for future injury. She aims to keep dancers participating even if modifications are necessary and encourages early identification of injury to minimize recovery time.
MAI CLAYPOOL (Adult Ballet, Ballet, Pointe, Variations, Modern, Contemporary)
Mai Claypool was born in Saitama, Japan. She trained at Kishi Ballet studio, The Matsuyama Ballet School in Tokyo, Japan, The Joffrey Ballet School, and Steps on Broadway in NYC under the direction of Yoko Kishi, Yoko Morishita, David Howard, Finis Jhung, Michael O’Brian, Francesca Corkle, and Eleanor D'Antuono. She has received awards from ballet competitions, such as the Hope Award and Achievement of Excellence. Mai danced professionally with Lyric Opera of Chicago, Florida Dance Theatre, and Metropolitan Ballet. She has been teaching ballet, pointe, variations, modern and contemporary at several schools in New York, Illinois, Florida, and Japan. Mai is an American Ballet Theatre® Certified Teacher in levels Primary through Level 7 of the ABT® National Training Curriculum.
SUSAN JAFFE (Artistic Director, PBT, former star of ABT) - Guest Master Teacher
ALEXEI MOSKALENKO (Assistant Artistic Director, YAGP) - Guest Master Teacher
CARLOS LOPEZ (Director of Repertoire, ABT) - Guest Master Teacher
FRANCISCO GELLA (Chief Creative Officer, Francisco Gella Dance Works) - Guest Master Teacher
MISHA TCHOUPAKOV (YAGP Rehearsal Director/Resident Master Teacher) - Guest Master Teacher
ISABELLA LAFRENIERE (Soloist Dancer, NYCB) - Guest Master Teacher
FABRICE CALMELS (formerly Joffrey Ballet, International Star) - Guest Master Teacher
PETER STARK (Associate Director, Boston Ballet II/Head of Men's Program, BBS) - Guest Master Teacher
PHILIP NEAL (formerly NYCB, Artistic Director, Next Generation Ballet) - Guest Master Teacher
ANDREI KLEMM (Company Teacher, Paris Opera Ballet) - Guest Master Teacher
GONZALO GARCIA (Principal Dancer, NYCB) - Guest Master Teacher