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Alexander Cain Biber (Principal Dancer/ Ballet Master/ Choreographer in Residence/Teacher) grew up in a performing arts family and has loved theater and performing from an early age. He began his ballet training, at the age of 14, with Rosine Bena at Western Nevada Performing Arts Center – studying ballet, jazz, tap, and musical theater. In 2003, Alexander became an apprentice with Sierra Nevada Ballet and was promoted to the first company in 2006, to soloist in 2008, and to Principal in 2012.
He performed internationally for the Tasmanian Classical Ballet and later joined the Sacramento Ballet where he was featured in many of the company’s most iconic repertoire, including The Nutcracker, Carmina Burana, Romeo & Juliet, Dracula, The Great Gatsby, Twyla Tharp’s, Nine Sinatra Songs, Trey McIntyre’s, Second Before The Ground, Lila York’s Celts and George Balanchine’s, Theme and Variations, Serenade, Western Symphony and Who Cares.
During his tenure with the Sacramento Ballet, Alexander continued to perform with Sierra Nevada Ballet, performing lead roles in many classic ballets such as Swan Lake and Midsummer Nights Dream. A talented choreographer, Biber has choreographed numerous works for Sierra Nevada Ballet, the Capital Dance Project, and Sacramento Ballet. He joined the SNB staff as Ballet Master and teacher in 2020 and continues to teach and choreograph as well as act as the SNB Company photographer. Recently Alexander choreographed Heart Beat to Heart Beat Eye to Eye (The Reno Song) as a part of the empty stage event in Reno.
Haley Pershall (Trainee) was born in Reno, Nev. She began studying dance at the age of six at Fascinating Rhythms in Reno. She fell in love with ballet at the early age of seven and studied with Rosine Bena at Sierra Nevada Ballet Academy from that point on.
Haley was featured in many children’s roles in SNB’s Productions of Peanutcracker, Duke’s Place, Romeo and Juliet, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Haley was invited to join the SNB Trainee program in 2019 and performed in SNB’s 12th Night-A Ballet Noir, the Flower Corps in Peanutcracker (2019), Dancing By The River (2019), Dancing By The River-Still Dancing (2020), Brew, Brats and Ballet ( 2021), Dancing On The Plaza (2021) and in SNB’s 2021 production of Giselle.
Jennifer Lightfoot-Johnson (Grant Writer and Development Consultant) comes to SNB with 16 years of experience, both professionally and as a volunteer, in grant writing and working in the nonprofit sector.
Prior to her work with SNB, Jennifer served as the Program Director for the non-profit organization AppleSeeds and served as a court-appointed special advocate (CASA) for the District Court of Douglas County, Nev. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Nevada, Reno in Human Development and Family Studies.
Additionally, Jennifer utilizes her talents in sewing to design and create costumes for SNB productions and serves as a costume assistant and dresser during SNB performances.
Jennifer Boyle August (Guest Teacher/Choreographer) discovered her love of dance in Reno, Nev. During her time at Reno High School, Jennifer took a Modern class at TMCC, with instruction in Graham, Luigi, and Horton dance technique. While Jennifer was educated in other areas of dance, she felt these styles spoke to her more than anything else. After graduating from Reno High School, she moved to Boston to study dance with Joan Palladino at Dean College where she received her Associate’s Degree in Dance. She was then hand-selected by Judith Jamison to study at Alvin Ailey Summer Dance Intensive program in New York City.
In 1997, she received her BFA in Jazz Dance from the University of the Arts, with an emphasis on both jazz and modern dance in Philadelphia. There she studied with some of the foremost jazz and modern dance instructors in the country, including Roni Koresh of the Koresh Dance Company, Beth Hirschhua, Pat Thomas, Wayne St. David, Doug Elkins, and more. Jennifer elected to remain in Philadelphia and became a member of the Paradigm Dance Company and also Next Step Dance Company.
In 2003, Jennifer moved back to Reno, to open and direct, In Motion Studio of Dance and Black Rock Dance Company. In 2013, after 10 years of owning In Motion, Jennifer decided to step away from directing and owning a dance studio in order to spend more time with her two young daughters. From 2013-14, Jennifer was co-owner of the Twilight Dance Convention project, bringing leading dance instructors to teach master classes nationwide, educating dancers in all areas of dance. In 2014, Jennifer was asked to guest teach in beautiful Doolin, Ireland. Jennifer teaches Modern Dance on staff at Sierra Nevada Academy and continues to share her knowledge at select classes in the Reno community. This will be Jen’s fifth year choreographing for SNB.
Barbara Land (Guest Teacher/Choreographer) is a native of Pittsburgh, Pa., and is internationally known for her writings on dance history, dancers’ wellness, and injury prevention. She attended Point Park College, University of Pittsburgh, and the University of British Columbia, and holds a teaching diploma and certificate from the Royal Academy College in London, England.
Barbara has choreographed for The Reno Philharmonic Orchestra and the Nevada Opera. She has taught at Vassar College; New York, Wagner College summer program, Staten Island; Banff Center for the Arts, Canada; Pepperdine University summer program; Ballet Metropolitan, Columbus, Ohio; and the Royal Academy of Dancing International Summer School.
She has written History of Dance and Culture Part I; History of Dance and Culture Part II; Dance Composition; Dance and Theater Production; Methods of Movement Activities K-12; Dance for the Special Child and Writings in Dance Criticism and Aesthetics. She is the recipient of the State of Nevada Governor’s Arts Award in Dance, and the Distinguished Teaching Award from the University of Nevada, Reno College of Liberal Arts.
Abigail Mercer (Trainee) was born in Reno, Nev. and currently lives in Carson City. She began studying dance at the age of two at Positive Energy and Fascinating Rhythm and began studying classical ballet at the SNB Academy in 2015.
She has performed various roles in Peanutcracker – The Story In A Nutshell, including the role of Clara in 2017 and 2018. She has danced in SNB’s summer classical ballets, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty, as well as A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Twelfth Night-A Ballet Noir. Abby was invited into the SNB Trainee program in 2019 and has performed in the virtual 2021 performance of Brew, Brats, and Ballet and in SNB”s 2021 production of Giselle.
David (Davie) Johnson ( Apprentice) began dancing with Sierra Nevada Ballet Academy in March 2019. He showed a natural aptitude for ballet and was promoted quickly. In January 2020, Davie was invited to join the SNB Trainee Program and he was promoted to Apprentice in May of 2021.
While dancing with Sierra Nevada Ballet, he has performed in the Twelfth Night: A Ballet Noir; performed the role of Rat King in SNB’s immensely popular holiday performance of The Peanutcracker — The Story in a Nutshell, in Dancing By The River-Still Dancing, in Dancing On The Plaza, and as a Peasant in SNB’s 2021 production of Giselle.
Jacob Sheridan (Apprentice) started dancing at the SNB Academy at the age of 10. He was invited to join SNB as a Trainee in 2018 and was promoted to Apprentice in 2021. Jacob has performed with SNB in the lead child role of “Fritz” and in the role of the Nutcracker in SNB’s Peanutcracker-The Story In A Nutshell, and has performed in SNB’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream” in 2018, Brew, Brats and Ballet in 2019, Twelfth Night-A Ballet Noir in 2019, Dancing By The River-Still Dancing in 2020, and in SNB’s 2021 production of Giselle.
In his spare time, Jacob enjoys drawing, 3D modeling, and building his PC.
Dafne D’Olympio (Apprentice) was born and raised in Reno with a strong Italian heritage. Her love for dancing started when she was three years old and became her passion when she enrolled in Sierra Nevada Ballet Academy in 2013. She has performed in SNB’s annual production of Peanutcracker –The Story in A Nutshell as Clara (the leading children’s role).
Dafne was invited to join the SNB Trainee Program in 2017 and was raised to Apprentice in 2020. Adding to her training at SNB, Dafne participated in summer intensives with the Balletto di Roma in Rome. She has performed with SNB in many productions such as the Peanutcracker, Brew Brats and Ballet, Romeo and Juliet, Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Dancing By The River-Still Dancing, and SNB’s 2021 production of Giselle.
Annika Johnson (Apprentice) began studying at age seven in the Sierra Nevada Ballet Academy. She competed twice in the semi-finals of the Youth America Grand Prix and was invited to become an SNB Trainee in 2017, and was raised to Apprentice in 2019.
She has performed annually in SNB’s Peanutcrcaker, and has performed in SNB’s 12 Night-A Ballet Noir, Dancing By The River (2019), Dancing By The River-Still Dancing (2020), Dancing On The Plaza (2021), and has been featured in ballets such as Lost Things and Ricochet and as one of Giselle’s Friends in SNB’s 2021 production of Giselle.
Iliana Harris (First Year SNB Company) was born in Las Vegas, Nev. She started dancing at the age of seven and has trained in classical ballet, flamenco, and contemporary. She has studied at the Maple Valley School of Ballet in Washington, Yen Li Chen Ballet in Arizona, and began training at the Sierra Nevada Ballet Academy under Rosine Bena in 2016.
She was invited to join SNB as a trainee in 2018, was raised to apprentice in 2020, and to the first company in 2021. Iliana has performed in SNB’s Peanutcrcaker, 12 Night-A Ballet Noir, Dancing By The River (2019), Dancing By The River-Still Dancing (2020), Dancing On The Plaza (2021) and has been featured in ballets such as Ballango, Ricochet, and as one of Giselle’s friends in SNB’s 2021 production of Giselle.
Madeline Lee (SNB Co./Teacher) is a Second Year Company Member of SNB. Madeline started studying ballet at the SNB Academy at the age of nine and performed annually n SNB’s Peanutcracker, and has competed in the semi-finals of the Youth America Grand Prix in 2016 and 2019.
Madeline was invited to join the SNB Trainee Program in 2016; was raised to Apprentice in 2018 and to the First Company in 2019. She participated in the summer performances of Coppelia, Swan Lake, Romeo and Juliet, Cinderella, and performed as an SNB company member in Sleeping Beauty, Midsummer’s Night Dream, and 12th Night-A Ballet Noir and danced in Brew, Brats, and Ballet since 2017 and Dancing On The Plaza (2021).
Madeline has been featured in Rosine Bena’s Ballango and Jennifer Augusts’ Torn and as one of Giselle’s Friends in SNB’s 2021 production of Giselle. Lee attends UNR and has trained as a ballet teacher through the SNB Teacher training program. Madeline was invited to join the SNB Academy teaching staff in 2018.
Kimberly Yukes (SNB Co.) is a dancer and choreographer in Reno and has been dancing for 35 years. She trained at The Ailey School in New York City, the Las Vegas Academy of Performing Arts, Santa Monica College, Vassar College, Pacific Northwest Ballet, and the Academy of Nevada Ballet Theatre. She has danced ballet and modern all over the country, from Los Angeles to New York City, to Seattle and Las Vegas. She has performed with Moderngram, Collateral & Co., bellē contemporary dance co., Around the Stage, and Downtown Dance Collective. She has danced at UNR and graduated summa cum laude from UNLV with a degree in psychology.
Kimberly teaches yoga, aerial silks, barre, and ballet. She has performed in SNB’s Peanutcracker in 2019 and Twelfth Night-A Ballet Noir, Dancing By The River-Still Dancing, Brew Brats and Ballet 2021, and Giselle. Kimberly has choreographed and performed for Moderngram and Destination Dance and performed with bellē contemporary dance co. in New York City as part of the DUMBO Dance Festival. She teaches dance at the Boys and Girls Club of Reno and for the UNR Dance Program. She lives in Reno with her husband and two children.
Kaitrin Wilde (Demi Soloist/ Substitute Teacher) was born and raised in northern Nevada and began studying dance at the young age of two at Dance Spirit in Carson City, and was put on their competition team at age eight. In 2014, she continued her training with Western Nevada Performing Arts where her interests began to center more around Contemporary, Hip-Hop, and Ballet (under the direction of Rosine Bena). In 2014, while still training at WNPAC, she performed in her first SNB’s story ballet, Peanutcracker- The Story In A Nutshell as part of the Flower corps. In 2017, she performed in her first musical with Western Nevada’s Musical Theater Company in Nice Work If You Can Get It, and was invited to join Sierra Nevada Ballet.
She started off as an Apprentice, to First Company in 2018, to Featured Corps in 2019, and Demi-Soloist in 2020. Katrin has performed in SNB story ballets such as Peanutcracker, Twelfth Night- A Ballet Noir, and Giselle. She has been featured in SNB’s Dancing By The River as part of Reno’s Artown festival and in SNB’s annual Brew Brats and Ballet in Reno and Carson City. In 2018 Kaitrin was trained as a ballet teacher through the SNB Teacher training program. She was a staff member at Doral Academy of Northern Nevada as part of the SNB/Doral Dance program.
In 2020, Katrin represented SNB and performed a solo piece for the City of Reno’s “Red Light” event bringing awareness to the live event industry’s attempts to receive funds from the RESTART Act. Kaitrin attends the University of Nevada, Reno, working toward completion of her major in Human Development and Family Studies with a minor in Dance.
Heidi-Erin Alford Skursky (SNB Demi Soloist) began her training at the age of three in Dayton, Ohio at Pontecorvo Ballet Studios under the direction of Barbara Pontecorvo and later trained at Gem City Ballet and at several summer dance programs. She graduated with a BFA in Ballet from Friends University in Kansas. She danced professionally with Ballet San Antonio, the Florida Ballet, and Corpus Cristi Ballet performing such roles as the Snow Queen and Sugar Plum Fairy in the Nutcracker and the Black Swan from Swan Lake.
She is an ABT® Certified Teacher for levels Pre-Primary through Level 3 and a gifted choreographer. Heidi and her husband and two children recently moved to Nevada in 2021. This is Heidi’s first season with SNB joining as a demi-soloist.
Sara Weir (Demi Soloist) was born in Provo, Utah, and started ballet at age three. She trained in dance with Trisha Wilstead at Rocky Mountain Dance and then trained with Brittany Squires and Heather Gray at Jaquiline’s School of Ballet. She performed professionally with Showcase and Theater Ballet at Brigham Young University, Utah Regional Ballet, and Sacramento Ballet.
Sara performed in ballets such as Sleeping Beauty, The Nutcracker, SNB’s Peanutcracker (2019), Dancing By The River-Still Dancing (2020), Brew Brats and Ballet (2021), Dancing On the Plaza (2021), and has been featured in the Peasant Pas De Trois from SNB’s 2021 production of Giselle and various works by choreographers such as George Balanchine, Oliver Adams, Rosine Bena, Jennifer August, and Alexander Biber. Sara lives in Reno with her husband and four children. Besides her work with SNB, Sara is a talented photographer and owns her own business, Sara Weir Photography.
Carson Ford (Soloist/ Substitute Teacher) has danced in Reno, Nev. for over 10 years. He started studying all types of dance at In Motion Studio of Dance in 2009, under the direction of Jennifer August. In 2013, he began studying dance at Heart and Sole Dance Academy, under the direction of Jenny Buck. While there he became more interested in studying ballet, under the direction of Seth Parker. From 2013-18, he began professionally dancing in various ballet productions with companies in Reno, such as The Reno Dance Company, and AVA Ballet; where he danced lead roles in The Nutcracker Ballet and Peter Pan. During that time he also attended several ballet summer intensives on scholarship with The San Jose Ballet and Pacific Northwest Ballet.
In 2018, he began training with Sierra Nevada Ballet, under the direction of Rosine Bena. At SNB he was given rigorous ballet training and coaching in classes and rehearsals and was taken into the company as a soloist and featured in SNB’s Peanutcracker, 12th Night- A Ballet Noir, “Dancing by the River” (2018 and 2019) Brew Brats and Ballet (2018, 2019, and 2021), Dancing On The Plaza (2021) and in the Peasant Pas De Trois in SNB’s 2021 production of Giselle. Ford has been part of the SNB Teacher Training and has taught the Boys Only Ballet and choreographed for SNB’s virtual 2020 production: Dancing By The River –Still Dancing.
Carlee Bertero (Soloist/ Teacher) was born in northern Nevada and began studying dance at an early age at Fascinating Rhythm School of Performing Arts in Reno. Carlee was invited to join the Sierra Nevada Ballet Apprentice program in 2012; was raised to the first company in 2013; to featured corps member in 2016, to Demi-Soloist in 2017, and to Soloist in 2021. She has performed in many SNB story ballets such as Peanutcracker-The Story In A Nutshell, Giselle, Swan Lake, Coppelia, Romeo and Juliet, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty-A Fairy’s Tale, A Midsummer Nights Dream- A Steam Punk Ballet, and Twelfth Night-A Ballet Noir. She has performed as a featured dancer with SNB annually in Dancing By The River as part of Reno’s Artown Festival and in SNB’s annual Brew Brats and Ballet in Reno and Carson City.
Bertero has been featured in ballets such as Barbara Land’s, One of A Kind, Oliver Adams’, Ricochet, Alex Biber’s, Come Along, as an ugly sister in Cinderella, a lead fairy in Sleeping Beauty, and as a soloist in SNB’s 2021 production of Giselle. Carlee was trained as a ballet teacher through the SNB Teacher training program and has been teaching on staff at the Sierra Nevada Ballet Academy for nine years. She has designed the SNB Academy Summer and Holiday Dance Camps for young students and the SNB Preparatory Company Program (for young students). She has been a staff member of the Doral Academy of Northern Nevada as part of the SNB/Doral Dance program for the past four years is a college graduate with a Major in Integrated Education and a master’s in Childhood Education.
Domingo Rubio (Second Permanent Guest Artist/Guest Teacher) is SNB’s second Permanent Guest Artist as of May 2005. He has danced professionally for some 30 years. Domingo has danced with the Joffrey Ballet and Ballet Hispanico and was featured in the Robert Altman film, The Company. Rubio danced the role of Maxfield Parrish in SNB’s, A Painter’s Love Story and is a featured artist in SNB’s Dancing By the River and annual ballet classics.
Mr. Rubio has choreographed several works for SNB including the audience favorite, Prelude. In addition to performing as a ballet dancer, he is a concert pianist, composer, choreographer; visual artist; has illustrated several books on ballet and exhibits his sculpture artwork throughout the U.S. and teaches ballet and guest performs with dance companies throughout the U.S. Domingo is a Master Guest teacher for SNB.
Sam Weber (First Permanent Guest Artist/ Guest Teacher) is SNB’s first Permanent Guest Artist and is a founding member of the Company. He was one of the first permanent guest artists of The Reno Ballet under the direction of Rosine Bena. Weber danced with the Joffery Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, Sacramento Ballet, Peninsula Ballet Theatre, and The Jazz Tap Ensemble. Besides being a fine ballet dancer, Weber is considered one of the greatest tap dancers in the world. He is known as “the fastest feet in tap.”
He dances all over the U.S. and Europe and receives standing ovations and rave reviews wherever he performs. He has done numerous TV appearances (including Mr. Rodgers Neighborhood) and stared in the German film, Two in Tails. He is one of the few tap artists to perform Morton Gould’s Concerto for Tap Dancer and Orchestra throughout the U.S. and Europe.
Weber has performed with SNB since 2001. Sam is the first tap dancer to receive the “Bessie” award for outstanding performance. He appears regularly with Sierra Nevada Ballet and the Jazz Tap Ensemble and guest performs as a master tap dancer throughout the U.S. and Europe. Sam is a Master Guest teacher for SNB.
Gina Nelson (SNB Company Coordinator for Carson City and SNB Board Member) is originally from Napa Valley, Calif., and a long-time supporter of the arts and arts education. Gina worked as a crisis prevention specialist in a day treatment elementary school and was a counselor/teacher in a non-public school for at-risk boys.
She moved to Nevada in 2006. Gina met Rosine Bena when her daughter, Lily, began to study ballet and immediately became attracted to the arts educational outreach that SNB does. Gina volunteered to help coordinate the outreach program in the public schools in Carson City, Nev., and soon after joined the SNB Board in 2013. Gina now officially acts as the SNB Educational Outreach Coordinator for Carson City.
Steven M. Porter (SNB Board President/SNB CEO) is a long-time devotee of the arts. Originally from the East Coast, Steve was raised with love and devotion to all the arts.
Steve met Rosine Bena ( then Artistic Director of the Reno Ballet, Perspectives Dance Theater, and Peninsula Ballet Theater School) in 1998 and began to watch performances that Bena produced in the SF Bay area. He fell in love with the art form of ballet and in 2000, Steve and Rosine (together with a group of devoted ballet lovers) began to assemble a board with the help of ballet master teacher/artistic director, Anne Bena.
Instead of reestablishing The Reno Ballet, the Board elected to start Sierra Nevada Ballet as the professional Ballet company for all of northern Nevada.
Through Steve’s excellent production experience, amazing management skills, never-ending hard work, determination, expert leadership, and devotion to the arts and to arts education, Sierra Nevada Ballet has become part of the cultural identity of northern Nevada. Steve was a founding Board member for the Doral Academy of northern Nevada and was instrumental in establishing the SNB/Doral Academy Ballet program.
Cathy Mercer (SNB Company Coordinator for Reno/Managing Director/Board Member) grew up in Carson City and is a former dancer with a long-time devotion to the art form.
Cathy is experienced in working with nonprofits as an arts business consultant. Mercer met Rosine Bena in 2015 when her daughter, Abby, began to study ballet at SNBA. Cathy joined the SNB Board and volunteered to help coordinate the educational outreach program in Reno. Her natural gift for arts management led her to take on more responsibility at SNB and now Cathy acts as both Educational Outreach Coordinator for Reno and SNB Managing Director.
Laurie Bertero (SNBA Administrator, SNB Administrator/Executive Assistant and SNB Company Board Member) is an experienced business owner specializing in property management and accounting. Laurie first became involved with SNB in 2012 with costume organization and due to her superior organizational skills and her ability to communicate with people, she was quickly raised up to wardrobe mistress.
Laurie was immediately devoted to SNB and its artistic philosophy and began to take on a leadership position, joining the SNB Board of Directors. From there, Laurie began to assist Artistic Director, Rosine Bena, with each SNB production taking on the position of Executive Assistant as well as helping in the business and administrative areas of the company. Laurie along with Board President Steven M. Porter was instrumental in establishing the SNB Academy and assisted in the administration. In June of 2016, when SNB moved to its new home at 3929 S. McCarran Blvd. in Reno, Laurie became the Administrator for the SNBA and the SNB Company. This was indeed a “match made in Heaven”. Laurie’s wonderful “people skills” combined with her incredible organizational skills make her a cherished member of the SNB family.
Ananda Bena-Weber (Associate Director, Dance Artist/ Ballerina/Principal/Teacher) is a principal dancer and NY award-winning artist and the Associate Director of the Sierra Nevada Ballet and a founding member. She has danced professionally as a soloist with the Reno Ballet when it was formed in 1994/95 and 1996. She danced with Perspectives Dance Theatre and Fascinating Rhythm Productions. She has appeared as a featured soloist with Sam Weber performing in Morton Gould’s “Concerto for Tap Dancer and Orchestra” throughout the SF Bay Area. She has appeared in principal roles in several original dance works such as Take Me To The River and Blue Rondo, and classics such as Les Sylphides, Romeo and Juliet, and Paquita.
Ms. Bena-Weber has performed acting, singing, and dancing featured roles in over 30 theater productions in the East and West coasts including the SF Bay Area and New York City. A gifted choreographer, she has choreographed several works for the professional ballet company, Sierra Nevada Ballet, and others. Bena-Weber is a Magna cum Laude graduate of San Francisco State University; attended Columbia University Masters Program in Drama and has a Masters of Fine Art from Goddard University and has studied acting at the Linkleter Center in New York City. She has taught at Mary Mount College and guest teaches all levels of ballet and related dance classes and acting (without words) throughout the U.S.
She has performed leading acting roles with Nevada Shakespeare Company and in several NY productions and she presently stars in the NY award-winning one-woman performance art piece, Fancifool which opened its touring schedule in June of 2015 in San Francisco at Z Space and continues to tour the US. Ananda has been featured as a Principal dancer with the Sierra Nevada Ballet company since 2001. In addition to SNB, Ananda has performed as a featured member of the Jazz Tap Ensemble.
Rosine Bena (Founder and Artistic Director/Master Teacher)
Former professional ballerina, Rosine Bena, graced stages in performances worldwide for 28 years and received critical acclaim as a “Prima” for dancing principal roles in ballets such as Giselle, Swan Lake, The Nutcracker, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Romeo & Juliet, Coppelia, La Fille Mal Gardee, and many contemporary works by choreographers such as John Cranko, Jiri Kylian, and many others. She danced opposite Patrick DuPond of the Paris Opera in the award-winning movie, She Dances Alone. Bena was the first American to be taken into the world-famous Stuttgart Ballet under the directorship of John Cranko. Bena also danced with The Washington Ballet, and Peninsula Ballet Theatre. Rosine has studied the Mensendieck System of Functional Exercises with the late physical therapist, Michael Keropian, in San Francisco and is a presenting member of the International Association of Dance Medicine and Science.
Bena is the former director of Peninsula Ballet Theatre School in California (internationally known for its fine ballet training), former Arts Education Specialist for the Arts Council of San Mateo County, and the founder of the Kollage Community School for the Arts Dance Program (Kollage serves 8,000 students in the San Francisco Bay area). Rosine has choreographed over 60 professional productions including 12 full story ballets and numerous community theater events and her choreography has been favorably compared to the work of choreographers such as George Balanchine, John Cranko, Kurt Joos, and Michael Smuin. Ms. Bena founded the Reno Ballet with Raphael Barkley in 1995 and 1996 and then founded and has been the Artistic Director of Sierra Nevada Ballet, the professional ballet company for northern Nevada since 2001. Bena is also the founding director of Sierra Nevada Ballet Academy (started in 2012). In addition to her duties with Sierra Nevada Ballet, Bena is the Ballet Consultant for Western Nevada Performing Arts Center in Carson City. She has been the recipient of numerous arts awards; Awards from Congress and the California State Legislature for her work in the arts and recognized at the Kennedy Center and the White House by the Clintons as a Washington School of Ballet graduate, and recognized in Who’s Who in America in the category of Outstanding Americans.
In 2008, Ms. Bena was the recipient of the Nevada Arts Council Fellowship for Artistic Excellence and the Sierra Arts Foundation Fellowship for artistic merit and was invited by American Ballet Theater Artistic Director, Kevin McKenzie, to be part of an ABT retreat for preparing a national ballet curriculum for the USA. In 2009, Rosine became one of the first master teachers in the USA to be fully certified in the ABT national ballet curriculum for all 8 levels and acts as an ambassador for the curriculum. She joined the teaching staff of American Ballet Theatre teaching at two of their five national ballet intensive summer workshops in 2010. As an alumni member, Bena was invited to attend the 50th Celebration of the Stuttgart Ballet and traveled to Germany in February of 2011 to be part of the grand festivities.
Rosine was honored to be elected to be the Adjudicator for the Southwest Region for Regional Dance America’s National Festival in Montreal and to teach on their staff in 2012; act as Adjudicator for the Pacific Region in 2013 and teach on the RDA staff for the Southwest Region in 2014 and for the National RDA in 2020. Bena writes a monthly column on dance for the Reno Gazette-Journal and continues to direct Sierra Nevada Ballet and choreograph, guest teach, and lecture on dance throughout the U.S. and Europe.
Sophia Riella (Trainee) was born in Truckee, Calif. She started ballet at the age of two with Sherrie Petersen, Sierra Ballet School and continued there for six years while also studying Irish and Scottish Dance with Lindsey Marccaci in Lake Tahoe and at Truckee Dance Factory doing competition dance. She has also studied classical music, composing, and piano with Elaine Courtney and has studied voice with Stephanie McMoy.
Sophia has performed in several musical theatre productions for 3 Sisters Productions and in the production of the Sound of Music, and Annie directed by Janet Lazarus Sierra School of Performing Arts. Sophia started to focus on ballet when she came to Sierra Nevada Ballet Academy in 2019 and auditioned for SNB’s Holiday Production of Peanutcracker. She was chosen to perform the lead children’s role of “Clara” in the 2019 production. Sophia was invited to join the SNB Trainee program in 2021 and to perform in SNB’s 2021 production of Giselle.
Erin Garman (First Year Company) began dancing at the age of 12 at Scene Stealers Theatre Arts where she trained in jazz, tap, lyrical, musical theatre, and ballet. She later began training with Fascinating Rhythm School of Performing Arts where she continued training in many styles and at Sierra Nevada Ballet Academy where she first met Rosine Bena, and started getting more serious about ballet, also dancing with Spiral Ballet.
Erin was invited into the SNB Trainee program in 2016, promoted to Apprentice in 2018 and to first year company in 2019. She has since performed in many productions with Sierra Nevada Ballet including Sleeping Beauty, Midsummer Night’s Dream, Peanutcracker: the Story in a Nutshell, Brew Brats and Ballet and SNB’s 2021 production of Giselle.
Maya Macias (Trainee) was born in Houston, Texas into a military family. While her family was stationed in Memphis, Tennessee, at age two and a half years old, Maya began studying dance at the Children’s Ballet Theater because she wanted to go to “ballerina school. “ Maya continued her ballet training at Space Coast Ballet and when she was six years old, she began performing with Space Coast Ballet in the Nutcracker.
When Maya’s family was, transferred to Reno, Maya began studying at the Conservatory of Movement and performed in two seasons of the Nutcracker and in Coppelia with A.V.A. Ballet.” In 2018, she began her tutelage under Rosine Bena at the Sierra Nevada Ballet Academy, where she was invited to perform in two seasons of Peanutcracker as well as Twelfth Night.-A Ballet Noir. Maya was invited to be part of the SNB Trainee program in 2021 and perform in SNB’s 2021 production of Giselle.
Olivia Mann (SNB Summer Demi Soloist) began studying at the age of four at Dallas Metropolitan Ballet, and the Dallas Ballet Center and later trained at Booker T. Washington for the Performing and Visual Arts.
Olivia additionally trained at many different summer programs including Miami City Ballet, The School of American Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Pittsburgh Ballet Theater and Grand Rapids Ballet. She has recently graduated from Point Park University, where she received a BFA Dance Major, with a concentration in ballet, and a Business Management Minor. She has performed such roles as the “Black Swan” in Swan Lake, The Principle Couple in Christopher Wheeldon’s, The American, and “The Women in White” in Martha Graham’s Diversion of Angels. 2021 marks Olivia’s first appearance with Sierra Nevada Ballet as a demi soloist. Olivia has been featured in the Peasant Pas De Trois and attendant to Myrtha in SNB’s production of Giselle.
Jessie Clauson (Trainee) was born in the SF Bay area and started studying dance at age 3 at Soaring Spirits and later continued studying at the Menlo Academy of Dance and the Academy of American Ballet.
She moved to NV in 2016 and started studying ballet at SNBA in 2018. She has performed in the Peanutcracker – The Story in A Nutshell in 2018 and 2019 and in Giselle in 2021. Jessie was invited to join the Trainee program in 2021.
Heather Rodriguez (Trainee) started dancing at nine years old in Corpus Christi, Texas. She continued studying Ballet, Contemporary, and Jazz throughout her childhood with Corpus Christi Concert Ballet.
Heather graduated Cum Laude from the University of Houston with a BFA in Dance in 2019. She began training with Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company in North Israel and later returned to Houston to work with Ad Deum II for the 2019-2020 season. Heather moved to Nevada in March 2021 and she is excited to be a trainee with Sierra Nevada Ballet.