Faculty & Artistic Staff

Berkeley Ballet Theater’s legacy of excellence is carried on by the world-class faculty and artistic staff it employs. Our staff comes from a variety of backgrounds, having enjoyed professional careers in the New York City Ballet, Dutch National Ballet, Dresden SemperOper Ballet, Australian Ballet, Ballet Arizona, and more. Their knowledge and expertise uphold the professional caliber of BBT’s training.

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Robert Dekkers

Artistic Director

Named “25 To Watch” by DANCE Magazine and dubbed a “mad genius” by Huffington Post, Robert Dekkers is Artistic Director of Berkeley Ballet Theater as well as founder and Artistic Director of Post:Ballet. Collaborating with eclectic artists to present performances that are “anything but risk averse” (SF Chronicle),Robert has created new works for Post together with artists in film, visual art, animation, architecture, sculpture, fashion design, and new music.

Post:Ballet was named “Best New Dance” of San Francisco by 7×7 Magazine and has been nominated for three Isadora Duncan Awards. Robert‘s works for Post have been featured at the SF International Arts Festival, Jacob’s Pillow’s Inside/Out Festival, and Seattle’s Against the Grain Festival. Robert was resident choreographer for Novaballet from 2008-2009 and is currently resident choreographer at Diablo Ballet, where he has created nine original works since taking on the role in 2013. Robert has also received commissions from Kansas City Ballet, Atlanta Ballet, Grand Rapids Ballet, Smuin Ballet, sjDANCEco, San Jose State University, Southern Methodist University, and Quixotic/Fusion, where he continues to serve as guest choreographer. His work has been presented at venues including Tanzsommer Festival (Vienna), Ballet Builders Showcase (New York City), and West Wave Dance Festival (San Francisco).

Robert danced professionally with Ballet Arizona, ODC/Dance, Company C Contemporary Ballet, and Diablo Ballet. He was nominated for an Isadora Duncan Award for “Outstanding Performance- Individual” for his 2012-13 season with Diablo Ballet, where he danced leading roles in works by choreographers including George Balanchine, José Límon, Val Caniparoli, KT Nelson, Trey McIntyre, Septime Webre, and Mario Radacovsky. Robert has also performed work by Twyla Tharp, August Bournonville, Maurice Causey, Lar Lubovitch, Dominic Walsh, Jodie Gates, Ib Andersen, Paul Taylor, Brenda Way, and Julia Adam.

Robert has been a faculty member at Berkeley Ballet Theater since 2013 and regularly teaches company classes for LINES Ballet, Smuin Ballet, and ODC/Dance. In addition to his work as a choreographer, teacher and dancer, he holds a degree in business from Rio Salado College.

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Sally Streets

Artistic Director Emeritus

Sally Streets renowned for her teaching and choreography, has been part of Berkeley Ballet Theater since 1981.  Before coming to Berkeley, Ms. Streets performed with Mia Slavenska’s Ballet Variante and The New York City Ballet.  In the Bay Area, she held positions as Ballet Mistress and principal dancer with the Oakland Ballet and Pacific Ballet.  Her teaching background includes positions as company teacher with the San Francisco Ballet and guest teacher with the Royal Ballet, Ballet Rambert and the New York City Ballet.  She has also participated as Artistic Advisor for the Diablo Ballet in Walnut Creek.  Ms. Streets continues to teach for BBT and enjoys choreographing ballets for BBT productions.

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Deborah Moss

Associate Artistic Director

Deborah Moss (Associate Artistic Director) has trained and worked with founder Sally Streets since 1986. Ms. Moss has studied ballet pedagogy with Irene Owen, Jane Stamps and Karen Morell and is ABT Certified Instructor for Levels Pre-Primary through Level 3. Deborah’s movement studies include Tai Chi, Qi Gong, Iyengar Yoga and Franklin Method. She is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley with a BFA in History of Art. Deborah has served as BBT’s School Principal and Director of the Pre-Ballet Division since 1995 and is currently Associate Artistic Director of BBT.

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Susan Weber

Director, Dance for PD® Program

Susan Weber holds M.A. and B.A. degrees in Dance from UCLA. While dancing in the Lar Lubovitch Dance Company, Susan assisted Mr. Lubovitch in setting works at Royal Danish Ballet, Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, Pennsylvania Ballet, le Théâtre du Silence, and on ballerina Lynn Seymour.  In recent years, she has worked at San Francisco Ballet as assistant to choreographer Mark Morris on A Garden, Later, Sylvia, and Joyride, and has worked with Tina Fehlandt to set Morris’ works at Royal Ballet and English National Ballet.  Susan has taught in the Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies Department at UC Berkeley and currently teaches ballet to our Youth Company.

Since 2008, Ms. Weber has directed BBT’s Dance for PD® program. These classes empower participants to explore movement and music in ways that are refreshing, enjoyable, stimulating and creative. Dance for PD® originated as a collaboration between the Mark Morris Dance Group and the Brooklyn Parkinson Group.

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Kaori Ogasawara

Kaori Ogasawara was born in Japan and she studied ballet with her grandmother, Kazue Ogasawara, and Takao Hisamitsu.  In 1993, she came to the US to train at the Boston Ballet School and later danced at Boston Ballet before joining Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre in 1999 with her husband, Christopher Rendall-Jackson.  She was promoted to soloist in 2004.  She has performed in several galas and appeared as a guest artist in the roles of Swanhilda in Coppelia, Aurora in Sleeping Beauty, the Sylph in La Sylphide, and the balcony Pas de Deux from John Cranko’s Romeo and Juliet.  After joining PBT, she performed many featured roles including the Sugar Plum Fairy and Marie in Terrence S. Orr’s The Nutcracker, Myrtha in Giselle, Mercedes in Don Quixote, Svetlana in Ben Stevenson’s Dracula, Queen of Hearts in Derek Dean’s Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland, and the Russian Lead Girl in Balanchine’s Serenade. She has also performed in contemporary ballets by choreographers such as Paul Taylor, Dwight Rhoden,  and Jean-Christophe Maillot.  Ms. Ogasawara and her husband retired from the stage in 2009, and they are the proud parents of two children, Emiya and Hana.

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Graciela Acedo

Graciela Acedo began her training in Caracas, Venezuela where she was born and raised; won a government scholarship to study at Boston Ballet and later she was awarded another scholarship from Harkness Ballet in New York. She holds a bachelor in performing arts from Saint Mary’s College. She was honored with a grant award from University of San Francisco to study pedagogy in Cuba where she received a certificate of methodology and pedagogy of Cuban syllabus.

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Melissa Ayres

Melissa provides both a scientific understanding and an intuitive sense of the body and how it works. She takes each student’s individual abilities into account while facilitating the group learning process in a non-judgmental and supportive atmosphere.  She was born into a family of professional performing artists who used The Feldenkrais Method® to improve the attention to their work and physical flow on the stage. Her teaching style is informed by a background in fitness and wellness; international academic training in dance, music, visual arts, and health; and more than twenty years of teaching somatic practices extensively across diverse populations and settings throughout New York and California. She is a Guild Certified Feldenkrais Teacher®, National Academy of Sports Medicine-Certified Personal Trainer, USAW Certified Sports Performance Coach and Public Health Nutritionist.

 

Patricia Banchik-Bell

Patricia Banchik-Bell began her training in Mexico City where she was born and raised. She attended college at Loretto Heights College in Denver, Colorado where she received a B.A. in Dance and Psychology. She has performed with David Taylor Dance Theater, Berkeley Ballet Theater, in Dance Brigade’s Nutcracker and with independent choreographers in the Bay Area. For the past twelve years, she has also ventured into doing choreography and in 2003 she formed her own dance company “Kinesis” which has performed in several venues including Dance Is Festival and West Wave Festival. Ms. Banchik joined the BBT faculty in 1988.

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Laura Rae Bernasconi

As a dancer, choreographer, wellness instructor and teacher of ballet, Laura works internationally with companies such as the Netherlands Dance Theater l & ll, Dutch National Ballet, and Norwegian National Ballet, as well as local companies: Lanbayen Dance/SF, Alonzo King LINES Ballet, and ODC Dance, among many others. Laura has taught ballet to children and teens at schools such as The Academy of Ballet in San Francisco, Western Ballet in Mountain View, San Francisco School of the Arts, and South Bay Dance Center. Combining classical and contemporary ballet, Odissi temple dance, AcroYoga, tribal fusion and improvisation, Laura’s classes and creations are offered through empathy, compassion and mudita (vicarious joy) using principles of the Alexander Technique, Gyrokenisis, Gyrotonic, Tai Chi, Chi Qong and the Chinese Acupuncture.

 

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Marika Brussel

Dance for PD® Program

Marika Brussel trained on scholarship at the Joffrey Ballet School.  She has danced professionally with companies around the country including Ballet Theater of New Mexico, Napoles Ballet Theatre, and Alameda Ballet. She has an MFA in creative writing from Sarah Lawrence College, and currently teaches at ODC Dance Commons in San Francisco, and at Alameda Ballet Academy.

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Marcia Cantillana

Marcia Cantillana began her training in Santiago de Chile. She danced with the Compañía de Danza Carabobo and taught at their school in Venezuela. Later, she danced with Katja Bergmann Contemporary Dance in Hamburg. She returned to Latin America to teach at the Universidad Nacional and Academia Superior de Ballet de Costa Rica while dancing with Danza Universitaria. During 2003-04 Marcia joined The Peak Ballet Theater in Colorado Springs as a principal dancer and choreographer. She was also the ballet and modern dance teacher for the youth division of the company. Since moving to the Bay Area in 2005, Marcia has performed with Moving Arts Dance, and worked for Ross Dance Company as a guest choreographer. Marcia is thrilled to be a member of the Children’s Division at Berkeley Ballet Theater.
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Erin Carper

Dance for PD® Program

Erin Carper trained at The Washington School of Ballet and performed professionally with Ballet Met, Charleston Ballet Theater, and Ballet Chicago. As a modern dancer, Erin performed in Chicago, Los Angeles, and in the Bay Area with Deborah Slater Dance Theater and Kunst-stoff. Erin holds a BA in Liberal Arts and Performance through the SMC’s LEAP Program.

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Robert Dekkers

Robert Dekkers was recently named a ’25 To Watch’ artist by DANCE Magazine, and danced with Ballet Arizona, ODC/Dance, and Company C Contemporary Ballet before joining Diablo Ballet in 2011. He has performed works by choreographers including George Balanchine, Twyla Tharp, Paul Taylor, August Bournonville, KT Nelson, Maurice Causey, Brenda Way, Val Caniparoli, Lar Lubovitch and Charles Moulton. Mr. Dekkers has been choreographing for over a decade, presenting works at venues including the Tanzsommer Festival in Vienna and the Ballet Builders Showcase in New York City. He was resident choreographer for Novaballet before founding his own company, Post:Ballet, in San Francisco. Since launching Post, he has created numerous critically acclaimed collaborations including When in Doubt, Colouring, Mine is Yours and Interference Pattern. His first work for Diablo Ballet, Happy Ending, premiered in May of 2012. Mr. Dekkers also holds a degree in business from Rio Salado College.

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Robert Greer

Robert Greer began his ballet training at the age of 20 and set out on a journey to learn as much as possible about his new found passion. This journey led him to pursue a professional career performing with Ballet Idaho, Charleston Ballet Theater, and Augusta Ballet. He enjoyed dancing in many ballets such as Lar Lubovitch’s My Funny Valentine, Jill Bahr’s The Rite of Spring, and Roy Gan’s Requiem. In 2007 Robert moved back to the Bay Area and has been teaching at BBT ever since. He loves teaching and appreciates the opportunity to share his passion with anyone wanting to learn.

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Katie Gwizdak

Katie has been dancing since the age of four and began her training in Ballet, Tap, and Jazz at Dance Connection Performing Arts Center. She then continued her training at Diablo Valley College under the instruction of Kimberly Valmore and went on to join her contemporary dance company, Coterie Dance, in 2012. After transferring to San Francisco State University in 2014, Katie expanded her training with Wendy Diamond, Cathleen McCarthy, and Ray Tadio. In the Spring of 2016, Katie will graduate from SF Sate with a BS in Kinesiology and a minor in dance. Katie first started teaching dance at Community Youth Center in Concord working with children ages 3-16 and has recently been teaching on occasion at Danspace – A Ballet School in Oakland. Katie is grateful for the opportunity to continue dancing, teaching, and working with children throughout the Bay Area.

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Ilana Jonas

Ilana grew up in Irvine, California, where she trained at the Academy of Dance and studied classical ballet in the R.A.D. (Royal Academy of Dance) syllabus under Merle Sepel, Rebecca Tsivkin, and Brian Loftus.  Ilana completed every R.A.D. examination and was one of three participants in the nation to be awarded the Solo Seal in 2006.  She went on to receive her BFA in Dance from the University of Arizona in 2010 where she had the opportunity to dance as a demi-soloist in Balanchine’s Serenade and Four Temperaments as well as faculty works.  Following graduation, Ilana moved to San Diego to join the corps de ballet of the California Ballet Company, and was promoted to soloist in 2013.  She taught ballet to students ages 3 through adult at several studios in the area.  Ilana now lives in San Francisco where she works as a freelance dancer, ballet teacher, and fitness instructor.  She is on faculty at RoCo Dance and Fitness, and is excited to begin her first session at Berkeley Ballet Theater.

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Christopher Lam

Christopher Lam was born in Brisbane, Australia and graduated from the Australian Ballet School with an advanced diploma in dance. Upon graduation he was offered a place in the Australian Ballet where he danced in a large selection of the full length classical ballets. After a rewarding career in his homeland he danced in several ballet companies including Geneva Ballet, Croatian National Ballet, Gothenburg Ballet and Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montreal broadening his repertoire with works by George Balanchine, Jiri Kylian, Nacho Duato, Stjin Celis, Ohad Naharin, John Neumeier and Jean-Christophe Maillot. He has taught dance in Australia and Europe, staging full length works and coaching dancers in classical and contemporary works.

Xiao Ping Liu-Moore

Xiao Ping Liu-Moore began her training in her native Hunan Province, China at age eleven. She won her first major award, capturing third place in the first Chinese National Dance Competition in 1980. In 1982 she was awarded first place in the Hunan Province Dance Competition. In 1984 she took first place in the Outstanding Performers Competition in Hunan Province. She received her B.A. from Beijing Dance Academy in Classical Dance and Character Dance Teaching. In 1986 she was the first Chinese to receive a scholarship from the China Fund to the School of American Ballet in New York. As a dancer, instructor and choreographer, Ms. Liu-Moore has enjoyed working with various schools and companies in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Megan Low

Dance for PD® Grants Coordinator

Megan Low danced professionally at San Francisco Ballet where she performed the title role in Mark Morris’ full-length “Sylvia.” She earned her B.A. at St. Mary’s College and her Master’s in Education at UC Berkeley.  Megan is a Core Faculty member and Coordinator for SMC’s LEAP Program.

Alyce Maurer

Dance for PD® Program

Alyce Maurer obtained her B.F.A and M.A in Ballet from the University of Cincinnati – College Conservatory of Music and danced professionally with the Cincinnati Ballet Company.

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Kelsey McFalls

Kelsey McFalls began her ballet training at Dance Centre North in Syracuse, New York. She has trained with Alonzo King Lines Ballet, Nutmeg Conservatory, and ABT in New York. Her career began as an apprentice with American Repertory Ballet in Princeton, New Jersey. She went on to dance as a company member for American Contemporary Ballet in Los Angeles. In the Bay Area, Kelsey has worked for Company C, Peninsula Ballet Theatre, and as a guest artist for the San Francisco Symphony. Kelsey is the director of communications for the Berkeley-based educational technology company Socos.

Neela Reed

Neela Reed studied Ballet from the age of four at the Petaluma School of Ballet with Ann Derby and Robert Nichols, and music with Diane Strohmeyer in the Petaluma United Methodist Church Choir.  After deciding at fifteen that Ballet was wreaking havoc on her body image she left dance (and church) for studies and work in Theater, French language, Visual Art and Special Education, living for several years in France before a long stint in Austin, Texas.  In the midst of a second Bachelor’s degree in Studio Art in Austin, she took “Modern Dance for Non-Majors” and realized for the first time that dance could be something more than trying to become an impossible feminine ideal.  Studio Art  gave way to training and performing as a Modern dancer.  As she gradually returned to Ballet she found a passion for discovering and transmitting the deeper aspects of Ballet’s mysticism, mechanics, economy, mathematics, and soul and began teaching in 2014.   Neela also currently teaches both classical and contemporary Ballet at Berkeley Ballet Theater, Piedmont Ballet Academy, and Walnut Creek’s Civic Arts Dance Academy.

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Mariah Steele

As the founder and choreographer of Quicksilver Dance, a modern/contemporary dance company founded in Boston in 2010 before relocating to Oakland in 2015, Mariah Steele was named a “rising talent” in the arts by The Boston Globe Magazine. She has performed professionally in the companies of James Martin and Beth Soll in New York City, and with Peter DiMuro’s Public Displays of Motion, Sokolow Now!, the Anna Sokolow Archival Company, and Rebecca Rice Dance in Boston. Mariah was on faculty at Endicott College in Beverly, MA for several years and has also taught courses at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Santa Clara University. She holds a BA in Anthropology and Minor in Dance from Princeton University, a MA from Tufts University’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and an MFA in Dance from Hollins University.