Tulsa Ballet Announces Additions and Promotions to the Company

TULSA, Okla. – After a worldwide audition tour and nearly 1500 applicants, Tulsa Ballet Artistic Director Marcello Angelini proudly presents the latest company line-up which will feature twenty-six dancers from eleven countries. Angelini says, “I am very pleased with the growth within the company during the past five years. There are a number of dancers who have grown with the organization and are consistently mastering more complex roles. It has been an inspiring journey seeing them mature and settle into a more significant role in the development of the organization.”


SEUNG HYUN LEE will join the company as a Soloist for the 2018/19 Season.  A graduate of the Korean National University of Arts, and with a remarkable collection of Gold Medals from some of the most prestigious competitions in the world, he joins Tulsa Ballet from Boston Ballet. Angelini says, “Seung is one of the most elegant classical ballet dancers I have seen in a long time.  He is young, has the talent to excel and the commitment to fulfill his potential.  We look forward to seeing him become part of Tulsa Ballet.”

SASHA CHERNJAVSKY joins Tulsa Ballet as a member of the Corps de Ballet from Kansas City Ballet.  Sasha is a graduate of Houston Ballet II. Angelini says of Sasha, “He is gifted with good technique and a fast mind.  We look forward to seeing him grow and mature with the company.”

JOHN POWERS joins Tulsa Ballet as a member of the Corps de Ballet from the Royal Finnish Ballet.  He studied at the Bolshoi Academy in Moscow, Russia, and continued his education on full scholarship with the San Francisco Ballet School.  Angelini says, “John is probably the tallest dancer we have ever hired, “checking in” from an altitude of about 6’8”.  He is a good classical ballet dancer with a positive attitude, eager to better himself and to come back to his native USA.”

Tulsa Ballet is proud to welcome three Tulsa Ballet II dancers into the main company. Of the TBII program, Angelini says, “Every year TBII recruits some of the most talented young dancers around the world and provides them with the tools to bridge the gap between the academic studies of ballet and the professional career. We’re happy to welcome these young dancers into the main company.” SIMONE ACRI, WILLIAM BECKHAM and NAO OTA will join the company as Apprentices. Simone and Ota, members of TBII for two years, performed roles with both the second and main companies, and were audience favorites.  Angelini says, “Watching them dance with the main company during Signature Series, and seeing how well they fit in, was a joy.  William joined TBII last year and quickly showed his value to the organization.  Every time he danced with the main company he made a case for belonging there.”


JENNIFER GRACE has been promoted to Soloist.  Jennifer will start her sixth season with the company; during her tenure, she has been featured in many works both classical and contemporary.  She joined TBII in 2013 and moved very quickly to graduate into the main company, where she continued to transform talent into accomplishment.  She was promoted to Demi-Soloist two years ago and continued to impress with her command of the stage in both classical and contemporary roles.  Angelini says, “Jennifer more than deserves the new status and a position of higher responsibility within the organization.”

JOSHUA STAYTON has been promoted to Soloist. This season will be his 9th with Tulsa Ballet.  Joshua has been a pillar of the company throughout his tenure, dancing featured roles from Age of Innocence (choreographed by Edwaard Liang), to the lead role of Charles in The Nutcracker, to the title role in Don Quixote, to featured parts in works by well-known choreographers like Alejandro Cerrudo and Ma Cong.  Angelini says, “He is another one that we have seen grow and mature from his first year with the company, just out of Houston Ballet II, to his interpretation of Death in The Green Table.  We are happy to see him take on a more instrumental role in the company.”

JAIMI CULLEN has been promoted to Demi-Soloist. Another veteran of Tulsa Ballet, this will be Jaimi’s seventh season with the company.  Jaimi is also a graduate of the TBII program. Angelini says, “This season she just came into her own, starting with the Creations in Studio K program in which she was featured in all three works.  Jaimi followed that with great performances throughout the year, from Strictly Gershwin to Rassemblement.  Your eye is drawn to her when she is on stage.”

MAINE KAWASHIMA has been promoted to Demi-Soloist. She will start her fifth season with the company.  Angelini says, “Maine has always been a dancer of unusual power and attack, her dancing is sharp as a sword and her technique is unequaled in precision and decisiveness.  She has consistently danced featured roles throughout her tenure with the company, growing with each experience and fine-tuning her instrument.  She has carved a very definite place for herself in the company, on stage with her natural charisma and off stage with her positive attitude and work ethic.”

MINORI SAKITA is another graduate of Tulsa Ballet’s TBII program and has been promoted to Demi-Soloist.  Angelini says, “Minori will start her fifth year with the organization and has been a delight to watch on stage and work with in the studio.  She has a unique ability to connect with an audience, a level of artistry rarely found in such young dancer.  She speaks to the audience with every movement and gesture.  Additionally, she is committed to her art form and to the organization, always going above and beyond the call of duty.  It’s a pleasure welcoming her back for another great season.”

REGINA MONTGOMERY, also a graduate of TBII, has been promoted to Demi-Soloist. This will be her sixth season with the company. Angelini says, “Regina is gifted with strong technique and enough power to light up the stage.  She has made the most out of every opportunity to dance featured roles, maturing with each one of them.  She is a great asset for the organization, powerful and committed on stage while helping in many other roles off the stage. A true example of the type of commitment that exudes success in whatever she pledges to do.”


The 2018/19 Season opens with Tulsa Ballet II performing On Your Radar August 24 at 7:30pm and August 26 at 2:30pm in Tulsa Ballet’s Studio K Theater and August 25 at the new Zarrow Performance Studio at Tulsa Ballet Hardesty Center for Dance Education in Broken Arrow. In September, the main company will premiere Creations in Studio K, featuring two exciting never-before-seen works created just for Tulsa Ballet, as well as the return of one audience favorite work. Creations in Studio K will be showcased over two weekends (Sept 14-16 and 20-23) in Tulsa Ballet’s intimate 300-seat Brookside theater Studio K.  For tickets, please call (918) 749-6006 or visit us online at www.tulsaballet.org.


Hi-Res images and interview opportunities available:

Ryan Allen, PR & Communications Manager

918.392.5949, ryan.allen@tulsaballet.org





Tulsa Ballet II presents Emerging Choreographers Showcase April 13-15


The Emerging Choreographers Showcase will feature three exciting World Premiere works inspired by the TBII dancers and created by up and coming choreographers  

TULSA, Okla. – March 2018 – Tulsa Ballet II, the second company of Tulsa Ballet, is comprised of some of the most promising young dancers from around the globe, hired upon graduation from the top academies of the world and groomed to become members of Tulsa Ballet’s main company. This group has gathered not only artistic momentum, as 11 of the main company members are TBII graduates, but also its own faithful audience. Their energy and eagerness to impress whoever is watching them exudes an infectious vitality and passion. Audiences will have the opportunity to see them in three new dance works, created on these rising stars this coming April 13-15. The Friday and Sunday shows will be held in Tulsa Ballet’s intimate Studio K Theater, and the Saturday show in the Zarrow Performance Studio at the Hardesty Center for Dance Education in Broken Arrow.

This is the fourth year TBII will present the Emerging Choreographers Showcase, which is designed to provide a wonderful opportunity for both young choreographers and dancers to be part of a unique creative process. This latest collaboration will feature three brand new contemporary works: Joshua A. Stayton’s As Told by Kristin, Daniel van de Laar’s Generation Y (both dancers in Tulsa Ballet’s main company), and Sur le Fil (By a Hair’s Breadth), by guest choreographer Penny Saunders.

TBII has been an integral program in the mission of Tulsa Ballet for over ten years. The Emerging Choreographers Showcase triple-bill program is one of two annual performances that provide the young ensemble with the opportunity to have new works created on them, and their audience with the opportunity to see young rising stars both in the field of performing and choreography. Tulsa Ballet Artistic Director Marcello Angelini says, “The Emerging Choreographers Showcase is one of the many initiatives that make Tulsa Ballet the great organization we are proud to be, and one with a mission of serving our community in many different ways.  It allows young voices to craft the necessary skills to transform creativity into dance, and provides a stage for choreographers already established in their professional career with a venue to showcase their work. The culmination of this creative process comes as the proverbial curtains opens on their last program of the year, a time when both the dancers and the choreographers get the opportunity to share their artistry with you, their audience. ”

“Overall,” Angelini continues, “Emerging Choreographers Showcase is fulfilling its role within the spectrum of offerings of Tulsa Ballet. As a dancer, you begin your training in our Center for Dance Education when you are 3 years old, upon graduation you can be invited to join TBII, and upon graduating from the second company you are among the first in the audition process to be considered for a contract with Tulsa Ballet’s main company. Once in the main company you have opportunities to share your artistry both as a dancer and as a choreographer, setting the stage for a career after performing.  Tulsa Ballet aims to empower dancers at every stage of their career and provide innovation within the dance industry.”


About the Choreographers

Penny Saunders – Penny Saunders, originally from West Palm Beach, Florida, graduated from the Harid Conservatory in 1995, and began her professional career with The American Repertory Ballet under the direction of Septime Webre. She went on to dance with Ballet Arizona, MOMIX Dance Theater, Cedar Lake Ensemble and in 2004 she joined Hubbard Street Dance Chicago. In 2011, Saunders won the International Commissioning Project, which launched her choreographic career, creating pieces for Hubbard Streets’ main and second company, Whim W’Him, SFDanceworks, Neos Dance Theater, Owen Cox Dance Group, and The Nexus Project. Saunders is honored to be the choreographer in residence at The Grand Rapids Ballet, receiving support from The New York City Ballet Choreographic Commissions Initiative, and to be the recipient of the 2016 Princess Grace Choreographic Fellowship. In the 2017-2018 season, Saunders is excited to be collaborating with The Cincinnati Ballet, BalletX, Missouri Contemporary Ballet, The Royal New Zealand Ballet, SFDanceworks, Tulsa Ballet II, as well as making her first full length for The Grand Rapids Ballet. Tulsa Ballet Artistic Director Marcello Angelini says, “Penny is one to watch.  She has done plenty of works for major American dance institutions to more edgy companies…She is definitely one that we could see working with the main company.”

Joshua A. Stayton, Tulsa Ballet Demi-Soloist – Originally from Ohio, Joshua began his training at the Performing Arts school in Cincinnati. He then continued with the Orlando Ballet School (Peter Stark) and Houston Ballet II (Claudio Muñoz). Joshua has been a Demi-Soloist with both Tulsa Ballet and Sarasota Ballet. Some of his repertoire includes leading roles in Concerto (MacMillian), Mirror Walkers (Sir Wright), Age of Innocence (Liang), Bolero (Fonte), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Wheeldon), One/end/One (Elo), The Nutcracker (Angelini), The Sleeping Beauty (Angelini), Romeo & Juliet (Liang), Extremely Close (Cerrudo), and more. Joshua has performed internationally in Budapest and previously at the Helsinki IBC. He has also had the opportunity to choreograph for Tulsa Ballet’s second company and for Helsinki IBC in 2016. Angelini says, “Josh is a talented storyteller, one that uses the steps as a mean to an end.  His works are very approachable and connect well with the audience.  His new work, As Told by Kristin shows his development as a dance maker and as a story teller.”

Daniel van de Laar, Tulsa Ballet Corps de Ballet – Daniel studied for ten years at The Royal Conservatory in The Hague, The Netherlands. He danced with Nederlands Dans Theater 2 before joining Scapino Ballet in Rotterdam. With these two companies he had the opportunity to work with well-known choreographers such as Kylián, Lightfoot & León, Pite, Goecke, and others. He is excited to take the next step in his dance career by dancing in the USA with Tulsa Ballet! This is his second season with the Company. Angelini says of Daniel, “Daniel’s expressiveness is rooted in physicality.  We loved seeing him in Helen Picket’s Meoal, a role for which he was cheered and applauded by the New York audiences as well.  His approach to choreography is more European, his work more about energy and adrenaline with the storylines embedded in the movement value of the choreography.”

About TBII

The 2017/18 Season will mark the fourth year Tulsa Ballet II performs a stand-alone mini-season, separate from the main company. Tulsa Ballet II was founded in 2005 as a paid program designed to provide a bridge between the student phase of an aspiring classical ballet dancer and the professional career.  Through an international audition search, the most talented and committed young men and women are invited to Tulsa to refine their artistic and technical skills by working on their own and alongside the professional company.  This is accomplished through performances of repertoire ranging from pure classical ballets to the cutting edge of contemporary works.  Tulsa Ballet II provides new dancers for the main company each year, and has promoted more than a dozen dancers since 2010. Tulsa Ballet II offers its members multiple additional performance opportunities throughout the year, including their own mini-season with two triple-bill shows, education outreach performances (Backstage at the Ballet) which includes a partnership with Any Given Child-Tulsa, as well as providing support to Tulsa Ballet’s Main Company performances at the discretion of the Artistic Director Marcello Angelini. Of the TBII program he says, “Our goal from the very beginning was to create a program that would afford young, talented dancers the tools to bridge the gap between the academic studies of ballet and the expectations of a professional career. As it usually happens here at Tulsa Ballet, a small experiment has become a large, exciting and largely promising project. What was then a small experiment, TBII is now one of the most stimulating undertakings of our organization.”


TULSA BALLET II Emerging Choreographers Showcase


Tickets for Emerging Choreographers Showcase start at just $25. For tickets call (918) 749-6006 or visit www.tulsaballet.org.


Emerging Choreographers Showcase, a triple bill ballet featuring new works:


As Told by Kristin by Joshua A. Stayton


                                   Generation Y by Daniel van de Laar


                                   Sur le Fil (By a Hair’s Breadth) by Penny Saunders


WHEN & WHERE:                  

7:00 p.m. Friday, April 13, 2018 at Tulsa Ballet’s Studio K Theater, 1212 E. 45th in Brookside Tulsa.


7:00 p.m. Saturday, April 14, 2018 at the Zarrow Performance Studio, 1901 W. New Orleans St in     Broken Arrow.


3:00 p.m. Sunday, April 15, 2018 at Tulsa Ballet’s Studio K Theater, 1212 E. 45th in Brookside Tulsa.


Visit www.tulsaballet.org for more information about upcoming performances. Tickets start at $25.


Hi-Res images and interview opportunities available:

Ryan Allen, PR & Communications Manager

918.392.5949, ryan.allen@tulsaballet.org



Tulsa Ballet presents the U.S. premiere of Strictly Gershwin


Tulsa Ballet presents the U.S. premiere of Derek Deane’s Strictly Gershwin Feb 9-11, 2018

January, 2018 – TULSA, OK – Tulsa Ballet is proud to present the North American Premiere of Strictly Gershwin at the Tulsa Performing Arts Center February 9-11, 2018. This epic Broadway type Ballet is a tribute to the classic American music of George and Ira Gershwin and will transport audiences to the golden age of Hollywood.  The production is the largest work Tulsa Ballet has ever produced, as it requires about 38 dancers, a dozen tap dancers, plus four singers and even roller skaters, all sharing the stage with an orchestra of about 50 musicians.  For the upcoming performances, the Tulsa Symphony Orchestra will be under the baton of revered West End conductor and musical director for this production, Gareth Valentine, who ignites the podium with his raw energy and passion for the music.

Continue reading Tulsa Ballet presents the U.S. premiere of Strictly Gershwin

Tulsa Ballet Showcases Triple-Bill Program at The Joyce Theater in NYC March 6-10, 2018

December 2017 – TULSA, OK – Tulsa Ballet launched their 61st Season with the annual program dedicated to creating new dances. They will now export two of those new works, created specifically for Tulsa Ballet, to New York in March of 2018, along with a world premiere creation from Resident Choreographer Ma Cong. Along with Cong’s untitled new work, Tulsa Ballet will showcase Annabelle Lopez Ochoa’s Shibuya Blues and Helen Pickett’s Meòal (Among). Artistic Director Marcello Angelini says, “Our dancers are citizens of the world, coming to Tulsa from all four corners and enjoy performing wherever they have an opportunity to showcase their craft and artistry.  We are all very proud of what we built here in Tulsa Oklahoma, and relish each and every opportunity to put on display the results of our hard work and commitment to the art form.”

Continue reading Tulsa Ballet Showcases Triple-Bill Program at The Joyce Theater in NYC March 6-10, 2018


TULSA, Okla. – November 2017 – The holiday tradition of The Nutcracker will return to the Tulsa Performing Arts Center December 9-23, 2017. This will mark the fifteenth year this particular version will be performed. Tulsa Ballet Artistic Director Marcello Angelini reminisces and says, “I remember the discussions that took place in the early 2000s about how a new Nutcracker for Tulsa Ballet should be. Since its first presentation, the work has changed a lot, especially in the party scene.  The rest, starting from the battle scene, has virtually remained the same.” Breathtaking choreography, elaborate sets and stunning costumes help bring this classic holiday fairytale to life.


Tulsa Ballet presents Don Quixote


TULSA, Okla. – October 2017 – Tulsa Ballet will present one of the most famous classical ballets, Don Quixote, November 3-5 at the Tulsa Performing Arts Center. The production returns to the Tulsa stage again after ten years and follows the wild and crazy Don Quixote and his sidekick Sancho Panza as they chase after Kitri and Basilio, the forbidden lovers. Based on the timeless book by Miguel de Cervantes, this 19th century classical ballet is one of the most entertaining and hilarious performances in ballet repertory.

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Triple Bill performance features three World Premiere creations by some of the most sought after women choreographers of the word. Beyond the Curtain features choreographers plus the Editor in Chief of Pointe Magazine, moderated by the Senior Front Page Editor of the Huffington Post

TULSA, Okla. – August 2017 – Tulsa Ballet will launch their 61st season in September with the annual celebration of new dances entitled Creations in Studio K. Tulsa audiences are the first to see brand new contemporary works by accomplished choreographers before they take a life of their own and start traveling around the globe. Tulsa Ballet Artistic Director Marcello Angelini describes the program as the most important one of the season, as it focuses on the future of dance. He says, “I always talk about searching for the right balance between tradition and innovation. Those are the yin and yang of our art form. They are both needed if we want to ensure the future of our art form, which is why Tulsa Ballet built Studio K Theater. It is the perfect space to introduce new works to our audience. It was a massive investment for a company our size but I am so happy to share it, for the eleventh time, with our audience!”


Tulsa Ballet returns to New York City, Spring of 2018

AUGUST 9, 2017 – TULSA, OK – Tulsa Ballet will present a contemporary triple bill performance at the Joyce Theater in New York City in March of 2018. The company last performed at the Joyce Theater in 2009. The return tour has been made possible thanks to the generous support of Mollie Williford and Suzanne and Jim Kneale. Artistic Director Marcello Angelini is thrilled to announce the tour and says, “This is the perfect time for the company to be back in The Big Apple, as the energy and relevance of what we are producing reflects the renewed vitality of the city.  This trip is also in perfect synergy with the revitalization of our community and the national visibility we are receiving thanks to the multiple successful initiatives we are undertaking.”

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