Tulsa Ballet¹s 2016/17 Season launches with three new main company members, three promotions and seven additions to the second company, Tulsa Ballet II

TULSA, Okla. – Tulsa Ballet Artistic Director, Marcello Angelini, proudly presents the roster for Tulsa Ballet’s 60th Anniversary Season. Tulsa Ballet’s Company features twenty-eight dancers from thirteen different countries.

This past season was a memorable one for Tulsa Ballet with programming that included some of the most challenging and sought after works of the past and present dance repertory. A successful international tour of Italy provided the dancers plenty of opportunities to grow technically, mature artistically and extend their stylistic range.  Artistic Director Marcello Angelini says, “Every single dancer progressed through the year, making the company better as a whole.  Some of our artists made big strides forward, becoming more and more pivotal elements of the success of the organization.  At the same time, the competition to become an artist of Tulsa Ballet was fierce:  we recorded over 1300 applications for auditions for the upcoming season.  About 180 dancers were granted an in-person audition, either at our headquarters in Tulsa or at the national and international auditions, to fill the two open positions.”


Cavan Conley, was promoted to Soloist from Demi-Soloist. He joined Tulsa Ballet Pre-Professional Ensemble, Tulsa Ballet II, in 2012 and was promoted to the main company in the 2013-14 Season. Marcello says of Cavan, “It was clear from the beginning that he had a lot of talent and plenty of willingness to fulfill it.  By the same token, many dancers are gifted with talent, yet success is built on discipline, hard work, the ability to learn from one’s mistakes and the humbleness to listen and apply corrections.  Cavan has a good balance of talent and all the other attributes to transform talent, or potential, into accomplishment and success.  His performances of Romeo in Romeo and Juliet proved that, besides the technical growth, he has acquired the command of the stage, and the dramatic skills, to belong on stage dancing leading roles.”

João Sampaio was promoted from an Apprentice to Corps de Ballet. João joined TBII two seasons ago. Marcello says, “João started dancing four years ago, and at that time he had just a couple of years of training.  While his lack of training was evident, both at the competition and when he joined TBII, so was his potential and the quality of the little training he had.  After spending just a year in TBII he was promoted to the rank of Apprentice with the main company, dancing often soloist roles in both classical and contemporary works throughout last season.  He more than deserves to be a fully-fledged member of our company; he has proven to be an important asset for the organization.”

Jessica Payne was promoted to the Corps from TBII. Mr. Angelini says, “I am very happy to recruit yet another dancer from our second company into the main company.  Jessica Payne has been with us for over a year, working hard at making the step from junior to senior company artist.  She has a lot of talent and works very hard, I am sure she’ll become an integral part of the main company.”


Additions to the Roster include Sena Hidaka, Joshua Stayton, and Shuhei Yoshida.

Sena Hidaka, Soloist, was born in Hyogo, Japan.  Following her training at the Vaganova Ballet Academy in St. Petersburg, Russia from 2008 to 2011, Sena joined the Bucharest National Opera.  Rising rapidly through the ranks, she was promoted to principal in February of 2014. Sena has performed principal roles in Don Quixote, Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake, Giselle, La Sylphide, Le Corsaire, La Bayadere, La Fille mal gardee, and DSCH. She has also appeared with the “Alina Cojocaru Dream Project 2014” in Japan, performing the grand pas de deux from Esmeralda, and more recently in the “World Ballet Stars” Gala in New York. This is her first season with Tulsa Ballet and Marcello says of Hidaka, “She joins Tulsa Ballet as a Senior Soloist, bringing years of accomplishment and a great deal of talent to the company.  I think she has the potential to become one of the next stars of Tulsa Ballet.  She has the most formidable technique I have seen in over a decade, a delightful quality to her dancing and the ability to dance both romantic and fiery roles.  I am delighted she has chosen Tulsa Ballet as her home at this time.”

Joshua Stayton, 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. Marcello Angelini says, “I am happy to see Josh coming back to Tulsa Ballet.  He made a tremendous amount of progress during his last season with us, all the work he had done prior to that year came into full focus during the 2014/15 season.  We were sorry to see him go and now happy to see him back.  He was and will continue to be a great asset for the company.”

Shuhei Yoshida, Corps de Ballet, Born in Japan, Shuhei Yoshida received his training at the Tsubota Ballet School and later at the Hungarian Dance Academy.  In 2012, he joined the Bucharest National Opera and was promoted to soloist in 2013.  One year later, he was promoted to first soloist. Shuhei’s repertoire includes Basil in Don Quixote, Ali in Le Corsaire, the leading role in Theme and Variations by George Balanchine, Beno in Swan Lake, Solor in La Bayadere, Puck in The Dream, Trio in DSCH, Petit Mort by Jiri Kylian, and Classical Symphony by Yuri Possokhov, among others.  He won first prize at the 22nd All Japan Ballet Competition. This is his first season with Tulsa Ballet. “Shuhei has a strong technique and plenty of attack in his dancing, making him the ideal candidate to be an audience favorite for the upcoming season,” says Mr. Angelini.


Simone Acri, Japan/Italy, The Royal Ballet School.

Grace Choi, Seoul, South Korea, San Francisco Ballet.

Maria Coelho, Brazil, American Ballet Theater.

Taiyu He, Hunan Province, China, Joffrey Ballet.

Vinicius Silva, Goiânia, Brazil, John Cranko Schule, Stuttgart, Germany.

Lenin Valladeras, Guatemala, San Francisco Ballet School.

Sylvia Zhu, Tulsa, OK, Tulsa Ballet Center for Dance Education.

The 2016/17 Season opens with Tulsa Ballet II performing On Your Radar August 19 at 7pm and August 21 at 3pm in Tulsa Ballet’s Studio K Theater and September 9 and 10 at 7pm and September 11 at 3pm at the new Hardesty Center for Dance Education Theater in Broken Arrow. Also in September, the main company will premiere Creations in Studio K, featuring three exciting never-before-seen works created just for Tulsa Ballet by international choreographers; Nicolo Fonte, Joshua L. Peugh and Tulsa Ballet Resident Choreographer Ma Cong. Creations in Studio K will be showcased two weekends (Sept 16-18 and 22-25) 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