Tulsa Ballet’s 2017/18 Season launches with three new main company members and three promotions.

TULSA, Okla. – Tulsa Ballet celebrated 60 years this past season with world premieres such as Dorothy and the Prince of Oz and the return of great classics including Swan Lake. Once again, Tulsa Ballet Artistic Director Marcello Angelini proudly presents the Tulsa Ballet company roster for their 61st Season, which will continue to showcase new creations along with classics such as Cinderella and Strictly Gershwin. Tulsa Ballet’s latest company line-up will feature twenty-seven dancers from ten countries. After a worldwide audition tour and nearly 1300 applicants, Mr. Angelini feels he has the optimal mix of talented dancers to present this season’s challenging and exciting repertory.


Additions to the Roster include Tomoka Kawazoe, TyLeigh  Baughman, and Luzemberg  Santata.

The Tulsa Ballet II second company continues to be one of the best pre-professional programs in the country by producing exceptional and versatile dancers. Two dancers have moved from TBII into the main company; Tomoka Kawazoe and TyLeigh Baughman.

Tomoka Kawazoe joins the company as a member of the Corps de Ballet. Mr. Angelini first saw Tomoka at the Japan Grand Prix ballet competition three years ago and was impressed by the quality of her dancing and her stage presence.  He says, “When you are part of the jury of a competition you watch hundreds of competitors, in that case over 700.  Tomoka was the one dancer that stood out, the one that got all of us sitting upright in our chairs.   At that time she was on a scholarship at the Vaganova Academy in St. Petersburg, Russia.  This is arguably the best ballet school in the world, and the one that has produced all the international superstars of past and modern generations.  We had to wait a year for her to graduate before she could join TBII.  Of course her natural talent and excellent schooling, coupled with our program, produced a tremendous professional, one that we are happy to welcome into the main company.”

TyLeigh Baughman is the first student to go through Tulsa Ballet’s Center for Dance Education from the very beginning of her training through graduation, then join the second company, TBII, and graduate once again to the main company.  Mr. Angelini says, “TyLeigh is living proof that our school and pre-professional program works!  She trained in our school and had plenty of opportunities to grow while in the second company.  TBII dancers perform at least 20 educational programs every season, have six works created or staged exclusively for the ensemble every year, as well as taking daily class and performing with the main company.  Take those experiences and combine them with quality training, along with natural talent, dedication and brainpower and what you get is an excellent professional dancer!  Next season ten of the twenty seven dancers that compose the main company will be graduates of TBII, which is perfectly in line with our long-range artistic plan.”

Luzemberg Santana is the only new dancer from the outside hired for the 2017/18 season, out of the 1257 applications for audition that were received. Mr. Angelini says, “Luzemberg joins us from the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, where he was already dancing leading roles.  He is young, handsome, well trained and charismatic on stage.  He is a great addition to the company.” Originally from Brazil, Luzemberg trained at The Bolshoi Theater School in Brazil, studying under celebrated choreographers Vladimir Vasiliev and Ekatarina Maksimova as well as being coached by Cecilia Kerche.  In 2012, Luzemberg joined The Royal Winnipeg Ballet as a member of the Corps de Ballet. While in Winnipeg, he performed leading roles such as Nutcracker Prince in The Nutcracker and Prince Siegfried in Swan Lake. His repertoire also includes Twyla Tharp’s The Princess & the Goblin, John Alleyne’s The Faerie Queen, Mark Godden’s Going Home Star – Truth and Reconciliation, and Lila York’s The Handmaid’s Tale, among others.


Cavan Conley, was promoted to Senior Soloist from Soloist.  He joined Tulsa Ballet II in 2012 and was promoted to the main company in the 2013/14 Season. Mr. Angelini says, “Cavan has a good balance of talent and all the other attributes to transform talent, or potential, into accomplishment and success.  His performances of Lensky in Onegin and The Prince in Dorothy and the Prince of Oz proved that, besides the technical growth, he has acquired the command of the stage and the dramatic skills to dance leading roles.”

Jessica Payne was promoted from Apprentice to the Corps. Mr. Angelini comments, “Jessica has been with us for a few years, working hard at making the step from 2nd company to main company artist.  She has a lot of talent and works very hard.” In 2015, Jessica joined Tulsa Ballet II and was promoted to Apprentice in the main company one year later.  Her repertoire includes The Sleeping Beauty (Angelini), The Three Musketeers (Prokovsky) Romeo and Juliet (Liang), The Taming of the Shrew (Cranko), and Serenade (Balanchine).  She received first place in the Youth American Grand Prix regional competitions of 2010, 2011, and 2012.

Shuhei Yoshida – Mr. Angelini says of Shuhei, “We are promoting Shuhei Yoshida from Corps de Ballet to the rank of Demi-Soloist. Shuhei is a powerful dancer gifted with formidable and consistent classical ballet technique.  His performances in the Russian Dance in The Nutcracker and the Scarecrow in Dorothy and the Prince of Oz were quite mesmerizing.  He was First Soloist with the Romanian National Ballet prior to joining Tulsa Ballet and after seeing him perform difficult roles like Scarecrow, we can see why.  He more than deserves this promotion.” 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.


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

William Beckham, USA, Master Ballet Academy, Phonenix.

Katelyn Chargois, USA, University of Oklahoma.

Maria Coelho, Brazil, American Ballet Theater, TBII.

Gabrielle Collins, USA, Atlanta Ballet.

Annachiara Corti, Italy, Ballet Dortmund.

Mario Galione, Italy, English National Ballet, TBII.

Taiyu He, China, Joffrey Ballet, TBII.

Nao Ota, Japan, Dance Space, TBII.

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

Yuki Toda, Japan, Acri-Horimoto Ballet Academy, TBII.

The 2017/18 Season opens with Tulsa Ballet II performing On Your Radar August 25 at 7pm and August 27 at 3pm in Tulsa Ballet’s Studio K Theater and August 26 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 three exciting never-before-seen works created just for Tulsa Ballet by international women choreographers: Helen Pickett, Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, and Young Soon Hue. Creations in Studio K will be showcased two weekends (Sept 15-17 and 21-24) 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