Ballet East Dance Company

Celebrating 40 years of "bringing arts to the community and the community to the arts".

ANGELA BENZ Angela Benz started dancing in Bakersfield, CA where she had the opportunity to perform in annual productions of The Nutcracker and competing around California. After high school Mrs. Benz received her Bachelor’s Degree in Dance from Eastern University in Philadelphia. During her time at Eastern, she studied abroad at Wesley Institute of Performing Arts in Sydney, Australia and performed with professional companies MM2 and Philadanco II, where she was under the instruction of the iconic Pat Thomas, Donald Lunsford, Milton Meyers, and Joan Meyers Brown. After college Mrs. Benz moved to Orlando, FL to be a character Performer at Walt Disney World. She then moved to Austin, TX where she has performed with local companies such as Afrique Gninze (3 years), Ballet East (2 years), and Chaddick Dance Theater (7 years). Mrs. Benz’ passion for dance has also taken her around the world, where she has trained and performed on 4 continents. Mrs. Benz is currently a wife, two time boy mom, VP of People at an Austin tech company, Leadership Coach, and is thrilled to be dancing with Ballet East this season!
JULIE BOHN JULIE BOHN received a BFA degree in dance from the University of Texas at Austin, studying under Lyn Wiltshire, Holly Williams, Andrea Beckham, Jeffrey Bullock, and Yacov Sharir. She has performed with Ballet East for more seasons than she can count on all her fingers and toes! During this time, she has also enjoyed stepping into the choreographer role with Ballet East, which was a blessing while having two wonderful babies: Elizabeth and Austin. During her dance career, she has performed works by Rodolfo Mendez, Melissa Villarreal, Gina Patterson, Lyn Wiltshire, Andrea Beckham, Toni Bravo, Danny Herman, Jeffrey Bullock and Holly Williams (to name a few). Julie would like to thank her husband, Jason, for taking care of the kiddos so that she can have this one (last?) performance with Ballet East before hanging up her tights…
MARINA DEYOE-PEDRAZA Marina DeYoe-Pedraza She/Her/Ella is an Ohio-Rican raised in the Rio Grande Valley. She graduated from Hofstra University with a BFA in Performance. She has received B.Iden Payne Awards for Best Actress in Theatre for Young Audiences, Outstanding Lead for Edited Digital Production, and Best Puppetry. Since 2014, Marina has lived in Austin performing as an actor, dancer, and puppeteer. This is her last performance with Ballet East before moving to Louisiana for graduate school. Love and joy to everyone who has been a part of her time with Ballet East, and to you for supporting the arts. Mucho Mucho Amor.
ANA ESTRADA ANA ESTRADA was born and raised in Veracruz, México. She started her professional training at Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes in Mexico City, where her concentration was in modern dance. Upon graduation she joined Teoria del Vuelo Dance Company. Ana had the opportunity to teach a variety of classes in both Ballet Internacional Studio and Academia de Danza Valle. Years later, she moved to Austin Texas to pursue her dreams. This is Ana’s first season with Ballet East and is thrilled to be part of our dance family.
CANDIS NICHOLE HARRIS CANDIS NICHOLE HARRIS is a dancer and choreographer with a background in street jazz and various Latin dances. She began studying dance at the age of 14 and continued her formal training at New Mexico State University under the direction of Debra Knapp. She moved to Albuquerque in 2015, where she began her extensive training in Salsa and Bachata, performing with Enigma Dance Project and Mambo Magic. As a creative, movement is her connection back to her truest self and she is honored to share this space with all of you.
KALANI HAWKS-VILLAFRANCA KALANI HAWKS VILLAFRANCA began dancing at the age of 3 in Houston, Texas. She had the opportunity to study and perform a wide variety of dance styles throughout her youth and studied modern dance intensively throughout high school. While in college at Tuffs University, she deepened her study of modern dance and served as the head choreographer and President for the student-run musical theater organization, Torn Ticket II. For Torn Ticket II, Kalani choreographed 8 full- length musical theater productions, including classics such as Chicago and West Side Story. Kalani graduated from Tuffs University in 2005 with a B.A. in Spanish and International Relations and moved to Austin the following year to study law at the University of Texas, where she obtained her J.D. in 2008. During her time in Austin, she has been privileged to dance and perform with many wonderful choreographers and companies, including Ballet East Dance Company and Lotus Contemporary Company. She is thrilled to be returning to Ballet East this season. Kalani owns an immigration law firm, Hawks Villafranca Law, and enjoys spending time with her husband 3 boys.
SAMANTHA HUERTA Raised in Austin, Texas where she began dancing at the age of five, Ms. Huerta studied many forms of dance such as ballet, jazz, tap, modern, and musical theater. At the age of 10 she joined her first dance company, Believe In Me, starring in three productions. There she studied under Tamara Barrington, Laura Agnew, Leticia Rodriguez, and Valdo Perales. Ms. Huerta attended high school at the McCallum Fine Arts Academy performing in over 12 productions. After high school she took three years away from dance to focus on her education at The University of Texas at Austin. To refocus on dance, Samantha took many major and non-major dance courses at the University. She studied modern and contemporary dance with Lorn MacDougal and Andrea Beckham. In May 2013, Samantha graduated from The University of Texas at Austin with a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry. After college, Samantha continued to focus on dance performing five seasons with Ballet East Dance Company. Ms. Huerta then joined Lotus Contemporary Performing Arts company for its first premiere performance in May 2015 and has spent the last few years dancing with Lotus. In April 2020, she returned to the Ballet East family with its new transitions under Melissa Villarreal. Ms. Huerta began teaching company classes and coaching company dancers in 2021. In January 2022, she was named as the Associate Artistic Director of Ballet East Dance Company. Samantha debuted her first choreography and creative work in June 2022.
NICOLE LOZO Nicole Lozo originally comes from Anderson, Indiana, where she started her formal dance training under LouAnn Young and was a member of the Anderson Young Ballet Company. She was a principal dancer in ballets such as The Nutcracker and Cinderella, as well as works choreographed by Lyn Wiltshire, Bill Evans, Trinette Singleton, and Nana Badrena. Ms. Lozo continued her dance studies and received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance in three years with High Honors from the University of Texas at Austin. After graduation, she served as McCallum Fine Arts Academy dance teacher for four years. It was during this time she met Melissa Villarreal and Rodolfo Mendez at Ballet East. Ms. Lozo had the opportunity to dance works by Francisco Gella, Gina Patterson, Lyn Wiltshire, Melissa Villarreal, Regina Larkin, and Hope Boykin. She also enjoyed exploring other facets of dance by training and competing in Latin dancing around the US and internationally, as well as dancing for the San Antonio Spurs. Ms. Lozo continued her passion for teaching dance and taught at Small Middle School for 10 years and nurtured her love for performing with Ballet East. Through this time, she obtained her Master of Education in Educational Psychology at UT and transitioned her career to school counseling. She’s now in her 9th year as a school counselor and is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Registered Play Therapist with a part-time private practice. Ms. Lozo is a proud mom to two amazing kids, an 19-year-old daughter and 16-year-old son. She is thrilled to be back dancing and performing with Ballet East.
LUIS ORDAZ GUTIERREZ LUIS ORDAZ GUTIERREZ A native of Mexico City, Luis moved to Austin at a very young age and flourished artistically under the tutorship of his mother; a trained dancer from the prestigious Bellas Artes in Mexico. Luis trained in a variety of artistic disciplines throughout his childhood leading to a concentration in visual arts and music. Years later at the age of 16, due to his talent and dedication, Luis landed his first professional role as co-founder and scenic director of ProyectoTeatro, Austin's leading Spanish-language theater company. Continuing to excel at a rapid rate, he moved up department by department until finally taking helm of ProyectoTeatro in 2007 as Artistic and Executive director; being 21 years of age. Luis has directed over 30 productions, and has had the opportunity to travel to New York City, Mexico, Panama, and Thailand. In 2011 he received the MACC Emerging talent award. His multi-faceted interest in the arts led him to partner with Ballet East in the 2012 summer production of “Hear Me, See Me”, which sparked him to hone his artistry in dance again. Since reigniting his passion for dance, Luis has worked with Ballet East Dance Company, Chamacos Dance Company, and Lotus Contemporary Performing Arts, as a dancer and actor.
DANIELE SPIVY-SORRELLS DANIELE SPIVEY-SORRELLS is originally from Detroit, Michigan and began dancing in the Detroit Public School system with the M. L. King High School Dance Workshop Program. While the Dance Workshop company's focus was Modern Dance, Daniele was introduced to other forms of classical dance training including Ballet, Dunham, and Jazz. During her high school years, she participated in many master classes, workshops, and concerts. Daniele earned her BS in Psychology and her Master’s in Business and Organizational Leadership from Defiance College in Defiance Ohio. While in college she competed in the Miss Ohio Organization scholarship pageants (1998-2001) where dance was her talent. During her 11-year stay in Ohio, she taught weekly lyrical dance classes at the local YMCA as well as danced, choreographed, and taught liturgical dance classes at her local church. Daniele moved to Austin in July 2007 and currently works for Western Governors University mentoring and coaching adult learners enrolled to achieve their undergraduate Business degrees. She has danced with several Austin-based companies and has enjoyed her time as a guest dancer with Ballet East for the past 4 years. Daniele serves as the Director of Mercy Moves Liturgical Dance Company. She also dances with her church's dance ministry team and teaches monthly dance classes, as well as choreography for many of the church's events and productions.

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