“I have been crisscrossing America on summer audition tours for fifteen years. The students at Ballet Etudes are extremely well trained. It is clear they have outstanding teachers.”
- Michael Owen, Director of Dance, Walnut Hill School for the Arts
As its founding Artistic Director, Sharon Seder Meko has been the driving force and inspiration behind Ballet Etudes since 1986. Her foresight and vision are responsible for the company's tremendous growth and development and the artistic accomplishments of its dancers. Due to her efforts, many of the company's dancers have been accepted at the most prestigious schools and companies throughout North America. Ballet Etudes' stature in the southwestern United States has been achieved because of the dedication to excellence and the exceptional professional abilities of this most talented woman. Under her watchful eye, three of Sharon’s students have studied at American Ballet Theatre in New York City after having received the National Training Program Scholarships, two others have been accepted into the Professional Division of Pacific Northwest Ballet’s school, and countless others have gone onto professional dance careers and college-level studies with scholarships. Sharon began her training in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, with the Schuykill Valley Regional Dance Company. She then continued her formal ballet training in Philadelphia and later trained as an auditioned student under Edward Canton at the Pennsylvania Ballet. She continued her dancing career as a soloist and principal dancer. Some of her roles include: Sugar Plum Fairy, Waltz and Mirlitons in Nutcracker, Kitri in Don Quixote, Blue Bird, Lilac Fairy and Spanish in Sleeping Beauty, and roles in Coppélia. She has studied and taken master classes with teachers Margaret Craske, Hector Zaraspe, Pearl Lang and Martha Graham. In Denver she continued her professional career with the Colorado Concert Ballet Company and Ballet Now. Since 1979, Sharon has pursued her love of Ballet in Arizona. She danced with the Mesa Civic Ballet (presently Ballet Arizona) and has choreographed for the Arizona Metropolitan Ballet Junior Company and served as a guest teacher. She was on the faculty of the Dance Department at Arizona State University. A teacher of ballet for 30 years, Sharon is presently Director of BE School of Dance. Sharon Meko was honored by the Mesa Chamber for Commerce and by Arts in Mesa when she was named "Artist of the Year.”
Aliece Wright Bergen recieved her classical training under the direction of Sharon Seder Meko beginning at the age of 10. She was a company member of Ballet Etudes for 7 years where she performed such roles as Air in The Four Elements, Arabian in Nutcracker and Marie Taglioni in Pas de Quatre. She continued dancing company member of Center Dance Ensemble, a modern dance company of Phoenix. In 1995, Aliece was the Arizona winner of the National Society of Arts and Letters, Modern Dance Competition. In 2000, she earned her B.A. in Education from Arizona State University. She is married to her husband, Keith, they have 6 children, 1 daughter and 5 sons. She has taught modern, tap, jazz, and contemporary, focusing on ballet for over 25 years. She also enjoys working with Ballet Etudes during the Nutcracker season directing the fight scene which she has done for many years.
Jessica Blonde relocated to Arizona after living and working as a freelance dancer in New York City for over a decade. She received her primary training in her native Iowa, where she performed with Ballet Iowa and the Des Moines Metro Opera. She supplemented her training at the Kirov Academy in Washington, DC, the Colorado Ballet, the American Dance Festival, and as a scholarship student at the Paul Taylor School. In New York, Jessica was featured as a soloist in both contemporary and classical roles with Eglevsky Ballet, and performed throughout the state with tompricedance. She worked most extensively with contemporary ballet company Lydia Johnson Dance, for whom she originated many major roles in addition to serving as rehearsal director and costume designer. Jessica holds a BFA in Ballet and Modern Dance from Texas Christian University and a MA in Dance Education from NYU Steinhardt.
Mary Lou Edwards began her dance studies in Mesa, Arizona with Virginia Shelley and Merlyn Legge. As a child, she trained in both the Royal Academy of Dance and Cecchetti methods. She auditioned and danced in Ballet West’s production of The Nutcracker for several years when they performed in Phoenix. As a teenager, Mary Lou spent her summers at ballet intensives in both Arizona and Michigan. While living in Michigan, she joined the Ann Arbor Civic Ballet Company under the direction of Sylvia Hamer. After returning to Arizona, she was a member of the Mesa Civic Ballet Company(now Ballet Arizona) and also performed with Eastside Ballet and Jazz Ensemble under the direction of Constance Stine. Mary Lou performed in various ballets including Serenade, Swan Lake, Coppelia, The Nutcracker, Giselle, Hansel and Gretel, Les Sylphides, and Pas de Quatre. Mary Lou received her B.S. in Nutrition from Arizona State University and worked as a nutritionist with Mesa Public Schools. She has taught ballet for over 30 years, 11 of those years at Ballet Etudes. Mary Lou and her husband Tim have a daughter, Alyssa. She is married to Jeff and they have 2 sons. Mary Lou and Tim also have a son, Sean.
Here is my bio:
Christopher Gallacher is a native of Arizona and no stranger to the stage. At the age of 6, he was already participating in summer musical theater camps. In high school, he performed in all the school musicals and joined the show choir LIGHT. Although Christopher studied Statistics at BYU, he still found ample opportunities to dance. During his time as a member of BYU’s International Folk Dance Ensemble, Christopher fell in love with all styles of percussive dance and deepened his love for tap. That love eventually led him to New York City where he had the privilege to perform in several tap musicals, including Crazy For You, 42nd Street, and Holiday Inn. Christopher is thrilled to be joining the Ballet Etudes family as its newest tap instructor.
Ashley was born and raised in Orange County, CA and relocated to AZ in 2015. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from California State University, Fullerton. Her dance training began at Inland Pacific Ballet where she had the opportunity to perform in ballets such as The Nutcracker, Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, Giselle and Coppelia. During her time in college she was able to study many other genres of dance and be featured in annual dance concerts as well as receive a Dance Scholarship for her choreography piece Nocturnal Visions. She also spent two summers training at American Ballet Theatre in New York City as well as a summer training with the Jose Limon Dance Company. When she was 17 years old Ashley started a thirteen year career with the Walt Disney Company in Anaheim. She spent the first six years as a performer doing shows and character work as well as being featured in the 50th anniversary parade, Parade of Dreams. From there she went on to work with the Disney Performing Arts program assisting with workshops, guest performances, special events and production coordination. Her last three years were spent as an Administrative Assistant to the Entertainment Division Operations Manager. Since then she began doing theater and has performed in shows such as: The World Goes ‘Round (Downey Civic Light Opera), Evita (GEM Theater), Legally Blonde (Covina Center for the Performing Arts), and the following shows here at the Hale Theatre in Gilbert: Anything Goes, West Side Story, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Joseph, Meet Me in St. Louis, Christmas Carol, No No Nannette, Annie, Singin’ in the Rain, Newsies, Hello Dolly, Guys and Dolls and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. She has been teaching for sixteen years at dance studios all over Southern California and in Arizona in all styles and genres of dance. In addition to teaching and performing Ashley choreographs musical theater locally and has choreographed such shows as: All Shook Up (MCC), Young Frankenstein (MCC), Bye Bye Birdie (MVHS), Seussical (HAQC), Shrek (MCC), Beauty and the Beast (HAQC), Mamma Mia (MCC), Company (MCC, Sound of Music (Zao), and Little Shop of Horrors (CVHS). Ashley absolutely loves teaching and is excited to share her passion for the arts with the students at Ballet Etudes.
Kendyll Haught was born in Arizona, but just moved back 5 years ago. She has studied ballet for 15 years, and has done The Nutcracker for 7 of those years. She has performed roles such as Mechanical doll, Clara, Court Fairy and Snow Queen during her time dancing with Ballet Etudes. She was a Soloist and most recently a Principal in their studio company. In the past years, she has also preformed in ballets such Giselle, Swan Lake, Cinderella, and Sleeping Beauty. Some of her favorite roles were Wili corps, 4 Cygnets, Neapolitan demi-soloist, Stepsister Myrtle, and the Fairy of Musicality. She has taken Master classes from incredible instructors and programs such as Wendy Whelan, Evergreen City Ballet, Ballet Arizona dancers, and BYU’s Contemporary Intensive program. She is in school to get her Cosmetology license, and is excited to start teaching ballet classes!
Helio Lima was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and started dancing at the age of 10. He studied with Patricia Salgado at Escola de Dança Petite Danse in Rio de Janeiro for nine years. In 2009 he was placed amongst the top ten finalists of the Youth America Grand Prix and was awarded the Sir Logan Campbell ballet award. He was also awarded scholarships to Washington Ballet School and The Royal Winnipeg Ballet School but accepted the Jerome Robbins Foundation Scholarship to study full time at the New Zealand School of Dance. At the end of 2010 he joined The Western Australian Ballet Company, for the Marcia Haydée’s season of Sleeping Beauty, under Ivan Cavallari. In 2011 Helio was offered a place with Royal New Zealand Ballet Company under Ethan Stiefel. In 2014 Helio was offered a contract with the Boston Ballet Company, under Mikko Nissinen. Today Helio currently dances as one of Ballet Arizona’s Principal dancers. Some of Helio’s highlight performances include Albrecht, from Johan Kobborg and Ethan Stiefel’s production of Giselle, Dream Pas in Val Caniparoli’s Lady of the Camellias, Blue Bird in Marcia Haydée’s Sleeping Beauty, and several works under the direction of Ib Andersen including: Romeo, from Romeo and Juliet, Solor from Bayadère, Prince Désiré from Sleeping Beauty, Franz from Coppélia, Prince Seigfried from Swan Lake and the Prince from Cinderella. Helio has also had the privilege to dance as a principal role in the following works by George Balanchine: Rubies from Jewels, Square Dance, Symphony in Three Movements, Agon and La Sonnambula.
Arianni Martin began dancing at nine at the Vocational Art School in Santiago de Cuba, Cuba. When she was fifteen years old, she was selected for further studies at the National Ballet School, Habana, under the supervision of Ramona de Saa. In 2010 Arianni joined the National Ballet of Cuba under the direction of Alicia Alonso. During her 3rd season with the company, she held the rank of soloist and performed in Ballets like Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, Giselle, Don Quixote, The Nutcracker, and Cinderella. She also participated in National and International Contests. Arianni’s accomplishments include bronze and silver medals at National and International Competitions in 2009 and 2010 in Cuba. Martin came to the United States in 2013 and joined the Cuban Classical Ballet of Miami, where she performed leading roles in La Sylphide and Le Corsaire. Later that year, she joined Ballet Arizona under the direction of Ib Anderson. With this company, she had the opportunity to go to the 2014 USA International Ballet Competition in Jackson, Mississippi, where she was one of the finalists. While dancing with Ballet Arizona, she had the opportunity to dance principal roles in Ballets such as Cinderella, La Bayadere, The Nutcracker, Coppelia, Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake, Napoli, and George Balanchine’s Walpurgisnacht, Western Symphony, La Sonnambula, Apollo, Serenade, Bourrèe Fantasque, Four Temperaments and Symphony in Three Movements. As well as original works by Ib Anderson, Nayon Lovino, and "Increases" by Justin Peck.
Alejandro Mendez began dancing at nine years old at the Vocational School of Luis Casas Romero in Camaguey, Cuba, for five years. Alejandro joined The National School of Vicentina De La Torre to further his studies in Camaguey, Cuba. He also participated in a prestigious international contest in 2010, where he accomplished a silver medal for his outstanding performance in Cuba. Alejandro seized the opportunity to join the illustrious National Ballet of Cuba, where he had the privilege of working with internationally recognized choreographers and teachers Alicia Alonso, Fernando Alonso, and Eduardo Blanco. During his 1st and 2nd seasons in the Ballet National of Cuba, Alejandro had the opportunity to perform soloist roles in Eduardo Blanco's original work, such as Acentos and Cuba, inside a piano. In 2013, Alejandro's talent beckoned him beyond Cuban borders as he was invited to perform as a guest artist with Ballet de Monterrey in Mexico. This exciting opportunity further enriched his experiences and allowed him to showcase his talents to an international audience. Eager to continue his artistic journey, Alejandro's next destination was Ballet Arizona, where he joined as a member. He has performed principal roles in productions such as The Nutcracker, Napoli, Coppélia, and La Sylphide. Additionally, Soloist roles include Bluebird-sleeping Beauty, Golden Idol-La Bayadere, Swan Lake-Pas de Trois, "In Creases" by Justin Peck, "Pacopepepluto" by Alejandro Cerrudo, and George Balanchine's timeless masterpiece Prodigal Son, Themes and Variation, La Sonnambula-harlequin, and Western Symphony. As well as original works by Ib Anderson and Nayon Lovino.
Sally’s earliest memories of ballet class were in Marsha Russell’s home studio. She then went on to learn the RAD method at Adam’s Academy before her training at Ballet Etudes as a company member for eight years. As a student at Arizona School for the Arts, Sally also studied at the School of Ballet Arizona. Throughout her youth, she took classes in modern, jazz, contemporary, and flamenco dance. As a student at Brigham Young University, Sally took ballroom courses, until she discovered and fell in love with international folk dance. As a member of the BYU Performing Arts Company and Clog America, Sally was fortunate enough to tour the USA, China, France, and Portugal as a dancer and U.S. representative. Along with her husband, she has taught and choreographed for BYU and multiple high schools. Most recently, Sally has enjoyed exploring musical theatre as a performer at Hale Centre Theatre. Sally is delighted to be returning to her ballet roots as an instructor at Ballet Etudes.
Rebekah danced professionally for over 12 years and has taught ballet throughout her professional career and beyond. She danced 6 seasons with Texas Ballet Theater where she was privileged to perform many soloist and principal roles including "Snow Queen" in The Nutcracker and her favorite, Three Preludes pas de deux, by Ben Stevenson. During her time at TBT she had the privilege to perform in many of the great classical ballets, including Swan Lake, Peer Gynt, Giselle, Dracula, Cleopatra, Romeo and Juliet, Nutcracker, Coppélia and Cinderella as well as many Balanchine ballets including La Sonnambula, Four Temperaments, Serenade, Who Cares?, andRubies. She was also an original cast member in the Las Vegas production of Phantom of the Opera (dancer, soloist and Meg U/S) working directly with Gillian Lynn. She performed in the show for over 6 years and 2,700 performances. While in Vegas she co-directed “Hope: An Evening of Classical Ballet” benefit for 5 years in a row.
Her ballet training began in Fresno, CA under the tutelage of Christopher Doyle, Francoise Thouveny-Doyle and Carla Stallings-Lippert. While training in Fresno she danced with the Fresno Ballet and had many principle performing opportunities with the student company. She trained in New York City with American Ballet Theater’s summer program for 4 summers and well as the Boston Ballet summer program for 2 summers. While training at the ABT school she had the privilege of being selected to perform the principal pas de deux in a new work by Daniel Baudendistel.
Other credits: She performed as a ballet dancer in an “Imagine Dragons” music video, guested as the Sugar Plum Fairy, and performed in regional musical theater in Fort Worth, TX. After she retired from the stage, she graduated with a Bachelors Degree in Nursing and is a Registered Nurse and also has completed her Yoga Teacher certification. She loves to share her passion for ballet and is excited to teach the talented students at Ballet Etudes!
Julia began dancing at a young age and fell in love with ballet from the start. Raised in a military family, her early dance training began at several small studios around the country and in Germany. After moving back to the states at age 12, she studied in the School of Nashville Ballet before entering into their professional training division. She performed in her first Nutcracker as a party girl and also performed in A Midsummer Nights Dream. As a sophomore in high school, she furthered her training at The Washington Ballet in the Professional Training Program. After that, she was accepted as a Trainee with Ballet West. While dancing there she experienced dancing corps roles in Sleeping Beauty, Symphony in C, Chaconne, Nutcracker, Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, and a principal role in Concerto Barocco. She joined The Louisville Ballet in 2017 where she was a trainee and then in the studio company. There she had many exciting performing opportunities including corps, soloist, and principal roles in Giselle, Nutcracker, Serenade, The Merry Widow, Romeo and Juliet, Velocity by Stanton Welch, and Cinderella. Some of her favorite roles she performed include Lilac Fairy in Sleeping Beauty, Peasant Pas and Myrtha in Giselle, Arabian Pas in Nutcracker, corps in Serenade, and a soloist role in The Merry Widow. She moved to Arizona in 2021 and lives with her family and her cats. Julia taught her first ballet classes at The Louisville Ballet School and is now very excited to share her love of dance with the students here at Ballet Etudes.
Bella began dancing with Ballet Etudes at age five and first performed in The Nutcracker as a baby mouse at age seven. As a company member, she performed Clara, Snow Queen, Spanish, Dew Drop, and Sugar Plum in The Nutcracker. A highlight of her time with Ballet Etudes was performing the title role in Cinderella. In 2014, BalletMet’s ballet mistress, Susan Dromisky, invited her to join the trainee program on scholarship. While at BalletMet, Bella toured with the company to perform in The Nutcracker and subsequently performed in other full-length ballets. Her most influential mentor there was Dmitri Suslov, a Bolshoi Academy graduate. She then joined the Conservatory program at Atlanta Ballet under the new direction of Gennadi Nedvigin. Since then, Bella has returned to Arizona, graduated summa cum laude with a BSE in Mechanical Engineering from Arizona State University and will complete her master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering in December 2022. Most excitedly, she recently married Conner King, another BE alumni, and is ecstatic for what the future holds.
Susan began her dance studies in California where one of her most influential teachers was Eugene Loring. In Junior High School she was accepted on scholarship at Colorado Collegeʼs Dance Department, studying with Professor Norman and Dorothea Cornick, formerly principals with the Memphis Ballet. She was a soloist in the Collegeʼs performing company. Susan began her training with American Ballet Theater under Francesca and Dimitri Romanoff, the companyʼs Regisseur. She went on to perform in American Ballet Theatreʼs corps and was promoted to soloist. As a soloist her repertoire included the ballets Les Sylphides, Les Patineurs, Swan Lake, Nutcracker and Giselle.
After coming to Arizona she completed her exams in the Dance Education Syllabus of the Royal Academy of Dancing and now is a certified and registered teacher of the Royal Academy of Dancing, London, England. Susan is a member of the International Association for Dance Medicine and Science. Susan is also a ballet instructor at BE School of Dance.
Kleiton Sistelos was born in Recife, Brazil. He studied Classical Dance in the Royal Method and graduated in 2006. He studied the Techinique Cubana from 2005 to 2007. Kleiton has trained in Brazil, the United States, and at the Teatro Carcano in Milan, Italy. He has studied Jazz and Modern, specializing in the Horton Technique and certified at Alvin Aylin in NYC. He has danced in festivals throughout Brazil and Europe, including the Latin American Tour in Milan, the Dell’Art Festival in Genova, the Nice Festival in France, and the Festival of Valencia in Spain. He has performed in major productions on the stage and on television in Rio de Janeiro Brazil.
Audrey Bergen Slade started dancing with Ballet Etudes in 2008 as a baby mouse in The Nutcracker. She later went on to join the company and enjoyed various roles such as Party Girl, Lady in Waiting, Bon Bon, Junior Corps, and Chinese Tea in The Nutcracker as well as King's Court in Cinderella. Having throughly loved the teachings and atmosphere of Ballet Etudes, she continued as a volunteer in productions such as Sleeping Beauty and The Nutcracker, alongside her husband Brandon. Audrey began teaching at BE in the fall of 2019. When not at the studio she is a stay at home mom growing her small business, Gail Designs. She is also Barre Above and Zumba fitness certified. Audrey loves teaching and is grateful for all the opportunities Ballet Etudes has given and continues to give her. She looks forward to the many years to come!
Amy received her Bachelors at Brigham Young University in Dance Education with an emphasis in Contemporary and Modern Dance. While at BYU Amy was a top student recognized on the Dean’s list and was chosen by BYU faculty to be hired by BYU as undergraduate dance department teaching staff, where she taught for two years. After graduation Amy was the Dance Department head for American Fork High School in Utah as well as the competitive team coach for their dance and drill team and Artistic Director for the Performing Dance Company. After moving to Texas, she was the Contemporary and Jazz director for Jim Payne, former principal for Houston Ballet, at the school he founded, Payne Academy of Ballet. After a move to Arizona, Amy was hired on with Ballet Etudes and has loved teaching Contemporary, Lyrical, and Broadway Jazz for the last 8 years. While at Ballet Etudes Amy has enjoyed doing choreography for the Arizona Dance Festival, Repertoire, and Showcase, as well as being Showcase coordinator for the school. In her formative years, Amy lived in Texas and was a member of The Woodlands Dance Company, and was a talent scholarship recipient of the Woodlands Living Arts Council. Amy is married and has four wonderful children. Teaching is her passion and she loves to see every student succeed and find joy in movement.
Astrit received his training from the National School of Albania and the University of Oklahoma, and has since been a principal dancer with the National Ballet of Albania, Miami City Ballet, and Pacific Northwest Ballet. He has received several awards, including the Gold Medal in the 1994 Eastern European Ballet Competition in Kazanluk, Bulgaria, and first prize in Albania’s 1995 National Ballet Competition. In 1998, Astrit was a finalist in the Paris International Ballet Competition. His repertoire includes many of his favorite ballets: Swan Lake, Giselle, Raymonda, Esmeralda, Cinderella, Nacho Duato’s Rassemblement, Ib Andersen’s Romeo and Juliet and George Balanchine’s Agon, Apollo, Theme and Variations, The Four Temperaments, “Rubies” from Jewels, Stravinsky Violin Concerto, and Who Cares?. Since joining Ballet Arizona in 2003, Astrit has originated principal roles in Ib Andersen’s Preludes and Fugues, Coppélia, Mosaik, Play, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and danced principal roles in La Sylphide, Romeo and Juliet, Swan Lake, and Twyla Tharp’s Sinatra Suite, Dwight Rhoden’s Ave Maria, and Christopher Wheeldon’s Polyphonia. Astrit has made international appearances with National Ballet of Croatia, Jorgen Ballet of Canada, and in 2009 represented Ballet Arizona in the Miami International Dance Festival. Most recently Astrit danced at the Kennedy Center in D.C. for the première of Andersen’s Diversions.