2023 DANCERS IN RESIDENCE
Nikita Boris was born in River Edge, New Jersey. She began her ballet training at the Irine Fokine School of Ballet, and Petrov Ballet School. Nikita continued her studies at the Valentina Kozlova Dance Conservatory of New York. In 2016, she had the opportunity to attend the Vaganova Ballet Academy in St. Petersburg, Russia. She participated in the Vaganova Prix, received the Artistry Award, and performed in the winner’s gala at the Mariinsky Theatre. Throughout her years in school, Boris traveled internationally for competitions. She has been awarded gold and silver medals, as well as the Grand Prix at Concorso di Danza Internazionale “Citta di Spoleto” Italy in 2016, and at VKIBC in St. Petersburg, Russia in 2017. Nikita has danced as a guest artist at the Ecuador Dance Congress in Quito, the Tanzolymp Anniversary Dance Gala in Berlin, the Ballet Beyond Borders Gala in Los Angeles, and the 23rd International Baltic Ballet Festival in Riga. Nikita joined Boston Ballet II in 2018, where she performed works by choreographers including George Balanchine, Sir Frederick Ashton, Mikko Nissinen, Bruce Wood, and Samuel Kirkjian. She spent the 19/20 Season with New York Dance Project, where she performed as a Soloist in the revival of Alberto Alonso’s “Carmen Suite”, and in works by Gerald Arpino, Janice Rosario, Tyler Gilstrap, and Davis Robertson. She joined Cincinnati Ballet as an Apprentice in 2020. Since joining, Nikita has danced in works including a variation from "Raymonda", the premiere of Amy Seiwert's "Ich Bin Bei Dir (I Am With You)", as a soloist in “Paquita”, Winter Fairy in Victoria Morgan’s “Cinderella”, and works by Alejandro Cerrudo, Nicolo Fonte, Cathy Marston, Anabelle Lopez Ochoa, Ohad Naharin, and Twyla Tharp.
Kansas City Ballet
Kaleena Burks was raised in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, where she received training from Magda Auñon and Magaly Suarez. In 2005, she was awarded first place in the pre-professional division of the American Ballet Competition and has since been invited to perform in many galas, including International Ballet Festival of Miami as well as Moving Arts Dance Festival. Ms. Burks has danced with Cincinnati Ballet, Columbia Classical Ballet, and the Cuban Classical Ballet of Miami. She has been honored to dance the role of Sugar Plum Fairy at the Kennedy Center with Kansas City Ballet’s tour of The Nutcracker in 2017. In Kansas City, she has been featured as Odette/Odile in Swan Lake, Giselle in Giselle, Juliet in Romeo & Juliet, Marguerite Gautier in Lady of the Camellias, The Chosen One in Rite of Spring, Lilac Fairy in The Sleeping Beauty, Fairy Godmother in Cinderella, Tiger Lily in Peter Pan, Helena in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Glinda in The Wizard of Oz, along with principal roles in Diamonds, Diving into the Lilacs, In the Upper Room, Interplay, Mercury, Petal, Serenade, and Tulips and Lobster. This is Ms. Burks’ seventh year being a part of Moving Arts.
Carrasco trained at the School of American Ballet and New Mexico Ballet Company and has attended summer intensives with Boston Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, and Ballet Chicago.
He joined Cincinnati Ballet Second Company – CB2 in the 2014-2015 season and was promoted to apprentice for the 2015-2016 Season. Carrasco was promoted to Corps de Ballet for the 2017-2018 Season. He has had four of his ballets performed by the main company of Cincinnati Ballet, three of them created for the The Kaplan New Works Series. Carrasco’s favorite dancing memories are tied to dancing with his sister. He says that “sharing the stage with family is the best experience.”
Sasha Chernjavsky, born in Rochester, NY, started his dance training at the Draper Center for Dance Education. In 2015, he attended the Houston Ballet Academy and joined Houston Ballet II the following year. While with HBII, he performed in several notable works such as George Balanchine’s Allegro Brilliante, and John Neumeier’s Yondering as the Jeanie Boy. In 2017, Sasha danced with Kansas City Ballet and the next year joined Tulsa Ballet as a member of the Corps de Ballet. In 2022 he was promoted to Demi-Soloist. During his time with Tulsa Ballet, Sasha has performed features roles in Annabelle Lopez Ochoa’s Vendetta and Limoncello, Itzik Galili’s O Balcão de Amor, Katarzyna Kozielska’s Ode, and Andrew McNicol’s Celestial Bodies. He has also performed in works by Nicolo Fonte, Craig Davidson, Ma Cong, Jennifer Archibald, Val Caniparoli, Edwaard Liang, Kurt Jooss, and Andy Blankenbuehler, among others.
Llonnis Del Toro
Llonnis Del Toro Cintra was born in 1999 in Havana, Cuba, and began his ballet career at the Fernando Alonso National Ballet School under the direction of Ramona De SaBello. He has participated in several national and international ballet competitions, winning two silver medals and a special mention.
He was part of the National Ballet of Cuba under the direction of Alicia Alonso. Del Toro’s repertoire includes Alice in Wonderland, The Nutcracker, La Bayadere, Flames of Paris, Carnival of Venice, Giselle, Don Quixote, Le Corsaire, Napoli, Carmen, In the Shadows of a Waltz, Cinderella, the Magic Flute, Earth and Moon, Sleeping Beauty, among others.
He has participated in festivals in Peru, Mexico, and China and is currently dancing with the Cincinnati Ballet.
Julia Gundzik began her early ballet training at Ballet Tech of Ohio under the direction of Claudia Rudolf Barrett. She continued her training at the Nutmeg Ballet Conservatory and the Washington School of Ballet’s Professional Training Division. In 2019, she joined the Cincinnati Ballet as a trainee and was promoted to the second company in 2021. Julia has cherished performing works by Xiomara Reyes, Septime Webre, Ohad Naharin, Amy Seiwert, Jennifer Archibald, Kirk Peterson, Victoria Morgan, Suzette Boyer Webb, David Morse, and Taylor Carrasco. Julia is excited to continue her work with the Cincinnati Ballet as a New Dancer for the 2023-2024 season.
Kansas City Ballet
Sidney Haefs was born in Los Angeles, CA. She began her training at the Santa Clarita Ballet Academy under the direction of Corinne Glover. Participating in Royal Academy of Dance Exams, she holds her Advanced 2 certificate with distinction. Ms. Haefs continued her education at the University of Utah where she graduated magna cum laude with a BFA in Ballet and a Minor in Human Development and Family Studies. From there, she was offered a traineeship with Kansas City Ballet where she spent a year before joining the company as an apprentice in 2019. During her time with the company, she has had the opportunity to perform many roles including Snow Queen in Devon Carney’s The Nutcracker, Big Swans in Devon Carney’s Swan Lake, Peasant Pas de deux in Devon Carney’s Giselle, as well as the Emerald Ballerina in Septime Webre’s The Wizard of Oz. She has also performed roles in Val Caniparoli’s Lady of the Camellias, Adam Hougland’s Carmina Burana, George Balanchine’s Serenade, and Edward Liang’s Wunderland.
Maine Kawashima trained at The Marat Daukayev School of Ballet in California. She continued her training with Pittsburgh Ballet Theater’s Graduate Program from 2012-2014 and joined Tulsa Ballet as an Apprentice in 2014 where she was promoted to Soloist in 2019. Her repertoire includes featured roles in George Balanchine’s Who Cares? and Serenade, Amore in Don Quixote, Peasant Pas in Giselle, Michaela in Carmen, Derek Deane’s Strictly Gershwin, David Dawson’s A Million Kisses to My Skin, Wayne McGregor’s Infra, Val Caniparoli’s Prawn-watching, and leading roles in Alexander Ekman’s Cacti, Nacho Duato’s Rassemblement, and Itzik Galili’s O Balcao de Amor. Maine has been in new creations choreographed by Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, Andy Blankenbuehler, Helen Pickett, Jennifer Archibald, Craig Davidson, and Ma Cong among others. Dance Magazine featured her as one of their “25 to Watch” in 2018. In the summer, Maine spends her time dancing with companies like Barak Ballet in Los Angeles and Moving Arts. She will be joining Cincinnati Ballet as a soloist in the 2023/2024 season.
Kansas City Ballet
Born in São Paulo / Brazil
Gabriel Lorena started his ballet training at the Municipal Theater of São Paulo at age 13. In 2016, he received a full scholarship to train as a pre-professional student at Miami City Ballet School under the direction of Arantxa Ochoa. In 2019, he joined Sarasota Ballet as an apprentice and in 2020 he joined Boston Ballet II. Gabriel Lorena is currently a company dancer with Kansas City Ballet.
He has choreographed works for Kansas City Ballet New Moves, Boston Ballet II, Boston Ballet School, Miami City Ballet School, and for the Sarasota Ballet Trainee Students. Lorena has also choreographed a work for BB@yourhome: The Gift 2020.
Kansas City Ballet
Taryn Mejia was born in Kansas City, Missouri and received a majority of her training on full scholarship at the Kansas City Ballet School and the School of American Ballet, performing Waltz Girl in Serenade for the SAB workshop. Ms. Mejia was given her Corps de Ballet contract with the New York City Ballet and performed numerous Balanchine and Robbins ballets including, Stars and Stripes, Jewels, Symphony in Three Movements, West Side Story Suite, and The Cage. Ms. Mejia is in her 9th season with the company and has been featured in numerous roles in The Nutcracker, Alice (in wonderland), The Four Temperments, The Sleeping Beauty, Jiří Kylián’s Petite Mort, Twyla Tharp’s In the Upper Room, Wendy in Peter Pan, Titania in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Sylvie Pas From William Forsythe’s In The Middle, Somewhat Elevated, the Lead Woman in James Kudelka’s The Man in Black and the Principal girl in Balanchine’s Theme and Variations and Diamonds. Some of her favorite choreographers to originate roles for include Matthew Neenan, Annabelle Lopez Ochoa and Price Suddarth.
Michael Mengden began his training at the age of ten at Allegro West Academy of Dance with Catriona Steel. In 2012 Mengden trained in Moscow at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy under Ilya Kuznestov. Prior to his training over seas he furthered his training in the pre-professional program at the Sarasota Cuban Ballet School in Florida and had the unique opportunity to train and travel with Dr. Ramona de Saa, Director of the Cuban National Ballet School in Havana. He then was invited to dance in Cincinnati Ballet’s Second Company program in the fall of 2016. Since joining the company in 2017 Mengden has had the opportunities to perform with the company in various productions such as Artistic Director Victoria Morgan’s King Arthur’s Camelot and Cinderella, Ohad Naharin’s Minus 16, Nicolo Fonte’s Carmina Burana, Septime Weber’s Wizard of Oz, Val Caniparoli’s Isben’s House, Annabelle Lopez Ochoa’s Limoncello, Jerome Robins’s Fancy Free, Justin Peck’s Murder Ballads, Adam Hougland’s Rite of Spring, Devon Carney’s Sleeping Beauty, Garret Smith’s Facades, Kirk Peterson’s Coppelia and Swan Lake, George Balanchine’s Rubies and Jiří Kylián’s Sechs Tänze. Mengden has also been a part of world premiere works from choreographers such Jennifer Archibald, Myles Thatcher, Penny Saunders, Andi Schermoly, David Morse, Travis Wall, Taylor Carrasco and Melissa Gelfin. For the 2022-2023 season, Mengden will be starting his sixth season as a corp de ballet member.
Mia Steedle was born in Boston, MA and trained at Boston Ballet School under the direction of Margaret Tracey before joining Boston Ballet II. She later danced with Kansas City Ballet as an Apprentice and with Cincinnati Ballet II. While in Boston, she was named a Laura Young Scholar and debuted as Clara in Boston Ballet’s “The Nutcracker” for Opening Night in 2018 and 2019. Some of her repertoire includes Christopher Wheeldon’s “The Bitter Earth," George Balanchine’s “Serenade,” Sir Frederick Ashton’s “Cinderella,” Michael Pink’s “Dracula,” and Septime Webre’s “The Wizard of Oz.” Mia has attended summer programs at the School of American Ballet, Canada’s National Ballet School, and Chautauqua Institution. During her summers at Chautauqua, Mia was coached by Patricia McBride on the principal role in George Balanchine’s “Raymonda Variations” and chosen to receive the Michael Vernon Award for Excellence. Mia is an alumni of the Contemporary Ballet Program at Jacob’s Pillow where she worked with choreographers Annabelle Lopez Ochoa and Jennifer Archibald, and performed in the Jacob’s Pillow 90th Anniversary Gala.
Kansas City Ballet
Cameron Thomas began his dance training in his hometown of Rochester, NY. In 2013, he began performing regularly with the Rochester City Ballet. In 2015, Cameron received a full scholarship to attend the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School at American Ballet Theatre. He then joined Kansas City Ballet II for the 2016-2017 season and was promoted to the company the following season. Now in his seventh season with Kansas City Ballet, Cameron has performed featured roles in William Forsythe’s In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated, Septime Webre’s The Wizard of Oz, Lila York’s Celts, Val Caniparoli’s Lady of the Camellias, and Devon Carney’s Swan Lake and The Nutcracker. As a choreographer, Cameron has created work for Creative Intersections, Kansas City Ballet, and Kansas City Ballet II.
In addition to being a dancer, Cameron is a pianist and has accompanied for the Kansas City Ballet School, Oklahoma City Ballet School, Williams Henry Contemporary Dance, and the Worldwide Ballet Zoom classes.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Cameron co-founded Creative Intersections, an outdoor performance project, with James Kirby Rogers to bring live dance back in a time when theaters were shut down. Creative Intersections partnered with Owen Cox Dance Group to present outdoor programs directed by Cameron in 2020-2023.