Mackenzie Aragon began her dance training at the age of three with Dance Theater of the Southwest. By age 8 she was performing and training with the NMBC’s Junior Company. Mackenzie attended the Jillana School in Taos for two years, where she had the opportunity to perform the Silver Fairy variation from The Sleeping Beauty. In 2013 Mackenzie was offered a contract position with NMBC. Since that time, she has performed in several of NMBC’s productions, including The Nutcracker Ballet, Romeo and Juliet, Don Quixote, and Spring Sports choreographed by Peter Pucci. Mackenzie is currently in the 11th grade at La Cueva High school, and is proud to be a member of NMBC.
Sarita Cavazos began training in ballet at age 4 with Ballet Repertory Theatre of New Mexico, and at age 10 began dancing in the company’s many ballets including The Nutcracker, Alice in Wonderland, Sleeping Beauty, The Wizard of Oz, Swan Lake, Beauty and the Beast, and The Little Mermaid. At age 15, she joined the modern company Sparrow Dance, where she has had the privilege of dancing in their productions such as Santa Fe Fashion Week. She has attended the Jillana School for three years, and spent this past summer training with the Joffrey Ballet School in New York City. Sarita is currently a teacher at Fusion Academy of the Dance and a junior at Sandia High School. This is her first year with New Mexico Ballet Company, and she is very grateful for the opportunity.
Samuel DerGregorian has been a student at La Mesa Dance Academy for the past 7 years under the direction of Cecelia Jaramillo. His training includes a variety of styles such as ballet, jazz, tap, and modern dance. Sam has had the opportunity to attend summer courses at some of the nation’s top schools including Pacific Northwest Ballet, Walnut Hill School for the Arts, and Ballet Chicago, two of these being under full scholarship. He has had the honor of performing lead roles in Balanchine’s Serenade and Theme and Variations, as well as performing corps de ballet roles in Balanchine’s Stars and Stripes. Sam is a currently a junior in the Rio Rancho school district. He is very excited to be a member of New Mexico Ballet Company and to dance among such phenomenal dancers.
Kiera Johnson was born and raised in Albuquerque. She began dancing at the age of 2 at Elite Dance Studio. While dancing with the company, she became an instructor and choreographer where her choreography was featured in multiple studio projects. Kiera is trained in a variety of dance styles including ballet, jazz, tap, hip hop, and contemporary. In 2015, after auditioning for NMBC’s The Nutcracker Ballet, Kiera was offered a contract with the company. She is looking forward to her second season with NMBC and is very excited to be performing soloist roles this season. Kiera feels blessed to have been given the opportunity to dance with NMBC.
Nicole Leigh Jones, 16, began dancing at the age of 3. Currently she trains at NDI with Evelyn Cisneros-Legate and Stephen Legate, as well as with various instructors at New Mexico Dance Academy. At 12, Nicole performed as Clara in the Rockettes’ Radio City Christmas Spectacular touring show. In 2013, she attended the Bolshoi summer intensive as well as reprised her role of Clara for the Rockettes, this time in NYC at Radio City Music Hall. In 2014 and 2015, she was awarded a scholarship to attend the Orlando Ballet School Summer Intensive, and in the summer of 2016, she attended the Marin Dance Theater. In 2014, Nicole joined the New Mexico Ballet Company, performing the role of Clara in The Nutcracker Ballet and was honored to perform the role of Snow Queen in 2015. She is excited to begin her third season with NMBC.
Rachel Jones began dancing at the age of 5 with Karen Alwin. She studied the Cecchetti method and successfully passed exams through level VII. This is her fifth season dancing with NMBC. She has danced in NMBC’s productions of Romeo and Juliet, Don Quixote, The Nutcracker, Alice in Wonderland, Choreographer’s Collective, and Spartacus. She has also been a member of the Performers Ballet and Jazz Company for nine years, dancing in Christmas Joy, Project Jazz, First Impressions, and How Love Wins. She has competed at Youth America Grand Prix, placing in the top 12 for four years. She has attended summer intensives at the Jillana School, Ballet West, Marin Dance Theater, Kaastbaan Extreme Ballet, and The School of American Ballet. She is a junior at Albuquerque Academy and also enjoys running and playing the violin. She appreciates the opportunity to dance with NMBC again this season.
Antonio Lopez begin his training at age 13 with Ballet Repertory Theater of New Mexico in fall of 2011, and continued as a company member until 2013. After completing his first season with New Mexico Ballet Company, he studied under the direction of Marcia Dale-Weary at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet until spring of 2016. Throughout his training, he attended various summer intensives such as Joffrey Ballet NYC, Walnut Hill, CPYB, and, most recently, Alonzo King LINES Ballet. During his training at CPYB, Antonio performed works by Alan Hinline, Mathew Powell, Kelly Anne-Sloan, Price Suddarth, and Malinda Howe, as well as Balanchine’s The Nutcracker and Western Symphony. Antonio is ready to progress and perform for NMBC’s 2016-2017 season!
Elliott Miller began studying ballroom at the University of New Mexico in 2011. As he progressed in his training, he was invited to join the Latin ballroom company, Soirée, in 2012. With the company, he performed in numerous events throughout the city as well as began competing at the bronze and silver level with various organizations. In 2013, Elliott was invited to understudy for New Mexico Dance Company’s yearly production of The Nutcracker Ballet. This experience sparked his interests to pursue ballet as an outlet of dance. Currently, Elliott is in his fourth season with NMBC and is also pursuing a doctorate in Pharmacy at the University of New Mexico.
Amanda Murray began her ballet training in Wenatchee, Washington, with Joan Shelton Mason, and later furthered her training in San Diego, California, with Maxim and Sylvia Tchernychev. She studied on full scholarship at the Jillana School and with Ballet Idaho. Amanda has been featured in premiere roles including Alice in Alice in Wonderland, Swanhilda in Coppélia, Kitri in Don Quixote, Sugarplum Fairy in The Nutcracker, lead Russian girl in George Balanchine’s Serenade, and lead in George Balanchine’s Stars and Stripes. She was invited to New York for the Youth American Grand Prix ballet competition and danced professionally with Ballet Idaho for four years. This is Amanda’s third season dancing with NMBC.
Tracy Ritter-Golson trained at La Mesa Dance Academy with Cecelia Jaramillo before studying under Suzanne Johnston. She has been a member of NMBC since 2002, performing Lead Merliton and Dew Drop in The Nutcracker Ballet, Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland and in George Balanchine’s Concerto Barocco. In addition, she was a corps dancer in West Side Story and Thoroughly Modern Millie and recently appeared as a dancer in the film A Million Ways to Die in the West. Tracy has a passion for teaching and has had the opportunity to work with dancers age three through pre-professional at Dance Theatre Southwest, Kids Love to Dance, NMBC, and La Mesa Dance Academy. She is currently in her sixth year with NDI-NM where she is an instructor for their Outreach Program. Tracy would like to thank her husband Adam and her family for all their love and support!
Robbie Rodriguez is an Albuquerque native and began dancing at age four. For 16 years, he trained with Elite Dance Company and became an instructor and choreographer for many of the studio’s original productions. Throughout his career, Robbie has trained on scholarship with State Street Ballet and Joffrey Ballet School in NYC. He has been a guest choreographer and judge for Cathy Roe Productions and Showbiz National Talent, and appeared in Seth MacFarlane’s A Million Ways to Die in the West. He is a UNM graduate and currently co-coaches the school’s dance team. Robbie has been with NMBC for four years and has had the privilege of originating the roles of Tybalt in Romeo and Juliet, Crassus in Spartacus, and Jack in Alice in Wonderland. Robbie is also a rehearsal coach and the Marketing and Operations Director for NMBC and a dance instructor at the Public Academy for Performing Arts.
Emma Royster began her dance training with Karen Alwin at Alwin School of the Dance at age three and has been training for thirteen years. She has previously danced with The Performers Ballet and Jazz Company as well as Wendy Miner. She has performed in New Mexico Ballet Company productions such as The Nutcracker, Romeo and Juliet, Don Quixote, Spartacus, Alice in Wonderland and Tribute to Our Founder. Emma has attended the Modas intensive and Jillana’s School of Dance in Taos for three years, performing solos in George Balanchine’s Serenade and Stars and Stripes. She has had the privilege to work with Natalie Harris, Jolie Sutton-Simballa, Wendy Rubin, Layla Amis, Duncan Cooper, Luis Fuentes, Catherine Batcheller, and many others. This is Emma’s third year with the company and she is excited and thankful to be dancing with such a wonderful group of people.
Kelly Ruggiero received her BFA on full scholarship from the University of Arizona, where she was featured in Lise Houlton’s Sidetracks, Melissa Lowe’s English Suite, Michael William’s Dreaming, and James Clouser’s Swan Lake as Odette. Upon graduating, Kelly joined David Taylor Dance Theatre. Her repertoire includes Sugar Plum and Clara in The Nutcracker, Juliet in Romeo and Juliet Rocks!, James Wallace’s The Storm, and Tom Ruud’s Mobile. Kelly joined Nevada Ballet Theatre, where she performed Who Cares?, Serenade, Rubies, Peter Anastos’s Cinderella, Bruce Steivel’s Don Quixote, and James Canfield’s Giselle. She was offered the esteemed opportunity to perform Canfield’s Equinoxe at the Kennedy Center. She also performed with Cirque du Soleil in their annual Choreographer’s Showcase for three seasons in Las Vegas, as well as three seasons with Sandra Organ Dance Company. Kelly’s roles with NMBC include Juliet in Romeo and Juliet, Mercedes in Don Quixote, and Phrygia in Spartacus.
Maura Talley, 22, is an Albuquerque native. She began her dance training at Lana’s School of Dance at the age of 3, and has continued her instruction at Dance Arts Center, Marshall Performing Arts, Dance Theater of the Southwest, and at New Mexico Dance Academy with the New Mexico Ballet Company. In the summer of 2013, she attended the Joffrey Ballet School’s Summer Intensive in New York City on a full-tuition scholarship. Maura’s NMBC performance repertoire includes Romeo and Juliet, Don Quixote, Spartacus, and Alice in Wonderland. She has choreographed for NMBC’s summer performances the past 3 years. She also performed in Petrushka with David Chavez and the NMSO. This is Maura’s 10th season with NMBC and she is excited to be performing two new roles this season in The Nutcracker Ballet.
Matthew Torres was born and raised in Albuquerque, and began dancing at the age of 9 with Elite Dance Studio of New Mexico. His training includes styles such as ballet, jazz, tap, hip-hop, and contemporary. Matthew has competed both regionally and nationally, participated in numerous dance workshops, and continues to perform in various productions. He has received instruction from an array of Albuquerque locals including Cheri Costales, Esther Michnovicz, Alyssa Lamb, Jolie Sutton-Simballa, Amy Duda, Wendy Rubin, Vladimir Conde Reche, and Simone di Pietro Reche. In addition, Matthew works with the Gallup High School Dance Team and serves as a Spirit Official for the New Mexico Activities Association, judging dance competitions across the state. Matthew is a University of New Mexico alumnus where he holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology, Prelaw concentration, with a minor in Psychology. This is his third season with the New Mexico Ballet Company.
Meridith Williamson began her study of dance at 7 years of age. She studied with several local studios in Edgewood and Albuquerque, working hard to build a strong ballet foundation. In 2011, she began her training with the fantastic instructors and artistic staff at NMBC. She has a had the privilege of regularly attending the Jillana School Summer Intensive where she had the honor to perform a variation from George Balanchine’s Western Symphony and Lead Russian Girl in Serenade in addition to summer sessions with Ballet Chicago this year. Meridith is honored begin her 4th season as a company member with NMBC having performed in multiple productions, such as The Nutcracker, Spartacus, Romeo and Juliet, and Alice in Wonderland.
Jaclyn Younger, born and raised in Albuquerque, began her dance training with Ballet Repertory Theatre of New Mexico at three years old. In 2004 she began performing in BRT’s The Nutcracker, eventually performing as Doll, Spanish, Chinese, Russian, and Waltz of the Flowers Demi-Soloist. Additionally, Jaclyn performed in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Swan Lake, Coppélia, Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, The Sleeping Beauty, and a variety of contemporary shows. In 2010, she attended The Joffrey Workshop Texas to study classical ballet, modern, and character dance. Prior to joining NMBC, Jaclyn attended The Joffrey Ballet School in New York City on scholarship and performed as a featured soloist in Paquita. In 2015, Jaclyn graduated summa cum laude from the University of New Mexico with degrees in Multimedia Journalism and Dance. Jaclyn also works on TV and film in New Mexico. This is her fifth season with NMBC.