Meet the Scarsdale Ballet Studio Faculty & Staff

Rosemary Saur

Rosemary Saur, Owner and Director,  started dancing at the age of 7 and was accepted into the Conservatory Bush Davies School by the age of 11, where she studied under the guidance of Noreen Bush.  Her professional experience took her to Tel Aviv, Israel, where Ms. Saur performed with the Israeli Classical Ballet and later with the renowned modern company, Bat Dor.  After returning to England she completed a teaching diploma at the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing in Bedford, before accepting a teaching position in Mainz, Germany.  She also performed as a dancer at the Mainz State Theater.  In 2010 Ms. Saur completed the Professional Dancer’s Teaching Diploma (P.D.T.D.) at the Royal Academy of Dance in London, England. She has been teaching at Scarsdale Ballet Studio since 2008.

Diana White

Diana White, Founder and Artistic Director Emeritus, was a ballerina of the New York City Ballet under George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins. An internationally sought-after master teacher, she is also one of a select group of former dancers who have been chosen by the the George Balanchine Trust and the Robbins Rights Trust to stage their masterpieces on companies and schools world-wide.

Diana started dancing at age four and at age fourteen, became a member of the Lyric Opera of Chicago Ballet under the directorship of the legendary Maria Tallchief. There, she was seen by Balanchine, who awarded her a scholarship to the School of American Ballet. He invited her to join the New York City Ballet one year later.

During her twenty-year career at NYCB she worked closely with Balanchine, Robbins, and Peter Martins. Her principal repertoire included many roles in classics such as Balanchine’s Apollo, The Four Temperaments, Western Symphony, Serenade, Liebeslieder Walzer, and Jewels, as well as Robbins’ Dances at a Gathering, The Cage, Goldberg Variations, Moves, and more. She toured internationally with NYCB and as a guest artist and appeared several times on television’s Live From Lincoln Center and Great Performances.

In 1992 she co-founded the Scarsdale Ballet Studio with Christian Claessens. Diana choreographed several ballets for SBS, including the Carousel Waltz, which was performed at the Westchester Philharmonic’s 20th Anniversary Gala. She has served on the faculty of the Conservatory of Dance at Purchase College and is a master teacher and judge for the Youth America Grand Prix, a competition which awards scholarships to major international ballet schools.

Since 2004, in addition to teaching classes and Balanchine repertory at SBS, she has traveled to six continents, where she has worked most recently with such companies as the Paris Opera Ballet, the National Ballet of China, the Boston Ballet, the Hong Kong Ballet, and the English National Ballet, to name just a few.

Diana’s many years of teaching and her constant engagement with the professional ballet world give her a unique perspective on training and nurturing young dancers as she encourages them to pursue their goals in dance.

Carmen Banu

Carmen Banu was selected at a young age from many candidates to study ballet at the National Choreographic Institute in Bucharest, Romania. Upon graduation nine years later, she became a member of the National Opera Company, where she performed in all of the classics including Swan Lake, La Bayadere, and Coppelia. Her most notable roles were as Kitri in Don Quixote and as Giselle in the title role.

Ms. Banu continued her career in television and musical theater performing many dance styles throughout Europe and Asia. As a teacher and coach, Ms. Banu taught ballet in Romanian public schools and eventually became a choreographer for the Romanian National Gymnastics Team. In America she has taught Ballet, Ballroom, Character, Latin and many other styles. In addition to her full time teaching schedule, she coaches award-winning Scarsdale Ballet students in the Youth American Grand Prix ballet competition.

Yana Volkova

Yana Volkova began her studies at the Academy School of Ballet in Voronezh, Russia learning the Vaganova Ballet Method. She graduated with honors from the State Ballet Academy and was invited to work in one of Moscow’s leading companies performing as a soloist. While dancing professionally, Mrs. Volkova studied at Moscow University of Art (GITIS) and got B. A. in Ballet/Character Choreography. As a principal dancer, Yana has worked with Moscow Ballet , world-known legendary- “Riverdance the show”, the Metropolitan Opera, also she choreographed and performed with New York City Opera others, touring Europe, Canada, and the United States. Yana has been instructing classes in ballet, pointe, stretching and character emphasizing correct development of both the technical and artistic elements of classical ballet. Yana also works as Artistic and Program Director of the Bolshoi Academy Summer Intensive Program in NYC and established as the co-director and co-founder the “Art of the Dance World” Public School Educational Program.

Scarsdale Ballet Studio

Ellen Shea

Ellen Shea trained at the School of American Ballet for six years and performed numerous children’s roles with the New York City Ballet. At age 15, Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux awarded her full scholarship to the Chautauqua Institute, where she danced lead roles with the Chautauqua Festival Ballet. She also performed with the Ballet Theatre of Boston while completing her undergraduate and graduate Architecture degrees at MIT.

In 2005 Ms. Shea joined the faculty at the Scarsdale Ballet Studio. For Scarsdale Ballet Studio’s Concertdance she staged Chopiniana (2010) and created new choreography for Swan Lake (2011). In her classroom, Ms. Shea draws on her knowledge of the visual arts, design and physics to teach the mechanics of classical ballet technique and to develop musical and artistic awareness in young dancers.

Yukiko Matsubara

Yukiko Matsubara, originally from Japan, currently based in NY. Yukiko started dancing at the age of 10 with Asako Ueno. After she got a BA in English Literature from Aoyama Gakuin University in Tokyo, she moved to NY in order to take part in the International Program at Steps on Broadway to study with Emilietta Ettlin and Alexander Filipov. Later Yukiko became the assistant for Emilietta Ettlin.  Yukiko is an experienced dancer and loves to teach, in both English and Japanese. For 4 years Yukiko has been the assistant to the director Anne Easterling at the Ballet Club in NYC. Also Yukiko offers ballet class and seasonal camp and intensive program for the Japanese community in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.  Yukiko upholds “Trust, Compassion and Humanity” are the core in her class which Yukiko
learned from The Royal Ballet School Teacher’s Training. It’s a delight for Yukiko to see her students grow and thrive, and to watch children, adults and seniors alike – embrace the joy of movement. Yukiko believes that moving the body to experience physical and mental well-being brings greater joy and happiness to everyone.  Also she is a longtime student and teacher of yoga and meditation, Bodymind Ballwork which she studied with Amy Pivar and Ellen Saltonstall in NYC.


Vija Kemanis

Vija (pronounced Vee-ya) began her ballet training in Oakland, California, where she studied with an affiliate of England’s Royal Academy of Dance. She mastered the RAD syllabus, was elected a member of the RAD, and performed with ballet companies Dancer’s Theatre and Dance Spectrum in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her subsequent training and performance credits in New York City include a wide range of modern jazz and contemporary styles. Vija has years of experience teaching and choreographing for ballet and jazz dancers of all ages and levels in Westchester County. She is also a lawyer, recently retired from her legal career, and a novelist, publishing as V.S. Kemanis.

Andrea Elam

Andrea Elam is an accomplished professional in the performing arts, boasting over 40 years of experience as a dancer, teaching artist, and choreographer. Initially trained by Seda Sorvillo at the Ballet Arts Center in Beacon, NY, she pursued a dance major at UMass before transferring to Hunter College, where she earned a dual BS/BA in Food Science/Dance. In 2013, she achieved an MA in Dance for Special Populations from SUNY Empire State College.

Her extensive dance career includes three years as a principal dancer for Alejandra Dondines Folkloric Ballet and collaborations with esteemed companies such as Neubert Ballet, Dutchess County Ballet, Orange County Ballet, Downtown Danceworks, and Devorah Cooper Dance.

In 2015, Andrea Elam received the Arts Alive and Arts Partners grants, making her the sole artist in Westchester to achieve this distinction. Leveraging these grants, she conducted a successful residency at Oakside Elementary School, engaging all 246 3rd-grade students and culminating in a performance at the Paramount Center.  Andrea has conducted teaching residencies for prestigious institutions like Mark Morris Dance, Dance Theater of Harlem, Arts Westchester, and PNW BOCES. Additionally, she holds certification in Dance for Parkinson’s Disease and has showcased her talents internationally as both a performer and presenter.

Jules Geiss

Jules is a dancer/singer/actor from New York City. With their captivating choreography and exceptional style Jules will bring an unforgettable contemporary dance experience to our studio.

Nicole Zadra

Nicole’s ballet journey took her from the USA to Russia. She trained at Manhattan Youth Ballet in NYC in 2012 and graduated from the Bolshoi Ballet Academy in Moscow in 2014. She performed with The Hong Kong Ballet as a Corps de Ballet member before she joined Ballet Memphis in 2016, showcasing her talent in various pieces. Nicole holds ABT certification as a teacher and received multiple scholarships, with training experiences at institutions like The Alvin Ailey School and Boston Ballet.

Fronda Sobel

Fronda Sobel was a member of the Metropolitan Opera Ballet. She also appeared with the Bolshoi Ballet, the Royal Ballet and on the television series Omnibus under choreographer Agnes De Mille. She has choreographed ten musicals and has extensive experience teaching all levels of jazz and ballet in Westchester.

Cesar Ortiz

Cesar Ortiz, director / instructor and co-owner of Guys and Dolls Dance Studio, a ballroom dance studio. Cesar has been dancing ballet since the tender age of 7 years old. His professional training has taken him across the world from South America to Russia, Europe and the USA. Cesar began his career as a dancer for Ballet de Cali Company dancing the role of Don Quixote, The Nutcracker and other great works such as Barrio Ballet, Coppelia and much more. He has danced with notable companies such as the OhioDance Theater, Black Door ensemble, Ganesville Ballet Theater, Sacramento Ballet, Saratoga Springs Ballet, Westchester Ballet Company & the Joffrey Ballet NYC prior to joining Guys and Dolls Dance Studio. Cesar currently also teaches the pre-professional and pas de deux classes and continues to teach ballroom Dancing at Guys and Dolls.

Susan Sorota

Susan is an experienced ballet instructor based in Northern Bergen County since 2007, offers classes for all levels, from young children to adults and pre-professionals, focusing on performance, competition, and audition preparation. She is an ABT Certified Teacher, trained in early childhood dance and children’s yoga, and currently pursuing Pilates certification. Sorota’s rich ballet background includes professional training at The New York School of Ballet and a B.F.A. in Dance from SUNY Purchase, alongside performances with several ballet companies. Before teaching full-time, she earned an M.S. in Computer Science and worked in software development, maintaining her passion for ballet through local productions. Residing in Northern NJ, Sorota is a mother of three, with children who have pursued ballet through to professional levels.

Justin Sherwood

Justin, an international dancer and choreographer with a rich background from the Rambert School of Ballet and Contemporary Dance in London, is known for his versatility and innovative work. Awarded the Choreographic Award of Prominence by Central St. Marten’s School of Art and Design and Cochrane Theatre in London, Sherwood has made significant contributions to the dance scene in the U.S., Hong Kong, and Albania with his acclaimed choreographies. His performance career is highlighted by a 16-season tenure with the Metropolitan Opera, where he worked with renowned directors like Julie Taymor and Anthony Minghella, showcasing his skills in ballet, contemporary dance, and gymnastics. Additionally, as an ABT® Certified Teacher, Sherwood imparts his knowledge to students across various prestigious dance schools and companies, promoting the ABT® National Training Curriculum.

Michele Lisi

Michele Lisi, Scarsdale Ballet Studio Administrative Director, is the former Company Manager at New York City Ballet and loves a good project to organize (200 person Pacific Rim tour or a new Scarsdale Ballet Studio Nutcracker).  She holds a BFA in Dance from Purchase College and an MFA in Performing Arts Management from Brooklyn College.  Michele spent 12 years working at New York City Ballet including eight leading national and international tours.  After a stint as Family Manager, she is thrilled to have the opportunity to work with Diana and her amazing faculty.


Guest Faculty

Skylar Brandt

Skylar Brandt was born in Purchase, New York and began her training at age six with teachers Diana White and Christian Claessens at Scarsdale Ballet Studio. She also studied with Valentina Kozlova, Fabrice Herrault, Susan Jaffe, Irina Dvorovenko and Maxim Beloserkovsky. She attended the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School at American Ballet Theatre from 2005-2009 under the direction of Franco De Vita. Brandt spent five summers at ABT’s New York Summer Intensive, was a National Training Scholar from 2006-2009 and also received the Bender Foundation Scholarship in 2009.  Brandt was a silver medalist at Youth America Grand Prix in 2004 and 2008.

Brandt joined ABT II (now ABT Studio Company) in 2009, became an apprentice with the main Company in November 2010 and joined the corps de ballet in June 2011. She was appointed a Soloist in August 2015 and a Principal Dancer in September 2020.

She created a Consort in A Gathering of Ghosts, The Swallow in The Seasons, the Fairy Canari qui chante (Canary) in Alexei Ratmansky’s The Sleeping Beauty, a leading role in Her Notes and featured roles in AfterEffectAfter You and Praedicere.

Brandt was awarded a 2013 Princess Grace Foundation-USA Dance Fellowship.  That same year, she was featured in the film Ballet’s Greatest Hits. In 2018, Brandt was the recipient of an unprecedented Special Jury Award for her performances on the Russian television show “Big Ballet.”

Gianna Vasquez Bartolini

Gianna Vasquez Bartolini began her training at Berrend Dance Center in Olney, MD, before pursuing her BFA in Concert Dance at SUNY Purchase, Conservatory of Dance. She also studied during this time at the Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet school in Carlisle, PA. After ballet freelancing and performing in guest artist roles, Gianna shifted artistic paths, and received a scholarship to attend the American Musical and Dramatic Academy, where she received a certificate in  Integrated Music Theatre. She is currently working as a musical theatre artist in the NYC Metro Area.
Gianna has also been teaching in the Tristate and DC Metro Areas for 10 years, mostly ballet, jazz, and contemporary styles. Her teaching philosophy is to teach dance in a way that inspires students to grow as people and artists, and to inspire perseverance, self-discipline, and respect for themselves and others alongside technique and artistry. She emphasizes a healthy approach to technique, and is eager to teach anyone ready to learn!

Daniel Applebaum

Daniel Applebaum was born in Olney, Maryland. At age seven, he began studying ballet with Maryland Youth Ballet.

He attended summer courses at the School of American Ballet (SAB), the official school of New York City Ballet, in 2000 and 2001, becoming a full time student that fall.

In October 2004, he became an apprentice with New York City Ballet and joined the corps de ballet in July 2005. Mr. Applebaum was promoted to soloist in October 2018.

Megan LeCrone

Megan LeCrone was born in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. She began her dance training at the age of four at Greensboro Ballet with Maryhelen Mayfield, John Dennis, and Elissa Fuchs.

At age 14, she began studying with Melissa Hayden and Duncan Noble at the North Carolina School of the Arts in Winton-Salem. Ms. LeCrone entered the School of American Ballet (SAB), the official school of New York City Ballet, full-time in the fall of 2001, and in November 2001 she became an apprentice with New York City Ballet.

Ms. LeCrone joined the Company as a member of the corps de ballet in October 2002 and was promoted to soloist in February 2013.

Skyla Schreter

Born and raised in New York, Skyla has worked as a professional dancer for Boston Ballet and most recently, for 6 years at San Francisco Ballet. She attended the School of American Ballet in New York City for her formal dance training. During her ballet career in San Francisco working with renowned dance artists, musicians and designers, Skyla cultivated her artistic inspiration and began developing her own choreographic voice. Now, as an independent choreographer and multi-disciplinary artist, she has relocated back to her roots in New York to develop her body of work- synthesizing multiple mediums to expand boundaries in ballet. In January of 2021, Skyla co-founded LotusWorks Gallery & Workshop in Beacon, NY; a multi-disciplinary creative space serving New York’s Hudson Valley community.

Daniel Ulbricht

Daniel Ulbricht was born in St. Petersburg, Florida, and began his dance training at the age of 11 at the Judith Lee Johnson Studio of Dance, studying with Lenny Holmes.

He also studied at Les Jeunes Danseurs with Javier Dubraq and attended the Chautauqua Summer Dance Program, training with Jean Pierre Bonnefoux and Patricia McBride.

In 1999, Mr. Ulbricht was invited by the School of American Ballet (SAB), the official school of New York City Ballet, to continue his training during their Winter Program.

As a student at SAB, Mr. Ulbricht performed with New York City Ballet as a Jester in Peter Martins’ The Sleeping Beauty.

In December 2000, he became an apprentice with New York City Ballet and in November 2001 he joined the Company as a member of the corps de ballet. In January 2005, Mr. Ulbricht was promoted to the rank of soloist and principal dancer in May 2007.

Sebastian Vinet

Sebastián Vinet was born in Santiago de Chile and started his ballet training at Escuela de Ballet del Teatro Municipal de Santiago for two years under full scholarship. He moved to Houston, TX to finish his training at Ben Stevenson Houston Ballet Academy under the direction of ballet master Claudio Muñoz.

In 2009, he joined the Houston Ballet and then in 2010 the San Francisco Ballet. In 2017, Sebastián Vinet was the artistic director of the first international ballet gala to be presented at the emblematic theater in Chile, Teatro Oriente and founded his own non profit foundation to help develop ballet in his country. In 2018, he was mentioned in Dance Australia as one of the best performances of the night during the premiere of FORTE in Melbourne, Australia. Sebastián Vinet’s biggest artistic challenge and honor this year will be to direct artistically the 20th anniversary gala of Vogue in Mexico City, an event that is being considered to be the next Met Gala of Latin America.

Elizabeth Walker

Elizabeth’s ballet training began in South Carolina with Don and Patricia Cantwell in Charleston, S.C. and continued with Ann Brodie in Columbia, S.C. Following two summer courses at the School of American Ballet in New York, Elizabeth was invited to stay for full time study on scholarship at the age of 15.  She received a Princess Grace Foundation Award-USA Dance Scholarship and Nancy Davis Reagan Award in 1988 and a scholarship in the name of Alexandra Danilova and the Mae L. Wien Award for Outstanding Promise in 1990. At the age of sixteen Elizabeth was invited by Suki Schorer and Merrill Ashley to take part as a demonstrator in “Balanchine Essays,” a video series cataloguing Balanchine technique produced by the George Balanchine Trust.   Elizabeth was offered an apprenticeship with the New York City Ballet in 1990 and joined the corps de ballet in 1991. Among the dozens of roles she danced, many were featured or principal roles in ballets by George Balanchine, Peter Martins, Jerome Robbins, Lynn Taylor Corbett, and David Parsons.  In June 2009, Elizabeth retired from performing after 19 years with NYCB. Elizabeth taught on the faculty of the School of American Ballet, the official school of NYCB, from 2001-2007. Since 2009 Elizabeth has served as senior faculty at the New York State Summer School of the Arts (NYSSSA) School of Ballet. Elizabeth joined the faculty at Ballet Academy East in 2007 teaching for the Pre-Professional Division and adult open classes.

Garielle Whittle

Born and raised in Miami, Florida, Garielle Whittle began her dance training with Thomas Armour and Martha Mahr. At age 15, ballerina Violette Verdy awarded her a Ford Foundation Scholarship to the School of American Ballet where she studied with Alexandra Danilova, Felia Doubrovska, Antonina Tumkovsky, Muriel Stuart, Helene Dudin, Stanley Williams and Andre Eglevsky.

In 1969, Garielle was personally invited by George Balanchine to join the New York City Ballet. She danced with the company under Mr. Balanchine’s direction for 14 years, performing in over fifty ballets by Balanchine and Jerome Robbins.

In 1983, she retired from dancing and joined the faculty at The School of American Ballet where she taught nine levels of students for thirty years. In 1997 Peter Martins awarded her the Mae L. Wien Faculty Award for Distinguished Service.

From 1983-2012 Garielle was also the Children’s Ballet Mistress for The New York City Ballet, staging and rehearsing SAB students in roles for all Balanchine, Robbins, Wheeldon and Martins ballets. Ms. Whittle is also a repetiteur for the The George Balanchine Trust, The Jerome Robbins Trust, and for Christopher Wheeldon.