Meet the Scarsdale Ballet Studio Faculty & Staff
Under the direction of former ballerina, Diana White of the New York City Ballet.
Established in 1992, Scarsdale Ballet Studio is one of the most respected dance schools for classical ballet training in Westchester County and the NY Metro area. Our professionally accomplished international faculty and staff educates, nurtures and inspires beginner, intermediate and advanced dancers of all ambitions, recreational through professional.
We welcome you to discover the Scarsdale Ballet Studio difference.
Diana White, Founder and Artistic Director, 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, while still performing, she began teaching for Suzanne Farrell’s summer dance program. Subsequently, 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 at her studio as she encourages them to pursue their goals in dance.
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.
Elizabeth (Liz) Kawalek
Ms. Kawalek has been a faculty member of Scarsdale Ballet Studio for the last ten years. She began her intensive ballet training here at our Studio under the direction of Diana White. While continuing to perform alongside her Scarsdale Ballet Studio peers, Ms. Kawalek also began to assist in teaching Creative Ballet classes and the Summer Intensive, developing a strong interest in teaching and studio administration. In 2010, she earned a certificate in the Leap ‘N Learn creative dance syllabus, which utilizes child psychology in dance education. In 2014, she became certified in the American Ballet Theatre curriculum for ages 3-10. Ms. Kawalek also serves as Production Director at the studio and assists in organizing the programs and performances. Ms. Kawalek holds a BA in History from Fordham University and a Masters in Public Administration from Baruch College.
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.
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.
Renee Laverdiere trained at The National Academy of Arts and was a scholarship student at the Joffrey School in New York City. She danced under the direction of Edward Villella at the Eglevsky Ballet as well as in the New Jersey Ballet and the New World Ballet. She has been teaching in Manhattan and Westchester for the last 15 years.
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.
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.
Maria Posey, Master Teacher of Creative Ballet, was a member of the corps de ballet at Radio City Music Hall, the Kansas City Opera and the Philadelphia Opera. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in English and Education and a Master’s Degree in Counseling and Development. She has taught at the Studio since 1992.
Rosemary Saur 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 Scardale Ballet Studio since 2008.
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.
Sean Suozzi was born in Glen Cove, New York, and began his dance training at the age of seven with Joyce DiLauro. Mr. Suozzi later trained at New Haven Ballet with Noble and Ruth Barker, followed by four years at the Nutmeg Ballet in Torrington, Connecticut with Sharon Dante, Joan Kunsch, Eleanor D’Antuono, Alexei Tchernichov, and Kevin Martin.
After attending the 1997 summer session at the School of American Ballet (SAB), the official school of New York City Ballet, Mr. Suozzi was invited to continue his studies in the SAB winter session as a scholarship student. At SAB, he studied with Stanley Williams, Andrei Kramarevsky, Peter Boal, Jock Soto, and Susan Pilarre, among other SAB teachers. Mr. Suozzi was invited to become an apprentice with New York City Ballet in April 1999 and joined the Company as a member of the corps de ballet in February 2000. In May 2007, Mr. Suozzi was promoted to soloist.
Gianna Vasquez Bartolini
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.
Anna Wroclawski studied both dance and academics at Walnut Hill School for the Performing Arts in High School; and attended The Boston Conservatory where Anna earned a BFA in Dance. She performed in Samuel Kurkjian’s staged production of Graduation Ball, Jose Limon’s Miss Brevis, Peter Anastos Contradanse, and Jaqueline Bulgisi’s Luminal Crossings. Anna has performed with the Ballet Theater of Boston in Jose Mateo’s junior apprenticeship company and with the Granite State Ballet in New Hampshire. Anna has attended summer programs at both the Burklyn Ballet Theater in Vermont and at Boston Ballet’s Summer Dance Program.
Anna has been teaching ballet since 2003 at multiple studios throughout Westchester County and New York City. She has taught ballet to students at public and private after school clubs like Quaker Ridge Elementary School and Riverdale Country School. In addition to Dance, Anna is a Pilates Mat-work Instructor, who has taught Pilates to a wide range of people, from students with Multiple Sclerosis at Y in White Plains to teaching a matwork class at the College of Mount Saint Vincent in Riverdale. In recent years, Anna has has taken classes and performed with Westchester Circus Arts. She has studied the lyra hoop, static trapeze, juggling, spinning plates, tight wire, and acrobatics. She has directed a weeklong circus summer camp at the Shames JCC in Tarrytown. Anna feels
that her circus knowledge adds a playful note to her dance classes.
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.
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 AfterEffect, After 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.”
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.
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 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.
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’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.
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.
“I cannot imagine that with her past experience, that you will find better training
or performance experience for your children than what Diana White and Scarsdale Ballet has to offer.”
“Our daughter loves Scarsdale Ballet. The administration and teachers are
“So far this was our little one’s second year here and she loves it. The
teachers are wonderful. She has learned so much.”
“So happy with everything that is Scarsdale Ballet…both my girls
are thriving under the direction of the wonderful teachers.”
“I’ve been taking adult classes here for the last 7 years. Love it,
learning so much, and always coming back for more!”
“The Adult ballet class at SBS has been a very rewarding experience. I began classes at 47, and
appreciate the supportive yet challenging atmosphere.”
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