TESSA BARBOUR, a native of Albuquerque, New Mexico, trained at Alwin School of the Dance before studying abroad in Warrington, England on a scholarship awarded to her at the Cecchetti International Competition. She has danced with New Mexico Ballet, Connecticut Ballet and San Diego Ballet. Barbour has performed in Balanchine’s Valse Fantasy and Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux set by Philip Neil, as well as soloist roles in original works by Javier Velasco including Seven Beauties. Barbour joined Smuin in 2016.
MENGJUN CHEN, a native of Wenzhou, China, trained at the Beijing Dance Academy and Joffrey Ballet Academy of Dance. After receiving his Bachelor of Fine Arts from Beijing Dance Academy, he joined Milwaukee Ballet where he performed major roles in Giselle, Swan Lake, Romeo & Juliet, The Nutcracker, Don Quixote, Cinderella, Dracula and La Boheme. Chen also performed contemporary works by Matthew Neenan, Gabrielle Lamb, Ma Cong, Amy Seiwert and Val Caniparoli. In 2014, he was a finalist in the USA International Ballet Competition. Chen joined Smuin Ballet in 2015.
ERICA CHIPP, a native of Lake Tahoe, Nevada, trained at The Harid Conservatory in Florida before joining Festival Ballet Providence in 2004. She performed featured roles in Viktor Plotnikov’s Cinderella, Agnes de Mille’s Rodeo, Colleen Cavanaugh’s Pippi and Balanchine’s Tarantella, Rubies and Donizetti Variations. Chipp performs yearly with her hometown Sierra Nevada Ballet, dancing principal roles in Giselle, Coppélia, and Romeo & Juliet. Chipp joined Smuin in 2010.
TEREZ DEAN, originally from Hudson Valley, New York, was accepted into the prestigious School of American Ballet, New York City Ballet’s official school at age fifteen. She joined State Street Ballet of Santa Barbara in 2005, dancing a wide range of contemporary and classical works. Dean joined Smuin Ballet in 2008, and has been featured in works by Jiří Kylián, Trey McIntyre, Val Caniparoli, Helen Pickett, Amy Seiwert, Ma Cong, Adam Hougland, and Michael Smuin. While dancing full time, she has continued her education through the Saint Mary’s College LEAP program.
ERICA FELSCH attended the North Carolina School of the Arts before joining San Francisco Ballet’s pre-professional trainee program, where she performed in many company productions. Felsch danced with Colorado Ballet, Madison Ballet, Ballet Arizona and Sierra Nevada Ballet, where she performed the role of Odette/Odile in Swan Lake. She recently performed with the National Choreographers Initiative for the 2015 and 2016 sessions. Felsch joined Smuin in 2012.
VALERIE HARMON, of Lompoc, California, began her professional career with State Street Ballet. She joined Milwaukee Ballet in 2008 after completing the Nancy Einhorn Milwaukee Ballet II Program. Her featured roles include Odette in Swan Lake, Marie in The Nutcracker, Wendy in Peter Pan, Mina in Dracula, all by Michael Pink. Harmon has also enjoyed new works by Cameron McMillan, Mark Godden, Timothy O’Donnell, Mauro de Candia, Petr Zahradnícek and Val Caniparoli. In 2011, Harmon performed with Dance Grand Moultrie at Summerstage in New York. Harmon joined Smuin in 2016.
NICOLE HASKINS, a Venice Beach, California native, trained at the Westside School of Ballet and has danced with Sacramento Ballet, Washington Ballet, and Amy Seiwert’s Imagery. Since joining Smuin in 2013, she counts Helen Pickett’s Petal among her favorite works performed. As a choreographer, Haskins’ work has been presented by Sacramento Ballet, Richmond Ballet, Amy Seiwert’s Imagery, Smuin and the 2016 National Choreographic Initiative. Following her new works Fantasia and Joy to the World, choreographed for The Christmas Ballet, she will create a world premiere for Smuin’s Dance Series 02 in spring 2017.
DUSTIN JAMES, a native of Houston, Texas, received his early training at Houston Ballet II. With BalletMet Columbus, he danced roles such as Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Iago in John Butler’s Othello. At Dance Theatre of Harlem, his repertoire included George Balanchine’s Agon, Helen Pickett’s When Love and Ulysses S. Dove’s Dancing on the Front Porch of Heaven. He has danced with the National Choreographers Initiative and performed as a guest artist with Sierra Nevada Ballet. James joined Smuin in 2014.
ROBERT KRETZ, a native of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, studied at the Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet and the School of American Ballet in New York. Throughout eight years at Boston Ballet, he originated roles in Jorma Elo’s Carmen/Illusions and In On Blue, and Helen Pickett’s Tabula Rasa and performed featured roles in Jiří Kylián’s No More Play, Wings of Wax and Tar and Feathers, Wayne McGregor’s Chroma, Christopher Bruce’s Rooster, and Jerome Robbins’ Fancy Free. In 2014, he performed for Twyla Tharp Dance in New York City. Kretz joined Smuin in 2015.
BEN NEEDHAM-WOOD, hailing from Massachusetts, joined Louisville Ballet after graduating from the College-Conservatory of Music in Cincinnati, Ohio (magna cum laude). He has danced the role of Romeo in Alun Jones’s Romeo & Juliet, Armand in Val Caniparoli’s Lady of the Camellias, and featured roles in contemporary works by Adam Hougland, Helen Pickett, and Amy Seiwert. As an emerging choreographer, Needham-Wood has created works for Louisville Ballet, Dance Theatre of San Francisco, and Smuin. He is the co-creator of BaseBallet with Weston Krukow, a dance documentary short produced by Comcast Sports Network which won Best Arts/Entertainment-Feature/Segment at the Northern California Area Emmy Awards. Needham-Wood joined Smuin in 2013.
JONATHAN POWELL discovered his love for character roles with Memphis Ballet, dancing as The Writer in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, an Ugly Stepsister in Cinderella, and as The Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz. With Smuin, Powell has performed in many works including Trey McIntyre’s Oh, Inverted World, Amy Seiwert’s Requiem and Michael Smuin’s Brahms-Haydn Variations, Bluegrass/Slyde and To The Beatles. Powell joined Smuin in 2010.
LAUREN PSCHIRRER graduated from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts and apprenticed at Rochester City Ballet (New York) and the Joffrey Ballet. While with the Joffrey, she danced works by Alexei Kremnev, Francisco Avina, Sir Frederick Ashton, Michael Pink and George Balanchine. With Ballet Memphis, Pschirrer performed Matthew Neenan’s The Darting Eyes, Gabrielle Lamb’s I Am A Woman: Moult, and several roles including the pas de trois and Neopolitan in Swan Lake. She also originated two roles during the 2015 National Choreographers Initiative. Pschirrer joined Smuin in 2016.
BENJAMIN WARNER is originally from Boston, Massachusetts, where he trained at the Walnut Hill School for the Arts. He attended Indiana University where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Ballet Performance. With Ballet Memphis, Warner performed works by Julia Adam, Mark Godden and Trey McIntyre. Warner also danced with Alberta Ballet, where his repertoire included Phlegmatic in The Four Temperaments, a soloist in Divertimento No. 15 and Karl/The Nutcracker in The Nutcracker. Warner joined Smuin in 2016.
MICHAEL WELLS, born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, began his formal dance training at Decatur School of Ballet, Atlanta Ballet and later at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. With Atlanta Ballet, Wells worked with choreographers such as Helen Pickett, Amy Seiwert and Wayne McGregor under the leadership of John McFall. He performed with Ballet Hispanico’s second company before joining New York Theatre Ballet, where he danced works by Anthony Tudor, Agnes DeMille, Nicolo Fonte, Mathew Neenan, Richard Alston and Merce Cunningham. Wells joined Smuin in 2016.
REX WHEELER, originally from in London, England, trained at The Royal Ballet School and Elmhurst School for Dance. He danced with Birmingham Royal Ballet, Slovak National Ballet and Sacramento Ballet before joining Smuin in 2015. Wheeler has created works for Sacramento Ballet, Richmond Ballet, Utah Regional Ballet, Crooked Tree Arts Center, and Ballet Academy East. He also choreographed for the 2016 New York Choreographic Institute Spring series. Wheeler is a founding member of Capital Dance Project.
ERIN YARBROUGH-POWELL studied dance at the Interlochen Arts Academy. With Oakland Ballet, she performed the Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker and the lead in Cinderella. In 2003, Yarbrough-Powell received the Isadora Duncan Award for her portrayal of Giselle with the Oakland Ballet, a role taught to her by Frederic Franklin of the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. With Smuin, she danced featured roles in Amy Seiwert’s Revealing the Bridge, Michael Smuin’s Romeo & Juliet and Jiří Kylián’s Petite Mort. Yarbrough-Powell joined Smuin Ballet in 2003.