California Ballet School Directors
Maxine Mahon, School Director, has carefully guided the artistic and administrative development of the School into a fully professional school of dance.
Our faculty have impressive performance backgrounds and have danced with many of the most prestigious companies in the country, including New York City Ballet, Joffrey Ballet and Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre. Many of the School’s graduates have gone on to professional careers in dance with companies nationwide.
Clarissa Palhegyi, Program Director, was a member of the California Ballet Company from 1988-1996. Featured roles included Lady Montegue in Romeo and Juliet, the Spanish variation in The Nutcracker, Mother Superior in Bernarda, the lead Nursemaid in Petrushka, and she received favorable mention for her portrayal of the Cook in Alice in Wonderland.
On faculty with the California Ballet School, Ms. Palhegyi has been general manager of the School since 1995. She has also been tour manager for the California Ballet Company.
Brenda Bjornson has been an instructor of ballet and jazz for California Ballet School since 1984. Ms. Bjornson is also the coordinator for the annual All School Concert and for the California Ballet Junior Company.
Denise Dabrowski is well known to San Diego dance audiences as an artist with exceptional dance intelligence. Trained by the California Ballet School, and a member of the California Ballet Company since 1978, Ms. Dabrowski held the title of Prima Ballerina with the California Ballet Company for over 15 years until her retirement from the stage. She currently serves as Regisseur, Company Teacher and Rehearsal Coach for all Company productions, and is a member of the Senior Faculty of the California Ballet School.
Ms. Dabrowski has received numerous awards from California Ballet and Starlight Opera, an NEA Fellowship Grant, and is a three-time San Diego Dance Alliance Tommy Award winner. Denise Dabrowski is married to San Diego Symphony violinist and California Ballet Company Music Director John Stubbs.
Judith Sharp became the ballet mistress for the California Ballet Company in 1988, and teaches for the Pre-Professional Division of the California Ballet School. She has also been an instructor for the U.C. San Diego Department of Theater and Dance since 1984.
Judith Sharp trained and performed with the original San Diego Ballet Company, studied at American Ballet Theatre in New York, and went on to receive a degree in Ballet from the Indiana University School of Music. Ms. Sharp has received numerous awards for choreography including first place in 1996 in the ballet category and grand prize in the Second Annual International Dance Competition held in Tijuana, Mexico. Nine of her ballets are in the CBC repertory.
Gail Wingfield is has been a member of the CBS faculty since 1991. She was trained by Yvonne Mounsey of the New York City Ballet and Rosemary Valaire of the Royal Ballet, and performed as a member of Mounsey’s Westside Ballet. Ms. Wingfield also performed with American Ballet Ensemble, was ballet mistress and assistant to the director, and became program director and senior teacher for the American Ballet School. In addition she teaches classes for California Ballet Company, assists with rehearsing and coaching and works with the Junior Company. She is administrative support to the CBC Director and is also membership secretary for the California Ballet Association. Ms. Wingfield received her degree in Performing Arts from UCLA and gained her administrative experience through working in the private sector and non-profit arena. She has taught creative dance to elementary school students and has been artistic coach to Olympic figure skating competitors.
Emily Brouillard originally studied ballet with the California Ballet School at age 8. She grew up in the school and earned a position dancing in the corps de ballet for the California Ballet Company before leaving for college. She went to the University of California, Irvine and graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance. It was there that she not only continued to deepen her love for ballet, but further expanded her repertoire in many styles of dance including modern, jazz, African, ballroom, and flamenco.
She also discovered pilates during her time at UCI. She acquired a teaching certification in the classical pilates method with an emphasis on the work of Ron Fletcher under the direction of master teacher and ballet professor at UCI, Diane Diefenderfer. Her certification includes mat work, reformer, Cadillac, chair, and barrels.
Emily loves teaching all ages and levels of capability. She thrives on finding the best ways to share both her expertise in ballet and pilates with each individual person, and looks forward to sharing her knowledge with the community.
Kristina Cobarrubia comes from a Latin background, including a great-grandfather who came from Spain (hence the Arana name). She studied ballet and jazz, but once she found flamenco, she knew it was what she had been looking for all along, and she’s been devoted to it ever since, almost 30 years.
She’s studied in Seattle, Los Angeles, San Diego, and Santa Fe, along with visits to Madrid. Her teachers include Sara de Luis, Yaelisa, Roberto Amaral, La Tania, Sara Olivar, Antonio Vargas, La Truco, and Domingo Ortega. She’s danced with the Solera Flamenco Dance Company, and has also appeared with Companía Antonio Vargas, and her own co-production with Las Chicas de Coral, as well as Flamenco Olivar. She worked as Assistant Choreographer for the SD Opera production of DON QUIXOTE in 2009, as Choreographer for LA TRAVIATA in 2010, Choreographer for CARMEN in 2011, as Assistant Director/Choreographer for Eugene Opera’s CARMEN also in 2011, and as Choreographer for SD Opera’s DON QUIXOTE again in 2013.
Caroline Courtney began teaching at Dance Connection earlier this summer. She trained at California Ballet School and Coronado School of the Arts. Miss Caroline earned her degree in dance from UC Irvine in only 3 years. With her busy schedule she still finds time to perform and teach. She is currently dancing with the San Diego based company, PGK Dance Project.
Wayne Davis trained at Eugene Loring’s American School of Dance and performed with the original San Diego Ballet. Mr. Davis holds a master’s degree in Dance from USIU. He has choreographed for the Royal Ballet Choreographic Group in London, England.
Kyndall Foote’ trained at the California Ballet School from ages 3 to 16. She received Student of the year in 2007-2008. She joined California Ballet Company as an Apprentice in 2009 and became a Corps de Ballet member in 2011. One of the featured roles that she has had the opportunity of dancing was Lead Russian in the Nutcracker. Her favorite ballets from the California Ballet Repertoire are Dracula, Swan Lake, Giselle, Beauty and the Beast and Cinderella. Kyndall Foote’ is a senior at San Diego State University and is also a High School Cheer Coach.
Tess Lane received her dance training at South Bay Ballet under the direction of Diane Lauridsen. At South Bay Ballet she had a strong focus in ballet, modern, and jazz training as well as opportunities to work with Charles Maple, Robert Kelly, and Alicia Head. In addition to her diverse training at South Bay Ballet, she received scholarships to summer intensives with the Joffrey Ballet School, The Washington Ballet, Complexions Contemporary Ballet, Sacramento Ballet, and Twyla Tharp Summer Workshop. While at South Bay Ballet, Ms. Lane was invited to perform Robert Kelly’s Summertime at the International Ballet Competition in Jackson, MI. In 2010, Ms. Lane joined the Sacramento Ballet as a Trainee, and was promoted to Apprentice in 2011. In Sacramento, she performed George Balanchine’s Four Temperaments, Serenade, Concerto Barocco, and Stars and Stripes. She also had the opportunity to perform Lila York’s Celts and Ron Cunningham’s Romeo and Juliet and Cinderella. For CBC she has been featured as Helena in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and as the Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker. Ms. Lane joined the California Ballet corps de ballet in 2013 and was promoted to soloist in 2015.
Brad Matthews has been a Certified Athletic Trainer with the Center for Sports Medicine in the field of Athletic Training and Sports Medicine since 1980. He has eight years experience as teacher/coach for competitive women’s gymnastics in the U.S. and Canada, and twelve years experience as a competitive figure skater and working with competitive figure skaters.
Mr. Matthews has been the athletic training/sports medicine consultant for the California Ballet Company and Junior Company since 1991. He teaches Body Dynamics for the California Ballet School and personal coaching/training classes. An avid photographer and videographer, he donates much of his time and services for CBC productions.
California Ballet Association awards include the Presidential Award in 1995, the Johnny Jennings Award in 1996 & 1997 and the Director’s Tribute Award for 2006-07. Brad’s latest endeavor is as Athletic Trainer for the La Jolla Playhouse, assisting the casts of numerous productions. Mr. Matthews is the California Ballet’s Company Photographer and Videographer.
Zoe Mendel has been at California Ballet School for 7 years. She loves dancing with both the junior and senior company, and enjoys the opportunity to teach the younger students. She is a senior at La Jolla High School and plans to become a physical therapist.
Zoe was named Student of the Year 2015-2016. She said that this award is important because it reaffirms her personal values of hard work and dedication that she uses in her own training. Receiving the award also let her know that what she gives back to our dance community is making a difference.
Trystan Merrick studied ballet under the tutelage of Ahita Ardalan. He has performed in the works of such great choreographers as Twyla Tharp, Robert Cohen, and George Balanchine, as well as many of the classics. Mr. Merrick joined Nevada Ballet Theater in 2007, and has since danced for San Diego Ballet, Malashock, Owen Cox Dance, City Ballet of San Diego and most recently Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, touring internationally to 16 countries on five continents. He maintained a presence in his hometown of San Diego by returning regularly to perform with Jean Isaacs San Diego Dance Theater. He has been featured in the roles of Albrecht in Giselle, Cavalier in The Nutcracker, and Oberon in Midsummer Night’s Dream, and, this season, as Romeo in Romeo & Juliet. This season Trystan will be featured in Jump Jive, The Nutcracker and Peter Pan. Trystan also teaches at the California Ballet School.
Lindsey Parker Lindsey began her dance instruction at the age of seven in Gilbert, Arizona. She grew up performing in parades, at basketball halftime shows, and also competing nationally in dance competitions. In high school, Lindsey began choreographing and staging pieces and was featured in concerts each semester. Her dance education continued at The University of Arizona, focusing on modern dance technique, while obtaining a B.S. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. Lindsey has also performed in musical productions including “Guys and Dolls,” “Fiddler on the Roof,” “Wizard of Oz,” and “Irving Berlin’s White Christmas.”
In 2013, Lindsey was hired as an original cast member in “Madagascar Live! Operation: Vacation” at Sea World San Diego. She has since been promoted to dance captain and is integral to the training of new dancers for the show. Additionally, Lindsey was selected to perform at the “2014 Golden Ticket Awards,” an international awards event for the entertainment and theme park industries. Recently, she was awarded a Beyond Excellence Award at Sea World for these and other invaluable contributions to the talent department. Lindsey enjoys teaching at California Ballet School and to pass on her love of dance!
Shanda Pollard Shanda has been dancing all her life. She won many awards tap dancing and clogging while growing up. She has been teaching dance for 16 years. Shanda taught for Dance Carousel, Steppin’ Time and Kearny Mesa Dance Academy before coming to California Ballet to teach at Dance Connection.
Shanda also started and continues to run the dance program at the Boys and Girls Club of Greater San Diego. Shanda’s students have won many awards and gone on to be performers and dance teachers.
Kayleen Ramino has been teaching dance in San Diego for over 40 years. She teaches tap, ballet, jazz, hula, Tahitian, and clogging. Miss Kayleen owned and operated two dance studios including “Dance Carousel” and “Kearny Mesa Dance Academy” before joining California Ballet School. She has also taught dance at the Boys & Girls Club in El Cajon. She has created choreography for the Granite Hills High School Show Choir. And she has taught master tap classes at San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts. While Kayleen loves teaching all forms of dance, her specialty is working with young dancers. Many of Kayleen’s students have become professional dancers and reputable dance teachers.
Miss Kayleen is the current manager and teaching artist at California Ballet School’s Dance Connection, our studio located at Point Loma/Liberty Station.
Joe Shumate began his dance training with California Ballet School in 1988 and joined California Ballet Company in 1994. He attended the University of California, Irvine from 1997-2002, where he earned a Bachelor of the Arts in Dance and Drama. Joe has worked as a professional actor since 1999, appearing in musicals ranging from Oklahoma! to Bear in the Big Blue House Live. Joe returned to California Ballet Company in 2009 and is currently a Corps de Ballet member, as well as the Company’s Executive Assistant and Social Media Coordinator. Joe is an active member of the Actors Equity Association.
Thor Sutowski Originally from San Diego, Thor Sutowski’s career as a leading male dancer and choreographer has spanned the globe. He received three Emmy Awards for dance programs produced on PBS and has produced several successful domestic and foreign tours under Columbia Artists. He was resident choreographer for Atlanta Ballet and coached the American team for the Third International Competition de Danse in Paris. His many awards include Mayor Andrew Young’s Fellowship in the Arts Review Panel. Locally, Thor has been associate director/choreographer with both California Ballet and San Diego Ballet as well as a member of the UCSD dance faculty. Six of his works are in the California Ballet Company repertoire, including the full length Swan Lake.