Matisse hails from Kauai and received her early training from Royal Ballet Kauai. She has performed to critical acclaim in both the United States and Europe. She has danced with Ballet West and Connecticut Ballet and is currently dancing with Dimensional Dance in Hartford, CT. Although Matisse is focusing on performing at present, she has a strong academic background. Matisse received her B. A. in Dance (Ballet emphasis) and B.S. in Zoology from Brigham Young University, and her MFA from the University of Utah. Matisse is a visiting professor at Mt. Holyoke College, and is currently teaching the intermediate and advance Ballet classes at Yale. Matisse has found great insight by studying the Vaganova teaching methodology and has received her Vaganova teaching certificate for level 1-6.
Lara is from Philadelphia, PA. She trained at the Kirov Academy of Ballet in Washington DC, under the direction of Ludmila Markovina and Alla Sizova. She spent her summers training at American Ballet Theatre, Chataqua and Pittsburgh Youth Ballet, and completed her professional training at the Joffrey Ballet School. She has danced professionally with the Ballet Theatre of Maryland, Connecticut Ballet, Rebecca Kelly Ballet, Alison Cook-Beatty Dance, Mooney-Cooley Dance, David Fernandez and Lou Troisi. In 2007 Lara co-founded Exit 12 Dance Company. In the fall of 2016, Lara toured Europe with Azoth Dance Theatre. In the summer of 2016 she guested with the Farm to Ballet Project in Burlington, Vermont as a principal dancer and was featured in a PBS documentary. Lara has taught ballet and creative movement at Ballet Theatre of Maryland, Ballet Des Enfants, Armonk Dance, ATB, Brooklyn Ballet, Steps on Broadway and Spotlight in Vermont. She is a Bolshoi certified ballet teacher for levels 1-3. In 2015 she traveled to Cape Town, South Africa to teach dance to children in the townships. For the past five years she has bee a full time faculty member at the Joffrey Ballet School in Manhattan in the Children, Youth Ballet and Adult Programs. Lara graduated Summa Cum Laude with a Dance Performance degree from the College of Saint Mary's, LEAP program. She is thrilled to join the faculty at the Christian Academy of Dance and perform with Ekklesia Contemporary Ballet.
In 2012, Haley Samodel began studying with Christian Academy of Dance under the direction and mentorship of Elisa Schroth. After two years of training in classical ballet and modern dance, she had the opportunity to perform lead roles in the school and in the annual production "Ahavah". While still a student at Christian Academy of Dance, she became a trainee with Ekklesia Contemporary Ballet when the company was originally found in 2013. In 2016, Durell Comedy (Jose Limon, Mark Morris Dance Group) choreographed "Reach" on the company and created the lead role specifically for her. Ms. Samodel has performed in other original works choreographed by artists such as Steve Rooks (Martha Graham Dance Company), Randall Flinn (Ad Deum Dance Company), Elizabeth McMillan (Vivid Ballet) and Elisa Schroth (Christian Academy of Dance, Ekklesia Contemporary Ballet). This past winter she appeared as a guest artist in "Ahavah", dancing the role of Mary and in Jeff and Natalie Lewis' (Arrows International) "Resurrected King". From 2012-2015, she participated and performed in Project Dance NYC and regularly attends Ad Deum's Summer Dance Intensive. Haley is thrilled to be guesting with Ekklesia Contemporary Ballet again this season, and is honored to perform in Elisa Schroth's newest work, "Roar of Nations".
Valmarie started her ballet lessons at the age of eight with Ballet Teatro Musical of Cabo Rojo, directed by Julie Mayoral and Victor Sosa. In 1989, "Dance Educators of America" granted her two scholarships to continue her training with Alexander "Sasha" Filipov in "Steps", and with Frank Hatchett in "Broadway Dance Center" in New York City. In 1990, she became a part of Ballet Pitirre of Puerto Rico directed by Elizabette Calero, with whom she had the opportunity to travel abroad and received training with distinguished ballet figures like Luba Gulyaeva, Fran de la Pena, Michael Vernon, Miguel Campaneria, Ivan Monreal, and Laura Alonso, among others. In 1996, she made a pause in her artistic career to earn her Bachelor's Degree in Natural Sciences from the University of Puerto Rico, her Medical Doctor's Degree and completed her Subspecialties training in Internal Medicine, Hematology, and Medical Oncology. In May 2011, she resumed her dance training ad was recruited by Rodney Rivera, renowned choreographer and Artistic Director of Ballet Brio in Bayamon, Puerto Rico. There, she trained with Joaquin Banegas, former Ballet Master at the National Ballet of Cuba in La Havana. With Ballet Brio she was cast for numerous original pieces such as "The Classroom", "Rebote", Bomraiz", "Perdon", as well as acting Principal Soloist in "No Solo Polvo", "Techo de Cristal", El Arte de Morir", "Reverence" "Nudos y Alas", among others. In 2014, she was invited to Haiti to the Dance festival of Aquin as part of an artistic exchange. She also had the opportunity to participate in the remake of the musicals "Evita" and "The Sound of Music" with the University of Puerto Rico's Theater Repertoire Company. In 2105, she guested along with Ballet Brio at the World Ballet Competition Gala in Orlando, Florida, invited by Vasilie Petrutiu, CEO of Central Florida Ballet and WBC. She has since relocated to Connecticut with her family and works as a Doctor of Hematology and Medical Oncology at the New London Cancer Center.
Jillian Cyr of Derry, NH, began her training at age four under Barbara Mullen of the Londonderry Dance Academy. She then furthered her studies with Mary McCarthy of Dance Progressions before attending a private high school to train with Andrei Bossov and Natalya Getman of the Boxxov Ballet Theatre. Jill spent her summers partaking in summer intensives offered by Bossov Ballet Theatre, Boston Ballet, and Ballet Theatre of Maryland. She was a Company Member with Ballet Theatre Maryland from 2010-2016. She performed roles such as Carmen in Carmen, Morgan LeFey the leading female in Excalibur, Pas de Trois and a Little Swan in Swan Lake, Snow Queen in Nutcracker, Princess Isabel in Dancing Princesses, Anthony Tudor's Continua, as well as many featured roles in Sleeping Beauty, Coppelia, Cinderella, Mid Summer Night's Dream, and Original Company Ballets.