Sarah Melli Ballet Master
Born in Madison,Wisconsin, Sarah began her ballet training at the Wisconsin School of Ballet with Tibor Zana. At 14, she received a full scholarship to the Milwaukee Ballet and was asked to stay and dance with the company. Sarah was awarded scholarships and danced with Ballet West, Burklyn Ballet Theatre, Joffery Ballet, Pittsburgh Ballet, Houston Ballet, Cleveland Ohio Ballet, and Cincinnati Ballet. While performing with the Burklyn Ballet Theatre, she was invited to audition for the Boston Ballet Company where she began her professional dance career. Sarah went on to dance professionally with Chicago City Ballet (Director, Maria Tallchief), Joffery II (Director, Sally Bliss), San Antonio Ballet (Director, Vladimir Marek) and Dayton Ohio Ballet (Director, Stuart Sebastian).
She has performed leading roles in Concerto Barocco, Serenade, Jewels, Stars and Stripes, Apollo, Coppelia, Swan lake, Tarantella, Tchaikovsky Pas De Duex, Sleeping Beauty, Nutcracker, and Graduation Ball. While Dancing in the Jillana School in Taos, New Mexico, Sarah was asked personally by Jillana to be her Choreography Assistant for the Summer Programs. Jillana was one of George Balanchine’s first Prima Ballerinas, and an exclusive authorized teacher of the Balanchine Technique® & Balanchine Style®, and she is happy to give Sarah her personal recommendation.
Sarah now teaches Master Classes at California State Fullerton, Mt. Sac College, Malibu by the Sea, Jillana’s Summer Intensives, Huntington Academy, Tustin Ballet Academy, Bare Dance Company, and Inland Pacific Ballet. She also does private coaching, and was hired to coach Miss California 2010, Kristy Cavinder, for her talent competition in the Miss USA 2011 Pageant. Kristy won First Place performing ballet in the Talent Competition, and 1st Runner-Up overall for Miss USA.
Sarah’s students have gone on to receive scholarships and company contracts from Miami City Ballet, School of American Ballet in NYC, San Francisco Ballet, Alonzo King’s Lines Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Suzanne Farrell, Arizona Ballet, Houston Ballet, Lou Conte’s Hubbard Street, and the Jillana School.
Alissa Bratz Faculty
Alissa began her training with Eugene Ballet and Salem City Ballet in Oregon state before moving to Wisconsin in 1988. She continued her ballet training with Jim Moore and Joan Karlen at the University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point Conservatory, where she began teaching ballet classes. During this time, Alissa also trained at the Milwaukee Ballet's summer intensive programs. In 1993, Alissa moved to Madison to pursue a Linguistics degree at the University of Wisconsin where she continued her dance training. During this time, she continued to teach ballet at several local studios. In 1999, she joined the Madison Ballet Studio Company and performed with Madison Ballet until 2005. Favorite roles with Madison Ballet include Snow and Spanish in Nutcracker, and Drunken Fairy in Peter Pan.
Alissa is also a licensed Wisconsin K-12 teacher and teaches French at Milton High School. In 2011, Alissa achieved National Board Certification by the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards and in 2012 was recognized by Senator Herb Kohl for excellence in teaching with a Kohl Teacher Fellowship Award. Alissa is also the Director of Wisconsin Parkour, and one of only six ADAPT-qualified parkour instructors in the state of Wisconsin. When not dancing, Alissa can often be seen around Madison, leaping tall buildings in a single bound.
Clarissa Booth Faculty
A native of Duluth, Minnesota, Clarissa trained at the School of the Minnesota Ballet under the direction of (then) artistic director Allen Fields. During that time, she performed with the corps de ballet in Giselle, Swan Lake, Coppélia, Les Sylphides, and in the corps and as a soloist in The Nutcracker. As an advanced student, she toured around the country with the professional company. Upon graduation from the school, Clarissa began teaching at the School of the Minnesota Ballet, and continued dancing during her undergraduate career, performing in Bare Bones and Attitudes dance productions at the University of Minnesota-Duluth. Clarissa is currently getting her doctorate in Environmental Toxicology at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, and is thrilled to be able to continue teaching here at the School of Madison Ballet.
Rachelle Butler Faculty & Company Dancer
A Madison native, Rachelle is excited to be a part of Madison Ballet's new season. Formerly with Sacramento Ballet, her training includes dancing with Ballet Chicago, Miami City Ballet School and The Rock School of the Pennsylvania Ballet. She has enjoyed performing previously with Madison ballet in its productions of The Nutcracker and Cinderella. Her favorite roles include principle couple in Balanchine's Allegro Brilliante, Second Violin in Balanchine's Concerto Barrocco, and Who Cares? pas de deux. Rachelle would like to thank her mother, father and sister for their constant support and Earle Smith for his guidance and support.
Katy Fredrick Faculty & Company Dancer
Katy is originally from Memphis, TN where she received her training at Ballet Memphis under the direction of Janet Parke and Associate Artistic Director Karl Condon. She also attended summer intensives with Boston Ballet and American Ballet Theater. After performing ten years with the Ballet Memphis Junior Company, she was invited to join the main company. While at Ballet Memphis, she performed in Mark Godden’s What Can I Tell My Bones and Joseph Jeffries’ Cinderella, along with many more works by the artistic staff. She danced a season with Nashville Ballet before moving to Chicago, where she has danced with Paul Abrahamson's Chicago Ballet, as a guest artist in Larry Long's The
Nutcracker, and was on scholarship at the Lou Conte Dance Studio at Hubbard Street. Katy has also danced in the annual Dance in the Parks series and is a member of Chicago Freelance Dance. She is excited to return to Madison Ballet this season.
Alyssa Gunsolus Faculty & School Registrar
Alyssa graduated with a BS in Dance from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She started her formal training with Madison Ballet in 2000 under the direction of W. Earle Smith and has performed corps and soloist roles in The Nutcracker and Cinderella. From 2001-2005, Alyssa trained with the Joffrey Ballet School in New York City and the Sarasota Ballet in Sarasota, FL on full scholarship. She has studied under Dorothy Lister, Cheyhun Ozsoy, Francesca Corkle, Deborah Dawn and Pavil Fomin. Alyssa lived in New York City for several years where she attended school at Fordham University and studied dance at STEPS on Broadway with Alexander Tressor and Wilhelm Burmann. She has also spent many years dancing and choreographing on the competition circuit, competing in Madison, Milwaukee, Chicago, Minneapolis and Atlanta. Alyssa has had the privilege of working with world renowned choreographers such as Mia Michaels, Tyce Diorio and Travis Wall. She is very excited to be a part of Madison Ballet in her first season as faculty member and as the School Registrar!
Maelanie Kuzma Faculty & Education Outreach Facilitator
Maelanie Kuzma began her ballet training here in Madison with Charmaine Ristow, Susan Marsden, Salvador Barillas, and Bess and Tibor Zana. She continued her training with the Milwaukee Ballet School, The Joffrey Ballet, and Boston Ballet School. Maelanie received her BS in Education from the University of Wisconsin-Madison while performing and studying with the UW Dance Program. Performances include many Nutcracker’s and Nutcracker roles with Wisconsin
Dance Ensemble, Madison Ballet, and Milwaukee Ballet, performances in Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Sylvia, Peter Rabbit’s Ballet, as well as many musical theatre roles, and countless student concerts.
Maelanie began teaching ballet in 1992 and has choreographed for many community theatre and high school musical theatre productions as well as working with school show choirs, and spent two summers directing the dance program at Camp Birch Knowll, a girl’s summer arts camp in Northern Wisconsin.
In 1995, Maelanie assumed ownership of A Step Above Dance Studio in Monona, growing and directing the school’s dance and music programs for 9 successful years. During that run her choreography received numerous awards at regional conventions, and she continued to work with the Wisconsin Dance Ensemble and Madison Ballet as a rehearsal assistant for their productions.
Maelanie lives in Monona where she and her husband spend most of their free time trying to keep their 80 year old house from falling apart, while chasing after their two little boys. She enjoys gardening, volunteering in the Monona Schools, and of course, trips to Menards.
Marguerite Luksik is a native of Johnstown, PA. She trained with the Allegheny Ballet Academy under Deborah Anthony and the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre Graduate Program. In June 2002, Ms. Luksik participated in an exhibition performance at the USA International Ballet Competition in Jackson, Mississippi.
Marguerite Luksik Faculty, Company Dancer & Education Outreach Coordinator
Marguerite Luksik is a native of Johnstown, PA. She trained with the Allegheny Ballet Academy under Deborah Anthony and the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre Graduate Program. In June 2002, Ms. Luksik participated in an exhibition performance at the USA International Ballet Competition in Jackson, Mississippi. This is Marguerite's fourth season with Madison Ballet, where she is on faculty. While at Madison Ballet her repetoire includes Puck in Peter Anastos's A Midsummer Night's Dream, Spring Fairy in W. Earle Smith's Cinderella, as well as Clara in Smith's Nutcracker. She has also danced with Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, Ballet Austin, Chicago Ballet, and Peoria Ballet, performing works by choreographers such as Steven Mills, Stanton Welch, Ben Stevenson, Terrence Orr, Thaddeus Davis, and Paul Gibson.
Jessica Jaye Mackinson Faculty & Company Dancer
Jessica received her training at the Milwaukee Ballet School. She has also studied with the School of American Ballet, Boston Ballet School, the Vail International Dance Festival, and was a member of the ProTrack dance program at BalletMet Columbus. Jessica has performed with the Milwaukee Ballet Company, BalletMet Columbus, Chautauqua Ballet Company, and the Rockford Dance Company. She was the recipient of the 1999 Peter Schetter Scholarship at the Milwaukee Ballet School, and was awarded 1st place at the 2001 Carey Rose Winski Dance Scholarship Competition. Jessica also serves as an adjunct faculty member at Rockford College, teaching ballet and jazz for the Performing Arts Department. She received a Bachelor of Science in Anthropology & Sociology at Rockford College in 2009. Jessica is new to the Madison area and is excited to be a part of Madison Ballet.
Shannon Quirk Faculty, Company Dancer & Education Outreach Facilitator
Shannon Quirk, from Orange, California, began her classical training with Orange County Regional Ballet and continued her studies at the University of California, Irvine where she earned a BFA in Dance Performance. During her tenure, she worked with distingushed faculty members David Allen, Evelyn Cisneros, Jodie Gates, Molly Lynch, and Donald McKayle and performed various works by William Forsythe, Jodie Gates, and Molly Lynch. After graduating, she worked with Pasadena Dance Theatre under the direction of Cynthia Young and Laurence Blake. Additional training also includes Alonzo King's LINES Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, and Ballet Austin. This is her first time working Madison Ballet.