Sarah Hairston

Sarah Hairston Berkley

Born in Charleston, South Carolina, Ms. Hairston began her early ballet training at Charleston Ballet Theatre under Don and Patty Cantwell. At the age of 9, she continued her training in Columbia, South Carolina under the direction of Ann Brodie at the Calvert Brodie School of Dance. At 16, Ms. Hairston went on to attend and graduate from North Carolina School of the Arts. Upon graduation, Ms. Hairston joined Boston Ballet II and in 2001 joined Cincinnati Ballet as a Corps de Ballet member. Ms. Hairston was promoted to Soloist in 2006 and later to Principal in 2010 after a successful debut as Princess Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty.

Throughout her performance career, she held featured roles in the breadth of classical repertoire including Myrtha and Giselle in Giselle, Odette/Odile in Swan Lake, the Lilac Fairy, Carabosse and Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty, Snow Queen and the Sugarplum Fairy in The Nutcracker and Juliet in Romeo and Juliet, among others. In addition to the classics, Ms. Hairston’s Balanchine repertoire includes the Siren in Prodigal Son, the Second Movement in Symphony in C, Emeralds in Jewels, Dark Angel in Serenade and “The Man I Love” in Who Cares?.

Ms. Hairston has also performed in work by such notable choreographers as Adam Hougland, Luca Vegetti, Jessica Lang, Amy Seiwert, Val Caniparoli and Yuri Possokhov. She danced with Cincinnati Opera for many seasons and choreographed its productions of Don Giovanni in 2013 and Die Fledermaus in 2016. In 2017, she choreographed The Music Man for Indiana University.

Since 2006, Ms. Hairston has been an instructor in Cincinnati Ballet’s Otto M. Budig Academy and became their Academy Director from 2016- 2023. In 2023, Ms. Hairston opened The Hairston School of Dance.

Oliver Arana

Oliver Arana

Oliver Arana, was born in Lima, Peru and began his career as a principal dancer with the Ballet Municipal De Lima under the direction of Lucy Telge. He went on to work with Vicente Nebrada, at the National Ballet De Caracas of Venezuela. He was invited to join the Ballet Classico De Camara, under the direction of Nina Novak, where had the honor of alternating principal roles with Fernando Bujones and Carlos Acosta, and touring all of South America and parts of Europe. After coming to the United States in 1993, he joined The Bay Ballet Theatre as a principal dancer, under the direction of Christopher Flemming. He continued his career with the Cleveland San Jose Ballet– and in 1998, Mr. Arana joined The Cincinnati Ballet under the direction of Victoria Morgan.

Oliver Arana, Teacher and Director at NCYB 2006 – 2018 Awards and Achievements, YAGP Outstanding Teacher Award, YAGP Senior Grand Prix Denver, YAGP Youth Grand Prix Chicago, YAGP Many top 12 through the years, Cincinnati Overture Winners and finalists, World Ballet Competition Silver, Bronze medalist, NCYB students now dancing professionally at Norwegian National Ballet, Boston Ballet, Royal Ballet, Cincinnati Ballet MamLuft&Co. Dance. Students have received scholarships to Royal Ballet School London, Ballet West Academy, National Ballet of Canada, Indiana University, Houston Ballet II, American Ballet Theatre (JKO School), Munich Ballet Academy, University of South Carolina, Orlando Ballet School, Princess Grace Academy of Classical Dance, The Kirov Academy, Chautauqua, Boston Ballet School, Pacific Northwest Ballet School and Joffrey Ballet New York. Students have been accepted to La Scala Ballet Academy Milan, San Francisco Ballet School, School of American Ballet, and Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School.

Gema Diaz

Gema Diaz, born in Pinar del Rio, Cuba and raised in Havana, discovered her passion for dance at a tender age of three. From that moment, she embarked on a remarkable journey that would shape her into a celebrated dancer and an inspiring instructor. With unwavering dedication and extraordinary talent, Diaz honed her skills through rigorous training at The National Ballet School in Havana and The Vocational Ballet School in Santa Clara, immersing herself in the rich traditions of Cuban ballet.

Her exceptional abilities did not go unnoticed, and Diaz soon found herself dancing with the prestigious Ballet Nacional de Cuba for three transformative years. In 1999, she earned a well-deserved silver medal in the renowned International Ballet Competition of Cuba, solidifying her status as an accomplished artist. Diaz’s talents were in high demand, and she embarked on captivating tours that took her to stages across the globe, leaving audiences awe-inspired by her grace and artistry.

In 2005, Diaz took a momentous leap in her career and joined the esteemed Cincinnati Ballet. It was there that she discovered a profound sense of fulfillment in the constant exploration of new choreography. Diaz expressed, “There is always something new to dance. Dance is the best way I can express myself. It’s very rewarding when it gets to people.” Her performances radiated with passion and authenticity, captivating both critics and spectators alike. She dedicated ten remarkable years to Cincinnati Ballet, leaving an indelible mark before her retirement in 2015.

However, Diaz’s contribution to the world of dance did not end with her own performances. Recognizing the transformative power of dance education, she embraced her role as an instructor with great enthusiasm. Diaz shared her expertise and love for ballet through teaching engagements at notable institutions such as The Cincinnati Ballet Company and Academy, The School of Creative and Performing Arts, The University of Cincinnati (CCM), Ballet Tech Ohio, Broadway Bound Dance Academy, Kentucky Ballet Theatre, TU Dance, AVO Ballet, Harmony Healing Arts, Le Jeune Dance, and many others.

With each step she takes and each student she inspires, Gema Diaz’s impact on the world of dance continues to grow. Her unwavering dedication to her craft, combined with her vibrant spirit, makes her an exemplary figure in both performance and education. Through her timeless artistry and commitment to sharing her knowledge, Gema Diaz leaves an indelible mark on the world of ballet, forever enriching the lives of those who have the privilege to witness her grace and passion.

Sirui Liu

Sirui Liu began her ballet training with the Shanghai Dance School in the year 2000. After 7 years of training, Sirui continued her studies at the Shanghai Dance College of Shanghai Theater Academy for four years and graduated with Honors and a Bachelor’s degree in Arts. In 2011, Sirui started her professional career in the United States with the Cincinnati Ballet as a Corp de Ballet member. She quickly rose through the ranks and was promoted to Principal Dancer with the company in 2017. Through her career, Ms. Liu has won several awards. In 2009, she won the gold medal at the Ninth Taolibei National Dance Competition in China. She then won the gold medal at the Beijing International Ballet Competition in China in 2010. Sirui was also included in Dance Magazine’s Top 25 Dancers to Watch in 2017. Sirui’s extensive repertoire includes dancing classical pas de deux such as Black Swan, Giselle, Don Quixote, Esmeralda, Diana and Acteon, Le Corsaire, Paquita, and Coppelia. Ms. Liu has also performed principal roles for instance Odette and Odile in Swan Lake, Sugar Plum Fairy and Snow Queen in Nutcracker, Lilac Fairy in Sleeping Beauty, Waltz girl in Balanchine’s Serenade, Tall girl in Balanchine’s Rubies, Cinderella, The Chosen One in Rite of Spring, Minus 16, Carmina Burana, amongst many other ballets. Sirui has also worked with internationally acclaimed choreographers such as William Forsythe, Annabelle Lope Ochoa, Helen Pickett, Val Caniparoli, Justin Peck, Alejandro Cerrudo, Nicolo Fonte, Garrett Smith, Septime Webre, Yuri Possokhov, Kirk Peterson, Trey Mcintyre, Ohad Naharin, Jennifer Archibald, Edwaard Liang, Ma Cong, Travis Wall, etc. Ms. Liu was an adjudicator member in The World Ballet Art Competition Grand Prix in Indiana region in 2019 and The Grand Jeté – SC Student Ballet and Modern/Contemporary Dance Competition in 2023. She has also taught in various schools in the US and China, most notably in The Cincinnati Ballet Academy, Shanghai Dance College, South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities, and the Pennsylvania Ballet Conservatory.

Rodrigo Almarales

Rodrigo Almarales

Rodrigo Almarales trained with National Ballet School (Cuba), National Ballet School (Mexico), National Ballet School (Canada) and Hamburg Ballet School. Rodrigo performed as a soloist from 2007 to 2009 with the Deutsche Oper am Rhein in Germany and was a top-seven finalist on Italian television show “Amici” in 2009. He spent the 2010-2011 season with Boston Ballet before joining Cincinnati Ballet in 2011. Rodrigo’s extensive performance experience includes full-length ballets such as The Nutcracker, Giselle, Swan Lake, Cinderella, Don Quixote, The Sleeping Beauty, and Romeo and Julie. He was a Bronze Medal recipient in the Varna International Ballet Competition in 2008 and in the Korea International Ballet Competition in 2009. In 2012, he was the silver medal recipient for the Helsinki International Ballet competition. He has performed in multiple international galas and has performed principal roles with the Mongolian National Ballet and the Tokyo Komaki Ballet. In 2016, Almarales staged the Ballet Royalty Gala in Havana, Cuba. Rodrigo retired from performing in 2018 to focus on his business ventures. He however, continues to teach and choreograph around the world.

Shane Ohmer

Cincinnati based artist Shane Ohmer is presently an Adjunct Professor of Dance at the University of Cincinnati’s College Conservatory of Music. Mr. Ohmer was the Associate Dance Captain for the Broadway Tour of The Phantom of the Opera where he initiated the development of the “how-to” manual for teaching the production. Mr. Ohmer has appeared in Susan Stroman’s The Merry Widow at The Metropolitan Opera, the world touring hit dance show Rock the Ballet, Flashdance – the Musical’s first National Broadway Tour, Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Whim W’him, River North Chicago Dance Company and as a Principal guest artist for various companies around the world. Shane trained in Dance/Musical Theater at Cincinnati’s School For Creative and Performing Arts and Pacific Northwest Ballet School in Seattle.

Commercial work includes appearances on Law and Order SVU, David Letterman, Dos Equis Adverts, Warby Parker , GQ magazine, and runway shows for Commonwealth Utilities and Armani Exchange. Shane has created choreography for New York Fashion Week designers The Blonds, L’Officiel Hommes Video, numerous competitive dance pieces, stage plays, and musical reviews.

Shane’s mission is to expand his performing career, educate emerging artists, produce creative choreography, and direct movement that pushes boundaries for Dance and Musical Theater in live and digital spaces.

Hannah Riester

Hannah Riester has grown up with a passion for dance. She particularly has a strong love for tap dancing. Through attending residencies/intensives and performing in professional shows across the country, Hannah has trained with the most recognizable names in the tap industry. She is mentored in Los Angeles by Melinda Sullivan, a current member of the “Syncopated Ladies”. Hannah has won numerous scholarships and awards, but above all, strives to connect and share her passion with her students.
Emma Phillips ​

Emma Phillips

Emma is a professional ballet dancer and instructor from Edgewood, KY. She trained at the Cincinnati Ballet Academy for most of her young life, where she worked with instructors such as Sarah Hairston, Zack Grubbs, Dawn Kelly, and Gema Diaz. At the age of 16, she was offered a trainee position within the Cincinnati Ballet company, where she remained for two seasons before attending the University of Cincinnati to receive her BFA. There, she trained with professors such as Deirdre Carberry, Qi Jiang, Tricia Sundbeck, Isabele Elefson, and Molly Perez. During her last year of college, Emma danced professionally at Springfield Ballet Company in Illinois, where she performed in soloist roles in classical and contemporary works, and was an instructor within their school. She has also taught at the Cincinnati Ballet Academy, and within CCM’s preparatory department.

Caitlyn Frodge

Caitlyn Frodge started dancing at the age of three at Cincinnati Ballet Academy. During her 13 years of training, she has danced under renowned faculty, including being trained by Sarah Hairston Berkley most of her life. She has had children’s cast roles with Cincinnati Ballet with performances such as numerous years of The Nutcracker, Alice In Wonderland, Cinderella, and Aladdin. In addition to her training and children’s cast participation she has also attended summer intensives at Cincinnati Ballet and Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet and has participated in Youth American Grand Prix. Caitlyn is a junior at the Summit Country Day School where she is co-editor of the yearbook, a part of the leadership team, a student photographer, a member of National Art Honors Society and she enjoys playing guitar in her spare time.

Kara Louis

Born and raised in Cincinnati, Kara Louis began her dance training at the age of five studying ballet, tap, and jazz. She continued her training while studying ballet more intensely at CCM, Ballet Tech Ohio, and Cincinnati Ballet’s Otto M. Budig Academy. Kara went on to Mercyhurst University as a dance major under the direction of Tauna Hunter where she received a Bachelor of Arts in Dance with a concentration in Pedagogy and Choreography and a minor in Arts Administration. While studying at Mercyhurst University, Kara performed with the Lake Erie Ballet and SoMar Danceworks. Following graduation, Kara danced professionally for five seasons with the Radio City Christmas Spectacular as one of the world-famous Radio City Rockettes. As part of the “Christmas Across America” company, she had the opportunity to tour all over the United States and Canada. Kara is extremely proud to be a part of the history and tradition of this legendary precision dance line. Following her professional dance career, Kara has turned her focus to a passion for teaching and inspiring the next generation of dancers. She brings with her many years of teaching experience coupled with a desire to build a nurturing and encouraging environment in the studio in hopes to inspire her own students to reach for their dreams.

Grace Shivers

Grace Shivers

Grace began her ballet training at the Classical Ballet Centre in Summerville, SC with Terry-Ellen Shields at the age of 7. When Grace approached her high school years, Ms. Shields encouraged her to audition for North Carolina School of the Arts to polish her technique. Grace was accepted her sophomore year of high school and was coached by numerous notable teachers including Melissa Hayden, Kee Juan Han, Warren Conover, and Fanchon Cordell. Upon graduation, she had the opportunity to dance Russian Girl in Serenade at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles. After high school, she enrolled in Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music as a ballet major and graduated with a degree in ballet and history. At Indiana University, she danced many leading roles included Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker, Russian Girl in Serenade, and Soloist and Pas de deux in Rubies. She worked closely with Violette Verdy and Michael Vernon during her time in Indiana. In 2010, after graduating from IU, Grace entered the second company at Cincinnati Ballet and was promoted into the company for the next year. After reaching the rank of the corps de ballet, Grace danced notable roles such as Rose in Victoria Morgan’s The Nutcracker, the Soloist in Trey McIntyre’s Wild Sweet Love, and Fall fairy in Victoria Morgan’s Cinderella. While at Cincinnati Ballet, Grace also danced in works choreographed by Adam Hougland, Amy Seiwert, Jessica Lang, Ohad Naharin, William Whitener, and Heather Britt. After her retirement, Grace worked as a ballet master to set Snow and Flowers in The Nutcracker and then went on to assist Suzette Webb with Cincinnati Ballet’s Family Series ballets which included Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and Snow White. Grace loves to teach ballet and tries to bring the best from the different teachers and experiences she has gathered along her way. She is extremely excited to garner a new generation of dancers at the Hairston School of Dance.