Ballet Yuma Company Dancers:
Photos by Captured Light Photography – Bill Butler
Jade, the fifteen-year-old daughter of Brian and Julie Butcher, is a sophomore at Cibola High School. She is a fifth year Ballet Yuma Company dancer, with her first year being in Intermediate Company; Jade has twelve years of dance experience. Jade has participated in the 2012 Let’s Dance Utah summer intensive, 2013 Joffrey Ballet San Fransisco summer intensive, 2014 International Ballet Competition School of Dance, and the 2015 Master Ballet Academy summer program. In 2016, Jade received a full tuition scholarship to the RDA National Choreography Intensive in Tallahassee, FL. Jade enjoys swimming with sharks as a certified open water scuba diver. Her future goals include becoming a professional dancer as well as a Master Scuba Diver.
Lily is the seventeen-year-old daughter of Cam and Emma Cong. As a junior at Cibola High School, this is Lily’s fifth year as a company dancer having thirteen years of dancing experience at Yuma Ballet Academy. She is an Honor Roll student who loves listening to classical music and laughing with her dad. Lily was honored to have received a full scholarship to the National Choreography Intensive for both the years of 2015 and 2017. Lily has also been awarded a half scholarship to the Oklahoma City Ballet for 2018. Lily has future goals of going to college and continuing dance beyond high school.
Abigayle is the eighteen-year-old daughter of Peter and Amy Gill. As a senior at Cibola High School, she is a fifth year Ballet Yuma Company dancer with thirteen years of dancing experience. Abi is proud to be on the Honor Roll and the A Team at school. In 2016, she was awarded a full tuition scholarship for the RDA National Choreography Intensive in Tallahassee, FL. Outside of ballet, Abi’s interests include photography, art, and learning different languages. She plans on studying photography and graphic design at university after high school.
Carina, 21, daughter of Steve and Victoria Gresham is a Graduate of Cibola High School 2014. She received her full training from Yuma Ballet Academy and Ballet Yuma; during which, she was awarded full scholarships to Craft of Choreography in 2009 and to Ballet Tucson’s summer intensive 2012 and 2013 before she received a tuition scholarship for State Street Ballet’s trainee program in 2014. In 2014, Carina became a trainee for the State Street Ballet where she earned a contract through the 2015-2017 seasons where she has appeared in The Nutcracker, Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella, Carmen, Camina Burana, An American Tango, Scheherazade, Don Quixote, and State Street’s Modern Masters. Having worked with notable choreographers such as: Autumn Eckman, Joseph Jefferies, Keven Jenkins, Jeffery Gribler, William Soleau, and Kassandra Taylor; she has had the opportunity to travel and tour the country as she continues to pursue a professional dance career while enjoying photography and traveling.
Sophie is the sixteen-year-old daughter of Doug an Melissa Henry. As a senior at Arizona Western College, she is a fifth year company dancer with thirteen years of dancing experience at Yuma Ballet Academy. Outside of ballet, Sophie has won multiple Home Economic awards for her quilting projects in 4-H and has participated in National Novel Writing Month. Her interests include: reading, writing, traveling, and learning foreign languages. After graduation Sophie intends on becoming an American Sign Language interpreter.
Shylynn is the fifteen-year-old daughter of Shawna and Jeremy Kite. As a sophomore at Gila Ridge High School, Shylynn has been dancing for twelve years. With Yuma Ballet Academy she has earned roles in Ballet Yuma productions, such as, the Mouse King in The Nutcracker, the Blue Bird in Snow White, lead Forest Demon and the Baker in Hansel and Gretel. Outside the studio, Shylynn’s enjoys cooking and studying cognitive neuroscience. She plans on attending college and continuing to dance after high school.
Star, fourteen-year-old daughter of Elizabeth and Alexander Raygoza, is a freshman at Gila Ridge High School. With eight years of dance experience, this is Star’s first year as a Ballet Yuma Company First Company dancer. Star has gained recognition for her academic accomplishments that include being a two-time first place Science Fair winner, seven year Honor Roll recipient, accepted into National Junior Honor Society, a finalist for Military Student Advocate, and presented with multiple poetry awards. Star’s interests include dancing, cooking, baking, crafting, playing with animals, and learning new things. Her career goals are to become a professional dancer and become either a molecular chemist or molecular biologist.
Sunnie Arias Shephard
Sunnie is the sixteen-year-old daughter of Dawn Shephard and Cedric Shephard Jr. As a sophomore attending Gila Ridge High School, this is her first year as a First Company member of Yuma Ballet. Sunnie has eleven years of dancing experience, and she intends on continuing dancing after high school. Sunnie enjoys attending nursing classes and will be attending HOSA for sports medicine; she also enjoys spending time with her family and friends. Sunnie would like to pursue a career in child psychology and modeling.
Eric is the sixteen-year-old son of Ana Maria and Kenneth Snyder. He is a home-schooled junior who is in his second year at Arizona Western College. As a fourth year Ballet Yuma Company dancer, he has eight years of dance training. Eric has received full tuition scholarships to the 2015 Ballet San Jose summer intensive, as well as the 2016 American Ballet summer intensive in New York City, from which, he was one of ten participants chosen to return on a full-tuition scholarship to the 2017 summer intensive and awarded a $1,500 stipend to continue his ballet training in Yuma. He also received a $100 scholarship from Desert Pointe Productions. Eric has danced many principle roles in Ballet Yuma productions and has enjoyed the opportunity to take Master Classes from teachers such as David Hallberg, Franco de Vita, Kevin McKenzie, and Julie Kent. His interests include listening to classical music, Shakespearean plays, Broadway musicals, a nite at the Opera, an walking into ballet class every day. With this being Eric’s last season with Ballet Yuma, his goal is to attend a year-round training program with a major dance company next season, ideally in Europe.
The daughter of Christopher and Dodi Toms, Madilyn is eighteen years old and a freshman at AWC. Having completed fifteen years of dance training, this is her fifth year as a Ballet Yuma Company dancer with her first two as par too the Intermediate Company. She has participated in four RDA/P Festivals in Spokane, Phoenix, and Sacramento. At the 2016 RDA/P Festival, Madilyn was honored to receive apprenticeship to the dance major program at BYU, a tuition scholarship to Grand Canyon University, and strongly encouraged to apply to the Cornish School of the Arts and the University of California-Irvine. This year at RDA National Festival, she was awarded a scholarship to the Joffrey Workshop Texas. Outside of ballet, Madilyn has competed at the state level for FFA for multiple years and enjoys traveling, golfing, and art. She plans on completing her AA at AWC before transferring to a university to major in dance.
Hanna is the thirteen-year-old daughter of Mary Amon and Joseph Twomey. She is an eighth grade student at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic School who also takes an honors math class at Yuma Catholic High School. In her sixth year of dancing, she has danced with Ballet Yuma Company for three years after spending one year as a Ballet Yuma trainee. Hanna has received multiple scholarships and awards to include an invitation to attend the Junior National Young Leaders Conference in Washington, D.C., Student of the Month at St. Francis, Student of the Week at the KYMA TV station, and Honor Roll at school. She has been awarded top scores at the St. Francis Science Fair for the 6th-8th grade Physics category, as well as placing second in the Physics category at the Yuma County Science Fair with an opportunity to attend the Southern Arizona Science and Engineering Fair. Hanna’s interests include math, dancing around the house, and making slime with her friends. Her plan after high school is to major in dance at the University of Arizona.
Amanda, the fifteen-year-old daughter of Jason and Sharon Trevino, is a sophomore at Gila Ridge High School. Dancing from the age of three at Yuma Ballet Academy, she has been a Ballet Yuma Workshop dancer for one year; a Trainee member for two years; and is currently a Ballet Yuma Company dancer who has attended Regional Dance America in both 2016 and 2017. Amanda has been on her schools’ Honor Roll from elementary school to high school. She is also a Yuma County Science Fair award recipient. Amanda enjoys dancing, playing the piano, singing, and listening to music. Her goals include entering the nursing program at Gila Ridge High School during her junior and senior years and attending the University of Arizona to pursue her education in the medical field.
Mia, the twelve-year-old daughter of Chris and Lori Williams, is a seventh grader at Castle Dome Middle School and a two year Ballet Yuma Company member. Her interests include studying ballet and playing both the the flute and the baritone saxophone. Mia’s career goals are to dance for a professional ballet company, ideally the New York City Ballet; and to become either a speech or forensic pathologist.
Carmela, the fourteen-year-old daughter of Patricia and Timothy Brienza, is a freshman at Cibola High School. With twelve years of dancing experience at Yuma Ballet Academy, this is her fifth year in Ballet Yuma. Outside of dance, Carmela was notably Valedictorian of her eighth grade class, a member of the John Hopkins Youth Program for the gifted and talented, and a first place recipient at her school’s science fair in seventh and eighth grade. She loves to read, especially the Harry Potter series. Carmela would like to attend the University of Arizona to earn a B.S. in dermatology.
Gracie, the twelve-year-old daughter of John Heiligenthal and Heather Cox, attends seventh grade at Southwestern Christian School. With nine years of dance experience, this is her fourth dancing for Ballet Yuma. Gracie has received four-quarter Honor Roll and reading awards at school; she also earned an award from the National Young Leaders Conference. She enjoys reading, babysitting, and being a TA for ballet classes.
Madeline, the eleven-year-old daughter of David and Dora Kern, is a sixth-grade student at Mesquite Elementary. With six years of dance experience, this is Madeline’s first year dancing with Ballet Yuma after three years training with Yuma Ballet Academy. She has performed in Ballet Yuma’s The Nutcracker and Peter and the Wolf. Madeline’s interests include dancing, math, writing, reading, social studies, and science. She would like to become a professional ballet dancer and dance for a popular dance company; she would also like to become a doctor or a dentist, as well as save animals.
Elizabeth is the fifteen-year-old daughter of Jana and Steve Moore. She is a sophomore attending Gila Ridge High School where she was second in her freshman class receiving an A-Team award. She has been dancing for twelve years with four years dancing with Ballet Yuma participating in The Nutcracker, spring performances, and Etudes and Excerpts. Elizabeth’s interests include reading, Academic Decathlon, and volunteering. Her goal is to receive an academic scholarship for college, where she can attend a medical program to become a physical therapist or radiologist.
Alizé is the fourteen-year-old daughter of Lariza and Bryan Parsons. She is a freshman at Gila Ridge High School who, since she was five, has studied different styles of dance such as: tap, jazz, modern hip hop, and ballet along with tumbling and gymnastics. Alizé has trained with Yuma Ballet Academy for seven years, danced for Ballet Yuma for two years, and participated in two RDA Festivals to date. She enjoys spending Sundays with her family watching WWE, playing the clarinet, and playing with her two Border Collies. Alizé would like to continue dancing through high school and college and become either a professional dancer or a medical examiner.
Katy, the twelve-year-old daughter of Greg and Chardee Watowich, attends Southwestern Cristian School as a seventh grader. She has been dancing since she was three and has performed in Ballet Yuma’s Ballet de Seuss, Snow White, Hansel and Gretel, and The Nutcracker. Katy enjoys choreographing her own dances, writing stories, and creating skits. She would like to become an elementary school teacher after college.
Harley Coleman, apprentice
Harley is the twelve-year-old daughter of Jenn and Chris Coleman. She attends Castle Dome Middle School as a seventh grader and has seven years of ballet experience. Harley has received both blue and purple ribbons for her 4-H sewing projects and is a level-three rider. She has also earned the Principal Award for Honor Roll at school and has received Student-of-the-Month ever year. Harley’s interests include sewing, ballet, horses, and baking. She would like to become a professional dancer and a medical examiner one day.
Ianna Herrera, apprentice
Ianna, the twelve-year-old daughter of Belinda and Daniel Herrera, is a seventh grader at Centennial Middle School. She began dancing when she was two-and-a-half and is now a Second Company Apprentice for Ballet Yuma. Ianna has received Honor Roll since she was in kindergarten and attended the 2017 Summer Junior New Young Leaders Conference in Washington, D.C., where she was nominated to represent her school for obtaining high academic and leadership skills. Her interests include reading, swimming, and studying science. Her career goal is to become a cardiothoracic surgeon.
Andrew Lopez, apprentice
Andrew is the thirteen-year-old son of Sergio Lopez. He has four years of dancing experience with this being his first year in Ballet Yuma. Andrew is home-schooled and enjoys dancing, drawing, and sports-especially football. He would like to major in dance at the U of A and dance professionally with the New York City Ballet.
Isabella Nicholls, apprentice
Isabella is the eleven-year-old daughter of Danette and Douglas Nicholls. She is a sixth grader at St. Francis where she has received Honor Roll. Isabella has seven years of dance experience and attended the 2017 RDA Festival in Phoenix. She enjoys photography and math, and her goal is to become a teacher.