Ballet Yuma Company Dancers:
Photos by Captured Light Photography – Bill Butler
Jade Butcher, the sixteen-year-old daughter of Brian and Julie Butcher, is a junior at Cibola High School. She is a six-year Ballet Yuma company dancer, her first year being in the Intermediate Company. Jade has participated in the 2012 Let’s Dance Utah summer intensive, 2013 Joffrey Ballet San Francisco 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. She attended American Ballet Theatre’s summer intensive in NYC in 2017, dancing a soloist role in Les Sylphides. Outside of dance, Jade enjoys swimming with sharks as a certified open water scuba diver. Her future goals include becoming a professional dancer and a Master Scuba Diver.
Emily Combs, the fourteen-year-old daughter of James and Dana Combs, is a sophomore at Kofa High School. She began dancing at the age of three and has studied many different styles including ballet, jazz, contemporary, tap, and hip hop. This is Emily’s first year as a Ballet Yuma company member. She was valedictorian of her 8th grade class at Woodard Junior High and has been a straight A student since the third grade. Emily’s outside interests include drawing, music, shopping and hanging out with her friends. Her future goal is to attend college at the University of Arizona, majoring in dance.
Lily Cong is the seventeen-year-old daughter of Cam and Emma Cong and senior at Cibola High School. This is her sixth year as a company dancer having fourteen years of dance training at Yuma Ballet Academy. She is an Honor Roll student, a member of National Honor Society and will be graduating in the top 10 of Cibola’s Class of 2019. Aside from school, Lily’s interests include jamming to Bruce Springsteen and laughing with her family. Through Regional Dance America, Lily was honored to receive a full scholarship in 2015 and 2017 for the National Choreography Intensive, a half scholarship to Oklahoma City Ballet summer intensive 2018 and a full scholarship to Spectrum Donald Byrd Workshop 2018. Upon graduation she plans to attend a university to major in dance and knows the art will forever be a part of her life.
Rebecca Hughes is a fifteen-year-old sophomore at Primavera Online High School. She has been dancing for twelve years and this is her first year as a Ballet Yuma company member. Rebecca previously trained with Lisa Snape Avery and Dame Amy Watson at Avery Ballet. Rebecca volunteered to perform and instruct for the Head Start program in Virginia and is an advocate for rescuing animals. Outside of dance, she enjoys spending time with her family and dogs, hiking in the outdoors and experimenting with different art forms. Rebecca hopes to dance professionally and is interested in a career in criminology/forensics.
Shylynn Kite is the sixteen-year-old daughter of Shawna and Jeremy Kite and a junior at Gila Ridge High School. She has been dancing for thirteen years and a Ballet Yuma company member for five. She has danced many diverse roles in Ballet Yuma productions including 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 enjoys cooking and studying cognitive neuroscience. Shylynn would like to attend a university in San Diego for a nursing degree while continuing to dance.
Star Raygoza, fifteen-year-old daughter of Elizabeth and Alexander Raygoza, is a sophomore at Gila Ridge High School. With nine years of dance experience, this is Star’s second year as a Ballet Yuma company dancer. She has gained recognition for 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 including the Myers Science Award. Star’s interests include cooking, baking, crafting, playing with animals, and learning new things. Her future aspirations are to become a professional dancer and work in the field of molecular science.
Hanna Twomey is the fourteen-year-old daughter of Mary Amon and Joseph Twomey. She is a freshman at Yuma Catholic High School. In her seventh year of dancing, she has been with the company for four years spending one year as a Ballet Yuma trainee. Hanna has received multiple scholarships and awards including 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. She has been awarded top scores at the St. Francis Science Fair in the 6th-8th grade Physics category, as well as placing second in the Physics category at the Yuma County Science Fair and received an opportunity to attend the Southern Arizona Science and Engineering Fair. Hanna’s interests include math and dancing around the house. She plans to major in dance at the University of Arizona and eventually become a pilot.
Amanda Trevino, the sixteen-year-old daughter of Jason and Sharon Trevino, is a junior at Gila Ridge High School. Dancing from the age of three at Yuma Ballet Academy, she was a Ballet Yuma Workshop dancer for one year, a Trainee member for two years, and is currently a Ballet Yuma company dancer. She has attended Regional Dance America festivals for the past three years. Amanda has been on her schools’ honor roll since elementary school and is a Yuma County Science Fair award recipient. She enjoys playing the piano, singing, and listening to music. Amanda hopes to enter the nursing program at Gila Ridge High School during her junior and senior years and then attend the University of Arizona to pursue her education in the medical field.
Mia Williams, the thirteen-year-old daughter of Chris and Lori Williams, is an eighth grader at Castle Dome Middle School and a third year Ballet Yuma company member. She has attended two Regional Dance America festivals. Her interests include studying ballet and playing both the flute and the baritone saxophone. Mia’s career goal is to become a professional dancer and someday dance for the New York City Ballet.
Carmela Brienza, the fifteen-year-old daughter of Patricia and Timothy Brienza, is a sophomore at Cibola High School. With thirteen years of dancing experience at Yuma Ballet Academy, this is her sixth 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 member of the “A” Team at Cibola. She loves to go “thrifting” and spending time with her friends and family. Carmela would like to attend the University of Arizona to earn a B.S. in dermatology.
Madeline Kern, the twelve-year-old daughter of David and Dora Kern, is a seventh grade student at Crane Middle School. Maddie is an honor roll student and has received student of the month award every year. She started dancing at age of 5 and has studied different styles of dance such as jazz, tap and ballet. This is her second year dancing with Ballet Yuma and her fourth year training with Yuma Ballet Academy. She has performed in Ballet Yuma’s The Nutcracker, Peter and the Wolf, Hansel and Gretel, Ballet de Seuss and The Young Person’s Guide to The Orchestra. She attended 2017 RDA Festival in Phoenix. Madeline’s interests include photography, baking, shopping and hanging out with friends. Maddie would like to major in dance at the U of A and her dream is to dance professionally for the New York City Ballet. She would also like to become an astronomer or marine biologist.
Andrew Lopez is the fourteen-year-old son of Sergio and Lisa Lopez. He has five years of dancing experience, this being his second year in Ballet Yuma. Andrew is a freshman at Gila Ridge High School and enjoys dancing, drawing and is very interested in world history. He would like to major in dance at the University of Arizona and work professionally with the New York City Ballet. After a dance career, Andrew would like to be a world history teacher.
Alizé Parsons is the fifteen-year-old daughter of Lariza and Bryan Parsons. She is a sophomore at Gila Ridge High School who, since she was five, has studied different styles of dance including tap, jazz, modern, hip hop, and ballet along with tumbling and gymnastics. Alizé has trained with Yuma Ballet Academy for eight years, danced for Ballet Yuma for three years, and participated in three Regional Dance America festivals. She enjoys spending Sundays with her family watching WWE, playing the clarinet, and enjoying her two border collies. Alizé would like to continue dancing through high school and college and become either a professional dancer, veterinarian or a pediatrician.
Katy Watowich is the thirteen-year-old daughter of Greg and Chardee Watowich. She is an eighth grader at Southwestern Christian School and has received Principal’s Honor Roll (cum GPA 94.5% or above) for five years in a row. Katy has been dancing with Yuma Ballet Academy since the age of three and has been a part of Ballet Yuma for four years. She has performed in Ballet Yuma’s Ballet de Seuss, Snow White, Hansel and Gretel, Giselle Act 2, Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra, and The Nutcracker. Aside from ballet, Katy enjoys school, writing stories, playing with animals, and singing. After college, Katy would like to become a teacher.
Harley Coleman is the thirteen-year-old daughter of Jenn and Chris Coleman. She attends Castle Dome Middle School as an eighth grader and has eight years of ballet experience. This is Harley’s second year in Ballet Yuma. She has received blue and purple ribbons for her 4-H sewing projects and is a level-three rider. In school, Harley has earned the Principal Award for Honor Roll and a Student-of-the-Month award each year. Her interests include sewing, ballet, horses, and baking. Harley would like to continue dancing after high school and plans to become a forensic medical examiner.
Ianna Herrera, the thirteen-year-old daughter of Belinda and Daniel Herrera, is an eighth grader at Centennial Middle School. She began dancing when she was two-and-a-half and is now a Company junior apprentice for Ballet Yuma. Ianna has received honor roll recognition since she was in kindergarten and attended the 2017 Summer Junior New Young Leaders Conference in Washington, D.C. for demonstrating high academic and leadership skills. Her interests include reading, swimming, spending time with her family and studying science. Ianna’s career goal is to become a cardiothoracic surgeon.
Flair Koch is the eleven-year-old daughter of Roz and Travis Koch. She is in the sixth grade at Gowan Science Academy. She has been dancing since she was 2 and has always had a passion for ballet. This is Flair’s first year as a Ballet Yuma company member and she is the recipient of the Alexandria Urias/Ballet Yuma Merit Scholarship for the 2018-2019 dance year. Flair has been on the honor roll each year and loves everything about learning. Her interests include makeup, drawing, journaling, and being organized. She is planning on dancing through college and professionally. Flair’s ultimate dream is to be a doctor specializing in orthopedics and work with injured dancers.
Isabella Nicholls is the twelve-year-old daughter of Danette and Douglas Nicholls. She is a seventh grader at St. Francis where she is on the honor roll. Isabella has eight years of dance experience and attended the 2017 RDA National Festival in Phoenix. She enjoys photography and math, and her goal is to become a doctor.
Gwyneth Perea is a seventh grader at Centennial Middle school. She is the eleven-year-old daughter of Carlos and Gardenia Perea and this is her first year as a Ballet Yuma company member. She has nearly ten years of dance experience and has performed in Ballet Yuma productions as the Little Sugarplum, Lead Bon-bon, Small Flower, Little Snow White and a Gingerbread man. Gwyneth is an honor roll student, is active in Student Council, GAP, GenYES, competed in Math Counts, and was the former Student Council President. In her free time, she enjoys tutoring other students and writing and composing her own music. In the future Gwyneth would love to continue dancing at a university while pursuing a career in architecture.
Sofia Sanchez is the thirteen-year-old daughter of Greg and Kelly Sanchez. Sofia is a seventh grader at Centennial Middle School. This is her first year as a Ballet Yuma company member having studied for ten years. She is a recipient of the Alexandria Urias/Ballet Yuma Merit Scholarship for 2018-19. Sofia has performed in The Nutcracker, Snow White and Hansel and Gretel. She is an honor student and has received a Student of the Month award every school year. Some of her interests outside of dance include reading, swimming and spending time with her family. Sofia’s goals include becoming a professional dancer, a ballet teacher and a photographer.
Sophia is the fourteen-year-old daughter of John and Denise Young. She has ten years of dance experience and is a third year dancer with Ballet Yuma. She has attended two Regional Dance America Festivals with Ballet Yuma and plans to attend more. Sophia is an honor student and the recipient of the Robert Mayhall Moore Scholarship at Yuma Catholic High School. She has received scholarships from both the Knights of Columbus councils at St. John Neumann and Immaculate Conception Parishes for exemplary academics and community service. She has had the honor of being acolyte to both Bishop Kicanas and Bishop Weisenburger. She enjoys reading books, going to Flagstaff with her family, serving her community, altar serving for her school and parish, and ballet. Her goals are to be Class of 2022 valedictorian and be accepted to a leading veterinarian school.