Ballet Yuma Company Dancers:
Photos by Captured Light Photography – Bill Butler

Senior Company:

Jade Butcher

The fourteen year old daughter of Brian and Julie Butcher, Jade is a Freshman at Cibola High School. She is a fourth year Ballet Yuma Company dancer, with her first year being in the Intermediate Company. She has eleven years of dance experience.  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. Jade is a certified open water scuba diver who enjoys diving with sharks. Her future goals include becoming a professional dancer and becoming a Master Scuba Diver.

Lily Cong

Lily is the sixteen year old daughter of Cam and Emma Cong. A sophomore at Cibola High School, this is Lily’s twelfth year dancing at Yuma Ballet Academy and her fourth year as a company member. 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 in July of 2015. Lily has future hopes of going to college and continuing to dance beyond high school.

Abigayle Gill

Abi is the seventeen year old daughter of Peter and Amy Gill. She is a Junior at Cibola High School and is a fourth year Ballet Yuma Company dancer with twelve years of dancing experience. Abi is proud to be on the honor roll and the A Team at school, and was honored to receive a full tuition scholarship to the 2016 RDA National Choreography Intensive in Tallahassee, FL. Outside of ballet, Abi’s interests include photography, art and learning different languages. Abi plans to attend a university and major in photojournalism.

Lakyn Hall

Lakyn is the seventeen year old daughter of Jim and Kassandra Hall, and is a Junior at Cibola High School. This is her fifth year as a Ballet Yuma Company dancer, and she has been dancing for the past fourteen years at Yuma Ballet Academy. At the 2014 RDA/P Festival in Spokane, WA, she was honored to have received a half tuition scholarship to the International Ballet Competition School of Dance in Jackson, Mississippi. In 2015, she earned a half tuition scholarship to the RDA National Choreography Intensive in Tallahassee, FL. The summer of 2016 saw Lakyn in New York City, where she studied with Alvin Ailey, her dream company.  In addition to ballet, Lakyn is involved in FFA and she loves science, raising livestock and photography. After high school, Lakyn would like to dance professionally with Alvin Ailey, and also plans to go to a University where she will become a science major.

Sophie Henry

Sophie is the fifteen year old daughter of Doug and Melissa Henry.  She is a homeschooled Junior, and also takes classes at Arizona Western College. Sophie is a fourth year Ballet Yuma Company dancer with twelve years of dancing experience. She has won multiple Home Economic awards for her quilting and sewing projects in 4-H, and has participated in National Novel Writing Month. Sophie’s outside interests include writing, reading, traveling and learning different languages. After graduation, Sophie would like to attend a University to study linguistics, and hopes to become an interpreter. She would also like to become a writer someday.

Eric Snyder

Eric is the fifteen year old son of Kenneth and Ana Maria Snyder. He is a homeschooled Sophomore and also takes classes at AWC. Eric is a third year Ballet Yuma Company dancer with seven years of dance experience. He 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. He also received a $100 scholarship for excellence in the arts from Desert Pointe Productions. Eric has danced many principal 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. Eric has interests that include listening to classical music, Shakespearean plays, Broadway musicals, a night at the Opera, and walking in to ballet class every day. His career goal is to be a Principal  dancer with a major dance company.

Company Apprentices:

Shylynn Kite

Shylynn is the fourteen year old daughter of Jeremy and Shawna Kite. She is a Freshman at Gila Ridge High School, and is a first year Ballet Yuma Apprentice Company dancer with eleven years of dance experience. Shylynn has had the opportunity to dance many roles in Ballet Yuma productions, with some of her favorite being The Mouse King in The Nutcracker, the Blue Bird in Snow White, and the Fish in Ballet de Seuss. Her interests outside of the studio include cooking, dancing and make-up design. Shylynn’s future goal is to make it to New York City to continue a dance career with the New York City Ballet.

Star Raygoza

Star is the thirteen year old daughter of Alexander and Elizabeth Raygoza. She is an eighth grader at Castle Dome Middle School, and she takes math classes at Gila Ridge High School. Star has been dancing for seven years, and this is her first season as an Apprentice Company member. An accomplished young lady, Star has received many awards to include two-time gold President’s award, two-time 1st Place Science Fair winner, seven year honor roll recipient, acceptance into National Junior Honor Society, finalist for Military student advocate, and multiple poetry awards. Star’s interests include dancing, cooking, baking, crafting, playing with animals and learning new things. Her career goals include dancing professionally and becoming a culinary chemist or molecular biologist.

Sunnie Arias Shephard

Sunnie is the fifteen year old daughter of Cedric and Dawn Shephard. She is a sophomore and an honor student at Gila Ridge High School, and has been a student at Yuma Ballet Academy since the age of 4. This is her first year as an Apprentice with the Company. When not dancing, Sunnie enjoys art class and spending time with family and friends. Sunnie would like to pursue a career in psychology after graduating from Grand Canyon University. She is a proud member of the Quechan Indian Tribe.

Hanna Twomey

Hanna is the twelve year old daughter of Joseph Twomey and Mary Amon-Twomey. She is a seventh grader at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic School, and is in sixth year dancing with Yuma Ballet Academy. This is her first year as a Ballet Yuma Apprentice Company dancer, and she was in the Trainee program for one year prior. Hanna has received multiple scholarships and awards to include being invited to attend the Junior National Young Leaders Conference in Washington, DC; receiving Student of the Month at St. Francis; receiving Student of the Week at the KYMA TV Station, and being on the honor roll at school. Hanna also received the top score for 6th, 7th and 8th graders at the St. Francis Science Fair, received 2nd place at the Yuma County Science Fair in the Physics category, and was offered the opportunity to attend the Southern Arizona Science and Engineering Fair. In her spare time, Hanna enjoys hanging out with her cousins, dancing and performing on stage. Her future goals include dancing professionally, obtaining a degree in Architecture at the University of Arizona, and eventually becoming an Architect in San Diego.

Trainee Company:


Top row: Amanda Trevino, Elizabeth Moore Alize Parsons

Middle row: Mia Williams, Michelle Galate, Gracie Heiligenthal, Carmela Brienza

Bottom row: Arianna Rodriguez, Katy Watowich