Meet the Company
Toby Lewellen is very happy to be retuning for his sixth season with Ballet Arkansas. There he has performed in lead roles in George Balanchine‘s Who Cares?, Harrison McEldowney’s Group Therapy, Johnny Cash in Chris Stuart’s Under the Light’s, Val Caniparoli’s Lady of the Camellias Pas de Deux, Rerouting by Greg Sample, Memory Haus and Bolero by Kiyon Gaines, Mobile by Tomm Ruud, as well as being The Nutcracker Prince and Snow King in Ballet Arkansas’ The Nutcracker. He has performed with Ballet Arkansas at the St. Louis Spring to Dance Festival and Chop Shop Contemporary Dance Festival in Seattle, WA. Recently he has spent his summers on staff at the Rock School for Dance Education in Philadelphia as well as teaching at Ballet Arkansas Summer Intensives. Toby is originally from Peoria, Illinois where he began his serious dance training at the Peoria Ballet under the direction of Erich Yetter and Rebekah Von Rathonyi. He attended summer intensives on scholarship at Milwaukee Ballet, The Rock School, and Miami City Ballet. Toby attended Butler University as a dance major. There he performed in Anthony Tudor’s Dark Elegies, as the Nutcracker Prince in The Nutcracker, as the Lead Mazurka male in Swan Lake, as well as lead roles in various faculty works at Butler University. Toby is also a Ballet and Jazz teacher at Shuffles and Ballet II in Little Rock.
Amanda Sewell of Annapolis, Maryland, began her professional performance experience with Ballet Theatre of Maryland. As an apprentice, she performed in Romeo and Juliet, Carmen, the Nutcracker and Firebird. Amanda graduated from Butler University, Indianapolis, IN with a Bachelor‘s of Fine Arts degree in spring of 2011. She performed in Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Giselle, Swan Lake, Walpurgisnacht, as well as contemporary ballet works during her time at Butler. In the 2011-2012 season Amanda performed with the Sarasota Ballet in works such as Frederick Ashton’s The Two Pigeons, William Tucket‘s Speilende Kinder and Mathew Hart’s Tchaikovsky Ballet Fantasy. Amanda has enjoyed performing with Ballet Arkansas for the past four seasons in works such as Balanchine’s Who Cares and Glinka Pas de Trois, Val Caniparoli’s Lady of the Camellias, Gerald Arpino’s Birthday Variations, Harrison McEldowney’s Group Therapy, Kiyon Gaines’ Memory Haus and Bolero, Tomm Ruud ’s Mobile, excerpts of Don Quixote and Raymonda as well as the Nutcracker. She has also participated in the 2014 and 2015 Visions Choreographic Competitions.
Paul Tillman is from McKinney, Texas. At age 7, he began training at Dallas Ballet Center. Tillman joined the pre-professional company Dallas Ballet Company, where he performed in many ballets such as Don Quixote, Coppelia, Sleeping Beauty, Raymonda, Le Corsaire and several others. He also performed original choreographer by Jason Fowler, Thom Clower, Reginald Harris, and Judy Klopfenstein. Tillman trained with Boston Ballet’s pre-professional program for one season, where he had the opportunity to perform with Boston Ballet in Swan Lake, Romeo and Juliet, The Nutcracker and in Boston Ballet School’s Showcase performing Balanchine’s Stars and Strips and Forsythe’s In the Middle Somewhat Elevated. Tillman is in his seventh season with the Ballet Arkansas. He has performed various classical works, such as Gerald Arpino’s Birthday Variations, Swan Lake, and Raymonda. He has also been featured in original choreography such as "Ring of Fire" pas de deux in Under the Lights by Chris Stuart, "Narcolepsy" pas de deux in Harrison McEldowney’s Group Therapy, Rerouting by Greg Sample, Moultrie Springs by Darrell Moultrie, multiple works by Kiyon Gaines and many others. Aside from performing, Tillman teaches at several studios in the central Arkansas area.
Lauren Bodenheimer is in her fourth season with Ballet Arkansas. She has danced the lead roles in George Balanchine’s Who Cares? and Glinka Pas de Trois, Gerald Arpino‘s Birthday Variations, Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker, Kiyon Gaines’ Bolero, and Melody Mennite’s Ana. Other recent roles include in Kiyon Gaines‘ Memoryhaus, Ilya Kozadeyev’s e (Motions), Chris Stuart’s Under The Lights-Concert Version, Hilary Wolfley‘s Façade, the 2014 Visions Competition winner, Greg Sample’s Rerouting and Tom Ruud‘s Mobile. She has also danced in Michael Bearden’s Simpatico, Shayla Bott‘s Instantly Interruptible, Leslie Schickel’s Delta Push Up Open, and Darrell Grand-Moultrie‘s Moultrie’s Spring. Lauren performed Moultrie‘s Spring with Ballet Arkansas in the St. Louis Spring Into Dance Festival. Before joining Ballet Arkansas, Lauren began her professional performance experience with Ballet Memphis. There, she performed in productions of Steven McMahon’s Cinderella and Romeo and Juliet, Travis Bradley‘s Sleeping Beauty, and Mark Godden’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and What Can I Tell My Bones?. She joined Ballet West as a trainee and danced in performances of Aladdin, Don Quixote, and The Little Mermaid. While there she was also a part of the Ballet West for Children Outreach Program. She has trained at various summer intensives including Boston Ballet, The Harid Conservatory, ABT, Ballet West, and The Rock School. In 2012 and 2013, Lauren danced as a guest artist in Aspen Santa Fe Ballet’s The Nutcracker. As a guest artist for Tupelo Ballet in 2014, she performed the role of Sugar Plum Fairy. Lauren was born in Budapest, Hungary but claims Oxford, Mississippi as her hometown.
Now in his fourth season with Ballet Arkansas, Justin started dancing at the age of 7 at Maryland Youth Ballet. While there he studied under many teachers including Michelle Lees and Oliver Munoz. He also had the opportunity to study and perform many classical ballets, as well as contemporary pieces by Eric Hampton, and Alvin Mayes. Justin continued his training at Butler University receiving his BFA with departmental honors in 2013. While there he studied with professors including Susan McGuire and Derek Reid and performed principal roles in The Nutcracker, Giselle, Nacho Duato’s Por Vos Muero, and Paul Taylor’s Le Sacre du Printemps (The Rehearsal).
Since joining Ballet Arkansas in 2013, Justin has performed principal roles in Gerald Arpino’s Birthday Variations, Kiyon Gaines’ Bolero (World Premier), and Melody Menite’s Ana. He also performed Birthday Variations as a guest artist with Texas Christian University. In 2015 he became the first male dancer in an Arkansas-based dance company to perform Balanchine, dancing the lead role in Who Cares?
Deanna Karlheim is in her fourth season with Ballet Arkansas. She began dancing in her hometown of Clarksville, Maryland. Deanna credits her early training to Katherine Healy, Valentina Kozlova, Troy D. Brown, Winnette McGovern and her time spent at the Baltimore School for the Arts. She graduated with a BFA in Ballet from the University of Cincinnati - College Conservatory of Music where she studied under Jiang Qi and Deirdre Carberry. During this time, she was also a Trainee with Ballet West for two seasons. Since joining Ballet Arkansas, she has had the opportunity to perform various roles including a principal role in Balanchine’s Who Cares?, Ring of Fire pas de deux from Chris Stuart’s Under The Lights, Ilya Kozadayev’s (e)Motions, Kiyon Gaines’ Memoryhaus and Bolero, Jumping Girl in Gerald Arpino’s Birthday Variations, and Val Caniparoli’s Lady of the Camellias Act 1 Pas de Deux. She has also made several guest appearances, most recently in Hot Spring Children’s Dance Theatre’s Cinderella and North Star Ballet’s The Nutcracker.
In addition to performing, Deanna has choreographed for The Young Choreographer’s Festival, participants of Youth America Grand Prix, and Ballet Arkansas’ Youth Division. Her first full-length ballet, Cinderella, premiered in early 2016 on Blackbird Academy of Arts. She wants to extend a special thank you to her family their continued support!
Megan Hustel is from Carmel, Indiana and is a recent graduate of the University of Utah. Megan earned her BFA in Ballet Performance from the Department of Ballet under the direction of Maggie Wright-Tesch, Calvin Kitten, Jay Kim, and Michael Bearden. While in Utah, she was a member of Utah Ballet and Ballet Ensemble where she performed in various contemporary works and classical ballets. Her most notable roles include Swanhilda in Rene Daveluy’s staging of Coppelia, Russian Girl in Balanchine’s Serenade by repetiteur Zipporah Karz and Big Swan in Swan Lake staged by Professor Jay Kim. She also performed as a Guest Trainee for Ballet West in their production of Don Quixote staged by Anna-Marie Holmes. Megan began her pre-professional training with Suzann DeLay at the Central Indiana Academy of Dance. As a member of the pre-professional company, Central Indiana Dance Ensemble, Megan performed leading roles in The Nutcracker, Cinderella, and The Sleeping Beauty and participated in Youth America Grand Prix and Regional Dance America.
Since joining Ballet Arkansas, Megan has performed Principal roles in Balanchine’s Who Cares? and Glinka Pas de Trois, "Habit" pas de deux in Harrison McEldowney’s Group Therapy, "Hurt" Soloist in Under the Lights choreographed by Chris Stuart, "Raymonda" in Raymonda staged by Michael Bearden, and Snow Queen and Dew Drop in The Nutcracker. Megan is excited to be returning to Ballet Arkansas for her third season.
Hannah Bradshaw hails from Amarillo, Texas, where she began dancing with Neil and Camille Hess at Lone Star Ballet. She continued her training with Mark Lanham, Stephanie Parker, Daniil Gaifullin, Stephanie Murrish, Vicki McLean and Crystal Bertrand. Hannah attended summer programs at American Ballet Theatre in Orange County and New York City, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, Oklahoma City Ballet and BalletMet Columbus. She competed in the Youth America Grand Prix in 2006 and 2008; she advanced to the NYC finals both years. She began her professional career as an Apprentice with the Oklahoma City Ballet in the 2012-13 season. As a trainee with BalletMet Columbus 2013-14 Hannah was given the amazing opportunity to dance in company performances of Swan Lake, Alice in Wonderland and George Balanchine’s Symphony in C, staged by Victoria Simon; her teachers there included Susan Dromisky, Susan Brooker and Dmitri Suslov. Her highlights at BalletMet included touring with the company to perform The Nutcracker at the Detroit Opera House and understudying Christopher Wheeldon’s Carousel. With Ballet Arkansas Hannah has enjoyed performing the Stairway to Paradise variation and title pas de deux in Who Cares?, Spanish, Chinese and Ballerina Doll in The Nutcracker , the four girls section in Kiyon Gaines’ Bolero and participating in the 2014 Visions Choreographic Competition. This is Hannah’s second season with Ballet Arkansas.
Tony Sewer returns to Ballet Arkansas for his third season with the company.After training at the San Francisco Ballet School, he danced in the second companies of the Cincinnati Ballet, Tulsa Ballet and Milwaukee Ballet prior to joining Ballet Arkansas in 2014. His performance credits include roles with Milwaukee Ballet, Tulsa Ballet, Cincinnati Ballet, San Francisco Ballet and the San Francisco Ballet School in productions of The Nutcracker, Romeo and Juliet, The Sleeping Beauty, and Stars and Stripes. Tony has received several commendations from the Royal Academy of Dance and has also trained with Santa Clarita Ballet Academy, The Performing Arts Center of Van Nuys California, Los Angeles Ballet School, Cincinnati Ballet Trainee Program, Tulsa Ballet II, and Milwaukee Ballet II.
Lynsie Jo Ogden is originally from Thornton, Colorado where she trained with the Academy of Colorado Ballet and the Schiff Dance Collective. She graduated from the University of Utah with a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Ballet Performance and a minor in Anthropology. While at the University of Utah, she trained with both the Modern and Ballet departments. Lynsie was a member of Utah Ballet, performing numerous roles, most notably; Rissig choreographed by Rick Tjia, Ziji choreographed by Edgar Zendejas, and Differences Culturelles choreographed by Eddy Toussaint. After graduation Lynsie served as the Stage Manager for the William Christensen Theatre in the Marriott Center for Dance for two years, while continuing to pursue her dance career. Lynsie comes to Ballet Arkansas after dancing with Montgomery Ballet as well as the Fort Wayne Ballet. While with the Montgomery Ballet she performed the roles of Bridesmaid in Don Quixote, Lady Macbeth in Macbeth, Meg in the Phantom of the Opera, and Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker. While with the Fort Wayne Ballet Lynsie performed the Yellow girl in Gerald Arpino’s Confetti, Satanella Pas de Deux, Arabian Princess, Snow Queen, Flames of Paris Pas de Duex, and Kitri’s friends in Don Quixote. Lynsie was also able to be a part of many original works by emerging choreographer David Ingram. Lynsie performed in the works of se kommatia, Kotiaio, and Arson; and will forever be grateful for being a part of Mr. Ingram’s process. Lynsie performed many roles in her first season with Ballet Arkansas. Most recently she has performed Group Therapy, (e)motions, Memoryhaus, and Under the Lights. Lynsie is thrilled to be with Ballet Arkansas for her second season.
Meredith Short Loy, a native of Little Rock, Arkansas, received her early training under the direction of Rebecca Miller Stalcup, Melinda Tobian, and Mark Bush at the Arkansas Academy of Dance and Arkansas Festival Ballet. Meredith is a graduate from the University of Oklahoma where she received her BFA in ballet performance from the School of Dance department led by Mary Margaret Holt, Jeremy Lindberg, Clara Cravey, and Ilya Kozadayev. Her most notable roles during her time at the University of Oklahoma include; Sugar Plum Fairy from The Nutcracker staged by Mary Margaret Holt and Ilya Kozadayev, Haydn’s The Seasons Austria tour choreographed by Mary Margaret Holt and Ilya Kozadayev, Raymonda Pas de Dix principle couple choreographed by Ilya Kozadayev after Marius Petipa, Le Corsaire Pas de Deux staged by Clara Cravey, Swan Lake Pas de Trois staged by Ilya Kozadayev, and contemporary pas de deux, “Flutter”, choreographed by Ilya Kozadayev. With Ballet Arkansas Meredith enjoyed performing Balanchine‘s Glinka Pas de Trois staged by Marina Eglevsky, "Mr. Clean" couple in Harrison McEldowney’s Group Therapy, Memoryhaus choreographed by Kiyon Gaines, and (e) motions choreographed by Ilya Kozadayev.
Meredith is excited for her second season with Ballet Arkansas.
Zeek Wright is originally from Amarillo, TX. and received his degree in Ballet Performance and Business at the University of Oklahoma. Mr. Wright has also trained at Juilliard, Boston Ballet, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, and Ballet West on full scholarship. He joins Ballet Arkansas after spending last season as a member of Ballet West II where he was featured in Ballet West‘s production of John Cranko’s Romeo and Juliet as King of the Carnival.
Kaley Kirkman was four years old when she started taking tap, jazz and ballet at Talent Plus in Lubbock, Texas. Ballet quickly became her passion and she pursued classical ballet training in Lubbock. Upon moving to Arkansas, Kaley attended Adonai Ballet Academy, where she performed many lead roles including Cinderella in ABA’s original “Change Me: A Cinderella Story”.
In 2011, Kaley moved to the Northwest Arkansas Conservatory of Classical Ballet in Bentonville, AR. She also became a charter member of NWA Ballet Theatre where she performed leading roles, The Sugar Plum Fairy and The Dew Drop Fairy in the Conservatory’s production of “The Nutcracker” and Aurora in NWA Ballet Theatre’s MasterSeries 1: The Sleeping Beauty, to name a few. While at the Conservatory, she pursued training in The Royal Academy of Dance vocational exams under Peggie Wallis and Mariah Bordovsky, ARAD, RTS. Kaley completed all required vocational exams receiving scores of Distinction on each one. She has danced in several community outreach projects in and around Northwest Arkansas, including participating in Carnegie Hall’s LinkUp educational program, opening for Ballet Emmanuel at John Brown University, performing in Art on the Creeks art festival and fundraising for the Northwest Arkansas Arts Foundation. During her training, Kaley has been privileged to attend several Summer workshops on scholarship which have provided her the opportunity to train under Lauren Anderson, Steve Brule, Krissy Richmond, Janie Parker, Adam Sklute, Devon Carney, Bruce Wells, Larissa Ponomarenko, Tina LaBlanc, Wendy Whelen, and William Whitener, to name a few.
Last year, Kaley was accepted into Texas Ballet Theater School’s Professional Division. While there, she was given the opportunity to perform in Ben Stevenson’s “The Nutcracker” as a Snowflake and in Harald Lander’s “Etudes” during Texas Ballet Theater’s Spring rep, Classic Combination. She was also privileged to be choreographed on by Ben Stevenson in his reimagined “Pas de Fiancee”. During her training there, Kaley worked with many other choreographers/master teachers such as Vincent Hardy, Caleb Mitchell, Maiqui Manosa and Christina Johnson, as well as the TBT Artistic staff and TBTS faculty.
Kaley is excited to be joining Ballet Arkansas as an apprentice for the 2016/17 season.