Calvin Thomas

(Ballet 1 & Ballet 6 Instructor) Calvin Thomas hails from Maysville, Kentucky, and received his foundational training at the Otto M. Budig Academy of Cincinnati Ballet. He has supplemented his studies at Boston Ballet School, The School of American Ballet, Ballet Austin Academy, and The School of Oregon Ballet Theatre. Performing with the Cincinnati Ballet, Ballet Austin, Company C Contemporary Ballet and NY Theatre Ballet are among some of the highlights of his career. His repertoire includes works by Thang Dao, Gregory Dawson, Yuri Zhukov, and Maurice Causey among others. When not dancing he still enjoys time in the studio sharing knowledge and teaching the next generation of dancers. He has been on faculty with the Contra Costa Ballet Centre for over three years. Calvin is excited to be part of ABA’s teaching staff.

Claire Toner

(Pre-Ballet through Ballet 6 Instructor) Claire (Stallman) Toner started dancing at age four in Saratoga, California. She studied ballet with Karen Millar before joining the San Francisco Ballet School on full scholarship, where she received training from Gloria Govrin, Pascale Leroy, Shannon Bresnahan, and Jocelyn Vollmar. She also attended summer intensives with the School of American Ballet and American Ballet Theatre. Claire danced professionally for 10 years, performing with Boston Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Atlanta Ballet, The Royal Danish Ballet, The Suzanne Farrell Ballet, and Diablo Ballet. She has been featured in Jerome Robbins’ Afternoon of a Faun, Christopher Wheeldon’s Rush, Jean-Christophe Maillot’s Romeo et Juliette, and works by George Balanchine, James Kudelka, Helen Pickett, and Benjamin Millepied. Studying part-time while dancing, she received her bachelor’s degree in applied mathematics from Georgia Tech. Claire has also taught at Berkeley Ballet Theater, and has been the stage manager for ABA’s spring recitals. Claire has five children, three of whom are enrolled in ballet this year with Alameda Ballet!

Emilie Skinner

(Director of Operations) Born in Houston, TX, Emilie Skinner began her classical training at the age of six with Gilbert Rome and Victoria Vittum, performing with their company Houston Repertoire Ballet until graduating High School. She has attended summer intensives at the Joffrey Ballet, Austin Ballet, Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, and the SIBA international training program in Salzburg, Austria. While the primary focus of her training is classical ballet, she also has experience in modern, jazz and contemporary dance, as well as in nonprofit Arts management.

In 2007, Emilie received her B.A. in French Studies with a minor in Art History from the University of North Texas, while performing with Lake Cities Ballet Theatre. After graduating, she joined Ballet Dallas and also performed with DGDG (Danielle Georgiou Dance Group) and as a guest artist with other North Texas dance companies. While performing, Emilie also managed working full-time at a private French school as the Executive Assistant to the Headmaster.

In 2011, Emilie founded the nonprofit professional ballet company, Dallas Neo-Classical Ballet (DNCB), and served as its Artistic Director until moving to California, June 2019. Her mission with Dallas Neo-Classical Ballet was to collaborate with visual artists and musicians in a similar fashion to the Ballets Russes in 20th century Paris, in order to bring wholly aesthetic ballets to the community. Under her Direction, Dallas Neo-Classical Ballet was voted Best Dance Troupe of Dallas and was regularly invited to perform at major Dallas events such as the SOLUNA Festival organized by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, the Dallas Museum of Arts’ Brettell Lecture Series and at an event hosted by the SYFY Channel. Emilie was also asked to serve as a visiting artist for a Sculpture & Choreography Children’s Workshop at The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth in conjunction with their exhibit on Laurie Simmons’ Objects on Legs.

Emilie works remotely and currently resides in Hawai’i with her partner, Danny, and 2 furbabies. She has served as the Director of Operations and Ballet Instructor at Alameda Ballet for the past 4+ years. In addition, Emilie has taught and choreographed for ABA, the Conservatory of Ballet in San Leandro, Oakland Ballet, San Francisco Youth Ballet Theatre, and Berkeley City Ballet.

Florrie Sésé Geller

(Adult Ballet Instructor) Florrie Sésé Geller began her training with Marcia Dale Weary and faculty at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet. She continued her education at Next Generation Ballet with Ivonne Lemus and directors Peter Stark and Philip Neal, performing Aurora and Giselle in their full-length productions. At the YAGP semi-finals, she was awarded the gold medal and danced in the Final Round of YAGP at Lincoln Center, placing in the Top 12. She was awarded the Gillian Murphy Scholarship to UNCSA by Susan Jaffe and Gillian Murphy as well as scholarships to the School of American Ballet’s summer term, and San Francisco Ballet School. She continued her professional training with Wilhelm Burmann and Magaly Suarez. At 18, Florrie joined Cincinnati Ballet, dancing Princess Florine in Devon Carney’s The Sleeping Beauty, Jiri Kylian’s Sechs Tanze, and works by Sarah Van Patten, Myles Thatcher, Adam Hougland, Kirk Petersen, Septime Webre, and Victoria Morgan. In 2019, she represented the USA at the Beijing International Ballet and Choreographic Competition. She originated Arsinoe in Heather Malloy’s Cleopatra with Terpsicorps Theatre of Dance, and performed the Black Swan pas de deux with Rochester City Ballet. Florrie has been featured in Dance Spirit Magazine and the podcasts Becoming Ballet, and Dancer Talks. She currently works with the Oakland Ballet Company and was a recent delight on stage as the Sugar Plum Fairy for Alameda Civic Ballet’s 2023 production of The Nutcracker. Visit Florrie’s YouTube Channel.

Julie Lowe

(Adult Ballet Director &  Instructor) Julie Lowe serves as Associate Artistic Director of Menlowe Ballet, based in Menlo Park, California. She received her earliest dance training in New York with Mimi Kellerman, and went on to study with teachers including Audree Ismailloff, Meredith Bayless, Lawrence Rhodes, Wilhelm Burmann, Sally Streets, Howard Sayette, Betsy Erickson, and Ronn Guidi. For over a decade, as a Principal Ballerina with the Oakland Ballet Company under the artistic leadership of Ronn Guidi, Ms. Lowe toured the United States and Europe extensively, performing leading roles and receiving coaching and mentorship from many of the dance world’s great luminaries including Frederic Franklin, Anna Sokolow, Leonide Massine, Eugene Loring, Irina Nijinska, Ruthanna Boris and John Butler. Her repertoire of notable portrayals include the title role in Giselle, Swanhilda in Coppélia, Sugarplum Fairy, Snow Queen, Rose Queen and Marie in Ronn Guidi’s Nutcracker, Gretel in Guidi’s Hansel and Gretel, Beth in the world premiere of Eugene Loring’s The Tenderland, and signature roles in works by John McFall, Betsy Erickson, Brenda Way, Marc Wilde, John Pasqualetti and Ronn Guidi. Ms. Lowe participated in many of Oakland Ballet’s notable Diaghilev and Americana revivals. From 1991-1992 she appeared as a guest artist with San Francisco’s ODC, performing the title role in their production of The Velveteen Rabbit. From 2008-2015, she served as a Master Teacher for the Ballroom Dance Teachers College, one of the nation’s premier vocational training program for ballroom dance instructors. For many years she taught social and ballroom dance at San Francisco’s Metronome Ballroom and Oakland’s Just Dance Ballroom. She continues to teach private ballroom and social dance lessons, with a focus on preparing wedding couples and wedding parties for their first dances. Ms. Lowe has created a thriving evening adult ballet program at the Alameda Ballet Academy which she has led since 2012. With a nurturing, supportive and exacting approach, she supports dancers in developing and enhancing both technical and artistic skills.

Nicole Townsend

(Ballet 4/5 Instructor) Nicole Townsend was born in San Jose, California. She began dancing at age 2 and at an early age she realized that her true love was ballet. She began her formal ballet training at Ballet San Jose at age 7 under the direction of Lise la Cour.  At age 15, she went on to extend her training for the next three and a half years at City Ballet School in San Francisco. There she danced many roles ranging from Le Corsaire Pas de trois to Spanish, Arabian and Mirliton leads in the Nutcracker as well as Don Quixote and Sleeping Beauty. She moved away from home at age 18 to train with Marat Daukayev in Los Angeles and performed Paquita duets, variation and grand pas corps. Ms.Townsend was then awarded a scholarship to the Pacific Northwest Ballet (PNB) 2019 summer intensive and was subsequently accepted into their Professional Division Program. While at Pacific Northwest Ballet she learned many Balanchine variations such as “Divertimento .15” and “Who Cares?” She also performed “the Nutcracker” with the Company and performed the roles of Spanish, Chinese, Grandma, Snow and Flowers. After Nicole’s first year as a Professional Division student she was awarded a full scholarship to Paris Opera Ballet 2020 summer intensive through PNB and then was  later a recipient of the American Friends of Paris Opera Ballet Scholarship Award in 2020. During the Covid quarantine, Nicole completed her second year with PNB over Zoom and then was accepted into Kansas City Ballet Second Company (KCBII)  where she performed in Devon Carney’s “The Nutcracker,” Michael Pink’s “Dracula” and  Septime Webre’s “Wizard of Oz.” She also performed numerous second company presentations and danced “Raymonda,” “Serenade” and Spanish Lead from the Nutcracker. After her time with Kansas City Ballet she was accepted to the Dutch National Summer Program in Amsterdam where she learned the Wedding Pas from Ernst Meisner and performed other pieces from “Sleeping Beauty.”. Currently, Nicole is continuing her ballet career as a member of Oakland Ballet Company and recently performed as the Snow Queen in Alameda Civic Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker.

Vinnie Jones

(Contemporary Instructor/Choreographer) Vinnie Jones received her early dance training in Portsmouth, New Hampshire studying ballet, jazz and modern dance. She went on to the University of Utah where she got her BFA in dance performance, teaching and character dance. She has danced professionally with Ballet Tucson, San Diego Ballet, Menlowe Ballet and LaMov Compania de Danza of Spain. With these companies she has performed principal roles in Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake, Le Corsaire, and Balanchine’s Serenade. She has also danced a variety of contemporary works. She has traveled all around the world, performing and studying in Greece, Spain, Mexico, Canada, France and Ukraine. She has also studied folk dances and character dance from around Europe, Polynesia, and Asia. She teaches ballet to all ages and ability levels, contemporary dance, character dance, and dance conditioning. She has taught at dance schools around Arizona, California, Utah, and Mexico. Find out more about Vinnie.

Jazmine Quezada

(Ballet 3 Instructor) Jazmine Quezada is from Ventura County, California where she began her ballet training at age 11 with Ventura County Ballet and was the first to receive the Ron Noblin Full Scholarship Award. Jazmine attended American Ballet Theater’s New York summer intensive in 2011 and was accepted to the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School at ABT that same year. She then attended the Joffrey Chicago International summer dance intensive on full scholarship and in 2016 she moved to San Francisco to continue her training on scholarship at the San Francisco Ballet School. With the San Francisco Ballet, she performed in The Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty, and danced the leading role of Grace in Helgi Tomasson’s Meisten Mozart. Now a member of the Oakland Ballet, she has performed the role of Luna in Luna Mexicana, the Monkey Queen in Jangala, the Sugar Plum Fairy in Graham Lustig’s The Nutcracker, created roles in works by Caili Quan, and Megan and Shannon Kurashige, and the dance films In Plain Sight and What I See. Jazmine also performed at Alameda Civic Ballet’s The Nutcracker as the Sugar Plum Fairy in 2022. She is excited to join the ABA Faculty team!

Karin Jensen

(Dance with Me, Pre-Ballet, Ballet 1, & Beg Teen Instructor)

Karin Jensen trained in classical ballet at Oakland Civic Ballet, Oakland Ballet, and Alameda School of Dance and is a graduate of Ballroom Dance Teacher’s College. She has performed with Berkeley City Ballet, San Jose Dance Theater, Alameda Chamber Ballet, and Alameda Civic Ballet in both corps and soloist roles. As a mother of two daughters, she has enjoyed sharing her passion for dance with children at ABA for the past seventeen years.

Rachel Lee

(ACB Board President & Ballet 2 Instructor) Originally from Nashville Tennessee, Ms. Lee trained at the Nashville Ballet under several instructors, including Elaine Thomas and Peter Vasterling. After college Ms. Lee joined the Alamo Arts Ballet Theatre company. Her performances include roles in Alice! A Ballet Wonderland, Dido and Aeneas, and the Brahams Festival with roles in Gypsy Love. Ms. Lee is dedicated to sharing her passion for dance and has previously been on the staff of Trinity University, Palo Alto College, Heather Stolle’s School of Dance, and San Antonio Ballet School. She provides choreography for many of her students’ performance pieces and also for private engagements.

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