The goal of the teachers at The School of Pennsylvania Ballet is to enable every student to achieve his or her goals as a dancer. We know that our students have a genuine passion for this art form, and we treasure the dedication that they bring to the studio every day. We also believe that the passion, commitment and joy of dance will spill over into all aspects of the lives of our students.
Valerie Amiss, Instructor
A native of Mullica Hill, New Jersey, Valerie Amiss began her dance training at the age of eight under the direction of Sue Millington at the Regency Ballet. She continued her training with Victor Moreno and Alexei Yudenich from 1985-1987, and at the age of 12, she began studying at the Pennsylvania Ballet School. At the age of 15, Ms. Amiss spent a summer studying in Saratoga Springs, New York, with members of the New York City Ballet, including Peter Martins, Heather Watts, and Jock Soto. She received an apprenticeship with Pennsylvania Ballet in 1992, and became a full member of the Corps de Ballet in 1993. In 1994, she was nominated for the prestigious dance accolade, the Princess Grace Award. In 1995, she performed at the Algur H. Meadows Award ceremony honoring choreographer Paul Taylor. In the summer of 1995, Ms. Amiss performed with the Chautauqua Ballet Company, directed by Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux and Patricia McBride. She also performed at the St. Bart’s Music Festival in 1997. Ms. Amiss was promoted to Soloist at the Pennsylvania Ballet in August 1999, and during that summer, she represented the company at the Sintra Festival in Portugal. In 2005, she performed at the Edinburgh Festival in Scotland, dancing Pas de Trois, Pas de Quatre, and Lead Czardas in Christopher Wheeldon’s Swan Lake. That same year, Ms. Amiss performed at New York’s City Center, dancing in Matthew Neenan’s11:11 and Carmina Burana. She also had the privilege of performing twice at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., as well as performing at a Rock School benefit with Susan Jaffe and Nicole Hlinka.
Ms. Amiss has had the pleasure of performing many principal roles in George Balanchine ballets including Marzipan lead, Dew Drop, and Sugarplum Fairy in The Nutcracker, Titania and Hermia in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Odette in Swan Lake, Act II. She has also performed featured roles in such works as John Butler’s Carmina Burana, Paquita, Giselle, Lilac Fairy, Blue Bird, and Pas de Trois in Janek Schergen’s The Sleeping Beauty, Bianca in John Cranko’s The Taming of the Shrew, Summer Fairy and Spring Fairy in Ben Stevenson’s Cinderella, Paul Taylor’s Company B, Bomb Squad Girl in Twyla Tharp’s In the Upper Room, Christopher Wheeldon’s Continuum and Swan Lake, Alvin Ailey’s The River, Jerome Robbins’ In the Night and The Concert, and Balanchine’s Bugaku, Rubies, The Four Temperaments, Scotch Symphony, Valse Fantasie, Western Symphony, Raymonda Variations, Pas de Trois in Agon, and the Waltz Girl in Serenade.
During her dancing career, Ms. Amiss taught numerous ballet and pointe classes inseveral summer sessions at the Rock School of the Pennsylvania Ballet. She has been a guest instructor at many New Jersey and Pennsylvania dance schools, including Lionville School of Dance in Lionville, Pennsylvania, Delaware Valley Dance Academy in Colmar, Pennsylvania, Roseann Bruna School of Dance in Mantua, New Jersey, Dance Arts in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, and Kathy Henkel School of Dance in Washington Township, New Jersey. For the past seven years, Ms. Amiss has been the co-ballet mistress for The Academy of Ballet NJ in West Berlin, New Jersey.
Ms. Amiss retired from the Pennsylvania Ballet in June 2007 and resides in Mantua, New Jersey, with her husband, former Pennsylvania Ballet Soloist Edward Cieslak and their son, Adam, and daughter, Lily.
Alexei Borovik, Instructor
Alexei Borovik was born in Russia and began his ballet training at age 10 at the Perm Ballet Academy. Upon graduating in 1979, he was invited to join the Perm Ballet Theatre. His reputation quickly established itself, and in 1982 he was elevated to Premiere Dancer.
Mr. Borovik was awarded the Second Prize at The Artistic Ballet Competition in Moscow in 1984. In 1987, he won the Gold Medal at The Sixth Concourse International Ballet Festival in Peru and was honored with a decoration as “Merited Artist of Russia.”
A highly sought-after guest artist, Mr. Borovik has made numerous appearances internationally and throughout Russia. In 1997, he toured China with “The Stars of the American Ballet.” He has also toured Europe and Asia with “Stars of the Bolshoi and Kirov Ballet.” In 1992, Mr. Borovik was named Principal Dancer with Pennsylvania Ballet.
His extensive repertoire includes principal roles in Giselle, Swan Lake, Romeo and Juliet, Cinderella, The Sleeping Beauty, Coppelia, Don Quixote, The Nutcracker, The Taming of the Shrew, and others. Along with the leading roles in the classical repertoire, he has been featured in many George Balanchine ballets: Apollo, Rubies, The Four Temperaments, Tarantella, Serenade, Theme and Variations, and Stars and Stripes. Mr. Borovik has also danced in such diverse pieces as Hans Van Manen’s Grosse Fugue, Paul Taylor’s Arden Court, Lynne Taylor-Corbett’s Great Galloping Gottschalk, and he has created roles in many new ballets.
In June 1997, Mr. Borovik had the prestigious honor of being invited to return to his homeland of Russia to appear as Principal Guest Artist in The Perm Ballet Theatre’s productions of Don Quixote and Giselle in celebration of their 125th Jubilee. Mr. Borovik retired as a Principal Dancer with Pennsylvania Ballet in 2006.
Laura Bowman, Instructor
Laura Bowman began dancing at the age of three in Raleigh, NC. She trained with the Raleigh School of Ballet, where she studied under Ann Vorus and Mary LeGere. Her training was supplemented by summer intensives with Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School and Houston Ballet School. Ms. Bowman completed her training during the 2000-2001 Season with The Rock School for Dance Education under full scholarship.
Ms. Bowman became an Apprentice with Pennsylvania Ballet in August 2001 and was promoted to the Corps de Ballet in September 2003. Since joining the Company, she has danced the leading role in Agnes de Mille's Rodeo and has been featured in Peter Martins' Barber Violin Concerto, the world premiere of Christopher Wheeldon's Swan Lake, Margo Sappington's Rodin, Mis En Vie, Twyla Tharp's Nine Sinatra Songs, George Balanchine's A Midsummer Night's Dream and Raymonda Variations, Kevin O'Day's Quartet for IV, Paul Taylor's Company B, Matthew Neenan's 11:11 and Penumbra, Jerome Robbins' N.Y. Export: Opus Jazz and The Concert, Jiri Kylian's Forgotten Land and Petite Mort, and William Forsythe's Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude and In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated. Ms. Bowman has also originated many roles in works by Christopher Wheeldon, Matthew Neenan, David Fielding, and Meredith Rainey.
In addition to her work with Pennsylvania Ballet Ms. Bowman has performed with Carolina Ballet and Ballet X, and in 2010 was cast as a Dancer in the Academy Award Winning Movie Black Swan. She has performed in the International Ballet Festival of Miami, the Edinburgh Festival in Scotland, the Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival in Massachusetts, and most recently the Vail International Dance Festival in Colorado. Ms. Bowman has taught for schools throughout Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Delaware, and New Jersey.
Natalia Charova, Instructor
Born in Vinnitsa, Ukraine, Ms.Charova began her ballet training at age ten and graduated from the Bolshoi Ballet Academy in Moscow – home of the famed Russian ballet traditions. Her studies included Classical Ballet, History of Theater, History of Art and Music, Acting, Stage Make-up, History of European and American Ballet, Character, Historic dance and Pas de Deux. Ms. Charova has also received a bachelor’s degree in choreography, directing and teaching.
From school and throughout her carrier, Ms. Charova had great teachers who helped her to achieve her goals (Elena Riabinkina, Sergei Vikharev, Irina Kolpakova just a few to name). Natalia started her professional career at the age of eighteen at the Donetsk Opera and Ballet House in Ukraine. She began touring nationally and abroad and enjoyed great success, quickly building a rich classical repertoire in such roles as Odette, The Sugarplum Fairy, and Maria Taglioni from "Pas de Quatre". In 1991, she moved to the United States and continued her performing career with the Indianapolis Ballet and the Pennsylvania Ballet, adding a wide collection of Balanchine works to her range. Natalia has also performed in original works by many internationally acclaimed choreographers such as Jerome Robbins, Ben Stevenson, Margo Sappington, Kirk Peterson, John Cranko, James Kudelka, L. Taylor-Corbett, Alvin Ailey, Dwight Rhoden, Christopher Wheeldon, Paul Mejia, Alberto Alonso, Matthew Neenan and others. Her performances were highlighted and reviewed by the press in Europe and Asia, as well as in the United States.
Currently, Ms. Charova works for Philadelphia Performing Art String Theory Schools, teaching and coordinating ballet programs for beginner through advanced levels. She is also teaching and staging classical performances and original works around the country and internationally.
Charity Eagens DiEmedio, Instructor
A lifelong resident of the Philadelphia area, Charity Eagens DiEmedio was born and raised in East Norriton, Pennsylvania. She began her dance training at the age of seven at the Valley Forge School of Dance with Sharon Atkinson. She went on to train at The Rock School of The Pennsylvania Ballet under the direction of Bo and Stephanie Spassoff, with a full scholarship. She also had the opportunity to spend summers training at both The Rock School of The Pennsylvania Ballet and The Hartford Ballet. During her training, in addition to the Spassoff’s, Ms. DiEmedio had the privilege of studying with Wilhelm Burmann, Gloria Govern, Olga Kostrizsky, Natalia Nikulin Barr, Yvonne Patterson, Eva Szyabo, Adam Ludurs, Nina Fedorva, Suzanne Slen, Carole Sklaroff, Andrew Pap, Kirk Peterson, Raymond Lukens, Truman Finney, Roy Kaiser, Sandra Jennings, Tamara Hadley, and Jeffrey Gribler.
A graduate of Norristown High School, Ms. DiEmedio became a trainee with the Hartford Ballet in 1994 under the direction of Kirk Peterson. She danced in such roles as George Balanchine’s Western Symphony, The Nutcracker and Coppelia. Ms. Eagens had the opportunity to tour with Kirk Peterson’s The Nutcracker throughout the New York area.
Ms. DiEmedio came home to The Pennsylvania Ballet under the direction of Roy Kaiser in 1996. She was promoted to a member of the Corps de Ballet in 1998.
She performed leading roles in A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Lead Butterfly and Divertissment), The Sleeping Beauty ( White Cat and Fairy of Energy), The Four Temperaments (Third Theme), Raymonda Variations (Variation #5), Agon (First Pas de Trois), The Taming of The Shrew (Pas de Six), Apollo (Calliope), Cinderella (Spring Fairy), Copellia (Dawn Variation), Swan Lake (Cygnetts), Company B (Pennsylvania Polka), Lynne Taylor-Corbett’s Great Galloping Gottschalk (The Trio), Romeo and Juliet (Gypsies).
Ms. DiEmedio has also performed in the majority of the company’s repertoire including John Cranko’s Romeo and Juliet; Marius Petipa’s Giselle; George Balanchine’s Rubies, Serenade, Who Cares?, The Nutcracker, Monumentum Pro Gesualdo, Valse Fantasie, Concerto Barocco, and Slaughter on Tenth Avenue; Alvin Ailey’s The River; Peter Martins’ Fearful Symmetries; Fred Ashston’s Les Patineurs; Jarome Robbin’s Interplay; Agnes de Mille’s Rodeo; Ben Stevenson’s Dracula; James Kudelka’s Firebird; John Butler’s Carmina Burana; Matthew Neenan’s Vicissitudes and Le Travail, and Christopher Wheeldon’s Swan Lake.
In 1996, Ms. DiEmedio has also had the honor of performing in a Rock School benefit for Milton Rock in company with Susan Jaffe, Jose Carreno, Nicole Hlinka and Damian Woetzel. She also had the privilege of performing in The Balanchine Festival at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. in 1998.
Ms. DiEmedio retired from performing with The Pennsylvania Ballet in 2005 to start a family. Ms. DiEmedio has initiated a teaching career. In addition, to instructing at The Pennsylvania Ballet, she was both a teacher and guest teacher for many schools in the surrounding Philadelphia area including Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA, Delaware Valley Dance Academy in Colmar, PA, Lionville School of Dance in Downingtown, PA, and the Radomile Academy of Dance in Havertown, PA, among others. In the fall of 2015 Ms. Eagens attended a teacher’s workshop at the Peabody Institute in Baltimore, MD and observed classes led by Marcia Dale Weary of Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet.
Ms. DiEmedio currently resides in Worcester, PA, and is the proud mother of three daughters.
Jessica Kilpatrick, Instructor, Head of Adult and Youth Programs
Jessica Kilpatrick began her training at the School of the Hartford Ballet, at the age of 9, where she was taught by Franco de Vita, Peggy Lyman, Maria Youskevitch, Raymond Lukens, Alla Osipenko and Susan Brooker. Jessica has performed various roles in productions of the Nutcracker including Kirk Peterson’s American Nutcracker, where she danced with members of the ABT II studio company. She has performed in works by Jose Limon, Anthony Tudor, Martha Graham, Paul Taylor and New York choreographer Thang Dao. Jessica performed Merce Cunningham’s “inlets 2”, restaged by Jean Freebury, at the American Dance Festival at Duke University in North Carolina. The work was filmed as part of a documentary highlighting Merce Cunningham’s work.
Jessica graduated magna cum laude from the dance division of the University of Hartford Hartt School, with a Bachelor of Fine Arts, Dance Pedagogy Major, where her teachers included Stephen Pier, Miguel Campaneria, Hilda Morales, Katie Stevinson-Nollet and Nina Watt. Jessica’s teaching experience includes Ballet Hispanico in New York, the University of Hartford Hartt School Community Division, where she served as Artistic Director for their 2014 Summer Ballet Intensive “From Studio to Stage II”, and subsequently was invited to return to choreograph and Premiere two pieces for “HarttWorks”, the performance vehicle showcasing Pre-Professional students of the Hartt School Dance Department. One of these pieces, “Amazing Grace” was restaged in New York City for Joffrey students. Jessica has also taught at The Ballet School of Stamford and the Joffrey Ballet School, where she served on the faculty from 2011-2016, teaching in the Children’s, Young Dancer’s, Adult and Jazz and Contemporary Programs.
Jessica is a founding member of Alison Cook Beatty Dance, under the Artistic Direction of Alison Cook Beatty. Her experience with Alison Cook Beatty Dance has provided the opportunity to perform and teach at several prestigious colleges and venues across the country. Jessica was thrilled to perform with the Amy Marshall Dance Company for the first time in January 2015 and has since performed as a member of the company at the American Dance Guild (Nov2015), in Ladek Zdroj, Poland (July2015), at the 2016 Bryant Park Summer Dance Festival and, most recently, 35th Annual Battery Dance Festival.
Jessica is extremely honored to join the team at The School of Pennsylvania Ballet and cannot wait to continue to share her love of dance.
Jon Martin, Instructor
Currently teaching with the beginning/elementary levels at the School of Pennsylvania Ballet, Mr. Martin worked and trained with such notable teachers as Ruth Page, Harold Lang, Dimitri Romanoff, Jacqueline Hepner, Jilliana, Robert Rodham, Lupe Serrano and Gloria Govrin. He has been invited to work with such companies as San Diego Ballet, California Ballet, Richmond Ballet, and Pennsylvania Ballet.
Yuia Rakova, Instructor
Yulyia Rakova, born in Russia, began her ballet training at the age of ten at the Perm Theater of the Opera and Ballet. Upon graduating in 1995, she was invited to join the Perm Ballet permanently. Ms. Rakova danced with the company for five years before moving to Moscow where she joined Moscow Dance Theater of Alexei Fadeechev. Ms. Rakova was featured in the modern dance choreographer Stanton Welsh `s world premiere Opus X. In 2001 she was invited to join Russian National Ballet and danced with the company until she moved to United States. She has worked with notable choreographers such as Trey McIntyre, Ben Stevenson and Alexei Ratmansky. Her repertoire includes soloist roles in Romeo and Juliet, Giselle, Cinderella, Le Corsaire, The Sleeping Beauty, Don Quixote, Swan Lake George Balanchine`s Serenade and Concerto Borocco. She currently lives in Philadelphia and when she is not teaching or choreographing she teaches Power Pilates regularly within the area .
Jamie Santoro, Instructor
Jaime Santoro began her ballet training and developed her talent at the very early age of six while balancing both the Shirley Rock School of the Pennsylvania Ballet and the Philadelphia Dance Conservatory. She performed with Pennsylvania Ballet's professional company before joining Orlando Ballet in 1996. During the summer of 2001, Jaime was granted Professional Fellowship Award and was invited as a guest artist to perform and tour with the Rome Festival throughout Italy.
As a dancer with Orlando Ballet, she performed soloist and principal roles in both classical and contemporary works. Her classical repertoire includes The Nutcracker, Romeo and Juliet, Don Quixote, Swan Lake Cinderella, The Sleeping Beauty, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Her Balanchine repertoire includes Symphony In C: 1st and 4th Movement, Who Cares?, Man I Love, Pas de Deux, Concerito Barocco, Valse Fantasie, Serenade, and Agon.
As for most ballerinas, the movement from Principal and soloist dancer to choreographer and teacher was a natural transition for Mrs. Santoro. She has had the opportunity to choreograph and teach for several companies including, Orlando Ballet, Orlando Ballet School, Springton Dance Academy and Dance Arts of Yardley.
In 2009, Mrs. Santoro was recognized by Cambridge “Who’s Who” for demonstrating dedication, leadership, and excellence in performing arts .
Martha Chamberlain, Guest Faculty
Born and raised in Media, Pennsylvania, Martha Chamberlain began her dance training when she was five years old at theMedia Fellowship House. She went on to study with Donna Muzio, Paul Klocke, and Cherie Noble at West Chester’s Dance Center, The School of American Ballet’s Summer Program (1985-1988), and The School of Pennsylvania Ballet. She is a graduate of Friends Select School.
Ms. Chamberlain joined Pennsylvania Ballet as an Apprentice in the fall of 1989 and was promoted to the Corps de Ballet three months later. She was promoted to Soloist in 1997 and to Principal after her premiere as Juliet in John Cranko’s Romeo and Juliet in March 2000.
Ms. Chamberlain danced several leading roles with Pennsylvania Ballet including Cinderella in Ben Stevenson’s Cinderella, Katherina in John Cranko’s The Taming of the Shrew, Juliet in Cranko’s Romeo and Juliet, Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty, Swanhilda in Coppélia, Myrtha in Giselle, Dewdrop and Sugarplum Fairy in George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker, and Helena and Divertissement Pas de Deux in Balanchine’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. She also danced featured roles in George Balanchine’s Ballo della Regina, The Four Temperaments, Agon, Western Symphony, Serenade, Apollo and “Rubies”from Jewels; Twyla Tharp’s Push Comes to Shove and In the Upper Room;and Paul Taylor’s Company B and Arden Court. She created roles for many choreographers including Trey McIntryre, Jessica Lang, Jorma Elo, and Matthew Neenan. During her career Ms. Chamberlain had the opportunity to dance internationally in Portugal, England, Germany., and Scotland. She retired from the Pennsylvania Ballet in 2011 after dancing with that company for 21 years.
Ms. Chamberlain has designed costumes for many years. Among the choreographers she has collaborated with are Christopher D’ Amboise, Matthew Neenan, Meredith Rainey, Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, Jorma Elo, and Nicolo Fonte. She is also the founder and proprietor of Chamberlain Goods, a dancer wear company specializing in custom made leotards, tights, and warm-ups.
Kyra Nichols, Guest Faculty
Kyra Nichols began her early training in Berkeley, California, with her mother, Sally Streets, a former member of New York City Ballet. By age 13, Ms. Nichols started spending her summers in New York at the School of American Ballet. She performed with Alan Howard’s San Francisco based Pacific Ballet before moving to New York full-time when she was 15 years old.
She became an apprentice to NYCB in 1974 and quickly became a member of the corps de ballet. In 1979 she was promoted by George Balanchine to the rank of Principal Dancer. Her early years in the company were enlivened by the presence of George Balanchine and Je- rome Robbins, both of whom were choreographing on the Company. Kyra Nichols danced numerous leading roles in the company repertory, ranging from pyrotechnic displays of bravura skill in ballets such as Tschaikovsky Piano Concerto Number 2 and Stars and Stripes to more lyrical and dramatic roles such those in Liebeslieder Walzer and Robert Schumann’s Davidsbundlertanze.In addition to her work with George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins, Ms. Nichols has worked with an extensive list of choreographers including, William Forsythe, Susan Stroman, Christopher Wheeldon, Peter Martins, Jacques D’Amboise, Robert La Fosse and Robert Garland.
During her career, Ms. Nichols has toured extensively. In 1981 she joined a small group led by Jerome Robbins that performed in mainland China as part of a US Information Agency effort to bring American culture to the Chinese. Over the years Ms. Nichols has performed all over the world, including Great Britain, Japan, France, Denmark, Germany, Hungary, Israel and Italy. She has also appeared as a guest artist in various productions including Franco Zeffirelli’s La Traviata at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. By special invitation she performed in Cuba as a guest of Alicia Alonso. With New York City Ballet dancer Gen Horiuchi Ms. Nichols led a group of dancers for a three week series of performances in Tokyo. Of course, her touring included sites all over the United States, from High School gym- nasium’s in Alabama to the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.
Ms. Nichols has appeared on national television in Balanchine’s Vienna Waltzes for the Lin- coln Center Special “A New York City Ballet Tribute to George Balanchine,” in Balanchine’s Serenade for a “Dance in America” program, and also in Mr. Martins’ Beethoven Romance for the “Dance in America” program, “Ballerinas, Dances by Peter Martins.” Ms. Nichols also appeared in the 20th anniversary broadcast of the PBS series “Great Performances” in Mr. Martins’ Not My Girl.
Ms. Nichols danced the featured role of Dewdrop in the film version of George Balanchine’s The NutcrackerTM, produced by Elektra Entertainment/New Regency Enterprises, and re- leased in November 1993 by Warner Brothers.
Kyra retired from New York City Ballet in June of 2007, after 33 years with the company. In recent years Ms. Nichols has been teaching and setting ballets.
Ms. Nichols lives in Princeton, New Jersey with her husband, David Gray, and their two sons. On the odd occasion when she experiences free time, Ms. Nichols enjoys cooking and gardening.