Our Staff & Instructors
Karen Russo Burke
Artistic Director, Dayton Ballet. Karen danced leading roles by world famous choreographers Gerald Arpino, Antony Tudor, José Limón and Paul Taylor in her 11-year career as a principal dancer for American Repertory Ballet. Karen has taught at DBS as well as Stivers School for the Arts, Wright State University, University of Dayton, and CCM at University of Cincinnati. She has choreographed extensively for Dayton Ballet.
Dayton Ballet School Administrator, grew up in the Dayton Ballet School dancing under Josephine Schwarz. She was a member of DBII for six years. She has over 14 years of experience teaching ballet, jazz and modern at DBS and Everybody Dance in Northern Virginia.
Dayton Ballet II Directors
Co-Director, DBII Junior/Senior/Outreach programs. Megan graduated from Wright State University with a BFA in dance. Megan has danced with Dayton Ballet II Senior. She has been the recipient of the Miss Josephine and Hermene Schwarz Award, Dancer Peer Award and the Walter J. McCaslin Memorial Award. Megan had the featured role in Bushido at WSU. You have seen her dance in The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, The Nutcracker, There Was a Time, and The Three Musketeers with Dayton Ballet. She is also children’s coordinator for The Nutcracker.
Co Director, DBII Junior/Senior. Gabrielle danced with Dayton Ballet. You saw her perform in Dracula, The Nutcracker, Tales from the Shadow, There Was a Time and America’s Robin Hood and just recently as the fairy godmother in Cinderella and the Nurse in Romeo and Juliet. While a member of DBII Sr. she received the Dancer Peer Award, Walter J. McCaslin Memorial Award and the Josephine and Hermene Schwarz awards. Gabrielle was the previous director of the SSK Dance Ensemble.
Studied locally with Mary Katherine Summers - who toured nationally with Bob Fosse's Broadway show Dancin’ – as well as Gary Geis, Mark Cummings, Lori Weaver, Debbie Dorado, Stephanie Strome of Steps in New York, Lou Conte in Chicago and with Sha Newmanas, a guest with Mary Katherine Summers. She has been in two T.V. commercials one for the Upper Valley Mall and Bugs-R-Us. TJ has been teaching children dance for over 25 years. She is currently teaching dance at Goddard Pre School and Primrose Pre School along with the Dayton Ballet School. She loves teaching and taking dance classes.
Received her training at Dance in the Rockies in Durango and worked closely with esteemed teacher/Artistic Director Valerie Madonia. Katy spent several summers training at The Jillana School, Ballet West, The Joffrey Ballet in New York, and Colorado Ballet on full scholarship. She spent the 2011–2012 season with Colorado Ballet’s Studio Company. She performed in Swan Lake, Michael Pink’s Peter Pan and community outreach programs. Her favorite roles include Swan Corps in Swan Lake, Gerald Arpino’s Reflections, and Amy Seiwart’s Chasing Ghosts. She is honored to be returning for her eighth year with Dayton Ballet.
Paul Gilliam started his ballet training in Ardmore, Oklahoma and finished in 2002 at the Houston Ballet Academy. He is happy to be in his fourteenth season with Dayton Ballet in the last seventeen years; while away he performed many leading roles, including Franz in Coppelia; Diana and Acteon; Basilio in Don Quixote; Esmeralda pas de deux; and roles in many contemporary works. During his years with the Dayton Ballet he has performed as Escamillo in Carmen, Renfield in Dracula, Peter in Peter Pan, D’Artagnan in The Three Musketeers, and an Ugly Stepsister in Cinderella.
Studied with Jock Soto at the School of American Ballet. Performed Cortège Hongrois and Le Tombeau de Couperin in SAB’s annual Workshop Performance. Jonathan spent a year each as a trainee with the Washington Ballet and then a second company member with BalletMet in Columbus, Ohio. He joined the Sacramento Ballet in 2015 and danced there for the next 4 years. Jonathan has enjoyed a diverse performance career including Sugar Plum Cavalier in Ron Cunningham’s The Nutcracker, George Balanchine’s Tarantella and Donizetti Variations.
Carol Jean Heller
Danced with Ballet Repertory, NYC. She owned and operated a dance school for 10 years and was a faculty member and examiner for Dance Masters of Ohio. Carol Jean taught ballet and musical theatre at the Living Arts Center and has been on the DBS faculty since 1987. She has also choreographed extensively in the Dayton area. Carol Jean was school administrator for the last 20 years.
Melissa studied dance in Dayton, Columbus, San Francisco and Philadelphia. She performed with Pacific Ballet before joining the Dayton Ballet Touring Company (1976-1980). She has worked with many local theaters, high schools and dance companies as both a ballet teacher and choreographer. Melissa also holds an Associate Degree in Nursing.
Studied under the direction of Cyndi Buczek and Sergey Rayevskiy. He has danced as a trainee with Sarasota Ballet and as a company dancer with Eugene Ballet Company. He has danced as a guest artist for Gregory Hancock Dance Theatre, Northern California Ballet, Ballet East, Detroit Dance City Festival, and Brighton Dance Festival. He has danced featured roles in works by Jiří Kylián, Gerald Arpino, Toni Pimble, Septime Webre, Mariana Oliveira, Amy Seiwert, Suzanne Haag, Ilya Kozadayev, David Justin, Stephanie Martinez, and Karen Russo Burke. This is Isaac’s third season with Dayton Ballet.
Trained and performed with companies such as Boston Ballet, Pennsylvania Ballet, The Russian Ballet Theatre of Delaware and Ballet West. Some of Kathryn’s professional credits include Tokyo Disneyland, Disney Cruise Lines, as well as numerous theater productions across the country. Kathryn was the Founder & Artistic Director of Central Nebraska Youth Ballet, as well as having directed & taught in the studio setting for over a decade. She loves to share her passion of dance with this generation’s young artists!
Graduated from the University of Cincinnati with a BFA in ballet. There she had the opportunity to dance in China with the Beijing Dance Academy and performed roles in Serenade, Giselle, and other contemporary works. In 2007, she danced with Gem City Ballet and performed in ballets such as Raymonda, Who Cares, and Sleeping Beauty. Since joining Dayton Ballet, she has enjoyed performing Jiří Kylián’s Sechs Tänze, Ron Cunningham’s The Great Gatsby, and Stephen Mills’ Quartet from Five Flights Up. Claire would like to thank her family and fiancé for their love and support.
Camille Izard Morris
Danced professionally with American Ballet Theatre. She holds an MFA in Dance from NYU. For five years, she was the producing artistic director for Art from Every Angle, benefiting the Josephine Schwarz Dayton Dancer Fund. She is an ABT® Certified Teacher in Pre-Primary through Level 7 and Partnering. She currently directs the Oakwood Ballet.
At the University of Utah she was a member of Utah Ballet and Character Dance Ensemble, and performed with many companies including Ballet West, Alonzo King’s Lines, Aspen Santa Fe Ballet and Ballet Folklorico. Polly received her ABT teacher certification and joined the staff of the Butler University Dance Department where she teaches ballet technique and pointe and variations.
Mara Sturm, BA in Dance is from Lapeer, MI. She trained in Ballet, Modern & Jazz at the Flint School of Performing Arts for 13 years. As a member of the Flint Youth Ballet, Mara traveled with Young Tanzsommer for a 12 day dance tour through cities in Austria! After graduating from Grand Valley State University in 2008 with her Bachelor of Arts in Dance, Mara was accepted into the Dayton Contemporary Dance 2nd Company. After two years with DCDC2 she joined Mam-Luft & Co. Dance for one season in Cincinnati, Oh.
If you have any additional questions about our classes or professional training programs, please contact us, by phone, email, or use the message form.