1600 W Douglas Ave Wichita, KS 67203
Recently appointed Artistic Director of Ballet Wichita, David Justin joins the company after serving in academia for 17 years. David has also been an interim ballet master and men’s program coordinator for Kansas City Ballet, and was the founding artistic director of American Repertory Ensemble. In Austin, TX, David was a co-producer of the David Mark Cohen New Works Festival as well as a professor at UT Austin.
Formerly a principal dancer with Birmingham Royal Ballet, a soloist with San Francisco Ballet and beginning his career with Boston Ballet, David has toured the globe extensively and has a broad repertoire that includes principal roles in the classical repertoire and works by choreographers including Ashton, Balanchine, Bintley, Caniparoli, de Mille, Forsythe, Kylian, MacMillan, Morris, Taylor, Tharp, Tudor, Robbins, Welsh, and York.
David’s dancing was described as “alluring and mercurial,” “polished,” “brilliant,” and “fearless.” David’s own critically acclaimed choreography has been supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, National Choreographic Institute (NYCB), Dance Gallery NYC, Ballet Builders, American College Dance Association, International Choreographer’s Showcase, National Choreographer’s Initiative, and universities and performing arts schools.
Presented with international acclaim, reviews of his choreography describe it as “surprising,” “poetic,” “athletic,” “inventive,” and “intelligent.” David holds a Master’s degree in Dance in Education and the Community from the University of Birmingham, England.
Brette Sweeney has moved around her whole life. She graduated from the Jacob’s School of Music at Indiana University and earned her Bachelor of Science in Ballet in 2011. Upon graduation, Mrs. Brette danced with Rochester City Ballet from 2011-2014 and then as Lead Artist with Ballet 5:8 from 2014-2022. Throughout her ballet career she has had the privilege of performing in many ballets including: soloist roles in Balanchine’s Serenade, Western Symphony, Raymonda, Who Cares?, and principle roles in Agnes DeMille’s Rodeo as the Rancher’s Daughter, Anthony tudor’s Lilac Garden as Caroline as well as Twyla Tharp’s Noir. She has also performed many soloist and principal roles in Ballet 5:8’s repertoire, including Hester Prynne in Scarlet. Mrs. Brette is very thankful for all the teachers, coaches and family who have helped her achieve her goals as a dancer. Mrs. Brette began teaching in 2008 and has taught many levels since then but her passion is to help teenagers pursue their passion for ballet. While at Ballet 5:8, she was coached and guided to becoming their Trainee Program Ballet Mistress in 2015. Then promoted to Trainee/Conservatory Director in 2019 and became Associate Artistic Director in 2021. She also holds a RYT-200 certification in Yoga.
Taylor has been a dancer with Ballet Wichita for 5 years. He has guest choreographed and directed Ballet in the Park – The Little Mermaid at Ballet Wichita. While studying Cecchetti and Balanchine ballet methods he also learned various classical forms of dance, including tap and jazz at Friends University under the direction of Stan Rogers and Sharon Rogers.
Born in Wichita, Kansas, Tim T.V. Cao is a former Kansas City Ballet Second Company Dancer and has performed with the Kansas City Ballet in ballets such as The Wizard of Oz and Swan Lake. He has trained with the American Ballet Theatre School and the Kansas City Ballet Day Time Program for the past five years. He also has experience in musical theatre and is a former Broadway performer from Matilda the Musical. His technical dance education ranges from classical ballet forms, classical and contemporary partnering, modern, jazz, hip hop, to singing and acting.
Katie was born and raised in Houston, Texas. She started dancing at the age of 3 for the Royal Academy of Fine Arts and the Clear Lake Metropolitan Ballet (CLMB). While there she received training in the Vaganova method, tap, jazz, lyrical and character. After high school, Katie went on to college at Butler University in Indianapolis and law school at the University of Kansas. Since returning to Wichita in 2016, Katie has danced with Ballet Wichita for the last five seasons. She has danced roles such as Snow Queen, Ariel, Cinderella, Spanish Soloist, Aurora and Bluebird. Katie also teaches advanced and intermediate ballet for the Ballet Wichita Institute. In addition to dancing, Katie has been Company Manager for Ballet Wichita for 3 years now and has designed numerous costumes for Nutcracker, Cinderella, Little Mermaid and Sleeping Beauty. In 2018, Katie, along with fellow dancer Taylor Cunningham-Osterman, choreographed, directed and produced The Little Mermaid. In 2020, Katie also created, directed, choreographed and produced Sleeping Beauty with Sarah Walden.
Hannah Chandler is attending Wichita State University double majoring in Dance and Exercise Science to become a physical therapist in the future. She trained at Wichita Children’s Theatre and Dance Center for fifteen years and has been a company member with Ballet Wichita for eleven years dancing in The Nutcracker and Ballet in the Park. Her favorite roles have been the Sugar Plum Fairy, Dew Drop Fairy, Ariel, and Aurora. In recent years she has studied at Ballet Magnificat, Kansas City Ballet, and Oklahoma City Ballet while in high school.
From training to teaching and directing, Mikaela has been enthralled with classical ballet for over 14 years. Her training took off with Ballet Etudes, a pre-professional ballet company in Arizona. She also spent time training with Fort Wayne Ballet, Vladimir Cohen Roche at the University of New Mexico, and the Los Angeles Contemporary Dance Company. Over the years Mikaela has had the honor of performing roles such as Spanish, Arabian and Snow Queen in The Nutcracker; Pink Dancer in Mr. Gerald Arpino’s Confetti; Dance Mistress, Stepmother, and Ballroom Corps in Cinderella; Fairy of the Golden Vine and Silver Fairy in Sleeping Beauty; “Molasses” by Lisa Drew; “Lullabye” by Carlos Tello Solano; and many more. Although performing is what introduced her to the art form, Mikaela found even more passion for teaching. She began instructing ballet at the age of 14 years old. After graduating highschool, she got her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance Education from Arizona State University. Since earning her degree, she has taught for multiple dance studios, was the Associate Artistic Director of Panoramic Celebration Dance Festival, choreographed the United States premier of Ukrainian Opera-Ballet The Heart of Oksana, and was the Artistic Director for the dance film As an Angel Beside Me. As an instructor, Mikaela prioritizes an understanding of the biomechanics of the human body in relation to dance technique, strength, and purposeful artistry in her students.
Annabelle is a high school senior at Andover Academy. She started dancing at local studios around Wichita at a young age. At 13 years old, she trained in Kansas City Ballet’s pre-professional program, and later in a similar program with Oklahoma City Ballet. Annabelle competed in YAGP (Youth America Grand Prix) in 2020 and 2022 and was invited as a finalist in ensemble categories. Some of her performance experiences include professional productions of The Nutcracker, Swan Lake, and Sleeping Beauty. Annabelle’s time with Ballet Wichita first began in 2018 and resumed in 2022. Her roles with Ballet Wichita include Young Clara and Grown Clara in The Nutcracker, and Thumbelina in Thumbelina, A Fairy’s Tale.
Makenzie has been dancing for about five years and has trained with Ballet Wichita for most of those years. Her favorite roles that she has performed in are Robin Starveling in Midsummer Night Dream, party child in The Nutcracker, and flower court in A Fairy’s Tale. She is taking high school classes and college courses online to help support her dance training and teaching. Makenzie cannot wait to help young dancers start their journey in ballet!
Miss Peyton has been dancing for eight years, experimenting with ballet, pointe, musical theater, hip hop, contemporary, lyrical, tap, and jazz. This is her fifth season with Ballet Wichita, performing in numerous Nutcracker and Ballet in the Park shows. Her past favorite roles have been Jim in Tom Sawyer, Fairy Corps in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Mouse in Carnival of the Animals, and Party Girl in The Nutcracker. She is graduating high school this year and continuing to a B.S. in Pre-Med. She is super excited to teach primary this year!
Jamie Simmons began her dance training at the age of 3. She became a member of Ballet Midwest in Topeka, Kansas at the age of 13 in the corps de ballet level, and over the years progressed to soloist and principal member. During her years with Ballet Midwest she performed annually in the Nutcracker, some favorite roles being Clara, Lead Spanish, Dew Drop, and the Sugar Plum Fairy. Jamie has also performed in over 10 different full-length ballets ranging from the classical and romantic ballets, and some of Balachine’s modern masterpieces. She has held leading roles in La Fille Mal Gardee, Pas de Quatre, Cinderella, Swan Lake, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Jamie studied dance on scholarship at the University of Kansas and performed with the University Dance Company getting to work with guest artists, and the talented and diverse permanent faculty. She has also had the pleasure of taking master classes with Cassandra Phifer of Alivin Ailey, Jerald and Christina Hilding of the The Joffery Ballet, Kathy Thibodeaux of Ballet Magnificat, Keith Clifton of The Clifton Dance Project, and Rhoda Miller of Pace University.
She apprenticed as Assistant Artistic Director of Ballet Midwest, graduated from Washburn University with her Education Degree concentrating in Health, Sport and Exercise Science, has been an invited teacher/choreographer in Kansas at various venues. She has been on faculty at the Kansas Dance Academy for the last 17 years. Jamie is known for her vibrant teaching style that is full of technique, artistry, and focus on proper use of the body to obtain the desired goals, and for her choreography that is imaginative, beautiful and especially her effective use of the corps de ballet.
Lexi Ashcraft spent eleven years training at Midwest Dance Mechanix, studying ballet, jazz, contemporary, and other various styles. She spent six years dancing for Ballet Wichita, performing featured roles in productions including Sleeping Beauty and The Nutcracker. Lexi developed her love of choreography while assisting in classes and rehearsals under Amy Faimon and Chad Vaught, where she was known for her attention to detail and love of cleaning choreography. Lexi is beyond excited to be a part of bringing contemporary to Ballet Wichita and can’t wait to jump right in!
Elizabeth has been dancing since she was 4. She grew up in Southern CA, starting her lessons in ballet, tap, & jazz w/ex-vaudevillian, Arlee Higbee. In her teens, she began training w/Lila Zali, Molly Lynch, & Kathy Kahn at Ballet Pacifica where she danced for many years performing such ballets as “The Nutcracker”, “Les Sylphides”, “Swan Lake”, “Giselle”, “Graduation Ball”, and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”. Elizabeth also had the privilege of performing professionally w/His Grace Dance Ministry, a Christian Ballet company in CA, for 11 years as well as w/a modern dance company, DanceArt, for 5 years. She began teaching at 23 at the DeFore Dance Center & BethEL Ballet, among other dance schools. About 16 years ago, she & her husband moved to CO, had 2 boys, and then moved to KS 9 years ago. She began teaching again through her sons’ homeschool co-op & had the joy of starting Dance for JESUS Ballet School in May of 2018. Performing-wise here in KS, Elizabeth had the privilege to do so for a few years with Safira’s World of Dance performing troupe, & also as a soloist for Central Christian Church’s annual Christmas & July 4th productions.