Current Faculty & Staff

 

Ms. Breanna Dvorak, Academy Director & Instructor

Ms. Dvorak is a professional ballerina and instructor in the greater metropolitan Minnesota area. She has received her ballet training in the Vaganova method, from the prestigious Bolshoi Ballet Academy in Moscow, Russia. Completing their courses and graduating as the 2nd American in 250 years, Breanna received her diploma as a Ballet Artist.

Breanna has received training from well known instructors such as Vladilen Semenov and Irina Kolpakova both of which are former Principal dancers with the Kirov Ballet, St. Petersburg, Russia and currently instructors for the American Ballet Theater. Dr. Marina Leonova, Dean of the Bolshoi Ballet Academy, Moscow Russia and former Prima Ballerina of the Bolshoi Ballet. Dr. Irina Syrova, Acting Professor, Deputy Chair of the Classical Female Dance Department of the Bolshoi Ballet Academy, Moscow and soloist of Perm Opera.  As well as many others.

Breanna’s training consisted of Women’s Classical Ballet, Repertoire, Partnering (Pas de Deux ) , Acting, Music, Character (Folk dance), Contemporary Dance, Historical Dance, as well as the History of Dance, History of Theatre, Theatre Make-up, History of Choreography and Russian Language.

Breanna has performed repertoire from many classical ballets such as LaCorsaire, Paquita, Lafille Mal Garde, Don Quixote, Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty, Nutcracker, Giselle, as well as danced in many contemporary pieces.

After graduating, Ms. Dvorak danced as Soloist with the St. Paul Chamber Ballet, and started instructing various ages.  Ms.Dvorak has taught and choreographed for several studios around Minnesota, as well as various award winning dance routines for a prominent color guard.  She has trained Jazz & Kick highschool & college dance teams, gymnasts, has taught body strengthening and flexibility classes for children and adults, Creative Movement and Pre-Ballet classes, “Mommy & Me” classes for toddlers and the Pre K age group as well as ballet & on-ice private lessons for competitive figure skaters and gymnasts. Ms. Dvorak has worked with current Bolshoi Academy students as well as professional dancers training them in technique & performance. Ms. Dvorak has also trained students for national and international competitions (Winning 1st place & Top 12 multiple times).

Ms. Dvorak has restaged Swan Lake, Giselle, Raymonda, Paquita, Le Corsaire, Les Sylphides, & Peter & the Wolf, & Cinderella as well as four original productions. For the past 10 years, Ms. Dvorak has acted as Artistic Director & Choreographer for North Ballet production of The Nutcracker performed in front of thousands of audience members annually.

Ms. Dvorak's students have been accepted into prestigious dance schools & intensives such as Kirov Academy (with Merit Scholarships), Bolshoi Academy (with scholarships), Ellison Ballet, Harid Conservatory, American Ballet Theatre, North Carolina Dance Theatre, Boston Ballet, Milwaukee Ballet, Ballet West (Full Scholarship 2 years in a row), Ballet Idaho, BYU, Joffrey Ballet (with full scholarship-2 years in a row), Washington University Dance Program, Ballet Arizona, Canada National Ballet and San Francisco Ballet (full scholarship), Washington Ballet School, and Kaatsbaan Ballet Program (only 40 students selected nation-wide), Pennsylvania Ballet Full Scholarship, Boston Ballet (Full Scholarship), and the Royal Ballet School in London as well as gone on to professional dancer careers.

Ms. Dvorak's teaching style is more traditional with a focus on traditional Vaganova technique which results in a more refined dancing style.  She likes to keep each class upbeat and enjoyable.  She prides herself on being an actively involved instructor. She desires North Ballet to be a place where students not only recieve quality dance experiences and training in an atmosphere that is warm, welcoming, and encouraging. The North Ballet community is a very special one!

Outside of teaching & directing NBA, Ms. Dvorak loves to spend time with her husband & 5 children! She is a licensed foster parent, and loves to volunteer in her church and local community in organizations such as CARE Food Shelf, Disabled American Veteran Foundation, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, STMA Foster Family Support, Cornerstone Health, & New Beginnings as a mentor supporting pregnant homeless mothers and their babies.  
 

Ms. Maddy Werner, Program Director, Ballet Instructor

Maddy Werner began her dance training with nine years at the Reif Center in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, most notably by Daniel and Julie Blake. During her time under their direction, she had the opportunity to perform multiple original works with James Sewell Ballet, who collaborated with the studio for several years.

When she was 15, she was accepted into Houston Ballet Ben Stevenson’s Academy Summer Intensive Program. While attending the summer program, she was offered and accepted a full scholarship into the year-round program. She trained with the Houston Ballet Academy for two years, during which she had the opportunity to perform in the Nutcracker with the professional company. Maddy also completed one summer program with the Orlando Ballet in Orlando, Florida, where she was offered a Traineeship, but she ultimately declined.

When she was 18, she accepted a position with the Lexington Ballet Company in Lexington, Kentucky. She performed roles in The Nutcracker and Cinderella, but, unfortunately, her career came to an end before her first season even came to a close due to an injury. The following year, Maddy took a position as the head ballet instructor at Diamond School of Dance in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. During her time there, She instructed students from age five up to adult classes in Ballet, Jazz, Tap, and Conditioning classes.

While Maddy enjoyed teaching, she desired a change in her life, and she ultimately ended up attending college in Minnesota for Law Enforcement. She graduated in 2016 from Alexandria Technical and Community College with an AS in Law Enforcement. She accepted a job with South Lake Minnetonka Police Department in Shorewood, Minnesota, in February 2017, and held the position of Patrol Officer and Field Training Officer for nearly four years before retiring. During her time as a Police Officer, she continued to be a guest teacher at studios throughout the metro area.

 

Ms. Werner joined the North Ballet Academy team in 2021 instructing dancers in the Complete Classical Ballet Program, choreographing for Nutcracker, and acting as Artistic Director producing and staging the classical ballet, Cinderella.

Maddy is very excited to be a part of the North Ballet Academy team again this year as Program Director.

Ms. Adrienne Berrington, Ballet Instructor, Swan Squad Choreographer

Adrienne Berrington began dancing at the age of three, and competed regionally and nationally for 6 years. She initiated her classical training at the age of nine at North Ballet Academy under the instruction of Breanna Dvorak. In 2020, she graduated from Level 8 of the Vaganova method and completed her studies at NBA. In the 8 years she danced as a student at North Ballet Academy, she performed lead roles in many classical productions, such as the Nutcracker, Paquita, Don Quixote, Les Sylphides, and Le Corsaire, as well as several original productions and pieces. Ms. Berrington has also received first place awards, national titles, and judges’ recognition at several competitions while dancing with North Ballet’s Swan Squad competitive team. Since graduating, she has started dancing professionally in the Twin Cities.

 

In addition, Ms. Berrington has attended several selective summer programs such as Philadelphia Ballet, Ballet West, and Joffrey Ballet NYC on a scholarship. In 2017, she was offered a place at the Joffrey Ballet School in their year round program by Director Era Jouravlev on a merit scholarship. The following year, she was chosen to participate in Philadelphia Ballet’s Company Experience and Principal Coaching sessions. Here she trained and rehearsed along the company members under Philadelphia Ballet Artistic Director and former ABT Principal Angél Corella as well as former NYCB Principal Charles Askegard. She also had the privilege of receiving private lessons and variation coaching from Former Philadelphia Ballet Principal Lillian DiPiazza, who now dances with the Paris Opera Ballet.

 

Ms. Berrington is in her 11th year with North Ballet and in her 4th year as an instructor. Over the past 3 years she has garnered experience teaching students of all ages, which has allowed to her passion for ballet instruction to blossom. She is so excited to see what this next year has in store!

Ms. Mary Hegrenes, Ballet Instructor

Mary Hegrenes began her ballet training at the age of three at North Ballet Academy, the same year that the studio was founded. She has been an up-and-coming dancer since the very beginning of the academy. All of her classical ballet training has been instilled by the many talented instructors, past and present, at North Ballet, with the majority of her training under the instruction of Ms. Breanna Dvorak, the owner and artistic director of North Ballet. In addition, she has taken classes from previous teachers, such as Stephanie Heston, Allison Clawson, Luke Tucker, Maylu Pena, Jadyn Reddy, and others.


In addition to all of the performances she has participated in with North Ballet, such as Nutcrackers, Spring Shows, Award Ceremonies, and Summer Intensive performances, she was selected as a finalist at the age of 14 to perform a self-choreographed ballet piece for the Catholic Schools Center of Excellence performance under the guidance of Jane McMonagle. Ms. Hegrenes lives in St. Michael, Minnesota. She is currently enrolled at St. Cloud State University. As a ballet instructor, she focuses on teaching Vaganova-style ballet technique. She aims to be very engaging, detail-oriented, and hands-on, and she is honored to be able to pass on her knowledge and love of dance to her students.

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Ms. Lily Conforti, Swan Squad Director, Contemporary & Jazz

Lily Conforti is an artist from the twin cities, currently pursuing degrees in Dance and Physiology at the University of Minnesota. Lily has 13 years of dance training from Escalate Dance and Theater Studio where she competed both locally and nationally. Since then, Lily has performed and choreographed many works around the twin cities. Most recently, she choreographed and danced in a nine minute piece for a show at the University of Minnesota that incorporated the use of paint and visual art into dance. She has performed works choreographed by Carl Flink of BLM dance company, Kjara Wurst, and other local dance artist. As an artist, Lily is interested in articulated movement. Seeing and feeling the groove is an important aspect of her work.

 

She is the director and choreographer for her dance collective, LCcreations. The group has performed locally in the University of Minnesota's BLUEPRINT show, FUTURE INTERSTATES curated by HAIJAK, ArtBox's annual show INBOX@ARTBOX, and yearly in the MN FRINGE FESTIVAL. August 2022, the collective premiered a new evening length work in the Minnesota and Indiana fringe festivals with a local alternative/rock band, Oister Boy. Through Lily’s art she wishes to cultivate an experience that is new to the audience, and continue to create knowledgeable work that provokes thoughtful conversation. Aside from her own dance collective, Lily performs and teaches around the twin cities. She has performed in works by world-renowned choreographers such as Carl Flink, Kjara Wurst, Andrea Miller, and others.

She has been teaching dance for 5 years and lives to share her love for dance with all students.

With the combination of Lily’s experience and education in dance, Ms. Conforti is excited to re-join the North Ballet Academy Family for the fourth year and bring a fresh approach to her teaching that will allow dancers to investigate new possibilities while learning how to operate the human anatomy efficiently.

Ms. Makayla Wiser, Assistant Swan Squad Director

Ballet Outreach Coordinator, Administrative Assistant

Ballet, Jazz, & Contemporary Instructor

 

Makayla Wiser grew up in Coon Rapids, Minnesota, where she spent her first few years of dance at Debra Miller's World of Dance, and spent 8 years at Dancin’ On Broadway where she competed nationally for eight years. Ms. Wiser trained in Ballet, Tap, Jazz, Musical Theater, Lyrical, & Contemporary Dance, competed against the world-renowned team from "Dance Moms", and trained under Kaleen Miller.


In addition to 3 years of teacher training, Ms. Wiser has taught students of all ages for over five years. At her previous studio, she acted as Head Contemporary Instructor, introducing it into the program, as well as the Head Tap Instructor in addition to Ballet Technique, Strength and Core, Stretch and Strength classes, Jazz routines, Lyrical, and Competitive Kick routines.

 

Outside of teaching at North Ballet Academy, Ms. Wiser is in her fifth year of serving in the Minnesota Army National Guard along with her husband. She has had the honor of receiving a personal Governor's Award for outstanding service during the events of 2020 & 2021.

Ms. Wiser is very excited to join the team at North Ballet Academy this year as Assistant Swan Squad Director, Outreach Coordinator, Administrative Assistant, and Dance Instructor for all ages. She hopes to uphold our North Ballet culture that always strives to make everyone feel welcome and a part of our North Ballet Family. Ms. Wiser hopes to challenge her dancers in the classroom & on the stage growing both in technique and artistry.

Ms. Laura Wilkerson, Swan Squad Choreographer, & Tap

Having been in the dance world for almost 30 years Ms. Laura brings Knowledge of all aspects pertaining to dance.  She grew up competing on her studio's top teams, as well as performing on her high school dance team at football games.  After graduation Laura was an Assistant teacher later becoming a lead teacher at Studio One Dance for both recreational and competitive divisions as nd has taught for several competition studios around Minnesota.

Laura also has experience in Customer Service working at a local dance costume company, Kelle Company.  She has worked with many local and international customers helping place orders, register accounts, and help in the creative process.  Laura has been selected to attend Trade Shows in New Jersey, Illinois, and Georgia, as well as work behind the scenes for photo-shoot help.

Laura's excited to share her knowledge with all things dance with North Ballet Academy!

Debra Monacelli Dodge - Masters Pilates, Franklin Method® Educator

Pilates for Buff Bones(R) Licensed

Deb, the owner of The Pilates Advantage, has been teaching Pilates since 1999.  She completed her Master's Pilates program through the nationally, renowned studio and teacher-trainer facility - The Pilates Center in Boulder, Colorado.  Deb was initially certified through The PhysicalMind Institute in New York, NY, and is a faculty member of Balanced Body Pilates.   Her training also includes Stott Pilates and Polestar.  Deb's rigorous training is comprehensive:   Classical Mat, Standing Pilates, Reformer, Cadillac, Chair, Barrels, Ped-o-Pull, all Props (Magic Circle, Balls, Bands, Foam Roller, etc.).    She continues her training by attending lectures and workshops with Master Teachers throughout the Country.

She is recognized by The Pilates Method Alliance (PMA) as a PMA Pilates Gold Certified Teacher (1 of 6 in Minnesota) and has worked with post-surgery adults, pre/postnatal women, Osteoporosis, athletes, seniors, disabled adults and children.

Deb is a Franklin Method Movement Educator and believes that efficient movement is impeded by bad posture, tension and lack of coordination.  She aims to teach her students that the more knowledge you have of how your body is designed and functions will help you move more efficiently.

 Deb is licensed to teach Pilates for Buff Bones, a safe, medically endorsed, Pilates-based mat workout focusing on bone strengthening and balance techniques (safe for Osteoporosis).

She is a nationally Certified Personal Trainer, a member of the American Council of Exercise (ACE), and IDEA Health and Fitness Organization (IDEA).   Deb is a Level 1 Yamuna Body Rolling Instructor (a movement and therapy practice using balls that combine healing, wellness and injury prevention.)  She is a Level 2 Reiki Practitioner and holds a number of other certifications including Pre/Postnatal, Indoor Rowing,  BOSU, TRX , Barre and CoreAlign.

Ms. Dodge has been teaching at North Ballet Academy for over 7 years & is excited to continue to educate our dancers in body anatomy, how the body moves, preventing injury, and safe conditioning for dancers.

Kyle Klaas, Modern Dance, Resident Substitute

Ms. Klaas, originally from Nebraska, spent sixteen years studying the Cecchetti style of ballet, as well as tap, jazz, and lyrical dance styles. Ms. Klaas received her BFA in Education from the College of Saint Benedict in St. Joseph, MN. While at the College of St. Benedict, Ms. Klaas studied the modern dance techniques of Merce Cunningham and Jose Limon under the direction of Leigh Dillard. Since college, Ms. Klaas has done summer intensives with the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater, Merce Cunningham Dance Company of New York City, ARENA Dances (Minneapolis), and the MN Dance Project. In addition to her studies in Dance, Theater and Education, Ms Klaas is a certified Balanced Body Pilates Instructor and a Certified Horton  Modern Instructor.
 
Ms. Klaas has created the Modern Dance program at North Ballet Academy to be an essential supplement to classical ballet training. The Horton Modern Technique was developed with ballet dancers in mind and focus's on lengthening and strengthening muscles to keep them strong for intense ballet training. This pairs beautifully with the focus of Pilates for dancers, where injury prevention, core strength, proper alignment, and breath are key to a strong body.
 
Ms. Klaas's professional experiences include, owning and operating a dance studio in Nebraska. She is a trained artist through the “Dancing Heart Program,” which is a specialized dance program for elders with dementia and Alzheimer’s through dance and storytelling.  Ms. Klaas has spent 15 years in Minneapolis artfully and passionately bringing dance experiences to diverse populations as a Special Education Dance Instructor and has studied the Ann Green Gilbert style of teaching Creative Movement under Maria Genne at Kairos Dance Theater, where she also performed for three years.  She has choreographed many shows for the College of Saint Benedict, Newman Grove High school, Kairos Dance Theatre, Bloomington Community Education Music Avenues Dance  Program, PCAE High School, the DanceXchange, DanceXcel, and North Ballet Academy for 10 years!
 
Ms. Klaas's passion for teaching stems from her love of dance. She is motivated to share the joy of dance and movement with all of her students. Ms. Klaas is thrilled to be teaching at North Ballet Academy again this year as the Resident Substitute Instructor in all dance styles as well as Pilates, & Modern Dance Workshops. Welcome back Ms. Klaas!

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Ms. Jennifer Bicknese, Administrative Director

Jennifer Bicknese resides in Otsego, MN along with her husband and two children.  Together they enjoy the outdoors and love spending summer weekends traveling and adventuring in their camper.  Jennifer enjoys being a part of her children’s activities including Ballet, Baseball, and Fishing.

 

Although Jennifer did not grow up dancing, she has always enjoyed and appreciated the arts.  At the age of five, her daughter asked to study Ballet, and together they found North Ballet Academy.  It didn’t take long for both Jennifer and her daughter to fall head over heals for the art of Ballet and for the North Ballet community!

 

After 15 wonderful years in Public Education as a fifth-grade teacher, Jennifer decided to pursue new dreams which lead her to a position on staff at North Ballet Academy.  Her experience as a North Ballet parent over the years lended itself well to a transition into a staff role.  As the Administrative Director of North Ballet Academy, Jennifer will be able to continue to use her organizational and administrative skills acquired during her years in Education.  Jennifer is also pleased to be able to continue to work with and inspire the next generation of leaders and artists through her interactions with the dancers of North Ballet.

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Ms. Racheal Montoya, Administrative Assistant & Volunteer Coordinator

Ms. Montoya began her journey with North Ballet Academy as a “ballet mom” in 2014 when her little dancer was just two years old.

During her years at North Ballet Academy, Racheal became known as a chaperone extraordinaire, happily attending to dancers backstage at every show.  She quickly became a go-to person for studio families!

Ms. Montoya’s experience as a “ballet mom” helped her to become familiar with the happenings of North Ballet Academy, making her transition to Administrative Assistant a natural one.

Ms. Montoya has always had an affinity for the arts, including music, dance, and the visual arts, including the art of makeup.  Racheal studied Theater and Stage makeup and Prosthetics/Special Effects makeup, and worked professionally as a makeup artist.  She is always happy to share her expertise with North Ballet students and families!

Racheal is happy to be a part of the North Ballet Academy team!  


 

Ms. Kristy Hegrenes, Administrative Assistant, Sponsor Coordinator, Head Representative Parents En Pointe

Ms. Hegrenes began her journey with North Ballet Academy in 2008 when she enrolled her three-year-old daughter in the academy. It was also the very first year the studio opened its doors. She quickly knew she had found something special, from the exceptional ballet training to the heartfelt community. After her second daughter also joined the academy, it was easy to become more involved in parent volunteering, including dancing in the Nutcracker as a Party Parent. She and her husband have even had the privilege of playing the roles of Mr. and Mrs. Stahlbaum, which she thoroughly enjoyed!

Although she was never a dancer, playing the role of Mrs. Stahlbaum was certainly not her first time on stage. Her formal training is in vocal, choral, and chamber music performance. She sang the lead roles of Serafina in the opera Il campanello (The Night Bell) by Gaetano Donizetti, and Violetta in the famous opera La Traviata, by Giuseppe Verdi. Her choral performing groups have
allowed her to perform in some of the most beautiful cathedrals in Europe, as well as Carnegie Hall in New York City. In the next chapter of her life, after becoming a mom, she realized her dream of staying home for 18 years to raise her three children.

After many years of volunteering at the studio, taking a staff position at North Ballet Academy was a natural next step for her. She is emotionally invested in North Ballet Academy’s continued success and growth and feels humbled and honored to be joining the staff and coordinating the Parents En Pointe program.

Ms. Katie Kocinski, Founder

Ms. Kocinski is originally from Plymouth, Minnesota. Throughout Ms. Kocinski's life she has been drawn to the art of classical ballet as well as to the education and development of children. Ms. Kocinski was privileged to study classical ballet for nearly ten years at The Minnetonka Dance Theater and School under the instruction of Marianne Simmons.

During her training, she was a member of the Youth Ballet Company. Her experiences at The Minnetonka Dance Theater and School nurtured a lifelong love for the art of ballet.

As a parent, Ms. Kocinski recognized the need for high quality classical ballet in the Rogers, Otsego, St. Michael communities. In response to this need, in 2009 she successfully founded North Ballet Academy, followed by the North Ballet Youth Company 501(c)3 in 2010. The surrounding community positively and eagerly responded to the addition of classical ballet to the local area, and as a result the Academy and the Youth Company have grown each year since the foundation of North Ballet. She feels very grateful to have had the opportunity to welcome high caliber ballet professionals to the North Ballet community and to watch the students grow not only in their ballet ability but in their lifelong character as well. Ms. Kocinski remains eager to see the continued development of exceptional ballet in this community for generations to come.

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Guest and Past Instructors

 

Ingrid F. Lozano, professional dance educator, award winning choreographer and former professional dancer has been teaching and inspiring students for over 25 years. She specializes in the Vaganova Method and holds a Masters of Education in Dance & Theater from Texas Tech University in Lubbock, TX. She trained at the prestigious Royal Winnipeg Ballet with a scholarship and with the Cuban Ballet of Alicia Alonso. Ms Ingrid danced professionally as a soloist with companies in the United States including Fort Worth Ballet in TX, Bristol Concert Ballet in VA., South America, Europe, Canada and in Mexico with the National Classical Ballet Company. In 2012, Ms Ingrid joined the faculty of Allen Ting Ballet in China where she serves as international guest teacher and choreographer for a Youth Company in Nanchang. She has been dance professor/assistant director at Virginia Intermont College and Texas Tech University. She has served as artistic director, owner, professor, ballet mistress and guest teacher with professional companies, universities and dance schools all over the world. North Ballet was privileged to grow under her leadership during the 2015-2016 season.

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Mr. Alexander Smirnov

Alexander Smirnov is originally from Russia and graduated from the famed Vaganova Academy in Perm, Russia in 1995.  Upon graduation he was invited to perform with the Saint Petersburg Academic Theater and Saint Petersburg Ballet Theater where he rose through the ranks and eventually became a Principal Dancer. In 2000 Smirnov joined the Ballet Oficial de la Provincia de Cordoba, Argentina, also as a Principal Dancer and four years later, he moved to the United States to join Ballet Internationale of Indianapolis. 

Ms. Stephanie Heston

Ms. Heston is originally from Topeka, Kansas.  She began her professional career with the Eglevsky Ballet of New York in 1995 and was promoted to Principal Dancer in 1998.  Ms. Heston then joined Ballet Internationale of Indianapolis where she had the great honor of working with world renowned ballerinas, Irina Kolpakova and Tatiana Pali. As a teacher at the Academy of Ballet Internationale, Ms. Heston was privileged to learn from, and work under, the directorship of Vladelin Semenov, former Principal Teacher for the Kirov Ballet.

Ms. Carol Roderick

Carol Roderick has taught, coached, and trained teachers and dancers for professional companies, universities, and prestigious schools in the United States, Canada, Japan and Europe. She received her early training in Boston, and later at Butler and Indiana Universities. Her formal pedagogical training was received from the late Jürgen Schneider (Bolshoi Ballet, Stuttgart Ballet, American Ballet Theatre) and Gabriela Komleva (Kirov/Maryinsky Ballet). She was Principal Teacher at AIS International Ballet in Japan, and a member of the professional division faculties of Boston Ballet School and The Royal Winnipeg Ballet School.

Ms. Arolyn Williams

Arolyn Williams is originally from Rowe, Massachusetts and is currently a Principal Dancer at Ballet West in Utah.  

Ms. Krista King-Doherty

Krista King-Doherty is a nationally recognized and award winning teacher and choreographer. Krista coaches and choreographs for national and international level competitors and has won numerous overall high score, technical and choreography awards. Since 2005, Krista's students have qualified in both solos and ensembles for the Youth America Grand Prix Finals in New York City. Her students and choreography have repeatedly won the Youth Grand Prix award, the Hope Award, and overall awards in contemporary divisions at YAGP.