Ballet Hawaii Faculty - Ballet Hawaii
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Ballet Hawaii Faculty

Artistic Director Pamela Taylor Tongg began her early training in Chicago. She subsequently studied with Martha Mahr in Florida and the American Ballet Center in New York.

 

Ms. Taylor Tongg enjoyed a ten-year association with the Atlanta Ballet from 1975 to 1985 as a Soloist, Ballet Mistress and Director of the apprenticeship program, which prepared young dancers for professional careers. She credits much of her training to Atlanta Ballet’s Artistic Director Emeritus Robert Barnett.

 

Ms. Taylor Tongg moved to Hawaii in 1985 and joined Ballet Hawaii. Under her guidance, Ballet Hawaii has grown from a handful of students to an average of more than 400. In 2010, Ms. Taylor Tongg was given the Outstanding Teacher Award at the Youth American Grand Prix competition. In addition, she received certificates of appreciation from the City and County of Honolulu and the State House of Representatives for her outstanding contributions to Hawaii and Honolulu’s cultural presentations.

 

As a result of Ms. Taylor Tongg’s leadership, internationally acclaimed guest artists and master teachers travel to Hawaii to participate in Ballet Hawaii productions and training programs. In 2012, she was appointed to the Mayor’s Commission on Culture and the Arts as a dance expert.  In 2015, at the conclusion of Ballet Hawaii’s Nutcracker, Governor Ige presented Ms. Taylor Tongg with a Commendation from the State of Hawaii.

Regina Ahlgren is a native New Yorker. Her dance training includes Phil Black, Feld Ballet, David Howard, and the Joffrey Ballet. Her career began at 18 with a national tour of Sugar Babies staring Pinky Lee. Ms. Ahlgren continued to tour first nationals and Broadway productions of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoats, Ragtime, and Saturday Night Fever. She has been seen nationally and internationally in musicals such as A Chorus Line directed by Baayork Lee, Babes in Arms staring Kristin Chenoweth, Oklahoma and Phantom. She was “dance captain” of the European tour of 42nd Street. Ms. Ahlgren has also directed and choreographed professional productions of West Side Story, Annie, Caberet, Sound of Music, Kiss Me Kate, and Pippin. In 2016, Regina directed and choreographed a CJ Entertainment production of 42nd Street in Seoul Korea.

Romy Collado was born and raised in Hawai’i where her interest in the performing arts began at Ballet Hawai’i. After training in Musical Theatre, Jazz, and Contemporary, Romy went on to compete at Spotlight Dance Cup’s National competition in Seaside, Oregon where she took home the title of Senior Miss Spotlight.  She has had the pleasure of being a part of the opening cast for two shows at Hong Kong Disneyland. After completing two contracts as a dancer and performer for the Walt Disney Company, Romy is excited to be back in the islands and teaching at Ballet Hawaii.

Jennifer Gage recently moved to Oahu from Virginia, but it’s Chicago she called home where she taught for over 20 years at many schools, including her own studio, NorthSide Dance Theater. As a young dancer, her classical training was with Ballet Tennessee directors Anna and Barry Van-Cura. She also attended intensives on scholarship with Joffrey Ballet, Burklyn Ballet Theatre, and Governor’s School in TN. At 18 she moved to Chicago on full scholarship with the Joel Hall Dancers, later becoming a company member, teacher, rehearsal assistant, and ballet mistress. With a 30 year professional career, she danced with over 15 companies with styles ranging from classical ballet to jazz and hip-hop.

 

In 2002 Jennifer created her own not-for-profit company, Alliance Dance Company. Over the 13 years they were active, the company grew from a single show to a full season with 3 shows, school performances, touring, invitation to perform at special events, festivals, and even creating their own curated dance festival, Kaleidoscope. Ms. Gage has created over 100 choreographed pieces, 26 productions, and 17 full-length story works, including Alice in Wonderland, Little Red Riding Hood, Nutcracker, Snow Spectacular, A Journey, Fighting for a Dream, and the still requested Cats After 9 Lives. She has set acts from Sleeping Beauty and Swan Lake as well as choreography for Miss Saigon and Cinderella.

 

As an instructor, Jennifer is a firm believer in Age Appropriate/Level Appropriate and enjoys creating a positive and constructive environment with all levels of dance and life.

Daphne Hargrove began her training at the School of American Ballet. In 1993 she performed with the New York City Ballet in its Balanchine celebration. The following year, Hargrove graduated from the High School of Performing Arts and joined the Miami City Ballet where she performed various soloist and principal roles. During this time, she performed in Washington D.C at the Kennedy Center Honors for President Clinton and other distinguished guests.

 

In 1998, Hargrove left Miami to become a founding member and principal dancer with Carolina Ballet. During the next four years in North Carolina, she created many principal roles in world-premiere ballets by renowned choreographers such as Lynn Taylor-Corbett and Robert Weill, as well as being featured in many classic works. Her repertoire includes Balachine’s Rubies, Conncerto Barocco, Who Cares, and Steadfast Tin Soldier, Anthony Tudor’s Lilac Garden, Jose Limon’s Moor’s Pavane, and Peter Martin’s Valse Triste. Hargrove has been living in Honolulu for many years and has become an avid photographer and has performed in many of Ballet Hawaii’s productions.

Christine Kaminski began her training at Harbor Ballet Theatre in Port Jefferson, NY. She holds a BFA in Ballet Performance from the University of Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music. She danced principal roles in the University’s productions of Ondine, Paquita, and La Bayadere. Christine then danced as a soloist with the Kentucky Ballet Theatre for four years, where she was featured in Dracula, The Nutcracker, The Sleeping Beauty, Saerpil, and The Wizard of Oz. In 2006, she moved to Newport, RI, where she danced for Island Moving Company for 12 seasons. Christine danced leading roles in IMC’s productions of The Nutcracker, Dracula, and Peter Pan, and had the opportunity to work with a wide variety of choreographers. In addition to dancing, Christine was the Director of Education for five years. She developed and implemented curriculum for various school programs, and directed IMC’s Junior Company. Christine has recently relocated to Honolulu with her husband, and is looking forward to working with the students at both Ballet Hawaii locations.

An island girl, born and raised on Oahu, Aria’s love of dance and ballet began at a young age when she was enrolled in her very first class at Ballet Hawaii. She loved it! Aria has since danced with Ballet Hawaii for the past 12 years in their Performing Arts School, Summer Intensives, annual productions of The Nutcracker, and with Ballet Hawaii’s Performing Ensemble. Aria is currently a student at the University of Hawaii at Manoa pursuing a degree in Creative Media. She was recently accepted into The Center for Tomorrow’s Leaders Student Alumni Program and is currently interning with Hawaii News Now. Aria loves being able to inspire other little budding ballerinas to find joy in dancing.

Kayla’s dance journey began at age 7 when she stepped into her first ballet class. Since then, she has also trained in Contemporary, Jazz, Hip Hop, and Pointe. Kayla had the privilege of competing in various dance competitions, including the Youth America Grand Prix, The Dance Awards, and JUMP.

 

Kayla attended the University of Nevada, Las Vegas in 2019, where she began to pursue a degree in Kinesiology and Exercise Science, with a minor in dance. She has since transferred to the University of Hawaii at Manoa, where she is continuing her degree. She hopes to obtain her Doctor of Physical Therapy in the near future.

 

When not dancing or studying, Kayla is an avid surfer and yoga student. She is working towards completing her 200-hour yoga teacher training, by the end of 2021.

 

Kayla hopes that her passion for dance, yoga, and physical therapy will create a fun and encouraging environment for her students.

Micki was born in Pusan City, South Korea and adopted by American parents. She grew up in upstate New York where she began her ballet studies with the Ithaca Ballet. She attended and is a graduate of The Kirov Academy of Ballet in Washington DC. Micki began her pre-professional career in Ballet Austin’s trainee program. She danced professionally with the Louisville Ballet in Kentucky and Ballet Black in London, England. While in the UK, she performed as a guest artist in Wales with Swansea Ballet Russe’s Swan Lake. In 2007 Micki moved to Honolulu, HI where she guested and danced with Ballet Hawaii and Onium Ballet Project.

 

Micki is an experienced registered 200 hour yoga teacher, Ayurvedic Health Educator, and formerly certified Foundation I, Level I GYROTONIC(R) instructor. She has taught ballet classes for over twenty years. Micki was the dance director at Sacred Hearts Academy in Honolulu, HI from 2008-2016 where she developed and led the dance program for students in grades 7-12. She currently teaches with Ballet Hawaii.

Raven Matsushita-Garcia has been dancing since she was 4 years old with Ballet Hawaii. She has danced almost every role in the annual Nutcracker. She was in the premiere cast of Septime Webre’s 2016 The Nutcracker as the Seafaring Mother. Other Summer Intensive performances include Septime Webre’s Alice in Wonderland, Cinderella and Peter Pan, Robert Weiss’ Romeo and Juliet, Giselle staged by Robert Barnett, and Coppelia staged by Magaly Suarez.

Caitlin began her dance training with Diggs School of Dance in Gloucester, Virginia, under Debbie Diggs and Danile Giesy. She was a member of the resident student company, Bayside Youth Ballet for 7 years, and performed many soloist roles with them. During that time, Caitlin also taught ballet for Diggs School of Dance and choreographed works for Bayside Youth Ballet. She also studied with Virginia Regional Ballet (formerly Chamber Ballet), under Heidrun Robitshek, as well as the Todd Rosenlieb Dance Center, and attended summer intensives at Alleghany Ballet and Virginia Regional Ballet.

 

Caitlin first taught for Ballet Hawaii from 2008-2010.  After moving to the mainland for 9 years, Caitlin returned to Oahu to rejoin the Ballet Hawaii faculty in 2018.  Caitlin is a Progressing Ballet Technique® Certified Teacher, ACE Certified Personal Trainer, and Certified Nutrition Coach, Pn1 and has completed Lisa Howell’s Level 1 Teacher training course as well as Level 2 courses focusing on pointe readiness, advanced flexibility techniques, and training turnout safely in young dancers.  She focuses heavily on assessing dancers as individuals and creating proper movement patterns and muscle recruitment so dancers may enjoy a healthy, happy, injury-free training experience.

Harper Okamoto was born and raised on Oahu and started her dance training with Ballet Hawaii when she was just four years old. Since then, she has performed in many of the annual Spring Showcases and was a member of Ballet Hawaii’s Performing Ensemble for several seasons. In addition to her regular training, Harper has also served as a teacher’s aide at Ballet Hawaii and an instructor at Manoa Dance Studio. She is currently attending Leeward Community College with a major in Digital Media to pursue her passion for graphic design. Harper is looking forward to sharing her love for movement and dance with students of all ages and hopes to encourage them to discover their own individual creative spirit.

Tere Pang was an apprentice for Hawaii Ballet Theater and performed in their Nutcracker (Chinese, Spanish, Mirliton, Snow, and Flower), Cinderella, Fire Bird, Hansel and Gretel, and Coppelia. She also danced for the University of Hawaii Rainbow Dancers, Hawaii Dance Connection (contemporary ballet/jazz), Show People Hawaii (jazz/tap), and Aloha: The Musical (under the direction of Joe Layton). She trained locally under Rhonda Kimura, Yasuki Sasa (University of Hawaii), Jan Fujit-Clark (Ballet West), Alaine Haubert (American Ballet Theatre), and Willie Dean Ige. She also taught ballet at Rhonda Kimura Studio.

Ms. Pang received a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts in Communication from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. She has taught at the University of Hawaii at Manoa and Kansai Gaidai Hawaii College, and also for Chaminade University evening program. Currently, she teaches first grade in Pearl City.

Susan Ushijima Quong received her early ballet training in Oregon, Montana, and Washington. Her most extensive training was with Gabriella Darvash in New York. While in New York, she was co-founder and co-director of the professional company, BalletWorks, Ltd. She later became a teacher and resident choreographer for the Ulster Ballet Company in upstate New York. Ms. Quong’s works were shown in New York and Hawaii with Danceworks, The Dance Company, Big City Studios and the Honolulu Dance Studio.

Jenny Riley-Doyle began her ballet training at the age of 10 at her hometown theater in Nordhausen (formerly part of East Germany). Under the direction of Monika Honti, Jenny performed in a number of professional ballet productions, including Coppelia, Sheherazade, and Esmeralda at the Theater Nordhausen. Jenny attended college in Kaiserslautern, studying business administration, all the while continuing her dance training at several studios, including the Pfalztheater Kaiserslautern.

At the age of 20, Jenny began teaching pre-ballet and beginning ballet students at the Fairy Tale Dance Studio in Ramstein, Germany. Her marriage to an American brought her to California, where she trained at the Academy of Ballet in San Francisco, the San Francisco Dance Center, and the Dance Network in Fairfield.

Jenny was certified as a Ballet Master with Dance Masters of America, Inc at the age of 24 and continued her teaching for the Dance Network until moving back to Germany in 2003. She taught ballet, pilates, and yoga at several studios and fitness centers in Germany until 2010 when she opened her own studio for Dance, Yoga, & Pilates in Kaiserslautern – “Grace Studio”. The studio was run successfully for 8 years and gave Jenny the opportunity to work with more than 80 dance and yoga teachers.

In 2018, Jenny sold Grace Studio and relocated with her husband and family to Hawaii. She started a ballet program on Hickam Air Force Base that grew from 20 to 200 students in just a few weeks. In addition to her dance training, Jenny is also certified in Vinyasa yoga, Prenatal yoga, Bosu, Pilates with props, PIYO technique, Nutrition Fundamentals and more. Jenny joined the faculty at Ballet Hawaii in July 2019 and currently teaches creative dance, pre-ballet, ballet 3, and ballet 5. She is grateful and excited for the opportunity to be a part of Ballet Hawaii.

Brandie is a Hawaii-born and raised dancer with nearly 12 years of dance experience. She has studied ballet, jazz, hip hop, and contemporary, as well as competed in multiple national dance competitions such as JUMP dance, spotlight dance cup, The Dance Awards, Break The Floor Live, and Youth America Grand Prix. Brandie has also had the opportunity to attend summer intensives at DancerPalooza and The Rock School for dance education.

 

Currently a senior at Pearl City High School, Brandie has been pursuing education in fashion, digital media, and graphic design. She is actively taking part in school clubs and organizations such as FCCLA, Fashion club, and the student ambassador program. Outside of school, she is the representative of Pearl city high school in the Chamber of Commerce Work-Based Learning student advisory board. She hopes to attend one of the University of California schools in the near future and pursue a degree in psychology.

 

Brandie is excited to teach and share her passion for dance, and hopes to nurture a positive environment for dancers!

Marina Turner grew up in Newport Rhode Island and started training with the Newport Academy of Ballet, the school of the Island Moving Company when she was 12 years old under the direction of Miki Ohlsen. Her primary teachers were Meredith Baer, Lauren Difede, Danielle Genest, Spencer Gavin Herring, Christine Sandorfi, and Carol Tang. Marina performed in Island Moving Company’s Newport Nutcracker at Rosecliff numerous times as well as the Island Moving company’s Open for Dancing and Great Friends Dance Festivals. Marina has had the privilege of attending summer intensives at Festival Ballet Providence, Carolina Ballet, and Texas Ballet Theater. In 2017 Marina moved to Hawaii and trained under Pamela Taylor Tong and Micki Kolberg with Ballet Hawaii and became a 2018-2019 season guest artist with the student company performing in Devon Carney’s, The Sleeping Beauty, and Septime Weber’s, The Nutcracker. She was a 2019-2020 season company apprentice with Ballet Fantastique in Eugene, Oregon performing in mainstage and outreach productions. Most recently, she danced with Saving Grace Dance Ensemble in Manchester, NH for their Spring 2021 season. Marina is delighted to be back and teaching with Ballet Hawaii.

Crystal Yukumoto was born in Hawaii and began her classical ballet training in Europe. She has danced professionally with domestic and international dance companies such as Ballet Frontier, Commedia Ballet Theater, Contemporary Ballet Dallas, Contemporary Dance/Fort Worth, New World Ballet, North Texas Ballet Theatre, and Skånes Dansteater in Sweden.

 

Ms. Yukumoto has taught ballet at various studios in the Dallas Fort Worth metroplex as well as for the Swedish National Ballet School in Malmö, Sweden. She has also taught ballroom dance through the Dancing Classrooms North Texas program, and is a 500-hour certified yoga instructor. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts and Master of Education from Texas Christian University.