Melissa Hahne – Artistic Director
Melissa Zervas Hahne was formally trained under Charlotte Lyke, Soili Arvola and Leo Ahonen in Bartlesville, OK. During her four years with Ballet Bartlesville she performed numerous soloist roles including The Nutcracker, Giselle, Sleeping Beauty, Paquita, Touché, Classical Symphony, and Cinderella. She continued on to become a member of the Texas Christian University ballet company for four years where she danced several roles under direction of the late Fernando Bujones, choreographer in residence. While at Texas Christian Melissa was cast to dance La Bayadère – Kingdom of the Shades, To the Rhythm of Jazz, Forever 40s (in conjunction with Fort Worth’s Retrofest), and Raymonda – Act III. Melissa continued as a freelance professional dancing roles in The Nutcracker (Snow soloist, Rose), Giselle (Myrtha), Sleeping Beauty (The Lilac Fairy, Carabosse), Coppélia (Czardas, lead friend), Touché, and the original works of Soili Arvola, Samson and Delilah (Zura), and Tarzan (Chita).
Melissa enjoyed teaching at the Pennsylvania Dance Conservatory for three years and currently is the Artistic Director at Southwest Ballet Theatre. When Melissa is not dancing or teaching ballet she enjoys spending time with her husband and three children.
Daniel Baudendistel – Artistic Advisor
Daniel Baudendistel has been with SWBT since it’s founding and has led a variety of classes.
Daniel has trained with Jonathan Watts, Larry Long at the Ruth Page Foundation, Roger Tully in London, and David Howard in New York. He danced with American Ballet Theatre, The Joffrey Ballet, and the Lar Lubovitch Dance Company. He has been featured with the BBC of London and appears in the documentary film “Ballet Russes.” He was televised in Russia dancing with Ekaterina Maximova at the Kremlin Palace, as well as appearing with Gala Des Etoiles in Montreal. He is noted for his partnering skills and dramatic roles.
Mr. Baudendistel was awarded First Prize at the Saint Sauveur International Choreographic Competition. He has choreographed ballets for the ABT Studio Company, Oregon Ballet Theatre, and ABT Summer Intensive Programs. He has also directed and choreographed for the Hiroshima Opera Company. In addition to this he performs with the Ballet Arizona and has been featured in Don Quixote, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Sleeping Beauty and Romeo and Juliet.
As a teacher he has worked with students at the ABT Summer Intensive in New York, The Joffrey Ballet, and continues to coach dancers privately around the world. He is noted for his knowledge of kinetic principles, music theory, and understanding of the classical form as it relates to the dance. He was Professor of dance at the New School University Eugene Lang College in New York City. He takes great pride in his extensive dance collection.
Jessica Berroth – Ballet
Jessica began dancing at the age of 3 after she saw her first ballet. Her formal training began at Deane Dance Center in Sacramento under Barbara Crocket. She then continued her training at The School of Ballet Arizona with Truman Finney. Other notable instructors include Alexander Vetrov, Paul Mejia, Slawomir Wozniak, and Daniel Baudendistel. Jessica attended summer intensives at Boston Ballet (2005) , Los Angeles Ballet (2007) and State Street Ballet (full scholarship 2009). Jessica began dancing professionally in 2008 with Terpsicore Dance Company.
Kleiton Sistelos – Horton Technique
Kleiton Sistelos was born in Recife, Brazil. He studied Classical Dance in the Royal Method and graduated in 2006. He studied the Techinique Cubana from 2005 to 2007. Kleiton has trained in Brazil, the United States, and at the Teatro Carcano in Milan, Italy. He has studied Jazz and Modern, specializing in the Horton Technique in Brazil and at Alvin Aylin in NYC. He has danced in festivals throughout Brazil and Europe, including the Latin American Tour in Milan, the Dell’Art Festival in Genova, the Nice Festival in France, and the Festival of Valencia in Spain. He has performed in major productions on the stage and on television in Rio de Janeiro Brazil. He currently teaches and performs in many locations in the Phoenix area.
Erica Lizotte – Jazz and Modern
Erica Lizotte graduated in 2000 from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst with a BFA in Dance. She then moved to Chicago and worked with Zephyr Dance Company and Cindy Brandle Dance Company where she had the opportunity to tour throughout the US. Erica also taught dance in the Chicago Public Schools as well as many after school programs. Since moving to the Valley with her husband she has worked with Desert Dance Theater, Dulce Dance Company, and is now in her seventh season with Center Dance Ensemble. Erica had the opportunity to travel throughout the Valley schools with CDE’s educational outreach program, Poetry ‘n Motion. She has also had the privilege of being a part of the Wolftrap performances. Erica is excited for the opportunity to share her love of dance to the children of the community.
Melissa Hunsaker – Tap & Musical Theatre
Melissa began taking tap classes at the age of 5 in Michigan and soon added jazz and ballet. She began the apprentice program at age 14 and began teaching tap, jazz, and ballet classes at the age of 15. After high school, Melissa attended Brigham Young University on an academic scholarship. She studied as a Dance Major (Ballet) at BYU and continued to take classes in jazz and tap as well. She was an apprentice to BYU’s Theater Ballet program and served as a Teaching Assistant for tap classes at BYU. After taking several classes in American Sign Language, she decided to change her major to Audiology, but continued to pursue dance on the side. She was an original member of the performing group, “All That Tap” and was a featured soloist. Melissa has taught tap, jazz, and ballet classes at West Valley Conservatory of Ballet and Ballet West Classical School for the past several years in Surprise, AZ. She has been involved in teaching the students performing with Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker for the past 2 years. She also works as an audiologist at a local ENT office. When not working, she enjoys spending time with her husband and 3 children.
Maggie Connor Hoody – Barre
Alexander Richards – Piano Accompanist
Alex attended the Thayer Center for the Performing Arts, a fine arts school affliated with Atlantic Union College in Lancaster, Massachusetts. There he studied under Roy Imperio, staff accompanist to the Boston Conservatory and professor of piano at Atlantic Union College. At the University of Dallas, Alex took a piano performance course every other semester with Andrey Ponochevney, a world-touring classical pianist. He accompanied the drama department in productions of “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum”, and “Oklahoma!”. He also worked in chamber ensembles, producing Mendelssohn’s Piano Trio in d minor, Op. 29.
Last year, Alex earned admission to the San Diego International Piano Competition for outstanding non-professional pianists.