Company Artists

Ballet Nebraska’s talented professional dancers hail from around the nation and abroad, making the Midwest their home to share the excitement of dance with others. Through the company’s expressive performing artists, acclaimed choreographers, and skilled teachers, Ballet Nebraska plays a key role in the cultural vitality of the region.


Erika Overturff

Founder and Artistic Director
Artist Sponsor: First National Bank

Erika Overturff is the founder and artistic director of Ballet Nebraska, the region’s professional ballet company. Under her leadership, Ballet Nebraska enriches the area through an exciting array of professional dance performances and a strong commitment to cultural education and community outreach programming.

Erika began her training in Iowa at the Academy of Ballet, studying at summer programs including North Carolina School of the Arts, American Ballet Theatre, Pittsburgh Ballet Theater, and the Kirov Academy. Erika earned her B.F.A. in ballet performance and teaching from the University of Utah, which she attended on a full scholarship. She graduated cum laude in just three years and was chosen outstanding senior by the ballet department faculty.

Erika went on to dance with Montgomery Ballet, Alabama Ballet, and Omaha Theater Ballet. She has performed principal and soloist roles in a wide range of classical and contemporary repertoire. Area audiences have enjoyed Erika’s performances in roles such as Eileen in Swing, Swing, Swing!, Titania in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Lucy in Dracula, Snow Queen and Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker, Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland, and Myrtha in Giselle. Erika has also been a faculty member and guest teacher for schools throughout the United States.

As a choreographer, Erika has received critical praise for her work. She served as répétitrice for Montgomery Ballet and resident choreographer for Omaha Theater Ballet. She has worked on several collaborations with Opera Omaha, created an all-new production of Peter and the Wolf with the Omaha Symphony, and regularly creates new works for Ballet Nebraska. As part of the company’s ongoing collaboration with Joslyn Art Museum for Momentum, Erika has choreographed original ballets inspired by museum artwork or exhibitions, including Connemara, Cleopatra, and Go West! Other featured works include Tropico, Party Animals, and The Diner. Erika also created Ballet Nebraska’s lively and entertaining version of the holiday favorite The Nutcracker, which has premiered to enthusiastic audiences both at home and on tour. Additionally, Erika is a recipient of the Midlands Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 Awards, honoring area entrepreneurs, executives, and professionals.


Matthew Carter

Ballet Master
Artist Sponsor: Amy Haddad & Steve Martin

Matthew Carter began his training in Pennsylvania with Sharon Filone at the Lake Erie Ballet School and Sandra Barnett at Little’s Dance Studio. He went on to study on full scholarship at North Carolina School of the Arts, Miami City Ballet School, and the Chautauqua Festival Dancers. Matthew has danced professionally with Ohio Ballet, Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, Lake Erie Ballet, and Omaha Theater Ballet. He has performed numerous leading roles within the classical repertoire, including Prince Desire in The Sleeping Beauty, Franz in Coppelia, and Mercutio in Romeo & Juliet, as well as in works by George Balanchine, Merce Cunningham, Donald Byrd, Heinz Poll, Laura Dean, Luis Montero, and many others. He has also performed as a Guest Artist with Hawaii Ballet Theatre, Neglia Ballet Artists, and Ballet Tucson.

Omaha audiences have enjoyed Matthew in roles such as Albrecht in Giselle, Cavalier in The Nutcracker, White Rabbit in Kennet Oberly’s Alice In Wonderland, the Asp in Erika Overturff’s Cleopatra, and Puck in Oscar Antunez’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Also a choreographer, he has premiered original works with numerous schools and professional companies, including Bacchanale Variations, Signs of Life, Sadako and Poseidon for Ballet Nebraska. Matthew is the co-director of Motion41 Dance in Omaha and continues to serve as a guest teacher for schools throughout the country. Matthew returns for his seventh season as ballet master. More about Matthew.

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Artists


Erin Alarcón

Artist Sponsors: Clyde & Deborah Overturff

Erin Alarcón received her dance training under Christine Taylor and Luba Gulyaeva at North Jersey School of Dance Arts in Hackettstown, New Jersey where she was also a member of New Jersey Civic Youth Ballet. Erin went on to graduate magna cum laude with a B.A. in dance performance at Mercyhurst University under the direction of Tauna Hunter. During her time at Mercyhurst she performed both leading and soloist roles. During the summers she studied with Eglevsky Ballet and Joffrey Ballet. She has worked with a number of guest artists including Laura Alonso, Bruce Marks, Vivi Flindt, and Bill Evans. Erin has studied abroad with Valerie Valentine of the Dutch National Ballet, danced professionally with SoMar Dance Works and Ballet Concert, and has appeared as a guest artist with Iowa Dance Theater performing the title role in Cinderella. With Ballet Nebraska, she has performed title roles in Giselle, Alice in Wonderland, and as Sugar Plum Fairy in Erika Overturff’s The Nutcracker. She was featured in Mikhail Fokine’s The Dying Swan, the Black Swan pas de deux from Swan Lake, and as Fee in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Erin recently choreographed the ballet One in Three, which was featured in Momentum to rave reviews. She also serves as Ballet Nebraska’s operations manager and teaches classes and workshops throughout the state. This is Erin’s seventh season with the company. More about Erin…


Ryan Christopher

Artist Sponsors: Vic & Linda Mattes

ryan 2015Ryan Christopher hails from Golden, Colorado. He spent his early years as an athlete, then studied at Red Rocks Community College where he began dancing. Ryan trained with a full scholarship to The International Youth Ballet School under directors Mark & Sandra Carlson and at The Performing Arts Conservatory of Texas directed by H. Christopher Fairbank. He previously danced as a soloist with Ballet Ariel and Boulder Ballet where he performed classical repertory including Les SylphidesA Midsummer Night’s DreamCinderellaThe Nutcracker, Napoli, La Vivandiere also dancing many contemporary and modern works. With Ballet Nebraska, Ryan has performed featured roles in Giselle, Paquita, Snow White, The Nutcracker, Cleopatra, and several works in Momentum including Charles Weidman’s On My Mother’s Side and Erika Overturff’s Go West! He has appeared as a guest artist throughout Colorado and around the United States. This is Ryan’s fourth season with the company. More about Ryan…


Marco Clemente

marco-clemente-updated-2Marco Clemente graduated from the Ruth Page School of Dance in Chicago, Illinois under the direction of Larry Long and Dolores Lipinski-Long. He has performed in numerous productions with the Civic Ballet of Chicago under the direction of Mr. and Mrs. Long, including productions of Napoli and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, in which he danced the role of Puck. Marco has performed with Dayton Ballet and Minnesota Ballet in works such as the Harlequinade pas de deux, and as Goro in Madame Butterfly. This is Marco’s first season with Ballet Nebraska.
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Vivi DiMarco

Artist Sponsors: John Ritland & Greta Vaught

vivi2013Hailing from Chicago, Vivi DiMarco trained in ballet, modern, and Vaganova character dance at the School of DanceWest Ballet under the direction of Ricardo and Regina Moyano. While attending college, Vivi continued to train at Hubbard Street’s Lou Conte Dance Studio and the Ruth Page Center for the Arts. She also danced, directed, and choreographed for University Ballet. She graduated with honors from the University of Chicago with a B.S. in chemistry. Vivi was a trainee at The Joffrey Ballet of Chicago, performing in trainee productions of Paquita and Gerald Arpino’s Birthday Variations. With Ballet Nebraska, Vivi has danced as Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker, the lead in Paquita, and featured roles in Alice in Wonderland, Les Odalisques, George Balanchine’s Valse Fantaisie, and many roles in Momentum. She also serves as Ballet Nebraska’s marketing coordinator. Vivi returns for her fifth season with Ballet Nebraska. More about Vivi


Katherine Eppink

Artist Sponsor: Omaha Marketing Solutions

Katherine EppinkKatherine Eppink is a graduate of the University of Utah where she earned a B.F.A. from the department of ballet. Katherine began her classical ballet training in Des Moines at Iowa Dance Theatre. She also danced on scholarship as a member of Utah Ballet, the resident performing company of University of Utah, where she performed lead roles in Serenade, Coppélia, Swan Lake, Ruslan and Ludmila, and The Nutcracker. Katherine spent summers training with Pacific Northwest Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, Joffrey Ballet, Ballet West, Nashville Ballet, Ballet Met, and Korean Ballet Theatre. At Ballet Nebraska, Katherine has danced in Giselle, The Nutcracker, Paquita, On My Mother’s Side, Cleopatra, One in Three, and Go West! Katherine returns to Ballet Nebraska for her third season. More about Katherine…


Claire Goodwillie

Artist Sponsor: The Daily Nonpareil

claire2013Claire Goodwillie began her ballet training at Omaha Theater Ballet School of Dance. She spent summers training with Pacific Northwest Ballet and Ballet Austin, as well as in Banff, Canada. Claire danced as an apprentice with Omaha Theater Ballet. With Ballet Nebraska, Claire has danced the title role in Cleopatra, Rat Queen in The Nutcracker, Helena in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Vampire Bride in Dracula, Geisha in Sadako, Red Queen in Alice in Wonderland, Ostrich in Party Animals, Zulme in Giselle, and featured roles in Paquita, The Diner, Go West!, and George Balanchine’s Valse Fantaisie. She has also performed with Opera Omaha and Omaha Symphony. Claire returns for her seventh season with the company. More about Claire…


Bret Samson

Artist Sponsor: Rebecca Liu-Huang & James Liu

Originally from Wisconsin, Bret Samson began her dance training at Lake Shore Dance with Amy Aichele and Gwen Agee in Saukville, and Melissa Anderson and Rafael Delgado in Milwaukee, later continuing to dance at Steps on Broadway in New York City. She has danced with Milwaukee Ballet II, Madison Ballet and Omaha Theater Ballet. Bret has performed in works by noted choreographers including Harrison McEldowney, Oskar Antunez, Winthrop Corey, Kennet Oberly, and Jean-Paul Commélin. A founding member of Ballet Nebraska, Bret has performed as Arabian Princess in The Nutcracker, soloist in Mikhail Fokine’s The Dying Swan, Moyna in Giselle, and featured roles in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Alice in Wonderland, Cleopatra, and many works in Momentum. Bret has also performed with Opera Omaha and Omaha Symphony. This is Bret’s seventh season with the company. More about Bret…


Kelsey Schwenker

Artist Sponsor: D.R. & Jeanie Owen

kelsey2013Boulder native Kelsey Schwenker began her classical ballet training with Ballet Nouveau of Colorado, where she was a five-year member of its student company directed by Julia Wilkinson Manley. She trained during summers with Kansas City Ballet, Burklyn Ballet Theatre, Boulder Jazz Dance Workshop and Paul Taylor Dance Company. Kelsey received her B.F.A. in ballet performance, graduating summa cum laude from the University of Oklahoma, where she trained with Mary Margaret Holt, Donn Edwards, Steve Brule and Jeremy Lindberg. Kelsey has performed in notable works including Rodeo, Divertimento No. 5, The Firebird, Afternoon of a Faun and Les Biches. With Ballet Nebraska, she has performed lead roles in Alice in Wonderland and Poseidon, as well as featured roles in The Nutcracker, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Dracula, Les Odalisques, Bacchanale Variations, Sadako, Party Animals, Giselle, Paquita, The Diner, Cleopatra, Go West!, and George Balanchine’s Valse Fantaisie. She is rehearsal director for Repertory Ensemble, the company’s youth performance group. Kelsey returns for her seventh season with the company. More about Kelsey…


Anna Swenson

Artist Sponsor: metroMAGAZINE/mQUARTERLY

Anna SwensonAnna Swenson began her classical ballet training at Ballet Arts Academy of Spokane, Washington, where she performed in original works by choreographers Charles Askegard, Dodie Askegard and Deidre A. Kellogg among others. She studied during summers at Walnut Hill School for the Arts, Joffrey Ballet’s Jazz and Contemporary program, and School of Alberta Ballet in Calgary, Canada. She joined the trainee program at School of Alberta Ballet in 2012, performing in Aram Manukyan’s The Nutcracker and in Yukichi Hattori’s Numbers. With Ballet Nebraska, Anna has performed in Giselle, Paquita, Snow White, The Nutcracker, Cleopatra, On My Mother’s Side, Go West!, and many roles in Momentum. Anna returns for her fourth season with Ballet Nebraska.


Katie van der Mars

Artist Sponsor: Sharon McGill

Katie van der Mars is a graduate of the University of Utah where she received her B.F.A. in ballet performance. She began her training in classical ballet at Corvallis Academy of Ballet in Corvallis, Oregon. Katie trained during summers with Atlanta Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, and Ballet West. During her time in Salt Lake City, she performed as a 3-year member of the University’s resident company, Utah Ballet, where she danced in Giselle, La Bayadere, Paquita, the pas de deux from Scheherazade, The Nutcracker, Les Odalisques pas de trois from Le Corsaire, The Firebird, Fokine’s Ruslan & Ludmilla, and many contemporary works. At Ballet Nebraska, Katie has danced the lead in George Balanchine’s Valse Fantaisie, French soloist in The Nutcracker, and featured roles in Alice in Wonderland, Party Animals, Giselle, The Diner, Cleopatra, Go West! and many works in Ballet Nebraska’s mixed-repertory production Momentum. Katie returns for her fifth season at Ballet Nebraska. More about Katie…


Sasha York

Artist Sponsor: Children’s Hospital and Medical Center

sasha2013bigOriginally from Chelyabinsk, Russia, Sasha York trained at Paavola School of Dance in Flint, Michigan. He later returned to Russia, where he trained with Urey Urivich. Sasha was accepted into the pre-professional program at Pittsburgh Ballet Theater, where he performed in company productions of Don Quixote, The Nutcracker, Peter Pan, and Alice in Wonderland. He has worked with many well-known choreographers such as Viktor Plotnikov, Septime Webre, and Harrison McEldowney. With Ballet Nebraska, Sasha has performed as Oberon in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Marc Antony in Cleopatra, Hilarion in Giselle, Prince Charming in Snow White, Cavalier and Snow King in The Nutcracker, White Knight in Alice in Wonderland, and lead roles in Dracula, Swing Swing Swing!, Paquita, Charles Weidman’s On My Mother’s Side, and Erika Overturff’s Go West! He previously danced for two seasons at Omaha Theater Ballet and is a featured guest artist in ballet productions throughout the United States. Sasha returns for his seventh season with the company. More about Sasha…

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Ensemble Artists


Rebecca Brenner

temp rebeccaOhio native and former member of Rochester City Ballet, Rebecca Brenner received her ballet training from Columbus City Ballet School and University of Cincinnati Conservatory of Music. She attended summer intensives with American Ballet Theatre in New York City, trained on merit scholarship at Orlando Ballet School in Florida, and participated in Youth American Grand Prix, competing twice in its New York City finals. She has performed Balanchine works including Walpurgisnacht Ballet, Valse-Fantaisie, Stars and Stripes, Raymonda Variations, and Serenade. At Rochester City Ballet, she appeared in The Nutcracker, Cinderella, Serenade and the premiere of Jamey Leverett’s New York Cityscapes. With Ballet Nebraska, Rebecca has performed in Giselle, The Nutcracker, Paquita, and Cleopatra. This is Rebecca’s third season with Ballet Nebraska.

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Jake Godek

jake 2015Originally from Keller, TX, Jake Godek studied dance at West Texas A&M University under Edward Truitt, Leslie Williams, and Crystal Bertrand. He danced for two seasons with Lone Star Ballet of Amarillo, TX performing the role of Romeo in Romeo and Juliet, Nutcracker Prince in The Nutcracker, and Caesar in Cleopatra, among others. Jake also performed three summers in the outdoor musical drama, Texas, as a dancer and as understudy to theatrical roles, eventually performing the lead role of Calvin. With Ballet Nebraska, Jake has performed featured roles in Cleopatra, The Nutcracker, and Go West! This is Jake’s second season with Ballet Nebraska.

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Alyssa Grimsley

temp alyssaAlyssa Grimsley began her dance training at Western Arkansas Ballet in Fort Smith, Arkansas. She trained during summers at Joffrey Midwest, Ballet Austin, Tulsa Ballet, and Cincinnati Ballet. Alyssa graduated summa cum laude with a B.F.A. in ballet performance from the University of Oklahoma, where she trained with Mary Margaret Holt, Clara Cravey, Steve Brule, Ilya Kozadayev, and Jeremy Lindberg. Alyssa toured with Oklahoma Festival Ballet at the Haydn’s Classical Music Festival in Eisenstadt, Austria and with Burklyn Ballet Theatre to perform at Fringe Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland. She has performed in Ballet Nebraska productions of Giselle, Cleopatra, The Nutcracker, Paquita, On My Mother’s Side, and Go West! Alyssa returns for her third season with Ballet Nebraska.
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Amaris Sharratt

amaris 2015Amaris Sharratt began her training at Ballet Arts in Tucson, Arizona under the direction of Mary-Beth Cabana. She spent summers training on full scholarship at Pacific Northwest Ballet, Houston Ballet, and Ballet Tucson. As a Marshall Thurber Scholarship recipient at Burklyn Ballet Theater, Amaris performed in Edinburgh, Scotland at Fringe Festival where she performed a featured role in Robert Royce’s Beauty and the Beast. She also performed with Milwaukee Ballet II, Houston Ballet, Nevada Ballet Theater, Ballet Tucson, Earthen Vessels, and Hopestone Dance Company. Her repertoire includes Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, Amahl and the Night Visitors, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Cinderella and other classical and contemporary works. At Ballet Nebraska, Amaris has performed in Giselle, The Nutcracker, Paquita, Cleopatra, and Go West! Amaris returns for her third season with Ballet Nebraska.
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Chloé Watson
Artist Sponsors: Herbert Dewey II & Carole Dewey

Chloe WatsonChloé Watson graduated cum laude from Purchase College Conservatory of Dance at State University of New York (S.U.N.Y.) with a B.F.A. in dance performance. She began her classical ballet training at Dallas Ballet Center and graduated with distinguished high honors from Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Dallas, Texas. She studied on scholarship at Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance and performed in George Balanchine’s Serenade at Jacob’s Pillow. While at university, Chloé studied at Paris Opéra Ballet at the invitation of Kazuko Hirabayashi and traveled to Madrid with members of Compañia Nacional de Danza, where she performed in Balanchine’s The Four Temperaments. At Ballet Nebraska, Chloé has performed in Giselle, Snow White, The Nutcracker, Paquita, Cleopatra, Go West! and many works in Momentum. She presented her original work, Temporary Dwelling, as part of Ballet Nebraska’s New Works program. Chloé returns for her fourth season with Ballet Nebraska. More about Chloe…

 

Apprentices


Katherine Boatright
Katherine BoatrightHometown: Bartlesville, Oklahoma

Training & Experience: B.A. in dance performance with a minor in arts administration at Mercyhurst University, Osage Ballet, Ballet Concerto

Summer Programs: Joffrey Ballet, American Ballet Theatre

 

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Alexandra Hoffman
alexandra 2015Hometown: Cleveland, Ohio

Training & Experience: Louisville Ballet trainee, Ana Lobe of Cleveland San Jose Ballet School

Summer Programs: Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, Nashville Ballet, Louisville Ballet

 

 

Kogan Murphy
kogan 2015Hometown: Chicago, Illinois

Training & Experience: Ballet Theatre of Indiana, Joffrey Ballet trainee, Judith Svalander School of Ballet, Miss Illinois talent scholarship

Summer Programs: Joffrey Ballet

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Rachel Smith
rachel-updatedHometown: Plymouth, Massachusetts

Training & Experience: Nashville Ballet trainee, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre graduate program, Boston Ballet School

Summer Programs: Walnut Hill School of the Arts, Boston Ballet, Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, Miami City Ballet, Houston Ballet, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, Nashville Ballet

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Whitney Walsh
Whitney WalshHometown: Westlake Village, California

Training & Experience: Joffrey Ballet trainee, California Dance Theatre, Pacific Festival Ballet

Summer Programs: Joffrey Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, Houston Ballet, Kirov Academy of Ballet
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Trainees

hannah 2015Hannah Birdwell
Hometown: Omaha, Nebraska
Training & Experience: Ballet Nebraska II, Motion41 Dance
Summer Programs: Ballet Vero Beach, Joffrey Ballet, Kansas City Ballet, Motion41 Dance, Omaha Theater Ballet

 

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nora-carr-updated
Nora Carr
Hometown: Burnt Hills, New York
Training & Experience: Akjun Ballet Theatre, B.F.A. in ballet from the University of Cincinnati-College Conservatory of Music, Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet
Summer Programs: American Ballet Theatre, Miami City Ballet, Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet

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julie-rose-headshot-updated-2Julie Zukaitis
Hometown: Omaha, NE
Training & Experience: B.F.A. in dance from the University of Arizona, Omaha Academy of Ballet
Summer Programs: Ballet Austin, American Ballet Theater, Royal Winnipeg Ballet, Hubbard Street

 

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