Meet the professional dancers of Grand Rapids Ballet. This wonderful, diverse group includes dancers from around Michigan, across the country, and from locations around the world. Their commitment and dedication to the art of dance and ballet is what makes what we do possible. Learn more about them here and follow us on Instagram, too!

Company photos courtesy of Ray Nard Imagemaker. Headshots courtesy of John Ferraro.


Rowan Allegra

Company Since 2022

Rowan Allegra is a third generation ballet dancer and was raised in the Bay Area. She received her primary ballet training from her parents, Andre Reyes and Cynthia Drayer, former principals with San Francisco Ballet. She went on to train at Boston Ballet School and later at Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School and the San Francisco Conservatory of Dance. Rowan has danced professionally with both Texas Ballet Theater and Indianapolis Ballet before coming to Grand Rapids. 

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Some of her most cherished career experiences include Ohad Naharin’s Minus 16, George Balanchine’s Sonatine, and Valse Fantaisie, Harald Lander’s Etudes, and Aurora in Marius Petipa’s The Sleeping Beauty. Rowan is thrilled and grateful to be joining the Grand Rapids Ballet this season!

James Cunningham

(he/him/his) Company since 2019

James Cunningham is originally from Little Hocking, Ohio. His early dance education began at age 10 from the Mid Ohio Valley Ballet Academy. In 2010, he graduated magna cum laude from the University of Cincinnati. While earning his BFA in dance on full scholarship, he was able to begin his career as a professional dancer with Cincinnati Ballet. His career in Cincinnati spanned 11 seasons with a promotion to Soloist in 2016. Some highlights have been dancing the roles of Mercutio from Romeo and Juliet, Escamillo from Carmen, Country Boy from Fancy Free, Principal Pas de Deux from Rubies, the Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland, Puck from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Kashchei from Firebird, Waltz Boy from Serenade, and the Prince from Cinderella.

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James has had the pleasure to work with and collaborate on new choreography with many choreographers; Adam Hougland, Penny Saunders, Darrell Grand Moultrie, Jennifer Archibald, Justin Peck, Ma Cong, Annabelle Lopez-Ochoa, Septime Webre, Trey McIntyre, Danielle Rowe, Val Caniparoli, Nicolo Fonte, Katarzyna Skarpetowska, Yuri Possokhov, Christoper Stowell, Victoria Morgan, and James Sofranko.

Anderson Da Silva

Company since 2023

Originally from Tampa, Florida, Anderson trained under teachers Paula Nunez and Osmany Montano at America’s Ballet School in his hometown. After graduation he continued his training and studies as a ballet major at Indiana University Jacobs School of Music Opera and Ballet Theater. While his time at IU Anderson performed numerous lead and corps roles like George Balanchine’s Allegro Brillante and La Source, Christopher Wheeldon’s Carousel (A Dance), Jerome Robbin’s N.Y. Export: Opus Jazz and The Concert, and Mark Morris’ Drink To Me Only With Thine Eyes. After graduation Anderson joined Cincinnati Ballet’s second company.

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During his two years at Cincinnati Ballet he performed alongside the main company in Victoria Morgan’s Cinderella and The Nutcracker (Nutcracker Prince and Russian), Jennifer Archibald’s Sit, Septime Webre’s Alice in Wonderland and had the chance to work with choreographers Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, Jennifer Archibald and Amy Seiwart on a few new works created for the second company.

Tyler Diggs

Company since 2023

Tyler, raised in the suburbs of Philadelphia, began his ballet training at age 7 at the Metropolitan Ballet Academy under the direction of Lisa Collins Vidnovic. With the help of their Boys’ Scholarship Program, Tyler studied classical ballet and contemporary dance until 2017, when he received a scholarship at the YAGP Finals to attend The HARID Conservatory where he trained for two years. After graduating from HARID in 2019, Tyler attended Joffrey Academy’s Trainee Program for one year, where he got to perform in George Balanchine’s Who Cares?, staged by Deborah Wingert, and worked with choreographers including Tsai-Hsi Hung, Chanel DaSilva, and Durante Verzola.

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In 2020, Tyler received an offer to join Charlotte Ballet II where he got the opportunity to perform with the company in productions such as Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux’s The Nutcracker and Matthew Hart’s Sleeping Beauty, as well as works by choreographers such as Alejandro Cerrudo, Helen Pickett, and Christopher Stuart. Tyler is super excited for his first season with Grand Rapids Ballet!

Sam Epstein

Company since 2023

Sam Epstein grew up in Saratoga Springs, New York, dancing at the National Museum of Dance School of the Arts. He studied as a Wells Scholar at Indiana University, where he earned a B.S. in Ballet, Outside Field in Choreography, and a Music Composition Minor. There he performed featured roles in works by George Balanchine, Mark Morris, Jerome Robbins, Twyla Tharp, Antony Tudor, and Christopher Wheeldon. Upon graduation, he joined Cincinnati Ballet’s Second Company, performing works by Jennifer Archibald, Gerald Arpino, Jodie Gates, Victoria Morgan, Amy Seiwert, and Septime Webre. As a guest artist, Sam was invited to perform in Confetti as part of Gerald Arpino’s Centennial Celebration at Diablo Ballet’s 29th Anniversary Gala.

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Additionally, Sam has choreographed full length works for both ballet and opera, most recently the world premiere of “Anne Frank” at Indiana University. Sam is very excited to be joining Grand Rapids Ballet for the 2023-2024 season!

Julian Gan

Company since 2022

Julian Wen-Sheng Gan is from Subang Jaya, Malaysia. During the 2021-2022 season, he was a member of the Joffrey Ballet Studio Company in Chicago where he performed works by Sir Frederick Ashton and Gerald Arpino. In 2020, he graduated from The HARID Conservatory in Boca Raton, Florida under the Male Award Scholarship awarded in 2018. He was awarded the Jeannot B. Cerrone Award for Excellence in Dance Performance in May 2020. He also won 2nd place in both the Classical and Contemporary categories (Senior) of YAGP Dallas 2020. In 2019, he won 2nd place and the Margot Fonteyn Audience Choice Award from the Genée International Ballet Competition in Toronto.

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In the same year, he was awarded a gold medal and the Best Performer in Ballet (Senior) from the Hong Kong Challenge Cup 2019. He previously studied with The Kirov Academy of Ballet in Washington D.C. from 2015 -2018. He received the invitation from the Asian Grand Prix International Ballet Competition 2014 which he also won a Gold Medal. In 2015, he was awarded a Silver Medal from the Star of Canaan Dance International Ballet Competition with additional awards such as the Outstanding Male Award and the Outstanding Performance Award.

Julian has performed classical works such as “Seguidillas in Don Quixote”, “Fairy Doll Pas de Trois”, “Flames of Paris Pas de Deux”, “Raymonda Pas De Quarte”, “Flower Festival Pas de Deux”, “The Fountain of Bakhchisarai” and “Valpurgis Night”. He has also performed character works such as “Sirtaki” and “Summer” originally choreographed by Igor Moiseyev. He has worked with choreographers such as; Yoshihisa Arai in “Appalachian Spring”, Mark Godden in works titled “Return, Return Again” and “Conjuring Louis” and Lauren Carey in “The End and Again” which was also performed with Ballet Florida in their 2020 VISION.

Josué Justiz

(he/him) Company since 2018

Josué was born in Cuba where he began studying ballet at nine in his hometown of Santiago de Cuba. When he was 14, he entered the National Ballet School of Cuba in Havana under the guidance of masters Fernando Alonso and Ramona de Saa. During his time there, he was a successful competitor in the International Ballet Competitions of Havana winning one silver and two gold medals. After graduation, he entered the National Ballet of Cuba under the direction of Prima Ballerina Assoluta Alicia Alonso. After only two years with the company, he earned the title of soloist. He came to the United States permanently soon after where he joined the Studio Company of the Washington Ballet.

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In 2014, he joined the former Ballet San Jose under the direction of ballet legend Jose Manuel Carreño. Jose is a founding member of Dimensions Dance Theatre where he collaborated with well-known choreographers such as Septime Webre, Tara Reid, Vicente Nebrada, and Yanis Pikieris.

Talia Lebowitz

Company since 2023, Apprentice 2021

Talia grew up in Agoura Hills, California. She began her ballet training at age 5 with California Dance Theatre, where she trained under Kim Maselli, Colleen O’Callaghan, Patrick Frantz, Romy Karz, and Francine Kessler. In 2018, Talia attended Kansas City Ballet School’s summer intensive on a full scholarship and was invited to join their Daytime program under the direction of Grace Holmes. After one year in KCB’s school, she was asked to join Kansas City Ballet as a trainee. While in KCB’s trainee program, Talia had the opportunity to perform in Devon Carney’s productions of The Nutcracker and Swan Lake. In addition, Talia performed the second solo in Vectors, choreographed by Parrish Maynard as well as the Nutcracker Grand Pas de Deux, Black Swan Pas de Deux, and Four Little Swans in various outreach performances.

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In 2018 and 2019 Talia placed 2nd at YAGP in the senior classical division. She has also attended summer intensives with the Joffrey Ballet (New York,) Ellisons Ballet, American Ballet Theatre (New York,) and the Tiler Peck summer intensive.

Sarah Marley

(she/her/hers) Company since 2019

Ms. Marley was born on St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands, training in the Cecchetti Method with Sonja Dickerson-Faust and Heidi Wright. She continued her training under the direction of Peter Stark with the Orlando Ballet School and was accepted into the trainee program at age fourteen, performing in the corps de ballet alongside the professionals. Ms. Marley was invited by the legendary Fernando Bujones to join the company in 2004 and danced with the company for the next six seasons. That same year she became part of the Orlando Ballet School faculty, teaching various levels and adult ballet classes regularly.

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Ms. Marley has also danced with the San Diego Ballet, Company C Contemporary Ballet, the San Diego Opera, Chicago Repertory Ballet, and Smuin Ballet. Through the course of her career, Ms. Marley has performed soloist and principal roles in classical and contemporary works by Marius Petipa, George Balanchine, Twyla Tharp, Michael Smuin, Maurice Causey, Helen Pickett, Bruce Marks, Amy Seiwert, Patrick Corbin, Kenneth von Heidecke, and Garrett Ammon among others.

Alexandra Meister-Upleger

(she/her/hers) Company since 2018

Alexandra trained under Ana Lobe in Ohio until 2008 when she joined Nashville Ballet. She danced with the company until 2018, during which time she performed principal roles in Nashville’s Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake, Dracula and Cinderella. She also performed leading roles in ballets by Christopher Bruce, Jiri Kylian, and Paul Vasterling, and had the pleasure of working with Christopher Wheeldon, Brian Enos, James Gregg, Darrell Moultrie, Gina Patterson, Sarah Slipper, James Sewell, and Christopher Stuart. In 2018 she joined the Grand Rapids Ballet. Performance highlights have included Principal Girl in Balanchine’s Allegro Brillante, Clara in Val Caniparoli’s The Nutcracker, Mrs. Alving in Ibsen’s House and the ensemble of Trey McIntyre’s Wild Sweet Love.

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She was honored to perform two world premieres by James Sofranko, Ballade and The Sweet By and By, set on her. In the summer of 2016, performing a pas de deux, she represented the USA at the 27th International Ballet Competition in Varna, Bulgaria. Previous solo competitions include the 2010 USA International Ballet Competition in Jackson, Mississippi, and the 2011 Boston International Ballet Competition. Besides teaching for the past 10 years, Alexandra coaches and choreographs for both competitive and pre-pro ballet schools.

Yuka Oba-Muschiana

(she/her/hers) Company since 2011

Yuka was born in Japan where she received her training from Hitomi Takeuchi Ballet School. In 2006, she attended English National Ballet School in the UK where she also danced many soloist roles. Upon graduating, Mario Radacovsky invited her to join the Slovak National Ballet where she danced a variety of roles such as Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux by George Balanchine, Spring lead lady in Four seasons by James Kudelka. Yuka was then invited to join Grand Rapids Ballet in 2011 where she has since danced many principal roles in ballets by George Balanchine (Serenade, Allegro Brilliant, Who Care’s?, Rubies and Four Temperaments)…

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Marius Petipa (Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake), Yuri Possokhov (Firebird), Ben Stevensen (Cinderella), Val Caniparoli (Ibsen’s House, The Nutcracker), Christopher Stowell (A Midsummer Night’s Dream), Trey McIntyre (Wild Sweet Love), Adam Hougland (Cold Virtues), Annabelle Lopez Ochoa (Written and Forgotten, Memorias del Dorado, Dangerous Liaisons), Alejandro Cerrudo (Extremely Close), James Sofranko (Romeo & Juliet Balcony Pas de Deux), Nicolas Blanc (Aquatic Hypoxia), Katarzyna Skarpetowska (Off the Canvas), Daniella Rowe (For Pixie), Olivier Wevers (The Sofa, Midsummer), Mario Radakovsky, Jennifer Archibald, David Parsons, Jose Limon, Kirk Peterson, Brian Enos, Sagi Gross, Andrea Schermoly, Norbert De La Cruz and Penny Saunders. Yuka has won many competitions in Japan including NBA All Japan Ballet Competition, Saitama All Japan Dance Competition, UB All Japan Ballet Union Competition, International Ballet Competition in Yokohama, and others. In 2013, Yuka had the honor of performing Olivier Wever’s The Sofa at the Joyce Theatre in New York and reprised her role in Seattle. Yuka performed Le Corsaire Pas de Deux in the gala at The National Theatre in Tokyo and the Pas de Deux from Le Carnaval de Venise in Fukushima. In 2014, Val Caniparoli choreographed Clara on Yuka for the world premiere of The Nutcracker. She also choreographed for Grand Rapids Ballet since 2015 such as Wave, Eriha, Death and Maiden, Tomorrow Never Comes and Chansons de Bilitis. 2021 Virtual season Yuka had the opportunity to choreograph, direct and film her piece “sol and luna”.

Emily Reed

(she/her/hers) Company since 2018

Emily Reed is from Monee, Illinois and began dancing when she was three. She studied at Faubourg School of Ballet followed by the Ruth Page Center of the Arts, where she trained under beloved ballet master Larry Long and Birute Barodicaite. Emily attended various summer intensives across the country on scholarship and was one of the first trainees for Joffrey Ballet in Chicago. Emily spent 2010–12 in the Milwaukee Ballet II program where she performed a wide range of repertoire with MBII and in the main company productions. For six seasons Emily was with the Minnesota Ballet dancing such roles as Lucy in Dracula, Titania in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Aurora in Sleeping Beauty, and George Balanchine’s Who Cares? and Tarantella before joining the Grand Rapids Ballet in 2018.

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Some of her favorite performances with GRB include Trey McIntyre’s Wild Sweet Love, Clara in Val Caniparoli’s The Nutcracker, Alejandro Cerrudo’s Extremely Close and one of the principals in Adam Hougland’s Cold Virtues. Original works Emily had the pleasure of being a part of include Darrell Grand Moultrie’s Three Offerings, Danielle Rowe’s November, and James Sofranko’s Two Tangos.

Claudia Rhett

(she/her/hers) Company since 2022, Apprentice 2020

Claudia Rhett is from Nashville, Tennessee and attended summer intensives on scholarship at the School of American Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet and The Chautauqua Institution. As an Apprentice at Chautauqua, she performed with Nashville Ballet and Charlotte Ballet and was coached by Patricia McBride for the role of the Dark Angel in Balanchine’s Serenade. Claudia attended Indiana University Ballet Theatre on scholarship and graduated in 2020 with Distinction, earning a Bachelor of Science in Ballet with an Outside Field in Business Studies.

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She was a member of IU’s Hutton Honors College, and a teacher for the IU Pre-College Ballet Program. Her most notable performances while at IU were soloist and principal roles in George Balanchine‘s Walpurgisnacht, Martha Graham’s Diversion of Angels, Mark Morris‘s Sandpaper Ballet, Antony Tudor’s Dark Elegies, and Twyla Tharp’s Deuce Coupe. Claudia joined Grand Rapids Ballet as an Apprentice in 2020 and has since performed corps de ballet roles as well as Arabian/Coffee in The Nutcracker, the Winter Fairy in Ben Stevenson’s Cinderella and the Dark Angel in George Balanchine’s Serenade.

Isabella Salas

Company since 2023

Originally from Ann Arbor, Michigan, Isabella first trained at Ballet Chelsea under Wendi Dubois before earning a scholarship to Miami City Ballet’s pre-professional program. After graduation, she continued her development as a trainee for Cincinnati Ballet where she danced in numerous company productions including the roles of snow and flowers in The Nutcracker and the swan corps in Swan Lake. In 2021, Isabella joined Ballet Austin as a Butler fellow and was promoted to Ballet Austin’s second company the following year.  She performed in multiple corps roles in Steven Mill’s Nutcracker, Swan Lake, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Cinderella, and the acclaimed Light/ The Holocaust and Humanity Project.

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Isabella also had the opportunity to dance the role of Russian Demi soloist in George Balanchine’s Serenade as well as interpreted the lead role of Maria in Maria and the Mouse Deer, a children’s ballet based on a Filipino folk tale. Isabella is thrilled to be joining Grand Rapids Ballet as a company member and is eager to work under the direction of Artistic Director, James Sofranko as well as with the talented dancers of GRB.

Rena Takahashi

Company since 2023

Rena Takahashi began her training at Hitomi Takeuchi Ballet in Japan when she was 3 years old. At 16, Rena was offered a full scholarship at The Rock School for Dance Education. While at The Rock School for Dance Education, Rena appeared in numerous performances and workshops including The Nutcracker, Flames of Paris and Paquita and Don Quixote. Rena has placed Top 12 at The Youth America Grand Prix Final several times and has also won numerous regional First Place awards in both Classical and Contemporary categories.

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Furthering her training with summer courses and short term studies, Rena attended Academie Princess Grace, Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet School, the Australian Ballet School and the Dutch National Ballet Academy, all on full scholarship. Rena has also returned to Hitomi Takeuchi Ballet as a teacher and guest performer, dancing in a variety of classical and contemporary work.

Nigel Tau

(he/him) Company since 2016, Apprentice 2015

Nigel began dancing at age 10 with The Academy of Dance in his home town of Savannah, Georgia. In 2013, he became a trainee with Next Generation Ballet, and performed in the school’s own productions as well as with Opera Tampa and the Florida Orchestra. He went on to train with BalletMet on a full scholarship, where he performed and rehearsed alongside the company in shows such as The Great Gatsby and The Nutcracker. Since he started working with the company in 2015, he has been a part of tours to Kalamazoo, St. Louis, and Seattle, and performed in pieces such as Paul Taylor’s Company B…

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Annabelle Lopez Ochoa’s Dangerous Liaisons, and Penny Saunders’ The Happy Price and Other Wilde Tales. In his time with the company has also had the privilege of working with choreographers such as Brian Enos, Jennifer Archibald, Dani Rowe, and Bruce Wells, among others. His first work, Errant Thoughts, debuted on the company in 2019.

Tristan Toy

Company since 2023

Tristan Toy was born in New York City and raised in the Bay Area. He started dancing at the age of nine at Dance Arts Center under Berle Davis and Jayne Zaban. He later attended Ruth Asawa School of the Arts’ Dance Program under Elvia Marta and Andrea Hinman while dancing with Academy of Ballet San Francisco under Zory Karah and Richard Gibson, both in San Francisco, CA. After graduating high school, Mr. Toy was a part of Boston Ballet School’s inaugural Post Graduate Program under Peter Stark and Kathleen Mitchell where he performed in Boston Ballet’s Duke Ellington’s “The Gift”. While in Boston he participated in Ballet Unleashed’s first creative project Switchback, working with choreographer Cathy Marston to create a solo.

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For the past two years, he was a part of BalletMet 2 under Edwaard Liang and Olivia Omardien. While there he performed pieces with the company such as Edwaard Liang’s Murmurations, Tributary, Cinderella, Dorothy and the Prince of Oz, Giselle, and Swan Lake as well as David Nixon’s Dracula and Gerard Charles’ The Nutcracker. Mr. Toy attended USA IBC XII in Jackson, Mississippi where he was able to perform Satanella as well as Symphonic Dances choreographed by Edwaard Liang.

Adriana Wagenveld

(she/her) Company since 2019, Apprentice 2017|18, Trainee 2015|2016

Adriana is originally from Puerto Rico, and started her training at the age of 3 after her family moved to Illinois. She trained at two different studios over 12 years, and competed and placed in the Top 12 at YAGP, in both classical and contemporary categories. Adriana attended Grand Rapids Ballet’s Summer Intensive on scholarship in 2015. From there, Patricia Barker invited her to join the professional company. While dancing under Patricia, Adriana worked with many renowned choreographers such as Robyn Mineko Williams, Danielle Rowe, Annabelle Lopez Ochoa and Bruce Wells. She performed in several classical ballets, Balanchine’s Serenade being among her favorite…

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Under the direction of James Sofranko, Adriana has had the honor of performing works such as Testimony by Penny Saunders and Trey McIntyre’s Wild Sweet Love, and had the pleasure of working with Alejandro Cerrudo for his work Extremely Close.

William Wisneskey

Company since 2023

Will was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana, where at age 12, he told his parents he wanted to “try ballet.” Soon after, he accepted a full scholarship to train year-round with the American Ballet Theatre Gillespie School. During COVID, he joined the Houston Ballet Academy’s “ballet bubble” to continue year-round training and graduated from the Academy in 2023.  In addition to performing in main stage Houston Ballet and Academy productions, Will has been a featured guest in lead roles with Richter Ballet, Victoria Ballet, and Ballet Taos, including creating original works with New York City Ballet’s Jock Soto. He is thankful to his parents and sister for their fierce support of his ballet ambitions.

Nathan Young

(he/him) Company since 2018

Originally from Little Rock, Arkansas, Nathan began his training at the age of 13 at the Arkansas Academy of Dance. He attended summer training programs such at Ballet West, Joffrey Ballet, and Long Beach Ballet. In 2013, Nathan graduated from the University of Oklahoma, where he received a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in Ballet Performance. Nathan then moved to Nashville, Tennessee, dancing for the Nashville Ballet for four season. He has performed in notable works by Christopher Wheeldon, Jiří Kylián, Jennifer Archibald, Trey McIntyre, Val Caniparoli, Danielle Rowe, and Yuri Possokhov.


Mila Garza

Christina Henares

Jacy Klein

Isaac Lee

Ashley Rosendahl

Serafina Wagenveld

Sterling Waterfield


Amara Duke

Mia Hanflig

Alena Harrison

Keira Holland

Amber Huggett

Emily Kneussle

Caden Santander

Caitlin Sendlenski

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