Kristen Davis, Ballet and Dance of Upstate NY

Kristen Davis

Tap instructor

Kristen began her dance training at the age of 7 and spent many years training with Ballet and Dance of Upstate NY. As a member of the Syracuse City Ballet, formerly Upstate NY Ballet, she performed Corps de Ballet roles in several productions including Snow White, Peter Pan, Aladdin, and Dracula and performed both corps and soloist roles in the 2001 production of Sleeping Beauty. Kristen went on to study dance and biology at William Smith College in Geneva, NY. She now holds a Masters of Science degree from Syracuse University in Nutrition Science and is a Pediatric Registered Dietitian at Upstate University Hospital. Kristen periodically holds nutrition workshops for dancers and is available for individual nutrition counseling for both children and adults.

Samantha Dougherty, Ballet and Dance of Upstate NY

Samantha Dougherty

Hip Hop, Jazz, & Contemporary Instructor

Samantha has a BA in Wellness Management and was born and raised in Central New York. As a dancer, choreographer, and educator with a community arts focus of 28 years, Samantha teaches with energy, investment and integrity, while creating an environment that promotes discovery through dance. She has studied ballet, jazz, lyrical, hip hop, modern/contemporary and tap dance disciplines in a number of area dance schools for the past twenty years. From 2006 to 2009, she was a member of “The Light of the World” professional ballet Company, under the directorship of Ashley Rollinson. During that time, Samantha had the opportunity to perform in venues all over New York State, as well as in China. While in China, she had the privilege of promoting the arts through dance in several school districts located in southern China and tourist venues in Beijing. She has choreographed musical productions including Christmas and Easter presentations, “The Sound of Music”, dance ensemble pieces for community events for the “Festival of Nations” and the Syracuse City Department of Parks & Recreation. From 2010- 2012, Samantha taught dance in the after-school programs in the Liverpool School District. Not only a dance competition judge but head judge in the New York District Youth Convention Fine Arts Festival for the past 12 years. In addition to the aforementioned dance styles, she has also studied Ballroom and Latin for the past nine years and has performed in many regional exhibitions in Argentine tango, rumba, cha cha, waltz, quick step, foxtrot, and jive.

Melissa Gould, Ballet and Dance of Upstate NY

Melissa Gould

Jazz & Tap Instructor

Ms. Gould was born and raised in Syracuse, New York and has more than 30 years of experience in all disciplines of dance and has been teaching at Ballet & Dance of Upstate NY for more than 25 years. Her areas of expertise include lyrical and commercial style jazz, funk, tap and character dance, as well as set and costume design. Ms. Gould has appeared in Syracuse City Ballet’s productions of Swan Lake, Snow White, Cinderella, and Dracula, and has appeared with the Syracuse Opera. She has choreographed many original works for the Armory Square Candlelight Series, most notably the “Fireman’s Waltz’, a tribute to
9/11, as well as other festivals, corporate occasions, and many other community events. Ms. Gould has appeared on stage with several various schools and performing arts companies including Sophisticated Productions, dancing with such names as Gus Giordano and Mark Santoro. In addition to her instruction with Ballet and Dance, she has been a consultant for local gymnastic dance teams. A devoted teacher who emphasizes technique, dedication and discipline in a fun and exciting atmosphere, Ms. Gould is an asset to the staff of Ballet and Dance of Upstate New York.


Lucy Hamilton

Ballet Instructor

Lucy began dancing at the age of three with her mother and later enrolled with the school of First State Ballet Theatre in Wilmington, Delaware. There she performed with the company in the Nutcracker, Swan Lake, Giselle, Sleeping Beauty, Coppelia, and Don Quixote, and also worked with Boston Ballet’s resident choreographer Victor Plotnikov in his original choreography of Pinocchio.

 At 16, Lucy moved to Florida to train at the Sarasota Cuban Ballet School with Ariel Serrano, Wilmian Hernandez, Delia Ballart, and Tania Vergara Pérez, as well as Roberto Machado of La Escuela Superior de Musica y Danza de Monterey, and Ramona De Saa and Ana Julia Bermudez, of the Cuban National Ballet School. While at SCBS, Lucy performed principal and soloist roles such as Sugar Plum, Dew Drop, Peasant Pas de Deux, Paquita Grand Pas Deux and Pas de Trois, La Bayadere, the Awakening of Flora, Mercedes in Don Quixote, and other classical variations and contemporary works. In 2015 Lucy won silver in the Encuentro Internacional de Academias in Cuba, and performed the lead in Tania Pérez’s Caminos at the same festival in April 2017. 

In 2017 Lucy joined Ballet San Antonio and performed in The Enchantress in Bruce Wells Beauty and the Beast, Snow Queen in Easton and Haley Smith’s Nutcracker, Fate in Yosvani Cortellan’s Carmen, Giselle, and George Balanchine’s Rubies. In 2019 Lucy joined Texas Ballet Theatre’s Studio Company under Ben Stevenson OBE. There she performed in Stevenson’s Sleeping Beauty and The Nutcracker with the company, as well as other classical and contemporary works with the studio company. This is Lucy’s First seasons with Syracuse City Ballet. 

Claire Solis, Ballet and Dance of Upstate NY

Claire Solis

Ballet & Pointe Instructor

Claire grew up dancing at Ballet and Dance of Upstate  NY. There, she trained and performed in many full length ballets with the company. At 16 years old, she was accepted and attended the Rock School for Dance Education in Philadelphia where she trained for two years. At the end of her second year, she competed in the Youth American Grand Prix and won the silver medal  dancing the Black Swan Pas de Duex. Following the competition, Claire was offered a position with the Washington Ballet, and danced under the direction of Septime Webre for two seasons. Claire moved to New York City  the following year and began pursuing musical theatre. She started her Broadway career by being in the lab production of a new musical called “Little Dancer” directed by Susan Stroman. In 2017, she made her Broadway debut in “CATS” the musical playing Victoria, and closed the run after being with the show for 9 months. Since then, she has been guesting with ballet schools and companies around the US. Most recently, Claire   toured America with the Broadway national tour of Anastasia. Past roles with Syracuse City Ballet include: Aladdin: Jasmine, Snow White: Snow White, Peter Pan: Wendy.

Abigail Stewart, Ballet and Dance of Upstate NY

Abigail Stewart

Ballet & Pointe Instructor

Abigail Stewart was born in Jackson, Mississippi and began her dance training at age three with the Mississippi Metropolitan Ballet. After relocating to N.Y. in 2005, she began training with Ballet and Dance of Upstate, N.Y. Under the artistic direction of Kathleen Rathbun, she performed in the Syracuse City Ballet's first Nutcracker, and was featured as a soloist in productions of Snow White, Cinderella, The Sleeping Beauty, and Swan Lake.  In addition to attending summer programs with the Nutmeg Conservatory of Ballet and The Rock School for Education, Ms. Stewart attended the pre-professional division of The Rock School for Dance Education in Philadelphia, P.A. 2017-2019. Under the artistic direction of Bo and Stephanie Spassoff, she competed in the Youth American Grand Prix, performing variations for La Esmeralda and Aurora Act I, and was awarded as a top 25 finalist in the Philadelphia competition. In 2018, Ms. Stewart trained with IBStage in Barcelona, Spain. At the IB Stage Gales, she was featured in performances of Absence of Light, Defile, and Le Corsaire under the artistic direction of Elias Garcia and Luis Arias. During the 2019-2020 season, she trained with BalletMet, performing in Giselle, Le Corsaire, and the Nutcracker, under the artistic direction of  Edwaard Liang. In August 2020, Ms. Stewart became a corps de ballet member of the Columbia Classical Ballet under the artistic direction of Radenko Pavlovich. This is Ms. Stewart’s first season with the Syracuse City Ballet. She looks forward to beginning a new chapter in her life and professional career. 

Diana Torba, Ballet and Dance of Upstate NY

Diana Torba

Modern Instructor

She grew up in Central New York and is a graduate, magna cum laude, with both dance and political science majors, of Barnard College, Columbia University. Diana produced dance in every venue imaginable across New York City, throughout the NorthEast, and on two international and one West Coast tours. She is the creator of more than 50 original danceworks.

Ms. Torba is delighted to return to CNY and bring her vision to our communities with her new project, SpeakDanceCNY, and to share her endless enthusiasm for classical modern dance techniques and history with the incredible community at Ballet and Dance Arts of Upstate NY!

Reynu Wood, Ballet and Dance of Upstate NY

Reynu Wood

Ballet Instructor

Reynu Wood was raised in Cary, North Carolina where she received her training from Cary Ballet Conservatory under Mariaelena Ruiz and Heather Iler. While at Cary Ballet, she had numerous opportunities to work with renowned choreographers as well as attend international ballet competitions and events. Reynu attended summer intensives at The Rock School, Miami City Ballet, and The Bolshoi Ballet Academy on merit-scholarship. As a student, her repertoire consisted of many classical roles such as Kitri in Don Quixote, The Sugarplum Fairy from The Nutcracker, and the Paquita Pas de Trois to name a few. She also was featured in contemporary works, one of them being “Winter” by Duncan Cooper. Upon graduating in 2020, Reynu became an apprentice with Ballet Fantastique and later relocated back to the east coast. This is Reynu's first season with Syracuse City Ballet.