Photo by Gary Perkins

Photography, Courtesy of

Ballet San Antonio.


Rachael Cierniakoski

Ballet and Pointe Instructor

Rachael Cierniakoski began her dance training at age 8 with the Rafael Grigorian Ballet Theater under Artistic Director and former Kirov soloist Rafael Grigorian. Rachael is a graduate of Mercyhurst University, where she graduated Magna Cum Laude with a B.A. in Dance and Arts Administration. She has also trained through summer programs and residencies with Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, Bruce Marks, Laura Alonso, Vivi Flindt, The Paul Taylor Dance Company, Dutch National Ballet, and Nederlands Dans Theater.

Previously Rachael has performed with and instructed classes for Lake Erie Ballet, has taught college level ballet and pointe classes at Mercyhurst University, and managed and instructed for La Luna Dance Studio, a 600-student school in the Philadelphia area. She currently teaches ballet and pointe at Ballet & Dance of Upstate NY and is the Ballet Mistress & Company Manager for Syracuse City Ballet.


Lynea D’Aprix

Modern, Contemporary and Jazz Instructor

Lynea D’Aprix is a BFA graduate of The College at Brockport. Her artistic style is composed of athleticism, kinesthetic exploration, internal complexity, and of some theatrical influence. She has studied with incredible artists such as William Evans, David Dorfman, Doug Varone, Monica Bill Barnes, Netta Yerushalmy, Arrie Davidson, Alexandra Beller, Laura Peterson, Karl Rogers, James Hansen, and many others. She thrives with innovation, risk taking, and has a persistent curiosity that propels her students and her own evolution as dancers.


Kristen Davis

Jazz and 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.


Melissa Gould

Jazz and Tap Instructor

Ms. Gould has more than 25 years of experience in all disciplines of dance and has been choreographing in the Syracuse area for more than 20 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 also has appeared with the Syracuse Opera. She has choreographed many original works for the Armory Square Candlelight Series, most notably the “Fireman’s Waltz’, as well as Harbor Fests and many other community events. Ms. Gould has appeared on stage with a number of 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 & 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.

Aldo Kattón

Ballet Master

Aldo Kattón Santiago Méndez is a ballet master, choreographer and former dancer with extensive professional experience. He holds two degrees in dance, the first a BFA in Classical Dance from the Escuela Superior de Música y Danza in Monterrey, Mexico and the second a BA in Performing Arts from the University of Guadalajara. Ballet master for Ballet de Jalisco, in Guadalajara under the direction of Dariusz Blajer for four years where he taught company class, rehearsed and coached soloists and corps de ballet as well as helped stage and choreograph many of the company's works. Mr. Santiago also premiered several choreographic works of his own with Ballet de Jalisco: a children's ballet "The Steadfast Tin Soldier," "Idilio" pas de deux, "Akbal," and "Danzón." Guest Artistic director for El Paso Ballet Theater's Spring 2018 Season. Ballet master at Quenedit Ballet School in San Antonio Texas where he taught levels 3 through Pre-Professional. His pas de deux from "Empire," was selected and performed at the San Antonio International Dance Festival by Ballet San Antonio Soloists Heather Neff and corps member Felipe Panamá. Currently, Mr. Santiago is Ballet Master and Company Manager for Syracuse City Ballet and ballet master for Ballet and Dance of Upstate New York.

Maryann Page


Maryann was raised in North Carolina where she studied ballet at the Raleigh School of Ballet and performed the lead and soloist roles with Raleigh Dance Theater. She spent her summers engaged in top level training with the Pennsylvania Ballet, Boston Ballet, Richmond Ballet and the Atlanta Ballet. After graduating from high school, Maryann pursued a BS in Biology at Saint Mary’s College in South Blend, Indiana. During that time, she continued her dancing, performing lead roles with Southold Dance Theater in various contemporary and classical works, including the Nutcracker, Swan Lake and Coppelia. Maryann joined Syracuse City Ballet in 2000 and has performed soloist roles in the company’s productions of Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, Dracula and Cinderella and Snow White. She also choreographed and performed in the 2002 and 2003 Armory Square Candlelight Series. In addition to being a multitalented dance teacher, Maryann holds MS degrees from SUNY-ESF and Syracuse University and is a faculty member in the Biology department at Onondaga Community College.

Felipe Panama


Felipe Panama is a dancer, teacher and choreographer from Guadalajara, Mexico. He began with Brooklyn Ballet and shortly after joined Ballet de Jalisco, in Guadalajara, Mexico under the direction of Dariusz Blajer. There he performed soloist and corps de ballet roles in repertoire such as “Who Cares?" by Balanchine and  “Scheherazade," by Mark Godden, “The Nutcracker,” “The Sleeping Beauty”, “Don Quixote,” “Swan Lake,” “Graduation Ball” “Romeo & Juliet ,” and other works by Ballet Master in Chief Dariusz Blajer like ”Pied Piper of Hamelin” “Notre Dame”and pieces by Aldo Katton “Steadfast Tin Soldier” “Akbal,” “Danzón.”

Corps de Ballet with Ballet San Antonio for their 2018/19 season. He participated in the premiere of Bruce Wells’ “Beauty and the Beast,” and originated the role of Chinese in Easton and Hailey Smith’s new production of The Nutcracker. Featured in the premiere of Yosvani Cortellan’s “Carmen” as one of the four bullfighters. Choreographed, along with Mayim Stiller and Michael Agudelo, “Galileo and the Wonders of the Telescope” for Ballet San Antonio’s Outreach Program.

Felipe Panama holds a BA in Performing Arts by the University of Guadalajara, Mexico. 

Caroline Sheridan


From Michigan, Caroline Sheridan trained in the Cecchetti Method at The Link School of the Arts under the direction of Betty Mitchell.  She went on to attend the University of Utah on scholarship and obtained her BS in Economics and BFA in Ballet in 2013.  While in school, Caroline performed many reputable works including, Val Caniparoli’s ‘Lambarena’, Gerald Arpino’s ‘Birthday Variations’, and Mikhail Fokine’s ‘Les Sylphides’.  Upon graduation, Caroline accepted a contract to perform with Central West Ballet in Modesto, California, under the direction of René Daveluy and Leslie Ann Larson (both former dancers with Ballet West).  While with Central West Ballet, Caroline performed numerous classical ballets including ‘Giselle’ and ‘Swan Lake’.  Caroline distinguished herself in the solo ‘I’ll Build a Stairway to Paradise’ from George Balanchine’s ‘Who Cares?’, receiving critical acclaim from New York City Ballet’s, Zippora Karz.  She was promoted to principal dancer in 2016 and went on to be featured in many roles including the ‘Sugar Plum Fairy’ in ‘The Nutcracker’, ‘Dawn’ in ‘Coppélia’, and ‘Fairy Godmother’ in ‘Cinderella’.  In 2018, Caroline Sheridan relocated to the East Coast to perform as a soloist with Ballet Hartford, in Hartford, Connecticut.  Caroline Sheridan is also an accomplished choreographer; her work has been performed on stages both nationally and internationally.  

Claire Rathbun


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.