Faculty

Peggy Peabody

Artistic Director & Founder

Peggy

Ballet Petit's Artistic Director Peggy Peabody has been involved with ballet for most of her life.

At the age of seven, she had already been dancing for three years. At this time, she chose to focus on classical ballet under the watchful eye of her first ballet teacher, Tricia Kaye, the Director of the Lido Ballet School and soloist with the Oakland Ballet. Miss Kaye often took Peggy around the Bay Area on weekends to attend various Master Classes, even at the young age of ten.

Peggy added to her early performance experiences at the Regional Festivals of Dance, Lido Ballet School productions, and Oakland Metropolitan Ballet Company's annual productions of The Nutcracker. Even as a young dancer of the age of eight, Peggy was featured on many local ballets as a demi-soloist and in mini-solos. Spending long days in the theatre became a favorite way to spend her childhood days.

Peggy enjoyed many honors as a young dancer, including dancing the lead role of Clara in the 10th Anniversary production of OMBC's The Nutcracker in 1970. In 1972, Violette Verdy of the New York City Ballet granted Peggy the prestigious Ford Foundation Scholarship. Two years later, Peggy began studying at the San Francisco Ballet School year round. As a high school senior in 1977, she began teaching ballet to preschool children two days a week. This is where Ballet Petit had its humble beginnings. In 1983 she opened Ballet Petit in an 800 square foot suite in a local shopping center. She continued to dream of a large classical ballet school where all could share their love for classical ballet as she continued to do. In 2013 her hard work paid off and the dream came true.

Peggy continues to be a lifelong learner herself. In addition to attending classes when she accompanies dancers to the Bartholin International Ballet Seminar at the Royal Danish Ballet Theatre in Copenhagen, Denmark, she takes classes at Steps on Broadway while in New York, and attends classes at Berkeley Ballet Theatre each week. These experiences fuel her passion for classical ballet, while keeping her teaching fresh and progressive.

Peggy's philosophy is simply that ballet is an art form for everyone to access and appreciate. Ballet Petit's foundation and culture are based on this belief. Ballet Petit has survived pressures to turn ballet into sport and competition. Peggy has enjoyed over 3 decades producing Ballet Petit's beloved Nutcracker. As the longest running Nutcracker performance in the East Bay, dancers and audiences have had the opportunity to enjoy this heartwarming holiday ballet written for children - and at Ballet Petit - performed by children. She also directs a Spring Concert production each year for an additional stage opportunity for the dancers.

Peggy earned her Liberal Arts degree from Holy Names University and teaching credential from Cal State University in Hayward, now CSUEB. In addition to teaching and managing Ballet Petit, Peggy also enjoys teaching elementary school full time in Hayward Public Schools.

In 2008, the Alameda County Board of Supervisors and The Alameda County Commission on the Status of Women honored Peggy Peabody with the prestigious "Women's Hall of Fame" award for Arts and Culture.

Ballet Petit is Peggy's life's dream. She wishes to thank everyone who has helped create what it has become, while welcoming the new faces that will keep Ballet Petit a special place where dancers are respected and encouraged as thriving young artists.


Darlene Spinardi Brower

Assistant Artistic Director

Darlene

Darlene is the assistant artistic director of Ballet Petit. She has been teaching at Ballet Petit since 1987, and teaches students at all levels - from three-year old Twinkle Toes to advanced pre-professional dancers. Just about everyone at Ballet Petit has taken a class from Darlene.

In addition to assisting in the many ballet performances at Ballet Petit, such as The Nutcracker, Swan Lake, Cinderella, Coppelia, and Sleeping Beauty, Darlene is also credited with the choreography of several original ballets for Ballet Petit's Junior Company. Teaching at Ballet Petit is a dream come true for Darlene because she can share her passion and love of ballet with her students.

Darlene has been dancing herself since she was three years old, and she and Peggy danced together as children at the Oakland Metropolitan Ballet. Darlene has toured with Ballet Celeste and studied at the Joffrey Ballet School in New York. She has studied under many renowned ballet instructors, including Ronn Guidi, Vern Nerden, Suzanne Gibson, Richard Gibson, and Ann Bena.



Joy Gim

Joy

Having achieved artistic success in the world of ballet, dancer Joy Gim brings her expertise and joy of dance to aspiring ballet dancers throughout the Bay Area, including right here at Ballet Petit.

As a principle dancer of the Oakland Ballet for 18 years, Ms. Gim danced many lead roles including Myrtha in Giselle; the Other Woman in Jardin Aux Lilas; the Sugar Plum Fairy, Snow and Rose Queens, and Arabian Coffee in The Nutcracker; Zobeide in Scheherazade; the Glove Seller in Gaite Parisienne; and the lead dancer in Nijinska's Bolero. Her other famed moments include appearing as spokesperson for the Oakland Ballet on KTVU Fox Two - Mornings on Two, profiling on ABC 7 - KGO TV's Profiles of Excellence, and modeling for San Francisco Focus Magazine.

Following her retirement from the professional scene in 1998, Ms. Gim has taught many master ballet classes for studios throughout the Bay Area, including Oakland Ballet Academy, Marin Peninsula Ballet, Lamorinda Ballet Center, Vallejo Ballet Conservatory, Shawl/Anderson Dance Center, and most recently, Ballet Petit. She also teaches private lessons and on special request, coaches dancers for specific roles.


Omar Shabazz

Omar

Omar began his dance training at Oakland Technical High School with teacher Lauren Manduke in 1987. It was through Oakland Tech's after-school programs that he met Ronn Guidi. And the rest, as the say, is history. Omar danced for the Oakland Ballet until 1997. He performed key roles such as Nephew/Prince, Snow Cavalier, Rose Cavalier, and Sugar Plum Cavalier in The Nutcracker; Paris and Benvolio in Romeo and Juliet, and Blackamoor in Petrouchka.

Omar has been working with the students at Ballet Petit for more than 16 years, teaching partnering classes with his good friend and fellow dancer Ben Barnhardt. He has appeared in Ballet Petit productions of Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Giselle, and Swan Lake. In January 2003, Omar started teaching a men's ballet class at Ballet Petit, as well as intermediate level classes.


Sharon Yap

Sharon

Sharon started dancing at the Phil-Am Ballet School in the Philippines when she was just five years old. When she was 9, her family re-located to the San Francisco Bay Area and later enrolled her at the Santa Clara Ballet School. There, she was trained by Josefa Villanueva and the late Benjamin Reyes, both formerly of the San Francisco Ballet. While at the Santa Clara Ballet School, Sharon danced a variety of roles in productions of The Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty, Scuola di Balleto, and Peter and the Wolf.

In high school, Sharon broadened her stage experience by performing with the James Logan Dance Ensemble, and taking part in the school's theater programs, which included such productions as West Side Story and A Chorus Line. In addition, Sharon danced one season with the Santa Clara Vanguard and performed in their rendition of Miss Saigon.

In addition to teaching at Ballet Petit and working as a director for Montessori School of Fremont: Children's House, Sharon regularly contributes to many non-profit organizations such as Ohlone College Foundation, Boy Scouts of America, Rotary Clubs and Business Associations of Fremont. She currently serves as a board member for Fremont's Citizens for Better Community and is an associate board member for the Fremont Education Foundation, and is a founding member of Filipino-American Democratic Club of Alameda County.

Sharon makes incredible artistic contributions to Ballet Petit productions, which she describes as an "obsession with visual effects and projection on stage." Sharon has been teaching at Ballet Petit since 1996.


Nicole (Curry) Butner

Nicole

Nicole began dancing at the age of four at Happy Times Nursery School. She received all of her training during her elementary and teen years from Peggy Peabody and Darlene Brower at Ballet Petit. Nicole attended San Francisco Ballet School's summer program and was accepted into their year round school, but decided to remain at Ballet Petit. She attended Boston Ballet School's Summer Program and studied with Sally Streets at Berkeley Ballet Theater.

Nicole received her Bachelor of Arts in Dance from San Jose State University in 2002. During this time she performed with the modern dance company, UDT, under the direction of Gary Masters of the Limon Company; and the musical theater company, Company One, at SJSU. At graduation from SJSU, Nicole was awarded Outstanding Senior and was asked to perform her senior solo at the School of Music and Dance's graduation ceremony.

She has appeared in opening acts for several performers in the Bay Area, such as Pink, Mya, 98 Degrees and Nina Skye. She has also been in various trade shows for companies such as Mervyns and Redken, and performed as Velma in the Scooby Doo Show at Paramount's Great America.

In addition to her work at Ballet Petit, Nicole continues to train and choreograph.


Melissa (Bass) DeLeon

Melissa

Melissa began her dance training with tap at the age of 5. After 6 years of taking class and performing, she was inspired by her mom to try ballet. She began dancing at Ballet Petit at 11 years old and performed in her first Nutcracker just a few short months after beginning. She fell in love with ballet and greatly enjoyed taking class and performing. She had the opportunity to perform in Cinderella, La Bayadere, The Nutcracker, Twelve Dancing PrincessesM, Swan Lake, and many more ballets during her time at Ballet Petit. Her favorite roles include Angel Princess in The Nutcracker and Fairy of the Woodland Glades in Sleeping Beauty.

Melissa graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and Minors in Spanish and Dance from San Jose State University in May 2013. While at SJSU, she studied under the instruction of Gary Masters and Heather Cooper. She also takes classes from Kristine Elliott, former professional dancer with ABT and the Stuttgart Ballet in Germany. While at SJSU, she expanded her dancing repertoire to include Ballroom Dance. She joined San Jose State's competitive ballroom team in January 2011 and has competed very successfully in Waltz, Foxtrot, and Tango. Under the instruction and guidance of Bud Ayers and Robin Horn, Melissa learned American Smooth, Latin Rhythm, and Standard ballroom dances. She also assisted Ayers in teaching Salsa and Beginning Ballroom lessons at the Mountain View Community center for one year.

Melissa has experience teaching ballet to dancers of all ages and is excited to be teaching at Ballet Petit. She looks forward to sharing her love of and passion for dance with her students.


Brenna Richards

Brenna

Brenna Richards began dancing in 1988 at Pam Gibson's Dance Studio in Pleasanton, California. During her time at Pam Gibson's, she learned ballet, jazz, hip-hop, and tap dance. She also participated in competitive dance for thirteen years. In 1995, Brenna transitioned to Valley Dance Theatre and began taking ballet classes taught by Betsy Hausburg (former Syracuse and Hartford Ballerina) and Margaret Kenrick (former Pacific Northwest Ballerina). While at Valley Dance Theatre, Brenna performed in The Nutcracker for 20 years, as well as in many other full-length ballet productions. She also has experience in flamenco, ballroom, contemporary and modern dance.

She started teaching and choreographing in 2001, when she discovered her deepest passion within dance and since then attended teaching seminars at Tremaine and Pacific Northwest Ballet Company. Brenna was formerly the Children's Division Director at Valley Dance Theatre where she taught all levels of ballet, created a syllabus, and choreographed performances. She enjoys teaching ballet to children and adults of all ages. Brenna considers herself a conceptual artist and highly values organization, education, and the art world. Brenna's class motto is to work hard, have fun, and practice.

Email: Brenna Lynn Richards


Reagan Aragones

Reagan

Reagan was discovered by the Colorado Ballet co-founders Lillian Covillo and Friedan Parker. Shortly after beginning her training in the Vaganova method at seven years old, Reagan was awarded a full merit scholarship. Under the tutelage of Artistic Director Martin Friedman, Reagan began to dance en pointe at the very young age of eight years. She performed in many ballet productions such as Sleeping Beauty, Don Quixote, Les Sylphides, Cinderella, and The Nutcracker. Throughout it all, Reagan attended both middle and high schools for the Performing Arts in Denver.

Reagan also competed in The Denver Ballet Guild's Young Dancers Competition; she placed second in 1990 and first place in 1991. Reagan was awarded a full scholarship to dance at City Ballet in San Francisco with Damara Bennett (former principle dancer with San Francisco Ballet). Reagan was also accepted to study with the Boston Ballet in a summer intensive workshop. Later, Reagan went on to study with the Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble in Denver, adding modern and jazz to her dance repertoire. Reagan has a passion for teaching and choreography, as well as a real love for children. Reagan teaches everything from Parent and Me, creative movement, and beginning/intermediate/advanced and adult ballet.

Reagan has fallen in love with Ballet Petit and couldn't be happier to be a part of the team.


Marte Madera Osiris

Marte

Marte Osiris Madera was born in Guadalajara, Mexico. He danced professionally with renowned local dance companies, including Oakland Ballet, Menlowe Ballet, Margaret Wingrove Dance Company, and sjDANCEco. His past professional credits include Lustig Dance Theater of New Jersey, Ktdavisdance, Western Ballet, Man Dance Company/SF, and Central West Ballet (where he performed in the Nutcracker, Coppelia, Cinderella, and Romeo and Juliet). With sjDANCEco, he has performed Jose Limon's The Winged, There is a Time, Missa Brevis, Mazurkas and choreography by various Bay Area artists. He has also performed Speaking Ill of the Dead with Robert Moses Kin/SF and Donald McKayle's Hearts of the Disinherited.

Marte has a BFA in Dance from San Jose State University, where he was given the award for "Most Outstanding Graduating Senior". While attending SJSU, his choreography was selected for adjudication at the American College Dance Festival. Through his time in college, he performed in various shows for Modesto Junior College's Off-Balance Dance Company and for San Jose State University's dance ensemble University Dance Theater. In addition to dancing, he has taught both ballet and contemporary dance at the Allegro Performing Arts school of San Jose and contemporary dance at Oakland Ballet's summer program.

Most recently, Marte choreographed a contemporary piece for Central West Ballet, and is currently choreographing for San Jose State University's contemporary dance ensemble University Dance Theater.


Rachel Kumaar

Rachel

Rachel began dancing ballet when she was almost three years old, and started dancing at Ballet Petit when she was 5 years old. Through the years she has danced in over two dozen performances at Ballet Petit. A couple of the more coveted roles that she has performed include the Crystal Fountain Fairy and the Chinese Princess. While she was in high school she assisted Ballet Petit's own Darlene Brower with the Twinkle Toes (ballerinas age 3-4 years old) and fell in love with working with little ones.

Through the years, the love of dance has followed Rachel wherever she went. While living overseas in India, Rachel had an amazing opportunity to teach ballet to a group of children. To be able to teach at Ballet Petit, where she learned to dance, is a dream come true!

Rachel received her degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders from Biola University, and works full time as a behavior therapist for children with autism. Rachel has a heart for children and she wants to help each one reach her/his fullest potential. Rachel has worked with children ever since she was young, from volunteer work to being a camp counselor, team leader, art teacher, and even as a performer at children's birthday parties. If there is one thing Rachel loves as much as dancing, it is being around children.


Support Staff

Lillian Kautz

Lillian began her dance training at Ballet Petit at the age of 8 years old. At Ballet Petit, Lillian performed such roles as the Sugar Plum Fairy and Snow Queen in The Nutcracker, Swanhilda in Coppelia, Aurora in Sleeping Beauty, and Odette in Swan Lake Act 2. Additionally, Lillian has trained and performed at summer intensives with such professional organizations as American Ballet Theater, the Royal Danish Ballet, and Indiana University.

Lillian has earned a BA in Theatre Arts with a dance emphasis from Santa Clara University as well as a degree in Communication. She is the recipient of both the SCU Dance Scholarship as well as the Quinn Martin Theatre Scholarship. Awards received include and the Anna Halprin Dance for Excellence in Dance and an Awareness of Community Values and the Jeustin T. McCarthy Oratory Award for Excellence in Film & Visual Expression 2014. Her internship was at Disney World Epcot Center. In 2009, Lillian received a special commendation from CA Assembly Majority LeaderAlbert Torrico for Outstanding Achievement in the Arts

In recent years Lillian has branched out into musical theatre, performing in multiple shows with Starstruck Theatre such as Guys and Dolls, Legally Blonde, All Shook Up, and Shrek the Musical, as well as participating in other productions such as Footloose.


Lauren Juan

Lauren started dancing in preschool with Peggy Peabody as her teacher. At the age of seven, Lauren decided to focus strictly on ballet and was dancing en pointe by the age of nine.

Lauren was cast as Clara in Ballet Petit's 1991 production of The Nutcracker. The following summer, she was accepted to a six-week intensive summer study program with the San Francisco Ballet. Lauren was honored when offered the chance to study ballet full time in San Francisco; however she chose to resume her studies at Ballet Petit.

Lauren has enjoyed dancing lead roles in Giselle, Rumpelstiltkin, Coppelia, Don Quixote, Sleeping Beauty, Pas de Quatre, and many others.

She danced the coveted role of Sugar Plum Fairy in Ballet Petit's The Nutcracker for three consecutive years. However, her ballet career came to a halt shortly after high school. After surgery on her foot, doctors advised her she could no longer dance. That didn't stop her - it just changed the direction of her dance career. She has completely enjoyed changing from dancer to teacher at Ballet Petit.

In addition to her life at Ballet Petit, Lauren has her degree in English from UC Berkeley and earned her teaching credential from Cal State Hayward. She taught English for a year in Bangkok, Thailand.


Sarah Martin

Sarah began dancing at Ballet Petit when she was just four years old. It was at Ballet Petit that she fell in love with the art and dance, and especially the story-telling aspect that classical ballet encompasses. She graced the stage at Ballet Petit in roles such as Sugar Plum Fairy, Arabian Princess, Rat Queen, and Angel Princess in The Nutcracker, Nikiya in La Bayadere, Cinderella in Cinderella, Myrtha in Giselle, and the lead role Coppelia in the ballet of the same name, Coppelia. It gives her great joy to share her love of ballet now with her students at Ballet Petit.

During her dance career, Sarah attended a host of summer intensive programs at Contra Costa Ballet, Lines Ballet, and the Bartholin International Ballet Seminar. At Lines, Sarah performed a solo in Alonso King's Rite of Spring. At the Bartholin Program at the Royal Danish Ballet, Sarah had the honor of performing a variation from August Bournonville's La Ventana. The following year, she was awarded a full scholarship to attend the program the following summer.

Sarah recently graduated from UC Irvine with a BA in both Biological Sciences and Dance. One of the many wonderful opportunities she was able to participate in at UCI's dance program was performing excerpts from William Forsythe's Artifact Suite.


Leah Dorman

Leah Dorman began dancing at Ballet Petit at the age of 4. Since then she has been in 25 productions by Ballet Petit, playing roles including the wolf from Peter and the Wolf and a stepsister in Cinderella. She generally enjoys portraying the villain rather than the heroine in storytale ballets but endeavors to avoid becoming these characters offstage. She has also choreographed for the Ballet Petit productions Shall We Dance, Elements, A Tribute to Youth, and Seasons.

At the age of 14, Leah began helping out with the twinkle toes class at Ballet Petit. In 2009 she began to substitute teach, and in 2010 became a long-term sub for one of Miss Lillian's classes. Leah greatly enjoys teaching ballet classes due to the unusual ability to focus exhibited by young ballerinas.

In her spare time, Leah studies and tutors biology and chemistry at Ohlone College. She plans to transfer to a UC in the fall of 2013.