Instructors and Staff

Jarina Carvalho – Founder, Artistic Director 

A native of Brazil and American citizen as of 2011, Jarina Carvalho’s early training in Brazil was with the famous “Ballet Vera Bublitz” school. She moved to the United States to complete her classical ballet training on full scholarship at the School of American Ballet in New York City. She then danced with the Dance Theater of Harlem’s Dancing Through Barriers Ensemble, formally joining the Dance Theatre of Harlem (DTH) in 2000. While at DTH, Ms. Carvalho performed lead roles in The Four Temperaments, “Meditation” from Thais, Holberg Suite, and South African Suite. Also dancing in Apollo, Serenade, Concerto Barocco,  as well as other classical and contemporary ballet repertoire.

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In 2004 she moved to New Orleans and performed with New Orleans Ballet Theater, Michele Brangwen Dance Ensemble (during her stay in Houston after Hurricane Katrina), and Chard Gonzalez Dance Theater. In 2009, she received a Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences magna cum laude from University of New Orleans.


Ms. Carvalho has been teaching in New Orleans for 15 years in various schools and as a master teacher.  She has taught at the “Schramel Conservatory of Dance” (2004 to 2012), NOCCA (2006-2014), Galloway Studio of Dance (2010- 2013) and Tulane University Department of Theater and Dance (2012-2014).

In 2015 she opened her own studio, Live Oak Dance, on Oak Street. Her most recent choreographic production with Live Oak Dance is “Clara and her Cosmos,” a twenty-first century take on the traditional Nutcracker. In 2019 Live Oak Dance became the official school of the Marigny Opera Ballet where Jarina is the Ballet Master.

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Shayna Skal – Artist Teacher and Studio Manager
Shayna Skal began ballet under Gay Porter and Bridget Porter Young at the Charlotte School of Ballet in Charlotte, North Carolina, primarily studying the Cecchetti and Royal Academy of Dance methods, ultimately presenting as a candidate for the R.A.D.’s pinnacle Solo Seal examination in 2008, the only American to present that year. Ms. Skal spent summers studying at the Cecchetti International Summer School, as well as the Atlanta Ballet Advanced Intensive, LINES Ballet Pre-Professional Program, and with Burklyn Ballet Theatre as a counselor and dancer.


 After high school, Ms. Skal attended Harvard University, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Physics, cum laude in the field, with high departmental honors, and a secondary field in the Mathematical Sciences. While at Harvard, she danced with the Harvard Ballet Company and the Harvard Department of Dance, working with Tai Jimenez, Jill Johnson, Christopher Roman, and John Jasperse. In 2013, Ms. Skal was the co-recipient of Harvard’s Suzanne Farrell Dance Prize. Ms. Skal then began her professional career with Teatrul de Balet Sibiu in Sibiu, Romania, where she danced for two seasons. She is currently freelancing in the New Orleans area and has performed with New Orleans Ballet Theatre, Jefferson Ballet Theatre, and the New Orleans Opera. Contact Shayna at

Aaron Wiggins – Artist Teacher

Aaron is originally from Houston, Texas where he trained at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in ballet, tap, and jazz from the age of four.

He then went on to attend Marymount Manhattan College obtaining his B.F.A. in dance. While at Marymount, Aaron performed pieces created by Paul Taylor, Twyla Tharp, Emery LeCrone, Loni Landon, Jessica Lang, and Katie Langan. Locally, Aaron has performed with Delta Festival Ballet, Tulane Summer Lyric, Jefferson Performing Arts Society, Komenka Ethnic Dance Ensemble, and New Orleans Ballet Theatre. Aaron’s main passions in life are the creative arts, especially the performing arts.

Lauren Guynes – Artist Teacher

Lauren Guynes is a choreographer, performer, and educator based along the Gulf Coast.  She holds a BFA in Dance
Performance and Choreography from the University of Southern Mississippi, where she choreographed and performed as a member of the Repertory Dance Company. Lauren has been a company member of the Marigny Opera Ballet in New Orleans, LA for the past five years. She is also a resident guest artist with Hub Dance Collective in Hattiesburg, MS and has performed their works at RADFest in Kalamazoo, MI, Dixon Place and DUMBO Dance Festival in New York, and the Chicago Harvest Dance Festival.  She has had the honor of performing Gretchen Erickson’s work at the Women in Dance Leadership Conference in Philadelphia, PA.  Her commercial works include dancing in a DSW advertisement, dancing for the television show “Claws” on TNT, and serving as a movement director for the Disney television series “Sulphur Springs.” Lauren has also been performing with Krewe du Kanaval for the past two years alongside artists Beck, Arcade Fire, and Preservation Hall Jazz Band.

Sophia Rabinovitz- Artist Teacher

Sophia Rabinovitz is a Dance Artist, Choreographer, and Director. Her work and experience has brought her around the world training, creating, and collaborating. She has worked with Uchenna Dance and State of Emergency in London, Jillian Harris in Rome, E’cole Des Sables in Dakar, Senegal, and most recently Krump Studios in Abuja, Nigeria. Sophia is the Founder and Artistic Director of Artivism Dance Theatre; a collective of artists who create socially motivated work. Through this collective, she hosts MOVEment for Change (an open platform for socially engaged artistry) and directs an original work each year. Sophia is also the Choreographer and Movement Director for several local New Orleans artists including the Cole Williams Band and Maedea LadyLaRose. Her work in social activism and dance brings her into the community as a teacher for Young Audiences, Upturn Arts, the Juvenile Justice Intervention Center, and the Community Commitment Education Center. Sophia holds her BFA in Dance and BA in Anthropology from Temple University and her MFA in Dance Cultures from the University of Surrey.

Katie Labadie- Artist Teacher

Katherine Labadie is a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College, where she studied dance under the direction of Sara Rudner and John Jasperse. A native of New Orleans, Katherine grew up training at the Schramel Conservatory of Dance and the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts. She has attended the American Dance Festival, as well as summer intensives at Ballet Austin and Walnut Hill School for the Arts. Katherine has performed in dance festivals in Manhattan and Brooklyn, New York with Alaina Wilson Dance and Catherine Eng, and she is looking forward to performing with New Orleans’ own Marigny Opera Ballet in their 2019-2020 season.

Gretchen Erickson- Artist Teacher

Gretchen Erickson began her formal dance training in the pre-professional division at Louisiana Dance Theatre under the direction of Carol Anglin. With LDT, Gretchen performed at Regional Dance America Festivals, Jazz Dance World Congress, and the Tanzsommer Festival in Austria and Germany. Gretchen has studied at Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, Joffrey Ballet School in New York, and in the BFA program at New World School of the Arts. In 2014, Gretchen received a Leverhulme grant for further postgraduate study at Trinity Laban Conservatoire in London, where she graduated with a Masters of Dance Performance. She toured throughout Europe with Transitions Dance Company performing works by Bawren Tavaziva, Zoi Dimitriou and Miguel Pereira. This is Gretchen’s third season dancing with the Marigny Opera Ballet. She has been teaching Pilates for six years and is an instructor at Romney Studios.

Rebecca Allen- Artist Teacher

Rebecca Allen is a New Orleans native whose artistic career interweaves dance and design.  She began her dance training with the Jefferson Ballet Theatre in Kenner, LA.  She went on to study both dance and the visual arts at Loyola University and the New Orleans Academy of Fine Arts. In 2001, she received her B.A. in Cultural Studies from the University of New Orleans. That same year, she moved to Nashville, Tennessee where she has worked as an artist and educator for the past 16 years with organizations such as the Nashville Ballet, Vanderbilt University, and Metro Parks Dance Division. In 2004 she became the assistant director of modern dance company StillPoint Dance Theatre and performed with the company for 7 years.

Thereafter, she began collaborating as a dancer and instructor with Banning Bouldin and New Dialect, an internationally recognized contemporary dance collective based in Nashville, Tennessee since the collective’s inception in 2012, and more recently as a rehearsal assistant and choreographer.

Her most recent works include Kat 5, a commission by Intersection New Music Ensemble in collaboration with New Dialect, which premiered in Nashville in 2016, and Lighthouse, a collaboration with Intermission and New Dialect, which premiered at Monthaven Mansion in Hendersonville, Tennessee in 2017.

She maintains a studio (RA | Studio) where she designs and creates her own line of functional ceramics.  In her work as a multi-disciplinary artist, Becky loves to explore the intersection of her experience with the visual arts and dance.

She has recently accepted an offer to attend Tulane University in the fall of 2018 to pursue her MFA in Interdisciplinary Dance Performance.

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 Lily Donegan – Artist Teacher

Lily Donegan is a New Orleans native. She has studied dance locally at Live Oak Dance as well as NOCCA.  During her sophomore year Lily decided to study ballet at The Rock School for Dance Education in Philadelphia. She stayed at the Rock school for a year and subsequently moved to Austin, Texas, to dance with Ballet Austin.

Currently Lily studies Mass Communication at Loyola University and she is part of the Loyola dance team.  Last year she auditioned for the “Saintsations” and made it all the way to the finals. After Lily suffered an injury during her ballet career, she has found multiple avenues to keep her love for ballet alive, including instruction. This passion for ballet has brought her back to Live Oak Dance to teach her first love, ballet.

Elle C. Jones- Guest Artist Teacher

Elle C. Jones began her artistic journey in State College, Pennsylvania, where she was inspired by the rolling hills, deep forests, and rich mixture of  arts culture at Penn State University. She grew up training and performing with a pre-professional company, and went on to receive her BFA in dance from Belhaven University in Jackson, Mississippi.  In 2014, Elle was awarded the Bezalel Award for outstanding artistic achievement. In continuation of her dance journey, she began traveling and choreographing nationally and internationally, and eventually settled in New Orleans as a home base where she founded her own company, ELLEvate Dance, in 2018.  Along with directing, Elle performs feature roles with ​MélangeDance Company and is excited to join The Marigny OperaBallet this season.  Passionate about making a difference in the lives of young dance artists, Elle teaches at a variety of after school programs and studios, including Upturn Arts andThe Studio School of Dance.

Grace Hart –  Guest Artist Teacher

Grace Hart, a New Orleans native, began her dance training at Giacobbe Academy or dance studying under Joseph Giacobbe and Richard Rholden. While in New Orleans, Grace performed with Delta Festival Ballet, Tulane Summer Lyric Theater, Jefferson Performing Arts Society and Jefferson Ballet Theater. In 2012, Grace moved to New York City where she attained her BFA in dance from Marymount Manhattan College as well as her 200 hour Yoga Certification from Sonic Yoga. Grace is thrilled to be back in New Orleans to support and teach a new generation of dances. Grace continues to perform with Lightwire Theater, Jefferson Performing Arts Society, and many more.

Christyn Bethune- Marketing 

Marketing, avant-garde styling and fresh approaches are the keystones of Christyn

Bethune’s career.  Christyn has advanced businesses in creative directions for well over a decade, including small boutiques, a law firm, and now a ballet studio.  Her undying love of runway fashion and beauty, coupled with her solid background in styling, small business marketing, and brand management makes her a welcome newcomer to the Live Oak family.

Michelle Ramos-Burkhart – Arts Executive, and Guest Artist Teacher

Michelle Ramos-Burkhart is a retired professional ballet dancer, dance instructor, and a nationally recognized arts leader. 

During her twelve-year dance career, she trained and performed in her hometown of Denver, CO with Larry Boyette, Ballet Arts, Colorado Ballet, and Cleo Parker Robinson. She danced with Dance Theater of Harlem in New York and San Diego Festival Ballet before retiring from her ballet career. She also worked in the commercial arena in Los Angeles for several years. She instructed for eight years with Dancenter in Santa Cruz, CA. She has moved from the stage and studio to behind the scenes where she worked as Executive Director for Ballet Hispanico, Complexions Contemporary Ballet and ran Dance/NYC from 2006-2010. She is an attorney and has recently been appointed as a Trustee of Dance/USA, Washington, DC and Vice-Chair of the Board for Dancing Grounds, New Orleans, LA. She is thrilled to be back in the studio and joining the vibrant dance community of New Orleans.

Christopher Weiss – Guest Artist Teacher

Christopher began his ballet training here in New Orleans with Harvey Hysell. He went on to train at the School of American Ballet before dancing with Boston Ballet and Boston Ballet II. After Boston, he studied at the San Francisco Ballet School and performed briefly with the San Francisco Ballet. Christopher went on to dance with the Houston Ballet, the Cincinnati Ballet and the National Ballet of Canada. He has previously taught at the Schramel Conservatory of Dance and has been teaching at Live Oak Dance for the past year. He is currently a Managing Consultant atWipro Technologies.

Felicia McPhee- Guest Artist Teacher

Felicia McPhee received her early Vaganova training at The Ballet Centre in Salt Lake City, Utah. She continued her dance education with a Bachelor’s degree in Dance from Brigham Young University. There, she was president of BYU’s Ballet Showcase Company and was a member of BYU’s Theatre Ballet Company. Felicia spent a few years in San Francisco dancing as a freelance artist and as a company member with Bay Pointe Ballet, under the direction of Bruce Steivel. Moving to Dallas, she spent two seasons with Contemporary Ballet Dallas and two seasons as a Soloist with Dallas Neo-classical Ballet. This season, Felicia will be dancing with New Orleans Ballet Theatre. She loves teaching and sharing her passion for dance with her students. She believes in the importance of understanding how the body anatomically works and functions in the vocabulary of ballet, and encourages correct usage of muscles, bones, and alignment. Felicia has had many exciting opportunities teaching all over the country, including teaching at Google in California. She feels very fortunate to do what she loves every day and share her passion for dance.


Amanda Kostreva- Guest Artist Teacher

Amanda Kostreva graduated Cum Laude from Barnard College with a BA in History

and a minor in Dance.  While studying at Barnard, Amanda danced and choreographed for the Columbia Ballet Collaborative, where she was a founding member. Amanda is originally from Duxbury Massachusetts and received her training at Jose Mateo’s Ballet Theater.  Amanda toured South Africa with the Cape Town City Ballet and performed with the company in its productions of Le Sylphide and Carmen at the Grahamstown National Arts Festival. Amanda has performed professionally with Brooklyn Ballet, Exit 12 Dance Company, Neglia Ballet Artists of Buffalo, and Jose Mateo Ballet Theatre. Most recently Amanda appeared with the New Orleans Opera in their production of Die Fledermaus.  Additionally, Amanda is passionate about expanding the accessibility of the ballet vocabulary and has conducted dance outreach workshops in a South African juvenile prison and  NYC homeless shelter. Amanda currently teaches first grade at ReNew Schaumburg Elementary School.

Ann Glaviano- Guest Artist Teacher


Ann began her classical ballet training in 1988 at the Lelia Haller Ballet School and her modern dance training in 1999 at the Louisiana School for Math, Science, and the Arts. She has pursued her dance studies across the US and abroad at institutions including the Ailey School, BalletMet, New Dialect, The Ohio State University, María del Puerto Escuela de Danza (Granada, ES), and Tulane University, and with master artists such as Deborah Hay, Jesse Zaritt, and Riley Watts. Recent concert performance credits include productions by

!FLOCK, Shannon Stewart, The NOLA Project, Lightwire Theater, New Orleans Ballet Theatre, and New Orleans Opera Association. Recent clients for commercial work (both choreographed and improvised performance) include Hannibal Buress, Southwest Airlines, and the Mystic Krewe of Hermes. She is a featured dancer in Le Pain, a dance film directed by Meryl Murman and an official selection of the 2015 St. Tropez International Film Festival and the 2015 East End Film Festival in London. Ann made her choreographic debut in June 2015 at the Marigny Opera House with The Bakkhai, for which she also served as the lead chorus.

In June 2013, Ann initiated a collaborative music-and-dance project called Known Mass, aesthetically motivated by devised theater and DIY punk traditions. In June 2014, she directed and performed in her first production, Known Mass No. 1, at the Marigny Opera House. A new performance series, Known Mass No. 2: Out Music in Contact, began in June 2016 at Art Klub and also was featured in the inaugural Fall Dance Festival (2016) at the Mary C. O’Keefe Cultural Center in Ocean Springs, MS. A student of Karl Rogers and Eric Nordstrom, Ann hosts contact improv classes and jams through Known Mass.llet.

Kellis Oldenburg – Guest Artist Teacher  

Kellis McSparrin Oldenburg is a dancer, choreographer, and teacher from Clinton, Mississippi.

In 2010, she received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Dance from the University of Southern Mississippi. Following her undergraduate studies, she moved to New York City to pursue her master’s degree in dance at New York University, graduating from Tisch School of the Arts with an MFA in 2012. Kellis is a former instructor of dance at Belhaven University in Jackson, MS, and at her Alma Mater, USM, in Hattiesburg, MS. She specializes in ballet, contemporary, jazz and musical theater techniques, and she has also orchestrated a freelance choreography business for the past ten years. She is a certified Mind Body Dancer Yoga instructor, she teaches various corporate, group and private Vinyasa yoga classes. Kellis and her husband, Kirk, currently live in New Orleans, where she dances with the Marigny Opera Ballet.

Jarrell Hamilton- Guest Artist Teacher

Jarrell Hamilton is a Mother, Choreographer, Performer, Educator, and Scholar.

Ms. Hamilton holds an M.F.A. in the Interdisciplinary Dance Program from Tulane University and a BFA at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX. Jarrell initiated her studies at NORD/NOBA Center for Dance, N.O.C.C.A.(New Orleans Center for Creative Arts), and has continued her creative endeavors at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, San Francisco Conservatory, Jacob’s Pillow Improv Traditions Institute, American Dance Festival, the Urban Bush Women Summer Leadership Institute and U.B.W. Choreographic Residency. Ms. Hamilton is a seven-time Big Easy Classical Arts Award nominee, 2018 “Best Ensemble” (Ain’t Misbehavin’), 2016 “Best Modern Presentation,” 2013 winner for “Best Contemporary Choreographer” and Coming Up Taller Awardee for President’s Committee and Humanities, Tulane School of Liberal Arts Fellowship Awardee and American College Dance Association Honoree for Choreography. In 2018, Ms. Hamilton presented her first full-length original choreographic work entitled, E P I S O D E S. Recent Credits include, Jelly’s Last Jam (Le Petite Theatre), Ain’t  Misbehavin’ and Bob Hope and Friends ( National World War II Museum), Dooky Chase Foundation 90th Celebration,  E P I S O D E S (Directed and Choreographed by Jarrell Hamilton), Definitive Femme Festival, and Krewe Du Kanaval with Arcade Fire.

John Bozeman- Guest Artist Teacher

John Bozeman graduated from Belhaven University in 2015 with his BFA in Dance Performance and choreography. After graduating he joined the Marigny Opera Ballet in New Orleans where he has been dancing professionally for the past few years. While working with them performed new works such as “Giselle Deslondes” and “Orfeo” by Maya Taylor, “Weary Heat” by Diogo de Lima, “Book of Saints” by Teresa Fellion, and “Tells” by Kellis Mcsparrin-Oldenburg. While in New Orleans he also worked quite closely with Jean Leigh Academy of Dance where he quickly became their lead ballet instructors. During his time there his understanding of Vaganova methodology became even more solidified and he discovered how this powerful technique is even more relevant and necessary in our modern ballet word. During his career, he has also been able to perform in multiple musicals such as “White Christmas”, “Hairspray”, “The Drowsy Chaperone”, “Cats”, and many more. As his time in New Orleans draws to a close he will be returning to Alabama to continue following his passion of teaching while pursuing his Physical Therapist Assistant degree. “I have never known what paths might lay before me but, I have always known that God goes before me to make them clear.


Brittney A. Williams- Guest Artist Teacher

Brittney A. Williams is a dancer, choreographer, and movement coach from New Orleans, Louisiana. She began her formal dance training at the NORDC/NOBA Center for Dance in New Orleans. At the age 15, Ms. Williams was granted a full scholarship to train at the acclaimed Dance Theatre of Harlem Institute in New York City. She has also trained at the New Orleans Dance Academy, N.O.C.C.A Riverfront, and the Ailey School of Dance in New York City on a full scholarship. Ms. Williams has worked with choreographers including Danny Catanach, Monique Moss, Nanette Ladet, Joya Powell, Rebecca Stein and Eduardo Vilaro. In 2009 she received her Bachelors of Arts in Natural Science from Fordham University and has continued her studies in movement science. Ms. Williams hopes to bridge the gap between the art of dance and the science of movement.

Samantha Hope Galler – Guest Artist Teacher

Photo by Daniel Azoulay

Samantha Hope Galler, a native of Bedford, Massachusetts, received her Cecchetti ballet training as a merit scholarship student from The Ballet Academy, Inc., under the direction of Frances Cavicchio Kotelly. Samantha was also a member of the Northeast Youth Ballet for six seasons under the direction of Denise Cecere. She continued training with the Boston Ballet School, on scholarship, receiving the 2007 PAO Merit Trainee Scholarship.In 2006, while training with Boston Ballet, she received the NFAA Honorable Mention Award in Ba

Samantha attended the Boston Ballet Summer Intensive for six summers. She attended Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet for three summers, training under Marcia Dale Weary. In the summer of2012, she trained at the Boston Conservatory in the Forsythe and Nikolais/Louis Modern and Improvisation Techniques. Samantha went on to dance with Cincinnati Ballet during the 2008-2009 season and received the Albano Trainee Fellowship.


 Samantha became an Apprentice with the Alabama Ballet, in 2009, and was promoted to full Company Artist in 2010, eventually becoming a Principal in 2012.  During her tenure with Alabama Ballet, Samantha fulfilled a professional dream by performing the dual roles of Odette and Odile in the 2012 production of Swan Lake.

 In 2014, Samantha joined Miami City Ballet under the direction of Lourdes Lopez. Since joining Miami City Ballet, Samantha has performed as the Sugarplum Fairy amongst other leading roles.


Available for performance and teaching/private coaching opportunities during the offseason. For more information please call 7812235861 or email at