Instructors & 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 point classThrough Barriers Ensemble, formally joining the Dance Theatre of Harlem (DTH) in 2000. While at DTH, Ms. Carvalho performed lead roles in The Four Temperaments, Apollo, Serenade, Concerto Barocco, Holberg Suite, South African Suite,  “Meditation” from Thais as well as other classical and contemporary ballet repertoire. In 2004 he 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. oracleMs. Carvalho has been teaching in New Orleans for 13 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 has been on faculty with Tulane University Department of Theater and Dance since 2012. 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.

Christopher Weiss – 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 at Wipro Technologies.

Michelle Ramos-Burkhart – Arts Executive, and Artist Teacher 

burkhart_michelle_001_HiRezMichelle Ramos-Burkhart is a retired professional ballet dancer, dance instructor, and 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!

Sarah Jane Duax – Artis Teacher

Sarah Jane Duax is an adjunct professor of Dance at Tulane University.  She is a local 10341712_10152124861956440_4733524112985527344_ndancer, choreographer, and teacher.  She received her MFA in Dance from the University of Iowa. She is originally from Buffalo, NY where she studied and performed with the Buffalo Ballet Theater.  She continued her studies with the Joffrey Ballet, Pennsylvania Ballet and Hysell Ballet. Locally she has performed with New Orleans Ballet Ensemble, New Orleans Dance, Hysell Ballet and New Orleans Dance Collective. She has recently become a Franklin Method Practitioner and uses the Franklin Method in her ballet teaching and life.

Diogo De Lima – Artist Teacher14329984_10101149497858899_4325802718894834294_n

Diogo de Lima received training in music, theater, and dance at Conservatório Maestro
Julião in Sao Paulo, Brazil and also attended the Royal Academy of Dance of London and the Toshie Kobayashi Academy of Dance. He has received many awards for his dancing and choreography, both in Brazil and internationally. He was most recently nominated in 2003 for the prestigious Rolex Mentor and Protege Arts Initiative. He began dancing professionally in 1996 and has appeared as a guest artist with several dance companies in Brazil. Among others, Mr. de Lima has worked with choreographers Ana Bottosso, Ivonice Satie, Eduard Bonnis and Ilara Lopes. In 1999 he joined Grupo Corpo Brazilian Dance Theater and performed with that company until 2006 under choreographer Rodrigo Pederneiras. He has performed in theaters and dance festivals all over the world.

Felicia McPhee- 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.

Shayna Skal – Guest Artist Teacher
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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 13882119_10101452606057720_6118338430807830870_nAtlanta 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.

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 preformed at Regional Dance America Festivals, Jazz Dance World Congress, and the Tanzsommer Festival in Austria and Germany. Gretchen has studied at Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, Joffery 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.

Amanda Kostreva- Guest Artist Teacher

Amanda Kostreva graduated Cum Laude from Barnard College with a BA in History img_8893copy-2and 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.

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 Ballet.

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 of 2012, 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.dsc_0058

 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.

img_0713-3Available for performance and teaching/private coaching opportunities during the offseason. For more information please call 7812235861 or email at

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.

Ann Glaviano- Guest Artist Teacher

thumbnail_ann-6Ann began her classical ballet training in 1988 at the Lelia Haller Ballet School and her modern dance trainng 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 DSC_0039productions 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 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.

Kellis Oldenburg – Guest Artist Teacher  black waist up

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. 

Christyn Bethune- Marketing and Registration

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.