The US International Ballet, diverse and innovative, ushers ballet into the twenty-first century. Sold out audiences are captivated by cutting edge choreography interlaced with digital film and visual effects. USIB is the only professional company in America that guarantees every first and second company dancer a professional contract.

Health, inclusion, and innovation are the three pillars of the US International Ballet. Our company recognizes body diversity as a key pillar of dancer wellness. We give every company member the opportunity to dance professionally and perform extraordinary choreography. Innovation is the cornerstone of every USIB performance. Visionary Artistic Directors create mesmerizing ballets through a brilliant combination of choreography, film, and visual effects. USIB brings ballet into the modern age by combining the technical prowess of the classical art form with the technology and imagination of the twenty-first century.



Elizabeth Hester
Executive Chairman/Founder

Elizabeth Hester, founder of the Wilmington School of Ballet & Dance and the Wilmington Ballet Company, now serves as the Executive Chairman of USIB. Her goal in establishing these companies was to provide many opportunities to students in the Lower Cape Fear Region of NC for quality dance education.​​ Hester was a soloist with Raleigh Dance Theater and a former faculty member of the Raleigh School of Ballet. Hester studied at the Atlanta Ballet as a scholarship student, the Walnut Hill School of the Arts, North Carolina School of the Arts, East Carolina Dance Program, and the Richmond Ballet; and has a degree in Civil Engineering from NC State. 

Aunika Browne
Executive Director

After dancing her whole life, Aunika opened Studio A of Wilmington in 2017. With the vision of a studio that accepted kids of all backgrounds and levels, Studio A began to thrive in a family friendly atmosphere. After working with USIB in their production of The Nutcracker, Aunika quickly fell in love with their mission of acceptance, as well. Aunika is excited to bring her passion for dance and business experience together as she continues to expand USIB’s legacy for diversity across Eastern North Carolina.

Debra Berger


Debra Berger began her professional career at the age of nine when she performed with the New York City Ballet Company. Debra was a student at The School of American Ballet and performed with the company in The Nutcracker, a Midsummer Night’s Dream and Harlequinade. She studied modern at the Alvin Ailey School, as well as jazz with Luigi, Charles Kelly and Nat Horne.

Growing up in New York City she had the opportunity to study acting at HB Studios and voice with some of the greatest teachers in musical theater. Her performing credits also include: A Chorus Line, West Side Story, I Ought To Be In Pictures, and Educating Rita. As a director, choreographer, and teacher, Debra has traveled extensively, teaching ballet and jazz in the U.S. and Brazil. Debra is a certified Teaching Artist with Dancing Classrooms. She recently moved to Wilmington, and is thrilled to contribute to the performing arts in our community.

Stella Johnson


Stella studied with Nicholai Morosov and Ludmila Morkovina, both graduates and professors of the Vagnova Institute and Maly Theater (Mikhaylovsky) in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Madame Morkovina also taught at Kirov Academy of Ballet and currently still teaches at the City Dance Center at Strathmore in North Bethesda, MD. Mrs. Johnson also danced under the direction of Francoise Adret, Paris opera, French ballet dancer, teacher, choreographer, and company director of the National Ballet of Panama. She studied under Estrella Kadiaj, who had danced with Bejart. She studied with Henry Danton from the Royal Ballet as a guest Margot Fonteyn from Panama. Stella performed professionally with the National Ballet of Panama and Ballet Concierto. She performed in the following ballets: Swan Lake, La Bayadere, Les Sylphides, Paquita, Dying Swan, and many more.

In addition to Mrs. Johnson's extensive ballet background, she acquired a B.S in Economics and a Masters in Human Resources, which opened an opportunity for her to work for HR Information Systems with the Navy and Office of Personal Management for 30 years. Married with three children, Mrs. Johnson now resides in Wilmington and teaches at the Wilmington School of Ballet and Dance.

Oscar Sanchez


Oscar Sanchez was born in Havana, Cuba in 1991 and started dancing at the age of 15 at The National Ballet School "Ena." After graduation, Sanchez continued on to The National Ballet of Cuba where he danced many roles, including Hilarion from Giselle, principal Mazurka in Coppélia, Majisimo, and others. After arriving in the United States, he joined The Cuban Classical Ballet of Miami where he still continues to dance as a guest principal. There he performed in Le Corsaire, Diana and Actaeon, Don Quixote, Fairy Doll, Firebird, Les Sylphides, and Paquita. He was principal dancer with the Columbia City Ballet for the 2014-2015 season. In January 2015, he received the Award for “Best Dancer of Miami” at the Miami Life Awards. Sanchez is currently in his fifth season with The Washington Ballet, where his repertoire includes Black Swan pas de deux, Le Corsaire pas de deux, Cavalier in The Nutcracker, Mercutio and Tybalt in Romeo and Juliet, as well as featured roles in Balanchine’s Allegro Brillante, Serenade, Theme and Variations, Cunningham’s Duets, Ratmansky’s Bolero, Kylian’s Petite Mort, Taylor’s Company B, and Webre’s Carmina Burana. He dances in galas all over the world, most recently in Costa Rica, Mexico, New York City and Miami.

Kara Wilkes


A native of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Kara Wilkes began her professional career performing classical and contemporary work for five seasons with Milwaukee Ballet Company. In 2006, she became a soloist for Victor Ullate Ballet in Madrid, Spain. In 2007, she joined North Carolina Dance Theatre (now Charlotte Ballet), where she danced leading roles for four seasons. Wilkes was named one of “25 to Watch” by Dance Magazine in 2009, and joined Alonzo King Lines Ballet in 2011. During her five seasons with Lines, she was named one of “12 Standout Performances of 2015” by Pointe magazine. In 2016, Wilkes choreographed works for the Lines BFA program at Dominican University and for Midland Festival Ballet in Texas. She has taught all levels of dance, including master classes at East Carolina University, UC Santa Barbara, and in Dublin, Ireland. Kara will begin pursuing her MFA in Dance at Hollins University this summer.

Alycia Fell

Office Manager

Alycia is the the office manager of USIB.  She has been a part of the Studio A family since it opened in September 2017. Over the past three years, she has become more involved in working closely with Aunika Browne, the owner, and now works as the office manager. She is the mother of two girls: Alexis who cheered with All Star Cheer at Studio A and Brianna who competes on the company Dance team there. As a young child she took dance in a small town in New York where she grew up. Alycia has worked in some form of management for the past 20 years and looks forward to supporting and helping the company dancers here at USIB.   


Message from Executive Director Elizabeth Hester
Message from Executive Director
Dancers pointe of view
Dancers pointe of view


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The Great Wilmington Nutcracker

US International Ballet

2250 Shipyard Blvd #4


Wilmington, NC 28403



Tel: (910) 208-0765

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