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.

ARTISTIC TEAM

 
 
Elizabeth Hester
Executive Director

Elizabeth Hester, founder of the Wilmington School of Ballet & Dance and the Wilmington Ballet Company, is the Executive Director of US International Ballet. 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

Assistant 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.

8af731-de5ee3ebcef04ccb88a642f170e6091b-

Debra Berger

Faculty

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 and 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.

Kara Wilkes

Faculty

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.

Carlos dos Santos

Guest Faculty

Carlos dos Santos, Jr. is a recognized dancer, choreographer and teacher. He has performed as a principal dancer with major Brazilian and U.S. dance companies, including the Alvin Ailey Repertory Ensemble, Complexions, Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble (US); Grupo Salto, Bale Folclorico da Bahia, Bale Teatro Castro Alves, and DanceBrazil (Brazil), where he also served as a rehearsal director. 
Mr. Dos Santos' choreographic credits include works for Colorado Ballet, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Center, American Dance Festival, Cleo Parker Robinson Dance and DanceBrazil, as well as his own solo performances around the world. 
Mr. Dos Santos has been featured in numerous TV programs as an actor, dancer and model. His TV credits include appearances on PBS (US) and SBT TV (major Brazilian TV network), as well as coverage as a performer and choreographer in news programs around the world. His acting career included Medea Materialis for the New York Fringe Festival, Dream on Monkey Mountain with the Denter Center Theater Company, Chaplin with the Edison Souto Theatre Group, Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands with the Fernando Guerreiro Theatre Group, and Yalorixa, a popular Brazilian soap-opera. 
Mr. Dos Santos has taught at dance festivals, schools and universities around the world, including the Alvin Ailey Repertory Ensemble, The Ailey School, Steps on Broadway, Cleo Parker Robinson Dance School and International Summer Institute, DanceBrazil, Academy of Colorado Ballet, Youth America Grand Prix Ballet and Contemporary Dance Competition for Students, as well as master classes in the U.S., Italy, Switzerland, Egypt, Israel, Turkey, Chekh Republic, Argentina, and Brazil. 

Andrea Aranha

Faculty

Andrea’s early dance training began at the Louisville Ballet School under the direction of Helen Star.  She spent summers training at North Carolina Dance Theater as well as Interlochen Arts Academy, where she was awarded scholarship to attend the year around program.  Andrea completed High School at Interlochen (MI) with a Performing Arts Degree in Dance. 
After high school, she moved to Connecticut to continue her professional dance training as well as study dance teaching.  Andrea received a BFA in Ballet Pedagogy from the University of Hartford’s The Hartt School, where she graduated Magna Cum Laude. During her colligate studies, she had the opportunity to dance in Kirk Peterson’s American Nutcracker with ABT Studio Company as well as soloist roles in Nutmeg Conservatory’s Nutcracker.  Andrea also performed in New York at Steps on Broadway’s Studio Showcase and Alvin Aliey American Dance Theater’s faculty showcase, where she frequently trained. 
While In college and during her professional dance career, Andrea studied Pilates and became a PMA-CT (Pilates Method Alliance Certified Trainer).  She discovered Pilates as a means of injury prevention and cross training, which was both nurturing and complimenting to her dance career.  She specializes in pre and post natal Pilates as well as the rehabilitative aspects of this corrective exercise.
Post colligate studies, Andrea went on to dance professionally with Louisville Ballet (KY) Nashville Ballet (TN) Ballet Quad Cities (IA) and Malashock Dance (CA).  Andrea taught at the Louisville Ballet School and the School of Ballet Quad Cities while dancing for the companies.  While in Iowa, she toured to New York with Deanna Carter, performing in Ballet Builders at Alvin Aliey American Dance Theater (2010). 
She moved to San Diego in 2012 and opened Mint Shape Pilates Studio.  There she trained  people of all walks of life as well as principle and soloist dancers of City Ballet of San Diego, California Ballet, and Malashock Dance.  Andrea continued dancing professionally with Malashock Dance, a modern dance company, until moving to North Carolina last year. 

Stella Johnson

Faculty

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 Ecomomics 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.

219slichter-stacey-380x466.jpg

Stacey Slichter

Faculty

Stacey Slichter is in her seventh season with North Atlanta Dance Theatre.  Stacey most recently danced the lead Wench and lead Topaz in Mr. Garrison's Pirates of the Phantom Waves, as well as, Sugar Plum in NADT's Nutcracker.In 2008 Stacey Slichter performed Myrtha in NADT'sGiselle.  In 2007, she performed the Grand Pas De Deux in Aurora's Wedding from Sleeping Beauty.  In 2005 and 2006, she performed Fate in Michael Garrison's Carmen.  She has also performed Michael Garrison's Echa Pa'Lante solo in NADT's Spring Concert 2005 and Snow Queen and Russina in NADT's Nutcracker 2005 and 2006.Stacey began training in Miami, Florida under the direction of Lynne Dresson, Gloria Gaither and Victoria Leigh.  She spent her summers training at The Houston Ballet Academy.  After attending and graduating from The Harid Conservatory, Stacey joined The Sarasota Ballet of Florida as a company member.  She has also danced professionally with Ballet Eddy Toussaint USA, Ballet Memphis, and Atlanta Ballet, in addition to performing with The Sarasota Opera.  Stacey is currently on the faculty of North Atlanta Dance Academy.  She enjoys teaching ballet to students of all ages.  Stacey is the proud mother of eight year old Maren!

Oscar Sanchez

Faculty

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. His roles there include Le Corsaire, Diana and Acteon, 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.

Raul Peinado

Guest Faculty

Raul Peinado was born and raised in Madrid, Spain. There he

began his dance training on full scholarship with ballet master

Victor Ullate of the Victor Ullate Ballet School, and Cristina

Alvarez at Catedra Alicia Alonso. While in Spain, Raul danced as

a soloist with Ballet Clasico de Madrid for 3 years where he

performed most classical ballet repertoire. He also performed

as a guest dancer with the National Ballet of Cuba in Don

Quixote and Swan Lake.

In 2000, Raul came to the United States and was offered a full

scholarship at the Joffrey Ballet School in New York. He then

joined the Joffrey Ballet Ensemble, where he danced for 5

years. While in New York, he has been a company member of

the following dance companies: Rebecca Kelly Ballet, Dances

Patrelle, Peridance Ensemble, Configuration Dance, and Faune

Dance Troupe. In 2006 he joined the Connecticut Ballet and

performed as a principal dancer there for 3 seasons. Raul

participated in the 2008 Buffalo Dance Festival with partner

and renowned ballerina Misty Copeland in a duet

choreographed by American Ballet Theatre’s Susan Jaffe.

Mr. Peinado participated a guest dancer for two years at the

Fukuoka International Dance Festival in Fukuoka, Japan. There

he was awarded the City Honors Award for outstanding

performance by the city mayor.

Raul has performed as a guest artist for many regional ballet

companies in the United States, including Ruth Mitchell Dance

Theater, Gwinnett Ballet Theater, Alabama Dance Theater,

North Atlanta Dance Theater, Atlanta Dance Theater, Andalusia

Ballet, South West Virginia Ballet, Mobile Ballet and Eglevsky

Ballet. Mr. Peinado also danced for 3 seasons with the Georgia

Ballet, where he was selected to perform leading roles in

George Balanchine’s Dance Fantasy, Apollo, and Serenade.

INFORMATION

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

Press