MEET THE DANCERS

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Ariana Serrano
First Soloist

Ariana Serrano is from Hermosa Beach, CA and trained in classical Vaganova technique with Olga Tozyiakova of Perm Ballet School. Ariana was awarded in the top 24 senior classical category at the Youth America Grand Prix 2013-2017, and also competed in the Tanzolymp International Dance Festival Berlin in 2014 and 2016. As a trainee at State Street Ballet she performed roles such as the Mirliton soloist (Nutcracker) and Paquita in the trainee performance of the Paquita Grand Pas. At USIB she has had the pleasure of performing soloist roles in the Nutcracker (Mirliton, Snow, Waltz of the Flowers), as well as Dorothy (Wizard of Oz), and Helena (Midsummer Night’s Dream).

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Jessica Plaskon
Soloist

Jessica Plaskon began her training at four years old with Dance For Joy in Brielle, New Jersey under the direction of Caryl J Voorhees. In 2012, she continued her education at the University of Maryland where she received a Bachelor of Arts degree in post-modern & contemporary dance. She additionally performed, directed and choreographed in a student-led ballet company. While at UMD, Jessica had the privilege of attending master classes led by Kyle Abraham and Camille A. Brown. Jessica joined the Ballet Theatre of Maryland in 2016 where she danced as a Trainee for two seasons and performed in many company productions including Excalibur, Grand Tarantella, and Aladdin. Jessica joined USIB as a first company member in 2018. She was promoted to a Demi-soloist in 2020 & to a Soloist in 2021. During her time with USIB, Jessica has performed roles such as Snow Queen and Dewdrop Fairy in The Nutcracker, the March Hare in Alice in Wonderland, Fairy Soloist Moth in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Carmen in the Carmen Pas de Deux. Jessica is proud to have been with USIB since its early founding and enjoys continuing to be part of its growth and evolution.

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Rachael Smith
Demi - Soloist

Raised in Lancaster PA, Rachael began her dance training at Encore Dance Center. She began training intensively during her time there and had the pleasure of working with the Encore Performance Company, as well as several other intensives over the summer months.Rachael continued her dance training and attended Florida Southern College in Lakeland, Florida. In 2021, Rachael graduated with a B.F.A in Dance Performance & Choreography, and a minor in Accounting. Within her time at Florida Southern College, Rachael was able to perform at several unique venues. Examples include Jacob's Pillow, Polk Museum of Art, and American College Dance Association, to name a few. Rachael has also had the pleasure of being accepted into various Master's programs focused on Dance Performance. Since performing is Rachael's passion, she has deferred her acceptance into a Masters program at this time. After professionally performing for a few years, she plans on returning to school and continuing her education. Rachael began dancing with USIB in May of 2021 as a second company member. She had the pleasure of performing several roles within her first season. Beginning her second season with the company, Rachael was promoted to demi-soloist. She is very grateful for how far she has come and is excited for the future!

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Amy Allen
Second Company Member

Amy was born and raised in Stockton, New Jersey. She began dancing at age 3 at a local studio where she trained in tap, jazz, ballet, contemporary, modern, and hip-hop. She received her formal ballet training at New Jersey School of Ballet in high school; after which she danced at Princeton Ballet School and was a trainee with American Repertory Ballet. She has attended intensive programs at New Jersey Ballet, American Repertory Ballet / Princeton Ballet School, and The French Academy of Ballet. Her performances include corps de ballet roles in The Nutcracker, Giselle, Cinderella, Don Quixote, and Swan Lake. Amy graduated summa cum laude from Rider University and continues to tutor professionally. She began dancing with USIB as a second company member in September 2022.

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Katharine Marianacci
Second Company Member

Katharine Marianacci began her ballet training at Degnan Ballet Center in Northeastern Pennsylvania under the direction of Kristin Degnan-Boonin. As a dancer at Degnan Ballet Center, Katharine had the opportunity to perform many notable roles including Clara, Ice Princess, and Dewdrop Fairy in the Nutcracker, a Cygnet in Swan Lake, and Ariel in the Little Mermaid. Katharine has also served on the faculty at Degnan Ballet Center, teaching ballet technique and pre-pointe classes. Katharine attended summer intensive programs at American Ballet Theater and Joffrey Ballet School in New York City. She also trained with E. Laura Hausmann at Lehigh University and Yu Hong at Pennsylvania Classical Ballet in Easton, Pennsylvania. In June 2022, Katharine was selected to compete in the Valentina Koslova International Ballet Competition Finals in New York City. She has also modeled for All About Dance and Discount Dance print catalogs and online stores. Additionally, Katharine earned her bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Wilkes University and her master’s degree in Counseling Psychology from Lehigh University. She continues to work as a Therapist and Career Coach part-time while pursuing professional ballet.

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Eduardo Flores Ochoa
Soloist

Eduardo was born in Mexico City and began to dance at the age of 5 at Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Mexico. He continued his dance training at Academia De la Danza Mexicana in Mexico City, performing in the Sugar Plum Fairy Pas de Deux, Le Corsaire, and Sleeping Beauty. He was a INBA-UAM Prix Finalist in 1992 with the company En Dos Partes, with the piece XXY. Eduardo danced with Ballet Independiente from 2006-2011 and Ballet Clasico de Sinaloa from 2012-2016. His notable roles include Basilio and Spada (Don Quixote), Hilarion (Giselle), Sugar Plum Cavalier (Nutcracker), Prince Desiree (Sleeping Beauty), Prince Siegfried (Swan Lake), and Conrad an Ali (Le Corsaire). Eduardo began dancing with USIB as a soloist in May 2022, performing Don Jose in Carmen and Espada in Don Quixote. Besides his work as a dancer, he also became a Capoeira professor in 2010. Eduardo has a passion for teaching and has taught ballet, contemporary dance, and capoeira.

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Katherine Hotinger
Demi - Soloist

Katherine started dancing at a local studio in her hometown of Lexington, VA when she was twelve years old. She spent her summers training at the Richmond Ballet and the Joffrey Ballet. Katherine continued her dance education under the direction of Tauna Hunter at Mercyhurst University in Erie, PA. While there, she studied with notable guest artists including Laura Alonso, Virginia Johnson, Nilas Martins, and others. After college Katherine danced as a soloist with Connect the Dots Dance Company in Washington DC, as well as freelancing and teaching. In 2019 she joined USIB as a Second Company Member, was promoted to First Company in 2020, and is currently a Demi-Soloist. Since joining the company, Katherine has performed soloist roles including Paquita (title), Dark Princess in The Little Mermaid, Arabian in The Nutcracker, and Bathilde in Giselle. In addition to dancing, Katherine is a teacher at Wilmington School of Ballet and the YMCA.

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Destiny Lockard
First Company Member

Destiny Gorcie has trained extensively with the Royal Academy of Dance at Mount Airy Performing Arts Center in Maryland. She has also studied under the tutelage of instructors from Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts, Ballroom Dance in Frederick, Costa Mesa Dance, Dance Theatre of Lynchburg, Roanoke Ballet Theater, and most recently with Ballet Aresko in Lynchburg, Virginia. Destiny attended the Joffrey Ballet School’s six week Summer Intensive program. Throughout the years, Destiny has passed Royal Academy examinations through Grade 8 with merit and distinction, and competed in both ballet and ballroom styles of dance. Her passion and love for dance has shown her that with faith, dedication and support, any dream is attainable; and she strives to consistently share these principles with everyone around her. This will be Destiny’s fourth season with USIB, and she is ecstatic to be a part of the dream and mission that is the foundation of USIB.

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Gracie Mientka
First Company Member

Gracie began her ballet training in 2015 at the Colorado Ballet Society in Colorado Springs. She danced as a member of the Colorado Youth Ballet Company from 2015-2021. During this time, she trained under the instruction of director Patty Hoffman and with Ahita Ardalan Bergman of the Paris Opera Ballet. As a dancer with Colorado Youth Ballet, Gracie got the opportunity to perform in many wonderful ballets. Some of her notable roles include Shepherdess from the Nutcracker, the Diamond Fairy from Sleeping Beauty, and Soldier Doll in The Nutcracker. In 2020 Gracie graduated summa cum laude with an Associate of Arts degree from Community College of Denver. She is also an ABT® Certified Teacher, who has successfully completed the ABT® Teacher Training Intensive in Pre-Primary through Level 3 of the ABT® National Training Curriculum. Gracie joined USIB in 2021, and has since had the opportunity to perform in The Nutcracker and be featured in roles such as the Paquita Pas de Trois in A New Beginning. She is ever so grateful and excited to dance with this company and pursue her passion and drive for ballet.

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Isabella Kaup
Second Company Member

Isabella began her dance training at age 3 with Hilton Head Dance School under the direction of former American Ballet Theatre principal dancer, Karena Brock. While she was here for 15 years, she was also taught by Jamal Edwards and former Fosse Dance Captain, Kathleen Watkins. While training, Isabella attended summer intensives at University of South Carolina, University of North Carolina School of the Arts, and Carolina Ballet. While with Hilton Head Dance School, she had featured roles in performances such as Paquita, Stars and Stripes, Swan Lake, and The Nutcracker. She began dancing with USIB in 2021 and has performed notable roles such as Spanish lead in The Nutcracker and Carmen in A New Beginning. Isabella is very excited to be dancing with USIB for another season.

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Sara Darian Todd
Second Company Member

Sara started dancing at the age of 2 and a half. She was competitively trained until the age of 13. At that point, she started her ballet training with South Florida Dance Company in South Florida. When Sara was 15 she won third place at the Universal Ballet Competition (UBC). In Sara’s senior year of high school she performed as Mrs. Cratchit in a Christmas Carol and Ursula in the Little Mermaid. After high school, Sara continued her training with the Joffrey Ballet School Training Program in Frisco, Texas in 2019. While being back In her hometown from March of 2020 to August 2021, she worked with Wings to Fly Dance Company. The company’s main focus is to give disabled people the opportunity to dance and be on stage with the company members. Sara started with USIB in Fall of 2021 as a Second Company member. Sara is currently working on getting certified in yoga. She hopes this will help her further her dance career and give her more opportunities to teach.