Teaching Staff

Rebekah von Rathonyi

​Artistic Director 

A native of Rochester, New York, Ms. von Rathonyi, her husband Joshua, and their children, have called Peoria home for over eighteen years. She began her dance training at the age of 8 with the Botsford/Orcutt School of Dance, the sister school to the American Ballet Theater, under the direction of Mikhail Baryshnikov. She studied under Luba Guleava and Maria Moglivesky, both graduates of the Kirov Ballet and Bolshoi Ballet. After her initial training, she studied ballet at the Draper Center for Dance Education, school to the Rochester City Ballet, under Timothy Draper and Sally Steppnes. As a young dancer, she received full scholarships to National Ballet School in Toronto Canada, Pittsburgh Ballet School, and Boston Ballet School. At fourteen years of age, Ms. von Rathonyi joined Compania Nacional de Danzá in Mexico City under the direction of Fernando Alonzo, husband to renowned Cuban ballerina, Alicia Alonzo. In 1994, she was accepted into the year-round apprentice/trainee program at The Rock School of the Pennsylvania Ballet. She enjoyed her time with the company, performing in many of Pennsylvania Ballet's productions, including several of George Balanchine's ballets. Upon returning to New York, Ms. von Rathonyi joined Rochester City Ballet as a principal dancer performing numerous principal roles in Nutcracker, Cinderella, Don Quixote, Firebird, and Gaite Parisian.  At this time, Artistic Director Timothy Draper suggested she start teaching ballet, thus began her extensive teaching career. 

Ms. von Rathonyi served as Acting Artistic Director to the Flower City Ballet for two years. During this time, she raised student enrollment, began an inner city scholarship program for underprivileged children and helped produce a full length Nutcracker and Spring production. She was invited to join the Rochester City School of the Arts public high school as an Artistic Consultant. While teaching dance to grades 9-12, she formulated a curriculum which included classical ballet technique, pointe, dance history, and music theory. 

Ms. von Rathonyi served as the Academy Director to the Peoria Ballet for almost ten years, she also served as Interim Artistic Director for two years. She performed principal roles in Nutcracker, Firebird, Giselle, Dracula, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Cinderella, Romeo & Juliet, and the Principal female in Balanchine’s Valse Fantasie. Ms. von Rathonyi raised the caliber of the Academy by instituting a pre-professional training program for the aspiring dancer and instituted a full class syllabus and curriculum for all levels of ballet. In 2010, she directed Peoria Ballet’s collaboration performance of “Youthful Fusion” with the Central Illinois Youth Symphony. Her students competed in the Youth America Grand Prix International ballet competition, in which many of them placed in the top 12. 

Ms. von Rathonyi attended the prestigous teacher training program at the Royal Winnipeg Ballet in Canada, where she focused on studying the Vagonova and Checchetti syllabus. She is an alumna of The Rock School for Dance Education and feels fortunate to have served as their Artistic Coordinator and a Faculty member.

Rebekah holds a special place in her heart for the Peoria community. She has enjoyed participating in local events including CASA's annual "Dancing with the stars", Luthy Botanical Garden's "I Love Luthy", IGNITE Peoria, Relay for Life, Frolic with the Fairies, and choreographed Cornstock Theater's 2011 production of "Cats". She is honored to be a 2006 recipient of Peoria's 40 Leaders Under 40 award.

Jessie Williams

​Academy Director 

Jessie Williams, a recent graduate of Butler University with a BFA in Dance Performance, was born and raised in Suwanee, Georgia. She began her training at The Northeast Atlanta Ballet under the direction of Jennifer Gordon. When she was 17 she accepted a position at The Next Generation Ballet in Tampa, Florida under the direction of Peter Stark for the 2012—2013 season. While at Butler, Jessie was given the opportunity to perform corps, soloist, and principal roles in full length ballets including The Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake, The Nutcracker, Giselle, Cinderella, and The Four Temperaments. During her last two years at Butler she performed and was an assistant choreographer in Streamlines Indianapolis, a multimillion dollar project combining science with the arts to promote and inform the community about the waterways of Indianapolis created by Cynthia Pratt. During the summer of 2016 she brought two of her choreographic works to tour and be performed in Eastern Europe. Her works TRE•NI and Palloria were Premiered in the National Opera House in Warsaw, Poland and then were carried across countries to be performed in Prague, Krakow, and Poznan. Jessie's favorite roles include Mona in Giselle and Phlegmatic in Balanchine’s The Four Temperaments. This is Jessie’s first season with Central Illinois Ballet.

Taylor Walper

​Competition Team Director and Artistic Coordinator

Taylor Walper graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance Performance in 2019. She studied under Susan Shields at George Mason University and under Judith Chitwood at Northern Illinois University. She began her dance studies in 2000 with pre-professional training from 2007-2016 at Peoria Ballet under the direction of Eric Yetter, Rebekah Von Rathonyi, Servy Gallardo, and Ian Poulis. Taylor also supplemented her training by attending summer intensives at Alonzo King LINES Ballet, Ballet Magnificat (Costa Rica), Bates Dance Festival, Grand Rapids Ballet, Hubbard Street Dance, Perry Mansfield Performing Arts School, River North Dance Chicago, and the Suzanne Farrell Workshop for Young Dancers at Florida State University. Taylor has long had an interest in dance pedagogy. She began as a teacher’s assistant in 2010 and started teaching independently in 2014. In 2016, she co-developed the curriculum for Peoria Ballet’s Creative Movement through Pre-Ballet (age 3-6) classes and served as a rehearsal director/assistant for the annual production of The Nutcracker. As a Freshman honors student at George Mason University, Taylor was selected as a university-wide finalist for the Schwartzstein Award for her research on dance student retention and dropout trends. She was able to continue her dance pedagogy research throughout her collegiate studies. While attending the Bates Dance Festival Intensive, Taylor took classes in dance pedagogy and worked with other teachers and studio owners. She attended the 2018 and 2019 Self-Employment in the Arts conferences in Chicago where she networked with many successful art professionals from around the country. In August of 2019, Taylor moved to Florida to complete an internship with the Walt Disney World company. There she was able to learn from choreographers and other entertainment leaders throughout the company. Outside of teaching and dancing, Taylor has been heavily involved in the inner-workings of operating a dance studio business. Taylor interned as an office assistant at Peoria Ballet from 2014-2016 and at Ballet 5:8 during the summer of 2017. Backstage Taylor has a passion for stage managing and performance directing. She has stage managed several dance productions from 2017-2019 and directed two full productions while in college.  

Pat White

​Children's Division Instructor

Pat White--Pat received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in speech and theatre from IWU and her master's degree from Bradley.  An accomplished actress, singer, and dancer, Pat has performed, choreographed, and directed on many central Illinois stages.  She brings her charismatic presence and talents to audiences in leading roles such as Once Upon a Mattress, The Unsinkable Molly Brown, Sweet Charity, Annie, Gypsy, and Hello Dolly.  A certified teacher in English, speech, and theater arts at Bergan High School/Peoria Notre Dame and Washington Middle School, Pat has developed dance and drama programs for Jump Start Gymnastics Academy, Peoria Ballet, Roosevelt Magnet School, and River City Youth Fitness Center.  

THIS SECTION IS UNDER CONSTRUCTION WITH UPDATES COMING SOON!

Alex Kingma

​Principal Dancer; Instructor

Susanna Earnest

Instructor 

Richard Smith

Instructor 

Carole Krohn 
Youth Program and Business Development Consultant

Instructor in Beginning, Intermediate and Advanced Ballet

Carole Krohn, a central Illinois native, formerly of Peoria Ballet and long time Colorado resident, is thrilled return to the greater Peoria area. She spent many years studying, performing, and teaching classical ballet in Chicago and Colorado. In Colorado, Carole performed and received pedagogical training under Mrs. Julie Sneden Carlson, Artistic Director of Ballet Northwest, and performed several seasons with Steamboat Dance Theater. Highlighting her repertoire are roles as soloist, character, and corp de ballet in many classical works including The Firebird, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Romeo and Juliet, Dracula, Rodeo and The Nutcracker, in addition to many contemporary and original works. As a dedicated student of classical ballet for over 40 years, Carole has received training at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts under the direction of Mr. Larry Long; Steamboat Springs Ballet under the Master Classes of Michael Vernon; Hubbard Street Dance Chicago; The Joffrey Ballet; Aspen-Santa Fe Ballet; Perry Mansfield Performing Arts Academy; Denver Dance Center; Vail International Festival of Dance; The Academy of Colorado Ballet; Dance Aspen; Purdue University; Colorado Mountain College; and the University of Illinois. Carole received a Bachelor of Science degree with Honors from Purdue University, Phi Beta Kappa, where she was a member of the Purdue Golduster Dance Team and a founding member of the Purdue Gymnastics Club. She received her Juris Doctor from the University of Illinois College of Law in 1989. In addition to being a sought after ballet instructor in both Colorado and Illinois, Carole has maintained an active law practice for over 25 years and has served as Guardian ad Litem for the State of Colorado, Office of the Child’s Legal Representative. Carole teaches all levels of ballet from the very youngest of students to adults and professionals. She is particularly interested in early grade ballet program and curriculum development as well as nurturing and guiding the youngest students in their first steps on stage to and to instill in them a life long appreciation for music and performing arts as part of early and middle childhood development.

Artistic and Academy Consultants
Fabiana Poulis
Permanent Adjunct Faculty and Artistic Associate

Instructor in Beginning, Intermediate and Advanced Ballet, Pointe/Variations, Private Coaching 

Born in Paraguay and raised in Argentina, Fabiana Fadlala-Poulis has been teaching ballet for over 20 years. She received her training at Estudio Coreografico Bonnin, the Teatro Colon and received her Masters in Ballet Pedagogy from the School of the National Ballet of Cuba. She studied under Olga Ferri, Miguel Bonnin, Ileana Balmori, and Raul Candal. Fabiana danced professionally with the Teatro Municipal de Asuncion, Teatro General San Martin, Ballet Arlington, and Ballet Concerto. Fabiana has taught at the Margo Dean School of Ballet in the Dallas/Fort Worth area and Ballet Conservatory in Lewisville, TX where she also served as the assistant director of Lake Cities Ballet Theatre II. Her choreography for YAGP, “It’s a Good Day”, placed 2nd in the regionals and performed at the finals in New York City. She also served as the Outreach Coordinator for the Desert Youth Ballet Foundation, taught for the Arizona School of Classical Ballet, Tempe Dance Academy, and The Louisville Ballet. Additionally, she has served as the ballet mistress for the Louisville Ballet Youth Ensemble; Sacred Heart School for the Arts in Louisville, KY; Wynn Twins School of Dance in Kansas City, MO; and Peoria Ballet. She has been a sought out guest teacher throughout the United States and South America.

Josh Gullett

Boys Ballet, Pas de duex, Afro-Caribbean, Ballet

Joshua began his early ballet training with Ballet Met on full scholarship under the watchful eye of Yoko Ichino and David Nixon. He continued with Ballet Met for eight years in the pre-professional program performing in the companies productions of "The Nutcracker", "Romeo and Juliet", "Cinderella", and "Giselle". In BalletMet's Student Showcase, Mr. Gullet was featured as Daniel in Alvin Aileys "Daniel". He spent his summers on full scholarship with many prestigious schools including Virginia School of the Arts, Pittsburg Ballet Theatre, and Chautauqua with North Carolina Dance Theatre. In 2002, Mr. Gullett was accepted into Pittsburg Ballet Theatre Graduate Program where he studied and trained under Artistic Director Terrance Orr and Ballet Mistress Marianna Tcherkassky. He enjoyed working with the company as well as performing in many of their productions including "The Nutcracker" and "A Midsummer Night's Dream". Mr. Gullett joined Peoria Ballet Company in 2004 dancing many soloist and principal roles such as Jonathan Harker in "Dracula", Snow King in "The Nutcracker", and the Principal Male in George Balanchine's "Valse Fantasie". Mr. Gullett has been  a Guest Dancer with USA Ballet and  has toured with the company to Chicago and Michigan. Mr. Gullett also served on the faculty at the Peoria Ballet Academy teaching the Boys ballet class and pas de duex class for pre- professional students. 

Jennifer Reiter Hand

​Artistic Consultant 

Instructor in Beginning Ballet-Advanced Ballet, Pointe, Improvisation

Following in her mother's footsteps, Ms. Reiter began dancing at the age of six at the Peoria Ballet. She danced in numerous productions of Nutcracker and held the role of Clara from 1984-1986. She received her Masters degree in dance from New York University's Tish school of Arts and her BFA in dance from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. Both of her degrees are in dance and choreography. Ms. Reiter has taught and produced choreography for private studios, universities, summer intensives, and theater companies in the Midwest including: DanceArts in Champaign; Champaign Ballet Academy; Millikinn University in Decatur; and University of Illinois at Champaign/Urbana. Her work in the Northeast includes: D'Valda & Sirico in Fairfield CT; Longwood Performing Arts Academy in Kennett Square PA; and in New York City at Ballet Hispanico, Broadway Dance Center and Ballet Arts. As a teacher she specializes in ballet, pointe/variations, modern, improvisation, choreography, adult beginner dance, dance vocabulary, and movement for actors. Her students are presently performing in national tours, in ballet and modern dance companies, for Disney, and on Broadway. Ms. Reiter believes that to learn to dance well, dancers must find joy in the simple act of moving. To that end, she constructs an environment that encourages a sense of play, experimentation, community, and humor while working in an organized and respectful way not only towards everyone participating in the class, but also to the noble tradition of dance, a tradition she believes is beautiful and worthy of reverence. "Dance should never hurt the body or force it into feelings of strain or tightness. Instead, I believe dance can open the body and create a freedom from within that can be pleasurable for your emotional and spiritual self, as well as the physical."

Guest Instructors

All of our professional company dancers regularly are guest instructors for our academy .  The following teachers are frequent guest instructors for our students.

Kaylie Bullock 

Instructor in Beginning Ballet-Advanced Ballet, Pointe, Modern

Kaylie found a new passion in classical ballet after training to be a gymnast.  She began studying at Kansas Dance Academy, while there she received a grant from the Kansas Cultural Trust. She graduated from The School of Classical and Contemporary Dance at Texas Christian University. Along with the talented TCU faculty, Ms. Bullock crossed paths with many accomplished dance professionals.  These include Susan Jaffe, Ben Stevenson, and Clifford Williams. She credits TCU for expanding her ballet vocabulary with contemporary movement and the encouragement to teach in conjunction with performing. 

 

Upon graduation Ms. Bullock danced for Ad Deum Dance Company, where she worked with Alvin Aliey's Rehearsal Director Matthew Rushing and Martha Graham Principal Steve Rooks.  She also performed several solo roles choreographed by Director Randall Flinn.  During this time she had the opportunity to guest teach for the Houston Ballet Academy.  She was also on faculty for Mitzi's School of Dance, featured on America's Got Talent. Wanting to be closer to family, Ms. Bullock accepted a position with Storling Dance Theater and the Director of Ballet at a local dance academy. As a company member she had the privilege to perform numerous principal and soloist roles.  As the Director of Ballet she fostered the growth of a successful program including restaging The Nutcracker.  Ms. Bullock then danced for Common Thread Contemporary's Artistic Director Jennifer Medina, who quickly became a mentor in dance artistry.  The following summer, Ms. Bullock worked with Drew Jacoby, whose credits include Lines, Nederlands Dance Theater, and Complexions.  

 

Raised as a classical ballet dancer, Kaylie embraces the tradition of ballet.  Having been given the opportunity to work with many successful contemporary ballet and modern professionals of our time, she believes that today's ballet dancers have no choice but to be versatile.  Her goal is to give her students an understanding of the dance forms and techniques, while creating a firm foundation in classical ballet.  She considers her students' acceptance into dance programs across the country as some of her proudest achievements. She also coached the recipient of 2016 Miss Kansas Overall Talent award.

Alexandra Buchko

Lyrical, Jazz, Musical Theater, Ballet

Ms. Buchko began her ballet training at the age of five at Peoria Ballet where she was first taught by Rebekah von Rathonyi. With Peoria Ballet, she danced in numerous Nutcrackers, the world premier of Wings, Cinderella, and Giselle. She attended Youth America Grand Prix twice and spent two summers at the American Ballet Theater summer intensives. Ms. Buchko has been an active participant in Peoria theater for years, performing roles such as Jenny in The Shape of Things, Rosie in Bye Bye Birdie, Madam Giry in the Phantom of the Opera, and Tantomile in Cats. After high school, she attended Millikin University as a musical theater major where she was selected to understudy and perform a piece with Thodos Dance Chicago. She was a member of the dance ensemble her sophomore year. Ms. Buchko transferred to Bradley University in January of 2014 where she is currently majoring in theater performance and English. She made her debut with Cornerstone Academy as Alice in Alice in Wonderland. Ms. Buchko gives all glory and thanks to God. She also feels much gratitude toward her family and friends for their love and support and deep appreciation for Ms. Rebekah and her continued inspiration and encouragement.

Timothy Anders

Pas de deux as well as all levels of Ballet, Jazz, and Tap

Timothy began dancing at the age of three in a small Cecchetti studio in southern Illinois. To continue his training, he became a trainee at The Big Muddy Dance Company in St. Louis, Missouri. While there, he trained under Paula Davis and performed in many contemporary works. He also had the opportunity at Big Muddy to learn Harrison McEldowney's orginal work Group Therapy. He was also able to train and guest at El Paso Conservatory of Dance. While at El Paso Conservatory of Dance, Timothy had the chance to study under Marta Katz, and Daymel Sanchez. He has Guested in many roles including the Snow King, Nutcracker/Nutcracker Prince, and Cavalier in The Nutcracker; the Knave of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland; and in the pas de trois in Swan Lake. Timothy was in Nashville Ballet's Second Company where he danced in a variety of Paul Vasterling's works such as Carnival of the Animals, Jump Frog, Clowns and Others, Peter Pan, and The Nutcracker. With Central Illinois Ballet, Timothy danced as Jonathan Harker in Dracula; Tapping Soldier, Nutcracker Prince, and Russian in The Nutcracker; Paris in Romeo and Juliet; and The Beast in Beauty and the Beast.

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830 W Main St.

Peoria, IL 61606
Company:  info@ciballet.com

Academy: info@cornerstoneballetpeoria.com​

Tel: 309-713-1985

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