Master Classes

Diablo Ballet School will offer a variety of classes in technique and necessary subjects throughout the school year and Summer Intensives. These master classes are designed to enrich ballet training and help foster a well-rounded and versatile student. Master Classes are only open to registered students of the Diablo Ballet School.

Upcoming Master Classes:

Michael WellsA Master class in Contemporary & Modern Dance by Company Dancer, Michael Wells – October 16, 5-7:30 pm (Open to Ballet Level 4 – 5 students) Michael Wells, born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, began his formal dance training at Decatur School of Ballet, Atlanta Ballet and later the University of North Carolina School of the Arts where he was trained in Cunningham and Limón techniques. He started his career as a trainee with Atlanta Ballet under John McFall, working with choreographers such as Helen Pickett and Wayne McGregor and Twyla Tharp. In New York he performed with Ballet Hispanico’s second company before joining New York Theatre Ballet and later danced with Smuin Ballet. Mr. Wells has danced with Diablo Ballet since 2017.

A Master class in Ballet and Broadway, by current Associate Choreographer/Resident Director for the National Tour of An American in Paris, Sean Kelly – October 30, 5-7:30 pm (Open to Ballet Level 4 – 5 students) Mr. Kelly received his training at the Marin Ballet and went on to perform with American Ballet Theatre II and Houston Ballet as a Principal dancer for 16 years. He has performed in the touring production of Swing, Twlya Tharp’s Movin’ Out where he also served as the Resident Director. He was also the Resident Choreographer of the Tony Award winning musical Billy Elliot, and the Associate Choreographer for An American in Paris on Broadway. Mr. Kelly is also a choreographer and has created ballets for Houston Ballet and numerous works for Diablo Ballet including our annual hit, A Swingin’ Holiday.

Karen Portner Lapointe and Kyongho Kim. Diablo Ballet.

A Master class in Pilates, by Diablo Ballet alumni and pilates instructor, Karen Portner Lapointe – November 13, 6-7 pm (Open to Ballet Level 4 – 5 students) Ms Portner Lapointe enjoyed a rewarding dance career that spanned 21 years dancing for the Joffrey Ballet, Eglevsky Ballet, and as a principal dancer for the Nashville Ballet, Milwaukee Ballet and Diablo Ballet. Upon retiring from her professional ballet career she followed her other passion that of a Pilates instructor and dance teacher including being the Pilates and Ballet Trainer for the US Olympic Synchronized Swim Team from 2014-2016. She taught at the Contra Costa Ballet School from 1995-present and currently is the Pilates rehabilitation specialist at Forma Gym in Walnut Creek Ca.



Upcoming Master Classes (dates to be determined):

Joanna Berman – Winter 2019
A Master class in Technique offered by former principal dancer at San Francisco Ballet, Joanna Berman
Joanna Berman was one of the most celebrated members of San Francisco Ballet and a principal dancer from 1984-2002 dancing the leading roles in Giselle, Swan Lake, The Sleeping Beauty and Romeo & Juliet in addition to numerous contemporary and classical works. She is in demand as a teacher, guest teacher and repeteur for a number of ballet companies across the world. Ms. Berman has been staging and coaching ballets for Diablo Ballet since 1996. “Excellent training is essential for a professional career in ballet. I’m thrilled that Diablo Ballet School will be providing such training to young dancers in the East Bay.” – Joanna Berman.

Julia AdamJulia Adam – Spring 2020
A Master class in Choreography offered by master choreographer and former principal dancer at San Francisco Ballet, Julia Adam
Julia Adam was a member of San Francisco Ballet and principal dancer from 1988-2002. She has created over 70 works for numerous companies including San Francisco Ballet, The National Ballet of Canada, Houston Ballet, The Joffrey Ballet, ABT 2, Alberta Ballet, Oregon Ballet Theater, Atlanta Ballet, Nashville Ballet. Ms. Adam has created two world premieres for Diablo Ballet and will be creating a brand new holiday ballet, The Nutcracker Suite, this November.

Sandy JenningsSandra Jennings – Spring 2020
A Master class in Balanchine Technique offered by Balanchine Repeteur, Sandra Jennings.
At the age of thirteen, Sandra Jennings, received a Ford Foundation scholarship to the School of American Ballet in New York. In 1974, she was asked by Balanchine to join New York City Ballet where she worked with him for the next nine years and danced an enormous repertoire that included principal and solo roles in many Balanchine and Jerome Robbins ballets. In 1985, Ms. Jennings began staging ballets by Balanchine and since then has worked for various companies in the United States as well as abroad in her capacity as ballet-mistress and coach.

A Master class in Nutrition offered by Registered Dietitian, Beth-Elle Schussler – Quarterly class (Open to Ballet Level 4 – 5 students)
Beth-Elle Schussler is a Registered Dietitian native to the California Bay Area that joined the OFC family in August 2018. She studied and practiced at Syracuse University, Cornell University, and University of Rochester Medical Center. As a lover of all foods, Beth-Elle’s nutrition philosophy understands the importance of treating oneself metabolically, physiologically, emotionally, and mentally. She believes that healthful dietary patterns are sustainable and satisfying to both the body and soul. This philosophy fuels Beth-Elle’s professional initiative to help her clients reach their health goals while maintaining or building a healthy relationship with food and their bodies.  

Plus additional classes on:

Injury Prevention – Presented by Diablo Ballet’s Physician, Dr. Selina Shah
Pas de Deux – Learn the art of Pas de Deux with Diablo Ballet’s male dancers who have partnered some of the most prolific ballerinas of our time.
Anatomy for Dancers – Presented by Diablo Ballet’s Physical Therapist, Meghann Oakes Rust
Like a musician has their instrument and a painter has their brushes and canvas, a dancer has their body as their primary tool for expression. This class is a lecture-lab series designed to help the dancer understand their body and how to safely and effectively activate their muscles to achieve proper ballet technique. By the end of the class, the dancer will be able to identify the correct muscles to be used for turnout, pointing the foot, and port de bras. The dancer will not only learn strengthening exercises to target these muscles but, more importantly, how to apply their new strength in a ballet class.

Other classes that may be offered throughout the year:

Young Men’s Class
Character Dance
Creative Dance

Please note that master classes are additional classroom hours and therefore may carry an additional cost.