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Teaching Artists
Photo by: Todd Spoth

Lauren AndersonLauren Anderson,
Outreach Associate

Native Houstonian Lauren Anderson danced with Houston Ballet from 1983 to 2006, performing leading roles in all the great classical ballets, appearing across the world to critical acclaim, and in the process, becoming one of Houston Ballet’s most beloved stars. 

In January 2007, Ms. Anderson assumed her new role of outreach associate in Houston Ballet’s education department where she teaches ballet classes at Houston Ballet’s Ben Stevenson Academy, conducts master classes at area schools, and lectures to students on dance and her historic career as one of America’s most distinguished African-American ballerinas.

She trained exclusively at Houston Ballet's Ben Stevenson Academy from the age of seven. She joined Houston Ballet in 1983 and in 1990 became the first African-American to be promoted to principal dancer at Houston Ballet – and one of the few African-American ballerinas at the head of a major ballet company anywhere in the world. In addition, Ms. Anderson received the Special Jury Award at the 1990 International Ballet Competition as well as the International Critics Award in Chile.

Ms. Anderson danced leading roles in numerous classical ballets. Her repertoire included works by George Balanchine, Sir Kenneth MacMillan, Christopher Bruce, James Kudelka, and Trey McIntyre. Ms. Anderson created the title role in Ben Stevenson's Cleopatra, and her performance as Cleopatra received accolades from international critics. Anna Kisselgoff of The New York Times compared her to the great Italian actress Eleanora Duse, and Christine Temin of The Boston Globe pronounced her "a powerhouse in interpreting the role that Stevenson created on her." Ms. Anderson performed across the world as a guest artist, appearing in New York, Chile, Moscow, and Chicago.

In April 1999, Ms. Anderson was featured on the cover of Dance Magazine. She has also been featured in the magazines People and Pointe, as well as on the television programs "A&E Breakfast With the Arts," "CBS News Sunday Morning," and the game show, "To Tell the Truth." She has been honored by The Martin Luther King Foundation, Coalition of 100 Black Women, YWCA, by the Urban League, Delta Gamma Foundation, Texas Woman’s Chamber of Commerce, Houston City Council, and the Texas Legislature.  Ms. Anderson is also an honorary member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Ms. Anderson was awarded the Jefferson Award for Community Service in 2011.

Ms. Anderson is the proud parent of Lawrence Bell Fitzgerald Turner.

JENNIFER SOMMERS,
OUTREACH COORDINATOR & CURRICULUM SPECIALIST

Photo of Jennifer SommersJennifer Clagett Sommers holds an MFA in Dance, Performance and Choreography from Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts. She has performed with Laura Dean Musicians and Dancers, Street Signs Center for Literature and Performance, and the Albany Berkshire Ballet, where she also served as Ballet Mistress. Her dance honors include a scholarship to Jacob's Pillow Choreography Workshop, a Durham Arts Council Emerging Artist Grant, and a Lake Region Arts Council grant in support of new work. From 2000-2005, she served as the Associate Director of Raleigh Dance Theatre (a Southeastern Regional Ballet Association Honor Company) and on the faculty of Meredith College. From 2005-2008, she served on the faculty of the University of Minnesota Morris and taught both dance and interdisciplinary courses. She relocated to Houston in 2008 and launched a dance program at KIPP Sharpstown College Prep. She joined the Houston Ballet Education Outreach department in 2010 and is currently serving as Outreach Coordinator and Curriculum Specialist. She also teaches for Houston Ballet's Ben Stevenson Academy, and has served on the faculty of and choreographed for the University of Houston.

PAUL APPLEMAN,
EDUCATION & OUTREACH TEACHER

A native of Houston, Texas, Paul Appleman began his training at Houston Ballet's Ben Stevenson Academy. During his ballet education, Paul trained with Doug Varone, Garth Fagan, Jiri Kylian, Ohad Naharin and David Dorfman, whom he would later dance for.

Paul has worked heavily with RDA companies, particularly in the southeastern region. He is the former school director of Gwinnett Ballet Theatre where he also taught for 6 years. While living in Atlanta he became the founder and Artistic Director of Atlanta Dance Project, a professional modern dance company, and he danced and taught for Atlanta Ballet.

Before returning to Houston, Paul moved to Panama City, Panama to manage and operate the largest ballet school within the city, STEPS: Panama.

Paul was last the Director of Dance Education at KIPP: Sharpstown.

MICHELE KITCHEN,
EDUCATION & OUTREACH TEACHER

Photo of Michele KitchenOriginally from Austin, TX, Michele started her formal training at Festival Ballet Atlanta in Georgia. She then continued her studies at Ballet Austin Academy, where she trained in the PreProfessional Division until graduating in 2006. She also received additional training from American Ballet Theater, Pittsburgh Ballet Theater, and Boston Ballet. In 2010 Michele graduated cum laude with a BFA in Dance as part of the inaugural class of Alonzo King's LINES Ballet/Dominican University. While at LINES Michele had the opportunity to work closely with Alonzo King, Maurya Kerr, Gregory Dawson, Arturo Fernandez, Carmen Rozestraten, Julie Adams, Ben Levy, and Yannis Adoniou. In addition to dancing and teaching, Michele is also a certified GYROTONIC® instructor.

SARAH OAKLEY,
EDUCATION & OUTREACH TEACHER

Sarah was born and raised in California. She studied dance at thePhoto of Sarah Oakley University of California, Irvine where she trained under Loretta Livingston, Molly Lynch, Caleb Mitchell, and modern legend Donald McKayle. She also performed as a member of Donald McKayle's Etude Ensemble. Sarah graduated with BFAs in Dance Choreography and Dance Performance, a minor in Educational Studies, and the Claire Trevor School of the Arts 2010 Award for Excellence in Choreography.

Shortly after graduation, Sarah moved to Houston to dance with Ad Deum Dance Company as a trainee. She studied under Randall Finn (Director), Dawn Dippel, and Betsy MacMillan, among many others. In her second season, Sarah was a founding member of Ad Deum II and worked with the company as a rehearsal director and choreographer. She continues to teach contemporary classes at Ad Deum's spring and summer dance intensives.

Sarah has since taught classes and choreographed for many schools and organizations around Houston, including St. John's School, The Alley Theatre Conservatory, Dance for Kidz, Chara Christian Dance Academy, Divine Dance Academy, and Masterclass Dance Company. She has also performed with Revolve Dance Company as an apprentice. Sarah is excited to work with Houston Ballet's Educational Outreach and can't wait to share her passion for dance with the students!

SARAH YARBROUGH,
EDUCATION & OUTREACH TEACHER

Photo of Sarah YarbroughSarah Yarbrough received the first fifteen years of her dance training in Katy, TX at Adamson Ballet School. She continued her formal training at Houston Ballet Academy where she had the opportunity to perform in The Nutcracker and Etudes. Sarah has attended summer workshops at Houston Ballet and American Ballet Theatre in New York, NY and has had the privilege of taking classes from various guest artists, including Ben Stevenson, Lauren Anderson, Christopher Bruce, Stanton Welch, Susan Jaffe, and Alonzo King. Sarah has a BFA in Ballet and a minor in Arts Administration from Texas Christian University and has performed in various dance works choreographed by TCU faculty and guest artists in classical, modern, and contemporary styles. After graduating in 2009, Sarah joined Ad Deum Dance Company, a Houston based contemporary company that performs locally and abroad. In addition to performing, Sarah is passionate about teaching dance and is forever learning how to become a more effective and engaging teacher. From 2009 to 2011 Sarah taught ballet, modern, jazz, tap, and ballroom with Casey's Creative Connections, a rapidly growing arts education company. In 2012 Sarah was thrilled to begin teaching for Houston Ballet's After School Program where she teaches a variety of dance disciplines within Houston area public schools. Sarah also teaches open classes and academy classes within Houston Ballet Academy's Lower School. This past summer Sarah had the pleasure of teaching both open school and main school classes for Houston Ballet's six week summer intensive program.

 

If you would like more information regarding Houston Ballet's Education and Outreach programs please use the email address listed below.  Note: This email address is not that of Lauren Anderson.

hboutreach@houstonballet.org