audra kucharski

Audra Kucharski, Executive Director

Audra Kucharski obtained her M.Ed in Special Education from Wright State University in May 2020, and her BA in Psychology from Hawaii Pacific University in 2004. She has 19 years of creative movement, ballet, and jazz dance instruction experience with ages 3-18; has also instructed advanced jazz dance at Wright State University; and is currently a 2nd grade Intervention Specialist at Northmoor Elementary. She began her dance training with Jeanette Popp School of Dance, and furthered her dance education with Dayton Ballet School, Pontecorvo Ballet Studios, Ballet Met, University of Cincinnati – CCM, numerous dance schools in Hawaii, and at the Broadway Dance Center in New York City. Under her direction, DDC has trained students who have been invited to study at many prestigious dance programs, and are now dancing professionally; and many graduating students have received merit scholarships in dance at universities. Ms. Kucharski is honored to be a part of young aspiring artists’ journey, and is grateful to her fellow artists and DDC community for their continuous support.

layla ahlers

Layla Ahlers, Program Director

Layla Ahlers received her dance education locally and went on to earn her BFA in dance from Wright State University in 2008. She has been teaching dance for 15 years working with Dayton Ballet II, Dayton Live and area dance studios. She is trained in a variety of dance styles, is a certified instructor with Progressing Ballet Technique, is certified by Ana Marie Forsythe and the Ailey School in beginner level Horton technique, and continues to expand her knowledge as a dancer, teacher and choreographer. Her teaching philosophy is rooted in providing a nurturing learning environment based in dance history, injury prevention and creative expression for dancers of any level.

Combined with her dance background, Layla brings her experience in training, marketing and youth-led programming to her role as DDC Program Director. She aims to continue cultivate a community for dancers where they feel safe to explore, learn and grow as artists and thrive beyond the dance studio.

oliver arana

Oliver Arana

Oliver Arana, was born in Lima, Peru and began his career as a principal dancer with the Ballet Municipal De Lima under the direction of Lucy Telge. He went on to work with Vicente Nebrada, at the Nacional Ballet De Caracas of Venezuela. He was invited to join the Ballet Classico De Camara, under the direction of Nina Novak where had the honor of alternating principal roles with Fernando Bujones and Carlos Acosta, and touring all of South America and parts of Europe. After coming to the United States in 1993, he joined The Bay Ballet Theatre as a principal dancer under the direction of Christopher Flemming, continued his career with the Cleveland San Jose Ballet, and then in 1998 Mr Arana joined The Cincinnati Ballet under the direction of Victoria Morgan.

Oliver Arana Teacher and Director at NCYB 2006 – 2018 Awards and Achievements, YAGP Outstanding Teacher Award, YAGP Senior Grand Prix Denver, YAGP Youth Grand Prix Chicago, YAGP Many top 12 through the years, Cincinnati Overture Winners and finalists, World Ballet Competition Silver, Bronze medalist, NCYB students now dancing professionally at Norwegian National Ballet, Boston Ballet, Royal Ballet, Cincinnati Ballet MamLuft&Co. Dance.

Students have received scholarships to Royal Ballet School London, Ballet West Academy, National Ballet of Canada, Indiana University, Houston Ballet II, American Ballet Theatre (JKO School), Munich Ballet Academy, University of South Carolina, Orlando Ballet School, Princess Grace Academy of Classical Dance, The Kirov Academy, Chautaugua, Boston Ballet School, Pacific Northwest Ballet School and Joffrey Ballet New York. Students have been accepted to La Scala Ballet Academy Milan, San Francisco Ballet School, School of American Ballet, and Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School.

chloe mann

Chloe Mann

Chloe Mann started at Jeanette Popp’s school of dance at age six. She developed a love for all the many styles and enthusiastically joined Jeanette’s artistic dance ensemble and the mini dugout dancers. At age fourteen, Chloe was asked to join Pontocorvo’s Gem City Ballet Company. She performed in a variety of ballets including Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake, Serenade and Cinderella. She continued her dance education at Wright State University and received a BFA in performing arts.

kathryn mccarty

Kathryn McCarty

Kathryn began her dance education over thirty two years ago in her hometown of Wilmington, Delaware. She has trained and performed with companies such as Boston Ballet, Pennsylvania Ballet, The Russian Ballet Theatre of Delaware and Ballet West. Kathryn attended the University of Utah as a ballet major before relocating to Southern California to tour both nationally & internationally with The Young Americans. Some of Kathryn’s professional credits include "One Man’s Dream II" (Tokyo Disneyland), Dance Captain & Mainstage dancer on board The Disney Magic (Disney Cruise Lines) as well as numerous regional theater productions across the country. Several of her favorite credits include: "Irving Berlin’s White Christmas", Crazy For You” and "Pippin". Kathryn was the Founder & Artistic Director of Central Nebraska Youth Ballet, as well as having directed & taught in the studio setting for over a decade. Several of her students have gone on to train and dance professionally with companies such as American Ballet Theater, Joffrey Ballet, The Rock School of Pennsylvania Ballet, Ballet Chicago, Miami City Ballet and City Ballet of San Diego as well as earning national awards & honors across the country. Diversity in dance styles and education has allowed Kathryn to not only limit herself to ballet but she also continues to train dancers in a variety of genres and has choreographed for many collegiate level dance teams as well as high school musicals. She also co-coached a high school dance team for 5 years where they earned the Nebraska state runner up title for multiple years. Recently relocated to Ohio, Kathryn is also currently on faculty with Dayton Ballet School. She loves to share her knowledge and passion of dance with this generation’s young artists and continues to guest teach and adjudicate dance events around the country.

Lacie Miller

Lacie began dancing at the age of 3 at Jeanette Popp School of Dance and continued dancing for 15 years. Following her love for movement, she completed her 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training, focusing on alignment and anatomy, in 2018. While in college, she worked at the YMCA before and after school enrichment program and the YMCA Preschool for 6 years. She received the Diana M. Hunn Award in 2019 for her commitment to science education. She graduated from Wright State University with her BS in Early Childhood Education in May 2020.

jeanette popp

Jeanette Popp

Jeanette has studied in New York with dance experts: Luigi, Joffrey Ballet School, Broadway Dance Center Faculty, studied Dance in college and authentic Hawaiian dance in Hawaii. Her students have studied dance in college, teach across the country, perform on cruise ships, join professional dance companies and compete in state and national pageants. She is an Adjunct Faculty in Tap Dance at Wright State University. Jeanette was inducted into the Huber Heights Performing Arts Hall of Fame in 2016.

gregory robinson

Gregory Robinson

Mr. Robinson began his primary dance training in 1970 at the University of Alabama (Tuscaloosa) with Lou Wall in Graham technique and Phoebe Barr in Denishawn style. Resident guest artists in dance for that academic year included Betty Jones and Fritz Ludin, from the Jose Limon Company and Nicholas Gunn of the Paul Taylor Dance Company. In 1971, Mr. Robinson transferred to the University of Alabama in Birmingham (UAB) where he began his classical ballet studies in the Vaganova system with Stevan Grebel and Melanie Mihalic. As a member of Ballet UAB, he had the opportunity of performing a repertory of mixed programs and many full length ballets, most notably The Nutcracker, Giselle, Coppellia, Ben Stevenson's Cinderella, Raymonda Pas de Dix, George Balanchine's Serenade, La Sonambula, and Michel Fokine's Petrushka.

Mr. Robinson continued to perform with Ballet UAB and pursue his BFA through 1980. He joined Dayton Ballet in 1980 under artistic director Stuart Sebastian and performed with the Company as a principal dancer in a repertory that spanned from the classical canon to neoclassical and contemporary works. His further studies continued in New York City with Maggie Black and Marjorie Mussman. By the late '80's, he was named Ballet Master; then in 1993 he was appointed Artistic Associate for the company by Dermot Burke and his duties expanded to include co-directorship of Dayton Ballet II. As a resident choreographer for Dayton Ballet, Mr. Robinson has created many original works for the Company as well as other performing arts organizations including; Dayton Ballet II, Dayton Contemporary Dance Company, The Human Race Theatre Company, The Muse Machine, Dayton Opera, Miami University, Marygrove College, Victoria Theatre, Ohio Ballet and The Fraze Pavillion. His premiere works for Dayton Ballet through the years including Prokofiev Piano Concerto #2, Light, Paganini Variations, Mozartiana, Carmina Burana, Hot Riffs & Blue Notes, Luna, New Night, Corazon and new choreography for the full length productions of Christmas Carol, the Ballet, An American Cinderella, and America's Robin Hood have all received critical and artistic acclaim.

Mr Robinson was the first to be awarded the Virginia Sebastian Award for Choreography, in 1986. In 1996, he received the Montgomery County Arts & Cultural District Bicentennial Impact Grant for his premiere work …A Time to Dance to join in the celebration of Dayton's 200 years. He was also a recipient for the Culture Works Artist Fellowship for the year 2000. He was honored with the 2002 Choo-San Goh Award for Choreography from the Choo-San Goh & H. Robert Magee Foundation for his work on America's Robin Hood. In 2008 his ballet Corazon earned a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Mr. Robinson has taught at BalletMet, Dayton Contemporary Dance Company, Ohio Ballet, Wright State University, Miami University, Marygrove College and the University of Idaho. His participation in the Miami Valley Muse Machine's "in school" lecture demonstration series and his host/narration for the Dayton Ballet's annual Young Audience Programs have enlightened and entertained Miami Valley high school and elementary students for many years. He received a citation from State Senator Rhine D. McLin and was named a "Dayton Gem" by the Dayton Daily News for his work in the community as a performer and dance educator.

stacy spence

Stacy Spence

Stacy has over 25 years of teaching and performance experience. Stacy earned her BFA in Dance from Wright State University. She has choreographed over 50 musicals for Town Hall Theater in Centerville. She has also choreographed for Miami University, Beavercreek Community Theater, the Dayton Playhouse and high schools around the Dayton area. Some highlighted shows include Hair, Urinetown, State Fair, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Seussical, Bat Boy, The Rocky Horror Show. Anything Goes, All Shook Up, Willy Wonka, A Chorus Line and Hairspray to name a few.

In July 2019, Stacy was the first ever choreographer to be inducted into the Dayton Theatre Hall of Fame.

kandee thacker mann

Kandee Thacker-Mann

Kandee hails from Flint, MI where she began studying tap dance under Alfred Bruce Bradley at Creative Expressions Dance Studio. As a part of the youth tap company, "Flintstone Hoofers," she performed in the Savion Glover's "Footnotes" tour in Detroit, St. Louis Tap Festival, Detroit Tap Festival, and the Human Rhythm Project. Kandee was also member of the Showtime at the Apollo winning act "Stepettes" with friends Alexandria and Frances Bradley. As an emerging artist, Kandee choreographed for and instructed at Troy Dance Connection where her works won several choreography and special awards.

Since Kandee's 2004 relocation to Dayton, Ohio, she has continued to spread her love of tap dance through teaching, choreography and collaboration. She taught classes at the Ohio Dance Festival, instructed and organized tap workshops with the legendary Dianne Walker, and taught as adjunct instructor at Wright State University.

Her passion for the enrichment and success of youth propelled her to direct the Dayton Tap Project, which included a dance program at East End Community Service, where she educated several under-served children in the art of tap dance. The event culminated with a joint tap dance showcase with children and renowned international tap dance guest artists which was quoted as being "an unbelievably entertaining and heartfelt evening."

Other notable performances and credits include: Tap Extravaganza on Broadway, Judge at "For Tappers Only Dance Competition," and The Signature: A Poetic Medley Show which has also included artist such as Lupe Fiasco, the Roots Black Thought, and hip hop artist Common.

kirsten fricke

Kirsten Ulrich

Kirsten is a graduate of Point Park University with a Bachelors of Arts in Dance. Along with teaching at Dayton Dance Conservatory, Kirsten has taught for Stivers High School, University of Dayton, Wright State University, ACDFA, Dayton Ballet School, Pontecorvo Ballet Studios and other dance studios in the Dayton and Cincinnati areas. Kirsten has danced with Mam-Luft and Company Dancers, and DCDC2. She has choreographed for Stivers Dance Ensemble, University of Dayton, Gem City Ballet, Miami Valley Schools, and Cedarville Community Theater. Ms. Fricke has also judged for Nexstar Dance Competitions and auditions future Point Park students every year for their summer dance intensive.

ashley walton-pabst

Ashley Walton-Pabst

Ashley, a native of Dayton, Ohio began her training at Dayton Ballet and South Dayton School of Dance. She received additional training at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, The Rock School, Pittsburgh Youth Ballet, International Summer Dance, National Choreography Intensive, and Hubbard Street Dance Chicago. Ashley attended Point Park University, under the direction of Susan Stowe, where she worked with faculty and guest choreographers Darla Hoover, Margo Sappington, Christian Holder, Alan Hineline, Ron de Jesus, Doug Varone, Lynne Taylor-Corbett, and Ron Tassone. The highlight of her time at Point Park University was earning the opportunity to perform at Kennedy Center, where she was awarded Northeast Performer of the Year. Ashley danced professionally with both Atlanta Ballet and Dayton Ballet, and had the opportunity to perform principal roles in George Balanchine’s Serenade, Alan Hineline’s Thresholds, William Whitener’s Caprice, and Stuart Sebastian's Dracula. During the 2009 Regional Dance America Northeast Festival, Ashley received the Monticello Award for Best Emerging Choreographer and the Barbara Weisberger Award for Best Choreography for her piece Aloft. During the 2010 and 2011 RDA festivals she earned both the Project Tier Award, as well as the National Choreographic Award two years in a row for her pieces Sudden Impulse and Guerriere. Distinguished adjudicators chose four of her ballets to be presented at the 2012 National Festival in Montreal, Quebec. Since then Ashley was granted four additional National Choreographic Awards for her work throughout the Northeast and Pacific regions.

Shari Williams

Shari has a degree in Performing Arts Management and Dance from Point Park College in Pittsburgh, PA and grew up in Schrader Youth Ballet Co. in Parkersburg, WV. She has many years of teaching and choreographing experience with a strong concentration in jazz. She most recently has spent six years with Mandalay Sports Entertainment as the VP of Entertainment and previously as the Director of Entertainment for Dayton Dragons Professional Baseball since 2001. Her performance credits include Royal Caribbean Cruises, Kings Island, Europa Park in Germany, movies Bob Roberts and Kingpin as well as shows in the Reno/Lake Tahoe area.