The Studio, School of Classical Ballet, Santa Cruz, CA
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Our Directors

After retiring from their own dance careers, where they worked together off and on for 15-odd years, Robert Kelley and Diane Cypher decided to take the plunge and purchase The Studio from Founding Director Jean Dunphy. Both Robert and Diane had been teaching for many years and, although Robert felt certain he wanted to carve out a niche in Santa Cruz for his choreographic and teaching abilities, Diane wasn't initially sure. She took some convincing. She now says it's the best decision she's ever made. They brought their friend and colleague Linda Lock with them from San Jose Dance Theatre, where in they had learned of her extraordinarily talents as an instructor.

As a team, the Directors and "Miss Linda" have established their standard, which they strive to uphold for many years to come. They enjoy the daily grind of training students with all levels of ability and desire, turning many of them into professional dancers. The recognition Santa Cruz Ballet Theatre received by being awarded Honor Company status by Regional Dance America year after year is a special accomplishment and one that will remain an ongoing goal for the academy. Supported by faculty who work especially well with The Studio's youngest students and in other idioms (e.g. Modern dance training), Studio programs are tried and true, both for success and enjoyment. Diane and Robert endeavor to keep it that way!

Robert and Diane were honored in 2009 with a Gail Rich Award by the Santa Cruz Cultural Council for their contribution to the Santa Cruz arts community, and Robert is the recipient of the 2010 Artist of the Year Award, given by the Santa Cruz County Arts Commission.

Robert Kelley -- Robert received his formal dance training at the School of American Ballet, the San Francisco Ballet School, and with Alonzo King. He danced professionally with Charleston Ballet Theatre, Sacramento Ballet, and Fort Wayne Ballet, where he also served as Ballet Master and Resident Choreographer. As a dancer, Robert had many works choreographed especially for him by choreographers, such as Jill Eathorne Bahr, Philip Jerry, and Ron Cunningham. Robert has performed every major classical role and was known for his onstage charisma and sublime partnering abilities.

Robert's choreography lives in the repertoires of many regional and professional companies across the United States, including his full length Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast. His choreography has earned several awards and two of his works are in the Regional America Choreography Plan. He was the artistic director of San Jose Dance Theatre, where he implemented several ongoing community programs. Robert has choreographed over 30 ballets for the Santa Cruz Ballet Theatre. His Linear Context won the RDA Choreographic Excellence Award in 2006, and his The Condition Hereafter won the same award in 2008.

In addition to his work for the Santa Cruz Ballet Theatre, Robert sits on the Tannery Arts Center Board and represents Santa Cruz Ballet Theatre as an Associate of the Cultural Council of Santa Cruz County. Robert teaches all levels of students at The Studio, of which he is also co-director.

Diane Cypher -- Diane McLarty trained with Barbara Crockett and the Sacramento Ballet. As a young student, she attended the RDA Craft of Choreography Conference, Joffrey Workshop, and the David Howard School in NYC on scholarship. At age 17, she joined the Santa Barbara Ballet and toured the country dancing one of her favorite roles: "Myrtha" in Giselle. She performed as "Swanilda" in Coppelia at the Edinburgh Festival in Scotland before returning to her hometown and joining the Sacramento Ballet as a charter
professional member.

Under the direction of Ron Cunningham, Diane had a long and rewarding career with the Sacramento Ballet, for which she received critical acclaim. She danced leading roles such as "Odette/Odile" in Swan Lake, the Lilac Fairy in Sleeping Beauty and the Sugar Plum Fairy, Snow Queen, and the Arabian Princess in The Nutcracker. She was featured in contemporary works, most notably the Balanchine repertoire, in roles as diverse as the Siren in The Prodigal Son, "Choleric" in The Four Temperaments, the Sylph in Scotch Symphony, the soloist in Rubies and Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux. She loved dancing ballets choreographed by Ron Cunningham, her favorite being the Mama Wildebeest in Etosha, Place of Dry Water.

Under the tutelage of her mentor, Barbara Crockett, Diane's teaching career began in 1983. She taught throughout her dance career in Sacramento as a member of the Crockett Dance Studio faculty and later taught and directed the School of San Jose Dance Theater. Diane became Diane Cypher in 2002. Diane attended the Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet Teacher Course in 2005 and has been greatly influenced by its syllabus and teachings.

Diane shares the directorship of both The Studio, School of Classical Ballet and the Santa Cruz Ballet Theatre with her former ballet partner, Robert Kelley. Diane stages classical ballets, such as Swan Lake and Giselle, and rehearses the company dancers in all of its repertoire.

>> Our Faculty | Click to Read their Profiles

Principal Instructor ~ Linda Lock
Linda Lock took a circuitous route to her role as one of the best ballet teachers in America today. She has taught at The Studio since 1998, coming from San Jose Dance Theatre, where she taught for two years with Diane Cypher and Robert Kelley. Linda began studying dance as a teenage gymnast -- eventually coaching gymastics professionally. She also studied several musical instruments, including piano, guitar, flute, alto saxophone, oboe and E flat soprano clarinet. She played her B-flat soprano clarinet in orchestras for ballets, operas, and musical theatre. She played in both a wood-wind quintet and jazz band for six years and played guitar and sang in a rock band for four years playing pubs, dances, and private events.

Linda studied six years of Pre-Med biochemistry and microbiology at San Jose State, as well as completed two years of aeronautics and aerodynamics. She earned her private pilot's license on her way to what she thought might be a commercial flying career. In her mid-20s she began to study ballet. No one told her it was too late. She studied with Jean Dunphy at The Studio, Kristine Elliott in Palo Alto, and the Reyes husband and wife team in Santa Clara. She took every form of dance-related class she could find at Cabrillo College, including modern dance and drama classes. She eventually danced professionally with Santa Clara Ballet and Peninsula Ballet Theatre in The Nutcracker, The Sleeping Beauty, Coppelia, Les Sylphides, and as the Cat in Peter and the Wolf.

Linda's early teaching career was especially influenced by Kristine Elliott and Kim Gardner. She also studied Pilates privately with Kim for over ten years to add to her understanding of kinesiology. She has attended teacher training courses in both the Vaganova method and Royal Academy of Dancing method. Linda celebrated her 35th wedding anniversary in 2011, has four sons, five grandchildren, and has lived in Scotts Valley for over 25 years. "Miss Linda" brings a passion and perspective to the ballet classroom that only someone who took this route to get here could. It's best said by her:

"Being part of the development of our fine dancers is thrilling to me. Every 'Nutcracker' I cry like a baby watching the youngest students be part of their first big Corps de Ballet in Snow. It is surreal for me, because I was over 30 years old the first time I stood in the wings waiting for my entrance in Snow; I was so thrilled to be finally able to do something I had wanted since I was six, but never had the opportunity until it was too late (by popular opinion). I would love to convey to our students that the path to dance -- and what it adds to your life -- can take many forms. Mine was not traditional or perfect, but nonetheless, it got me where I am today."

Pre-Ballet Instructor ~ Jeani Mitchell
Jeani Mitchell is a longtime favorite of our youngest students. Jeani attended San Jose State University where she received her standard secondary teaching credential in physical education with a dance emphasis. She was a member of an African dance troup at San Jose State and also studied modern dance. Jeani also studied with Tandy Beal and Marc Herstens in Santa Cruz. Jeani taught for Sherri Ellis at Academie de la Mer as well as for after-school ballet programs at Green Acres, Pescadero, and Freedom schools. She has been teaching ballet for over 35 years in the Parks and Recreation Departments of Santa Cruz and Capitola. Jeani has worked privately with students of varying ages and levels. "Ms. Jeani" has reigned over the Preparatory Ballet Program at The Studio for almost 20 years. Her classes provide a nurturing, disciplined environment for our youngest dancers. Her charges learn skills appropriate for their age and stage of development, and are encouraged weekly into creative expression.
Modern Instructor ~ Lyndsey Loosely

Lyndsey Groth received her BFA in dance performance and choreography from the University of Minnesota, where she danced in University Dance Theater productions, worked with Sage Cowels Guest Artists, performed at ACDFA, and studied with and performed works by artists such as Kari Margolis, Myron Johnson, Doug Varone, Paula Mann, David Dorfman, Carl Flink, HIJACK, Scott Rink, and Toni Pierce. Lyndsey spent a summer intensive training with the Jose Limon Dance Company in New York City, participated as an art educator through the U2U program in the Twin Cities public schools, and taught at the Bryant Square Park Community Center. Living for a year in Salvador, Brazil, "Ms. Lyndsey" studied Afro-Brazilian dance, Samba, Capoiera, and Axe. She studied with Vera Passos of the Bale Folclorico and performed in the Teatro Vilha Velha and Miguel Santana. In New York City.

Lyndsey participated in the work study program with DanceSpace and worked as Membership Associate with American Ballet Theatre while continuing her dance training and working as an ACE certified personal trainer. In Madison, Winconsin, Lyndsey danced for Maureen Janson in SMARTDANCE and served as a dance educator in the UW Outreach program. Lyndsey also worked as Madison Ballet's Company manager and taught modern dance for both the School of Madison Ballet and the Kanopy School for Contemporary Dance. Lyndsey danced and choreographed for Kanopy Dance Company for five seasons and is a founding member of Bare Bones Productions. In 2007, she completed a Lester Horton Pedagogy training program under the direction of Ana Marie Forsythe at the Alvin Ailey School in New York City. In Santa Cruz, California, "Ms. Lyndsey" teaches modern dance at The Studio, School of Classical Ballet and, serves as the Director of Operations and Programs for the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, and performs as a member of the Yabas Dance Company with Dandha da Hora and Tropicalismo -- Dance of Brazil with Marsea Marquis. Lyndsey is also an avid yoga practitioner.

>> Our Staff | Click to Read their Profiles

Accompanist ~ Christopher Pratorius

Christopher is a composer and educator whose pieces have been performed in New York, Boston, Istanbul, Guatemala, New Haven, Minneapolis, San Francisco, Omaha, Tucson, Annandale VA, Tempe AZ and in the greater Santa Cruz area. He received a B.A. in 1999 and an M.A. in Music in 2001, both from the University of California, Santa Cruz. Recent performances include Through a Crack in the Concrete commissioned for the UCSC Orchestra by Nicole Paiement, Pequeña America commissioned by Nat Berman for the UCSC Concert Choir, Four Bagatelles premiered by New Music Works, La Virgen a Solas premiered by Tucson Chamber Artists and three scenes from his chamber opera Roxane de Bóveda, a modern day retelling of Cyrano, premiered by Goat Hall Cabaret Opera.

This March, Chris was Artistic Director of Santa Cruz Chamber Player's "Resonant Lyricism," which featured tenor Brian Staufenbiel and soprano Erin Neff in a varied program including three original compositions. Current projects include Diary of a Black Widow with original poetry by local favorite Lauren Eggert-Crowe and a setting of Edgar Allan Poe's The Raven, both to be used in an upcoming Halloween concert. In addition, Chris is founder and artistic director of The Santiago Music Festival, a summer festival held in Antigua, Guatemala every August that features opera, chamber music, and world premiere compositions. Chris is a lecturer at California State University at Monterey Bay and maintains a private studio.

Academy Registrar ~ Sandy Nelson
Sandy Nelson is a semi-retired Santa Cruzian. She has decades of work experience with a variety of companies, most recently 14 years as school secretary at Good Shepherd Catholic School. Sandy is extremely active in our community and has served as both board member and board president of Santa Cruz Ballet Theatre, the Santa Cruz Chapter of the Northern California Kidney Foundation, and Marello Preparatory High School. She is the grandmother of Studio alumna Bonnie Costa, who is currently dancing with Utah Regional Ballet, and her daughter Kristine Ronzano has been active as a board member and financial officer with Santa Cruz Ballet Theatre for many years. Sandy has been managing The Studio office since the fall of 2011.