Faculty

Samantha Austin

Samantha is a native from St. Augustine, Florida, and began her studies with the Leonard’s School of Dance. At a young age, her family moved to Lake Charles, Louisiana and she continued her studies with The Lake Charles Ballet Society where she became the youngest company member. In 1982, Samantha was accepted into the Houston Ballet School and later became a company member for three seasons 1986-1989. After dancing in Houston, Samantha danced at Boston Ballet from 1989-1991 and then moved to Arizona where she danced with The Tucson Ballet under the direction of Mary Beth Cabana for five seasons. In 2000-2005, Ms. Austin danced in New Orleans, Louisiana, with The Delta Festival Ballet.

Throughout her career, Samantha has had the great pleasure of working with world renowned choreographers throughout the United States including Robert Joffrey, David Howard, Peter Martins, Michael Utoff, Ben Stevens, Edward Villella, Peter Stark, Soili Arovola, Leo Aron, Jan Miller, Suzanne Farrell, Christine Lidvall, Marjorie Mussman, Anthony Ferro, Zac Ward, Ramon Sagarra, Mary Margret Holt and Richard Englund. Her repertoire includes major roles in Giselle, Swan Lake, La Bayadere, Nutcracker, Paquita, Coppelia, The Sleeping Beauty, Holberg Variations, Jewels (Rubies), Fire Bird, Serenade, La Fille Mal Gardee and Don Quixote.

Upon moving back to her home town in 2005, Samantha began her teaching career, along with attending Florida School of the Arts to major in costume design. In 2010, Samantha became the owner and founder of JBdesignS. She designs and builds classical and contemporary costumes for local studios, universities, performing arts middle and high schools, and prestigious ballet schools and companies throughout the United States. Samantha is married to her husband Lorin Austin and resides happily in Elkton Florida.

Olivia Barcia

Olivia Barcia started her dance training in 2005 at the Boca Ballet Theater. In 2007, she moved to Jacksonville, FL and began training at The Florida Ballet under the founder and Artistic Director, Mrs. Laurie Picinich-Byrd.

Ms. Barcia attended Douglas Anderson School of the Arts from 2013-2015. In the fall of 2015, she joined The Florida Ballet Conservatory until graduating high school in 2017. Olivia attended the Graduate Program at The Florida Ballet for the 2017/18 season and during that time was an assistant teacher in multiple ballet classes.

Ms. Barcia's classical repertoire includes Clara, Arabian, Lead Marzipan, Dew Drop in "The Nutcracker", Little Swans in "Swan Lake", Firebird in "The Firebird", Gulnare in "Le Corsaire", Myrtha in "Giselle", and Swanhilda in "Coppelia". She has also performed in original classical and contemporary works choreographed by locally and nationally recognized choreographers.

Currently, Ms. Barcia is attending Florida State College at Jacksonville earning her associate's degree. In 2018, she joined The Florida Ballet Faculty and The Florida Ballet Studio Company. She is currently continuing in both capacities for the 2019/20 season.

Hilly Bodin

Hilly Bodin was born in 1993 in Miami, Florida. She started ballet at the age of 2 and attended local art schools under a dance concentration. Ms. Bodin graduated with a BFA in dance from Purchase College, State University of New York. While in New York, she became a dance artist with New York City's Company XIV directed by Austin McCormick, and Artery Collection under Willy Laury.
 

Currently a freelance dancer and martial artist, Ms. Bodin has had the pleasure of working with many people of all ages and backgrounds around the globe, with the hopes of using her expertise to work towards a world more incorporated with the performing and martial arts.
 

She has performed extensively and internationally including Rome, Vienna, Greece, Germany, and Brazil. Her training includes work with choreographer William Forsythe and the former Frankfurt Ballet, and twin brothers Gen Hongthonglek and Joe Hongthongnoi, both lumpinee stadium champions and former classmates of Saenchai, now premiere coaches at Hongthong Muay Thai in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
 

Ms. Bodin's goal is embodying and bringing a plethora of knowledge on movement language,

awareness, creativity, self-defense, and most of all, to bridge the gap creatively between the two art forms.

Winter Bosanko

Winter Bosanko is currently a candidate for MFA at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee through their low-residency program and the recipient of their Advanced Opportunity Program Fellowship. Through UWM, she has had the pleasure to study with Jan Ekert, Simone Linhares Ferro, Mair Culbreth, Daniel Burkholder and Ferne Caulker.

Ms. Bosanko obtained her BFA from Jacksonville University. She is a company member with Jacksonville Dance Theatre and helps coordinate, as well as teach for their Creative Dance In Schools educational outreach program.

In addition to teaching throughout the Jacksonville area, she also creates and produces her own work through Winter Dance Projects. She has performed for Collective Soles Dance, Mary Love Dance Projects and has performed works by Lana Heylock, Rebecca R. Levy, Tiffany S. Santeiro, Juan Rodriquez, James Morrow, James Boyd, and others. Winter Bosanko enjoys fostering the growth of the dance community in Jacksonville which has lead to the creation of Backyard Dances: Artists Group. She is excited to continue promoting and sharing the arts in Jacksonville, FL with The Florida Ballet this season.

Christopher Byrd

Mr. Byrd received his training at The Florida Ballet under the direction of Laurie Picinich Byrd and Debra Webb.

While at The Florida Ballet, Mr. Byrd performed with The Florida Ballet 2 Company. Credits include The Nutcracker, Giselle Peasant Pas, Dracula, Romeo and Juliet, Beauty and the Beast, Peter and the Wolf, The Taming of the Shrew. In addition, Mr. Byrd has performed in various contemporary and liturgical pieces.

He has attended Master Classes with Davis Robertson, Artistic Director of Joffrey Ballet Concert Group and Mr. James Kinney, Broadway choreographer.

Mr. Byrd is an ABT® Certified Teacher, who has successfully completed the ABT® National Training Curriculum Teacher Training Intensive in PrePrimary through Level 3. Currently, Mr. Byrd is teaching at The Florida Ballet Training Center in Jacksonville, offering instruction in the Boys program and outreach classes.

Rebekah Duncan

Rebekah is originally from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. She began her training at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet under the direction of Marcia Dale Weary. While dancing at CPYB she performed the Sugar Plum, Dew Drop, and Arabian in George Balanchine's Nutcracker and the lead role of Cinderella.

She continued her training with the San Francisco Ballet School. After spending one year in the school, she was asked to join the trainee program. While in San Francisco, Bekah performed the lead role of the Liberty Bell in Stars and Stripes, as well as, had the opportunity to perform in The Nutcracker, Romeo and Juliet, and Swan Lake with the Company.

After two years in San Francisco, Bekah joined Boston Ballet II. While in Boston, she performed The Nutcracker, La Bayadere, and A Midsummer's Night Dream. Later Bekah joined Ballet Theatre of Maryland as an apprentice and was promoted to demi-soloist. During her time at BTM, she performed roles such as Spanish in the Nutcracker, The Diamond Fairy in Sleeping Beauty, as well as, several other featured roles in original works.

After spending some time at BTM, Bekah joined Corpus Christi Ballet as a Principal. During her time at CCB, she performed roles such as Sugarplum Fairy, Snow Queen, and the lead role of Giselle.

Kate Fisher Levitz

Kate Fisher Levitz is a native of Jacksonville. She grew up in Riverside, studying ballet with Thelma Baggs. Over the years of her performing career, she has performed numerous roles in classical ballets with regional companies including Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, Nutcracker, Les Sylphides, Grand Pas De Quatre, as well as contemporary works.

After earning Masters Degree in Dance at Florida State University, Ms. Levitz studied in New York City with Finis Jhung, at the American Ballet Theatre with Maria Swoboda and in modern dance at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Center and the Cunningham School. She was one of the original members of the Joyce Trisler Danscompany.

Ms. Levitz has taught at Jacksonville University, Huntingdon College, and Florida State University where she directed the dance department’s touring company for three years and mentored M.F.A. concerts. Kate also worked with Contemporary Dancers of Canada, teaching ballet and modern dance, and directing their Apprentice Programme and touring the Province of Manitoba.

Ms. Levitz is an accomplished choreographer, having set her works on several regional ballet companies and winning the prestigious Choreographic Fellowship from the State of Florida to produce an evening of her own works. Ms. Levitz has a long association with the Ballet Arts Center of Jacksonville and the Jacksonville Ballet Theatre as dancer and choreographer. Most recently she was director of the Braided Light Dance Project.

Ms. Levitz is an ABT® Certified Teacher, who has successfully completed the ABT® Teacher Training Intensive in Primary through Level 5 of the ABT® National Training Curriculum.

Rebecca R. Levy

Rebecca R. Levy is a choreographer, performer and educator who has lived and worked in Boston, Seattle, Los Angeles, and Jacksonville. Rebecca’s choreographic work has been featured in festivals and concerts internationally and throughout the country. Throughout her career she has had the pleasure of dancing for a variety of choreographers including James Morrow, Hilary Thomas, Bliss Kohlmyer, Mikey Rioux, Lana Heylock, Eryn Schon, Erica Rebollar, Deborah Wolf, Wade Madsen, Stephanie Skura, and others, and toured nationally for six seasons as a soloist with Lineage Dance Company of Los Angeles.

Rebecca is currently Professor of Dance & Director of the Dance Repertory Company at Florida State College at Jacksonville. She holds her MFA in Choreography from California Institute of the Arts where she studied with distinguished artists such as Stephen Koplowitz, Colin Connor, Stephanie Nugent, and Mitchell Rose; a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance from Cornish College of the Arts; is registered Certified Yoga Instructor; and a certified Pilates instructor. Rebecca is a cofounder of Jacksonville Dance Theatre and serves as the company’s Artistic Director.

 

Alexa Lucente

Ms. Lucente is originally from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. There she trained at the Pennsylvania Academy of Ballet studying under Margarita DeSaá and John White (Cuban National Ballet). She furthered her training and education at Mercyhurst University in Erie, Pennsylvania under the direction of Department Chair Tauna Hunter (Ballet West).

Ms. Lucente graduated with honors in 2015 earning a B.A. in Dance with a concentration in Pedagogy. Upon graduation, she danced professionally for four seasons at Florida Dance Theatre in Lakeland, Florida under founding director Carol Krajacic Erkes (Cincinnati Ballet). Featured roles include: The Nutcracker (Snow Queen, Dew Drop Fairy), Peter Pan (Mermaid Queen), Sleeping Beauty (Princess Fluorine), Dracula (Vampire), The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (Principal Duet), and numerous contemporary work.

Ms. Lucente is also a performer at Universal Studios, Orlando, dancing the role of a Beauxbaton at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. In addition to classical ballet, she is qualified in modern, contemporary, and tap.

Her mission as a dancer and educator is to be a catalyst in exposing the transcendence of the arts to the world.

Katie McCaughan

Katie McCaughan, a native of Chicago, is a dancer, performer, and educator who received her Master's Degree in Dance Education from New York University. In 2002, she completed a BFA in Dance from Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle, WA and became an active member of the Seattle dance community where she regularly juggled the diverse roles of performer, administrator, producer, and instructor. The hub of her activity took place at Velocity Dance Center; one of the busiest and most innovative contemporary dance spaces in the Northwestern United States.

Since then Katie has been committed to an ongoing study of contemporary dance technique, composition, improvisation, contemplative dance practice, authentic movement, choreographed and improvised performance. Katie has been a guest teacher and choreographer at schools and workshops around the country including The Chicago Academy for the Arts and The Gallatin School at New York University.

Katie has danced with and for many artists who have deeply influenced her, and who will continue to inspire her through time: Amii LeGendre, Alia Swersky, KT Niehoff, Lynn Simonson, Karl Frost, David Dorfman, Corrie Befort, Jessica Jobaris, and many others. Katie is a certified Simonson Technique Teacher and a certified SOMA Practitioner whose creative, therapeutic and educational work is shaped by her interest in the body as symbol, vessel, and home. Katie served for six years as the Director of Dance at Episcopal School of Jacksonville and is now an Adjunct Professor of Dance at Jacksonville University and Florida State College at Jacksonville. Katie is a co-founder of Jacksonville Dance Theatre and serves as the company’s Executive Director.

Heather Olschewske

Heather grew up in upstate New York where she began her training with Bill Hotaling. In 1995 she graduated with honors from SUNY Brockport with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance. There, she studied with Timothy Draper, Randy James, Clyde Morgan, Susannah Newman, Sondra Fraleigh, among many others. While at Brockport, she performed and toured with the school's two performing companies, DANSCORE and SANKOFA.

After graduation from Brockport, she taught dance and theater in Jacksonville, FL from 1995-1999. Heather then spent the next 5 years managing the dance program at Berwick Academy in Southern Maine and choreographed for the Portsmouth School of Ballet, Portsmouth, NH. She has continued her studies in dance at Bates Dance Festival, The Florida Dance Festival, The Portsmouth Percussive Dance Festival and The FDEO conference where she has participated in Master Classes with Robert Atwood, Terry Creach, Clyde Evans Jr., Danny Buraczeski and Desmond Richardson.

Since returning to the Jacksonville area, Heather has taught at Douglas Anderson School of The Arts and is currently a member of the faculty at St Johns Country Day School, as well as the Artistic Director at Arts Edge. She has been a member of The New Hampshire Dance Alliance and is currently a member of The National Dance Educators Organization, The Florida Dance Educators Organization and The Florida Dance Association. Heather Olschewske is an ABT certified teacher, who has successfully completed the ABT® Teacher Training Intensive in Pre-Primary through level 3 of the ABT® National Training Curriculum.

Tiffany S. Santeiro

Tiffany Sullivan Santeiro began her professional dance career with Genesis Dance Company, and worked for the Genesis Foundation for the Arts teaching in outreach programs throughout Brooklyn, The Bronx, Manhattan and Connecticut. She then went on to perform with the Metropolitan Opera with such artists as Sean Curran, Doug Varone, and Julie Taymor. Since receiving her MFA in Choreography from Jacksonville University in 2012, she has been collaborating with artists from the US, Israel, Austria, Iceland, France and South Africa. This international exposure has been paramount in informing her current ventures within dance creation and dance research. Tiffany often uses the medium of film to communicate her artistic vision, and her films have been screened nationally and internationally. She won Best Experimental Film at the 2012 Portland Film Festival for Adaptive Strategy, a film she created in Skagastrond, Iceland and Honorable Mention at the Movies by Movers Festival for (Be)longing, a film commissioned by JDT in 2012. Her most recent dance -film collaboration (with Yaacov Bergman and Peter de Grasse) was premiered with the Portland Chamber Orchestra in May of 2014. Tiffany is currently an Adjunct Professor at Jacksonville University. She is a co-founder and serves as the Creative Director of Jacksovnille Dance Theatre.

Heidi-Erin Alford Skursky

Heidi-Erin Alford Skursky began her training at the age of three in Dayton, Ohio at Pontecorvo Ballet Studios under the direction of Barbara Pontecorvo. At the age of ten she was chosen to dance with the pre-professional company Gem City Ballet and has danced in several summer programs around the United States including Chicago Ballet, RDAs Craft of Choreography and Alvin Ailey School of the Arts.

Ms. Skursky graduated from Friends University in Wichita, Kansas with highest honors gaining a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Ballet and Drama in 2009. Upon graduating, she began dancing with Ballet San Antonio where she danced and taught from 2009 to 2012. In 2012, she began dancing, teaching and choreographing for the Corpus Christi Ballet under Cristina Stirling Munro and Mrs. Alexandra Trevino. She moved to Pensacola, Florida with her husband in 2016, and shortly after they moved to Jacksonville.

Not only a professional ballet dancer and teacher, Ms. Skursky is also a certified personal trainer having received her certification in 2013. She is excited to be working for The Florida Ballet this season.