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Ballet West YAGP Lecture Series

The Ballet West – YAGP Lecture Series will give dance students and industry professionals a unique opportunity to hear from leading members of the dance community. Professional dancers, members of Ballet West’s artistic staff, studio owners, and arts administrators will share their knowledge and experience on topics relevant to any student, teacher, or administrator. Attendees will leave the sessions prepared and inspired to move forward to the next step in their careers, with practical advice on how to approach both opportunities and obstacles.
The community is welcomed to attend the Lecture Series free of charge. The Series will take place in the Capitol Room (just off the lobby of the Capitol Theater) during the YAGP Regional Competition on February 24 and 26, 2017.
Detailed information on topics, panelists, and moderators is listed below.

Friday Feb 24th 11 am

Careers in the Dance Industry – Many dancers are searching for ways to infuse their futures with dance. Whether that includes a career after working as a professional dancer, or instead of working as a dancer, this panel discusses opportunities that are well suited to those with a background in dance.


  • Kim Delgrosso- Kim is the studio owner of the Utah based dance school, Center Stage, which has produced numerous dancers who have appeared on So You Think You Can Dance and Dancing with the Stars. Kim will address her experience running a school and how she has helped so many of her students successfully achieve their dance dreams.
  • Cati Snarr- Cati is the Principal of the Peggy Bergman Ballet West Academy in Park City. She also does major network choreography for TV, film, and live performance. Some of her works include High School Musical, the Salt Lake City Olympic Opening and Closing Ceremonies, for which she won an Emmy, and several Superbowl Half Time Shows, including Lady Gaga’s 2017 performance for which she has been nominated for an Emmy.
  • Rex Tilton- Rex dances full time with Ballet West as a Principal Artist and has spent the last several years curating and growing the artEmotion Summer Intensive, which will partner with Ballet West for a Choreographic Workshop in June 2017.
  • Beau Pearson- Beau is a First Soloist with Ballet West who balances his dance career with photography projects including commercial work, collaborations with professional dance companies, and portrait sessions.


  • Allison DeBona- in addition to dancing full time with Ballet West, Allison has started the artEmotion summer intensive program in both Cleveland, Detroit, and Park City. Allison will host our panel adding her insight into balancing dance careers with other endeavors and way in which her work as a professional dancer has encouraged the success of her other endeavors.

Friday Feb 24th 4 pm

Dance and Degrees – Higher Education options are more varied than ever, but that doesn’t mean that the path is clear for those wishing to look at professional dance careers.  This panel will explore ways to balance education goals and a career in the dance industry.


  • Hannah Sterling- Hannah took advantage of a joint program that allowed her to dance as a joint university and Ballet West Trainee. She is now a member of Ballet West II and is still pursuing her degree.
  • Nina Vought- Nina is the Chair of the Dance Department at Westminster College. Westminster is a four year liberal arts college located in Salt Lake City that is known for small class sizes and engaged professors.
  • Alex MacFarlan- Alex is a soloist with Ballet West. He has steadily worked on his degree during his dance career and is currently pursuing internship opportunities.
  • Tyler Gum- Tyler is a soloist with Ballet West who did class work at the University of Arizona. Tyler balances his work as a dancer with arts administration opportunities found at the Ballet West Academy.
  • Maggie Tesch- Maggie is a former principal artist with Ballet West. She received a BFA from the University of Utah in 2003 when she was still dancing with the company. She is now a faculty member at the University of Utah.


  • Sarah Taylor- Sarah is the Company Manger at Ballet West. She studied at Utah State University for her undergrad and received an MA in Art History from the University of Oregon where she focused on student activism and arts administration.

Saturday Feb 25th 10 am

Avoiding Injury and Bouncing Back – Injury prevention is often the key to a long career and returning after an injury is at times the most difficult balance between patience and training. This panel will be an exploration of the mental and physical limits in the life of athletes.


  • TBA


  • Christopher Ruud, Ballet West Principal

Saturday Feb 25th 4 pm

  • Starting Your Professional Career – Preparing job applications for professional companies can be daunting. This panel will discuss how to pick opportunities to pursue and what to focus on during the application process.


  • Jane Wood- Jane is a Ballet Mistress at Ballet West. She danced for the company for 21 years, as a Principal dancer for the last 12 years. Jane participates in Ballet West’s audition tour, traveling the country to meet with young dancers. Jane also pursued an education by starting at the University of Utah and continuing her studies while dancing, ultimately obtaining her BFA. She went on to teach at the University of Utah and Florida State University
  • Jenna Herrera- Jenna is a Ballet West Soloist who had a non-traditional path to obtaining her position with Ballet West.
  • Calvin Kitten- Calvin is the Director of Ballet West II. A former principal with Joffrey Ballet and faculty member at the University of Utah, Calvin has been a mentor and advocate for many young dancers at the launch of their career.


  • Peter Merz- Director of the Ballet West Academy who previously worked as a ballet professor. He oversees the Ballet West Academy’s Professional Training Division, which hosts dancers from all over the country and the world at the beginning of their professional careers.