2015-16 Dancer Roster Announcement



SALT LAKE CITY – April 8, 2015 – Ballet West Artistic Director, Adam Sklute announces the 2015-2016 dancer roster, featuring six promotions, most notably Emily Adams and Beckanne Sisk moving up from Soloists to Principal Artists; the addition of five new Corps Artists; and the retirement of Principal dancers Christiana Bennett and Haley Henderson Smith at the end of this 2014-2015 season.

Other promotions for next season include Allison DeBona and Sayaka Ohtaki who have been raised to the rank of First-Soloist, Chase O’Connell who moves to the position of Soloist and Jenna Rae Herrera who will become a Demi-Soloist.

Five dancers will join the Corps of Ballet West: Utah’s own Chelsea Keefer who trained at the Ballet West Academy and University of Utah returns home from Tulsa Ballet, and four dancers join the main company from Ballet West II, Laurel Benson, Oliver Oguma, Anisa Scott and Utah’s own Lucas Horns, who trained from the ground up at the Ballet West Academy.

“It has been so exciting to watch all these dancers grow and develop into true artists and I am thrilled to see what they will bring to Ballet West moving forward,” said Adam Sklute, Ballet West Artistic Director. “During this past year of robust touring and record ticket sales, the entire company has performed at an incredible high. The dancers promoted have stood out for their consistent excellence with Emily Adams and Beckanne Sisk both showing their absolute readiness to take on Principal positions with the company.”

Principal Artist Haley Henderson Smith has chosen to retire from dance after five seasons with Ballet West. Following her final performance as Odette/Odile in this past February’s run of Swan Lake Henderson Smith has returned to Southern California to join her husband, former Ballet West Soloist, Easton Smith, and their new son Jackson.

“Haley is a beautiful artist and it has been such a joy to work with her these past five years,” said Sklute. “She will be missed but she is always a member of the Ballet West family and I am excited for her future!”

After sixteen seasons with Ballet West, the company’s prima ballerina, Christiana Bennett will be retiring. Bennett joined Ballet West in 1999 and rose through the ranks to Principal Artist in 2004. Originally hired by former Artistic Director Jonas Kage, she was part of the search committee that brought in current Artistic Director Adam Sklute. Throughout her career with Ballet West, Bennett has danced a wide range of demanding leading roles, bringing her unique interpretation to everything she has done.

“Christiana has a meticulous technique, purity and refinement, and a statuesque elegance that is unparalleled,” Sklute said. “As Ballet West’s prima ballerina her commitment to the Company and her art form has been an example of professionalism and greatness. I feel honored to have collaborated with her over the past eight years as Artistic Director. No one will ever fill Christiana’s glorious shoes and she will be missed forever, but I know that she will bring the same dedication, intensity and love to everything she does. “

Audiences can see Bennett in her final appearances at every performance of Ballet West’s upcoming “Almost Tango” from April 10 through 19, and at select performances of Ballet West’s Innovations 2015, May 15-23.

Plans are underway for a special tribute in honor of Ms. Bennett as part of the close of the current season as well as during the 2015-16 season Gala in November.


Joshua Jones, Associate Director of Press and Social Media

801-414-4101 (cell) | jjones@balletwest.org