MEET OUR STAFF
Owner and Founder
Owner and Founder of the Wilmington School of Ballet & Dance, the Wilmington Preschool of Fine Arts, Glitz & Glam, and ZFitness Wilmington. She is, also, the Executive Director of the Wilmington Ballet Company. Her goal in establishing these companies was to provide many opportunities to students in the Lower Cape Fear Region of NC for quality dance education.
Hester was a soloist with Raleigh Dance Theater and a former faculty member of the Raleigh School of Ballet. Hester studied at the Atlanta Ballet as a scholarship student, the Walnut Hill School of the Arts, North Carolina School of the Arts, East Carolina Dance Program, and the Richmond Ballet, & has a degree in Civil Engineering from NC State.
Born and raised in New York City, Debra began her dance training at The School of American Ballet. As a young dancer she performed with The New York City Ballet Company in The Nutcracker, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Harlequinade. Her musical theater credits include A Chorus Line, Carmelina, and West Side Story, to name a few.
Throughout her career Debra has taught Master Classes nationally and in Brazil. Having recently moved to Wilmington, North Carolina, Debra is looking forward to contributing in the dance community.
As a Teaching Artist with Dancing Classrooms, she is very excited to pilot the program here in Wilmington and surrounding counties. She also teaches and choreographs for Take the Lead Academy, a youth ballroom performance group.
Alexandra is from Temecula, California. She began her ballet training at age 6 and studied with The Ballet Studio & Academy of Ballet Arts. She attended summer intensives: American Ballet Theater, Boston Ballet, Washington Ballet, Ballet San Jose and State Street Ballet which led to Trainee positions with Ballet San Jose & State Street Ballet. In 2017, she joined USIB and has been featured in a variety of leading roles such as Mercedes in Don Quixote, Russian in The Great Wilmington Nutcracker, Wicked Witch in The Wizard of OZ, and Fairy Godmother in Cinderella. Alexandra is excited to return for her third season as a principal dancer for USIB.
Katherine started dancing at a local studio in her hometown of Lexington, VA and later went on to study dance at Mercyhurst University. She spent her summers training at the Richmond Ballet and the Joffrey Ballet. For the 2018-2019 year Katherine danced professionally as a soloist with Connect the Dots Dance Company in Washington DC. She has performed lead roles including Snow Queen in The Nutcracker, Hermia in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, White Cat in Sleeping Beauty, and Russian Princess in Swan Lake. Additionally, she has taught dance at Connect the Dots School of Ballet, Ballet Petite, and the YMCA.
Ella Cunane is 20 years old, originally from Greensboro, NC. She began dancing at the age of 3. At age of 10 she began ballet training at The Dance Center of Greensboro. During her time at DCG she trained under several renowned instructors. She studied the Cecchetti method and is now a certified Grade 6 dancer. Ella has attended several summer intensives including the Cecchetti Council of America International Summer School, Atlanta Ballet, and spent a summer in Piacenza, Italy training with world-renowned faculty at Piacenza Art Ballet Workshop. Ella is thrilled to be part of the U.S. International Ballet Company.
Alycia is the the office manager of WSB. She has been a part of the Studio A family since it opened in September 2017. Over the past three years, she has become more involved in working closely with Aunika Browne, the owner, and now works as the office manager. She is the mother of two girls: Alexis who cheered with All Star Cheer at Studio A and Brianna who competes on the company Dance team there. As a young child she took dance in a small town in New York where she grew up. Alycia has worked in some form of management for the past 20 years and looks forward to supporting and helping the parents and dancers here at WSB.
Aunika fell in love with dance at age three after participating in a summer ballet camp. Her mom quickly enrolled Aunika in regular tap and ballet classes at the Tapestry Performing Arts Center in Boone, North Carolina. After moving to Sneads Ferry, NC at age ten, Aunika began dancing at Dance Theatre of Jacksonville, where Aunika expanded her training to include jazz, lyrical, tap, musical theater, hip hop, and contemporary. During this time Aunika began assisting other instructors and after teaching classes of her own fell in love with dance again, but this time as a teacher. Aunika was also one of the original dancers in the Dance Theatre of Jacksonville Ballet Company and danced soloist roles in the first two annual productions of The Nutcracker. After high school, Aunika went on to study Dance Performance and Choreography at the University of South Carolina in Columbia. After returning home to North Carolina, Aunika began teaching dance full time and traveling to competitions again, but this time as an instructor.
Aunika opened Studio A of Wilmington in 2017. With the vision of a studio that accepted kids of all backgrounds and levels, Studio A began to thrive in a family friendly atmosphere. After working with US International Ballet and Wilmington School of Ballet in USIB's production of The Great Wilmington Nutcracker, Aunika quickly fell in love with their mission of acceptance, as well.
Aunika is excited to bring her passion for dance and business experience together as she continues to share her love of dance within the next generation of students!
Stella, studied with Nicholai Morosov and Ludmila Morkovina, both graduates and professors of the Vagnova Institute and Maly Theater (Mikhaylovsky) in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Madame Morkovina also taught at Kirov Academy of Ballet and currently still teaches at the City Dance Center at Strathmore in North Bethesda, MD. Mrs. Johnson also danced under the direction of Francoise Adret, Paris opera, French ballet dancer, teacher, choreographer, and company director of the National Ballet of Panama. She studied under Estrella Kadiaj, who had danced with Bejart. She studied with Henry Danton from the Royal Ballet as a guest Margot Fonteyn from Panama. Stella performed professionally with the National Ballet of Panama and Ballet Concierto. She performed in the following ballets:Swan Lake, La Bayadere, Les Sylphides, Paquita, Dying Swan, and many more.In addition to Mrs. Johnson's extensive ballet background, she acquired a B.S in Ecomomics and a Masters in Human Resources, which opened an opportunity for her to work for HR Information Systems with the Navy and Office of Personal Management for 30 years. Married with three children, Mrs. Johnson now resides in Wilmington and teaches at the Wilmington School of Ballet and Dance.
Rachel Taylor has trained in classical ballet for over 10 years, she began her classical training under Brantly Shapiro in Winston Salem. Rachel has performed with Ohio dance theatre in Oberlin, Ohio and with Gary Taylor's Winston Salem Festival Ballet. In 2016 Rachel graduated Magna Cum Laude from The University of North Carolina in Charlotte with a BA in Dance performance. She is thrilled to be a part of the Ballet Company this season.
Rachel Sanford is originally from Dallas, TX. She began her training at age 4 at the Ozsoy School of Ballet in Duncanville, TX, under Ballet Master Ceyhun Ozsoy. Rachel attended many summer intensives including the American Ballet Theatre Collegiate Program, the International Ballet Competition Intensive, the Joffrey Ballet, and Houston METdance Professional Intensive In 2016, Rachel graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Dance and a Business Foundations Certificate from the McCombs School of Business. She has performed in professional pieces by artists including Sidra Bell, Merce Cunningham, Andrea Beckham, Mark Morris, Shen Jun, and Joe Celej. She has choreographed multiple contemporary ballet works for the Dance program at UT Austin and for the McCallum Fine Arts Academy in Austin, TX.
Brimley Olliff started her study of dance at Genuine Dance at the age of 4. After three years, Brimley’s family moved to Juneau, Alaska, where she continued her studies at Juneau Dance Theatre under the direction of Zach Hench. She has spent the last year with Salt Lake City Ballet under the direction of Terry Davis. Brimley has had the opportunity to attend summer intensives with Colorado Ballet, Ballet West, Bolshoi Ballet Academy, and American Ballet Theatre. Most recently , Brimley traveled to Incheon, Korea, for three weeks to study at the International Ballet Summer Intensive. Brimley has performed leading roles in The Nutcracker, Swan Lake, and Sleeping Beauty. She has preformed internationally at the Vaganova Society in Edmonton, Canada, and competed in Youth America Grand Prix. Brimley is looking forward to the next steps in pursuing her goal of becoming a professional dancer as a First Company Member with USIB.