Our faculty is comprised of experienced dance-educators who have immersed themselves in the art of dance. BTP teachers continue to educate themselves and grow as artists in order to maintain the highest standard of excellence in dance education. The teachers at BTP are dedicated to passing on the generations of tradition and knowledge that have made ballet the enduring and captivating art that it is. All of our staff bring professional performing and choreographic experience, as well world-class training with an emphasis on pedagogy.
Jennifer Cafarella - Director
Jennifer Cafarella started her formal ballet training with the Nina Marlowe School of Ballet and The School of Ballet Arizona and graduated from the prestigious Walnut Hill School for the Performing Arts. Her professional performance includes Ballet de Cali in Colombia, Ballet New England, Granite State Ballet, Jose Mateo’s Ballet Theatre, and Convergence Ballet. The combination of a BS in Business Administration, an MFA in Dance, Power Pilates certification, and ABT teacher certifications has empowered and educated Ms. Cafarella to develop with her own teaching methods. She has been on faculty at Scottsdale School of Ballet, Paula Carr Dance Academy, Arizona School for the Arts, Mesa Community College, and The School of Ballet Arizona and has presented her teaching methodology to various conferences across the nation.
Ms. Cafarella has also choreographed Bye Bye Birdie for Arizona School for the Arts, Carousel for Mesa Encore Theater (Awarded MET Best Choreography for a Musical) and Billy Elliot for Mesa Encore Theater. She has a passion for teaching and seeks constant education for herself and her faulty to develop dancers from the inside out.
Belinda DePasquale - Assistant Director
Belinda DePasquale began her ballet training in Massachusetts and has trained with Maria Vegh, at Boston Ballet’s Dance Lab, and at David Howard’s Summer Dance Intensive. She received her bachelor’s degree from Bard College, where she majored in French, studied abroad at La Sorbonne in Paris, studied Modern Dance focusing on the Dunham Technique, and was choreographer and soloist for the student-led ballet company.
In 2007, Belinda took a hiatus from ballet in order to focus on a social issue dear to her heart - fighting educational inequality. Belinda joined Teach for America through which she taught first grade for two years at Creighton Elementary School and became a certified K-8 teacher for the State of Arizona. Following her two-year service with teach for America, Belinda became the Instructional Specialist and Assistant Training Institute Director for Arizona Teaching Fellows/TNTP. In this position, Belinda hired, trained, and supported new teachers for low-income schools while also acting as educational consultant and liaison to the principals of the schools where her teachers were placed.
In 2010, Belinda found that her passion and love for ballet were too great to leave unattended, and she returned to dancing. Since her return, Belinda has trained privately under Daniel Baudendistel. She currently dances with Convergence Ballet Company, and has danced with Terpsicore Dance Company, as a guest artist for Yuma Ballet Theater as Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty and in The Nutcracker as Chinese, and with Southwest Ballet Theater as Snow Queen and Mirlitons in The Nutcracker and in the Pas de Trois des Odalisques from Le Corsaire. As a choreographer, she has worked with Bard College dance majors, Terpsicore Dance Company and has also worked as Assistant Choreographer to Daniel Baudendistel for Southwest Ballet Theater’s production of The Nutcracker. As a ballet instructor, she has taught at Arizona School for the Arts, The School of Ballet Arizona, Scottsdale School of Ballet, and at Mesa Community College as Adjunct Professor of Dance. Belinda has been lauded for her ability to combine her passion for dance, experience as a leader and educator, and rich knowledge of ballet as it relates to the classical form to create an inspiring and meaningful learning environment for her students.
Daniel Baudendistel - Adult Ballet Teacher
Daniel began his ballet training with Jonathan Watts, Larry Long at the Ruth Page Foundation, Roger Tully in London, and David Howard in New York. He danced with American Ballet Theatre, The Joffrey Ballet, and the Lar Lubovitch Dance Company. He has been featured with the BBC of London and appears in the documentary film "Ballet Russes." He was televised in Russia dancing with Ekaterina Maximova at the Kremlin Palace, as well as appearing with Gala Des Etoiles in Montreal. He is noted for his partnering skills and dramatic roles. He most recently danced in the noted role of "Don Quixote" in the ballet of the same name with Ballet Arizona, and in Ib Andersen's A Midsummer Night's Dream.
As a teacher he has worked with students at the ABT Summer Intensive in New York, The Joffrey Ballet, and continues to coach dancers privately around the world. He is noted for his knowledge of kinetic principles, music theory, and understanding of the classical form as it relates to the dance. He was Professor of Dance at the New School University Eugene Lang College in New York City. He takes great pride in his extensive collection of dance literature, media and memorabilia.
Shauna Morales - Creative Movement Teacher
Shauna Morales first began dancing at age 14. She has studied ballet, cheer, jazz and contemporary. Though she took time away from dance to be a full-time mom she continued to study ballet in through local classes and college.
In 2011, she started a highly popular creative movement program for children and since then she has shared a love of dance with over 200 students, of all ages and abilities throughout the Phoenix metro area. She has choreographed and organized recitals and her young dancers have performed for the Arizona Diamondbacks, City of Phoenix, and at the Phoenix Center for the Arts.
She is currently working towards her official certification through Dance Masters of America and completing her Bachelor’s Degree. She looks forward to working with the world class staff at Ballet Theatre of Phoenix and the wonderful children and families. Her teaching motto comes from her childhood hero, Mister Rogers, who reminded each child that they are special just the way they are.
Ilir Shtylla - Adult Ballet Teacher
Originally from Tirana, Albania, Ilir’s early exposure to Albanian folk dancing led him to ballet lessons at age 11 at National Ballet School of Albania. Ilir graduated from the Baku Choreographic University of Azerbaijan, and then joined Azerbaijan Opera Ballet Theatre as a principal dancer. After moving to the United States in 1999, Ilir was given a full scholarship to The Rock School of Dance Education in Philadelphia and the School of American Ballet in New York City. Ilir danced with Carolina Ballet (2000-2003) and Oregon Ballet Theatre (2007-2008) as a soloist dancer, and as a principal dancer with Ballet Arizona (2003-2015). In addition, Ilir has been a guest artist with Miami City Ballet, Pennsylvania Ballet and North Carolina Dance Theatre. Ilir’s dance repertoire includes pieces by national and internationally known choreographers such as Jerome Robbins, Twyla Tharp, George Balanchine, Michel Fokine, Marius Petipa, Dwight Rhoden, Alexei Ratmansky, Nicolo Fonte, Ib Andersen, Lynne Taylor-Corbett and Robert Weiss. Ilir has also been featured in works by Christopher Wheeldon and Alejandro Cerrudo. Ilir has performed at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts with Oregon Ballet Theatre and with Ballet Arizona. Since moving to Arizona in 2003, Ilir has been a faculty member at many studios throughout the Valley including Yen-Li Ballet School, the School of Ballet Arizona, Ballet Etudes, Diverse Elements and Plumb Performing Arts Center faculty.
Dominika Gaines - Somatics Instructor
Dominika Borovansky Gaines (MFA, BFA) is the Owner and Visionary behind Kinesphere Center for Movement Education, a unique, wellness-based studio that emphasizes cutting-edge and mindful movement practices for healing and optimizing the human body and spirit. She is a GYROTONIC® Master Trainer and GYROKINESIS® Pre-Trainer, well-known and admired in the movement community for her creative application of somatic and neuroscience to her movement instruction, clarity and precision in hands-on and verbal cueing, her cogent explanations of what is being taught and why, and nurturing each instructor's innate curiosity.
In addition to her experience with and knowledge of the GYROTONIC Expansion System®, Dominika has an extensive background in dance and movement, including the study of Anatomy, Dance Kinesiology, Ideokinesis and numerous somatic practices. She holds additional certifications as Nutritious MovementTM RES-CPT, PMA®-CPT, is a SmartSpineTM Ambassador and most recently completed Z-health Performance R-Phase and I-Phase Re-education Certification.
As a dancer, Dominika received numerous scholarships and awards for artistic and technical performance, was lauded for her choreography and from 1995-2002 was the Artistic Director of Semaphor DanceWorks, a company she founded. She holds both a BFA and MFA in Dance and Performance from Arizona State University.
GYROKINESIS® is a licensed trademark of the Gyrotonic Sales Corp. and used with permission.
Tracy Thompson - Creative Movement Teacher
A performer at heart, Tracy Thomason honored her own childhood wish when she took her first adult dance class at Phoenix College in 2006. This introduction into the local dance community motivated her to leave her communications job behind to pursue a new career in dance education. For nearly 10 years, Tracy has worked as an independent teaching artist, bringing dance education programs to hundreds of Arizona primary school children. You’ll currently find her in classrooms teaching cheer, yoga, and hip hop to K-6th grade students with InMotionAZ. She also inspires the littlest of dancers with her engaging teaching style as the creative movement instructor for Phoenix Center For the Arts.
Tracy has had the pleasure of studying and performing professionally with Troubadour Café, Opendance, Dias Dance Life, Phoenix Heatwave, Velocity Circus, and Circus School of Arizona. In 2011, Tracy co-founded her own performance company, Ignite Collaborative, serving as Managing Director for three years; she is still active as a company dancer and choreographer. Tracy received further dance training at Scottsdale Community College and participates in continuing education opportunities to further develop her skillset.
Tracy’s greatest joy as a teacher is knowing that every interaction with her students is an opportunity to nurture self-discovery and build confidence in their unique abilities.