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 web

Jennifer Cafarella Betts - 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.

Lainie web

Lainie Seretis - Ballet

Lainie has been teaching classical Vaganova ballet for over 20 years to children and adults. She has been teaching the Vaganova syllabus for both ballet and pointe to students for years. In addition, she was the first certified Progressing Ballet Technique (PBT) teacher in Arizona and has been teaching PBT for 5 years. Recently she added the Finis Jhung method to her repertoire.

As a teacher and choreographer, she has developed ballet programs for studios and staged classical and original ballets performed annually. Some of her direction and choreographic credits include Cinderella, Coppelia, Pinocchio, Snow White, and One Enchanted Christmas. In addition, she has choreographed and staged many pieces for competitions that have both choreographic and performance awards. Many of Lainie’s students have been invited to dance at the schools of American Ballet Theater, Joffrey, Complexions, Hubbard Street Dance, and the Bolshoi Ballet. In addition her dancers have gone on to accept positions in the New York Dance Project, Steps On Broadway Conservatory, Mercyhurst dance program, University of Utah (Modern Dance), and Chapman dance program.

Emilie web

Emilie Sheung Chun - Primary Ballet

Emilie started teaching in 2014 at different studios including one for under-privileged students on the West Coast of Mauritius and choreographed for several end of year school shows over the years. In 2018, she then decided to pursue her dream of dancing abroad. She attended The Ailey School starting in the fall 2018 to learn diverse styles of dance other than ballet namely Horton, Graham, contemporary, jazz and Taylor. She graduated from the Scholarship program in May 2020 having trained with an amazing faculty such as Caridad Martinez, Mikhail Ilyin, Guillermo Asca, Earl Mosley and Carolyn Adams. During her time in New York, she has had the opportunity to perform for Global Harmony at The Ailey Citigroup in February 2020 and was an apprentice at Neville Dance Theatre, until she recently moved to Arizona and joined the Ballet Theatre of Phoenix family.

Tracy web

Tracy Thomason - Creative Movement

Tracy has been an Independent Teaching Artist since 2007, bringing dance education programs to hundreds of Arizona school children. She began with Opendance under the direction of Michele Ceballos Michot and has been teaching dance and yoga to K-6th grade students with InMotionAZ since 2012. Tracy has been inspiring the littlest of dancers as a Creative Movement Instructor at Ballet Theatre of Phoenix since 2017. She received her Yoga Alliance Certification in Kids and Family Yoga in 2018. She is co-founder and company member of Ignite Collaborative, a Phoenix-based dance performance company, since 2011. Tracy’s greatest joy as an instructor is knowing that every interaction with her students is an opportunity to nurture self-discovery and build confidence in their unique abilities.


Lauren Jimenez - Contemporary

Originally from Brentwood, California, Lauren graduated from Arizona State University (ASU) with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance from Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts (HIDA); and with a minor in Film and Media Studies, and a certificate in Homeland Security. During her time at ASU, Lauren has been a part of the choreographic process and performance of guest artists, and professors including, Adam McKinney, Michael Sakamoto, Taimy Miranda, Alicia Nascimento Castro, and more.

She has performed professionally at Taliesin West, Tempe Center for the Arts and The Capitol Theater in Salt Lake City. Her creative work was selected to perform at ASU’s Spring Dance Fest, ASU’s Herberger Alumni Event, Gammage Auditorium, and Tempe Center for the Arts. In 2019, she attended the American Dance Festival in Durham, North Carolina on a full scholarship and was selected to be in the HOT SUMMER POP UP’s directed by Mark Dendy and Kayla Farrish. Most recently, she performed repertoire of Koresh Dance Company “Here and Now/Wet Stones” at Tempe Center for the Arts. She completed an Arts Administration internship with SALT Contemporary Dance and LED Boise, where she engaged in the choreographic process and performed the works of Lauren Edson and Cameron McKinney. Aside from teaching, she is also on staff at Third Space Dance Project, staff at Imagine Dance Challenge, and stage crew at Tempe Center for the Arts.

Paola Hartley

Paola Hartley - Adult Classes

Paola Hartley was born in Bonn, Germany and grew up in South Africa and Chile where her parents danced with the PACT Ballet and Ballet de Santiago. In 1993 Ms. Hartley joined Ballet de Santiago. In 1997 Ms. Hartley was promoted to the rank of soloist by Ballet de Santiago’s artistic director, Ivan Nagy after performing the role of Myrtha in Giselle. In 1998 Ms. Hartley joined Ballet Arizona rising to the rank of principal dancer. In 2013 Ms. Hartley joined The Suzanne Farrell Ballet as a soloist where she performed the role of Juliet in Paul Meijia’s Romeo and Juliet, Odette in George Balanchine’s production of Swan Lake Act II, and principal roles in Balanchine’s Episodes, Agon, Tempo di Valse, Allegro Brillante, and Pas de Dix.

In 2011 and 2012 Ms. Hartley was a guest faculty member for the Goh Ballet Academy’s Summer Intensive in Vancouver, Canada. In 2014 Ms. Hartley was a guest faculty member for the Shreveport Dance Academy’s Summer Intensive. Ms. Hartley has also taught ballet at several dance academies in Arizona including the Tempe Dance Academy, the Master Ballet Academy, Scottsdale School of Ballet, Studio R and the School of Ballet Arizona.

Luis Martinez

Luis Martinez - Adult Classes

From Monterrey, Mexico, Luis graduated from the Superior School of Music and Dance of Monterrey (ESMDM), in Classical Dance in 2010, where he studied with Roberto Machado (National Ballet of Cuba), and Rosario Murillo (International Ballet Mistress/Choreog.). At the Cordoba Dance Festival, Luis studied under Vladimir Malakhov, Adria Velasquez, Tadeusz Matacz, and Claudio Muñoz. He also completed the Character Dances Intensive with Rafael Ibatullin, and Horton Technique Intensive with Victor Talledos (Alonzo King Lines Ballet).

Luis joined Ballet de Monterrey (BdM) under the direction of Luis Serrano where he performed in major productions such as Giselle, Don Quixote, Swan Lake, The Nutcracker, and more. In 2014 under the direction of Jorge Amarante, Luis danced the four knights in Raymonda, Romeo and Juliet, and Cinderella, where he played one of the stepsisters en pointe. In 2017, he danced in the production The Phantom of the Opera (Choreog. Alberto Mendez) and also Huapango (Choreog. Luis Serrano). In his eight years with BdM, Luis was coached by renowned Ballet Masters and Mistresses including Ileana Lopez (MCB), Phillip Balmain, Galina Alvarez (National Ballet of Cuba), and more.

Luis Martinez and Serafín Castro (now, Ballet Arizona), founded and directed "SL Dancenter" in Mexico. In 2018, Luis moved to the Phoenix Metro area, where he has been leading an active teaching career, becoming a sought-after teacher and choreographer. In January 2020, he choreographed and danced a duet with Serafín Castro with the Downtown Chamber Series. In 2021, he won Outstanding Teacher Award YAGP, and his work as a Coach and Choreographer took three of his students to the final round at the YAGP Finals in Tampa Florida.

Ilir Shtylla Headshot 2015

Ilir Shtylla - Upper Division and Pas de Deux

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.

Sam Correa

Samantha Correa - Front Desk Coordinator

Sam fell in love with dance through her high school’s dance program after studying Laban Movement Analysis and Pilobolus. She went on to receive Bachelor of Arts in Dance from UNC Greensboro. While at UNCG she had the opportunity to study at the University of Ulster in Northern Ireland, UK. While in college, she worked with Helen Simoneau, Loren Gronendaal, and performed in Martha Graham’s ‘Steps in the Street’ under the direction of Duane Cyrus. Following graduation, she was awarded a place at the University of Chichester’s MA Dance Performance program in 2010. Sam danced with and taught for The Dance Cooperative in Wilmington, NC from 2010 to 2019, serving as school director from 2014-2017, falling in love with arts administration. In Wilmington, Sam danced for Forward Motion Dance Company, Linda Ann Webb, Kate Muhlstein, Brittany Patterson, Sue Meier, Melissa Pihos, co-produced the Dance-a-Lorus event for the Cucalorus Film Festival, assisted in founding the Wilmington Dance Festival, and choreographed work for the North Carolina Dance Festival and Wilmington Dance Festival. Sam has also completed her 200 hour RYT with the Kunga School, studied Ariel Silks and Lyra with Cape Fear Circus Arts, and has participated in the Stage Manager training seminar with Pilobolus. After moving to Phoenix, Arizona is 2019, Sam enrolled in the Master of Arts Administration program with Southern Utah University and is expected to graduate September 2022.

Autumn White

Autumn White - Creative Movement & Community Coordinator

Originally from Sandusky, Ohio, Autumn began her dance training at the age of 17. As her education continued, she participated at competitions, receiving various awards and traveling to New York City, to train with Broadway and ABT professionals. In 2019, she obtained her B.A. in Communications with a minor in Dance from Bowling Green State University (BGSU). She was featured in numerous showcases and a part of the University Dance Alliance, a student run organization. She has experience teaching jazz, lyrical, and creative movement for all ages. While obtaining her degree, she had the pleasure of working as a Media Assistant for the BGSU Recreation and Wellness Center, as well as assisting the planning of Festival of Sail, Sandusky's Bicentennial Event. After graduation, Autumn spent her summer at Lakeside Chautauqua, a nonprofit organization, as the Education Program Coordinator, where she created promotions and coordinated programs throughout their season. In January of 2021, she moved to the Tempe area, and is thrilled she found her way to the Ballet Theatre of Phoenix.


Lindsay Van Deest - Creative Movement

Lindsay is a Texas native but began her dance training in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, at age four. When her family moved back to Texas, she kept dancing and transitioned to a competitive dancer by age twelve. She began competing with Lonestar Collective Dance in Boerne, Texas, in 2013 under talented directors Michelle Hackbeil and Mary Rae Moy. At LCD, Lindsay trained in ballet, pointe, progressing ballet technique (PBT), jazz, contemporary, modern, lyrical, tap, and more. She competed on LCD’s Elite Company, where she won scholarships and awards at numerous conventions and competitions. In the summer of 2017 and 2018, she studied at Quenedit Ballet School in San Antonio under directors Catalina Garza and Ernesto Quenedit, where she further developed her ballet and modern technique. Lindsay was in LCD’s Ambassador program (2018-2020) where she gained instructional experience in creative movement and both beginner and intermediate ballet. Lindsay is now a junior at Grand Canyon University, where she is studying to obtain her bachelor’s in nutritional science and minor in dance performance.