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.
Tracy Thomason - 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.
Julee Leathers - Creative Movement
Julee was born in Salt Lake City, Utah and moved to Arizona at the age of nine. She began her ballet training under Tamara Gladikova and danced as a member of the Junior American Folk Dancers. In Arizona, Julee trained with Mary Moe Adams, studying the Royal Academy of dance curricula. She went on to dance and study with Ballet Arizona under the directorship of Malcolm Burn and Jean Paul Comelin. Julee won first place at the Arizona Dance Guild competition at the age of 11 and left home to study with University of Utah and Ballet West at the age of 14. She has performed in classical ballets such as Coppelia and The Nutcracker as well as original works like Bruce Marks’, Abdallah and Malcolm Burn’s, A Christmas Carol.
Life after ballet has included working for the State of Arizona with the Division of Developmental Disabilities, The Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce and The Greater Phoenix Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce. She became a certified Zumba instructor in 2008 and taught classes throughout the valley for 8 years. Julee and her husband have two kids. Their youngest, a daughter, is what lead Julee back to the ballet studio.
Lainie Seretis - Ballet
Lainie Seretis, a native of Arizona, began her training with Betty Johnson’s School of Dance and the Dance Motion Performing Company. Trained in ballet, jazz, and tap, she chose at a young age to focus on her classical ballet training exclusively. As a dancer she has studied under Finis Jhung, Dorrit Koppel, Gretchen Ward-Warren, Jeanne Travers, Sandra Robinson, Gail Passey-Reed, Linda Gelinas, and Nancy Schade as her primary influences. As a performer her credits include performances in classical and original ballets as well as in local Broadway performances.
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.
Michèle Ceballos Michot - Ballet
Michèle Ceballos Michot – has been a pillar in the Phoenix, AZ Arts scene since 1986. She was one of the co-founders of the Arizona Dance Festival and the founder of Opendance a non-profit 501©3 arts & educational outreach company. From 1988-2012 Michèle developed after school dance based programs for schools and community centers in Maricopa County and Tucson, AZ. Her work led her to receive the Creighton School District Partner Award and a nomination for the Governors Arts Awards. She has choreographed for Arizona Opera, Southwest Shakespeare Co., ASU Interdisciplinary Arts, New Carpa Theatre and was nominated for a Zony Award for choreography.
Michèle was born in New York City and began her dance training at 6 in Bogota, Colombia with Vladimir Volski, of the Bolshoi Ballet. She continued in New York City at Thalia Mara’s National Academy of Ballet & Theatre Arts, the American Ballet Theatre school with Leon Danielian, Patricia Wilde and Jurgen Snieder, the Joffrey Ballet School with Basil Thompson and independently with Gabriela Darvash, David Howard, Maggie Black, NYC Ballet and Louie Falco & Co. In London at the Royal Ballet School with Maryon Lane, Eileen Ward and Piers Beaumont and the Vaganova method teachers training at the Institute Paliashvilli in Tbilisi,Georgia SSR. Michèle has danced apprentice, corps de ballet to principal roles with the American Ballet Theatre, the Sadlers Wells Royal Ballet, Deutsch Oper Am Rhine, Dusseldorf, Ballet Hispanico of New York, Ruth Page's Chicago Ballet, Ballet Mississippi, El Ballet Nacional de Colombia and competed in the 1983 International Ballet competition in Varna Bulgaria representing Colombia.
Michèle continues to teach nationally and internationally as a founding member of the LIVE Art performance troupe, La Pocha Nostra with a focus on art, activism and healing. LPN has presented workshops and performances in a variety of settings from the Tate Modern, London to collaborations with local artists and activists in places of poverty and severe conflict. Locally Michèle teaches ages 5 to Seniors from Ballet to Chair Fitness, cares for 5 dogs and 5+ cats, her 94 yr old mother, adores her son and daughter and sharing her knowledge of dance and life with those she is fortunate to teach.