Offering excellent
training to students
of all levels

<b>Connect With BSS </b>
Connect With BSS

About The Ballet School of Stamford Foundation


The purpose of The Ballet School of Stamford is to foster the Art of Ballet. Toward this end, it will undertake the following activities:

  • Offer excellent ballet training to all levels of students
  • Work with other educational institutions to develop outreach programs on ballet
  • Develop a community awareness of the value of dance education
  • Promote and encourage cultural diversity in ballet training
  • Strengthen the connections between visual and performing arts by working with other arts organizations
  • Engage in cultural activities that will enhance the quality of life in Stamford

 Located in A DANCE SPACE 
Stamford Town Center 5th floor
100 Grey Rock Place Unit 226 Stamford CT 06901
Our History

The Ballet School of Stamford was founded in 1998 as a non-profit organization. We have earned a reputation of nurturing young dancers through a disciplined and focused training program that brings out the best of their natural talent. Our faculty is a dedicated and knowledgeable group of professionals who are passionate about teaching. Our outreach program “Dance for All began the first week we opened our doors with a class at St. Lukes LifeWorks and has continued successfully by partnering with other social service organizations to ensure we are reaching young people who can benefit from our programs. We are proud that in the last 23 years, 100% of our graduates have gone on to college including those who dance professionally.


Marti Etter — Executive Director

Marti Etter’s professional career encompasses over twenty years of experience as a production manager and coordinator for theater, opera, concerts, film, dance and multi-media projects.

These projects have included dramatic, corporate and educational pieces. Many have been used as fundraising vehicles for non-profit organizations. Clients have included The U.S. Navy, Smithsonian Institution, New York Philharmonic, the Dallas, Denver, and National Symphonies, Grollier Publishing, AT&T and Pitney Bowes.

Locally she has served on the Friends Board for St. Lukes Lifeworks, Roxbury School Executive Board, the Connecticut Association of Production Professionals Executive Board, Connecticut Film and Video Commission Advisory Board, the steering committee for the Collaborative Alliance, as board member of the Stamford Public Education Foundation and was on the advisory board for the Fairfield County Community Foundation’s Center for Nonprofit Excellence. She currently serves on the Stamford’s Arts and Culture Commission. 

Lilia Khanina – Music Director

A native born of Russia, Lilia Khanina earned a Master’s Degree in Conducting from the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory.  During her study at the Conservatory she had an advanced training as a choirmaster with the famous Bolshoi Theater Choir.  Ms. Khanina has a large concert experience that includes conducting the Moscow Conservatory Students Choir, the Moscow Conservatory Musical College Choir, and Chamber Choir Renaissance.  In 1996 she accepted a position of the Conductor and teacher of theoretical disciplines and piano at the Music Choral School Vesna.  Theis school and its choir with which she has performed is notable for receiving numerous awards in international competitions in Germany, Italy, France, Spain, Belgium, Sweden, Switzerland, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary.
After relocating to the US in 2003 she joined the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School where she worked as a head accompanist and did choral preparations for the Nutcracker.  In 2007 she moved to Connecticut and joined the artistic staff of the Ballet School of Stamford.  While working as an accompanist, Ms. Khanina is completinf a PhD in musicology with a research focus of American Opera of the XX century.  Her articles and essays were published in Russian and British journals and books.

Renee Robinson – Administrator 

Renee Robinson has held the position of administrator at The Ballet School of Stamford for the past twenty four years. She has held varied positions in the past in both the corporate and retail industries.

After graduating from Stamford High School, grants and scholarships enabled Renee to attend Berkley Business College in White Plains, NY where she majored in Business Administrations. She currently resides in the Stamford area with her family.



President Judith Ellenthal – Cacace, Tusch & Santagata
Paula Bell – High Ridge Brands
Peter Buck – Creative Pension and Design
Melinda Cloobeck – J.P. Morgan Securities
Marti Gibson Etter – The Ballet School of Stamford
Jeffrey Gerdes – Drum Capital Management
Marie D. Hlavaty – General Counsel
Pearl Mayo – Swiss Re

Irene Ricci – Community Member Cindy Shumate – Cynscape Design

Kiara Cabrera, Dina Cordova, Sophie Xu



Rivkins Christopher – Modern

Rivkins was born and raised in Miami Fl, where he classically trained and received his BFA in Dance from New World School of the Arts. After graduating he went onto to join Gaspard & Dancers for two consecutive seasons. After his successful season Rivkins is now a current member of Syren Modern Dance and has been a member of the company for a good 6 seasons. He has also had the pleasure of working with Germaul Barnes, Maleek Washington,  and Rosie Herrera just to name a few. After spending time being a performer Rivkins is ready to teach utilizing all of his training to build strong and versatile artist.

Bella Farina – PreBallet and Ballet 

Bella began her dance training at the Mill Ballet School, home of the Roxey Ballet Company located in Lambertville, NJ at the age of 3. Under Mark and Melissa Roxey’s guidance she has performed in many main stage productions with the Roxey Ballet Company. As a senior in high school Bella performed professional roles in The Nutcracker and Cinderella. At the age of 13, she joined the Pre-professional Trainee program, where she trained under the Roxey Ballet’s professional company. She has participated in summer intensives with the Mill Ballet School, and The Rock School for Dance Education located in Philadelphia, PA. 

Throughout college, she choreographed for the Roxey Ballet’s Nutcracker and spring production of Pied Piper of Hamelin. Bella graduated from the University of Scranton in 2021 with a BA in Marketing. She is currently a Corporate Communications Analyst at Solebury Trout and is excited to continue sharing her passion for dance with current and future students.

Karina Fornazaro – Ballet and Per-Ballet

Karina graduated from New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development, with a Master of Arts in Teaching Dance in Higher Education and American Ballet Theatre Pedagogy. She is an American Ballet Theater ABT® Certified Ballet Teacher in all levels of the ABT® National Training Curriculum. During her studies at NYU, she assisted primary classes at Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School, worked as an intern for the Dance Theatre of Harlem Summer Intensive program, and choreographed for the NYU Masters’ concert. She is originally from Brazil, where she received her ballet training and obtained her Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Psychology, focused on child development and educational processes. She has more than10 years of experience teaching ballet and she continues to advocate for making dance an accessible art form.

Tara Jarboe – Ballet, Contemporary, and Jazz

Tara grew up in New Hope, PA and received her formal dance education at the Mill Ballet School in Lambertville, NJ. She attended Wake Forest University in North Carolina where she received a BS in Chemistry and a minor in dance. While at Wake, Tara performed with the Wake Forest University dance company from 2008-2012. After graduation, she began teaching with the Mill Ballet School and dancing with the affiliated Roxey Ballet Company, where she was also the rehearsal director. While at Roxey, she was featured in several publications, including National Geographic online.

Tara has facilitated multiple educational programs in public and private schools across the tri-state area focusing on bringing cross-curricular dance and core curriculum education into schools. Tara is passionate about making the arts accessible to all people who want to dance and has taught “Wheels and Bodies” in motion classes with students who dance in their wheelchairs.

Josue Jasmin Jazz, Hip Hop, and Musical Theatre 

Josue Jasmin was born and raised in Brooklyn NY, where he developed his love for dance and theater at a very early age. This love grew as he connected with the Alvin Ailey SchoolYoung Professional Program and Broadway Dance Centerin New York City. Josue later trained at Ballet School of Stamford in CT, and New Hampshire City Ballet in Manchester, NH. His passion for dance extended to teaching and choreography. He has taught at Brass City Ballet and choreographed for recording artist Rain’s US promo tour, the 

Vibe Magazine fashion sho, New Faces Development Inc and IMTA NY & LA.  Josue worked with six-time 
Grammy winner Justin Timberlake for his US promo fragrance “Play” by Givenchy.  R&B Artist Amerie, 
popstar Kesha, and three-time 
Grammy winner gospel artist Mary Mary. Recently Choreographed 
Off Broadway Musical ONLY HUMAN.

Barry Kerollis – Ballet and Contemporary

Barry Kerollis is an award-winning choreographer, dance educator, speaker, and social media expert based out of both New York City and Philadelphia. He currently works as Ballet and Contemporary faculty at Broadway Dance Center and Steps on Broadway, and manages the contemporary dance department at Greenwich Ballet Academy. He has choreographed for numerous organizations, held the position of Artistic Director of Alaska Dance Theatre, hosts the Pas de Chát: Talking Dance podcast on the Premier Dance Network, and runs the popular blog, Life of a Freelance Dancer.

Barry began his professional career with Houston Ballet. The following season he joined Pacific Northwest Ballet, where he danced leading and featured roles for seven seasons and worked as a delegate for the American Guild of Musical Artists. After one season as a Principal with Ballet X, Barry spent 4 years traveling the nation as a Principal Guest Artist.

Kristin Montana – Hip-hop and Jazz

Kristin Montana hails from Chicago, IL and proudly brings her Chi-town flair and unique, dance style to the East Coast. With an ultra-diverse background in dance disciplines ranging from classical ballet to modern (Graham and Horton) to jazz to African, hip hop, house, and locking to musical theater, Kristin’s array of expertise is unmatched in the ever-changing world of dance. Trained under some of the great names in dance, such as Nan Giordano, Joel Hall, Kirby Reed and Homer Bryant, to name a few, Kristin’s incredible opportunities throughout her professional career, have been with roles such as: principal dancer for the Jay Z and R. Kelly’s—The Best of Both Worlds Tour; principal dancer for R. Kelly’s Key in the Ignition Tour; principal dancer BMI Awards; principal dancer in music videos such as Happy People and Thoia Thong; featured dancer in major motion pictures like Barbershop II and Rollbounce; principal dancer for Ascension: The Kirby Reed Project; principal dancer NARAS Grammies in Schools; principal dancer for 5 Star Boogie Productions, Inc.; principal dancer for Culture Shock Chicago; in addition to being a corporate model for Sally Beauty Supply and Wella. Kristin believes that the art of dance is the most natural and universal of human connections, and she emulates that passion throughout all of her performances, as well as when choreographing and teaching classes. For the past 20 plus years, Kristin has enjoyed teaching hundreds of children and adults in jazz and hip hop, and has choreographed for dance companies, high schools, and other showcases. Kristin cultivates the whole dancer by ensuring that her teaching is grounded in technique while allowing for freedom of movement and self-expression. Kristin feels truly blessed for all her opportunities in the dance world. Kristin always looks forward to spreading her vast knowledge of dance to aspiring artists in all networks of the arts.

Carolyn Paine – Ballet and Jazz

Carolyn is a choreographer and a teacher. She has trained with the Boston Ballet, the Pennsylvamia Ballet Summer Program, the Ballet Theatre of Boston, Academie de Danse Classique de Princesse Grace, Ecole Superieur de Danse, Steps on Broadway. Carolyn’s professional dance career has been with the Ballet Theatre of Boston. Carolyn has performed professionally with BalletRox, Hartford Ballet Theatre, Dimensional Dance, at Lincoln Center in Jacqulyn Buglisi’s Table of Silence, and with YaleRep in the International Dance Festival. Carolyn has been featured in a dance photo in Vogue Italia, performed as a dancer for ABC’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve, was a featured dancer in the Summer Love tour throughout China, and toured as the stubborn ballerina in comedian Hannibal Buress’ “Gibberish Rap.” She has also been a dancer in productions with several professional regional theatres. Carolyn has appeared in and done choreography for several music videos and commercials as well as choreographed for Park Road Playhouse, Trinity Arts, Clockwork Repertory Theatre, Emerson Theatre Collaborative, Built on Stilts Dance Festival, BalletArts, DFX Entertainment, The Lady Gaga Experience, Anne Cubberly’s Nightfall, and Ballet Theatre Academy. Carolyn has taught at Eastern Connecticut State University, The Dance Center, the Tony Williams Dance Center, the Hartford Children’s Theatre, the University of Hartford Hartt School, and Neighborhood Arts Programs in NYC public schools. She is the founder, director, and choreographer for CT based contemporary company CONNetic Dance which she also currently performs with. 

Téa Pérez – Modern and Contemporary

Téa received her BFA in Dance and BA in Art History from Fordham University. She graduated from the Booker T Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Dallas, Texas. She has performed works by Kyle Abraham, Lar Lubovich, Azure Barton and Dwight Rhoden at Montgomery Arts Theater and Manuel Vignoulle at Ailey Citigroup Theatre. She is currently dancing with Parsons Dance Company in NYC.

Elizabeth Rodbell – Ballet and Pilates 

Elizabeth Rodbell is originally from Sandy Hook, Connecticut. She received her dance training at the Ballet School of Stamford in Stamford, CT and Draper Center for Dance Education in Rochester, NY. She graduated in three years from Indiana Universities Jacobs School of Music with a Bachelors of Science in Ballet and Political Science. She joined the Rochester City Ballet and danced for seven seasons with the company performing both soloist and principal roles. She just recently started her freelance dance career and has since danced in Athens, Greece at the International Dance Council, The Keuka Lake Music Festival, Rochester Fringe Festival, and Nazareth College’s Movement and Dance Festival. She is a member of Mor Dance in New York City. Elizabeth is a certified Balanced Body Pilates instructor who works as adjunct faculty at the University of Rochester, Rochester Institute of Technology, and Nazareth college teaching Pilates and ballet.

Carol Shwidock – Yoga

Carol is a Certified Kripalu Yoga Instructor, Occupational Therapist, and Reiki Master. She opened Harmony Yoga Studio in 2004. Carol teaches all the classes and loves the intimate environment that smaller classes offer. Carol teaches to the students needs in the moment, always using the breath as the anchor to explore the poses. In January 2021, Carol graduated with her 300hr yoga teacher training specializing in Chinese Medicine and Chi Gong. She provides a place to find harmony and joy from the inside out.

Jolin Yang – Baby and Me

Jolin graduated from NYU with a Master’s degree in Performing Arts Administration. She is a pianist, health coach and dancer.

Guest Faculty and Choreographers

Alex Brady
Lauren Etter
Alexandra Gonzalez
Kwame Henry Jones
Laura Mead
Dana Thomas
Indah Walsh