Ballet Fantastique's team of expert faculty members is respected, passionate, and proven.
The Academy of Ballet Fantastique's small team of highly-qualified faculty have backgrounds not only in professional performance and in the Vaganova method, but also in dance pedagogy—so they not only know how to dance, but are also experts in working with young dancers. All are university-trained, with a combined dozens of years of professional experience. They are deeply dedicated to each Ballet Fantastique student, and are also highly approachable as dancers and parents have questions or concerns throughout their training.
Ballet Fantastiqe's Canadian-born Artistic Director, Donna Marisa Bontrager, is a choreographer and expert master teacher in the Russian Vaganova Syllabus. In New York, Ms. Bontrager worked closely for many years with Vaganova pedagogy experts Karl Singleterry and Marvin Askew (Buffalo City Ballet) and Bernadine deMike (Royale Dance Theatre New York). In Eugene, Ms. Bontrager had the opportunity to observe Howard and Kathleen Epstein, directors of the former Conservatory of Classical Dance. It was an invaluable experience for her to watch Howard Epstein train young students in the Vaganova teaching method as set forth by his teacher, internationally-renowned John Barker, the author of The School of Classical Dance. Donna says of her experience, “Studying the extensive written materials of John Barker and Oleg Briansky (author of 100 Lessons in Classical Dance), as well as watching Howard and Kathleen teach for three years changed my life.” She adds with a smile, “I could not be doing what I'm doing now without them.” Mr. Barker and Mr. Briansky have been influential in bringing Vaganova's syllabus to Amererican teachers, dancers, and training academies. Ms. Bontrager's performance résumé embraces work with New York companies, including Empire State Ballet, Buffalo City Ballet, Royale Dance Theatre New York, and Festival Choir Ballet. In addition, she was one of ten dancers invited to perform as part of the international Feast of the Tabernacles in Jerusalem, Israel, and has been invited to join the World Congress on Dance.
Out of her many years of teaching and performance experience, Ms. Bontrager has developed the complete curriculum for The Academy of Ballet Fantastique, directly following the notated Vaganova Syllabus. She works closely with all Academy of Ballet Fantastique students in their training, choreography, and performance.
Ms. Bontrager has overseen Ballet Fantastique repertoire and productions involving partnerships with choirs, opera, and soloist vocalists, symphony and chamber orchestras, literary and visual artists, and composers. Ms. Bontrager has choreographed, produced, and staged the entire critically acclaimed all-original Ballet Fantastique repertoire, including: Cinderella: A Rock Opera Ballet (with Shelley & Cal James and the Agents of Unity Band); Arabian Nights; Incendio (with the LA-based band); As You Like It: A Wild West Ballet; Bossa Brasil; String Theory; Visions d'Amour: 10 Ballets in Paris (with live 25-part orchestra and Resident Composer Jeremy DeKyle Schropp); Danse en Rouge: Variations in Red and Tchaikovsky to Tango (with the Trio Voronezh); Danse Renaissance; and Mosaico de Danza (with Traduza Dance Company). She has also led Ballet Fantastique's creation of commissioned work for Eugene Symphony (Carnival of the Animals) and the Oregon Mozart Players (Glazunov's Four Novelettes). Under Ms. Bontrager's leadership, Ballet Fantastique has toured across the Northwest and made consecutive performance appearances at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Ms. Bontrager's love of the arts also extends to her design work as a graduate of the University of Oregon's School of Architecture and in the creation of Ballet Fantastique's critically-acclaimed costumes.
Hannah Joy Bontrager has studied the eight levels of the Vaganova Syllabus and Vaganova pedagogy with Donna Marisa Bontrager (Ballet Fantastique) while creating and performing works locally, and instructing classes at Ballet Fantastique for over ten years. In addition to spending two summers at the Kirov Academy of Ballet in Washington, D.C. under Artistic Director Oleg Vinogradov (also Artistic Director of the Kirov Ballet in Russia), she was one of five students invited internationally to join renowned Kirov prima ballerina Mme. Alla Sizova's advanced class.
Hannah graduated in 2003 from the Academy of Colorado Ballet's professional division under St. Petersburg Vaganova Academy graduate Inessa Pakri-Plekhanova, while concurrently training and performing with the company’s apprentices. In Fall 2006 she was invited by internationally-recognized master teacher Oleg Briansky to join the summer staff of his New York summer intensive program as a teacher and student mentor. Hannah graduated summa cum laude and phi beta kappa from the Robert D. Clark Honors College of the University of Oregon, where, as a full scholarship student, she earned concurrent degrees in Dance and English Literature and a minor in Community Arts through the graduate Arts Administration program. Her honors thesis, “Moving Education: Building an Integrated In-School Dance Curriculum for Elementary School Classrooms,” explored the challenges and opportunities of dance education under the No Child Left Behind Act.
Hannah has performed as a guest dancer and/or contributing choreographer with a number of companies, including: Colorado Ballet Company, Manassas Ballet Theatre, Co-Art Dance Company, Traduza Dance Company, Rose Children's Theater, and the Staton Foundation. She has been a soloist with the Ballet Fantastique chamber company under Artistic Director Donna Marisa Bontrager since 2003. Hannah has also been privileged to be coached by Dina Fadayeva. Hannah has earned rave critical reviews in soloist and principal roles for Ballet Fantastique, including: Scheherazade in Arabian Nights; Rosie, the lead in As You Like It: A Wild West Ballet; the Dancing Diva and Motorcycle Girl in Cinderella: A Rock Opera Ballet (with Shelley & Cal James and the Agents of Unity Band); Tango Para Abel, Viheula, and Illumination (with the LA-based band Incendio); Marguerite, the siren in Love at the Cafe Terrace (a collaboration with composer Jeremy DeKyle Schropp); Aviary in Carnival of the Animals (with Eugene Symphony); the Nymph from Rusalka in Song to the Moon; the Lover in La Vie en Rose; Ta Tienne (to the music of Carla Bruni); the Sunshine Girl in Girl from Ipanema; and Peter Rabbit in Tales of Beatrix Potter.
Leanne Mizzoni is a native of the DC metro area, where trained with Metropolitan Ballet and Virginia Ballet Company with Ballet Russes dancers Oleg Tupine and Tania Rousseau. Leanne has also studied at Virginia School of the Arts and Joffrey Ballet. She holds a BFA in Dance Pedagogy (cum laude). She has been trained under Peggy Lyman, Peter O’Brian, Hilda Morales and Susan Brooker. Leanne taught professionally for seven years in Connecticut and Virginia and was the children’s assistant for Kirk Peterson’s production of Nutcracker with American Ballet Theatre. Leanne’s students have gone on to internationally-recognized summer programs.
Leanne is also a professional dancer, and was a soloist with the Manassas Ballet Theatre for four years. There, she performed roles in many ballets including The Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty, Carmen, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Coppelia, and Dracula, as well as original contemporary ballets and the Russian folk ballet Markitenka. Leanne joined the Ballet Fantastique chamber company as a principal dancer in 2009, and has appeared in a number of soloist roles with the company, including: the Sunnydale Fairy Godmother in Ballet Fantastique's Cinderella: A Rock Opera Ballet (with Shelley & Cal James and the Agents of Unity Band); the Diamond Statue (The Tale of Zeyn Alasnam and the Diamond Statue) in Arabian Nights; Cupid in As You Like It: A Wild West Ballet; Squirrel Nutkin in Tales of Beatrix Potter; Magie Noire and Tango Para Abel (with the LA-based band Incendio); Chloe in Love at the Cafe Terrace (a collaboration with composer Jeremy DeKyle Schropp); Carla in Ma Jeunesse and one of the three Sisters in Je Suis une Enfant (both to the music of Carla Bruni); the Lost Love in Apres un Reve; and the Butterfly in Le Papillon (with choreography by Dina Fadayeva and guest pianist Dr. John Jantzi).
Leanne joined the Ballet Fantastique contemporary chamber company in 2009, and has appeared in a number of soloist roles, including: the Sunnydale Fairy Godmother in Ballet Fantastique's Cinderella: A Rock Opera Ballet (with Shelley & Cal James and the Agents of Unity Band); the Diamond Statue (The Tale of Zeyn Alasnam and the Diamond Statue) in Arabian Nights; Cupid in As You Like It: A Wild West Ballet; Squirrel Nutkin in Tales of Beatrix Potter; Magie Noire and Tango Para Abel (with the LA-based band Incendio); Chloe in Love at the Cafe Terrace (a collaboration with composer Jeremy DeKyle Schropp); Carla in Ma Jeunesse and one of the three Sisters in Je Suis une Enfant (both to the music of Carla Bruni); the Lost Love in Apres un Reve; the Butterfly in Le Papillon (with choreography by Dina Fadayeva and guest pianist Dr. John Jantzi); Faustina Bordoni in The Misadventures of Casanova; and as Estrella, the diva in Cirque de la Lune--including "Driving me Crazy" (with Troupe Carnivale) and "My Ghost" (with Betty & the Boy).
Alanna Fisher began her training with Nadine Cole at the Academy of Ballet Arts, in Arcata, California. For her last three years of high school, she attended the prestigious Rock School for Dance Education, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. During her time there she trained with Bojan and Stephanie Spassoff, Mariaelena Ruiz, and Natalya Zieger. She has attended various summer programs including Long Beach Ballet's China Tour, San Francisco Conservatory of Dance, and the School of American Ballet. For the past three years she has been a guest teacher for Dream Quest Youth Center, under the direction of Irene Treesong. She has also spent two years teaching for various dance schools in the Salt Lake City area.
Alanna graduated from the University of Utah with a BFA in ballet. While there she has had the opportunity to travel internationally to Berlin, Germany, where she trained and learned choreography at the Berlin State Ballet School. Alanna has also performed in Athens, Greece, and San Jose, Costa Rica, with the University of Utah's Character Dance Ensemble. While travelling with Character Dance Ensemble, she attended a workshop with the Dora Stratou Greek Dance. She was a member of Utah Ballet the Department's performing company for two years, and a member of Character Dance Ensemble for three. Alanna joined the Ballet Fantastique chamber company in 2010, and has appeared in Illumination, Viheula, and Misterioso (with the LA-based band Incendio); as Princess Parizade in Arabian Nights; and as Cindy/Cinderella in Ballet Fantastique's Cinderella: A Rock Opera Ballet (with Shelley & Cal James and the Agents of Unity Band).
Alanna joined the Ballet Fantastique contemporary chamber company in 2010, and has appeared in “Illumination,” “Viheula,” and “Misterioso” (with the LA-based band Incendio); as Princess Parizade in Arabian Nights; as Cindy/Cinderella in Ballet Fantastique’s Cinderella: A Rock Opera Ballet (with Shelley & Cal and the Agents of Unity Band); as Arielle, the wire walker in Cirque de la Lune--including "Before the Bog" (with Mood Area 52); and as Paulina in The Misadventures of Casanova.
Caitlin Christopher is from Atlanta, Georgia, where she first fell in love with ballet at the age of twelve. After studying pre-professionally through high school at North Atlanta Dance Academy and attending summer programs including Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, North Carolina School of the Arts, and Boston Ballet, she pursued a degree in Dance at the University of Georgia. While at UGA, Caitlin danced as part of the University of Georgia Ballet Ensemble, becoming president of the group by her senior year. She was also featured in guest work, including Hubbard Street Dance Chicago's "The 40s" and as a soloist in Kennett Oberly’s “Within/Without.” Caitlin also discovered her love of creating choreography at UGA. Some of her notable achievements in creation are her solo piece “Intoxicating Misery,” which received an honorable mention at the Center for Undergraduate Research Opportunities, the trio “Unquiet Divide” (shown at ACDFA), and “NYC-SYR: Seat 24,” a 12-dancer ensemble piece nominated to be shown at ACDFA. Caitlin has been a company dancer with the Ballet Fantastique contemporary chamber company since 2012, and has appeared in numerous ensemble pieces as well as as Noemie, the gypsy in Cirque de la lune--including "Seller of Dreams" (with Troupe Carnivale) and "The Pope" (with Mood Area 52) and as Queen Anne in The Misadventures of Casanova.
Caitlin has teaching extensive experience in ballet, contemporary, conditioning, and Pilates. She was also a paid demonstrator for Professor Joan Buttram, and is a Stott-trained Pilates instructor. Caitlin incorporates the basic principles of Pilates, including correct postural alignment, into all of the classes she teaches, which allows her to give individualized corrections to every student to help them work correctly in their own bodies.
Ashley Bontrager has studied classical ballet since she was four years old, and trained at Buffalo City Ballet, the Conservatory of Classical Dance, Ballet Fantastique, and the University of Oregon. With the Ballet Fantastique chamber company, Ashley has performed many roles, including: Annie Oakley in As You Like It: A Wild West Ballet; Stepsister “Stasia” (Anastasia) in Ballet Fantastique’s Cinderella: A Rock Opera Ballet (with Shelley and Cal James and the Agents of Unity Band); Wanda, the floozy in Love at the Cafe Terrace (a collaboration with composer Jeremy DeKyle Schropp); Leila, the priestess in “Je Crois Entendre Encore”; Fossil in Carnival of the Animals (with Eugene Symphony); the Fox in Tales of Beatrix Potter; “New York Tango,” “Argentine Tango,” and “Strauss Polka” (with the Trio Voronezh); Audrey in Breakfast at Tiffany’s; A Novel Experience (with the Oregon Mozart Players); “Tango Para Abel,” “Misterioso,” and “Viheula” (with the LA-based band Incendio); as Chiara, the Lion Tamer in Cirque de la Lune--including "Moth to a Light" with Betty & the Boy; and as Angela Tosello in The Misadventures of Casanova. Ashley has appeared in Ballet Fantastique chamber company concerts touring in venues across the Northwest.
In addition to her work with Ballet Fantastique, Ashley completed a Journalism-Broadcasting major at the University of Oregon in 2008 with specializations in both news and documentary. Ashley coaches advanced classes including classical and contemporary variations.