Company Apprentices

Company Members  •  Company Apprentices  •  Artistic Staff  •  Alumni


Wilson Francois is an eighteen year-old senior and a second year company member. He started dancing at the age of twelve under Damon Keller at the first Ockley Green Middle School dance class. He has also trained in Hip-Hop during the summer at Beaverton Dance Center in Beaverton, Oregon. After high school, Wilson would like to earn his BFA in dance from University of Southern California’s Glorya Kaufman School of Dance. He would like to thank Damon Keller and Bunky Williams for being the best teachers he ever had and for teaching him everything he knows. His most influential and trusted teacher is Bunky, who has helped with everything in Wilson’s dance classes, and is always there to talk.


Lily Patrick is a fourteen year old freshman, and this is her first year in the company. At the age of three she began dancing with Hollywood Dance and soon after with Chisao at Buckman Elementary School. Lily then attended to da Vinci where she danced under Claire Olberding and Sara Martins. She also participated in an after-school dance program with Éowyn Emerald. Lily has danced at Éowyn Emerald’s Dancescape summer intensive. After graduating high school, Lily wants to go to a university to study dance, and eventually join a professional dance company. She would like to thank her dance teachers from da Vinci Claire Olberding and Sara Martians, for always pushing her to succeed. She would also like to thank her teachers Miss Jessica and Rachel from Hollywood Dance for both giving me a good foundation to dance. She would also like to thank Éowyn Emerald for expanding my knowledge of dance. Lastly she would like to thank Chisao for showing her professionalism and how to act on a company.

Sophia Simpson is a fourteen year-old-freshman and a first-year company member. Sophia started dancing at The School of Oregon Ballet Theater where she studied ballet under Damara Bennett. The minute she stepped into the dance studio she knew that was what she wanted to do. In elementary school she danced at The Portland Ballet, where she was taught by Patty Jones and Nancy Davis, as well as Éowyn Emerald and Josey Mosley over the summer. She spent the last year at Northwest Dance Project under Charlene Hannibal. Sophia has attended The Portland Ballet summer program for three years as well as Northwest Dance Project's Junior Dance Intensive. In the coming years, she hopes to go out of state for summer programs. After High School, she hopes to study dance and music in college. Sophia is incredibly thankful for all the teachers that have guided her and helped her reach her full potential in dance over the years. She would like to thank Damara Bennett who introduced her to ballet and showed her the value of hard work, Éowyn Emerald for helping her realize her love of moving, Patty Jones for being such a wonderful mentor and teacher, the Da Vinci dance department for helping her expand the horizons of her training while introducing her to the world of tap, and Steve Gonzales for giving her this amazing opportunity to thrive and grow in a supportive community of wonderful dancers. She would also like to thank her parents and her sister, Nora, for always being there for her and giving her strength.

Raya Vinar is a fifteen-year-old freshman and a first year company member. Raya began training at the age of four, starting with a few ballet classes. In kindergarten, she started dancing at Buckman Arts Elementary School. There, she was taught by Chisao Hata. In third grade, she decided to pursue dance further and started taking classes after school and on the weekends at NW Dance Project. She continued training throughout middle school at da Vinci Arts Middle School under the direction of Claire Olberding and Sara Martins. During middle school, she continued to train at NW Dance Project where she was taught by various company members. She attended the Nashville Ballet’s summer program in Nashville Tennessee. Raya plans to continue dancing after high school. She hopes that her love for dance can help her travel and attend college away from home. Raya would like to thank Chisao Hata for introducing her to dance, Sara Martins and Claire Olberding for always being supportive figures in her life, Tracy Durbin for teaching her how to be an artist, Tracy Julias and Charlene Hannibal for giving her a strong ballet foundation, and finally Steve Gonzales for giving her the amazing opportunity of dancing with the Jefferson Dancers. She would also like to thank her friends and family for always being supportive of her and her passion for dance.

Ana Paloma Whiteman is a fifteen-year-old freshman and a first year company member. Paloma started dancing with Chisao Hata at Buckman Elementary School as a part of Chisao's after-school dance program. In preparation for da Vinci's dance program, Paloma began ballet at Laurelhurst with Jojo Hills and Amy Havins where she studied for 3 years. In the summer of 2016, Paloma attended the Portland Ballet Summer intensive, which was very intense but was one of the most amazing experiences for her. After eight beautiful years of dancing, Paloma would like to thank her dance teachers Sara Martins, Claire Olberding, and Chisao Hata for helping broaden her knowledge of the dance world. She would also like to thank her parents for always being supportive of her dreams.