Star Coltrin is an eighteen-year-old senior and this is her fourth year on the company. She began training in ballet at the age of four at Flor de Liz Dance studio in Tucson, Arizona. When she moved to Portland in 2012, she began studying at Classical Ballet Academy under the direction of Sarah Rigles. She has been accepted to many summer intensives and has attended the Ballet Tucson, Orlando Ballet, Joffrey Ballet, Northwest Dance Project, San Francisco Conservatory of Dance, and University of the Arts summer intensives. After high school she plans to continue her dance training in a college or conservatory setting, and continue on to a professional career in dance. She thanks Steve Gonzales for his work with the company, and for pushing her to work harder every day. She would also like to thank Cynthia Tosh for her influence on ballet and technique and Rachel Slater for teaching her how to push her limits through movement. Lastly she would like to thank Tracey Durbin for introducing her to a wider world of dance and for always believing in her. Additionally, she would like to thank her parents for always supporting her ambitions, especially her mom for being so dedicated to helping her achieve a career in dance.
Maia De La Torre-Mackin Maia De La Torre-Mackin is a seventeen-year-old first-year senior. Maia took many different dance classes as a young child, though she became much more dedicated and serious about her dance career at the age of fourteen when she began attending Rose City Ballet School and Jefferson High School. She has attended The Joffrey Ballet School Summer Intensive, as well as different workshops through BodyVox and Northwest Dance Project. After high school, she plans to continue her dance training in a college setting, to prepare her for a life of dance. She would like to thank all of the dance faculty at Jefferson, especially Steve Gonzales for giving her the amazing opportunity to be a part of the Jefferson Dancers. She would also like to thank Renee Meiffren for accelerating the development of her ballet technique. Lastly, she would like to thank her mom for her unconditional support.
Kaiya Gilbert is an eighteen-year-old senior at Jefferson High School, and this is her third year on the company. Kaiya started ballet training at the age of ten and continued dancing through middle school and into high school. In middle school, she danced with the West Sylvan Dance Team under Keeley and Kerry Driscoll. Outside of dance team, she took ballet classes at Bodyvox to further her technique, and she continues to take classes in all styles at Bodyvox and Vega Dance Lab. Through high school she has trained with Steve Gonzales and Cynthia Tosh. She would like to thank Keeley and Kerry Driscoll for helping her truly discover her love for dance and supporting her, as well as her grandfather, Doyle Gilbert, for helping her reach her goals. Kaiya would like to attend a four-year college and a medical school to fulfill her medical career goals while also continuing to dance.
Jensen Sears Jensen Sears is an eighteen-year-old senior and this is her fourth year with the company. She began dancing under Sara Anderson at Elite dance studio, and found her love of dance while dancing at West Sylvan under Keeley Driscoll. She also trained under Jessica Hollyfield in jazz, tap, ballet, contemporary, and African at West Sylvan. She has attended Alonzo King LINES Summer Intensive, Northwest Dance Project Summer Intensive, San Francisco Conservatory of Dance Summer Intensive, and the University of the Arts Pre-College Summer Program. After high school Jensen would like to go to college to obtain her BFA in Dance and then continue on to dance professionally with a company. She would like to thank Keeley and Kerry Driscoll for their continuous support, Ching Ching Wong for believing in her and guiding her, and Steve Gonzales for allowing her to be a part of such incredible dance company while pushing her everyday. Lastly, she would like to thank her parents and grandparents for their amazing love, encouragement, and for always believing she could do whatever she put her mind to.
Ellie Thomas Ellie Thomas is a seventeen-year old senior, and this is her third year in the company. She started dancing at four-years-old in tap, jazz, and ballet until she moved to Singapore where she continued her training. After moving to Portland, Oregon, she trained at Portland Festival Ballet for two years. Her formative training began at Sultanov Russian Ballet Academy (SRBA) in 2010. While studying under Artur Sultanov, she learned character dance and furthered her experience in pointe and Russian ballet, as well as jazz at Elite Dance Studio. She still trains and performs with SRBA in addition to Jefferson Dancers. Ellie has attended SRBA’s summer Ballet intensives from 2011-2018. She also attended the San Francisco Ballet Summer Program in 2017 and Alonzo King LINES Contemporary Ballet Pre-professional Program in 2018. After high school, she plans to attend college and earn dual degrees in English and dance performance. She would like to thank Artur Sultanov for years of excellent ballet training and Steve Gonzales for pushing her to do more than she ever thought she could. She would like to thank her family, especially her parents and grandparents, for being so supportive of her dreams and helping her get this far.
Caalyn Yarbrough is a seventeen year old senior and this is her fourth year with the company. She has been dancing for as long as she can remember but really got her start when she began dancing with SEI doing Hip Hop. She has found her love for choreographing through being involved in multiple dance projects throughout her high school experience. After high school, Caalyn would like to go to college to earn a degree in criminal justice while still continuing to dance. She would like to use her education to join the police force and eventually become a detective. She would like to thank everyone who has continued to push and support her through her journey, especially Steve Gonzales for believing in her when she didn’t believe in herself.
Zachary Brant is a seventeen-year-old junior and this is his second year on the company. He has danced previously at the Portland Ballet and attended their summer intensive three times. Zach would like to thank his very first dance teacher Brian Baker who taught him breakdance for seven years. He would also like to thank all the teachers at the Portland Ballet as well as the teachers at Jefferson.
Sierra Briscoe is a sixteen-year-old junior, and this is her third year on the company. She began dancing at Main Street Ballet at the age of six, continued on to Sun Valley Ballet, and then to Dance Fusion Northwest where she trained under Carla Kendall-Bray and Darvejon Jones. She has participated in multiple musical theater productions including Beauty and the Beast, Newsies, and, most recently, Broadway Rose’s production of Annie. After high school she would like to go to a university in New York to double major in musical theatre and health studies. Sierra would like to thank all of her dance teachers and Steve Gonzales for pushing her to always want to be her best. Being a Jefferson Dancer has been an incredible experience for her, and she wouldn’t be able to do it without the constant support of her mom and sisters, who she is incredibly thankful for.
Lauryn McCarthy is a sixteen-year-old junior and this is her third year on the company. She first started dancing at Irvington elementary school at the age of six as a requirement and took classes like African dance and ballet once a week. Ms. Cassandra, a ballet teacher at Irvington, recommended getting into more dance classes and that’s really what started her love for dance. After high school Lauryn plans to go to college, possibly to study pre-med in California but she isn’t sure about what exactly she wants to do yet. She hopes to continue dancing after high school whether or not that means on a company or just taking classes here and there. Lauryn would like to thank Sara Martins and Claire Olberding, her tap and jazz teachers from middle school, because they were very inspirational to her and pushed her to improve and audition for the Jefferson Dancers. She would also like to thank Renée Meiffren, her ballet teacher of two years who was really inspiring and showed her how to love not only ballet but to love dance as a whole. Lauryn also wants to thank her family for helping make this all happen, and Steve Gonzales for pushing her as a dancer and helping her dreams come true.
Kate Zipper is a sixteen-year-old junior and this is her third year on the company. She started dancing during school in kindergarten, but later took it on as an after school activity in third grade. After high school she plans to go to college in California and dance in LA commercially. Kate would like to thank Chisao Hata for introducing her to dance, Sara Martins for helping her realize her love for tap, Claire Olberding for always believing in her and pushing me, and Renee Meifron for helping her maintain and exceed her technique in ballet. She would also like to thank Steve Gonzales for giving her the opportunity to be a part of the Jefferson Dancers.
Zaida Johnson is a fifteen-year-old sophomore and this is her second year on the company. At the age of four she began her dance training at the School of Oregon Ballet Theatre (SOBT). Dancing there, Damara Bennett gave her multiple opportunities through dance. She also gained valuable exposure to performing in professional dance productions during her training at SOBT. Zaida has attended multiple summer intensives including SOBT, The Portland Ballet and Alonzo King LINES Ballet in San Francisco, California. After Jefferson, Zaida hopes that she can go out of state for college and she wants to see where dance can take her all around the world. She would like to thank Damara Bennett for introducing her to the world of dance at the School of Oregon Ballet Theatre, and Claire Olberding, Sara Martins, and Eowyn Emerald Barrett of the da Vinci dance department for expanding her true love for dance. Zaida would also like to thank Heather Jackson for deepening her pre-professional dance experience and for supporting her every step of the way and Steve Gonzales and the Jefferson dance department staff for giving her this incredible opportunity. Additionally, she would like to thank her family for always having her back and for being so supportive of her.
Zoe Ridgell is a fifteen-year-old sophomore and this is her second year with the company. She was first introduced to dance by Chisao Hata at Buckman Elementary. There she discovered her love for dance and began training at Classical Ballet Academy in fourth grade. Dancing at CBA gave her a strong foundation for dance, while creating a strong community between her and her fellow dancers. She would like to thank all of her teachers at CBA but most of all director Sarah Rigles and contemporary teacher Sissy Dawson for teaching her to reach for her dreams and strive toward her fullest potential. Zoe has recently been accepted into summer programs such as Alvin Ailey and Alonzo King Lines Ballet. After high school she plans to dance in college and afterwards join a contemporary company. She would also like to thank Sara Martins, Claire Olberding, and Tracey Durbin for giving her countless opportunities and pushing her to be her best. Finally she would like to thank Steve Gonzales for giving her this amazing opportunity and her family for pushing her to pursue her dreams.
Jillian Miller is a fifteen-year-old freshman and a first year company member. She started dancing with Carla Kendall-Bray at Dance Fusion NW when she was five years old. At the age of eleven, she started training with Maricar Drillon and Jennifer Hata-Livingston at Northwest Classical Ballet. She has attended Northwest Dance Project Summer Intensive, The Portland Ballet Summer Intensive, and Tremaine Summer Dance Intensive. Ultimately,she wants to be a Professional Dancer. Depending on what opportunities might be available after High School,she plans on attending college where she can pursue a career in dance while studying in a field that allows her to help others. Jillian’s mom, Jaime, passed away in May 2018 after courageously battling breast cancer. She was Jillian’s biggest fan and guided her every step along her dance journey with love and support. She would like to thank Maricar Drillon for seeing believing in her potential and guiding her forward, Jennifer Hata-Livingston for pushing her beyond what she thought her limits were, and Ryan Paul with New Athlete for training her like a Professional Football Player! She also wants to thank her entire family, especially her dad and brother, Andy and Alex, for encouraging her every step of the way and for just being awesome! Finally, she would like to thank her entire community of friends who support me and cheer really loud!