Our outstanding faculty teach dancers at every level to think creatively, to see critically, and to utilize the skills developed with classical training as a framework for excellence in all of their pursuits. The heart of Metropolitan Ballet Academy is its knowledgeable, energetic, and dedicated faculty. Each member of this remarkable team brings to Metropolitan the professional expertise acquired only through a career in the professional dance world. Our accomplished faculty brings their love of dance and teaching to the studio, generously sharing their understanding and appreciation of the art form and classical technique as they strive to challenge and inspire our students at every level.
Born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Cameron Auble-Branigan began his ballet training at the age of ten at the Metropolitan Ballet Academy. Mr. Auble-Branigan has also studied at the Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, The Rock School, the Juilliard School, and also under the guidance of Barbara Sandonato, Pennsylvania Ballet’s founding principal dancer. Mr. Auble-Branigan also participated in the San Francisco Ballet School’s year-round program training on a merit scholarship under the guidance of Jorge Esquivel, Parrish Maynard, Jean-Yves Esquerre, and Jeffrey Lyons.
From 2012 through 2016 Mr. Auble-Branigan was a dancer of American Repertory Ballet. His repertoire included the Cavalier and Snow King in The Nutcracker, Romeo and Paris in Douglas Martin’s production of Romeo and Juliet, and the Prince in The Firebird. Mr. Auble-Branigan also danced in Kirk Peterson’s staging of Raymonda Glazunov Variations.
In 2018, Mr. Auble-Branigan had the privilege to be included in the premier residency of the new Indianapolis Ballet. As a guest artist he has danced Prince Desire and the Bluebird Pas de Deux in The Sleeping Beauty, Flower Festival in Genzano Pas de Deux, and principal roles in George Balanchine’s Valse Fantaisie, and Michael Corder’s April England. He has also appeared in the documentary film, Danseur.
In 2012, while attending the ballet program at Jacob’s Pillow Mr. Auble-Branigan was awarded the Jacob’s Pillow Professional Advancement Award in Dance. In 2015 he received a degree in Psychology from Arcadia University.
Caroline Broullon began her training in Doylestown, PA at Budzynski Studios. She continued her studies at North Carolina School of the Arts, City Ballet School in San Francisco, both the pre-professional year program and Summer Session, Steps on Broadway – Summer Session, and the Centre De Dance Choreart in Brussels, Belgium. Ms. Broullon performs with Dance Theatre of PA in both soloist and principal roles. She has also performed with Philadelphia Civic Ballet and Choreart. Ms. Broullon has been a member of the MBA faculty since 1997.
As a former professional dancer, Japan Fulbright Scholar, winner of the 2015 Upper Dublin Outstanding Educator Medal, and recently retired Upper Dublin K-5 Math Department Head, Janet Blenheim (Kinetic Literacy Program/ M3 = Math x Music x Movement©) is passionate about the beauty of mathematics and the rigor of dance. Ms. Blenheim is a founding member and former president of MBC’s Board of Directors and currently a lead teacher in MBC’s Kinetic Literacy Program bringing her M3 program to elementary students in The School District of Philadelphia.
Kate Carr, an MBA faculty member since 2013, has been a dance professional for 12 years working as a performer and an educator of dance history, ballet and modern technique. Ms. Carr began her dance training in Pottstown, PA with Phyllis Dersh Rudzitis and continued her studies at the University of the Arts, where she graduated with a B.F.A. in Modern Dance Performance. Upon graduation, Ms. Carr studied at the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance in New York, NY and began working with Sebastienne Mundheim/White Box Theatre, an interdisciplinary performance company which combines dance, puppetry, and storytelling for children and adults. She has performed with White Box Theatre in Philadelphia’s Live Arts Festival, Crane Arts, University of Pennsylvania’s Arthur Ross Gallery and Stonington Opera House in Stonington, ME. Ms. Carr is also a teaching artist with Ballet X’s Dance Exchange.
Denise Somrack D’Angelo (MBA Faculty/ Choreographer) began her ballet training in Cleveland, Ohio at age 3 and studied with Janice and Raymond Smith from age 11 through 17 at The Willoughby School of Fine Arts (Fine Arts Association). At age 17 she was awarded a full scholarship to study at the School of the Pennsylvania Ballet under the direction of Lupe Serrano. In 1982 she joined the Pennsylvania Ballet with Barbara Weisberger and Benjamin Harkarvy as directors, and became a soloist in 1987 under the direction of Robert Weiss. Ms. D’Angelo danced many soloist and principal roles in the classical and Balanchine repertoire such as Snow Queen and Dew Drop in The Nutcracker, Myrta in Giselle, Prayer in Coppelia as well as principal roles in Who Cares, Western Symphony and Rubies. Additionally, she worked with many noted choreographers including Robert Weiss, Peter Martins, Richard Tanner, Benjamin Harkarvy, Lynn Taylor-Corbett, and Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux. She retired in 1988.
A member of Metropolitan Ballet Academy’s faculty since 1997, Ms. D’Angelo has choreographed several works for the company, including Divertimento in F major, K. 138 (2012), Holberg Suite (2013) and Waltz of the Flowers fromThe Nutcracker (2013). Ms. D’Angelo was co-choreographer for MBC’s highly successful world premiere production of Cinderella (2010) and her work Evening Song was selected for performance at the Regional Dance America Festival (2010).
Etienne Diaz was born in Havana, Cuba. He began his training in the Orlando Ballet School under the direction of Peter Stark. Mr. Diaz has performed as a guest artist with many regional ballet schools. In 2010, he joined the National Opera of Bucharest, performing in a variety of roles including Russian and Doll in The Nutcracker and Mercutio in Romeo & Juliet. In 2012, he was invited as guest artist with Balletto del Sud and toured throughout Italy, performing in several roles, including The Blue Bird pas de deux from The Sleeping Beauty. From 2012-2014, Mr. Diaz danced with Milwaukee Ballet. He joined Pennsylvania Ballet as a member of the Corps de Ballet for the 2014-2015 Season and has since danced principal roles in George Balanchine’s The Prodigal Son, and roles in Christopher Wheeldon’s Swan Lake, Jerome Robbins’ The Concert, and Alexei Ratmansky’s Jeu de Cartes. Mr. Diaz has been a guest instructor for MBA’s Summer Intensive Program since 2015, and joined MBA’s year round faculty in 2016.
Originally from Loysville, Pennsylvania, Zachary Hench began his training at the age of seven at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, where he studied for eight years. From there, he went on to train at the Kirov Academy in Washington, D.C.
Mr. Hench became a member of Boston Ballet II in 1993 and was invited to join Boston Ballet as a member of the Corps de Ballet in 1994. He was promoted to Soloist in 1996 and Principal in 1998. While at Boston Ballet, he danced many principal classical roles including Siegfried in Swan Lake, Albrecht in Giselle, Conrad in Le Corsaire, Ivan in Christopher Wheeldon’s The Firebird, Cavalier and Snow King in The Nutcracker, and featured roles in George Balanchine’s Symphony in C, Serenade, Who Cares?, Tarantella, Divertimento 15, and Valse Fantasie. He also danced leading roles in contemporary works such as Mark Morris’ Malestrom, Merce Cunningham’s Breakers, Wheeldon’s Corybantic Ecstasies, Twlya Tharp’s Waterbaby Bagatelles, Lila York’s Celts and Ode to Joy, and Eliot Feld’s Contrapose.
In 2000, Mr. Hench joined San Francisco Ballet as a Soloist, was promoted to Principal in 2003, and continued to perform nationally and internationally. His repertoire of principal roles grew to include Albrecht in Helgi Tomasson’s Giselle, Espada in Tomasson’s Don Quixote, Tomasson’s Prism, Jerome Robbins’ Fanfare, and Balanchine’s Ballo Della Regina, Allegro Brillante, and Diamonds and Emeralds in Jewels. His featured roles in contemporary ballets include Wheeldon’s Continuum and Polyphonia, Peter Martins’ The Waltz Project, Robbins’ Glass Pieces, Nacho Duato’s Without Words, and Mark Morris’ A Garden.
Mr. Hench joined Pennsylvania Ballet as a Principal Dancer in April 2004 and originated the role of Siegfried in Wheeldon’s new Swan Lake in June 2004. Mr. Hench also danced the lead role of Romeo in John Cranko’s Romeo and Juliet, Colas in Frederick Ashton’s La Fille Mal Gardee, Prince Desire in The Sleeping Beauty, and Oberon in Balanchine’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Additional leading roles in contemporary ballets include Twyla Tharp’s In the Upper Room, Jerome Robbins’ In the Night; and Matthew Neenan’s 11:11, As It’s Going and Carmina Burana. Mr. Hench has also performed throughout Spain with the Angel Corella Foundation and traveled to Beijing and Shanghai in 2006 to appear with Nilas Martins’ Dance Company in Don Quixote and Peter Martins’ A Fool For You. In 2014, he was filmed for a PBS special, dancing Diamond’s from Balanchine’s Jewels, and in 2015 he was featured in Dove Chocolate’s “Love Less Ordinary” commercial campaign.
Mr. Hench served as a union delegate while dancing at Pennsylvania Ballet, facilitating communication between dancers and management and representing his colleagues during contract negotiations. The company then invited Mr. Hench to join the artistic staff as Ballet Master, and he retired from the stage in 2015 as Siegfried in Wheeldon’s Swan Lake.
Mr. Hench now serves as Artistic Director of Juneau Dance Theatre (JDT) in Juneau, Alaska, where he has choreographed a full production of The Nutcracker and numerous pieces for JDT productions, community collaborations, and outreach efforts. He produced JDT’s first ever summer intensive program and continues to direct the organization, travelling to Juneau periodically throughout the year.
Daniel Mayo is originally from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. He received his BFA in Dance in 2007 from The Juilliard School in New York City. Daniel currently dances with the Philadelphia based company BalletX, with which he has been a company member since 2014. With BalletX, Daniel has performed extensively throughout the United States, and has performed in numerous creations including works by choreographers Matthew Neenan, Jorma Elo, Nicolo Fonte, and Trey McIntyre. Before joining BalletX, Daniel was a member of the Montreal based company RUBBERBANDance Group under the direction of Victor Quijada. During his 3 years with RUBBERBANDance Group, Daniel toured throughout North America, Europe, and Asia, and participated in multiple film projects, most notably for Bravo!FACT. From 2007-2010 Daniel was a company dancer with Atlanta Ballet under the direction of John McFall, where he performed many classical roles as well as contemporary works. He has also worked professionally as a guest artist with The Atlanta Opera, Dance Grand Moultrie, and Bennyroyce Dance. In addition to performing, Daniel was on faculty at Western Wyoming Community College, and currently serves as a guest teacher and choreographer throughout the United States.
Sarah Mettin (MBA Faculty/ Choreographer) is an alumna of Metropolitan Ballet Company, and graduated cum laude from SUNY Purchase Dance Conservatory in 2011, with additional studies in Rotterdam, Netherlands at Codarts (Rotterdamse Dans Academie). She has had the opportunity to perform in works by many choreographers including Twyla Tharp, Bill T. Jones, Merce Cunningham, Jose Limon, Kate Weare, Takehiro Ueyama, Kanji Segawa, Jessica Lang, Jonathan Royse Windham, and Arantxa Sagardoy.
Ms. Mettin created her first work, Talk of Interference, in the Netherlands in 2009 and in 2011 founded her company, Mettin Movement. Mettin Movement was proud to appear at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Inside /Out (July 2015). Ms. Mettin choreographed a work on dance artist Samantha Figgins (Alvin Ailey), and in 2013, was invited to return to her alma mater to set a senior repertory solo– a very meaningful recognition of her choreographic abilities by the professors at SUNY Purchase College. The solo was awarded the Dean’s Choice, and won her the invitation to set a full-length work on Purchase Dance Company for the 2014-2015 season.
Ms. Mettin has created eight original works for MBC. Her first work for MBC, Free Standing (2011), won the Regional Dance America Festival Monticello Award, a full scholarship to study under Janis Brenner (The Juilliard School) at the National Choreography Conference. Her other works for MBC include Deep Down Basic Whatever There Is (2017), A Winged Victory (2016), Two Wills (2015), Coalesce (2015), Fractals (2014), Fieldwork (2013), and Fend (2012). Her solo, Time Passing, created for MBC Boys’ Scholarship student, Daniel Shevelev was selected for the 2014 Youth America Grand Prix Outstanding Choreography Award in Philadelphia. Ms. Mettin joined the faculty of Metropolitan Ballet Academy in 2013 and has also served as Ballet Mistress , assisting with the staging of works by both Kanji Segawa (Alvin Ailey) and Tommie-Waheed Evans (Philadanco). She is currently pursuing an MS in Arts Management from Drexel.
Chloe Perkes received her training at Deane Dance Center in Sacramento CA. and the San Francisco Conservatory of Dance. She began her professional career in 2005 at the Foundry, a San Francisco based contemporary company under the direction of Alex Ketley. In 2008, Chloe returned to classical ballet for three seasons at the Sacramento Ballet performing many principal and soloist roles. In 2010 Chloe joined BalletX after meeting company co-founder Matthew Neenan. Chloe has been featured in over 60 world premieres by choreographers including Matthew Neenan, Jody Gates, Nicolo Fonte, Trey McIntyre, Jorma Elo, Kevin O’Day, among others. In 2014, Chloe was named “Best of the Best” by Pointe Magazine for her role in Neenan’s seminal piece, “Sunset, o639 hours.” Chloe co-founded duende, an experimental music and dance company in 2015 with cellist Gabriel Cabezas and composer Alyssa Weinberg, and continues to dance for BalletX.
Alyson Pray began dancing in Cherry Hill, NJ at the Bowman School of Dance and continued her training at the Rock School of the Pennsylvania Ballet. In 1996, Ms. Pray received a scholarship to attend the Kirov Academy in Washington, D.C. where she worked with Ludmila Morkovina and had the opportunity to tour with the Kirov Ballet. She finished her training at the Pennsylvania Academy of Ballet in Narberth, PA under the direction of John White and Margarita de Saa. Ms. Pray also participated in summer programs at the Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet and Boston Ballet and in 1999, became a member of the Sarasota Ballet of Florida and was promoted to Soloist in 2001. There her roles included Odette in “Swan Lake,” Sugar Plum Fairy in the “Nutcracker,” and Queen of the Dryads in “Don Quixote.” In 2004, she joined the Pennsylvania Ballet where she performed several Balanchine ballets including “Theme and Variations,” “Concerto Barocco,” “Western Symphony,” and “Serenade.” In addition to Twyla Tharp’s “Push Comes to Shove”, Jerome Robbins’ “The Concert” and Paul Taylor’s “Company B.” Ms. Pray was a guest artist with the Royal Ballet, Washington Ballet, Tulsa Ballet and Ballet Fleming and continues to perform locally from time to time. She has been teaching ballet for fourteen years, is a certified Barre instructor and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Alternative Medicine. Ms. Pray joined the MBA faculty in 2016.
Sergey Pupyrev trained at the Perm Ballet Academy in Moscow, Russia. He is a former Principal Dancer with both the Bolshoi Ballet Studio Grigorovich in Moscow (1987-1994) and the Russian State Ballet in Moscow (1994 -2003). His principal roles included Coppelia, Don Quixote, Giselle, La Sylphide, Swan Lake, La Bayadere, among others. Mr. Pupyrev joined the MBA faculty in 2014 and leads classes in MBA’s Pre-professional Division and the Boys’ Scholarship Program.
Yaryna Tomalishchak joined the MBA faculty in 2016 and leads MBA’s Stretch Class program for classical dancers. Yaryna has trained and competed in the sport of Rhythmic Gymnastics for over 14 years, beginning at the age of 3 in Ukraine and continuing her training in the United States from the age of 7 through high school. A third place all around winner in the Junior Olympics, Yaryna has worked with many notable trainers and traveled to elite training camps and competitions across the United States as well as in Bulgaria, Romania, Poland, and Ukraine. Yaryna is also on staff as a coach at Philadelphia Rhythmic Academy and attends Temple University.
Steven Vaughn, born in the Midwest and raised in Massachusetts, began dancing very young at various competitive dance studios and continued through high school. He
graduated cum laude with awards from University of the Arts in Philadelphia, PA in 2009 earning a BFA in Modern Dance. While in Philadelphia, he worked with Brian Sanders, Jennifer Binford-Johnson, Scott Jovovich, Curt Haworth, Silvana Cardell and more. After an apprenticeship with the company during his final year at UArts, Steven danced with Parsons Dance (under David Parsons) until 2014. While in New York City, he worked with Monica Bill-Barnes, Robert Battle, and Kate Skarpetowska among others. He performed in Teddy Forance and Jon Arpino’s CLI first dance documentary “Movement One” starring Stephen “tWitch” Boss and he can be seen on “Law and Order:SVU”. He has taught across the United States, Italy and Israel and has been commissioned by Houston Metropolitan Dance Co., SHARP Dance Co., Harvard University, Westchester University, Long Island University, and other college dance programs. He is currently living in Philadelphia, PA after completing a MFA in Dance
from Hollins University in Virginia under director Jeffery Bullock. Steven is on faculty at Georgian Court University in Lakewood, NJ, as well as various studios in the greater
Philadelphia area, while serving as a part-time rehearsal director for Parsons Dance. He continues to choreograph, teach and perform as a guest artist and presents his own troupe,
Open Category Dance Co.
Natalya Lushina Zeiger is a graduate of the Moscow Academy of the Bolshoi Theater and a former soloist with the prestigious Bolshoi Ballet Company. As a member of the Bolshoi, Ms. Zeiger worked with such European masters as Roland Petit, Maurice Bejart, Alberto Alonso and Yuri Grigorovitch. Her many leading roles include Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, Giselle, Romeo and Juliet, Raymonda, and La Bayadere. Ms. Zeiger has been a member of the MBA faculty since 2001, serving as teacher, repetiteur and coach. She has staged many productions for Metropolitan Ballet, including Paquita, Swan Lake, Act II, Swan Lake, Act III, Les Sylphides, The Sleeping Beauty, Act 3, Le Jardin Animé, Suite from Don Quixote and The Children’s Mazurka from Paquita, as well as many classical pas de deux.
Ms. Zeiger also holds a Master’s Degree in Dance Education from the Bolshoi Ballet Academy. She often serves as a juror and instructor for Youth America Grand Prix, and is a highly sought after guest teacher, leading master classes throughout the United States and abroad.
Andrew Pap (Faculty Emeritus) has been involved in every aspect of dance, as a dancer, teacher, choreographer and company director. For 14 years he was a soloist with the Romanian State Ballet. After leaving Romania he performed and taught in Switzerland and Italy. In 1970, Mr. Pap came to the United States and after teaching for a year in New York, moved to Philadelphia. Currently he is a professor and chairman of the Ballet department at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. Mr. Pap’s teaching experience is extensive and includes Harlem School of the Arts, Saratoga Ballet Center, Pennsylvania Ballet, and Alvin Ailey School, where he was the recipient of the National Endowment for the Arts award as artist in residence. From 1985 to 1995 Mr. Pap held the title of artistic director for the Voloshky Ukrainian Dance Ensemble, where he was the recipient of awards from both the National Endowment for the Arts and the Pennsylvania Council for the Arts. He has choreographed for Pennsylvania Ballet, NBC-TV, Philadelphia Opera Co., Philadelphia Orchestra, University of the Arts, Voloshky Ukrainian Dance Ensemble, Mantua Opera Co. of Italy, Walnut Street Theatre Co. and the Arden Theater Co.
Mr. Pap served on the faculty at Metropolitan Ballet Academy from 1997 up until his retirement in 2011. MBC is proud to include his beautiful ballet Marcello as part of our repertoire.