Ballet AZ Blog


New season means new faces! Join us as we welcome 7 dancers from across the country to our Ballet Arizona family.

Kathryn MeeusenKathryn Meeusen

Originally from Romeo, Michigan, Kathryn trained on scholarship at the Joffrey Ballet School in New York City and The Rock School in Philadelphia. She also attended, on scholarship, summer programs at Jacob’s Pillow, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Miami City Ballet and Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet. Kathryn has previously danced as a company member with Ballet West, Ballet San Jose, and Ballet San Antonio.

Ms. Meeusen’s past repertoire includes corps and soloist roles in the classical ballets Don Quixote, Carmen, Paquita, Sleeping Beauty, Giselle, Cinderella, Grand Pas Classique, and The Nutcracker as well as neoclassical works such as Dwight Rhoden’s Evermore, Merce Cunningham’s Duets, Clark Tippet’s Bruch Violin Concerto, Sir Frederick Ashton’s Les Rendezvous, Ben Stevenson’s Dracula, Gerald Arpino’s Kettentanz and Round of Angels, and George Balanchine’s Rubies, Emeralds, Chaconne, The Four Temperaments, Symphony in C, Stars and Stripes, and Serenade.

What are you looking forward to most this season?

“Everything! Really I’m so honored to have the opportunity to dance with a company with such a vast season repertoire. If I have to pick one thing, I’d say the Balanchine program. I’ve always found getting the chance to dance a Balanchine work to be very rewarding, so getting to do a full program of it every season is really exciting.”

Anna GrunewaldAnna Grunewald

Originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Anna trained at the Ballet Academy of Pittsburgh. During the summers, she continued her training at Boston Ballet, Texas Ballet Theater, and Ballet West and expanded her performance experience as an apprentice with the Charlotte Ballet at the Chautauqua summer program. In the spring of 2018, Anna graduated from Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music with a Bachelor of Science in Ballet Performance and an Outside Field in Arts Management. Among her instructors were Michael Vernon, Violette Verdy, Sarah Wroth, Kyra Nichols, Carla Korbes, and Shawn Stevens. During her time at Indiana University, Anna performed soloist and principal roles in George Balanchine’s Serenade, Divertimento No.15, and La Source as well as the principal role of Giselle, Bournonville’s Flower Festival In Genzano, and Sasha Janes’ Lascia La Spina.

Who is your greatest dance inspiration?

“The beautiful, joyous, and kind-hearted Patricia McBride is my greatest inspiration. I spent two summers training in Chautauqua and was fortunate to be coached by her in some of the roles she performed under Mr. Balanchine. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of Ms. McBride and what she taught me: be generous and share the joy of dance with your audience, and always be daring.”

Adrian DurhamAdrian Durham

Born in Houston, Texas, Adrian grew up in Lake Charles, Louisiana. He started ballet training at age 10 at his local dance studio. At 18, he received a scholarship to the Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, which allowed him to take his training to the next level. He trained there for 3 years before he was offered a position with the Ballet Arizona studio company. After the 2017-2018 season, Adrian was offered an apprentice position with the company.

Who is your greatest dance inspiration?

“One of my biggest inspirations in the dance world is Steven McRae, principal dancer with the Royal Ballet. His dancing combines textbook ballet technique with incredible artistry and musicality. He also stands out in the dance world because of his strong work ethic. I find it very motivating to see one of the best in my field still putting in the work every day.”

Lydia RelleLydia Relle

Originally from Seattle, Washington, Lydia studied on scholarship at The Rock School for Dance Education and Pacific Northwest Ballet School, and attended summer courses at School of American Ballet and The Suzanne Farrell Ballet. She has apprenticed with The Suzanne Farrell Ballet at the Kennedy Center, Alabama Ballet and Oregon Ballet and danced as a soloist with American Contemporary Ballet and Ballet San Antonio.

Ms. Relle has been featured in many ballets including Ben Stevenson’s Cinderella, Romeo and Juliet and Swan Lake, as well as performed leading roles in Balanchine’s Rubies, Fredick Franklin’s Tribute and the classics Giselle, The Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty and Don Quixote.

What are you looking forward to most this season?

“The thing I am looking most forward to is Balanchine’s Emeralds. The ballet Jewels is one of my favorites and the music for Emeralds is so romantic and enchanting, you can’t help by fall in love with it when you see it.”

Abby PhillipsAbby Phillips

A proud Michigander, Abby began her early training in ballet, tap, and jazz, with the Taylor Dance Program and Ballet Americana under the direction of Joy Squire, Patricia Squire Lorenz, Leif Lorenz, and Julie Phillips. Previously, Abby danced with the Dayton Ballet for four seasons, Ballet Austin II, Alabama Ballet, and Sacramento Ballet. Among the many featured roles she was honored to perform, a few of her favorites include; the lead in Balanchine’s Allegro Brillante and Serenade, Gerald Arpino’s Reflections, Peasant Pas from Giselle, Stephen Mills’ Red Roses and Five Flights Up, Jessica Lang’s From Foreign Lands and People, and Amy Seiwert’s Chasing Ghosts.

Who is your greatest dance inspiration?

“There are many dancers that have influenced and inspired my love for ballet over the years. Although it is hard to choose just one, I would say Natalia Makarova is probably the most inspirational to me. Being only 5’3”, her smaller stature never stopped her from achieving incredible accomplishments or performing roles that I dream of doing. Her expansive career took her all across the world with multiple companies and became well known for her performances in classical ballets such as Giselle and Swan Lake. She was awarded multiple awards and was considered one of the finest Prima ballerinas of her generation.”

Annika EricksonAnnika Erickson

Annika began her ballet training in Spokane, Washington under the direction of Peggy Goodner Tan and Dodie Askagard. In 2015, Annika won the Northwest Musicfest Ballet Division junior gold medal and at age 15, moved to Phoenix to become a student at the School of Ballet Arizona. During the summer months, she continued her training at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, The Rock School for Dance Education, Boston Ballet School, and the School of American Ballet on full scholarship. In 2016, Annika joined Ballet Arizona’s Studio Company and performed with the company in some of her favorite ballets, George Balanchine’s Walpurgisnaught and Western Symphony.

What are you looking forward to most this season?

“I am looking forward to the various new works premiering this season, such as Ib Andersen’s The Firebird and the All Balanchine program in the spring!”

Riley McGregorRiley McGregor

Born in Morristown, New Jersey, Riley was raised in Burlington, Connecticut. She trained in Torrington, Connecticut at The Nutmeg Ballet Conservatory through high school. After graduating, Riley joined The School of Ballet Arizona’s Studio Company. She danced with the Studio Company for the 2016-17 and 2017-18 seasons performing leading roles in The School of Ballet Arizona’s productions of The Sleeping Beauty and Giselle, and performing in Ballet Arizona’s productions of Romeo & Juliet, Swan Lake, and The Nutcracker.

Who is your greatest dance inspiration?

I love watching and working with the other dancers of Ballet Arizona. I would say my biggest dance inspirations are my coworkers because I get to watch them work as well as perform. You develop a different kind of respect for an artist when you watch them at each step of the rehearsal process, as opposed to simply watching them perform the final product onstage.”


Click here to learn more about all of our company dancers! Want to see them in action? Join us at our Ballet Under the Stars performances across the Valley for FREE September 12th-15th.


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