Meet the Staff

The faculty members at RBT are all highly trained professionals. Our teachers have studied, performed, and taught in countries all around the world. They will ensure that your child is in a comfortable environment while learning technique in a sequential and safe manner.

staff_renee olsonRenee Aguilera

Roanoke City Ballet Company Member, Ballet Instructor.
Renee was born outside of Chicago, Illinois, were her passion for dance began. She danced with park districts until her training in classical ballet started at Dancenter North in Libertyville, Illinois, when she was 11 years old. She attended Summer Intensives for ballet there as well the year. Inspired by her ballet teacher Victoria Barlow for her ballet knowledge and patients, she knew that she wanted one day to teach as she did. Renee was taught by guest teachers such as Greg Begley, Amy Brant (Milwaukee Ballet), Mia Wilkins and Sam Franke (The Joffery Ballet of Chicago), Patricia Blair (School of Ballet Chicago) and so many more. She taught ballet classes there for children of all ages as well as a dance camp counselor. She was also, a summer scholarship winner of CNADM (Chicago National Association of Dance Masters), which she attended for three years. Her Summer Intensive training began at the Virginia School of the Arts when she was 16 and was accepted as a full year student as a senior. She graduated in 2005 from Virginia School of the Arts and E.C. Glass High School. While continuing her dancing at Radford University in Radford, Virginia, she also studied Interior Design and Psychology. Renee’s love of being in the Nutcracker every year started in 7th grade and went on until she graduated high school. She has also danced in major ballets such as Sleeping Beauty, Paquita, Cinderella, and excerpts from Swan Lake along with many others. With all the knowledge of great teachers growing up, she is able to pass on the love and training of classical ballet to others.

staff_jessie allenJessie Allen

Hip Hop and Tap Instructor.
Jessie Allen has been studied dancing for 15 years at the Floyd Ward School of Dance and has honed his ballet talents with four years of study at Roanoke Ballet Theatre. He is trained in ballet, jazz, lyrical and modern, but is most talented and most avid about tap and hip-hop. Jessie competes at the regional and national level in each of the above listed categories of dance, and has won awards including Youth Dance Ambassador for Dance Troop International. Recently, Jessie was featured on WDBJ for his age category win in the local Lewis-Gale/United Way Talent Show. Jessie is a graduate of the Arnold R. Burton Center for the Performing Arts, where he has performed in the shows Guys and Dolls, Oklahoma!, The Wedding Singer, Thoroughly Modern Milly, and Big River. Jessie has been featured in RBT performances, including roles as the Wolf in Peter and the Wolf, various tap, jazz & hip hop performances, and Lead Soldier in the 2010 performance of The Magic Toyshop and the Baker in Napoli!

staff_patricia copePatricia Cope

Modern, Acrobactics, and Jazz Instructor.
Co-Director of the Tinker Showcase.
Patricia Brooks Cope grew up in Jacksonville, Florida. She trained at Douglas Anderson School of the Arts also with Karen Norris in many forms of dance. She attended Hollins University, graduating with her BA in dance. During her time there she studied with Donna Fay Burchfield, Jeffery Bullock, Vladimer Espinosa, Ashley Anderson, Emily Wexlor, Jennifer McGinn, Mark Haim, Lisa Rase, and many more marvelous guest artists. She also attended the American Dance Festival the summers of 2006 and 2007. She lived and worked in Belfast, N. Ireland 2009-2010 were she thought many dance classes and was a member of the N. Ireland Dance Research Base. Upon returning to the US, she became a company member of the Braided Light Dance Project in Jacksonville, FL. She also has performed some of her own dance works in Jacksonville, Salt Lake City, and Roanoke. In the summer of 2011 she begun an artistic partnership with Meredith Dayna Levy and formed Dwelling Dancetheatre. Together they have produced Legend: a concert of plays and dance works, in Jacksonville, and are now in collaboration with RBT hosting a works-in-progress performance series called the Tinker. She enjoys teaching Modern, Acrobatics, and Jazz classes at RBT.

staff_liza deckLiza Deck

Modern Instructor and Director of City Modern Ensemble.
Liza Emily Fritz Deck earned her MFA in dance from Arizona State University after attending Hope College where she received the Florence Cavanaugh Dance Award. She has performed professionally with Andrew’s Arts Dance Company, Aerial Dance Company, Opera Roanoke, Mill Mountain Theatre, danah bella DanceWorks and is currently dancing with the Roanoke Ballet Theatre. Since 1994, Mrs. Deck has directed the Fleming-Ruffner Magnet Center for the Arts dance department and is proud to be the founder of the F.R.E.E. Dance Company. She is the Director of the City Modern Ensemble and her choreography has been featured at Virginia Tech and Washington and Lee University.

staff_laura dunnLaura Dunn

Roanoke City Ballet Company Member and Ballet Instructor.
Laura Dunn has been dancing for eighteen years and has been teaching for seven years. She has danced for several companies including The Sangre de Cristo Ballet Theatre in Colorado and North Carolina Academy of Dance Arts in North Carolina. She also danced as a post graduate student at Virginia School of the Arts. She is the Co-founder and Director of His School of Dance in Pueblo Co. She also was the Director of Dance at Assemble Dance studio in Lynchburg VA. She was trained in classical ballet under the Checcetti style. She has trained under Karen Pedersen Clapp a TCU graduate and Fernando Schaffenburg former ABT dancer, as a full company member in the Sangre de Cristo School of Dance where she received most of her training. She has trained under artists such as; Martin Friedman of Colorado Ballet, world renown Galina Panova, Eli Lazar, Adam Sage, Martha Fesia, Dominique Angel, Tyrone Brooks, Mari Mori and Sandra Meythaler. She has danced at several Summer Intensives with the Sangre de Cristo Ballet Theatre and Ballet Magnificat! Her goal is to always use the gift of dance to impact others. She is currently dancing with the Roanoke City Ballet at Roanoke Ballet Theatre, where she also helps with the fundraising, teaching and special events. She resides in Lynchburg VA with her husband United States Marine Lcpl. Dunn.

staff_sara kosuthSara Kosuth

Roanoke City Ballet Company Member, Ballet Instructor, and Financial Assistant.
Sara Kosuth began dancing at the age of 3 at Susan Barnes Dance Studio, in Carbondale, IL. When she was 13 she started taking weekly ballet classes at the Alexandra School of Ballet, in St. Louis. MO During this time she attended two summer intensives with Katherine Dunham where she instructed classes in East St Louis. The next year she was accepted into Virginia School of the Arts (VSA), in Lynchburg VA. where she attended for three years until her graduation. When she was 18 she attended the North Carolina Dance Theatre’s Conservatory Program in Charlotte, NC. The following year she received an Apprenticeship at Montgomery Ballet in Montgomery Alabama where she danced under the direction of Elie Lazar for two years. She received additional training with Milwaukee Ballet, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, Orlando Ballet, and Richmond Ballet, and Montgomery Ballet Summer Programs.

Norbert Nirewicz

Poland
A native of Poland Norbert began his ballet studies at the National Ballet School in Gdansk. He was a finalist in Poland’s national Ballet Competition in 1993 and obtained a silver medal in the same competition in 1995. As a Dancer for the Polish National Theater he portrayed roles in a variety of classical ballets such as”Swan Lake”,”Giselle”,”Sleeping Baeuty” and “La Fille Mal Gardee” in Warsaw and throughout Europe. In 1997 Mr. Nirewicz joined Ballet Classico de Camara in Venezuela, as a Principal Dancer adding “La Bayadere”, “Le Corsaire”and many more to his repertoire. After Mr. Nirewicz competed at the 1998 US International Ballet Competition in Jackson, Mississippi, he was offered a contract to join Cleveland/San Jose Ballet. He performed with the company for two seasons in Nahat’s “Blue Suede Shoes” and Roland Petit’s “Carmen” garnering public and critical acclaim. In the Summer of 2000 Norbert competed in New York International Ballet Competition where he was a finalist. After two seasons with Cleveland/San Jose Ballet Mr. Nirewicz joined Columbia City Ballet with a Principal contract where he performed in “Don Quichote” and “Dracula” among the others.

staff_christina robertsChristina Roberts

City Modern Ensemble Member and Ballet Instructor.
Christina Hale Roberts has studied various forms of dance for over 20 years. Her true love is ballet but over the years, she has expanded her knowledge in dance to include modern, jazz, and character classes. As an adolescent, she was a member of various companies in the Roanoke Valley, including the Southwest Virginia Ballet and Roanoke Ballet Theatre. Some of her performances include several RBT pieces in the 1996 PreOlympic Festival in Atlanta, a Seventeen Fashion Show Performance, and various tourings. She attended Radford University as a Dance Major. As an adult, she has taught at a variety of studios in the Valley.