Faculty & Staff

Ballet Faculty

Denise RinaldiConservatory Director/ Artistic Director: BA, FCUSA, FISTD, CUSA Examiner, CUSA Executive Director,Progressing Ballet Technique certified
Valerie HustonBFA, Dance Faculty UCSB, Resident Choreographer
Nilas MartinsBallet Faculty
Natalie Bianchi Modern Faculty
Amity BeardsleyBallet Faculty
Erin ClarkBallet Faculty
Teresa JohnsonStaff - Administrative Asst.

Denise Rinaldi – Co-Artistic Director, Performing Company, BA, FCUSA, FISTD, Conservatory Director

01 Director- Denise Rinaldi FCUSA, FCI, FISTD, Examiner

Ms. Rinaldi holds her Fellowship, (passed with distinction) in Cecchetti USA and the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing and is a member of Cecchetti International. The Fellowship is the highest teaching qualification awarded. She is Chair of the Board of Directors for Cecchetti USA. In addition, Ms. Rinaldi is an examiner for the organization and travels around the country evaluating students in this capacity. Her training began with Carol Garland, whose Cecchetti background emphasized pure classical styling. She received her degree in Theater from the University of California, Santa Barbara where she studied with many fine dance teachers. She received private coaching both as a dancer and a teacher from Sheila Darby, FISTD, head and founder of Cecchetti USA. In 1983, she set her first choreography, (on Goleta Civic Ballet) and won the NARB Monticello Scholarship to the Craft of Choreography conference from the Pacific Region. She has been a Director for Santa Barbara Festival Ballet for over 30 years. 

La Sra. Rinaldi posee un Fellowship ( grado adquirido con distinciones) en Cecchetti USA y la Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing y es miembro de Cecchetti Internacional. El Fellowship es la certificacion de enseñanza mas alta que se otorga. La Sra. Rinaldi es Presidenta de la Mesa de Directores para Cecchetti USA. Ademas, la Sra. Rinaldi es una examinadora para la organizacion y viaja alrededor del pais evaluando estudiantes en esta categoria. Su entrenamiento empezo con Carol Garland, cuyo enfasis en Cecchetti era puramente estilo clasico. Recibio su titulo en Teatro en la Universidad de California en Santa Barbara, donde estudio con maestros de danza muy reconocidos. Recibio entrenamiento privado como bailarina y como maestra con Sheila Darby, FISTD, fundadora de Cecchetti USA. En 1983 creo su primera coreografia en Goleta Civic Ballet y gano la beca NARB Monticello a la conferencia del Arte de Coreografia de la Region del Pacifico.

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Valerie Huston – Co-Artistic Director, Performing Company, BFA, Dance Faulty UCSB, Resident Choreographer

Valerie is a member of the dance faculty at the University of California at Santa Barbara. She received a B.F.A. degree from the ballet department at the University of Utah and has been a Santa Barbara resident for more than 30 years. From 1977 to 1985 she was the founder and artistic director of The Valerie Huston Dance Theater which toured regionally and received funding from the National Endowment for the Arts. She has received a lifetime achievement award in dance from the Santa Barbara Dance Alliance and also serves on the Board of Directors of the Ensemble Theater Company of Santa Barbara. Her work Bobby Sings for Nine was recently selected for performance on the RAD/Pacific dance festival in Bremerton, WA.

Valerie es miembro de una facultad de danza en la Universidad de California, Santa Barbara. Recibio un titulo de B.F.A de el departamento de ballet en la Universidad de Utah, y ha sido residente de Santa Barbara por mas de 30 años. De 1977 a 1985 fue fundadora y directora artistica de el Valerie Huston Dance Theater, que hizo tours regionales y recibio apoyo del National Endowment for the arts. Ha recibido un reconocimiento al merito en danza por Santa Barbara Dance Alliance y tambien da sus servicios en la mesa directiva del Ensemble Theater Company de Santa Barbara. Su trabajo Bobby Sings for Nine, ha sido recientemente seleccionado para ser actuado en el Festival de Danza en RAD/Pacific en Bremerton, WA.

Nilas Martins – Ballet Faculty

Nilas Martins, born in Copenhagen, received his early dance training at the Royal Danish Ballet School. As a student he performed with the Royal Danish Ballet in such works as John Neumeier’s Romeo and Juliet, August Bournonville’s Konservatoriet, A Folk Tale, Napoli and Glen Tetleys’s Firebird. In 1984, he moved to New York and enrolled at the School of American Ballet. In September 1986 he became a member of New York City Ballet. In 1991, he was promoted to the rank of soloist and in 1993 to Principal dancer. In New York City Ballet, Mr. Martins danced numerous featured roles and worked closely with choreographers: John Alleyne, Lynn Taylor Corbett, Boris Eifman, William Forsythe, Peter Martins, Trey McIntyre, Kevin O’Day, Jerome Robbins, Susan Stroman, Richard Tanner among others. Mr. Martins film credits include: “Live from Lincoln Center” broadcast of Ray Charles in Concert, “The Nutcracker” released in 1993 by Warner Brothers, “Dance in America” telecast of “Dinner with Balanchine” where he danced the role of Apollo with Paris Opera Etoile Isabel Guerin. “Lincoln Center Celebrates Balanchine 100” where he danced ‘The Man I Love’ from Who Cares? featuring Wynton Marsalis.

Mr. Martins ‘ teaching resume’ include Armitage Gone Dance, BalletMet, Boston Ballet, Hamburg Ballet, Harvard University, Indiana University, Joffrey Ballet School, Miami City Ballet, National Ballet of China, NBA Ballet (Japan), New York City Ballet, Novosibirsk Ballet (Russia), NYSSA Summer Intensive, Princeton University, Royal Danish Ballet, School of American Ballet and Washington Ballet. Mr. Martins was one of ten fellows selected from both domestic and international applicants, to study under Michael Kaiser as a Devos Institute for Arts Management fellow at the Kennedy Center from 2010-11. Since 1996, Mr. Martins has been a Repetiteur for the George Balanchine Trust and stages ballets for companies and schools domestically as well as internationally. In addition to his work with the Balanchine Trust Mr. Martins stagings include works from the August Bournonville and Peter Martins repertoire.


Natalie Bianchi – Modern Faculty

Natalie Bianchi grew up in Sunnyvale, California where she danced at Dance Attack Studios all through childhood. She began competing and attending conventions in the 3rd grade, then moved into the contemporary modern focused company DACPAC under the directors Cheryl Copeland, Dominique Lomuljo, and Lauren Kato until the end of high school. The company spent the first half of the season working closely with choreographers such as Aminya Huston, Melody Lacayanga, Eogan Dillon, and Reed Tankersly polishing shorter length pieces for competition, and the later half of the season practicing more extensive contemporary works for their June concert where she built relationships with brilliant choreographers such as Sidra Bell, Cindy Salgado, Dana Wilson, and Carlos Jones. Natalie could not be more grateful for the versatile training DACPAC provided in ballet, hiphop, modern, tap, jazz, contemporary, African, heels, improvisation, pilates, composition, and more. She has also attended many summer intensives, but Perry Mansfield’s theatre and dance camp located in the gorgeous, remote area of Steamboat Springs, Colorado stands out as her favorite which sprouted her love for connecting her movement to nature. Natalie is currently onto her 3rd year at UC Santa Barbara working towards her Dance BFA. Her immense curiosity and open-minded perspective allows her to build connections between her love for art, academics, as well as any movement style she comes across. She is super passionate and is excited to start her teaching career with modern dance at Festival Ballet and to begin creating her own works at UCSB to share with larger communities.

Erin Clark – Ballet Faculty

Erin Clark began her ballet training under the direct guidance of Patricia Sekeres of The Patricia Sekeres Classical Ballet Academy in Ottawa, Canada, where she was promoted from Demonstrator to Junior Teacher to Teacher. Miss Pat’s training from Montreal was in the Russian style of ballet and she also passed on her wonderful knowledge of character dancing. Ms. Erin also studied in the Pre-Professional Program of The School of Dance, Ottawa, Canada where she was schooled in the Cecchetti Method by Joyce Shietze.

Ms. Erin has a BA cum laude in Women’s Studies from the University of Ottawa. During University she danced with a Contact Improv group and was exposed to the Feldenkrais Method, a sophisticated somatic method which aims to improve all aspects of movement from breathing to ballet. In 2004 she graduated from the Toronto Feldenkrais Practitioner Training Program. She practices in Ventura CA where she lives with her husband, son, daughter a dog and a cat.

In looking for a ballet home in California she has found SBFB where she continues her study of the Cecchetti Method. Ms. Erin has her Teaching Certificate 1 with Cecchetti USA and passed TC1A with distinction. She is particularly known at SBFB for her skill in teaching young children from the 3 years olds through Grade 3. Erin recently completed a professional development course in Early Childhood Dance with The Dance Education Laboratory based in New York City.


Amity Beardsley – Ballet Faculty

Amity Beardsley began dancing at 6 years old at Merced Academy of Dance in her hometown Merced. During her time there she studied classical ballet, and began dancing in the company and teaching ballet classes for children ages 3-15. She graduated from UCSB in June of 2021 with a bachelor’s degree in dance and a minor in educational studies. During her time at UCSB she performed in the Fall Dance Concert, and participated in the Senior Dance Company, where she was featured in several dance films. Amity is passionate about ballet and excited to share her love for movement this year at Festival Ballet. 

Office Staff

Teresa Johnson