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
Aimee Lopez Faculty: ABT© Certified Teacher, Pre-primary through Level 5, Cecchetti Associate & Progressing Ballet Technique certified
Nilas MartinsBallet Faculty
Gina SchemenauerBFA, Ballet & Modern Faculty
Diana Replogle- PurintonBallet Faculty
Erin ClarkBallet Faculty
Christina Sanchez Modern Master Classes
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.

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.

Aimee Lopez – ACUSA, Ballet Faculty, Progressing Ballet Technique

Aimee Lopez Santa Barbara Festival BalletAimee Lopez, (Artistic Director) began her training with Robert and Carol Hanlin at the Goleta School of Ballet. She continued her training with Michelle Pearson, Denise Rinaldi, and Valerie Huston at the Santa Barbara Ballet Center. Aimee has completed upper-level examinations in both the Cecchetti and the RAD (Royal Academy of Dance) syllabi. Aimee became a member of the Santa Barbara Festival Ballet performing company in her early teens and has performed at several RDA/P festivals with the company.

In 1999 Aimee attended the Rock School of Pennsylvania Ballet’s summer intensive (presently the Rock School of Dance Education) and was invited to stay for the year round trainee program. Aimee has worked with Pacific Ballet Dance Theater (formerly Media City Ballet) under the direction of Natasha Middleton, where she danced in ballets including the Polovtsian Dances from Prince Igor and L’Apres-midi d’un Faune. Aimee was a founding member of Ballet Santa Barbara under the direction of Carrie Diamond.

Aimee was Artistic Director of the Santa Barbara Festival Ballet performing company from 2016-2019.  Aimee holds her Associate Qualification with Cecchetti USA and is an ABT® Certified Teacher, who has successfully completed the ABT® Teacher Training in Primary through Level 5 of the ABT®National training Curriculum. In summer of 2019 Aimee completed certification in the Progressing Ballet Technique training system.

03 valerie_houston

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.

Gina Schemenauer – Modern Faculty

Gina Schemenauer began her early ballet training at the age of six under
Evette DeMarco Swinson. She has attended summer intensives with San
Fransisco Ballet, and Gelsey Kirkland Academy of Classical Ballet in New
York City. Gina spent her high school years as a Company Apprentice to the
Inland Pacific Ballet Company in Claremont, CA and performed with the
company in shows throughout southern California. She has enjoyed participating in many of Inland Pacific Ballet’s productions including; The Nutcracker, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Sleeping Beauty, and Cinderella. Gina performed in various roles in Nutcracker at the Arlington with Santa Barbara Festival Ballet while attending UC Santa Barbara. More recently, Gina attained her Bachelor of a Fine Arts degree in dance from UCSB and was awarded the Corwin Award for outstanding choreography in her ballet piece, “The Reality of Degas.” Gina is delighted to join the staff of Santa
Barbara Festival Ballet.


Diana Replogle-Purinton, Santa Barbara Festival Ballet

Diana Replogle-Purinton – Ballet Faculty

Ms. Replogle-Purinton began her serious ballet training with Robert & Carol Hanlin, founders of the Goleta School of Ballet in 1964 (note- not to be confused with the current Goleta School of Ballet) and the Goleta Civic Ballet (GCB) in 1968.  This school was the predecessor of our studio, Santa Barbara Festival Ballet.  Mrs. Purinton is proud to have been involved in all 40 seasons of the Nutcracker at the Arlington, first with her three siblings and then joined by her two children, Erik & Kira, who also grew up in this Studio.

In addition to teaching at SBFB, she currently teaches ballet in UCSB’s Gaucho REC Dept., ballet and California Folklorico at the Santa Barbara Boys & Girls Club, and directs her own performing folk dance company, Baile de California (BdC).  BdC performs at Santa Barbara’s Old Spanish Days Fiesta, and throughout California at many historic reenactments.

Mrs. Purinton has had the privilege of working with many of the county’s finest ballet teachers through summer programs and Master Classes.  She received her Associate Child Care Teacher Certificate from SBCC, adding to her knowledge and experience in teaching young children.  

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.

Guest Faculty 

Christina SanchezChristina A. Sanchez – Modern

Christina Sanchez studied dance on scholarship at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Center. She was invited to join the Alvin Ailey Repertory Ensemble by Director Sylvia Waters. It was there she performed the works of Alvin Ailey as well as many other notable choreographers touring and teaching extensively throughout the U.S. and abroad. She continued her performing career dancing with Ballet Hispanico of NYC, Complexions Contemporary Ballet (under the direction of Dwight Rhoden and Desmond Richardson) and Buglisi/Foreman Dance (under the direction of Jacqulyn Buglisi, former Martha Graham principal).

She was then accepted into the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater where she performed and toured throughout Europe, South America and the U.S.

Christina is currently a member of UCSB’s resident dance company, Santa Barbara Dance Theater under the direction of Christopher Pilafian. And she also teaches Modern Dance technique at Westmont College.

Christina resides in Santa Barbara,CA is married and has two beautiful girls.

Office Staff

Teresa Johnson