Ballet Fantastique

Meet the Coaches/Instructors

Ballet Fantastique's team of expert faculty members is respected, passionate, and proven.

The Academy of Ballet Fantastique's small team of highly-qualified faculty have backgrounds not only in professional performance and in the Vaganova method, but also in dance pedagogy—so they not only know how to dance, but are also experts in working with young dancers. All are university-trained, with a combined dozens of years of professional experience. They are deeply dedicated to each Ballet Fantastique student, and are also highly approachable as dancers and parents have questions or concerns throughout their training.


Photos: Monovita, Woden Photo

Donna Marisa Bontrager


Ballet Fantastiqe's Canadian-born Artistic Director, Donna Marisa Bontrager, is a choreographer and expert master teacher in the Russian Vaganova Syllabus. In New York, Ms. Bontrager worked closely for many years with Vaganova pedagogy experts Karl Singleterry and Marvin Askew (Buffalo City Ballet) and Bernadine deMike (Royale Dance Theatre New York). In Eugene, Ms. Bontrager had the opportunity to observe Howard and Kathleen Epstein, directors of the former Conservatory of Classical Dance. It was an invaluable experience for her to watch Howard Epstein train young students in the Vaganova teaching method as set forth by his teacher, internationally-renowned John Barker, the author of The School of Classical Dance. Donna says of her experience, “Studying the extensive written materials of John Barker and Oleg Briansky (author of 100 Lessons in Classical Dance), as well as watching Howard and Kathleen teach for three years changed my life.” She adds, “I could not be doing what I'm doing now without them.” Mr. Barker and Mr. Briansky have been influential in bringing Vaganova's syllabus to Amererican teachers, dancers, and training academies. Ms. Bontrager's performance résumé embraces work with New York companies, including Empire State Ballet, Buffalo City Ballet, Royale Dance Theatre New York, and Festival Choir Ballet. In addition, she was one of ten dancers invited to perform as part of the international Feast of the Tabernacles in Jerusalem, Israel, and has been invited to join the World Congress on Dance.

Out of her many years of teaching and performance experience, Ms. Bontrager has developed the complete curriculum for The Academy of Ballet Fantastique, directly following the notated Vaganova Syllabus. She works closely with all Professional Training Division Academy of Ballet Fantastique students in their training, choreography, and performance.

Ms. Bontrager has overseen Ballet Fantastique repertoire and productions involving partnerships with choirs, opera, and soloist vocalists, symphony and chamber orchestras, literary and visual artists, and composers. Ms. Bontrager has choreographed, produced, and staged the entire critically acclaimed all-original Ballet Fantastique repertoire, including: ZORRO: The Ballet (with the LA-based band Incendio); The Book of Esther: A Rock Gospel Ballet (with the UO Gospel Singers); Tales from the Floating World (with Portland Taiko); Pride & Prejudice: A Parisian Jazz Ballet (with Gerry Rempel Jazz Syndicate; Cinderella: A Rock Opera Ballet (with Shelley & Cal James and the Agents of Unity Band); The Misadventures of Casanova; Cirque de la Lune (with Betty and the Boy, Mood Area 52, and Troupe Carnivale); Arabian Nights; As You Like It: A Wild West Ballet (including on tour to San Benedetto, Italy); Bossa Brasil; String Theory; Visions d'Amour: 10 Ballets in Paris (with live 25-part orchestra and Resident Composer Jeremy DeKyle Schropp); Danse en Rouge: Variations in Red and Tchaikovsky to Tango (with the Trio Voronezh); Danse Renaissance; and Mosaico de Danza (with Traduza Dance Company). She has also led Ballet Fantastique's creation of commissioned work for Eugene Symphony (Carnival of the Animals) and the Oregon Mozart Players (Glazunov's Four Novelettes). Under Ms. Bontrager's leadership, Ballet Fantastique has toured nationally and internationally. Ms. Bontrager's love of the arts also extends to her design work as a graduate of the University of Oregon's School of Architecture and in the creation of Ballet Fantastique's critically-acclaimed costumes.

Ms. Bontrager's students have earned prestigious placements in internationally acclaimed programs, including the Kirov Academy of Ballet.


Photos: Woden Photo

Hannah Joy Bontrager


Hannah Joy Bontrager has studied the eight levels of the Vaganova Syllabus and Vaganova pedagogy with Donna Marisa Bontrager (Ballet Fantastique) while creating and performing works locally, and instructing classes at Ballet Fantastique for over fifteen years. In addition to spending two summers at the Kirov Academy of Ballet in Washington, D.C. under Artistic Director Oleg Vinogradov (also Artistic Director of the Kirov Ballet in Russia), she was one of five students invited internationally to join renowned Kirov prima ballerina Mme. Alla Sizova's advanced class.

Hannah graduated in 2003 from the Academy of Colorado Ballet's professional division under St. Petersburg Vaganova Academy graduate Inessa Pakri-Plekhanova, while concurrently training and performing with the company’s apprentices. In Fall 2006 she was invited by internationally-recognized master teacher Oleg Briansky to join the summer staff of his New York summer intensive program as a teacher and student mentor. Hannah graduated summa cum laude and phi beta kappa from the Robert D. Clark Honors College of the University of Oregon, where, as a full scholarship student, she earned concurrent degrees in Dance and English Literature and a minor in Community Arts through the graduate Arts Administration program. Her honors thesis, “Moving Education: Building an Integrated In-School Dance Curriculum for Elementary School Classrooms,” explored the challenges and opportunities of dance education under the No Child Left Behind Act.

In addition to her work as a principal dancer with the Ballet Fantastique professional contemporary chamber company since 2007, Hannah has performed as a guest dancer and/or contributing choreographer with a number of companies, including: Colorado Ballet Company, Manassas Ballet Theatre, Co-Art Dance Company, Traduza Dance Company, Rose Children's Theater, and the Staton Foundation. Hannah has also been privileged to be coached by Dina Fadayeva. Hannah has earned rave critical reviews in choreographic, soloist and principal roles for Ballet Fantastique, including: Scheherazade in Arabian Nights; Rosie, the lead in As You Like It: A Wild West Ballet; the Dancing Diva and Motorcycle Girl in Cinderella: A Rock Opera Ballet (with Shelley & Cal James and the Agents of Unity Band); Tango Para Abel, Viheula, and Illumination (with the LA-based band Incendio); Marguerite, the siren in Love at the Cafe Terrace (a collaboration with composer Jeremy DeKyle Schropp); Aviary in Carnival of the Animals (with Eugene Symphony); the Nymph from Rusalka in Song to the Moon; the Lover in "La Vie en Rose"; the Sunshine Girl in "Girl from Ipanema"; and Peter Rabbit in Tales of Beatrix Potter.


Photos: Monovita, Mike Gilette

Leanne Michelle Mizzoni


Leanne Mizzoni is a native of the DC metro area, where trained with Metropolitan Ballet and Virginia Ballet Company with Ballet Russes dancers Oleg Tupine and Tania Rousseau. Leanne has also studied at Virginia School of the Arts and Joffrey Ballet. She holds a BFA in Dance Pedagogy (cum laude). She has been trained under Peggy Lyman, Peter O’Brian, Hilda Morales and Susan Brooker. Leanne taught professionally for seven years in Connecticut and Virginia and was the children’s assistant for Kirk Peterson’s production of Nutcracker with American Ballet Theatre. Leanne’s students have gone on to internationally-recognized summer programs.

Leanne is also a professional dancer, and was a soloist with the Manassas Ballet Theatre for four years. There, she performed roles in many ballets including The Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty, Carmen, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Coppelia, and Dracula, as well as original contemporary ballets and the Russian folk ballet Markitenka. Leanne joined the Ballet Fantastique chamber company as a principal dancer in 2009, and has appeared at home and on Ballet Fantastique tour in a number of soloist roles with the company, including: Esther in The Book of Esther: A Rock Gospel Ballet (with the UO Gospel Singers); Kitty in Pride & Prejudice: A Parisian Jazz Ballet; Faustina in The Misadventures of Casanova; Estrella, the Lonesome Diva in Cirque de la Lune; Light in the Night in ZORRO: The Ballet; the Sunnydale Fairy Godmother in Ballet Fantastique's Cinderella: A Rock Opera Ballet (with Shelley & Cal James and the Agents of Unity Band); the Diamond Statue (The Tale of Zeyn Alasnam and the Diamond Statue) in Arabian Nights; Cupid in As You Like It: A Wild West Ballet; Squirrel Nutkin in Tales of Beatrix Potter; Magie Noire and Tango Para Abel (with the LA-based band Incendio); Chloe in Love at the Cafe Terrace (a collaboration with composer Jeremy DeKyle Schropp); Carla in Ma Jeunesse and one of the three Sisters in Je Suis une Enfant (both to the music of Carla Bruni); the Lost Love in Apres un Reve; and the Butterfly in Le Papillon (with choreography by Dina Fadayeva and guest pianist Dr. John Jantzi).


Ashley Blake Bontrager


Ashley Bontrager has studied classical ballet since she was four years old, and trained at Buffalo City Ballet, the Conservatory of Classical Dance, Ballet Fantastique, and the University of Oregon. With the Ballet Fantastique chamber company, Ashley has performed many roles, including: Annie Oakley in As You Like It: A Wild West Ballet; (including on Ballet Fantastique tour to San Benedetto, Italy); the Celestial Maiden in Tales from the Floating World; Lizzie Bennette, the lead in Pride & Prejudice: A Parisian Jazz Ballet; Angela Cattarina Tosello, the priest's niece in The Misadventures of Casanova; Chiara, the Lion Tamer in Cirque de la Lune; Stepsister “Stasia” (Anastasia) in Cinderella: A Rock Opera Ballet (with Shelley and Cal James and the Agents of Unity Band); Wanda, the floozy in Love at the Cafe Terrace (a collaboration with composer Jeremy DeKyle Schropp); Leila, the priestess in “Je Crois Entendre Encore”; Fossil in Carnival of the Animals (with Eugene Symphony); the Fox in Tales of Beatrix Potter; “New York Tango,” “Argentine Tango,” and “Strauss Polka” (with the Trio Voronezh); Audrey in Breakfast at Tiffany’s; A Novel Experience (with the Oregon Mozart Players); “Tango Para Abel,” “Misterioso,” and “Viheula” (with the LA-based band Incendio). Ashley has appeared in Ballet Fantastique chamber company concerts touring in venues across the Northwest.

In addition to her work with Ballet Fantastique, Ashley completed a Journalism-Broadcasting major at the University of Oregon in 2008 with specializations in both news and documentary. Ashley coaches advanced classes including classical and contemporary variations.

Kendra Elliott


Kendra Elliott started dancing at the age of three, training at Hosanna Dance Studio of Eugene, where she studied classical ballet, jazz, and contemporary technique. During high school, Kendra became passionate about ballet, and continued her studies under the instruction of Jennifer Knight Dills and Leanne Mizzoni. While at Hosanna Dance, Kendra participated in many soloist roles. She has also competed in many dance competitions in the state of Oregon, receiving an award for choreography and dance in her solo piece “Gravity.” From a young age, Kendra has participated in many performances, including as guest dancer in New Hope College’s debut of the Disney musical, Tarzan.

Kendra started as a teacher assistant in 2011, and continued as a lead teacher at the age of 18, coaching at various schools in the Eugene area. She also brings extensive experience in conditioning and gymnastics to The Academy of Ballet Fantastique. In 2014, Kendra joined the staff of Ballet Fantastique coaches and completed Ballet Fantastique's intensive professional teacher training course. In addition, Kendra is currently pursuing a degree in English at the University of Oregon.

Justin Feimster


Justin Feimster is from south Georgia, where he graduated with a BA in Theatre Production from Valdosta State University in 2009 while attending dance classes and performing with Dance Arts, Inc. While in Valdosta, Justin performed for several Nutcracker seasons, dancing several variations and the role of the Nutcracker Prince, and also appearing in a touring production of Gaite Parisienne. With Ballet Fantastique, Justin has performed in many roles at home and on Ballet Fantastique tour, including: Bernardo in ZORRO: The Ballet; the samurai in Tales from the Floating World (with Portland Taiko); Charles Bingley in Pride & Prejudice: A Parisian Jazz Ballet (with Gerry Rempel Jazz Syndicate); Giovanni Bruni in The Misadventures of Casanova; Romeo, the charming trickster in Cirque de la Lune (with Betty & the Boy, Troupe Carnivale, and Mood Area 52); Shah Zaman (“The Tale of Scheherazade and the King”), Zeyn Alasnam (“The Tale of Zeyn Alasnam and the Diamond Statue”), and Rashid (“The Tale of Zummurud”) in Arabian Nights; Ollie in As You Like It: A Wild West Ballet (including on the Italy tour); Farmer McGregor in Tales of Beatrix Potter; Frederic in Pirates of Penzance (part of Ballet Fantastique’s Pirates and Gypsies on tour to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival); “Magie Noire” with the LA-based band Incendio (including on the Seattle tour); and a Fairy Godmother’s Boy and Motorcycle Boy in Cinderella: A Rock Opera Ballet (including on the Portland tour). Justin has extensive experience in teaching classes for young students and pas de deux coaching.

Lydia Rakov


Lydia is from northern New Jersey, where she trained with Elaine Kudo at Theatre Arts Dance America. She has spent summers studying with American Ballet Theatre, American Academy of Ballet, The Juilliard School, and The Bolshoi Ballet, as well as a spending a year with the Rochester City Ballet and their affiliated school. She graduated from the Conservatory of Performing Arts at Point Park University with a degree in both ballet and jazz, under the direction of Jason McDole, Dana Arey, Kiesha Lalama, Susan Stowe and Doug Benz. Lydia also danced with Pittsburgh’s freejazz company The Pillow Project, where she created and performed the role of The Green Swan, which explored the distorted line between classical and contemporary ballet. Lydia has also performed other soloist roles including the Dew Drop in the Lake Erie Ballet’s Nutcracker and as a soloist in the national 2013 ACDFA competition. In addition, she danced the role of the lead ballerina in the 2013 film Roses Are Red, which was submitted to the L.A. Film Festival and will appear in the October 2013 issue of Dance Spirit magazine. Lydia has taught ballet, jazz, and improvisational freejazz. She has worked as an assistant choreographer/rehearsal director for the Montclair High School Dance Company, as well as the CDC dancers at Point Park University. Her choreography has been performed in the 2013 ACDFA competition. Lydia joined the Ballet Fantastique contemporary chamber ballet company in fall 2013 and has performed the roles of the Bamboo Cutter and the Cloud in Tales from the Floating World (with Portland Taiko) and Amalia, the gypsy in ZORRO: The Ballet (with the LA-based band Incendio).

Fabio Simoes


Fabio graduated from the prestigious Escola de Danca do Conservatorio Nacional in Portugal with a Certificate of Dance. During his years at the Conservatorio, he performed in numerous classical ballets and studied extensively in the Vaganova Syllabus. Fabio was then invited to join the National Ballet Company of Portugal, where he danced in Swan Lake beside one of the most famous dancers in the world, Carlos Acosta. Fabio also studied at the Performing Arts Research and Training Studios in Brussels, where he was awarded the Gulbenkian scholarship and worked with such greats as the legendary William Forsythe. Fabio then joined the KamuSuna Ballet in Lisbon, dancing in the contemporary ballet Love The Earth, which toured internationally. Fabio is also a hip-hop performer, and was invited to dance as a Bboy in the 2011 National Championship of DJs. Then, with Vortice Dance Company, Fabio performed in the international tour of Drácula (a co-production with the Macedonian Opera & Ballet). Fabio performed in the opening the European Capital of Culture, dancing a solo in front of 30,000 people in a performance that was broadcast live to TV audiences all over the world. In 2012, out of intense competition from 76 international choreographers, Fabio earned an almost unprecedented double honor at the Festival of Choreographic Miniatures in Belgrade, Serbia—1st Place Choreography as well as the Best Performer award. Fabio also performed in the ballet Your Majesties, which had its world premiere at the XVII International Ballet Festival of Miami. Recently, Mr. Simoes had the great honor of being an invited guest dancer in the Croatian National Ballet. With Ballet Fantastique, he has performed the roles of Alejandro/Diego de la Vega/Zorro in ZORRO: The Ballet (with the LA-based band Incendio); the Emperor and the Thunder God in Tales from the Floating World (with Portland Taiko); and Gaspard, the Ringmaster in "Moth to a Light" in Cirque de la Lune (with Betty & the Boy).