Sara Anderson is the co-founder and Director of Programs for Polaris. Originally from Minnesota, Sara received a BFA in Dance and Fine Art from Luther College in Decorah, IA. Trained in Ballet, Modern, Jazz as well as Musical Theatre and Hip Hop, her dance career spans more than 20 years and has led her to dance with companies such as Bodyvox, Portland Opera, Opera Pacific, Minnesota Opera, Utah Opera, American Dance Theatre, Portand Musical Theatre Company, Broadway Rose Theatre Company, St. Claire & Company, Lakewood Musical Theatre Company and Dance CO-Motion. Aside from stage performances, she has appeared in several fitness videos, print advertisements, television commercials and a 32-episode season of the Body Shoppe television series. Additionally, she owns and operates SAgraphics, teaches classes, and resides in Portland with her longtime partner Robert Guitron and their daughter, Xena.
Kieraqmil Brinkley has been dancing since she left the hospital at the age of 2, after receiving quadruple amputations due to a bacterial infection. Kiera believed hip hop would be the only type of dance that she would be able to do, but when she entered the 6th grade at da’Vinci Arts Middle School she was introduced to tap and jazz. She continued to grow as a dancer and jazz transformed into contemporary/modern. Entering high school, she decided to stop dancing to focus more on her nursing career; but realized that there was space for both in her life. Kiera will soon be attending Concorde College, for a medical assisting degree, while performing, taking class, and choreographing for different dance companies and schools around Oregon. Medical assisting, she believes is her way of giving back to all the doctors who helped keep her alive while she was in the hospital, and dancing…is her way of staying alive. Kiera says she would never be able to give up dancing.
Jenny Dubac is currently on maternity leave. She’s a Massachusetts native, began dancing at an early age with New England Dance Conserva- tory and the Boston Ballet School. She graduated in 2004 with a BFA from The Juilliard School and married an orchestral musician, whose career took them west. In Milwaukee, WI, she was a faculty member of the Milwaukee Ballet and danced with Madison Ballet and City Ballet Theatre. Prior to relocating to Portland, she pre- formed in the American premiere of Tan Dun’s opera “Tea” with the Santa Fe Opera. Jennifer teaches at several area schools and has been with Polaris since 2009
Brittain Jarrett Jackson is a native of Washington, D.C. and began dancing at the Duke Ellington School for the Arts. He has trained and been awarded scholarships to Washington Ballet, Dance Theatre of Harlem, The Dance Institute of Washington, the Northwest Professional Dance Project, and the Ailey School. Brittain continued his studies at the Purchase College Conservatory of Dance and graduated in May 2006. Brittain has performed with Reflections Dance Company, Northwest Dance Project. Tania Pérez-Salas Compania de Danza, Buglisi/Foreman Dance, Stephen Petronio Dance Company, AIDA, Liss Fain Dance, Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company, Kolben Dance Company, and Fresco Dance Company. This is his first season with Polaris Dance Theatre.
Kateryna Mindova was born in Tallin, Estonya, but soon after she moved to Ukraine. She began to dance at the age of 5. She danced ballroom for 5 years and was involved in karate for 4 years. Kate won many competitions in ballroom as well as karate. But then she fell in love with ballet. She graduated from the Ballet Academy of Arts and Culture of Odessa (as a ballet dancer) and performed in many of the academy’s concerts. Kate has attended many master-classes of modern, ballet, contemporary, and ballroom. Then she moved to the USA, and found Polaris. Kate is absolutely happy to be a member of Polaris and hopes to progress as a dancer and always continue to move.
Julia Ostrovskaia is very excited to join the Polaris family for her first season! Having recently relocated to Portland, Julia returned to the northwest after studying and dancing in Europe and Israel for the past five years. Learning to walk not only on her feet but also on the very tips of her toes as well as assailing her family’s ears with blaring music at all hours of day, Julia showed signs of her inevitable career path at a very early age. She experienced her first official dance class at the age of seven in Dublin, Ireland. Since then her aspirations have led her to receive most of her dance training in the United States and her toe walking progressed to leading roles in classic ballets as well as in contemporary works on international stages. Graduating in 2011, Julia received her degree from the Rambert School, London through Kent University and went on to dance as a soloist with the Cinevox Junior Company in Switzerland. She later spent a fascinating year in Israel training with and performing work of the Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company, where she had the pleasure of meeting the lovely Gerard Regot. Since moving to Portland Julia has performed in the Portland Opera’s Salome as well as in Linsey Matheis’ Alchemy project. Julia is also on the ballet faculty of Dance Works, Vancouver and currently in training to receive her certification as a Pilates instructor.
M’Liss Quinnly is a founding member of Polaris Dance Theatre. M’Liss is a dancer and Rehearsal Director for Polaris Dance Theatre as well as the Junior Company Rehearsal Director. Born in Indianapolis, IN she began studying dance as a child, performing in many Nutcracker productions with Indianapolis Ballet Theatre. She graduated from a performing arts high school and then earned a major in Modern Dance at the University of Utah. M’Liss was accepted as a full-time student at the prestigious Alvin Ailey School in New York City. That led to performances with Milton Meyers and Jolie Maffie. In addition to her passion and experience in dance, M’Liss is a world-class synchronized swimmer. She has competed in, as well as coached, synchronized swim teams in national, international and world competitions.
Born in Barcelona, Spain, Gerard Regot started dancing while being in cinema college. He received a full scholarship to study dance at Estudi Anna Maleras and took workshops with Guido Tuveri (Art. Dir. Balletto di Sardignia), Risa Steinberg (Jose Limon), David Zambrano (flying low), among many others. He danced at Ballet Arts and Peridance Capezio Dance Center in NYC to then at the Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company, Dance Journey and later the KCDC II on two new creations. Gerard currently enjoys dancing with Polaris Dance Theatre.
Blake Seidel started dancing five years ago as a freshman at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, NY, under the direction of John Meehan, Steve Rooks, and other prominent faculty members. He finished his collegiate dance training at the University of Virginia with Rose Beauchamp and Kimberly Brooks-Mata. During his last year at the University of Virginia, Blake became an Apprentice for the Charlottesville Ballet. He studied and worked there for two years, while teaching Contemporary and Hip Hop classes for Charlottesville Ballet Academy. Blake has also attended the American Ballet Theatre’s Collegiate intensive and the Joffrey Ballet’s Contemporary and Jazz intensive. Having moved all the way across the country to dance for Polaris, Blake is ecstatic for the opportunity to be a part of this company and continue to grow as an artist and dancer.
Jana Tripp received her early dance training in her hometown of Lakeland, Florida. She holds a BS in Psychology from Stetson University and an MFA in Dance from Florida State University. She served as the Director of Dance for the Marion County Center for the Arts at West Port High School in Ocala, Florida for four years. In addition to dancing with Polaris, she currently teaches matwork and reformer classes as a STOTT Pilates certified instructor.
Melanie Verna began training in Graham Technique in her hometown of Knoxville, Tennessee where she toured as the youngest member of the Tennessee Children’s Dance Ensemble. She moved to the Midwest and received her primary ballet training at Minnesota Dance Theater with Lise Houlton, Marjorie Thompson and Gloria Govrin. She was a recipient of the Coca-Cola scholarship with American Ballet Theatre’s summer program and was awarded the Ailey Fellowship before choosing to take a professional contract with Minnesota Dance Theatre. Melanie danced for the company from 2003-2012 and became a principal artist in 2007 where she performed repertory by Houlton, Ashton, Tetley, Rhoden, Feld, Boykin and countless others. The last couple years she has freelanced, taught and choreographed in Seattle with various companies and musical productions while also touring internationally with Paris-based choreographer Johan Amselem. Melanie is thrilled to have found a dance home with Polaris and looks forward to continuing to evolve and grow as an artist with all her inspiring comrades.
Tia Zapp Palomino is currently on maternity leave. Congrats Tia! She began her dance and training at three years of age. At ten she competed at the national level in Power Tumbling and Trampoline. She trained with the Colorado Jazz Dance Company for six years and has had the privilege to work with master teachers such as Joe Tremain, Chet Walker, Ben Vereen, Sherry Zunker and Mia Michaels. Tia had the chance to see the world and dance at the same time when she was employed by Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines for two years. In 2006 Tia moved out to Portland where she has since left her sweat-mark on multitudes of stages, trapezes and trampolines working with Do Jump, Dancetastix and SubRosa Dance Collective. Tia has been dancing with Polaris Dance Theatre since 2010 and will be the Polaris Dance Center School Director for the 2014/2015 season.
Maya Felten began dancing as a young child in her hometown of Northampton, MA. She received training in classical ballet at North East American School of Dance, Pioneer Valley Ballet, and East St. Ballet. Maya continued to study classical and contemporary dance at Goucher College in Baltimore, MD. While at Goucher, Maya had the opportunity to perform works by Jessica Lang, Septime Webre, Zippora Karz, Brian Reeder, Dermot Burke, Armando Luna, Alan Hineline, Paul Taylor, Doris Humphrey, Marius Petipa, and Michel Fokine. After graduating in 2011, she joined BalletFleming, a Philadelphia-based contemporary ballet company. She moved to Seattle in 2013 and worked with a variety of artists including Stone Dance Collective in ChopShop Bodies of Work, 127th St. Dance Company, Velocity Dance Center, Ballet Bellevue, and Karin Stevens Dance. Maya recently moved to Portland and is incredibly excited to be dancing with Polaris!
Brynn Hofer began her dance training at the age of 5 in Washington State under the direction of Isabelle Cook and Joe Hofer. Her parents being professional musicians, she grew up with music and dance always around her. Brynn attended Western Washington University and received a BFA in Dance. She graduated with honors and was the recipient of the outstanding graduate award. While in college she danced works through the WWU faculty and students, the Mt. Vernon Opera, and was also selected two years in a row, to perform a restaged work by the Liz Geering dance company, from New York. She currently teaches at the Portland school of Music and Dance, and is Pilates certified. Brynn and her husband Bill love being relocated in Portland and she is very excited, to be a part of the Polaris family!
Alyssa Mitchel is from San Francisco, California. Alyssa began her training in tap, jazz and hip-hop while also competing in rhythmic gymnastics. She received her ballet and contemporary training at Marin Dance Theatre under the direction of Margaret Swarthout and Lynn Cox, where she also had the unique opportunity of being a student choreographer. She earned a BA in Liberal Studies/Teacher Preparation with a minor in Mathematics from the Dominican University of California, graduating Summa Cum Laude with Honors in May 2015. Alyssa has danced professionally with SOULSKIN Dance and with Garrett+Moulton Productions in “The Luminous Edge.” She’s a passionate choreographer and teacher who has taught all levels of contemporary dance, ballet and core strength at dance schools throughout the Bay Area. In addition to her love for dance, Alyssa also is also a devoted math tutor for students ranging from elementary school to college. Alyssa is thrilled to join Polaris Dance Theatre for her first season!
Astrid Angell started dancing at the age of twelve, a mere six years ago. Her parents always wished for her to become a musician, her dad was the front man for the Portland scene 90′s band, Nero’s Rome. She had another wish for being on stage. Astrid began dancing at a local Portland Studio where she preformed the roles of Wendy in Peter Pan and Sleeping Beauty in the Sleeping Beauty Ballet in 2012. She danced on a competitive team for one year after performing these roles. Astrid then moved to Polaris in 2013, and under the instruction of M’Liss Quinnly, she became a member of the Polaris Junior Company for two years. She recently graduated from high school and will be attending Portland State University with a minor in dance and a major in marketing.