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. Keira says she would never be able to give up dancing.
Jenny Dubac a Massachusetts native, began dancing at an early age with New England Dance Conservatory 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 preformed 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.
Briley Neugebauer is originally from Seattle and grew up studying many forms of dance such as ballet, modern, jazz, tap, and character under wonderful mentors like Eva Stone, the producer of “Chop Shop: Bodies of Work”. Upon high school graduation she received talent and academic-based scholarships to study dance at the University of Arizona in Tucson. In 2011 she graduated Summa Cum Laude with a B.F.A. from the School Of Dance where she performed the Choleric role in Balanchine’s “Four Temperaments”, Lead Female Daemon in “Carmina Burana” and was a part of commissioned works such as Bella Lewitzky’s “Recuardo”, and Martha Graham’s “Panorama”. In 2011 she toured China with ART-IF-ACT Dance Project. Upon her return, she was accepted as an apprentice at Spectrum Dance Theater under Artistic Director Donald Byrd. This is Briley’s second season with Polaris Dance Theatre.
M’Liss Stephenson 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.
Tia Zapp Palomino 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.
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.
Claudia Fernandez was born in La Habana, Cuba. She began her ballet training at the Cuban National Ballet School “Alejo Carpentier” at the age of nine. In 2005, she moved to Chile where she continued her training at Facultad de artes on the University of Chile standing out in soloist roles on the Ballet Juvenil directed by Hilda Riveros and Vladimir Guelbet. In 2009, she was awarded with the title of Best Performer in Dance, on the same year become dancer at the Ballet de Santiago under Marcia Haydee. In United States she has danced with Brandon Ballet as a soloist and principal dancer. She is very excited to join Polaris Dance Theatre.
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.
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.