Directors & Faculty

Richard Cammack

Artistic Director

Richard Cammack's formal, classical-ballet training began at the Interlochen Arts Academy and Butler University, where he graduated with honors, receiving a Bachelor's Degree in Dance. In 1969, he contracted with the American Ballet Theatre and during his five years with the Company danced an extensive repertoire with many soloist roles such as "Pillar of Fire" (Anthony Tudor), "Pulcinella"(Michael Smuin), and "Les Patineurs" (Fredrick Ashton).

In 1973, Mr. Cammack joined Michael Smuin and Lew Christensen, Artistic Directors of the San Francisco Ballet, as Company Regisseur to rehearse, teach and coach the Company dancers. When Harold Christensen retired as School Director in 1975, Mr. Cammack assumed that position which he held until 1986. During his tenure, over 125 students graduated into the ranks of the San Francisco Ballet, New York City Ballet, American Ballet Theatre and other major companies throughout the United States and abroad.

Mr. Cammack served for two years as the American representative on the jury of the "Prix de Lausanne," a prestigious international ballet competition, and has lent his services as master teacher and adjudicator for several ballet festivals in the United States.

Zola Dishong

Artistic Director

Zola Dishong has enjoyed an extensive career in dance as a performer and educator. At age fourteen, she received one of the first Ford Foundation Scholarships to the San Francisco Ballet School where she studied with Anatole Vilzak and Harold and Lew Christensen. At seventeen, Ms. Dishong became a member of the San Francisco Ballet and toured with Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev on his first USA tour. After moving to New York, she joined American Ballet Theatre where she performed soloist roles in most of their classical repertoire and toured throughout Europe, Japan and the U.S.

After returning to San Francisco, Ms. Dishong was a principal dancer with Pacific Ballet and began her teaching career as head of the Ballet Department at San Francisco State University. In 1974, she joined the faculty of the San Francisco Ballet School, where she taught all levels for 13 years and helped to train many prominent dancers. Ms. Dishong has been recognized for her coaching skills, has taught a variety of master classes and has been called on to judge ballet competitions around the country.

For the last 20 years, Ms. Dishong has devoted herself to teaching and directing in the Contra Costa Ballet Centre, where she has staged and coached Petipa and Balanchine repertoire. She has this past year resigned as Artistic Director of the Contra Costa Ballet Company and has enjoyed the process of mentoring Emily Borthwick into that position. Ms. Dishong now focuses on the directing of the Contra Costa Ballet Centre.

Charles Anderson

Instructor

Charles Anderson began his training at the San Francisco Ballet School. He then moved to New York where he received full scholarships at the Joffrey Ballet Center, American Ballet Theater and the School of American Ballet. He then joined the New York City Ballet performing an extensive repertoire of classical and contemporary roles.

Upon retirement, Mr. Anderson formed his own company, Ballet, Inc., in New York City, and served as a guest teacher and choreographer for several companies and schools across the country. He now brings his talents to the Contra Costa Ballet Centre and Company, teaches the dancers of Smuin Ballets/SF and at Lines in San Francisco. He is currently Artistic Director of Company C Contemporary Ballet which he founded in 2002.

Emily Borthwick

Instructor

Emily Borthwick received her training from The Dance School of Scotland, Scottish Ballet and The Royal Ballet School, London. In addition she has studied at The Vaganova School, St. Petersburg, Russia, and has had the opportunity to study and with many wonderful teachers and choreographers including Dame Alicia Markova, Valerie Adams, Pamela May, Lynn Seymour, Christopher Wheeldon, David Long and William Glassman.

Before moving to the US, Emily performed and taught throughout London and Belgium. On arriving here she taught for eight years at The Charlotte School of Ballet, NC and performed many roles with The Charlotte Youth Ballet as a guest artist. She was also a member of Kinetyx Dance Company as well as performing with Columbia City Ballet, Opera Carolina, Central Piedmont Theatre, and many televised performances with Eddie Mabry Dance.

Emily has been a guest teacher for the Cecchetti Council of America, and Ballet Theatre Lancaster, PA. She holds her advanced level teaching qualifications from The Royal Academy of Dance (RAD), The Cecchetti Council of America (CCA), The Imperial Society of Teachers of Dance (ISTD) and The Royal Ballet School (Dip RBS, TTC).

Shannon Bresnahan

Instructor

Shannon Bresnahan has been teaching classical ballet for over 25 years, sixteen of which she had been a faculty member at San Francisco Ballet School (1997 - 2014) where she was extraordinarily regarded by her peers and students alike. She has also served as a guest teacher instructing company class for the Royal Danish Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Ms. Bresnahan received her training at North Carolina School of the Arts and in New York City under Maggie Black and performed as a soloist with Munich Ballet's Staatstheatre am Gartnerplatz.

Bryanna Cross

Instructor

Bryanna Cross started her training at age 11 with the New Jersey Ballet School. At the age of 13, she attended the San Francisco Ballet School Summer Intensive and then from there was invited to continue her training with San Francisco Ballet in their year-round school. She spent her summer attending The School of American Ballet's Summer Intensive in New York City. Additionally, she trained privately with Marina Eglevsky for five years.

In 2009, Ms. Cross began her professional career as a soloist dancer, performing with Artesan Dance Company, Eglevsky Ballet, Baltimore ballet, Neglia Ballet, Ballet With A Twist and Valley Dance Theatre. Simultaneously, she instructed classical and contemporary ballet for ages 2 through adult at seven different schools and companies from California to New York. In 2014, Ms. Cross choreographed and directed East Bay Dance Company's first-ever, full-length Nutcracker. She has also choreographed a variety of classical and contemporary pieces for ensembles and soloists.

Mercedes David Sheets

Instructor

Mercedes David Sheets began her ballet training with French master teacher, Vala Bovie, and continued her training on scholarship at the San Francisco Ballet School under the guidance and mentorship of Zola Dishong and Richard Cammack. Mercedes also studied with notable teachers such as Anatole Vilzak, Erik Bruhn, Finis Jhung, and Terry Westmoreland of the Royal Ballet, London. As an artist of the San Francisco Ballet, Mercedes was featured in a variety of roles, including several in Swan Lake, The Nutcracker, Vilzak Variations, Stravinsky Piano Pieces, Romeo & Juliet, and Balanchine repertoire. Mercedes is an ABT® Certified Teacher who has successfully completed the ABT® Teacher Training in Primary through Level 5 of the ABT® National Training Curriculum.

Milissa Payne Bradley

Instructor

Milissa Payne Bradley, a native of Kingsburg, California, received her training primarily under the direction of Diane K. Mosier. Milissa has performed with The Oakland Ballet, Dance Through Time, Liss Fain Dance, and as a freelance and guest artist.

Milissa holds an MFA in Dance from St. Mary's College of California where she also earned her undergraduate degree through the Liberal Education for the Arts (LEAP) program. She is an ABT® Certified Teacher who has successfully completed the ABT® Teacher Training in Primary through Level 5 of the ABT® National Training Curriculum.

Prior to joining the Contra Costa Ballet Centre faculty, Milissa had been educating and choreographing as an Artist in Residence at SOTA, San Francisco’s Performing Arts High School, under the direction of Elvia Marta.

Karen Portner-Lapointe

Instructor

Karen Lapointe received her training in the Royal Academy of Dance and Vagonava Method under the artistic direction of Grace Doty and the Berkeley Conservatory Ballet faculty. After a summer intensive with the Joffrey Ballet in New York City, she was invited to attend the Joffrey school year round. Several months later, she signed a contract with the Joffrey Ballet, working under the artistic direction of Robert Joffrey and Gerald Arpino.

Ms. Lapointe was a soloist and principal dancer with Joffrey Ballet, Eglevsky Ballet, Nashville Ballet, Milwaukee Ballet and Diablo Ballet. She danced numerous, principal roles in such classical favorites as the Nutcracker, Swan Lake, Giselle, Cinderella and Romeo and Juliet.

Ms. Lapointe has been on the teaching faculty of the Nashville Ballet, Tennessee Governors School for the Arts, Milwaukee Ballet's Trainee program, Berkeley City Ballet, Berkeley Ballet Theater and Company C Contemporary Ballet. In 2000, she opened Fine Line Fitness Pilates, a Pilates Studio in Walnut Creek, where she specializes in the conditioning and rehabilitation of local dancers and athletes. Ms. Lapointe looks forward to imparting her extensive knowledge and experience to young dancers in her faculty position at the Contra Costa Ballet Centre.

Calvin Thomas

Instructor

Calvin Thomas, from Maysville, Kentucky, trained at the Cincinnati Ballet and has supplemented his training at programs including Boston Ballet, The School of American Ballet, Ballet Austin, and Oregon Ballet Theatre. He was a trainee with Cincinnati Ballet and for the past two seasons has been a member of Ballet Austin II. He currently dances with Company C Contemporary Ballet.

Hiroko Shibuya

Instructor

Hiroko Shibuya received her Vaganova school training from Ritsuko Kamo in Tokyo, Japan. While in Japan, she assisted Ms. Kamo in teaching and coaching students of all ages and levels. She received additional training from notable teachers including Sulamith Messerer and Laura Alonso in Tokyo. After relocating to the U.S. with her family in 1990, Ms. Shibuya has been associated with Contra Costa Ballet Centre as a parent, student, substitute teacher, cast member in Contra Costa Ballet productions and a board member of the Contra Costa Ballet Foundation. Ms. Shibuya holds a deep passion for helping beginning, adult students explore and find their own joy in the art of ballet.

Nikki Rus

School Administrator

Nikki Rus joined the Contra Costa Ballet Centre as its School Administrator in 2008, bringing to the school ten years of administrative experience. An honors graduate in music production, she feels privileged to be able to support performing-arts education through her position at the Contra Costa Ballet Centre. Ms. Rus truly enjoys getting to know each parent and student at CCBC and working closely with the directors and faculty.

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