Cynthia Dragoni, Founder, Artistic Director


Born in Philadelphia, Cynthia began training at the Wissahickon Dance Academy. She studied on scholarship at The Rock School of the Pennsylvania Ballet, Boston Ballet, and Pennsylvania Academy of Ballet. She has studied under renowned teachers Gloria Govrin, Gelsey Kirkland, Wilhelm Burmann, and Barbara Sandonato.

She danced with the International Ballet Theater in Philadelphia until 2004 when she was invited by internationally acclaimed dancer and director of The Donetsk Ballet, Vadim Pisarev, to join the Donetsk Ballet Company in Ukraine.

She has performed throughout Europe and the United States and her repertory includes: Swan Lake, Don Quixote, Giselle, La Bayadere, Spartacus, The Nutcracker; Sleeping Beauty; and Le Corsaire. She has performed on tour throughout western and eastern Europe and studied privately in St. Petersburg Russia with prima ballerina Elena Marchenko. She danced with Marilyn Klaus' avant garde ballet company, Ballets With a Twist, and with Henning Rubsam's contemporary ballet company, Sensedance.

Cynthia was the head of the dance department at Bravo Performing Arts and Language Center in Philadelphia and has served on the faculty at The Barbara Sandonato School of Ballet. She has taught for Ballet Arts at City Center, and Eliot Feld’s Ballet Tech in New York City. Cynthia Dragoni was appointed Ballet Mistress and Rehearsal Director of Henning Rübsam’s SENSEDANCE in January 2012.

Cynthia studied at the University of Pennsylvania and The New School and in 2014 she was awarded a place as a member of the Arts Management / Capacity Building Program at The Kennedy Center under the leadership of Michael Kaiser. She has recently been invited to become a member of: International Dance Council, or Conseil International de la Danse (CID). CID was founded in 1973 within the UNESCO headquarters in Paris, where it is based.

“Cynthia Dragoni is that rare type of teacher with intuitive knowledge. Her ability to assess the individual student is uncanny and her ability to thus make the correction is spot on. Her knowledge of dance is very deep and her love for the ballet is endless. Passing along her insights to her many students allows for future “ballerinas” to be born. Gentle, nurturing and exacting, Cynthia brings to the dance floor a quality matched by only the best.”
Dale Sherman, parent of former student


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Claire François | French Program Director & Co-Founder


Born and raised in Paris to French and American parents, bilingualism was a way of life from the start. Claire has been part of the faculty at École Internationale de New York. She oversaw the development of the French language curriculum and the launching new programs in multiple schools, in addition to teaching immersive French academic classes for Éducation Française à New York. Before focusing her talents on bilingual education, she enjoyed a successful career in P.R. for fashion houses Céline in Paris, Thierry Mugler Parfums, Clarins, and AmorePacific in New York.

Claire also studied dance at Conservatoire du Vésinet, École Marie-Ange Vila, and École de Danse Agnès Faure in Paris. She holds a B.A. in Communications from the University of Colorado at Boulder, and an M.A. in Human Development from Teachers College, Columbia University.

With more than a decade of experience as a teacher, Claire’s classes are completely immersive with a strict French only policy. She creates a dynamic and engaging environment, utilizing conversation, songs, games and academic work in the the space of a single class. Both Francophone and Anglophone students experience a linguistically and academically challenging class. Her experience and devotion to bilingual education, her deep love of classical dance and background as an international professional, make her the perfect guide for the dancers studying French here at the Ballet Institute.

“I’ll never forget the joy and wonder as a child, dancing alongside the cast of dancers from the Opéra Garnier in Paris. It has endured not only as a happy memory of childhood, but as an endless source of inspiration and passion.” - Claire François

Guyonn Auriau

 Guyonn completed her ballet training in Paris at the Conservatoire National Superieur de Musique et de Danse de Paris.  After graduation she became a member of the Ballet de Lorraine in France.  While in Ballet de Lorraine her repertory included: "The Vertiginious Thrill of Exactitude" by William Forsythe, "Sketches from Chronicle"  by Martha Graham,  "Sounddance" by Merce Cunningham and "Corps de Ballet" by Noé Soulier.

In 2015 she came to the United States to become a member of the Martha Graham Dance Company.  Where she interpreted many Graham masterpieces such as: "Appalachian Spring", " Conversation of Lovers",  " Night Journey", "The Rite of Spring", "Maple Leaf Rag", " Acts of Light" and "Chronicle".  

She has also performed works by Kylian, Nacho Duato, Rudolf Nureyev, George Balanchine and Sir Kennth MacMillan.

She currently dances with Martha Graham Dance Company, New York Theater Ballet and Ballets With a Twist .

Guyonn, as a native French speaker and a highly accomplished dancer, is the main teacher for our dual French language ballet classes.

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Lily Balogh, Ballet Instructor, Choreographer, Repertory Coach

Lily studied on scholarship at The School of American Ballet, American Ballet Theater, Pacific Northwest Ballet and under Marcia Dale Weary at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet.  Lily danced professionally with New York City Ballet before becoming  a soloist with Michelle Wiles’ Ballet Next and Marilyn Klaus’ Ballets With a Twist.


Rudd Anderson, Ballet Instructor, Founding Faculty

Rudd Anderson began his formal training at Stamford City Ballet under the direction of Carol Sumner.  He was accepted into Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s training program where he studied with Walter Raines, Bernard Johnson, and Mercedes Ellington among others.  Rudd worked professionally as a member of Ballet Hispanico’s Apprentice Company, New England Dance Theater, and DancEllington a tap-based company under the direction of Mercedes Ellington.  He has been a member of multiple Broadway shows including Cats, A Chorus Line, West Side Story, and 42nd St, touring in the U.S., Canada and Europe.

Guest Faculty

Natalya Stavro

Born in Russia, trained at the Vaganova Academy, the official school of the Kirov Ballet in St. Petersburg. After completing her training and graduating with the highest honors, Natalya joined the state Academic Theatre of Classical Ballet in Moscow as a principal dancer. She danced leading roles for 20 years and toured throughout Europe, South America, Japan and the United States.  Her teaching style is a clear reflection of her pure traditional training and distinguished performance career.


Henning Rübsam

Trained at Hamburg Ballet School and The School of American Ballet.  He is the Artistic Director for SENSEDANCE; and on faculty at the Julliard School.  He earned a B.F.A from Julliard and has worked extensively with Anna Sokolow and the Limón Dance Company.  He tours regularly as a choreographer and teacher throughout Europe, South America, Australia, and Asia. 

His dance writing appears in Dance Magazine, Pointe Magazine, Ballet Review, The Juilliard Journal, and  An historian and advocate for his art form, he has implemented a dance appreciation program at Juilliard for the general public, taught dance history at SUNY Purchase College Conservatory of Dance, and gives lectures for the Young Patrons Program at Lincoln Center.

Simon Kazantsev

Was born in Russia and attended the famous Bolshoi Ballet Academy in Moscow, where he successfully completed his dance training in 8 years. Upon graduation, he joined the Stanislavsky Ballet, one of Moscow's leading companies. He toured internationally with that troupe, dancing solo roles in such classics as Giselle, Swan Lake, La Esmeralda, Le Corsaire, and the Nutcracker, as well as performing prominent roles in contemporary ballets. At the same time, he attended the Bolshoi Ballet Academy College, where he earned a BA in Pedagogy and Dancing and became an assistant to the late Professor Alexander Bondarenko, who was a leading authority on ballet technique and coach to many principal dancers of the Bolshoi Theater.


Rebecca Davis

Has choreographed and taught in Canada, Russia, Rwanda, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Guinea and the United States. She was classically trained in the Russian Vaganova method of ballet while studying in Moscow, Saint Petersburg and Krasnoyarsk, Russia. She received a degree in choreography from The Saint Petersburg Conservatory under the tutelage of Nikolai Boyarchikov (former Artistic Director, The Mussorgsky Ballet). She is a Fulbright scholar and summa cum laude graduate of Temple University.

She founded The Rebecca Davis Dance Company, a not-for-profit organization based in the USA which uses dance as a tool of ethnic reconciliation in post-conflict countries.