March 19, 2014


Rafik Hegab

Rafik Hegab, Artistic Director. Originally from Egypt, he received his Diploma from the Higher Institute of Ballet in 2000, and his Bachelor Degree in Dance Pedagogy (Vaganova Method) and Choreography from the Academy of Arts in Cairo in 2009. He joined the Cairo Opera Ballet Company in 1999, won 1st place in the Egyptian National Ballet Competition in 2000, became Soloist in 2002, and was promoted to Principal Dancer in 2004. As a Principal Dancer with the Cairo Opera Ballet Company, Mr. Hegab performed principal roles around the world including China, Lebanon, the Czech Republic, Jordan, Turkey, Germany, Italy, Austria, Spain, India, Greece, and Russia. He danced the Matador in Don Quixote with Julio Bocca, John in Zorba the Greek, Ali in Le Corsaire, Benvolio in Romeo and Juliet, Siegfried in Swan Lake, the principal dancer in Carmina Burana, and the Cavalier in The Nutcracker. He was guest dancer for the USA Ballet Company (Cavalier in The Nutcracker) and Baltimore Ballet. He was the Assistant Artistic Director, Ballet Master and Choreographer for the Mystic Ballet, where he created The Nutcracker, Moulin Rouge, Under Control, and Moon Light, among others. Since co-founding Virginia National Ballet in March 2013, he has choreographed many world premieres including La Boheme, Bohemian Rhapsody, Carmen, Collection, Snow White, Carmina Burana, and many short contemporary works. He also restaged The Nutcracker, Swan Lake, and the Dream Scene of Le Corsaire.  He was a guest choreographer for “The Circle of Life:  The Music of Time Rice” presented by Young Artists of America at the Music Center at Strathmore, which was also televised on PBS.  He has received wonderful reviews for his choreography on,, Inside NOVA, and the Bull Run Observer.  He is fluent in Arabic, Russian, and English.

Annemieke Bruce started dancing at age three in Ashland, KY under the direction Maria Whaley and Tammy Jo Edge. In 2010, she moved to Washington, D.C. to dance at the Kirov Academy of Ballet and was trained by Marianna Lobanova, Elena Tenchikova and Nikolai Kabaniaev. After graduating in 2013, she danced for a season with Columbia Classical Ballet in Columbia, SC. For the 2014-2015 season she enjoyed exploring a more contemporary style with Ballet 5:8 in Chicago. She spent the last two seasons dancing with Atlantic City Ballet, in New Jersey. She is happy to be joining Virginia National Ballet for the 2017-18 season.

 Michelle DeAngelis is originally from Warren, New Jersey. She began her pre professional training at the Jaqueline Kennedy Onassis School at American Ballet Theatre in New York City, under the direction of Franco De Vita. There, Ms. DeAngelis had the opportunity to perform at the Metropolitan Opera House in Lincoln Center in ABT productions of Sleeping Beauty, Don Quixote, and Coppelia. In 2010, Michelle performed in the World Premiere of Alexei Ratmansky’s “The Nutcracker” at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Michelle went to continue her ballet training at the Princeton Ballet School, and then at the School of Ballet Central New Jersey under the direction of Thiago Silva and Alexander Dutko. She has attended summer intensives including American Ballet Theatre NYC, School of American Ballet, Kaatsbaan International Dance Program, Ballet Central New Jersey, American Academy of Ballet on scholarship, Montgomery Ballet, and most recently, Festival Ballet Providence. In 2015, she placed Top 12 in the Youth American Grand Prix semi-finals, and became a YAGP finalist in 2016. Michelle began her professional career as an apprentice with the Montgomery Ballet in 2016. Michelle is thrilled to be working with Virginia National Ballet in their 2017/18 season.

Esmae Gold grew up in Petoskey, Michigan and began her dance training at the Crooked Tree Arts Center, taking classes in ballet, modern, and jazz. She went on to attend numerous summer programs including those at American Ballet Theatre, Boston Ballet, and Oklahoma City Ballet and spent a year training full-time at the Gelsey Kirkland Academy of Classical Ballet in New York City. Esmae continued her studies, on both dance and academic scholarships, at Mercyhurst University, graduating summa cum laude with a B.F.A. in dance. While performing, for three seasons, with Mercyhurst Ballet Theatre, Esmae had the opportunity to appear at the Joyce Theater for the NYCDA Destiny Rising 2014 Gala and perform the Flower Festival Pas de Deux with guest artists from the Liaoning Ballet of Shenyang, China. Other performance highlights include the role of Hermia in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and the Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker. Esmae has choreographed for Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre’s Summer Intensive, shown a piece in the adjudicated concert of the American College Dance Association East-Central Conference, and presented two original works at the Mary D’Angelo Performing Arts Center, Erie, PA. She has additional experience as a summer intensive resident assistant, served as treasurer for the Mercyhurst chapter of the National Honor Society for Dance Arts, and worked as a research assistant for Mercyhurst dance chair, Tauna Hunter. As an instructor, Esmae has taught ballet, jazz, and dance fusion. She is excited to be teaching again in her second season with the school.
Emily Jarrett is a native of Salisbury, Maryland. She began her dance training at Footsteps Dance Academy and Salisbury Dance Academy, studying ballet, jazz, tap, hip-hop, and Irish step. During this time, she performed with the Eastern Shore Ballet Theatre, under the direction of Elena Manakhova-Amy. She attended the summer program at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet for four years, later returning for two more as a residence staff member. Emily continued her education at Mercyhurst University, earning a Bachelor of Arts in both Dance and Criminal Justice. She performed with The Mercyhurst Dancers as well as the Mercyhurst Liturgical Dance Ensemble as a student. In addition, she was an active member of the Mercyhurst chapter of the National Honor Society for Dance Arts and received scholarships for both dance and academic achievement, making the Dean’s List each year. Outside of the studio, Emily was a member of the Mercyhurst Athletic Band as well as an active participant in service opportunities on- and off-campus. She is excited to be joining Virginia National Ballet for the 2017-18 season!


Saaya Pikula received her ballet training at Central Florida Ballet, Russian Ballet Academy of Orlando and The Rock School of Dance Education, where she studied two summers on full scholarship. She danced with Teatrul de Ballet Sibiu in Romania from 2012-2014 where her repertoire included Gulmare in Le Corsaire, Juliet in Romeo & Juliet, Lilac Fairy in Sleeping Beauty, Snow Queen, Shepherdess, Waltz of the Flowers Soloist in The Nutcracker, Spanish Whim, Four Seasons, Coppelia, and Cenusa Timpulu. Saaya danced with Columbia Classical Ballet in the 2015-16 season in the following roles: Esmeralda in The Hunchback of Notre Dame, soloist roles in The Nutcracker, Cinderella, and contemporary ballets.  She is an experienced teacher in the Vaganova Method of Ballet, having taught at numerous schools in Florida.  She is a Principal Dancer with Virginia National Ballet, and is very happy to be teaching at Gainesville Ballet School again in 2017-18!

 Sarah Ruesch is originally from Kent, Ohio where she began her training at the Christine Jones-Meneer School of Dance. As a high school student, Sarah performed as a company member for the Ballet Theatre of Ohio where she performed various soloist and principal roles including Swanilda in Coppélia and participated in the Heinz Poll Summer Dance Festival. She continued her training at Mercyhurst University graduating summa cum lade with a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in Dance. While attending Mercyhurst, she was selected as a member of the Mercyhurst Ballet Theatre under the direction of Tauna Hunter and Michael Gleason. As a student, Sarah attended the American Ballet Theatre Collegiate Program and worked and performed as an intern at Ballet Concerto in Fort Worth Texas, under the direction of Margo and Webster Dean. Sarah was also a member of the National Honors Society for Dance Arts, an officer for the Dance Club, and member of the Mercyhurst Liturgical Dance Ensemble where C. Noelle Partusch serves as the Advisor. With this group, Sarah presented her choreography internationally. Sarah has performed lead roles such as the Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker with The Mercyhurst Dancers and the Dew Drop Fairy with Lake Erie Ballet, under the direction of Lesley Bories-Scalise. Sarah is thrilled to be teaching with Virginia National Ballet in their 2017-2018 season.


Madeline Sosna has a B.F.A. in Dance Performance with a Minor in Business Administration, Cum Laude, from Butler University. She also trained at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, Kaatsbaan International Dance Center, Ballet Met, Miami City Ballet, Joffrey Ballet (with scholarship), and Kansas City Ballet. She performed many roles with Butler Ballet in The Nutcracker, Cinderella, Giselle, Coppelia, Sleeping Beauty, and contemporary works. Most recently, Madeline danced with the Lexington Ballet in Kentucky, in The Nutcracker, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Giselle. She is an accomplished teacher, having started as a Dance Assistant with Patzius Performing Arts in St. Louis, Missouri. In 2014, she started teaching at Bluegrass Youth Ballet in Lexington, Kentucky under the direction of Adalhi Aranda. For the past two years, Madeline has taught ballet, Pointe, modern, character, Pilates, and creative movement to students ages 2-19. At Bluegrass Youth Ballet, she has had to opportunity to choreograph for such original ballets as “Rapunzel” and “Arabella’s Journey.” Madeline is thrilled to teach her second season at Gainesville Ballet School.