“Lydia Johnson became overnight one of my favorite contemporary choreographers...her dancers took the floor and within seconds I knew I had found something I loved...for me one of the most moving dance experiences in the last decade.” —Philip Gardner, Oberon’s Grove, 2009

Lydia Johnson (Choreographer, Artistic Director)

Originally from Massachusetts, Ms. Johnson began her dance training in Boston and moved to New York City to study on scholarship at The Alvin Ailey American Dance Center. She continued her studies in New York with Finis Jhung and Sara Rudner among others. She presented her early work in New York at numerous dance spaces and founded One Night Stand, a series of co-operative showcases, which allowed choreographers to present new work inexpensively. She has received a Monticello Foundation award sponsored by The National Association of Regional Ballet as well as a recent Harkness Dance Center Space Grant from the 92nd Street Y. LJD was founded in 1999 when Ms. Johnson returned to her choreography after taking several years to be home with her three children while working part time.


Jessica Sand Blonde received her early ballet training in her native Iowa and holds a BFA in Ballet and Modern Dance fromTexas Christian University and a MA in Dance Education from NYU Steinhardt. In New York, she has performed with Eglevsky Ballet, tompricedance and Von Howard Project, among others.

Ms. Sand Blonde has been a member of Lydia Johnson Dance since 2004, where she has enjoyed originating major roles as well as serving as costume designer and rehearsal director for the company. Much love to Casey and Simon, and gratitude to Lydia and all of the LJD family for their abundant laughter, support and inspiration! Ms. Sand Blonde is currently on maternity leave.

Kerry Shea began training at Pennsylvania Ballet. Graduating with high honors, she received her BFA on scholarship from the University of Utah. Company credits include Aspen Santa Fe Ballet,Ballet West and Sacramento Ballet. With these companies, she has enjoyed dancing Swan Lake, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Agnes de Mille's Rodeo and George Balanchine's Concerto Barocco, Valse Fantasie, Western Symphony, Theme and Variations, Who Cares? and The Four Temperaments. She participated in Alonzo King's Professional Workshop and The Northwest Professional Dance Project, where Ms. Shea had the honor of working with Lucas Crandall of the Netherlands Dance Theater and performing a solo Crandall created on her. In 2011, she was filmed dancing the solo L’esmeralda and pas de deux L’torrolene for the Ballet Archives and a documentary titled “Sensuality and Nationalism in Romantic Ballet”. Currently, Ms. Shea can be seen dancing in New York City with Lydia Johnson Dance, Brooklyn Ballet, CONTINUUM Contemporary/Ballet and Eglevsky Ballet. This is her 9th season dancing for Lydia Johnson Dance where she has originated major roles. A special thank you to Lydia Johnson, ballet coaches Caridad Martinez and Diana Cartier and her husband John Farrier.

Laura Di Orio, originally from Pennsylvania, began her training at the Mill Ballet School with Mark and Melissa Roxey. She continued her studies in New York City at the Joffrey Ballet School. Ms. DiOrio has performed with Roxey Ballet and Albano Ballet, among others. She received her BA in Journalism from Fordham University and has since been a contributing writer for several dance publications, including Pointe, Dance Spirit and Dance Informa. She serves as a teaching artist and dancer for Ballet Ambassadors and as aballet class substitute for Kat Wildish at The Alvin Ailey Extension. She also currently dances with the Staten Island Ballet, CONTINUUM Contemporary/Ballet and David Fernandez’s Some Dance Company. Ms. Di Orio became a member of Lydia Johnson Dance in 2006 and has since learned and originated many roles and has also taught company repertory at workshops in NYC. She would like to thank her family, friends and LJD family for their love, support and fun.

Lisa Iannacito McBride became a member of Lydia Johnson Dance in 2006. In addition to learning and originating roles with the company, she has served as Rehearsal Director and hastaught at Lydia Johnson’s School and at the companies repertory workshops. She earned her BFA from the Conservatory of Dance at Purchase College andhas trained extensively in the Limon technique with Risa Steinberg. Ms. Iannacito McBride has danced with the Albany Berkshire Ballet, Kazuko Hirabayashi Dance Theater, Beth Soll, Dusan Tynek Dance Theater, Catherine Miller and Kathryn Alter. In 2007, she was selected to participate in the Patricia N. Nanon Residency at The Yard on Martha’s Vineyard, where she taught company class. Currently, she is a member and the Associate Artistic Director of Riedel Dance Theater. She was the Managing Director of Dances Patrelle from 2010 to 2011. She has been on faculty at the Logrea Dance Academy, the New York State Summer School for the Arts, Ballet Academy East, The Yard, the Mark Morris Dance Center and the School of the Albany Berkshire Ballet. In 2012, she became an Adjunct Faculty Member at Pace University. Ms. Iannacito McBride is a Pilates instructor certified by The Kane School of Core Integration and a yoga instructor certified by mang’Oh Yoga, for which she also serves as Studio Manager. Ms. Iannacito McBride is currently on maternity leave.

Blake Hennessy-York graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara with a BFA in Dance and a BA in Business Economics. Originally from Lake Tahoe, Nevada, he received his early training from Ann Peters. Within the Theatre/Dance Department at UCSB, he was awarded the Matthew Plaskett Memorial Scholarship (2003, 2005), the Patricia Sparrow Scholarship (2005), as well as the Drama and Dance Associates Award (2006) for overall excellence in academic and artistic pursuits. Mr. Hennessy-York danced with Santa Barbara Dance Theatre under the direction of Jerry Pearson from 2007 to 2011, which included tours to China and South Korea. He has also performed with Nugent Dance, Montecito School of Ballet and Woodminster Summer Musicals, as well as performances in works by José Limón, Nancy Colahan, Tonia Shimin, Christopher Pilafian, Valerie Huston, Sumi Clements and Marcos Duran. In New York, Mr. Hennessy-York works at Viacom Inc. while pursuing his dance career. This is his third season with Lydia Johnson Dance.

Sarah Pon, originally from Oakland, California, received her early training from Lynette DeFazio at Ballet Arts. Ms. Pon graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2006 with a BFA in Dance. While at UCSB, she danced in works by Christopher Pilafian, Tonia Shimin, Valerie Huston, José Limon and performed with Nugent Dance. Ms. Pon is a recipient of the Patricia Sparrow scholarship and the Alice Condodina Performance Award. Upon graduation, she was invited to join Santa Barbara Dance Theatre, under the direction of Jerry Pearson. She danced and toured internationally with SBDT for three seasons. In New York, Ms. Pon has also danced with the Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company. With LJD, she has taught repertory workshops in NYC and also serves as Company Manager. This is her third season with Lydia Johnson Dance.

Katie Martin, originally from Chicago, Illinois, began her early training at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts and the Lou Conte Dance Studio. She continued her training on scholarship at Point Park University and studied abroadin Paris, France. After moving to NYC, Ms. Martin completed her BFA in Dance, graduating magna cum laude from Marymount Manhattan College under the direction of Katie Langan. While at Marymount, she had the opportunity to perform works by Benoit-Swan Pouffer, May O'Donnell, John Butler, Erick Hawkins and Igal Perry. Further training includes the Hubbard Street Summer Intensive, American Dance Festival and the Professional Training Program at the Merce Cunningham School, where she also studied on scholarship. Ms. Martin has performed with the Long Island Dance Project, The Synthesis Aesthetics Project and the Fly By Night Dance Theater. Ms. Martin joined Lydia Johnson Dance in 2012 and teaches Contemporary/Modern at the Lydia Johnson Dance School.

Min-Seon Kim, originally from South Korea, received her training at Fiorello H. LaGuardia HighSchool of Music & Art and PerformingArts and at Marymount Manhattan College. She graduated cum laude from Marymount Manhattan College with a BFA in Dance and was an honorable mention for the Gold Key, a recognition reward for excellence in dance. While at Marymount, Ms. Kim performed works by Alwin Nikolais, Benoit-Swan Pouffer, John Butler, Katie Langan, Maxine Steinman, Nancy Lushington, Pedro Ruiz, Shen Wei and Sophie Maslow. Besides at Marymount, she has also worked with Adam Barruch, Sidra Bell, Milton Myers, Sean Gannon, Abigail Levine and Lauren Hale Dance. This is Ms. Kim’s second season with Lydia Johnson Dance.

A PennsyFloridian gypsy, Eric Williams sought out dance at a young age before beginning his formal training at the HARID Conservatory. After his conferral, he continued hiseducation at the University of South Florida. After earning his BFA in modern dance performance, he migrated north to this fine city to pursue a career as a movement explorer, educator and performer.

Since then, he has had the pleasure of working with such artists as Kyle Abraham/Ambraham.In.Motion, Jennifer Muller/The Works, Cherylyn Lavagnino, Darcy Naganuma, Jung-Li Chen, CONTINUUM Contemporary/Ballet and Lydia Johnson Dance.

Anthony Bocconi was born in Brooklyn, New York, and began his dance training with hip-hop classes at the age of 13. The following year, he attended Fiorello H.LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and the Performing Arts, where he found his niche in modern dance while studying Graham and Horton techniques. After graduation, Mr. Bocconi continued his dance training in the Ailey/Fordham BFA program under the direction of Melanie Person. He has performed works by Milton Myers, Elisa Monte, Alvin Ailey, Hofesh Schecter, Didy Veldman, Ronald K. Brown and Nathan Trice. Mr. Bocconi has spent summers at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Nederlands Dans Theatre and Springboard Dance Montreal, learning the repertoire of Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, Hélène Blackburn and Jiri Pokorny. He is also a member of Lar Lubovitch Dance Company in NYC. This is Mr. Bocconi’s first season with Lydia Johnson Dance.

Born and raised in Staten Island, New York, Lisa Borres graduated from Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts. She later receivedher BFA in Dance from The Hartt School at University of Hartford, where she has performed works by Martha Graham, Pascal Rioult, Shannon Gillen and Steven Pier, as well as works brought to the American College Dance Festival. She has apprenticed and performed with Elisa Monte Dance since 2011 and has performed with LEVYDance and MATYCHAK. She is also currently dancing with Mazzini Dance Collective.

This is Ms. Borres’ first season with Lydia Johnson Dance.

Alessandra Giambelli, originally from Italy, trained at The Teatro Carcano in Milan, where she studied ballet with Margarita Smirnova. She continued her studies at Music, Arts and Show (MAS)in Milan and also studied a l'Academie deDanse Classique PrincesseGrace underthe direction of Marika Besobrasova. At the age of 19, Ms. Giambelli moved to NYC to attend The Ailey School on scholarship. In addition, she has attended on scholarship both Earl Mosley’s Institute of the Arts and performed with them at The Joyce Soho Theater and Alonzo King Lines Ballet Summer Intensive Program in San Francisco. She has danced with BODYART Dance Company, for Nathan Trice/RITUALS Project by Project in the “Recognizing Women Project 2011”, ACB Dance Company, and in HEARD NY by the visual artist Nick Cave in Grand Central Station. Ms. Giambelli has presented her own work at The Ailey Citigroup Theater, The Performance Lab at Steps on Broadway, and she is a current choreographer and company member of Nomad Contemporary Ballet. She is thrilled to be part of Lydia Johnson Dance for her first season!

Originally from California, Darion Smith is now based in New York City. Since graduating from theFolkwang Hochshule in Essen, Germany,Mr. Smith has been a performing member with professional dance companies in New York City, throughout the states and abroad, including Dance Theatre of Harlem, The Metropolitan Opera Ballet, New York Theatre Ballet and Cherylyn Lavagnino Dance. As a teacher of dance, Mr. Smith has been a guest lecturer at the University of California at Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara City College and has taught ballet and jazz dance in New York City and on tour for Dance Theatre of Harlem's educational and community outreach programs. This is Darion’s first season with LJD.


Carlos Lopez was born in Madrid and currently dances in New York as Freelancer. He trained at the Victor Ullate School with Karemia Moreno, Atilio Labis and Menia Martínez, and in New York with Willie Burmann, David Howard and Rinat Imaev. In 1991 he joined the Victor Ullate Ballet, being promoted to Principal Dancer in 1996 where he performed leading roles in Giselle, Don Quixote, Paquita, Les Silfides, Theme and Variations, Hammerklavier, Grosse Fugue, Before Night Fall, Nomos Alpha etc.

Carlos joined American Ballet Theatre in 2001 and danced as a Soloist from 2003 until 2011. He has worked with Natalia Makarova, Gelsey Kirkland, Anthony Dowell, John Neumeier, Twyla Tharp, Mark Morris, Stanton Welch, Christopher Wheeldon, James Kudelka, Lar Lubovitch, William Forsyth and Alexei Ratmansky.

In 1996, he won the Silver Medal at the Paris International Ballet Competition and in 2004, he was awarded the Les Etoiles de Ballet 2000 Prize in Cannes.

As a guest artist he has performed with the National Ballet of Georgia, the National Ballet of Cuba, The Inoue Ballet Foundation of Japan, Lar Luvobich Dance Company and the Ballet Concierto of Puerto Rico.

2013 Season Apprentices

Lauren Alpert began her training in the Royal Academy of Dance classical ballet syllabus and broadened her movement vocabulary in BerkeleyBallet Theater's pre-professional program. Under director Martine Van Hamel, she was featured as a soloist in both classical and contemporary works in the Kaatsbaan Extreme Ballet Showcase. After one year of study at the Juilliard School, Ms. Alpert transferred to Columbia University, where she danced original contemporary ballets by Adam Hendrickson and Emery LeCrone as a member of the Columbia Ballet Collaborative. Upon graduating magna cum laude with a BA in Neuroscience and Behavior, she joined BHdos, the second company of Ballet Hispanico, with whom she performs works by Nicholas Villeneuve, Eduardo Vilaro and Annabelle Lopez Ochoa in public venues and cultural events throughout New York City. In Fall 2013, Ms. Alpert will begin working toward a PhD in Philosophy with a concentration in Cognitive Science at the Graduate Center of CUNY. Her experience in dance will continue to inform and inspire her academic research throughout her graduate studies. Ms. Alpert joins Lydia Johnson Dance this season as an apprentice.

Melissa Morrison made the trip from Folsom, California, to New York City after graduating with Honors from University of California, Santa Barbara in June 2012 with BAs in Dance and Communication. Having grown up a ballerina, training with Deirdre Hawkins and Erin Nobbe at Hawkins School of Performing Arts, she became interested in the modern dance world during her time at UCSB under the direction of Christopher Pilafian. Ms. Morrison has performed works by Nancy Colahan, Valerie Huston, José Limón, Austin McCormick of Company XIV and danced as a guest with the Sacramento Ballet. She is a recipient of the Rona Sande Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Department of Theater and Dance, a Dance Education Laboratory Scholarship at the Harkness Dance Center and UCSB College of Letters and Science University Award of Distinction. In addition to teaching children’s modern dance classes at the 92nd Street Y, she volunteers as an intern for Hypatia Arts Consulting Firm. She joins LJD this season as an apprentice and is so grateful for this opportunity.

Elise Ritzel hails from Landenberg, Pennsylvania. She studied ballet at Mid-Atlantic Ballet and spent her summers at PittsburghBallet Theatre, Boston Ballet and Ballet Austin. Ms. Ritzel then went on to Point Park University, and now holds a BA degree with a concentration in ballet. She has had the opportunity to perform works by Trey McIntyre, Balanchine, Gerald Arpino, Kiesha Lalama and Doug Bentz, among others. At age 23, Ms. Ritzel is very grateful for her exposure to all art forms, including those she learned while studying abroad in Paris, France. After her travels, she now resides in Brooklyn, NY, where she continues her studies at Peridance Capezio Dance Center, learning under Igal Perry, Bennyroce Royon and Stuart Loungway, among others. Ms. Ritzel is a member of Alyson Laury Dance and is an apprentice with Lydia Johnson Dance.

Still photographs throughout the site by Philip Gardner (© Philip Gardner 2013), Julie Lemberger (© Julie Lemberger, 2004–2009) and Kokyat (© Kokyat, 2009), as noted.

All photos on this page by Julie Lemberger.