January 26, 2019

This year's LifeChance International Ballet, Gala of the Stars promises to be as amazing as always! Some of the finest ballet dancers from around the nation will come and perform a varied repertoire that will electrify the audience with its display of skill, passion and creativity. Watch the scene below from the 2015 LifeChance featuring Brooklyn Mack from the Washington Ballet.
Individual Tickets are available online via the Koger Center for the Arts. In order to save processing fees, you may purchase tickets directly from the Koger Center Box Office located at 806 Park Street, (rear of the Koger Center) Please call 803.251.2222 for more information.
For more information about Membership and Season Tickets, call 803.252.9112 or click here. Perhaps the best part about the LifeChance performance is the enthusiasm for support it brings to the supported organization each year. The supported organization for 2019 is PAALS (Palmetto Animal Assisted Life Services:
PAALS is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization committed to enriching and empowering children and adults with physical disabilities and social needs by training service animals and providing animal assisted educational and recreational activities.
PAALS trains animals to assist people with varying abilities to live more independent and enriched lives by providing them with assistance dogs. Some of our specially trained canines are taught to turn lights on and off, tug open doors, pick up dropped items and alert for help to assist individuals in wheelchairs. Other dogs go on to assist children with autism and soldiers with PTSD to accomplish therapeutic and real life goals. During the two-year training period required to produce a service dog from a puppy, PAALS also provides programs for underserved youth, seniors and individuals with disabilities. Some examples of programs that use puppies and dogs in training include a summer camp that brings youth and individuals with disabilities together for assistance dog training, outreach visits to retirement homes and educational programs for youth.         
Fast Facts About PAALS
  • PAALS is 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
  • PAALS was founded in 2007.
  • PAALS places service dogs in all of South Carolina and areas of contiguous states located within 230 miles of Columbia, SC. (PTSD applicants must reside with 120 miles of Columbia, SC)
  • PAALS is the only Assistance Dog International (ADI) accredited organization based in South Carolina.
  • PAALS is a founding member of Animal Assisted Interventions International (AAII).
Learn more about how you can help PAALS at their website:  

Guest Artists from 2018.

Currently confirming final artists for 2019 LifeChance!

Brooklyn Mack - Washington Ballet, Native of Elgin, SC

Brooklyn returns every year to perform at LifeChance and support Columbia Classical Ballet. CCB Artistic Director, Radenko Pavlovich takes great joy in welcoming him back - Radenko was Brooklyn's first formal ballet instructor.
Brooklyn is in his ninth season with The Washington Ballet. He began his dance training at age 12 with the Pavlovich Ballet School under Radenko Pavlovich and Milena Leben before receiving a scholarship to study at the Kirov Academy of Ballet. Mack then apprenticed with the Joffrey Ballet of Chicago and later joined American Ballet Theatre’s Studio Company. See his full bio here.

Ayano Kimura, Washington Ballet

Ayano Kimura of Japan, is in her sixth season with The Washington Ballet. Kimura was born in Germany and she went on a short-term study abroad to Russia and England in 2005. In 2006, she won first place at the Youth America Grand Prix semi-final competition in Japan and placed in the top 12 at the finals in New York City. She was awarded a scholarship to the Royal Ballet Academy School and also studied at La Scala Theatre Ballet School for two years where she graduated at the top of the class. She also performed with former director of Germany’s Dressden ballet, Vladimir Derevyanko, when she was in school and was the distinguished recipient of the 'best dancer' award. Kimura performed with Roberto Bolle in the Opening Ceremonies for the Torino Olympic Games. She has performed principal roles in Septime Webre's The NutcrackerGiselle, Kirk Peterson's Swan Lake and many other soloist roles. See her full bio here.

Etienne Diaz, Pennsylvania Ballet

Etienne Diaz began his training at the Orlando Ballet School under the direction of Peter Stark and has performed as a guest artist with many regional ballet schools. Etienne joined Pennsylvania Ballet as a member of the corps de ballet for our 2014/2015 season and has danced principal roles in George Balanchine’s The Prodigal Son and Angel Corella’s Don Quixote, as well as roles in Chistopher Wheeldon’s Swan Lake, Jerome Robbins’ The Concert, and Alexei Ratmansky’s Jeu de Cartes. Prior to Pennsylvania Ballet, Etienne was with the National Opera of Bucharest, where he performed a variety of roles, including Russian and Doll in The Nutcracker and Mercutio in Romeo & Juliet. In 2012, he was invited as a guest artist with Balletto del Sud and toured throughout Italy, performing several roles including the Bluebird pas de deux from The Sleeping Beauty. From 2012 to 2014, Etienne danced with Milwaukee Ballet. See his full bio here.

Mayara Pineiro, Principal, Pennsylvania Ballet

Mayara Pineiro was born in Havana, Cuba and graduated from The Cuban National Ballet School under the direction of Ramona de Saa. Ms. Pineiro began her professional career in 2010, when she joined the National Opera of Bucharest as a Soloist. In 2012, she was invited as a guest artist to Balletto del Sud in Italy under the direction of Fredy Franzutti where she performed The Blue Bird pas de deux from The Sleeping Beauty and the title role in Carmen. From 2012-2014, Ms. Pineiro danced with Milwaukee Ballet. She joined Pennsylvania Ballet as a member of the Corps de Ballet for the 2014-2015 Season and was promoted to Soloist for the 2015-2016 season. She has danced principal roles in George Balanchine's The Nutcracker™ (Sugarplum Fairy), and Odile/Odette in Christopher Wheeldon's Swan Lake. In 2016 Ms. Pineiro was promoted to Principal Dancer. See her full bio here.

Lia Cirio, Principal, Boston Ballet

Lia Cirio began her training at Swarthmore Ballet Theater with Lori Ardis. She went on to train at the Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet under the direction of Marcia Dale Weary and Darla Hoover, where she also studied privately with Theresa Crawford and Rafael Grigorian. At age 16 Cirio was awarded the top scholarship and Founders’ Award presented by Barbara Weisberger at the Regional Dance America Festival. The same year, she was invited by Mikko Nissinen to join Boston Ballet II, and was Boston Ballet’s Princess Grace nominee for 2004. She was promoted to Boston Ballet’s corps de ballet in 2004, to second soloist in 2006, and to soloist in 2007. After a year with the Trey McIntyre Project, she returned to Boston Ballet and was named a principal dancer in 2010.  See her full bio here.

Paul Craig, Principal, Boston Ballet

Paul Craig of Manistee, Michigan started his training with Deb Knight at the Conservatory of Dance with Jefferson Baum at the Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp. He was invited to train at the Virginia School of the Arts with Petrus Bosman and Tyrone Brooks. After graduating, he spent a year in Boston Ballet School as a trainee before being hired into Boston Ballet II and was promoted into the corps the following year. Craig has performed in numerous galas and schools around the U.S. including Jacob’s Pillow Dance festival, World Ballet Competition, and Cape Cod Dance Festival. In the off-season, he performs with the Cirio Collective and teaches in ballet schools around the country. See his full bio here.

Ashley Ellis, Principal, Boston Ballet

Ashley Ellis began her professional career by dancing with American Ballet Theatre’s Studio Company, and the following year joining the prestigious American Ballet Theatre. In 2007, after six years with ABT, Ellis moved to Spain to join a touring group let by the highly acclaimed Angel Corella, leading her to become one of the founding members of his new company, Corella Ballet de Espana. After three years as a soloist with Corella, she spent a season with Sarasota Ballet before moving to Boston. In 2011, Ellis joined the Boston Ballet as a second soloist, was promoted to soloist in 2012, and assumed the rank of principal dancers in 2013. See her full bio here.

 Matthew Slattery, Boston Ballet

Matthew Slattery began his dance training at Rosie O’Sullivan’s School of Dance in Cooma, Australia. At the age of 16, he moved to Sydney to join the Talent Development High School and went on to complete the full-time Brent Street ballet and contemporary course under Christine Keith. In 2009, he joined the Joffrey Ballet School in New York City. Slattery has performed throughout New York and has toured with the Joffrey Studio Company. After two years at the school he was offered a contract with the Royal New Zealand Ballet Company, where he worked with Ethan Stiefel. See his full bio here.

Rolando Sarabia, Washington Ballet

Rolando Sarabia is a Cuban ballet dancer of international acclaim who has danced with companies throughout the world including the Cuban National Ballet, Houston Ballet and Miami City Ballet. He danced with American Ballet Theatre as a guest artist in 2011. Sarabia is often compared to the young Mikhail Baryshnikov and has been called the “Cuban Nijinsky” by The New York Times. He was trained by his father, Alicia Alonso, Lázaro Carreño and Magaly Suarez at the National Ballet School in Havana. He has performed with renowned dancers including Maya Plisetskaya, Patrick Dupont, Farouk Ruzimatov, Alicia Alonso and Tamara Rojo among others. Sarabia is the recipient of the Prix Benois de la Danse, Concours International de Danse de Paris, Varna International Ballet Competition, Gold Medal USA International Ballet Competition, Gold Medal 1998 International Ballet Competition and Grand Prix 1998 International Encounter of Ballet Academies among others. See his full bio here.

Tamako Miyazaki, Washington Ballet

Tamako Miyazaki of Tokyo, Japan, is in her fifth season with The Washington Ballet after dancing with Columbia Classical Ballet. Prior to that, Miyazaki was a member of The Washington Ballet Studio Company for two seasons. She has studied at Kaneta Kono Ballet Academy, Michiko Aoyama Ballet Studio and the Reiko Otsuka Ballet Studio. Her many awards include: first place in the Youth America Grand Prix finals in 2002, the silver medal at USA International Competition Jackson Mississippi in 2014, second place at the YAGP regionals in Toyko in 2004 and second place in the All Japan Ballet Union Competition and YAGP finals in 2006. See her full bio here.

 Patrick Leonard Yocum, Principal, Boston Ballet

Patrick Yocum has loved theatre since an early age. He spent his childhood performing in musicals and plays and continues to have a passion for performance that is rarely satiated. Beginning his classical dance training in his hometown as a teenager, he left home after high school to attend the Pittsburgh Ballet Theater Graduate Program. In 2009, he joined Boston Ballet School as a trainee and was invited to join Boston Ballet II the next year. Yocum joined the corps de ballet in 2011 and was promoted to soloist in 2015 and principal in 2017. He has performed leading roles in classical, neoclassical and contemporary works and has enjoyed touring with Boston Ballet to many locations in the U.S. and Europe. See his full bio here.

Ji-Young Chae , Soloist, Boston Ballet

Ji Young Chae trained at Seoul Arts High School and Korea National University of Arts. In 2011, she joined Washington Ballet. Chae joined Boston Ballet in 2013 and was promoted to soloist in 2015. Chae was awarded the gold medal at the 2010 International Ballet Competition in Jackson, Mississippi and first prize at the 2010 International Ballet Competition in Varna, Bulgaria. In 2011, she received the gold medal at the Boston International Ballet Competition. She has performed at the Paris Conservatory Ballet Festival and the International Baltic Ballet Festival Gala. See her full bio here.

 Rena Butler, Hubbard Street Dance

Rena Butler hails from Chicago, IL. She has danced with Kyle Abraham/Abraham.In.Motion, Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company, David Dorfman Dance, Manuel Vignoulle/M-Motions, Yara Travieso, The Kevin Wynn Collection, and Pasos Con Sabor Salsa Dance Company. She began her studies at The Chicago Academy for the Arts, studied overseas at Taipei National University of the Arts in Taiwan, and received her BFA from SUNY Purchase Conservatory of Dance. She has acted as repetiteur for Kyle Abraham/Abraham.In.Motion and Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company. Rena's choreographic work has been featured on the School at Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s BFA program, The Joffrey Ballet School in New York, the Young Choreographer's Festival in NYC, The New Orleans Museum of Modern Art in collaboration with world-renown jazz composer Terrence Blanchard, and CHTV Stories television program in Switzerland. See her full bio here.

Manuel Vignoulle, Hubbard Street Dance

Manuel Vignoulle, French choreographer based in New York, studied at The Conservatoire National Supérieur de Danse de Paris and went on to work with different French contemporary companies including Claude Brumachon, Corinne Lanselle and Bernardo Montet. He was a dance artist with both Ballet du Grand Théâtre de Genève (Switzerland) and Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet (New York) where he worked with inspiring choreographers such as Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Andonis Foniadalkis. Hofesh Shechter, Cisco Aznar, Ohad Naharin, Jo Strongen, Didy Veldman, Carolyn Carlson, Benjamin Millepied, Alexander Eckman, Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, Malou Airaudo and Benoit-Swan Pouffer among others. Manuel’s work, performed in France, Switzerland, Germany, Israel, Mexico, Brazil, Canada and USA, has been commissioned by Ailey II, Whim W’Him, Satellite Collective, 10 Hairy Legs, Chicago Repertory Ballet, Peridance Contemporary Ballet Company, Steps Repertoire Ensemble, Periapsis Music & Dance, The Ailey School, Rutgers University, Springboard and Antigel Festival.

Dayesi Torriente, Principal Dancer, Pennsylvania Ballet

Dayesi Torriente began her ballet studies in 1999 at Pro-Dance Center, directed by the Grand Maitre de Ballet Laura Alonso. In 2000, she continued at the Alejo Carpentier Provincial School of Ballet and, upon completion, joined the National Ballet School under the guidance of Esther Garcia, Mirta Hermida, Ana Julia Bermudez, Ramona de Sáa, and Fernando Alonso. Dayesi also received bronze medals in national and international ballet competitions held in 2008 and 2009. Dayesi joined Pennsylvania Ballet as a soloist for our 2016/2017 season, debuting as the Winter Fairy in Ben Stevenson’s Cinderella. She followed up with a role in David Dawson’s The Third Light, as well as principal and/or featured roles in George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker®Le Corsaire, and the world premieres of Nicolo Fonte’s Ghost Stories and Matthew Neenan’s Somnolence. Dayesi was promoted to the rank of principal dancer for the 2017/2018 season. See her full bio here.

Arian Molina Soca, Principal Dancer, Pennsylvania Ballet

Arian Molina Soca began his ballet studies in 2001 at the Alfonso Pérez Isaac Vocational School of Art and then, in 2006, joined the National Ballet School in Havana under the guidance of Elena Canga and Yuneisi Rodríguez, among other notable professors. Throughout his studies, Arian participated in a range of competitive events, including the 2008 International Ballet Teaching Academy Encounter, where he was awarded the bronze medal. He also participated in the Inter-Academy Encounters held in Mazatlán, Mexico in 2008 and then again in Johannesburg, Cape Town, and Pretoria, South Africa in 2009. Arian joined Pennsylvania Ballet as a principal dancer for our 2015/2016 season, performing a range of works from the contemporary to the classic. He has danced principal and featured roles that include Ben Stevenson’s Cinderella(Prince), Nacho Duato’s Remansos, Christopher Wheeldon’s DGV: Danse à Grande Vitesse, Angel Corella’s Le Corsaire(Conrad), and George Balanchine’s Western Symphony (Fourth Movement). He is considered one of the most promising contemporary dancers to emerge from the Cuban School of Ballet. See his full bio here.

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