Celeste Gaiera began her dance training at age five in New Zealand under the inspirational guidance of Marian McDermott. After arriving in the United States, she joined a full-time ballet training program in Portland, Oregon. She then moved to San Francisco to train at Marin Dance Theater, under the direction of Margaret Swarthout and Lynn Cox. Celeste was selected to join Pittsburgh Ballet Theater’s Graduate Program on scholarship, where she enjoyed many opportunities to perform with the company. She then joined Texas Ballet Theater as a company member under Ben Stevenson, O.B.E., for four years, performing a variety of both classical and contemporary ballets. Celeste attended Netherlands Dance Theater in 2016, where she performed works by Paul Lightfoot, Sol León, Mengahn Lou, and Crystal Pite. Celeste is thrilled to be back for her second season in the professional company.
Dance Education & Training
Marian McDermott School of Dance New Zealand, Portland Festival Ballet, Marin Dance Theatre, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre
Professional Experience / Career Highlights
Company member with Texas Ballet Theater 2017-2021
What inspired you to become a professional dancer?
My love for dance. I still remember the moment when I was eleven years old, in ballet class, and the most enlivening passionate feeling came over me. I had always had a deep passion for dance but in that moment I knew I needed to follow that feeling and I’ve never looked back!
What brought you to Richmond Ballet?
I first worked with Jerri Kumery at Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre in 2019, which initially sparked my interest in the Richmond Ballet. I believe this company is extremely special because of the integrity and passion every member in the organization embodies. It’s wonderful to work with people who are extremely talented dancers and wonderful people as well!
What hobbies or activities do you enjoy doing off-stage?
I love singing, spending time with my friends, the outdoors, and somatic movement healing!
Our professional company is made up of elite dancers from around the world who have helped earn Richmond Ballet critical acclaim. Dance/USA says Richmond Ballet is “a jewel among U.S. dance companies,” while The Washington Post calls it “a company to which dance fans everywhere ought to pay attention.” We’re proud of all that our company dancers bring to Richmond, and the world.
Richmond Ballet II, our second performing company, is comprised of talented young dancers between the ages of 18 and 22. RBII members perform their own diverse repertoire on tour across the Commonwealth as well as alongside the main company in mainstage productions.
RBII Apprentices are the top level of the Pre-Professional Division of School of Richmond Ballet. They receive an intensive training program, full scholarship, living stipend and are the bridge to RBII, our second company. Their time is divided between RBII rehearsals and the Trainee Program, performing in Lecture Demonstrations, Richmond Ballet Company mainstage performances and the end of season showcase performance with RB Trainees.
Richmond Ballet II Apprentices
Seated (L-R): Gianna DeMassio, Rachel Nash
Standing (L-R): Michael Duncan, Hannah MacLeod, Darius Mealy
Founded in 1993, the nationally recognized Richmond Ballet Trainee Program offers select advanced students a transitional experience to bridge the gap between the academic ballet setting and the world of professional dance. The Richmond Ballet Trainee Program is one of the few in this country that enables aspiring dancers to pursue formal dance training and gain valuable performance experience with a professional company.
Richmond Ballet Trainees - Second and Third Years
First Row- Senior Trainees: Kennady Jackson, Sarah Shaw, Gabrielle Goodson
Second Row: Katrina May Thomas, Sheridan Brown, Anna Orzulak, Parker Edmondson, Kendall Taylor, Ella Warren
Third Row: Carter Bush, Gavin Haas, Cade Bolz, Garrett Janiak, Daniel Miller
Richmond Ballet Trainees - First Year
First Row: Anne Pearson Gremer, Kristen Soyars Green, Isabella Vanik
Second Row: Gillian Carr, BriAnna Binzak, Savannah Wyatt, Claire Kehoe, Alexis Dawson, Kinsey Phelps, Chelsea Hacking
Third Row: Kiera Luci Dulog, Gillian Grossman, Oliver Gardner, Sydney Stutzman, Benjamin Piner
The Artistic Staff at Richmond Ballet is made up of international professionals who each bring incredible talent, expertise, and credentials to their respective roles. With impressive backgrounds and world experience, they offer a unique perspective that has helped shape our organization over the years. For over 40 years, Stoner Winslett has served as the founding Artistic Director of Richmond Ballet, the first major company of professional dancers in the Commonwealth of Virginia. She is one of the longest tenured artistic directors of a major ballet company and one of the country’s few female artistic directors. In June 2020, acclaimed choreographer Ma Cong joined Richmond Ballet as its first ever Associate Artistic Director.