International choreographer, instructor, and dancer Beth Gulledge-Brown began her lifelong relationship with dance at the age of three under the instruction of her mother, Carolyn Gulledge. She holds a degree in dance from the University of Cape Town (UCT) in South Africa. She has performed with companies around the world, including UCT Ballet Company and the CAPAB Ballet Company in South Africa, as well as Delia Stewart Dance Company, Texas Dance Theatre, and Joan Karff’s New Dance Group in the United States.
Ms. Gulledge-Brown opened Uptown Dance Centre in 1999, and formed a pre-professional dance company to provide a performing outlet for her advanced students. In 2008, Gulledge-Brown launched Uptown Dance Company, a professional dance company.
A talented and versatile choreographer, Ms. Gulledge-Brown has set choreography for multiple projects and festivals, including the Texas Tanzsommer Festival, Jazz Dance World Congress, Choreographer’s X 6, JCC SummerDance Repertory/Performance Project, Dance Houston, and Dance Month. In 2013, Gulledge-Brown choreographed her first opera for the University of Houston Moore’s School of Music’s production of Shoshtakovich’s Moscow Cheryomushki. Her choreography has been presented internationally in Mexico, Costa Rica, Austria, and China.
Adrian Ciobanu was born in Cluj, Romania, where he graduated with honors from the Liceul de Choregrafie, Octavian Stroia, under the direction of his father, Florin Ciobanu. He performed with the Romanian Opera Ballet for one year then moved to the Hungarian Opera Ballet for five years, where he achieved the rank of principal dancer. He toured throughout Europe including France, Hungary, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Romania, and the Czech Republic.
In 1996, Mr. Ciobanu became a member of the Sarasota Ballet, dancing major principal roles as well as creating many roles. His repertoire includes major classical and contemporary ballets by such choreographers as Robert North, Alberto Alonso, Katherine Posen, Steven Mills, Todd Allen, and Ament Istvan. Beginning in 2002, he taught and coached for Sarasota Ballet School, Dance the Next Generation, and local and regional schools throughout Florida. In 2003, Mr. Ciobanu was promoted to Principal of Academy, Sarasota Ballet, where the number of students doubled and the budget increased significantly under his direction. He staged full-length productions for the Academy, including Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Alice in Wonderland, The Nutcracker, La Boutique Fantasque, and Paquita. In 2008, Mr. Ciobanu was promoted to Ballet Master of Sarasota Ballet and worked extensively with the Academy. He worked with such stagers and choreographers as Hans Van Manen, Monica Parker, Alexander Grant, Dominic Walsh, Sandra Jennings, Joyceanne Sidimus, Julian Moss, Andre Prokovsky, Gilles Maidon, Jackie Hollander, Donald Mahler, and Margaret Barbieri.
Mr. Ciobanu has been the Co-Director of Uptown Dance Centre and Uptown Dance Company for the past eight years.
LAURA CATHERINE Hilley
Laura Catherine Hilley began training at Mobile Ballet at age three. As her passion for the art grew and her performance opportunities increased—under the artistic direction of Winthrop Corey—she became singularly focused on dance.
After multiple summer intensives in New York City, first with American Ballet Theatre and then with The School of American Ballet, Ms. Hilley relocated to Houston to train full-time with Houston Ballet Academy on merit scholarship. While there, she had numerous opportunities to perform works by Stanton Welch and Ben Stevenson O.B.E. with Houston Ballet.
Ms. Hilley then became a member of Cincinnati Ballet, where she worked with choreographer Adam Hougland and toured with the company to The Kennedy Center. Some of her favorite reps include Val Caniparoli’s Lady of the Camellias, Victoria Morgan’s Cinderella, and Septime Webre’s Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan.
With her love of teaching and performing, she is sought as guest performer and master instructor throughout the Houston community and region. She teaches a variety of genres and ages at Uptown Dance Centre as well as adult ballet at Houston Ballet. Ms. Hilley is a second-year member of Uptown Dance Company.
Originally from Salt Lake City, Utah, Mr. Humphreys began his ballet training at Ballet West Academy at the age of 12. After six years of training—including summer programs at Houston Ballet and San Francisco Ballet—Mr. Humphreys began a nine-year career with Texas Ballet Theater. While there, his many roles included Renfield in Ben Stevenson O.B.E.’s Dracula; Snow and Sugar pas de deux in Ben Stevenson O.B.E.’s The Nutcracker; Ptolemy in Ben Stevenson O.B.E.’s Cleopatra; White Rabbit in Ben Stevenson O.B.E.’s Alice in Wonderland; and the title role in the U.S. premiere of Will Tuckett’s Pinocchio. Other notable performances included Christopher Bruce’s Rooster and Ghost Dances, Glen Tetley’s Voluntaries, Jerome Robbin’s The Concert, Jiri Kylian’s Petite Mort, and Ohad Naharin’s Minus 16.
Mr. Humphreys looks forward to dancing alongside his fiancé Adeline Wylie with Uptown Dance Company.
Born in Miami, Florida, Joseph McDonald received his training and BFA from The Florida State University’s School of Dance in combination with studies from Young Contemporary Dance Theatre, ArtsForLearning, and Mahogany Dance Theatre. His many opportunities to work with various influencers in dance have contributed to his rich movement vocabulary. For the past two summers, he interned for Urban Bush Women’s (UBW) Summer Leadership Institute, where he turned challenges into opportunities to find his power. Studying with UBW and The People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond has opened his eyes to articulating his liberation. Guided by many professionals, who provided him with a rigorous and nurturing educational environment, Mr. McDonald has devoted himself to developing a range of dance practices and passing those tools to the next generation.
This is Mr. McDonald’s first season with Uptown Dance Company.
Mr. Trevino started his dance training in high school as a break-dancer and tumbler. With performance opportunities in Los Angeles and Guatemala, he was member of the award-winning Y.E.S. Dance Company. Mr. Trevino graduated magna cum laude from Sam Houston State University with a BFA in dance performance, where he trained under Jennifer Pontius, Jonathan Charles, Andy Noble, Dionne Noble, and Dana Nicolay. Twice he performed at the American College Dance Festival Association gala selection concert. He was also selected to perform in a guest artist residency work choreographed by Jane Weiner of Hope Stone Dance Company. Since relocating to Houston, Mr. Trevino has performed with Karen Stokes Dance, ChinaCat Dance, Bayou City Productions, Jonathan Charles, Ashley Horn, FrenetiCore, Kingwood Dance Theatre, Sandra Organ Dance Company, and NobleMotion Dance. As an Uptown Dance Company member, he also has taken master classes with and performed choreography set by ballet masters Tina Bohnstedt and Krissy Richmond. This is Mr. Trevino’s fifth season with Uptown.
Ms. Westerman began dancing at the age of ten at Northern California Dance Conservatory. Three years later, she was invited to train on merit scholarship at Houston Ballet Academy, where she performed works by Ben Stevenson O.B.E., Stanton Welch, and Claudio Munoz. Ms. Westerman then became a member of the second company at Uptown Dance Centre, which afforded her the opportunity to tour to Austria’s Young Tanzsommer Dance Festival.
Some of her favorite performance opportunities include: Clara in the Sacramento Ballet’s Nutcracker; soloist in Ladies by Stanton Welch; Swan Lake pas de trois first variation at Houston Ballet Solo Night; Jane Weiner’s Pink Ribbons Project solo; and the Sugar Plum Fairy at Uptown Dance Centre’s Nutcracker. She returns for her third year as a member of Uptown Dance Company. Ms. Westerman also teaches creative movement, ballet, tap, jazz, and hip-hop for young dancers at Uptown Dance Centre.
A native of Houston, Ms. White began training under the instruction of Victoria Vittum and Barbara LeGault with Houston Repertoire Ballet. In 2013, Ms. White performed in Paul Vasterling’s Nutcracker and All the Seasons, along with a soloist role in Paquita in Nashville Ballet’s Professional Training Division. She then joined the Professional Division of Texas Ballet Theater from 2014–16 where she had the opportunity to perform corps roles in Ben Stevenson O.B.E.’s The Nutcracker, Classical Theme B, and Jubilee, as well as a soloist role in Stevenson’s Pas De Fiancé. Ms. White was honored when Mr. Stevenson created a new version of the Sylvia pas de deux for her and a partner. As an apprentice for Alabama Ballet, she danced a soloist role in The Purple Ones. She then returned to Houston where she danced as an Artist-in-Residence with Houston Repertoire Ballet while continuing her education. Ms. White joins Uptown Dance Company this season while finishing her degree in ancient history at the University of Houston.
Ms. Wylie began dancing in Spring, Texas, at age thirteen after ten years of competitive gymnastics. She completely fell in love with dance after joining Uptown Dance Company II, where her technique and artistry developed and advanced. She trained in summer intensives at Ballet Austin, Texas Ballet Theater, and Alvin Ailey. She then trained in the Professional Division at Texas Ballet Theater, where she performed in numerous ballets by Ben Stevenson O.B.E., such as The Nutcracker and Cinderella , as well as Lew Christensen’s Beauty And The Beast. Most recently Miss Wylie had the privilege of performing in the U.S. premiere of Will Tuckett's Pinocchio. She is excited to begin her professional career with Uptown Dance Company this season.