The New York State Ballet is proud to have Sarah Rothrock-Rickel on board as

Assistant Artistic Director. Sarah Rothrock-Rickel began her dance training in her

hometown of Princeton, N.J. Her studies continued in NYC at the Joffrey Ballet School,

American Ballet Theatre School, and the Harkness House for Ballet Arts, where she

received a full scholarship to their professional training program under the direction

of master teacher David Howard. Sarah’s professional career began when she joined

the Deutsche Oper Berlin Ballet in West Berlin, working alongside of ballet greats

Rudolph Nureyev, Natalia Makarova, Valery Panov, Eva Evdokimova and

Peter Shaufuss among others. Rising to the rank of soloist, Sarah danced nationally

and internationally with the BalletMet, the Milwaukee Ballet, the Tennessee Festival

Ballet under the direction of Anna Marie Holmes, Michael Mao Dance and as a guest

artist with the Eglevsky Ballet, New York Theatre Ballet, and James Sewell Dance.

Sarah has performed principal roles in the classical works of Swan Lake, Giselle, Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella among others, as well as in neoclassical and contemporary works by Balanchine, Ailey, Kylian, Taylor and  many others.

Upon retiring from the stage, Sarah studied arts administration, served as an intern for the New York State Council on the Arts, and embarked on what would become a lifelong love of the art of teaching. Upon marrying and expecting her first child, Sarah and her husband moved to upstate NY where she began teaching upper division ballet at Dance Centre North and at Syracuse University. While in Syracuse, Sarah served as the principal choreographer and artistic director of the fledgling Central New York Ballet. Her commissioned works include two presentations for the Syracuse Symphony Family Series where she choreographed original works “The Ugly Duckling” and “Carnival of the Animals”, as well as a work for the symphony’s Celtic Festival and a presentation of an evening of original repertory dance with live accompaniment from the Syracuse Symphony, assisted by a 25,000 dollar grant from state senator D’Fransisco. Sarah also received a choreographic commission for contemporary work from the Everson Museum of Art in Syracuse. She has been a guest teacher and choreographer for Columbus Dance Theater, Dance Arts Los Alamos, Pittsford Dance Studio and Dance Spectrum.

On moving to Rochester, Sarah taught upper division ballet and choreographed in ballet at Little Red Dancing School under director Lisa Allain, where her work received numerous platinum and outstanding choreography awards, were highest scoring pieces in both regional and national competition, and received five perfect scores at national competition as well. Sarah joined the faculty of the Draper Center for Dance Education in 2010 where she continued to train upper division levels, choreograph for competitions, workshops and demonstrations, coach students for the Youth American Grand Prix and teach company class for the Rochester City Ballet. Sarah is an ABT certified teacher, who has successfully completed the ABT teacher training intensive in primary through level 3 of the ABT National Training Curriculum.

Sarah’s greatest achievements are her two daughters, Jessica and Margaret, and her marriage of over 23 years to professor Stan Rickel of RIT. Sarah is joyful and excited to start this next chapter as Assistant Artistic Director of New York State Ballet and to share her knowledge with the students of Ballet Prestige.

Robert Royce began his ballet training at Greensboro Ballet in Greensboro, NC at the age of ten. He continued his studies at the North Carolina School of the Arts and School of American Ballet. During the summers he attended intensives at Pacific Northwest Ballet, and Hungarian National Ballet.

Mr. Royce danced professionally for Cincinnati Ballet, Dayton Ballet, Alabama Ballet, Ballet Theater of Maryland and BalletFleming. He has served as Ballet Master and a staff teacher for Alabama Ballet, Ballet Theatre of Maryland, BalletFleming and Burklyn Ballet Theatre. Mr. Royce has been training and coaching professional and student dancers for the past sixteen years. As a choreographer, he has received the 2001 Viewer’s Choice Award in the Scotsman for his Cinderella at the Edinburg Fringe Festival and a four-star review for The Little Mermaid in 2011, both with Burklyn Ballet Theater.

He currently serves as ballet master for New York State Ballet and has choreographed Carmina Burana and Dracula for the company.

Sarah Rothrock-Rickel, Assistant Artistic Director

Robert Royce, Ballet Master

   New York State Ballet  |  585.704.1903  | Email:
    Studio Location: 1855 Monroe Ave., Rochester, NY 14618                          

    Mailing Address: PO Box 201, Pittsford NY 14534  


To preserve the classical art form of ballet by creating and performing exceptional productions that bring a refreshed appreciation and awareness of classical ballet to the New York state community and beyond.


​· NYSB will help to educate the community and the surrounding areas of the art form of classical ballet via our productions and community outreach.

​ · NYSB productions will be affordable and accessible to community members from every background and socio-economic status.

· In tandem with Rochester’s position as a center for deaf education in the U.S., NYSB will provide a special focus on featuring deaf and hearing-impaired dancers in our productions.

​· NYSB will be recognized as a premier dance company and an excellent representation of the extraordinary dance talent present in New York State.

New York State Ballet (NYSB) is a non-profit organization formed in June 2014 that offers upstate New York and the surrounding areas the opportunity to experience true classical ballet performances of the highest caliber.  

NYSB's founder, Katherine Johnson, is a graduate of Canada's Royal Winnipeg Ballet School and the artistic director of Ballet Prestige, a classical ballet academy in Brighton, NY.  

​New York State Ballet offers talented dancers from all over the world the chance to live their dreams as professional dancers and share their talents with eager audiences.  Incredible dancers have joined the company right from Rochester, relocated from states such as Georgia and Maryland, and flown in to guest-perform from as far as Tartu, Estonia.

Ms. Johnson studied at Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet School for four years under the tutelage of Ms. Johanne Gingras, Teacher Training Program Director and Ms. Arlene Minkhorst, School Director, Professional Division. While studying at RWB, Ms. Johnson also had the honor of training with several world renowned dancers and ballet instructors such as Glen Gilmour of The National Ballet of Canada and Suzanne Plante of The Royal Ballet in London.  

Ms. Johnson graduated from Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet School with professional certification in the Cecchetti Method and Vaganova System of ballet technique and training. While teaching in Maryland, Ms. Johnson also benefitted from the tutelage of Ms. Misako Aoki-Oda at Misako Ballet (Columbia, MD).


Choreography Experience:

Katherine has choreographed major portions of several professional ballet performances, most notably of a full-length adaptation of Swan Lake and The Nutcracker, and excerpts from The Sleeping Beauty for Ballet Prestige, and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland for Western New York Youth Ballet.  She also choreographed pieces performed at Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet School Professional Division’s “First Steps” Choreographic Competition. 

Artistic Director & Founder 

Katherine Johnson

About New York State Ballet