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Talent and dedication to the art of classical and modern ballet bring these people together to create the magic of the New York State Ballet. Select the photos below to read their bios.


Katherine JOHNSON

Artistic Director and Founder

Katherine 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).


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.

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Rebekah von Rathonyi

Co-Artistic Director


Sarah Rothrock-Rickel


Sarah 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 ballet greats Rudolph Nureyev, Natalia Makarova, and many others.  Rising to the rank of soloist, Sarah danced nationally and  internationally with BalletMet, the Milwaukee Ballet, and the Tennessee Festival Ballet and as guest star with other companies. She has performed principal roles in Swan Lake, Giselle, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella as well as in neoclassical works by Balanchine, Ailey, Kylian, Taylor and others.

Upon 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. 

Since joining NYSB in 2016, in addition to teaching the professional company, Sarah’s major achievements have been the creation and choreography of a full length ballet: “Alice in Wonderland” and original concept and choreography for NYSB’s “Carmen “.

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