Valerie Cookson-Botto

Valerie Cookson-Botto began her dance training in the Washington D.C. area and then moved to Dallas, Texas in 1987 to study dance at the Meadows School of Fine Arts at Southern Methodist University. After earning a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Dance Performance, she was awarded a teaching fellowship at Temple University’s Department of Dance in Philadelphia and earned a Masters of Fine Arts in Dance. Ms. Cookson-Botto’s technical training includes both Vaganova and Cecchetti ballet techniques; and Limon, Graham, and Cunningham modern techniques. She continued her professional training at the London Contemporary Dance School and the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange.

Ms. Cookson-Botto has taught and choreographed as a Faculty In Residence at the University of New Hampshire and Adjunct Faculty at Shenandoah University in Virginia. She developed K-12 dance programs based on national standards for the arts at Berwick Academy in South Berwick, Maine and at the Pomfret School in Pomfret, Connecticut. Ms. Cookson-Botto joined the Festival Ballet Providence faculty in 1999 teaching modern technique, creative movement and pre-ballet.

Ms. Cookson-Botto has choreographed throughout her career staging pieces on companies and students throughout New England. In 1996 she was commissioned to choreograph Chromatic Fantasy as part of the New Hampshire MacDowell Celebration to the musical composition of MacDowell fellow, Barbara Kolb. Ms. Cookson-Botto has brought several works to Ballet RI including the Chatterbox family favorite, Peter and the Wolf; and Fleet Bank Showcase series for Middle School audiences, The Unicorn, The Gorgon and The Manticore.

After a long history with Festival Ballet Providence, Ms. Cookson-Botto is thrilled to be taking on the role of Educational Outreach Coordinator bringing all of the magic and artistry of Festival Ballet Providence to schools and community groups throughout New England and teaching in our Young Children’t Program.

Athina Alimonos

Athina Alimonos, of Hadley, MA, began dancing at the age of four. She trained with Irina Vakhromeeva for many years, followed by training at Massachusetts Academy of Ballet under the instruction of Rose and Charles Flachs. In 2015, Athina was a Youth America Grand Prix finalist in New York City.

At fifteen, she was awarded a gold medal in the senior division at the Connecticut Classic ballet competition. In 2018, she was a finalist at the World Ballet Competition. Athina has furthered her training by attending summer intensives at the Hartt School on a full scholarship where she worked with Angel Corella, the Bolshoi Ballet Academy in New York City where she was invited to train in Moscow, Russia at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy year round, and the San Francisco Ballet School. During her time at Festival Ballet Providence she has performed in Yury Yanowsky’s Same, as well as Bariolage; Lead Snowflake, Marzipan, and the Spanish dance in The Nutcracker; the Tall Elige Woman in Balanchine’s Serenade; Variation 4 in Paquita; and Grisi in Pas De Quatre, along with many other roles.

Yury Yanowsky

Yanowsky won First Prize at the Prix de Lausanne and the Silver medal at the Varna and U.S. International Ballet Competitions. He trained with Carmen Delgado de Robles, Anatol Yanowsky, and the Ballet Nacional de Cuba.

Yury’s passion for choreography began early in his dancing career and over the past decade he has had the opportunity to showcase his work around the world. He has been commissioned to create new works for Boston Ballet, Boston Ballet 2, Bundes Jugend Ballet, Jacobs Pillow Gala, Atlanta Ballet, Tulsa Ballet, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Kansas City Ballet, Portland Ballet, and Festival Ballet Providence. In 2015, he was awarded the Choreographic Prize at the prestigious Erik Bruhn Competition and his ballet Smoke and Mirrors for Boston Ballet was named “Best in Dance for 2016” by The Arts Fuse and hailed as a “visual and choreographic masterpiece”. In 2018 he founded Dance YaNOWsky, a small touring company dedicated to his vision. Yanowsky is focused on creating new works that are relevant and reflective of todays society, oftentimes using unique collaborations to enhance his works.
Yanowsky has served as Movement Consultant for American Repertory Theatre and as Movement Director for The Boston Lyric Opera. He is a frequent teacher at Boston Ballet, Boston Arts Academy, and Centro Coreographico Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. When not choreographing, Yury remains on the Dance Faculty at Harvard University.


Christopher Anderson

Christopher Anderson began his training in Colorado at the Arvada Center for the Arts with Howard Kanobe and Lynelle Mossholder. At age 14, Anderson trained with internationally renowned teacher and pedagogue Marika Besobrasova at the Academie de Danse Classique de Princesse Grace in Monaco before training at North Carolina School of the Arts under the guidance of Duncan Noble. He completed his training at San Francisco Ballet School under the direction of Richard Cammack. His teachers were Henry Berg, Christine Berring, Richard Cammack, Lew Christensen, Zola Dishong, David Howard, Gabriel Septienne, Michael Smuin, Larissa Sklyanskaya, and his mentor Anatole Vilzak.

Upon completing his education, Anderson danced for sixteen years at San Francisco Ballet, working his way through the ranks, dancing numerous roles and working with many internationally acclaimed choreographers and artists. Anderson has performed the works of George Balanchine, David Bintley, Christopher Bruce, Val Caniparoli, William Forsythe, Jacques Garnier, James Kudelka, Jiri Kylian, Anna Laerkesen, Mark Morris, Jerome Robbins, Deitmar Seyferrt, Paul Taylor, Glen Tetley, Helgi Tomasson and Stanton Welch. He has also danced in many of the classics including Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, Romeo & Juliet, Giselle, La Sylphide, Chopinyana, and The Nutcracker.

After his time with San Francisco Ballet, Anderson danced internationally in Europe as a Principal Guest Artist. He joined Alberta Ballet under the direction of Mikko Nissinen where he worked three years as a principal dancer. During his time with Alberta Ballet, he danced the works of George Balanchine, Jorma Elo, Jean Grande-Maitre, Emily Molnar, Rudi Van Danzig, Edmund Stripe, and Christopher Wheeldon.

Anderson taught in numerous dance programs, seminars and summer programs including Boston Ballet School where he worked as a faculty member for 16 years before joining School of Ballet RI in 2020. In addition to his work with BBS, Anderson also taught Boston Ballet company class regularly and was the Ballet Master for the Battle Scene in Mikko Nissinen’s production of the The Nutcracker.

Azamat Asangul

Azamat was born in Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic. He started his studies at age 10. In 2007, Azamat was awarded a Presidential Scholar “Personnel 21st Century” for “Creative achievement in the Performing Skills”. Later he was invited by Altynai Asylmuratova to study in Saint Petersburg, Russia and graduated from the Vaganova Ballet Academy in 2010.

He then joined Moscow City Ballet under the direction of artistic director Victor Smirnov. In 2012, Azamat was selected by Julia Moon to join Universal Ballet in South Korea. He also continued to dance with the Kyrgyz National Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre. In 2013, Azamat was invited to join The Russian National Ballet by Artistic Director Sergei Radchenko. He has toured with The Moscow City Ballet in the United Kingdom, Ireland, China, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Taiwan, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Cyprus, Russia and with The Russian National Ballet in the USA. In 2014, Azamat joined Island Moving Co. in Newport, Rhode Island to focus on his contemporary style. Azamat has appeared as a guest artist with Kyrgyz National Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre, Russian National Ballet, Charleston City Ballet and Ballet Idaho. This is his fourth season with Ballet RI.

Katherine Bickford

Originally from Florida, Katherine was first introduced to dance at Dance Empire in Miami. She continued her training with the Portland School of Ballet in Maine, and then went on to graduate from Canada’s National Ballet School. Katherine has received additional training from summer intensives with San Francisco Ballet School, Houston Ballet Academy, Dominic Walsh’s Compass Coaching Project, and Springboard Danse Montreal.

She earned her B.S. in Ecology and Environmental Science with a minor in dance from the University of Maine, while performing with Robinson Ballet and Bangor Ballet. In 2015, Katherine joined Festival Ballet Providence. At Festival, she has enjoyed working with and performing pieces by choreographers such as Viktor Plotnikov, Kurt Douglas, Mary Ellen Beaudreau, Christopher L. Huggins, Mihailo Djuric, Yury Yanowsky, and George Balanchine. Throughout her dance career, Katherine has enjoyed teaching both dance and group fitness classes to students of all ages.

Madeline Glinski

Madeline Glinski was born in Malvern, Pennsylvania. She began her training with the International Ballet Theater, studying in the Vaganova method under Artistic Director Jaelyn Fellona.

In her formative years, Madeline was awarded 3rd Place in the Classical Category at Youth America Grand Prix and invited to participate at the Finals. Her repertoire includes Aurora, Princess Florine (Sleeping Beauty), Giselle (Giselle), Sugarplum Fairy, Snow Queen (The Nutcracker), and Swanilda (Coppelia). Madeline is honored to have been coached by Gennadi and Ludmilla Potapovich, Leanne Benjamin, Larissa Ponomarenko, Viktor Plotnikov, Yury Yanowsky, Anna Liceica, Evan Mckie, and Charles Askegard.

Kirsten Evans

Born in Providence, Kirsten began training in the FBP School at age eleven. She performed as a member of Ballet RI’s Company for five years before joining the main company as a trainee in 2010 before being promoted to Company Artist in 2013. While training, Kirsten attended summer intensives with Bolshoi Ballet Academy, The Nutmeg Conservatory, and was a member of the Jacob’s Pillow Summer Dance Festival in 2009.

She was a two-time finalist in the Youth America Grand Prix in New York City, where she was awarded several scholarships as well as a traineeship with Ballet West in Utah. Kirsten has performed numerous principal roles in both classical and contemporary works by choreographers including Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, George Balanchine, Christopher Wheeldon, Trey McIntyre, Yury Yanowsky, Viktor Plotnikov, and Dominic Walsh, among others. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Arts/Journalism from Providence College and is pursuing a certificate in Interior Design from RISD. Kirsten also founded a summer performing arts coming called Revolve Dance Project. This is Kirsten’s thirteenth season with the company.

Leticia Guerrero

A native of Venezuela, Ms. Guerrero received her early training at the Keyla Ermecheo Ballet School in Caracas. She has performed with numerous companies including Ballet Nuevo Mundo de Caracas, Metropolitan Ballet of Caracas, Minnesota Dance Theatre, Michigan Ballet, Charleston Ballet Theatre, Jose Mateo’s Ballet Theatre and Cadence Dance Project.

She has created leading roles in ballets in Gianni Dimarco’s El Amor Brujo, Schéhérazade and Azucar, Plotnikov’s Carmen, The Widow’s Broom,Loof and Let Dime and Coma, De Bouteiller’s Romeo and Juliet and FBP’s 2006 premiere of Don Quixote. Other leading roles include Balanchine’s Allegro Brillante, Rubies, Tschaikovsky Pas de Deux, Tarantella, Who Cares?, Pelzig’s The Princess and the Pea, Swan Lake and Eldar Aliev’s A Thousand and One Nights. Ms. Guerrero also participated in the 2004 Venezuela Del Mundo Gala and was recognized for representing Venezuela internationally with high standards and “projection, dignity and beauty.” In addition Providence Mayor David Cicilline awarded a Citizens Citation for her “exceptional and wholehearted devotion for the art of dance.”

After her retirement from the stage in May 2012, she transitioned into her new role as Ballet Mistress with the Company, and as a faculty member with School of Ballet RI where she continues to pass on her knowledge to a new generation of dancers.

Juliana Godlewski

Originally from San Clemente, CA, Juliana received her early training from Victor and Tatiana Kasatsky and later from Maple Conservatory of Dance in Irvine, CA. At the age of 17, she moved to Philadelphia, PA to attend the Rock School for Dance. Juliana then made the decision to dance and earn her BFA at the University of Utah’s Ballet School. Throughout her degree, Juliana performed in various classical and contemporary works, most notably as Mytha in Giselle Act II and Gulnare in Le Corsaire. In addition to her studies and performances at the University, Juliana danced in New York City as a part of Michelle Wiles’s BalletNext, performing in various pieces by Wiles as well as Mauro Bigonzetti’s La Follia.

Following her recent graduation in 2020, Juliana was hired as an apprentice to California Ballet. Throughout the pandemic however, Juliana has danced extensively and choreographed for Ballet Project OC located in Tustin, CA. After joining Festival Ballet Providence in 2021, she had the incredible opportunity to perform in the company’s productions including the role of Marie Taglioni in Sir Anton Dolin’s Pas de Quatre in addition to working with renowned choreographers Yury Yanowsky, Paulo Arrais & Lia Cirio. She has also had the honor of teaching and creating for the students of the School of Education at Ballet RI. Additionally, Juliana recently choreographed and danced as a part of Rhode Island Women’s Choreographic Initiative under the mentorship of Penny Saunders.