Artistic Director, Choreographers & Associates

Sara Knight - Artistic Director 

Sara Knight is a graduate of England's Royal Ballet School, an Associate of the Royal Academy of Dance ( A.R.A.D.), graduate of the Royal Ballet School Teacher's Training Course ( R.B.S. Dip. TTC.) and first British graduate of Russia's Vaganova (Kirov) Ballet Academy. Sara is a recipient of the Royal Ballet School Award for Excellence personally awarded by Dame Ninette de Valois, founder of the Royal Ballet. 

Upon graduation Sara was accepted to the Eifman Ballet Theatre. She remained in Russia and went on to become soloist with the Leningrad State Ballet Theatre and the Russian Ballet of St. Petersburg. In Western Europe she danced with England's Northern Ballet Theatre and was principal dancer with the European Ballet of London. In the USA, Sara has guested with Boston Ballet and as principal dancer with Configuration Dance and Rebecca Rice Dance Company.

Sara has been invited to teach world wide including: Boston Ballet Company, Boston Ballet School, Tulsa Ballet Center for Dance Education, Cincinnati Ballet School, Laban Centre London, Northern Ballet Theatre of England, Arts Educational School of the UK, Boston Conservatory, The International Festival of France and most recently Masters of Ballet at Sadlers Wells Theatre and English National Ballet School, both in London.  Sara has also served as Ballet Mistress for both London's Central School of Ballet and Ellison Ballet of NYC.  She was the Artisitc Director for the Ballet School of Stamford as well as the Co-Founder and Artistic Director of the Greenwich Ballet Academy.

In September 2010, Sara founded SLK Ballet School "A school for gifted dancers to prepare for a career as a professional dancer."  Sara continues to teach worldwide.

Renee Liguori - Ballet Mistress

Renee Liguori trained professionally with Ellison Ballet and SLK Ballet, both in New York City.

Upon her graduation from Ellison Ballet in 2010, Renee received a full time contract to both Orlando Ballet in Florida, and Nashville Ballet, Tennessee, choosing Nashville Ballet.

She worked as a professional dancer with Nashville Ballet and danced all the classics as well as some contemporary works.

Due to an injury Renee retired from the stage early to receive surgery and while recovering as a dancer, also trained as a teacher with Sara Knight and SLK Ballet. Upon her graduation performance in 2014 from SLK Ballet, she danced the lead female role in Paquita. In 2015, she graduated from Fordham University with a B.S. in Psychology, and continues to teach as a full time member of the faculty at SLK Ballet and is the Ballet Mistress for Chevalier Ballet.

Catherine Batcheller - Choreographer

Catherine’s international career as a principal dancer spanned some of the world’s leading ballet companies. She danced with the San Francisco Ballet and the Stuttgart Ballet as well as the Birmingham Royal Ballet, and she worked with some of the most distinguished choreographers of our time such as William Forsythe, Jiri Kylian, Maurice Bejart, Sir Peter Wright, David Bintley and Wayne McGregor. She also performed many works by John Cranko, Sir Kenneth MacMillan, Frederick Ashton, George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins. She has been invited to teach across the country including the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, Atlanta Ballet, Boston Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, Walnut School for the Arts, Indiana University, and Portland Ballet as well as internationally for the Stuttgart and Alberta Ballet. In 2001, she co-founded and codirected Configuration Dance, and directed Configuration Dance Studio, the school associated with the company in Massachusetts. Prior to joining Cincinnati Ballet, Catherine was the Artistic Director at Ballet Conservatory of South Texas in San Antonio, a pre-professional company and ballet academy. She also holds a M.A. from Birmingham University, England. Catherine trained with Victor Marino, the Cleveland Ballet School, Washington School of Ballet and San Francisco Ballet as well as summers at SAB, ABT and Joffrey where she studied on scholarship.


Sonia Dawkins - Choreographer

Sonia Dawkins is the founder and artistic director of Sonia Dawkins|Prism Dance Theatre. She is a graduate of The University of the Arts and received a Master’s in Dance/Kinesiology from SUNY Brockport. Ms. Dawkins has been a faculty member at Pacific Northwest Ballet in Seattle and Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington D.C. She has also been an Artist-in Residence at Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, North Carolina School of the Arts, Cincinnati Ballet School and Jones Haywood Dance School. Ms. Dawkins has performed extensively with choreographers and companies in the United States and the Caribbean. Her national and international choreography credits include: Seattle Repertory Theatre (Pullman Porter Blues, Three Musketeers, Brother Size, The Breach), Pacific Northwest Ballet, Nevada Ballet, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre School, Seattle Theatre Group (Dance This), Bulgaria Dance Festival, Mexico International Festival, Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, Young Arts Recognition, Youth Grand Prix and Broadway Bound ( 13 the Musical, Bye Bye Birdie, God Lives in Glass). She has received Gypsy Rose Lee Award for choreography for Brother Size, 2011 and was nominated for the same award for Pullman Porter Blues, 2012. Presently, Sonia Dawkins has received the New Directors Choreography Lab from Alvin Ailey American Dance and was the musical stager for Pullman Porter Blues at the Goodman Theatre. 

Mikhail IIyin - Ballet Master/Choreographer

Born in St. Petersburg, Mikhail is a graduate of Vaganova Ballet Academy in 1998 with BA in Arts. In 1999, he joined the Boston Ballet for two years, then Miami City Ballet where he became principal in 2003. Mikhail joined American Ballet Theatre in January 2008. His repertoire includes leading roles in
"Swan Lake", "Paquita", "Stars and Stripes", "Sonatine", "The Afternoon of the Faun", "Ballet Imperial", "The Reassuring Effects of Form and Poetry", "Symphony in C" ( I, III and IV movements), "Giggling Rapids" (A. Ailey), "Nine Sinatra Suite" , "Apollo", "Theme and Variations", "Allegro Brilliante", "Le Corsaire", "Coppelia", "Nutcracker", "Giselle", "Ballo della Regina", "Glinka pas de trois", "Dances at the Gathering", "Donizetti Variations", "Prodigal Son", "La Source", "Western Symphony"( I and III); “In the Upper Room”, "Rabbit and Rogue" (T. Tharp), "Etudes" (H. Lander) and many others. Mikhail won Gold medal at the IV "Vaganova-Prix" International Ballet Competition (1998), awarded a diploma at the 8th Paris International Dance Competition (1998), won the highest awarded prize - Silver medal at the VI New York International Ballet Competition (2000), won the Bronze medal at the International Ballet Competition in Jackson, Mississippi (2002).

Mikhail is an Artist in Residence with Ballet Mississippi. In 2005, he was chosen by Dance Magazine
as one of the “to watch” dancers of today. Currently, Mikhail is a faculty member at the ABT's JKO,
the French Academy of Classical Ballet as well as guest teaching classes and workshops around NYC.

He has taught, staged and choreographed across the United States. Mikhail is fully certified with all the levels of ABT's National Training Curriculum Pedagogy Program and the Feldenkrais Method of Somatic Education (a 4 year Professional Training Program in Awareness Through Movement and Functional Integration).


Clement Mensah - Choreographer

Clement was born and raised in Ghana, West Africa. He moved to the Netherlands at the age of 11. After high school and graduating from CIOS (sports academy) he went to Amsterdam School of Arts and graduated in June 2008. He came to the Alvin Ailey School in 2007 as an exchange student where he received a fellowship to study. He was member of the Student Performing Group at the Alvin Ailey School while apprenticing with Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company in 2008. He has also been part of the Francesca Harper Project, danced with Elisa Monte Dance Company from 2008 until the summer of 2010 performing both national and international. Clement joined the Matthew Westerby Company in 2009 and led the hugely successful Project Poetry Live in partnership with the Litchfield Performing Arts, Connecticut. He has taught workshops and master classes at different institutions and schools such as Dance Wave in Brooklyn, NY., Alvin Ailey School, The Theater School in Amsterdam, Codart in Rotterdam and artist in residence at Dancers’ Workshop, WY and Bennington College, VT as well as assisting teachers and teaching at the Center for Advance Training (C.A.T.) at Trinity Laban. Mr. Mensah became international student mentor to Codarts in Rotterdam, Holland after receiving his MA degree in Dance Performance at Trinity Laban School of Contemporary Music and Dance in London in 2011 and joined Reggie Wilson/Fist and Heel Performance Group in that same year. As a former member of Ronald K. Brown/Evidence A Dance Company, Clement performed with the Limón Dance Company as a guest artist in the fall of 2012 and joined Battery Dance Company at the beginning of 2013. He is very grateful for the wonderful opportunities of teaching, performing and choreographing.


Simon Egerton - Music Associate

Simon Egerton started working as a dance répétiteur at 18, working with many of the great schools and companies; Royal Ballet, Royal Swedish Ballet, LCDT, Kirov Ballet. He worked with Nureyev, Messerer and Barishnikov, was a founder member of Central School of Ballet (as well as being its first director of music), wrote the show Biography for the great American dancer William Louther, before returning to studies, as a singer at GSMD in London, aged 22. 

Simon started his acting career with the physical comedy troupe Natural Theatre Co. Numerous acting credits include: Brassett in Charley's Aunt (Royal Exchange) alongside Michael Sheen, Lysander in Phelim McDermott's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream (E.S.C.) and Maximillian in John Doyle's acclaimed production of Candide.  

As well as a successful acting career, Simon has been Head of Music and singing studies at several of London’s drama academies and coached at Opera North and the Royal Opera House working with composer Ben Park. He is an award winning Musical Director, still writing, directing and composing in the theatre, including music for SLK Ballet and is delighted to be associated with the school.

More information at


Jonathan Newell - Music Associate

Jonathan Newell is a classical pianist, composer, rock guitarist and singer.  Since 1990 he has performed more than 150 times a year throughout the Northeastern United States in concert halls, colleges, clubs, coffee houses, corporate events, festivals and private gatherings.  He holds a BA from Ithaca College in
Piano Performance and Art History and an MA (summa cum laude) in Piano Performance and Composition from Hunter College.  He is a former member of the piano faculty of The Diller-Quaille School of Music in Manhattan and was a member of the music faculty of SUNY Adirondack from 1988-2010.  He served as pianist/composer with the Adirondack Repertory Dance Theater from 1993 - 2015.  Mr. Newell gave his
New York piano debut at Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall in 2009 and was recognized as a Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers in 2006.


As a composer, he is a 2010 recipient of a Strategic Opportunity Stipend from the New York Foundation for the Arts and a 2013, 2009 and 2002 recipient of Individual Artist Grants from The New York Council for the Arts.  His String Quartet was performed at Columbia University for an international symposium on the poetry of William Bronk and heard on National Public Radio.  He has studied piano with Edward Housman at Skidmore College, Phiroze Mehta at Ithaca College, Steven Graff at Hunter College and Dr. Julie Jordon at the Juilliard School.  He performed in master classes with Andre Michel Schub, Paul Badura Skoda and numerous times with Mordeci Shehori.  He studied composition with Shafer Mahoney at Hunter College.


In 2010 he began Hudson River Music Hall Productions Inc., a 501c3 not-for-profit dedicated to presenting the performing arts in Northeastern New York in order to foster community, creativity and economic development.   He is currently on faculty at The College of St. Joseph in Rutland Vermont and is Executive/Artistic Director of the Hudson River Music Hall and the historic Strand Theatre in Hudson Falls, NY.

Shimako Horii -  Accompanist

Shimako Horii, Pianist, a native of Osaka, Japan came to United States 1999 to study at Mannes College of Music in New School University where she earned a Master of Music. In 2001, as a winner of the concerto competition, Shimako performed L.V. Beethoven's piano concerto No. 4 with Mannes Orchestra, conducted by Samuel Wong. Her performances throughout her time in Mannes include various venues such as Symphony Space, The Weill Recital Hall in the Carnegie Hall, Steinway Hall, and Columbia University. She extended her study with her teacher Irina Morozova and finished her professional study program on 2003. Shimako has been working in various programs and auditions in New Jersey Performing Arts Center such as vocal and modern dance class in Young Artists Institute, vocal class in Summer Youth Performance Workshop, The Jeffrey Carollo Scholarship Recital, and The Star Ledger Scholarship Recital. Since 2010, Shimako accompanies at several major ballet schools in NYC such as Joffrey Ballet School, Ellison Ballet, Ballet Hispanico, 92nd Street Y, Ballet Arts Center, Manhattan Youth Ballet, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Broadway Dance Center, and Gelsey Kirkland Academy. Shimako also accompanied various rehearsals and workshops with major ballet dancers and coaches such as Misty Copland, Paloma Herrera, Sophiane Sylve, and Maina Gielgud. September 2016, Shimako joined SLK ballet NYC as a regular piano accompanist.