Classical Ballet Theatre Faculty Named a “Best” in the Washington Metropolitan Area

A huge thank you and shout out to Expertise for voting Classical Ballet Theatre‘s Founder & Director, Cynthia Donavin, and the Classical Ballet Theatre faculty among the 10 Best Washington DC Ballet Teachers out of 138 teachers!  We are honored!

To find out more about Classical Ballet Theatre‘s director and faculty >>

Congratulations to Classical Ballet Theatre Dancers!

Best wishes and congratulations to all Classical Ballet Theatre’s dancers attending renowned, competitive summer intensive training programs throughout the United States!  Check out where our Upper Division dancers are headed:

Taylor Anderson – Joffrey Ballet (Full Scholarship) & Kaatsbaan Extreme Ballet
Claire de la Paz – Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre (Partial Scholarship)
Emilie Gregory – San Francisco Ballet & Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre (Partial Scholarship)
Alex Lopez – Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre
Maya Perrelli – Boston Ballet
Michelle Wu – Atlanta Ballet
Samara Pack – Classical Ballet Theatre
Eva Rachtchinine – Classical Ballet Theatre
Kaitlyn Rehberg – Classical Ballet Theatre
Sarah Struckman – Classical Ballet Theatre
Lauren Stella – Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre

Classical Ballet Theatre Dancers Train with Renowned Companies

Classical Ballet Theatre wishes its dancers a wonderful summer as they train in summer intensives‬ all throughout the United States!

Ashley Tern – Bolshoi Ballet Academy Summer Intensive & Joffrey Ballet School (Scholarship)

Emily Gregory – Miami City Ballet (Scholarship)

Taylor Anderson – Houston Ballet

Claire de la Paz – Official Kaatsbaan International Dance Center (Scholarship from Arts Herndon-the Council for the Arts of Herndon)

Alex Lopez – Official Kaatsbaan International Dance Center

Anna Aryal – Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre

Sonia Boroday – Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s Professional Division

Charlotte Fitzgerald – Houston Ballet

Lauren Stella – Orlando Ballet

Victoria Stanciu – Orlando Ballet

Maren Napolitano – Miami City Ballet

Maya Perrelli – Miami City Ballet

Camille Passante – Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre (Scholarship)

Savannah Gailliard – Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s Professional Division (Scholarship)

Courtney Tern – The Joffrey Ballet

Passion — A Main Ingredient


In the words of Martha Graham, “Nobody cares if you can’t dance well. Just get up and dance. Great dancers are great because of their passion.”

At CBT we are CHANGING LIVES THROUGH DANCE, and one of our main ingredients is passion. Take a look at what a day in the life of a dancer is truly all about with Australian Ballet Coryphee Benedicte Bemet:  A Day in the Life with Benedicte Bemet


Choreographers + Dancers = Inspiration

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In the May 19, 2014 article “With a slip of the foot…,” dance writer Rachel Thomas explains “Time spent in the studio is often integral to the development of new works, as choreographers take inspiration from their dancers and the individual qualities of their bodies.”…/with-a-slip-of-the-foot-how-rehears…

Classical Ballet Theatre knows this well and is thrilled to offer area professional and professional track dancers real-world experience with renowned choreographers. During the week of August 31st, Lauren Edson, a highly awarded choreographer and former company member of the Trey McIntyre Project, will teach dancers and create an inspiring new work! Interested dancers who have yet to register should call (703) 471-0750 soonest!

“…the secret choreography of our 100 billion brain cells…” — Sarah Kaufman‬

Sarah Kaufman delves into the mechanics of grace in her August 7, 2015 article entitled “Leap Into Grace.”

camilleShe explains, “Robots can beat us at chess but they cannot approach the ease of ordinary human motion. Breaking down the miracle of movement is beyond the reach of science, but there is not much mystery to how we canbecome even better, more graceful movers. It’s pretty simple: Practice. ‘Grace is the growth of habit,’ wrote eighteenth-century French moralist Joseph Joubert. ‘This charming quality requires practice if it is to become lasting.'”

It’s no wonder that ballet requires practice, practice, and more practice to make extremely difficult movements appear effortless. We often talk of “beautiful feet,” “beautiful port de bras,” and “beautiful lines.” To this list, we also add “beautiful brain.”

Changing Lives Through Dance


We love what we do!

“… an incredible source of inspiration, drive, knowledge, and support for more than half of my life….nurtured and instilled in us the personal qualities that would make us better dancers and better people as well.”
– Shanna Gayer, Current Student of Physical Therapy, Formerly Performed with Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre and Texture Contemporary Ballet

**And we do it well!

Find your inspiration at

Can cross-training really help improve your technique and enhance your dancing?


Yes it can! — if you can find “…workouts that will benefit your dancing without building bulky muscles or putting you at risk for injury,” according to Dance Spirit Magazine’s February 15, 2012 article “The Dos and Don’ts of Cross-Training,” written by Julie Diana. In the article, Pilates Instructor Tara Hench-Berdo explains “Strengthening your core reduces stress on your lower back and improves spinal and pelvic alignment….It helps your arms and legs move with ease, which will translate into your dancing.”

It’s not surprising that Classical Ballet Theatre’s 2015 Summer Ballet Immersion included regular Pilates Mat Classes, provided by Artistic & Executive Director Cynthia Donavin, who is certified in Comprehensive Pilates Training (Cadillac, Reformer, Barrel, and Mat). Specializing in helping dancers and athletes reach 100% of their potential, Ms. Donavin offers private and group Pilates lessons to dancers who are overcoming injury or who want to improve their overall technique and strength.

Pilates has totally changed my life,” explains one of her dancers. “Ms. Donavin is very supportive, and she knows all about Pilates and ballet technique. Through her instruction, I’ve had many ‘aha!’ moments. I’m more in tune with my body — how it’s functioning and where it is in space, and my technique has improved so much in such a short amount of time. I’ll never stop cross-training with Pilates!”

Journey Into Dance

As talented dancers approach high school graduation, they often find themselves asking some tough questions, including “Should I abandon my love of dance and possible professional career to go to college, or should I postpone my advanced education to pursue my dance career?”

Our Ballet Mistress and Artistic Director, Dubraskha Arrivillaga, found herself faced with the same challenge. As she shared, “…my Mom always told me that she would let me dance as long as my academics were my priority.” Although she began her professional career at the young age of 14, Dubraskha kept her promise to her mother. Dubraskha graduated from high school at the age of 16, took two years off from school to focus on dance, and searched for a career that allowed her to dance professionally during the day and to attend school at night.

The same focus and determination that made her such an accomplished ballet dancer also helped her with her studies. At age 18, she enrolled in the Central University of Venezuela, from where she matriculated with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. “At a very young age, I learned to manage my time….I also learned that you can do anything you set your mind and heart to.  I made my Mom proud and was able to live my dream.”

Photograph (by Katie and Tony de la Paz): During the 2014 "Evening with Classical Ballet Theatre," students perform "Journey," by Christine O'Neal.

Photograph (by Katie and Tony de la Paz): During the 2014 “Evening with Classical Ballet Theatre,” students perform “Journey,” by Christine O’Neal.

As Dubraskha’s story highlights, higher education and professional dance careers are not mutually exclusive. Today’s graduates can have the best of both worlds! Check out this Dance Spirit Magazine article to learn more about the journey into dance!…/i-have-no-idea-what-i-want-to…/

Learning from the Masters — and from their Program

Ashley dances a beautiful Sugar Plum Fairy with Cavalier Norbert Nirewicz in Classical Ballet Theatre's 2014 performances of The Nutcracker.

Ashley dances a beautiful Sugar Plum Fairy with Cavalier Norbert Nirewicz in Classical Ballet Theatre’s 2014 performances of The Nutcracker.

We’re sure it has been a big week for our student Ashley, who has been performing in American Ballet Theatre’s (ABT) Cinderella at the Kennedy Center. This was quite an honor; not only because ABT is one of the world’s finest performing arts organizations, but also because Ashley was able to learn from two internationally acclaimed Principal Dancers, Julie Kent and Xiomara Reyes, both of whom are planning retirement in the near future.–graceful-and-grateful-to-the-last-dance/2015/03/20/62f0ef6a-cf24-11e4-a2a7-9517a3a70506_story.html.

How did Ashley earn such an honor? First, she is a hardworking and talented dancer who has trained and performed with us for years. Second, she has earned coveted summer intensive opportunities with ABT – New York. Third, she has been exposed to the ABT-developed National Training Curriculum, right here at Classical Ballet Theatre in Herndon!

We are one of the few area performing arts organizations that train students using the ABT National Training Curriculum, considered the gold standard in the United States today. Incorporating elements of the Russian, Italian, and French schools of training, the curriculum embraces sound ballet principles and helps ballet instructors to teach students proper body alignment and technique as well as to give students the ability to adapt to various dance styles. Our Ballet Mistress, Dubraskha Arrivillaga, is fully certified in the curriculum. By using this curriculum, we are ensuring that we are safely working with the young people whose training has been entrusted to us, and, at the same time, we are teaching them skills that help them become successful!