Aaron Smith is the Artistic Director of Tucson Regional Ballet and the Academy of Ballet. What he finds most rewarding about teaching, directing, and pursuing an education in dance is having the ability to support, inspire, and instill professionalism to the next generation of dancers.
During his career as a performer, he was a soloist and company member for Ron De Jesús Dance. Mr. Smith also toured and performed in principal and featured roles for Autumn Eckman Dance, UA Dance Ensemble, Artlab J Contemporary Dance, Squeeze and Release, and Chicago Dance in the Parks. Additionally, he performed in works by renowned choreographers including Dwight Rhoden, Sonya Tayeh, Mandy Moore, Larry Keigwin, Janis Brenner, Michael Williams, Sam Watson, Nicholas Leichter, Meg Paul, Peter Carpenter, Ray Mercer, and Miguel Perez.
Since 2011, Mr. Smith has toured nationwide as a choreographer and repetiteur, where he created and re-staged classical and contemporary dance works at collegiate dance schools. These educational institutions include Wayne State University, Washington & Lee University, Henry Ford Community College, Cranbrook Institute of Science, Jacksonville University, Oakland University, James Madison University, and Kent State University. His choreography was presented at several American College Dance Association conferences, as well as the International Association of Blacks in Dance conference in 2015. Mr. Smith also assisted in creating works for many professional companies and institutions including Joffrey Academy of Dance in Chicago, Dance Kaleidoscope, Island Moving Company, Visceral Dance Chicago, Denver School of the Arts, Virginia Commonwealth University, Shenandoah University, Columbia College in Chicago, and Northwestern University.
From 2012 to 2017, Mr. Smith worked with prominent dance figures Dwight Rhoden, Desmond Richardson, and Meg Paul as the Housing Director and assistant to the Program Director for Complexions Contemporary Ballet Detroit Summer Intensive. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Dance from Wayne State University, where he also served as an Adjunct Instructor in Dance from 2015 to 2016. Mr. Smith was the recipient of the 2017 Graduate Creative Achievement Award from the University of Arizona School of Dance, where he also received a Masters of Fine Arts in Performance and Choreography. In the fall of 2018, he instructed the graduate research course Critical Issues in Dance at UA.
Mr. Smith’s professional career as a passionate choreographer, performer, and director has empowered him to dedicate his life to educating young dancers by giving back to the arts community and our TRB family.
Alexis Salmen began her dance training at the Academy of Ballet at the age of seven. Over her decades with Academy of Ballet she has studied with Linda Walker, Carolyn Haatainen-Wallace, Gary McKenzie, Sheri Giller, Deborah Kenner, Jeffrey Hughes, & Pamela Reyman-Hughes, as well as at summer intensives instructed by Daniel Catanach and Anton Labuschagne. She was a member of Tucson Regional Ballet’s Senior Company from Pall 1997 through Spring 2002, and has participated in 19 productions of A Southwest Nutcracker.
Ms. Salmen attended multiple Regional Dance America Festivals as a member of TRB, week-long intensive workshops with multiple daily master classes in ballet, jazz, and other dance styles, as well as nutrition, terminology, and character dancing. Highlights of this instruction were choreology taught by Richard Holden and jazz taught by Alonzo King. She performed with TRB Senior Company for RDA adjudications 1998-2002. Dances were set on her by Daniel Catanach, Anton Labuschagne, Jon Cristofori, & Carolyn Haatainen-Wallace, and she performed with Senior Company at the invitational Festival Gala Night and two RDA Festivals.
Ms. Salmen began her training as a dance teacher as a teaching assistant from Fall 1994 through Spring 2002. She also was a substitute teacher for Academy of Ballet from Fall of 1999 through spring of 2003. She returned to teaching for Academy of Ballet in March of 2016, teaching dancers 3 through advanced pointe. In Fall of 2018, Ms. Salmen took on the role of Rehearsal & Staging Assistant to Linda Walker, assisting in staging and rehearsals for A Southwest Nutcracker and TRB’s Spring Spectacular. In Fall 2019 she accepted the further responsibility of Rehearsal & Staging Mistress for TRB. Ms. Salmen is currently on staff at the Academy of Ballet as a ballet and tap instructor, and is the Ballet Mistress for Tucson Regional Ballet.
Geri Salmen began her dance training at the age of fifteen. She studied with Zuleka’s School of Belly Dance, Fritschy’s Dance Academy, and Academy of Ballet, where she has performed in annual school recitals. She has performed in Tucson Regional Ballet’s production of A Southwest Nutcracker since its inception and is currently the TRB’s Wardrobe Director. It was in the fall of 2002, when Ms. Salmen began working as a teaching assistant with the younger children, that her natural abilities as an instructor were revealed. This revelation led to an invitation to be on staff at Academy of Ballet as an instructor.
Vasily Lunde is originally from Saint Petersburg, Russia and received his training at the Kazan Choreographic Academy and Vaganova Academy in Saint Petersburg. Upon graduating he was hired by the Yacobson Ballet Theatre, where he danced as a Soloist and Principal Dancer and toured Russia, Western Europe, Asia, United States, Canada, Mexico, and Japan. More recently, Mr. Lunde has danced as a Principal Dancer with Ballet Tucson and Columbia City Ballet in Columbia, South Carolina. He has been privileged to work with ballet mistresses Patricia Miller of the Joffrey Ballet and Stacey Calvert of The New York City Ballet. Mr. Lunde is currently a freelance dance instructor at studios throughout Tucson; we are thrilled to have him teaching ballet to the TRB Senior Company.