DCSA Faculty

Ballet Instruction, San Antonio, TX 78209

| Vanessa Bessler  - Artistic Director

YAGP Austin 2016 & Houston 2017 Outstanding Teacher Award Recipient

Vanessa is a former principal dancer with the National Ballet of Panama. She started her dancing career very early and was a full scholarship student at the Joffrey Ballet School in New York, New York. Her training includes the Vaganova, Royal Academy of Dancing, and Cecchetti methods along with modern dance and jazz. Vanessa has studied in Panama, Panama; New York, New York; Havana, Cuba; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Milan, Italy and Miami, Florida under renowned teachers including: Wasil Tupin, Angelco Yureska, Belinda Writes, Hector Zaraspe, John Magnus, Marek Cholewa and Elena Kunikova among others. She also participated in several international dance festivals in Argentina, Peru and El Salvador. Vanessa performed principal rolls in Ballets including: Don Quixote, Paquita, La Bayadere, Raymonda, Le Corsaire, Nutcracker, Spring Waters, Flower Festival, Paris Flames, Dying Swan (from Le Carnaval des), and Diana and Action.

In her fifteen plus years of teaching, Vanessa has a track record of preparing successful students that have been accepted in professional companies and strong college programs. She also has prepared YAGP Regional top 12 finalists and award winners in 2013, 2014, and 2015 as well as having finalists and top twelve dancers at the 2015 World Ballet Competition. This summer she has 5 students out on summer intensive scholarships and one of her senior students will be traveling to Moscow, on a full scholarship, to study at the Bolshoi Academy for 6 weeks.

Vanessa holds degrees and certifications from the following institutions: Master of Business Administration, Barry University, Miami Florida. Postgraduate degree in Education, Universidad Santa Maria La Antigua, Republic of Panama. Bachelor of Arts, Universidad Santa Maria La Antigua, Republic of Panama, Bolshoi Academy Teacher Certification, Cecchetti Method Teacher Certification.

| Lauren Ader-Cumpston - Instructor, Administrative Assistant

Lauren Ader-Cumpston began her dance training at an early age in Conifer, Colorado. In 2004 she began to pursue training in classical ballet and studied under Nikoloz Makhateli and Anastasiya Buechele in Denver, Colorado. Lauren later had the opportunity to train at the Gelsey Kirkland Academy of Classical Ballet in New York City and performed as a part of their Studio Company for two years. She is grateful to have been able to study under wonderful teachers including Gelsey Kirkland, Rinat Imaev, Karina Elver and Lyubov Fominich. Lauren moved to Chicago and joined Ballet 5:8 as a Company Artist in 2012, and was promoted to Lead Artist in 2014. Lauren also served as the Ballet Mistress for Ballet 5:8 Professional Company and as the Director of Residency Programs for Ballet 5:8 School of the Arts until 2017. Mrs. Cumpston recently moved to San Antonio and is excited to be joining the DCSA Faculty! Mrs. Lauren specializes in pre-professional classical training, bringing a knowledge of the Vaganova technique and passion to train dancers who are not only technicians but artists as well. She is also certified to teach Progressing Ballet Technique, a wonderful cross-training program for ballet students.

| Nina Padilla - Instructor

Nina A. Padilla has a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance Performance and Choreography, as well as a Bachelors in Nutrition and Food, from Texas State University.  As a student in college she was awarded the Nelda-Drury Dance Scholarship for dance at San Antonio College, as well as the Karen Earl Dance Scholarship for outstanding choreography at Texas State. She has over a decade of dance training in a wide variety of styles including Salsa, Merengue, Modern, Contact Improvisation, Ballet and Jazz. In addition to her dance background, Nina is also a third degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do. While at Texas State University, Nina produced, performed in and choreographed for several dance performances and gained valuable teaching experience by working as an assistant to several of her professors.

Nina has performed for several professional organizations that include the San Antonio Spurs Silver Dancers and the San Antonio Talons Dance Team. She was also a company member of the Texas State University performance company, Merge Dance Co. and was the artistic director for Orchesis Dance Company. In addition to performing and teaching, Nina also owns her own photography business, Honest Shots Photography, where she focuses on creating fine art portraits of families and children. When she is not teaching, performing or photographing, Nina enjoys spending quality time with her husband and two children.

| Felicia McBride - Instructor

Felicia’s professional career started at 18 years old when she joined Ballet Austin 2. Ms. McBride then became a member of Dominic Walsh Dance Theater where she performed works by Jiri Kylian and Matts Ek as well as Mauro Bigonzetti and Dominic Walsh. While dancing with Dominic Walsh Dance theater she performed the lead role of 'Juliet' in Walsh's production of "Romeo and Juliet.” She also toured to Italy where she performed in Naples and on the private island of Li Galli. Ms. McBride later joined Hubbard Street 2 in Chicago, IL where she was a part of many original creations and toured throughout the United States as well as Germany. During her time in Chicago, Felicia learned to dance on stilts with Kristina Isabelle Dance Company and traveled to Deventer, Netherlands to be featured in the Deventer Op Stelten Festival in July of 2014. Ms. McBride has guested with Les Grands Ballet Canadiens in their production of “The Nutcracker” in 2009, 2013 and 2014. Felicia currently lives in San Antonio where she continues to freelance, choreograph and teach many types of movement classes.

| Charles Bell - Instructor

After exploring his interests in sports, science, and singing,  Charles Bell came to San Antonio to obtain his degree in Kinesiology and Physical Therapy as well as Chiropractic and Massage Therapy. While pursuing his studies, Charles found a need for another channel of expression, and found that outlet in the world of Performing Arts. Charles has been employed at SeaWorld San Antonio as a performer since 2011 and appeared in shows such as SeaWorld’s Hallow-Screams Jack is Back and performed with the Sea Lions and Orcas Whales within the park. He was also given the opportunity to appear as Sesame Street’s Cookie Monster, Telly Monster and Bigbird. Charles also worked at the Magik Theatre in 2014 where he was offered his first gig as Louis Armstrong in the Magic Treehouse, and he continues to perform today. Charles recently ended a 7-month tour with V-star Entertainment and came home to teach, perform, and continue his work. Charles currently teaches Hip-Hop, Modern, Contemporary, Lyrical and Jazz Dance throughout the city at beginning, intermediate, and advanced levels and also enjoys teaching workshops for body awareness to engage with all people in the San Antonio area. Charles is excited to return to the San Antonio area and continue to pursue his passion for the Performing Arts.

| Drew Reinartz - Instructor

Drew Reinartz has been performing since he was five.  His training includes jazz, tap, ballet, hip hop, contemporary, lyrical, flamenco and Irish River dance and he has competed in over 70 dance competitions.  Drew is a veteran of television, radio and stage, including the Radio City Christmas Spectacular national tour starring the Rockettes.  He has also acted in television series The Wannabes Starring Savvy which aired in over 150 countries including America. While with Pop group Savvy, Drew performed in over 300 shows, filmed multiple music videos and recorded and album under Cash Money Records. Working with artist Drake, Nicki Minaj and Lil Wayne and performing/ opening with artist  Todrick Hall, Aaron Cater, Cody Simpson, B5, Jonas Brothers and Demi Lovato .  Drew’s passion has always been to perform and has done so in multiple cities and countries.

Guest Ballet Masters

Dance Studio, San Antonio, TX 78209

Amy Fote

Amy Fote began dancing at the age of four in her hometown of Manitowoc, WI under the direction of Jean Wolfmeyer.  She continued her studies on scholarship at the National Academy of Arts, Interlochen Arts Academy and at the Harid Conservatory in Boca Raton, FL , where she graduated with honors.  Immediately following her senior year, Ms. Fote accepted a position in the Milwaukee Ballet trainee program and entered into the company the following season. She rose through the ranks to become a principal dancer and performed with the company for 14 years. During her tenure in Milwaukee, she was regularly invited to perform at the famed Chautauqua Institution, Chautauqua, NY where she was coached and encouraged by NYCB luminaries, Jean Pierre Bonnefoux, Patricia McBride and Violette Verdy. In 2004, she was invited to dance the title role in  Stanton Welch's 'Madame Butterfly' for the Royal New Zealand Ballet's two month tour. The following season she accepted Mr. Welch's invitation and joined Houston Ballet where she held a principal position and danced for eight seasons.


Ms. Fote retired in 2013 after a twenty-two year career in dance and was graciously honored in Houston Ballet's Jubilee of Dance gala celebration.  She was again invited to dance Hana in ’The Merry Widow’ with Houston Ballet the following season before accepting a Ballet Master position with Ballet San Antonio from 2014-2016.


In 2003, she was featured in a PBS documentary entitled 'Dancing Anna Karenina', focusing on her portrayal of one of the great heroines of Russian literature.  She was also featured on PBS, performing Alonzo King's 'Map', in a moving 9/11 performance.


Ms. Fote's classical repertoire includes principal roles in 'Swan Lake', 'Romeo and Juliet', 'Sleeping Beauty', 'Giselle', 'Don Quixote', 'Taming of the Shrew', 'Onegin', 'Manon, 'The Merry Widow', 'Cinderella', 'Carmen', 'Scheherazade', 'La Fille Mal Gardé',  'The Nutcracker' and 'Coppelia'.   She has also performed works by Juri Kylian, William Forseythe, George Balanchine, August Bournonville, Choo San Gogh, Jerome Robbins, Christopher Wheeldon, Sir Antohony Tudor,  Sir Kenneth MacMillian, Twyla Tharp, Glen Tetley, Mark Morris, Christopher Bruce and Hans van Mannen, among others.


Photo courtesy of Patrick Dean


Dance Studio, San Antonio, TX 78209

Mikhail Tchoupakov

Mr. Tchoupakov was born and raised in Moscow Russia and graduated from the acclaimed Bolshoi

Ballet Academy. Mikhail danced as a soloist and principal dancer with many renowned companies

including the Bolshoi Ballet Theatre for 9 years, Sarasota Ballet of Florida, Vienna State Opera Ballet,

Los Angeles Classical Ballet, Colorado Ballet, and State Street Ballet.


In addition to an extensive career as a performing artist, Mr. Tchoupakov also has almost 30 years of

experience teaching Classical Ballet. He has taught for schools such as the Bolshoi Ballet Academy, the

Royal Ballet School, and Salt Lake City Ballet, was a principal teacher for Elmhurst School for Dance,

and also served as Ballet Master and Repetiteur for the Colorado Ballet and State Street Ballet.


Mr. Tchoupakov is a resident Master Teacher with Youth America Grand Prix and is currently on faculty

with the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. Mr. Tchoupakov holds an M.F.A in Dance

Pedagogy and Choreography from Moscow State Academy, a B.S. in Political Science from Moscow

State University of Marxism, and a B.A. in Dance Performance with the Bolshoi Ballet Academy.


Ballet Lessons, San Antonio, TX 78209

Sally Rojas Herrera

Sally Rojas Herrera is a respected ballet educator and currently instructs the upper level school with the

Houston Ballet Ben Stevenson Academy. She also teaches at West University Dance Centre in Houston,



Born in Caracas, Venezuela, Sally moved to Miami, Florida when she was ten and trained with Thomas

Annour, Robert Pike, and Judith Reese Newman at the Miami Conservatory. She went on to study at the

School of American Ballet and American Ballet Theatre, becoming a member of American Ballet Theatre

II at the age of sixteen.


Ms. Rojas later joined the Houston Ballet Company and, as a soloist, danced the principal roles in Ben

Stevenson’s The Nutcracker, Swan Lake, The Sleeping Beauty, The Snow Maiden, Peer Gynt,

Cleopatra, and Dracula; Sir Kenneth MacMillan’s Manon, Song of the Earth, Gloria, and Elite

Syncopations; and Ronald Hynd’s The Merry Widow.


Ms. Rojas also danced leading roles in Stanton Welch’s Indigo, Garden of Mirth, and Bruiser; Ben

Stevenson’s Miraculous Mandarin, Four Last Songs, Dusk, and Bartok Concerto; George Balanchine’s

Serenade, Agon, La Valse, and Four Temperaments; William Forsythe’s In the Middle, Somewhat

Elevated; Nacho Duato’s Without Words; Jiri Kylian’s Sinfonietta; Trey McIntire’s Second Before the

Ground and Peter Pan; Christopher Bruce’s Ghost Dances, Rooster, Sargeant Early’s Dream, Land, and

Cruel Garden; and John Selya’s Ingredients.


Since her retirement in 2004, Ms. Rojas has taught master classes for the Regional Dance America

Southwest Festival, Southern Methodist University, and the Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

Sally Rojas has also served as an adjudicator for the Children’s Foundation for the Arts and Sam

Houston State University. Ms. Rojas was involved in a three-year project that included traveling to

Guatemala to hold workshops for teachers and master classes for dancers.


Ballet Classes, San Antonio, TX 78209

Alexei Moskalenko

Mr. Mosalenko is a former dancer with the Bolshoi Ballet and has more than 20 years of teaching

experience in classical ballet, technique, pointe technique, men’s ballet technique, variations, pas de

deux, contemporary dance, character dance, and choreography. He is committed to delivering

excellence in dance training and education through the Russian Vaganova Method while also adapting to

each student’s individual needs and abilities. He has a proven record in advising and guiding students

through career options and choices, and has mentored students who have continued their dance training

at colleges, universities, and professional companies. Mr. Moskalenko currently serves as the Director of

Day Program and as Master Teacher and Coach Indiana Ballet Conservatory.


Mr. Moskalenko also holds the distinct honor of being the New York Director of Rehearsals, Master

Teacher, Judge, and Tour Director for the world’s largest ballet scholarship competition – the Youth

America Grand Prix.

Ballet Training, San Antonio, TX 78209

Carlos dos Santos, Jr.

Carlos dos Santos, Jr. is a recognized dancer, choreographer and teacher. He has performed as a

principal dancer with major Brazilian and U.S. dance companies, including the Alvin Ailey Repertory

Ensemble, Complexions, Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble (US); Grupo Salto, Bale Folclorico da

Bahia, Bale Teatro Castro Alves, and DanceBrazil (Brazil), where he also served as a rehearsal director.


Mr. Dos Santos' choreographic credits include works for Colorado Ballet, the Alvin Ailey American Dance

Center, American Dance Festival, Cleo Parker Robinson Dance and DanceBrazil, as well as his own

solo performances around the world. Mr. Dos Santos has been featured in numerous TV programs as an

actor, dancer and model. His TV credits include appearances on PBS (US) and SBT TV (major Brazilian

TV network), as well as coverage as a performer and choreographer in news programs around the world.

His acting career included Medea Materialis for the New York Fringe Festival, Dream on Monkey

Mountain with the Denter Center Theater Company, Chaplin with the Edison Souto Theatre Group, Dona

Flor and Her Two Husbands with the Fernando Guerreiro Theatre Group, and Yalorixa, a popular

Brazilian soap-opera.


Mr. Dos Santos has taught at dance festivals, schools and universities around the world, including the

Alvin Ailey Repertory Ensemble, The Ailey School, Steps on Broadway, Cleo Parker Robinson Dance

School and International Summer Institute, DanceBrazil, Academy of Colorado Ballet, Youth America

Grand Prix Ballet and Contemporary Dance Competition for Students, as well as master classes in the

U.S., Italy, Switzerland, Egypt, Israel, Turkey, Chekh Republic, Argentina, and Brazil.


Dance Center of San Antonio
Call Us Today: (210) 871-8483
8126 Broadway St, San Antonio, TX 78209