The Staff of Western Arkansas Ballet


Melissa Schoenfeld, Executive Artistic Director

Mrs. Schoenfeld is in her 26th year with Western Arkansas Ballet. Previous to coming to WAB, she earned her Bachelor and Master Degrees in Fine Arts Ballet Pedagogy from the University of Oklahoma, one of the top dance departments in the country. 

While at the University of Oklahoma, she studied under Yvonne Chouteau, one of the five famous Indian Ballerinas from Oklahoma, Mary Margaret Holt and Miguel Terekhov, Professor Emeritus of Dance at OU. She was also afforded the opportunity in 1985 to travel to Russia and study ballet from Clara Nicolayevna, an instructor with the Byelorussian State Academy, USSR.

During her tenure with Western Arkansas Ballet, she has attended many continuing education workshops including a Russian Ballet Seminar in Denver, CO, Teachers’ Workshops in conjunction with the International Ballet Competition in Jackson, MS (90, 94, 98, 02 and 06). Faculty for these workshops included David Howard and Finis Young. She attended the International Ballet Teachers’ Workshop in Vail, CO, which was in conjunction with Vail International Evenings of Dance in 90, 94, and 98.  Mrs. Schoenfeld has attended the Community Development Institute at UCA in 2013.

With Western Arkansas Ballet, she believes that children should have the opportunity to dance for exercise, self esteem, and self confidence. 

Jody Drew, Administrator


Brianna Hagar, Dance Instructor

Brianna Hagar is originally from Minot, North Dakota, where she began her formal dance training at the Rinat Mouzafarov's Institute of Dance and Ballet Theatre.  She had the opportunity to perform soloist roles in The Nutcracker, The Sleeping Beauty, Paquita, Chopiniana, and Les Sylphides. She was the lead in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Christmas Carol and The Anne Frank Ballet. Brianna was honored to perform for many years at the Norsk Høstfest, North America's Largest Scandinavian Festival. She has had the distinction of performing with the Moscow Ballet and most recently with BalletRox’s Urban Nutcracker as a guest artist.

Brianna attended summer programs at The Kirov Ballet Academy, The Pilobolus Institute and received a full scholarship to Burklyn Ballet Theatre. Brianna has had the opportunity to work with artists such as Thom Clower, John Gardner, Amanda Mckerrow, Helen Starr, Alun Jones, and Robert Mills. At Burklyn Ballet Theatre, she performed solo roles in classical works such as Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake, Coppelia, Paquita, andGraduation Ball, Harlequinade and La Bayadere Grande Pas de Deux. Brianna was the recipient of The Boston Conservatory Merit and the Jan Veen Scholarships where she graduated from The Boston Conservatory Cum Laude with a BFA in dance. While at the conservatory, Brianna had the fortune to perform works by Jose Limon (The Winged), Alwin Nikolais (Pond), and Ohad Naharin (Three). In addition, she also performed original works by Gianni Di Marco (Munecos), Daniel Pelzig (Trio in A Minor) andDanielle Agami (Ema).

In 2012, she joined Ballet Quad Cities as a full company member. For the 2013-2014 season, Brianna was a principal company member with Ruidoso Dance Ensemble, where she performed Sugar Plum Fairy, The Lonely Cowgirl in Rodeo and Medora in Le Corsaire.

Jared Mesa, Ballet Master

Jared Mesa, born in Yuma, Arizona, began his formal dance training with Dancer’s Workshop at the age of 17 in Yuma and joined YBT as a member in 2000.  Professionally, he has danced with Ballet Quad Cities in Rock Island, Illinois, dancing roles as Tybalt in Romeo and Juliet and The Couple in Tango as well as Russian and Harlequin doll in the Nutcracker.

He has studied on scholarship and danced at Burklyn Ballet Theatre in the summer for 10 summers dancing the roles: Le Corsaire Pas De Deux, Harlequinade Pas De Deux, Espada in Don Quixote, Drummer Boy in Graduation Ball and Peasant Pas in Giselle as well as many contemporary works. and is now an administrator and ballet master for them. Guest work includes Ballet Yuma: Hilarion in Giselle and James in La Sylphide , New England Ballet: Prince Ivan in Firebird and Prince Desire in Sleeping Beauty. Jared has also guested with Gliech Contemporary Dances out of London, England at the Rouses Point Fete de Danse, Ketchikan Theatre Ballet in Ketchkan, Alaska and Abilene Ballet Theatre and Patty Harper Dance in Abilene, Texas. Jared has also worked with the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders and Sheryl Crow.

As an award winner for his choreography at Burklyn Ballet Theatre for his dance “Lucha con el Toro” in 2003, he has continued to choreograph for them in ’05- Present. He has also commissioned choreography for companies in Great Falls, Montana, Orange, Connecticut, and Phoenix, Arizona. Jared has recently been Ballet Master for Ruidoso Dance Ensemble in Ruidoso, NM as well as dancing lead roles in Nutcracker and Birbanto in Le Corsaire.

Jared has a strong creative talent in choreography. His focus on developing and growing within his dance career make him an excellent candidate for teaching, performing, rehearsing and setting new works.

Nikki McDaniel, Administrative Assistant

Nikki McDaniel is a Fort Smith-area native who graduated from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, with degrees in Advertising and Management. She has previously worked in public relations, customer service, and office administration and is very excited to bring her talents to Western Arkansas Ballet!





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