Ballet Etudes Artistic Staff

Sasha Robertson, JD, ACUSA (Artistic Director), has been a part of the Ballet Etudes’ artistic staff for 7 years.  Ms. Robertson began her ballet training with Marnell Himes-Ushijima and Gary and Muriel Joyce at Huntington Academy of Dance at age 5, studying and examining in the Cecchetti method.  She continued her training with advanced commercial dance in high school and college.  In high school, Ms. Robertson’s love for dance blossomed into a desire to share her knowledge, experience, and passion with others and she made the transition into teaching.  After over 12 years, Ms. Robertson remains on HAD’s faculty.  She has obtained her Associate teacher certification through Cecchetti USA and has submitted many students of different levels for their Cecchetti examinations.  Ms. Robertson’s teaching experience also included a 6-year tenure at Endeavor School of the Arts, formerly Kimberly McEachern’s Newport Dance Academy, where she headed the ballet and pointe programs as well as the studio’s Cecchetti program.  As an alumna of Ballet Etudes, Ms. Robertson has performed in the company’s Nutcracker countless times, dancing roles from Mouse to Snow Princess to Spanish lead, just to name a few…her roles have even included Maid and Party Parent!  She has also danced lead roles in other Ballet Etudes productions, such as Cinderella, the Little Mermaid, and Snow White and the Magnificent 7.  Ms. Robertson has directed and/or helped produce many Ballet Etudes productions, including Alice in Wonderland (2012), Nutcracker 2012, Nutcracker 2013, Snow White in the Old West (2014), and Coppelia (2014).  Ms. Robertson graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Southern California with a Bachelor’s Degree in Theatre and Environmental Social Sciences.  While at USC, she performed in several School of Theatre productions, including Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night” and Tom Stoppard’s  “On the Razzle.”  Ms. Robertson was also fortunate to be selected to choreograph a full dance accompaniment to the Greek tragedy, “Agamemnon.”  Ms. Robertson also holds her J.D. from USC Gould School of Law and works as a Project Development and Finance attorney at Troutman Sanders LLP.  She is grateful to be able to balance out her legal career by sharing her love of dance with the upcoming generation of ballerinas as Ballet Etudes’ Assistant Artistic Director.  Ms. Robertson brings strong professionalism and organization as well as a wealth of teaching and directing experience to Ballet Etudes’ artistic team and is excited to continue to help the company’s young dancers thrive.

Madison Simons, BA, ACUSA (Assistant Artistic Director), was born and raised in Huntington Beach, Calif. She grew up dancing at Huntington Academy of Dance. Under the direction of Marnell Himes-Ushijima, Madison trained in the Cecchetti Method of ballet, and has passed her Cecchetti Final Diploma exam, as well as her Associate Teacher’s Exam. She has now been teaching at her home studio for 15 years. She was a company member with Ballet Etudes Youth Ballet Company for five years, in which she performed roles such as Alice in Alice in Wonderland,
Wendy in Peter Pan, and Sugar Plum in The Nutcracker. This year, she is excited to step into an Assistant Director role with Ballet Etudes. Madison also holds her bachelor’s degree in dance science from Cal State Long Beach and is a certified Pilates instructor. In her free time she dances as  company member with Ballet Etudes’ alumni dance company, Emergent.

Bridgette Burnett, BA (Assistant Artistic Director), Born and raised in Huntington Beach, Calif., Bridgette received her early training at Huntington Academy of Dance under the direction of Marnell Himes and was a part of Ballet Etudes for eight years. She continued
her training at Southland Ballet Academy. She competed in and won the Orange County Star’s of Tomorrow competition at Segerstrom Center for the Arts in 2005 and 2006 and was a semi-finalist in 2005 and 2006 for the Spotlight competition held every year at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles. She went on to spend five years with Festival Ballet Theater, directed by Salwa Rizkalla, where she performed a wide range of soloist and principal roles in productions of Sleeping Beauty, Don Quixote, and
Swan Lake and worked with choreographers such as Jodi Gates, Shawn Stevenson, David Allen, Molly Lynch, and Edwaard Liang. Bridgette received the Carolyn Cunningham scholarship at Cal State University
Long Beach, where she received her B.A. in dance and performed works by Sophie Monat and Lorin Johnson. In 2009, she joined Monat Dance under the direction of Sophie Monat and performed principal roles at various galas such as the McCallum Theater’s Dance under the Stars Choreography Festival and Celebrate Dance in Los Angeles. She participated in the National Choreographer’s Initiative in 2012, directed by Molly Lynch where she performed works by Thang Dao and Darrell Grand Moultrie. She then
went on to join Smuin Ballet in San Francisco and performed works by Adam Hougland, Michael Smuin and Amy Seiwart. She took some time off to have her two beautiful babies and is now back teaching at
Huntington Academy of Dance, where she first fell in love with this art form and ultimately found her passion for dance. She is thrilled to be working with the next generation of HAD ballerinas and instilling her
knowledge and love of dance into each and every one of them!

Megan Pulfer Artistic Advisor, Born in Omaha, Nebraska, she started dancing at age 3. Megan moved with her family to Huntington Beach, California at age 8; and received most of her training at Huntington Academy of Dance studying under Marnell Himes-Ushijima and Gary & Muriel Joyce. At 16 she was accepted to North Carolina School of the Arts to study ballet, earning her high school diploma. Immediately after, Megan began her dancing career with Cedar Lake 2 and worked with choreographers such as Benoit-Swan Pouffer, Laurie Stallings, and Adam Hougland. In 2006 she started dancing with Missouri Contemporary Ballet. She worked with Quixotic as a freelance dancer in 2009. Megan was accepted to the MASA Dance Journey with Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company in Israel in 2010, where she lived on a kibbutz for a year. She was then hired by Kamea Dance Company and lived in Be’er Sheva, Israel for another two years.  She moved back to Southern California in the summer of 2013 with her Israeli dog, Mila. Megan began working with a company in L.A. called Clairobscur Dance Company in June 2014. She is excited and thankful to be on staff at Huntington Academy and working as Co-Artistic Director of Ballet Etudes this year. Megan is also the artistic director and choreographer of Emergent Dance Company.

Kimberly McEachern is the Owner and Artistic Director of Huntington Academy of Dance and the Director of “DANCE HB!” for Huntington Beach Parks & Recreation.  She is the former director of Newport Dance Academy.  Ms.  McEachern received her training from Brenda Joyce, Marnell Himes, Gary Joyce, and Rebecca Wright of ABT.  Ms. McEachern received a Bachelor of Arts from UCLA in 2000 and holds her Licentiate certification with Cecchetti USA.  Ms. McEachern is a member of Cecchetti USA’s western committee and serves as part of the leadership for the organization.  As a teacher and choreographer, Ms. McEachern and her students have won numerous top awards at both local and national competitions.  She recently accepted an award from the Allied Arts Board for Excellence in Arts Administration.  Ms. McEachern enjoys teaching and coaching students and is committed to promoting classical ballet in Orange County!

Marnell Himes-Ushijima, Artistic Advisor and Founding Member, With over 40 years experience training dancers and teachers of the highest caliber, Ms. Himes-Ushijima is a leader in classical dance.  She is a Fellow of the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing, Cecchetti Branch, Cecchetti USA and Cecchetti Council of America.  Ms. Himes-Ushijima received her training at the National Ballet School in Toronto, Canada and has extensive professional performing experience. Marnell travels throughout the United States and internationally to teach master classes and as an Examiner for the Cecchetti USA.  Ms. Himes-Ushijima’s students have gone on to train with well known ballet companies such as American Ballet Theater, Pacific Northwest Ballet, San Jose Ballet, and Miami City Ballet to name a few.  Ms. Himes-Ushijima has also trained teachers who work in university dance departments, own their own dance studios and direct ballet companies.  Ms. Himes-Ushijima is Director Emeritus of Huntington Academy of Dance and continues to serve Ballet Etudes as an advisor.