Professional Training Division Faculty
Slava Mesropov is from Baku, Azerbaijan and graduated from the Baku Academy of Ballet. He was a soloist with the Azerbaijan Academic Theater of Opera and Ballet, Moscow Festival Ballet, Ballet South and Colorado Ballet. Mr. Mesropov is trained in the Vaganova method of ballet and character dance. Mr. Mesropov served on faculty at Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet School and was the Artistic Director of Ballet Royal Institute of Maryland where he choreographed and staged many productions including The Sleeping Beauty, The Nutcracker, La Bayadere, Giselle and annual gala concerts featuring principals from American Ballet Theatre. Mr. Mesropov has also taught for Ballet Theater of Maryland, the Academy of Colorado Ballet and the Baltimore School for the Arts, and International Ballet School. He regularly teaches master classes and summer intensive programs throughout the United States including at Peabody Institute in Baltimore, Maryland, Southland Ballet Academy in Orange County, California, Michigan Ballet Academy in Grand Rapids and The Washington School of Ballet in Washington D.C. During his teaching career, Mr. Mesropov has prepared several participants for international competitions. He was named Outstanding Teacher at the 2003 Youth America Grand Prix (YAGP) international competition finals in New York.
Dana Benton was born in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada and at the age of 9, she was accepted to the National Ballet School in Toronto where she trained for eight years. Dana graduated from the National Ballet School with Honors in Academics and was awarded the Peter Dwyer Award for Excellence in Dance. Upon graduating in 2000, Dana received a contract with Alberta Ballet Company in Canada. She spent one year with the Company as an Apprentice. In 2001, she joined Colorado Ballet and she has performed many soloist and principal roles with the Company. Dana was promoted to Soloist in 2007 and then to Principal in 2014. Dana retired at the end of the 2022/23 season.
Born in Quito, Ecuador, Francisco moved to the United States at the age of 5 and began dancing in Louisville, KY at the age of 7. Francisco went on to train in New York at 16 and graduated from the School of American Ballet. He has danced with New York City Ballet, Boston Ballet, Barcelona Ballet, and most recently as a Principal Dancer with the Colorado Ballet. He enjoys teaching ballet to students of all ages and has also coached and choreographed for a number of students in preparation for the Youth American Grand Prix, Denver Ballet Guild, the Jackson IBC Competition, and ADC/IBC.
Ali was raised in Colorado and first received her training with her mother Bobbie, and then with teachers Lynelle Mossholder, James Clouser, and Debbie Mercer, and later on scholarship at the Pennsylvania Ballet School, well as summers at the Boston Ballet School on scholarship, Joffrey Ballet School, Pacific Northwest Ballet School, and the Houston Ballet Academy. In 1988, Alison won the 1st place Florence Ruston Award and a $1,200 scholarship at the Denver Ballet Guild Scholarship Competition. She first joined the David Taylor Dance Theatre professional company at the age of sixteen and returned in the fall of 1998 where she was featured as Clara in The Nutcracker, and performed principal roles in many works over five years, including her favorite, James Wallace's The Storm. Previously, Alison danced with the Dayton Ballet for six years performing in over sixty ballets, including works by such legendary choreographers Gerald Arpino, George Balanchine, Robbert Joffrey, and Antony Tudor, and then joined Oregon Ballet Theatre in Portland, Oregon, and was most recently a principal with Boulder Ballet. Career highlights include being personally chosen to perform Balanchine's Tarantella by former NYCB ballerina Patricia McBride, as well as performing principal roles in works by Washington Ballet's artistic director Septime Webre, and former Joffrey Ballet dancer Christian Holder. She has taught dance for over thirty years She has coached dancers to 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place finishes at both YAGP and the Denver Ballet Guild and her contemporary choreography has placed at YAGP and StarQuest.
Sharon is originally from San Jose, California, and had her fundamental ballet training with San Jose Dance Theatre, Dance Theatre Seven, and San Francisco Ballet. A former Principal Dancer with the Colorado Ballet, Sharon has also danced with Amy Seiwart’s Imagery, the Oakland Ballet, the Washington Ballet, Zikr Dance Ensemble, Engage Movement Arts, Briah Danse, and Fuku Dance. She has performed as a guest artist in the Tokyo Aoyama Ballet Festival, the National Ballet of Japan’s Golden Ballet Co-Star, and the Vail International Dance Festival’s “International Evening of Dance.”
As a Principal Dancer, Sharon performed numerous leading roles in classical and neo-classical ballets, including the principal roles in Swan Lake, Giselle, Don Quixote, The Nutcracker, The Sleeping Beauty, Romeo and Juliet, Coppelia, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Rodeo, The Leaves are Fading, Dracula, Rubies,Theme and Variations, and Stars and Stripes. She has had the honor to be featured in new works by Christopher Wheeldon, Val Caniparoli, Amy Seiwart, Edward Liaang, Jessica Lang, Dwight Rhodan, and Graham Lustig.
After retiring from her 22-year career with the Colorado Ballet, Sharon is spreading her wings as a freelance artist, exploring new territory in classical and contemporary choreography that speaks to her and to audiences in a fresh and meaningful way. More recently, she has performed with Briah Danse in “Legends and Legacies”, Engage Movement Arts in “Shoes,” Alya Howe in “Walls, and FukuDance in the Lila Dance Festival.
In addition to her career as a dancer, Sharon is a Ballet teacher, certified GYROKINESIS® and GYROTONIC® trainer, Yoga instructor, Reiki Master and Dance for Parkinson’s Disease teacher. In 2020, she created RISE: the Empowered Dancer Mentoring Program, a holistic coaching program for Teen & Pre-professional Dancers. Sharon loves guiding others to find strength, resilience and beauty through dance and movement. She believes that blending professional experience, kinesthetic understanding, and the wisdom of other movement techniques with traditional ballet training creates a healthy, physically and artistically masterful dancer.
Born in Cork, Ireland, Tracy started dancing at the age of 5 with Ballet Theatre Ireland. At the age of 11, she moved to London to train at The Royal Ballet School where she graduated from with a Trinity Diploma in 2007. After 13 years and a fulfilling career dancing with the Royal Ballet, English National Ballet, Barcelona Ballet and most recently as a Soloist with Colorado Ballet, Tracy retired from the stage in March 2020. Tracy continues to be a part of the ballet community by teaching and coaching the next generation of dancers and sharing her love of this beautiful art form while continuing to advocate for Artists around the country.