Gugulethu Ballet Project Board of Directors
Kristine Elliott, Founder and President
Carrie Gaiser Casey, Vice President
Poornima Meenakshisundaram, Acting Secretary
Kristine Elliott, born in Oakland, CA., received her formative ballet training from Richard Gibson. Her professional career began with the Stuttgart Ballet where she danced leading roles in ballets by artistic director and choreographer John Cranko and toured extensively to Japan, Israel, Europe, and Scandinavia, as well as to Russia and in the United States. After five years with the Stuttgart Ballet, Kristine joined American Ballet Theatre as a soloist and worked closely with director Mikhail Baryshnikov.
Following her performing career, Kristine now teaches and coaches ballet nationally and internationally. She works with American Ballet Theatre as a guest teacher for the company and for summer intensive programs.
In the academic world, Kristine Elliott taught at Stanford University for 18 years as lecturer in the Dance Division.
Kristine received her BA from St Mary’s College and currently serves on the LEAP program faculty at St. Mary’s College of California.
Kristine is the founding director of the Gugulethu Ballet Project where she teaches ballet in townships around Cape Town and Johannesburg using ballet as a means of social change and to support diversity on the ballet stage.
Patricia Egan, MS, MBA, holds a degree in dramatic art-dance from UC Berkeley, followed by an arts management fellowship at the National Endowment for the Arts. Over the past 40 years, she has served on numerous boards, including the Dance Films Association, Riverside Dance Festival, Dance Perspectives Foundation, and Djerassi Resident Artists Program.
Carrie Gaiser Casey received her PhD from the University of California, Berkeley in Performance Studies with a dissertation on women in early twentieth century American ballet. She teaches in the LEAP (Liberal Education for Arts Professionals) program at St. Mary’s College of California, which enables professional dancers to earn their B.A. while pursuing their careers. Since 2012, Carrie has been a guest lecturer for San Francisco Ballet, delivering numerous lectures on ballet history topics and assisting with adult education planning. Her publications include articles in Theatre Journal, Dance Chronicle, the Routledge Encyclopedia of Modernism, and the anthology Dance on its Own Terms. She is currently a board member of the Gugulethu Ballet Project, a ballet outreach program in South Africa founded by Kristine Eliot, and has also served on the board of the Museum of Performance and Design from 2011 to 2014 and on the Isadora Duncan Awards Committee from 2004 to 2007. Prior to her academic career, Carrie danced professionally with the Fort Worth Dallas Ballet and was a full scholarship student at the Kirov Academy in Washington, D.C. She is currently working on an article on choreographer Alexei Ratmansky’s Chamber Symphony while maintaining her blog, www.balletgeekout.com.
Poornima Meenakshisundaram is a mother, happy homemaker, grateful homeschooler, dormant graphic designer, book lover, and a student of nature.
Nicole Taylor is a California native who grew up in the Bay Area. She attended Stanford University where she earned her B.A. in Sociology, with a focus on Organizational Behavior and Interpersonal Processes. Since graduating college, Nicole has worked at non-profit and for-profit organizations in the fields of education and childhood development. Nicole is an active volunteer in her community and has a passion for organizations that focus on the Arts, child welfare and mental health. She is on the Advisory Boards of the Wender Weiss Foundation for Children and Menlowe Ballet and is actively involved on the committees at There With Care, Holiday Heroes and Children’s Champions. In addition to spending time with her husband, Charles, and their four children, Nicole enjoys the ballet, theatre and playing tennis.
Olivia Ramsay was a professional ballet dancer for Smuin Ballet, Ballet Pacifica, and State Street Ballet where she performed and toured works by Jiri Kylian, Trey McIntyre, Michael Smuin, Amy Seiwert, Ma Cong, Robert Sund, William Soleau, among others. Olivia began her teaching career at City Ballet School in San Francisco and Marin Ballet where she also began choreographing. Upon retiring from the stage, Olivia graduated from Saint Mary’s College LEAP Program with a BA in Performing Arts. Most recently Olivia began a career in arts marketing and joined SF Ballet’s marketing department in 2014 where she served as their social media and content manager for four years. Olivia resides in Los Angeles where she manages digital content strategy for a number of clients.