Deanna Doty Warfel, Artistic Director
Born in Chicago, Illinois to ballet dancer Joan Marley Doty and graphic designer/photographer David Doty, Doty Warfel began her training at the Evanston School of Ballet and Ellis-Du Boulay in Chicago. At age 16, she moved to train and subsequently dance under Harvey Hysell of New Orleans Ballet. Doty Warfel continued her career with Robert Ivy Ballet in South Carolina, Lexington Ballet in Kentucky, and as a guest artist with Ballet Alaska, Mississippi Ballet, and the Piccolo Spoleto Festival.
Throughout her years of dancing, Doty Warfel enjoyed many opportunities to teach and continued to do so when she moved to Champaign. In 1998, she opened Champaign Ballet Academy, and in the fall of that same year, she founded Champaign Urbana Ballet. Although most of her students train in ballet while pursuing academic excellence at regional schools, her instruction is credited for preparing others for professional careers in ballet, including Devon Teuscher of American Ballet Theatre and Kate Hosier of National Ballet of Canada.
"I have spent years dedicating myself to the establishment of a nationally recognized school and company right here in Champaign. It is an honor and a privilege to make my living as an artist and teacher, and I feel lucky to be able to do it in a community like this. My hope is to be able to give back to our ballet families, and community, as much as they have given to me."
Kay Greene, Executive Director
Kay Greene joined CU Ballet in July of 2013. Prior to joining CU Ballet, she was the Development Director for a private high school where she was responsible for building a strong brand for multiple audiences, managing the annual fund campaign, and increasing student enrollment, student retention, and community awareness. With over 20 years of experience in fundraising, marketing and communications, and a genuine passion for the arts, Greene says "At this stage of my life, it's rewarding to draw upon my experience, apply my skills, make a difference, and have fun all at the same time."
Tracy McCabe, Production Manager and Choreographer
Tracy McCabe brings decades of ballet training and theater experience to bear in support of our production. A former board member for Champaign Urbana Ballet and Springfield Ballet Company, McCabe has staged theatrical sections of CU Ballet’s productions for over a decade, including the Battle Scene for The Nutcracker. He also conceived and choreographed CU Ballet's Cinderella. McCabe is a senior administrator at the University of Chicago.
Claire Daly, Photographer and Publicity/Marketing Coordinator
Claire joined the Champaign Ballet Academy in 2000. She performed in many productions with Champaign Urbana Ballet over the years. Her soloist roles include Clara and Sugarplum Fairy in The Nutcracker, Aurora and Bluebird in Sleeping Beauty, Swanhilda in Coppélia, and Pas de Trois in Paquita. She attended The Nutmeg Ballet Conservatory for their summer intensive training along with summer intensives taught by Nurlan Abougaliev. After leaving CU Ballet, she attended Parkland College then continued her degree at Lesley University College of Art and Design earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography. For the last few years Claire has photographed for the CU Ballet resulting in two books and both web and print publications. She has thoroughly enjoyed the creative collaboration that has developed and appreciates the opportunity to combine her love of ballet and photography. She is happy to be back in her hometown of Champaign where she works as an artist.
Gina Modica, Production Assistant
Gina Modica, a CU Ballet alumna, was among the first group of company dancers, performing from 1999-2003 in various ballets including Pas de Quatre, La Bayadere, and Arensky Variations. She currently serves on the CU Ballet Board of Directors in addition to her backstage production assistance. Modica is employed in the Admissions Department at the University of Illinois.
Janie Lee, Assistant to the Artistic Director
Lee began her ballet journey at Champaign Urbana Ballet in 2015 as a Trainee and was promoted to Senior Company in 2018. Her repertoire includes Swan Lake, The Little Mermaid, Cinderella, selections from La Bayadère, Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty; Ice Fairy, Clara and Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker. In addition to her role at CU Ballet as Assistant to the Artistic Director, Lee is a ballet instructor at Champaign Ballet Academy. A freshman at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, majoring in Speech and Hearing Science, Lee hopes to pursue a career working with children as a Speech Language Pathologist.
Oscar Allerton Lewis, Props Master
Lewis has been dancing with Champaign Ballet Academy since 2009. Through the years, he’s performed with Champaign Urbana Ballet in an abundance of roles starting out in The Nutcracker as a Polichinelle, Mouse, Soldier, and growing up to dance the roles of Fritz, The Nutcracker Prince, and Arabian Prince. Some of Lewis’ favorite roles in other productions include The Sleeping Beauty’s Blue Bird and Swan Lake’s Jester. If you asked his all-time favorite role, he is likely to say a Rat in The Nutcracker battle! Lewis has been teaching/assisting ballet classes since middle school and enjoys working with all age groups to inspire their imaginations and talents. In 2023, he directed Champaign Urbana Ballet’s original student production, Star Wars: Trials of the Force. Lewis loves the strength, art, and athleticism ballet brings to the studio classroom and the stage, and wishes to continue dancing and teaching for many years to come.