Peter Franc | Interim Artistic Director
Peter Franc was born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania and began dancing at the age of 11 in Atlanta, Georgia. He received his early training with Metropolitan Ballet Theatre under Maniya Barredo, Robert Barnett, and Olivier Muñoz. He also danced for a year as a trainee for the Louisville Ballet under the Artistic Direction of Bruce Simpson, Alun Jones, Helen Starr, and Patrick Hinson.
Thomas Bruner | Executive Director
From CEO of a scrappy start-up in Texas, to Vice President with the nation’s largest humanitarian organization in Washington, D.C., to fundraising manager at a Buddhist temple in Portland, Oregon, Thomas Bruner has been helping mission-focused businesses and organizations do great work for decades. A nationally-recognized leader, Bruner brings a wealth of experience to his work, including 25 years of executive-level leadership across the country, a master’s degree in Clinical Psychology, a diversity management certificate from Cornell University, an impressive portfolio of civic volunteer engagement, and numerous awards and recognition.
Photo by Tatiana Wills
Lisa Kipp | Rehearsal Director
Lisa Kipp began studying ballet in Olympia, Washington and finished her training at Pacific Northwest Ballet School.
She danced with Pacific Northwest Ballet, Pacific Ballet Theatre, Ballet Oregon, Ballet of Los Angeles, Ballet Chicago, and James Sewell Dance, and also performed in the touring company of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera. Kipp danced principal roles in George Balanchine’s Rubies, Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux, Square Dance, Concerto Barocco, and Apollo, and appeared as the Cowgirl in Agnes De Mille’s Rodeo. Prior to joining OBT in 2004, she was the Ballet Department Head for the school of Spectrum Dance Theater in Seattle, as well as the company’s Rehearsal Director.
Kipp was OBT’s Ballet Mistress beginning in 2004 before being promoted to the company’s rehearsal director. As a ballet master, she has assisted James Kudelka, Lar Lubovitch, Lola DeAvila, Nicolo Fonte, Francia Russell, Bart Cook, Christine Redpath, Christopher Stowell, Yuri Possokhov, and Helgi Tomasson. She has staged George Balanchine’s Rubies, Square Dance, and Who Cares? for OBT, and is responsible for the corps de ballet in OBT’s classical repertoire.
Photo by Tatiana Wills
Jeffrey Stanton | Ballet Master
Jeffrey Stanton trained at San Francisco Ballet School and the School of American Ballet. In addition to classical ballet, he also studied ballroom, jazz, and tap dancing. He joined San Francisco Ballet in 1989, and left to join Pacific Northwest Ballet in 1994. He was promoted to soloist in 1995, made a principal in 1996, and retired from PNB in 2011. He originated leading roles in Susan Stroman’s TAKE FIVE… More or Less; Stephen Baynes’ El Tango; Donald Byrd’s Seven Deadly Sins; Val Caniparoli’s The Bridge; Nicolo Fonte’s Almost Tango and Within/Without; Kevin O’Day’s Aract and [soundaroun(d)ance]; Kent Stowell’s Carmen, Palacios Dances, and Silver Lining; and Christopher Stowell’s Zaïs. Stanton has performed as a guest artist for Le Gala des Étoiles in Montréal, Prague Gala of Stars, and the TITAS Command Performance of International Ballet in Dallas, Texas. In 2000, he participated in the George Balanchine Foundation’s Interpreters Archive series, dancing excerpts from Balanchine’s Episodes, coached by Melissa Hayden.
Niel DePonte | Music Director and Conductor
Niel DePonte has been the music director for OBT and its predecessor, Pacific Ballet Theatre since 1985. He has guest-conducted for Boston Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, The Mussorgsky Theatre (Maly Theatre) of St. Petersburg, Russia, and the Nureyev Ballet Festival in Kazan, Russia. Niel has also conducted symphonic, ballet, pops, and youth concerts with the symphonies of Oregon, Syracuse, Dayton, Spokane, Charlotte, and the Kennedy Center Orchestra, among others. He has also been the Artistic Director and conductor of the Young Artists Debut Concerto Competition for MetroArts Inc (which he founded in 1993) and music director for the Bel Canto Northwest opera program.
Niel was a 2003 Grammy award nominee in the category Best Instrumental Soloist Performance (with orchestra) for his performance of Tomas Svoboda’s Concerto for Marimba with the Oregon Symphony. He recently stepped down as Principal Percussionist of the Oregon Symphony after a 43-year tenure in that position to form DePonte Creativity Partners (DCP) his latest creative platform. DCP produces arts and education programs, videos, and performances including The Concerts At The Barn, a summertime concert series at The Hoffman Farms Store in Beaverton (performing concerts this July and August at www.TheConcertsAtTheBarn.com). His compositions and arrangements written for the ballet stage include Christopher Stowell’s Adin, Carmen, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Ekho; and Houston Ballet’s Peter Pan. Niel holds a master’s degree and a performer’s certificate from the Eastman School of Music, as well as an education degree from the State University of New York.
Photo by Lloyd Lemmermann
Michael Mazzola | Lighting Director
Michael Mazzola’s critically acclaimed lighting and scenery has been seen in venues all over the U.S., Europe, and Asia, ranging from opera houses to amphitheaters, from circus tents to hay barns. The three-time New York Dance and Performance Award winner has designed lighting and scenery for Oregon Ballet Theatre; Pacific Northwest Ballet; San Francisco Ballet, Whim W’Him of Seattle, Queensland Ballet; National Ballet of Finland; Stuttgart Ballet; Grand Rapids Ballet; Ballet West; Ballet Nacional de Cuba; Trey McIntyre Project; The Washington Ballet; Houston Ballet; Rachel Tess Dance at the Wanas Foundation in Sweden, Baryshnikov Arts Center, NYC and LMCC’s River to River Festival, Third Rail Repertory Theatre, Bebe Miller Company – with whom he has worked since the mid-80s, and the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange. At the Kennedy Center Concert Hall, he designed lighting and video for the 2015 Presidential Scholars Awards. Mazzola has also designed scenery for two Comedy Central Celebrity Roasts, and the 2015 Lincoln Awards at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall for Uplight, Inc, based in NYC. His performance photography has been published in Liz Lerman’s book Hiking the Horizontal, as well on the websites and marketing materials for Bebe Miller Company and Rachel Tess Dance.
Jamie Lynne Simons | Stage Manager
Raised in the Pacific Northwest, Jamie received a BFA in Applied Theatre Arts from the University of the Arts, Philadelphia. Their career has varied from large stage opera to black box puppetry, from Las Vegas style shows with pyrotechnics, dancers in feather backpacks, magic, and aerial artists – to, now in the Covid era, also calling remote live-stream and hybrid productions. With nearly five years on Carnival Cruise Lines, Jamie went as far west as Melbourne, Australia and as far east as St. Petersburg, Russia. Tour: Hundred Days (production stage manager). Other local credits: Jefferson Dancers, Portland Opera, Portland Center Stage at the Armory, Artists Repertory Theatre, Third Rail Repertory, Portland Playhouse, Profile Theatre, Chamber Music Northwest, Portland Baroque Orchestra, Third Angle New Music, and Oregon Health & Science University. Jamie is both a member of the American Guild of Musical Artists and Actors’ Equity Association.