Artistic Staff | State Street Ballet

State Street Ballet: About

Artistic Staff

State Street Ballet is a critically-acclaimed company of professional dancers from around the world. They are under the direction of former American Ballet Theatre dancer Rodney Gustafson, who founded the company in 1994, and acclaimed choreographer William Soleau who was named Co-artistic Director in 2018. Mr. Gustafson and Mr. Soleau have since elevated the company to a level where the dancers work an average of 30 weeks per season, are on tour for 2-3 months of the year, and sustain rave reviews and sparkling reputations at home and on the road. The Artistic Staff of State Street Ballet are dedicated to ensuring the highest quality of technique and artistry from the dancers, and are committed to providing artistic and cultural enrichment to the Santa Barbara community.

Megan Philipp: Artistic Director

Megan Philipp joined the staff of State Street Ballet in 2013, and was promoted to Artistic Director September 1, 2023. During her tenure with the company she created, launched, and directed the Professional Track Program. She became a company rehearsal director in 2018 as
well as co-director of our annual Summer Intensive. In addition, she has been invited to choreograph for a variety of productions, including the Nutcracker, Jungle Book, and Sleeping Beauty. Prior to coming to State Street Ballet, Megan spent four years at the Joffrey Ballet in Chicago. She was a faculty member and then promoted to Faculty and Curriculum Coordinator. She worked closely with the directors to create a curriculum for the newly opened Academy, taught for all levels of the school and trainee program, and ran their Los Angeles Summer Intensive. Mrs. Philipp has her Master’s in Dance Education from New York University where she studied classical ballet pedagogy at American Ballet Theater and worked in administration for the organization. She spent eight years in New York City as a performing artist, teacher, and choreographer before completing her masters and moving to Chicago. She also has a BA in Dance Pedagogy from Butler University and is certified in the Simonson Jazz Technique.

Cecily MacDougall: Executive Director

Cecily MacDougall, from Santa Barbara CA, joined State Street Ballet as a dancer in 2009. After serving as Director of Education and Associate Executive Director, she was promoted to Executive Director on January 1, 2024. During her time as Director of Education, she founded Library Dances, part of State Street Ballet’s educational outreach program designed to bring literature to life through dance. Cecily graduated Summa Cum Laude with a BA in Performing Arts from St. Mary’s College, is an ABT Certified Teacher, and received her MBA with an emphasis in nonprofit leadership from Antioch University in 2022. She danced professionally with New York Theatre Ballet, Allegro Theatre Company, Richmond Ballet, prior to joining State Street Ballet. Cecily has choreographed numerous pieces for State Street Ballet, as well as The Bartered Bride, produced by Music Academy, and El amor brujo, La Traviata, and Carmen in collaboration with Opera Santa Barbara. She received the Indy Award for choreography of Anne’s Window in 2015, and in 2020 earned the Apogee Award for her successful arts outreach initiatives.

Rodney Gustafson: Founding Director

Rodney Gustafson, Executive Director, founded State Street Ballet in 1994 after a successful performing career with American Ballet Theatre. He holds Bachelor's and Master's degrees in Business Administration and Organizational Management, and combining these skills with the experiences of a performing career has allowed him to build a successful ballet company respected for its versatility, artistic excellence, and intelligently-designed productions. His innovative approach, mastery of the classics, and business savvy have empowered State Street Ballet to become an internationally acclaimed dance company that tours throughout the world. 

As a dancer with American Ballet Theatre, Mr. Gustafson worked with many of the greatest dancers and choreographers of the time, including Mikhail Baryshnikov, Alvin Ailey, George Balanchine, Rudolph Nureyev, Jerome Robbins and Antony Tudor.  He appeared in the films The Turning Point and Baryshnikov's Nutcracker, and performed in several Live from Lincoln Center specials airing on PBS. During his tenure as Artistic Director of State Street Ballet, Mr. Gustafson has created many original full-length ballets for the company, including The Nutcracker, Romeo and Juliet, Cinderella, A Midsummer Night's Dream, and The Jungle Book.  

William Soleau: Resident Choreographer

William Soleau, Resident Choreographer, has created over 100 ballets on companies around the world. As a principal dancer and resident choreographer with several companies, he performed in over 30 countries while personally working with such notable choreographers as Alvin Ailey, John Butler, Toer van Schayk, Antony Tudor, Joyce Trisler, Gray Veredon and Norman Walker. His works can be seen in the repertories of Ballet BC, Shanghai Ballet of China, Ballet de Montreal, Ballet Austin, The Icelandic Ballet, Richmond Ballet, American Ballroom Dance Theater, Ballet Florida, Sarasota Ballet, Dance Kaleidoscope, Ballet Met, Ballet NY, and The Louisville Ballet, among many others. Besides concert work, he has also created choreography for Film, Theater and Opera. As Resident Choreographer at State Street Ballet over the past two decades he has produced such popular productions as An American Tango, Appalachian Spring, Carmen, Carmina Burana and Starry Night. Mr. Soleau was the recipient of the Choo San-Goh Award for Choreography in 2006.

He presently serves as the Executive Director for the John Butler Foundation, Inc., dedicated to preserving and protecting the master works of this influential American Choreographer. He is also the film editor for the Antony Tudor Ballet Trust. Mr. Soleau is a graduate of Amherst College and was named Co-artistic Director of State Street Ballet in 2018.

Brian Asher Alhadeff: Conductor

Brian Asher Alhadeff is an internationally recognized conductor of ballet, opera, symphony, and musical theater. Currently, he is Artistic Director and Conductor for Opera San Luis Obispo. Past conducting highlights include the Eastern Bohemian Philharmonic, Ballet Tucson, Beverly Hills Symphony, Opera Pasadena, Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra, Tulsa Ballet, Karlove Vary Sinfonie, Albanian Radio and Television Orchestra, South Florida Opera Company, Eastern Sierra Symphony, Bourgas State Opera, Rio Hondo Symphony, St. Cloud Symphony and Long Beach Opera. He has conducted the Opera San Luis Obispo Orchestra for State Street Ballet's Nutcracker since 2012.

Marina Fliagina: Rehearsal Director

Marina Fliagina was born in Russia, and graduated with distinction from Perm State College of Choreography in Russia. In 1990, she was admitted to the Moscow State Theatre Kremlin Ballet where she worked with the renowned Vladimir Vasiliev and Ekaterina Maximova. She has performed roles in all of the famous classical ballets and has toured internationally with the Russian Imperial Ballet, Moscow Classical Ballet, and the Moscow Festival Ballet. Fliagina joined State Street Ballet as a dancer in 1998, and was promoted to Rehearsal Director in 2000. In addition to her duties as Rehearsal Director, she continues to appear in character roles such as the Stepmother in Cinderella and the Nurse Maid in Romeo and Juliet.

Denise Grimm: Company Manager

Denise Grimm was born in Switzerland where she danced for ten years in Ballet de Genève. Mrs. Grimm served under the artistic direction of George Balanchine, and as an assistant to Ballet Master Patricia Neary, she staged Mr. Balanchine’s ballets throughout Europe. After her dancing career Mrs. Grimm created and operated the world-renowned Swiss Ski School in Florida. Following her tenure in the world of competitive water skiing, she has now returned to her roots in the world of ballet. Using her numerous skills as a former dancer and business owner, Mrs. Grimm brings years of knowledge and experience to her role as State Street Ballet’s Company Manager.

Sammy Jelinek: Production Manager and Lighting Designer

Sammy Jelinek is a graduate from Wright State University, where she received a BFA in Lighting Design. She is based in New York City, but works nationally and internationally designing and managing theatre, opera, dance, and other live events. Recent design credits include A Little Night Music (OPERA America’s Robert L.B. Tobin Director-Designer Prize), Sleeping Beauty and The Nutcracker (State Street Ballet), The Glass Menagerie and #yourmemorial (Pigeonholed Theatre Co.), Gala de Internacional de Ballet (Teatro Municipal de Los Condes) and Aspen Music Festival's 2018 and 2019 Feast of Music

Tim Mikel: Managing Director

Tim Mikel is a Founding Member of the State Street Ballet Board, was Board President for thirteen years, and has been Managing Director of the company since 2007. He has danced professionally and semi-professionally for Plexus Dance Theatre, Channel Islands Ballet, and Pacific Coast Ballet, among others, and continues to attend ballet class daily. He is a professional Marine Biologist involved in water pollution research, and is the President and Owner of Aquatic Bioassay and Consulting Laboratories in Ventura. Mr. Mikel holds both a Bachelor's and Master's Degree in Marine Biology.

Nicole Thompson: Wardrobe Director

Nicole Thompson is from Santa Barbara and has a BA in Apparel Design and Merchandising and a BA in Business Administration from San Francisco State University. She has been State Street Ballet’s Wardrobe Director since 2015, designing and creating costumes for The Nutcracker, Don Quixote, Women’s Work, An American Tango, Modern Masters, Mozart's Requiem and the SSB Summer Intensive. 

Meredith Ventura: Professional Track Director

Meredith Ventura graduated with honors from UC Santa Barbara, with a BFA in Dance. She studied with Batsheva Dance Company in Tel Aviv, Israel, and received her MFA in dance at Hollins University in collaboration with the Künstlerhaus Mousonturm, Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst Frankfurt am Main, and The Dresden Frankfurt Dance Company (formerly the Forsythe Company). She is now pursuing a PhD in Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies at UCSB. Ventura has produced full evening-length performances and presented works throughout the US and abroad, most recently in France, Estonia, Norway, Finland, and Italy. She is currently on faculty at dance studios throughout Southern California, and travels nationally and internationally as a dance educator and advocate for the arts. She joined the faculty of State Street Ballet in 2021 and became the Pro Track Director in 2023.