Meet the Dancers

Adrian Ciobanu (Co-Director)

Adrian Ciobanu was born in Cluj, Romania where he graduated from the Liceul de Choregrafie, Octavian Stroia with honors, under the direction of his father, Florin Ciobanu. He worked with the Romanian Opera Ballet for one year then moved to the Hungarian Opera Ballet for five years, where was promoted to Principal dancer. He toured throughout Europe including France, Hungary, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Romania, and the Czech Republic. In 1996 Mr. Ciobanu became a member of the Sarasota Ballet, dancing major Principal roles and creating many roles as well. His repertoire includes many major classical and contemporary ballets by such choreographers as Robert North, Alberto Alonso, Katherine Posen, Steven Mills, Todd Allen, Ament Istvan, and others. Since 2002 Mr. Ciobanu has been teaching and coaching for the Sarasota Ballet School, Dance the Next Generation, and local and regional schools such as Brandon Ballet, The Dance Center: Brandon, Fl., West Florida Ballet, St. Petersburg, Fl., Florida Ballet Arts, Alyson’s in Bradenton, Fl. In 2003, Mr. Ciobanu was promoted to Principal of Academy, Sarasota Ballet, where he has doubled the number of students and increased the budget significantly since his direction. He has staged full-length productions for the Academy, such as Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Alice in Wonderland, The Nutcracker, La Boutique Fantasque, Paquita, and others. In 2008 Mr. Ciobanu was promoted to Ballet Master of Sarasota Ballet and worked extensively with the Academy. He worked with such stagers and choreographers as: Hans Van Manen, Monica Parker, Alexander Grant, Dominic Walsh, Sandra Jennings, Joyceanne Sidimus, Julian Moss, Andre Prokovsky, Gilles Maidon, Jackie Hollander, Donald Mahler, Margaret Barbieri, and others. Adrian has been the Co-Director of Uptown Dance Centre and Uptown Dance Company for the past seven  years.

Laura Catherine Hilley

Laura Catherine Hilley began training at Mobile Ballet when she was three years old. As her passion for the art grew and her performance opportunities increased, she became singularly focused on dance. After multiple summer intensives in New York City, first with American Ballet Theatre and then with The School of American Ballet, she relocated to Houston to train full-time with Houston Ballet Academy on scholarship. While there, she had numerous opportunities to perform works by Stanton Welch and Ben Stevenson with Houston Ballet. She then became a member of Cincinnati Ballet, where she worked with choreographer Adam Hougland and toured with the company to The Kennedy Center. Some of her favorite reps include Val Caniparoli’s Lady of the Camellias, Victoria Morgan’s Cinderella, and Septime Webre’s Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan. Upon returning to Houston, Laura Catherine danced with Houston City Dance and begins this season with Uptown Dance Company. Additionally, she guest performs and teaches a range of styles and ages throughout the Houston community.

Ruben Trevino

Ruben Nicholas Trevino started his dance training in high school as a break-dancer and tumbler with Y.E.S. Dance Company where he had the opportunity to perform in Los Angeles and Guatemala. Y.E.S. Dance Company competed in many competitions and received many rewards in first place and in High Gold. Ruben graduated magna cum laude from Sam Houston State University in May of 2012 with a B.F.A. in dance performance.  While at Sam Houston, Ruben trained under the direction of Jennifer Pontius, Jonathan Charles, Andy Noble, Dionne Noble, and Dana Nicolay. He has participated and performed at the American College Dance Festival Association gala selection concert twice. He has danced in numerous faculty, graduate, and student concerts. Ruben was also selected and given the opportunity to perform in a guest artist residency piece that was choreographed by Jane Weiner from Hope Stone Dance Company. Since relocating to Houston, he has performed with Karen Stokes Dance, ChinaCat Dance, Bayou City Productions, Jonathan Charles, Ashley Horn, FrenetiCore, Kingwood Dance Theatre, Sandra Organ Dance Company, and NobleMotion Dance. Since dancing with Uptown Dance Comapny, Ruben has been training under the direction of ballet masters Florin Adrian Ciobanu and Alex Pandisico. Ruben has had the opportunity to take master classes and perform choreography set by ballet masters Tina Bohnstedt, Krissy Richmond, and Alex Pandisico from Houston Ballet. This is Ruben’s 4th season with Uptown Dance Company.

Claire Westerman

Claire began dancing at the age of ten at Northern California Dance Conservatory. After 3 years there, she began training at the Houston Ballet Academy on a merit scholarship. She trained for three and a half years in the academy, performing pieces by Ben Stevenson, Stanton Welch, and Claudio Munoz, before becoming a part of the second company at Uptown Dance Centre. During her time as a part of UDCII, she had the amazing experience of touring to Austria for the Young Tanzsommer Dance Festival. Some of Claire’s favorite performance opportunities include: Clara in the Sacramento Ballet’s Nutcracker, soloist in Ladies by Stanton Welch, Swan Lake Pas de trois 1st variation at Houston Ballet Solo Night, the solo from the Pink Ribbons Project by Jane Weiner, and the Sugar Plum Fairy at Uptown Dance Centre’s Nutcracker. Claire also teaches Creative Movement, Ballet, Tap, Jazz and Hip-Hop for young dancers at Uptown Dance Centre.

Headshot Photos: Bill Klemm / Amy Phillips / Bob Warren

Banner Photo: Doug Berry / Hot Shu Foto