Soili Arvola: Co-Artistic Director
At the age of eight, Miss Arvola was accepted to the Ballet Academy of the National Opera House in Helsinki, Finland. After graduating from the Academy at the age of 17, she was invited to join the National Ballet of Finland and toured with the company around the world.
While dancing with the San Francisco Ballet for four years, she and her husband, Leo Ahonen, started their partnership, both on stage and off.
Among her numerous honors, Miss Arvola received a Bronze Medal and a diploma for high artistic achievement in Women’s Senior Category (professional category) at the prestigious 1972 International Ballet Competition in Varna, Bulgaria. In 1975, she was chosen as an Outstanding Young Woman of America and she was also the Texas State winner.
Miss Arvola has appeared as the featured guest artist with Finnish National Ballet, Royal Winnipeg Ballet, Chicago Ballet, Houston Ballet, London’s Royal Ballet Choreographic Group, Indianapolis Ballet Theatre, Ballet International de Ochi of Japan and with numerous Symphony Orchestras, Opera Companies and Civic Ballet Companies throughout the United States and abroad.
In 1972, Tokyo’s NHK-TV produced a half-hour special of Miss Arvola and Mr. Ahonen in their monthly program: “The World of Music”. Her ballerina roles include Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, Giselle, Romeo and Juliet, Cinderella, Coppelia, Don Quixote... the list is endless.
Miss Arvola’s partnership with her husband on stage lasted 30 years. And in 1976, on the Day of Constitution, they became citizens of the United States.
She also choreographs and stages most of the classic ballets, and lately she has become a creator of “new style” full-length ballets including Tarzan, Dracula and Samson and Delilah.
Miss Arvola not only choreographs her ballets, she also writes the libretto, chooses the music and designs and makes the costumes herself. She retired from performing in 2006 after a long, healthy career of 40 years, never cancelling a performance!
In 2005, Miss Arvola received the Marie Bollinger Vogt Achievement Award at Toledo Ballet’s 65th annual Nutcracker. In these performances, she also danced the role of “Sugar Plum Fairy” for the last time - the role she started portraying in 1970!
In 2009, she was the adjudicator for Regional Dance America/Southwest.
Learn more about Miss Arvola’s amazing career at arvola-ahonen.com.
Katie Matney: Co-Artistic Director
A Bartlesville native, Katie has been dancing since she was three years old. She began her ballet career under the tutelage of Miss Charlotte Lyke, founder of the Bartlesville Ballet Centre. Her first role on-stage was as a baby angel in the Nutcracker in 1985. As Katie progressed in her classical training with Miss Charlotte, she also attended classes taught by Jeanne Doornbos, a Bartlesville native and principal with Houston Ballet before her retirement.
Starting when she was twelve, Katie attended workshops led by Mr. Leo Ahonen and Miss Soili Arvola in Clearlake, Texas. Mr. Ahonen and Miss Arvola have extensive resumes from dancer to choreographer, which include being principal dancers with the National Ballet of Finland and the San Francisco Ballet among others. In 2001, Katie attended Southeastern Oklahoma State University, but returned periodically to Bartlesville to dance with the Bartlesville Civic Ballet in the Nutcracker and Spring Performances through 2007.
Her personal dance resume is extensive and includes numerous roles in the Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Romeo & Juliet, Tarzan, Samson & Delilah, and Dracula. Her favorite roles include the lead in Snow from the Nutcracker and a gypsy in Romeo & Juliet.
In 2005, Katie graduated from Oklahoma Wesleyan with her Bachelor of Science in Education (focused in Elementary Education). She began teaching classes at the BCB in 2009, and she has worked closely with Miss Arvola to further develop her teaching abilities which focus on the Russian technique. Katie considers Miss Arvola a mentor who provides Katie with continuing education in the world of dance. Katie has said that her favorite part of teaching ballet is “when classical ballet is performed onstage it has the power to awe the audience.”
She believes in inspiring young dancers to appreciate the Arts and become role models in the discipline of dance. Katie recognizes that teaching methods need to be adapted to the level of the student, and she focuses on teaching terminology and movements in the younger classes with a greater focus on correcting technique and body placement in the Intermediate/Advanced classes.
In addition to teaching classes, Katie also has the responsibility of leading rehearsals and working with Miss Arvola, Artistic Director, to teach choreography for the Bartlesville Civic Ballet Performances. Looking ahead, Katie wants to continue developing her students, growing the Bartlesville Civic Ballet Academy, and encouraging the appreciation of the Arts in Bartlesville. Katie is a wife and mother of three.
Katie Boatright: Instructor
Katie Boatright is a native of Bartlesville, Oklahoma. She began her training at Inspirations Dance Studio and in later years joined Bartlesville Civic Ballet and The Dance and Performing Arts Academy in Tulsa.
Katie went on to obtain her Bachelor of Arts at Mercyhurst University in Erie, Pennsylvania earning a major in Dance Performance and a minor in Arts Administration. Her formal education includes courses in pedagogy, kinesiology, choreography, dance history, anatomy, as well as many business courses. While attending Mercyhurst, Katie was actively engaged in numerous leadership roles such as President of the Liturgical Dance Ensemble, a member of the Leadership Team and the Nu Delta Alpha National Dance Honor Society. She showed her commitment to service through the Ambassador, AmeriCorps and M.U.S.C.L.E. programs. Katie also served as the Administrative Assistant for the Erie Dance Consortium coordinating the biannual Dance Festival.
Katie has gone on to professionally dance with Ballet Concerto, Osage Ballet, Ballet Vero Beach and Ballet Nebraska. Her career has taken her to perform in venues in Vero Beach, Florida; New York City, New York; Albuquerque, New Mexico and the Smithsonian Institution – National Museum of the American Indian in Washington D.C., to name a few. Some of her favorite repertoire includes Giselle, La Fille Mal Gardée, Swan Lake and The Nutcracker. Katie has also had the opportunity to work with numerous contemporary choreographers, dancing in pieces both in college and in her professional career. In addition to ballet, Katie is trained in jazz, modern, tap and Broadway jazz. She has spent summers at Joffrey, American Ballet Theatre, Summer Wind and Quartz Mountain summer intensives.
Katie has shared her passion of dance through teaching and choreographing for dancers of all ages. Her experience includes implementing choreography at Mercyhurst, teaching at several local studios, as well as three consecutive years at Nebraska City Dance Studio, serving as the main instructor and studio manager. In the classroom Katie believes in giving level appropriate, creative and challenging exercises that encourages students to achieve their goals. She actively roams the classroom giving corrections, striving to work individually with every student while also demonstrating with technical and musical clarity.
Throughout her career Ms. Boatright aspires to be a leader and role model in the dance field. Katie is excited to meet her students and for another great year at BCB!