About Us

The Inland Empire’s premier school of classical ballet

Visit our school and observe classes
Monday – Thursday 4:00-7:00PM    Friday- 3:45-6:30PM
Saturday- 9:00AM-12:00PM


Glenda Carhart
Kathleen Riker
Rebekah Mitchell
Elizabeth Updegraff
Chloe Shah
Karissa Torchia
Damien Diaz

who we are

Riverside Ballet Arts (RBA) – The Inland Empire’s premier school of classical ballet appreciates this opportunity to introduce you to the people, programs and practices that comprise RBA today. We are very proud of the reputation that the school has gained through a consistent application of classical training methods established over the past and used worldwide. RBA has served Riverside and Southern California for over 56 years. Our young dancers are regularly accepted with scholarships to major ballet company schools, and numerous RBA-trained dancers have gone on to distinguished professional ballet careers. Our new location is at 6465 Sycamore Canyon Blvd in Riverside, just off the Eastridge Ave. exit of the 215 freeway. Our new dance facility is located in a magnificent office building shared with Pratt College. This state of the art facility represents the fulfillment of our hopes and dreams over the last 30 years, to find the perfect combination for both teaching and performance space. RBA accommodates approximately 40 classes per week, as well as company rehearsals and performances of BRAVA (Ballet Resource Active Volunteer Association), Movement for Life-BRAVA Tuesday 12:30-1:30pm, for PD, MS and other similar conditions.

Riverside Ballet Arts has been in the city for over five decades. From the historical Aurora Vista Hotel to our state-of-the-art contemporary studio, we continue to grow and provide the very best for our students.

meet our faculty

Owner/Artistic Director of Riverside Ballet Arts.

Glenda Carhart is also founder and Director of BRAVA, (Ballet Resource Active Volunteer Association). Ms. Carhart is a native Californian who received her beginning training in Riverside at Riverside Ballet Arts (formerly Mary Lynn’s Ballet Arts). Ms. Carhart left Riverside at the age of 15 to continue her training on a full scholarship at the school of the Harkness Ballet in New York City. The following year took her to Toronto, Canada on scholarship with the National Ballet School. She joined the National Ballet of Canada, performing her first professional roles in Rudolf Nureyev’s Sleeping Beauty at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City.

While at the National Ballet she performed in Edward Villella’s Harlequin for a nationwide CBS Television special presentation and in full-length productions of Swan Lake, Coppelia, and the Nutcracker. She was featured in Serenade and Offenbach in the Underworld, and gained experience working with top professionals Mikhail Baryshnikov, Peter Martins, Fernando Bujones, Erik Bruhn, Rudolf Nureyev, Rudi Van Dantzig and Celia Franca.

Returning to Riverside in 1977, Ms. Carhart was guest artist for numerous companies and schools in California, and danced as principal soloist with California Riverside Ballet before her appointment as Artistic Director for both California Riverside Ballet and Riverside Ballet Arts in 1984. Glenda spent the next twenty 26 years developing California Riverside Ballet, providing performing experiences and collaborating projects with many Riverside organizations including her school, Riverside Ballet Arts.

During her tenure with California Riverside Ballet Glenda was responsible for providing educational out reach programs to over 130,000 elementary school children in the Inland Empire area, directing David Allan’s annual production of the Nutcracker and developing creative opportunities to a number of emerging choreographers.

Glenda brought Mr. David Allan, former partner and colleague to Riverside in 1991 to begin mentoring and performance programs to aspiring youth. Glenda resigned from California Riverside Ballet to pursue her dream of the newly formed non-profit, BRAVA, (Ballet Resource Active Volunteer Association). As owner and Director of Riverside Ballet Arts, and proud supporter of BRAVA, Carhart directs a faculty and staff of up to ten professionals and an enrollment of approximately 300 students. Ms. Carhart’s commitment to excellence, over the last 35 years, has provided the foundation for her students receiving scholarships to the most prestigious Ballet company schools in North America. She has continued her own training as a teacher through workshops with National Ballet of Canada and is a certified trainer utilizing Pilates based techniques and apparatus.

Glenda continues to maintain close professional contact with international companies and schools, the School of American Ballet, (official School of the New York City Ballet) and the National Ballet School (official School of the National Ballet of Canada) as such, she has brought world stars and master teachers Canadian Ballerina, Veronica Tennant; Russian Ballerina, Maya Plisetskaya; American Ballerina and Riverside alumni, Darci Kistler; dance star and Riverside alumni Stephen Legate; NYC Ballet stars, Peter Martins; Edward Villella and Katrina Killian.

Kathleen Riker began her dance training in 1979 at Riverside Ballet Arts. She has also studied at the Banff Centre School of Fine Arts in Alberta, Canada, Ballet West, and Stanley Holden’s Dance Center in Los Angeles. She appeared as a guest artist at UCR’s faculty dance Concert in Pas De Quartre, and was a member of the Modern Dance Ensemble headed by the late Frank Aguirre. Kathleen has also performed at dance Kaleidoscope in Los Angeles. Roles performed include R. Clinton Rothwell’s premier of Concerto in G Minor, the Silver Fairy and Crystal Fairy variations from Sleeping Beauty, Tarantella, Chopin, Classical Symphony, Raymonda, as well as Spanish Dancer, Arabian Dancer, Snow Fairy, and the Dew Drop Fairy in the The Nutcracker. She has also performed works by David Allan, ETC! and Pastel. She has been a faculty member at Riverside Ballet Arts since 1987 and acted as Ballet Mistress to California Riverside Ballet from 1996-2010. Along with her duties with RBA she is currently Ballet Mistress and Assistant Director of BRAVA.

Rebekah Mitchell grew up in Southern California and began dancing at the age of 3 studying ballet, tap, jazz and lyrical at Debra Kaye Dance Studio, Freddie Finn Dance Studio, Riverside Ballet Arts, and master classes in Los Angeles and New York. Rebekah did summer programs at Houston Ballet and Pennsylvania Ballet, but realizing her passion for all styles of dance, she auditioned for The Radio City Christmas Spectacular at 18 and was offered a role in the Ensemble.

After performing as a member of the Ensemble in 2001, Rebekah became a Rockette in 2002 and spent the next 5 seasons touring with Radio City across the United States. Since 2007, Rebekah has performed at Radio City Music Hall in New York and has held a Swing position since 2010. In her years as a Rockette, Rebekah has been privileged to perform in The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, Tree Lighting at Rockefeller Center, Rachael Ray, The Today Show, Dancing with the Stars, and Live with Kelly.

Rebekah has over 17 years of teaching experience at multiple studios in Southern California, master classes throughout the United States and in Australia, and many Rockette Experiences and Rockette Summer Intensives. After traveling the world for 6 months, Rebekah earned her Pilates certification and is now living in Riverside with husband Steve and daughter Story Ann.

Elizabeth Apgar Updegraff began her ballet training at the age of seven at the San Diego School of Ballet under the guidance of Robin Morgan. At the age of fourteen she was asked by Lola De Avila of the San Francisco Ballet to come and study with the ballet school under full scholarship. She stayed at SFB for three years as a student and apprentice with the company. Jillana, one of George Balanchine’s protégés, became her mentor and selected her for her first major role as Dewdrop when she was just fifteen. After being invited to return to the San Diego Ballet as a principle dancer, Elizabeth spent the bulk of her career dancing in classical roles and contemporary works created for her by artistic director Javier Velasco. In 1996 Elizabeth was chosen by Baryshnikov to appear on the first cover of his newly started catalog, Baryshnikov Dancewear. She has also been featured as a model in Dance Magazine on several occasions, and in one instance Dance Magazine published a review of her and the late Ricardo Peralta’s lead performance in Opus Swing, a ballet set to the music of Duke Ellington performed in the San Diego Ballet’s 1997 season. Anne Marie Welsh, dance critic for the San Diego Union Tribune, once wrote: “Apgar’s got legs out to here and real magnetism. She demands attention in every role.” Elizabeth appeared as a ballet dancer in the NBC TV movie Jonathan, the Boy Nobody Wanted, and she danced in the West Coast Emmy Awards hosted by David Caradine. She has also choreographed ballet pieces that have been performed by professional and pre-professional dancers. The Triangle Incident is one of her favorites, a ballet in three acts based on the devastating fire at the Triangle Shirt Waist Factory in New York. That ballet was performed in June 2007 at the San Diego Ballet Company. Elizabeth has been teaching ballet for over twenty years and loving every minute of it. She has taught for schools in San Diego, Long Beach, Orange County, and Riverside, California, and also in Columbia, Missouri, instructing professionals as well as students ranging from adult beginners to kids as young as three. Elizabeth also loves to act and has been involved in numerous theatre productions in California as well as Missouri. She won the award for best supporting actress in the 2005-2006 season for her performance as Elsa Greer in Agatha Christie’s Go Back for Murder, staged by the Lamplighter’s Theater in San Diego. Before returning to teach in southern California, Elizabeth was the ballet mistress at the Missouri Contemporary Ballet Company. She joined the faculty at Riverside Ballet Arts in 2014. She loves teaching the tremendous students here and having the opportunity to choreograph new works on them.


David Allan was born in Boston. He was formerly an Associate Professor and Director of Ballet at the University of California, Irvine. Mr. Allan was trained at the National Ballet School of Canada. He entered the National Ballet of Canada in 1974, where he was a Soloist from 1977-88, performing all over the world in ballets by Rudolf Nureyev, Erik Bruhn, George Balanchine, Sir Frederic Ashton, John Cranko, Roland Petit, Sir Kenneth MacMillian, Anthony Tudor, and many others. He has choreographed over fifty ballets since 1983, eight of which were commissioned by the late Erik Bruhn for the repertoire of the National Ballet of Canada. He has many works in the repertoire’s of such ballet companies as New York City Ballet, Ohkura Ballet of Tokyo, Italy’s Rome Opera House, Ballet British Columbia, Ballet Pacifica, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Nashville, and Hartford Ballets as well as for opera, film, musicals, and television. He is the recipient of the 1989 Jean A. Chalmers Choreographic Award in Canada and the 1997 Choo-San Goh Award. He was he Associate Artistic Director of the California Riverside Ballet from 1991-1996. Mr. Allan has been a Guest Teacher/Ballet Master for San Francisco Ballet, London Rambert Dance Co., Les Ballets Jazz de Montreal, Basel Ballet of Switzerland, National Ballet de Lorraine in France, among others.

Mr. Allan’s 15 years as a Choreographer, as well as being the first evening length ballet produced in the Dance Department’s history. Mr. Allan has begun directing an International Exchange program between the Conservatoire National Superieur de Paris and the University of California, Irvine, Dance Department.

Mr. Allan choreographed a new solo in March of 2000 for American Ballet Theatre’s Ethan Stiefel, commissioned by William Gillespie; its world premiere was on March 12, 2000 at the Orange County Performing Arts Center accompanied by the Pacific Chorale and Pacific Symphony Orchestra, conducted by John Alexander. Recently in March 21 of 2001, Mr. Allan premiered a new ballet Palladio for the Junior Ballet Classique of the Conservatoire National Superieur de Paris. A Paris magazine – Danse, Danse, Danse, states: Palladio is a light and lively piece to the ‘Diamond Music’ by composer Karl Jenkins. The second section, an adage with ample and free movement, revealed, through a rigorous construction, focused dancers who perfectly mastered all the subtlety of the choreography in complete osmosis with the musical score.”

Darci Kistler was born in Riverside, California, the youngest of five children and the only girl. Always athletic, Ms. Kistler enjoyed many sports, including skiing, waterskiing, swimming, tennis, football, and dirt biking, before she began studying ballet at Riverside Ballet Arts. At the age of 12 she began studying with Irina Kosmouska in Los Angeles, and that same year she attended a summer session at the School of American Ballet (SAB), the official school of New York City Ballet. Two years later, she received a full scholarship to SAB.

Ms. Kistler participated in two SAB Workshops. In the first, in 1979, she danced a principal role in Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux’s HAYDN CONCERTO, choreographed especially for the Workshop, and danced the pas de deux by August Bournonville from the opera WILLIAM TELL, staged by Stanley Williams. In 1980, Ms. Kistler danced the principal role in George Balanchine’s one-act SWAN LAKE. She prepared for the role by studying extensively with Alexandra Danilova.

Ms. Kistler joined New York City Ballet as a member of the corps de ballet in April 1980, was promoted to the rank of Soloist in 1981, and became a Principal Dancer in 1982. She has danced leading roles in many Balanchine ballets.

Ms. Kistler has been seen on national television in PBS’s “Dance In America” series in both the “WILLIAM TELL pas de deux” from BOURNONVILLE DANCES and in SERENADE, and the pas de deux from SWAN LAKE on the “Kennedy Center Honors” program as part of a tribute to Alexandra Danilova. She was also seen in PBS’s “Dance In America” program of “The Balanchine Celebration.” Ms. Kistler starred as the Sugarplum Fairy in the 1993 film version of New York City Ballet’s production of GEORGE BALANCHINE’S THE NUTCRACKER™.

In addition to her performing career, Ms. Kistler has been a member of SAB’s faculty since 1994. During the Winter Term, she teaches Intermediate and Advanced Girls technique and variations classes. She is also a member of the Summer Course faculty.

Damien Diaz is a native of Los Angeles California and started his first ballet lessons at the age of 14 in Miami, Fl with Thomas Armour and Rene Zintgraff. He was a scholarship student at the North Carolina School of the Arts, the Alabama School of Fine Arts, the Houston Ballet Academy and the School of American Ballet in New York City. At the age of 17, Damien danced his first full length “Swan Lake” as Prince Siegfried, the Cavalier to the Sugar Plum Fairy in “The Nutcracker” and Romeo in “ Romeo and Juliet “ with Ballet South Company under the direction of Dame Sonia Arova. After Ballet South, Damien danced with the Zürich Ballet of Switzerland and the Leipzig ballet in Germany under the direction of European choreographic prodigy Uwe Scholz. As a principle dancer in Leipzig, Damien was the muse for many creations of Uwe Scholz, most notably the lead in “America” and Prince Desiré in the full length “Sleeping Beauty”. As a guest artist, Damien has danced principle roles for the Tokyo Ballet, the San Francisco Ballet, the Warsaw Ballet, the Dallas Ballet,the Stuttgart Ballet and the world famous Ballet Trockadero de Monte Carlo touring major cities such as London, Paris, New York, Tokyo and Moscow. Damien was resident choreographer and ballet master of the California Riverside Ballet under the direction of Glenda Carhart. There he created works such as “Urban Evolution”, “Moon Dance” as well as the musical production of “The Silence is Broken” at the Saban Theatre in Los Angeles. Damien currently freelances as a guest ballet artist and choreographer, dances for the Luminario Ballet of Los Angeles and teaches ballet and Pilates. Damien is thrilled and grateful to be a part of the BRAVA production of David Allan’s “ The Nutcracker “ this holiday season.

Anastacia Devrise started dancing at the age of four, and has been dancing ever since. She has primarily been trained in classical and contemporary ballet and jazz, with experience in modern, lyrical, and tap. Between the ages of four to fourteen Anastacia trained with Riverside Ballet Arts. While dancing with RBA she performed in numerous productions each year, including parts in The Nutcracker, Swan Lake, and Cinderella; a well as performing variations from ballets such as Sleeping Beauty, Coppelia, and Carmen. Anastacia has trained with professionals at Juilianna, Joffrey Ballet, and the Kirov in their summer intensives. At the age of fourteen she went to The Rock School (the entering school The Pennsylvania Ballet) on scholarship and trained with The Rock for a year and a half. When returning home Anastacia started to teach and coach ballet, as well as competitive jazz and contemporary while obtaining her AA in Art at Riverside Community College. After graduating RCC was accepted into the Dance program at UCI on partial scholarship. Anastacia is now now married with a son but still continues to teach, choreograph, and share her love of dance with her students.

Katrina Killian Following early ballet study in Pennsylvania with Marcia Dale Weary, Ms. Killian began her SAB training with the 1977 Summer Course, and was subsequently enrolled in SAB’s Winter Term from 1979 to 1981. As a student, Ms. Killian participated in the New York City Ballet Education Department’s Lecture Demonstration program, performing pas de deux from Balanchine’s The Four Temperaments and The Nutcracker® for local-area school children under the direction of Suki Schorer. She was chosen by Peter Martins to dance a leading role in his new production of The Magic Flute for SAB’s 1981 Workshop Performances and reprised the role as a new member of New York City Ballet the next year.

Ms. Killian became a member of the New York City Ballet in 1981 and was promoted to Soloist in 1989.

Her repertory included principal roles in Balanchine’s Bourée Fantasque, Divertimento from ‘Le Baiser de la Fée’TarantellaSymphony in CTschaikovsky Suite No. 3Western SymphonyGeorge Balanchine’s The Nutcracker®Union JackSymphony in 3 Movements, and in Jerome Robbins’s Goldberg Variations and The Four Seasons; and Peter Martins’s Eight Easy Pieces and The Sleeping Beauty.

Among the ballets in which she performed soloist parts were Balanchine’s CoppéliaA Midsummer Night’s DreamJewelsScotch SymphonyChaconneTschaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 2The Four TemperamentsLa SonnambulaStars and StripesRaymonda Variations, and La Source.

Ms. Killian originated a principal role in Jerome Robbins’s IvesSongs in 1988.

In 1997, she joined the School of American Ballet as a guest teacher upon retirement from New York City Ballet. She was appointed to the faculty in 1998.

Ms. Killian currently also serves as Ballet Mistress for the New York City Ballet’s Education Department, staging productions featuring SAB’s Intermediate and Advanced students for NYCB’s Ballet Bridges programs, which reach over 2,000 public school children each year.

Larissa Nazarenko is native of Russia, who started her dance training at the age of six in Barnaul, Russia. She continued her dance education through adulthood, graduating from the Altai State Institute of Art in 1995 with a BFA degree in Dance Pedagogy and Choreography. During her undergraduate studies she performed with the Siberia Dance Company, toured in South Asia, and worked as a rehearsal director in the Rosa Fiber Dance Company. In 1996, Nazarenko moved to the U.S. to study modern dance in New York City at the legendary Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance. In 1997, she entered the graduate program at the University of California in Irvine, where she received the Chancellor’s Fellowship earning her MFA degree in Dance with emphasis in choreography.  Upon graduation in 1999, Nazarenko co-founded the Russian Souvenir Dance Company, an 18-member professional company that toured extensively nationally and internationally from 1999 to 2004. In Southern California, the presentation of Nazarenko’s choreography was commissioned in numerous concert halls including Thousand Oaks Civil Center, Schoenberg Auditorium at UCLA, Torrance Cultural Arts Center, Herbert Zipper Concert Hall, Plummer Auditorium, and Robert B.Moore Performing Arts Theatre to name a few. Nazarenko’s extensive teaching experience includes numerous dance programs in Russia and California. In 2006, she was hired as Assistant Professor of Dance at Allan Hancock College in Santa Maria, CA, where she later grew into a department chair for Fine Arts and was appointed Dean of Fine Arts in 2014. Currently, Larissa Nazarenko serves as Dean of Visual and Performing Arts at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa, CA.