Zoe Marinello-Kohn

Zoe Marinello-Kohn is a professional ballet dancer, choreographer, actor, artist, composer and dance instructor. Zoe received her ballet training at the San Francisco Ballet School and the Academy of Ballet in San Francisco. Since then Zoe has worked professionally with the San Diego Ballet, Cincinnati Ballet, Twin Cities Ballet of Minnesota, Elle Vie Dance Company and the Osage Ballet. Zoe is a company member of the San Diego Ballet where she frequently performs in Principle and Soloist roles and is currently in her tenth season with the company. In addition, she serves as the Education and Outreach Programs Manager and Lead Teaching Artist for the San Diego Ballet.

Zoe has choreographed works for the San Diego Ballet, Twin Cities Ballet of Minnesota,the Ignite Choreographers Showcase, the San Diego Dance Theater’s Young Choreographer’s Showcase and Prize, The Synesthesia Dance Experience in Los Angeles and most recently the Journey Through the Senses’; Live Ballet and Piano exploration of Synesthesia in Greystones, Ireland.

During the pandemic Zoe turned to film to continue her work and her dance films have been featured in the Rising Arts Leaders, San Diego Arts Fest 2020 and made the official selection at the Wicklow Screendance Laboratory Festival in Ireland in 2022.  Zoe’s art is inspired by self-exploration and a drive to understand the reaches of consciousness.Her work also reflects relevant occurrences of our time including social, cultural and environmental commentary.

Adult Ballet Intensive

Location: Peninsula School Of Performing Arts
Peninsula Center
700 Silver Spur Road/Bart Earle Rd
Rolling Hills Estates, CA 90274

Geared towards the beginning and intermediate dancer, each day consists of ballet class, pre-pointe activities, a ballet variation class, and conditioning for ballet with the dancers of KWDP.

All students will need to fill out a waiver absolving the studio and KWDP of responsibility should you get injured participating in this physical activity. Please arrive early to fill out necessary paperwork and make payment. Please bring a mat or thick towel to use for dancing conditioning. Class placement is at the discretion of KWDP.

Sample schedule:
1:30-2 Mat Pilates
2-3:45 Technique Class
3:45-4:15 Snack/Break
4:15-4:45 Pre-pointe
4:45 5:30 Variations

Limited availability, reserve your space today. Payment due before class begins. Cash and check preferred. Paypal option available below.

For more information contact ken@kennethwalker

Adult Ballet Intensive payment


Are you a ballet choreographer or company looking to have your work shown? Submit your work by June 12 to have it considered for Balletfest. Balletfest will take place at CSU Dominguez Hills University Theater September 3 at 8pm, with technical rehearsals happening September 2 and 3.

Submit your information here


Carmen updates

Due to ongoing social distancing and an uncertain future for live performances we have decided to postpone our premiere of Carmen until 2021. We are in the process of developing virtual programming in the near future. Please check back for more information.

2018 Q&A with KW

Kenneth recently sat down with a few of the dancers with KWDP for a Q&A session.  Here’s the result. Q: What is the reason you started KWDP?
A: I was looking for an opportunity to work on a more regular basis with some of the people I had been working with on a few freelance projects. There seemed to be a desire from early audiences to see more of what we were doing so we took the plunge.

Q: Which is KWDP longest performed piece?
A: Do you mean the oldest dance in the repertoire? That would be “All that Glitters”. The dancers and the audience both seem to enjoy that one so it stays in the repertoire.

Q: What are the goals KWDP has for future seasons and integration into the dance community and the communities surrounding?
A: We’re always hoping to get back on the road but we want to serve our community first. We’re looking to do more repertory and master classes around town. By around town we mean the greater LA area including Orange County and the Inland Empire. We want to go back and revisit The Ballet Project. It was a festival dedicated to new ballet choreography. All of this takes money and time. We, of course, have the long-term goals of building the rep using masterworks but we just needed to build our fan base and internal repertoire first.

Q: How many tights does KWDP go through in a season?
A: Not as many as you would think. We have a lot of dances that don’t use traditional pink tights.

Q: What made you decide to start a company?
A: We had our first show on the road and we received a standing ovation. The next thought was to do something in LA. We sold out each of our shows. From there it became, “Well I guess we better start a company.”

Q: Where do you teach?
A: I currently teach at The Wooden Floor, it’s an after-school program for at-risk youth in Santa Ana. I also teach Ballet and Dance Appreciation at CSU Dominguez Hills. On top of that, I teach adult ballet at Peninsula School of Performing Arts and San Pedro City Ballet.

Q: What are your favorite classes to teach?
A: I enjoy working with lots of different types of groups. I especially like working with college students that have negative connotations about ballet. The kind of students that have invariably had a bad experience with ballet or had training that was cursory at best. Finding ways for them to enjoy this form and want to know about it is something I hope to do for many of my students. I also like teaching partnering and working with young people in general.

Q: What’s the biggest class you’ve ever taught?
A: I once taught a class that was about 75 students. It was an outreach class given through Oakland Ballet Company. They were working with another arts organization to teach dance to at-risk kids. It was a challenge but we did it and the kids had a great time.

Q: Which ballet was your favorite to perform? Will you ever recreate it through your choreographic kaleidoscope?
A: I enjoyed doing modern masterworks. I never had a great time doing the classics. I was always in the back. I enjoy the way some choreographers have redone work like Giselle, Swan Lake, and even Romeo and Juliet. Will we do the same? Who knows? Nothing is planned because the scope of doing those works in any capacity tends to be rather large.

Q: What was the inspiration for Soft Ambient Pulse?
A: It’s the second collaboration I did with my friend Kena Rohi Custage. She was a professional DJ after she was a professional ballerina. The movement I feel is vintage KWDP, we take the ideals of ballet (line, vocabulary) and tweak them. We take the centuries-old form and show that it can still be relevant to the needs of a modern audience. The dance is inspired by high fashion, the melding of the styles of music in the dance, and our vision of Contemporary Ballet.

Q: How do you choose costumes?
A: I work with the costume designers and explain any concepts I may have. I also share the music and movement we have up to that point if we have any.

Q: What’s a rehearsal day like at KWDP?
A: We start will a shortened company class. Not every company does that. It takes time out of the day we could use for setting choreography but I’ve always felt it was important to get the dancers warm and keep them in shape to do the work. After that we spend time learning the repertoire we’ll be performing or we’ll get to work creating material for any new work we’re doing

Q: In a day, how long are KWDP rehearsals typically?
A: We have a pretty full rehearsal day usually. Company class followed by at least 3-4 hours of rehearsal.

Q: Who are some of your favorite ballet choreographers?
A: I appreciate the classics but to see live dance I generally go seek out modern choreographers like Mats Ek, Alonzo King, Jiri Kylian and others. I’ve been enthralled with Matthew Bourne lately. He’s telling stories better than most ballet companies.

Q: What are some of your inspirations?
A: I’m inspired by the work of other artists and choreographers. Sometimes I’ll just look at another choreographer’s work and think, “I wish I could create work like that.” But I have my own voice that is trying to push ballet forward to the current century. I think cinema inspires my work more than other art forms (except for music). The choreography of light and cinematography and even stunt choreography, when done well, informs me. It’s hard to dance for me, sometimes. I don’t always choreograph linearly. I approach the work the way that film gets made sometimes. I’ll work on different sections they way that a director works on scenes. It’s very confusing for newbies in the company.

Q: What’s happening next season’s performances?
A: We’re hoping to continue our open company class series. We’re also doing our first every story ballet, “Carmen”. There are other things we want to do, but it all depends on time and finances.

Q: How do you choose your dancers?
A: At the beginning of the company it was either people I was already working with or recommendations from dancers in the company. Once dancers started reaching out to us unsolicited we needed to begin asking people to come to take company class to see if there was a fit.

Q: Will KWDP have auditions for Carmen?
A: Yes, we will be holding auditions for Carmen. Keep an eye out for announcements or shoot us an email to get notified personally.

Q: What do you look for in a dancer for KWDP
A: I think we’re looking for excellent movers in either ballet, modern, and/or jazz but more than that I’m looking for inquisitive dancers. Dancers that are looking to do more with their technique than look pretty. We need dancers that will help push me as a choreographer and that are smart. We don’t have as much time as we’d like in the studio so they need to do their homework. They also need to be adaptable to changes in the choreography.

Q: Can you explain your choreography process?
A: I would say that most of the work starts with the music. For most of my career, there was a backlog of “I want to make a dance to this one day.” Even when we work with musical collaborator the music comes first. We talk about music that I enjoy working with or music I’d like to have manipulated or remixed in some way. Once I’m sure about the music we’re going to use for the new dance I listen to that music for hours. Sometimes I’ve already listened to it for hours before I even decide that it’s something I’m for going to create to. Next, I cast the work and we spend time developing material and figuring out what that dance wants to say. During this time there is a lot of editing going on. Sometimes a phrase I’ve created for one section just doesn’t work or fit where we thought it would and I put it in another place where it works better. But these are all generalities. Every dance has it’s own maturation. Some dances in the rep have come about because I wrote a poem that I wanted to see as a dance. Some dances have come about as a specific request from an outside commission that was brought into the company.

My favorite dance

One of my adult students asked what my favorite dance to perform was. I didn’t have many starring roles in my career, but the first dance that came to mind was Con Amore. It’s a dance by Lew Christensen, one of the founding fathers of ballet in the West. It’s a silly dance about Amazons, thieves, and a wife with too many suitors. I was fortunate to play two roles in this dance, the Sailor and the Thief. I received many compliments as the Sailor. Someone even said I reminded them of Gene Kelley (he was my idol, so I was over the moon). The Thief was my first solo outside of The Nutcracker and I’ve I done many solos in The Nutcracker. I loved every second of it from the nerves before the curtain to the post performance talk in the lobby. I’ve been in some great works including Serenade and Allegro Brillante by Balanchine, Double Contrasts and Unknown Territory by Choo-San Goh, and many others, but that one holds a special place for me.

From dancer to choreographer part, 2

From dancer to choreographer, the leap can be made when you seize opportunities, when you overcome your hesitations and when you access your own artistry and creativity.

In the second of this 2-part interview series with Kenneth Walker, we learn that collaborations make a choreographer.

So when did I feel like I was a professional choreographer??

Turns out…pretty quickly.

I was still a student when I started gaining steam as a choreographer. I was asked by my  former colleague Paula Vreulink to come make a dance on her company for a choreography competition she was holding. They had several people adjudicating the event and one of the adjudicators was my first pas de deux teacher, Dan Berney. He recused himself but everyone else deemed the dance worthy of winning winning.  I was shocked and excited.  Maybe I had something to say in the ballet thing, something people wanted to see..

I first started feeling like a professional choreographer when I received one of my first commissions. I had recently left Sacramento Ballet and on a return visit my friend Thomas Bell, told me he would gladly recommend me to a school he worked with which was looking for a choreographer. I met Debbie Jorritsma and begin a long relationship of creating work for Chico Community Ballet and their program Keeping Dance Alive. Around the same time I was also selected to compete in Sarasota Ballet’s choreography competition. I was one of four finalists. The other finalists were Alan Hineline who has done just about everything you can do in ballet, Stephen Mills who is an award winning director of Ballet Austin, and Colin Connor who just became only the third director in the history of the Jose Límon company. I was in way over my head as a twenty-something kid.

I’ve now been doing this choreography thing a long time and I’m still creating, still editing, still putting up new dances. Hopefully I’ll get it right eventually.

By the way, I rarely ever enter competitions anymore. They just seem narrow in scope and focus. George Balanchine never entered a competition.


From Dancer to choreographer, Part 1

From dancer to choreographer, the leap can be made when you seize opportunities, when you overcome your hesitations and when you access your own artistry and creativity.
In this 2-part series, we learn how Kenneth Walker emerged as a choreographer…

Part I – An emerging choreographer.

The running joke is that I started choreographing because I couldn’t learn any of the steps in class, so I’d just make it up as I went along. That’s only partially true. I would often blank out in petite allegro, even though I loved it, and just kinda wing it.

My first choreographic vignettes were done in college at UCLA. Most of my classmates dreaded or hated choreographing, but I didn’t. What I hated was improv – most of my teachers at the time will say it’s because I hated being put on the spot. I don’t remember many of the projects I did but I remember doing a duet to Elvis Costello and I made a solo that turned out being done in silence. I think my training up to that point made me lose my fear because I didn’t know to be afraid or didn’t acknowledge that I was creating “new art”. Most of the dances I appeared in as a young dancer were new. I think my teachers had too much respect to tackle the classics with a small group of student dancers.

My first dance in front of an audience was also at UCLA. My professor let me expand a chair dance I did for an assignment and perform it for prospective students (we all had to get the chair dance out of our system!) It was some bizarre stuff. The background dancers had underwear on their heads and the music was Pink Elephants On Parade from the movie “Dumbo”. It was the Sun Ra version from the “Stay Awake” album. The album was in interpretation of Disney songs from Pop artists.

My first dance performed for the general public was done while I was training at Pasadena Dance Theatre. As part of Regional Dance America, they had an emerging choreographers night and I did a dance that we adjudicated to get on that program. It was accepted and I got hooked on making dances. Years later, “Savage Grace” would be the closing dance of the closing night of performances at RDA and I was proud to complete that circle.

These were all pre-professional flirtings. It’s one thing to do a dance under the auspices of a school or even on other dancers, which is what I continued to do while I danced at Sacramento Ballet. Ron Cunningham the Artistic Director allowed me to continue to do dances for RDA festival adjudications. He even allowed me to begin working on professionals as part of their Beer and Ballet program.

My thoughts on Kenneth Walker Dance Project

We just found this student review from the last time we performed at El Camino College.

“El Camino College Center for the Arts presents Kenneth Walker Dance Project at the Marsee Auditorium. They were celebrating the 10th year anniversary as a company.

My friend and I are taking a online dance class. We have to critique the the performances. I’m not really into style of ballet but their performances were fantastic. I think they did such an amazing job on their costumes, music and most important their dance.”


Read more here:

Ballet classes with Kenneth

Kenneth has ongoing classes

Mondays, 9:30am Peninsula School of Performing Arts, Peninsula Center, 700 Silver Spur Road, Rolling Hills Estates

Wednesdays, 9:30am Peninsula School of Performing Arts, Peninsula Center, 700 Silver Spur Road, Rolling Hills Estates

Friday, 10am San Pedro City Ballet, 1231 S Pacific Ave

Contact us for more details, ken@kennethwalkerdanceproject.org

Classes with Kenneth Walker

Looking to take class from Kenneth? You can take class with him at:

Peninsula School of Performing Arts

Tuesdays/Thursdays, 9:30am
Peninsula Center Studio

700 Silver Spur Road
Suites 106 & 107
Rolling Hills Estates, CA 90274

San Pedro City Ballet

Fridays, 10am

1231 S Pacific Ave, San Pedro, CA 90731

What’s it all about?

I’m often asked what my works are about:

That’s the $50,000 question. What’s the dance about?

There is a deep need and desire to understand what we are witnessing.  We want you to know that your perception of what you saw is as important as what we intended the dance to be.  Your viewpoint is just as valid as the statement in any synopsis that you might read about a dance.  So often with modern art, dance, etc.  we want to be entertained and release our responsibility of understanding to someone else, “Just do it to me”.  In reality we all have a responsibility in the art making process.  We are responsible for bringing our own ideas and sentiments to the process.  You have a greater understanding of art than you realize.  You know what you like and can interpret things without someone telling you what symbols and metaphors mean.  The story you create of the abstract art is just as valuable to your understanding as the one the artist came up with.

Read a rare in-depth interview with the AD

Marisa Johnston a board member for Kenneth Walker Dance Project recently sat down with Kenneth to ask about his start as a choreographer and the start of the company.  The result is this rare in-depth interview.


When you were young, were you surrounded by a family that embraced dance?
Kenneth: I think I was inadvertently surrounded by art when I was young.  I come from a dancing family. They all danced at parties. Plus my aunts and uncles on my mom’s side were involved in local musical theater productions and we went to watch them. My family would take me to the Hollywood Bowl when I was young. I was surrounded by an appreciation for film and a wide-ranging enjoyment of music. From my parents, I got a diverse love of music, which shows up, in the type of dances we make for the company.  From Bugs Bunny I got to hear classical music as a child.

How old were you when you decided you wanted to take dance lessons?
Kenneth: I think I was 11 or 12 when I started to dance. It was all unintentional. My cousin Kim was taking ballet and I would tease her about it. I think one day she had had enough and said something like , “If you think it’s so easy you come done and do it.” Not wanting to look like a wuss, I did.

Was there anything that held you back? Or made you doubt yourself?
Kenneth: In high school I didn’t take enough classes. I wanted what everyone my age wanted.  I wanted to try different things like sports and going to dances and the like. So I would take the fall off and participate in a sport. At first it was football and then once I realized I wasn’t going to progress very far, I switched to cross-country. I was far more successful at that. I don’t recall possessing any doubts about pursuing dance, but I knew there were far more talented guys out there doing it. I had seen them at festivals and summer programs.

What inspired you to start choreographing?
Kenneth: The first pieces I choreographed were part of my classes at UCLA [Kenneth has a B.A. in World Arts & Cultures from UCLA]. I had wanted to do something before then but never got a chance. It didn’t seem like something that required me having to train in or study.  I had seen so many people making dances it just seemed to be a natural thing to do. My first dances were duets and solos and not really dances but more like vignettes. My first group dance was for Pasadena Dance Theatre. I asked if I could make an “emerging” choreographer dance. The music was by Ravel. It was actually a project I started when I was studying for the summer at Pittsburgh Ballet Theater. I remember loving the genre-exploding movement of Gerald Arpino (co-founder of The Joffrey Ballet). That was back when the Joffrey had a second home in Los Angeles. I also saw of a lot of modern dance choreography, which inspired me when I started creating my own dances


What inspired you start your own company?
Kenneth: That was one of those crazy happenings that change the course of your life.  I had been working as a freelance choreographer and I submitted to have my work performed at a festival.  I received a call and they said they wanted me to bring my company.  I, of course, covered the mouthpiece and said to my friend, “Dude we need to get together a company.”  I told the caller, “Sure we would love to come!” Then I hung up and immediately started getting in touch with everyone I knew who might be available to see if they wanted to join in! As it turns out, the audience was so receptive we decided to try it in Los Angeles to see how we would fare.  The following year we sold out our performances and we have been chasing that high ever since!

Do you model your career or your artistry or your path on anyone?
Kenneth: At this point in the arc of our company I don’t think we can say were are mimicking anyone.  We are a single choreographer company but I don’t think any other single choreographer has the diverse repertoire we do.  We’ve been called not contemporary enough, too pandering, etc.  But there will always be critics. I’m committed and my dancers are committed to the style we have created.

This is what I know.  We have a voice.  We have dances of great emotional depth, we have dances that are just fluff but damn, they are fun and have a sense of humor that is not easily replicated in modern ballet! We have esoteric modern dances. We have dances that resonate with many and some that resonate with only a few but we are who we are and we are always trying to give the audience a damn good show.


Who or what told you “no?” at any point in your career?
Kenneth: “No” is something every dancer experiences.  You hear “no” more than “yes.”  Every audition is an opportunity to hear “no” and yet affirm to yourself that their “no” isn’t a statement against you.  It is also a moment to assess what you are doing and to see if there is room for improvement.  When I was working as just a freelancer, I would send out my reel to dozens of companies.  More often than not I got no response.  Sometimes I would get “you’re talented, but we can’t bring you in.” I even tried to get into those big choreography workshops that NYCB sponsored, but no dice.  So while there some words of encouragement most voices were silent.

Did you have a mentor?  Someone who told you or showed you that you could have what you want? 
Kenneth: Yes and no.  I always thought a mentor was someone who took you under their wing and showed you the ropes.  No one did that for me.  I did study how my directors managed people and their companies.  I was studying for the day I’d have to do the same.

Ronn Guidi, the founder of Oakland Ballet was almost a mentor that way.  He was someone who forged “a little company that could” in the shadow of San Francisco Ballet.  He would advise me on how to treat the people that worked for me.  He would dust off old choreography just for me and would almost treat me like an equal.  I still send him videos of our choreography sometimes.

I talk to Mr. Alonzo King [founder of Alonzo King LINES Ballet] from time to time.  He is not a touchy feely mentor.  He challenges me.  He has always challenged me.  He pushes me to not stifle the dancers with my demands and to always be honest with the work.

In choosing to start KWDP and dedicate yourself to creating new ballets, what did you want to achieve?
Kenneth: I’ve made dances for individual dancers, I’ve made dances to music that I loved, I’ve made dances that I felt were an reflection of the emotional psyche of society.  Throughout it all I’ve wanted to make dances that reflect my wide-ranging tastes that were distinct from each other, that either challenged the dancer or made them love dancing.  That love of dancing is so important for dancers.  Without it we feel stilted and without a voice.

You can make the difference!

KWDP has embarked on an incredible journey, to create our largest and most ambitious work to date, a re-imagining of  Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons.This ballet is being created because of the incredible artists of KWDP. The company members get the remarkable experience of having a new work created on them. There is almost nothing more exciting for an artist!

KWDP can’t wait to perform The Seasons for you this summer at our annual performance. Be a part of the process! By contributing, YOU are creating a new ballet!

Our version will be the biggest ballet we’ve ever created.  This foray is our largest expenditure in time and energy in creating a work of art. When we complete the dance we will have completed a new way of visioning contemporary ballet.
Our artists are being challenged with learning four times the amount of choreography we normally tackle and our designers will be creating four times the amount of lighting and costume designs for our new project.

You can contribute via mail by sending us a check to Kenneth Walker Dance Project, PO Box 41, Lomita, CA 90717 or donating quickly and painlessly via our Indiegogo campaign.Gia Calhoun rehearsing for "The Seasons"

Other ways you can help

Share this campaign with your social network to help make this vision come true.  Buy a ticket early to help us sell-out this amazing venture.
Tell a friend to join you at this performance.


When will you see this new work?

We can’t wait to premiere it for you August 13 and 14 at the Martha Knoebel Dance Theater in Long Beach! Tickets go on sale soon!

Suburban Symphony

Saturday, April 23rd / 8PM  
Motion Flux Scholarship Benefit Concert presented Moorpark College Music & Dance Department.  Come catch KWDP dancers Tracy Jones and Nathan Ortiz performing the opening duet of Suburban Symphony.

 Location:  Performing Arts Center, Moorpark College, 7075 Campus Road, Moorpark, CA / CLICK HERE to purchase TICKETS or call Box Office 805) 378.1485  ($16 Adults, $9 Students, Seniors, Staff)

>all concert proceeds to benefit MC Dance Scholarship Fund<

Winter Intensive

Come dance with KWDP for the holidays!

Hosted by CSU, Dominguez Hills Dance Department

December 21, 2015

1000 E. Victoria Street, Carson, CA 90747

Dance Room A-102 inside the gym.


Kenneth Walker Dance Project is doing its first ever Dance Intensive.  Come study with Kenneth and the artists of KWDP in Ballet, Modern, and more.


$60 for the day or $16 per class


Floor warm up  11-12

Modern 12-1:30

Lunch 1:30-2:30

Ballet 2:30-4

Repertory 4-5


For more information contact us at ken@kennethwalkerdanceproject.org

December News

December 15, we are performing in Temecula.  The company will be performing at Old Town Temecula Community Theater.  Tickets are only $5 and you get to see this up and coming company in Hum and the solo Tuesday.

Come study with KWDP this December!  Kenneth Walker Dance Project will be conducting its first ever Winter Intensive December 21.  This event will be hosted by CSU, Dominguez Dance Department.  Take classes in Ballet, Modern, Repertory, and more from the artists of Kenneth Walker Dance Project.

KWDP comes to Ventura

Kenneth Walker Dance Project will be performing Hum and Soft Ambient Pulse as the guests of Moorpark College Dance Department April 23-26.  KWDP continues to expand its sphere of influence and is thrilled to perform for the students of Moorpark College. Tickets are $15 and available from Moorpark College Center for the Performing Arts.

MTC -New Works Project 2014


“Spring, choreographed by Kenneth Walker II with music by Vivaldi and Max Richter was both literally and figuratively a splash of light and color upon the stage. Unified intricate hand gestures, technical balletic lines/movements combined with the dancers’ radiant smiles and fiery attire make this piece sear into the memory.”

Read more

Movement Theatre CoLab Summer Intensive

Come to Dance Creations and enjoy a couple weeks of dance master classes with such notable teachers and choreographers: Wendi Baity, Ken Datugan, Beth Megill, Kenneth Walker II and more.

Kenneth will be teaching ballet and creating new material at the Movement Theatre CoLab Summer Intensive in Simi Valley  June 26th and July 3.  Classes are open on a drop-in basis.  Contact us at ken@kennethwalkerdanceproject or Movement Theatre CoLab for more information.

Dance History Project of Southern California

The Dance History Project’s goal is to observe and preserve the history of dance making and performing in Southern California. The focus is on those events and artists, past and present, whose work has been important to the field of live professional dance in Southern California. It includes the contributions of dancers, companies, educators, presenters, artistic collaborators, historians, and critics.

Kenneth Walker and Kenneth Walker Dance Project have been added to this roster showing the company’s importance to the advancement of ballet and dance in Southern California.

To view Kenneth’s and the company’s entries click the links below to head over to the Dance History Project.

Kenneth Walker

Kenneth Walker Dance Project



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Tickets now onsale

Tickets are now onsale for our August 10, 2013 show.

Kenneth Walker Dance Project presents Trajectorie Martha B. Knoebel Dance Theatre at 7:30PM.

Trajectorie will feature world premieres, company premieres, and the return to repertoire of audience favorites.

The dance “Savage Grace” will make its company premiere. Savage Grace was commissioned by South Bay Ballet and was the closing ballet at the Regional Dance America dance conference when it was performed. This highly regarded dance is finally making its way into our rep with the help of the Los Angeles County Arts Council which is supporting the season in part and our performers who are coming to us from companies such as South Bay Ballet, Utah Regional Ballet, and Boston Ballet.

KWDP is also world premiering a new ballet with new music co-produced by Robert Malone and Kena Raquel Rohi Custage (the composer of the music for our dance Focus on the Middle Distance.

Are you ready for a little winter in August? We are doing a contemporary version of the Snow Scene from “The Nutcracker”. We call it Snow Day. Don’t worry this version will bring a smile to your face.

The program will also include the return of the dance Gate with music by Mario Salvucci, Hum music by former KWDP dancer Candice Glass Davis, and Purgatory.

Student and senior tickets available at the door. To purchase student/senior tickets early contact us. To purchase group tickets for groups larger than 7 please contact us.

Donate to the new ballet

indiegogo2Come help us raise funds for the newest ballet.  KWDP is creating a new ballet with costumes by Michael Pacciorini, music by Kena Rohi Custage (the composer of Focus on the Middle Distance), and choreography by Kenneth Walker.  Your donations will help make the newest work happen.

Amber Ajluni

AmberAmber began her training at Ballet San Jose with Donna Delcini, Lise LaCour, and Dalia Rawson, where she danced in various school and company performances. In Southern California she has danced for Anaheim Ballet, performing in the works of Laurence and Sarma Rosenberg, including The Nutcracker, The Awakening of the Flora, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. She has also danced with Santa Monica Contemporary Ballet. This is her second season with Kenneth Walker Dance Project and her repertoire includes Groove Juice and Focus on the Middle Distance.

Meet our other dancers:

Dominika Pietrzyk

Dominika Pietrzyk began her dance training at Steps in Rodeo, CA at the age of 3. At age 13, she decided to pursuit a professional ballet career. She joined Western Ballet where she trained under Eric Bourman, Alexi Zubiria, Linda Rickert, and Kai Davis. Here, she performed in many ballets, such as The Nutcracker, Swan Lake, Don Quixote, Sleeping Beauty, as well as many original works by Yanis Pikieris. Dominika furthered her studies by attending summer sessions at American Ballet Theater, Alabama, City Ballet of San Diego, and Western Ballet. Currently, she is a Dance major with an Accounting minor at the University of California, Irvine. This is her first season with KWDP.


Meet our other dancers:

Yelena Zerkovska

Ms. Yelena Zerkovska began studying ballet and character dancing in Ukraine at the age of six. After moving to America at the age of 12, she continued extensive studies and intense training in ballet. Her pursuit for excellence led her to the University of the North Carolina School of the Arts, where she majored in dance and received her Bachelor Degree of Fine Arts.

Trained primarily in Russian Method, Ms. Zerkovska has invested herself into studying Balanchine and RAD styles of technique, as well as contemporary, jazz, modern and pilates.  She has performed experts from many classical and neo-classical ballets including: Swan Lake, Raymonda,   Nutracker, Paquita, Don Quixote, La Bayadere, Sleeping Beauty and Who Cares? She is currently a guest artist for the California Riverside Ballet Company and a company member of the Pasadena Dance Theater.  This is her first season with KWDP.


Ms. Zerkovska is also a very passionate and dedicated teacher, capable of delivering the utmost amount of energy and individual attention to each of her students regardless of their age or level of training.

Meet our other dancers:

Master Class

We have huge news for us!  June 22, 2013 from 3-5:15pm in the rehearsal halls of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion at the Music Center of Los Angeles we will be having a master class taught by Arturo Fernandez, Ballet Master for the World Famous Alonzo King LINES Ballet.  A native of California, Mr. Fernandez has choreographed for James Sewell Ballet, Inland Pacific Ballet, among others.   For more than two decades he has been an integral and part of Alonzo King LINES Dance Center.  He has staged Mr. King’s work world -wide, most notably for the Royal Swedish Ballet.  His complete biography is available at LINES Ballet.

To attend you have to be preregistered and prepaid. To pay simply purchase an event ticket at Brown Paper Tickets.
We’ll need your address to keep you posted on location updates and the like.


Not a dancer?  You can donate the registration for one of KWDP’s dancers to attend this rare event.  Donations will be processed through PayPal.  A PayPal account is not necessary to make a donation.


Upcoming Performances

KWDP is back at the Pasadena Dance Festival.  We are performing our latest work, Soft Ambient Pulse, on February 16 at Lineage Performing Arts Center at 7pm.  For tickets visit, http://lineagedance.org/festival/feb-16/

KWDP as shot by Rey Leal

Catch a glimpse of this beautiful black and white photo set by Rey.

Michael Pacciorini

Michael Pacciorini, Costume Designer

As both an educational and professional designer, Michael’s award-winning work including Film, Television and Dance has been seen throughout California, Texas, Illinois, and Washington. Local credits include: South Coast Repertory, Laguna Playhouse, West Coast Ensemble, California Repertory Company, Long Beach Playhouse, International City Theatre, Ballet Pacifica, Alternative Repertory Theatre, Tiffany Theatre, and the Los Angeles Theatre Center.

Additionally, he has worked as a consulting Designer for such companies as Six Flags in California, Texas and Illinois, Disney in Japan and Sea World in California and Texas. Designs for KWDP include: Before the Verge, A Little Mozart, Drift, Ease of Euphoria, Flesh and Blood, and Focus on the Middle Distance.

Steve Ellis

Steve Ellis, Lighting Designer is the Technical director for
Laxson Auditorium, California State University, Chico. He has worked with
Bella Lewitzky, Chico Community Ballet, and Kenneth Walker on several
projects. He has created lighting for each ballet of Kenneth’s Chico Community Ballet has in their repertoire. This is his fourth season lighting for KWDP.

What: Kenneth Walker Dance Project presents its Annual Home Show

Why: Kenneth Walker Dance Project presents annual show: “Salami Tactics” Read more

Alumni Stories

Kenneth was just interviewed by UCLA’s alumni department. Read about his decision to start KWDP and his favorite day at UCLA.

New Photos

We have lots of new photos on our Facebook page for you to enjoy. One set is from a photo shoot with dance photographer Paul Antico. The remaining new photos were taken at the dress rehearsal for the show Little by Little, AKA Poco a Poco.

KWDP presents: Little by little, AKA Poco a Poco

LOS ANGELES, CA:  July 5, 2011— Kenneth Walker Dance Project (KWDP), a contemporary ballet company, premieres new work along with audience favorites for the seventh season in a row in an evening entitled “Little by Little, AKA Poco a Poco” one night only on Saturday, August 13, 2011, 7:30 pm at Martha B. Knoebel Dance Theatre, California State University Long Beach, 6200 East Atherton, Street, Long Beach CA 90840. Tickets are $13 presale, $18 at the door, $10 for students/seniors/DRC Members. All purchases at the door are cash/check only. DRC, student, and senior tickets, please contact us for a discount code at ken@kennethwalkerdanceproject.org. Tickets are available at www.kennethwalkerdanceproject.org/tickets. Read more


Kenneth Walker Dance Project is pleased to announce its 2012 and 2012 seasons are supported in part by a grant from the Los Angeles County Arts Council.
Read more

Experience KWDP

While there’s no better way to experience Kenneth Walker Dance Project than to attend a live performance, we invite you to browse quotes from many of the dance community’s most respected professionals and critics. We are delighted to share with you here a selection of what others are saying about Kenneth Walker’s choreography. Read more

Pay Our Rent Party!

Let’s Party!

June 25 from 6:30pm-9:30pm at the home of one our fantastic board members, we will be hosting one of our famous pay our rent cocktail parties. This is a great opportunity to meet the dancers, talk to fellow patrons, and show your support for the company. We’re suggesting a donation of $11 to help fund programming for our 2012 season. We will be making a special announcement at the party, so don’t miss it. We ask that you RSVP at ken@kennethwalkerdanceproject to receive the address.

Martha B. Knoebel Dance Theater

The Martha B. Knoebel Dance Theater is located on the south side of Atherton Street, between Meriam Way and Palo Verde Avenue. The building itself is located between the Carpenter Center and the Pyramid. Parking is available in lots #12 and #13, on the East and West sides of the building. There is some street parking.

Audience Comments

It was great!
…this is so wonderful. You are great! Absolutely amazing!!
Variety + very enjoyable
Very great show a lot of fun.
Read more

Our Mission

Kenneth Walker Dance Project is a contemporary ballet company dedicated to the expression of the modern condition through the lens of the classical vocabulary.

Read more

Donate to KWDP

Every gift counts. Whether large or small, monetary or in-kind, your tax-deductable contribution ensures the survival of KWDP in our community. Read more

Kenneth Walker, Artistic Director

Kenneth Walker

Kenneth Walker is Artistic Director of Kenneth Walker Dance Project (KWDP) and a 2007 Lester Horton Dance Awards Nominee for Outstanding Performance by a Company for its program, Sheer Force of Will. Read more

Nichole Beeks

Nichole Beeks was born and raised in Long Beach California. She attended the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts where she trained in ballet, modern, jazz, lyrical and contemporary dance as well as musical theatre and film. Read more

Diane Cheeseman

Diane Chesseman began dancing at age three in a Los Angeles preschool.   She continued her training around the country including the Kirov Academy in Washington D.C., International School of Classical Ballet in Seattle, Washington and The Ailey School and Broadway Dance Center in New York City. Read more

Gia Calhoun

Gia Calhoun trained at California Dance Theatre under the direction of Kim Maselli, Stanley Holden, and Charles Maple. She attended summer programs at the Joffrey Ballet School, on scholarship, North Carolina School of the Arts, American Ballet Theatre, and Ballet Ostrava Workshop in the Czech Republic. Read more

Candice Davis

Candice Davis trained at Anna Cheselka School of Ballet in Studio City, California, under principal dancers from Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, American Ballet Theatre, and Joffrey Ballet, and with Read more

Kara Fioretti

Kara Fioretti began training in San Antonio, Texas with the Creative Arts Theater School and has performed with many companies including Ballet West, Media City Ballet, The Blakenship Ballet Company, and in ballets such as Read more

Felicia Guzman

Felicia Guzman was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas where she trained at the Vladimir Marek Ballet Academy under Vladimir Marek and Nancy Smith. After receiving a Bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering Read more

Elijah S. Pressman

Elijah Pressman was recently appointed as the new Assistant Artistic Director at South Ballet where he has served many years as Ballet Master and principal dancer.trained at Lauridsen Ballet Centre in Torrance, California. Elijah’s repertoire includes ballets by Robert Kelley, Laurence Blake, Jon Cristofori, Kenneth Walker, William Whitener, Read more

Laura Mauldin

Laura Smith Mauldin, born and raised in Thousand Oaks, Calif. began figure skating at the age of four and dancing ballet at the age of six. During a thirteen-year competitive skating career which took Laura and her brother/partner all over the U.S. and to Europe for competitions, Read more

Missy Moore

Missy Moore was born and raised in Southern California and has trained in Ballet, Jazz, Modern, Tap and Contemporary.  At the age of 5, she began her training at the Daria Bearden Dance Studio and soon after joined their travelling song and dance company.  In high school she studied under Kristen Olsen Potts Read more

Jeanine Ryan

Jeanine Ryan began her ballet training with the Chico Community Ballet under Deborah Jorritsma and Catherine Sullivan-Sturgeon. During this time, she performed various roles including Titania in Balanchine’s Read more

Grace Tiangco

Grace Tiangco was born and raised in Davis, California where she started training at the age of 5 at Applegate Dance Studio under Lisa Applegate and was a member of the company for 6 years. She performed in several roles for ballets such as Firebird, Les Sylphides, Cinderella, and Sleeping Beauty Read more

Special Thanks…

To Google, the City of Long Beach, and Arts Council for Long Beach for their generous continued support.  Without their support and yours, KWDP could not continue our mission.


For a quick glimpse of the work that we do, check out Kenneth Walker Dance Project’s reel.

VIDEO: “Gate” (January, 2009)

Set to the avant-garde music of Italian composer, Mario Salvucci, Gate is one of the newest works by choreographer Kenneth Walker.

Patronizing and Supporting Dance

The climate that art lives in is a difficult one at best. For years we’ve all dealt with repeated cuts in arts funding for our artists and for arts education by our government. I think it is safe to assume that this course will not be altered soon by either political party. Our European counterparts Read more

Kenneth Walker Dance Project 4th Season Premieres in San Pedro

LOS ANGELES, CA: July 25, 2008 – Kenneth Walker Dance Project (KWDP), a contemporary ballet company and Lester Horton Award nominee, based in Southern California, premieres new works along with audience favorites for the fourth season in a row. Read more

Kenneth Walker Dance Project premieres new works in Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES, CA: July 7, 2008 – Kenneth Walker Dance Project (KWDP), a contemporary ballet company and Lester Horton Award nominee, based in Southern California, premieres new works along with audience favorites for the fourth season in a row Read more

Kenneth Walker Dance Project nominated for Lester Horton Award

LOS ANGELES, CA: March 1, 2008 – Kenneth Walker Dance Project (KWDP), a contemporary ballet company based in southern California has been nominated for the prestigious Lester Horton Dance Awards for Outstanding Achievement in Performance by a Company Read more

Kenneth Walker Dance Project appears in New York City

LOS ANGELES , CA : August 7th, 2007 – Kenneth Walker Dance Project (KWDP), a contemporary ballet company based in Southern California has been selected by the American Dance Guild to perform Focus on the Middle Distance, Thursday September 6th, 2007, 8:00 pm, Read more

Kenneth Walker Dance Project Premieres “Sheer Force of Will”

LOS ANGELES, CA: July 30th, 2007 – Kenneth Walker Dance Project (KWDP), a contemporary ballet company based in Southern California, premieres new works in Los Angeles on Friday, August 31st and Saturday, September 1st, both at 8:00 pm at the Diavolo Dance Space, Read more

Kenneth Walker Dance Project returns to Piccolo Spoleto for a 2nd season

LOS ANGELES, CA: May 14, 2007 – Kenneth Walker Dance Project (KWDP), a contemporary ballet company based in Southern California, returns to the prestigious Piccolo Spoleto festival in Charleston, South Carolina for the second time in as many years. Read more

Kenneth Walker Dance Project Showcases Highlights at a Gala Performance

LOS ANGELES, CA: January 1, 2007 – Kenneth Walker Dance Project, a contemporary ballet company based in Southern California, kicks off its 3rd season with a Gala performance. Experience highlights of the company’s best solos and duets including Someday, Maybe, Forever Read more

Kenneth Walker Dance Project premieres new works for a second season

LOS ANGELES, CA: July 5, 2006 – Kenneth Walker Dance Project (KWDP), a contemporary ballet company based in Southern California, concludes their first national tour by performing at home to present a full evening including the audience favorite Groove Juice and the return of Flesh and Blood at Alva’s Performing Arts Gallery in San Pedro. Read more