Cassidy Stoker is a native of Baltimore, Maryland. She began her classical ballet training at the age of 6 under the direction of Laura Gurdus Dolid of the Sudbrook Arts Centre and the Peabody Institute. Pre-professionally, Cassidy trained with Ballet Internationale & Indianapolis Ballet under the guidance of Eldar Aliev and later received a scholarship to attend the summer dance intensive at The Juilliard School in New York. Upon high-school graduation from Carver Center for the Arts as a Dance Major, she accepted a scholarship to attend the Conservatory of Dance at SUNY Purchase, where she received her Bachelor of Fine Arts.
While there, Cassidy received extensive training under several former principal dancers of American Ballet Theater, New York City Ballet, and Martha Graham Dance Company among others. Cassidy had the privilege of performing original works of choreographers such as Nicolo Fonte (Accidental Signals), Asun Noales (The Five), Jacqulyn Buglisi (Suspended Women) and Takehiro Ueyama (One). Her most beloved performance at SUNY Purchase was William Carter’s Bach Concerto, which was a welcome challenge for Cassidy. It is a piece which includes both Allegro and Adagio sections originally created for Gelsey Kirkland and requires an acute sense of musicality, technicality, and artistry.
Cassidy’s professional career began in her junior year at SUNY Purchase while completing her degree. She had the honor and privilege of working under the direction of Kazuko Hirabayashi in her original full- length production of Faust, which premiered in Mexico City, Mexico. She was also granted the opportunity of performing with Take (Tahkeh) Dance Company at the International Choreographic Competition in Spain as well as a company residency at Kaatsbaan, New York. During her final semester, she was invited to perform George Balanchine’s Western Symphony as an apprentice with Tulsa Ballet Theater. Upon graduation, Cassidy accepted a position with Tania Pérez–Salas Compañía de Danza in Mexico City, Mexico, where she enjoyed several international tours with the company.
Cassidy continued as a traveling solo artist during which time she discovered her passion and success as a teacher. She eventually retired and found herself in Wyoming, where she became the Artistic Director of Ballet at the Lander Dance Academy. Later, she moved to San Francisco and joined the ballet faculty at Tiffany’s Dance Academy and Thrive Dance Experience. Many of Cassidy’s students have earned scholarships to renowned summer and year-round programs such as Arts Umbrella, Colorado Ballet, Hubbard Street, Kirov Academy, Miami City Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, and other notable programs.
Cassidy’s primary goal as a classical ballet instructor is to assist her students with the development of physical strength, self-discipline, and passion to apply classical ballet technique correctly. Although her classes include traces of Vaganova and Cecchetti methods of ballet technique, they are rooted in the American (Balanchine) method. She makes it a point to speak about the variances of methods and often encourages her students to feel the difference for themselves. When her class is learning something new, it is not uncommon for Cassidy to deliver simple exercises to ensure goals are attained. As her students advance, she begins to challenge their artistry and versatility. Cassidy’s exercises tend to be dynamic in pattern and musicality, which equip her students with the ability to think quickly and to be prepared for varying qualities of movement.
“My goal is to assist in strengthening my students’ unique quality of movement and to challenge them to be well-rounded and well-prepared artists and athletes.” -Cassidy Rae Stoker