The Black Diamond Ballet Theatre was created in 2009 by founders Michael Lowe and Sharon Sobel Idul upon realizing the need for a professional ballet company in East Contra Costa County. BDBT is the first professional ballet company to proudly call the historic Pittsburg Creative Arts Building home. In 2009, the company debuted with its rendition of the Nutcracker, followed by Lowe’s excerpts from Romeo and Juliet in May 2010. 

In 2012, after a 2-year hiatus for theater renovations, Idul returned as Artistic Director, and BDBT took to the stage once again in the beautifully transformed 1,850-seat theater, in its full-length production of the Nutcracker. The show features professional dancers from Pittsburg to the South Bay, across North America to Europe, accompanied by nearly 20 locally trained student ballet trainees. 

The Black Diamond Ballet Theatre remains dedicated to the community through its outreach programs with local elementary schools, public appearances, fundraising events, and our local retirement and senior communities.


Sharon Sobel Idul, Artistic Director


Sharon Sobel Idul, a Pittsburg native, began her ballet training at age 3 through the City of Pittsburg. She then studied under Helga Ishikata at Delta Ballet Academy from age 7 to 18. Sharon joined Delta Children's Ballet Theatre in 1992 and performed in principal roles of The Little Match Girl, Enchanted Toy Shoppe, Peter and the Wolf, and Bolero. Sharon was the recipient of the 2004 Jason Robins Dance Scholarship and holds a degree in Dance from Cal State University, Long Beach, where she studied under accomplished dance educators and choreographers Sophie Monat, Alaine Haubert, Keith Johnson, Sharon McKinney, Douglas Neilson, and many other guest instructors. During her time at CSU-Long Beach, she performed original ballet pieces, as well as historical ballets such as Balanchine’s Serenade and Petipa’s Les Slyphides, while dancing with Peninsula Ballet Theatre during visits to the Bay Area.

Sharon is the owner of Delta Ballet Academy. In 2008 debuted as Artistic Director of Delta Children’s Ballet Theatre with the premiere of Peter Pan. She has since served as President of the Pittsburg Creative Arts Building Corporation, dedicated to restoring the historic theater, and has become an active member of the Soroptimist International of Pittsburg. Sharon is committed to the giving back to a community that has given her so much throughout the years and is thrilled to return as Artistic Director for the Nutcracker!




2013 Cast

Michelle Ellis

Michelle was born in Manhattan, New York and later relocated to California where she began her initial training.  She graduated from Nutmeg Conservatory’s post-high school program where she performed lead roles such as the Pas de Deux from Swan Lake and Grands Pas De Deux from the Nutcracker. 

After graduating, Michelle became a trainee at Ballet Austin exploring Steven Mills choreography and having the opportunity to perform with the company.  Michelle then joined City Ballet of San Diego, performing classical, contemporary, and Neo-Classical works such as George Balanchine's Serenade. 

In the Bay Area, Michelle has worked with Laura Bernasconi, Napoles Ballet, and Sarah Berges Dance Company. She has guested with Santa Clara Ballet and SFYB during the Nutcracker season. Recently, she has performed at Yoshi's SF with Freddy Clarke. Currently, Michelle is working for Dance Theater of San Francisco performing works by Sandrine Cassini and Lisa Dusich. Michelle has also had the opportunity to perform with Capacitor and SBD this season. Michelle is looking forward to the Nutcracker season with Black Diamond Ballet.

Talia Fallis

Talia Fallis began her training in classical ballet at the age of two.  Growing up, she danced at a local dance school in Livermore where she danced several lead roles in ballets including Giselle, Beauty and the Beast, and Coppelia. Here she also began teaching and is now a ballet director at Vineyard Ballet Academy in Pleasanton.  Later, she danced with Anastasis Ballet Company for two years and is excited to be dancing with Black Diamond Ballet Theatre this season.

Tenaya Fallis

Tenaya Fallis has lived her entire life in Northern California.  She began taking ballet lessons at a very young age and has performed in a wide variety of ballets.  Most recently, she has been a part of productions of Messiah, Testimony, and The Prayer with Anastasis Ballet Company.  Tenaya has also taught ballet for several years in Livermore.  This summer, she and her sister opened a ballet studio in Pleasanton where she continues to teach and choreograph.  Tenaya is very excited to be a part of Black Diamond Ballet Theatre's Nutcracker this year.

Sarah Hernandez

Sarah has been dancing since she was 4 years of age, beginning with the Delta Childrens' Ballet Theatre where her roles included the Little Matchgirl (The Little Matchgirl), Bird (Peter and the Wolf), Ugly Duckling (The Ugly Duckling), Cinderella (The Fractured Fairy Tales) and Queen (The Enchanted Toyshop).  From 2000-2003 and in 2006, she danced for Oakland Ballet under the direction of Ronn Guidi.  In OBC's yearly productions of The Nutcracker, she has been cast in the roles of Marie and Louise, as well as a Snowflake, Flower, and in Spanish Chocolate.  Other productions by Oakland Ballet in which Sarah has performed include “The Secret Garden”, “Les Biches” and “Hansel and Gretel”.

Sarah has also used her talent and love of working with children to teach dance (ballet, jazz, tap and lyrical/contemporary) for 7 years.  She has taught at Rivertown Dance Academy and Step-2-This Dance and Performing Arts, and her students have been included on several competition teams.

Her choreography credits include Clayton Valley High School's production of "Suessical" (2006); Mountain View's Talent Show production of "Karaoke Shrek Style!" (2007); Silverwood Elementary's production of "California Bound: A Fourth Grade Musical" (2008) and Highlands Elementary Talent Show "Rock On Highlands" (2008).

Throughout her career, Sarah has competed in and won numerous titles and scholarships in Northern California.  Currently, she is dancing for COterie under the direction of Kimberly Valmore and the Black Diamond Ballet Theatre.  When not up on her toes, Sarah is a teacher's assistant at Silverwood Elementary School in Concord, CA, as well as a student at Cal State East Bay where she is pursuing her degree in psychology.

She cannot wait to see what is in store for her next!

Andrea Herrera

Andrea was born in San Francisco, CA and grew up in the east bay area where she began dancing at the age of nine. She began her training in mainly classical ballet, which she loved early on, with Helen Piernik, Helga Ishikata, Michael Lowe, and Alexei Badrak at Delta Ballet Academy in Antioch. She has attended summer workshops at DBA, Moving Arts Dance, and Deane Dance Center and has been awarded distinguished honors and overall high scores at numerous dance competitions.

Kevin Hockenberry

Kevin Hockenberry is a director, dance educator, performer, and a choreographer. In 2012 he became a founding member of Emote Dance Theater and is the current director of the nonprofit. Performing experiences include Menlowe Ballet, Mudita Arts for Peace, Company C Contemporary Ballet, Nevada Ballet Theatre, Nashville Ballet, Nashville In Motion, Ballet Austin, as well as guest appearances with Ballet Repertory Theatre, Ballet Lubbock and the Texas Tech University Opera. Kevin has had the opportunity to perform works by choreographers such as Twyla Tharp, George Balanchine, Thaddeus Davis, Jodi Gates, Maurice Causey, Viktor Kabaniaev, and many others. As a dance educator his experiences have taken him to schools throughout the country in Pennsylvania, Texas, Nevada, New Mexico and California. His dance training comes from institutions such as Ballet Lubbock, University of Utah, Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, Ballet Academy East, and Elite Ballet.

Jennifer Kauer

Jennifer began dancing when she was seven years old in Charlotte, North Carolina. She started training in classical ballet, and immediately fell in love. She began her training with teachers such as Amanda Sheppard, Helen Piernik, Helga Ishikata, and Michael Lowe. After moving to Sacramento, she trained under Allyson Deane, Barbara Crockett, Richard Shi, and Jennifer Zmuda. She branched out from ballet and trained in jazz, contemporary, hip-hop, and lyrical. Jennifer has placed and received high scores at many competitions; and she has worked with both Sacramento Ballet, as well as Moscow Ballet for their Nutcracker shows. She is very excited to be working with the Black Diamond Ballet Theatre this year for the Nutcracker.

Ricky Navarro

Ricky Navarro, was born in Pittsburg and trained at dance schools all over Contra Costa County, including Delta Ballet Academy.  He later attended the California Academy of Performing Arts under the Direction of Joan Robinson, where he studied Ballet, Jazz and Lyrical, and Tap.  While at the California Academy of Performing Arts he participated in several competitions and was awarded many high honors and titles.

In later years he attended San Francisco Ballet School and studied under some of the world’s best ballet Masters and Mistresses, Lola de Avila, Ricardo Bustamante and Gloria Govrin, primarily in classical ballet, with an emphasis on Balanchine’s stylistic technique.  Following his many years of training at SF Ballet, he joined and danced with the Company for 4 years.  As a company member he performed beautiful ballet pieces such as Helgi Tomasson’s Romeo and Juliet, Balanchine’s Donizeti and Stars and Stripes

Mr. Navarro is currently on faculty at Delta Ballet Academy where he teaches classical ballet, lyrical, and jazz.  He has also coached competition dancers of Delta Ballet to award winning honors. He currently dances with Black Diamond Ballet Theatre

Mary Wilson

Mary Wilson is from Canoga Park, CA and graduated from California State University, Long Beach with a BFA in Dance in 2006, where she worked with the following choreographers: Sophie Monat, Keith Johnson, Andy Vaca, Susan McLain, and Lorin Johnson. In June of 2010, Mary received her Master of Arts in Education and Secondary Teaching Credential in Physical Education from Loyola Marymount University.

Mary has been dancing since the age of 2, has performed in various musicals through Golden Performing Arts Center, and studied under Patrick Frantz at Rozann Zimmerman Ballet Center. She is currently dancing and choreographing for La Danserie, a contemporary ballet company in the San Fernando Valley.

Mary is a dance teacher and coach at Bishop Alemany High School. She is thrilled to perform with Black Diamond Ballet Theatre. She wants to thank her family for their constant love and support.

Jeff Gibson, Community Adult Performer

Christine Carpio, Student Trainee

Celine Galang, Student Trainee

Natalia Hernandez, Student Trainee

Raquel Herrera, Student Trainee

Katja Louie, Student Trainee

Emily Mendoza, Student Trainee

Marissa Samayoa, Student Trainee

Anisa Stanton, Student Trainee

Darius Travella, Student Trainee



Black Diamond Ballet Theatre

(925) 754-9833

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