LICSB students learn the value of hard work, attention to detail, experience the pride of accomplishment and the joy of performing.
Founder and Artistic Director of LICSB
Eric Ragan has danced professionally for over 30 years. Early in his career he studied with Flemming Flindt at Dallas Ballet in the Bournonville style. He also worked with Natasha Krassovska from the Ballet Russe.
In 1989, Eric was selected by Frederic Franklin of the Ballet Russe to dance the role of Johnny in Ruth Page Center’s Frankie and Johnny. It was the ‘kickoff’ to an impressive career. To this day, Mr. Ragan credits much of his success to Franklin. “He was my most important coach and my mentor.”
Eric joined the Tulsa Ballet Theatre in 1988, during his second year with the company he was promoted to soloist. “That’s where I danced ‘Roper’ in Agnes de Mille’s Rodeo for the first time”. It became one of Eric’s signature performances.
Eric would also dance with Ballet Austin and the Eugene Ballet where he worked with renowned choreographer, Tony Pimble, dancing Mercutio in her Romeo and Juliet.
Once again, Mr. Ragan found a new audience in Switzerland where he danced at the famed Stadttheatre StGallen before returning to Eugene/Boise Ballet.
With 15 years of training and performing under his belt, he was on his way to New York. “In New York I performed with Dances Patrelle, Ballet for Young Audiences and with the Suzanne Farrell Ballet at Kennedy Center as well as many guest performances; most notably with the American Ballet Theatre dancing the Roper in Rodeo. During that period he founded LICSB and LICB. Long Island City School of Ballet and Long Island City Ballet are Mr. Ragan’s passion and that passion brings joy to LIC and Queens his home of over 20 years. He has come full circle finally reaching his point of purpose.
A superb dancer, choreographer and producer, Eric is founder and artistic director of the Long Island City Ballet — and an arts activist with an eye to both the artistic and city-wide encouragement of ballet in Queens.
Meltem Tekeli/Dieter Riesle
Was born in Wiesbaden, Germany. He graduated from the John Cranko Ballet Academy in Stuttgart, Germany. The curriculum of the academy includes, Jazz Dance, Modern Dance, Character Dance, Spanish Dance, etc. besides daily ballet training. During his performing career, Mr. Riesle danced principal roles in Nutcracker, Cinderella, Swan Lake, A Midsummer Night’s Dream as well as other ballets.
Mr. Riesle performed with the Frankfurt Ballet, Hamburg Ballet, Cincinnati Ballet, Nashville Ballet, Garden State Ballet, NJ, and as a guest dancer in Japan.
For the last twenty-five years, he has been teaching children, pre-professional teens and adults at Tri-State Area schools, such as Studio Allegro in Madison, NJ, the Ballet School of Stamford, the JCC in Scarsdale, The Pulse, Bedford Hills, NY and, formerly, at the Stamford City Ballet. Allegra Kent originally invited Mr. Riesle to teach for the Stamford City Ballet and he continued teaching for SCB under the direction of ABT’s David Richardson. He has also guest taught at numerous schools in Japan, Germany, and Denmark. In addition, he has substituted for Evee Lynn at Broadway Dance Center, Igal Peri at Peridance and Lowell Smith at Ballet Arts in NYC.
Catherine Kapphahn began her yoga adventure 15 years ago on a visit home to Colorado and she’s been practicing ever since. She completed various trainings over the years including Om Yoga’s Vinyasa Yoga Teacher Training and Jason Brown’s Zenyasa Yoga Teacher Training. For over 14 years, Catherine has taught yoga to adults, expectant mothers, new mothers and their babies, toddlers and preschoolers, Kindergardener-5th graders at schools and local studios. As a yoga teacher, she values the community of a class and enjoys helping students play energetically with the shapes and lines of the poses. Her dance background allows her to see yoga as an art form, a place to experience movement, rediscover play and lift the spirit. Catherine Kapphahn is also a writer. She is the winner of the Christopher Doheny Award from the Center of Fiction and Audible.com for her manuscript Immigrant Daughter: Stories You Never Told Me. It is forthcoming as an audible book through Audible.com. Her writing has appeared in TheSame.blog, Astoria Magazine, the Feminist Press Anthology This is the Way We Say Goodbye, the Same Anthology Raising Her Voice: An Anthology of Women Writers, CURE Magazine, and SalonZine. She is the recipient of two Artist Grants from the Queens Council on the Arts. She earned an M.F.A in writing at Columbia University and a B.A. from Hunter College. Catherine also teaches at the City University of New York at Lehman College in the Bronx, where her students’ brave stories continue to inspire her.
Assistant Director LICSB Instructor
Trained at the New Jersey School of Ballet, Joffrey Ballet School, and New York Theater Ballet. She is a principal dancer with Ballet for Young Audiences and soloist for the Staten Island Ballet. She has danced with the Octavia Cup Dance Theatre, lauded for its contemporary point work.
Prior to her role as beloved “Miss Heather” at LICSB, Heather taught at other renowned NY-area ballet schools, including Ballet Academy East and Steps on Broadway. She has also been an instructor for Sharing the Barre, a NJ dance and musical theater program for children with special needs.
“Only a small percentage of ballet students will spend their adult lives on the stage. But all of our students will experience the health benefits of stretching and moving to music, of hard work, focus, attention to detail, achieving goals and yes – the joy of performing”.
Mariel Lowe grew up in Santa Fe, New Mexico and received her dance training at the Aspen Santa Fe Ballet School before attending both San Francisco Conservatory of Dance and the Boston Ballet School. In 2010, Mariel joined Robert Wood Dance NY Inc. as a dance artist and as assistant to the choreographer. In addition to continued work with RWDNY, Mariel has performed multidisciplinary work at La Mama with Mind the Art Entertainment as well as choreographed the New York Fringe Festival shows, Whiskey Pants the Mayor of Williamsburg and Beware the Chupacabra. Mariel enjoys playing the cello and has a budding interest in dance and film which has led her to co-produce and direct a short film series, Home Bodies.
Traci Finch lives in New York City and currently dances with New Chamber Ballet and CelloPointe. Last fall she performed in the The Suzanne Farrell Ballet: Forever Balanchine: Farewell performances at the Kennedy Center’s Opera House, and on tour. Recent projects have included guesting with Les Grands Ballet Canadiens; dancing Merce Cunningham's Cross Currents, Inventions, Locale, and Fractions; and in Constantine Baecher's works at Lake Tahoe Dance Festival and The Shillim Foundation. Originally from Utah, Traci graduated from Brigham Young University with her BA in Dance.
This spring Traci presented her choreography at South Oxford Space in Brooklyn, NY and at LeFrak Concert Hall in Queens with Artists by Any Other Name. Titled Interorbit, and set to Caroline Shaw’s Entr’acte played live by a string quartet, four women are set in in motion, but are continually forced to alter their paths and movements by outside binding energies.
In June 2017, Traci received her first choreographic residency at Marie Chouinard in Montréal, Quebec. Moving in Circles was a collaboration between Traci Finch and turntablist, Mark Onderwater. This exploration fused contemporary ballet with contemporary turntablism, working with choreographed phrases along with improvisational movement structures for the movement vocabulary, using parallels between the turntables as a medium for manipulating sounds and creating music, and dance. Following this, she has presented work at The Corridor Festival in Seattle, with artist, City, working more with the themes of electronic music, paired with dance. She has also presented Becherovka, choreography in collaboration with Pat Butler in Bushwick, Brooklyn. Traci teaches at The School at Steps, and has guest taught around the United States in Utah, California, Nevada, New Jersey, and Montana.
Now At LICSB