Artur Babajanyan was born in Yerevan, Armenia. He received his training at the Armenian National Ballet School of Yerevan from 1996-2003 and at the Tanz Academy of Zurich under the direction of Ricardo Duze. He became a member of the Junior Ballet Zurich in 2004. After two years, he became a member of the main company under director Heinz Spoerli. In 2008, he was promoted to Demi Soloist. In 2012, he joined Aalto Ballett Theater Essen (Germany) as a Soloist. After leaving Germany in 2014, he joined the Joffrey Ballet in Chicago. In 2017 he received his certification as a teacher in the ABT curriculum.
Dena McKell is from the Harrisburg region and has been a teacher/choreographer for over 24 years. She began teaching dance instruction at the Harrisburg Dance Conservatory under the guidance of Forrest Gehret. Ms. McKell has also served as an Artistic Director for the Harrisburg Dance Conservatory and Harrisburg Ballet Theater. She also served as the Assistant Director for Encore! Homeschool Productions as well as their choreographer for the past 12 years. Her choreographic works include Bye Bye Birdie, Annie, Fiddler on the Roof, Seussical the Musical, Meet Me in St. Louis, The Wizard of Oz, The Music Man, Peter Pan, and Beauty and the Beast. In May 2016, her choreography in Peter Pan received an Apollo Award for Outstanding Dance Number in a Musical among local regional high schools. Ms. McKell was also awarded an Apollo Award in May 2017 for Outstanding Dance Number in a Musical for her choreography in Beauty and the Beast. Ms. McKell is excited to be a part of the staff at Pennsylvania Ballet Academy and help instill a love dance to students.
Amy O’Connor received her formal training at the Harrisburg Dance Conservatory under the direction of Forrest Gehret. As an adult, she has trained at the Ribbon Mill Ballet under the direction of Leslie Hench, with Christopher Hird from the Sarasota Ballet, and with former New York City principal, Miranda Weese. She has performed various roles in ballets including The Nutcracker and Les Sylphides.
Amy studied for two years with Davit Karapetyan and Vanessa Zahorian before teaching Open Classes during PBA’s 2019 Summer Intensive. She is excited to join the Pennsylvania Ballet Academy as the Adult Ballet instructor.
Ashley Cunningham joins the Pennsylvania Ballet Academy as Administrative Coordinator after several years of providing executive-level administrative support, having developed and honed her outstanding customer service skills as the Concierge for The Hotel Hershey. Ms. Cunningham is a graduate of Kutztown University of Pennsylvania and holds a B.S. in Business Administration.