Artistic Staff

Soili Arvola

Artistic Director

Soili_PhotoOnly.jpgAt the age of eight, Miss Arvola was accepted to the Ballet Academy of the National Opera House in Helsinki, Finland. After graduating from the Academy at the age of 17, she was invited to join the National Ballet of Finland and toured with the company around the world.

While dancing with the San Francisco Ballet for four years, she and her husband, Leo Ahonen, started their partnership, both on stage and off.

Among her numerous honors, Miss Arvola received a Bronze Medal and a diploma for high artistic achievement in Women’s Senior Category (professional category) at the prestigious 1972 International Ballet Competition in Varna, Bulgaria. In 1975, she was chosen as an Outstanding Young Woman of America and she was also the Texas State winner.

Miss Arvola has appeared as the featured guest artist with Finnish National Ballet, Royal Winnipeg Ballet, Chicago Ballet, Houston Ballet, London’s Royal Ballet Choreographic Group, Indianapolis Ballet Theatre, Ballet International de Ochi of Japan and with numerous Symphony Orchestras, Opera Companies and Civic Ballet Companies throughout the United States and abroad.

In 1972, Tokyo’s NHK-TV produced a half-hour special of Miss Arvola and Mr. Ahonen in their monthly program: “The World of Music”. Her ballerina roles include Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, Giselle, Romeo and Juliet, Cinderella, Coppelia, Don Quixote... the list is endless.

Miss Arvola’s partnership with her husband on stage lasted 30 years. And in 1976, on the Day of Constitution, they became citizens of the United States.
She also choreographs and stages most of the classic ballets, and lately she has become a creator of “new style” full-length ballets including Tarzan, Dracula and Samson and Delilah.

Miss Arvola not only choreographs her ballets, she also writes the libretto, chooses the music and designs and makes the costumes herself. She retired from performing in 2006 after a long, healthy career of 40 years, never cancelling a performance!

In 2005, Miss Arvola received the Marie Bollinger Vogt Achievement Award at Toledo Ballet’s 65th annual Nutcracker. In these performances, she also danced the role of “Sugar Plum Fairy” for the last time - the role she started portraying in 1970!

In 2009, she was the adjudicator for Regional Dance America/Southwest.

Learn more about Miss Arvola’s amazing career at arvola-ahonen.com.

Katie Matney

Associate Artistic Director

A Bartlesville native, Katie has been dancing since she was three years old. She began her ballet career under the tutelage of Miss Charlotte Lyke, founder of the Bartlesville Ballet Centre. Her first role on-stage was as a baby angel in the Nutcracker in 1985. As Katie progressed in her classical training with Miss Charlotte, she also attended classes taught by Jeanne Doornbos, a Bartlesville native and principal with Houston Ballet before her retirement. 

Starting when she was twelve, Katie attended workshops led by Mr. Leo Ahonen and Miss Soili Arvola in Clearlake, Texas. Mr. Ahonen and Miss Arvola have extensive resumes from dancer to choreographer, which include being principal dancers with the National Ballet of Finland and the San Francisco Ballet among others. In 2001, Katie attended Southeastern Oklahoma State University, but returned periodically to Bartlesville to dance with the Bartlesville Civic Ballet in the Nutcracker and Spring Performances through 2007. 

Her personal dance resume is extensive and includes numerous roles in the Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Romeo & Juliet, Tarzan, Samson & Delilah, and Dracula. Her favorite roles include the lead in Snow from the Nutcracker and a gypsy in Romeo & Juliet. 
In 2005, Katie graduated from Oklahoma Wesleyan with her Bachelor of Science in Education (focused in Elementary Education). She began teaching classes at the BCB in 2009, and she has worked closely with Miss Arvola to further develop her teaching abilities which focus on the Russian technique. Katie considers Miss Arvola a mentor who provides Katie with continuing education in the world of dance. Katie has said that her favorite part of teaching ballet is “when classical ballet is performed onstage it has the power to awe the audience.” 

She believes in inspiring young dancers to appreciate the Arts and become role models in the discipline of dance. Katie recognizes that teaching methods need to be adapted to the level of the student, and she focuses on teaching terminology and movements in the younger classes with a greater focus on correcting technique and body placement in the Intermediate/Advanced classes. 

In addition to teaching classes, Katie also has the responsibility of leading rehearsals and working with Miss Arvola, Artistic Director, to teach choreography for the Bartlesville Civic Ballet Performances. Looking ahead, Katie wants to continue developing her students, growing the Bartlesville Civic Ballet Academy, and encouraging the appreciation of the Arts in Bartlesville. Katie is a wife and mother of three. 

Anna Rhodes

Instructor

anna.JPGAnna Rhodes, a native of Fort Wayne, Indiana, has been with Bartlesville Civic Ballet for 3 years. She began her dance training in 1994 with the Tiffany & Co. Studio of Dance, owned and directed by Tiffany Winling.

She became a competitive member of the company in 3rd grade and continued her training there until High School graduation. Anna attended and graduated from New American Youth Ballet & Conservatory (NAYB); a college preparatory private school focused on dance training and high-quality classroom instruction, founded and directed by Beth McLeish. NAYB follows teaching methods based on the aesthetics of George Balanchine (NYCB) and Marcia Dale Weary (CPYB). 

Her summer's included dance intensives at the Nutmeg Conservatory in Torrington, Connecticut, Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, and the Ballet Intensive from Moscow near Chicago, Illinois.  Her dance education continued at Point Park University in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, where she obtained her Bachelors of Art with a concentration in Ballet. While at PPU shelived in Paris, France, where she studied under Wayne Byars and Gregory Cianci at Studio Harmonic.

Her formal education includescourses in human anatomy and kinesiology,  dance pedagogy, dance history, and choreography. Anna competed in 4 national competitions, various local and regional competitions, received Top 10 awards in group and solo categories, and was Dancer of the Year in 2008 at Tiffany & Co. Her dance repertoire consists of roles in Peter & the Wolf, Carnival of the Animals, Les Sylphides, Paquita, and as a rehearsal assistant for Nicolas Petrov's ballet, Carmen. 

Her teaching experience includes 5 consecutive summers at Tripp Lake Camp in Poland, Maine, ballet director at Inspirations Dance Studio for one season, and will be the assistant choreographer in the summer of 2017 for Children's Musical Theatre of Bartlesville.  Her teaching role at BCB includes Foundations I & II and classes in Jazz and Contemporary dance.