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The Dancers of,
The Company at Sparrow 

Katie Acker

Katie began dancing at the age of three in Colorado Springs at the Barbara Ellis Studio of Dance. Taking ballet and tap and jazz, she quickly developed a love for dancing. After moving to New Mexico, she began taking classes at Sparrow Dance Productions, and ballet became her focus.

Katie took a break from dance for a few years while in college before transferring to the University of New Mexico to study Education. Being back home and being able to dance has filled a piece of herself that she had missed in the last few years. She is excited to continue teaching ballet as well as improve as a dancer herself.

Ryan Blair 

Ryan started dancing at the age of twelve. His first time attending a dance class was at Rio Rancho Middle School, where he studied dance under Mrs. Christina Daly. From there, his passion was ignited and he was introduced to all kinds of dance styles. Ryan fell in love with ballet! Since then, Ryan has been dancing ballet and continues to love it more and more each and every day. His love for ballet has turned into a passion for teaching the artform. Ryan now teaches multiple ballet classes at Sparrow Dance Productions.

He feels joy in seeing children flourish, love, and dance in his ballet classes. His long term goals are to gain enough knowledge about the art of ballet to pass on to his classes, and eventually graduate to teaching higher levels of ballet classes, and older students, at Sparrow Dance Productions.

Cathleen Daly

Cathleen studied and performed with several local ballet schools from the ages of 5-13 including Ballet Repertory Theatre, Allegro West, Hayden’s School of Ballet, and Dance Theatre Southwest. She also performed with New Mexico Ballet Company’s Nutcracker for 3 years. Throughout middle school and high school, she performed with her church’s fine arts program and Rio Rancho High School’s Master Dance Company.

In 2014, she moved to Phoenix, AZ to pursue her Bachelor's in Communications and Master’s in Public Administration as well as to begin her professional career in marketing. During her tenure in Phoenix, she took ballet classes with Grand Canyon University and Ballet Theatre of Phoenix.


She moved back to the Land of Enchantment in February 2023, began taking classes at Sparrow Dance Productions in the summer, and officially joined the Company this fall. Cathleen is very excited to be performing in her first nutcracker in 15 years and with her big sister, Christina Daly-Smith for the first time!

Emilio Duran-Gurule

Emilio has been dancing on and off since he was 7 years old, gaining proficiency in various styles such as Ballet, Jazz, Lyrical, and Hip-Hop. He started in middle school and followed through into high school with their respective programs. This is where he quickly realized dance wasn’t simply a hobby anymore, and that it had become a passion. Emilio has a deep appreciation for all forms of expression, and dancing was no exception. After having graduated high school, Emilio was in search of structure, routine, and, unknowingly, a safe space to be his dancer-self. That was when he got the call From Sparrow Dance Productions, where he was given the chance to take part in something truly magical. Now, Emilio eagerly looks forward to exploring dancing opportunities with Sparrow as a full-time company dancer.

Ashley Hopson 

Ashley started ballet at the age of four in California as the Sue Dalton School of Ballet, now the Classical School of Ballet. While studying Mechanical Engineering at the University of California, Santa Barbara, she continued taking ballet classes, as well as belly dancing and Argentine tango. After moving to Albuquerque in 2011 she joined the La Mesa Dance Academy to continue to pursue her passion for dance. She has also performed in multiple performances of The Nutcrackers with New Mexico Ballet Company.

After relocating to Rio Rancho with her husband and two beautiful children, she continues to work in the engineering field and is very excited to now be a part of the Sparrow Dance family.

Michael Noker

Michael is new to Sparrow and the ballet world, but it has quickly become his new home away from home. He started his dance journey as a young adult as an improvised tribal style and fusion style belly dancer. Since then, he has become an aerialist, flying on the silks and lyra in the cirque, as well as performing as a pole dancer. To come back to earth, he enjoys yoga, contortion, and flowing with fire staffs and fans. When he's not in the studio, you will most likely find him rock climbing, playing with his dog, volunteering, or selling houses as Albuquerque's tallest, blondest Realtor.

Lynn Padilla


During her first Nutcracker performance, Lynn was cast as a Snowflake, with Dance Arts Los Alamos. She fluffed her white tutu, stepped outside to catch her breath, and just then, huge Snowflakes began to fall. She felt a magical connection onstage, and knew dancing would forever be a part of her life.

Lynn went onto serve in the National Guard, where she continued taking Ballet classes, with Dance Dimensions, in Albuquerque.

Lynn left New Mexico, and went on to serve in the Coast Guard. While stationed in Seattle, she took Ballet classes at Northwest School of Dance, in Bremerton, WA. Upon returning home in 2017, Lynn made a brief return to Dance Arts Los Alamos, before making a permanent move in 2022, to Sparrow Dance Productions, in Rio Rancho.  


Sparrow has become much more to her than just a dance studio. Here, she is challenged, offered a wide range of dance classes for personal growth, and has grown immensely under the direction of Mrs. Christina Daly-Smith, and Staff. While her path to success in Ballet has been sporadic, she is determined to advance, and knows she has found the Dance Studio that fits her. Lynn is passionate about the Art of dancing, and she strives to exude that while performing, to connect with her audience, and fellow dancers. Lynn has danced Ballet since her early teens, giving her a greater appreciation for the Art of Dance.


Her favorite quote reads: 

“Dance is the hidden language of the Soul.” 

 -Martha Graham.

Riley Swinney​​

Riley has been a dancer his whole life, if there is music, even in his head, he is dancing. Riley started dance classes at the age of nine at Veneration dance, taking jazz and hip-hop classes. Riley began dancing at Sparrow Dance Productions at the age of 13. At Sparrow, he was introduced to many different styles, and began to fall in love with the art of dance. Riley was part of Sparrow’s competition team and has competed with the team in ballet, contemporary, hip hop, jazz, and lyrical.

Riley now teaches hip-hop and breakdancing at Sparrow Dance Productions. He loves getting to share his love for dance with his students. His love for dance shines through his choreography.  Riley is now attending University of New Mexico's Dance Department in pursuit of his Bachelor's in Dance Performance. In addition, Riley is now a full time company member of Sparrow Dance Productions.

Grace Tenorio 

Grace, a native New Mexican, discovered her passion for dance at the age of 5 at La Mesa Dance Academy. Her journey led her through pre-professional training at Keshet Dance Company and the Celbridge School of Ballet in Ireland. Despite taking a hiatus to attend college, Grace has joyfully returned to the dance scene, marking her inaugural season at Sparrow. She currently works full time as an engineer, balancing her professional pursuits with a dedicated commitment to dance.

Natalie Trujillo 

Natalie started dancing at the age 8 with New Mexico Ballet Repertory Theater where she learned ballet, jazz, and contemporary. She started dancing with Sparrow Dance Productions in the Summer of 2023. Natalie has also danced with “The Jilliana School” for two years, training in classical ballet. She has performed in several Nutcracker productions and has been in other performances such as “Wizards of Oz” and “Sleeping Beauty”. Natalie continues to pursue her dream in dance and hopes to share the joy of dance with the community through performance.

Lennon Washburn

Lennon started her dance career at the age of 3, with New Mexico’s Ballet Repertory Theatre. She started dancing for Sparrow Dance Productions in the Spring of 2022. Lennon has also danced with other companies inside and outside of New Mexico including New York’s Joffrey and Keshet dance company. She has performed in several Nutcracker productions and has been in other performances such as “The Wizard of Oz", “Sleeping Beauty”,  and “The Little Mermaid". Lennon is currently a student at the University of New Mexico, pursuing a career in dance, in the hopes to one day travel for dance.

Guest Belly Dancers for,
The Adventures of Zorro

Tanya Baker 

Tanya’s love of belly dancing began in 2002 when she took her first belly dance class with Maria Chavez. She took several classes over the next few years and first performed at her friend’s wedding in 2004. Her love of dance led her to study African Dance for two semesters at the University of New Mexico in 2006.

Since then, Tanya has continuously participated in several belly dance classes and workshops in a variety of styles including tribal, fusion, Raqs Sharqi and others. She has participated in
several group and solo performances since 2021 when she began dedicating herself to belly dance. She spent a week in Oregon on a belly dance retreat with Sadie Adair in 2023. She is also looking forward to a week of studying the dance form in Greece at the end of this year with Bozenka Dance Lab. Her love of the dance shines through with her smile, beautiful shimmies,and graceful hand movements.

Alesandra Candeleria 

Alesandra is a life-long lover of dance, theater, and performance, and she believes that dance truly is for everyone! Alesandra is greatly privileged to be a professional fusion and Raqs Sharqi dancer with troupes the Desert Darlings and Raqzia, and she is so excited to bring her style of performance to this production. Alesandra is honored to be part of the talented and dedicated cast of Sparrow’s ‘The Adventures of Zorro’.

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