Eugene Ballet Company Staff
Toni Pimble, Artistic Director
Resident Choreographer | email
Born in England, Toni studied at Elmhurst Ballet School. Her professional career began in Germany working with notable choreographers such as Lothar Hofgen, Anthony Taylor, Nils Christie and Ottavio Cintolesi. She co-founded the Eugene Ballet Company in 1978 with Riley Grannan and, to date, has choreographed more than 60 works for the Eugene Ballet Company. Many of those productions have involved collaborations with composers, literary and visual artists and local arts organizations including the Eugene Concert Choir, Eugene Opera, Oregon Bach Festival, Oregon Mozart Players, The Shedd Institute for the Arts and the University of Oregon School of Music and Dance. Under Toni’s leadership, the Eugene Ballet Company has toured to 32 states and internationally to Taiwan and as part of a United States Information Agency (USIA) Tour visiting India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Syria, Jordan and Tunisia. Her creative work has brought her a number of awards and fellowships, including two Oregon Arts Commission Artist Fellowship Awards and a National Endowment for the Arts Choreographer’s Fellowship Grant. Toni’s work has been performed by many ballet companies in the United States including Atlanta Ballet, New York City Ballet, Indianapolis Ballet Theatre, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Ballet Omaha, Washington Ballet, Nevada Dance Theatre, Oregon Ballet Theater, Ballet NY and Kansas City Ballet.
Managing Director | email
Riley Grannan, Eugene Ballet Co-founder, combines unique artistic and management perspectives to his position of Managing Director of the Eugene Ballet Company.
A native of the Pacific Northwest, Mr. Grannan began his ballet career studying with Doreen Gilday in Eugene and earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at the School of Performing Arts at United States International University in San Diego. Mr. Grannan's professional career took him to Germany, performing with several ballet companies, touring throughout Europe, in leading roles in both classical and contemporary ballets by noted choreographers.
In 1978, Mr. Grannan to co-founded the Eugene Ballet Company with Artistic Director Toni Pimble. Since becoming Managing Director in 1987, Mr. Grannan has facilitated the Eugene seasons as well as the domestic and international tours.
As a performer with the Eugene Ballet Company, Mr. Grannan created several roles including Katschei in The Firebird, and the Step Sister in Cinderella, among others.
In 1997, he and Toni Pimble were recipients of the Governor's Arts Award for their work in developing performance and educational programs with the Eugene Ballet Company, the first received by a dance organization in Oregon.
Under Mr. Grannan and Artistic Director Toni Pimble's leadership, Eugene Ballet receives support from the National Endowment for the Arts. Also, the EBC was the first Oregon company to be chosen to take part in the NEA's Advancement program and was the only ballet company in the nation to participate in the two month-long, NEA-sponsored "Dance On Tour" programs taking place in rural communities in Arizona and New Mexico. Mr. Grannan helped to facilitate a three year composer in residence for the ballet through Meet The Composer "New Residencies" program.
Mr. Grannan has served on three separate Western States Arts Federation (WESTAF) dance touring panels, the National Endowment for the Arts "Creation and Presentation" panel, as well as selection panels for Arts Northwest and the Individual Artist Fellowship and Theatre panels in Oregon and Idaho.
Ballet Mistress | email
A native of Long Beach, California, Jennifer is currently in her 21st season with Eugene Ballet Company. After joining and rising to principal dancer with EBC, she retired in 2012 as dancer and is EBC’s ballet mistress managing training exercises, rehearsals, and touring. Jennifer began studying ballet in southern California under the direction of Patricia Stander. She continued her professional training under full scholarship at the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School as a recipient of the Canadian National Award of Excellence. In her capacity as principal dancer with Eugene Ballet Company, some of her favorite lead roles include: Swan Lake, Carmen, Rite of Spring, Two’s Company, Dracula, and Romeo and Juliet. Jennifer’s transition to ballet mistress started in 2008 when she began teaching company class and assisting in the studio in addition to her performance career. In recent years, Jennifer has had the honor of overseeing rehearsals for guest choreographers such as Jessica Lang, Mauricio Wainrot, and Melissa Nolen Bobick, as well as the Company’s existing repertoire. Additionally, she has been entrusted with re-staging some of the Company’s repertoire for Summer Dance Lab in Walla Walla, WA, and Point Park College in Pittsburgh, PA. She enjoys her time guest teaching around the Northwest and at the Eugene Ballet Academy’s Summer Intensive.
Director of Development | email
Karen Warner comes to the Eugene Ballet Company via Sacred Heart Medical Center Foundation. Heavily involved in Children's Miracle Network fundraising activities for most of her 10 years at Sacred Heart, she later became Director of Marketing and Communications within the Foundation. She found tremendous satisfaction that her work on behalf of sick and injured children not only made all aspects of the healing arts and technology available, but enriched and sustained families in the process.
Of her arrival at the Eugene Ballet Company as Director of Development, she says, "I love the reaction I get when people learn I'm with the Ballet. It is always one of excitement and happiness. Everyone relates to artistic expression and beauty; whether they have grace and strength or two left feet!" Karen was born in France to a GI dad and French mom. The environment quickly changed when the family relocated to the northern farm country of Wisconsin. Spending her childhood in Kenosha, Wisconsin, Karen participated in the school system's robust school music programs as a cellist until her graduation. An amateur, playing only for her own enjoyment, she understands the joy that expression through art provides. Three of Karen's four children and a grandson live in Eugene. Karen enjoys spending time with them, her friends and business acquaintances. A good day is a day full of lighthearted laughter and terrible puns.
Production Manager | email
Josh Neckels started as Stage Manager for Eugene Ballet’s Nutcracker in 1996. With successive seasons, his position with the company evolved into the roles of Tour Technical Director, Tour Manager, Company Manager and then, in 2008, he assumed his current role of Production Manager.
During the past 16 seasons, Mr. Neckels has been an integral part of the Ballet’s successful collaborations with guest artists such as Curtis Salgado – Beauty and the Blues, Emerald City Jazz Kings – Jitterbug, Jive and Jazz, the Floydian Slips – Dark Side of the Moon and the Nowhere Band – All You Need is Love, as well as with other local arts groups, Eugene Concert Choir – Walpurgisnacht, Eugene Vocal Arts Ensemble – Les Noces, UO School of Music – American Spirit, Oregon Bach Festival – A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Oregon Mozart Players – Carmina Burana, The Shedd Institute for the Arts – Tom Sawyer and Chamber Music Amici – The Emperor’s New Clothes.
In addition to his work with the Ballet, Mr. Neckels has had a significant impact on many of the other local performing arts organizations in Eugene. His work as either Stage Manager or Production Manager has helped bring to the stage such local premieres as The Drawer Boy and All in the Timing for the Willamette Repertory Theatre, regional premiers of Orpheus and the Underworld and Nixon in China with the Eugene Opera, revivals of Babes in Arms, My Fair Lady, and Guys and Dolls with The Shedd Institute for the Arts and world premieres such as King David for the Oregon Bach Festival.
Finance Manager | email
Sandy Naishtat began his career in arts administration at the Repertory Theater of Lincoln Center in New York, first in ticket sales, then in accounting and human resources. He held similar positions with Center Theater Group of the Los Angeles Music Center: Assistant Subscription Manager, Ticket Seller, Payroll Supervisor and Director of Human Resources. In Eugene, he has served as Interim General Manager for Eugene Opera, Finance Manager for the Shedd Institute for the Arts, and in various accounting functions for Chamber Music Amici, Eugene Concert Choir and Oregon Mozart Players. He is also co-chair and treasurer of Cascadia Concert Opera, and in his other life, sings with Eugene Opera, Cascadia Concert Opera, and the University of Oregon School of Music Opera Workshop.
Sandy has performed with Eugene Opera since 1991, with featured roles in Carmen, La Bohéme, Orpheus in the Underworld, Marriage of Figaro, Magic Flute, Pirates of Penzance, Die Fledermaus, Susannah, La Traviata, Gianni Schicchi, and HMS Pinafore; with Cascadia Concert Opera, in Cosi fan tutte, Tales of Hoffmann, and Gianni Schicchi; with the University Opera Ensemble, in Marriage of Figaro, Cosi fan tutte, Il Campanello, and Tobermory; with Oregon Mozart Players, in PDQ Bach’s The Abduction of Figaro, and Barber’s Dover Beach; with OFAM, in Guys and Dolls and The Wizard of Oz, and in concert with Maria Jette, Dick Hyman, and James Paul; with EBC as narrator for Children of the Raven, with the Oregon Bach Festival, Eugene Symphony, Eugene Chamber Singers, and Eugene Vocal Arts Ensemble, and earned an MA in Music Theory from the University of Oregon while studying voice with James Miller.