Faculty & Staff

Peggy Peabody - Artistic Director & Founder


Peggy PeabodyFounder and Artistic DirectorBallet Petit’s Artistic Director, Peggy Peabody, has been involved with ballet for most of her life. At the age of seven,she chose to focus on classical ballet under the watchful eye of her first teacher, Tricia Kaye. Peggy added to her performance experiences at the Regional Festivals of Dance, Lido Ballet School Productions, and the Oakland Metropolitan Ballet productions, such as The Nutcracker.


These experiences led to many special honors, including dancing the lead role of Clara in OMBC’s 10th Anniversary Nutcracker in 1970. In 1972, Violette Verdy ( 1933 - 2016 ) of the New York City Ballet granted Peggy the prestigious Ford Foundation Scholarship. Two years later, Peggy began studying at the San Francisco Ballet School year ‘round. As a high school senior in 1977, she began teaching ballet to preschool children two days a week.


In 1983, Peggy opened her first ballet school in Newark, with 24 students. Over the early years, Ballet Petit moved between Fremont and Newark, landing in Hayward in 2003. In 2013, Peggy was able to acquire her dream space, a permanent home for Ballet Petit, its current 15,000 square foot space in Hayward. This space is truly a model facility, designed to respect the work of dancers while bringing parents and families in to share the experience. Ballet Petit’s boasts an annual enrollment of classical ballet students over 250. Ballet Petit is honored to host the Oakland Ballet Boot Camp each July, a three-week Summer Intensive program for young dancers.


Peggy’s philosophy is simple, that ballet is an art form for everyone to access and appreciate. Ballet Petit’s foundation and culture are firmly based on this belief. Ballet Petit has survived pressures to turn ballet into sport through dance competition. Peggy has enjoyed 39 years of producing The Nutcracker. As the longest running Nutcracker in the East Bay, dancers and audiences alike have had the opportunity to enjoy this heartwarming holiday ballet written for children- and at Ballet Petit- performed by children who have been trained to appreciate the art of classical ballet.


Peggy earned a Liberal Arts degree from Holy Names University and her elementary school teaching credential from Cal State Hayward. In addition to managing Ballet Petit, Peggy taught elementary school in Hayward Unified School District until 2017, when she retired. In 2008, The Alameda County Board of Supervisors and The Alameda County Commission on the Status of Women honored “Miss Peggy” with the prestigious “Women’s Hall of Fame” award for Culture and Art. Peggy is also a cancer survivor / warrior.


Committed to lifelong learning, Peggy continues to develop as a teacher and as a dancer. Every few years, Peggy accompanies elite Ballet Petit student dancers to Copenhagen, Denmark to the Royal Danish Ballet Summer School, formerly known as the Bartholin International Ballet Seminar. There in the Royal Theatre, she trains alongside her students and other dancers from around the world, focusing particularly on Bournonville technique and tradition. In addition to her ballet teaching schedule, you can find Peggy in local studios, still training in several ballet classes each week. She is honored to work with various premier ballet teachers throughout the Bay Area in her commitment to continued learning and growth.

Darlene Spinardi Brower - Asssitant Artistic Director

Darlene is the assistant artistic director of Ballet Petit. She has been teaching at Ballet Petit since 1987, and teaches students at all levels - from three-year old Twinkle Toes to advanced pre-professional dancers. Just about everyone at Ballet Petit has taken a class from Darlene.

In addition to assisting in the many ballet performances at Ballet Petit, such as The Nutcracker, Swan Lake, Cinderella, Coppelia, and Sleeping Beauty, Darlene is also credited with the choreography of several original ballets for Ballet Petit's Junior Company. Teaching at Ballet Petit is a dream come true for Darlene because she can share her passion and love of ballet with her students.

Darlene has been dancing herself since she was three years old, and she and Peggy danced together as children at the Oakland Metropolitan Ballet. Darlene has toured with Ballet Celeste and studied at the Joffrey Ballet School in New York. She has studied under many renowned ballet instructors, including Ronn Guidi, Vern Nerden, Suzanne Gibson, Richard Gibson, and Ann Bena.

Joy Gim

Having achieved artistic success in the world of ballet, dancer Joy Gim brings her expertise and joy of dance to aspiring ballet dancers throughout the Bay Area, including right here at Ballet Petit.


As a principle dancer of the Oakland Ballet for 18 years, Ms. Gim danced many lead roles including Myrtha in Giselle; the Other Woman in Jardin Aux Lilas; the Sugar Plum Fairy, Snow and Rose Queens, and Arabian Coffee in The Nutcracker; Zobeide in Scheherazade; the Glove Seller in Gaite Parisienne; and the lead dancer in Nijinska's Bolero. Her other famed moments include appearing as spokesperson for the Oakland Ballet on KTVU Fox Two - Mornings on Two, profiling on ABC 7 - KGO TV's Profiles of Excellence, and modeling for San Francisco Focus Magazine.

Following her retirement from the professional scene in 1998, Ms. Gim has taught many master ballet classes for studios throughout the Bay Area, including Oakland Ballet Academy, Marin Peninsula Ballet, Lamorinda Ballet Center, Vallejo Ballet Conservatory, Shawl/Anderson Dance Center, and most recently, Ballet Petit. She also teaches private lessons and on special request, coaches dancers for specific roles.

Sharon Yap

Sharon started dancing at the Phil-Am Ballet School in the Philippines when she was just five years old. When she was nine, her family re-located to the San Francisco Bay Area and later enrolled her at the Santa Clara Ballet School. There, she was trained by Josefa Villanueva and the late Benjamin Reyes, both formerly of the San Francisco Ballet. While at the Santa Clara Ballet School, Sharon danced a variety of roles in productions of The Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty, Scuola di Balleto, and Peter and the Wolf.


In high school, Sharon broadened her stage experience by performing with the James Logan Dance Ensemble, and taking part in the school's theater programs, which included such productions as West Side Story and A Chorus Line. In addition, Sharon danced one season with the Santa Clara Vanguard and performed in their rendition of “Miss Saigon”. In 2013, Sharon began to work with the Five-time Open Class Champion, Blue Devils “B” Drum Corps, as their color guard movement instructor. In addition, she is also a certified BarWorks® instructor.

Aside from teaching at Ballet Petit, Sharon is the Director of Montessori School of Fremont: Children's House and works as a specialist, consulting for start-up Montessori International Schools in the SEA region. Sharon has been teaching at Ballet Petit since 1996

Nicole Curry Butner

Nicole began dancing at the age of four at Happy Times Nursery School. She received all of her training during her elementary and teen years from Peggy Peabody and Darlene Brower at Ballet Petit. Nicole attended San Francisco Ballet School's summer program and was accepted into their year round school, but decided to remain at Ballet Petit. She attended Boston Ballet School's Summer Program and studied with Sally Streets at Berkeley Ballet Theater.

Nicole received her Bachelor of Arts in Dance from San Jose State University in 2002. During this time she performed with the modern dance company, UDT, under the direction of Gary Masters of the Limon Company; and the musical theater company, Company One, at SJSU. At graduation from SJSU, Nicole was awarded Outstanding Senior and was asked to perform her senior solo at the School of Music and Dance's graduation ceremony.

She has appeared in opening acts for several performers in the Bay Area, such as Pink, Mya, 98 Degrees and Nina Skye. She has also been in various trade shows for companies such as Mervyns and Redken, and performed as Velma in the Scooby Doo Show at Paramount's Great America.


In addition to her work at Ballet Petit, Nicole continues to train and choreograph.

Leah Dorman

Leah Dorman began her ballet training at Ballet Petit at the age of four. Since then she has been in over 30 productions by Ballet Petit; some of her favorite roles include the Wolf in Peter and the Wolf, Rat Queen in The Nutcracker, and both Stepsister and Stepmother in Cinderella. She generally enjoys portraying the villain rather than the heroine in story tale ballets but endeavors to avoid becoming these characters offstage. In 2009, she began taking contemporary and jazz dance classes at Ohlone College to expand her repertoire while continuing to study at Ballet Petit. As a Jr. Company dancer and later a teacher, she contributed choreography for multiple Ballet Petit productions including Shall We Dance, Elements, A Tribute to Youth, Seasons, Hansel and Gretel, Cinderella, and Carnival of the Animals.


Leah has been teaching at Ballet Petit in various roles since she was 14, starting as Miss Darlene's Twinkle Toes assistant and later becoming a substitute teacher for beginning and occasionally intermediate classes. At 17 she began to teach her own classes and fell in love with working with the talented and focused young dancers at Ballet Petit. Following a brief hiatus to study developmental biology at UCLA, she returned to the bay area in 2015 and quickly seized the opportunity to teach ballet once again. When not dancing, Leah can be found in lab at UCSF pursuing her Ph.D. in neuroscience. 

Patience Gordon

Patience Gordon began her ballet training at Ballet Petit at the age of 4. While training under Ballet Petit's incredible faculty, Patience had the privilege of performing many lead roles such as the Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker, Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty, Nikiya in La Bayadere, and Myrtha in Giselle. Her passion for dance was truly realized when she accompanied Miss Peggy to the Bartholin International Ballet Seminar in Copenhagen, Denmark the summer of 2012. 


After graduating high school, Patience was part of Ballet Arizona's inaugural studio company, where she performed in ballets by George Balanchine and in the U.S. premiere of August Bournonville's Napoli. In 2015, she moved back to the Bay Area and began to dance professionally and experiment with her own choreography. Patience has performed with the Oakland Ballet Company, and currently dances with Menlowe Ballet, where she has been a member since 2015.


Patience is grateful for all the opportunities she's had since joining Ballet Petit's staff. In the spring of 2017, she staged a brand new production of Peter and the Wolf for Junior Company and the following year, assisted in re-staging Act 2 of Giselle. In addition teaching multiple times a week, she enjoys coaching dancers on soloist roles, passing on choreography and knowledge gained from her years as a student. Patience is thankful to be part of the Ballet Petit family for so long and hopes to continue teaching, choreographing and dancing for years to come.

Claire Dorman

Claire Dorman began taking ballet classes at age 8 after a friend took her to see Ballet Petit's 19th anniversary Nutcracker performance, and continued dancing at Ballet Petit for 10 years. When the studio moved from her hometown of Newark to a new location in Hayward when she was 13, Claire single-handedly orchestrated a carpool schedule to allow a group of dedicated dancers including four Claras, a Sugarplum, and five future Ballet Petit teachers to continue taking classes at the new location. In her time at Ballet Petit, Claire performed soloist and demi-soloist roles in The Nutcracker, Coppelia, La Bayadere, Paquita, and others, and especially enjoyed portraying characters such as Clara in The Nutcracker, Stepsister in Cinderella, and Grasshopper in Ants and the Grasshopper. 


Claire graduated from UC Berkeley with a B.A. in Physics in 2009, and from UC Santa Cruz with a Ph.D. in Astrophysics in 2015. While at Berkeley, she continued to take ballet classes at Berkeley Ballet Theater, and studied contemporary ballet and modern with the Cal Theater & Dance department. 

At Santa Cruz, she expanded her training to include choreography, jazz, and hip-hop as well as ballet and modern. An active member of the student dance community, she performed in a dozen productions, including several collaboration pieces between dancers and other local artists as well as showcasing her own choreography. 


After moving back to the East Bay, Claire was thrilled to join the Ballet Petit staff in 2018. She currently teaches both children's and adult classes. 

Sarah Buzsaki

Sarah began her dance training in tap and jazz as a shy three year old. After two years of longingly watching ballet class from afar, she switched studios and truly found her home in Ballet Petit. Here, she trained continuously, graduating from Ballet Petit in 2016. 


Over the years, Sarah had the pleasure of attending varied master classes and intensives, including Oakland Ballet Bootcamp, ABT (Alabama), Alonso Week, The Royal Danish Ballet Summer School, and Alonzo King LINES Summer Program. While she loved all her roles, Clara, Sugarplum Fairy, Angel Princess, Swanhilda, and Cinderella all hold special places in her heart. 


She began officially teaching at Ballet Petit in 2017, and when she isn’t torturing her students with a particularly complex petit allegro, she would swear she enjoys inspiring the love of dance in the next generation.  On the rare occasions she isn’t dancing, Sarah is studying hard at UC Berkeley as a chemistry major, where even there she finds opportunities to take class, teach, and perform. 

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