Santa Cruz Ballet Theatre Artistic Directors Robert Kelley and Diane Cypher

Executive Artistic Directors

Robert Kelley

RK.jpg   Robert received his formal dance training at the School of American Ballet, San Francisco Ballet School and with Alonzo King. He danced professionally with Charleston Ballet Theatre, Sacramento Ballet and Fort Wayne Ballet, where he also served as Ballet Master and Resident Choreographer. As a dancer, he had many works choreographed especially for him by choreographers, such as Jill Eathorne Bahr, Philip Jerry and Ron Cunningham. Robert has performed every major classical role and was known for his onstage charisma and innate partnering abilities.

Robert's choreography lives in the repertoires of many regional and professional companies across the United States, including his full length "Cinderella" and "Beauty and the Beast." His choreography has earned several awards and several of his works are in the Regional America Choreography Plan. He was the Artistic Director of San Jose Dance Theatre, where he implemented several ongoing community programs. Robert has choreographed over thirty ballets for the Santa Cruz Ballet Theatre.  His "Linear Context" won the RDA Choreography Recognition Award in 2006, and his "The Condition Hereafter" won the same award in 2008, both performed by Santa Cruz Ballet Theatre.  In 2017, his "Barcarola Veneziana", choreographed for and performed by South Bay Ballet, earned the same award.

In addition to his work for Santa Cruz Ballet Theatre, Robert sat on the Tannery Arts Center Board for 15 years, and for many years represented Santa Cruz Ballet Theatre as an Associate of the Cultural Council of Santa Cruz County.  He currently sits on the board of The Ballet Alliance, and on the Visit Santa Cruz board, where he also chairs a committee devoted to developing language for the LBGTQ community.  He collaborated with the Santa Cruz Diversity Center to host the first ever Out Night at the Ballet at the 2018 "The Nutcracker."

Robert teaches all levels of students at The Studio of Classical Ballet, of which he is also co-director. Robert and Diane were honored in 2009 with a Gail Rich Award for their contribution to the Santa Cruz arts community, and Robert is the recipient of the 2010 Artist of the Year Award, given by the Santa Cruz County Arts Commission.

Diane Cypher

directors-diane.jpgKnown during her performing career by her maiden name, Diane McLarty, Diane trained with Barbara Crockett and the Sacramento Ballet. At age seventeen, she joined the Santa Barbara Ballet and toured the country dancing one of her favorite roles: Myrtha in "Giselle." She performed as Swanhilda in "Coppelia" at the Edinburgh Festival in Scotland before returning to her hometown and joining the Sacramento Ballet as a charter professional member.

Under the direction of Ron Cunningham and Carinne Binda Cunningham, Diane had a long and rewarding career with the Sacramento Ballet. She danced leading roles such as Odette/Odile in "Swan Lake," the Lilac Fairy in "Sleeping Beauty" and the Sugar Plum Fairy in "The Nutcracker." She was featured in contemporary works, most notably the Balanchine repertoire, in roles as diverse as The Siren in "The Prodigal Son," Choleric in "The Four Temperaments," the Sylph in "Scotch Symphony", the soloist in "Rubies" and "Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux."  She enjoyed dancing ballets choreographed by Ron Cunningham, her favorite being "Etosha, Place of Dry Water".

Under the tutelage of her mentor, Barbara Crockett, Diane's teaching career began in 1983. She taught throughout her dance career in Sacramento as a member of the Crockett Dance Studio faculty and later for San Jose Dance Theater. She shares the directorship of both The Studio School of Classical Ballet and Santa Cruz Ballet Theatre with her former ballet partner, Robert Kelley.  Diane stages classical ballets, such as "Swan Lake" and "Giselle," and rehearses the company in all of its repertoire.  Diane and Robert were honored in 2009 with a Gail Rich Award for their contribution to the Santa Cruz arts community.

Top photo of Robert Kelley and Diane Cypher by Shmuel Thaler/The Sentinel for the Gail Rich Award.  In-studio photos by James Schwartz.

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