Meet our faculty

Carrie Siko, Director

Carrie was born in Honolulu, Hawaii. After watching Carrie dance around the house mimicking the ballerinas she would see in books and on television, her mother enrolled her in Hawaii State Ballet at age four. Carrie progressed through the levels of the Junior Program studying under both Gina Surles and John Landovsky, and became a member of the Junior Company. Carrie's true love was performing and she was given many performing opportunities as a member of the Junior Company where she danced many leading roles.

After graduating high school, Carrie attended Texas Christian University as a Nordan Fine Arts Scholar. As a dance major, her studies included ballet and modern technique, choreography, dance history, music theory, and creative dance for children. At TCU Carrie was given the opportunity to perform in original contemporary ballet and modern dance works, as well as in classical ballets such as Bournonville's Flower Festival Pas de Deux and Giselle. She was also honored to perform lead roles in original works by guest choreographers including the late Fernando Bujones' Pasion Y Fuego, Grand Pas Romantique, and as Princess Florine in The Sleeping Beauty.


In 2005 Carrie was invited to travel to Nagaoka, Japan as a Fort Worth Sister Cities ambassador, where she performed as Kitri in the Grand Pas de Deux from Act III of Don Quixote, and a solo role in Bujones' Classical Reflections. At TCU, Carrie also had the opportunity to choreograph and set her own original works, including her final project, based on Hawaiian folklore.


In 2007 Carrie graduated Magna Cum Laude with a B.F.A. in Ballet.  At Hawaii State Ballet Carrie teaches Junior Program ballet, and Adult Beginner classes.


Carrie hopes to instill a love for dance and performing, in any form, in her students.

Blake Yamasato, Ballet Mistress

Blake Yamasato was born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii. She graduated from Roosevelt High School as class of 2011 and is currently studying mathematics at University of Hawaii at Manoa.

Blake joined the Hawaii State Ballet pre-ballet class taught by Ms. Gina Surles at the age of five. By thirteen, her dream of joining the Junior Company became a reality. During her time dancing under Mr. Landovsky, she expanded her technical standing while developing her artistic ability. She has proudly performed in every Nutcracker performance since Junior II, and has danced many lead roles, including Arabian, Spanish and Flowers. She has especially enjoyed her chance to perform as the Mouse King. In 2010, Blake traveled to Austin, Texas along with Erica Wong, where they represented Hawaii State Ballet in the American Ballet Competition.


Blake is extremely proud to be back at HSB as the instructor for the Preballet-C, Junior I-C, and Junior II-B classes.

Cheri Nakamura, Instructor

Cheri Nakamura was born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii.  Cheri studied gymnastics as a child and jazz dancing in high school. Her pursuit of dancing took a pause in college, when she attended the University of California at Los Angeles, majoring in international economics and studying Japanese at International Christian University in Tokyo. While in Tokyo, she found a dance studio, Tokyo Broadway Dance Center, where she rekindled her passion for dance.  Jazz dance teachers from New York who were teaching in Tokyo convinced her to pursue performing in New York City. Cheri spent seven years in New York, studying dance, voice and acting and had a successful career in the performing arts. Cheri performed on Broadway in Shogun the Musical, and Miss Saigon.  She also performed in national and international tours of The King and I and South Pacific. She performed in numerous regional and Off-Broadway productions of musicals and dramatic plays and appeared in national TV commercials, including AT&T, Burger King and Home Depot.


Cheri has an MBA from the University of Hawai‘i and has worked in the finance industry and in the non-profit community. She is fluent in Japanese. She continues to perform as a singer on Atlantis Cruises Majestic Dinner Cruise.


Cheri teaches Creative Movement, Preballet, and Ballet Basics.


Tania Nicolai, Instructor

Tania Nicolai studied dance and gymnastics beginning from age three. She learned ballet and jazz under Pearl Kay and tap dance under Lettie Burns. Pearl Kay always stressed the importance of ballet as the foundation of all dance.

Upon finishing high school, Tania moved to Germany where she focused on classical ballet at the Tanzstudio Luley. Returning to the US to attend UC Berkeley, Tania continued to study ballet through classes at the university, and upon graduation she studied at the Contra Costa Ballet School in California. During her time at the university, Tania became involved with the volunteer component of the US Coast Guard where she became instructor qualified and spent her free time teaching over 5,000 children on boating and water safety. However, it was her career in the building industry that took her away from ballet for many years. Unhappy with not having ballet in her life, Tania found an architectural firm that would give her the time needed to pursue dance once again. In 2006 Tania came to Hawaii State Ballet where she had the privilege to return to ballet in classes with John Landovsky.

Tania teaches Preballet and Junior I level classes at HSB.

Reina Yamashita, Instructor

Reina Yamashita joined Hawaii State Ballet at the age of 5. She progressed through the levels of the Junior Program and studied under John Landovsky after advancing to the Junior V class. Reina has performed various lead roles such as the Snow Queen and the Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker. Throughout the years, Reina has also had experience in music through piano lessons and playing in her middle and high school bands .


In 2017 Reina participated in the local National Society of Arts and Letters competition for classical ballet where she won second prize. 


Reina began teaching at HSB in 2016 during which time her love for ballet grew substantially, not only as a performer, but also as an instructor. 

Reina recently graduated from Kaiser High School and is currently studying Kinesiology and Dance at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Reina teaches the Junior V class. 

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