The Centerfold -- The Men Behind the Artistic Director

In the most recent issue of Jasper we were graced with a centerfold that included not one but seven attractive young men. While the accompanying story told you all you'll ever need to know about Columbia City Ballet artistic director William Starrett, we thought you might like to know a bit about the other gentlemen in the portrait. To that end, Jasper is proud to present, The Men Behind the Artistic Director of Columbia City Ballet!

Ricky Davis was born and raised in Atlanta, GA. He started training in classical ballet at the age of 16 at the Tolbert-Yilmaz School of Dance in Alpharetta, Ga. Ricky continued his passion for dance in New York City and attended Marymount Manhattan College. While on break from school, Ricky auditioned for Columbia City Ballet and accepted their offer to join the company. This is his 2nd season with the Ballet. In his spare time Ricky enjoys traveling the world and shopping. 

Maurice Johnson is a member of the Columbia City Ballet entering his 7th season. He was born in Greenville, SC and began dancing at the age of 11 at the Fine Arts Center and Greenville Ballet. He studied at the Boston Ballet, The Rock School, and Dance Theater of Harlem. He graduated from University of North Carolina School of the Arts in 2005. He's danced with the Nashville Ballet, Richmond Ballet, and also the South Carolina Contemporary Dance Company. His notable roles have included Sand Dance Gymnopedies I/II, Sleeping Beauty, and Cleopatra. He also plays the flute!

Soloist Journy Wilkes-Davis, originally from Fort Hood, TX, began his ballet training at age 14 with the Savannah Arts Academy in GA. Now in his 3rd season with Columbia City Ballet, Journy has enjoyed dancing the roles of Arthur in Dracula, Snow King and Arabian Conjurer in the Nutcracker, Romeo in Romeo and Juliet, and the Prince in Sleeping Beauty. Journy has also performed as a guest artist in SC, in productions of Don Quixote, Giselle, Paquita, Balanchine's Allegro Brillante and Scotch Symphony, Lila York's Celts. Journy is married to fellow company dancer Anna Porter.

Principal Dancer Robert Michalski is dancing his 14th season with the Columbia City Ballet. Born in Detroit, his previous dancing experience includes three years with the Ballet Theatre of Maryland, the Michigan Opera Theatre and the Eglevsky Ballet in New York. His training began with the Dayton Ballet School. Robert was discovered by Artistic Director William Starrett when he participated in the company's summer dance experience in Myrtle Beach in 1988. Robert has danced the lead role of Dracula: Ballet With A Bite for five seasons, with The State praising his performance as "masterful" and citing his "remarkable talent for making movement seem effortless." Robert has also danced as John Smith in Pocahontas and one of his favorite roles as Chinese Tea in The Nutcracker. He is currently teaching at the Columbia Conservatory and married to Lauren Michalski, Columbia City Ballet's Development and Membership Director.

Wayland Anderson is in his 4th season with the Columbia City Ballet. He has performed soloist roles and the principal role of Darius Rucker in The Hootie and the Blowfish Ballet before he decided to leave and create his own company with H. G. Robert. In 2008 he co-founded DANCEWORDZ the place were poetry meets ballet. In 2011, Mr. Anderson returned to Columbia City Ballet for the 2011-2012 Season. Upon his return he had the pleasure of dancing the Dew Drop Cavalier in Nutcracker. When he is not dancing he enjoys working as a Real Estate Agent with Russell & Jeffcoat.

Philip Ingrassia, raised in San Jose, CA, received his professional training at the School of San Jose Cleveland Ballet under the direction of Dennis Nahat, Donna Delseni, and Lise La Cour.  Mr. Ingrassia then attended the Boston Conservatory where he received the Jan Veen Dance Scholarship, graduating Magna Cum Laude.  He has performed with Ballet San Jose, Ballet Rox, Boston Dance Company, Charleston Ballet Theatre, and is currently a soloist with William Starrett at Columbia City Ballet.  During his career, he has performed such roles as Cavalier and Snow King in The Nutcracker, the Jester in Cinderella, Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and was able to perform one of his dream roles as Mercutio in William Starrett’s Romeo and Juliet.  This will be Mr. Ingrassia’s third season with Columbia City Ballet.