The Oregon Ballet Academy is dedicated to offering the finest in dance training and performance. As a self-sustaining community arts organization, we provide a training ground for talented, aspiring artists and dance enthusiasts of all ages. We hope to inspire the love of dance and appreciation of music in students of varying abilities and ages, from preschool to pre-professional. We support the growth of classical ballet by maintaining the highest standards and by nurturing the talent of every student.
Pre-professional students have the opportunity to develop the skills, experience, and discipline which are the necessary foundations for a professional dance career. Our director is an accomplished professional dancer who brings his experience to bear for the benefit of our serious students.
Those students whose paths lead to non-dance careers gain immeasurably from having studied at OBA. They develop self-motivation, self-discipline, poise, grace, and an appreciation for the arts which they will carry with them throughout their lives.
John Grensback - Houston Ballet
Artistic Director - Upper School Director
(Upper Level Ballet Classes, Pointe, Boys Program Coordinator)
Since his arrival as director of the Academy in 2003, John Grensback has had a profound influence on the students of the academy, specifically with his high standard of excellence, his working relationship with teachers, and his dedication to every student. He has trained students who are now professional dancers with American Ballet Theater, San Francisco Ballet, Orlando Ballet, Oklahoma City Ballet, and more.
John Grensback began dance training at the age of 7 with his foster father, Eldon Parish, in Chicago. At the age of 15 years, Mr. Grensback attended The School of American Ballet in New York City. Upon graduation from SAB, Mr. Grensback joined the New York City Ballet and danced with the company for two seasons. He then joined the Joffrey Ballet where he danced until 1982. In 1982 he was invited to join the Houston Ballet where he became a principal dancer and danced under the direction of Ben Stevenson.
Mr. Grensback retired from the stage in 1990 and moved to the island of Guam with his wife, Megan Murphy. He opened and directed his own studio in Guam until June of 2003. Mr. Grensback taught master classes in Hong Kong, The Philippines, Houston Ballet Academy and at the Joffrey Ballet School. While in Guam he choreographed, produced and directed The Nutcracker Ballet, The Sleeping Beauty Ballet, Hansel and Gretel, Carmina Burana, The Emperor and the Nightingale, and many other classical and contemporary works.
Principal roles (Artistic director)
Prince Siegried, Swan Lake (Ben Stevenson)
Prince Albrecht, Giselle (Peter Wright)
Prince Florimund, Sleeping Beauty (Ben Stevenson)
James, La Sylphide (Ivan Nagy)
Prince, Nutcracker (Ben Stevenson)
Dr. Faulke, Rosalinda (Ronald Hynd)
Male Jumper, Etudes (Harold Landers)
Dark Angel, Serenade (George Balanchine)
Male Lead, Paquita (Larry Long)
Prince, Cinderella (Ben Stevenson)
Pas De Deux, Don Quixote (Ben Stevenson)
Pas De Deux, Esmerelda (Ben Stevenson)
Pas De Deux, Blue Bird(Ben Stevenson)
Guest appearances Performed as a guest artist with the Cincinnati Ballet,
Chicago Ballet, Bartlesville Civic Ballet, St. Louis Ballet, Indiana State
University, Teatro Municipal de Rio de Janiero.
Ms. Murphy began ballet training in Guam and left to study at The National Ballet School of Canada when she was fifteen years old. She attended The San Francisco Ballet School, studied under Richard Gibson in Palo Alto, California, and trained at The Houston Ballet Academy on a scholarship. She danced professionally with both The Atlanta Ballet and The Houston Ballet, and danced in ballets such as Swan Lake, Ben Stevenson's Cinderella, Serenade, and more.
After retiring from performing, Ms. Murphy joined the staff at the Houston Ballet Academy where she directed the pilates studio and the adult dance program. While attending The University of Houston she also managed the large aerobics program at the Downtown YMCA in Houston.
Ms. Murphy opened Oregon Ballet Academy is 2003 with her husband John after moving to Eugene from Guam with their children. While not in the studio, Ms. Murphy is a real estate agent with United Real Estate Properties.
Business Operations Manager
Sophie Grensback grew up in Eugene, Oregon and danced at Oregon Ballet Academy from when she was 5 years old until she graduated high school in 2016. During her years at OBA, she became a National Champion in both Latin Ballroom and Standard Ballroom. After graduating with degrees in Public Health and Political Science from Oregon State University, she returned to Eugene in 2020 and joined the OBA staff. In addition to OBA, Sophie works with local teenagers in foster care and/or residential crisis facilities under DHS and DDS.
Upper School Instructor, Rehearsal Assistant
Stella Verdouw-Trommer was born in Eugene, Oregon and started dancing at the age of 7. Stella immediately realized that she wanted to pursue a professional career. Her early training included training under Mansur Kamaletdinov, who was one of the last students of Aggripina Vaganova. Stella’s spent her formative years training under John Magnus of the Joffrey Ballet School.
At the age of 16, Stella moved to Europe to attended the Dutch National Ballet School. She studied under world-renowned teachers and received principle roles in school performances her first year. Stella subsequently attended the National Ballet School of Canada, and was selected as one of two students for an exchange program with the Dresden Semperoper Ballet.
After the 3 month exchange program in Dresden, Germany, Stella was offered a contract as a corps de ballet member. At the Semperoper, she danced leading roles in Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, and numerous other works. Stella had the honor of performing the title role in the last performance ever of Mats Eks‘ “Sie war Schwarz” and was personally selected by renowned Balanchine ballerina Merrill Ashley to perform the 2nd movement principle role in Balanchine’s “Symphony in C”.
Stella recently graduated from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and loves using her knowledge of health and wellness to help dancers perform their best, stay healthy, and feel energized and strong.
Stella has a deep love for classical ballet, placing a special emphasis on technique and proper alignment. She believes that her success was supported by the fact that she received training from several different disciplines, and places great emphasis on versatility in her teaching. She genuinely loves helping dancers succeed, and most importantly, have fun!
Whenever she’s not in the studio, Stella enjoys exploring the Oregon nature with her husband and their golden retriever. Stella is very excited to be joining OBA and is ready share her love of dance with students in Eugene.
Lower School Instructor
Kristi Hill grew up in Helena Montana where she began dancing at the age of 5. She
danced at Creative Art Center with Premiere Dance Company training in ballet, jazz and
modern. After graduating from high school she moved to Utah to attend Brigham Young
University. While at BYU she danced with Theatre Ballet Company. She was able to
perform lead roles in several productions and tour to Colorado, New Mexico, California,
Washington and Oregon. Her professional dancing experience includes the Fairy
Godmother in Cinderella and The Queen and the lead Pixie in The Life in the Labyrinth.
She was also the Queen and a Swan in Swan Lake. Kristi has performed the following
roles in the Nutcracker as a guest artist: Arabian, Snow Queen and Sugar Plum Fairy.
Her favorite was the Sugar Plum Fairy.
Kristi graduated from BYU with a BA in Dance with an emphasis in Ballet. Kristi has
been teaching ballet for over 20 years in Utah, Montana and Oregon. She taught at
Lifehouse Performing Arts Academy in Salem, Utah for 12 years. While teaching at
Lifehouse she choreographed and restaged ballets such as Sleeping Beauty,
Cinderella, The Nutcracker, Coppelia, sections of La Bayadere and Paquita, and the
Wizard of Oz. Kristi was also the director over the ballet program at Lifehouse. Kristi has
taught all ages and levels: from 18 months to adult classes. Kristi was trained in Leap n’
Learn which is an early childhood dance program for ages 2-8 years old. She has been
able to implement this training the past 5 years as she has focused on teaching 18
month-7 year olds. Kristi has created a pre-pointe program to help dancers transition to
pointe more successfully. She has guested at several summer camps to teach pre-
Kristi loves to encourage dancers to meet their full potential. She believes that with hard
work anything can be achieved. Kristi believes that mastering the basics is what makes
a strong dancer. Kristi strives to assist her students in finding a love for ballet by making
it fun, creating a structured environment and giving each student opportunities to
progress. Aside from teaching, Kristi loves to spend time with her 4 children and
husband out in nature in beautiful Oregon. Kristi is excited to start her 3rd year with OBA.
Social Media Manager
Katie has been a parent at OBA since 2013, and joined our OBA staff as Social Media Manager in early 2023. Her love for capturing detail and emotion through photo and video have made her a perfect fit for the job. Check out Katie's content on our Facebook and Instagram pages!