Meghann Oakes Rust
Meghann (Oakes) Rust has over 30 years of dance experience, particularly in ballet. She grew up in the Walnut Creek area, dancing under the Artistic Direction of Richard Cammack and Zola Dishong Cammack. She was a member of the Contra Costa Ballet’s pre-professional Company for 5 years. During her dancing career, she performed in Balanchine’s Serenade and Stars and Stripes, as well as prominent roles in The Story of the Nutcracker, Swan Lake, Paquita, Etudes, as well as works by Charles Anderson. Meghann also trained with a variety of instructors, including Suki Schorer, Michael Smuin, and Pascale Leroy.
Meghann graduated from the University of California, Irvine, where she earned a BA in Dance and a minor in Education. During her final year at Irvine, she trained under Diane Diefenderfer and received her Pilates Certification from Studio du Corps, Pilates Center of Orange County. She then graduated from Washington University in St. Louis, School of Medicine where she earned her Doctorate of Physical Therapy. Meghann now works as a dancemedicine physical therapist in Walnut Creek, CA and specializes in combining the principles of movement system impairment syndromes (MSI) with Pilates-based physical therapy to treat young athletes, particularly dancers, to aid in their return to sport. She lives in Pleasant Hill with her husband and 2 dogs.
Meghann joined the Vacaville Ballet Company Board of Directors in 2013 and assumed the role of President in 2016.
Kristen Suihkonen Pucher
Secretary - Treasurer
Kristen (Suihkonen) Pucher was one of the original company members when the Vacaville Ballet Company was founded in 1994 continuing throughout high school and even returned to perform with the Company her senior year in college.
After graduating from Vacaville High School, Kristen attended UC Irvine where she received a BA in Dance & Economics and minored in accounting. Kristen then put her minor to good use and, following in her parents’ footsteps, became a CPA. She is currently a senior tax manager at a business management firm in Sherman Oaks and lives in Burbank, CA with her husband (Mike), sons (Teddy and Timmy) and poodle (Penny).
Kristen is thrilled to be on the Board of Directors for the Vacaville Ballet Company and give to the community that was such an important part of her life.
Andrea has been a Graduate School Professor since 1994 and has been working (among other interesting assignments) as a simultaneous interpreter for the Olympic Games since 1996. She was PTO President at Bethany Lutheran School and serves currently on the Library Board at Kairos Public Charter School in Vacaville.
Andrea has lived in Vacaville since 1998. She and her husband, Don, have three daughters who have been involved with the Vacaville Ballet Company since 2002. Andrea joined the Vacaville Ballet Company Board of Directors in 2019.
Director, Prop Supervisor
A highly-experienced fundraiser, Katie has organized and executed charitable events such as triathlons, harvest festivals and a USO Style show at Willis Jepson Middle School. In her work with VBC, she has successfully spearheaded innovative fundraising events such as “VBC Egged My House”.
Katie is a graduate of UC Davis holds a BS in Human Development along with a multi-subject teaching credentials. She taught math at Orinda Intermediate school prior to having children.
Director of Fundraising
Director of Marketing & Outreach
Jean (De La Torre) Elias was raised in Vacaville and performed as a VBC Soloist during the 1994 – 1995 season. After graduating from Will C. Wood, Jean attended Stanford University where she earned her BA in economics and performed with the Stanford Ballet. During her time at Stanford, Jean expanded her dance education to encompass modern, ballroom and Afro-Brazilian disciplines as well as choreography coursework.
After living over a decade on the East Coast Jean returned to Vacaville with her husband, Bassem to raise their two children. She has served on the VBC Board of Directors since 2016 and is passionate about providing children access to the performing arts.
A message from the President
The show must go on! I can’t begin to express how overjoyed I am to see live theater returning. It’s been two years since we took to the VPAT stage. Yet, in so many ways, it feels like we never left. Watching the arts struggle over the past year has been heartbreaking. But, true to form, dancers have shown their resilience in the most troubling of times. Ballet companies flexed their creativity, bringing ballet to your homes in some of the most unique ways. VBC embarked on an all new journey, presenting a virtual streaming of our original take on the holiday classic, Nightmare Before Nutcracker. We created a theater space from scratch in our studio and dancers had everything from costumes to lighting and set pieces. However, nothing fills a dancer’s heart more than performing for a live audience and we are so grateful we have weathered the storm and to be performing for you today.
Our survival is thanks to the generosity of our donors. I’d like to extend my gratitude on behalf of the Board of Directors. Ticket sales alone do not support us and our mission. If you are in a position to give this time of year, I encourage you to consider a contribution to your local arts organization. While the arts are taking the stage again, I can guarantee it has not been an easy journey. Your donation will help us to continue productions like the one you are about to see today. I wish you all a joyous and safe holiday season and enjoy the show!
~ Meghann Oakes Rust