Board of Directors
Covenant Ballet Theatre gratefully acknowledges its Board of Directors and Advisory Board for their leadership, support and generosity.
President: Steven B. Rissman, Esq.
Treasurer: Marla Hirokawa
Secretary: Briana Parker
Members: Geovanni Este, Laurie Hamano, Frank Pratt.
Advisory Board: Lawrence Brandman, Esq., Lawrence Lam, Reverend Steve Schlissel, Yelena Siwinski.
Artistic Director and Founder
Marla A. Hirokawa was born and raised in Hilo, Hawai’i where she trained at the Hilo School of Ballet and was an apprentice with the Honolulu City Ballet. She later graduated cum laude with a B.A. in dance from the University of California, Irvine. While in Irvine, she received the Distinguished Student Scholar Award, the UCI Dance Alumni Scholarship, and the Laguna Beach Festival Scholarship. After dancing in Hawai’i, California, and for various companies in New York City, she opened Covenant Dance Studio in 1987, founded Covenant Dance Theatre in 1989, and then in 2007 transformed both unincorporated businesses into Covenant Ballet Theatre of Brooklyn, Inc. (CBT), a nonprofit arts organization.
Since 1987, Marla has developed and managed Covenant Ballet Theatre’s ballet and modern curriculum and other student programs. In 2011, she became an American Ballet Theatre® Certified Teacher in primary through level 3 of the ABT® National Training Curriculum.
From 1990 to 1997, Marla was a teaching artist for the New York City Ballet Education Department. Since 1997, she has created and managed arts education programs presented by Covenant Ballet Theatre faculty in public schools. She has been an adjunct ballet, modern technique, and modern composition instructor at Kingsborough Community College and an adjunct ballet instructor at Marymount Manhattan College.
Over the past two decades, Marla has conceived and choreographed seventeen original narrative ballets performed by her students and professional dancers, several of which are historical in content. Orphan Train is a tribute to Rev. Charles Loring Brace, the founder of the New York Children’s Aid Society and father of the first placing-out program known as the Orphan Trains. It has been performed numerous times since 1997, including in Athens, Georgia by Encore Dance Theatre.
In 2001, Marla premiered Nisei, a loving dance tribute in memory of her father and of World War II Japanese American veterans. The Nisei Project brought Covenant Ballet Theatre to O’ahu, Kaua’i, Big Island, and Maui in Hawai'i to perform the ballet in 2003. In 2014, Nisei was re-staged for the New York International Fringe Festival.
In addition to her narrative ballets, Marla has choreographed a number of smaller works that CBT faculty and guest artists have performed in Manhattan, Staten Island, Queens, and Brooklyn. Her choreography received recognition at the Ballet Builders Showcase in 1992, the Choreographer’s on Point choreography workshop in 1995, and the Choreographer’s on Point Previews in 2007.
Sonia Jones was born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where she trained as a student, teacher and choreographer, and performed classical and contemporary dance repertoire prior to moving to Brooklyn in 2009. She has over fifteen years of teaching experience, including the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School at American Ballet Theatre (ABT), ABT’s Young Dancer Summer Workshop, Covenant Ballet Theatre of Brooklyn, Dance Theatre of Harlem, Harlem School of the Arts, Huntington Center for Performing Arts, and Ballet Theatre of Lancaster.
From 2015 to 2022, Sonia was a staff member of the education department at ABT, where, among other responsibilities, she managed ABT’s network of over 1,800 certified teachers. She also served on the board of examiners and as a co-instructor for the ABT/NYU Master’s Program with New York University Steinhardt. Additionally, she is the founder of Sojo Performing Arts in Midtown Manhattan and she serves on the board of directors for Times of Refreshing Christian Centre, New York.
Sonia holds an MA in Teaching Dance in Higher Education and the Professions with a concentration in ABT Pedagogy from NYU Steinhardt. She became a member of the CBT family through her work there as a teacher, choreographer, and performer from 2011 to 2019. She is very excited to have returned to CBT as a key member of the leadership team, and to keep working to take the lid off the best-kept secret in southern Brooklyn.