Serkan Usta, Artistic Director

Born in Istanbul, Turkey, Usta received his early classical training at the Ballet Conservatory in Istanbul.  Upon moving to the United States in 1991, he furthered his dance education at the Kirov Academy of Ballet in Washington, D.C. and the School of San Francisco Ballet.  Usta is a recipient of the Hellman’s Scholarship Award and was featured on the cover of the September 2002 issue of Dance Magazine.  Usta has been featured in the roles of Champion Roper in Rodeo, Dartanian from Three Musketeers, Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet, Basilio in Don Quixote and Prince Albrecht in Giselle. His performing experience also includes roles in Company B, Rosalinda, La Fille Mal Gardee, Troy Game, Prawn-Watching, and Coming Together as well as Nacho Duato’s Arenal, Duende, Na Floresta, and Rassemblement. Usta danced the role of Cavalier in Ballet Des Moines’ The Nutcracker in 2004, 2005, 2007 and 2012.

In July 2005, Serkan joined Ballet Des Moines as Artistic Director. Since then he has choreographed “Kélé Mandi” in Ballet Des Moines’ 2006 triple bill, New Beginnings, “Primavera” in Ballet Des Moines’ 2007 triple bill, Continuum, “Bubbles!” in the 2008 triple bill Elevation, “Bir Demet Yasemen” in Ballet Des Moines’ 2009 production Momentum, and Ballet Des Moines’ annual productions of The Nutcracker since 2010. Usta produced Alice in Wonderland at the Civic Center in 2011 and co-choreographed and produced The Wizard of Oz held at the Civic Center April of 2012.  In 2012 Serkan choreographed “The Awakenings” for Ballet Des Moines’ fall production of Prelude: A Triple Bill.  Usta produced and co-choreographed our 2013 Spring Show, Snow White.  Usta also currently trains Ballet Des Moines’ resident company of professional and our pre-professional dancers.


Lori Grooters, Ballet Mistress

A Des Moines native and former soloist with Tulsa Ballet, Lori Grooters became Assistant Principal of the Tulsa Ballet Center for Dance Education.  While with Tulsa Ballet, she danced numerous roles in both classical and contemporary ballets, including those of Kitty in Anna Karenina, Nichette in Lady of the Camilias, the Cowgirl in Rodeo, Red Girl in Celts and the Rum and Coca Cola girl in Company B, as well as Pas de Quatre and Four Little Swans in Swan Lake.  She also toured Portugal with the Tulsa Ballet in 2002.  Before dancing with the Tulsa Ballet, Grooters was a dancer with Ballet Iowa from 1994-1997.  Her ballet training included study with Ballet Iowa, Boston Ballet School, School of American Ballet and the Joffrey Ballet School in New York. Her instructors at Ballet Iowa included Lynn Andlauer, Irina Vaselini-Uralsky, Konstantin Uralsky, and Kennet Oberly.  Grooters, with her husband, Artistic Director Serkan Usta, moved back to Des Moines to be instructors at The School of Classical Ballet & Dance and raise their children Emma and Uzay.  She joined Ballet Des Moines as Ballet Mistress in July of 2005.  Since then she has choreographed for Ballet Des Moines’ spring shows on the pre-professional dancers, Illumine, Ascending, Penumbra, and Stars & Stripes.  She also co-choreographed Wizard of Oz, Snow White, and our annual productions of The Nutcracker with Serkan.  Most recently in BDM’s fall productions with the professional and pre-professional dancers, she choreographed Nesting and Vivaldi in Motion. Grooters has also taken on the role as dancer with BDM and performed Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker, Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz and Snow White in Snow White.  Contemporary performances have included Ma Cong’s ballets: Melodia, Within the Bodies, Fragmented Figures, Luscious and Angeli and Serkan Usta’s ballets Kelemandi, Primavera, Bubbles, The Awakenings and Death & the Maiden. Lori also currently assists in training our resident company of professional and our pre-professional dancers.

Artistic Staff

  • Felix Campbell, Production Manager

  • Allyson Cluney, Head of Wardrobe

  • Tracy Jagim, Production Coordinator

  • Mitch McCoy, Props Manager