School Leadership and Faculty 

KIRI AVELAR

Associate School Director
Flamenco, Salsa, Latin Rhythms, Hip-Hop Advisor

Kiri Avelar holds a B.A. in Dance Education from New Mexico State University where she extensively studied and performed Classical Spanish dance, flamenco, and modern dance. She began her formal dance training as a scholarship recipient with the Boston Ballet, where she was introduced to Spanish dance under Ramon de los Reyes, and the Milwaukee Ballet School, later performing with the Milwaukee Ballet under the Artistic Direction of Simon Dow. After performing with the Milwaukee Ballet she moved to Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, México for 10 years where she founded the Academia de Ballet Emmanuel, an after-school program providing quality dance education for the children of Hogar de Niños Emmanuel Orphanage. As Founder, Director and Resident Teaching Artist, she designed and implemented a curriculum in ballet and Spanish dance, recruited and trained faculty, and initiated an annual summer dance intensive, hosting guest faculty and students internationally.

She went on to direct the Pan American Dance Institute in New Mexico, bringing artists and dance programming from Mexico, South America, and Spain to the community statewide. In that role she co-authored “Literacy through Movement”, a practical manual for classroom teachers, bringing movement into the classroom through the integration of language arts and dance. Over the course of 15 years she has served on the dance faculties of New Mexico State University, El Paso Community College (TX), Barbara Driscoll School of Ballet (TX), Sharron Miller’s Academy for the Performing Arts (NJ), as a teaching artist in both private and public schools, and since 2011 in the Ballet Hispánico School of Dance. She has presented for the New Mexico Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance, the National Dance Association, the American College Dance Festival, the Congreso Internacional de Educación Física, Deporte y Recreación in Chihuahua, Mexico, the Face to Face Arts in Education Roundtable in NYC, and the NYC Department of Education’s Professional Development Workshop for Dance Teachers. She has a certificate of completion from the Limón Teacher Training in NYC. In addition to her role as Associate School Director at Ballet Hispánico, she serves as Program Advisor for the Flamenco and Spanish Dance division, and teaches in the School of Dance and Education & Outreach programs.

 

MICHELLE MANZANALES

Modern Faculty Advisor

Michelle Manzanales is in the midst of her seventh season as the Rehearsal Director of the main company of Ballet Hispanico of New York. Named Artistic Associate in August 2014, Manzanales lends her artistic voice not only to the main company, but also to its School of Dance, BHdos (BH’s second company), as well as collaborates in creating and leading educational programs in communities across the country and internationally. Michelle began working with BH CEO & Artistic Director, Eduardo Vilaro, in 2003 as a dancer for his company Luna Negra Dance Theater of Chicago, where Manzanales later became Rehearsal Director in 2006 and eventually served as Interim Artistic Director 2009-2010.

A choreographer and dance educator originally from Houston, TX, Ms. Manzanales has 25 years of teaching experience serving on the faculties of Lou Conte Dance Studio (home of Hubbard Street Dance Chicago), the University of Houston, Rice University, San Jacinto College South, Houston Metropolitan Dance Center, Regional Dance America, Festival de Danza Cordoba-Youth American Grand Prix, as well as numerous dance studios, high schools and college dance programs across the country and internationally as a master teacher for Ballet Hispánico Education and Outreach programs. Her students' accolades include New York City Dance Alliance Teen Outstanding Dancer of the Year and numerous scholarships and top awards from Houston Ballet, The Rock School, Joffrey Midwest, Youth American Grand Prix, JUMP, On Stage New York, and Dance Masters of America among others. 

Manzanales has choreographed for professional dance companies, universities, and schools including Cerqua Rivera Dance Theater (Chicago, IL), Impetus Dance Theater (Chicago, IL), Momenta (Oak Park, IL), Houston Metropolitan Dance Company under the commissioned to set a new work on the main company of Ballet Hispánico in the 2017 Joyce Season.

Michelle Manzanales' homage to Frida Kahlo, Paloma Querida (2010), was hailed as a "visual masterpiece" by Lucia Mauro of the Chicago Tribune and was described by the Chicago Sun-Times as a "gorgeously designed, richly hallucinatory, multi-faceted vision of site-specific work entitled Muscle and Mortar: Animating Architecture at the National Building Museum for the Capital Fringe Festival. In 2007, Michelle created Sugar in the Raw (Azucar Cruda) for LNDT, which was applauded by the Chicago Sun-Times as "a staggering, beautiful, accomplished new work." Over her choreographic career, five of her works have been recognized by the American College Dance Festival, which is 2006 she had the great honor of having her piece, Pour Me Out, presented at the Kennedy Center (Washington, DC), for the National Gala. ACDFA bestowed this honor once again in 2008 for The Letting Go. Manzanales' choreography has also been presented by Texas Contemporary Weekend (Houston, TX), Spring to Dance (St. Louis, MO), Festival de Danza Córdoba (Veracruz, Mexico), and Fort Worth Dance Festival (Fort Worth, TX).
 

 
 

CARIDAD MARTINEZ

Classical Master Teacher

Caridad Martinez, a former principal dancer with the National Ballet of Cuba, has performed in many of the world's greatest theaters, including Scala de Milano, the Champs Elysses Theatre in Paris, the Metropolitan Opera House in New York, the Beaux Arts Theater in Mexico City, and the Bolshoi, Kirov Theater in Saint Petersburg. A graduate of Cuba’s National Ballet School, she also studied at the Superior Institute of Art in Cuba. While Ms. Martinez lived in Mexico, she spearheaded a 9-year campaign to bring Cuban-based training to Mexican youth. She succeeded in this by founding and serving as Artistic Director of the Cuban School of Ballet- Veracruz for 13 years. She continues to be an advisor for the School. Ms. Martinez has also served as the Artistic Director and choreographer of The Havana Ballet Theater Company, as guest teacher and choreographer for the Beau Art Schools in Mexico, and as Conservatory Director and teacher at Brooklyn Ballet. She has choreographed for movies, television, ballet and modern dance companies, and is currently working with the Escuela Cubana de Ballet in Veracruz, Danza Activa in Panama, the 92nd Street Y, Alberta Ballet School in Calgary, and the Bessie Awards. Ms. Martinez is happy to bring the Cuban methodology to the Ballet Hispánico School of Dance.

 
 

RAQUEL VALIENTE

Early Childhood Programs Manager

Raquel Valiente holds a BFA in Dance from Adelphi University, where she trained under the direction of ballet master Frank Augustyn. Raquel was also a scholarship student at Jennifer Muller/The Works, where she studied with Artistic Director Jennifer Muller, Associate Director John Brookes and principal company members. In addition, she has completed DEL’s Foundations of Dance Education and Dance for Students with Special Needs. Raquel is an ABT ® Certified Teacher, who has successfully completed the ABT ® Teacher Training Intensive in Primary through Level 3 of the ABT ® National Training Curriculum.

In her native El Salvador, Raquel created a dance program for the prestigious British School and also founded The Broadway Ballet School, which made its debut on the Salvadorian reality TV show Bailando por un Sueño. Raquel served as a judge for the show’s third season (2010), which holds the highest ratings in the history of Salvadorian TV, and also made guest appearances on other popular shows like Brinka and Viva la Mañana. Currently, Raquel serves as Programs Manager at Ballet Hispanico, where she supervises the Early Childhood Program, teaches ballet for the Open and Pre-Professional programs, as well as Latin American folkloric dance as an Education & Outreach teaching artist. In addition, Raquel is Ballet Mistress for Dances Patrelle’s Nutcracker, performs with American Tap Dance Foundation’s Tap Addicts Anonymous and enjoys sharing her expertise through presentations, as she has done for organizations such as the Arts in Education Roundtable’ Face 2 Face conference, City College of New York, Adelphi University and the Department of Education’s Dance Department.

 
                    

FACULTY


STELLA ALMBLADE

Stella Almblade began her dance training in a Ballet-Tap-Tumble class at a young age. She holds a BFA in Dance and BA in Spanish Linguistics from the University of Arizona. Stella feels blessed to have had her passions of performing and teaching dance combined with travel, having taught and performed in 15 countries. Stella has taught ballet, tap, modern, hip hop, jazz, musical theater, contemporary, creative movement, improvisation, and cheer to all ages since 2007. She has also completed the Horton pedagogy training under Ana Marie Forsythe and studied flamenco extensively in Madrid, Spain. Stella's teaching style reflects her background, emphasizing the importance of strong technique with excellence in performance quality. Stella's performance credits include international tours with Ad Deum Dance Company, Arrows International, Belarus Xtreme Dance, Ballet Jazz di Italia, Rimini in Danza, Ballet Folklórico de Guadalajara, and local New York City performances with Footprints Dance Company, Helen Simoneau Danse, Atmosphere Dance Company, Broadway Blessing, and Project Dance NYC. As a current scholarship student at The Ailey School, she is excited to be performing with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in Memoria this Fall at City Center. Stella also serves her community as a PMA® Comprehensive Certified Pilates Instructor in Manhattan .

AMÉLIE BÉNARD

Amélie Bénard was born in France. She studied at Centre international de danse jazz Rick Odums in Paris before coming to NYC. Amélie came to the Martha Graham School in 2006 with a scholarship and joined Graham II in 2007. After graduating from the Professional Training Program, she enrolled in the Teaching Training Program and obtained her certificate of recognition as a Teacher of Martha Graham Technique Level I in June 2009. During her time at the school she assisted Virginie Mécène in staging excerpts of "Appalachian Spring" on the Harvard Dance Company. Currently, she is a member of Edgar Cortes Dance Theater and Caliince Dance. She has also danced for Nu Dance Theater and performed works from choreographers such as Pearl Lang, Robert Battle, Virginie Mécène, Peggy Lyman, and Carrie Ellmore-Tallitsch.


REBECCA BLISS

Rebecca Bliss is honored to bring over 15 years of experience with Afro-Cuban arts to the school at Ballet Hispánico, and a passion for working at the intersection of education, performance, and culture. In addition to serving on the faculty of Ballet Hispánico, Rebecca is currently adjunct professor of dance at Barnard College and a teaching artist for the Brooklyn Academy of Music and Dancewave. Previous experience includes over 10 years of dedication to arts education programs throughout New York and to her ongoing open community workshops, master classes for local universities (Princeton, Rutgers, Sarah Lawrence College), several collaborations with Afro-Caribbean contemporary artists (RumbaTap, Areytos Performance Works), and ongoing performance and choreography work as an independent artist. Rebecca received her initial training in modern and ballet from the Alvin Ailey American Dance Center followed by over a decade of study in Cuba, and ongoing study of ballet and contemporary dance in New York. She has a Master of Arts degree from New York University with a focus on pedagogy, culture, and performance.

FRANCHESCA CABRERA

Franchesca Marisol Cabrera is a dancer, choreographer, director, and instructor actively involved in the dance community for 25 years. She began her dance training in Santa Barbara, California, in the styles of Classical Spanish dance, Flamenco, Baroque, Ballet and Mexican Folklorico. A graduate of the University of California, Los Angeles with a Bachelors’ of Arts degree in World Arts in Cultures, Franchesca also lived in Madrid, Spain, for three years, receiving her credentials in Danza Española and Flamenco. She has traveled much of the world to perform, including London, Mexico, South Korea, Spain, and Hong Kong. Franchesca has grown to love working with young children in arts education and outreach to public schools enriching and sharing the importance of the performing arts. In 2011, Franchesca completed her Masters of Arts Degree from New York University on integrating arts into curriculums for elementary school classrooms with an emphasis on critical thinking.

CECILIA CÁCERES

Cecilia Lucia Cáceres is an alumnus who began her dance training at the Ballet Hispánico School of Dance and is a graduate of the LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts. She then continued her dance training in the Junior Division of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater for six years. Cecilia has a dance background in ballet, modern, hip-hop, Latin dance, jazz, ballroom dance, tap, flamenco, repertory, contemporary, and West African dance. She also studied Dance Education at Marymount Manhattan College and became a member of the Soldiers of Hip-Hop Dance Team for three years. Cecilia went on to teach hip-hop, Latin jazz, modern, and ballet at Kips Bay Boys & Girls Club in the Bronx working with various ages in students of her community. In 2009, she taught middle school and high school students hip-hop and Latin ballroom at Urban Assembly for Applied Math & Science. Since 2000, she continues to assist the Dance Chairperson in the Dance Department of LaGuardia High School. Cecilia is overjoyed to be teaching hip-hop dance in the School of Dance and currently serves as an Administrative Assistant to the Advisors at Ballet Hispánico.

GABRIELA ESTRADA

Gabriela Estrada’s passion is to promote dance as art, tradition and culture. Born in Los Angeles and raised in Mexico studying dance, preparing a career as a translator and dancing musical theatre, returned to California for her BA in Dance at the University of California, Irvine. Along with her training in ballet, modern and musical theatre, she danced as part of the UCI Spanish Dance Ensemble, Ballet Folklórico de UCI, collaborated with outreach programs at EOP, and served as founding member of the Hermosillo-Irvine Sister City foundation. Ms. Estrada is currently living in New York, presenting her research on the contributions of flamenco to ballet through lectures, master classes and publications, while continuing her mission of promoting bridges of international multidisciplinary and multicultural collaboration, exemplified by the audiovisual production of Travesías: Our Journeys through Art and Education where colleagues from different countries have joined sharing testimonies of the values of migration to present at the CID - UNESCO congress 2016.

 

YVONNE GUTIERREZ

Yvonne Gutierrez is an alum of the Ballet Hispánico School of Dance of Cuban descent with a BS in Applied Computer Science from Pace University. She is a member of the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education. Ms. Gutierrez started teaching at Ballet Hispánico in the late 80s and returned in 2010. Her teaching history has also taken her to work at Flamenco Latino, the New School, Joffrey Ballet, Purelements and Educational Alliance. She was formerly on the dance faculty of Henry Street Settlement for over twenty years. There, she was responsible for creating and building a flamenco program which included enlightening collaborations with her students and Carlotta Santana’s Flamenco Vivo. Her freelancing has exposed her to multiple venues as a dancer, teacher, coach and/or choreographer. She creatively choreographed salsa, cha-cha and flamenco to the music of Tchaikovsky in an original production of “The Nutcracker in the Lower” (2002-2011) at the Harry Du Jur Playhouse. Although Ms. Gutierrez’s teaching is based in New York, she has taught workshops in Orlando, Florida, New Orleans, Louisiana, Stamford, Connecticut, and Montreal, Canada. In 2015, she received recognition from the Lower East Side Community for her years of service (HIV/AIDS Awareness and support festivals throughout the LES). Highlights of her past experiences includes numerous performances with Flamenco Latino Dance Company, AllNations International Dance Company, Stringbeans Latin Brazilian Jazz Band under the direction of Annette Aguilar as well as events/operas under the direction of Luis Montero. Ms. Gutierrez and her administrative work offer her an opportunity to attend conferences in Early Childhood Education giving her insight on high quality early care, education and school readiness. She is always working on enhancing her approach to teaching, focusing on the complete student with specific attention to their individual uniqueness.


ADRIANA JACINTO

Adriana Jacinto started her early training in Los Angeles, CA. At 17, she began her professional training at the Joffrey Ballet School as well as her professional career with the Joffrey Ballet in New York. She has danced with Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, Ohio Ballet, Dance Galaxy, and has been a guest artist with Dennis Wayne. Ms. Jacinto's wide range of repertoire includes Swan Lake, The Nutcracker, Raymonda, La Sylphide, Giselle, Petrouchka, Allegro Brillante, Concerto Barocco, The Green Table, and Light Rain. The versatility of her dance styles is continuously being explored which eventually brought her focus back to flamenco and classical Spanish dancing. She has been performing with American Bolero Dance Company since 2009. As a teacher, Adriana enjoys sharing her love of dance with her students by focusing on technique, musicality, and creative expression.

AMANDA MARQUEZ

Amanda Marquez received her early training with the School of the Garden State Ballet in Rutherford, New Jersey. Her wide range of training, teaching and performance skills are varied among classical ballet, jazz, modern, contemporary, and many Latin styles from ballroom to NY style Mambo. She is currently with MSA Talent Agency, New York. Amanda has also taught at other dance centers here in New York such as PeriDance Capezio Center and Broadway Dance Center; also abroad at Harbor Dance Center in Vancouver. Amanda has performed nationally and internationally over the past 12 years traveling to Mexico, Canada, Alaska and various cities throughout the US. She has made television appearances on channels such as Telemundo, Univsion, and Global BC in Vancouver. Most recently she works as an assistant and dancer with Maria Torres where she danced last season at the New York Knicks halftime show at Madison Square Garden, appeared in a Fox Sports Upfront and danced for Pop/Latin artist Don Omar in the 2013 Latin Billboard Awards.

REBECA MASO

Rebeca Maso is a former ballet dancer from Cuba. She received her training at the Professional School of Ballet Arts in Cuba under the direction of Fernando Alonso. She also obtained her diploma as a Ballet Teacher in Cuba and has been teaching for more than 25 years. She was one of the founding ballet dancers of the Professional Ballet Company of Santiago of Cuba in 1990, under the direction of Maria Elena Martinez and choreographer and dancer Jorge Lefebvre, artistic director of Royal Ballet of Wallonie at that time. In 1994, she traveled to Venezuela as a guest ballet teacher to different ballet schools in the southern part of the country, working in regional ballet festivals and teaching Cuban ballet methodology. In Venezuela, she was a member of the Ballet Nuevo Mundo de Caracas for five years under direction of Zhandra Rodriguez, where she performed neoclassic and contemporary works by choreographer such as Jose Pares, Paulo Denubila, Dennis Nahat, Gabriel Castillo, Hector Montero, Maria Rovira among others, participating in European tour and International Ballet Festivals in Cuba. During her time in Venezuela she had the opportunity to perform with Ballet Metropolitano of Caracas by Artistic Director Keyla Ermecheo in different classical ballet productions like The Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty, and Giselle. Ms. Maso also was invited from Ballet Metropolitano de Caracas to be part of the world premier “Dejando Rastro,” a modern dance created for four female ballet dancers by Carlos Orta, a leading dancer and teacher with the José Limón Dance Company and director of Corearte Dance Company of Venezuela. Ms. Maso came to U.S in 1999 as a guest artist of Metropolitan Ballet of Caracas participating in the international Ballet in Philadelphia. Ms. Maso is currently a student at Saint Mary’s College (LEAP), an internationally recognized Bachelor’s degree program specifically designed for current and former professional dancers. Ms. Maso was a judge of NJN Hispanic Youth Showcase at The New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) for three years and still teaches throughout NY & NJ.

DANA MCBROOM-MANNO


LILIANA MORALES

A native New Yorker, Liliana Morales started dancing at the age of five studying ballet and classical Spanish dance. She also trained in tap, jazz, and Escuela Bolera. By the time she was eight, she was performing small roles with New York opera companies. Not surprisingly, her first role was in Carmen with the Amato Opera Company. In August 1969, Liliana headed to Madrid where she began studying with Jose Granero, a choreographer with the Jose Greco Dance Company. She returned to New York, but went back to Spain in 1971 where she quickly plunged herself into Spanish dance culture. For the next five years, she built a reputation in Madrid’s famous tablaos, including Café De Chinitas, Torres Bermejas, Los Cabales and other celebrated flamenco venues. In 1978 she received her B.A. in dance from Stephens College, Columbia, Missouri. Most recently she was featured in the '100 YEARS OF FLAMENCO IN N.Y." exhibition at Lincoln Center.

ANA LOURDES NOVOA

Ana Lourdes Novoa began her training in La Escuela Nacional de Arte in Havana. She graduated eight years later in 1976, and was immediately admitted into the National Ballet of Cuba. In 1982, she was promoted to first soloist and in 1990 to principal dancer. Her repertoire included all the classics in the company such as Giselle in Giselle, Odette/Odile in Swan Lake, Swanilda in Copellia, Princess Aurora in Sleeping Beauty, Kitri in Don Quixote, Lisette in Fille Mal Gardee, Nikiya and Gamzatti in La Bayadere, Medora in Le Corsaire and others. Along with the classics, she performed many modern pieces from Cuban and international choreographers. Her partner for most of the roles in her professional career was Jose Manuel Carreno. In 1992, she became a Principal Dancer for the English National Ballet. She performed all her roles alongside partner Jose Manuel Carreno and Carlos Acosta. She returned to the Cuban National Ballet and toured the globe while performing in many renowned stages. She danced in several US cities including LA, NY and Boston. She also danced in many European countries such as Italy, France, Spain, Greece, Germany, Switzerland and others. In 1997, she retired after dancing for 22 years and began to teach at the National Ballet of Cuba. Her career as a teacher continued in the U.S. as she taught advanced classes at Dance Center in New Jersey for over a year, and also instructed Tony Award winner Kiril Kulish as he played the leading role in the Broadway production of Billy Elliot the Musical.

JUAN CARLOS PEÑUELA

A native of Cali, Colombia, Juan Carlos Peñuela began dancing at the age of 12 with Incolballet, a ballet-center secondary school. After graduation, Mr. Peñuela was invited to join Colombia's Ballet de Cali company as a soloist by Artistic Director Gloria Castro, where he performed in a variety of leading roles in contemporary works as well as classical pieces. Mr. Peñuela moved to the U.S. in 1993 and danced with Ballet Arizona, Dance Theatre of Harlem, Pennsylvania Ballet, and Maximun Dance Ballet Gamonet. In 2001 and 2002, Mr. Peñuela was selected to represent his native Colombia by performing in the International Ballet Festival of Miami. He has also served as the guest Ballet Master and Repetitur with Compania Colombiana de Ballet- Incolballet in Colombia, Chamber Dance Project, Lexington Ballet, The Ajkum Ballet Theatre in New York City and Earl Mosley's Institute of the Arts in CT. Juan Carlos has held a Romana's Pilates certification for the past 4 years. Mr Peñuela is the official Ballet master of the annual International Ballet Festival of Colombia. Juan Carlos is also the Senior Ballet Master for the Professional Company and for the Pre-Professional Program at Ballet Hispánico.

MARIA PIEDAD

Maria Piedad is a choreographer and a teacher who graduated from the Cuban National Ballet School and from the NYU/American Ballet Theatre® M.A. in ballet pedagogy. She has developed her artistic career in Ecuador, Cuba and the U.S. A member of the International Dance Council CID-UNESCO since 2009, she also teaches character, historical, jazz, and contemporary dance. Maria Piedad is an ABT® Affiliate Teacher who is certified to teach the ABT® National Training Curriculum from pre-primary through level 7 and partnering, having successfully presented students for examinations. Besides her work at Ballet Hispanico in the Early Childhood, General and Pre-professional programs, she is on the ballet and jazz faculty at Brooklyn Ballet and is a ballet mistress and répétiteur for the Long Island Ballet Theatre and for Dance into Light. She has served as a pedagogic adviser and choreographer for "Danzas" Ballet School in Ecuador since 1999. She worked for ABT® as a teaching assistant at JKO School children's division and as a counselor for their Summer Intensive; she was also an adjunct dance instructor for the CUNY’s College Now Program (2013-2014). Maria Piedad was the artistic director and choreographer of ProDanza-Ecuador, Commercial Dance Company (2001-12); K-12 dance educator for the German and American Schools in Quito (2003-12), chief of rehearsals for the National Ballet of Ecuador (2004-08) and a classical repertoire teacher at the Ballet School "Alejo Carpentier" in Havana (1999-2000). Her choreographies have been performed in Ecuador, El Salvador, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica and the United States. She staged the Jaime Pinto's complete ballets Don Quixote, The Nutcracker, The Three Musketeers and The Taming of the Shrew for the National Ballet of Ecuador where she was also a dancer starting in 1996.

CONNIE PROCOPIO

Connie Procopio has been a dance instructor for over a decade in the tri-state area. She is on the faculty of the Jose Limon Institute, where she teaches all levels from beginners to professional. She has been on the faculty for Chen Dance Center for 13 years, where she teaches Creative Movement, Ballet, and Modern Dance. Through H.T. Dance Company, Connie has taught and co-directed after school dance programs for 10 years. Her choreography has been shown in dance festivals in Europe, Florida and Canada. As a professional dancer, she had the pleasure to work with Alan Danielson, Avodah Dance Ensemble, and Sue Bernhard/DanceWorks, where her most recent performance was in summer of 2014, at Jacob's Pillow. Her experiences as a performer and teacher has been in both traditional and non-traditional settings -- serving a myriad of communities including the incarcerated. Her mission is to share the art form of dance as a forum for expression, education, and healing.

SANDRA RIVERA

Sandra Rivera has had an extensive career as a dancer, choreographer and educator. A founding company member of Ballet Hispánico, she has maintained a long association with the company as a dancer and educator. She started her training at the Tina Ramirez School of Spanish Dance where she was exposed to a wide variety of styles that were informed by the repertory of the Lola Bravo School of Spanish Dance. Through this thorough training she absorbed the distinct aesthetics of Spanish dance (folkloric, escuela bolero, bailes andaluz, flamenco) passing this knowledge on to her students. Her past students have included Jennifer Lopez and Condola Rashad. She has been an artist-in-residence at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine with the Omega Dance Co., where she produced a series of dance concerts, including Flamenco Mystico, and Los Seises, an adaptation of a 13th century Spanish liturgical dance. She has created and produced work for the Julia de Burgos Cultural Center including Path of the Artist, An Homage to Julia de Burgos and Barrio Girl, A Life Through Dance. She has been a teaching artist for numerous institutions including El Museo del Barrio, the Bilingual, Bicultural School and Ballet Hispanico (Primeros Pasos). Most recently she was featured in From the Horses’s Mouth, Celebrating New York’s Clark Center for the Performing Arts with performances at Aaron Davis Hall and the 92nd Street Y. With an area of concentration, Dance in the Latino Diaspora, she graduated with a BA from CUNY’s Baccalaureate for Unique & Interdisciplinary Studies.

 

NICOLE DUFFY ROBERTSON

Nicole Duffy Robertson danced with the Joffrey Ballet for over a decade, based both in New York and Chicago, where she performed works by Joffrey, Arpino, Ashton, Balanchine, Cranko, DeMille, Limon, Massine, Nijinska, and many others. She is a répétiteur for the Arpino Foundation, most recently staging Gerald Arpino’s Suite St. Saens and Light Rain.
 
Ms. Duffy was raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico, where she began her training with Ana Garcia and Maria Carrera at Ballets de San Juan, danced the classical repertory, and worked with Melissa Hayden, Ivan Nagy, and Frederic Franklin. She has taught nationally and internationally, including workshops in Florence, Italy and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. At the Joffrey Ballet School, she taught ballet, pointe, repertory, and developed the curriculum for dance history.
 
She has a B.A. in Art History from Columbia University, and is currently a master’s candidate at New York University’s Gallatin School. Her writing has been published in The Massachussetts Review, Eye on Dance and the Arts, and the NYU journal Esferas.

ELISABET RUBIO

Elisabet Rubio completed her dance training at the Cuban National Ballet School under Fernando Alonso and Ramona de Saá’s tutelage. In her native Cuba, she also performed with Pro Danza, a professional classical ballet company directed by Laura Alonso, Prima Assoluta Alicia Alonso’s daughter. In 2012 she moved to New York where she currently is a member of the Brooklyn Ballet Company and continues her studies under the direction of our world renowned Pre Professional Coordinator, Caridad Martinez.

ANILCE SCASSO

Anilce Scasso was born and raised in Havana, Cuba. She began her dance training in classical ballet at the School of Ballet in Havana, Cuba. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Dance from the University of Arts in Havana where her graduate thesis centered on eating disorders and nutrition in ballet. For over ten years now, Anilce has been teaching young children and adolescents from a wide range of dance levels. She has also served as a member of the committee responsible for evaluating auditions and admitting young dancers to the School of Ballet in Havana. From 2009 through 2012, she worked in Ecuador at Pam’s Dance School as a ballet and jazz instructor, where her main responsibility was teaching and developing ballet techniques in children and teenagers. In addition to teaching, she has also organized auditions and choreography for ballet and jazz ensembles and has trained students for international ballet competitions in Cuba and Ecuador. She has prepared students for the Royal Academy of Dance entrance exam and worked in Miami teaching ballet technique to gymnastic students. Currently, she teaches in New Jersey and she is part of the Ballet Hispanico Faculty in New York City where she works in the Early Childhood, Open and Pre Professional Programs as a ballet instructor.

JANICE TOMLINSON

Janice Tomlinson was born and raised in the Bronx, New York. She graduated from CUNY Hunter College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Biology and Dance. Janice has a dance background in hip-hop, jazz, ballet, contemporary, modern, and West African dance. Her formal training began in Fancy Feet Dance Studio and she became a member of the Fancy Feet Junior Jazz Dance Company during high school. She has danced in numerous festivals and has guest-appeared as a dancer on MTV’s reality show, MADE. In Syracuse University, Janice was a backup dancer for an opening act in JadaKiss’ concert. Janice performed in many renowned theatres such as the United Palace Theatre, Symphony Space, The Kaye Playhouse, and Off-Broadway at The Pearl Theatre Company. Additionally, she has competed in the Battle for Your Life Competition, Prelude Urban Dance Competition, and World of Dance New Jersey. During college, she had the pleasant opportunity to perform in the repertory works of Doug Varone and Marjani Fortè in The Kaye Playhouse. More notably, Janice has trained and performed abroad in Spain and Switzerland. She is very excited to join the teaching staff of Ballet Hispánico and embark on another journey with the faculty and students.

REBECCA TSIVKIN

Rebecca Tsivkin is a graduate and licentiate of the Royal Academy of Dance in London, and is an Associate of the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing (ISTD). Her RAD training included a 3-year, in-depth program that covered Ballet, Anatomy/Kinesiology, Dance Pedagogy, Child Psychology, Labanotation, Character, Modern, and Dance History. Over two decades Rebecca has taught ballet in universities, private dance studios, and company schools. Her students have gone on to attend advanced training programs in such places as the School of American Ballet (SAB) and the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School at American Ballet Theater (JKO), and to dance in professional companies such as Ballet Austin, Sacramento Ballet, and BalletX, among others. Rebecca was on the teaching faculty at American Academy of Ballet, where she was also the executive coordinator and international judge for the Performance Awards program under the direction of Mignon Furman. She was also the Head Children's Instructor at the Gelsey Kirkland Academy, and has guest-taught across the United States and internationally. Rebecca is the co-director of Ballet Extensions and International Dance Acclaim (IDA).

ACCOMPANISTS

DAMIÁN ALLEGRETTI

Damián Allegretti was born January 25, 1988, in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Born into a musical family, Damian was always surrounded by music. He began playing the drums at the age of seven. By his early teens, Allegretti was playing drums in a rock band, but outside he was being exposed to other kinds of music like jazz and African music. He studied drums with Kenny Washington, Gregory Hutchinson, Clarence Penn, Rodney Green, Barry Alstchul, and John Wooton. Musical Composition with Guillermo Klein, and African percussion with Abdoulaye Badiané (Senegal) and M’Bemba Bangoura (Guinea). Damian has worked with many distinguished musicians, including Tony Malaby, Erik Friedlander, Ernesto Jodos, Marcelo Gutfraind, Hernan Merlo, Jerónimo Carmona, Enrique Norris, Juan Pablo Arredondo, Luis Nach among many others. He also performed at ‘Buenos Aires Jazz Festival’, ‘Mar del Plata International Jazz Festival’, ‘El Bolson International Jazz Festival’, ‘Banfield Teatro Ensamble Jazz Festival’ and ‘Jazz a la Calle Jazz Festival’ (Uruguay). In 2013 Damián traveled to New York and recorded, in Avatar Studios, his first work as a leader called “Stoddard Place” with Tony Malaby and Erik Friedlander. Released in 2014, the album was awarded as The Best Debut Album by “Cuadernos de Jazz” (Spain) the most important jazz magazine in Europe. Damian Allegretti currently lives in New York City. He teaches and leads his own group.
 

DONALD "BABA DON" EATON

For almost a quarter century, Baba Don a percussionist very much in demand, has performed with many Major American Dance Companies in the world’s greatest performing-arts venues.  His recording career is as equally varied as it vast; the jazz idiom, rhythm and blues, and most African derived percussion styles are represented in his discography.  He is a featured member of the esteemed last poets.  He has long been acknowledged as one of New York City’s master teachers of African Drumming and the rhythms of the Diaspora in the Americas.  Baba Don is presently on faculty at the Harlem school Of the Arts for over 25 years, teaching all ages from 4 years of age to adults.
 
He has performed and recorded with The Dance Theatre of Harlem, Alvin Ailey Dance Theatre, Maurice Hines, Gregory Hines, Andy Williams, and Chuck Davis Dance theatre, Pattie Labelle, philicia Reshard, Choreographers Frank Hatchet, Geoffrey Holder, Louis Johnson and many more. Don Eaton has recorded with many Jazz artist Donald Brown, Joe Henderson, Jason Linder, Tyrone Jefferson, James Spaulding, Ron Carter, Gorge Clinton, Pharaoh Sanders, and The Last Poets
 
Baba Don has theatrical credits with The Classical Theatre of Harlem’s Macbeth, Caligula, and Dream on Monkey Mountain as percussionist for each production and with HBO’s Hoop Life sound track.  Mr. Eaton has performed with Maurice Hines’s "UPTown It’s Hot," as a Featured Percussionist.  Baba Don Eaton has performed with the Metropolitan Orchestra at the Opera House, Carnegie Hall, The State Theater,  Avery Fisher’s Hall , City Center, The Apollo Theatre and The House Of Blues and is also features on Sesame Street segment called "Drumming School" to name a few .
 
Mr. Eaton has received proclamations from the City of New Orleans, The City of New York Public Advocate’s Office as well a plaque of recognition from the Mid- Manhattan branch of the NAACP for his contribution to the Arts
 
Mr. Eaton Has also conducted workshops throughout the Metropolitan, Tri State  Area, with many institutions such as The Harlem School of The Arts, John Jay College, Arts Connections, African Horizon, Pyramid Dance Company, Arts Horizon, Yaffa Productions, North Hampden High School and Jack and Jill Arts Center to name a few.

 

NATALIYA FROLOVA

Nataliya Frolova is a graduate of the St. Petersburg Conservatory where she received her Master’s Degree in 1984 and Ph.D. Diploma in Piano Performance 1988. She was invited by Maestro Valery Gergiev to work as a Ballet Accompanist and Vocal Coach at the Mariinsky Theater, where she worked from 1990 until 1997. She played at piano rehearsals for opera and ballet repertoire. At the same time, she was working as a guest accompanist at the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra, assisting Mstislav Rostropovich, Yuri Temirkanov and Mariss Jansons. Since 1997 she lives in the United States. She worked in the Colorado Ballet in Denver under the artistic direction of Martin Freeman from 1997 until 1998. From 1998, she resides in New York City, working in all the major Ballet companies as a Ballet Accompanist - playing Ballet classes and rehearsals. These companies include: American Ballet Theater, Eliot Feld Ballet Company & The Ballet Tech Foundation, The Juilliard School, Ballet Hispanico, Steps on Broadway, and Alvin Ailey, among others. Her ballet class repertoire includes a large variety of music in different styles, from baroque to modern pieces.

 

FREYA GOLDSTEIN

A New York City native, graduated from Swarthmore College. She studied piano privately with Olga Heifetz. With her husband, Ben, she has written many published children's songs, two of which aired repeatedly on Sesame Street. For over fifteen years, Freya has been an accompanist at New York City ballet studios for dancers of all ages. She is happy to have been accompanying classes at Ballet Hispanico since 1998.

DAYRAMIR GONZALEZ

With a decade of experience and success in the international jazz community, Havana native Dayramir Gonzalez is ready to take New York City by storm. 
 
 At the age of eight he began attending Paulita Concepcion Elementary School of Music, where he found his instrument, the piano. He was later accepted to Cuba’s famed National High School for the Arts (ENA), and later on the Instituto Superior de Arte (ISA) in Havana.
 
In 2004, he won first place in performance at the annual JoJazz festival and competition known as Havana’s top venue for up and coming jazz performers. In 2005, he won first place in the composition category and won his first record deal with the national record label Colibri. He recorded his first album with his recently founded group Habana enTRANCé, which became for him the perfect platform to develop his skills as artist, bandleader, and composer. 
 
In 2009, Gonzalez was invited to audition for Berklee School of Music in Boston. His acceptance to the school made him the first Cuban national to receive a full scholarship. In 2011, Gonzalez was signed by Berklee’s Jazz Revelation Records and became the face of the label. 
 
In 2012, he was invited to perform at Carnegie Hall as part of their Voices of Latin America series, along with Chucho Valdes, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Danilo Perez, Egberto Gismonti and Aldo Lopez-Gavilan. His performance was later featured in the Wall Street Journal. In 2013, Gonzalez graduated Berklee Summa Cum Laude, after receiving the Wayne Shorter Award for Most Outstanding Composer of the Year.
 
Gonzalez moved to New York where he currently resides. Gonzalez has made his longtime dream of creating his own space for musical education and development a reality by creating the “Art School of Contemporary Performance and Creativity.” 
 
A few months ago, he decided to come back to the studio to record his second album, “The Grand Concourse” to be released in 2016. Gonzalez is building his legacy in America, and is positioning himself as a leader in the Afro-Cuban Jazz community.

 

MAURICIO HERRERA

Mauricio Herrera is from the eastern province of Holguin, Cuba. The interest in music comes from the musical legacy of his family but He first entered the world of music was at age 7 playing violin, but by 14 began studying percussion where he found his niche. After graduation from the Jose Maria Ochoa Conservatory in Holguin, he began playing in various local popular and folkloric groups and was on faculty at Escuela Vocacional de Arte. In 1994 he moved to La Habana to broaden his horizons, where he played, toured, and recorded with the likes of Paulito FG, Manolito Simonet, Manolín el Medico de la salsa, Hector Valentin, Angel Bonne, La Barriada, and Pachito Alonso.  In 2001 he relocated to Mexico where he played with several local groups including Amaury Gutierrez, David Torrens, and many others. In 2005 Mauricio moved to New York where he currently resides.  He has played, recorded and toured with: David Sanchez, Stefon Harris, Nicholas Payton, Christian Scott (90 Miles Project,),  Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Ignacio Berroa, Yerba Buena, Lila Downs, Manuel Valera and the New Cuban Express, Alfredo de la Fe, Bryan Lynch, Luis Perdomo, The Rodriguez Brothers, Dave Samuels and The Caribbean Jazz Project, Edward Simon , Hector Martignon, Batyr Shukenov, La India, Spanish Harlem Orquestra, Steve Coleman, Jackie Terrasson, John Benitez, Mark Weinstein, Lew Soloff, Aruan Ortiz, Candido Camero,Yerba Buena, Osmany Paredes, Yosvany Terry, Pedro Martinez y Grupo Ibboru, Francisco Mela and many others. Mauricio was a teacher at the Boys and Girls Harbour Conservatory in New York City, also has given Master classes at The Banff Centre Canada, on Berklee College of music, JAZZUV University Xalapa, Mexico, and playing around the World with Several major artists from the Scene of Jazz and other Musical Genres.  Mauricio is endorsed by Latin Percussion (LP) and Vic Firth (Sticks). 

 

MOSHE KNOLL

Pianist-Composer Moshe S. Knoll is a free-lance Classical artist working throughout the NY metro area.   A graduate of The Juilliard School, he has given solo recitals and has appeared as soloist with orchestras in the US, the UK, Israel and Venezuela. An avid fan of Chamber Music, he has devoted considerable energy to its dissemination through his membership in ACMP: Associated Chamber Music Players. Moshe sits on the Board of DAHA: Dvorak American Heritage Association; a branch of the Bohemian Benevolent and Literary Association, devoted to preserve the legacy of Antonin Dvorak and his influence in American Music. As a collaborative pianist, he works with singers, instrumentalists and ballet classes. As a ballet pianist, he has made recordings for the use of Maestro Pedro Ruiz. Moshe has also worked for the Hebrew Arts School and Belvoir Terrace, a summer arts camp for girls in Lenox, MA. Moshe is on the Faculty of the ArtsAhimsa Chamber Music Festival, also in Lenox, MA.
 

SANTIAGO LEISBON

Santiago Leibson was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina. After studying in Buenos Aires at Conservatorio Manuel de Falla, Santiago moved to New York City in 2014 to do a Masters in Jazz Performance at NYU. Santiago’s most recent album is "Out of Orden" and it features Drew Gress on bass and Devin Gray on drums. He has two other albums with his Argentine trio: AMON (2013) and Pendular (2014). Santiago has performed with the NYU Jazz Orchestra at different venues such as The Blue Note and Drom; with different special guests that includes Alan Ferber, Billy Drewes, Michael Rodriguez and Lenny Pickett. He has also performed or recorded with “Guillermo Klein’s Symmetrical Moon Vamps”, Jeff McGregor quintet and Brian Adler's Shankar.
 

FOLUSO MIMY

Foluso Alamide Mimy is a percussionist devoted to a career of performance and teaching. Much of his life has been spent traveling the African Diasporas – countries such as Senegal, Gambia, Ghana, and Cote Divoire – with these two goals in mind. He has studied under world-renowned musicians, jolimusos, and choreographers. Foluso has been a member of companies including Umoja Dance Co. and African Global theatre. Currently Foluso is lead percussionist with Bambara Drum and Dance Ensemble among others is musical director of Sewe African Dance Company among others. Amidst all of this, he is an assistant to renowned choreographer Dr. Chuck Davis. His academic achievements include AA and BA degrees from Essex County College and William Paterson University. Foluso is an instructor for several youth programs including the NJPAC Artist Residency. In his own words: “My blessing is to share my gift, bringing joy to others through the spirit of my drum.”

 

JARED NEWMAN

Paul Jared Newman, a native of Manhattan, New York, has been a guitar player since his early teens. His first gig was as on-stage guitarist in The Love Cure, one of the first rock musicals produced in New York. An awakening to classical music and the Spanish guitar occurred soon after, and in recent years flamenco has deepened his involvement with Spanish music. Current and recent residencies include: Guitar Accompanist for the legendary Aileen Pasloff’s Spanish and Flamenco classes at Bard College; class accompanist for noted maestros José Molina and Mariano Parra in NYC; Teaching Artist, New York City Center Arts in Education Program. Recent performance/composition credits include: guitarist/actor: Este Nuestro Espacio dance theatre piece by Silvia Siller, Poet's Den Theatre, New York; guitarist: Under Fire, New York Musical Theatre Festival; Theatre at St. Clements; Composer/recording, (Black) Light, film by Deirdre Towers, danced by Katherine Crockett of the Martha Graham Company; composer/guitarist, Choreographers On The Edge with Compania Flamenco Librada, Byrdcliffe Theatre, Woodstock, NY; Guest Artist, Música en las Montañas festival in Las Alpujarras, Granada, Spain. Recently performed compositions include: Sonidos Sombreados (guitar & string orchestra); Ecos de la Petenera (clarinet & piano); Caras del Prisma (guitar, strings & percussion); "por la noche me llaman .  .  . " (violin & piano, commissioned for performance March 2013 by the Orfeo Duo). Jared is also a music book author whose publications include: A New Anthology of Falsetas for Flamenco Guitar, Bold Strummer, Ltd. 2009; Classics for the Guitar; Karamar Publications, Hauppauge, NY 1996; editor: The Keys to Flamenco Guitar seriesby Dennis Koster; AIG Publications, New York 1992 –4; arranger: Five Women Composers for Guitar; Mel Bay Publications 2004; Ernesto Nazareth: Brazilian Tangos; Mel Bay 2001. He holds a Masters degree in guitar performance from SUNY Stony Brook, NY, a BA in Music from UC Berkeley, and an Advanced Level Certificate from Taller Flamenco in Sevilla, Spain.

 

BERNARD SCHALLER

Bernard M. Schaller, guitar accompanist became interested in flamenco after seeing Antonio Gades and his flamenco company at the New York World’s Fair in 1964.  He was fortunate to come in contact with the legendary guitarist Mario Escudero.  Mr. Escudero had recorded several solo guitar albums. As it turned out, Bernard’s first flamenco album was of Mario Escudero. Some years later, he began to accompany flamenco dance classes at Ballet Hispánico in 1986, as well as for dancers Mariquita Flores, Maria Alba and Jose Molina.  Over the years, Bernard played at several local restaurants in Manhattan and performed at senior centers in New York and New Jersey.

 

JEREMY SMITH

Jeremy Smith is a percussive artist whose unique versatility allows him to move seamlessly among numerous musical styles. While the foundation of his playing comes from his classical training at Juilliard, his interests lie in the vast array of percussion traditions from around the world such as those found in South America, Africa, India, the Middle East, and jazz. As a specialist of Venezuelan maracas, he has performed with Latin Grammy nominee Luisito Quintero, Gerardo Contino y Los Habaneros, Los Crema Paraiso, Juancho Herrera, and more. He is a member of the Boston-based quintet Mr. Ho’s Orchestrotica as well as the innovative Middle Eastern music group Brooklyn Nomads led by oudist Hadi Eldebek. Jeremy is a freelance artist based in New York City. He received his Bachelor of Music degree from The Juilliard School as a student of Gordon Gottlieb and Markus Rhoten.

 

SHARON WALSH

As a young piano enthusiast, Sharon Walsh began playing piano at 7 and began accompaniment with the Tulsa Ballet at 16. After a brief hiatus, Sharon moved to New York where she currently plays for Ballet Hispánico, The Julliard School and Marymount Manhattan College.  In addition, she has been a guest pianist for Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Kansas City Ballet, Ballet Arts, American Ballet Theater, Ballet Tech, The French Academie of Ballet and The Nederlands Dans Theater 2. Sharon loves to instinctively incorporate jazz, Broadway, opera, modern and personal compositions into her repertoire on request.


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