MICHELLE MANZANALESDirector, School of Dance
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.
KIRI AVELARAssociate School Director
Kiri Avelar is currently pursuing her MFA in Dance at Rutgers University and holds a B.A. in Dance Education from New Mexico State University, where she extensively studied and performed Classical Spanish dance, flamenco, and Latin American and Spanish folkloric forms. 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 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. Over the course of ten years as Founding 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 18 years she has served on the dance faculties of New Mexico State University, Rutgers University (NJ), 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.
STELLA ALMBLADEStella 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 BÉNARDAmélie 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.
FRANCHESCA CABRERAFranchesca 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 CÁCERESCecilia 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. She has assisted the Dance Chairperson in the Dance Department of LaGuardia High School for 17 years. Cecilia is overjoyed to teach hip-hop, jazz, and salsa dance in the School of Dance and currently serves as a School of Dance Associate at Ballet Hispánico.
YVONNE GUTIERREZYvonne 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.
AMANDA MARQUEZAmanda 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.
CARIDAD MARTINEZCaridad 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.
REBECA MASORebeca 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-MANNODana Manno began her professional career as a choreographer for jazz legend, Mary Lou Williams. She became a performer and then a teacher under the tutelage of Katherine Dunham and is a Dunham Technique Master. Her years as a faculty member of the Dunham School inspired her to create he 42nd Street Repertory Theatre that became the model for Theatre Row. There, she produced and directed many plays including “Blues or Mr. Charlie” and “The Connection”. Her Off Broadway staging of “Shuffle Along” went on to Broadway as the musical “Eubie, which was nominated for a Tony Award. S. Manno’s career as an artist has taken her to more than thirty countries. Her work as a director and choreographer includes film, on and Off Broadway theatre, Edinburgh Festival, Ghana Television, the United Nations and the New Zealand stage. Professor Manno taught drama and dance for 22 years at Adelphi University. She has also given Master Classes at Yale, Sarah Lawrence and Holy Cross Universities. Her ability as a songwriter has taken her to the top of the charts. She has performed at the Apollo Theatre, The Metropolitan Opera (Corp de Ballet), the Joseph Papp Public Theatre, La Mama, Intar, Tina Crolls “Horse’s Mouth” series as well as several New Federal Theatre productions. As Artistic Director of the PAKA Theatre Dance Foundation, Dana is a contributor to the “Blueprint for Dance Education” of the NYC Department of Education. Ms. Manno has produced and directed productions at the 78th Street Theatre Lab and the United Nations Library Theatre (the ground breaking HIV play, St. Mark’s Place). She is an alumni faculty member of the 92nd Street Y Harkness Dance Center and the Dance Theatre of Harlem. Currently Dana teaches at SUNY Fashion Institute of Technology where she was Director of the Theatre Ensemble for the maximum 5 years. She is a member of the Film, Media and Performing Arts faculty. Dana’s roots hail from the island of Montserrat and she is the Chaplain for the Montserrat Progressive Society of New York. “Love is the most important thing you will ever give or receive.”
ANA LOURDES NOVOAAna 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.
MARIA PIEDADMaria 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 PROCOPIOConnie 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 RIVERASandra 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.
ELISABET RUBIOElisabet 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 SCASSOAnilce 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 TOMLINSONJanice 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 TSIVKINRebecca 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).
RAQUEL VALIENTERaquel 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.
DONALD "BABA DON" EATON
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.