School of Dance Faculty 2018-2019



Director, School of Dance

Before being named Director of the School of Dance in December of 2016, Michelle Manzanales was in the midst of her seventh season as the Ballet Hispánico Company Rehearsal Director & Artistic Associate. She first began working with Ballet Hispánico CEO & Artistic Director, Eduardo Vilaro, in 2003 as a dancer for Luna Negra Dance Theater of Chicago, where Manzanales later became Rehearsal Director in 2006 and eventually served as Artistic Director from 2009-2010.

A choreographer and dance educator originally from Houston, TX, Michelle has over 25 years of teaching experience serving on the faculties of Ballet Hispánico, Lou Conte Dance Studio (home of Hubbard Street Dance Chicago), University of Houston, Rice University, Houston Metropolitan Dance Center, Regional Dance America, Festival de Danza Cordoba-Youth American Grand Prix, as well as master teacher for numerous other dance studios, schools, and college dance programs nationwide and internationally.

Ms. Manzanales has choreographed works for professional dance companies, universities, and schools across the nation. She was commissioned to set an original choreography, which she entitled Con Brazos Abiertos, for the main company of Ballet Hispánico for their 2017 spring season at the Joyce Theater. This “savvy but deeply sincere meditation on her Mexican-American background” (-Marina Harss, New York Times) has since toured extensively to critical acclaim, including its inclusion in New York City Center’s 2018 Fall for Dance Festival. Con Brazos Abiertos is slated to grace the stage once again for Ballet Hispánico's 2019 fall season at the world famous Apollo Theater this November.

Other acclaimed works by Manzanales include her 2010 homage to Frida Kahlo, Paloma Querida, which was hailed 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 the artist.” Her 2007 choreography for Luna Negra Dance Theater, entitled Sugar in the Raw (Azucar Cruda), was applauded by the Chicago Sun-Times as "a staggering, beautiful, accomplished new work." Five of her works have been recognized by the American College Dance Festival, of which, two were presented at the Kennedy Center (Washington, DC), for their National Gala; Pour Me Out in 2006 and The Letting Go in 2008. Manzanales’ choreography has 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).




Deputy School Director
Kiri Avelar is an interdisciplinary artist, educator and activist who focuses her work around collaborative community expression. She holds an MFA in Dance from Rutgers University, and a BA in Dance with honors from New Mexico State University. She is the Founding Director of the Academia de Ballet Emmanuel, an after-school program providing quality dance education for the children of Hogar de Niños Emmanuel Orphanage in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, México. She has 20 years of teaching experience, serving on the dance faculties of New Mexico State University, Rutgers University, El Paso Community College, Sharron Miller’s Academy for the Performing Arts in NJ, and as a teaching artist in both private and public schools. In 2011 she joined the faculty of the Ballet Hispánico School of Dance in NYC, where she currently serves as Associate School Director.

Ms. Avelar’s teaching philosophy is centered around culturally responsive pedagogy, student voice, and reflection, challenging students to own their learning experience, take risks, and believe in greater, diverse possibilities both inside and outside the classroom. She has presented her work in dance education through workshops and conferences, including Partnering Through a Cultural Lens for the NYC Department of Education, Exploring Latin American Culture Through Dance for the Face to Face Arts in Education Roundtable NYC, Modern Dance: Principles That Support Movement for the American College Dance Festival, and Recreación y Tiempo Libre: Posturas y Tendencias Mundiales for the Congreso Internacional de Educación Física, Deporte y Recreación in Mexico.

Having studied as a scholarship recipient at the Boston Ballet School, and more extensively in the New Mexico/Texas borderland region and Madrid, Spain, Ms. Avelar has performed with the Milwaukee Ballet, Cor Ignis Contemporary Dance, Sol y Arena Spanish Dance, American Bolero Dance Company, and as an independent artist. Her choreographic work has been presented in communities throughout NYC, the Southwestern United States, and Mexico, including El Barrio’s Artspace PS109, Jacques D’Amboise’s Arts Nest at the National Dance Institute, Ballet Hispánico’s Performances for Young People at the Apollo Theater and The United Palace, The Plaza Hotel for Ballet Hispánico’s annual gala, Teatro INBA (Cd. Juárez, Chihuahua, Mexico) Rio Grande Theatre (Las Cruces, NM), Chamizal National Memorial Theater (El Paso, TX), Wortham Theater (Houston, TX), and the American College Dance Festival Gala (Laredo, TX).

Ms. Avelar’s scholarly research Descubriendo Latinx: The Hidden Text in American Modern Dance, looks at the absented presence of Latinx holding an integral role in shaping the foundation of modern dance in the United States. She is the proud recipient of a Zemi Dance Theatre scholarship supporting the documentation of her MFA thesis performance Descubrimiento: Voice, Place, Identity, an interdisciplinary community experience providing diverse platforms for expression in exploring themes of ruido, Mestiza Consciousness and Latinidades, which premiered at El Barrio’s Artspace PS109 in East Harlem, NYC in 2019.




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.


Ms. de los Angeles began studying ballet and Spanish dance at the Ballet Hispanico School in 1992. In 2002, she was selected to participate in the inaugural apprentice program with the American Bolero Dance Company where she studied with founder Gabriela Granados, as well as Jose Molina, Mariano Parra, and Escuela Bolera with Jeraine Michel. During the summers of 2004 and 2005, she studied flamenco in the advanced level of the Summer Program at the Fundación Cristina Heeren de Arte Flamenco in Seville, Spain with Milagros Menjíbar, Carmen Ledesma, and Rafael Campallo. In 2008, Ms. de los Angeles received a scholarship to attend the Jacob’s Pillow Cultural Traditions workshop for Flamenco Dance where she studied under Noche Flamenca’s Soledad Barrio and Martin Santangelo. In the same year, Ms. de los Angeles attended the International Flamen-co Festival in Albuquerque, NM, where she had the opportunity to study with Rocio Molina and Antonio Canales. She spent two years living and working abroad in Madrid, Spain from 2010-2012, where she studied Clas-sical Spanish Dance and Escuela Bolera with one of the founding members of the Ballet Nacional de España, Lupe Gomez, as well as Flamenco technique with Concha Jareño, Marco Flores, Alfonso Losa, Inmaculada Ortega, and Pepa Molina. Ms. de los Angeles has had the privilege to perform as a featured soloist with the Melinda Marquez Flamenco Dance Center in Flamenco Made in the USA in 2012 and in Tablao de la Luna Nueva in 2014. In 2015, she was a featured soloist in and co-producer of Ryan Rock-more's Generacion del 16 at the Teatro Circulo in NYC. Also in 2015, the two cofounded the Al Margen Flamenco Dance Company, which had its opening season in April of 2017 with the how, Adorno. This show has since gone on to be nominated for a Latin ACE award for best musical production. The company is pleased to be presenting its second work in the Spring of 2018, Enduendado.


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 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 Marisol Cabrera is a dancer, choreographer and instructor originally from Santa Barbara, CA with over 20 years of experience. Franchesca received her Bachelor of Arts in World Arts and Cultures from the University of California, Los Angeles and her Master of Arts from New York University in Arts Education. Her dance training is primarily in the styles of classical Spanish, flamenco, baroque, ballet, and Mexican folklorico. Upon graduating from university, Franchesca lived in Madrid, Spain for three years earning her credentials in Danza Española and Flamenco. She has had the privilege to travel and perform nationally and internationally in London, Spain, South Korea, Hong Kong, and Mexico. Past performances in New York include Jacques d' Amboise ART NEST, appearances with Siren Baroque, Company XIV in their productions of Nutcracker Rouge, Judge Me Paris, Le Cirque Feerique, Snow White, and a recent debut on the Metropolitan Opera stage in the new productions of Rusalka and Samson et Dalila. Along with the Ballet Hispánico School of Dance, Franchesca has also been a guest choreographer and instructor at Julliard.


Cecilia L 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.


Elisabet Delgado 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.


Ann Marie Dragich has been tap dancing in New York since 2008 after studying at the Eddie Brown Studio for the Arts (THE BEAT) with Gregg Geoffroy, Babs Yohai and Mark Mendonca. She is a member of Cole Collective under the direction of Nicole Ohr, and is a founding member of Guilty Pleasures Cabaret which has a regular performance slot at the Duplex Cabaret Theater. Ann has presented her own work at Dance Astoria, Stam-pede (Symphony Space), Director’s Choice Showcase, Local Produce and Winter Follies (produced by Spoke the Hub), Denise Caston’s Choreographer’s Canvas, Kat Wildish’s Performing in New York, and Sol Dance Center’s Dancesanity (Frank Sinatra School of the Arts). Ann is also in the step company “Momentum” and was featured in Rick Owens Spring 2014 Women’s show (Paris Fashion Week). Ann’s image from this show was on display at the MOMA as part of the “Is Fashion Modern?” exhibit. Ann presented work in the Emerging Choreographer’s Series curated by Mare Nostrom Elements, and was a Spring 2018 cycle AiRe Artist in Residence at Flamenco Vivo Carlota Santana creating tap dance choreography, which she presented at Flamenco Certamen USA held at the NYPL Performing Arts Library at Lincoln Center. Ann holds a level 1 teaching certificate from the American Tap Dance Foundation and is currently working on her level 2 teaching certificate. She is on faculty at the New Jersey Performing arts Center, the American Tap Dance Foundation, Ballet Hispanico and The DreamYard Project. More information about Ann can be found on her website,


Georgina Greenleaf is from Herndon, Virginia where she began her ballet studies at Conservatory Ballet. She studied the classical Russian Vaganova method and other dance forms including character, jazz, modern, and flamenco. Training in a family atmosphere awarded her the opportunity to begin working with children at a young age, assisting with classes and rehearsals. At 15, she co-created and managed a week-long summer camp for young children. Greenleaf has performed as a supernumerary multiple times with the American Ballet Theatre and the New York City Ballet during their seasons at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. She also attended the Bolshoi Academy in Moscow, Russia as a summer student. Upon graduating school, she traveled to New York City to continue her studies with Ballet Hispánico. After graduating from the Pre-Professional Program, she began assisting classes and became a member of the Ballet Hispánico faculty.



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 Carlota 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.


Rodney Hamilton is a teaching artist for Ballet Hispánico’s School of Dance and holds an MFA in Dance from NYU Tisch School of the Arts. A native of St. Louis, he began his dance training at the age of 10 and trained with Carr Lane V.P.A., COCA, Alexandra School of Ballet, and Katherine Dunham. After graduating with a BFA in Dance from the Juilliard School, he joined Ballet Hispánico of New York where he was a principal dancer and assistant rehearsal director for 10 years. During this time, he performed works by José Limon, Paul Taylor, Hans van Manen, Robert Battle, Ohad Naharin, David Parsons, William Whitener, Ann Reinking, Ramón Oller, Sergio Trujillo, Trinette Singleton, Agnes DeMille, Talley Beatty, Annabel Lopez Ochoa, Vicente Nebrada, and numerous other well-known choreographers. Mr. Hamilton was part of the national touring cast of Hello Dolly with Carol Channing and worked with the Broadway cast of Tarzan. In 2012 Mr. Hamilton became the resident choreographer for the Saint Pete City Theater where he choreographed Hello Dolly, Footloose, and Memphis. Mr. Hamilton has taught ballet and modern all over the world, and is a master teacher of the Dunham technique.


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.


Loni Landon is a Dancer, Choreographer, and Movement Consultant based in New York City. Born and raised in New York City, Landon received her BFA in Dance from The Juilliard School in 2005. While a student at the NYC High School of Performing Arts, Landon was a NFAA Young Arts Modern Dance Winner. After Juilliard, Landon performed with Aszure Barton and Artists, Ballet Theater Munich, Tanz Munich Theater, and The Metropolitan Opera. Landon is the 2013 Princess Grace Choreography Fellowship winner award-ed with BODYTRAFFIC. As a sought after choreographer, her work has been commissioned by the Joyce Theater, Keigwin and Company, James Sewell Ballet, Whim Whim, LEVY DANCE, The Juilliard School, BODYTRAFFIC, American Dance Institute, Northwest Dance Project, Hubbard Street II, Ballet X, Ballet Austin, SUNY Purchase, NYU, and Marymount Manhattan College. Her company has performed at The Joyce Theater, Pulse Art Fair, Jacob's Pillow Inside/Out Series, as well as at Bryant Park and the first annual Beach Sessions in Rockaway Beach. Landon has won numerous awards including 1st Prize Winner of Ballet Austin’s New American Talent Competition, Winner of Northwest Dance Project’s “Pretty Creatives’” Choreogra-phy Competition, Winner of the Next Commission from CityDance Ensemble, Finalist in the International Solo Tanz Theater Competition in Stuttgart, Germany, and Finalist in the Hannover International Choreography Competition. Landon choreo-graphed the feature film “Saturday Church,” Directed by Damon Cardasis, which premiered at The Tribeca Film Festival in 2017.Landon was also a participant in the 2012 Alvin Ailey Dance Foundation New Directions Choreography Lab made possible through the generous support of the Ford Foundation and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. Other residencies include ITE, NYU and CUNY Dance Initiative. She has been adjunct faculty at NYU, Barnard, SUNY Purchase and Princeton University. Alongside Gregory Dolbashian, Landon co-founded THE PLAYGROUND, an initiative designed to give emerging choreographers a place to experiment, while allowing professional dancers to participate affordably. Dance Magazine recognized the Playground as a 25 To Watch for 2013.


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.


Sekou McMiller is at the forefront of a new movement in the Latin dance world. Sekou’s unique style of Latin dance rich with Afro-Carribean essence and laced with techniques from many genres of dance combined with his explosive energy on and off stage, has earned Sekou’s dancing and instructing broad recognition worldwide. Sekou made his NYC Off-Broadway debut and International Tour with Celia, the Musical. He is the founder and artist director of SMc Dance Co, an internationally recognized Contemporary Afro-Latin Dance Company.


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.


Rika Okamoto started practicing yoga in 1995 and has been studying mindful meditation and the philosophy since 2001. She has studied many different styles of yoga including Ashtanga (mysore style), Vinyasa, and Hatha, and Restorative Yoga and holds a Yoga Alliance 500 hour Advance Teacher Certification. She has been teaching and staging dance at many universities and institutions worldwide since 1994.
Her dance credits include working with Martha Graham Dance Company (1992-1999), Twyla Tharp (1993, 2001-2017), the original cast of the Broadway musical Movin’ Out (2002-2005),Tarzan (2006-2007) and Come Fly Away (2010), and the film Across The Universe (2007) directed by Julie Taymor. During her performing tenure, Rika was also Twyla Tharp’s assistant, a ballet master as well as the director of education, administrator and archivist for the Twyla Tharp Dance Foundation. She is currently pursuing Master in Fine Arts at University of the Arts, and completion is anticipated in summer 2020.


Kimberly Prosa is a New York City based dancer, teaching artist, and choreographer. She began her training in Southern Oregon studying classical ballet under Joan Sanders-Siedel of Nederlands Dans Theatre and North Carolina School of the Arts. She continued her training in classical ballet and modern dance at American Ballet Theatre, The Joffrey School, The Paul Taylor School, Broadway Dance Center, Steps on Broadway, and with alumni of New York City Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, the Limon Dance Company, Mark Morris, Paul Taylor, and the Martha Graham Dance Company. She has studied theatre arts under Anthony Abeson and Brue Ornstein. Kimberly received her B.F.A in dance from the SUNY Purchase Conservatory of Dance and holds an M.A. from NYU in International Affairs with a special concentration in community peacebuilding through dance.

As a dancer, Kimberly has performed works by Dance Theatre of Oregon, the Eugene Ballet Company, Purchase Dance Corps, Stephanie Tooman, Bettijane Sills, Angela Harriel, Pascal Rioult Dance Theatre, Kyra Johannesen, Aera Dance Company, and was a company member for six years with the Bessie award winning modern dance company, H.T. Chen and Dancers, originating roles in several repertoire. Kimberly appeared as a dance double for Natalie Portman in Darren Aronofsky’s 2010 Academy Award winning film, Black Swan.

As a teaching artist & choreographer, Kimberly has taught ballet, pointe and modern dance at several schools, studios and universities throughout New York and Oregon in addition to serving as a guest teaching artist and artist in residence restaging works, and creating choreography throughout New York City, Buffalo, Cincinnati, Birmingham, southern Oregon and Ghana, West Africa. She is currently Senior Teaching Artist at Chen Dance Center, leading the contemporary program at the center in addition to teaching the modern dance public school program for 3-5th graders at P.S. 42.

Kimberly is the Artistic Director and Choreographer of the emerging modern dance company, Humanistics Dance. Her choreography has been shown throughout New York City, Oregon and New Jersey at venues including: Shetler Studios, Riverside Church Theatre, Triskelion Arts, the Connelly Theater, Manhattan Movement Arts, Liberty University, Nimbus Dance Works, the Center for Performance Research, Judson Memorial Church, Triskelion Arts, Dixon Place, as part of the Fertile Ground Series, the Wax Works series and was selected as one of 10 leading modern dance companies presenting works for the Voices Transposed Series: a benefit for the Syrian Refugee Crisis.  Kimberly is thrilled to be joining Ballet Hispánico’s modern dance faculty.


Sandra Rivera has had an extensive career as a dancer, choreographer and educator. A founding 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, danzas estilizadas, 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 Hispánico (Primeros Pasos). 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 92 Street Y. At present she performs and is a teaching artist for Dancers for a Variable Population. With an area of concentration, Dance in the Latino Diaspora, she graduated with a BA from CUNY’s Baccalaureate for Unique & Interdisciplinary Studies.


JoDe Romano "La Chispa" was a guest Teaching artist & graduate of the High School for the Performing Arts in Houston, Texas where she was featured in the Houston Grand Opera Carmen. She also performed in the Franco Zeffirelli original production of Carmen, starring Placido Domingo and Maria Benitez at the Metropolitan Opera, attended by president Clinton, which was broadcast for PBS "Live From Lincoln Center" and toured Japan with the Three Tenors. For over 20 years, Ms. Romano lived, studied and performed Spanish dance in Spain and Japan, was soloist and choreographer for the José Greco Dance Company at the Joyce Theater, the Town Hall New York City, and toured the US and Spain. She was also a dancer in The Charo Show in Las Vegas with Jerry Lewis, Joel Grey and others, and taught a castanet workout on the Dr. Oz Show. JoDe Romano choreographed the Broadway Workshop production of Rita Hayworth-Hollywood Goddess, numerous Zarzuelas, and the mixed media dramatic presentation, Picasso's Guernica, at The Thalia Theater in New York.
Ms. Romano has taught at Alvin Ailey and NYC public schools. Currently, Ms. Romano conducts Spanish dance and castanet classes at the 92Y Harkness Dance Center and is a graduate of the 92Y Dance Education Laboratory (DEL) program. She has been a guest teacher at Hunter College and co-developed and taught a DEL workshop at the 92Y. Ms. Romano also taught a master class and workshop at NYU for NYSDEA and at Fall for Dance at NY City Center. She teaches at Steps on Broadway, Ballet Hispánico, the Joffrey Ballet trainees and Joffrey summer intensive NYC, along with other locations throughout the NY metropolitan area. Ms. Romano holds a teaching license from the Bureau of Provisionary School Supervision (BPSS) under the NY Department of Education. She has completed a series of instructional DVDs on castanet and flamenco movement techniques and produced and played castanets on her Spanish Classical Piano and Castanets CD.


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 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 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 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.


was born and raised in Miami, Florida. He trained with the Thomas Armour Youth Ballet, Miami City Ballet, and the School of American Ballet. In 2011, Joshua graduated from New World School of the Arts with his B.F.A. in Dance. In the Fall of 2011, he joined Ballet Hispánico’s main Company and served as a Company dancer for the next six seasons. During his tenure with the Company, Joshua worked and collaborated with choreographers Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, Gustavo Ramírez Sansano, Nacho Duato, Cayetano Soto, Michelle Manzanales, Eduardo Vilaro, Edgar Zendejas, Fernando Melo, and Tania Pérez-Salas. He continues to be a vital teacher and mentor to the School of Dance and to numerous Community Arts Partnership residencies in NYC and abroad. In the Fall of 2017, Joshua retired as a dancer and now serves as an Artistic Associate for the School of Dance.




Ryan DeFranzo is an NYC based pianist and performer who has performed around the city at venues such as Carnegie Hall, Steinway Hall, the Liederkranz Foundation, and Kosciusko Foundation— studying under concert pianist Jerzy Stryjniak. He is finishing his final year of undergrad at Marymount Manhattan College and is excited to be joining the Ballet Hispanico family for his first year as an accompanist.


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 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.



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.




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). 



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 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.


Carson Moody is a Brooklyn based performer who collaborates with various multifaceted artists in fields from pop, to improvisation, to the avant garde. Carson is a founding member of the music group, TIGUE, hailed as "high octane" by the New York Times. TIGUE performs internationally including performances and workshops at Latvia's Zemlika Festival 2016, Summer Nostos Festival 2017 in Athens, Greece, and locally, including Bric Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival in Prospect Park. Their sophomore album "Strange Paradise" was released April 2018 on New Amsterdam Records and NNA Tapes and is available on any digital music platform or at select record stores on vinyl. Carson performs with NYC based “new music dream team” (TimeOutNY), Ensemble Signal. Performances with Signal have ranged from appearances at Walt Disney Concert Hall's "Next on Grand" series 2015 (Los Angeles, CA), Lincoln Center Festival 2013 and 2016 (New York, NY), Big Ears 2014 (Knoxville, TN), and the June in Buffalo Festival. Constantly exploring collaborations in dance as a mover and musician, Carson works with students and professionals all over NYC as well as students at University of North Carolina School of the Arts, Adelphi University, The Martha Graham School, Eglevsky Ballet, Ballet Hispanico and the Mark Morris Dance Center. He has collaborated with choreographers David Dorfman, Doug Varone, Karl Rogers, Erik Abbott-Main, and James Graham providing soundscapes and moving on stage. Carson is a graduate of The Ohio State University and the Eastman School of Music and is excited to join the artists roster with Vic Firth.


A native of the Midwest, Dan Meinhardt moved to New York after establish-ing himself among the best musicians in Chicago. After obtaining degrees from Lawrence University and the University of Oregon, Dan became a freelance multi-instrumentalist, versed in a multitude of styles and performance practices. He began playing for ballet at Chicago’s Visceral Dance Company and quickly became a must-call accompanist for dancers across the city, working with Hubbard Street, the Joffrey Ballet, and Ruth Page, among others. Dan has released two records as a saxophonist, composer, and bandlead-er: Gone West (2012) and Outset (2016), performed in a wide range of shows for musical theater, and has taught throughout the United States. His compositions have been featured in film and at a variety of jazz festivals on the west coast. Now living in Brooklyn, Dan brings his unique skillset and experiences to dancers in both class and performance.


Paul Jared Newman, a native of NYC, began playing guitar professionally in his teens before studies in classical guitar and composition at the University of California, Berkeley (BA) and SUNY Stony Brook (MA), developing a strong personal connection with flamenco along the way, with studies at Taller Flamenco in Sevilla, Spain. He regularly accompanies flamenco song, dance and the poetry/performance group Mujer Prisma, and has performed around the USA and in Spain, Canada, France, Belgium, Holland, Austria and Greece.

Other ongoing performing affiliations include frequent concerts with dancer Eva Conti and percussionist Rex Benincasa; the ensemble Exploracions which combines Spanish classical and flamenco with excursions into Jazz and Blues; and frequent collaboration with choreographer/ filmmaker Deirdre Towers, for whom he composed and recorded the score for (Black) Light, a dance film featuring former Martha Graham Company Principal Dancer Katherine Crockett. Most recently they presented the flamenco/blues collaboration Cross Currents in the Hudson Valley Flamenco Festival in Rosendale, NY, and have contributed music/dance works for two recent seasons of the SoakingWET series at West End Theatre, NYC.

Recent performance/composition credits include a series of concerts with the Ensemble Suite Iberia which included his piece “por la noche me llaman . . . ” for violin and piano. Jared is also a three-time Guest Artist with the Música en las Montañas festival in Granada, Spain.

Jared has accompanied Spanish Dance classes at Ballet Hispanico since 2010; the legendary Aileen Pasloff’s classes at Bard College for four years while living in Woodstock, NY; and the NYC classes of famed maestros José Molina and Mariano Parra. He is also a teaching artist for the Flamenco Vivo Company’s Arts in Education program, regularly participating in residencies throughout the New York City public school system.

Also a music book author, his publications include: A New Anthology of Falsetas for Flamenco Guitar, Bold Strummer, Ltd.; Classics for the Guitar; Karamar Publications; Ernesto Nazareth: Brazilian Tangos and Five Women Composers arranged for Guitar from Mel Bay Publications


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.



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