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2008 Jury Panel

Donna Morgan

A native of West Palm Beach, Donna received her formal dance training from Marie Hale and Lynda Swiadon, and later danced on scholarships from the Harkness Ballet, Chicago Ballet School, Lou Conte Dance Studio and Houston Ballet Academy. As a professional dancer, Ms. Morgan was a soloist with the Louisville and Milwaukee Ballet, where she danced exciting leading roles in Cinderella, Swan Lake, Nutcracker and Giselle, to name a few. Having an extensive repertoire in musical theatre, she has appeared in dozens of productions at Milwaukee's Melody Top, A Chorus Line on national tour and at Chicago's Candlelight Theatre and as a featured dancer with the Steppin' Out Revue in the M. V. Royal Odyssey. Upon returning to the area, Donna has appeared in Mame  and Sugar Babies at the Jupiter Theatre, Ballet Florida's Romeo and Juliet and Nutcracker and on Burt Reynold's  T.V. series B.L Stryker. Ms. Morgan has choreographed over 20 productions for The Palm Beach Opera and is currently in her eleventh season as Principal of the Academy of Ballet Florida.

Paul Thrussell

Born in Hull, England.  He trained at The Royal Ballet School in London.  Paul joined Northern Ballet Theatre in 1987, and was quickly promoted to soloist.  In 1990 he joined London City Ballet as a Principal dancer, and had the privilege of performing for Queen Elizabeth, and Diana, the Princess of Wales.  In 1993 Paul joined Boston Ballet.  As a principal dancer he performed numerous leading roles with choreography by Balanchine, McMillan, Cranko, Nacho Duato, Mark Morris, Paul Taylor and Rudi Van Dantzig.  Paul has had works created on him by Twyla Tharp, Mark Godden, Christopher Wheeldon and Daniel Pelzig.  In 1996 he danced at Vail's International Dance Festival and that same year The Boston Globe named Paul in their list of Boston's Top 10 of Dance.  He re-staged Christopher Wheeldon's Corybantic Ecstasies on Boston Ballet, and was a member of the faculty of Boston Ballet's Summer Dance Program. Paul has taught master classes at Tulane University, The Boston Conservatory, Boston Ballet, Walnut Hill School and Boston College. Mr. Thrussell joined Ballet Gammonet in August 2004

Chiara Ajkun

Education: Chiara Ajkun was personally trained by Mme Tatiana Gramtzeva and Mr. Serge Peretti (Paris -France, "Ecole Internationale des Arts"), Mme Ninel Kurgapkina, Rudolf Nureyev, Mme Maya Plissetskaya (Venice - Italy, "Biennale Internazionale delle Arti"), and by Mr. George Balanchine, Mme Alexandra Danilova in New York. In academic education Chiara holds a Bachelor degree for College Education in "International Literature", a Bachelor for Elementary and Post Elementary study, and a Certificate in Business Administration, a Master in "Performing Arts", and Ph.D. in "Pathology of Ballet". 

Career:  Termed "the new Tamara Karsavina" by Rudolf Nureyev, Chiara performed repertory's lead roles with The London Youth Dance Company, before embarking in a free-lancing career as a child prodigy. Chiara performed in Opera Houses, International Festivals and Ballet Galas in Italy, France, Belgium, UK, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, and The USA, giving over 200 outstanding performances in almost 7 years, when, seriously injured in a skiing accident, she was forced to abandon the performing career. Dr. Ajkun taught at "Università degli Studi di Danza e Teatro", where she was appointed Director for The Foreign Department of Master in Ballet (1985-1991) before to join, as artistic director and choreographer, the company "Balletto Regionale di Mantova"(1990-1996), where she worked until she returned to the USA in 1997. On  the side, Chiara served as a choreographer for The BBC's movie "I Promessi Sposi" (1988-1989), The Italian National Television RAI (1989 - 1994), choreographed for Ater-Inscena ("Giovane Compagnia d'Operette", 1993-1994), directed and choreographed for "Compagnia Lombarda d'Operette con Arturo Testa" (1991-1996). In 1994 & 1995 Chiara directed the musical "Rodolfo Valentino" produced by The County of Taranto for the Anniversary of the Italian-American Star. In New York, Chiara served as Coach for Principal dancers at the prestigious City Center, taught at Dance Alliance Annual Festival in Saratoga Spring, served as Ballet Mistress for the Northeast Ballet Company and for The Professional Dancers Union Class at Carnegie Hall. Chiara continues to stage her innovative works around the Globe, and guests internationally as ballet instructor and competition adjudicator. Her choreographies have been performed in major theaters in Italy -Malta- France - Gran Canaria - Albania - Switzerland - Holland and on television (Rai-Bbc). Chiara is one of the founding members of The Ajkun Ballet Theatre and serves as co -artistic director and residential choreographer.  

Additional Teaching Staff

Olivier Munoz

Mr. Munoz trained at the Conservatoire National De Lyon, France , International Dance Center Roselia Hightower, Cannes , France and is a Certified Professor of Dance from the French Government.He was a Principal dancer performing many major roles in companies including English National Ballet, Northern Ballet Theatre and Cleveland San Jose Ballet.As a guest artist he performed with Theatro alla Scala, Milan , Arena di Verona, Italy , Tokyo Ballet, and The Bolshoi Ballet Russia .He has coached gold medal dancers in major international ballet competitions.Mr. Munoz was the artistic director of Ballet Arkansas and has taught at the Maryland Youth Ballet in Bethesda , MD.He has won many awards including Outstanding Teacher YAGP, and a Silver Medal in 1981 at the Prix de Lausanne.

Eddy Tovar

Eddy Tovar received his ballet training at the Cuban National Ballet School. In 1997, he won the gold medal in the Alicia Alonso Ballet Competition, and in 1998 he was awarded the Juan Poix Award in Brazil. His Talents also earned him a gold medal at the Youth America Grand Prix. Eddy joined Orlando Ballet in 1999 and danced his first principal role as Franz in Coppelia in 2000. Since then he has performed many principal roles in ballet's such as La Fille Mal Gardee, Don Quixote, Camelot, and Spartacus as well as pieces of Contemporary and Balanchine.  In 2006, he was a finalist at the International Ballet Competition in New York City, Helsinki and Jackson, MS. Eddy is in his ninth season with Orlando Ballet. 

Andres Estevez

Andres Estevez began his training in Havana, Cuba, and later joined Ballet Nacional de Cuba under the direction of Alicia Alonso. He was a principal dancer with Ballet Clasico de la Havana under the direction of Laura Alonso. His career includes international tours and guest appearances as well as gold, silver and bronze medals in competitions in Cuba and Brazil. In 1996, Mr. Estevez traveled to the U.S. and joined Miami City Ballet where he performed many works from George Balanchine. In 1998, he joined Orlando Ballet as a principal dancer under the direction of Fernando Bujones and danced roles including Albretch in Giselle, Franz in Coppelia, Basilo in Don Quixote, solo in Bayadere and many works from Twyla Tharp and Bruce Marks. In 2010, Mr. Estevez recieved the Violetta Boft Award and performed the roles of Oberon in Mid Summer Night Dream, Don Jose and Escamillo in Carmen and many others for BalletMet Columbus.

Chiaki Yasukawa

Chiaki began her training in Osaka, Japan, and attended the Academy of Dance Classic Princess Grace of Monaco. Later she trained at the School of American Ballet and Joffrey Ballet on full scholarship. Chiaki won a bronze medal in Italy at the International Competition, was a finalist in the Korea International Competition and a semi-finalist in the USA International Ballet Competition in Jackson, MS. Chiaki has performed numerous repertoire such as Odette and Odile in Swan Lake, Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty, Twyla Tharp's In the Upper Room and George Balanchine's Who Cares, among others. Chiaki is in her eleventh season dancing for Orlando Ballet.

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