top of page

Jury Panel Archives

Amy Brandt


POINTE Magazine


Amy Brandt has been the editor in chief of Pointe magazine since 2014, following a 19-year dance career. She received her initial dance training at Dancenter North in Libertyville, Illinois, and at the Milwaukee Ballet School.


She later joined the Milwaukee Ballet, where her repertoire included 19th century classics as well as works by Antony Tudor, George Balanchine, Mark Godden and Alonzo King, among others.


She joined The Suzanne Farrell Ballet in 2003, dancing soloist roles in Balanchine’s Agon, La Valse, Pas de Dix and Divertimento No. 15. In 2005, she performed in honor of Ms. Farrell at the nationally televised Kennedy Center Honors. Ms. Brandt has also danced with Dances Patrelle, New Chamber Ballet, Ad Hoc Ballet and Ballet NY.


She has written extensively for several dance publications, including Pointe magazine’s “Ask Amy” advice column, since 2009. She joined Pointe’s editorial staff in 2014, and has also served as an associate editor for Dance Teacher and Dance Magazine. Ms. Brandt has a BA in English and World Literatures from Marymount Manhattan College.

Kelly Boal

Kelly Boal trained at the School of American Ballet and joined New York City Ballet in 1984, earning a promotion to soloist in 1989.


She left NYCB in 1993 to pursue guesting opportunities that included performances with Dutch National Ballet and Ballet Manila and participation in Le Gala des Étoiles in Montreal, Canada.


She taught at the School of American Ballet and is a part-time faculty member at Pacific Northwest Ballet School, teaching both the Professional Division and the Company.


Pacific Northwest Ballet

Yan Chen


ABT Studio Company

Guest Ballet Master

Ms. Chen was born in China where she started her dance training at the Shanghai dance school. She later continued her studies at San Francisco Ballet School. In 1987, she won the first prize at the Prix de Lausanne International Competition. She then joined The Washington Ballet and rose to the Principal rank.


In 1993, Ms. Chen joined American Ballet Theatre and was promoted to soloist in 1994. As one of ABT’s most lyrical and versatile dancers, she has performed leading roles in Romeo & Juliet, Cinderella, The Sleeping Beauty, Le Corsaire, Othello, Giselle, and Onegin, as well as works by Twyla Tharp, Paul Taylor, Lar Lubovitch, George Balanchine, John Cranko and others.


Ms. Chen has performed as a guest artist throughout the world and has been invited to perform at many prestigious dance festivals. She also appeared in PBS Great Performance Program for television and video: “American Ballet Theatre Now.” In 2004, Ms. Chen became a faculty member with the American Ballet Theatre and has also been a guest teacher with Orlando Ballet since 1994. Ms. Chen lives in Orlando, and serves as Ballet Master for the Orlando Ballet. Ms. Chen is also a faculty member with the American Ballet Theater’s summer intensive program and an ABT Certified Teacher.

Mark Diamond


Charlotte Ballet II

Mark Diamond was a soloist in the Hamburg Ballet in Germany under for John Neumeier, a principal dancer with the Milwaukee Ballet Company, and was a member of Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre and the Tamburitzans Slavic Folk ensemble.

Mr. Diamond has choreographed and taught extensively for ballet companies in Europe, Japan and the U.S. He has choreographed more than 45 ballets for Chautauqua Dance since 1988. He works full time for Charlotte Ballet as director for Charlotte Ballet 2 and as teacher and choreographer for the main company and for the Academy. Before joining Charlotte Ballet, Diamond was resident choreographer for the Cincinnati Opera, founded Ballet Artists Cincinnati and received grants from the Ohio Arts Council, the New England Foundation for the Arts and others. He trained with Edward Caton and attended Duquesne University and Point Park College (BA), where he studied music, history and dance.

Irina Dvorvenko


ABT Principal Dancer Actress, Coach


Former principal dancer of American Ballet Theatre, Irina Dvorovenko was born in Kiev, Ukraine, and began her ballet training at the Kiev Ballet School at the age of ten.  She joined the National Opera Ballet of Kiev in 1990 as a soloist, rising to the rank of principal dancer in 1992. 
 Ms. Dvorovenko’s superlative style and technique have been recognized in numerous ballet competitions throughout the world.  Her most notable awards include the 1994 Grand Prix at the International Ballet Competition Serge Lifar in the Ukraine, the 1992 Gold Medal and “Anna Pavlova” Prize at the International Ballet Competition in Moscow, the 1991 Bronze Medal at the International Ballet Competition in Osaka, Japan, and the 1990 Silver Medal at the International Competition in Jackson, Mississippi.
 Joining American Ballet Theatre in 1996, Ms. Dvorovenko was made a soloist in 1997 and was appointed principal dancer in 2000, following a stunning season which won her widespread critical and popular acclaim.  Anna Kisselgoff, writing in The New York Times, said “19th century ballets are built around ballerinas, and they offered a showcase for Irina Dvorovenko, who had a breakthrough season, usually in tandem with her husband, Maxim Beloserkovsky.”  Her portrayal of Kitri in Don Quixote continued to set the stage afire:   “The last Don Quixote of the season … had Irina Dvorovenko and (Maxim) Beloserkovsky in a stunning display of integrated artistry and technique, a truly flawless and exciting performance.”  Ms. Kisselgoff’s review of Ms. Dvorovenko’s 1999 Don Quixote hailed it as “a perfect performance, unsurpassed in its attention to classical form while infused with verve.”

 Her diverse repertoire with ABT includes her commanding portrayal of both Nikya and Gamzatti in La Bayadère; Cinderella in Ben Stevenson’s production; Kitri, the Queen of the Driads and Mercedes in Don Quixote; the Lilac Fairy and Princess Florine in The Sleeping Beauty; and the title roles in Swan Lake, Giselle, Rome and Juliet, Onegin, Raymonda, Coppelia, The Nutcracker, Le Corsaire, and much more.  Ms. Dvorovenko also excels in contemporary choreography and has danced leading roles in works by Twyla Tharp, Kylian, Nacho Duato, and Natalie Weir. She has performed around the world and danced with the Finnish Ballet, the Australian Ballet, the New York City Opera Ballet, the Rome Opera Ballet, Verona Ballet, and with the Stars of the Bolshoi Ballet. She has also appeared in various videos and television specials, including a PBS broadcast. She has been featured on the cover of Dance Magazine, Pointe, Japan Dance Magazine New York Dance Fax, as well as in People, Russian Dance Magazine, Dancing Times, Good Housekeeping, Bazaar, Vogue, Vanity Fair, Gotham, Jane, Elle, Russian Vogue, Town and Country, Time Out and Talk.  Ms. Dvorovenko was the face of Movado Watches for three years.
 In the spring of 2013, Ms. Dvorovenko retired from the ABT stage and simultaneously made her stunning musical theatre debut as Vera Baronova in the New York City Center Encores! production of Rodgers & Hart’s “On Your Toes,” garnering outstanding reviews.  Ben Brantley wrote in the NY Times that “(Ms. Dvorovenko) is ideal for the part of a woman required to bridge the delicacy of ballet with the brass of Broadway” and that “(her) Vera maintains the ecstatic smile of someone who adores being adored. … It’s enough to make any red-blooded American boy defect to the Russians.”

Since 2005 Ms. Dvorovenko and her husband launched a very successful line of ballet wear “Irina & Max” by Bloch.
Ms. Dvorovenko was invited to join the leading cast of the 2015 Starz network original television drama “Flesh and Bone,” she also made guest appearances on “Forever” (ABC, 2015) and “The Blacklist” (NBC, 2016).  She appeared in 4 episodes of the Starz series “Power” during the 2016-2017 season, and in 9 episodes of the FX series “The Americans” during the 2017 season.  In the Spring of 2018 she starred in both the New York City Center Encores! production of “Grand Hotel” as fading prima ballerina Elizaveta Grushinskaya, and as the lead May Bartram in the Vineyard Theatre production of Susan Stroman’s “The Beast in the Jungle.”  She had the leading dance role in the off-Broadway production “Shadows:  A Dance Musical” in Fall 2018.
 She is married to ABT former principal dancer Maxim Beloserkovsky; together they are the proud parents of Emma Galina.

Edward Ellison


Ellison Ballet
Artistic Director

Edward Ellison has traveled the world as a dancer, teacher, choreographer and ballet master. Companies he has taught for include American Ballet Theatre, Houston Ballet, Alvin Ailey and the Metropolitan Opera Ballet. He has been a guest teacher with The Juilliard School and Joffrey Ballet School, and continues to teach open classes at STEPS on Broadway.


As a ballet master, he has worked for such companies as the Boston Ballet, Norwegian National Ballet and Alberta Ballet, as well as staging Helgi Tomasson's Nutcracker for San Francisco Ballet's annual tour. With love and devotion to his students guiding his work, his approach is infused by study and close association with renown ballet masters and directors, such as Larisa Sklyanskaya, Helgi Tomasson, Irina Jacobson and Marius Zirra. He particularly credits his years of pedagogical study with Ms. Sklyanskaya for the depth of his artistic knowledge, as well as teacher courses at the Vaganova Ballet Academy in Russia and the National Ballet School in Canada.


A former soloist with the San Francisco Ballet and guest artist with many companies in the U.S. and abroad, Mr. Ellison's repertoire spans the great classical works of the 19th century to neoclassical and contemporary choreography of the 20th century and today.


Mr. Ellison employs a combination of detailed technical insight — including precise verbal and physical guidance to ensure proper alignment, placement, strength and coordinaton of the body — and artistic vision to excite and advance the student's journey. As Founder & Artistic Director of Ellison Ballet, Mr. Ellison has crafted an intensive study program to meet the needs of gifted ballet students from around the world who wish to dance professionally. Both the Summer Intensive and the in-depth Professional Training Program offer a stepping stone approach to realize new levels of achievement. The classes emphasize development of strong classical ballet technique, the exploration and discovery of the student's full artistic potential, and individual attention from the ballet master.

Marjorie Grundvig


Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre
School Director

Ms. Grundvig began her ballet training in her hometown of Davis, California, and with Marguerite Phares in 

Sacramento, California. Additionally, she spent summers on scholarship with San Francisco Ballet School.  


At the age of 17, Ms. Grundvig joined the North Carolina Dance Theatre. She continued her performing career as 

a soloist with both the Tulsa Ballet and the Boston Ballet.  


She has guest taught at many schools, both nationally and internationally, in addition to touring nationally to audition students for the annual summer programs of Boston Ballet and PBT.


Ms. Grundvig directed the ballet department of the Washington Academy of Performing Arts in Seattle prior to being appointed Director of the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School in August 2005. Since 

starting at PBT, Ms. Grundvig has been part of a leadership team that has managed to increase total school 

enrollment by more than 30%.

Robert Hill


Orlando Ballet
Artistic Director

Beginning his 10th year as Artistic Director of the Orlando Ballet, Robert Hill continues with his vision for the company to make ballet relevant to today’s audiences. Mr. Hill blends modern entertainment with classical ballet and his choreography has been critically acclaimed in the Orlando Sentinel as energetic, graceful and theatrically beautiful.


Under his direction, artistic collaborations have developed with other organizations such as Central Florida Community Arts, Opera Orlando, Garden Theatre, Creative City Project, The Abbey, The Bach Festival Society of Winter Park, the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra, Cirque du Soleil, and new for the upcoming season, vocalist Sisaundra Lewis.


Mr. Hill has been a principal dancer with ABT, The Royal Ballet, and the New York City Ballet. As a guest artist, he has appeared with numerous companies including the Scottish Ballet, the San Francisco Ballet, and the Australian Ballet.


Mr. Hill’s interpretation of the title role in John Cranko’s Onegin, opposite Julie Kent as Tatiana, presented at the Metropolitan Opera House in Lincoln Center by ABT, was selected by the New York Times as one of the “Ten Best Moments in Dance” in 2002. Mr. Hill is especially grateful to the loving dedication he received in his initial training with Liz Bevilacqua and Al Packard of The Dussich Dance Studio, and with Phyllis Papa of the Atlantic City Ballet. 

Christopher Hird


Sarasota Ballet
Director of Education

Christopher Hird is from England and studied the Royal Academy of Dance syllabi before training at The Royal Ballet School. He toured Europe as part of a company headlined by the internationally acclaimed ballerina, Sylvie Guillem. After retiring from the stage, Hird worked as the Assistant to the Director of the British Ballet Organization, and later as Assistant to the Development Manager at The Royal Ballet School. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in Dance from the University of Roehampton and a Diploma from Canada’s National Ballet School’s Teacher Training Program.


Hird joined Boston Ballet School in 2003 and was promoted to Artistic Manager in 2009. He was a main teacher for students in the Pre-Professional and Classical Ballet Programs as well as being part of the Senior Leadership Team. Hird has staged ballets for the School including Swan Lake, The Sleeping Beauty, La Bayadère, and Sir Frederick Ashton’s Les Patineurs, Les Rendezvous and La Fille mal Gardée. Hird was also a Children’s Ballet Master for Boston Ballet’s The Nutcracker.


In 2013, Hird was appointed Head of Adult Programming. He has led the artistic vision for the redesign of the program as well as been instrumental in developing and enhancing the adult students’ engagement with Boston Ballet.


Hird has served on the international jury of the Japan Grand Prix in 2008 and 2010, the Surrey Festival of Dance (Canada) in 2007 and 2008, the Goiania Dance Festival (Brazil) in 2012 and 2015. He has been a guest teacher for Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Canada’s National Ballet School, Cecchetti Council of America and Harvard University.


The Sarasota Ballet appointed Christopher Hird as Director of Education and Principal for the Margaret Barbieri Conservatory in July 2016. 

Rinat Imaev


The Washington Ballet
Company Teacher &
Head of Men's Program

Rinat Imaev, Company Teacher and Senior Faculty, was previously a company teacher with ABT for 15 years. He has made an international career performing and teaching across the globe in the U.S., Asia and Europe.


Born in Oufa, Russia, Imaev studied at the Vaganova Ballet Academy in St. Petersburg & later danced with the Mariinsky Ballet. He was a principal dancer with Sofia National Ballet in Bulgaria and Royal Ballet of Flanders in Belgium. Imaev has also performed for several international companies as a guest artist.


His repertoire includes leading roles in Don Quixote, Swan Lake, The Nutcracker, La Sylphide, Les Sylphides, Coppélia, La Fille mal gardée, Giselle, The Sleeping Beauty, Corsaire, Paquita, Cinderella, Romeo and Juliet and La Bayadère among other works.


Imaev has been a guest teacher at Boston Ballet, The Washington Ballet, Oklahoma Ballet, The Royal Ballet of Flanders, The Bruxelles, Sofia Opera and Ballet, Victor Ullate Ballet/-Communidad de Madrid, Gelsey Kirkland Academy of Classical Ballet, The Ballet Internationale in Indianapolis, The Carreño Sarasota Festival, Salt Creek Ballet, Kaatsban International Dance Center, The Rock School for Dance Education, Joffrey Ballet School, Debby Allen Academy, Southland Ballet Academy, Dmitri Kulev Classical Ballet Academy, Dance Academy, The State School of Antwerp, AlixRiga Dance Centre, Le Ballet de Bruxelles, Nafsika Dance Company, Jeune Ballet de France, Ochi International Ballet, Hakucho Ballet, Rei Ichianagi Academy, among more.


Imaev is the distinguished recipient of the Gold medal at the International Ballet Competition Varna; Grand Prix of the Bulgarian National Ballet competition; Golden Lire of the Ministry of Culture of Bulgaria and Special Partner Prize at the Madame Oya International Ballet Competition in Japan. He has also been a jury member of YAGP since its founding and a jury member at international ballet competitions in Nagoya, Japan. He is the artistic advisor of IBstage in Barcelona, Spain.

Alexey Kulpin


The Harid Conservatory

Alexey Kulpin is a graduate of the University of Culture and Art in St. Petersburg, Russia. He holds both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in ballet methodology and choreography. In 1998, he was the Grand Prix winner at the Muse of St. Petersburg Ballet Competition. As a professional dancer, Mr. Kulpin has performed soloist and principal roles in both classical and contemporary ballets in Russia, Israel, and the United States. He danced professionally with St. Petersburg State Opera Ballet, St. Petersburg State Male Theatre by Mihailovsky, Ballet Israel, City Ballet of San Diego, Grand Rapids Ballet, Charleston Ballet Theater, Stars of St. Petersburg Municipal Theater of Music and Dance, and Krasnoyarsk Dance Ensemble. His roles included Basilio in Don Quixote; James in La Sylphide; Prince Ivan in Firebird; Spirit of the Rose in Le Spectre de la Rose; Swan Lake Pas de Trois; and the male leads in Tarentella and Maurice Bejart’s Trik Trak. Mr. Kulpin specializes in teaching classical ballet, male and female variations, and character dance. His  teaching career includes the Ballet Israel School, City Ballet of San Diego, Grand Rapids Ballet, and Charleston Ballet Company, where he taught company classes and served as director of the Charleston Ballet Young Artists Group. Most recently, he served as principal ballet teacher for Northern California Dance Conservatory. He has staged classical variations and choreographed solos for performance and ballet competitions, including Youth America Grand Prix. Mr. Kulpin joined The HARID Conservatory’s faculty in August, 2016.

Peter Merz


Ballet West
Academy Director

Peter Merz has choreographed over 40 original ballets across the USA and internationally. His award-winning 

choreography relies heavily on classical ballet, but is informed by his passion for contemporary dance forms.


As a performer he worked with the Dayton Ballet, the Louisville Ballet and the Cincinnati Ballet. In 2002, Peter 

served as the Artistic Administrator for the USA International Ballet Competition in Jackson, MS. In 2004, Peter 

joined the faculty of Point Park, where he is an associate professor of dance and Head of Ballet.


In 2014, he returned to the USA IBC to create an original work for the competitors to perform at the Awards Gala. He has served as a judge and Master Teacher for Youth America Grand Prix. Peter is also in demand throughout the US as a master teacher, and is known for his enthusiastic and encouraging approach to ballet training. He has twice been named Outstanding Choreographer by the Youth America Grand Prix, and was also honored to be named Outstanding Teacher by that organization in 2014.


In Summer of 2015, Peter Merz was appointed the Academy Director of Ballet West.

Mimmo Miccolis


The Washington Ballet

Mimmo Miccolis, born in Italy, is a neoclassical and contemporary teacher and choreographer at The Washington Ballet. He was the winner of the “Outstanding Choreographer Award” at the Youth American Grand Prix (YAGP) Finals 2015 in New York City, at the Indianapolis International Ballet Competition 2017 and at the YAGP Pittsburgh Semifinals 2016. In 2011, he was also a recipient of the BBC Performing Arts Fund in London, UK. In the last years several of his choreographic creations received awards in dance competitions across Europe and the US. 


Miccolis graduated from the Italian dance academies “Fondazione Niccolò Piccinni” (Bari) and “Balletto di Toscana” (Florence). As a dancer he performed in theaters and companies across Europe, the Middle-East and the United States. Since the start of his professional career, his work has been characterized as a blend of powerful versatility and theatrical range.


Most of Mimmo’s choreographic work focuses on social issues and have been performed in prestigious venues such as the World Bank Headquarters, the Inter-American Development Bank, the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Kennedy Center in Washington DC, the Carnegie Hall in New York, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the European Forum and the House of the European Union in Austria, the European Commission Joint Research Center in Italy and the Bernie Grand Arts Center in London(UK). 


Selected credits include: (A)MORI (Milwaukee Ballet II), Dancing With The Future (commissioned by IIASA and Harvard University), FIRSTS and ICONS (commissioned by the Italian Institute of Culture and The Embassy of Italy), END (commissioned by the World Bank), WHO WHEN WHY (commissioned by Julie Kent for The Washington Ballet), AETERNA and WHITE (The Washington Ballet Studio Company), Contextual Matters and IN ALL (commissioned by the Economist Jeffrey Sachs), InDilemma, COURAGE and ENLIGHTENMENT 2.0 (commissioned by the IIASA and the European Commission), CRISIS, DEEP BLUE, UNDERWATER and HIGH TIDE  (The Washington Ballet Trainee Program), RIGHTS(?) (Bernie Grand Arts Center in London(UK) and LUST LOST LAST (LCP Dance Theatre). Miccolis choreographed also the rebranding music video for the Inter American Development Bank(IDB).

Dierdre Miles Burger


Sarasota Ballet

Assistant Education Director

Born in Burlington, Massachusetts, Dierdre Miles Burger joined the Boston Ballet Corps de Ballet in 1974. From 1978 until 1982 Miles Burger danced in New York City and with Houston Ballet before returning to Boston Ballet in 1983. During her career she danced countless principal roles in the classical and contemporary ballet repertory but was most known for her portrayal of Juliet in Romeo and Juliet, the Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker, and the Principal Stomper in Twyla Tharp’s Brief Fling. In June of 1993 Miles Burger retired from performing and joined Boston Ballet’s Artistic Staff. In September 2002 Miles Burger was appointed Principal of Boston Ballet School, having been a member of the faculty of The Boston Conservatory since 1991. She is also certified in the dance notation method Labanotation.

In the summer of 2006 she left Boston Ballet to move to Florida with her husband David Burger, where she continued to teach and coach on a freelance basis. During this time Miles Burger became an ABT® Certified Teacher, who has successfully completed the ABT® Teacher Training Intensive in Primary through Level 7 of the ABT® National Training Curriculum and was later appointed to the prestigious Board of Examiners for the curriculum. In addition she has served on the jury for a number of ballet conventions and competition including Youth America Grand Prix regional semi-finals and New York City Finals. In July 2010 she was appointed Director of Orlando Ballet School, serving there for eight years until August 2018. Under her leadership Orlando Ballet School grew and developed programming, most notably the Orlando Ballet School Academy which develops young dancers for professional careers. Reaching out to the community, she instituted several programs for children with special needs including Adaptive Dance for students with Down Syndrome, Come Dance With Us for children with physical challenges, and Kids Beating Cancer for children recovering from cancer.

Arlene Minkhorst


Tulsa Ballet
Director of Education


Arlene Minkhorst graduated from the National Ballet School of Canada in 1976, and from Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet School in 1979. She performed in numerous productions with the RWB Company before directing her energies into teaching full-time.

Ms. Minkhorst first joined the RWB School faculty in 1979, as was appointed Vice-Principal in 1991. At the commencement of the 2002-2003 season, she was appointed Associate Director, and in July 2004, she took over the Directorship of the RWB School from Founding Director, David Moroni, C.M.

A dedicated pedagogue in classical ballet training, Ms. Minkhorst regularly pursues opportunities to further her own knowledge of her chosen field, and has travelled to observe classes, performances and operations at other internationally recognized schools.

Prior to taking over the Directorship of the RWB School, Ms. Minkhorst recognized the importance and need for the RWB School Professional Division Ballet Academic Program to have integrated academics and ballet training. She subsequently developed, pursued and implemented a supportive academic/dance structure with Winnipeg school divisions, middle schools and high schools.

In 2008 she established a highly successful partnership with the Collegiate at the University of Winnipeg that continues to inform the present model of the Ballet Academic Program to this day, allowing students to attain a strong academic education concurrently with their professional dance training.

Her commitment to a dancers’ education and to the importance of dance education for all has led to additional U of Winnipeg connections for students. U of Winnipeg’s Faculty of Education recognizes the work completed by graduates of the RWB School Teacher Program, allowing them to designate dance as a teachable minor.

In the late 1990s, Ms. Minkhorst oversaw the restructuring of the Recreational Division. She facilitated the creation of programs that were specifically designed to encourage boys to participate in dance. This program continues to be highly successful and now provides dance instruction to up to 250 boys each year.

During her tenure Ms. Minkhorst forged partnerships and raised the School’s profile within the international dance community. The School is now a partner with the Prix de Lausanne and enjoys exchange programs with the New Zealand School of Dance and Canada’s National Ballet School.

Ms. Minkhorst has accepted engagements to work as a guest teacher and adjudicator for dance festivals and dance competitions across Canada and the United States. She has been a member of the jury for the Youth America Grand Prix in New York, the Prix de Lausanne, the Japan Grand Prix, and the Tanzolymp in Berlin, Germany.

Most recently Ms. Minkhorst embraced a new strategic partnership with Canada’s National Ballet School and Physical and Health Education Canada, entitled Sharing Dance. Sharing Dance is Canada’s National Ballet School’s flagship community outreach initiative offering free dance programs for all Canadians to get healthy, active and artistically engaged. Ms. Minkhorst’s commitment to this program has helped to support over 40,000 Canadians sharing dance in 2018.

Ms. Minkhorst was appointed Director of Education for Tulsa Ballet in 2018.

Claudio Munoz


Houston Ballet II
Director & Ballet Master

During his career as a dancer, Mr. Munoz filled Principal roles in Peru, Uruguay, Argentina, and New York, with a variety of choreographers including John Cranko, George Balanchine, Ivan Nagy, V. Bebrada, A. Rodriguez, W. Dollar, Layres, Ben Stevenson, and Ronald Hynd, (in whose work, Rosalinda, he partnered the esteemed Russian ballerina Natalia Makarova). Mr. Munoz was also involved in other forums for dance, such as Zarzuela, television, musical comedy, and opera.


In 1989 he founded the Chamber Ballet of Santiago. Mr. Munoz has taught classes and seminars in Paraguay, Bolivia, Peru, and the United States. He has worked as an instructor for the Ballet Nacional de Chile, Ballet de Santiago, Ballet Nacional de Peru, and schools in Asucion, Peru.


The dancers Mr. Munoz has coached have won the silver medal at the International Ballet Competition in Jackson (1990) and third place in the Shanghai International Ballet Competition (1995). In 1996, Mr. Munoz was awarded “Best Teacher” at the Interdance Competition in Asuncion, Paraguay. He has coached students for the Prix de Lausanne who have won six medals in the past seven years.


Mr. Munoz joined Houston Ballet Academy as Ballet Master in 1999. As HBII Ballet Master, Mr. Munoz is responsible for the artistic leadership, teaching, choreography, curriculum syllabus development, and supervision of all HBII students to promote the studio performance of Houston Ballet. He has staged a ballet for Ben Stevenson at Florida Ballet, and also staged Stanton Welch’s work at Cincinnati Ballet and Tulsa Ballet. In addition, Mr. Munoz coaches students for the Prix de Lausanne (winning six prizes in the last seven years) and Beijing International Ballet Competition. Currently he serves on the jury and a teacher in the Junior Ballet Competition Japan Grand Prix, and in the Youth American Grand Prix (Mexico, Japan, Brazil, Europe, and New York). As a teacher, he has taught around the world from Canada, Argentina, Australia, Europe, all over Latin America and the United States.

Sharon Story


Atlanta Ballet
Dean of Education

Dean Story is currently in her 21st season with Atlanta Ballet. She joined Atlanta Ballet after a professional dance career that spanned more than 20 years, including tenures with Joffrey Ballet, the School of American Ballet, New York City Ballet, Atlanta Ballet, and ten years with Boston Ballet.


In 1996, in addition to her role as ballet mistress, John McFall’s vision and mentorship brought Sharon to her current position as dean of the Centre for Dance Education, which has rapidly grown to one of the largest dance schools in the nation. The Centre for Dance Education is nationally recognized for great accomplishments in its programs and community initiatives. Under Sharon’s direction, the Centre achieved accreditation with National Association of Schools of Dance (NASD). Sharon is a member of the Board of Directors for NASD and is delighted to serve on many community and national boards.


Sharon received the 2015 Women Making a Mark award from Atlanta Magazine. She is committed to providing a noncompetitive atmosphere and access to dance education that is shaped by the community needs, is innovative, and inspires the commitment and excellence that are the trademarks of Atlanta Ballet. She is very proud of the dancers who have studied at the Centre for Dance Education and continue to share their experiences on stage in the Atlanta Ballet company and around the globe. She thanks her family for all their love and support during her career.

Maria Torija


Academy Director

Born in Madrid, Spain, Maria Torija began her ballet studies with Lola de Avila, Luis Fuentes and Carmen Roche. At the age of thirteen, she was awarded a Fulbright scholarship to study for three years at the School of American Ballet in New York.


After a short stint with the Ballet Nacional de España Clásico, in 1987 she began her 20-year career as a dancer with the Deutsche Oper Berlin ballet company, currently the Staatsballett Berlin. During her time in Berlin, Maria performed in solo and principal roles in numerous classic ballets, including works choreographed by George Balanchine.


She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Ballet Teaching, and graduated summa cum laude with a Master’s and PhD in Performing Arts from the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos, in Madrid. She also has an extensive teaching resume. Beginning with the Opera Ballet of Deutsche Oper Berlin, she has served as a faculty member at the Palucca Hochschule für Tanz, Dresden. Maria has participated in seminars and has been invited to teach classes throughout Europe, Japan and Hong King and the United States. While on the  faculty of the Miami City Ballet and Miami City Ballet School, Maria taught dancing as well as classes on the history of ballet and other associated topics. She organized and conceived a popular program for the Open Barre at the Miami City Ballet, inviting the public to see a demonstration of the progression of professional ballet training. Maria became the Director of the BalletMet Academy in May 2017.

Iain Webb


Sarasota Ballet

Artistic Director

Born in Yorkshire, England, Iain Webb started ballet at the age of 14 and moved to London at 16, where he trained for 2 years with The Rambert School of Ballet and a year at The Royal Ballet School. He further spent a year as an apprentice with The Sadler’s Wells Royal Ballet, where he was offered a full time position. During his 18 years with both The Sadler’s Wells Royal Ballet and The Royal Ballet, his main principal repertoire included: Ashton’s The Dream (Oberon and Bottom), The Two Pigeons (Young Man), La Fille mal Gardée (Colas and Alain), Cinderella (The Small Sister, Dancing Master and Napoleon), Tales of Beatrix Potter (Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle, Pigling Bland), Balanchine’s Prodigal Son (The Son), Fokine’s Les Sylphides (Poet), Petrushka, MacMillan’s Different Drummer (The Doctor), Manon (Client), van Manen’s Five Tangos, Coppelia (Franz), Swan Lake (Prince and Benno),The Sleeping Beauty (Blue Bird), and Baryshnikov’s production of Don Quixote.

In 1996 Webb retired from The Royal Ballet but was invited back as a guest artist to give three farewell performances at Covent Garden as the Small Sister in Ashton’s Cinderella. After retiring as a dancer, he was invited by Matthew Bourne to be Rehearsal Director for The West End, L.A. and Broadway Seasons of Swan Lake and continued to work with Bourne on his production of Cinderella.

In 1999 Webb was asked by Tetsuya Kumakawa to join his newly formed K-Ballet Company in Japan as Ballet Master and, 2 years later, was appointed Assistant Director. During this time, he worked with Kumakawa on building the company into one of Japan’s leading ballet companies. He also worked with many international stars including Adam Cooper, with whom he co-directed The Adam Cooper Company and organized their tour to The Kennedy Center. Likewise, he co-produced with Johan Kobborg the London performances of Out of Denmark and staged Roland Petit’s Carmen Pas de Deux for Alessandra Ferri and Julio Bocca for American Ballet Theatre’s 65th Anniversary Gala.

Throughout Webb’s career he has produced and directed many international Gala performances, presenting dancers from Royal Danish Ballet, Paris Opera Ballet, New York City Ballet and Stuttgart Ballet. He has been guest teacher for White Oak Project, Birmingham Royal Ballet, Rambert Dance Company, as well as teaching master classes and workshops for all the major ballet schools in England. In 2013 he became an Ashton Associate for the Sir Frederick Ashton Foundation.


Iain Webb was appointed as The Sarasota Ballet’s third Director in 2007. With his background, experience and close personal relationships with some of the biggest names in the dance world, Webb has taken The Sarasota Ballet to an unprecedented level of national and international recognition.

Much of Webb’s success is, in part, attributed to the resurrection of Frederick Ashton ballets. A prolific 20th Century British choreographer, Ashton’s ballets have, until recently, been rarely performed in America and many were on the brink of being lost forever. Webb and Barbieri together have put The Sarasota Ballet on the map due to the precision and expertise of Ashton ballets that they introduced into The Company’s repertoire.


In the short 9 years with The Company, Webb has introduced 136 new ballets into the repertoire, 23 of which are ballets by Sir Frederick Ashton: an impressive feat recognized by critics, historians and ballet enthusiasts worldwide. The New York Times critic Alastair Macaulay recently said, “The Sarasota company’s meticulous, juicy performance makes Ashton’s “Enigma” newly expressive. In particular, this is a marvelously musical company.”


Webb celebrates a decade as Director of The Sarasota Ballet in The Company’s 2016 - 2017 Season.

bottom of page