Maria Torija, the Academy Director at BalletMet, was born in Madrid, Spain. 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, 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, Maurice Bejart, John Neumeier, William Forsythe, John Cranko, Jiri Kilian and Kenneth McMillan among others. 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 Kong 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 came to BalletMet as the Academy Director, in 2017 from Marin Ballet, the same school where Artistic Director Edwaard Liang received his early training.
Vladimir Malakhov (born 7 January 1968, Kryvyi Rih, Soviet Ukraine) is a Ukrainian ballet dancer who was the artistic director of the Staatsballett Berlin (Berlin State Ballet) from its founding in 2004 until 2014. He is a former principal dancer with American Ballet Theatre and Vienna State Opera Ballet. Malakhov began his dance training at the age of four at a small ballet school in his hometown and remained there until continuing his training at the school of the Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow. From age ten on, he was under the tutelage of Peter Pestov and upon graduation from Moscow State Academy of Choreography in 1986 joined the Moscow Classical Ballet as that company's youngest principal dancer. In 1992, Malakhov joined the Vienna State Opera Ballet as a principal artist, and then the National Ballet of Canada in 1994. In the spring of 1995 he had his debut with the American Ballet Theatre at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City. Since that time, he has remained a principal dancer with ABT and has continued to dance principal roles in Vienna as well as with the Stuttgart Ballet. He appeared as a guest in Berlin where he has recently become artistic director. His repertory encompasses a wide range of styles from classical ballets to the works of today's contemporary choreographers. Along with performing at the world’s major dance venues, Malakhov has staged La Bayadere for Vienna State Ballet in 1999, Cinderella in 2004 and The Sleeping Beauty in 2005 for Staatsballett Berlin. In 2010, he choreographed La Péri for Staatsballett Berlin. He has won awards in his field from competitions in Varna, Moscow and Paris. Japan's Dance Magazine named him the "best male dancer in the world" from 1992 to 1994. Together with his lifetime manager Paul Seaquist, they created the Grand Prix Malakhov in Cuba, a philanthropic work in which they support art and dance in the island of Cuba. They are in their 6th edition.
Originally from Boston, Massachusetts, Kathryn Warakomsky-Li began studying ballet at the age of 14 in Springfield, Virginia with Oleg Tupine. She graduated from the State University of New York at Purchase with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Dance. She was invited to join the Ballet de Santiago under the direction of Ivan Nagy where she rose to the status of principal dancer. In 1989 Ms. Warakomsky-Li joined Houston Ballet and became the Principal dancer. With over 20 years of performance experience, Warakomsky-Li has held lead roles in nearly all the major classical ballets including Swan Lake, Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty, Giselle, Romeo and Juliet, Cinderella, Cleopatra, Etudes and Coppelia. She also danced in numerous works by famed contemporary choreographers like Ben Stevenson, George Balanchine, Jiří Kylián , Kenneth MacMillan, John Cranko, Ronald Hynd, James Kudelka and Christopher Bruce among others. Ms. Warakomsky-Li has toured extensively around the world dancing throughout North and South America, Asia and Europe. Upon retiring from the stage in 2001, Ms. Warakomsky-Li was invited to teach at the Houston Ballet Ben Stevenson Academy where she staged and rehearsed many pieces for the upper school. Ms. Warakomsky-Li has been teaching for Texas Ballet Theater School in Fort Worth since 2003 where she has taught all levels of the school. She is an American Ballet Theatre (ABT) Certified Teacher who has successfully completed the ABT Teacher Training in Primary through Level 7 of the ABT National Training Curriculum®. She has also traveled to Moscow and St. Petersburg, Russia to view the Bolshoi and the Vaganova Schools and to participate in their training programs. Ms. Warakomsky-Li was named Principal of Texas Ballet Theater School – Fort Worth in January 2007 and in 2016 was promoted to Associate Director. She also heads the Studio Training Company and has managed the Summer Intensive since its inception in 2007.
Peter Stark is an internationally renowned ballet teacher and coach who has been influential in dancers’ successes across the United States and Europe. He has been named director of the Rock School for Dance Education in Philadelphia starting in 2022. Stark is currently associate director of Boston Ballet II and head of the Men’s Program with Boston Ballet School. He regularly teaches the professional dancers of Boston Ballet and represents the company as an international judge and adjudicator. During nearly seven years in Boston, Stark established new touring and expanded the repertoire for Boston Ballet II and was instrumental in creating a pre-professional division partnership with Walnut Hill School for the Arts. Prior to Boston, Stark was the founding artistic director of Next Generation Ballet in Tampa and chair of the Patel Conservatory Dance Department. He created the school and pre-professional company that quickly became an exemplary professional track dance program attracting students worldwide. Graduates of the program have gone on to careers with many of the top companies domestically and abroad. Stark’s teaching career took off when artistic director Fernando Bujones named him Orlando Ballet School Director. He established a world-class school that grew over ten years to four locations and trained outstanding dancers who took positions with ballet companies worldwide. Stark’s work won accolades, including Best School and Best Teacher at the New York Finals of Youth America Grand Prix, a cover story in Dance Teacher magazine, and “Peter Stark Day” in the City of Orlando. Stark has coached students to top prizes at major international ballet competitions, including Youth America Grand Prix, YoungArts, SYTYCD, Princess Grace Foundation, and the International Ballet Competitions in Helsinki, Jackson, Beijing, and Seoul. His students have become soloists and principal dancers in companies, including American Ballet Theatre, New York City Ballet, National Ballet of Canada, Stuttgart Ballet, Royal Ballet of England, English National Ballet, Dutch National Ballet, Zurich Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, Boston Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, and many others. Stark began his performance career with New York City Ballet. He danced the Balanchine repertoire and premiered works by luminaries including Martins, Robbins, Verdy, and Tharp. He then moved to Boston Ballet, where his repertoire expanded to include featured roles in works by Lemon, Goh, Petipa, Cranko, and Lander. During a short tenure with Ballet Mississippi as principal dancer and assistant to the artistic director, Fernando Bujones, Stark became the interim executive director, leading a successful Save the Ballet campaign. He then returned to performing by joining The Washington Ballet. There Stark was a leading dancer in works by Goh, Petipa, Day, and others, and traveled to the Helsinki International Ballet Competition as the non-competing partner to bronze medalist Elizabeth Mertz. He also began his teaching career at The Washington Ballet School and Maryland Youth Ballet with mentors Michelle Lees and Tensia Fonseca. Peter Stark is a graduate of the School of American Ballet and studied with Andre Eglevsky, Stanley Williams, and Fernando Bujones. His eclectic career has allowed him to choreograph original works for Orlando Ballet, Washington Ballet, and Boston Ballet II, including a critically acclaimed Cinderella. He also danced several principal roles with The Washington National Opera, including two PBS national telecasts with Placido Domingo and served on grant panels at the city and state level and with the National Endowment for the Arts.
Ivonne Lemus, current Principal Ballet Mistress of Next Generation Ballet, a former dancer with The Royal Winnipeg Ballet and former soloist with Ballet National of Cuba. Ms. Lemus graduated from the National Ballet School of Cuba in 1986 and while with the company, she had the privilege of being trained by Alicia Alonso, Josefina Mendez, Loipa Araujo, and Laura Alonso. Through Ballet National of Cuba, Ms. Lemus participated in numerous International Ballet Festivals and has performed in more than 30 countries including those in Europe, South America, Australia, Asia, and the United States of America. Throughout Ms. Lemus’s teaching career, she has coached numerous award-winning students at various competitions, namely, 2006 Gold Medalist winner, Misa Kuranaga at the International Ballet Competition, Jackson, MS., 2012 Grand Prix Winner, Hannah Bettes at Youth America Grand Prix Finals, and Audience Favorite at Prix de Lausanne, 2009 Gold Medalist Winner, Jeffrey Cirio at the Helsinki International Ballet Competition, and 2019 Gold Medalist, Hector Jain at ADC|IBC. Ms. Lemus’s students have also competed at Beijing International Ballet & Choreography Competition, Dance Open America, and World Ballet Competition. Ms. Lemus has several former students dancing professionally in top companies around the world, including Stuttgart Ballet, Zurich Ballet, Dutch National Ballet, Royal Swedish Ballet, Royal Ballet, American Ballet Theater, Ballet West, Houston Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, and Miami City Ballet. As a teacher with Next Generation Ballet, Ms. Lemus has staged many classical works such as Swan Lake, Cinderella, Coppelia, Giselle, Don Quixote, and Le Corsaire. Ms. Lemus was awarded Teacher of the Year 2021.
Telmo Moreira began his training at the National Conservatory Dance School of Portugal. After being awarded one of the top prizes in the 2007 Prix de Lausanne, he received a scholarship to complete his studies at the Vaganova Ballet Academy, where he had the opportunity to perform the Flower Festival Pas de Deux at the Mariinsky Theater in St. Petersburg, Russia. Moreira has also received the Outstanding European Dancer Award at the Youth American Grand Prix (YAGP) Finals, the Judges Prize at the 2008 Varna International Ballet Competition (IBC), was a finalist at the 2008 Beijing IBC, and was a semi- finalist in the Jackson, USA IBC in 2014. After competing in the Prix de Lausanne for the second time, Moreira received the apprenticeship award and chose to join American Ballet Theatre’s second company, where he danced works by Jerome Robbins, George Balanchine, and Edwaard Liang. Moreira has been invited to participate in international galas such as YAGP Japan’s Gala. Moreira joined Orlando Ballet in 2011 where he danced numerous leading roles and danced works by Jessica Lang, Peter Chu, Abdur Jackson, Robert Hill, George Balanchine, and Jerome Robbins. During his time with the company, Moreira had the opportunity to choreograph his own ballets and created Barco Negro (2014), Unsaid (2015), and Same Old Fear (2016). He also created his own production of Firebird for Florida Ballet. In 2016, he won best choreography at the YAGP regionals in Tampa. In September 2017, Moreira became a full-time faculty member with the Rock School for Dance Education.