MCB School Faculty
Miami City Ballet School’s artistic staff and faculty is composed of nationally and internationally renowned directors and teachers who have trained and worked with some of the greatest teachers, choreographers and directors in dance history.
The faculty imparts the knowledge and experience they have received throughout their prolific careers from such masters as Alexandra Danilova, Stanley Williams, Suki Schorer and Patricia Wilde, as well as George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins, Rudolf Nureyev, Glen Tetly, John Neumeier and John Cranko.
Each faculty member is well-versed in teaching and implementing the MCB School syllabus at all levels. They meet monthly with School Director Darleen Callaghan to discuss each student’s progress and to ensure each child’s training is meeting the syllabus standards. Our Pilates, Floor-Barre, and Gyrotonics™ teachers are certified in their respective fields and have years of practical experience.
Mariana Alvarez Brake
Kareen Pauld Camargo
Darleen Callaghan began her dance training with the Stone-Camryn School of Ballet in Chicago where she performed as a child with the New York City Ballet, Pennsylvania Ballet and the Stone-Camryn Ballet. She was then awarded scholarships for further study at the American Ballet Theatre School and the School of American Ballet in New York City. As a student at SAB, she had the privilege of performing with Jacques D’Amboise & Friends, Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux-Patricia McBride & Company, and at the White House for the President at a NATO Summit Dinner.
Callaghan became a principal dancer with the North Carolina Dance Theatre performing a variety of roles in both classical and contemporary works. She joined the company for two European tours, performances at the Spoleto Festivals in America and Italy, and extensive yearly tours throughout the United States.
Upon retiring from the stage, Callaghan honed her skills as a teacher, choreographer and arts administrator. She was invited by Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux and Patricia McBride to direct the North Carolina Dance Theatre School of Dance under their artistic leadership. She successfully built the School into a nationally recognized professional training ground for students from around the United States, Europe, Japan and South America.
Callaghan was named School Director of Miami City Ballet School in March 2013. Together with Artistic Director, Lourdes Lopez, she is committed to creating a truly holistic training experience for students through a comprehensive and challenging new syllabus, supplemental strength training and wellness program, and exciting new performance opportunities.
Lourdes Lopez became Artistic Director of Miami City Ballet (MCB) in September 2012, bringing with her a nearly 40-year career in dance, television, teaching and arts management. As a Soloist and Principal Dancer with New York City Ballet, she danced for two legends of the art form, George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins.
Lopez was born in Havana, Cuba in 1958 and raised in Miami by her parents along with two sisters. She began taking ballet lessons at the age of five, on the recommendation of a doctor. At the age of 11 she received a full scholarship to the School of American Ballet, (SAB), the official school of New York City Ballet, where she continued her ballet training in Miami during the year and then in New York during the summers. At fourteen, she moved to New York permanently to devote herself to full-time studies at SAB, and shortly after her sixteenth birthday, she joined the corps de ballet of New York City Ballet.
Under the direction of George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins, her star rose quickly at New York City Ballet where she was soon dancing corps and soloist roles in much of the company’s repertory. She was promoted to Soloist in 1981 and Principal Dancer in 1984, performing countless featured roles including Violin Concerto, Firebird, Serenade, Liebeslieder Walzer, Divertimento No. 15, Symphony in C, Agon, The Four Temperaments, Dances at a Gathering, Glass Pieces, Fancy Free, In the Night, Four Seasons, and Brandenburg. Lopez’s great interest in children also found her writing and contributing to many of the company’s Family Matinee series.
Upon retirement, Lopez joined WNBC-TV in New York as a Cultural Arts reporter, writing and producing feature segments on the arts, artists and arts education. She was also a full-time senior faculty member and Director of Student Placement, Student Evaluation and Curriculum Planning at New York’s Ballet Academy East. She served on the dance faculty of Barnard College and guest taught at numerous dance institutions and festivals in the United States.
In 2002, Lopez became the Executive Director of The George Balanchine Foundation, which works to educate the public about dance and to further the art of ballet, with a special emphasis on the work and achievements of George Balanchine. In this position, she oversaw the 2004 Balanchine Centennial Celebration, a worldwide festival honoring the choreographer and his legacy. Among the events that year was the symposium “Balanchine: Past, Present and Future,” which was held in St. Petersburg, Russia, and which was a collaboration among the Mariinsky Theater, the Hermitage Museum, and The George Balanchine Foundation. Lopez co-founded The Cuban Artists Fund, which supports Cuban and Cuban-American artists in their endeavors. She also co-founded Morphoses with Christopher Wheeldon in 2007 — a New York-based dance company aiming to revitalize dance through innovative collaborations with important artists from the worlds of music, visual arts, design, film and fashion; and by inviting younger and broader audiences to engage in and actively experience dance.
In 2014 Lopez was elected to serve on the Ford Foundation’s Board of Trustees, marking the first time an artist was elected to serve on its board. In 2007 she received an award from the American Immigration Law Foundation honoring Cuban Americans for their accomplishments and contributions to American society and in 2011, she received the prestigious Jerome Robbins Award for her years in dance. She has served as a dance panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts. Lopez is married to investment banker George Skouras. They are the parents of two daughters: Adriel and Calliste.
Geta Constantinescu was born in Romania. She performed numerous principal and soloist roles with the Company of State Opera and Ballet in Timisoara. In 1970, while touring in Italy, she defected to the West. She performed as a guest artist all over Europe and America. Ms. Constantinescu began her teaching career in New York. She was Ballet Mistress with Ballet Arizona, Manhattan Ballet of New York, Universal Ballet in Seoul, and the Hong Kong Ballet. She was also Lecturer with the Academy for Performing Arts in Hong Kong.
While touring the United States with the Hong Kong Ballet, she was invited by Linda Villella to become a principal teacher at the Miami City Ballet School. Ms. Constantinescu has staged the third act of Sleeping Beauty and the pas de trios from the first act of Swan Lake for Miami City Ballet company, and with Edward Villella, mounted the full-length production of Don Quixote. For advanced students at Miami City Ballet School, Ms. Constantinescu produced her own production of Cinderella, and with her colleague Rafi Maldonado, created the original ballet Carnival of the Animals, both of which were performed to high acclaim at the Adrienne Arsht Center in Miami.
Ms. Constantinescu is a master trainer in the Gyrotonic® Technique.
Gerard Ebitz was trained at the Miami Conservatory, the School of American Ballet in New York, and the National Ballet School in Toronto. He danced professionally with the New York City Ballet and was a founding member of Miami City Ballet. He was a principal dancer with the Zurich Opera Ballet and the Pacific Northwest Ballet.
As a teacher and choreographer, he has worked with the Carlisle Project and was commissioned to choreograph a work on the Pennsylvania Youth Ballet. The National Choreographic Plan has recognized his work and he was awarded a 1992-1993 and 1997-1998 Individual Choreographic Fellowship from the State of Florida. Mr. Ebitz was the Artistic Director of Ballet Randolph from 1990-1993. He choreographed for Rochester City Ballet; Ballet Jorgen in Toronto, Canada; Santa Fe Dance Foundation in New Mexico; and Tsoying Performing Arts High School in Kaohsiung, Taiwan.
In Florida, his work has been performed by Dance Alive! in Gainesville, and at the Douglas Anderson School for the Performing Arts in Jacksonville. In Miami, he choreographed for Freddick Bratcher & Company, Juegos del Arte, Acme Acting Company, Thomas Armour Youth Ballet, and solo artist Rosario Suarez. In addition, he had the pleasure of staging and choreographing for various directors through Miami-Dade College. From 2000 to 2013, he taught and choreographed for the North Carolina Dance Theatre Summer Program in Charlotte, North Carolina.
In recent years, he has taught at the Ballet School in Savannah, Georgia, the University of Miami Theatre Department, and the Miami City Ballet School. In 2006, Mr. Ebitz was a recipient of a Surdna Arts Teachers Fellowship grant for study in Budapest at the National Hungarian Dance Academy. He has been on the Dance Department faculty at the New World School of the Arts in Miami since 1988.
Olivier Pardina is a principal Instructor in the Pre-Professional Division, teaching students at the Advanced Levels. A former Artistic Director and Principal Teacher at the Nice Opera Ballet School, Pardina has lived in the United States since 1991. He taught at The HARID Conservatory for 20 years and has taught master classes throughout the world. He has been a guest teacher at American Ballet Theatre and the Youth American Grand Prix, the world’s largest student ballet competition. He is also an active adjudicator and representative for MCBS at YAGP. Besides guest teaching at ABT, he has been invited to teach at San Francisco Ballet, Orlando Ballet, The Rock School and in Argentina, Mexico, Brazil and European countries as well. His students have won major prizes at both national and international dance competitions and many are now principal dancers at some of the top ballet companies in the United States and Europe.
A native of France, Pardina began his ballet training at age 10. His training included master teachers from the Paris Opera Ballet. The Nice Opera Ballet offered the 16 year old Pardina his first professional position and promoted him to the rank of Principal Dancer by the end of his first year. Pardina has toured with Rudolph Nureyev and worked closely with him as his understudy while working for the Nancy Ballet Theatre. He also danced and toured the world with major French ballet companies. Among his breakthrough roles, was his portrayal of Petrouchka, in Hommage a Diaghilev. He also received critical acclaim for his performances in Serge Lifar’s Phedra, Moses Pendleton’s Pulcinella, Birgit Cullberg’s Miss Julie and Hans Van Manen’s Songs Without Words, Five Tangos, and Septet Extra.
Maria Torija was born in Madrid, Spain and began her dance studies at the Ballet School of Lola De Avila, one of the ballet world’s most renowned teachers, and at the Real Conservatorio de Arte Dramático y Danza. She received a Fulbright Scholarship to train for three years at the School of American Ballet with such distinguished teachers as Suki Schorer, Kay Mazzo, Stanley Williams, Alexandra Danilova, Antonina Tumkovsky and Susan Pilarre. She also studied during summer programs at the Ballet Nacional de Cuba with Laura Alonso, Aurora Bosch and Jorge Esquivél and at a Bournonville Seminar in Copenhagen with Vivi Flindt, Johnny Eliasen and Eva Evdokimova.
Ms. Torija danced professionally for 20 years with the Deutsche Oper/Staatsballett Berlin, the largest ballet company in Germany, under the directorship of Gert Reinholm, Peter Schaufuss, Ray Barra, Richard Cragun, Sylviane Bayard and Vladimir Malakhov. Her repertoire included all of the classics, Giselle, Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, Coppelia, La Sylphide, La Bayadere, Paquita, Les Sylphides, and many more. She has performed soloist and principal roles in over 13 of Mr. Balanchine’s ballets, including Apollo, Serenade, Symphony in C, Concerto Barocco, The Four Temperaments, Allegro Brillante, and Agon, among others. She has worked with most of the major choreographers of the 20th and 21st Centuries including Glenn Tetley, Jiri Kylian, Nacho Duato, Maurice Bejart, Kenneth MacMillan, Rudolph Nureyev and others.
Upon retiring from the stage, Ms. Torija began her studies to become a classical ballet teacher. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Ballet Training, graduating summa cum laude, from the Ministerio de Educación en España and her Master’s Degree in Performing Arts, also summa cum laude, from the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos, Madrid. She went on to complete her Doctorate Degree in Art History, also graduating summa cum laude, with her thesis focusing on The Art of Ballet: From Marius Petipa to George Balanchine.
Ms. Torija has taught company classes at the Deutsche Oper Berlin Ballett for many years and has been a faculty member at the Palucca School of Professional Dance in Dresden, Germany. She has also taught in numerous private dance schools in Berlin as well as in Hong Kong, Madrid, Barcelona and La Rochelle, France. Ms. Torija will be joining the faculty at Miami City Ballet School this summer, teaching and staging ballets in the Pre-Professional Division and upper levels of the School as well as leading classes in dance history.
Mariana Alvarez Brake
Mariana Alvarez Brake studied at the School of American Ballet in New York City, began her professional career at the age of 18 at the National Ballet of Washington D.C., and rounded out her career dancing for the San Francisco Ballet and Ballet Internacional de Caracas.
After retiring, she launched her teaching career. Over the next three decades, she taught at many of Miami’s best-known ballet schools and organizations including New World School of the Arts, Thomas Armour Youth Ballet, Ballet Concerto Company, Momentum Dance Company, Magda Aunon School of Ballet, Florida International University, American Ballet Theatre National Audition Tour, Florida Dance Masters, and the High School Festival Conference Workshop.
In 2007, she was honored with the awards of Outstanding Teacher from both the Youth America Grand Prix Competition and the American Ballet Competition. Ms. Alvarez Brake has choreographed and staged many ballets in the South Florida area. Her work Abstract Impressions was performed at the Florida Dance Festival in 2001. Her piece Chopin: Images received a 1984 choreographic award from the Association of Critics and Commentators for the Theatrical, Classical, and Literary Art-ACCA.
As a dancer, teacher and choreographer, Ms. Alvarez Brake brings three highly specialized skills to the dance studio and has earned a reputation for teaching her dancers how best to meld solid technique with soaring artistry.
Kareen Pauld Camargo
Kareen Pauld Camargo was born in Haiti, and came to the United States at the age of two. She grew up in New York, where she trained at the American Ballet Theater School, School of American Ballet, The Dance Theatre of Harlem School and Workshop Ensemble, as well as attending the High School of Performing Arts. While a member of the DTH Ensemble, she had the honor of performing the dancing sections in Gershwins “Porgy and Bess” at The Metropolitan Theater Opera House in New York. She performed with The Dance Theatre of Harlem Company for several years, dancing works by Arthur Mitchell, George Balanchine, B. Nijiinska, Agnes de Mille, Geoffrey Holder, and many others.
Ms. Camargo moved to South Florida to join Miami City Ballet in 1990. She was a featured dancer in such ballets as Balanchine’s Swan Lake, The Nutcracker, Raymonda Variations, Scotch Symphony, Four Temperaments and Agon; Jimmy Gamonet’s Transtangos; Lynn Taylor-Corbett’s Mystery of the Dancing Princesses, and Paul Taylor’s Three Epitaphs, Company B and Esplanade. After retiring from the stage, Ms. Camargo taught ballet at Miami City Ballet School from 1998-2006, and returned to the faculty in 2013. She was rehearsal and ballet mistress for the children in Miami City Ballet’s production of George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker™ in 2005.
Ms. Camargo joined the adjunct faculty of New World School of The Arts in 2009, where she currently teaches ballet in the Musical Theater Department. In 2011, she joined the staff of The Thomas Armour Youth Ballet, where she served the community of Miami Gardens, Fla. for three years as outreach coordinator and ballet instructor. She has been staging and rehearsing The Thomas Armour Youth Ballets production of The Nutcracker since 2008. Ms. Camargo has also enjoyed teaching as guest faculty at The Dance Theatre of Harlem’s Summer Intensive in New York and Detroit, and at The Tallahassee Ballet.
Zuzel Cardet taught at the Cuban School of Ballet in Cuba beginning in 1997 to students of all levels, from beginner to advanced. She has experience teaching classical ballet, repertoire, pointe, dance hall or historical and Latin Dance, and has participated in workshops, festivals and academic meetings in Cuba where she also studied courses on the methodology of ballet. Her professional teaching experience also includes working with children for the preparation of competitions, mainly in classical repertoire and her own choreographic work in schools.
Upon her arrival in the United States in September 2011, Cardet worked at the Academy of Ballet in Miami. She is delighted to have joined MCB School Faculty in fall 2015.
Kris Kramer was born in upstate New York, where she began her training at the Saugerties Ballet Center and later attended the Albany Dance Institute, under the direction of former New York City Ballet dancer, David Otto. During the summers, she studied at the School of American Ballet, American Ballet Theatre and Chatauqua Dance Institute. Kris joined Miami City Ballet in 2001, after being a scholarship student at Miami City Ballet School and apprenticing with the Company for a year. During her six years with MCB, she was featured in ballets such as Giselle, Edward Villella’s “THE QUICK-STEP: Unspeakable Jazz Must Go!”, and George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker™, among others.
Rafi Maldonado-López (Jazz)
Rafi Maldonado-López is a faculty member of New World School of the Arts, where he teaches ballet and advanced Jazz for Music Theatre, and Movement in the Drama track. He has worked as a guest teacher across the Midwest as well as St. Petersburg, Russia, for the resident dance company of the famed Music Hall. He began his dance training in San Juan, Puerto Rico with Ballet Concierto and Ballet de San Juan, and later continued his studies under scholarship at Joffrey Ballet School and the Boston Conservatory.
He performed contemporary works with Boston Dance Company, Minnesota Dance Theater, Ballet of the Dolls, Ballet Arts of Minnesota, as well as various commercial video works. Most recently he has choreographed for Anything Goes, Carousel, and Guys and Dolls, and has just been awarded a choreography commission for a new original Broadway musical: Palladium. Mr. Maldonado-Lopez is head of the Jazz department of MCB School since 2004.
Jennifer Manino is a graduate of The HARID Conservatory in Boca Raton, FL. While studying at HARID, she was chosen to perform in The Nutcracker with the Moscow Ballet. Upon graduation, she became a trainee with the Joffery Ballet School and then joined Columbia City Ballet where she performed soloist and principal roles. Her extensive professional career continued with The Metropolitan Opera Ballet in New York City for eight consecutive seasons.
Ms. Manino was also a founding member of American Contemporary Ballet, which is now based in California. Ms. Manino studied at renowned schools, such as Pacific Northwest Ballet, School of American Ballet and Boston Ballet. In addition, Ms. Manino graduated from New York University receiving a Bachelor of Science. Before moving to South Florida she taught at the Joffrey Ballet School in New York City.
Isis Masoud grew up in Florida, where she trained with Dana & Mia Michaels and received her BA in Theater from the University of Miami. Her credits include dancer, choreographer, film producer and actress. She recently choreographed for legendary hip-hop icon, Nas, at the Radio City Music Hall in New York City and was assistant choreographer on the production “Boys From Syracuse” along with renowned Broadway choreographer, Dan Knechtges and Director, David Schweizer. Masoud’s choreography was featured on the ABC Family television show, “Dance Fever”, as well as on Season 9 of “So You Think You Can Dance”, where her student, Eliana Girard won the female title of “America’s Favorite Dancer”. She was also Artistic Associate for a David Parson’s Broadway Workshop, directed by John Caird (“Les Miserables” and “Jane Eyre”).
Masoud has choreographed numerous music videos and regional productions of the musicals “Hair”, “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” and “La Femme est Morte” which won Best Ensemble at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and ran Off-Broadway in NYC. She co-wrote, directed and choreographed the production, “At The Diner”, an original dance musical which ran Off-Broadway at The Duke Theater in Times Square. Her award-winning web series, “Polite Girls!”, has received over 7 million views on YouTube, international news coverage on CNN, CBS, FOX, NBC and The NY Daily, and has received an invitation to perform on “America’s Got Talent”. She is a guest faculty member at Broadway Dance Center and Steps in New York and works as a master teacher with various dance organizations throughout the country.
Maribel Modrono was born in Cuba and grew up in Miami, FL. She began her studies in South Florida, and then received a scholarship with the School of American Ballet. She soon began her professional career at the age of 18 with Ft. Worth Ballet. Moving back home to Miami, after the invitation of Edward Villella, she joined Miami City Ballet and was swiftly promoted to Principal Dancer. To expand her repertoire, she later accepted an offer with Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre.
Throughout her extensive career she received high acclaim for her dancing in many of the famous George Balanchine ballets and the great classical ballets. This opened many new opportunities dancing for some of the leading choreographers of today. With her passion towards health and fitness she became a certified Pilates Instructor and later received her certification as a Core Fusion Teacher. Her dream is to share her knowledge of dance with the dreams of the next generation.
A Juilliard graduate, Payne has performed with the Aspen Ballet and has also appeared in The International tours of Fosse and West Side Story, 9 to 5 on Broadway, The New York City Center Encores’ production of The Wiz, House of Flowers, Pajama Game, Radio City Christmas Spectacular(2000 – 2012) and Michael Jackson’s 30th Anniversary Special.
Besides Michael Jackson, Payne has worked with Mariah Carey, Usher, Mya, Destiny’s Child, Whitney Houston, Deborah Cox, Thalia, Tony Moran, Lisa Lisa, Kevin Aviance, Love INC and Camp LO.
He has choreographed various industrials and corporate events, and has worked for a number of summer intensives, such as the MCB Summer Intensive, Springfield Ballet, Performance Edge and The Theatre Arts and Minds. Industrials include events for LANA MARKS, Herbal Life and The International Hustle and Salsa Competition Corporation.
Payne has also appeared on Saturday Night Live and in the motion pictures Marci X, Bolden/The Great Observer and Tony Tango. He is currently working with new recording artist Ashley Allen as well as singer-songwriter Ari Gold and multitalented performer KFIR, and will also serve as Resident Judge for the 2014 Midwest Starz Dance Competition Tour, which takes place in cities including Indianapolis and St. Louis.
DeAnn Petruschke began training at the School of Cleveland Ballet under the tutelage of Daniel Job and Roni Mahler. She continued her training at the School of American Ballet, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre and the Milwaukee Ballet Schools. During Ms. Petruschkes’ ballet career she danced as a soloist and in the corps de ballet for Ballet Arizona, Cleveland Ballet, San Jose Ballet, Oregon Ballet Theater, Grand Rapids Ballet and Ballet Gamonet.
While performing with the Grand Rapids Ballet, she joined the school faculty. Ms. Petruschke has continued her teaching career as faculty and guest instructor at schools in Michigan, Ohio and South Florida, where she has been a faculty member at the Miami City Ballet since June 2012.
Emily Ricca (Pilates) began her ballet studies in Springfield, Mo., where she was invited at a young age, to be part of the Missouri State University Ballet program. After Ms. Ricca graduated from Virginia School of the Arts, she joined Ballets de San Juan where she worked with Ricardo Melendez and Ana Maria Castañon.
Ms. Ricca danced with Florida Dance Theatre for three seasons as a principal dancer and worked as a ballet teacher in the Company’s school. She has also danced as a soloist and guest artist with Boca Ballet Theatre, Vero Classical Ballet, Florida Arts and Dance Company, Wellington Ballet, and Springfield Ballet.
She has taught for Vero Classical Ballet, Florida Arts and Dance Company, Indian River Charter High School and Miami City Ballet School where she recently completed their Fellowship Teacher Training Program.
Ms. Ricca is the founder and director of Romance Project, an international educational program, giving presentations at schools and other venues combining live dance and music performance with history.
She is also a certified Pilates instructor and is currently teaching at SoBe Pilates, The Jewish Community Center and 6th Street Dance Studio.