Artistic Staff & Faculty
Miami City Ballet School’s artistic staff and faculty is composed of 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 Director of Faculty and Curriculum Arantxa Ochoa to discuss student progress and to ensure each child’s training is meeting the syllabus standards. Our Pilates, Floor-Barre, and Gyrotonic™ teachers are certified in their respective fields and have years of practical experience.
Director of Faculty and Curriculum
Mariana Alvarez Brake
Kareen Pauld Camargo
Lourdes Lopez, Chairman
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.
Arantxa Ochoa, Director of Faculty and Curriculum
Arantxa Ochoa was appointed Miami City Ballet School’s Director of Faculty and Curriculum in June 2016.
Ochoa is one of the most celebrated ballerinas in the history of Pennsylvania Ballet. She joined in 1996 as a corps de ballet member, was promoted to soloist in 1999 and to principal dancer in 2001. In October 2012, after 16 years with the company, she retired from the stage to take on a new role as the principal teacher of The School of Pennsylvania Ballet and master lecturer at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia.
In September 2014 she was appointed director of The School of Pennsylvania Ballet. Under her leadership the school gained national and international attention for training and educating outstanding classical ballet dancers.
Ochoa was born in Spain and took her first artistic steps as a rhythmic gymnast. At age 11, she moved to Madrid to study at the Centro de Danza with Victor Ullate. She continued her studies at the Academie de Danse Princesse Grace in Monte Carlo, and three years later she was accepted into the prestigious School of American Ballet in New York. She studied with some of the best international teachers of the moment – Stanley Williams, Marika Besobrasova, Suki Schorer, Wilhelm Burmann, Truman Finney and Adam Luders.
Her versatility as a performer and her great interpretive maturity gained her recognition from critics and audiences and allowed her to dance every major role, from the greatest works of classical tradition, to modern and neoclassical choreography. The New York Times wrote about her, “Ms. Ochoa beamed like Audrey Hepburn. When a ballet is in the hands of performers this good, you can sit, relax and bask in its beauties.”
Some of the ballets in her repertoire included: Odette-Odile in the world premiere of Christopher Wheeldon’s Swan Lake, Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty, Juliet in Romeo and Juliet, Swanilda in Coppélia, Lise in La Fille Mal Gardée, Katherina in The Taming of the Shrew, and the title roles in James Kudelka’s The Firebird and Marius Petipa’s Giselle. Her extensive repertoire of Balanchine ballets included the leads in Apollo, Agon, Bugaku, Ballo della Regina, Concerto Barocco, Divertimento No. 15, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Monumentum pro Gesualdo, Movements for Piano and Orchestra, Prodigal Son, Raymonda Variations, Serenade, Theme and Variations, Slaughter on Tenth Avenue, Western Symphony and Who Cares?. Ochoa has also danced leading roles in William Forsythe’s In the Middle Somewhat Elevated, Jerome Robbins’ The Concert and In the Night, Twyla Tharp’s In the Upper Room and Nine Sinatra Songs, and Peter Martins’ Fearful Symmetries and Waltz Project.
Ochoa had the opportunity to participate in many galas and festivals throughout Europe, including the Edinburgh Festival in Scotland, The Stars of the New York Ballet in London, the Sinatra Festival in Portugal and the Northwest Phalen Tanz in Germany. In 2012 she organized a Gala of Stars to perform in Spain where she was awarded ambassador of Valladolid’s Teatro Calderón.
During her tenure as director of The School of Pennsylvania Ballet, she taught Intermediate and Advanced levels and oversaw all aspects of the training of the school. She carefully constructed an eight-level curriculum, adding a pre-professional level comprised of students chosen from the School’s most advanced level. Under her guidance, interest to train in the school grew immensely and the turnout to the National Summer Audition Tour tripled. Ochoa raised funds for student scholarships and established The Herbert and Joyce Kean Scholarship Fund for Boys to provide full-tuition scholarships for boys ages 8 through 17. She produced an annual performance showcasing the whole school, a yearly highlight, where the students had the opportunity to dance works by George Balanchine such as Serenade and Raymonda Variations.
Born and raised in Sterlitamak, Russia, Alexander Iziliaev began his ballet training at age 11 at The Perm Ballet School. Upon graduating in 1992, he won the Moscow International Competition and the Perm Competition. That same year he traveled to the United States and joined the Hartford Ballet. Immediately cast in principal roles, Mr. Iziliaev also originated many roles in Kirk Peterson ballets, and he continued his training with Truman Finney.
In 1995, he was invited by Peter Martins to join the New York City Ballet. There his extensive repertoire of featured roles included George Balanchine’s Tarantella, Allegro Brillante, The Four Temperaments and La Sonambula; and Peter Martins Fearful Symmetries. Mr. Iziliaev also originated roles in Kevin O’Days Badchonim and Richard Tanner’s Schoenberg/Wuorinen Variations.
Mr. Iziliaev joined Pennsylvania Ballet in September 2000 as a Principal Dancer. His roles with the Company have included Oberon in A Midsummer Night’ s Dream, Prince Desire in The Sleeping Beauty, Franz in Coppelia, Prince Charming in Cinderella, Romeo in Romeo and Juliet, Lucentio in The Taming of the Shrew, Prince Ivan in The Firebird and Frederick in Dracula. He has also danced principal roles in George Balanchine’s Prodigal Son, Raymonda Variations, Agon, Serenade, The Nutcracker, Square Dance and Western Symphony. Mr. Iziliaev has also performed in William Forsythe In the Middle Somewhat Elevated, Paul Taylor’s Arden Court, Twyla Tharp’s In the Upper Room, Nine Sinatra Songs and Lynne Taylor-Corbett’s Great Galloping Gottschalk; and has made numerous international appearances in London, Paris, Scotland, Brazil and throughout South America.
Mr. Iziliaev has been teaching since 2000 and he has an impressive record as a ballet teacher and coach. He was a lecturer of The University of the Arts in Philadelphia and he was in the faculty of Metropolitan Ballet Academy, Bowman School of Dance, Philadelphia Studio Ballet, Pennsylvania Ballet School and Principal teacher of The School of Pennsylvania Ballet. He has been a guest teacher for, Koresh Dance Company, Sandonato School of Ballet, Eastern Connecticut Ballet, Ballet Workshop New England and Swarthmore Ballet Theater and Alvin Ailey.
Mr. Iziliaev has also taught master classes in Spain.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Reyneris Reyes was born in Dimas-Mantua Pinar Del Rio, Cuba. He received his training at the Vocational School of Art in Pinar Del Rio and The National Ballet School in Havana. He received additional training at Cuballet summer dance program in Matanzas, Cuba, as well as with renowned teachers Ramona de Saa Bello, Berto Borges, Mabel Carillo, Adria Vélazquez, Magaly Suarez, Ana Julia Bermudez, Maria Cristina Alvarez, Josefina Mendez and others.
Reyes has danced for National Ballet of Cuba, Royal Winnipeg Ballet, Boston Ballet and he joined Miami City Ballet as a principal dancer in 2010. His full bio can be found here.
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.
Antonella Vichidomini’s career as a rhythmic gymnast started in 1994 in the famous gymnastics school “Krilya Sovetov,” located in Moscow. Many Olympic, World, and Russian champions were prepared at this school. Antonella has won first place in countless tournaments. Some of her national awards include: 1st place at the International University Championship in Russia (2005), 1st place at the International Russian Cup in Russia (2003), 3rd place at the 4th Kalev Iternational Cup in Finland (2004), 1st place at the International 1st at the V Tournament Cup Governor Murmansk (2004), 1st place at Russian Championship in the years 2002-2004, and many more. In addition, she was elected Master of Sports for the International Class of Russia in December 2004, similar to the International Champion; and Master of Sports in 2004, equating to the National Champion.
Antonella’s career as a coach started in 2005, when she began coaching at the Krilya Sovetov sport club where she had previously trained as a student. Several gymnasts in Russia have become national members with Antonella’s exceptional coaching. In 2011, Antonella moved to the United States, where she continues to teach and prepare students for competitions at several professional gyms in Miami. Throughout the years 2013-2015, many of Antonella’s students in Florida have become champions. Since 2015, Antonella has begun her own afterschool programs at a number of schools in Miami. She has been a faculty member at Miami City Ballet School since 2016, currently teaching classes in the Children’s and Student Divisions.
Geta Constantinescu (Principal Faculty)
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.