2013-2014 School Staff & Faculty -- Winter Program

Miami City Ballet School’s faculty is world-class. Faculty members have had strong training backgrounds and professional performing careers in their fields and are well-versed in teaching and implementing the MCBS syllabus. Pre-professional division students take class with academy faculty and Company artistic staff, including Company ballet masters and Lourdes Lopez, artistic director of Miami City Ballet and Chairman of the Faculty. The faculty meets 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. We proudly offer physical therapy and massage therapy on-site to all students, as well as personal counseling. 

Lourdes Lopez, Chairman of Faculty, Artistic Director of Miami City Ballet
Darleen Callaghan, School Director
Jennifer Pino, School Administrative Manager
Stella Braudy, School Programs and International Relations Manager
Nagia Almeida, School Registrar
Dr. Migdalia Figueredo, Psychologist
Kiabi DuBose, Housing Supervisor
Keiko Fernandez, Elizabeth Maples, and Cynthia McGee Laportilla, Physical Therapists
Alex Somoano, Massage Therapist

School Director -- Darleen Callaghan
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. 

Ms. 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, Ms. 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. 

Ms. Callaghan was named School Director of Miami City Ballet School in March 2013. Together with Artistic Director, Lourdes Lopez, she has implemented a school syllabus and launched the MCB School Ensemble. She looks forward to continuing to work closely with Ms. Lopez to realize their common goals for the School.

Lourdes Lopez -- Chairman of Faculty (ARTISTIC DIRECTOR, MIAMI CITY BALLET)
Lourdes Lopez was born in Havana, Cuba in 1958 and raised in Miami by her parents along with two sisters.  She started taking ballet lessons at the age of five, on the recommendation of a doctor, and went to New York at the age of ten on a full scholarship to the Joffrey School.  Lourdes continued her training at the School of American Ballet (SAB), the official school of New York City Ballet, and in Miami. 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 fast at New York City Ballet where she was soon dancing leading 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 leading roles for Balanchine and Robbins.  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 Maryinsky Theater, the Hermitage Museum, and the George Balanchine Foundation. Lopez also co-founded The Cuban Artists Fund, which supports Cuban and Cuban-American artists in their endeavors.

In 2011, she received the prestigious Jerome Robbins Award. She sits on the board of Career Transition for Dancers and 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, a 2011 Yale University graduate, and ten-year-old Calliste.


Faculty -- BALLET

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 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, The School of American Ballet, The Dance Theatre of Harlem School and Workshop Ensemble, as well as attending The High School of Performing Arts. She danced with The Dance Theater of Harlem Company for several years, before moving to Miami and joining The Miami City Ballet in1990. She was a featured dancer in such ballets as Balanchine’s Swan Lake, The Nutcracker, Raymonda Variations, Scotch Symphony, Four Temperaments and Agon; Paul Taylor’s Three Epitaphs, Company B and Esplanade. After retiring from the stage, Ms. Camargo taught ballet at The Miami City Ballet School for many years. Ms. Camargo joined New World School of The Arts in 2009 as adjunct faculty, in the Musical Theater Department, and is also the Outreach Coordinator and ballet instructor for The Thomas Armour Youth Ballet, serving the community of Miami Gardens Florida.

Geta Constantinescu (Principal Faculty) 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 the 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 Adrienne Arsht Center in Miami. In addition, 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.


Valia Gonzalez was born and raised in Havana, Cuba where she began her dance career at the age of 9 at The National School of Ballet. Upon her graduation as a professional ballerina, she entered the Ballet Nacional de Cuba under the direction of Alicia Alonso where she danced as a soloist for six years. As part of the Company, she participated in numerous tours around the world as well as took part in the well-recognized bi-annual celebrations of the International Ballet Festival in Havana. In 1997, Ms. Gonzalez joined the Compañia Nacional de Danza of Mexico as a first soloist. Her extensive performance experience includes principal roles of the Classical repertoire such as Swan Lake, Nutcracker, Giselle and Coppelia. She has worked with notable ballet masters and choreographers such as Alicia Alonso, Asari Plizetski, Loipa Araujo, Stanton Welch, Josefina Mendez, Aurora Bosch,David Howard, and Fernando Bujones to name a few. In 2002, Ms. Gonzalez arrived to United States and trained with Miami City Ballet where she learned the Balanchine style; she later joined Ballet Florida for three seasons in which she had the chance to work first hand with Stanton Welch in his production of Dracula. Valia Gonzalez has performed at Miami Ballet Festival with Cuban Classical Ballet and Brazarte Dance Company. 

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!", George Balanchine's The Nutcracker™, among others.

Angélica López Cotto was born and raised in Santurce, Puerto Rico where she began her dance training at the age of 4 at the Academy of Ballet Yolanda Muñoz. She  continued her training at Les Danses Studio and National School of Ballet Julian E. Blanco under the tutelage of Roberto Rodríguez, Joaquín Banegas and Silvia Marichal. Upon her graduation, she joined Ballets de San Juan and later Ballet Concierto of Puerto Rico where she danced soloist and corps de ballet roles. She has performed a variety of roles in The Nutcracker, Carmen, Coppélia, Don Quixote, Le Sylphide, Giselle and Phantom of the Opera, a production made exclusively for Ballet Concierto of Puerto Rico. Ms. López Cotto holds a Bachelor's degree in Foreign Languages with specialization in Portuguese and Italian from Florida International University.   

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.  In pursue 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.

Olivier Pardina (Principal Faculty)
is a principal Instructor in the Pre-Professional Division Faculty, 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. 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. 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.

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.
Roberto Rodriguez began his dance training with Ballets de San Juan in Puerto Rico and studied at the School of American Ballet in New York. He worked for the Pittsburgh Ballet Theater, returning to Ballets de San Juan where he performed many classical lead male roles specializing in George Balanchine's choreographies. Mr. Rodríguez holds a Bachelor's Degree in Business Management and in Theater and Dance Education from the University of Puerto Rico.  For the last 28 years, he has been teaching ballet, theater, pantomime & creative movement.   He is currently a Florida State Department of Education certified teacher. He has worked as a Dance Consultant for the M-DCPS, and also an adjunct teacher for the New World School of the Arts, Theater Division. He is currently the Artistic Dance Director for the Miami Arts Charter School Dance Department and also a member of the ballet faculty of the Miami City Ballet School.


Maria Torija (Principal Faculty) 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. 

Faculty -- 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.

Liz Malm is a multi-talented dancer, teacher and choreographer. She began her training in the New World School of the Arts Dance Department. She has danced for Mia Michaels, Ballet Theater of Miami, Momentum Dance Company and Brazarte Dance Company.  Ms. Malm has also worked in the music video industry where she has danced and choreographed for top artists including Lenny Kravitz, Ricky Martin, Jay-Z, P Diddy, Beastie Boys, Perry Farrell of Jane’s Addiction, Lil’Romeo, Baha Men, Carlos Ponce, Tito Puente, Kevens, Celia Cruz and Iron and Wine. Her choreography has been featured on MTV, BET, CBS, FOX, HTV, Telemundo and Univision. Some of her commercial credits include: Virgin Mobile featuring Missy Elliot, Samsung “Stomp”, Bud Light for Super Bowl featuring Cedric the Entertainer, Bacardi, Lays Potato Chips featuring Chayanne, Telefonica “Movie Star”, Herbal Essence, Pollo Tropical “That’s the Way”, Orbit Gum “Lifeguard” and the “Truth” Anti-smoking campaign. She has also choreographed half-time shows for the Miami Heat. Since 2003 Ms. Malm has shared her time between Miami City Ballet and New World School of the Arts teaching in their Jazz and Musical Theater Departments. At New World in 2008 her work was featured in the musical “The Pajama Game” and in 2011 she choreographed the rock musical “Spring Awakening”. In 2009 she was assistant director/ choreographer for Miami City Ballet's Lounge 2200 "Open Barre” Dance Series. In 2012 Ms. Malm was a guest teacher and choreographer for the Entreatos Internacional De Dança in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Faculty -- PILATES

Montse Cosin has been teaching Pilates since 1991 and holds mat and equipment certifications with STOTT PILATES, Peak Pilates, Integrated Balance Pilates and Julian Littleford Body Conditioning. She has given Pilates specific courses, kinesiology & dance seminars to professional and amateur dancers and Pilates instructors in Mexico, Europe and the United States. She was Pilates presenter in the 2010, 2011 and 2012 PMA conferences, and is also presenting in 2013. She has also presented in several international Pilates conferences. Montse is Master instructor trainer & international curriculum coordinator for Integrated Balance, LLC. Montse is an ISTD associated classical ballet teacher with more than 20 years of international experience. She is also a Gyrotonic® teacher and Yoga and Gyrokinesis practitioner. A graduated student on biochemistry and molecular biology from the University Autonoma of Madrid, Spain; she has a Ph.D. on Molecular Mechanisms of Rheumatoid Arthritis.

Faculty -- Mommy & Me/Zumbini

Ashlee Cramer
- has been working with children and their caregivers in the field of early childhood education for over ten years. A former dancer, Ashlee moved to Miami in 2003 where she started to share her love of music and dance through teaching.

Faculty -- Mommy & Me Yoga Dance

Meldy Hernandez, RN, MPH is a dancer and certified yoga teacher with over 15 years of experience working with women and children in the wellness field. Visit Meldy's website: http://meldyhernandezyoga.weebly.com or email her at meldyhernandezyoga@gmail.com for any questions. 


For more information about MCB School please call 305.929.7007 or e-mail at school@miamicityballet.org.


Miami City Ballet School students, Photo © Bruce Hibbs