John Clifford, Artistic Advisor
John Clifford, Artistic Advisor and Choreographer, is best known as founder and artistic director of the original Los Angeles Ballet, and a principal dancer and choreographer with New York City Ballet. He is widely considered to be Balanchine’s choreographic protégé.
Trained in Los Angeles, John Clifford produced his early work for the Western Ballet Association, where he was a principal dancer and choreographer. After viewing rehearsals of Mr. Clifford’s ballets, George Balanchine invited Clifford to move to New York and choreograph for his School of American Ballet. In 1966, at the age of 19, Clifford joined the New York City Ballet, where he quickly became a principal dancer and resident choreographer. During his tenure there he choreographed numerous ballets and danced leading roles. Mr. Clifford became the first American male guest artist in history to dance with the Paris Opera Ballet.
More recently, Mr. Clifford premiered his new ballet, Casablanca The Dance, based on the Warner Bros. movie classic at The Great Hall of The People in Tiananmen Square, Beijing, China.
Carol Shults, Artistic Advisor
Carol Shults taught History of Ballet at Portland State University. As instructor and historian for Oregon Ballet Theatre, she was also the founder of the “Performance Perspectives” lectures and directed the program for eight years. She wrote the playbill for their concert programs as well as the distinctive storyline on James Canfield’s version of Nutcracker. Carol has published her writing in prominent dance publications such as the Ballet Review and the Dance Critics Association Newsletter.
Carol danced professionally with Texas Forth Ballet, Forth Worth Opera, and Casa Manana Musicals. She received her ballet training from Mia Slavenska and Vincenzo Celli, and danced with the Fort Worth Ballet under Slavenska’s direction before moving to Portland. She has also been on staff as a ballet faculty member and ballet mistress at prestigious schools and companies such as Oregon Ballet Theatre, The Portland Ballet and Ballet Oregon. Shults serves as a repetiteur for the Dennis Spaight Trust.
Carter Alexander began his ballet training with his mother Amanda Stone in Cheyenne, Wyoming.Carter Alexander, photo by Blaine Covert He continued at Arts Magnet and Dallas Ballet Academy before joining the Hartford Ballet, where he studied with his mentor, Truman Finney. He danced principal and soloist roles with the Kansas City Ballet, and also danced with Pennsylvania Ballet (where he taught on the faculty of the Rock School). Mr. Alexander received an offer to become the principal teacher at the Ballet Workshop New England in Boston, where he taught for five years. He also became the artistic associate of the Massachusetts Youth Ballet. He then joined Truman Finney at The School of Ballet Arizona as Assistant Director of the school. He is a principal teacher on the Miami City Ballet School faculty.
Marika Anderson was born in Portland, Oregon, and began her dance training at the age of four at the School of Oregon Ballet Theatre, where she studied with Haydée Gutiérrez, James Canfield, and Elena Carter. She was an apprentice with Oregon Ballet Theatre during the 2001-2002 season. Ms. Anderson entered the School of American Ballet (SAB), the official school of NYCB, in the fall of 2002. In November 2004 she became an apprentice with NYCB, and in June 2005 she joined the Company as a member of the corps de ballet.
Gregg Bielemeier is an Oregon born dance artist who started his career with the Portland Dance Theater in 1970. As a freelance artist he has worked on the West Coast and Europe as a featured choreographer, performer and teacher for over 43 years. He is a frequent improvisor/collaborator with musicians, actors and visual artists, creating suave, witty dance works that have been described as “wonderfully inventive,” by the Los Angeles Times, and as “marvelously goofy,” by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
A sought-after educator, Bielemeier has been a guest artist in technique, performance and repertory at institutions such as the University of Nevada/Las Vegas,
Portland State University, Reed College, Center for Movement Arts, da Vinci Arts Middle School, Lewis & Clark College, the Vancouver School of Arts and Academics and the School of Oregon Ballet Theater. He is a founding core artist of Conduit Dance in Portland, Oregon where he continues to teach all levels of contemporary movement and dance improvisation.
Bielemeier has been awarded grants from the Metropolitan Arts Commission, the Regional Arts and Culture Council, and on two occasions received Individual Artist Fellowships from the City of Pasadena, CA. He has provided movement direction for performances by master drummer Obo Addy, Cygnet Theater, Rumpus Room Dance, and performance artist Susan Banyas. His choreographic work has been commissioned by the Northwest Professional Dance Project, D-9 Dance Collective, School for New Dance (Amsterdam), Tere Mathern Dance, Reed College, Polaris Dance Theater, Skinner|Kirk Dance Ensemble, Modern Dance Lab, aero/betty aerial dance theatre, Imago Theatre, Paufve|Dance, BodyVox and White Bird, among others. Bielemeier’s choreography has been presented in Los Angeles by Dance Kaleidoscope, in Seattle at On the Boards Northwest New Works Festival, at Holland’s International Dance Festival, and in Portland by PSU’s Contemporary Dance Season, Portland Art Museum, and for White Bird’s inaugural and 11th contemporary dance performance series.
John Camacho, Accompanist, was born in Miami, Florida. He began his classical piano studies at the age of five with Margaret Squire. He later studied with Steely Veach, John Signor and Dr. Bair Shagdaron. In addition to his keyboard training, he studied voice with Mr. Paul Eisenhart, and poetry with Denise Duhamel, Dorianne Laux and Campbell McGrath. He earned his MFA in Creative Writing from Florida International University and his poetry is regularly published in magazines and journals across the US and Europe. His original music and songs can be heard in films and TV shows. He has worked as an accompanist for numerous schools and companies including the New World School of the Arts, the Miami City Ballet, Appalachian State University, ZviDance and The Juilliard School. In 2014 he was one of 14 pianists selected to take part in the Dublin International Piano Festival. He is thrilled to be playing for the Portland Ballet Summer Intensive in 2016, and to be reunited with his friends Jim Lane and Nancy Suzanne Davis.
Evelyn Cisneros began studying ballet at the age of 8 in an effort to overcome her profound shyness. She later received scholarships to the San Francisco Ballet School and the School of American Ballet. Upon completing her high school education, she began her apprenticeship with the San Francisco Ballet in 1976.
In 1977 she joined the SFB under the directorship of Co-Artistic Directors Lew Christensen and Michael Smuin. Cisneros soon began dancing principal roles, many choreographed for her by Smuin. She performed her original roles in national television broadcasts of A Song for Dead Warriors and The Tempest, as well as the title role of Cinderella and a live broadcast from the White House in 1982.
Her success continued under San Francisco Ballet Artistic Director, Helgi Tomasson, appointed in 1985. Cisneros danced the leading roles in a diverse repertoire of classical ballets such as Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, Romeo and Juliet, La Sylphide, and La Fille Mal Gardeé. Numerous resident and visiting choreographers have created works for her, including Tomasson, Val Caniparoli, James Kudelka and Mark Morris. Her contemporary repertoire included works by George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins, Stanton Welch, and Jiri Kylian. She has toured the world with the company and as a guest artist.
Cisneros has been featured on the covers of Dance Magazine, Ballet News, and Hispanic Magazine, and received numerous awards for her community activism and artistic achievements. She is held in high regards by the Hispanic community and serves as role model to many. Cisneros holds honorary doctorate degrees from Mills College and the University of California at Monterey Bay. In May of 1999, Cisneros retired from the San Francisco Ballet with a Gala performance in her honor, and in celebration KQED produced a documentary on her life, entitled Evelyn Cisneros, Moving On.
Following retirement in 1999, Cisneros hosted various community engagement and education outreach programs through local media and the San Francisco Ballet. Ms. Cisneros was also part of a team of educators training ballet docents involved in the IMPACT program. Since 2000, Cisneros has taught at summer intensive courses for the Kansas City Ballet and The Boston Ballet School, as well as teaching regularly in San Francisco. She has staged ballets for Val Caniparoli and Michael Smuin and company classes around the country. Cisneros is currently Academy Director for Ballet Pacifica in Irvine California. She has also co-authored “Ballet for Dummies” with conductor Scott Speck, which is available at most bookstores and at Amazon.com. In January of 2010, Cisneros became the Principal of Boston Ballet School’s Marblehead Studio. Cisneros is married to recently retired principal dancer Stephen Legate, and they have a son Ethan and daughter Sophia, who are their ultimate accomplishment and joy.
American dancer and choreographer of the New York City Ballet (1949–84), admired for his energetic, virile interpretations of both character and classical roles.
Trained principally by George Balanchine’s School of American Ballet, he made his professional debut at the age of 12 with the Ballet Society and at 15 joined the New York City Ballet. After his acrobatic performance in 1953 as Mac, the gas station attendant and all-American hero of Lew Christensen’s Filling Station, d’Amboise was promoted to soloist. He created important roles in Western Symphony (1954), Stars and Stripes (1958), Meditation (1964), and Who Cares? (1970), establishing himself as a technically skillful character dancer. His repertoire eventually included roles ranging from the princes of Swan Lake and The Nutcracker to the title role in Apollo and the creation (1958) of a leading role in the abstract Gounod Symphony. He also appeared in the films Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954), The Best Things in Life Are Free (1956), Carousel (1956), and Off Beat (1986) and appeared on Broadway in the musical comedy Shinbone Alley (1957).
As a choreographer, his works include The Chase (1963), Quatuor (1964), and Irish Fantasy (1964).
d’Amboise taught at the School of American Ballet, served as professor and dean of the school of dance at the State University of New York, and then became director of the nonprofit National Dance Institute, which he founded in order to take the teaching of dance into an ever-widening circle of public schools.
Jorge Esquivel trained at La Escuela de Ballet Provincial and La Escuela National de Arte in Havana, Cuba. photo of Jorge Esquivel by Blaine CovertHe joined the National Ballet of Cuba in 1968 and was promoted to principal dancer in 1972. In 1986, Esquivel left the National Ballet of Cuba, continuing his career as a guest artist. For more than 14 years, Esquivel partnered legendary Cuban ballerina Alicia Alonso, and has also partnered other acclaimed ballerinas, including Cynthia Gregory, Carla Fracci, and Ghislaine Thesmar. In 1993, Esquivel joined the faculty of San Francisco Ballet School. He also serves as a principal character dancer for San Francisco Ballet.
Ikolo Griffith was born and raised in San Francisco. Ballet found him at the age of eight through San Francisco Ballet’s Dance in Schools outreach program, and he trained for ten years as a scholarship student in the San Francisco Ballet School.
Taught in the Vaganova syllabus by renowned master teachers from around the world, this intensive training provided a strong classical basis for Ikolo’s performing career and continues to inform his unique teaching methods. At the age of seventeen, Ikolo became the first outreach student to join the professional company, where he danced for seven years in a corps de ballet and demi soloist roles. In 2001 he joined Dance Theatre of Harlem as a soloist and was quickly promoted to principal dancer, a position that allowed him to fully develop and fine-tune strong technical and artistic skills in a wide range of neoclassical roles.
When DTH folded in 2004, Ikolo danced for two seasons as a leading artist with Joffrey Ballet before returning home to join Smuin Ballet. In recent years, Ikolo has transitioned into freelance work, dancing as a member of the San Francisco Opera’s resident dance corps and developing his Just Turns curriculum.
Lane Hunter, a Portland native, stumbled into a college folk dance audition and ended up dancing across the globe, earning a BFA in Dance from Brigham Young University. He fell head first into choreography and his work has been seen as far away as Beijing, China. Lane tripped into Kim Robard’s Dance in Colorado, slipped into Renaissance Cruises, and toppled into music videos for Blues Travelers and Michael Jackson. He tumbled across the stage and films of BodyVox, creating numerous original works before leaping into his own where he continues to demonstrate his innate ability to land firmly on his feet.
Alonzo King has works in the repertories of companies throughout the world, including the Swedish Royal Ballet, Frankfurt Ballet, Joffrey Ballet, Dance Theater of Harlem, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, Hong Kong Ballet, North Carolina Dance Theatre, and Washington Ballet. He has worked extensively in opera, television, and film and has choreographed works for prima ballerina Natalia Makarova and film star Patrick Swayze. Mr. King has also collaborated with artists such as actor Danny Glover, legendary jazz saxophonist Pharoah Sanders, and tabla master Zakir Hussain. Renowned for his skill as a teacher, Mr. King has been the guest ballet master for National Ballet of Canada, Les Ballets de Monte Carlo, San Francisco Ballet, Ballet Rambert, Ballet West and others.
In 1982, Mr. King founded Alonzo King’s LINES Ballet, which has developed into an international touring company. Seven years later, he inaugurated the San Francisco Dance Center, which has grown into one of the largest dance facilities on the West Coast. In 2001, Alonzo King started the LINES Ballet School and Pre-Professional Program to nurture and develop the talents of young dancers. Expanding the scope of his educational visions to the college level, Alonzo King and LINES Ballet embarked on a partnership with the Dominican University of California, creating the West Coast’s first Joint BFA program in Dance. It is the only Joint BFA program in the country to be led by a living master choreographer.
In December 2006, Alonzo King was recognized as one of the fifty outstanding artists in America by the United States Artists organization. In 2005, he won the Bessie Award for Choreographer/ Creator. He is also the recipient of the NEA Choreographer’s Fellowship, Irvine Fellowship in Dance, National Dance Project and the National Dance Residency Program, as well as five Isadora Duncan Awards. He has also received the Hero Award from Union Bank, the Lehman Award, and the Excellence Award from KGO in San Francisco. He was recently awarded the 2007 Community Leadership Award from the San Francisco Foundation. He has several honorary Doctorates, including from his alma mater, CalArts (California Institute of the Arts) in Los Angeles.
King has served on panels for the National Endowment of the Arts, California Arts Council, City of Columbus Arts Council and Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Arts Partners Program. In 2005 he was named a Master of African-American Choreography by the Kennedy Center. He served as a commissioner for the city and county of San Francisco, and a writer and lecturer on the art of dance.
Caroline Macdonald grew up in Portland, OR and trained at The Portland Ballet and Arts and Communication Magnet Academy through her high school years. She attended summer programs at The Portland Ballet, Oregon Ballet Theatre and Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre. Upon graduation, she moved to Pittsburgh, PA to join the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre Graduate Program, where she had many opportunities to perform with the company and choreographed and set work on both the Graduate and High School Pre-Professional divisions of PBT School. Caroline joined Nevada Ballet Theatre in 2014 and will be entering into her third season as a Company Artist there this August.
McIntyre trained at North Carolina School of the Arts and Houston Ballet Academy. In 1989, McIntyre was appointed Choreographic Apprentice to Houston Ballet, a position created especially for him, and in 1995 he became the company’s Choreographic Associate. McIntyre has worked for twenty-four years as a freelance choreographer, producing close to one hundred pieces during the span of his career so far.
In 2005, McIntyre founded his dance company, Trey McIntyre Project, which first appeared at the Vail International Dance Festival. The company was initially a summer touring company, but its national and international success led McIntyre to establish the company year-round as of 2008, based in Boise, Idaho. TMP has been featured in The New York Times, Dance Magazine, and on PBS NewsHour, and has earned coast-to-coast acclaim from the likes of Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Boston Globe, People Magazine, and more. In 2013, Trey McIntyre Project expanded its artistic vision and announced a crowdsourced documentary film entitled Ma Maison. The project was announced on Kickstarter on August 7, 2013, and in November, 2013, McIntyre went to New Orleans to begin filming.
McIntyre is the recipient of numerous awards, including a Choo San Goh Award for Choreography and a Lifetime Achievement Award from The National Society of Arts and Letters, as well as two grants for choreography from the National Endowment for the Arts. His works have been performed by companies such as Stuttgart Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago,New York City Ballet, The Washington Ballet, and Oregon Ballet Theatre.
Marianna Tcherkassy was brought up in Kensington, Maryland and is of Russian and Japanese decent. She began her training with her mother, Lillian Oka Tcherkassky, and continued her studies at Mary Day’s Academy of the Washington School of Ballet and on full scholarship at the School of American Ballet in New York. She joined American Ballet Theatre in 1970 and was elevated to principal dancer in 1976. She has been recognized as one of the world’s leading ballerinas and was reviewed as “one of the greatest Giselles that American ballet produced” by Anna Kisselgoff of the New York Times. Since Miss Tcherkassky’s retirement from the stage in 1996, she has taught extensively, and in 1997 she received a Golden Ring award honoring artistic excellence from the Asian-American Arts foundation in San Francisco. On June 11, 1999, she received an Honorary Doctorate of Performing Arts from the University of Cincinnati. She is married to PBT Artistic Director Terrence S. Orr.
Vanessa Thiessen is originally from Portland, Oregon and trained at the School of Oregon Ballet
Theatre. In 1995, she joined the company of Oregon Ballet Theatre and performed the lead in ballets such as Giselle, Romeo & Juliet, Who Cares?, and Serenade. In 2003 she joined Smuin Ballet in San Francisco and was featured in numerous works by Michael Smuin, including Stabat Mater, Les Noces and Fly Me to the Moon. She has also been a member of Amy Seiwert’s Imagery, performing new works since 2004. Vanessa has also worked with choreographers as diverse as Eliot Feld, Kirk Peterson, James Canfield, Trey McIntyre, Charles Moulton and Bebe Miller. She is currently a dancer with San Francisco dance company ODC, performing works by Brenda Way, KT Nelson and Kimi Okada. Vanessa is thrilled to be working with Tanya and with the fine artists of Project. B.