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Paula Nunez

FOUNDER & ARTISTIC DIRECTOR

Born in Caracas, Venezuela, Paula Nuñez trained at the Gustavo Franklin School. Nuñez is a former company member of the International Ballet of Caracas, Ballet Nuevo Mundo, and the Cleveland – San Jose Ballet.

Nuñez performed throughout the world at prestigious theaters in Spain, Italy, Germany, Greece, France, Russia, Romania, Austria, Hungary, China, Japan, Taiwan, North, Central, and South America. Her work includes classical and neo-classical styles of renowned choreographers such as, Balanchine, Choo San Goh, Alvin Ailey, Agnes de Mille, Terry Orr, Judith Jamison, Jhon Butler, Elisa Monte, Carlos Orta, Dennis Nahat, Ulysses Dove, Vicente Nebrada, Hans Van Mannen, Hector Zaraspe, Flemming Flindt, and Margo Sappington.

Nuñez has participated in numerous festivals such as Spoleto in Italy, Cervantino in Mexico, and Edinburgh Festival in Scotland. She has shared the stage with esteemed ballet artists such as Cynthia Gregory, Rudolf Nureyev, Fernando Bujones, and Julio Boca.

In 1993, Nuñez became Artistic Director of “Ballet de las Americas”, a successful professional ballet school in Venezuela and has remained dedicated to teaching students of all ages. Many of Nuñez’s former students have attained professional positions in dance companies throughout the world. Nunez was appointed as Artistic Director of the Juvenil Ballet Las Americas in Venezuela for her outstanding work developing young dancers.

In 2002, Nuñez opened America’s Ballet School, in Tampa, Florida. In 2004, she became a member of the University of South Florida dance faculty, while continuing to develop contemporary and classical choreographies.

To the delight of Tampa audiences, Nuñez has staged full-length classical ballets that include Sleeping Beauty, Le Corsaire, La Fille Mal Gardeé, Coppelia, Don Quixote, and Paquita.

Nuñez has received “Outstanding Teacher, Choreographer, and Coach” awards from the Youth America Grand Prix (YAGP), American Dance Competition and American Ballet Competition. America’s Ballet School has been awarded “Outstanding School” for five consecutive years at the YAGP regional semi-finals.

In 2012, Nuñez became Artistic Director of the non-profit Tampa City Ballet, dedicated to creating and presenting high-quality works of classical and contemporary ballet; also developing community involvement through outreach programs.

America’s Ballet School, together with Tampa City Ballet serves the local community by providing scholarships, community engagement and training for children, as well as for committed pre-professional and professional dancers.

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Osmany Montano

ASSOCIATE ARTISTIC DIRECTOR & PRINCIPAL BALLET MASTER

Born in Cuba, Osmany Montano trained at the Escuela Nacional de Ballet in La Habana, Cuba, under the direction of Alicia Alonso, Ramona De Saá, and Magda Campo. Among his many achievements while being a student, he was awarded a Silver Medallion at the Cuban Ballet Festival.

In Cuba, Montano danced with the Cuban National Ballet and Ballet of Santiago de Cuba, under the direction of Alicia Alonso and Maria Elena Martinez respectively, as well as Ballet of Camagüey under the direction of Fernando Alonso. He also made a great career with the National Ballet of Caracas under the direction of Vicente Nebrada. Internationally, he performed in Israel, Germany, Italy, Peru, Mexico, Colombia, Trinidad and Tobago, among others. In the United States, performed with the Tulsa Ballet and Sarasota Ballet. His classical repertoire includes Harlequinde, Coppelia, Don Quixote, La Esmeralda, Diana and Acteon, Le Corsaire, Swan Lake, The Nutcracker, Paquita, Sleeping Beauty, Romeo and Juliet, and many others. Montano also danced principal roles in neo-classical and contemporary works such as Carmina Burana, Doble Corchea, Majísimo, Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Schéhérazade, as well as works by Nacho Duato, Stanton Welch, Mauro Galindo, Maria Eugenia Barrios, Vicente Nebrada, and Alberto Méndez.

In 2007, he joined the faculty of America’s Ballet School, where he has staged full-length classical ballets including The Sleeping Beauty, Le Corsaire, La Fille Mal Gardeé, Coppelia, Don Quixote, Paquita, and the Nutcracker.

Montano shares his strengths as an artist and educator, assisting students in the development of proper ballet technique as well as partnering skills. He has been awarded as an “Outstanding Teacher” at both the Youth America Grand Prix and the American Dance Competition. Since 2011, he has been an adjunct Dance Professor at the University of South Florida.

 

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Luana Hidalgo

OUTREACH DIRECTOR & BALLET MISTRESS

Born in Maracaibo, Venezuela, Luana Hidalgo started studying dance at the Institute of Art at an early age and graduated from Madame Irene Levandoski's Ballet School. She became a soloist with Ballet of Maracaibo before she became a principal dancer for Ballet Nuevo Mundo de Caracas. Hidalgo had the honor of learning from some of the world’s best choreographers: Vicente Nebrada, Alvin Ailey, Judith Jamison, Margot Sappington, Hans van Manen, John Butler and Ulysses Dove, among others. Ulysses Dove created a work especially for Hidalgo called “Urban Songs of the Moon”. In 1995 she was awarded “Best Classical Dancer - Casa del Artista” in Venezuela. In 2001, Hidalgo received the honor of the “City of Avignon” in France.

She joined the Cleveland Ballet in 2001 and performed principal roles in ballets choreographed by Michael Smuin, Flemming Flindt, Dennis Nahat, Ian Horvath and Donald McKayle. Hidalgo has performed classical repertoire from Petipa to Fokine and Balanchine, as well as, modern works.

When she retired as a dancer, she became a dance teacher for the Cleveland San Jose Ballet School, The Nevada Ballet Theatre and Ballet San Jose. She also taught for thirteen years alongside the faculty of the Vladimir Issaev School of Classical Ballet and as a Ballet Mistress for their ballet company, Arts Ballet Theatre of Florida. After years of teaching for various prestigious schools, she has moved to Tampa to challenge herself as she works with America’s Ballet School’s artistic director, Paula Nuñez. She has joined Nuñez in a new project called “On Your Feet” and as a ballet mistress of Tampa City Ballet. Hidalgo is excited to bring this unique project to life. She was drawn to this brand-new experience where, through the art of dance, she is able to bring life-changing opportunities to today’s youth.

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Elsa Valbuena

RESIDENT CHOREOGRAPHER

Elsa Valbuena is one of Colombia’s Contemporary Dance pioneers. She studied Music and Visual Arts before dedicating her life to Contemporary Dance. In 1982 Elsa founded Gaudere Danza in Cali, Colombia, where she was born.

Moving to the city of Bogota in 1986, she began an interesting exchange between the classically trained dancer and the contemporary language of dance. This took her to soon become assistant artistic director /resident choreographer to the Compania Colombiana de Ballet until 1992. Since her arrival in 1993 to the Tampa Bay area, she has established herself as a dancer, choreographer and teacher. She co-founded Moving Current, a choreographer’s collective in 1997 and served as co-artistic director for the following four years in Tampa.

Elsa’s work has been presented in numerous national and international dance venues and festivals in Colombia, Costa Rica, Italy, Spain, Venezuela and the United States. The continued collaboration with artists both in her field and in other mediums is essential in her work. Elsa has created collaborative works with Ernest Gusella, Tomiyo Sasaki, Dee Moses, Alvaro Tobon, Alexander Gumbel,Mario Barrios, Miguel Isaza, Alejandro Hernandez,German Arrieta, Eduardo Pradilla. Claire Laronde, Joan Epstein, Ricardo Neira and Guillermo Gaviria. While developing her own work she has been a noted performer/collaborator in the works of Alvaro Restrepo, Cho Kyoo-Hyun, Liliana Villegas, Federico Restrepo as well as with numerous independent choreographers.

A dedicated choreographer and teacher, Elsa served as guest choreographer and adjunct professor at the University of South Florida, including the Native American /Aboriginal dance theater piece “Dancing with the Wheel of Ever Returning” directed by Gretchen Warren. She has also taught and presented her work in dance programs at the University of Tampa, Eckerd College, St. Petersburg College, Hillsborough Community College, Florida International University in Miami, FL and the Florida Dance Festival.

In 2001, Elsa entered a new realm of movement exploration and investigation. Through her work with the Arts and Medicine Program at the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer and Research Institute, Elsa began working with the creative process and its integration with the holistic approach to the therapeutic and healing possibilities that the arts, in particular dance, can have on people and their surroundings.

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Ruben Celiberti

RESIDENT ARTIST

Italo-Argentino Rubén Celiberti has achieved an illustrious career in theater, ballet, and television in Europe and Latin America. This past season, he appeared in “Celiberti Tango” with the Milan Ballet and Orchestra in a 15-city tour of Italy. He is an alumnus of the Instituto Superior de Arte del Teatro Colòn (Buenos Aires) where he studied classical dance, voice, and piano.

After winning the Serge Lifar Competition (Paris), Mr. Celiberti entered the Ballet Nacional de Marseille directed by Roland Petit where he toured the world and began in television with international dancer Zizi Jeanmaire. Rubén Celiberti later joined the RAI television network in Italy – a country that has honored him with numerous awards: the Gino Tani Award for the Performing Arts, the Fontana di Roma Award for Best Eclectic Artist, the Leonide Massine Award for Dance (Positano).

As a principal classical dancer, he has performed in Italy with ballet’s leading dancers: Carla Fracci, Julio Bocca, Vittorio Biagi. In Argentina, he is winner of the ACE Award as Outstanding Performer of the Year, the Trinidad Guevara Award as Best Choreographer, and the Teatro Colon Dance Award under the auspices of UNESCO. Rubén Celiberti continues his association with RAI UNO and the Ballet of Milan, which regularly presents his choreography in the productions “From Gershwin to Ravel” and “Amor de Tango – Bolero.”