Advisors, Jury & Teachers
JURY MEMBERS WILL BE SELECTED FROM THE FOLLOWING ARTISTS:
Founder and Artistic Director
Imagine Ballet Theatre and
Rocky Mountain Choreography Festival
Raymond Van Mason was a Principal Artist with Ballet West in SLC, Utah where he danced many leading roles such as Swan Lake, Giselle and Sleeping Beauty. He also performed major roles in Smuin’s Romeo and Juliet, Stevenson’s Cinderella, Prokovsky’s Anna Karenina and Hynd’s Rosalinda. He performed contemporary favorites including Canfield’s Equinox, Taylor’s Company B, Mark’s Lark Ascending and Butler’s Carmina Burana. His choreographic credits include four world premiere ballets for Ballet West – Seasons, Lady Guinevere, Transparencies and Desert as a Rose. In 1998, he choreographed Ballet Pacifica’s Choreographic Project and in 1999 was asked to join Ballet Pacifica as Ballet Master, Teacher, Choreographer and Dancer. At Ballet Pacifica he choreographed Reverie and Moonlight, filmed by the Lloyd Rigler Foundation for Broadcast on the Classic Arts Showcase for PBS. He choreographed for Utah Opera Company’s productions of Romeo & Juliet and La Traviata.
Mr. Mason created Pilgrimage: A Liturgical Ballet (1993) and Requiem: A Liturgical Ballet (1990) and Sacred Dances (2007) each commissioned for the Cathedral of the Madeleine Festival of the Arts in Salt Lake City, Utah. He has created many works for Utah Ballet (SLC), Ballet Etudes (with Phoenix Symphony), Abilene Texas Christian University and Les Ballets GranDiva. Among his choreographic credits are three full length ballets: Secret Garden to an original score by Kurt Bestor, Nutcracker and Alice: Adventures in Wonderland.
KATHERINE C. KERSTEN
AMERICAN BALLET COMPETITION FOUNDER
Ms. Kersten began her dance training in Switzerland and trained in Paris under legendary teachers Boris Kniasef, Lucette Darsonval and Victor Gsovsky. She was a soloist with the San Francisco Pacific and Milwaukee Ballet companies and had numerous engagements in musical theater and classical productions in the USA and abroad. From 1980 – 1992, she was School Director for the Milwaukee Ballet where she originated the nationally-recognized “Identify Youth for Dance” program and was awarded a “State Senate Citation” for her development of dance in Wisconsin. For the Florentine Opera, she choreographed many productions including Il Trovatore, Faust and Don Giovanni. In 1992 Ms. Kersten was engaged to manage the Bolshoi Ballet Academy at Vail, Colorado. During her tenure there she developed the world-class Vail International Dance Festival and for over fifteen years as Producing Artistic Director introduced dynamic educational programs and created exclusive productions that brought international recognition to the Vail Festival. She created the International Evenings of Dance for which she engaged the ballet world’s most illustrious stars, produced International Dance Teacher Conferences, commissioned original works from choreographers to be premiered in Vail and original ballroom productions. Ms. Kersten choreographed Merlin for the Walden Family Playhouse in Denver and Disney television episodes of Out of the Box in New York. Her guest teaching includes engagements with the Ballet du Nord in France, University of Arizona and the Milwaukee Ballet.
Principal Singapore Ballet Academy
Born in Singapore, Kee-Juan Han began training at age ten with Florrie Sinclair and Goh Soo Khim. Upon graduation from the Australian Ballet School, he was invited to dance with the Sydney Dance Company and the Goh Ballet in Canada where he also trained to teach the Vaganova method. He danced as a principal with Indianapolis Ballet Theater and as a soloist with Boston Ballet. He has danced most of the principal roles in the classical repertoire as well as ballets by Balanchine and modern works by Jose Limon, Mark Morris, Ralph Lemon and Bebe Miller.
Mr. Han’s international teaching experiences include guest teaching at the Singapore Dance Theater, Edmonton Ballet Academy, Sydney Dance Company, Ballet Austin, Boston Ballet, Hubbard Street Dance Company, Milwaukee Ballet and for the Jackson International Summer School. He was Director of Arizona Ballet School 1992 to 2003 and School Director for The School of Washington Ballet 2003-2016. In 2000, he was named best teacher at the Youth America Grand Prix in Long Beach and, in 2005, was the recipient of the “Excellence In Teaching” Award at North Carolina School of the Arts where he was a full-time faculty member 2003- 2007.
2017, 2015, 2013, 2012 ABC Master Teacher
Dinna Bjorn has been the Artistic Director of the Finnish National Ballet (2002-2008) and the Norwegian National Ballet (1990 to 2002). Prior to these directorships she was the Artistic Director of Dinna Bjorn Dancers, a company she formed with Frank Andersen, consisting of soloists from the Royal Danish Ballet, which toured extensively throughout the world. Ms. Bjorn began her dancing career in l964 with the Royal Danish Ballet and had her soloist debut in l966. She went on to perform a wide range of major roles in Denmark and abroad as a guest artist. From l985-88 Ms. Bjorn taught at the Royal Danish Ballet School. She has choreographed many works for the Royal Danish Ballet as well for Dinna Bjorn Dancers. In I996 she was appointed Artistic Advisor to the Royal Danish Ballet. Ms. Bjorn has been teaching and coaching the works and technique of Bournonville since 1975 and has participated in Bournonville research and reconstructions internationally. Her best-known reconstructions are the pas de trois from Soldier and Peasant (1981), the dance of the Three Graces in The Muse of the Homeland (1983) and the pas de deux from The Toreador (1989). Ms. Bjorn is much in demand as guest teacher and has given master classes and lectures at universities and theatres in Scandinavia, England, France, Italia, Germany, USA, Canada, China and Hong Kong. She is the author of several articles on the technique and legacy of August Bournonville.
2016 American Ballet Competition Master Teacher
Born in Denmark, Henning Albrechtsen was engaged as dancer at Royal Danish Ballet in 1985. Since 1997 he has been on the faculty at the Royal Danish Ballet School. In his career as a professional dancer he has danced a variety of soloist and principal roles in classical and neo-classical repertoire ranging from Bournonville to Balanchine. From 2000 to 2007 he was the Deputy Artistic Director of Royal Danish Ballet. In 2007, he enrolled in the Teachers Training Program for former professional dancers at the National Ballet School of Canada where he completed the one year educational program and in 2008 was invited back to the Royal Danish Ballet School as a full-time member of the faculty. Henning Albrechtsen has taught at various schools throughout the world including, among others, the National Ballet School of Cuba and the National Ballet School of Canada. In addition, he has taught the Bournonville technique in Australia, Japan, Mexico, Sweden, Norway, Spain and in the USA.
PETER LeBRETON MERZ
Ballet West, Director of the Academy
Peter LeBreton Merz has choreographed over 40 original ballets across the USA and internationally. His award-winning choreography relies heavily on classical ballet, but is informed by his passion for contemporary dance forms. As a performer he worked with the Dayton Ballet, the Louisville Ballet and the Cincinnati Ballet. In 2002, Peter served as the Artistic Administrator for the USA International Ballet Competition in Jackson, MS. In 2004, Peter joined the faculty of Point Park, where he is an associate professor of dance and Head of Ballet. In 2014, he returned to the USA IBC to create an original work for the competitors to perform at the Awards Gala. He has served as a judge and Master Teacher for Youth America Grand Prix and the American Dance Competition. Peter is also in demand throughout the US as a master teacher, and is known for his enthusiastic and encouraging approach to ballet training. He has twice been named Outstanding Choreographer by the Youth America Grand Prix, and was also honored to be named Outstanding Teacher by that organization in 2014.
In June of 2015, Peter launched MERZTANZ, an evolutionary ballet company, dedicated to producing his own ballets. The premiere season was met with warm critical and audience acclaim. In August of 2015, Peter was named the Director of the Academy at Ballet West, one of America’s longest-lasting and most prestigious ballet companies.
Associate Artistic Director – Ballet Austin
Ms. Martin had her early training at the Alberta Ballet School and danced with the Alberta Ballet Company for four years before joining Indianapolis Ballet Theatre in 1982. While with IBT and, subsequently, the Hartford Ballet in Connecticut, she performed leading and soloist roles in Romeo and Juliet, The Nutcracker, The Sleeping Beauty and The Moor’s Pavane as well as creating roles in many original works. Ms. Martin’s teaching credits include guest engagements at schools and universities in Canada, South Carolina, Michigan, Indiana and Texas. She was on faculty at Butler University in Indianapolis for five years. Ms. Martin began her tenure with Ballet Austin in 1991 as a dancer and in 1992 was appointed Ballet Mistress of Ballet Austin and Curriculum Director of the Academy. In 1999, she founded the Ballet Austin II apprentice program developing the 10-member second company and designing educational presentations. She served on the Texas Commission on the Arts advisory panel for Arts Education and is a recipient of the Austin Under 40 award for contributions in the area of Arts and Entertainment. Ms. Martin was appointed Associate Artistic Director of Ballet Austin in September, 2000.
Ballet Mistress, Atlanta Ballet
Dean of Center for Dance Education
Dean Sharon Story is currently in her 20th season with Atlanta Ballet. She joined Atlanta Ballet after a professional dance career that spanned more than 20 years, including tenures with Joffrey Ballet, the School of American Ballet, New York City Ballet, Atlanta Ballet, and Boston Ballet. In 1996, in addition to her role as ballet mistress, John McFall’s vision brought Sharon to her current position as dean of the Centre for Dance Education, which has grown to one of the largest dance schools in the nation. She is committed to providing a non-competitive atmosphere and access to dance education that is shaped by the community needs, is innovative, and inspires the commitment and excellence that are the trademarks of Atlanta Ballet. Under Sharon’s direction, the Centre achieved accreditation with the National Association of Schools of Dance. Sharon is a member of the board of directors at NASD and is delighted to serve on many community and national boards.
Professor of Dance Paris Opera
Former Paris Opera Ballet
2014 ABC Master Teacher
Francesca Zumbo graduated in 1961 from the National Conservatory of Paris with highest honors. She began her career at age 17 with the Grand Ballet du Marquis de Cuevas. In 1963 she joined the Paris Opera Ballet corps de ballet and by l969 had risen to the rank of “Première Danseuse”. That year she and her partner, Patrice Bart, won 1st Prize and Gold Medal at the Moscow International Competition. She performed with companies the world-over including the Bolshoi, Kirov, London Festival, Winnipeg and Tokyo Ballets and Galas in Australia, Africa, Canada, Cuba, Spain, Italy and Germany. Ms. Zumbo has worked with choreographers Balanchine, Lifar, MacMillan, Dolin, Lander, Petit, Béjart and Nureyev in classical and contemporary roles.
Ms. Zumbo set Swan Lake for l’Opera d’Avignon; “Shades” from La Bayadère for the Lisbon Opera and Petrouchka for the Paris Opera. She taught master classes for the English National Ballet, Ballet de Marseille, Royal Ballet School and in the USA, Florence, Italy and Tel Aviv. Since l995 she has been delegated by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs to teach for the Institute Central of Dance in Peking and the Shanghai Ballet in China and is regularly invited to teach at the Warsaw Opera Ballet, Ballet Mikhailovsk in St Petersburg, Russia and the National Academy of Dance, Japan. In 2008 she represented the Paris Opera Ballet School at the New York International Ballet Competition. She is the recipient of the “Chevalier de l’Ordre National du Mérite” and the City of Paris “Médaille de Vermeil”.
Director Briansky Saratoga Ballet
2008 ABC Guest Teacher
As a premier danseur and choreographer, Mr. Briansky has performed with Ballet des Champs-Elysees, Ballet de Paris, London Festival Ballet (English National Ballet) New York Metropolitan Opera Ballet, Munich Opera Ballet, Teatro Colon of Buenos Aires and the Chicago Opera Ballet. He has partnered leading ballerinas including Margot Fonteyn, Maria Tallchief and Violette Verdy. He served on the jury of the Prix de Lausanne and competitions in Nyon, Switzerland, Osaka, Japan and Jackson, MS. He was the Associate Artistic Director of the Ballet de Rio de Janeiro and Artistic Director of “Children of Theatre Street,” the documentary film and Academy Award nomination on the Vaganova Choreographic Institute in Leningrad. He has translated “100 Lessons in Classical Ballet” by Vera Kostrovitskaya of the Vaganova Institute and “Classes in Classical Ballet” by Asaf Messerer of the Bolshoi Ballet. An international teacher and coach, Mr. Briansky has directed principal dancers from New York City Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, Boston Ballet and the National Ballet of Canada. He was the founder and director of the Briansky Saratoga Ballet.
International Artistic Director and Teacher
2011 & 2006 ABC Master Teacher
Anna-Marie Holmes, artistic director, choreographer, producer, teacher and celebrated ballerina, is an internationally acclaimed dance luminary. She is recognized internationally as one of the foremost authorities on 19th century ballet. Her interpretations of the Russian classics have been staged in more than 30 countries on five continents. Ms. Holmes has also garnered a reputation as a leading champion for new and innovative choreography. She has hired and worked with Christopher Wheeldon, Daniel Pelzig, Margo Sappington, Mark Morris, Ralf Lemon, Susan Marshall, Michael Pink and Bill T. Jones, to name a few. Trained in Russia, she became the first North American to be invited to perform with the Kirov Ballet. She was Artistic Director of Boston Ballet from l997 to 2000 where her vision brought the company to national prominence. Ms. Holmes has established and organized curriculums and arts festivals, collaborated on major tours and productions throughout the dance world. She serves as the director of the ballet program at Jacob’s Pillow. Her expertise in setting repertoire and classical ballets is in great demand by major ballet companies globally.
Paris Opera Ballet and School
2006, 2005, 2004 ABC Master Teacher
Of Swiss nationality, Gilbert Mayer has spent his entire professional career up to 2005 in France at the Paris Opera. After graduating from the Paris Opera Ballet School, he joined the company and became an “Etoile”. In l970, he became “Professeur de Danse” for the Paris Opera company and school. He has taught for Ballet National de Marseille, Ballet Lausanne, Hamburg Ballet, Australian Ballet, London Festival Ballet, La Scala, the Kirov and the Royal Ballet School, among others. In 1985, he became director of the Ecole de Danse at the Consevatoire de Musique in Geneva, Switzerland. Mr. Mayer also taught at the Sorbonne in Paris, is a historian, theoretician, television producer, artistic director and choreographer. Holding many prizes and citations, he has been bestowed the title of “Officier” in ” L’Ordre National de Arts et des Lettres” and “Commandeur des Palmes Academiques”. He epitomizes the technique and style of the French School of Dance and officially represents French pedagogy throughout the world. Formally now retired from the Paris Opera Ballet, he is in great demand as a guest master teacher throughout the world.
Artistic Director – Ballet Austin
2010 ABC Master Teacher
Known for his innovative and collaborative choreographic projects, Mr. Mills has works in the repertories of companies worldwide. Artistic Director of Ballet Austin since 2000, he attracted attention with his world-premiere production of Hamlet, hailed by Dance Magazine as “…sleek and sophisticated.” The Washington Post recognized Ballet Austin as “one of the nation’s best-kept secrets” in 2004 after Ballet Austin performed his world premiere of The Taming of the Shrew, commissioned by and performed at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. The Company was first invited to perform at Kennedy Center in January of 2002 with Mills’ production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and at The Joyce Theater (NYC) in 2004. In 1998 he was chosen to represent the U.S. with his work, Ashes, at the Rencontres Chorégraphiques Internationales de Seine-Saint-Denis in Paris. Mr. Mills was recently awarded the Steinberg Award, at the Festival des Arts de Saint-Sauveur International Choreographic Competition for One/The Body’s Grace. As a dancer he performed with Harkness Ballet and The American Dance Machine.