Robyn Gardenhire is a Los Angeles native who began her dance training with former Los Angeles Ballet, with Irina Kovsmoska and Tatiana Lichine. Gardenhire continued her studies throughout her teenage years at the San Francisco Ballet School and in New York at the American Ballet Theatre School and New York City Ballet’s School of American Ballet (SAB). At age 16, Gardenhire became the youngest African-American to be offered a contract with Joffrey II where she performed at City Center and Jacobs Pillow. She later joined Cleveland Ballet under the direction of Dennis Nahat, and had original works created on her and performed principal roles such as “Choleric” in Balanchine’s Four Temperaments, “Arabian Princess” in The Nutcracker and “Russian Girl” in Serenade.
In an effort to expand her artistry, she joined the company of avant-garde choreographer Karole Armitage, touring all over Europe. Upon returning to the United States, Ms. Gardenhire was personally invited to join American Ballet Theatre by Mikhail Baryshnikov and later performed with his White Oak Project working with choreographers Lar Lubovitch and Mark Morris.
During her time at American Ballet Theatre, Ms. Gardenhire was the driving force behind the company’s diversity committee, which introduced minority children to classical dance through their “Build a Ballet” program. Ms. Gardenhire was instrumental in providing many scholarships that were given to minority students to study at the school. Its first student, Misty Copeland, became the first African American women principal dancer at ABT. Ms. Gardenhire is also an alumnus of SAB School of American Ballet (New York City Ballet) and is a founding member of its diversity committee and recipient of the New York City Ballet Fellowship Award.
Ms. Gardenhire has developed and overseen City Ballet of Los Angeles for the last twenty years and has created a dance institution that’s curriculum covers Classical Ballet, Modern, Theater and World Dance and oversees students ages 3yr. and up. Developing and allowing students to develop and grow into ambassadors of art and able to cross through any cultural barriers they may encounter.
Since retiring from New York City Ballet in 2002, Tracey has become an admired and dedicated teacher and arts advocate. She served as the Director of Boston Ballet School (BBS) from 2007–2021 and was profiled in a 2009 issue of Dance Teacher Magazine. During her tenure at BBS, Tracey drew upon her teaching experiences, studies in psychology, and ties to community clinicians to initiate a comprehensive Wellness Program at BBS. She also created the Next Generation, a year-end performance showcasing pre-professional students, which has become an annual highlight that spotlights BBS as a leader in local and regional arts education. Her stature in the dance world brought BBS extraordinary access to the Balanchine and Robbins repertoire, enhancing the training and performance experience for students. In addition, Tracey committed to commissioning underrepresented voices in choreography by amplifying the work of women and BIPOC choreographers such as Jill Johnson, Lia Cirio, and Ja’ Malik, among others. Tracey further distinguished BBS internationally by establishing exchange programs with Canada’s National Ballet School, Paris Opera Ballet School, the Royal Danish Ballet, and Dresden’s Semperoper Ballet. And under her leadership, BBS also became a partner school with the prestigious Prix de Lausanne international ballet competition.
Tracey continues to dedicate her efforts as a dance educator with a strong commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and access to champion change. She has served on panels for MoBBallet’s annual educational symposiums (2019, 2020, and 2022) and has worked with colleagues at Dance USA School Directors Affinity Group to share learning around culturally responsive teaching practices to better support faculty. Tracey’s work as an international arts educator continues as she serves on the organizing committee for World Ballet School Day (2020 and 2021), and the 2023 edition of Assemble Internationale; an Olympic-caliber gathering of pre-professional students and directors from schools around the globe empowering young artists to develop their voices, hosted by Canada’s National Ballet School.
Born in Pueblo, Colorado, Tracey began ballet studies with her mother, Nancy Tracey, at age six. In 1982, she was accepted as a student at the School of American Ballet (SAB), the official school of New York City Ballet (NYCB). At SAB, she was the recipient of an Atlantic Richfield Foundation scholarship (1982–85) as well as a Princess Grace Foundation award (1985–86) that cited her “exceptional promise and dedication to excellence.”
In 1986, Tracey joined the NYCB corps de ballet, launching a celebrated 16-year stage career. A principal dancer from 1991 until her retirement in 2002, she excelled in the Balanchine repertoire, appearing frequently in such core works as Apollo, Allegro Brilliante, Ballo della Regina, Concerto Barocco, Serenade, Square Dance, Symphony in C, Vienna Waltzes, Western Symphony, and Who Cares?, among others. She was also featured in a range of Robbins’ ballets, including Andantino, Afternoon of a Faun, The Four Seasons, and The Goldberg Variations, and created a role in the choreographer’s Ives, Songs (1988). She originated roles in works by William Forsythe, Richard Tanner, Ib Andersen, Trey McIntyre, and Peter Martins, including his Les Petit Riens, Fearful Symmetries, Zakouski, and his production of The Sleeping Beauty, in which she appeared both as Princess Aurora and Princess Florine. With NYCB, Tracey toured Europe and Asia, appeared in the PBS “Live from Lincoln Center” series, and danced the Marzipan Shepherdess in the 1993 film of Balanchine’s The Nutcracker.
As a Balanchine Repetiteur, Tracey has staged several of his works including, Concerto Barocco, Theme and Variations, Scotch Symphony, Raymonda Variations, and Divertimento #15, among others in both professional companies and schools. And in 2011 she was recognized with a Jerome Robbins Foundation award for her distinguished interpretation as a Robbins’ dancer.
Margaret joined the Colburn School in fall 2023 to assume the role of Dean of the Trudl Zipper Dance Institute overseeing the Dance Academy and the Youth and Adult Dance programs.
Originally from Washington D.C., Leo Manzari has headlined in the touring and Off-Broadway productions of Maurice Hines is Tappin’ Thru Life, featured Guest Star on So You Think You Can Dance, The Mo’nique Show, PBS News Hour, Jerry Lewis Telethon, ABC’s The View, PBS’ Kennedy Center’s 50th anniversary. He’s performed alongside Grammy Award® winning band “The Free Nationals” in various virtual events. He’s featured with multiple POPS orchestras across the world including The Philly POPS, The San Diego Symphony, The Florida Orchestra to name a few.
Leo is also featured in two documentaries available for streaming: Maurice Hines’ Bring Them Back, and Leonard Soloway’s “Broadway.” He’s appeared in the Late Late Show with James Corden and Ariana Grande. Manzari sold out his debut headline performance at The Cutting Room (450 cap) and he has performed his original music at prominent venues in Los Angeles: El Cid, The Sun Rose, The Study, and The Hollywood Majestic. Spotify has also supported Leo’s music with placements on their highly streamed editorial playlists. For more information, follow Leo’s socials @leomanzari and subscribe to his email list via his website www.leomanzari.com
Jill Nunes Jensen is a member of the Colburn faculty where she teaches courses in artistic inquiry and leads conversations with invited guest artists. Dr. Nunes Jensen is also a member of the Dance faculty at Loyola Marymount University. She has a Ph.D. in Dance History and Theory from the University of California, Riverside and a masters in Dance from UCLA.
She has instructed courses in dance history, ballet technique, dance as social action, choreography, and serves as a senior thesis mentor. For years, her research has been the primary scholarship on Alonzo King LINES Ballet and she has presented on the company internationally. Her work has been published in the journals Dance Chronicle and Theatre Survey, in addition to the books When Men Dance, Perspectives on American Dance: The Twentieth Century, and Re-thinking Dance History (2nd ed.). Dr. Nunes Jensen has organized conferences in Los Angeles and New York City, and has served on the executive board of what is now the Dance Studies Association.
In 2016, she co-curated the first conference dedicated to contemporary ballet at the Center for Ballet and the Arts (NYU) and Barnard College (Columbia). She has been an invited speaker at the San Francisco Ballet’s Boundless Symposium (2018), Duke University (2019), and the University of Maryland (2021). As co-editor of The Oxford Handbook of Contemporary Ballet (2021), the first treatment of contemporary ballet as a discipline, Dr. Nunes Jensen’s work and pedagogical approach to dance history seeks to shift the discourse of ballet studies by centering the work of artists of color. At present, she is working on a monograph about Alonzo King LINES Ballet, a San Francisco-based company founded by King in 1982.
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 full 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. Throughout her performing career, Callaghan danced in numerous ballets from the Balanchine repertory including Symphony in C, Divertimento #15, Square Dance, Four Temperaments, Scotch Symphony, Valse Fantaisie, and Allegro Brillante. She danced in a variety of principal, soloist, and corps de ballet roles with the North Carolina Dance Theatre performing in classical and contemporary works by Aiello, Ariaz, Balanchine, Bournonville, Nebrada, Petipa, Thomasson, and Vesak. She joined the company for two European tours, performances at the Spoleto Festivals in America and Italy, and extensive annual tours throughout the United States.
Upon retiring from the stage, Darleen honed her skills as a teacher, choreographer, and arts administrator. Darleen is nationally recognized for her work as Director of the North Carolina Dance Theatre School of Dance (the official school of the North Carolina Dance Theatre, now Charlotte Ballet), where she increased enrollment from 150 to 700 students in the first three years and achieved national recognition for the School as a major professional training academy. As Director of the Miami City Ballet School, she was instrumental in establishing a variety of new curriculum, performance, and outreach initiatives. Darleen oversaw the development of a new school syllabus and expanded the Pre-Professional Division curriculum to include composition classes, a Student Choreography Showcase and a comprehensive Supplemental Training Program that included Pilates, Gyrotonics, and weight-training classes. She established the Miami City Ballet School Ensemble, a pre-professional student performing company, which performed the Miami City Ballet’s signature outreach program, “Ballet for Young People” in major theaters throughout South Florida. Darleen also developed the widely acclaimed “Ballet Bus” program, providing transportation, counseling, and ballet training to underserved children in the local community.
Cara Hansvick began her training at Dance Center Evanston before attending Indiana University Jacob’s School of Music. She was accepted on the Dean’s Scholarship, and received her Bachelor of Science in Ballet and Arts Management. During her time there she performed principal roles in Balanchine’s Serenade, Concerto Barocco, Elegie, and Swan Lake, as well as Merce Cunningham’s Duets, Antony Tudor’s Dark Elegies.
Her summer studies include Chautauqua Institution, Alonzo King Lines Ballet, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, and Milwaukee Ballet. Following graduation, she joined the Charlotte Ballet, where she danced for two seasons. She performed leading roles in works by Jean Pierre Bonnefoux, Dwight Rhoden, Sasha Janes, and Mark Diamond.
Cara joined the American Contemporary Ballet as a principal dancer in 2018 where she danced principal roles in Balanchine’s Elegie, The Nutcracker, Who Cares?, and Raymonda Variations as well as Lincoln Jones’ Verklarte Nocht, Death and the Maiden, Astaire Dances, and The Nutcracker Suite. In addition to dancing, she also is a classical trained Pilates and GYROTONIC instructor.
Jasmine grew up in Charlotte, NC where she began dancing for a church play at seven years old. Soon after, she began formal ballet training at North Carolina Dance Theater under Patricia McBride, and Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux. At fourteen she was awarded a full scholarship to move to New York City and further her ballet training at the School of American Ballet.
During her four years at SAB, she traveled to various summer training programs such as Pacific Northwest Ballet, Houston Ballet, and Miami City Ballet. Upon graduation at the School of American Ballet, Jasmine moved to Los Angeles to join the corps de ballet of Los Angeles Ballet, where she is now a Soloist. There she has performed leading roles in various Balanchine and classical story ballets, as well as contemporary works.
Jasmine also performs as a guest artist with various companies in the states, including Luminario Ballet, Raiford Rogers Modern Ballet, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and Black Iris Project. She recently traveled to India with Luminario Ballet as a US cultural ambassador to perform works at the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival. There she led outreach and master classes from ages 5-50.
Jasmine’s greatest passion is sharing the gift of dance with anyone who may be unfamiliar and allowing audiences and students to understand that dance is an accessible conduit of language, expression, and connects us all.
Yuka Fukuda, originally from Tokyo, Japan, trained at Tokyo Junior Ballet and Asami Maki Ballet Arts. Upon coming to the United States, she trained at George Mason University in Virginia and The Ailey School in New York City. On graduating in 1999, she was invited to join Ailey’s second company Ailey II, performing with them from 1999–2002.
Yuka went on to be a company member of Dallas Black Dance Theatre for two years. She performed in six productions of The King and I, including at the venue Papermill Playhouse, as well as several national tours. She played the role of Victoria in Cats at West Virginia Public Theater. She served as an assistant choreographer for the production of Gospel Gospel Gospel directed and choreographed by Otis Sallid. She has worked with renowned choreographers such as Robert Battle, Jessica Lang, Jacqulyn Buglisi, Donald Byrd, Ronald K. Brown, and many more.
As a teacher, she has taught at the Nang Young Academy of Fine Arts in Singapore, Dallas Black Dance Academy, and headed up the Modern department at Champs Charter High School for the Performing Arts. She is also a faculty member at Los Angeles County High School for the Arts (LACHSA), Lula Washington Dance Theater, and City Ballet of Los Angeles.
She has completed her Horton pedagogy training with Anna Marie Forsyth.
Aaron Williams is a virtuosic tap dancing multi-instrumentalist, trained in classical music, jazz, and rudimental percussion technique. He achieved internet fame with his viral video, Mario on Marimba, which has received millions of views on Youtube, Facebook, Instagram, and other social media sites. He appeared in Coca Cola’s “America the Beautiful” campaign which aired during the Superbowl, the Olympics, and the Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony. He is the composer of “Jazzy Note Blocks,” the music behind Note Blocks – AVM Shorts Episode 5, which has racked up nearly 70 million views on Youtube.
In addition to his online and commercial successes, Aaron is a world-class music educator. He holds Level 3 Certification in Orff Schulwerk pedagogy, and he has presented teacher training workshops for AOSA, KIPP Schools, CMEA (California Music Education Association), and several colleges and universities. He is a recipient of the ACEMM Winter Spotlight Award, which is granted for outstanding work in learning communities utilizing music and movement. Aaron has done extensive work as a Band Director, Private Lessons Instructor, and Music Specialist for students ranging in age from 2 to 92.
Aaron is one half of the explosive rhythmic, percussion duo, Collision of Rhythm.
Chard Gonzalez is a native San Diegan, dance artist, educator, and advocate. He has choreographed, performed, and taught dance throughout the USA and Europe. Companies he has performed with include: Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company (NYC), Douglas Dunn & Dancers (NYC), ALDES (Italy), Company Blu (Italy), Compagnia Virgilio Sieni Danza (Italy), Cathy Seago and Dancers (UK), and Jonathan Burrows (UK). Chard received his BFA in Dance Performance from SUNY Purchase and an MA in Dance Studies from Laban Centre London. In 2009, he established Chard Gonzalez Dance Theatre in New Orleans. CGDT has since performed throughout the USA.
Chard has over 25 years experience of teaching ballet and modern techniques, improvisation, choreography, and performance skills. He has taught at London Contemporary Dance School, Laban Centre, London Studio Centre, Roehampton University, Douglas Anderson School of the Arts, New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, California Ballet School, San Diego Academy of Performing Arts, Pieter Performance Space, and many other private studios. Chard’s balanced approach emphasizes how dancers may reach their goals in their technical, artistic, and professional development.