AB Faculty & Staff 2017-11-05T18:27:58+00:00


Paula Nuñez
Paula NuñezArtistic Director & Founder
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, Ulisses Dove, Vicente Nebrada, Hans Van Mannen, Hector Zaraspe, Flemming Flindt, and Margo Sapington. Nuñez has participated in numerous festivals such as Spolleto 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 Gardee, Coppelia, DonQuixote 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.

Osmany Montano
Osmany MontanoBallet Master
Born in Cuba, Osmany Montano has been Ballet Master at America’s Ballet School since 2007 where he shares his passion for dance with younger generations.

Montano trained with the Cuban National Ballet under the direction of Alicia Alonso, Ramona De Saa and Magda Campo.He was awarded a silver medallion at the Cuban Ballet Festival.

Montano has danced with the Cuban National Ballet and Ballet of Santiago de Cuba, under the direction of Maria Elena Martinez and Ballet of Camaguey under the direction of Fernando Alonso, as well as the National Ballet of Caracas. Internationally, he has performed in Israel, Germany, Italy, Peru, Mexico, Colombia, as well as Trinidad and Tobago. In the United States, he has performed with the Tulsa Ballet and Sarasota Ballet. His classical repertory includes Arlequinada, Coppelia, Don Quixote, Esmeralda, Diana and Acteon, Le Corsaire, Swan Lake, The Nutcracker, Paquita and Sleeping Beauty, among others. Montano has danced principal roles in contemporary works such as Carmina Burana, Doble Corchea, Majisimo, Midsummer Night’s Dream and Scherezade. He performed works by such contemporary masters as Nacho Duato, Stanton Welch, Mauro Galindo, Maria Eugenia Barrios, Vicente Nebrada, and Alberto Mendez.

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

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


Luana Hidalgo
Luana HidalgoBallet Teacher, Pointe, Variations and Repertoire
Luana Hidalgo started studying dance at the Institute of Art at an early age and graduated from Madame Irene Levandosky’s Ballet School in Venezuela. 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 leaning from some of the world’s best choreographers: Vicente Nebrada, Alvin Ailey, Judith Jamison, Margot Sapington, Hans van Manen, John Butler and Ulysses Dove, among others. Ulysses Dove created a work specially 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 Horvanth 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 todays youth.

Graciela Acedo
Graciela AcedoGuest Ballet Teacher
Graciela began her ballet training in Caracas, Venezuela where she was born and raised; won a government scholarship to study at Boston Ballet and later she was awarded another scholarship from Harkness Ballet in New York. She has a BFA in performing arts from Saint Mary’s College.

In 2005 she was honored with a grant award from the University of San Francisco to study pedagogy in Cuba where she received a certificate of methodology and pedagogy on the Cuban syllabus. In 2014 she was awarded with the teaching development fund to do an Intensive Pedagogical Immersion with Celia Marino.
Her first ballet company was Ballet Teresa Carreño, in Venezuela, directed by Enrique Martinez, where she performed the classical repertoire, sharing the stage with prestigious ballet dancers such as, Rudolf Nureyev, Fernando Bujones and Julio Boca.
She was a principal dancer with Ballet Nuevo Mundo de Caracas, a contemporary ballet company directed by Zhandra Rodriguez, worked with choreographers such as Judith Jamison, Ulises Dove, John Butler, Gustavo Mallajoli, Elisa Monte, Paulo Denubila, Dennis Nahat, Choo San Goh, and Donald Mackayle among others. She traveled to Europe, Asia, South America and the Caribbean.

In the United States Graciela performed with Oakland Ballet and has been a guest artist with many bay area dance companies. Acedo have been teaching in the San Francisco Bay Area for over twenty years, she is a faculty member of San Francisco School of the Arts (SOTA) and has created original work for them for the last ten years. As an adjunct professor of University of San Francisco she has created a relationship between Alonzo King Lines Ballet and students from USF. With the pre-professional program from Diablo Ballet she has staged the classical repertoire. As a main ballet teacher for the Dance Attack School (Sunnyvale) she created the ballet curriculum and program. She is also a faculty member at Ayako Ballet School and at Berkeley Ballet. Former Associated Director of Western Ballet where she developed the Youth Program; co-directed the Summer programs for Pacific Dance Theater of San Francisco.

She was also former faculty member of University of Nebraska and Founding Associate Director and dancer for the Mark Foehringer dance project of San Francisco. Graciela taught company class for Oakland Ballet, Napoles Ballet and Dance Theater of San Francisco. as well as being a guest teacher at America’s Ballet in Tampa, Florida; Ballet de las Americas in Venezuela , and California State University, Los Angeles. She has been a judge for ballet competitions.
Graciela encourages students to strive for professional careers while giving them individual attention, stressing impeccable technique and nurturing the growth of their uniqueness. She believes in the importance of creating versatile dancers. Many of her students have gone on to dance with professional companies such as San Francisco Ballet, Julliard, Napoles Ballet, Joffrey Ballet, Le Grand Ballet of Canada, Boston Conservatory,  and other important dance programs.

Barbara Valles
Barbara VallesBallet teacher, Progressing Ballet Technique
Barbara Valles was born and raised in Caracas, Venezuela. She has a BFA in Ballet from the University Institute of Dance in Venezuela and performed with the Youth Ballet of Venezuela. Barbara is certified on PBT Progressing Ballet Technique as well as in Junior, Senior and Advanced levels.

Prior to 2003, when Valles became a faculty member at America’s Ballet School her diverse work experience included; ballet teacher, choreographer, and program coordinator of activities and performances for Fredy Reyna Music and Ballet School, working with the dance program of the Bolivarian School of the Department of Education, Culture and Sport of Venezuela, and ballet teacher for the Municipal School of Rhythm Gymnastic. Caracas, Venezuela. She studied Physical Education, at the Experimental University, the Libertador in Caracas, Venezuela. Valles has advanced training with the following; “Advanced Workshop for Ballet Teachers” and “Advanced Workshop for Ballet Dancers” (by Master David Howard), International Seminar and Workshop of Science and Sport, (Gatorade Sport Science Institute), Seminar “Medicine and Art”, Seminar “Vaganova School” (by Master Rumen Rachev), and “Floor Barre Workshop” (by Ines Mariño from Alvin Ailey).

Valles has also been a guest ballet teacher at the University of South Florida Dance Program and in 2014 at the Brandon Ballet Summer Intensive.

Elsa Valbuena
Elsa ValbuenaModern Faculty
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.

About Gaudere Danza
Gaudere Danza derives its name from the Latin word meaning to rejoice as it is in the process of the work that I;we, find special joy. Gaudere’s objective is creation, collaboration and communication through the language of the human body. It is a constantly changing organism. Each project begins with its own particular concept and inquiry. The outcome reveals itself unfolding in layers of movement, images that send us to the interior of our being towards a unique vision of time and undoubtedly to the human condition. The plasticity, sensual precise physicality and poetry contained in each piece show an esthetic vision which is imprinted by its founder Elsa Valbuena.

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, FL.

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. Her most recent work is a full evening length piece commissioned by the Ministry of Culture in Colombia 2014, Impronta en Sus Ojos that toured five different mayor cities in Colombia and culminated in Sevilla, Spain at the renounded ITALICA International dance Festival, 2015.

A dedicated choreographer and teacher, Elsa served as guest choreographer and adjunct professor at the University of South Florida in Tampa, FL 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 1995-98. In the summer of 2007 Elsa took part as guest teacher and choreographer in the “Fusion Project”, an intensive dance education program conceived by Gerard Alexander and sponsored by the Atlanta Ballet. Along side the tour of her recent work Impronta en Sus Ojos 2014-15, Elsa has been invited to teach master classes and workshops in various major cities in Colombia including the 2a Biennale Internacional de Danza en Cali.

An active and creative performer and collaborator in the Tampa Bay Area, state and nationally, Elsa was awarded the prestigious State of Florida, Division of Cultural Affairs and Florida Arts Council. Individual Artist Fellowship and twice received the Arts Council of Hillsborough County’s Individual Artist Grants. In Bogota. Colombia she was awarded the Beca de Creación in collaboration with Ricardo Neira and Robert Breckenridge for “Territorios”1990 and most recently in 2014 awarded the commission of a full evening piece from the Ministry of Culture in Colombia.

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. Her work has included a series of programs exploring the experiential movement world of adults and elders. She has guest taught dance and choreographed for FOREVER MOVING, a multigenerational troupe the Hillsborough Arts Council sponsored at the Life Enrichment Center. Elsa also created a series of classes exploring the experiential movement world of aging for the University of South Florida, Center for Arts and Aging and the School of Aging Studies.

Jeanne Travers
Jeanne TraversModern Faculty
Jeanne Travers (Professor) is a choreographer, teacher performer and interdisciplinary, international artist. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Dance from the University of California at Santa Cruz and her Master of Fine Arts Degree in Choreography and Performance from the University of Utah where she graduated with honors.  She has been a member of the Dance faculty at the University of South Florida for the past 18 years where she teaches Modern Dance, Choreography, Pedagogy and Improvisation.  Ms. Travers was also the former Director of the Dance Program at Weber State University in Ogden, Utah and Director of the student based dance company; Orchesis Dance Theatre.

Ms. Travers is deeply involved in collaboration and in interdisciplinary, multicultural choreographic projects. She has collaborated with poets, musicians, opera singers, videographers, ceramic artists, sculptors, actors, set designers and weavers. Her choreography has been presented nationally and internationally in Bolivia, China, Ecuador, France, Italy, Scotland and Tunisia. Jeanne has also taught master classes, seminars and dance workshops in North America, South America, Europe, North Africa and Asia.

She has  taught Master Classes and conducted teaching residencies at Universities , Conservatories and Institutions such as the prestigious Beijing Dance Academy, Beijing Normal University, Fujian Normal University and  Minzu University in China, the Neiderheimer Conservatoire in Paris, France, the Mediterranean Center of Contemporary Dance: Ecole de Danse, and the Centre Culturel et Sportif in Tunis, Tunisia, Teatro el Centro de Arte in Guayaquil, Ecuador, Centro Artistica Pererya Dance Center in La Paz, Bolivia as well as other international institutions.

In addition, Ms. Travers has had the honor of being invited for two consecutive years by the American Embassy in Tunisia to present an evening of her choreography in numerous cities and venues in Tunisia, including the very prestigious El Djem International Festival presented at the second oldest Roman Coliseum in the world. Her choreography, Visions of Peace was presented at the Theatre Dejazet in Paris, France under the high patronage of the Mayor of Paris and the President of the French Red Cross.  Subsequently, she received an award for this choreography through the Images and Voices of Hope summit in New York. Her work has also been presented at the Fragmentos de Juno Festival in Ecuador, at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland, the Celebrazione  Festival in Italy , the Ties of Friendship International Dance Festival in La Paz, Bolivia and at the 2012 International Dance Seminar in Beijing, in China.

Ms. Travers has also taught Master classes or conducted Choreographic/ Residencies at Colleges, Universities and Dance Centers within the United States such as Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina, Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minnesota, Visionary Dance Theatre in San Diego, California, St. Petersburg College in St. Petersburg Florida, Valencia Community College in Orlando, Florida, University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond, Oklahoma, Cabrillo College in Capitola, and California, Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa, California. Her work has also been presented at various venues such as the New World Dance Theatre with the Florida Dance Festival in Miami, the Here Theatre and the Joyce Soho in NYC and the Brooklyn Arts Exchange in Brooklyn, New York.

Ms. Travers has been the recipient of numerous grants and awards including funding through the American Embassy and the Minister of Culture in Tunisia, travel sponsorship from American Express for international projects in Ecuador, sponsorship from the Mayor of Paris for her Visions of Peace project, funding through Beijing Normal University in China, funding through the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports in Bolivia, two State of Florida Division of Cultural Affairs Individual Artists’ Fellowships for Outstanding Choreography in the State of Florida, an Individual Artists’ Grant Award through the Arts Council of Hillsborough County, two State of Florida Division of Cultural Affairs International Cultural Exchange Grants, three University of South Florida Sponsored Research Grants, grants through the USF International Affairs Office, the Latin American/Caribbean Studies Program and numerous grants through the College of the Arts. She was also awarded the Dean’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, the TIP Award for outstanding teaching at USF, an Outstanding Academic Advising Award from the University of South Florida, and was also nominated for the Friends of the Arts Award for outstanding teaching contributions to the arts in Pinellas County, Florida.

Ballet Guest Teachers &
Ballet Guest Teachers &Modern Guest Teachers
Gretel Batista, Rachel Ridley, Kathryn Fontaba, Adia Hollist, Sandra Robinson, Andrew Carroll, Mary Carmen Catoya, Iliana Lopez, Franklin Gamero, Graciela Acedo, Luana Hidalgo, Giselle Duran, Julio Montana, Reynieris Reyes, Duncan Cooper, Gina Bugatti, Sonia Melo

Lana Carroll, Elsa Valbuena, Jeanne Travers, Shana Perkins Donahue, Sadie Lehmker, Michael Jones, Jennifer Petuch, Maritza Hernandez