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CHARMAINE HUNTER | Director of Community Engagement, Orlando Ballet

Charmaine Hunter began her formal dance training at the Hartford Ballet School under the leadership of then Artistic Director Michael Uthoff and teacher Truman Finney. Through the support of Michael Uthoff, Charmaine moved to New York City to study with Arthur Mitchell Artistic Director of the Dance Theatre of Harlem while continuing her formal education at the Professional Children’s School. Dance Theatre of Harlem attracted some of the world’s finest dance educators.
She had the opportunity to study under teachers such as Karel Shook co-founder of the Dance Theatre of Harlem, Frederick Franklin, Suzanne Farrell, Tanaquil LeClerque, Carmen DeLavellade, Mary Hinkson, Alvin Ailey, and William Griffith just to name a few. She rose through the ranks quickly from corp-de-ballet eventually becoming one of the company’s leading ballerinas and finally as the company’s Ballet Mistress. She electrified audiences with her performances in a broad spectrum of roles. She is best known for her role as The Firebird choreographed by John Taras( Ballet Master with American Ballet Theater)
and Medea, choreographed by Michael Smuin (former Artistic Director of San Francisco Ballet.)

Additional ballets include Fall River Legend by Agnes De Mille, Billie The Kid, Le Biche, Voluntaries by Glen Tetley, and a long list of Balanchine ballets just to name a few. During her 25 year career with the Dance Theatre of Harlem, she had opportunities to affect the arts in the U.S. and abroad launching programs specifically for young people with little to no access to the arts. The now famous Dancing Through Barriers, DTH’s outreach program had its start in
Johannesburg South Africa.

In 1988, Dance Theatre of Harlem was invited to perform in the former Soviet Union as part of the United States Cultural Exchange Initiative in which Ms. Hunter played a major role as principal dancer. In November 2000, Charmaine traveled to China conducting extensive outreach and educational activities as teaching artist and principal dancer in addition to teaching master classes at various schools in Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong. During her tenure at the Dance Theatre of Harlem, Miss Hunter was invited to serve as Ballet Mistress and principal teacher at the Jones-Haywood School of Dance in Washington D.C. the country’s first ballet school founded by two African American women, Doris Jones and Claire
Haywood. Although the school was founded to bridge the gap and open doors for young African Americans to learn the artform of classical ballet, it was open to everyone. These two women were the pioneers in creating a platform for people of color to train and compete on an international level.

In January 2001, Ms. Hunter was invited to Canada by Mirvish Productions the Toronto based Production Company to direct the resident show Disney’s The Lion King at the Princess of Wales Theater. She held this position for 3.5 years until the production moved to Amsterdam Holland. Ms. Hunter relocated to Las Vegas Nevada after being offered the position of Casting director and talent scout with the Cirque du Soleil. She served as the company’s talent scout for dance as well as
Dance Master for the artists in the productions on the Las Vegas Strip. She was also overseeing the classes and training of dance artists on the production of ‘A New Day’ at the Coliseum in Caesars Palace which featured Celine Dion.
Charmaine then Co- founded the Las Vegas Contemporary Dance Theater with fellow dancer Bernard Gaddis formerly of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. LVCDT is a multi-cultural institution that attracts professional dancers and students from around the world. After the launch of Las Vegas Contemporary Dance Theater (LVCDT), Ms. Hunter was appointed the position as teaching artist with Disney Musicals in Schools with Disney Theatricals and Wolf-trap
Early Childhood Education through the arts with The Smith Center of Performing Arts. She traveled nationally training classroom teachers on various methods used to incorporate dance in early childhood curriculum and expanding on the STEAM programs. Her position as teaching artist, lead to many other opportunities which carved another path in directing and management. Charmaine has returned to the professional concert dance world after accepting a full-time faculty position as Upper School Principal and co-director with Texas Ballet Theater under the guidance and leadership of Ben Stevenson O.B.E. Director Emeritus of Houston Ballet.

Ms. Hunter then moved home to Orlando Florida to be with her family. She accepted a position with the Orlando Ballet as Director of Community Engagement under the Artistic Direction of Robert Hill and Director of Schools Phillip Broomhead. She will serve as the organization’s Director of Community Engagement where she will coordinate and oversee all arts in education and
community programs. In addition, Charmaine will teach various levels in the academy of Orlando Ballet training the dancers of tomorrow. She is thrilled to be home with her family in Orlando and looks forward to an amazing future with the Orlando Ballet School.

JOSHUA BROOKSHER | Artistic Director, Oklahoma Youth Ballet

Mr. Brooksher grew up in Mesa, Arizona where he received his early training at Ballet Etudes and Jeanne’s School of Dance. At the age of 13 he left Mesa for Washington D.C. to attend the Kirov Academy of Ballet (KAB), one of the premier ballet training schools in the world, on full scholarship for their accelerated professional training program. His studies included ballet technique, repertoire, technical theory, pas de deux, historical court dance, character dance, contemporary movement, pedagogy, music theory, nutrition, kinesiology, painting, sculpture, injury prevention, Pilates and Gyrotonics. Mr. Brooksher graduated from KAB with High Honors, and from Bethesda Chevy-Chase High School with a Certificate of Merit, in 1993. During his years at KAB, he learned the craft of classical dance from some of the world’s true masters, the most influential in the shaping of Joshua’s training and career was, and still is, Rudolf Kharatian, a graduate of the famed professor Alexander Pushkin at the Vaganova Choreographic Institute. Throughout his career Mr. Brooksher performed all the great classical ballets and worked with the most influential choreographers of the time. He is known as one of the greatest partners of his generation. Among all the leading male roles he performed he is most fond of the role of Albrecht in Giselle. After dancing professionally in The Kirov Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, Ballet Internationale, Boston Ballet, and Texas Ballet Theater, Mr. Brooksher returned home for a single season with Ballet Arizona before embarking on his teaching career. He has always been a teacher; even at a young age, his attention to detail distinguished him to his peers and teachers. Throughout his career Mr. Brooksher regularly took the time to return to his home in Mesa to serve as temporary faculty for Ballet Etudes and Phoenix School of Ballet. Under his tutelage his students have gone on to become professional performing artists in theaters all over the world. Mr. Brooksher founded and directed Brooksher Ballet and the National Academy of Classical Ballet in Mesa, Arizona to provide professional training opportunities in his hometown while simultaneously continuing to work as a director and faulty member with other dance organizations around the country. As such, he was involved in all aspects of running a successful professional level training program. His responsibilities have included teaching & coaching all levels of classes in the 6-year accelerated Vaganova-based program, creating choreographic works, curriculum, and syllabus structure development, as well as the administrative duties associated with such a position. His students have been recognized at national and international levels of competition, gone on to attend conservatories and universities, as well as securing work as professional dance artists. Mr. Brooksher currently serves in several national and international organizations as well as being the Artistic Director for the Oklahoma Youth Ballet. He is a member of the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) – International Dance Council and serves as a Pedagogy Specialist for the Classical Dance Alliance, an organization created to promote the highest standards for classical ballet in the United States through teacher training programs and educational awareness of the importance of pedagogical training. Mr. Brooksher also served as Associate Artistic Director for his alma mater, The Kirov Academy of Ballet in Washington, D.C. and was involved in all aspects of running an international boarding school and elite level dance education organization.


EDWARD TRUITT is Associate Professor of Dance, West Texas A&M University. He is an internationally award winning choreographer, a Fulbright Specialist and recognized internationally as a teacher and choreographer. His work has been performed in the U.S., France, Japan, Italy, and he has traveled extensively across Russia to teach and choreograph. His 2004 Russia trip with his dancers was the subject

of a documentary film “Dancing in Russian Air” which aired regionally on PBS. In 2003 Mr. Truitt received a Fulbright grant to set his work Misguided Faith… on the Kannon Dance Company in St. Petersburg Russia, to teach at the Open look International Festival of Contemporary Dance, and to take part in “Project Distancia”, a teaching/performance tour that traveled from St. Petersburg through the Ural mountains and into Siberia. His choreography has been awarded 1st place for best contemporary ballet and 2nd place for best overall choreography at the Grand Prix Italia International Dance Festival in Cesena Italy in 2005. He has performed principal and soloist roles in much of the classical repertory and, in addition to his ballet career, he has performed jazz dance and modern dance professionally in feature films, television and the professional stage. He has choreographed professionally for the stage, film and television, for universities and various dance companies. Mr. Truitt holds his masters’ degree in dance from the University of Oregon and formerly served as Artistic Director of the Lone Star Ballet Company (2003-05). He has served as a Visiting Professor at the University of Utah Ballet Department, an Assistant Professor of Dance at Southern Utah University, taught at California State University-Fresno, co-directed Brigham Young University Ballet Theatre, and taught at the University of Oregon.

DEBORAH DEFARIAS | Ballet Hispanico

Deborah DeFarias is a Ballet Lubbock alumnus and a former Ballet Lubbock instructor. Deborah has trained with Ballet Lubbock, Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, Ballet Dalal Achcar, Petite Danse, Bolshoi Ballet Academy, and Texas Ballet Theatre. She is continuing her training at Ballet Hispánico as part of the inaugural Pa’lante Scholars Program.


SUMAYAH MCRAE | Ballet Mistress & Coach, Contemporary West Dance Theatre

Sumayah McRae is from Queens, NY. She fell in love with dance at Bernice Johnson’s Cultural Arts center. She is a graduate of LaGuardia H.S. of Performing Arts, known as “The Fame School”. She continued her training as a scholarship student at Alvin Ailey American Dance Center. She earned her B.F.A. from The Juilliard School under the direction of Benjamin Harkarvy.

Sumayah performed in concert dance companies such as, Fred Benjamin Dance, Pascal Rioult Dance Theatre, BattleWorks and The Parsons Dance Co. While at Parsons, Sumayah was privileged to perform David Parsons Signature Solo “Caught”. She also performed Caught with David Parsons in a rare duet at The Joyce Theatre’s Anniversary Gala. She assisted Mr. Parsons while he choreographed “Shining Star” on the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre. She also taught and set his piece “The Envelope” on the Carte Blanche Dance Co. in Norway. Sumayah performed in Broadway’s 1st National Tours of Disney’s The Lion King and Oprah Winfrey’s The Color Purple. In The Color Purple, Sumayah played Olivia and was a Dance Captain. She also performed on Broadway in a tribute for The Wiz with several original cast members. She has also performed excerpt tributes of Hamilton, Chicago, West Side Story and Phantom of the Opera for E Plus Productions.

Sumayah has been a featured dancer with CHER for over 13 years performing in her Las Vegas residencies at Caesar’s Palace, The Park MGM, & MGM National Harbor in D.C. She has also performed in music videos and on her international and domestic tours, Dressed to Kill, Classic Cher, and Here We Go Again Tours. Sumayah has also accompanied Cher on private performances around the world.

She has performed on the BET awards with Toni Braxton. Her tv credits include, The Voice, New Year’s Rockin’ Eve w/ Dick Clark, Dancing with the Stars, America’s Got Talent, The Today Show, Good morning America, Billboard Music Awards, and The Oprah Show with Cher & Tina Turner. She also performed at The Met Gala with Cher. In Las Vegas, Sumayah was the Assistant Choreographer for the Donnie & Marie Christmas Tour. She also performed in Vegas The Show at Planet Hollywood. Sumayah was on faculty teaching for LaGuardia H.S. of P.A., Eliot Feld’s Ballet Tech, and she taught and choreographed for The Joffrey Ballet School NYC Summer. She has also judged and taught for dance competitions such as Dancers INC, Sheer Elite, LV Dance Experience, ViewPoint and Regional Dance America.

Most recently, Sumayah is honored and excited to have been appointed Ballet Mistress and Coach for Contemporary West Dance Theatre and Conservatory under Founder and Artistic Director Bernard Gaddis.

BERNARD GADDIS | Founder and Artistic Director, Contemporary West Dance Theatre

Founder and Artistic Director of Contemporary West Dance Theatre (CWDT) formerly, The Las Vegas Contemporary Dance Theater (LVCDT) Mr. Gaddis’ dance studies began in Philadelphia at the High School for the Performing Arts, where he received numerous awards and scholarships; including a full scholarship to the prestigious Governor’s School for the performing Arts, a school for gifted dance students.

Mr. Gaddis has also received scholarships to Pennsylvania Ballet, Dance Theater of Harlem, Princeton Ballet, & The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.

Bernard’s first professional dance experience was with the Philadelphia dance company “Philadanco” under the direction of the renowned Joan Myers Brown. Bernard also studied and trained in the Horton modern technique under the tutelage of Mr. James Truitte, a first generation member and dancer with the Lester Horton Company and The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater; Bernard studied under Mr. Truitte as well as Ms. Althea Leslie and Faye Snow both protege of Mr. Truitte’s. to become a master teacher in the Horton technique. Bernard has since been a certified Master Horton and Ballet teacher that has been teaching for the past twenty years both nationally and internationally to many dancers in Universities and Professional companies. While as a member of The Philadelphia Dance Company, Bernard became the Co-Founder, Artistic Director and Choreographer for Philadanco’s second performing company D2.

Bernard has received numerous awards for his role as Artistic Director & Choreographer, most notably the prestigious award for Men Making a Difference in the city of Philadelphia presented to him by Senator Chakka Fattah and the Living the Dream award for community leadership and helping solidify the arts here in Las Vegas. A principal dancer with The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Bernard danced under the Directorship of the renowned Judith Jamison and danced iconic works such as Revelations, Memoria, Episodes, and A Hymn for Alvin Ailey and many other ballets. Bernard has performed for World-renowned dignitaries such as Nelson Mandela and the former President of the United States Bill Clinton. Bernard was best known for dancing roles such as Revelation’s Sinner Man, Wade in The Water and Ulysses Dove’s Bad Blood to name a few. Later, Bernard joined the L.A. cast of The Broadway Musical The Lion King as a principal dancer and chorus singer where he work with acclaimed director Julie Tamour. While in L.A., Mr. Gaddis was Event Coordinator and Artistic Director for Cienega Entertainment Group. Mr. Gaddis is formerly a Principal Dancer for Cirque Du Soleil’s Las Vegas shows: Zumanity and Mystere. Bernard has successfully produced, directed, and choreographed “Dance for Life 1 and II” where the performance raised money for women’s breast cancer and children living with HIV and AIDS. Bernard has performed with many companies as a Guest artist, such as, Oakland Ballet, Ballet Pacifica, The Koresh Dance Company, Pennsylvania Ballet, Lula Washington Dance Theatre, Dallas Black Dance Theatre, Philadanco, Leja Dance Theater and the Paris company Zingaro.


Anthony Denaro, M.F.A, aka YNOT, explores the design, sustainability, history, and community of Hip Hop. Through a futurist lens, YNOT’s work manifests in dance, typography, music, and architecture.

YNOT’s reputation in the dance world precedes him. As a B-boy, he’s traveled the world extensively judging battles, teaching workshops, and building cultural awareness.

In YNOT’s vision of the sustainability of Hip Hop, teaching and mentorship are paramount. Currently, his classes can be found on a workshop basis internationally, as well as online and in person through University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Arizona State University, and Texas Tech where he facilitates Breaking Technique, Stylized Letterform Design and Sound Design for Electronic Music Production.

Alongside his dance and professorship, YNOT both physically and digitally creates two and three dimensional visual works that construct a possible future of the Hip Hop aesthetic.

LORI WILSON | Principal Dancer, St. Louis Ballet

LORI WILSON is a 2006 graduate of Ballet Lubbock and a 2007 graduate of The Rock School for Dance Education where she participated in the Youth America Grand Prix. She attended the 2007 Chautauqua Summer Dance intensive where she performed in the North Carolina Dance Theatre’s world premier of Mark Diamond’s Maestoso. She is currently a Principal dancer with the St. Louis Ballet.

MICHAEL BURFIELD | Nashville Ballet

Michael Burfield studied at Ballet Lubbock and Lone Star Ballet. In the summers, he attended several programs on full scholarships, including Kansas City Ballet, The Joffrey Ballet School, Carolina Ballet, and Pacific Northwest Ballet. After graduating high school, Burfield returned to Pacific Northwest Ballet on full scholarship as a professional division student.

In 2010, Burfield joined Ballet Austin’s second company and was quickly promoted to the organization’s main company the following season. There, he spent three years working closely with artists such as Stephen Mills and Michelle Martin and had the honor of working on Mills’s Light / The Holocaust & Humanity Project. In addition to touring the work in Miami and across Israel in Akko, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, Burfield was also selected to perform a section of the project at the Kennedy Center during Ballet Across America. Burfield also had to the opportunity to work with world-renowned choreographer Annabelle Lopez-Ochoa and toured her piece Requiem for a Rose to San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Passionate about the organization’s diverse repertoire, Burfield made the move to Sarasota Ballet in 2014 as a coryphee member under the direction of Iain Webb. Some of Burfield’s highlights there include performing Dicken in Will Tuckett’s The Secret Garden, George Balanchine’s Jewels and Stars & Stripes, Rudolf Nureyev’s Raymond Act III, Christopher Bruce’s Sargent Early’s Dream, Paul Taylor’s Company B, Christopher Wheeldon’s The American, Sir Peter Wright’s Summertide, Kenneth MacMillan’s Concerto, Dominic Walsh’s Wolfgang for Webb, and Anthony Tudor’s Continuo. In 2018, Burfield joined Nashville Ballet.

ROBYN GARDENHIRE | Founder & Artistic Director, City Ballet of Los Angeles

Ms. Gardenhire is the Founder and Artistic Director of City Ballet of Los Angeles. As the Artistic Director & Principal Choreographer Ms. Gardenhire has developed ballet’s that are classical as well as cutting edge bring new stories and prospective to the ballet. She has also developed a dance institution that reflects the economic and racial diversity of

Los Angeles. A scholarship school that offers the lessons of dance to all as well as the professional division that nurtures students to go on to dance professionally. 

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, the first African American women principal dancer at ABT, Ms. Gardenhire is also an alumni 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 over sees 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.

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