TED THOMAS, Artistic Director A native New Yorker, Ted Thomas attended the High School for Performing Arts (NYC) before receiving his B.F.A. from the State University of New York at Purchase. He went on to earn a Master of Arts degree in dance and higher education from New York University. He danced with Ballet Hispanico, Elisa Monte, and the Murray Louis and Nikolais Company prior to joining the Paul Taylor Dance Company in 1996. Subsequently, while choreographing and continuing to perform with Thomas/Ortiz Dance, Mr. Thomas was for two years Artist-in-Residence at Barnard College, Columbia University. He is an Associate Director of The New England Academy of Dance and The New England Dance Theater. (Photo by Diane Ingino)
FRANCES ORTIZ, Artistic Director A native of Puerto Rico, Frances Ortiz studied at The New World School of the Arts in Miami, FL. prior to earning her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in dance at the State University of New York at Purchase. While studying for her M.A. degree at New York University, she performed with Kevin Wynn, Tim Martin, and Carl Paris. Ms. Ortiz has taught dance and has been a guest choreographer at Yale University. Frances and her twin sister Ginna Ortiz are co-owners of the New England Academy of Dance in New Canaan, CT, and Frances is co-Artistic Director of the New England Dance Theater. (Photo by Diane Ingino)
Ginna Ortiz (Rehearsal Director) was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico where she began her early dance training. She studied at the New World School of the Arts in Miami, FL, and received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from Purchase College. A recipient of scholarships to both the Richmond Ballet and Dance Theatre of Harlem (DTH), Ms. Ortiz danced with DTH from 1994 to 1998 and subsequently continued to work with independent choreographers in New York City. Ginna is presently the co-owner of the New England Academy of Dance in New Canaan, CT, and co-Artistic Director of the New England Dance Theater.
Janey Choi, PhD (Musical Director) gave her Carnegie Hall recital debut in 1997, as a winner of Artists International Auditions. She performs internationally as a soloist and with such groups as the Ardelia Trio, Teaching Artists Ensemble of the New York Philharmonic, Wired Strings, and New York City Ballet. An avid collaborator, she has performed with Adele, Bono, Elton John, Kanye West, Jay-Z, Quincy Jones, the Paul Taylor Dance Company, Parsons Dance Company and Peridance. She was a National First Prize winner in the Canadian Music Competition and was awarded an Ontario Arts Council Performing Arts Grant. Dr. Choi attained her doctorate at Rutgers University and holds both a BM and MM from The Juilliard School. She is a Teaching Artist for the New York Philharmonic, Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, and is on the faculty at Binghamton University.
Nicole Corea (Dancer & Founding Member) is a founding member of Thomas/Ortiz Dance and is currently a dancer with Lar Lubovitch Dance. Originally from Palmyra, NY, she began training under Sandy Stramonine and Lynn Kareken until her acceptance to The Juilliard School, from which she graduated with a BFA in 2000. Upon graduation, she danced with Ballet Hispanico for two years before touring through Europe with Elisa Monte Dance. She has also danced with, and choreographed for, Ballet Memphis, producing six works on the main company and other compositions on the junior company. Her work has also been performed at the Thang Dao Contemporary Dance Festival in NYC, and other dancing credits include the Metropolitan Opera Ballet, Nilas Martins Dance, Pier Group, New Century Dance as well as independent choreographers throughout the East Coast. Nicole is also a certified yoga teacher through the Registered Yoga Alliance.
Virginia Horne (Dancer & Founding Member) began her training in Honolulu, HI, where she studied under Rosalie Woodson, Laurie Lubeck Yeames, and Shamil Yagudin. She has performed with Ballet Hawaii, Colorado Ballet, Konstantin Uralsky’s Ballet New York, Dario Vaccaro Dance Project, and has danced numerous principal and soloist roles with the Connecticut Ballet. She has also worked with several independent choreographers in New York City, and has danced as a principal guest artist with the Northeast Youth Ballet, Neglia Ballet Artists, Paradise Ballet Theater, New England Dance Theater and Ballet Concierto de Puerto Rico. She has also tap danced her way around the country in the National Tour of 42nd Street: The Musical. International projects include “Fusion” in Guatemala City, MTV Italia in Rome, and the Choreographer’s Showcase in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Virginia is a certified GYROTONIC trainer at Body Evolution in NYC. This is her eighth season with Thomas/Ortiz Dance.
Mark Taylor (Dancer & Founding Member) was born in Tuscan, AZ and raised in Houston, TX. He studied gymnastics starting at age seven and qualified for the junior Olympics at fourteen. He began his formal dance training at Ballet Austin while studying acting at the University of Texas and furthered his training at Houston Ballet. In 2002 Mark finished his BFA in dance at the University of Hartford while performing with Dance Connecticut (formerly the Hartford Ballet). Upon graduating, Mark trained with, and became summer intensive coordinator of, the Paul Taylor Dance Company. Mark has performed the works of Paul Taylor, Maxine Steinman, Christopher Caines, Nadine Yavel, Carolyn Dorfman, and Thomas/Ortiz to name a few. Teaching has always been a component of Mark’s professional career and he currently teaches for New England Academy of Dance and the Carolyn Dorfman Dance Company. This is Mark’s 8th season dancing for Thomas / Ortiz.
Alexandra Gonzalez (Dancer) started her dance training in Miami, Florida. At the age of seven, she continued her ballet training in Colombia with the Ana Pavlova Ballet Academy. At the age of fifteen, she received a full scholarship to join the San Francisco Ballet School where she was featured in Dance Magazine. She then joined the San Francisco Ballet Company under the direction of Helgi Tomasson, after which she moved back to Miami were she guested with the Miami City Ballet, Ballet Florida, Americas Ballet, and Michel Uthoff Dance Theater among other companies. She joined the New World School of the Arts under the direction of Daniel Lewis were she graduated with a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Dance Performance in 2004. Subsequently, Alexandra joined Cedar Lake in New York City were she danced for over a year. She currently dances with Ballet Hispanico and The Metropolitan Opera.
Rachael McSween (Dancer) is a California native and a graduate of the Alvin Ailey/Fordham University BFA Program. She apprenticed with Complexions Contemporary Ballet and later went on to dance with Ailey II, Ballet Hispanico, Dallas Black Dance Theatre, Lula Washington Dance Theatre and in Dallas Theater Center’s production of The Wiz. Ms. McSween has had the opportunity to perform for the opening of the US Embassy in Berlin, Germany. In honor of Sylvia Waters, she danced in the 2008 Dance Magazine awards and has been featured in Dance Magazine’s April 2009 issue. In 2011, Ms. McSween was presented on the cover of the Dallas Morning News Arts Preview Guide. Most recently, she performed with Diane McIntyre in Time Is Time for the New York Live Arts tribute to James Baldwin in which she was featured on the front cover of the New York Times arts review section. Currently, Ms. McSween is on faculty as the contemporary jazz instructor for the Ailey Teen Extension Program and is a special education teacher for the New York City Department of Education.
Ellie Harrison (Dancer), a Brooklyn-based dancer, graduated from Washington University in St. Louis with degrees in French Literature and Dance. Since moving to New York, she has danced in the companies of Nancy Meehan, Carlos Orta, Mary Seidman, and Noemie LaFrance. She is currently a member of Jane Comfort and Company. Her own work has been performed at BAX, DNA, The Field, Movement Research, and the Dumbo Dance Festival. She sings her way through most of her days and has carried that skill onstage in several theatrical productions, among them the international tour of A Chorus Line.
Jace Coronaldo (Dancer) is very excited to perform with Thomas/Ortiz Dance. A versatile performer, he was last seen in Neos Dance Theatre’s production of Dracula where he performed to rave reviews. Since his move to New York, he performed for over a year in the Broadway Revival of West Side Story and the Equity National Tour of Guys and Dolls. As a guest artist he has performed principal and soloist roles for Neglia Ballet Artists, Northeast Youth Ballet, Lebanon Ballet, Ballet Memphis, Ballet Trockadero and the Roxy Ballet. He has danced for companies in Austin TX., Boston MA., as well as touring internationally. He would like to dedicate this and every performance to God, his family, and friends.
Gabrielle Gilchrist (Dancer) South Salem NY. Received her early dance training at the New England Academy of Dance in New Canaan, CT. under the direction of Ginna Ortiz, Frances Ortiz, and Ted Thomas as well as attended Ballet Regent, American Academy of Ballet, and Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet. Gabrielle has since performed various lead roles in ballet such as the Nutcracker, Con Amore by Lew Christen, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and George Balanchine’s Valse-Fantaisie under the direction of Bettie-Jane Sills. She went on to receive her Bachelors of Arts Degree in Arts Management at SUNY Purchase College. She is presently a teacher and rehearsal assistant at New England Academy of Dance and a member of Thomas/ Ortiz Dance.
Emily Pihlaja (Dancer) received her early dance training from the New England Academy of Dance under the directorship of Doris Driver, Ted Thomas, Frances Ortiz and Ginna Ortiz. She attended the Kirov Academy of Ballet in Washington DC where she graduated in 2009. She then went on to study and the School of Oregon Ballet Theatre in Portland OR., under the directorship of Damara Bennett, where she performed for four seasons with the Oregon Ballet Theatre directed by Christopher Stowell. Ms. Pihlaja has been featured in ballets such as George Balanchine’s Seranade and Divertimento No. 15, Swan Lake, Coppelia, Giselle, The Nutcracker, George Balanchine’s Emeralds and The Four Temperaments. This is her first season with Thomas/Ortiz Dance
Andrew Pontius (Dancer) originally from Seattle Washington started studying ballet at the age of 11 with Pacific Northwest Ballet. At the age of 15 he left for Washington D.C. and graduated from the Kirov Academy of Ballet in 2010. He began his professional career with the Dresden Semper Opera Ballet in Germany where he spent two seasons. He then moved to Madrid and danced for the Victor Ullate Ballet Comunidad de Madrid. He is happy to be home in the US and dancing in the Pacific Northwest and NY.
William Roberson (Dancer) a native of Tennessee, began his dance training at Howard University in Washington, D.C. where he earned is Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance. During that time, he worked and performed with notable artists and choreographers such as Hope Boykin of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Ray Mercer of broadway’s The Lion King, Debbie Allen, Camille A. Brown, and others. After graduating in May of 2013, he apprenticed with Ronald K. Brown’s Evidence, A Dance Company. Following the apprenticeship, he continues to work with other choreographers such as Dianne McIntyre, Kevin Iega Jeff, Mathew Rushing, and many others. He has performed in a number of notable venues such as the Kennedy Center, the Smithsonian Art Museum, and the Athenaeum Theater in Chicago, IL. Outside of performing, William is also a certified personal trainer. This is William’s first season with the company.
Kristen Prescott (Dancer) began her dance training at Connecticut Ballet and the Ballet School of Stamford under Stephanie Marini, and later went on to graduate from the Greenwich Ballet Academy under Sara Knight and Michael Shannon. In 2007, Kristen won a bronze medal in the Contemporary Division of the Youth America Grand Prix in South Carolina, which allowed her to go on to compete in the New York City Finals. She has studied at Walnut Hill School for the Arts, Nutmeg Conservatory, and Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, and attended Colorado Ballet’s Summer Program on full scholarship, where she was later offered a position with the Studio Company. In 2008, Kristen began dancing professionally with Configuration Dance Theatre in Buffalo, NY. During her two years with the company, she performed many soloist and principal roles, and was able to work closely with Yuri Zhukov, Catherine Batcheller, and Harrison McEldowney. At the 2009 Buffalo Dance Festival, Kristen shared the stage with Daniel Ulbricht, Misty Copeland, Misa Karunaga, Robert Fairchild, among others, and performed Joseph Cipolla’s Soft Verge at an anniversary event honoring Arthur Mitchell of Dance Theatre of Harlem. She has also performed with Ballet des Ameriques and numerous times for choreographer Marcos Vedoveto and was seen on ABC’s Elementary. Kristen has just completed her fourth season with Connecticut Ballet, where it has been her pleasure to perform many soloist and principal roles, including Bluebird Pas de Deux, Courante Fairy from Sleeping Beauty, Mazurka from Coppelia, and Darrell Grand Moultrie’s Pulse. This is her first season with Thomas Ortiz Dance.
Hannah Smith (Dancer) Hannah Smith is originally from North Carolina. She received her high school diploma with a ballet concentration from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts and went on to receive her BFA in contemporary dance from UNCSA. Hannah has performed works by choreographers such as Marius Petipa, Jerome Robbins, Agnes DeMille, Jose Limon, and Twyla Tharp along with original works by Susan McCullough, Brenda Daniels, Helen Simoneau, and Larry Keigwin. She has trained across the country with programs from American Ballet Theatre, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, North Carolina Dance Theatre, Complexions, LINES, and Keigwin + CO. Since relocating to New York City, she has performed works for Inclined Dance Theatre, Awakening Movement, and various project based choreographers. She grateful to be a part of Thomas/Ortiz Dance.
Danielle Shupe (Dancer) Danielle Shupetrained at the Woodbury Ballet and graduated from their concentrated program. After high school she was a full scholarship trainee at the Joffrey Ballet school in NYC under the direction of John Magnus and later George de la Pena. While there she performed works by Robert Joffrey, Gerald Arpino, Peter Pucci and Margo Sappington. She was also one of 8 trainees chosen to perform with Arts Umbrella in Vancouver,Canada. From there she joined New York Theatre Ballet for three seasons and performed works by Antony Tudor, Frederick Ashton and Agnes De Mille. She currently dances with Connecticut Ballet and Freelances in NYC.
Eliza Sherlock Lewis (Dancer) a native of Massachusetts, has been a dancer with Thomas/Ortiz Dance since October, 2015. Eliza is also currently a company member of Brooklyn Ballet, and she has had the opportunity to perform with several other ballet companies including New York Theatre Ballet, Richmond Ballet, Charlotte Ballet, Terpsicorps Theater of Dance, and as a character dancer in Alexei Ratmansky’s The Sleeping Beauty with American Ballet Theatre at the Metropolitan Opera House. The contemporary dance companies she has worked with include Armitage Gone! Dance, Cherylyn Lavagnino Dance, Buggé Ballet, and Brooklyn Contemporary Ballet Collective. In January 2017, Eliza had the opportunity to perform as a featured dancer in Secondary Dominance, an original opera composed by Sarah Small for the 2017 Prototype Festival. Eliza holds a BFA in Dance from NYU Tisch School of the Arts with a double major in French. She received her initial dance training from Walnut Hill School of the Arts, spending summers at School of American Ballet, Miami City Ballet, and Boston Ballet School on scholarship. While not performing, Eliza is an ABT® National Training Curriculum Certified Teacher in Pre-Primary through Level 5, and she is on the faculty at Ballet School of Stamford and Mini-Mix at Greenwich Academy. She is also an Assistant Teacher at Ballet Tech, and teaches private ballet lessons to students of all ages.
Miguel Solano is originally from Medellin, Colombia. He started his dance training at the age of 17 as a dance major in the Arts department at the District University of Bogotá, Colombia. At 18 he started his ballet training at BalletStudio in Bogotá, Colombia, and a year later he moved to New York to continue his career. He is currently dancing professionally with the Gelsey Kirkland Ballet in New York. He has also participated as a supernumerary for ABT, performing at the Metropolitan Opera in Lincoln Center on the productions of Cinderella, Manon, and Swan Lake.
He is also a company member of “Awaken Dance Theater” located in NYC.
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