In her twelve year career at New York City Ballet, Michele Gifford performed soloist and principal roles including George Balanchine’s Apollo, Rubies, Agon, and Stars and Stripes. She also originated many roles, including Jerome Robbins’ West Side Story Suite, Christopher Wheeldon’s Slavonic Dances, and David Parsons’ Touch.
In 2000, Ms. Gifford joined Texas Ballet Theater under Ben Stevenson. She performed several principal roles, including Stevenson’s Coppelia, Four Last Songs, and Peer Gynt along with Balanchine’s Allegro Brilliante and The Four Temperaments. She continues to perform as a Principal guest artist.
As a Balanchine Repetiteur, Ms. Gifford has staged and coached several ballets including Who Cares?, Walpurgisnaught, Serenade, and Valse-Fantaisie. She is a certified GYROTONIC instructor and owns her own studio, Studio G, in Fort Worth, TX. 2016 will mark the fourth time Ms. Gifford will stage a George Balanchine work on Madison Ballet for the George Balanchine Trust©.
Marlene Skog's (Artistic Director) career as a performer, award-winning choreographer and teacher spans over thirty years at home and abroad. A native New Yorker, she holds an M.F.A. in Dance from the University of Arizona, and is currently an Assistant Professor of Dance at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Skog's experience as a freelance artist is vast, with great inspiration from Europe. She worked in Sweden for fourteen years as dancer, teacher and choreographer, where she directed an international dance company and founded Uppsala Dansakademi. Ms. Skog has been choreographer for several official cultural events including the International Arts Festival- Norway, Scandinavian Cultural Conference, and the International Women's Convention at Uppsala University.
Ms. Skog was awarded several unique honors for a non-Swedish citizen, including the prestigious, Peoples University Cultural Prize, Gosta Knuttson Cultural Award and NordBanken's Cultural Award. Ms. Skog's work address the enduring question of what it means to be human and is purposeful in its strong synthesis of movement, music and message.
Jessica Duplessis is the Artistic Director of Raw Inspirations Dance Company. She graduated from Keene State College in Keene NH with a degree in Theatre Dance and Film, and has been an important part of the dance community in Madison since her arrival in 2007.
Tania Tandias studied flamenco, Spanish classical, and escuela bolera with two of the top flamenco dancers in the United States today, Pablo Rodarte and Eva Enciñias-Sandoval, in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Ms. Tandias has performed with Maria Benitez's Nuevo Flamenco in Santa Fe, New Mexico and the Albuquerque-based Alma Flamenca, which performed in local venues, festivals, schools, and in the internationally acclaimed Festival Flamenco Internacional.
She has also performed in faculty concerts at the University of New Mexico and in the opera Carmen. In Madison, Wisconsin, she has been introducing, through performing and teaching, the beauty and passion of flamenco and Spanish dance to fellow Wisconsinites. In addition to numerous festivals, private parties, and lecture-demonstrations, Ms. Tandias has recently choreographed and danced in pieces for The Madison Opera, Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society, The Milwaukee Ballet, and The Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, whose program Vivo Flamenco was shown on Wisconsin Public Television.
Illinois native Mitchell Zadorozny did not begin dancing until, at age seventeen, one of his friends invited him to watch the movie "Step Up 2: The Streets.” Since that moment, he was hooked and began learning breakdance and freestyle on his own to all types of music, using Michael Jackson and Justin Timberlake as his inspiration.
At age eighteen, he began his formal dance training under Robert Lewis at Lewis Dance Progressions, studying Hip Hop and Breakdancing, along with other street styles. After just a year, he began teaching at studios in the Northern Illinois area. He continued to take class and compete, winning many national titles.
Mr. Zadorozny has taught at Millennium Dance Complex Chicago and at Millennium Dance Complex Los Angeles. He has danced and choreographed for Millennium's annual showcase, “The Millennium Experience,” and LA’s Choreographers Carnival, putting his work in front of many of the dance industry's biggest names. He has also choreographed for the Harlem Globetrotters and Rockford Ice Hogs. Mitchell Zadorozny currently resides in Los Angeles where he continues to take classes, working as a choreographer, teacher, and dancer.
Jin-Wen Yu, EdD & MFA, has created, performed, directed, and produced more than 100 works for the stage in the Americas and Asia, including 40 commissioned works for professionals and institutes. Dr. Yu has also presented, performed, and taught at dance festivals both nationally and internationally.
In 1999, he founded the Madison-based Jin-Wen Yu Dance, a company that has performed throughout the U.S. and internationally. Dr. Yu has received numerous grants, honors, commissions, residencies, and awards such as the NEA grant, Outstanding Dance Artist Award from Taiwan, Wisconsin Arts Board Choreographer Award, the first Madison CitiARTS, Commission Signature Grant, Chinese Information and Culture Center in New York, and Dane County Arts among others.
Dr. Yu was invited to perform at UNESCO in Paris for the Celebration Concert of the 2005 International Dance Day. His works and performances have been praised in The Boston Globe, LA Times, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Chicago Reader, Chicago Tribune, and San Francisco Chronicle. Dr. Yu currently serves as the President of World Dance Alliance-Americas.