Meet The Team
Ms. Rachel started dancing at AOA at the age of 5, and was trained in ballet, tap, jazz, modern, flamenco, musical theater and contemporary. She was in our senior company and performed many lead roles throughout the years while studying at our academy. After graduating Ms. Rachel received her BFA from New World School of the Arts Conservatory and the University of Florida, while performing professionally with Peter London Global dance Theater and Metropolitan Ballet of Florida.
Ms. Rachel spent 5 years dancing professionally in New York city with Kaleidoscope Dance Theater, Wolf and Swan Company, and The Sarah Rose Dance Ensemble. We are honored to have Ms. Rachel back with us and she is excited to return to dancing and teaching at Academy of Arts.
A native of North Carolina, Ms. Teresa comes to us with versatility and expertise in dance and the business world. A professional for over 20 years, her credentials include 10 years with the Ashville Contemporary Dance Theatre pioneering avant-garde modern dance, and an International Artistic Award for her Choreography with Ballet Folklorico in Mexico. Her entertainment credits include; Las Vegas Revues, Cruise Ship Revues, Industrial Shows, Television Commercials, and Musical Theatre shows including A Chorus Line in conjunction with Tony Award winner Sammy Williams.
Ms. Teresa has education credits that include a variety of classical and modern training at Joffrey Ballet, Melissa Hayden, Alvin Ailey, Martha Graham, Ruth Currier, Atlanta Ballet and Atlanta Contemporary. She has also attended several universities culminating in an Associate of Arts Performance Degree from the New World School of the Arts.
Ms. Alyssa has attended Academy of Arts since she was 7 years old. She was in Senior Company since the age of 12. Her training includes: Ballet, Pointe, Flamenco, Hip-Hop, Modern, Jazz and Tap. Ms. Alyssa has received honorable recognition in the following: Outstanding Achievement Award for Flamenco in 2002, acceptance to Joffrey Ballet and Orlando Ballet in 2005, and the Super Bowl Pep Rally. She was also accepted to dance with Robert Battle (currently Alvin Ailey Director). Ms. Alyssa was chosen to open for Grammy Award-winning artist Ashanti in 2005. She was featured in a commercial for Latin recording artist Teziano Ferro, which aired in May 2006 on Univision, worked as a Miami Heat dancer as well as Sabado Gigante, and La Voz Kids. . Ms. Allyssa has modeled for Journeys Spring Catalog and attended New World School of the Arts High School Dance Program. In 2011 she was accepted to Boston Conservatory with a scholarship for $20,000 and awarded a merit award for young arts competition in Jazz. Ms. Alyssa has also toured North & South America with Luis Fonsi and Alexis & Fido, and Farruko. She has performed with Pitbull, Prince Royce, Wisin y Yandel, Daddy Yankee, Ludacris, and Sean Paul. Ms. Alyssa currently teaches Hip-Hop and Contemporary at Academy of Arts.
Mr. Michael has been a master teacher for over 20 years. His work includes giving seminars, setting original choreographic works and teaching dancers around the world in both the private and public sectors, as well as college and university dance and fine arts programs. As a performer, some of his credits include: Gus Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago, serving as associate director and rehearsal choreographer for six years; River North Dance Company, AKASHA Dance Company; The Radio City Christmas Spectacular, serving as an assistant choreographer for five years, as well as several theater, fashion and industrial credits to his name and is a member of the Actors Equity Association (AEA). He has also taught and adjudicated for numerous internationally recognized dance organizations and institutions, and proudly served as a director and rehearsal choreographer for Royal Caribbean Entertainment. Mr. Michael is the President and Creative Development Director of Taylor Made Development, Inc.
Mr. Tony began his training at the High School of Performing Arts and graduated as the Dance Award Recipient. He joined the Joffrey Ballet and three years later, became a principal dancer with the Boston Ballet until 1984. Mr. Tony danced the lead in the Broadway production of Annie Get Your Gun with Ethel Merman and with the touring company of Golden Boy starring Sammy Davis Jr. He appeared in the first English speaking musical to travel to Japan, West Side Story. For the past 25 years, Mr. Tony has devoted much of his energy to the Ballet Academy of Miami. In 1992, he was presented with the Fellowship Award from the Florida Department of State for valuable contribution to the cultural environment of the state. In 1994, he was appointed Official American Team Coach for the 30th International Ballet Competition in Varna, Bulgaria. In 1995, he staged the first presentation of the Nutcracker in Colombia. It is a pleasure to have Mr. Tony teaching at Academy of Arts.
As a dance teacher and choreographer, Mr. Chris is currently enjoying his 24th year in the business. His skill and versatility in both tap and jazz/lyrical combined with a creative choreographic style have kept him busy and happy. He is a certified member of Dance Masters of America. His teaching credits include Steps on Broadway and Broadway Dance Center in Manhattan, New York. He also served as dance department chairperson at Belvoir Terrace, an internationally reputable performing arts camp in Lenox, Massachusetts. He is currently on staff at 3 dance studios in New York and the New Jersey area. Mr. Chris also teaches master classes and judges for major dance organizations, private schools and organizations nationwide and in Canada. His students have won numerous high score awards at competitions such as; American Dance Awards, Dance Master of America and Starquest, as well as two gold medals at the World Tap Dance Championships in Reisa, Germany. Students of Mr. Chris have also gone on to appear in music videos, TV commercials and on Broadway.
Ms. Ramos began her studies in Piano, Solfeggio, Music Theory and Music Appreciation in the City of Havana, Cuba. Later she was transferred to continue the studies in Music School. She was a member of the school choir performing in television programs, inaugurations, and theatres. She then transferred to the “Amadeo Roldan” music academy in the city of Havana where she obtained a Bachelors degree. Ms. Ramos has also worked as a pianist for ballet classes and played in a popular female group “Flores Sonoras.” She has taught in and throughout South Florida.
Mr. Brian, lives in Pembroke Pines with his wife, also a music teacher, Nicole and their two daughters, Abigail and Samantha. Mr. Brian has been a member of the faculty here at Academy of Arts since 2007. His primary duties include teaching our students piano, guitar, and singing. Mr. Brian is delighted to report that many of his students have continued their musical education after completing their studies at the Academy of Arts. Mr. Brian began singing in 1995 under the direction of Dr. Kenn Gartner. Mr. Brian has performed live with some of the most notable musicians in the United States, including famed country star Kenny Rogers. Mr. Brian’s ability was recognized at age of 18, when in 1997 he was selected as a participant upon receipt of a scholarship provided by New York State Summer School of the Arts located at State University of New York at Fredonia. Within a year of Mr. Brian’s arrival in South Florida, he was accepted as a student by famed vocal coach Gina Maretta, whose students also included Miami’s international pop star, Gloria Estefan. Locally, in 2001, Mr. Brian sang with the Acapella Quartet “Uncanny”, in performances of our national anthem, for fans of the Miami Marlins and the Miami Heat. Starting in 2004, Mr. Brian began his successful career as a studio musician. In this capacity, he worked alongside such music notables as Grammy Award winner John Thomas. Among Mr. Brian’s many local musical accomplishments was his participation, during the period of 2007-2011, as lead singer & keyboardist for the band “Hollywood Express”, composed of musical directors from various middle schools in South Florida. Mr. Brian has enjoyed his many years at Academy of Arts, but he’s even more excited about prospects for both he and the school in the years to come.
Mr. Eric (b. 1990) is a musician born in Maracaibo, Venezuela. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Composition from Florida International University. Mr. Eric began piano and solfège lessons at the age of four, followed by drum set and guitar lessons by the age of nine and twelve respectively. At the age of twelve, Mr. Eric started receiving music theory and guitar lessons for several years before finishing his high school studies. After moving to the United States, Mr. Eric began his Bachelor Degree in Music Composition under the teachings of Dr. Orlando Garcia. During this period, he won several awards and prizes including first place in Klezmer Company Orchestra’s 2014 Composition Competition for writing a Latin/Jazz tune that featured several Jewish folk tunes. He then obtained a second place in their 2015 Composition Competition by writing a fugue based on a Jewish folk tune arranged in a Jazz style for a Big Band ensemble. Mr. Eric was also selected to represent the south-east region as a semi-finalist in the national 2014 Rapido! Composition Competition. Mr. Eric enjoys writing music in a wide variety of styles. He is currently working as a music educator as well as a composer for motion pictures and video games.
Ms. Marisol was born in New York. A music major in college, she moved into a singing and acting career performing in Europe and throughout the United States. During a fulltime career as an actress, Ms. Marisol briefly continued her studies at The Lee Strasberg Institute for acting, and was trained in dance at Finis Young and Steps in New York. She has appeared in revivals of Cats as Grizabella, West Side Story as Anita, Oliver as Nancy, Kismet as Zubahdiya, Dreamgirls as Michelle, A Chorus Line as Maggie and South Pacific as Bloody Mary. She worked for Paul Simon as he developed his musical The Capeman from its inception in a Greenwich Village workshop through its run on Broadway. Her career has allowed her to work with known directors like; Bob Fosse, Jerry Zaks, Mark Morris, and many more. While living in Spain, she taught voice for three years at the Aula de la Musica, an affiliate of the U.S.-based Berklee College of Music. After 25 years of performing Ms. Marisol decided to take a break to raise a family. Ms. Marisol enjoys working with people of all ages
Mr. David was born in Venezuela where he began his ballet studies at Ballet Teresa Carreno. At the age of 14, he became a principal dancer with Ballet Nacionál de Caracas and performed the leads in all the great romantic ballets including Raymonda, George Sans, Swan Lake, Giselle, Romeo & Juliet and Don Quixote. While on tour in 1995, Mr. Fonnegra joined the Miami City Ballet with its legendary founding director, Edward Villella. During his seven years at Miami City Ballet, he danced many principal roles in their Balanchine repertoire in addition to the classics. In 2002, Mr. Fonnegra came to California dancing with State Street Ballet and Channel Island Ballet as a guest artist. In 2004 he joined Diablo Ballet, where he continues to perform and choreograph on the company. As a dancer with Diablo Ballet, Mr. Fonnegra has been featured in The Legend of Taj Mahal, Petrushka, Who Cares?, Stars and Stripes, Once upon a Ballroom, and Jazz Fever to name a few. He continues to be a sought-after guest artist in the United States, Europe, and South America: as a performer, teacher, and choreographer. He has taught extensively in the Bay Area for almost a decade for such organizations as Lines Ballet, Contra Costa Ballet, Benicia Ballet, Ayako Ballet School, Livermore Ballet school, Western Ballet, Diablo Ballet, and Peninsula Ballet Theatre as well as for New World School of the Arts (Miami), Ballet National De Caracas, and Houston Ballet.
Mr. Llimmy was born in La Habana, Cuba graduated from La Escuela Nacional de Arte Alicia Alonso. He has danced with dance companies all around the world. In Mexico, he won best male dancer in a competition. He was principal dancer in New York with the Rochester City Ballet. Other companies include; Trocadero Ballet, and Michael Moo. His other credits as a dancer include television shows, commercials and various club work throughout Florida and the United States. Mr. Llimy has gained Gold and Silver Medals in the International Festival de Ballet of Cuba. Mr. Llimy has performed with Jennifer Lopez, Thalia, Pilar Montenegro, Gloria Estefan, Yury, Ricky Martin, Alejandra Guzman, and Laura Leon. He has also performed for Paul Taylor Dance Company.
Mario Zelaya is a violinist native from Honduras. Zelaya started learning violin at the age of thirteen at the National School of Music in Honduras. In 2004, After two years of violin studies, Zelaya debuted as a soloist with the Chamber Orchestra of the National School of Music performing in a tour at the Santa Ana Theater in El Salvador, National Music conservatory hall in Guatemala, and National School of Music hall in Honduras. His passion and dedication for the violin have made him winner of different competitions. In 2005, Zelaya was awarded second prize and in 2006 first prize in the National Competition sponsored by the Japanese embassy in Honduras. In 2017, Zelaya was awarded first prize along with two special awards winner for the best Bach and virtuoso performance at Cremona International String Competition in Italy. He has served as violin instructor at Vivace Music Academy, MusicCaribe Project, and Parkland International Music Academy, teaching students from all levels and ages.
Through his career Zelaya has collaborated with great artists such as Elmar Oliveira, Guillermo Figueroa, Kathleen Battle, Miguel del Aguila, Fernando Raudales, Nestor Torres, and has received master classes from the great violinists James Buswell, Roberto Cani, Elmar Oliveira, Mark Lakirovich, Boro Martinic, Ilya Kaler and Andres Cardenes.
He actively participates in solo and chamber recitals nationally and internationally. His versatility allows him to perform during the year with Palm Beach Symphony, South Florida Symphony, Symphony of the Americas, Boca Symphonia and the Venice Symphony.
Ms. Effy is an accomplished dancer, dance teacher, and choreographer. In addition to Middle Eastern Dance, her dance education includes classic ballet, flamenco, and modern dance. Her ethnic background is an exotic blend of Greek and Peruvian. Ms. Effy is able to bring out the power and beauty of the feminine in her students and encourages the spirituality of the dance. As a belly dancer she combines Egyptian, Tribal and Gypsy styles, while adding her experience in ballet, Greek, and South American Dances. She is currently teaching and also performs at the Greek Restaurant Taverna Opa in Fort Lauderdale
Mr. Sigung was born in Caracas Venezuela, in 1979 he and his family moved to California and settled in Foster City. There, in California, Mr. Sifu and his brothers began their Kajukenbo training in the city of Burlingame under GM Frank Bianchi. In 1983 Mr. Sifu and his brother Augusto tested for and earned their 1st Degree Black Belt and the title of Sibak. Soon after the Black Belt test Mr. Sifu and family moved back to Venezuela, and in that same year, the brothers, their Instructor GM Bianchi and family opened Troconis Kajukenbo Karate and that Dojo is still in operation today. In 2011 Mr. Sifu started a Kajukenbo class in the city of Pembroke Pines, Florida at the YMCA Family Center of Pembroke Pines. In 2014 Mr. Sifu was promoted to the rank of Chief Instructor 5th Degree Black by his GM Frank Bianchi. Mr. Sifu’s class participated on their first open competition tournament in Dec. of 2012, and earned 22 first and second place designations in both Kumite and Kata. Mr. Sifu has been demonstrating and teaching the true values of Kajukenbo, Mind-Body-Spirit, and proudly upholds the art of Kajukenbo Legacy and the Chain of Command. Mr. Sifu is an instructor at Academy of Arts. KAJUKENBO FOREVER.
Ms. Clari has been a professional ballet dancer for over 12 years and trained in classical ballet. She began her career in Havana, Cuba. Clari has performed and toured with several acclaimed dance troupes. Possesses a degree in the field (Bachelor’s degree in dance) and always works hard to achieve perfection in each dance step, choreography, and as a teacher. She is self-motivated, task oriented and quick learner. Creative and innovative with passion about lyrics dance and modern styles.
Ms. Milena initiated her studies of classical dance in Caracas Venezuela at the school of Choreographic Art under the guidance of the teacher Maria Teresa Carrizo at the age of 10. She was part of the senior company Ballet Arte Coreografico under the tutelage of the Teacher Carrizo, playing figure rolls in the classical ballets Giselle, Paquita, Don Quixote, Le Corsair, La Sylphide, Swan Lake, Coppelia and in ballets of neoclassic cut choreographed by Maria Teresa Carrizo like Bolero de Ravel between others. At the age of 18 she is selected to join the lines of the company Balleto delL Arena di Verona, in Verona Italia. At the age of 19 she became part of the company Ballet Nacional de Caracas-Ballet Teresa Carre, under the guidance of Master Vicente Nebrada. Ms. Milena danced soloist rolls in the pieces choreographed by Master Nebrada: Romeo y Julieta, Nuestros Valses, Tarde en la Siesta, Pentimento, Bird of Fire, Double Eighth Note, Swan Lake, Coppelia, Don Quixote, George Sains and also selected by the company to participate in the ballets Serenade and Concerto Barroco from the famous choreographer George Balanchine.