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From Studio to Stage: 2016 Faculty

Amanda McKerrow & John Gardner, 2016 Artistic Directors

Amanda McKerrow has enjoyed a career as one of America’s acclaimed ballerinas. She has the honor of being the first American to receive a gold medal at the International Ballet Competition in Moscow in 1981. Since then, she has been the recipient of numerous other awards, among them the Princess Grace Foundation Dance Fellowship and the New York Woman Award for Dance.

McKerrow was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and began her ballet training at the Twinbrook School of Ballet in Rockville, Maryland, where she completed the syllabus of the Royal Academy of Dance. She then spent two years at the Metropolitan Academy of Dance where she studied the acclaimed Vaganova syllabus. She then studied at the Washington School of Ballet, under the direction of Mary Day, where she danced with the company for two years, touring extensively throughout the United States and Europe.

McKerrow joined American Ballet Theatre in 1982 under the direction of Mikhail Baryshnikov. She was appointed Soloist in 1983, and became a Principal Dancer in 1987. Her repertoire included the leading roles in Cinderella, Giselle, Romeo and Juliet, Manon, La Bayadere, Coppelia, Don Quixote, The Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake, La Sylphide, and The Nutcracker. She has received acclaim for her performances in shorter works by Antony Tudor, George Balanchine, Sir Frederick Ashton, Sir Kenneth MacMillan, Jerome Robbins, and Juri Killian. Ms. McKerrow has created roles in ballets by choreographers such as Agnes DeMille, Twyla Tharp, Mark Morris, Clark Tippet, Choo San Goh, and James Kudelka. She has also appeared extensively as a guest artist with ballet companies around the world.

In 2000, after having worked closely with him during his lifetime, McKerrow began staging the works of Antony Tudor for the Antony Tudor Ballet Trust. She also stages the ballets of Agnes DeMille and Benjamin Millepied, as well as the full length classics such as, Swan Lake, The Sleeping Beauty, Giselle, and Don Quixote. After retiring from performing in 2006, she devotes the majority of her time to teaching, coaching, and staging ballets for professional companies around the world. Among them, American Ballet Theatre, Atlanta Ballet, Royal New Zealand Ballet and Colorado Ballet. She is married to fellow dancer and repetiteur, John Gardner.

John Gardner was born in Lafayette, Louisiana, where he began his ballet training with Gwen Ashton. He subsequently trained at the National Academy of Dance in Champaign, Illinois, under the direction of Michael Maule. He received a scholarship to the American Ballet Theatre School summer program in 1977, and was invited to join the second company thereafter. In 1978 Mr. Gardner joined the main company of American Ballet Theatre, and was promoted to the rank of Soloist in 1984. Mr. Gardner’s diverse repertoire included many Soloist and Principal roles, represented an extensive range of styles, and afforded him the opportunity to work with many of the master choreographers of the twentieth century, including Antony Tudor, George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins, Agnes DeMille, Martha Graham, and Twyla Tharp.

In 1991 Gardner was invited to dance with Mikhail Baryshnikov’s White Oak Dance Project. He danced with the company for five years, and worked closely with many acclaimed modern dance choreographers, most notably Merce Cunningham, Paul Taylor, Mark Morris, Lar Lubovitch, and David Gordan. Mr. Gardner created numerous roles during his time with White Oak Dance Project, and toured extensively throughout the United States, Europe, Asia, South America, and Australia. He returned to American Ballet Theatre as a Soloist in 1996, and continued to perform with the company  until 2002.

After retiring from the stage Mr. Gardner began to pursue a career as a teacher and coach. He taught the graded level program at Ballet Academy East in New York City for three years. During this time he also taught at various dance studios around the city, including Broadway Dance, where he had the privilege of working as a substitute teacher for the Master Teacher David Howard upon his request. Mr. Gardner has enjoyed his development as a teacher, coach, ballet master, and choreographer over the years, and has worked extensively at both the professional and student levels. He is a sanctioned repetiteur for the Antony Tudor Ballet Trust, and also stages the ballets of Agnes DeMille and Benjamin Millepied. He has been invited to work in these many capacities for ballet companies and schools around the world, including American Ballet Theatre, Colorado Ballet, Ballet West, Houston Ballet, Atlanta Ballet, Royal New Zealand Ballet, and Washington Ballet. Mr. Gardner is married to fellow dancer and repetiteur Amanda McKerrow.

Vicente Hernandez

Preparacion Fisica

Founder of Preparacion Fisica for the Cuban National Ballet School, Vicente Hernandez was born in Villa Clara, Cuba.  As a child, he studied gymnastics and later became a member of the Cuban National Gymnastics Team.   After retirement from gymnastics, Mr. Hernandez studied and received his Masters in Sports Training with the Physical Cultural Superior Institute in Cuba, and in 1984 founded the Physical Preparation Curriculum for the Cuban National Ballet School.  During this time, he trained students in the school including currently world renowned artists:  Carlos Acosta, Jose Manuel Carreño and Xiomara Reyes.  Due to the amazing results of his curriculum, Principal Dancers of the National Ballet of Cuba began to work privately with him as a trainer.  Prima Ballerina Absolute, Alicia Alonso worked with him for two months to increase her strength.    In 1989, he collaborated with the Cuballets of Centro Pro-Danza and traveled to Brazil and Sweden.  During this time, he worked with Principal Dancers of the Royal Swedish Ballet Company.  In 1987, working directly with Ramona De Saa, the director of the Cuban National Ballet School, he created and coordinated the Physical Preparation Methodology for dancers.  This enhanced his program so that others could study his methods.  In 1991, he participated in the Pan American Games Sports Medicine Congress where he collaborated with ballet schools from Argentina, Chile, Mexico, Venezuela and Peru.  That year, he also presented his work in the 3rd International Artistic Teaching Congress.  In 1993, he worked for two months with the City Ballet Company of Sao Paolo, Brazil as well as working as the Physical Preparation Trainer for the Paula Castro School of Ballet.  In 1994, he launched his book, The Physical Conditioning for Dancers and Athletes in Vitoria, ES, Brazil.  During his time in Brazil he rehabilitated and trained Renata Pavan, a member of American Ballet Theatre and also prepared dancers for International Ballet Competitions including principal dancer, Eddy Tovar formerly with Texas Ballet Theater and Amilcar Moret, a member of Hamburg Ballet.  In 2008, he trained dancers of Orlando Ballet and Orlando Ballet 2 and worked with the students of the Milwaukee Ballet School.  Mr. Hernandez also holds licenses for Quiro Acupuncture, Japanese Chiropractor, Electrical Therapy, Fitoterapia and Aikido. 

Susannah Marchese

Dance Interim Chair

Before stepping in as HCD’s Interim Chair of Dance, Ms. Marchese served as a faculty member and rehearsal assistant for four years. Originally from New York, Ms. Marchese began her ballet training with Leda and Andre Eglevsky. She apprenticed with the Eglevsky Ballet and returned later as a principal dancer. After spending several years as a principal dancer with Ballet Omaha, Ms. Marchese returned to the East Coast to join The Hartford Ballet under the directorship of Michael Uthoff. 

In 1994, Susannah joined the Broadway show The Phantom Of The Opera. Ms. Marchese has danced at Radio City Music Hall, New York City Opera, The Metropolitan Opera, James Sewell Ballet in Minnesota, and has danced in countries around the world including Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Uruguay, Chile, Brazil, Argentina and Canada. Ms. Marchese has taught ballet at the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts and for 15 years was owner of PHIT Pilates Studio in Hartford.

For more information, contact the Hartt Community Division office at (860) 768-6000 or dancedesk@hartford.edu

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