Sonja Alitalo was born in Finland and started dancing at a very early age. After graduating from The Conservatory of Turku with honors, she was offered a contract first with the Estonian National Ballet, and then later with the Finnish National Ballet. She danced both as a member of the corps de ballet and as a soloist in Giselle, Swan Lake, Nutcracker, La Bayadere, Don Quijote, and The Conservatoire (Bournonville). Sonja then continued her studies in The Theatre Academy of Helsinki and graduated with a Master of Arts in dance in 2009.
Sonja started teaching ballet in 1998 and has since taught as a guest at The School of Finnish National Ballet, The Conservatory of Turku, Helsinki Dance Institution, Nostos Tanztheater in Heidelberg, Germany, among others, and has been a long time member of the faculty at Dance Studio Footlight (Helsinki, Finland), and Aki Kato Tanzforum (Mannheim, Germany).
Sonja’s awards include First Prize in the 1992 International Ballet Competition (Berlin, Germany) and National Competition “Arktiset Askeleet” in 1993. She also danced a solo in documentary film ‘Master Classes with Maya Plisetskaya” (1993, Yle) in Mikkeli, Finland.
Sonja has studied a wide range of ballet methods, including Vaganova, Bournonville, Franklin, and Forsythe. She is also a certified STOTT pilates instructor.
A native New Yorker, Stephen James trained at School of American Ballet in New York City and American Dance Theater in Herricks, NY. He studied at Ailey School as a fellowship student and graduated from State University of New York (S.U.N.Y.) Purchase College in White Plains, NY with a B.F.A. in Dance.
Stephen spent summers training with Miami City Ballet, Alonzo King’s Lines Ballet, Ballet Austin, and Dance International New York in Spain and New York. He performed with Kazuko Hirabayashi Dance Theater, apprenticed with Staatstheater Nürnberg Ballett in Nürnberg, Germany and danced as a member of the second company at Ballet Hispanico “BHdos”. Stephen has also performed with the Eglevsky Ballet, RG Dance Project, and company dancer with Verb Ballets of Cleveland, OH, and company dancer with Ballet Nebraska of Omaha, NE.
Stephen is a member of José Mateo Ballet Theatre’s professional company.
Nora attended Mount Holyoke College where she received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Dance and Psychology (cum laude). During her college years, she performed in concerts through the Five College Dance Department as well as choreographed and composed original work. Nora performed in MHC faculty members Terese Freedman’s and Jim Coleman’s Do Run Run and Peter Jones’ A Tiny Adventure. Additionally, she performed in Hampshire College alumna Ailey Picasso’s piece, Notions.
Nora was the co-artistic director of student-run, student-choreographed/performed dance concert, Emergence. Her piece in this concert, Through and Through, was selected to be performed at ACDA New England Conference, in SUNY Potsdam, NY, March 2017. Nora was again co-artistic director for her senior capstone concert, Semicolon. Her piece, The Ways We Come By was composed to original music in collaboration with Nancy Hair (cellist).
Nora is the recipient of the Betty Grenier Dance Award and Important Choreographic Contribution Award, given by Mount Holyoke College Dance Department.
Nora taught Pre-Ballet at Massachusetts Academy of Ballet (Holyoke, MA). Nora is currently working towards her Master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling with a Specialization in Dance/Movement Therapy at Lesley University.
Rachel Ann Burke is a Cambridge native. She received her early training under Larissa Luvisichuk in the Vaganova method then went on to study at Boston Ballet and Jose Mateo Ballet Theatre. She also spent summers at American Ballet Theatre, Joffrey Ballet, and Alonzo King’s Lines Ballet.
Following her early education she went on to receive her B.F.A from The Boston Conservatory under partial scholarship where she studied ballet pedagogy under Donna Silva.
Since then she has danced with various companies in the Boston area including Contrapose Dance, BalletRox and is currently dancing with Jose Mateo Ballet Theatre.
Patricia was born in Columbus, OH and raised in Concord, MA. She is a graduate of Josè Mateo Ballet Theatre’s Young Dancers Program, where she danced with their pre-professional performance group, YouthWorks. She has also trained with Boston Ballet, Atlanta Ballet, and the Nutmeg Conservatory.
Patricia joined Josè Mateo Ballet Theatre as an apprentice in 2010 and became a full company member in 2011. She is also a member of the teaching faculty at Jose Mateo Ballet Theatre and is pursuing a degree in psychology from the Harvard University Extension School.
Angie DeWolf was born and raised in Greenville, Pennsylvania. She credits her dance training to Sharon Filone at Lake Erie Ballet (Erie, PA), Barbara Banasikowski Smith at Greater Lansing Ballet and the Michigan State University Repertory Dance Company.
Angie is a graduate of Michigan State University where she received her Pre-Med degree and danced professionally with the Greater Lansing Ballet Company. In addition, Angie was involved in a cultural exchange with The Vaganova Ballet of St. Petersburg, Russia and is a proud faculty member at José Mateo Ballet Theatre’s school.
Originally from Stoneham, MA, Janelle developed her skills and expertise through studies at Harriet Hoctor Ballet School, Boston Ballet School, José Mateo Ballet Theatre, Broadway Theater Project, Concord Academy and Dance Theater of Harlem. She earned her BFA in Dance from the University of Hartford, CT.
She has danced professionally with the Hartford Ballet, New Jersey Ballet, BalletRox, Legends in Concert, Celebrity Cruises, Anna Myer, David Parker, and Island Moving Company. Janelle is a member of the Screen Actors Guild and has held small roles in several major movie productions, including 27 Dresses. She has also worked as company manager for BalletRox in the Boston Public Schools.
Janelle is currently on faculty at José Mateo Ballet Theatre in Cambridge and is excited to have recently joined the faculty of José Mateo Ballet Theatre’s Dorchester location as the School Principal.
In addition to her professional pursuits, Janelle is a local choreographer, and a supporter of the local dance community, working to elevate dance appreciation for the arts.
For more info go to www.janellegilchrist.com
Magdalena Gyftopoulos received her dance training at the Boston Ballet School with Anne-Marie Holmes, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, and José Mateo Ballet Theatre Young Dancer’s Program as a scholarship student.
Magdalena joined the company at José Mateo Ballet Theatre in 2006, and is a member of the teaching faculty.
In addition, Magdalena has worked with various other dance companies in the Boston area including Mariah Steele’s QuickSilver Dance, Tony Williams’ BalletRox, and Contrapose Dance where she has had the opportunity to work with choreographers David Parker, Sydney Skybetter, and Gianni Di Marco.
Marissa began teaching ballet at the age of 15 in Western Mass. Since then she has taught, choreographed, and rehearsed ages 4 through adult across the state. In 2014, she completed the RAD intermediate vocational studies, receiving a high distinction mark in the vocational exam. She graduated from Vassar College with a major in economics and a minor in math and, in addition to her teaching, works as a policy research analyst in Cambridge.
Marissa’s ballet teaching is most heavily influenced by the RAD and Vaganova techniques, having trained with RAD certified teacher and RAD Solo Seal dancer, Joanna Duncan, as well as Vaganova Ballet Academy MFA graduate, Irina Vakhromeeva. Marissa strongly believes that everyone has the potential to be a dancer with the correct understanding of body mechanics and technique processes. Her goal with any student is to provide an environment where they can comfortably workshop to develop strength, articulation, and artistry that stems from the beauty in the why and how of ballet execution.
Bettina Indaco was raised in Holland and trained at The Royal Conservatoire in The Hague. She studied with teachers Linda Goss, Wim Vreeken, Sulamith Messerer, and Sonia Matcholli and was featured in a ballet documentary about the prestigious Conservatoire, Stap voor Stap.
After graduating and receiving her degree with high honors dancing the lead in Les Sylphides, she joined The Dutch National Ballet in Amsterdam and performed in Europe and Asia. She has performed in traditional ballets such as The Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake, Giselle, Cinderella, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and The Nutcracker in which her leading roles included Snow Queen and Dewdrop. She performed in contemporary ballets by Balanchine, such as Concerto Barroco, Serenade, Diamonds, Symphony in C, and The Four Temperaments. She has also performed in many ballets of Rudi van Danzig, Hans van Maanen, and Jiri Kylian.
In 1990, Bettina Indaco joined Ballet Theatre of Boston as a soloist and danced in Boston and throughout Massachusetts in ballets by Jose Mateo. Indaco has taught at Ballet Theatre of Boston since 1996.
In addition to teaching, Indaco holds master’s degrees in Dutch, English and Spanish.
Cuban-born José Mateo is the Founder and Artistic Director of José Mateo Ballet Theatre. For over 30 years, he has lead the José Mateo Ballet Theatre’s Young Dancers Program, a ballet school that offers an innovative model for a high-quality academy with a humanistic approach to ballet training that fosters diversity and inclusion.
In 2017, Mr. Mateo was the recipient of the Massachusetts Cultural Council’s 2017/18 Commonwealth Award for Achievement – the state’s highest honor in the arts, sciences and humanities.
Mr. Mateo continues to teach in the Young Dancers Program, working with our most advanced students and the YouthWorks, pre-professional dancers.
To read Mr. Mateo’s full biography, click here.
Jean (George) began his dance training as a scholarship student at the Academie de Danse Regine Mont-Rosier Trouillot in Haiti in 2002, where he studied ballet, jazz, contemporary and modern dance.
In 2005, he joined the Jean Rene Delsoin Company Dance Project in Haiti. In 2008, he studied Arte Dramatico and Dance Contemporary at the Escuela Nacional de Danza de Bellas Artes in the Dominican Republic. George studied at Études de Ballet & Co. in 2009, and he passed his Royal Academy of Dance Intermediate Exam with Distinction.
George has danced professionally with Ballethenic Dance Company in East Point, Georgia; Ballet Roto in the Dominican Republic; and Tony Williams Dance Company’s Outside the Box, in Boston.
In 2009 he participated in José Mateo Ballet Theatre’s Summer Intensive & Pre-Professionals Program where he was invited to join the company as an apprentice upon completion. In 2010, George became a full company member and danced with JMBT through 2015.
From 2015-2017, George moved his focus from from professional dancing to teaching. He has been a dance instructor and Director of the Modern Dance Program at Etudes de Ballet, Naples FL, Center Stage Dance Studio in Melrose MA and was the head dance instructor at the Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Naples FL, where he won first place in the competition for the Florida Regional.
Presently, George is teaching at José Mateo Ballet Theatre, BalletRox and spontaneous Celebrations, a program focusing on integrating dance in the Boston Public Schools.
In November 2017, George rejoined José Mateo Ballet Theatre as a member of the professional company.
After first dancing in José Mateo Ballet Theatre’s production of The Nutcracker, Yenthl joined the JMBT’s Young Dancers Program to continue her ballet training and later performed with the school’s pre-professional group Youthworks until graduating from high school.
In addition to ballet, Yenthl has had the opportunity to perform other types of dance across New England, including Bhangra, classical West African Dance and Haitian Folkloric Dance.
Yenthl studied at the University of New Hampshire where she earned her B.S. in Biology and was an active member of the community.
Julia was introduced to dance at the age of three with the Medina Academy of Classical Ballet. There she completed Grades III-V with distinction. Later becoming the teaching assistant to the Creative Movement and Pre-Ballet classes at the age of thirteen. She was selected to join the Ohio Youth Ballet Company. She went on to Cincinnati and attended The School of Creative and Performing Arts. She was among the student dancers selected to represent the school while performing in Japan.
After high school, Julia chose to attend the College Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati. She completed her BFA as a Dance Major with emphasis in ballet, while simultaneously completing all prerequisites for a Masters Degree in Physical Therapy.
Julia is a certified instructor of the Burdenko Method at the The Burdenko Water and Sports Therapy Institute. She has also has trained under the Royal Academy of Dance, Vaganova, Balanchine, Cecchetti, and Paul Taylor techniques.
Julia has taught and danced professionally with the Cincinnati Ballet, Albany Berkshire Ballet, Ballet Quad Cities, Burklyn Ballet Theatre, South Shore Conservatory and the Jose Mateo Ballet Theatre. She feels that providing dancers a well rounded curriculum, blended with the joy of dance are keys to success.
She received a BFA in Dance Performance from The Hartt School, University of Hartford under direction of Stephen Pier in 2014. There she performed Martha Graham’s “Dark Meadow Suite: They Who Dance Together” at The Joyce Soho in New York as an original cast member of Peggy Lyman-Hayes’ 2011 revision and as the lead dancer “Eliza” in “The King and I” at The Muny, St. Louis, in 2012.
Some of her most memorable roles include the lead in “Paquita”, Balanchine’s “Who Cares”, “Four Temperaments”, and numerous contemporary works by choreographers such as Helen Pickett, Emory Lecrone, Viktor Plotnikov and Charlotte Griffin.
Ms Tamura is a Dizzy Feet Foundation Scholarship Recipient (2011-2012).
Haruka joined José Mateo Ballet Theatre in 2014.
Joan began her classical ballet training at the Boston School of Ballet at the age of 7, then continued her ballet education with the Dance Theatre of Harlem upon graduating from high school and performed with the DTH Workshop Ensemble. She danced professionally with José Mateo Ballet Theatre (1989-1992). During Joan’s time as a JMBT company member, she was also a faculty member and taught in the Young Dancers Program and in the summers of 2006 and 2007, Joan was a guest faculty member and taught in the Summer Intensive Program and Elementary Program while visiting and vacationing in Boston while living in Florida.
With Joan’s residential move to Florida along with raising her son and daughter, she took a 13 year break from dancing professionally. In 2005, Joan discovered and auditioned for LaVerne Reed Productions’ The Chocolate Nutcracker, a multicultural take on the traditional one where she danced ballet, jazz, modern and hip hop. In addition to performing seasonally with this company (2005-2011), Joan was the director’s assistant, ballet choreographer and rehearsal director having to know and teach set choreography from show’s beginning to show’s end. Joan’s highlight of her career was opening up for an Orlando Magic basketball game in 2009 where she danced hip hop, performing from a Chocolate Nutcracker scene called “Land of Funk”.
Joan feels blessed that her childhood passion has been her career. Even after retirement from dancing professionally, she continued to pursue her lifelong passion of ballet by teaching and inspiring other young dancers. She offers over ten years teaching experience with young children of all ages in the beginning through intermediate levels a sound foundation for the techniques of classical ballet training. In addition to teaching ballet, Joan has also taught tap, jazz, hip hop and Latin cardio dance classes.
Last year, Joan relocated back to Boston and was part of the founding of the Young Dancers Program in Dorchester. She currently teaches Saturday’s Creative Dance I & 2 classes in the Dorchester studio and administratively, she works at both studio locations.
Upon the receipt of a Ford Foundation Scholarship she continued her studies at the School of American Ballet in New York City where she trained with Stanley Williams, Suki Schorer, and Alexandra Danilova among others. While at SAB, Ms. Thompson danced soloist roles in the Annual Workshop performances and was invited to audition for, and subsequently joined, Makarova and Company under the direction of Natalia Makarova.
Ms. Thompson received additional training from Marie Paquet and Fhinis Jhung, before joining the Berkshire Ballet as a soloist where she progressed to Principal status and danced lead roles in Coppelia, Cinderella, The Nutcracker, Antony Tudor’s Little Improvisations and several works by Francis Patrelle. After three years at the Berkshire Ballet,
Ms. Thompson joined Ballet Michigan where she danced lead roles in Loyce Houlton’s Beauty and the Beast, and Le Corsaire Pas de Deux, as well as other original works by Jill Bahr and Kevin Milam.
In 1988, Ms. Thompson returned to the Boston area and began working full time for JMBT as both a dancer with the Company and a teacher in the school. Over the next several years, Ms. Thompson took on a more prominent teaching role in the organization not only as a faculty member in both the Adult and Young Dancers Programs, but also as a rehearsal assistant with the Company. Ms. Thompson has served as Principal of the Young Dancers Program, Director of the Summer Intensive Program, Youthworks director and Ballet Mistress for the Company.
In addition to her work with JMBT, Ms. Thompson has taught at several area studios as well as serving as a guest teacher for Companies and schools in the New England area.
Kendra Thyne is a dance teacher and Pilates instructor based in Concord, Massachusetts.
Native to Northern California, Kendra was a company member with Oakland Ballet for many years where she performed their vast repertoire of works, from Antony Tudor’s Lilac Garden to Eugene Loring’s Billy the Kid. She especially treasured dancing the role of Desdemona in Jose Limon’s The Moor’s Pavane.
Kendra has also danced professionally with Winifred R. Harris’s Between Lines in Los Angeles and Margaret Wingrove Dance Company in San Jose, California. She was choreographer and liveaction reference for the Steadfast Tin Soldier segment in Walt Disney’s Fantasia 2000.
Kendra holds a BFA degree in Ballet from The University of the Arts in Philadelphia. While studying for her degree, she danced one of her favorite roles, The Waltz Girl from George Balachine’s Serenade.
Kendra has worked as a dance instructor for all ages. She has taught Creative Dance for children as young as 18 months, choreographed Broadway shows for performers at gradeschool level, and taught adult students who are new or returning to Ballet.
Recently relocated from New Jersey, Kendra is thrilled to be in New England and teaching at JMBT. She owns Kendra Thyne Pilates in Concord, where she lives with her husband and four beautiful children.
Kendra is currently on a leave of absence.