Select master artists in dance

Debbie Allen | Debbie Allen, a BFA graduate of Howard University in Theater and Classical Greek Studies is an award-winning director/choreographer who has choreographed the Academy Awards a record ten times. She has directed and choreographed for legendary artists such as Michael Jackson, Mariah Carey, James Earl Jones, Phylicia Rashad, Janet Jackson, Whitney Houston, Gwen Verdon, Lena Horne and Sammy Davis, Jr. Ms. Allen received the Golden Globe for her role as Lydia Grant in the 1980s hit series Fame, and is a three-time Emmy Award winner in Choreography for the series Fame and The Motown 25th. Awarded ten Image Awards as director, actress, choreographer and producer for Fame, A Different World, Motown 25th, The Academy Awards, The Debbie Allen Special and Amistad, she has also directed the best that Network TV offers, including Scandal, How To Get Away With Murder, Jane The Virgin, Empire and currently serves as directing Executive Producer of Grey’s Anatomy.  She is the daughter of Vivian Ayers and Dr. Andrew Allen, wife to NBA All-Star Norman Nixon and mother of Vivian and Thump. She dedicates this work to the life of Ms. Edna Owen Anderson, a champion for the young people of our world.

Lillian Rose Barbeito | Lillian is the Co-Director of BODYTRAFFIC. Lillian has a BFA from The Juilliard School, where she studied on a four year, full tuition scholarship awarded by Tomorrow’s Leaders of America for her essay about dancing with mixed abilities. She appeared at the 2006 and 2007 Grammy's with String Theory and in several music videos and feature films including projects with Angela Luna, Beruit and Spike Lee. Lillian has taught for a wide range of institutions such as CalArts, Lyon Opera Ballet, Idyllwild Arts Academy, Northwest Dance Project, San Francisco Conservatory of Dance, Southland Ballet Academy, Westside Academy of Dance, The Wooden Floor, and UCLA's Department of World Arts and Cultures. She is one of 20 instructors in the world who is certified to teach Anouk Van Dijk’s revolutionary Countertechnique. 

Mikhail Baryshnikov | Mikhail Baryshnikov is considered one of the greatest dancers of our time. After commencing a career with the Kirov Ballet in Leningrad, he became a principal dancer with American Ballet Theatre (ABT) in 1974. In 1979 he joined New York City Ballet, where he worked with George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins. In 1980 he began a decade-long tenure as artistic director of ABT. From 1990-2002, Mr. Baryshnikov was director and dancer of the White Oak Dance Project, a modern dance company he co-founded with choreographer Mark Morris. In 2005, he launched Baryshnikov Arts Center (BAC) in New York City. Among Mr. Baryshnikov’s many awards are the Kennedy Center Honors, the National Medal of Honor, the Commonwealth Award, the Chubb Fellowship, the Jerome Robbins Award, and the 2012 Vilcek Award. In 2010, he was given the rank of Officer of the French Legion of Honor.

Jacques d'Amboise | Recognized as one of the finest classical dancers of our time, d'Amboise now leads the field of arts education with a model program that exposes thousands of school children to the magic and discipline of dance. In 1976, while still a principal dancer with the New York City Ballet, Mr. d’Amboise founded the National Dance Institute in the belief that the arts have a unique power to engage and motivate individuals towards excellence. Mr. d’Amboise was a protégé of Balanchine’s and had more works choreographed specifically for him by “The Ballet Master” than any other dancer and is most remembered for his portrayal of what critics called “the definitive Apollo.”

Michelle Ellsworth | 2011 USA Arts Knight Fellow and Director of the University of Colorado Dance Department. Known for teaching interdisciplinary courses that combine dance, theater, science, music and film. Her work has been featured at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, DanceTheaterWorkshop, Diverseworks, The Sushi Gallery, The Telluride Experimental Film Festival, and the Solo Mio.
John Heginbotham | Brooklyn-based choreogra­pher, performer and teacher John Heginbotham graduated from The Juilliard School in 1993 with a BFA in Dance. John was a member of the Mark Morris Dance Group (MMDG) from 1998 – 2012, performing lead roles in L’Allegro, il Penseroso, ed il Mod­eratoThe Hard NutFour Saints in Three Acts; and Romeo and Juliet: On Motifs of Shakespeare. During his time with MMDG, he toured across the United States and abroad alongside artists including Mikhail Baryshnikov, Yo-Yo Ma, Emanuel Ax, The Bad Plus, and Zakir Hussain, and performed with opera companies including The Metropolitan Opera, New York City Opera and the English National Opera. He is the recipient of the Martha Hill Prize for Sustained Achievement in Dance.

Bill T. Jones | Choreographer, dancer, theater director and writer. Honors include MacArthur “Genius” Award and Kennedy Center Honors. Inducted into the American Academy of Arts & Sciences and named “An Irreplaceable Dance Treasure” by the Dance Heritage Coalition. Tony Awards for Best Choreography in Spring Awakening and FELA!, the musical he co-conceived, co-wrote and directed.   

Ralph Lemon | A choreographer, conceptualist, director, writer, and installation artist, Lemon is artistic director of Cross Performance, Inc. His works include the multimedia collaboration How Can You Stay in the House All Day and Not Go Anywhere? and the epic cycle, The Geography Trilogy. Honors include the Alpert Award in the Arts and a Guggenheim Fellowship.

Julie Kent | Julie Kent is a principal dancer with American Ballet Theatre. Her roles with the ABT include the title role in Anastasia, Terpsichore and Calliope in Apollo, Nikiya in La Bayadère and the title role in Cinderella, among many others. Honors include the Prix de Lausanne International Ballet Competition and the Erik Bruhn Prize. She is the only American ever to have won the “Prix Benois de la Danse.”

Philip Neal | 1986 YoungArts Winner in Dance and U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts | Philip Neal is the Artistic Director of Next Generation Ballet and Dean of Dance for Patel Conservatory at the STRAZ Center in Tampa, Florida. After a 23-year tenure with New York City Ballet, including 17 years as a principal dancer, Philip represents the George Balanchine Trust and the Jerome Robbins Rights Trust as a Répétiteur, staging the ballets of both legendary choreographers throughout the world. He has also successfully embarked on choreographic ventures, having crafted five original works for Richmond Ballet and participated in the New York Choreographic Institute & National Choreographers Initiative. 

Jorge "Fabel" Pabon | A senior member of the Rock Steady Crew and an honorary member of the Electric Boogaloos, Fabel is also co-founder of GhettOriginal Productions Inc. With GhettOriginal, he co-authored, co-directed and co-choreographed the first two hip hop musicals ever, So! What Happens Now? and Jam on the Groove. As an adjunct professor, Fabel teaches movement in the Experimental Theater Wing at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. He also gives lectures, demonstrations and master classes and participates in outreach programs and conferences internationally.

Victor Quijada | From the hip-hop clubs of Los Angeles to a performance career with internationally acclaimed dance companies such as THARP!, Ballet Tech and Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, Victor Quijada has gained a rare perspective on a large spectrum of dance. In 2002, Victor created his dance company, RUBBERBANDance Group, and has toured his work across North America and in Europe, Japan and Mexico. He has created stage works for Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Pacific Northwest Ballet and Scottish Dance Theatre, among others, and his award- winning short films have been screened around the world. From 2007 to 2011, Victor was an artist-in-residence at the Cinquième Salle of Place des Arts in Montreal. In 2015, he became an artist-in-residence at the newly founded Glorya Kaufman School of Dance at the University of Southern California (USC). He received a Princess Grace Awards Choreographic Fellowship in 2010. 

Desmond Richardson | 1986 YoungArts Winner in Dance and U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts | Artistic Director/Co-founder, Complexions Dance Company. Master of ballet, modern, and contemporary dance. Former principal Alvin Ailey American Dance Company and American Ballet Theatre. Performances featured on Broadway, television, and film including appearances with Michael Jackson, Madonna, and the Oscar-winning Chicago. Honors include The Ailey School's Apex Award; Dance Magazine Award; and Capezio Dance Award.

Reggie Wilson | An inaugural Doris Duke Artist, Reggie Wilson is a graduate of New York University, Tisch School of the Arts (1988, Larry Rhodes, Chair). He has studied composition and been mentored by Phyllis Lamhut; Performed and toured with Ohad Naharin before forming Fist and Heel.  He has lectured, taught and conducted extended workshops and community projects throughout the US, Africa, Europe and the Caribbean.

YoungArts would also like to thank our extraordinary group of discipline coordinators, national reviewers and selection panelists in the Dance discipline.