Julio Bocca (Argentina)
Bocca began his studies under the tutelage of his mother Nancy Bocca. His professional career began in 1982, as a Principal Dancer with the Teresa Carreño Foundation in Venezuela, and the Municipal Theater of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. In 1985, he was awarded the Gold Medal at the 5th Moscow International Ballet Competition. He joined the American Ballet Theater in 1986, where he was Principal Dancer until 2006.
He performed as Guest Artist in the world's most important ballet companies, and partnered many leading dancers. He danced his farewell on December 22nd 2007 in Buenos Aires before an audience of nearly 300,000. In 2010 he was appointed Artistic Director of the BNS – SODRE National Ballet Company by Uruguayan President Mr. José Mujica.
Julio Bocca has been in jury of many competitions in Moscow, China, Korea, the Youth America Grand Prix, and President for Prix de Lausanne.
Silvia Azzoni (Italy / Germany)
Principal Dancer, Hamburg Ballet.
Born in Turin, Silvia Azzoni completed her dance education at the Turin School of Ballet and the School of the Hamburg Ballet. Engaged by the Hamburg Ballet in 1993, she was promoted to soloist in 1996 and to principal in 2001.
Azzoni has performed main roles in various ballet productions by John Neumeier, Sir Frederick Ashton, Pierre Lacotte, Jerome Robbins, Vaslav Nijinsky and numerous other master choreographers of all time.
Her repertoire and most well-received roles include: Titania and Helena in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Marguerite Gautier, Manon Lescaut and Prudence in Lady of the Camellias, Juliet in Romeo and Juliet, Aurora and Princess Florine in the Sleeping Beauty, Marie in the Nutcracker, Nikiya in La Beyadère, Lise in La Fille Mal Gardée, the title roles in Cinderella, The Little Mermaid, Giselle, as well as La Sylphide, La Sacre du Printemps, Peer Gynt, Daphnis and Chloe, Petrushka, A Streetcar Named Desired and many more.
Azzoni won the Dr.-Wilhelm-Oberdörffer-Prize in 1996, the Les Étoile de Ballet 2000 Dance Award and Danza & Danza “Best Italian Dancer Abroad” Award in 2004. She won the Rolf Mares Prize for the Hamburg Theaters 2006/2007 in the category “Outstanding Performance” for her performance in The Little Mermaid. The same role also brought her a Benois de la Danse award in 2008.
Kader Belarbi (France)
Ballet Director of the Théâtre du Capitole.
After studying choreography at the Opéra de Paris’s dance school, he joined the corps de ballet in 1980. He was named danseur étoile in 1989. He has been associated with numerous global creations arranged by major choreographers with different styles such as Roland Petit, Rudolf Nureyev, John Neumeier, George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins, Maurice Béjart, Maguy Marin, Dominique Bagouet, Saburo Teshigawara, Jirí Kylián, William Forsythe, Mats Ek and Pina Bausch.
A choreographer in his own right, Kader Belarbi has written some 30 ballets for the Ballet de l’Opéra de Paris, Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, National Ballet of China, Ballet of the Grand Théâtre de Genève and more. Works include Giselle et Willy, Salle des pas perdus, Les Saltimbanques, Hurlevent, La Bête et la Belle, Entrelacs, Le Mandarin Merveilleux, etc.
For the Ballet du Capitole, which he has been directing since 2012, he has created Liens de table, À nos Amours, La Reine morte, Étranges Voisins, Entrelacs, Le Corsaire, La Bête et la Belle, Bach-Suite III, Giselle , Mur-Mur, Don Quixote and The Nutcracker. In 2017, the Professional Association of Theatre, Music and Dance Critics awarded him the Prize of "The Best Choreographic Personality of the Year".
Angel Corella (U.S.A. / Spain)
Angel Corella is regarded as one of the finest dancers of his generation. His talent, passion, and technique have brought him worldwide acclaim and established him as one of the most recognizable names in dance. Angel was appointed artistic director of Pennsylvania Ballet from 2014/2015 season.
Angel joined American Ballet Theatre in 1995 and quickly rose to the rank of principal dancer. Throughout his 17-year career with them, he performed such iconic roles as Prince Siegfried in Swan Lake, Romeo in Romeo and Juliet, and the Nutcracker Prince in The Nutcracker. He has also appeared as a guest artist with the Royal Ballet in London, the Kirov Ballet in Russia, and New York City Ballet. He has received numerous awards, including 1st prize in the National Ballet Competition in Spain (1991), the Prix Benois de la Danse (2000), and the National Award of Spain (2003). He has danced for Queen Elizabeth II, Queen Sophia of Spain, and for Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama.
From 2008 to 2014, he served as director for his own company, the Barcelona Ballet (formerly the Corella Ballet), the first classical ballet company established in his native Spain in 20 years. While Angel retired from American Ballet Theater in June 2012, he continued to dance with his own company.
A passionate teacher and mentor to young professional dancers, Angel has taught at various summer programs as well as leading dance schools, including the Royal Ballet School in London. He now applies that same passion, verve, and balletic insight to the dancers of Pennsylvania Ballet.
Viviana Durante (Italy / UK)
Ms. Durante received her training and education at Royal Ballet School. After graduation, she continued her career as a ballet dancer at the Royal Ballet from 1984 to 2000 where she was promoted to the Principal in 1989. From 1990, she has been performing as Guest Artist in many world renowned ballet companies.
Her repertoire includes almost every classical ballet and many more modern and English-style art works. Artists like MacMillan, Wayne McGregor, Ashley Page, William Tuckett, David Bintley and Amedeo Amodio have all created roles for her in their pieces.
Ms. Durante was invited to be the teacher, coach, choreographer and jury member in many international competitions, such as 2011 and 2016 Prix de Lausanne, 2011 Ursula Moreton Choreographic Awards, 2016 Kenneth MacMillan Choreographic Award, etc.
Her awards and honours include 1984 Prix de Lausanne, 1990-2000 "Dancer of the Year" in the UK, Italy, Japan and Chile, Evening Standard Award and Time Out Awards.
Yuriko Kajiya (Japan)
Principal Dancer, Houston Ballet.
Born in Nagoya, Japan, Yuriko Kajiya began her training at the age of eight. At ten, she moved to China and became one of the first foreign students to graduate with scholarship from the Shanghai Ballet School.
In 1997, at age 13, Kajiya won the Best Performance Award at the Tao Li Bei National Ballet Competition. In 1999, she became one of the youngest finalists at the Third International Ballet Competition in Nagoya. In January 2000, she won the renowned Prix de Lausanne Scholarship which enabled her to study at the National Ballet School of Canada in Toronto. Kajiya joined American Ballet Theatre's Studio Company in 2001. She became an apprentice with the main company in 2002, and was promoted to corps de ballet in June. Kajiya was appointed a soloist in August 2007.
Kajiya joined Houston Ballet as a First Soloist in 2014. She was promoted to Principal Dancer in 2014. Recently she danced as a guest artist with the Australian Ballet and was a member of the Jury for the Prix de Lausanne 2018.
Kajiya was featured in the 2007 documentary Passion Across a Continent in Japan. In 2011, a documentary entitled Yuriko: Ballerina appeared on national television across Japan. The government of Japan gave Kajiya an Artistic Ambassador Award in 2012. In 2013, she met with the Prime Minster of Japan, Shinzo Abe, while he visited the U.N., to discuss Women's Rights within Japan. In 2015, Time Magazine featured Kajiya as a next generation leader.
LIU Bingxian (South Korea / China)
Artistic Director of Universal Ballet, Seoul.
Born in Jilin, China, LIU Bingxian graduated from the Jilin Arts School and afterwards studied dance pedagogy at the Beijing Dance Academy. Later he joined Universal Ballet as a soloist.
He became ballet master and choreographer at the Guangzhou Ballet in China in 1995, and at the National Ballet of China in 1997. In 1999, he rejoined Universal Ballet as Ballet Master, and was promoted to Artistic Director in 2009. He has staged and revised many of Universal Ballet’s classic works while created new ballets for the company, the most recent work is a full-length Korean ballet, The Love of Chunhyung.
In conjunction with his position at Universal Ballet, he is also the Artistic Director of the ballet departments of Sunhwa Arts Middle and High School, Universal Ballet Junior Company and Universal Ballet Academy in Seoul, and the Kirov Academy of Ballet, Washington, DC. Many Chinese and Korean dancers who prepared under his coaching have won gold and silver medals in international ballet competitions in Varna, Jackson, Helsinki, Lausanne and elsewhere. Famous principal dancers under his coaching include Chi Cao, Hee Seo, Hyojung Kang, Sangeun Lee.
Uliana Lopatkina (Russia)
From the early age, Uliana was admitted to the Academy of Russian Ballet named after Vaganova where she studied from Galina Novitskaya and Natalia Dudinskaya. In 1991 Uliana joined Mariinsky Theatre Company.
In 1994 Uliana successfully made her debut as Odette/Odille in the Swan Lake in St. Petersburg. In 1995 Uliana was called the Principal Dancer of Mariinsky Theatre. Uliana danced many leading roles including Gieselle, Le Corsaire, La Bayadère and The Fountain of Bakhchisarai. She has also performed many ballets of Balanchine, Petit, Forsythe, Van Manen and others. Uliana danced at the most famous theatres of the world. Among them are the Bolshoy theatre, Royal Opera House, Grand Opera de Paris, La Scala, and Metropolitan Opera.
Her achevements include Honoured Artist of Russia (2000), People's Artist of Russia (2006). In 1997 Uliana won the Golden Mask and Benois de la Dance. In 2010 Uliana performed at the closing ceremony of the Olympics at Vancouver (Canada).
ZHU Yan (China)
Prima Ballerina and Deputy Director, National Ballet of China.
After graduated from Beijing Dance Academy in 1995, ZHU Yan joined National Ballet of China. During the past 20 years, she has danced leading roles in many Chinese and worldwide ballet works, including Red Detachment of Women, Raise the Red Lantern, The Peony Pavilion, Chinese version of the Nutcracker, Swan Lake, Don Quixote, Giselle, Romeo and Juliet, Carmen, The Little Mermaid, etc. In 1998, she won the Gold Medal at the 18th Varna International Ballet Competition and Special Prize for Artistic Performance of Mrs. President of Bulgaria. She was also the laureate of “Wen Hua Award” for performing arts issued by Ministry of Culture in 2010 and the 19th “Prix Benois de la Danse” in 2011. With the outstanding performance in the John Neumeier’s The Little Mermaid, she was presented “Principle Role Prize” of 55th Shanghai Magnolia Drama Award in 2015.
Over the years, she has been invited as a guest artist to participate in international art festivals and galas. In 2005, she attended the Gala celebrating 200th anniversary of the birth of August Bourneville at Royal Danish Ballet. She also guest performed at Nijinsky Gala of Hamburg Ballet in 2010 and 2011, as well as the Gala of Australian Ballet’s 50th anniversary in 2012.
In December 2015, in order to celebrate the 20th anniversary of her artistic career in National Ballet of China, the company held a special performance of Zhu Yan and presented her “Outstanding Contribution Award”. In the same year, she published an illustrated book entitled Ballet Guides Me to Meet You.