LAUREL BALLET PROPRIETORS
Eleanor Viecelli Tornblom~ Artistic Director, Master Teacher
Ms. Tornblom was born into an Italian family whose belief in rounding out the children's education with participation in the arts lead her toward a career in dance. She has trained throughout her life with many Masters including Karl Heinrich, the younger Folkeim, Kolpokova, Asfaf Messerer, Galina Ulanova, Marowski, Ginnadi Vostrikov, and Edward Caton. Her odyssey began with the opening of Eleanor’s Dance Studio in 1957, later to be renamed Laurel Youth Ballet Theatre in 1974. When Ms. Tornblom welcomed her first students, Pittsburgh Ballet had not yet been formed. She had grown a school of almost 500 students and like many local instructors, taught a variety of genres including tap and jazz. Then Nicolas and Mary Petrov came to Pittsburgh to build and direct PBT. Ms. Tornblom was delighted by the opportunity to further her own education and that of her students. She was afforded the unusual privilege of being able to observe classes and in doing so, she devoted herself to learning from every Master Teacher available, to become a Master herself. She was first aided in this endeavor by Nicolas and Mary Petrov who not only grew to respect her but have remained her life long friends. Shortly after she began attending classes with Nicolas and Mary, Ms. Tornblom reduced her school's curriculum to ballet only, her enrollment dropped to less than 100 students, but those 100 students got something rare and wonderful; a real education. This tradition of excellence still exists today. Ms. Tornblom has passed this along to her two daughters, Judy Rae and Joy, and demands it from every guest teacher who is invited into the studio. Ms. Tornblom continues to attend seminars and participate in summer programs dedicated to teaching the Vaganova syllabus. As a result, the small rural school she began over half a century ago has produced students who have receive scholarships, summer workshop acceptances, and entrance into some of the worlds most prestigious ballet companies. Her students perform classics and contemporary works regularly as part of their superior education and many have gone on to professional careers. Artist Director Eleanor Tornblom's aspiration for perfection, dedication to the art form and genuine affection for her students is the foundation of a school that is definitely a local treasure.
Judy Rae Tubbs~ Resident Choreographer, Teacher
Ms. Tubbs began her studies with Eleanor Tornblom then went on to study and perform with Pittsburgh Ballet as well as with the American Dance Ensemble and several regional ballet companies. She studied with world renowned masters including Asaf Messime, Richard Katon, and Edward Van Muden. At the tender age of 16 she developed a love for choreography and began to develop short pieces for herself and fellow dancers. By the age of 20 she was teaching and choreographing for Laurel Ballet and was doing guest work with many local companies. In the late 1980's she received a grant from the Pittsburgh Dance Council and produced her first contemporary work entitled Revoltade. Since that time Ms. Tubbs has put original choreography to six classic ballets including The Nutcracker which has been performed annually with the Westmoreland Symphony Orchestra since the early 1990's. She has also choreographed over two dozen original ballets and many contemporary works which has given Laurel Ballet the incredible distinction of being a small regional youth company with a vast repertoire. Judy Rae Tubbs continues to educate herself in the quality instruction and presentation of ballet. She takes great pride in her students and their accomplishments.
Joy Uschak~ Company Manager, Teacher
Ms. Uschak began her training with Eleanor Tornblom and went on to study ballet with such Master teachers as Nicolas and Mary Petrov, Messerer, Folkeim, Marowski, Caton and Vostrikov. She found that she not only had a gift for instruction but also for Arts Management and eventually used those talents to participate in the founding of Laurel Youth Ballet. Ms. Uschak has used her extensive dance education to instruct the schools youngest students, giving them a rock solid foundation on which to build while using her extraordinary management skills to keep this invaluable young company afloat. Her contributions to the performing company have included forays into choreography as well as being responsible for much of the costume design and production. Ms. Uschak is the most well rounded and invaluable of the Laurel Ballet partners.
LAUREL BALLET STAFF
Vanessa Haidar’s professional ballet career began with the Cuban National Ballet as a Company Member under the direction of Alicia Alonso (September 2003 to January 2013). Cuban National Ballet is renowned for superior strength, passion and innovation the world over. Ms. Haidar toured with the company internationally through Spain, England, Greece, France, Canada, Mexico, Egypt, Costa Rica, Brazil, China, Dominican Republic, Martinique, Guyana, Guatemala and finally the United States where she decided to settle with her husband and son. Ms. Haidar’s performances included performances of all the Classic Traditional Repertoire from Swan Lake to Paquita. She also had the opportunity to work with internationally celebrated contemporary choreographers and has performed some of the world’s most glorious new works.
While still dancing professionally in Cuba, Ms. Haidar began giving private instruction to younger dancers hoping to be accepted into the prestigious National Ballet School or National Ballet of Cuba. Ms. Haidar’s excellent abilities for instruction was immediately evident in the quality of her students and when coming to the US in 2013 she was immediately hired to teach in the Russian Academy of Ballet in Orlando, teaching ballet technique, pointe, and stretch. She then took a 2 month break from teaching to guest in San Antonio Texas where she performed with Ballet Latino de San Antonio, working with the extraordinary choreographer Jimmy Gamonet ( may 2014-july 2014).
Since then, Ms. Haidar has been in great demand as a Ballet Teacher and Private Coach throughout Florida.
-National Ballet School, Havana, Cuba(2000-2003): Graduated with a degree equivalent in Professional Ballet Performance and Instructor (2003)
-Elementary Ballet School in Havana, Cuba. (1994-2000)
David Martinez Coro
Mr. Martinez-Coro performed with the Cuban National Ballet under the world renowned Artistic Direction of Alicia Alonso where he not only performed a full Classical Repertoire but also performed as a Principle in Laura Alonso’s personal Company. His vast repertoire includes Giselle, Don Quixote and Theme and Variations to name a few. Mr. Coro has also performed many contemporary works from national and international choreographers. While with The Cuban National Ballet, Mr. Coro toured internationally through Spain, Italy, Canada, China and finally the United States where he and his wife and son are now happy to call home. Since moving to United States, Mr. Coro has danced as a Principle guest artist with companies throughout the country and performed the Corsario pas de deux as a guest partner for the American Dance Competition. Mr. Coro performed as a soloist with the Professional CompanyBallet Latino de San Antonion under the Direction of Mayra Worthen where he put the innovative, powerful, percise ballet training of the Cuban National Ballet to the test performing contemporary works of several emerging great Choreographers including Jimmy Gamonet. He has also been giving ballet technique and partnering instruction in many of the studios and companies where he was performing.
-National Ballet School in Havana, Cuba (2001-2006): Graduated as a Professional Ballet Dancer and Teacher. -Elementary Ballet School in Matanzas, Cuba. (1997-2001)
Nichole Waugaman-Slavin Modern and Choreography - earned her Bachelors of Fine Arts Degree from the University of the Arts in Philadelpia. Her college career also includes Tisch School of Arts in
New York and the Laban Center in London, England. She was accepted in to many summer intensive programs including Cleveland Ballet and the Pennsylvania Governor's School for the Arts on full scholarship.
Jurai Adamik Character and Folk - is a long time member of the Tamburitzans of Duquesne.
Damien Martinez Born and raised in Matanzas, Cuba. He received his ballet training from the Vocational School of Art in Matanzas, Cuba and the National Ballet School in Habana, Cuba, where he performed several classical PDD rolls and contemporary works. He danced a year in the National Ballet of Cuba under the direction of Alicia Alonso, before coming to the United States. He danced with Columbia Classical Ballet, under the direction of Radenko Pavlovich in Columbia, SC. He just finished the season 2009-2010 with Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre under the direction of Terrence Orr.
LAUREL BALLET COSTUMER
Margaret Gilfillan received her BFA from The Art Institute of Chicago and The Goodman Theatre School. While attending classes at Carnegie Mellon University Ms. Gilfillan’s talents were quickly recognized and she was awarded a full scholarship, earning her MFA in Costume Design. She has been a teacher at East Carolina University, Seton Hill University, and The University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown. Ms. Gilfillan has been a freelance designer for over 15 years. In addition to working with LBPC, she is currently creating full scale productions with St. Vincent professional Summer Theater and Apple Hill Playhouse. Ms. Gilfillan’s work demonstrates that she is a true master in her art form.