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Maris Battaglia


Maris Battaglia is the director and founder of the American Academy of Ballet. She received her training at George Balanchine's School of American Ballet (SAB) in New York City and has applied her SAB training across the country. She also taught in Latvia in 1990 for 3-weeks at the Riga Ballet School- the school that trained ballet superstar Mikhail Baryshnikov. Over 130 of her students have gone on to dance professionally in major ballet companies in the United States, Canada, Europe, and the Broadway Stage. She is the Associate Director of the Chautauqua Institution's School of Dance where she has taught since 1989. She served on the New York State Council of the Arts for an unprecedented four years and received the Arts Council in Buffalo and Erie County Award for Outstanding Arts Contributor in 2008. In 1997, she was the recipient of the Artist Excellence Award, which is presented to one outstanding dance teacher each year in the United States. In 1999, she was inducted into the Western New York Dance Hall of Fame.


Carol Klocke Murphy

Carol Klocke Murphy has been a faculty member and served as the associate director of the American Academy of Ballet where she also received her training. Throughout those years, she received many awards and scholarships from prestigious companies such as Dance Theatre of Harlem, New York City Ballet, and Harkness Ballet. At an early age, she received the honor of dancing with the Bolshoi Ballet Company. At age 18, she joined the Pennsylvania Ballet Company. Her repertoire included many of Balanchine's ballets such as Concerto Barocco, Serenade, Allegro Brillante, Four Temperments, Raymonda, Swan Lake, Nutcracker, Graduation Ball and countless others including John Butler's Carmina Burana. After eight years at Pennsylvania Ballet, her professional career continued with the Ohio Ballet where she danced a varied repertoire including Joffrey's Cakewalk, American Ballet Theatre's Pas Des Desses and Paul Taylor's 3 Epitaphs. In 1990, she returned to Western New York and joined the teaching faculty at the American Academy of Ballet where she teaches advanced and variation classes.

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Samantha Klanac Campanile

Samantha Klanac Campanile is excited to be back home at The American Academy of Ballet as an adjunct faculty member and teaching classes once a month after a 15-year professional career with The Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, Aspen CO. With ASFB, Samantha was featured in the creations and commissions of over 45 ballets by world famous choreographers, touring domestically and internationally. She has now continued to share her passion and experience as a coach, stager and teacher. Samantha holds a BA in the Arts from State University of New York, Empire State College 2008, and attended SUNY Purchase Conservatory of Dance 01-03.  

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Sarah Jane Carr

Sarah Jane began her ballet training at the age of four under the direction of Maris Battaglia at the American Academy of Ballet. She spent summers studying at the Chautauqua Institute and the School of American Ballet. Sarah Jane danced in the Pre-Professional program at Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre and toured with Configuration Dance Theater for three seasons until her enlistment in the Air National Guard at the age of 22. After serving in the military for ten years, Sarah Jane has returned home to raise her family and is thrilled to be part of the faculty once again at AAB.


Karen Mikoll

Karen Mikoll received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Dance from the State University of New York at Buffalo where she completed an internship in Dance Therapy. She was also a performing member of the Zodiaque Dance Company. As a professional member of the National Dance Education Organization, she continues to attend teaching seminars, has been published in Dance Teacher Magazine, and serves as an alumni ballet instructor for SUNY at Buffalo summer dance programs. She teaches ballet classes at the Academy.


Lara Mojeski

Lara Mojeski began dancing at the age of six at Spezio's Dance Dynamics and began teaching when she was just 15 years old. In 2005, she received the Young Choreographer of the Year award from the American Dance Awards Competition. She is certified by Dance Master of America and teaches all areas of dance, including acro, modern and ballet at the Academy. She currently teaches acro and pre-ballet classes at AAB.

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Jenni Del Prince

Ms. Jenni began her dance training at The American Academy of Ballet in Pre-Ballet and continued throughout her senior year. She spent summers dancing at Chautauqua, Briansky Ballet in Saratoga, and Columbus Ballet. She has been a member of our faculty for over 4 years.

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Gary Marino

Mr. Gary has been a guest teacher at the Academy for many years and in addition to an adjunct professor of dance at Niagara University. He has performed with the Skidmore Dancers, Saratoga Ballet Company, Schenectady Civic Ballet, Buffalo Repertory Ballet Co., and Camelon Dancers. He has choreographed numerous ballets and judged at several dance competitions.  He also has experience coaching figure skating and gymnastics.

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Donnatella Oppenheimer

Donnatella began her training in her native town of Palermo, Sicily. After moving to the US, she was offered a full scholarship at the School of American Ballet at Lincoln Center, the official school of the New York City Ballet founded by George Balanchine. She then went on to dance professionally with the Tulsa Ballet Company and the Boston Ballet and has taught at some of the finest dance schools in the country. She has been both a guest teacher and faculty with the American Academy of Ballet for many years.

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Christian Jones

"Cee-Jay" as everyone knows him, has been dancing since the age of two at Clark Academy. Although he has an innate love for tap dancing, he has a diverse list of dance training including Jazz, Modern, African, Ballet, Hip Hop and Musical Theatre. This training helps define his creative approach to teaching and choreography styles. He has studied with some of the world's finest instructors at Dance Masters of America, Canadian National Dance, Summer Stock Theater, The Edge, Broadway Dance Center and with Jason Samuels and Savion Glover.
As a competitive dancer, Cee-Jay's accolades contain a plethora of championship titles and high score awards from many local, national and international events. His musical theater talents have been seen in regional productions of Annie, Chicago, Dreamgirls, Jesus Christ Superstar, The Wiz and Footloose. He has traveled, studied, performed and competed all over the United States, Canada and Europe. At the age of 14, he won the gold medal at the World Tap Dance Championships in Riesa, Germany to a compelling standing ovation from the audience, competitors and adjudicators alike!

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Gloria Dale

Gloria Dale is a technically trained dancer who has a passion for performing and teaching. Gloria’s versatility includes tap, jazz, ballet, musical theater, lyrical, contemporary, modern, pointe, and hip-hop. Originally from Buffalo, NY, Gloria began her dance training at the age of 2 at Karyn Kelly Dance Center, The American Academy of Ballet and Infinity Dance Project. Gloria has attended the Rockettes Summer Intensive for five consecutive years. In 2017, Gloria received the Jeff Capitola memorial award and scholarship, as a reflection of her work ethic, positive attitude, love for dance, and overall performance. Gloria continued her studies at Hofstra University, where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Dance and Public Relations. Along with multiple performance opportunities, Gloria was also given the opportunity to be dance captain and choreographer’s assistants while attending Hofstra. After graduation, Gloria began working for Velocity Dance Convention where she is continually inspired by the talent, passion, and drive of the company and staff.


Suzanne Diffine

Suzanne Diffine holds a B.A. and an M.A. in English from the S.U.N.Y. Buffalo. During her 30-year career as an English teacher in the Buffalo Public Schools, she always engaged in some form of physical exercise. When scoliosis caused her considerable discomfort, she sought Pilates to realign her spine. The immediate pain relief she experienced made her a real believer and set the course for her next career. Selected as national Pilates master trainer for Bally Total Fitness and Sports Clubs of Canada, for ten years she trained Pilates instructors throughout North America. Suzanne completed Romana’s Pilates certification under the tutelage of Sari Mejia Santo.  She also studied Pilates with Elizabeth Larkam, director of rehabilitation at St. Francis Hospital in San Francisco, receiving certification from Power Pilates and Polestar Education and completing advanced Pilates training with Core Dynamics. She has participated in workshops with many legends in the industry. Former owner of Pilates Rx in Boca Raton, Florida, she recently returned to her hometown to continue her 20-year career in Pilates. She co-edited Voices of Classical Pilates, a collection of essays by renowned Pilates teachers, and Voices of Classical Pilates: Men’s Work. On multiple occasions, she has been recognized in Who’s Who in the World, Who’s Who of American Women, Who’s Who in America, and Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers: 1990, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2006.

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