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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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Karen Palmerton

Throughout Karen’s career, she continues to delight in choreographing and working with younger children and competition teams, and has received numerous choreography and entertainment awards.  She has also judged for many national dance competitions.  Her students have been recognized with high score awards at several competitions, with many going on to perform on Broadway, in national dance companies, movies and television.  Karen is thrilled to now be on the faculty at the American Academy.

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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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