Maris Battaglia, Director

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 Regia 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 introduced into the Western New York Dance Hall of Fame.

Carol Klocke Murphy, Associate Director

Carol Klocke Murphy is 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.

Katrina Bierk

Katrina Bierk began her dance training in Chicago, IL and continued with the Milwaukee Ballet and Joffrey Ballet before beginning a professional ballet and contemporary career lasting 26 years. She has performed lead roles with more than six US companies and internationally. Katrina has a BFA in Dance Performance from Northern Illinois University, and has been teaching numerous forms of dance for more than thirty years.

Samantha Klanac Campanile

Samantha Klanac Campanile is excited to be back home at The American Academy of Ballet as a faculty member 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.

Sarah Jane Carr

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.

Janice Blum Feldballe

Janice Blum Feldballe trained at the School of American Ballet and Julliard School of Dance in New York City. Upon her return to Buffalo, she joined the faculty of the American Academy of Ballet where she taught for seven years. In 1977, she opened her own studio before rejoining the Academy in 2004. She currently teaches ballet and pointe classes at the Academy.

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.

Gary Marino

Gary Marino began his formal training in the music department of SUNY at Albany. He then went on to study dance at Skidmore College before studying jazz at the Luigi School in New York and modern dance with Ethel Winter of the Martha Graham School. He has performed with the Skidmore Dancers, Saratoga Ballet Company, Schenectady Civic Ballet, Buffalo Repertory Ballet Company, and Camelon Dancers. In addition to teaching classical Vagonava technique in ballet at Niagara University, he has coached figure skating for the Buffalo Skating Club. He is also a pianist and composer. He teaches ballet and pointe classes at the Academy.

Jane O'Connor

Jane O'Connor has been on the faculty of the American Academy for ten years. She trained with Madame Natalie Krassovska (formerly with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo) and danced professionally with Ballet Jeunesse in Dallas, Texas and Southwest Regional Ballet under the direction of Bill Martin-Viscount. She teaches ballet and adult classes at the Academy.

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.

Patricia Farkas-Sprague

Patricia Farkas-Sprague received training in the Vagonava Ballet Technique while attending the Harford Ballet Intensive Teacher Training Program. Her dancing career involved performing with Buffalo Ballet Theater, Atlantic Contemporary Ballet and Pick of the Crop Dance Company. She taught for Buffalo Ballet Theater before joining the faculty of American Academy of Ballet where she currently teaches Ballet, Contemporary, Broadway dance, and Pilates.

Rebecca Guile Wind

A BFA graduate from the University at Buffalo, Rebecca Guile has extensive training in jazz, lyrical, ballet, modern, tap and hip hop. She has trained with Leonard Castilone, Tom Ralabate, Bill Thomas, Buffalo City Ballet, Carlisle Pennsylvania Ballet, Gus Giordano, Paul Taylor, Doug Varone Dance Company, ABT's Studio Company, and Joe Tramaine. She has performed with Princess Cruise Lines on the Regal and Costa Victoria as well as in Las Vegas at the MGM, Bally's, The Tropicana, and Ceaser's Palace. In addition, she has filmed commercials at the Rio Hotel and Casino. She has worked live with 'Charo' on the Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon and has traveled through China with Eastworld Entertainment in 'Iron Beats'. In addition, she is the founder of Xtreme Talent Dance Convention, the Director of Infinity Dance Project, Inc, and the founder of the LIV travel team. She teaches lyrical and jazz classes at the Academy.

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