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Panel of Jurors

Andile Ndlovu of Johannesburg, South Africa, is in his seventh season with The Washington Ballet, after dancing one season with TWB’s Studio Company. Ndlovu began his training in Latin American and ballroom dance at the age of ten. At 15, he began training in ballet under Martin Schöenberg, director of Ballet Theatre Afrikan. In 2007, Ndlovu performed with South African Ballet Theatre, performing the lead in Don Quixote and the Jester in Swan Lake, among other roles. He went on to dance with Cape Town City Ballet and tied for First Place in the contemporary category of the 2008 South African International Ballet Competition. Ndlovu was part of the 15-year anniversary tour of Step Afrika! as a guest artist, performed his collaborative choreography solo with Gregory Vuyani Maqoma in Beyond Skin and was a part of the South African version of Queen with Mzansi Productions, choreographed by Debbie Rakusin and Timothy Le Roux. He recently choreographed Guardian of the Pool which was performed by The Washington Ballet.

Brian Gerardo is Co-founder and Executive Director of the Baltimore Dance Crews Project (BDCP). Through hip-hop dance, BDCP initiates and strengthens relationships that support young people from school to career. Brian has taught, directed, judged, and advised hip-hop dance teams across the East Coast. He is co-founder of Bamboom Dance Crew and former Executive Director of the KODACHROME dance network. As an advocate for after-school programs, the arts, and youth leadership, Brian has received fellowships from the Open Society Institute, Salzburg Global Seminar for Young Cultural Innovators, and Baltimore Corps. He has been recognized as a Global Innovator by the Teach For All Network, Social Innovator by the Schusterman Family Foundation’s REALITY Global in Israel, a Clinton Global Initiative University participant, a Martin Luther King Jr. Champion of Courage, and an Emerging Teaching Artist by Arts Every Day. Brian earned his B.A. from Virginia Tech with a double major in Public and Urban Affairs and Political Science with a minor in Leadership and Social Change and his a joint MBA/MA in Design Leadership from Johns Hopkins University and the Maryland Institute College of Art. Proud resident of Baltimore, Brian lives with his partner and pitbull rescue.

Chelsea Zeffiro is a contemporary dance artist, specializing in dance film and multi-disciplinary movement + media collaborations. She is co-founder and president of dance-media production company Borderland Dance, co-founder of San Diego’s first annual dance film festival: 40 North Fest and Diplomat for the Global Dance Initiative. In 2014 she was the Schick/Skintimate Make It Happen Grand Prize awardee for her international dance documentary project, Take Your Place. Her work in video performance has been featured at Human Resources LA, Monkey Town, as well as Standard Vision LA’s 50x20ft. media facade at LA Live. Performance credits include: Blythe Barton Dance, LA Contemporary Dance Co, Dance Camera West, LA’s Night on Broadway, Live Arts Fest, 2016 Vienna Int’l Ballet Exp. Gala and San Diego Int’l Fringe Festival.

Christian Oh has been a pillar of the Asian American community. As the current Executive Director of the DC Asian Pacific American Film Festival (www.apafilm.org), he loves production of all types of events and projects and has lots of experiences with concerts, expos, conventions, galas, and large-scale events. Prior to that, he was the Co-Founder and Executive Director of Kollaboration DC, an Asian American Talent competition here in the DC metro area. He has been a judge/juror of many artistic competitions. Christian has produced and directed many award-winning shorts, music videos, commercials, and public service announcements. He received his film background education from George Washington University Documentary Center, internships with Adobe at both the Cannes and Venice Film Festivals.

Fara Tolno was born in Guinea, West Africa. He spent his youth in the village of Kissidugu and Guinea’s capital city, Conakry. Playing djembe since the age of nine, he has traveled extensively performing and teaching both drumming and dance. Fara spent nine years as the lead drummer for Les Merveilles de Guinea (The Wonders of Guinea) under the tutelage of West Africa’s most influential director and choreographer, Kemoko Sano. Fara is a keeper of the history, the music, and the dance in his culture. He holds a vision to build a school of Music, Dance and Education in his home of Guinea, West Africa. This school will help provide a sustainable way to ensure that the knowledge of the music, dance, and history of Guinea will be passed on to the next generation. Fara is the founder, director, and choreographer for Kissidugu, his percussion and dance ensembles across the country and in Guinea. Fara is involved with Project Drum, a business designed to provide rhythm based educational and team-building services to schools, organizations, teams, music educators and corporations. Fara also provides access to the rhythms of Guinea through the Rhythm Reference Project, the most comprehensive audio and notation library ever compiled for West African Drumming. Fara has performed with many of the world’s premier musicians including Mamady Keita, Burning Spear, Neil Young, Sekouba Bambino, Otis Taylor, Joe Cocker, Youssou N’Dour, Salif Keita Habibe Koite, B.B. King, Oumou Sangare.

Garrett Taira was born in 1992 in Shady Grove, Maryland. Born with a rare medical condition called Chronic Intestinal Pseudo Obstruction, which requires daily IV nutrition, multiple hospitalizations and surgeries throughout his life. He discovered his love for dance his junior year of high school. In spite of all the medical hardships, as a visionary leader with a positive attitude, he constantly overcomes life obstacles exceeding ordinary expectations. Since then he has been in countless performances including at Children’s National Medical Center, Department of State, and Tidal Basin for The National Cherry Blossom Festival. Garrett has been featured in the upcoming movie Edges the Tomorrow, shown on The Ellen Degeneres Show, choreographed a winning performance at Beyond the Stars Dance Competition, and placed 6th in the Vlado Footwear’s international online dance competition, Vlado Showdown. Teaching at local studios, producing Youtube videos- many of which have gone viral, and pursuing HipHop and B-boying under the wing of Atomic Goofball (who has been featured in So You Think You Can Dance, Step Up 2, and Step Up 3). Life opportunities through friends and social networking has brought him an online following of 25 thousand people around the world. Using his positive energy and optimistic attitude, Garrett brings out the best in others. Currently he is pursuing acting while managing his Production and short film company called The Home Visuals.

Melissa Hinz grew up training and performing with the Rocky Mountain Ballet Theatre in Montana before earning a full scholarship to study at Hubbard Street Dance Chicago. After two years in Chicago she spent seven years in New York City working professionally as a dancer and musical theatre performer. While in NYC Melissa continued her training at Steps on Broadway, The Broadway Dance Center, Circle In The Square, and The Broadway Theatre Project directed by Ann Reinking. She also received her yoga-teaching certification from Laughing Lotus NYC. Since moving to Humboldt County to live with the love of her life she’s become a choreographer, teacher, and producer. She was a guest teacher for the Vienna International Ballet Experience (VIBE) in the USA and Austria. As a competitor & choreographer in VIBE, she won 1st and 2nd palace in her category in the USA. She is also the co-producer for Dancing Stars of Humboldt. Learn more at melissahinz.com

Michelle Sim is a professional dancer and from Orange County who is currently living in Los Angeles. She began her dance training when she was 5 years old and eventually joined her middle school and high school competition teams. In college, she was introduced to the urban hip hop scene where she played an integral role in the success of the dance crew Kaba Modern. Upon graduating with her Bachelor of Arts, she signed onto a contract with Clear Talent Group; a Los Angeles Based talent agency. Since then, Michelle has worked with artists such as Redfoo, TooShort, Craig David and has danced as a member of the Los Angeles Sparks Crew and the Los Angeles Rams Cheerleaders. She was recently featured as a principle dancer in a Netflix original movie and has done industrial work for Skechers and Quest Nutrition. Currently, she is a member of the Los Angeles Clippers Spirit Dance Squad and is pursuing her certification in Pilates. Michelle is eager to expand her training into more genres of dance and is excited to be one of the first jurors for Danceador!

Rucina Ballinger is a Dance Ethnologist (MA Asian Studies/Dance Ethnology University of Hawai’i 1978) who has been doing traditional dance for the past 45 years. She was a member of the University of Hawai’i’s ancient Hula troupe, the San Francisco Samba troupe Batucaje and one of the founders of Gamelan Sekar Jaya, a group of Americans dedicated to learning and performing Balinese music and dance. Since 1985, she has lived permanently in Bali, Indonesia where she has studied and performed Balinese dance, co authored the book BALINESE DANCE, DRAMA AND MUSIC (Periplus Press, 2004) and is a comedian with the Grup Gedebong Goyang company.

Bosco is a dancer, instructor, and choreographer with over fifteen years of experience in the performance industry. His credits include So You Think You Can Dance, Missy Elliott, American Idol, Playstation, The Voice, You Got Served, Pink, Shake It Up, Chris Brown, 50 Cent, and the MTV Movie Awards. With Bosco Dance Tour, he has had the privilege of teaching at over 160 wonderful schools & studios. He is continually updating and creating new items for BDT Clothing, and loves showcasing his photo & video skills through Look Fly Productions.

Wuiping Yap is a seasoned Artrepreneur, consultant, and producer for various arts focused events and happenings. Wuiping is also an avid dancer & passionate performer. She started dancing at a very young age and now dances & performs across various dance disciplines & styles including Asian, Latin, Middle Eastern, Folk, Ballroom, Cabaret and many more. Her favorite style is fusion pieces that are created by bringing contrasting elements, rhythms and movements together.

Walter Barrera is a dancer and choreographer born in Los Angeles, California and raised in Morelos, México. He began his training as a Salsa and Latin dancer under La Academia de la danza Mexicana dirigida por Antonio Silva. In 2005, Walter traveled back to Los Angeles, California to finish his studies and pursued his dreams of being a professional dancer. In 2012, He joined the Dance department at Los Angeles City College where he obtained an AA in Psychology and a Performing Arts Certificate in the specialities of Dance, Choreography and Theater. In 2013, He started his connection as a dancer with Rocky Mountain Ballet Theater under the Direction of Charlene Carey. In 2014, He traveled to Salzburg, Austria with Rocky Mountain Ballet theater to an Intensive Dance Training under the Direction of Peter Breur, Artistic Director of the Salzburg Ballet.Where they trained in technical classes such as Ballet, Jazz, Hip Hop, Contemporary, Gaga, Nacho. In 2015, Walter began his professional Career as a Commercial Dancer and an Actor being Represented by Talent agencies such as S Dance Agency and 1826 commercial Agency. In 2016, he began as faculty, Choreographer and Assistant to Director Charlene Carey. He began teaching and traveling with Rocky Mountain Ballet to different places such as Italy where he worked as a Performer, choreographer, instructor at a Summer Dance training of La compagnia della Danza under the Direction of ballet Master Guy de Bock and Barbara Castagliuolo. In 2017, Walter choreographed a dance at the Vienna International Ballet Experience USA where his piece won 1st place choreography winner of Essumble Group Category. Today he works as an Assistant, Administrator, Staff for Rocky Mountain Ballet.

Samantha Zauscher is a photographer, filmmaker, and content artist currently based in San Diego, California. With a founding career as a professional dancer (ballet), Sam brings a quick eye and marked narrative to the proverbial table. A devotion and intuitive knowledge of movement, performance, emotional aesthetics and design lie at the root of her work. Her work can be found prominently at SOCIETY HOUSE studio, where clean composition and cinematic style blend together to tell honest and candid stories. Aside from freelance work and creative directing, she is currently collaborating with BORDERLAND dance to produce multiple multi-media projects, including 40 NORTH Dance Film Festival. A venture-artist at heart, Sam is passionate about collaborating with other artists, great people, and places around the globe, telling their stories one frame at a time.