San Jose Dance Theatre’s Artistic Vision is guided by the Artistic Director who takes into consideration current market trends and interests. The primary artistic goal of the organization is to create new classical dance experiences for the San Jose and the San Francisco Bay Area audiences. To achieve this, the Artistic Director skillfully designs a strong annual offering of works supporting the growth of the local dance community.
Artistic Director – Linda Hurkmans
As a child, Linda Hurkmans was trained in Vaganova Technique from Connie Schwarze and performed for San José Dance Theatre. She was then mentored by Larissa Sklyanskaya (Soloist with Bolshoi Ballet), Natasha Papina (Soloist with Kirov Ballet, and the 1st ballet partner of Mikhail Baryshnikov), Benjamin Harkarvy, and Conrad Ludlow (Principal Dancer with New York City Ballet). Hurkmans received a full scholarship to Pacific Northwest Ballet, the Royal Danish Ballet, and at the age of 16, a full scholarship to the University of Utah Ballet Dept.
She danced professionally with The Royal Danish Ballet, the Utah Ballet/Ballet West, The Norwegian Andanse Ballet, Zahkraz Dance, and The Norwegian National Ballet in conjunction with ‘The Year of Dance’ in Norway and the 1994 Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway. She competed in the 72 country ITI International Ballet Competition in Helsinki, Finland in 1991, and appeared in the CBS Mini-Series “At Mother’s Request” starring Stefanie Powers.
Linda Hurkmans holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts, Cum Laude, in Ballet Performance from Univ. of Utah, a Master’s Degree in Psychology from the Notre Dame de Namur University, and full Pilates certifications in Pilates Mat and Apparatus from Turning Pointe Studios and the PhysicalMind Institute. She has taught youth, pre-professional, adult ballet dancers and Pilates students for 18 years in Europe and in the U.S. at Stanford University and Santa Clara University, where she helped found the Pilates program for dancers and athletes.
Hurkmans’ choreography has been performed at the Norwegian State Ballet, Western Ballet, Zohco Dance Co., Santa Clara University, Foothill College, Pasquale Esposito’s Italian Christmas, and San Jose Dance Theatre. In 2014, Hurkmans was named the Artistic Director of San Jose Dance Theatre and helped re-open the doors to the academy and rebuilt it to over 100 today. She has choreographed a full length version of “The Nutcracker”, 20 original works for the school and company and has staged “La Bayadere Kingdom of the Shades:, “White Swan Pas de Deux”, “Swan Lake Four Little Swans”,“Swan Lake Pas de Trois”, “Le Corsaire Pas de Deux”, “Paquita Grand Pas Classique” and more. Hurkmans has overseen San Jose Dance Theatre’s collaborations with Margaret Wingrove’s Dance Co., Foothill College, and performances at SjDANCE Co. Festival, the Montalvo Arts Center, Santana Row Tree Lighting Event, World Wide Women’s Festival at Santa Clara University, San Francisco Movement Arts Festival, and the San Jose Center for Performing Arts. On May 25, 2019, San Jose Dance Theatre premiered Linda Hurkmans’ new full length “Firebird” at the Hammer Theatre in San Jose.
Mariana Zschoerper - Ballet Mistress
Mariana trained at The Bolshoi Theater School from 2000-2007 and performed soloist roles in Brazil, Italy, Germany, France, and Russia. She was chosen to do an internship with The Bolshoi Ballet in Russia and received private coaching by Vladimir Vassiliev and Ekaterina Maximova. Mariana performed Sugar Plum Fairy in the Nutcracker, while completing her internship with The Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow.
Mariana graduated from The Bolshoi Theater School as the Valedictorian of her class, and received a Certificate of Vaganova Method for Teaching. In 2007, Mariana joined the professional Bolshoi Ballet company in Brazil, performed as a soloist. In 2010, Mariana joined Company Ballet in Sao Paolo as a Principal Dancer and competed nationally, receiving many awards for her work in Brazil. She was a Finalist at the Valentina Kozlova International Ballet Competition NYC Senior Division 2015-2016. She won First Place and Honorius at the Bravo Ballet Competition in 2010.
In 2011, Mariana joined the Baltimore Ballet as a Principal Dancer and also coached the advanced dancers in the school. In 2013, she received a merit scholarship to The Boston Conservatory, and in 2017, graduated with her B.F.A. as the Valedictorian.
Mariana Joined SJDT in 2019 as Ballet Mistress.
Michael Pappalardo - Business Development & Operations Manager, Senior Faculty Member
Michael is the former Artistic Director and CEO of Melbourne City Ballet. He began his classical training with Janice Heale School of Dance in Brisbane, Queensland before being accepted to studying with Queensland Dance School of Excellence and the New Zealand School of Dance. Michael worked with the Royal New Zealand Ballet during his time in New Zealand. After returning to Australia, Michael worked with Queensland Ballet before turning his talents towards business ventures.
However, Michael and his love of dance found him return to the arts industry, training with Expressions Dance Company and Australian Dance Theatre
Michael joined Melbourne City Ballet as Artistic Director in 2013 and was promoted to Artistic Director/CEO in 2016. There he was able to leverage his business and dance talents building the organization to become Australia’s largest classical touring company, performing over 100 shows across Australia, New Zealand and Japan annually. Over his 7 years as Artistic Directo Michael also choreographed many of the company’s main works.
Michael Joined SJDT in January of 2020.
For the organization’s 20.21 season, San Jose Dance Theatre is establishing the only professional dance company in San Jose. Six professional contracts and six trainee positions within the company will support an annual season of works in classical and contemporary dance.
The selection for these positions has already begun!
If you are interested in being considered for one of these position please go to our CAREERS page for more information.
Keep a look out for their bios in the coming months!