World class faculty, experience in training leading dancers.
San Jose Dance Theatre’s educational vision is guided by the Artistic Director who takes into consideration current market trends and developments in dance training. The primary educational goal of the organization is to support the development of classical and contemporary dancers that meets the needs of the industry. To achieve this the Artistic Director skillfully designs a strong educational program supporting all ages and dance forms.
As a child, Linda Hurkmans was given detailed Vaganova training 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 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, 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. and 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 from 0 students 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., with 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
Mikhael Plain - Men's Class, Pas de Deux class
Mikhael Plain was born and raised in Northern California. His training included a 5-year apprenticeship with the Sacramento Ballet as a teenager.
Mikhael began his professional career with the San Francisco Ballet in 1995. While with SFB, Mikhael distinguished himself in featured roles that included the American premier of William Forsythe’s The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude, David Bintley’s The Dance House, Mark Morris’ Sandpaper Ballet and Pacific, Stanton Welch’s Maninyas, and Nureyev’s Raymonda.
Mikhael was invited to join Miami’s Maximum Dance Company as a principal dancer in 2000. He thrived in numerous works by artistic directors David Palmer and Yanis Pikieris, as well as such internationally respected choreographers as Ivonice Satie, Nicolai Kabaniaev, KT Nelson, Paolo Mohovich, Jean Christophe Blavier, and Daniel Rosseel.
Mikhael rounded out his full-time ballet career with the Royal New Zealand Ballet in 2004. Over the next three seasons, he captivated audiences as Franz in Coppelia, Jonathan Harker in Dracula, Goro in Madame Butterfly, and the First Movement Principal in Sir Kenneth MacMillan’s Concerto.
Having last performed in San Jose in 2003, Mikhael is delighted to return to the Bay Area stage with San Jose Dance Theatre!
Kim Gardner - Ballet, Conditioning, Pilates, Lecture Demonstrations on Dance Conditioning & Injury Prevention.
Kim has a long history with San Jose Dance Theatre having studied with founding directors Paul E. Curtis and Shawn Stuart from age 6 and then grew through the ranks to perform Sugar Plum Fairy at age 17. She then went on to perform many of the classics with Milwaukee Ballet, contemporary ballet with Margaret Wingrove Dancers and Alonzo King’s LINES, and toured the United States in Oakland Ballet’s eclectic and Diaghilev era repertory. Kim returned to SJDT to teach and coach young dancers and appeared as principle guest artist for several seasons. She is best remembered as the Sugar Plum Fairy in the annual Nutcracker and as Beauty in Beauty and the Beast for which she received critical acclaim. All together Kim’s performing career spanned 17 years to which she credits her Pilates training.
Certified in Pilates in 1996, Kim has since combined her skills and experience as dancer, teacher and Pilates instructor to educate and assist dancers of all ages in injury prevention, conditioning and rehabilitation. For 10 years Kim ran the Dance Medicine program at O’Connor Hospital’s Center for Sports Medicine. She also gives presentations on the application of Pilates-based exercise for injury rehabilitation and performance enhancement to physical therapists, athletic trainers, physicians, chiropractors and dance instructors. In 2001, O’Connor Hospital awarded her the Certificate of Excellence. In 2011, Kim opened her own studio, ALIGN Pilates and Dance Conditioning, where she serves dancers and non-dancers alike. Kim is the proud mother of twin daughters and happy to rejoin SJDT’s faculty.
Irina Tomushev - Youth Ballet Teacher
Originally from Ukraine, Miss Irina studied ballet in her native city of Lvov at Lvov Opera ballet school. After moving to the Bay Area she continued studying under Christine Morgan at L’Ecole de Dance and Florian Saqellari at Ballet Expression performing solo pieces in company productions. Miss Irina also studied under Luana Hidalgo at San Jose Ballet school.
In 2009, she joined Cassand Ballet and studied under Maître Rodolphe Cassand, for whom she performed solo pieces in his original works for several years and assisted Mr. Cassand with rehearsals. Miss Irina loves teaching and choreographing for children, developing their understanding of music and movement.
Sian Ferguson - Modern, Tumbling Tots, Ballet Basics
With the eye of a dancer and choreographer, Sian enjoys staging notated works as if they were being freshly created today. Her teaching credits include instructing in the Dance Department at SUNY Purchase and City College of New York, and she has been a guest artist at Stanford University. Sian danced with SenseDance in NYC before moving to Dublin, Ireland where she spent several years teaching dance and raising her family. Sian currently resides in San Jose, CA and is happy to share her wealth of knowledge with San Jose Dance Theatre.
Grace Lu - Chinese Tumbling & Stretching
Grace Lu trained in Chinese Classical Dance at the FeiTian Academy of Art. She performed as a Principal Chinese dancer in various world-class theaters around the world. Miss Lu has been teaching Chinese classical dance and tumbling in the San Francisco Bay Area. Many of her students have won 1st and 2nd place awards in competitions, due to Miss Lu’s unique teaching methods and experience.
Charles Solomon - Jazz
Charles’ performance credits include San Jose City Hall, Disneyland and countries around the world including Mexico, Ireland, Scotland, Germany, Czechoslovakia and Italy. He has also been a featured dancer with the San Jose Symphony Orchestra and the East West Shriner Game Half Time Show. Charles’ choreographic credits include, Lincoln HS Dance Dept., St. Francis High School Musicals, Piedmont Hills High School Musicals, Willow Glen High School Dance Team and the CSUMB Dance Team. He has also done choreography for many quinceaneras, cotillions and flashmobs, including those of PHHS Faculty and students, Saratoga Chamber of Commerce Classic Cool Car Show and the American Cancer Society. Charles has also choreographed many award winning routines on the Regional and National level and has also received the Grant Gray award two times for best new choreography at De Anza College. He is proficient in teaching many levels in the subjects of Ballet, Tap, Jazz, Lyrical, Contemporary and Hip Hop and is also the Creative Director of the Dynamics Performance Team. Recently Charles and the Team celebrated their 15th season. In honor of this, they received a special commendation from U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein for their ongoing dedication to celebrating the performing arts. Charles hopes to instill the love and Joy of Dance to whoever he might be teaching. And also to help his dancers realize, that through hard work, the final performance can be so rewarding and can even change your life!
Former Principal Dancer with New York City Ballet. S.A.B. faculty
Principal Dancer, San Francisco Ballet
Sasha De Sola
Principal Dancer, San Francisco Ballet
Performer, Cincinnati Ballet, Faculty member of The Rock Studio
Former Principal Dancer with Ballet Nacional de Caracas, Miami City Ballet
Former Principal Dancer with State Street Ballet
Former Soloist, New York City Ballet and Current Faculty, Pacific Northwest Ballet
Michael Howerton. SJDT alumnus and “Drosselmeyer” in The Nutcracker. Formerly with Margaret Wingrove Dance Company & Mark Foehringer Dance Project.
President of the California Dance Educator’s Association (CDEA)
Laura Rafey, former member of the Fairfax Ballet Company and former teacher at SJDT
Founder and Artistic Director, Zohar School of Dance and Company
Company C Contemporary Dance Co. & Menlowe Ballet.
Lydia Martinez-Campos, M.F.A.
Director of the Silver Creek High School Dance Program and a SJDT alumna
Formerly of Texas Ballet Theatre