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Columbus' BalletMet chooses new Academy Director

by Sarah Irvin Clark
February 27, 2017
Columbus, OH
BalletMet announced they have selected Spanish-born dancer and educator Maria Torija to serve in the role of Director of BalletMet’s Dance Academy.

Born in Madrid, Spain, she began her ballet studies with Lola de Avila, Luis Fuentes and Carmen Roche. At the age of thirteen, she was awarded a Fulbright scholarship to study for three years at the School of American Ballet in New York. After a short stint with the Ballet Nacional de España Clásico, in 1987 she began her 20-year career as a dancer with the Deutsche Oper Berlin ballet company, formerly the Staatsballett Berlin. During her time in Berlin, Torija performed in solo and principal roles in numerous classic ballets, including works choreographed by George Balanchine.

“We are excited to welcome Maria Torija to Central Ohio, and to place the leadership of the Dance Academy in her very capable hands,” said Sue Porter, Executive Director of BalletMet. “Her extensive dance and academic resume, combined with the innovations she put into place at the Miami City Ballet, made her a natural choice to lead the Academy and our 1,700 students,” said Edwaard Liang, Artistic Director of BalletMet.

Torija holds a Bachelor’s degree in Ballet Teaching, and graduated summa cum laude with a Master’s and PhD in Performing Arts from the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos, in Madrid.

Torija has an extensive teaching resume. Beginning with the Opera Ballet of Deutsche Oper Berlin, she also served as a faculty member at the Palucca Hochschule für Tanz, Dresden. She has participated in seminars and has been invited to teach classes throughout Europe, Japan and Hong King and the United States.

In November 2013, Torija organized and directed an internationally acclaimed conference on the 100th anniversary of Vaslav Nijinsky's revolutionary ballet Le Sacre du Printemps in Madrid.
While on the faculty of the Miami City Ballet and Miami City Ballet School, Torija taught dancing as well as classes on the history of ballet and other associated topics. She organized and conceived a popular program for the Open Barre at the Miami City Ballet, inviting the public to see a demonstration of the progression of professional ballet training.

Torija comes to BalletMet from Marin Ballet, the same school where Artistic Director Liang received his early training, and she is planning to relocate to Columbus in early April.

ABOUT BALLETMET

Renowned for its versatility and innovative repertory, BalletMet ranks among the nation’s 20 largest ballet companies.

Since its inception in 1978, BalletMet has made the commission and performance of new works a core organizational priority, with more than 150 World Premieres and hundreds of Company Premieres performed throughout its history. BalletMet stages 60 to 70 performances each year at home and on tour. In the past, the company toured 28 U.S. states and internationally to Russia, Poland, Egypt, Spain and Canada.

ABOUT BALLETMET’S ACADEMY

BalletMet’s Academy has also been recognized as an institution of local and national stature. It offers hundreds of classes to roughly 1,700 students, ages 3 to 95, each year. Students in our Intensive, Boys and Trainee Programs gain invaluable training and experience, including the opportunity to dance on stage alongside the company’s professional dancers.

BalletMet developed DanceReach, a series of educational and outreach programs serving nearly 30,000 people annually. The DanceReach program offers up to 60 scholarships each year to talented youth, many from minority and underserved groups, who could not otherwise participate in dance training.

For more information, visit www.BalletMet.org.
Maria Torija

Maria Torija

Photo © & courtesy of Sarah Irvin Clark

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