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Roberto Almaguer was born and trained in Cuba, joining Ballet de Camagüey in 1984 under Fernando Alonso. In 1988 he became a soloist with the Ballet Nacional de Cuba under Alicia Alonso, touring Europe, Asia and the Americans. Mr. Almaguer has been a guest dancer with international ballet companies, in 1993 dancing in the USA with the Joffrey Ballet of Chicago, Cleveland San Jose Ballet and State Street Ballet in Santa Barbara, California. His repertoire includes most of the principal roles of the classical repertoire, as well as dancing musical theater, contemporary and neoclassical styles, performing the works of choreographers including Jiri Kylian, George Balanchine and Roland Petit. He was featured on national television in the US and Mexico and been a guest artist of the Los Angeles Opera Company where he was featured in productions conducted by  Plácido Domingo. Since 2005 Mr. Almaguer has been on the faculty of Extreme Ballet summer sessions of the Kaatsbaan International Dance Centre in NY, under the direction of, ABT's artistic director, Kevin McKenzie. In 2016, Mr. Almaguer was appointed instructor and coach to the English National Ballet School, where he currently trains 2nd year men.



Carolina Borrajo was born in Zaragoza, Spain. She received her early training in Zaragoza, with Maria de Avila and Cristina Miñana and continued her studies at the Ballet School of the Hamburg Ballet - John Neumeier under tutelage of both Truman Finney and Persephone Samaropoulo. She then danced, as a soloist, with the Ballet Clásico de Zaragoza, the ballet company of the Luzern Opera, Switzerland, and in Germany with the Opernhaus Bonn and the Hessian State Theater of Wiesbaden. Carolina Borrajo received her diploma as a teacher of children's classical dance, as well as instructor of advanced classical dance for professionals at the State University of Performing Arts in Mannheim, Germany. In 2008 Ms. Borrajo assumed her position on the teaching faculty of the School of the Hamburg Ballet. Carolina Borrajo has the honor of being the official replacement for Ms. Marianne Kruuse, as a Japan Grand Prix judge, after her retirement from the School of the Hamburg Ballet - John Neumeier.



Daniela Buson is the assistant artistic director of the Tulsa Ballet, following a career as a principal dancer and guest artist for many international ballet companies. Born in Palermo, Italy she received her training from maestro Jacques Beltrame. Upon graduation she joined Maggio Danza in Florence under the direction of Evgeny Polyakov. In 1983, she joined the Deutsche Oper Berlin in Berlin, Germany as a soloist, then joining Northern Ballet Theater, England as a principal dancer the following year. Ms. Buson has appeared as guest principal artist with the English National Ballet; Basel Ballet, Switzerland; Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, Montreal, Canada; Cincinnati Ballet; Ballet West and Ballet Arizona in the US as well as having danced with the Teatro Massimo in Palermo, Italy. As a principal dancer of Tulsa Ballet, under her husband's (Marcello Angelini) artistic directorship, Ms. Buson danced leading roles in the classical ballet repertory as well as having worked with many of the important contemporary choreographers of our time. Upon her retiring from the stage, Ms. Buson became ballet mistress of the Tulsa Ballet before assuming her present position.



A native New Yorker, Deborah Hess studied with Valentina Pereyaslavec and Kathleen Crofton. After having danced professionally, Ms. Hess has pursued her passion for teaching. An internationally respected ballet teacher and coach, Ms. Hess is a senior faculty member of Canada's National Ballet School, and the coordinator of the School's Student Exchange Program. Prior to moving to Canada, she was a teacher and the Assistant to the Director of the San Francisco Ballet School. She has been a guest teacher at Boston Ballet; Cincinnati Ballet; the USA IBC in Jackson, Mississippi; the National Ballet of Canada; the Royal Danish Ballet School and the School at Jacob's Pillow Dance. As well, she is a frequent guest teacher in Japan. Ms. Hess has been on the juries of the International Ballet Student Competition in Havana, Cuba; Beijing Ballet Competition and Japan Grand Prix among other noted competitions. Deborah Hess has been a member of the JGP jury since its inception, and will be returning to JGP as a judge in 2016.



Louise Lester joined the artistic staff of Houston Ballet as ballet mistress in April 2004. Born in Yorkshire, England, Ms. Lester received her ballet training at The Royal Ballet School, White Lodge in London,  graduating to the Upper School. In 1972. She then joined the corps de ballet of Bavarian State Ballet in Munich, Germany, becoming principal dancer, performing the classical, neo-classical, and contemporary repertory, working with a wide range of choreographers, including John Cranko, Peter Wright, Glen Tetley, Hans van Manen, Jiří Kylián, Rudi van Dantzig, William Forsythe, and Ohad Naharin. She then became ballet mistress for Bavarian State Ballet, where she remained until 1996. She has been a guest teacher and coach with many major international ballet companies as well as staging works by Peter Wright, John Neumeier and George Balanchine for Teatro Colón, Buenos Aires, and Teatro Municipal Santiago de Chile, Semperoper Dresden in Germany, Teatro Municipal Santiago de Chile and Ballet du Rhin in France. She was the assistant to the director of the Teatro Municipal Santiago de Chile from 2000 to 2003.



Dimitri Magitov began his dance studies at the Kiev State Choreographic School and then graduated from the Moscow State Academy of Choreography (The Bolshoi Ballet Academy) in Moscow, in 1992. Mr. Magitov's first engagement as a dancer was with the Moscow Classical Ballet. He has studied at the State Institute of Theatrical Arts in Moscow-Ballet Pedagogical Faculty (G.I.T.I.S.), where he received his teaching diploma. Mr. Magitov joined the Stuttgart Ballet's corps de ballet for the company's 1996-1997 season, being promoted to soloist the following season through 2005. During his tenure as a soloist with the Stuttgart Ballet, Mr. Magitov danced numerous important solo roles. Upon retiring as a dancer, he completed the ballet teacher training courses at Wurttemberg State Theatre and the State Academy of Ballet (John Cranko Schule) in Stuttgart. In 2010, he accepted the position of a ballet instructor, at the John Cranko Schule, State Ballet Academy / Vocational School. Mr. Magitov has been officially designated to represent the John Cranko Schule as a judge by Tadeusz Matacz, the director of the John Cranko Schule, who for many years had been a JGP judge.



Oliver Matz was born and raised in Rostock, former East Germany, receiving his ballet training at the Berlin State Ballet School, then joining the German State Opera in 1980 as a leading soloist and international ambassador for 25 years. Mr. Matz’s many awards and honours include the Youth Art Award of the German Democratic Republic, in 1983; the bronze medal at the Varna International Ballet Competition; first prize at the National Ballet Competition of the German Democratic Republic; a gold medal at the Helsinki International Ballet Competition and a gold medal at the International Ballet Competition in Jackson (USA) in 1986. He was appointed Berliner Kammertänzer by the Berlin Senator of Culture in 1995, the first dancer to have received this highest honor, for his lifetime achievement, and was appointed Honorary Member of the German State Opera in 2004. Mr. Matz has worked with many of the major choreographers, dancing principal roles in their ballets, with acclaimed partners, as well as being a guest dancer with major international ballet companies and judging numerous international ballet competitions.



Parrish Maynard was trained at the San Francisco Ballet School and American Ballet Theatre School. Invited by Mikhail Baryshnikov, he danced with American Ballet Theatre (ABT), and was principal dancer of the Joffrey Ballet. In 1998 he was featured in the televised PBS Great Performances special, "Dance in America - Variety and Virtuosity: American Ballet Theatre Now," performing Nacho Duato's Remanso. Then joining San Francisco Ballet (SFB) as a soloist, he was promoted to principal dancer in 1999. He is the recipient of the Princess Grace Award, Presidential Scholar Award, and a silver medalist at the International Ballet Competition in Helsinki, Finland. Mr. Maynard created the role of Iago in Lar Lubovitch's Othello (co-produced by ABT and SFB), performing the role in SFB's broadcast of PBS' Great Performances series in 2003. Mr. Maynard joined the faculty of the San Francisco Ballet School in 2005. As a full-time faculty member, he taught male classes as well as SFB company classes. Parrish Maynard assumed the position of ballet master of the Kansas City Ballet in 2016.



Arlene Minkhorst is a graduate of Canada's National Ballet School as well as Canada's Royal Winnipeg Ballet School. As a dancer, she performed in numerous productions with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet (RWB) before directing her energies to teaching full-time. Ms. Minkhorst joined the faculty of the RWB School in 1979 and was appointed Director of the RWB School in 2004 after the retirement of Founding Director, David Moroni, C.M. Throughout her years with the school, Ms. Minkhorst has taught all levels of ballet and pointe technique as well as repertoire for the RWB School's Ballet Academic Program. She has also taught for the RWB School's Teacher Training Program and conducted performance rehearsals. In addition, Ms. Minkhorst has toured Manitoba, Canada and neighboring provinces presenting lectures about dance and dance training in public schools with the RWB School's "Concert Hour Ballet Program". Arlene Minkhorst has guest taught and adjudicated for dance festivals and dance competitions across Canada and the United States and has been a member of the jury for the Prix de Lausanne; Japan Grand Prix; and Tanzolymp in Berlin, among noted others. Over the years, Ms. Minkhorst has very generously given scholarships to numerous contestants of JGP.



Melanie Person is the co-director of The Ailey School, having respectfully and appreciatively replaced The Ailey School's former director, Denise Jefferson, a much beloved Japan Grand Prix judge. Ms. Person began her early dance training at Calvert-Brodie School of Dance while performing with Columbia City Ballet, South Carolina, USA. Melanie Person danced professionally with the Dance Theatre of Harlem (DTH) from 1977 to 1988. As a dancer with the Dance Theatre of Harlem, she extensively traveled the world performing the company's diverse repertoire. In 2002, Melanie Person earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from the State University of New York Empire State College. She currently serves as a Member of the Board of Directors of the National Association of the Schools of Dance as well as a visiting evaluator. Melanie Person has been a juror for Japan Grand Prix International Ballet Competition since 2009.



Janet Popeleski, from Connecticut, began her training with the Hartford Ballet and continued her studies on full scholarship at the School of American Ballet in New York City. Upon graduation she joined the corps de ballet of American Ballet Theatre, also dancing solo roles. She danced internationally as a principal dancer with Iranian National Ballet in Teheran, Scapino Ballet of Amsterdam, Deutsche Oper Berlin, and Zurich Ballet. While residing in Europe, Ms. Popeleski was artistic advisor to the Xanten Festival in Germany, coordinating and dancing in a series of gala evenings, touring through Germany, Switzerland, and Netherlands where she had been partnered by Vladimir Gelvan, Alexander Godunov, Jonas Kage, and Rudolf Nureyev. Returning to the United States, Ms. Popeleski joined Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre as a principal dancer. She currently has been the principal of the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School, teaching for the past 25 years. Her repertoire has included many of the full-length classics, ballets by Balanchine as well as contemporary works.



Victoria Schneider studied at the School of the Garden State Ballet. She danced professionally with the Garden State Ballet as a soloist, and with the Pennsylvania Ballet. She has been on the faculty of the School of the Pennsylvania Ballet and principal teacher at La Scuola di Danza Classica in Prato, Italy. Together with Martin Fredmann, she established the School of the Tampa Ballet and served as ballet mistress of the Tampa/Colorado Ballet, she studied the teaching of Russian Classical Ballet with her late husband, Jurgen Schneider and later completed the methodology program at Vaganova Academy of Ballet in St. Petersburg, Russia. Since 1995 she has been a member of the faculty of The HARID Conservatory. Her students have won major awards in numerous ballet competitions and can be found dancing in major ballet companies in the United States and abroad. She has served as a jury member for the JGP since its inception in 2002. She remains active as a guest teacher and lecturer of Russian Ballet Pedagogy.



Peter Stark has been the Associate Director of Boston Ballet II and the Head of the Boston Ballet School Men's Program since 2015. Trained at the School of American Ballet, in New York, he formerly danced with New York City Ballet, Boston Ballet as well as being principal dancer with the Washington Ballet. He has been the Assistant to the Artistic Director of Ballet Mississippi and School Director of Orlando Ballet, both under Fernando Bujones. Peter Stark has performed in the works of many of today's important international choreographers, as well as works by Marius Petipa and George Balanchine. He is also the Founding Director of "Next Generation Ballet" in Tampa Florida. In addition to his work in dance, he studied business administration at Strayer University in Washington D.C. Peter Stark continues to judge international dance competitions and has served on the grant panel for the National Endowment of the Arts in Washington D.C. Peter Stark has received many honors throughout his teaching career including "Florida Educator of the Year" and appeared on the cover of "Dance Teacher Now".



Olivier Vercoutère was born in Wattrelos France receiving his training from the John Cranko-Ballet School of Stuttgart. Upon graduation, he became a member of the Stuttgart Ballet. In 1995 he joined the Bavarian State Ballet-Munich, and in 1996 joining the ballet of the Deutsche Oper Berlin, re-joining the Bavarian State Ballet in Munich in 1999 where he was promoted to soloist in 2004. His repertoire included “Limb’s Theorem” of William Forsythe, "Stamping Ground" of Jiri Kylian, Petipa-Gorsky's "Don Quijote", John Cranko's "Romeo and Juliet", Hans van Manen's "Kammerballett", the pas de deux in Jacopo Godani’s "After Dark", and the role of "Shadow Man" in John Neumeier's "Illusion Like Swan Lake", among other works. After dancing professionally for 20 years, Olivier Vercoutere concluded his career in 2012. From 2008-2010 he studied ballet pedagogy at the University of Music and Theater in Munich. Presently Olivier Vercoutere is a professor of classical dance at the Munich Ballet Academy and teacher and ballet master for the Bavarian State Ballet's Junior Company.

Participated Judges 2003-2015

In alphabetical order by their last names.
  • Gailene Stock AM, Director, The Royal Ballet School
  • Nina Ananiashivili, State Ballet Of Georgia
  • Jacqueline Achmedow, Formerly Kirov Academy of Ballet
  • Marcello Angelini, Tulsa Ballet
  • Ted Brandsen, Dutch National Ballet
  • Jan Broeckx, Ballet Academy Of The University Of Music And Performing Arts - Munich
  • Cheryne Busch, Houston Ballet School Principal Instructor of Upper School
  • Marat Daukayev, Director, Marat Daukayev School of Ballet
  • Eva Draw, Ballet Master, Royal Danish Ballet
  • Eva Evdokimova, Prima Ballerina Assoluta
  • Denise Jefferson, Former Artistic Director, The Ailey School
  • Jay Jolley, Royal Ballet
  • Christopher Hird, Boston Ballet School
  • Evelyn Cisneros-Legate, Former Principal, Boston Ballet School Marblehead studio
  • Raymond Lukens, Artistic Director, American Ballet Theatre's National Training Curriculum
  • Tamara King, Boston ballet school
  • Alexei Kremnev, Artistic Director, Academy of the Joffrey Ballet Chicago
  • Marianne Kruuse, Principal, The School of the Hamburg Ballet
  • Muriel Maffre, Former Principal Dancer, San Francisco Ballet
  • Tadeusz Matacz, Artistic Director, John Cranko School
  • Gilbert Mayer (Ret), Formerly The Paris Opera Ballet
  • David McAllister, Artistic Director, The Australian Ballet
  • Claudio Munoz, Ballet Master Houston Ballet II
  • Mikko Nissinen, Artistic Director, Boston Ballet
  • Simona Noja, Ballet Academy Of The Vienna State Opera
  • Gary Norman, Senior Ballet Teacher - Covent Garden, The Royal Ballet School
  • Meelis Pakri, Ballet Master, Houston Ballet
  • David Peden, Ballet Teacher - Covent Garden, The Royal Ballet School
  • Kirk Peterson, Former Director American Ballet Theatre Studio Company
  • Vadim Pisarev, Artistic Director, Donetsk Ballet
  • Inessa Plekhanova, Associate Professor, Director of Ballet Program, Radford University
  • Samira Saidi (arad rbs dip pdtc), English National Ballet School
  • Janek Schergen, Artistic Director, Singapore Dance Theatre
  • Adam Sklute, Artistic Director, Ballet West
  • Jim Sohm, Research Manager, San Francisco Ballet
  • Gailene Stock, Formar Artistic Director, the Royal Ballet School
  • Ashley Wheater, Artistic Director, The Joffrey Ballet Chicago
  • Sasha Yapparov, Academy Principal, Cincinnati Ballet Academy
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