Jorge Laico, Artistic Director
Jorge Laico was born in Manila, Philippines and received his early dance training under Tony Fabella, Eddie Elejar, Inday Gaston Manosa, Vella Damian, Sonia Domingo, and Tom Pazik. After joining Philippine Ballet Theatre, he was invited to join Atlanta Ballet in Atlanta, Georgia under former Balanchine dancer Robert Barnett. He went on to become principal dancer for Eugene Ballet and worked at other companies such as Kansas City Ballet, Tulsa Ballet, Oakland Ballet, Ballet Pacifica, Grand Rapids Ballet, Manila Metropolis Ballet, and Lexington Ballet. He danced an extensive repertoire of works by Marius Petipa, George Balanchine, August Bournonville, Alonzo King, Nacho Duato, Agnes de Mille, Tony Pimble, and Fernand Nault among others. He was a faculty member at Rock School of Pennsylvania Ballet, and taught at North Carolina School of the Arts, Escuela Municipal del Teatro in Ribarroja del Turia, Spain, University of the Arts, Bryn Mawr College, Pennsylvania Governor’s School of the Arts, and workshop teacher for Cirque du Soleil. Some of his students have moved on to join New York City Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, San Francisco Ballet, Houston Ballet, and Dance Theatre of Harlem. He has coached and trained students that received medals and awards at Youth America Grand Prix NY and at International Ballet Competitions in Jackson, MS and Moscow, Russia. Mr. Laico was appointed by the Board of Directors to direct the academy in 2009.
Karen Hostler was born in Wilmington, Delaware and raised in Arden. She began taking ballet lessons at the age of five with Stella Hobson, a former member of the Ballet Russes. Karen took time off from her ballet instruction from the age of 11 until she was 31, at which time she began searching for an activity to do with her young daughter. Karen began taking lessons from Marc Levy, a former student of The Academy of the Dance, and studied with Marc for about 12 years, during which time she also began teaching for him. Since that time, Karen has taught at the Performing Arts, Paul Klocke Dance Centre, Anna Marie Dance Studio, Brandywine Y, and the Nina Robinson School of Dance. She has also attended classes in New York at the Broadway Dance Centre.She lives by the rule that there is always something to learn, even if it’s what not to do. Karen is continually trying to find a better way to teach, to explain and to break down the steps for her students. She feels it is important to connect with her students so they know what to feel and how to work for clean technique, and most of all, for the love of the dance.
Ann Cole enjoyed studying with dance icon Robert Joffrey at his summer ballet workshops before moving to Pacific Northwest Ballet School as a scholarship student. Later she was invited to join the company by artistic directors Kent Stowell and Francia Russell. Ms. Cole was also on scholarship with The School of American Ballet in New York City, where she trained with Alexandra Danilova, Suki Schorer, Stanley Williams, Andrei Kramarevsky, and Antonia Tumkovsky. As a company member at Pacific Northwest Ballet, she performed a wide variety of ballets, in corps and soloist roles, such as Kent Stowell’s Nutcracker and Swan Lake, George Balanchine’s Four Temperaments, Theme and Variations, Chaconne, Serenade, Concerto Barocco, Jerome Robbin’s The Cage, Michael Smuin’s Stravinsky Piano Pieces, and many others. She also enjoyed dancing for Alonzo King as a company member with his Lines Dance Company in San Francisco, CA. Ms. Cole later earned her undergraduate and law degrees at the University of Texas while teaching at the University’s dance department, Ballet Austin, and Austin Dance Ensemble.
Anya Ward studied at the Washington School of Ballet and the North Carolina School of the Arts. After summers at the School of American Ballet, Anya joined New York City Ballet before moving to Geneva, Switzerland to dance with the Geneva Ballet. Upon her return to the United States, she danced with Pennsylvania Ballet for four years. She co-founded The Ballet Studio in center city Philadelphia where she taught all levels of ballet for twelve years. After moving to Delaware, she was named Artistic Director the Russian Ballet Theatre of Delaware. Under the patronage of MBNA, Anya started a school for inner city children at the Baby Grand in Wilmington where over 1000 children enjoyed classes in music, dance, and theatre. Teaching is her first love and Anya is excited to be back in the studio.
Aynsley started with the Academy of the Dance at age 6. She later studies with First State Ballet and the Kirov Academy of Ballet in Washington, D.C. She is a former member of the Universal Ballet Company in Seoul, South Korea and Tulsa Ballet. Aynsley was Bronze Medalist with the Seoul International Dance competition, Gold Medalist in 2006 YAGP Philadelphia in both Senior Classical and Contemporary and most recently a Silver and Bronze Medalist with the VKIBC competition in NYC. She is also the recipient of the Delaware Governor’s Tribute for the Arts and the City of Wilmington’s Award for the Arts.
Sophie Malin currently dances professionally with Sharp Dance Company and Alchemy Dance Company in Philadelphia, PA. She has attended summer intensives at Ballet X in Philadelphia, Northern Cincinnati Youth Ballet, and Complexions Contemporary Ballet in New York and Joffrey School of Ballet. Ms. Malin was a recipient of scholarship to Instituto Colombiano de Ballet in Columbia and was invited to St. Petersburg, Russia to perform in the World Dance Open Festival 2011. She has a wide variety of classical ballets and modern pieces, and has been featured in Antonia Brown’s Little Bird, No Translations, and My Composed Life, danced in Diane Sharp’s Roller Coaster, Spoons, and Amy Harding’s I Am We.
Erin Fitzgerald has been active in the Delaware dance community since she started her dance training at age 7. She is a graduate of the University of the Arts in Philadelphia with a focus on Modern Dance Performance. Erin has extensive experience as a ballet and modern dance instructor. After her graduation, she completed an internship with Movement Research in NYC, where she furthered her modern dance education and studied dance production intensely under some of the best lighting and sound designers in the city. She has also received her certification in Vinyasa and Hatha yoga and hopes to continue to learn new methods of movement technique and instruction.
Amanda Jennings is passionate about ballet because it provides an opportunity to constantly challenge herself physically and mentally, to express herself creatively, and to share her skill and creativity with others through performance. Amanda studied at Cab Calloway School of the Arts. She has eight years of teaching experience, working with students aged 3 through adult. Through teaching, Amanda shares her passion for ballet and strives to help her students grow in technical skill and artistry.
Chelsea Bruce is a Junior with a dual major in Political Science and Economics at the University of Delaware. She began dancing at the age of three at Dance for Joy in Brielle, NJ under the instruction of Caryl Voorhees, author of Dancing for Joy. At Dance for Joy, Chelsea was on the Traveling Dance Troupe and the competition team. As a member of the Traveling Dance Troupe, she performed in Disney World and on Carnival Cruise Line.
Deb began dancing at the age of 3 1/2 at the Anna Marie Dance Studio. In her teen years, she taught tap and jazz at the Claymont School of Dance. She has continued to teach since 1992 and began teaching pre-school dance in 2002. Miss Deb's goal is to inspire a love of dance in all students, regardless of their age. She teaches Mommy and Me at our studio and our Preschool Creative Movement enrichment class at Aldersgate Preschool. Miss Deb also teaches our Princess Camp every summer.
- Samantha Dunster - Ballet Mistress, Pennsylvania Ballet
- Arthur Hutchinson - Alumnus Academy of the Dance
- Hawley Rowe - Pennsylvania Ballet
- Eddie Tovar - Principal Dance, Orlando Ballet