Maniya Barredo, Artistic Director
Maniya Barredo received one of the highest titles possible in dance in 1978 after a performance of Giselle with a company in the Philippines. Included in the audience were President and First Lady Marcos, and one of this century’s most-loved ballerinas, Dame Margot Fonteyn. At a reception following the performance, Dame Margot presented Maniya with a bouquet of flowers, and in front of all assembled proclaimed Maniya Barredo had earned the title Prima Ballerina.
“The title was given to me because of my work and I’ve never changed the way I work from the time I started to today.” That work began at age 4 for Honey (her real name). Driven to succeed, Honey left her native Philippines at age 18 to travel to New York where she joined the Joffrey School on scholarship.
Robert Joffrey, founder of the school and the ballet company carrying his name, noticed Honey had that ‘Something Special,’ and – after giving Honey her worst memory – took her aside a year later and told her he had erred in mentioning that she should give up dancing for nursing. Joffery wanted her to dance for him. And, as he did with special dancers, Joffrey gave his offer more weight by renaming Honey after the largest city in her native Philippines, Manila.
Thus, the newly named Maniya Barredo forged on and earned a spot with with Les Grandes Ballets Canadiens. In 1976 she was chosen by Alicia Alonzo to represent Canada in the International Ballet Festival held in Cuba. When she finished her performance, the requisite flowers were placed in her arms as the audience applauded their approval. Twenty times Maniya came from behind the curtain to receive the tribute of her adorers.
In the ensuing years since applause rocked the Ballet Festival, Maniya has danced with the incomparable Mickhail Baryshnikov, has been the only dancer outside of New York and Europe invited to tour with the Stars of the World Ballet, received the Gawad CCP Para Sining Award of Excellence from Filipino president Fidel Ramos, become the official Prima Ballerina of the Philippines and danced for twenty years with the Atlanta Ballet as Prima Ballerina before her retirement.
Feeling deeply for those who are just joining the merry-go-round of ballet when there’s a decline in dance companies and the arts in general, Maniya notes “the sad fate would be that doors would close all over the country. The threat to the arts threatens all of us. We need to be tenacious as artists, keep pushing those boundaries, get people fired up and not diminish the product. We need to educate people. Art needs to be part of education, and we need dance that’s challenging to the audiences.”
Taking that message to the people is what Maniya planned to do upon retirement. She was an Artistic Consultant to Ballethnic in Atlanta, the Cultural Attache for the Philippines, and was Artistic Director of the ASB Performing Ensemble, and now director of Metropolitan Ballet Theatre. Maniya Barredo makes good her plans as she trains the next generation of dancers and takes dance to Atlanta and the world.
Andrea Pell, Trainee Program Director and MBT Ballet Mistress
Andrea Pell is a native of New York and received her professional training in New York and in Budapest, Hungary. In 1975, she joined The Berlin Ballet in Germany and worked with major dancers and choreographers including Rudolph Nureyev, Eva Evdokimova, Hans van Manen, Moses Pendleton, Valery Panov, John Neumeier, and Roland Petite, during her fourteen-year tenure with the company. After dancing she studied movement notation at The Benesh Institute of Choreology in London, and was awarded the title of F.I. Chor. upon presentation of her score of a commissioned ballet for Atlanta Ballet.
In 1990, Andrea was invited by Atlanta Ballet’s artistic director of thirty-two years, Mr. Robert Barnett, to oversee the Atlanta School of Ballet and Atlanta Ballet II. She was artistic director of the school until 1997, and spent one additional year as principal of the Atlanta Ballet Centre for Dance Education’s satellite school when John McFall assumed directorship of Atlanta Ballet. She also worked with The Pilates Studio® at Atlanta Ballet, and was guest-teacher and coach with several Atlanta-based companies.
In 1999 Singapore Dance Theatre invited Andrea as guest ballet-mistress. During her time with the company she worked alongside choreographers including, Stanton Welch, Jean Paul Comelin, and Janeck Schergen, and coached medal winners for the Japan Ballet Competition. She was also guest-teacher for The Australian Ballet and National Ballet of China.
Upon returning to the United States Andrea joined the Dance Department of the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities in 2000. In January 2010 she accepted an invitation by Maniya Barredo to join the faculty of Metropolitan Ballet Theatre where she directs the Trainee Program and is the school’s Ballet Mistress.
Roscoe Sales, Modern Teacher
Roscoe L. Sales, Jr., is a native of Winston-Salem, N.C. where he earned his BFA on scholarship from the North Carolina School of the Arts. He has also studied at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Center and The Dance Theatre of Harlem. He has performed with the Dance Theatre of Harlem, The Metropolitan Opera Company in Porgy and Bess, the Greensboro Ballet, and the North Carolina Dance Theatre.
In 1999 Roscoe made his debut as a choreographer with his version of Othello for Carolina Ballet. He is on faculty at the Atlanta Ballet Center for Dance Education, Tri-Cities High School, and guest teaches throughout Georgia, Michigan, and the Carolina’s. He is currently a guest artist with The Atlanta Ballet, Ballethnic Dance Company, and The High Point Ballet in North Carolina. He has trained MBT dancers since the studio inception in 1997.
Becki Galatas Chernoff, Jazz Teacher
Becki Galatas Chernoff began her dance training at the age of three under the direction of Dan and Rhonda Youmans. At the age of fifteen she was accepted as a member of the Atlanta Jazz Theater where she performed for many years.
She has studied with nationally renowned choreographers Kenneth Greene and Robbie Mackey. She has also studied in New York with Jazz legends Frank Hatchett and Shiela Barker. Her areas of expertise include ballet, tap, jazz, and hip hop. She has taught and choreographed nationwide among various performing arts schools and touring dance conventions.
Becki has worked extensively in the entertainment industry including the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the 1996 Olympics, choreographed by Kenny Ortega, Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the 1996 Paralympics, choreographed by Dan Youmans, and 2000 Superbowl half time show, working extensively with Christina Aguilera and Enrique Iglesias. She spent three years in Las Vegas performing in various shows and conventions along the famous Las Vegas strip.
Becki is a superb dance teacher as well as an accomplished choreographer. Becki has a strong influence with her students and it is apparent working with students is her passion. She is very excited to share this passion and her skills as a part of Metropolitan Ballet Theatre.
Renee Beneteau, Jazz Teacher
Renee Beneteau is a native of Alpharetta, Ga, where she began dancing ballet and modern at the Metropolitan Ballet Theatre under the tutelage of Maniya Barredo. She attended summer intensives such as Joffrey Midwest, Houston Ballet, The American Dance Festival, and The Virginia School of the Arts. She began teaching ballet at the age of 16 and absolutely fell in love with it. She graduated from the University of Oklahoma as a scholarship student with a B.F.A in Modern Dance Performance, performing with Contemporary Dance Oklahoma and Oklahoma Festival Ballet during her time there. She danced professionally with the Hartel Dance Group, and is currently an artist with Full Radius Dance. She cannot wait to share her joy and passion for dance through teaching.
Julia Distelhurst HPMT, MT-BC, is the founding director of Under Musical Construction, Inc. a Music Therapy agency with music programs that are themed based and developmentally appropriate for the young learner. Georgia Pacific, Spellman College, Capital Hill, Atlanta Ballet, and others have been among the centers who have partnered with Ms. Distelhurst. She holds trademark registrations for curriculum she authored using music as the therapeutic tool for acquisition of pre-cursor skills for language development in babies. Recently returning to Atlanta, after serving as the Program Director for The Center for Creative Therapeutic Arts in Las Vegas, we are proud to have her on our MBT faculty.